Monday, July 30, 2007

The Gang Who Couldn't Spy Straight, Part 2

The Hamas takeover of Gaza left the Central Intelligence Agency caught with its tender parts in a trap, according to a Wall Street Journal article.

When the Islamist group Hamas conquered the Gaza Strip in June it seized an intelligence-and-military infrastructure created with U.S. help by the security chiefs of the Palestinian territory's former ruler.

According to current and former Israeli intelligence officials, former U.S. intelligence personnel and Palestinian officials, Hamas has increased its inventory of arms since the takeover of Gaza and picked up technical expertise -- such as espionage techniques -- that could assist the group in its fight against Israel or Washington's Palestinian allies, the Fatah movement founded by Yasser Arafat.

Hamas leaders say they acquired thousands of paper files, computer records, videos, photographs and audio recordings containing valuable and potentially embarrassing intelligence information gathered by Fatah. For more than a decade, Fatah operated a vast intelligence network in Gaza established under the tutelage of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Hamas leaders are expected as early as tomorrow to go public with some of the documents and the secrets they hold.

Or, as the Journal article sums it up:

• The Find: Palestinian group Hamas seized rival Fatah's intelligence-and-military infrastructure, which was built with U.S. help.

• What's at Stake: Secrets, expertise and technology are now in the hands of a group the U.S. calls a terrorist organization.

• The Damage: Though the ultimate impact is difficult to determine, Hamas leaders say they will make some details public and share others with Arab governments.

I suspect that the CIA spends more time gathering blackmail evidence against U.S. politicians to protect against being held to account than it does gathering actual intelligence about America's enemies to protect our nation. I could be wrong about this....

What dictionary do they use in Washington, DC?

Because 'recuse' must mean something different there than it does everywhere else.

You all remember Rep. Allan Mollohan (D - WV), right? He’s the Democrat currently under investigation by the FBI who Nancy “Most Ethical Congress Ever” Pelosi and her pals put in charge of the Justice Department (and thus the FBI’s) budget? When the controversy over putting a man the FBI is investigating in charge of the FBI’s budget first hit, Mollohan promised to recuse himself from any FBI funding bills.

Well so much for that promise:

Despite having recused himself from matters relating to the FBI — which is reportedly investigating his finances — Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) on Wednesday voted against an amendment that would have increased the bureau’s budget by $6 million.

Honestly, it’s like they don’t even care any more. They promise one thing, do another. They openly flaunt our laws and line their pockets with our tax dollars using the power we gave them with our votes, and then they act like it isn’t happening. Like we’re all so stupid that we don’t know it’s going on.

[Tip of the hat to Say Anything.]

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Even the AP's bias can't spoil this victory

The lead paragraph of this story demonstrates the AP's institutional bias toward painting Iraq as a disaster, while the remainder of the story belies the negativity of the lead.

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Tens of thousands of Iraqis from the Shiite south to the Kurdish-dominated north poured into the usually treacherous streets Sunday to celebrate a rare moment of joy and unity when the national team won Asia's most prestigious soccer tournament.

The revelers spanning the country's sectarian and ethnic divisions danced, sang and waved flags and posters of the team after Iraq beat three-time champion Saudi Arabia 1-0 to take the Asian Cup.

Chants of "Long live Iraq" and "Baghdad is victorious" rang out across the country as Iraqis basked in national pride. Some of the revelers - mostly men - took their shirts off to display the red, white and black colors of the Iraqi flag painted on their chests.

Reporters of the state Iraqiya television wrapped themselves with the national flag as they interviewed people celebrating in the streets. Some joined in the chanting.

Within seconds of the final whistle, celebratory gunfire echoed across Baghdad and elsewhere despite a government ban and the threat of arrest by authorities.

At least four people were killed and scores wounded by the gunfire. But as night fell on the country, there were no reports of bombings such as those that killed at least 50 and wounded dozens in Baghdad during celebrations of Iraq's semifinal win over South Korea on Wednesday.

Authorities said they foiled a potential car bomber in southwestern Baghdad after he refused to stop at a checkpoint and appeared headed toward a crowd of revelers. Iraqi authorities had banned vehicles in and around the capital from shortly before the game began until early Monday to prevent a repeat of last week's violence.

"The victory of our Iraqi soccer team is a wonderful gift to Iraqis who have been suffering from the killing, car bombs, abductions and other violent acts," said Falah Ibrahim, a 44-year-old resident of Baghdad's predominantly Shiite Sadr City district.

If the sectarian and tribal divisions were as deep as the writer says, there would have been no celebrations for a team composed of individuals drawn from all areas and sects of Iraq. But there were celebrations, big celebrations everywhere.

And they celebrated in the streets. And no one was able to repeat the horrors of the suicide bombings that followed the Iraqi team's semi-finals victory. And that means that the streets of Iraq, as dangerous as they may be, are not "no man's land" in which death is the most likely outcome of a walk or an errand.

The goal of al-Qaida, of the Sadrist militia, of Iran, of the dead-enders loyal to Saddam's memory, is the same: to tear Iraq apart so that its pieces can be used as weapons. The Iraqi national soccer team has struck a mighty blow for Iraq's freedom.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Gang Who Couldn't Spy Straight?

A New York Times correspondent, Tim Weiner, has written a new book in which he details the failings of the Central Intelligence Agency over the last sixty years.

He paints a portrait of a rogue agency which devoted more time to covert action to oust governments than to gathering information about America's enemies, and which failed to predict every big international event from the outbreak of the Korean War to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the 9/11 attacks.

The book, Legacy of Ashes, has infuriated some former CIA officers who insist that the agency needs support, not denigration. One dismissed Weiner's criticisms as "superficial and unfair".

It details how the CIA relied from the outset on low-level sources and ill-trained officers. In 1953 it sent its first officer to Moscow, but he was so inept that he was seduced by his Russian housemaid - really a KGB colonel - photographed in flagrante and blackmailed.

In eastern Europe in the early days of the Cold War, almost every agent parachuted in was captured and killed. More than $1 million was sent to a fake spy ring set up by Polish intelligence - effectively paying money directly to their enemy.

During the Korean War, none of the CIA's 200 officers in the South Korean capital, Seoul, spoke Korean. In 1952, the CIA station chief concluded that nearly every Korean agent either "invented his reports or worked in secret for the communists".

Things were little better in the battle with America's main Cold War foe, Weiner argues. An internal CIA report in 1956 found that just two of the 20 spies recruited in the Soviet Union had any contact with the government or military. One of its top sources was a Russian vet.

When the Berlin Wall was erected in 1961, among the CIA's best agents in East Berlin were a newspaper salesman and a roofer, who occasionally worked in the Soviet military compound. Small wonder, Weiner argues, that the CIA concluded that Russia would have 500 intercontinental ballistic missiles "ready to strike" them that year, when the true figure was four.

For eight years after 1986 the CIA sent reports to Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton on the strength of the Soviet military which they knew came largely from sources controlled by Moscow.

The CIA's current difficulties in the Middle East are part of a long and undistinguished history. When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, Robert Gates, then the agency's head and now the American defence secretary, was at a family picnic. A friend of his wife asked him: "What are you doing here?" Mr Gates said: "What are you talking about?" She replied: "The invasion." Mr Gates responded: "What invasion?"

Weiner concludes that even the CIA's apparent successes in covert action proved to be strategic failures. Ousting the Iranian government in 1953 led inexorably to the revolution of 1979. The CIA backed the 1963 Ba'ath Party coup in Iraq which opened the door for Saddam Hussein.

It's not clear that Tim Weiner is the most objective source for national security news, but the failings of the CIA are plain to see in the sheer number and magnitude of their mischaracterizations and miscalculations over the years regarding America's adversaries. This could be a very interesting read.

The world's smallest oud

Abu Hamza's wife is concerned for her husband's welfare while he's in a UK prison:

Hamza, 49, dubbed the "preacher of hate", is serving seven years for inciting the murder of non-Muslims.

In a letter to a London-based Islamic organisation, Nagat Mostafa, 46, said her husband claimed to be the victim of racist bullying and Islamophobia in Belmarsh jail.

Her letter to al-Maqreze Centre for Historical Studies was sent shortly after Hamza - who is fitted with hooks on both hands - underwent surgery in May to remove an inch of bone from his left arm stump, which had become infected.

She wrote: "I would like to bring to your attention the current plight of my husband…

"The reason that his arm needed further amputation was because of the removal of his prostheses, resulting in him constantly putting pressure on the remainder of his fore limbs. As there is no soft furnishing in his cell, he has been suffering considerable pain… After surgery, before he had even recovered from the anaesthetic, he was returned to Belmarsh, only to be told he had to move from his cell to another one. He was so weak and unable to stand that he refused, resulting in him being put in solitary confinement…

"My husband says the racist bullying and Islamophobia against him have intensified."

The contents of the letter were disclosed by the Maqreze Centre, which called the cleric's treatment "unjust" and said it feared he could die behind bars.

He could die behind bars? Oh, the humanity! I shed a bitter tear.

Friday, July 27, 2007

"These Hamas people are murderers and bloodthirsty. They are using religion as an excuse to commit crimes even against their own people."

Gosh, who said that? Benjamin Netanyahu? Rudy Giuliani?

Nope. It was a Palestinian general.

"I knew that I was wanted by Hamas and that's why I decided to fight to the end. I knew that Hamas was going to kill me anyway and that I had nothing to lose. On Thursday night [June 14], hours before Hamas completed its coup, I managed to fire dozens of rocket-propelled grenades at them. I inflicted heavy damages on them. I taught them a lesson that they will never forget.

"But when I finally realized that Hamas's forces were advancing toward our security zone, I decided to leave the area. At around 2 a.m. on Friday morning I ran away toward the Egyptian security delegation's offices on the 10th floor of a tower near my base. I covered my face with a keffiyeh and threw my rifle away.

"Shortly after I entered the Egyptians' office, about 30 Hamas gunmen stormed the area and detained me. They did not care about the fact that this was an office belonging to the Egyptian security forces. They dragged me down to the street, where most buildings and houses were on fire.

"As we stood there, I asked the Hamas people: 'Why don't you execute me and dump my body in the flames?' Actually I begged them to execute me because I knew I was going to be tortured. Before they put me in a jeep, I saw the Hamas gunmen execute several people right in front of me. They were shooting all the detainees. I was sure that one of them was going to shoot me in the head. But they later blindfolded me and took me to a place where I was held for about 12 hours.

"In this place, there were a number of senior security commanders who had also been captured by Hamas. We were all told that we were going to be executed immediately after our interrogation. They asked us many questions and kept us locked in small rooms. We had no idea where we were being held. Some of us were beaten severely," the PA general said....

Asked if he had any plans to return to the Gaza Strip, the general, who has been serving in the PLO security forces for more than three decades, said: "If I go back, Hamas will kill me immediately. I'm wanted by them. My wife and children are still there and Hamas has burned my house. I don't know what's going to happen now, but I'm not optimistic. These Hamas people are murderers and bloodthirsty. They are using religion as an excuse to commit crimes even against their own people."

There you have it, from someone who knows first-hand.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

National pride trumps terror

Iraq has shown that free citizens with national pride on their side will always outperform people enslaved by fear. Their national soccer side has reached the finals of the Asian Cup.

Tournament surprises Iraq will play either defending champions Japan or Saudi Arabia in Sunday's decider in Jakarta.

The epic match went to a shootout after both sides failed to score in over two hours' of sustained committed football.

It is Iraq's first-ever Asian Cup final after getting as far as the 1976 semi-final against Kuwait, which went to extra time, while South Korea were chasing their third title since 1960.

In emotional scenes at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium, Iraqi players rushed to their supporters to grab national flags as other players wept with joy when realisation hit that they had won.

This is fantastically good news for Iraq. Iraqis know that under Saddam, members of their soccer team were the playthings of Uday Hussein, subject to beatings and summary execution for poor play. To see their countrymen playing for their country (and not for a demented dictator claiming to be their country) and winning gives them a tremendous surge of pride and joy.

Which is something the enemies of a free Iraq cannot stand.

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Two suicide car bombings struck soccer fans in Baghdad as they were celebrating Iraq's victory in the Asian Cup semifinal on Wednesday, killing at least 27 people [Note: Reuters says the death toll from these attacks exceeds 50 - ed.] and wounding more than 100, officials said.

The victims were among the thousands of revelers who took to the streets of the capital after the country's national soccer team beat South Korea to reach the tournament's final against Saudi Arabia on Sunday in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The first attack took place about 6:30 p.m. when a bomber exploded in a crowd of people cheering near a well-known ice cream parlor in Baghdad's western neighborhood of Mansour, according to police and hospital officials. At least 11 people were killed and more than 60 wounded, the officials said.

Another suicide car bomber detonated his payload about 45 minutes later in the midst of dozens of vehicles filled with revelers near an Iraqi army checkpoint in the eastern district of Ghadeer, killing at least 16 people, including two soldiers, and wounding nearly 60, area officials said.

However, the national pride from the Iraqi team's Asian Cup performance is a far stronger weapon than the suicide bombs set against it. Suicide bombs are, sadly, not unprecedented events in Iraq -- but the Iraqi soccer team's performance is, and it pervades all of Iraq, not just one province or one ethnic group.

What does virginity have to do with it?

So three Palestinian sisters are murdered in Gaza, and as part of the murder investigation, apparently it was necessary to examine them gynecologically to see if they were virgins.

Three sisters murdered in Gaza on Sunday were all found to be virgins by medical examiners at Al-Shifah Hospital in Gaza City, Mona El-Shawa, director of the Women's Rights Unit at the Palestinian Center for Human Rights told The Jerusalem Post Monday.

Nahed Hija, 16, Suha Hija, 19, and Lina Hija, 22, were found buried in a shallow grave in Deir el-Balah in the central Gaza Strip early Sunday morning, said Hamdi Shakkour of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. The girls had suffered multiple stab wounds - most notably to the face and knees.

Local rumors implicated the sisters' male cousins in the murder, leading to speculation that this was more than likely an honor killing.

I suppose if they hadn't been virgins, no one would bother to arrest the killers. But what honor is there in exterminating an entire family? (Maybe the real motive was to make sure that the girls weren't around to inherit a share of the grandparents' estate. But murder for profit gets a death sentence in Gaza, whereas honor killings are essentially ignored -- if not celebrated.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"Oh, Sir... they put generals in our junta...."

Are Trekkers willing to fight the terrestrial versions of Klingons and Romulans?

THE Star Trek actor Walter Koenig yesterday urged fans of the iconic sci-fi series to turn their wrath on Burma's military junta, an earthly "outpost of tyranny".

Koenig, who battled alien Klingons and Romulans as an original member of the Starship Enterprise crew, said he hoped to mobilise Trekkies to join a campaign against the ruling generals blamed for human rights abuses in Burma, renamed Myanmar by the junta.

"I can tell people what I experienced, meeting people without limbs, the ex-political prisoners, the squalor, all that I have seen in these brief days," Koenig, 70, said after visiting a refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border last week.

Thailand is home to about 140,000 long-term Burmese refugees, the UN refugee agency says, but half a million more have been internally displaced by attacks on villages in eastern Burma, home to one of the world's longest-running civil wars.

The United States has labelled Burma an outpost of tyranny and imposed economic sanctions, but the junta has avoided total isolation by using its vast natural gas reserves to befriend energy- hungry China and India.

Koenig, the son of persecuted Russian Jews who fled to the US at the turn of the century, said the campaign against injustice in Burma would resonate with Star Trek fans.

More power to you, Mr. Chekov. The Burmese people deserve far better than their current lot. And the real-life bravery of Aung San Suu Kyi matches any exploit of the crew of the Enterprise.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Gandhi's grandson: my Granddad would have stood up to Bin Laden

Mahatma Gandhi's grandson says that the Great Soul would have stood up to Osama bin Laden, the Taliban and the Islamofascist movement.

Rajmohan Gandhi told the BBC his grandfather would also have tried to organise "something dramatic" - perhaps a mass fast - to show how unhappy most Muslims were that their religion was being linked to terrorism.

Asked what he would have made of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and the Islamist Taliban militia in Afghanistan, Rajmohan said: "He would have stood up to them."

"The Muslim and non-Muslim issue was a very important issue in his life in India, and he was killed because many Hindus thought he was friendlier to the Muslims than was necessary," the former Indian parliamentarian said.

"So today, he would never agree with the idea that there's something connected between Islam and violence or Islam and terrorism. He would totally oppose that idea."

Rajmohan added that his grandfather "might have recommended to the Muslims of the world who were unhappy being hijacked by the terrorists to say how about demonstrating your dissociation with violence through a fast if need be".

One wonders whether moderate Muslims could have been shamed by the Mahatma into such a grand demonstration, or whether he would even have lived long enough to carry out the effort. It's fairly certain that the Islamofascists would have had no qualms about murdering him.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The lighter side of Osama bin Laden

The Daily Telegraph interviews Osama Bin Laden's erstwhile cook. Mmmm, mutton korma -- something Bin Laden and I can agree on.

"If he was here today, then of course I would prepare him a mutton korma," said Akhtar, sitting under one of the apple trees in his Kabul orchard. "It was his absolute favourite, with a pilau full of almonds, orange peel and raisins."

Akhtar claimed that his Saudi employer, who often grumbled about his health and was a picky eater, rarely let anyone else prepare his food, mainly due to worries about being poisoned.

Life in bin Laden's cave close to the Pakistan border was predictably austere, dominated by prayer and talk of jihad. Bin Laden slept little, rising at midnight to fit in an extra set of prayers on top of Islam's standard five cycles.

Akhtar claimed he shared a room with bin Laden and Abu Maz, his Palestinian assistant. There was only one bed and bin Laden gave this to Akhtar because he was the oldest.

Every afternoon bin Laden delivered lengthy lectures to his followers offering Koranic justification for holy war. But he had a lighter side to him.

"He was always making so many jokes," claimed Akhtar. "He was always happy before he went home to Saudi Arabia and would say 'Uncle, I have four wives waiting for me. It's time for some fun'.

"We Afghans do not talk about our wives in this way."


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Speaking truth to power -- for real

Someone in the Pentagon has apparently kept his testicles about him. There aren't many in the Beltway who have the true courage to speak truth to power -- power in this instance being Sen. Hillary Clinton.

In a stinging rebuke to a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman responded to questions Clinton raised in May in which she urged the Pentagon to start planning now for the withdrawal of American forces.

A copy of Edelman's response, dated July 16, was obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

"Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia," Edelman wrote.

He added that "such talk understandably unnerves the very same Iraqi allies we are asking to assume enormous personal risks."

Ooh, low blow -- pointing out to Mrs. Clinton that her political posturing might cost real people their real lives. Kudos to Mr. Edelman.

Was he always this soft in the head?

I used to be a big admirer of Colin Powell. After he left the State Department, though, he seemed to soften quite a bit.

Now the softening has gone to his brain, based on the really stupid things he said to National Public Radio.

"This is a tremendous burden on our troops and on our families," Powell said of the ongoing troop presence in Iraq, in an interview with National Public Radio.

Speaking after Senate Republicans blocked a vote calling for troop withdrawals to start within 120 days and for a complete pullout by the end of April, Powell said the US Army and Marine Corps were stretched to their limit in Iraq since they had not been increased in size despite the greater responsibilities demanded of them.

"It is not sustainable for our troops just to stay over there for an indefinite period at 180,000 person-strength unless there is improvement in the conditions that generate what I consider to be a civil war. So we have to have progress on the Iraqi political side," Powell said.

Asked if in his opinion the US should start reducing troop numbers in Iraq by mid-2008, Powell said: "I think that's right ... It is not sustainable for an indefinite period at this level."

Powell also urged the administration of Bush to stop shunning Hamas as a political player in the Middle East.

"I think you'd have to find some way to talk to Hamas ... they are not going to go away," adding that Hamas has considerable support from the Palestinian people.

"They won an election that we insisted upon having. And so, as unpleasant a group as they may be and as distasteful as I find some of their positions, I think that through the quartet or through some means, Hamas has to be engaged."

No wonder we had to go back into Iraq to finish what Powell didn't finish during Desert Storm. One wonders whether he would have had the stomach for the Pacific Campaign of World War II, or the common sense to use the atomic bomb on Japan.

As for Hamas, what other genocidal fanatic movements does he want the world to 'engage'? Maybe he thinks we need to talk it out with al-Qaeda too -- after all, they seem to have pretty widespread support in the Muslim world.

Call Nancy Pelosi - her buddy Bashar needs a good talking-to

So Bashar al-Assad, president of Syria, has this brother-in-law, and he's in charge of Syria's intelligence services, right? And it turns out, according to a Lebanese guy arrested in Beirut, this brother-in-law has been using a terrorist organization to destabilize Lebanon -- you know, asssassinate a few politicians, start a battle in a refugee camp that leads to the deaths of more than 100 Lebanese soldiers, that kind of thing.

Beirut - An alleged leader of the Fatah al-Islam terrorist network has testified to interrogators that the group is linked to the head of Syria's intelligence apparatus Maj. Gen. Assef Shawkat, the brother-in-law of President Bashar Assad.

Ahmed Merie, a Lebanese citizen arrested late in May at a Beirut hotel, also testified to military examining magistrate Rashid Mezher that four members of Fatah al-Islam gunned down legislator Pierre Gemayel on Nov. 21 in east Beirut's suburb of Jdaideh, according to the daily al-Moustaqbal.

Another pan Arab daily, al-Sharq al-Awsat, published a similar report.

The report said Merie testified to Mezher during interrogation that he was the "liaison officer" between Fatah al-Islam's leader Shaker Abssi and Shawkat.

Can't Nancy Pelosi call her good friend Bashar al-Assad and straighten this out? I'm sure his brother-in-law didn't KNOW it was evil and a violation of international law to set up a terrorist organization in a neighboring country and help it assassinate that country's lawmakers and destabilize its government.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Why moderate Muslims might be reluctant to speak up about terrorism

Interesting which stories the AP doesn't think Americans need to hear about. Like, for instance, this one, about a Muslim man who thought it was his duty to tell authorities about al-Qaeda affiliates in his neighborhood -- and got cut up into little pieces for his trouble.

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines - A Muslim missionary who tipped off authorities about the activities and whereabouts of al-Qaida-linked militants on a southern Philippine island has been found dead and his body mutilated, a military official said Thursday.

The remains, chopped into pieces and put inside a sack, were found Wednesday in the village of Balagtasan in Lamitan township on Basilan island, more than a week after 14 marines were killed and 10 of them beheaded in an ambush blamed on Muslim rebels.

Marine Col. Ramiro Alivio, the island's military chief, said the slain missionary, who was not identified, had provided information to the military about Abu Sayyaf militants and other "lawless elements" on Basilan.

So what part of this story makes it unsuitable for US consumption: the fact that al-Qaeda terrorists murder their fellow Muslims in gruesome and barbaric ways, or that a devout Muslim had the guts and the humanity to do the right thing and tell the authorities about those terrorists to try to stop them from doing to others what they ended up doing to him?

On the AP wire - but not in the USA

Interesting that this AP story isn't being reported in the USA. Yahoo! Singapore and the Jerusalem Post, yes, but not even on the AP's own Web site Stateside. Maybe the headline is just too much even for AP's US staffers to stomach:

China to continue efforts to bring peace to Darfur

The peace of the grave, for Black Darfurians, that is.

BEIJING - China will continue its efforts to help bring peace to the troubled Darfur region, Vice President Zeng Qinghong said Wednesday during a meeting with a top Sudanese official.

Sudanese First Vice President Salva Kiir was in Beijing as part of a six-day visit to China. He said he appreciated China's role in helping resolve the bloodshed in Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million others displaced since February 2003, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

"China's stance on the Darfur issue is consistent and China has played a constructive role," Zeng said, according to state television. "China will actively push for an early resolution to the Darfur issue."

Consistent, yes: rape and slaughter in Darfur are insignificant unless they impact Chinese commercial interests.

China's involvement in Sudan is becoming a liability as the country tries to portray itself as a responsible power while welcoming the world to the 2008 Olympics, a massive source of national pride.

China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, buys two-thirds of Sudan's oil exports, sells the African country weapons and military aircraft, and has blocked efforts to send U.N. peacekeeping forces to Darfur without Sudanese consent.

Why does the Chinese placing more value on commerce than human rights surprise anyone? After all, one can't expect the Chinese government to care more about the people of Darfur than about its own citizens... which ain't much.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

UN Security Council: Killing civilians is bad

Wow. Who knew?

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The U.N. Security Council called Tuesday on forces in Afghanistan to take all possible precautions to avoid civilians deaths and urged foreign troops to enhance their understanding of local culture by cooperating with Afghan authorities.

The council also condemned Taliban and al-Qaida insurgents for killing innocent Afghans in suicide bombings and using civilians as "human shields." The statement came a week after a suicide attack killed 17 people, including 12 children, in a crowded market in southern Afghanistan.

"The Security Council expresses its concern about all civilian casualties and reiterates its call for all feasible steps to be taken to ensure the protection of civilian life," the 15-member council said in a statement adopted by consensus after closed consultations.

How about if NATO forces annihilate the Taliban and al-Qaeda? There may be some civilian casualties as a consequence of those operations, but the end result will be the cessation of murders by the extremists and no more need for NATO operations.

Yecch - plus the best unintentional pun ever

India has a big problem with HIV infections and AIDS, so Hindustan Latex has come up with a new public service: flavored condoms. Not wimpy fruit-flavored like Westerners are used to -- no, theirs are paan-flavored.

"We are giving the paan-flavoured condoms... it is hugely favoured by the sex workers," company spokesman S Jayaraj said overnight.

An aid group supported by the Bill and Belinda Gates Foundation, which is heavily involved in the fight against AIDS in India, told the firm that sex workers preferred it to more usual flavourings such as banana and strawberry.

"These condoms are free for distribution as the add-on will help sex workers persuade their clients to use them as a protection against HIV/AIDS," Mr Jayaraj said from the firm's headquarters in the southern city of Thiruvananthapuram.

Varieties of betel nut, tobacco jaggery and sweet and bitter pastes are mixed in a concoction called paan sold at street-side stalls across South Asia.

Aficionados chew the mixture wrapped in a leaf and then spit the red saliva onto the sidewalks or buildings that are adorned with the tell-tale stains.

So far as I can tell, paan must taste like the bottom of a well-used ashtray. Yummy!

Asked about future plans for this marvelous product, S Jayaraj had a wonderful choice of words.

"We are also thinking of commercial production of these condoms but that's for the future," he said.

"India's condom market is not ballooning despite our efforts, and that's why we want to sharpen interest with this product because usage is only five per cent in our billion-plus nation," he said.

"India's condom market is not ballooning." Tee-hee.

“Who hasn't felt like doing that?”

Right on, German dude!

A GERMAN man who startled his neighbours when he hurled his computer out of the window in the middle of the night, was let off for disturbing the peace by police who sympathised with his technical frustrations.

Police in the northern city of Hanover said they would not press charges after responding to calls made by residents in an apartment block who were woken by a loud crash in the early hours of Saturday.

Officers found the street and pavement covered in electronic parts and discovered who the culprit was.

Asked what had driven him to the night-time outburst, the 51-year-old man said he had simply got annoyed with his computer.

“Who hasn't felt like doing that?” a police spokesman said.

While escaping any official sanction the man was made to clear up the debris.

Who, indeed?

The law of unintended consequences

Hookers in Mombasa are covering up.

Prostitutes are known for their skimpy attire, but Kenya's coastal port of Mombasa is witnessing a controversial fashion makeover.

The twilight ladies, as the city's residents refer to the sex workers, have traded their revealing outfits for the more austere buibui - a loose, floor-length gown and head covering favoured by Muslim women.

Walking along the city's main red-light streets at night, one comes across many of the buibui-clad prostitutes.

Although most shy away from speaking to the press, a few are willing to talk.

"I'm better off wearing the buibui so I look respectable. I can avoid arrest. I am just trying to get some money to live on," one says.

Another claims she wears her buibui to hide her identity.

"I know I am sinning, but I'm forced to because I am looking for my livelihood. So to me, it's acceptable," she says.

Most of her customers are local men, not tourists. She says wearing a buibui helped them to more easily pick out women from the region.

One might think that this effort to clean up the town's image would garner approval from conservative citizens. The local respectable Muslim ladies are not happy, however.

"I feel so embarrassed that sometimes I contemplate removing my buibui and throwing it away. The buibui has lost its respect," Mariam Salma says.

Says the organising secretary of the Council of Imams of Kenya, Sheikh Muhammad Khalifa:

"We are saddened because the government is ignoring the problem."

If the trend continues, police are likely to mistake respectable women for prostitutes, he says.

"For God's sake, if one has decided to join this profession, the uniform of prostitutes is well known.

"They should stick to their disgraceful attire."

Well, it does make for more interesting scenery.

Pagans may be humor-challenged

Of course, I'm not a pagan, so I can't judge how offensive this is, but it seems that the movie studio was within its rights to pull this promotional stunt.

Pagans have pledged to perform "rain magic" to wash away Homer Simpson, the cartoon character, who was painted next to their famous fertility symbol, the Cerne Abbas giant, yesterday.

The 17th century chalk outline of the naked, club-wielding giant is believed by many to be a symbol of ancient spirituality.

Many couples also believe the 180ft giant, which is carved in the hillside above Cerne Abbas, Dorset, is an aid to fertility.

A Homer Simpson brandishing a doughnut was painted next to the figure in a publicity stunt for a film company.

It has been painted with water-based biodegradable paint which will wash away as soon as it rains.


Monday, July 16, 2007

How Are You Feeling Today?

To Die In Jerusalem

To Die in Jerusalem


While working on my master’s degree in film and television at Southern Illinois University, I read a newspaper article about a bombing in Jerusalem. Shortly thereafter, I saw an article in Newsweek about the event, with a close-up photograph of the two girls on the cover. I couldn’t stop looking at them! The more I read, the more I realized that this tragic story ironically represents everything I feel regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As I started to learn more about the girls, it struck me that in a different time and place, they might have been best friends or even sisters who were simply out shopping together. Faith, or fate, brought each of them to the end of her life in such a tragic manner!

I tried to put myself in Ayat’s place. I tried to understand what would lead a beautiful girl just starting her life and with plans for the future, to wake up one morning, take a bag of explosives and put an end to her life — and in the process end the lives of others.

I contacted the mothers of the girls — Avigail Levy and Um Samir al-Akhras — and found them to be two wonderful women, each struggling to cope with her daughter’s death. They opened their hearts and shared their pain with me. This is where the real challenge began: Could I help close the gap between them or would cultural differences and hate ultimately stand in the way of reconciliation? Are their lives permanently unbridgeable in light of pictures/posters praising the young Palestinian’s actions and her parents’ hesitant pride as a result?

The more I got to know the mothers and their stories, the more I felt a deepening desire, along with Avigail Levy, to embark on a journey in search of the answer to the most basic question, Why? The highlight of the journey — for all of us — is an emotional meeting between Avigail and Um Samir.

Just as seeing the pictures of Rachel and Ayat — so similar and yet so different — drew me into their story in the first place, the dream of a meeting between the two women stirred me to take my own personal journey with this film. I believe that theirs is a story that needs to be told, in part because we can all identify with the individuals in this tragedy. Most of us have all been 17, after all.

Hilla Medalia,


On the morning of March 29, 2002, Ayat al-Akhras had just spent a long night of studying for a big test at school. After taking the test, she met the man who drove her to a targeted grocery store, where, at 1:45 p.m. she detonated her bomb — killing herself, Rachel Levy and a guard, and injuring 30.

Because Al-Akhras and Levy looked so much alike, there was immediate confusion following the bombing as to who had carried it out. In an interview, the chief of police initially said that there appeared to have been two female suicide bombers. Professor Yehuda Hiss from the Forensic Institute remembers how the two girls were even wearing similar clothes and had been injured in what is known as the “mirror image effect,” i.e., their injuries were almost identical. As they lay side-by-side in the morgue, it was impossible to ignore the similarities between them. And, both girls had plans for the future.

Al-Akhras was engaged to be married that summer and wanted to go to college to become a journalist so she could defend the Palestinian cause before the world. Undoubtedly, the environment of Israeli occupation in which she grew up, and the exposure to violence and death, had influenced her profoundly. When al-Akhras’ motivation for committing this act is examined, it appears that she might have had several reasons; however, substance abuse does not seem to be one of them. Professor Hiss concluded there were never traces of drugs or any other toxic substance that could indicate a motivation for the suicide bombing. Dr. Anat Barko, in her book, On The Way To Heaven – The World of Suicide Bombers, has suggested that most female suicide bombers have personal problems such as family conflict, an intimate relationship with a terrorist, sexual relations before marriage, or a problematic social status (such as divorce or sterility). Others have indicated that suicide bombing is a way for females to gain power in a male-dominated society. Or perhaps al-Akhras and others like her simply want to fight for their cause but are feeling frustrated by current conditions and negative, suppressive and/or traumatic life experiences they’ve endured thus far.

Levy, like all 18-year-old Israelis, was about to join the army and wanted to study art and design. Her family had returned to Jerusalem following nine years in the United States. When Avigail and Amos divorced, their three children — Guy, Rachel and Kobi — stayed with their mother, while their father moved to Tel Aviv.

Neither of the young women’s fathers supported the idea of a meeting between the two mothers.


On March 29, 2002, 17-year-old Israeli Rachel Levy walked into a grocery store in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat Yovel to purchase ingredients for Sabbath dinner. Soon thereafter, 17-year-old Palestinian Ayat al-Akhras approached the store’s entrance carrying a black purse loaded with explosives. She issued a brief warning to two elderly Arab women sitting just outside selling fruits and vegetables.

The store’s security guard stopped al-Akhras, who seemed suspicious. She immediately activated the explosive bag — killing herself, Levy and the guard, while injuring 30 civilians. The end result: three more victims added to the Middle East catalogue of martyrdom.

Al-Akhras had been transported to the store by Ibrahim Sarahnah, an Israeli Arab**, with whom she’d rendezvoused earlier, near Bethlehem. Sarahnah was later captured — on his way back from another bombing — and is now serving time at the Gilboa Jail in northern Israel.

Before al-Akhras had left the camp earlier that afternoon, she read her suicide statement into a video camera. It included verses from the Quran, and blamed Palestinian and other Arab leaders and armies for not coming to the aid of the Palestinians and their cause. She also blamed them for “leaving the fighting to Palestinian girls.” Among its themes, the film investigates what might have led this young Palestinian girl to undertake such a deadly mission.

One wonders whether the two 17 year olds with very similar looks may have briefly glanced at one another before the detonation. Perhaps they noticed that they were around the same age, had long dark hair and dark complexions, small body types and even similar facial features. Both were high school seniors with plans and dreams.

But, even though the two young women had numerous similarities and had grown up less than four miles apart, they hailed from two vastly different worlds. Al-Akhras lived in the Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem, a heavily populated and impoverished area under the constant threat of Israeli incursions and where some 11,000 people are crammed together in one square kilometer. Al-Akhras’ formative years were spent in an environment of death, fear, checkpoints and humiliations. Levy, by contrast, grew up in a Jerusalem neighborhood remarkably western in style and culture, with an atmosphere of openness, freedom, independence and abundance. With all that, there is also the constant threat of terror, which creates lack of basic freedom and difficulties and fear in daily life.

Following the deaths of their cherished daughters, both families are hurt and broken. Levy’s mother can’t get over the loss of her daughter and struggles constantly with negative feelings toward al-Akhras, her family and Palestinians in general. Levy is unable to comprehend how a 17-year-old girl could decide to end her life — just like that — and potentially take so many others with her. As part of her quest for answers, Levy decides that she wants to meet the mother of her daughter’s killer.

TO DIE IN JERUSALEM presents the deadly conflict between Israel and Palestine through the eyes of two families who have lost their daughters in the conflict. By contrasting the lives and deaths of these two teenage girls, the documentary offers a personal perspective that is all too often eclipsed by political issues. The film explores on one side, al-Akhras’ reasons and ideology, and the events that led her to sacrifice her life. On the other, Levy, who paid with her life when she was caught up in the ongoing conflict during her daily routine.

Nothing about it is simple. Or clear. While one girl’s death was, in a sense, chosen, the other’s was a twist of fate or tragic destiny — yet both are victims of one of the longest, most complicated and disturbing conflicts of our time. The film’s glimpse into each young woman’s world seeks to enhance the viewer’s understanding of the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, while opening a window into the lives of these tragic families as they cope with their pain.

TO DIE IN JERUSALEM doesn’t suggest a solution to the conflict, but unabashedly explores the difficulties, fears and gaps between opposing sides. However, as Avigail Levy’s character develops through the film, and al-Akhras agrees to meet with her, a channel of communication opens up. And with it, new hope for a better future.

* Israeli-Arabs are full citizens of the State of Israel, with equal protection under the law, and full rights of due process. Israeli Arabs comprise around 15 percent of the country’s total number of citizens. They are the descendants of the 150,000 Arabs who remained within Israel’s borders during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and of the Wadi-Ara Palestinians who came under Israel jurisdiction as part of a territory exchange under the 1949 Armistice Agreement with Jordan.

Bundle up against the desert summer heat, ladies

News out of Iran regarding summer fashions.

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian police stepped up a crackdown on Monday on women ignoring strict Islamic dress codes, including sending newly trained women officers to help "guide" violators, a police official said.

Police in the Islamic Republic had said they would intensify a drive in the next few days against women whose veils do not cover their hair properly, or whose overcoats are too short.

Such crackdowns occur annually in early summer but this year's has been longer and more severe than in the recent past.

"Our (police) colleagues will give necessary notification to those who won't act within the social norms of society," Mehdi Ahmadi, head of the police information centre, told Reuters.

He said women who ignored police advice would be taken to police stations "to improve their behavior". The main effort against such violations will go ahead as announced in the Iranian month of Mordad, beginning July 23, he added.

Current weather forecast for Tehran: highs of about 100 degrees Fahrenheit all week. Perfect weather to cover up from head to toe in a black chador.

Islamofacist aikido: using the West's bureaucracy as a weapon

The United States won the Cold War by forcing the Soviet Union to collapse under the weight of its own bureaucracy. Now the international Islamofascist movement is using the same technique against the societies of the West.

Special Branch and MI5 officers are forced under human rights laws to spend hours form-filling before carrying out the most basic surveillance tasks.

The problems are made worse by undermanning and mean that only a handful of the estimated 150 Islamic extremist suspects in Scotland are under constant surveillance.

We have discovered serious misgivings among officers about manning levels and the law under which they operate, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).

We can reveal that:

• Getting permission for the most basic surveillance operation, such as observing a building, takes up to half a day of paperwork and referrals to senior officers;

• Authorisation for a full-scale surveillance operation, such as following a suspect, can require up to three days of bureaucracy;

• If requests are rejected, officers have to spend around three or four hours filling in forms to explain why;

• Keeping one suspect under 24-hour surveillance takes between 24 and 36 highly trained staff, but there are thought to be just 250 Special Branch officers in Scotland;

• Health and safety regulations mean officers are generally restricted to working maximum shifts of eight hours;

• Most operations have to be justified at monthly and three-monthly intervals, requiring many hours of preparation.

Insiders have told Scotland on Sunday they believe that, largely as a result of these and other rules and regulations, as few as 10% of suspected extremists are under high levels of surveillance.

This, at the same time that member of the U.S. Congress want to put regulations in place "supporting the troops" by straitjacketing the Department of Defense in the length and frequency of an individual service member's deployments. What our Congressmen (and so many others in the West) fail to understand is, whether or not we are conducting a Global War on Terror, the Islamfascists are undoubtedly and wholeheartedly conducting a Global War on Us.

Let the shame be on the Muslim nations, not on Israel

Israeli citizens are taking action to prevent shame from coming down on the Israeli state over its treatment of refugees from Darfur.

An Israeli volunteer holds a Sudanese child in her arms during a demonstration at the Wohl Rose Grden in Jerusalem on Sunday. The sign reads 'Deportation=Death'.
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

One family who took in a Darfuri family Sunday morning said they felt it was their duty as Jews and Israelis to help asylum-seekers.

David, who asked not to use his real name for fear of putting both his family and the Darfuri family at risk, is on the board of the international Jewish volunteer movement Brit Olam.

"What is interesting to me about it is that private Israelis don't go around making declarations about what they want to do, they just go and do it," said David. "The government has made the declaration 'never again,' we heard it from [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert and other politicians on Holocaust Remembrance Day. But those declarations have not yet yielded action."

After reading about the refugees in the press, David and his daughter visited a group camped outside the Wohl Rose Garden. After a discussion with his family, they decided to offer a family two rooms in their house.

"We are currently handling it on a day-to-day basis," said David. "I was talking to my daughter about some of the problems on the phone. I said, 'We are all pushing boundaries to do this.' And she told me, 'Yes, I guess that is what it means to do a mitzva sometimes.'"
Israel has legitimate security concerns about people infiltrating over its southern border. But as far as refugees from Darfur are concerned, let their mistreatment be the shame of the Muslim world, and let Israel be a light unto the world to show how compassion should be extended to the oppressed.

Owls and kestrels bringing Jews and Arabs together

Interesting and hopeful story from the Middle East: Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians confer on using owls and kestrels to control rats in date orchards.

[AP Video here]

The effort still faces suspicions and superstitions, but organizers hope the message of their partial success will spread to Lebanon, Syria and other Middle Eastern countries, and demonstrate the fruits of the 1994 peace treaty that ended a 46-year state of war between Israel and Jordan.

Political benefits aside, the project is driven foremost by environmental concerns.

In the late 1970s, chemicals killed hundreds of birds in northern Israel, said Yossi Leshem, an Israeli ornithologist and director of the International Center for the Study of Bird Migration.

So Leshem persuaded Sde Eliyahu, a kibbutz south of the Sea of Galilee, to try owls, which can eat up to 10 rodents a day. All the farmers needed was to build boxes where the birds could mate and raise their young.

"I put up 14 barn owl boxes, and everybody laughed at me," said Shauli Aviel, who oversees the effort at the collective farm.

A few years later, Sde Eliyahu's rat problem had vanished, he said. More than 60 nesting boxes now sit on the grounds of the kibbutz, and the technique has caught on with other farmers along the Jordan.

Yet as the owl population grew, the birds increasingly began flying - and looking to nest - across the nearby border with Jordan, where pesticide use remains rampant. Chemicals seeped into the water table, and owls were poisoned by eating contaminated rodents.

Then came the peace treaty, Israelis and Jordanians got used to being good neighbors, and in late 2002 Aviel and fellow Israeli farmers planned a regional conference on barn owls to explain their advantages to colleagues across the Jordan River.

The response was discouraging. Many Arabs consider owls the same way others view black cats - as bad luck. Word came back to the Israelis that no Jordanians would attend.

So the organizers changed the title of the conference to focus on organic farming, and two dozen Jordanians turned up. Midway through the gathering they were given a demonstration on owls, and soon Jordanian farmers were asking how they could attract owls to their fields, Aviel said.

With funding from the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland, Ohio, the kibbutz gave the Jordanians advice and building materials. More than three dozen nesting boxes have since been put up in Jordan, organizers said.

Someday the Arab nations will stop thinking of Israel as an embarrassing reminder of past failures and will start thinking of it as a source for useful knowledge and technology -- in other words, a good neighbor. That is, if the world's Islamofascist fanatics don't succeed in annihilating Israel first.

He came to kill and be killed, and found mercy

Hamid Karzai showed mercy toward a boy who was sent by Pakistani Islamofascists to kill Afghans.

The first whiskers of a moustache on his top lip, Rafiqullah stood to one side of the Afghan president, his father, with a full beard, stood to the other, at a ceremony in the capital on Sunday.

Rafiqullah's father, a poor tradesman from South Waziristan in Pakistan, had sent his son to a religious school, or madrassa, to learn the Koran. Later, when he asked where his son was, the teachers there brushed him off, he said.

Then last month, the 14-year-old was caught wearing a suicide vest on a motorbike in the eastern Afghan city of Khost.

"Today we are facing a hard fact, that is a Muslim child was sent to madrassa to learn Islamic subjects, but the enemies of Afghanistan misled him towards suicide and prepared him to die and kill," Karzai told reporters, his arm on the boy's shoulder.

The fanatics who sent Rafiqullah on his mission had no mercy or pity for him. One hopes that the current crackdown on radicals in Pakistan will put an end to this barabarity.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Egyptians recognize a useful idiot when they see one

The Egyptians have denied Ramsey Clark access to a military trial of terrorist suspects.

CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian military court barred former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark from observing a trial session on Sunday for 40 opposition Islamists on charges that include money-laundering and terrorism, an Islamist source said.

A source in the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's strongest opposition group, said security men had barred entry to Clark. They also barred a Jordanian lawyer sent to observe the trial for rights group Amnesty International.

Military trials in Egypt are usually held behind closed doors and attendance requires a permit from the court. Rights groups were also barred from an earlier trial session in June.

Mr. Clark is upset that the Egyptians are not presenting their throats to be slit by Islamofascists of the Muslim Brotherhood.

"What would a military court have to do with this matter? Does anybody really believe that the civilian courts in Egypt are incapable of determining the rights of these men?" said Clark, who was the top U.S. attorney in the late 1960s before becoming an anti-Vietnam war activist.

"I hope and pray that Egypt will see the light and that this government will concede the error of its ways," he added.

Clark also said the defendants deserved compensation for what he described as wrongful prosecution, saying they were held "without any charges that have any substance in any law in any land that believes in freedom". The Brotherhood says the men were not involved in any wrongdoing.

Ramsey Clark is living proof that (a) Communist true believers infiltrated the highest ranks of U.S. government in past decades, and (b) today's Communist true believers see their only hope of world revolution in a death-struggle between Islamfascism and Capitalism, which they hope will weaken both sides sufficiently to allow neo-Soviet Socialism to emerge as the savior of mankind. Ramsey Clark's reference to "freedom" is nauseating, since his ultimate goal is for all human rights and freedoms to be subsumed into the "freedom" to serve the Global Socialist State.

What does a dog do with a car if he catches it?

In the vein of "be careful what you wish for, you might get it," here's the result of a new poll of residents of the Gaza strip.

The poll of Gaza residents shows a backlash. Hamas got only 23 percent support, down from 29 percent in the previous survey last month, while Fatah climbed from 31 percent to 43 percent.

The poll, the first major survey since the Hamas takeover, also showed that 66 percent of Hamas supporters said they would vote Fatah if it undertook reforms.

The poll, released by Near East Consulting, interviewed 450 residents of the Gaza Strip. It quoted a margin of error of 3.05 percentage points.

Fatah showed weakness in its armed confrontation with Hamas. Why, then, have the residents of Gaza lost respect for the latter in favor of the former?

"I was surprised," said Jamil Rabah, head of Near East Consulting.

Rabah said price hikes and food shortages along with a perception that Hamas was becoming increasingly authoritarian, contributed to its fall in support.

Trust in the Gaza-based deposed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas stood at 37 percent, compared to 63 percent for Abbas. Prime Minister Sallam Fayad got higher trust marks than Haniyeh, 62-38 percent.

"A lot of people answering this question said we like Haniyeh more, but we want people who can really deliver," Rabah said. "People are becoming more realistic."

One hopes that realism might extend at some point to the recognition that driving the Jews out of Israel proper and into the sea ain't never gonna happen -- and that finding a way to co-exist with Israel without terror is the only way forward for Gazans in the long term.

A silver lining in a horribly dark cloud?

Potentially this is the best news in the terror war to come along for some time.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) -- Militants in northwest Pakistan disavowed a peace pact with the government and launched two days of suicide attacks and bombings that killed at least 70 people, dramatically escalating the violence in the al-Qaida infiltrated region.

The attacks Sunday and Saturday followed strident calls by extremists to avenge the government's bloody storming of Islamabad's Red Mosque and a declaration of jihad, or holy war, by at least one pro-Taliban cleric.

The terrorist murders of 70 people as good news? Well, consider this.

A document announcing the end of the peace pact in North Waziristan was passed around in the bazaar in Miran Shah. The signatories referred to themselves as the Taliban, a term commonly used by militants in northwest Pakistan, though their links with the Taliban fighting in neighboring Afghanistan are murky.

Under the Sept. 5, 2006, truce, the Pakistan army pulled back to barracks tens of thousands of troops that had been involved in bloody operations against suspected Taliban and al-Qaida hideouts, and militants agreed to halt attacks in Pakistan and over the border against foreign troops in Afghanistan. Tribal elders were supposed to police the deal.

Musharraf had clung to the agreement and similar pacts in neighboring areas, arguing that, by empowering tribal leaders to police their own fiefdoms in return for development aid, they offered the only chance of bringing long-term stability.

However, critics have argued that Musharraf's decision to cut a deal effectively handed the Taliban and al-Qaida a safe haven from which to plot attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan and in the West.

If this represents a real shift in Pakistani government policy -- if President Musharraf really has decided to stop trying to appease both the Islamofascists and the West and chosen the side of good, and if he can convince his military that their dependence on Islamic fundamentalist groups no longer serves its interest -- then this attack will help reinforce their resolve by proving that the radicals are interested only in jihad.

On the other hand, if these attacks cause Musharraf to lose his nerve, or if the Islamicists in his military convince their fellow officers once again to compromise with evil, it will be a black day for Pakistan and the world.

On patrol with UNIFIL

The patrol comes across Lebanese workmen resurfacing a route often used by the Leclerc tanks. They are outside the village now, so soldiers have donned flack jackets and carry their weapons.

Algerian-born soldier Rachide Tifaoui speaks to the Lebanese workmen in Arabic, but their two dialects are very different and it takes a while to get the information the patrol needs.

Gee, I hope the UNIFIL commanders are bright enough and clear-eyed enough to use a magnetometer to look for mines buried under that nice new tarmac.

Friday, July 13, 2007

US Senate flexes its super-powers

The U.S. Senate leaps into action! Since the bounty of $25 million on Osama Bin Laden's head has had zero effect in leading to his capture, the Senate votes to double it. Hey, twice the dollars, twice the success, right?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Friday voted to double the bounty on Osama bin Laden to $50 million and require President George W. Bush to refocus on capturing him after reports al Qaeda is gaining strength.

By a vote of 87-1, the Senate set the reward for the killing or capture, or information leading to the capture, of the mastermind of the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Critics of Bush's "global war on terror" have accused him of putting too much emphasis on Iraq, which had no known connection to the September 11 attacks, at the expense of efforts to get bin Laden and dismantle al Qaeda.

Right. Killing hundreds of al-Qaeda members in Iraq has nothing to do with dismantling al-Qaeda. And the thousands of NATO troops in Afghanistan have been ignoring the hunt for Bin Laden.

But the added money, and more importantly, reports to Congress, will do the trick -- this time, for sure!

Sen. Byron Dorgan, also a North Dakota Democrat, said more important than the bounty was the legislation's requirement that the administration give Congress classified reports on the hunt for al Qaeda leaders every 90 days....

Citing reports that bin Laden could be in a secure hideaway in Pakistan, Dorgan said, "There should not be one square inch on this planet" that is safe for bin Laden.

Sen. Jim Bunning, the Kentucky Republican who cast the only vote against raising the bounty, said catching al Qaeda leaders already was a "top priority." In a slap at Democrats, he added, "If Senator Dorgan truly supported our efforts to fight al Qaeda he would not support withdrawing from Iraq, a key battleground against al Qaeda and in the war on terror."

Of course, Congress could declare war on Pakistan and give the President the green light to invade the Northwest Frontier and Tribal Areas of that country to hunt down Bin Laden. The Pakistanis might, however, take exception -- and they do have nuclear weapons.

It's worth noting that at long last, Pakistan's President Musharraf has been forced into taking action against Islamic radicals in his country. That may lead to the Pakistani military pushing Bin Laden out of his safe haven in Pakistan's northwest and into the waiting arms of the NATO forces in Afghanistan. Better to promote this strategy than pretend that money will somehow solve the problem.

Of course, if Bin Laden is truly imaginative (as he always has proven to be), he might see this new reward level as a fundraising opportunity. He could allow a sympathizer to turn him in, knowing that the end result will be the US Congress giving al-Qaeda a $50 million cash injection.

On the other hand, I don't understand why the Democrats in Congress don't simply pass a law making it illegal for Bin Laden to remain in hiding. While they're at it, they could pass another law requiring al-Qaeda to redeploy from Iraq within 120 days. I'm sure that in their minds, it's just that simple.

That's just bloody ungrateful

After all the steadfastness Australia has shown in the war to liberate the Iraqis from Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi national soccer team goes and does this.

THE Socceroos' Asian Cup campaign lies in tatters after Iraq stunned the pre-tournament favourites 3-1 in their second Group A match at Rajamangala Stadium tonight.

After falling behind to a first-half goal, then equalising through skipper Mark Viduka just following halftime, Australia were picked apart defensively by the Iraqis on the hour for Hawar Mulla Mohammed to score a second.

Karrar Jassim Mohammed then finished the Socceroos off with a third with five minutes remaining to leave their tournament hanging by a thread.

Who'd have thought they could take time out from killing each other and being blown up by suicide bombers to field a national soccer side, much less a winning one? Or is the situation in Iraq less bleak than the mainstream media would have us believe?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Leahy: Al-Qaeda terrorists = Japanese-Americans

Senility is not an attractive quality in United States Senators.
Two top US Senators on Tuesday urged lawmakers to back their drive to restore basic legal rights to inmates of the US "war on terror" camp at Guantanamo Bay.

The bill, an amendment to a defense funding measure being debated in the Senate, would restore the writ of Habeas Corpus to camp inmates -- which would allow the accused to challenge their detention in a US court.

"Like the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, the elimination of habeas rights was an action driven by fear, and it was a stain on America's reputation in the world," said Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee.

Several hundred inmates at the notorious camp in Cuba were deprived of the right, which legal and human rights activists say is a fundamental underpinning of justice, by a bill passed when Congress was in Republican hands last year.

Senator Arlen Specter, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, is co-sponsoring the move, which is expected to face a challenge from a dueling amendment, also from the Republican side.

"If we lose the basic fundamental rights to require evidence before somebody is held in detention, if we lose the right of habeas corpus, it is a very sad day in America," Specter said.

So Senator Leahy is equating al-Qaeda terrorists with Japanese-American internees? How interesting. Perhaps someone should point out to the good Senator that the detainees at Guantanamo are accused of something more than merely being of a certain race or national origin. Whereas the Japanese-American internees were rounded up based on a fear of what they might do because of who they were, the Guantanamo detainees are in custody for what they have already done.

Senator Specter is equally demented. "We" haven't lost the right of habeas corpus. Guantanamo was selected for the purpose of detaining enemy combatants precisely because it isn't in America. And if we have to start treating enemy combatants as criminal defendants, perhaps we had better require our troops in the field to Mirandize the enemy before shooting them.

There is one other interesting point. Despite what the U.S. government did to Japanese-Americans by interning them in relocation camps, a fair number of young men in those camps responded by volunteering for service in the U.S. Army in the Fighting 442nd Nisei brigade, fighting with valor in Europe. Sen. Leahy can ask his colleague Daniel Inouye of Hawaii about his experience in the Nisei Brigade. And then they can ponder, along with Sen. Specter and all of the other Senators so tenderly concerned for the detainees at Guantanamo, why it is that Muslim-Americans did not volunteer in droves in the aftermath of 9/11 to form an Islamic version of the Fighting 442nd.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Security checkpoints create points of insecurity

Like any evolving system, predators adapt to exploit the very defenses their prey have developed.

Long queues for security and check-in made an "excellent target" for potential bombers, the Tory transport spokesman told MPs.

Julian Brazier, a former SAS soldier, said that jihadists might adopt similar techniques as those seen in Iraq, where civilians were often targeted at checkpoints.

"A bomber can simply walk into a terminal carrying or wheeling a large bomb in a suitcase," he said. "The plain fact is that long, densely packed queues represent a hugely tempting target to terrorists."

This amplifies the point I made in an earlier UFTS post. One successful bombing of a queue or crowd will make the entire system vulnerable to spoof bombs and empty bomb threats: authorities will have to clear the facilities under threat, regardless of how many threats prove hollow. The effect of one bomb will be multiplied many-fold and cripple Western economies.

Summer of (something other than) love

Forty years ago, it was flower power. In 2007, we hope it isn't flour power (chapati flour, that is). US officials are very nervous about the coming summer season, knowing how much al-Qaeda loves its summer avocation of blowing people up.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. counterterror officials are warning of an increased risk of an attack this summer, given al-Qaida's apparent interest in summertime strikes and increased al-Qaida training in the Afghan-Pakistani border region.

On Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told the editorial board of The Chicago Tribune that he had a "gut feeling" about a new period of increased risk.

He based his assessment on earlier patterns of terrorists in Europe and intelligence he would not disclose.

"Summertime seems to be appealing to them," Chertoff said in his discussion with the newspaper about terrorists. "We worry that they are rebuilding their activities."

Other U.S. counterterrorism officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, shared Chertoff's concern and said that al-Qaida and like-minded groups have been able to plot and train more freely in the tribal areas along the Afghan-Pakistani border in recent months. Osama bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, are believed to be hiding in the rugged region.

One hopes (probably in vain) that the Lal Masjid takedown in Islamabad has opened the door to more counterterrorism operations on the Pakistani side of the Pak-Afghan border.

One also hopes (probably also in vain) that the al-Qaeda cells operating in the USA at present are as inept as the 7/21 bombers in Britain, who couldn't get their recipe right.

Four men who were given sanctuary in Britain after leaving their war-torn countries were yesterday found guilty of a plot that would have killed hundreds of people on the London transport system two years ago.

Muktar Ibrahim, 29, the leader of the suicide gang, was seen by officers on at least four occasions before the bombings, Woolwich Crown Court had heard and was on bail after being arrested on suspicion of extremism.

London was saved only by Ibrahim's lack of basic arithmetic. A scribbled note found at the bomb factory showed that Ibrahim, who had failed maths GCSE, had wrongly calculated the ratio of ingredients, rendering the bombs harmless.

Despite having a criminal record, he was given British citizenship even as he plotted the potentially murderous attacks.

And certanly one hopes -- perhaps with a bit more realism -- that the police in the USA are currently doing a better job of tracking suspected terror cells than the British were doing prior to the 7/21 plot, even after the successful 7/7 bombings.

The fact that they came so close to causing carnage when they had been known to the police will raise fresh questions over the value of the intelligence available to the security services and whether it was properly acted upon.

In January and August 2003 Ibrahim was seen with Mohammed on police surveillance video at Finsbury Park Mosque, where Omar and Osman also attended regularly.

In May 2004, police watched all four bombers on a camping trip at a farm in Langdale in the Lake District running up and down carrying rucksacks. In October the same year, Ibrahim was arrested by police for breach of the peace while handing out extremist literature in Oxford Street.

He jumped bail and a letter was sent to his flat saying: "Come to us before we come to you."

In December, Ibrahim was stopped by Special Branch officers at Heathrow airport before boarding a flight to Pakistan. They found his luggage included cold weather clothing, a sleeping bag and a video camera along with £2,000 in cash. One of his companions had £2,200, a military first aid kit and a manual on how to deal with ballistic injuries.

A Port Stop Request form recording the incident was filled in but the three men were allowed to go on their way.

Ibrahim flew to Pakistan, where he is said to have learned his bomb-making skills alongside Mohammed Siddique Khan and Shezhad Tanweer.

And, of course, closing the circle, San Francisco certainly has to be on the short list of potential targets for al-Qaeda in the USA. Not only is it the city whose mores are most likely to offend Muslim funadmentalist values, but its political leadership is all but dismissive of the threat of Islamofascist terror.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The New York Times: We love genocide (shhh! Don't tell anyone)

On July 7, The New York Times ran an editorial that, in part, called for China to do more to stop the genocide in Darfur:

Washington needs to have what diplomats call a frank discussion with Beijing about its irresponsible export of poisonous toothpaste, dog food and toys and its piracy of American-produced software, movies and other goods. And Washington needs to encourage China to become a more constructive international player on issues from global warming to ending genocide in Darfur.

Of course, the main thrust of the editorial was to plead that China not be improperly pressured to revalue its currency. However, one might be tempted to take heart, just a tiny bit, from The New York Times opposing genocide.

One might, that is, until one reads the July 8 editorial calling for an immediate and abrupt pullout of American forces from Iraq.

When Congress returns this week, extricating American troops from the war should be at the top of its agenda.

That conversation must be candid and focused. Americans must be clear that Iraq, and the region around it, could be even bloodier and more chaotic after Americans leave. There could be reprisals against those who worked with American forces, further ethnic cleansing, even genocide. Potentially destabilizing refugee flows could hit Jordan and Syria. Iran and Turkey could be tempted to make power grabs. Perhaps most important, the invasion has created a new stronghold from which terrorist activity could proliferate.

The administration, the Democratic-controlled Congress, the United Nations and America’s allies must try to mitigate those outcomes — and they may fail. But Americans must be equally honest about the fact that keeping troops in Iraq will only make things worse.

Keeping American troops in Iraq is in fact the only hope the world has of preventing the "even bloodier and more chaotic" outcomes that include ethnic cleansing and genocide. Apparently the Times opposes genocide so long as nothing concrete is done to stop genocide, and opposes concrete actions to prevent genocide so long as preventing genocide also prevents chaos in the Middle East from causing the collapse of the capitalist economies of the West.

Why leave Iraq?

Despite President Bush’s repeated claims, Al Qaeda had no significant foothold in Iraq before the invasion, which gave it new base camps, new recruits and new prestige.

This war diverted Pentagon resources from Afghanistan, where the military had a real chance to hunt down Al Qaeda’s leaders. It alienated essential allies in the war against terrorism. It drained the strength and readiness of American troops.

And it created a new front where the United States will have to continue to battle terrorist forces and enlist local allies who reject the idea of an Iraq hijacked by international terrorists. The military will need resources and bases to stanch this self- inflicted wound for the foreseeable future.


Any argument that America should pull its forces out of Iraq and leave that nation to its fate applies ten-fold to Afghanistan. Afghanistan is on the periphery of the Middle East. It is not near to the oil fields of the Persian Gulf. If its people slide back into Salafist repression, it makes no short-term difference to Western interests -- so long as it is isolated, its opium fields burnt, its Taliban preachers prevented from communicating to the outside world.

But, of course, the fate of Afghanistan is of vital long-term strategic importance to the West. Showing that there is a democratic, forward-looking alternative to Islamofascism is important to the West's efforts to combat al-Qaeda's philosophy globally. Developing economic alternatives to opium is vital to collapsing the world's narcotics industry. And keeping US and NATO forces in Afghanistan is vital to keeping the pressure not only on al-Qaeda and the Taliban, but on their allies within Pakistan's tribal regions, Islamic fundamentalist community, military and government. Despite the desperate assertion of the Times' editorialist, US and NATO forces had no chance to hunt down al-Qaeda's top leadership so long as Pakistan refused to fight Taliban influence within its own borders -- a development that has only now come to pass with the Musharraf regime's willingness to take on the Lal Masjid militants.

The US and NATO going to Afghanistan pushed al-Qaeda out of its bases in that country and forced them to find new fronts for their war with the West. Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri have decamped out of Afghanistan and into the Northwest Territories and Tribal Areas of Pakistan, where American and NATO forces cannot follow and from which they can issue directives to existing and would=be al-Qaeda cells worldwide. Had the US-led coalition not entered Iraq to overthrow Saddam's regime, and only focused on the Afghan campaign, the same terror attacks in London, Spain, Glasgow and elsewhere would have happened, and many more -- for Western intelligence agencies would never have come into possession of the operational and tactical intelligence the US has intercepted in Iraq. Saddam would remain in power, continuing plots to defeat Western sanctions on his regime, and having the means (through the vast fraud in the UN Oil-for-Food program, for example) to bankroll al-Qaeda terrorism throughout the globe.

Of course, The New York Times isn't in that cut-and-run crowd -- oh, no, far from it.

The United States could strike an agreement with the Kurds to create those bases in northeastern Iraq. Or, the Pentagon could use its bases in countries like Kuwait and Qatar, and its large naval presence in the Persian Gulf, as staging points.

There are arguments for, and against, both options. Leaving troops in Iraq might make it too easy — and too tempting — to get drawn back into the civil war and confirm suspicions that Washington’s real goal was to secure permanent bases in Iraq. Mounting attacks from other countries could endanger those nations’ governments.

The White House should make this choice after consultation with Congress and the other countries in the region, whose opinions the Bush administration has essentially ignored. The bottom line: the Pentagon needs enough force to stage effective raids and airstrikes against terrorist forces in Iraq, but not enough to resume large-scale combat.
In other words, the USA should choose between having inadequate forces and rules of engagement while keeping its troops in Iraq, or having inadequate forces and rules of engagement while basing its troops in Gulf Arab states that would then become the prime focus of Iranian terror and military intimidation. In the Times' view, the USA should remain involved in Iraq, but only on a level that guarantees that al-Qaeda will never be pushed out of Iraq and that Iran and Syria will always have the means and motivation to terrorize and murder Iraqis on a grand scale.

Plainly and simply, the editorial board of The New York Times love genocide, they adore it -- so long as it lets them look good by making disapproving noises and makes the USA and the capitalist West look weak, impotent and heartless. Strong, resolute action to stop genocide, punish its perpetrators and prevent its resumption will always drive it to distraction, for it threatens the charade on which rely their progressive reputation -- and their subscription revenues.

Friday, July 6, 2007

What about the ones already here?

It's all very comforting: the bad guys came knocking but they didn't get into the USA.

An FBI spokeswoman said Friday that two of the suspects - Mohammed Asha, 26, and another man whose name she didn't give - contacted the Philadelphia-based Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, confirming a story first reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Asha, a Jordanian physician of Palestinian heritage, contacted the agency within the last year, but apparently did not take the test for foreign medical school graduates, said the spokeswoman, Nancy O'Dowd.

"He was applying. We don't believe he took the test," she said.

Stephen Seeling, the commission's vice president of operations, said FBI agents visited the office in West Philadelphia this week, but said he could not discuss details about what they were looking for because of privacy rules.

The nonprofit commission verifies the credentials of foreign medical school graduates, evaluates individuals' medical knowledge and administers exams. It represents just one step in a process foreigners must go through to obtain training as a medical resident in the U.S.

"We're a vetting organization that reviews applicants at the early stages," Seeling said.

There is no guarantee an applicant certified by the commission will ever practice medicine in the U.S. Seeling noted decisions about whether to issue visas to foreign doctors lies with federal immigration officials.

Comforting, that is, until we recall the story from an earlier UFTS post.

Anti-terrorist police found details of the discussions on a jihadi site run by one of a three-strong “cyber-terrorist” gang.

They were discovered at the home of Younis Tsouli, 23, Woolwich Crown Court in south east London heard.

One message, thought to have been sent on February 12 2005, read: 'We are 45 doctors and we are determined to undertake jihad and take the battle inside America.

“The first target which will be penetrated by nine brothers is the naval base which gives shelter to the ship Kennedy.”

Given the events of recent days in the UK, can we assume that the FBI is looking carefully at the backgrounds and associations of certain foreign-born physicians and other professionals here in the USA? Or would that be "naughty" profiling?

Yeah, he got globally warmer all right

Maybe global warming is a bigger problem than I thought -- especially if it's defined as the global Islamofascist war on the West warming up to boiling.

The Times of India said Indian national Kafeel Ahmed, an aeronautical engineer with a doctorate from Britain, was one of the men detained after driving a blazing car into Glasgow airport.

He is currently being treated for serious burns.

"I am involved in a large-scale confidential project. It is about global warming. I cannot reveal the details," he told his family in Bangalore, southern India, before leaving for Britain in May, the Times of India reported.

"It involves a lot of travelling ... the project has to be started in the United Kingdom," he was quoted as saying.

"Various people from various countries are involved in this."

On June 30 - the day after two car bombs in London were discovered and defused and just prior to the Glasgow attack - Ahmed told his family in India that his "earlier presentation failed" and asked them to pray for him, the paper said.

"Presentation"? I've had a PowerPoint presentation blow up in my face before, but I didn't require hospitalization... and there may have been loss of a sale, but never loss of innocent lives.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Among my souvenirs

Here's a precious little tale of a sentimental soul who found it difficult to say goodbye....

Police detained a man in eastern Belgium after a dinner guest found the bodies of the host's wife and stepson in a freezer, authorities said Thursday.

The female guest opened the freezer while helping to clear up after a dinner with a group of friends Tuesday at the man's home in the city of Verviers, 78 miles east of Brussels, said Christine Wilwerth of the city prosecutor's office.

"It was a lady who at the end of the meal at a friend's house, and after washing the dishes ... decided to take the leftovers of the meal down to the basement to store in the deep freeze," Wilwerth said. "Once she opened the deep freeze, she discovered the bodies."

Although this story has certain charms -- the helpful dinner guest, the host's inability to let go of (or at least dispose of) his beloved wife and son -- I can't quite call it heart-warming. More like flesh-chilling....

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

'Spooky' how some jihadist doctors threatened terrorist acts -- and then other jihadist doctors did them

'Spooky'? A jihadist claiming to represent a cell of 45 doctors posts a threat to commit terrorist acts in the USA, and the only way the authorities can describe the parallel to the London and Glasgow attacks is 'spooky'?

Anti-terrorist police found details of the discussions on a jihadi site run by one of a three-strong “cyber-terrorist” gang.

They were discovered at the home of Younis Tsouli, 23, Woolwich Crown Court in south east London heard.

One message, thought to have been sent on February 12 2005, read: 'We are 45 doctors and we are determined to undertake jihad and take the battle inside America.

“The first target which will be penetrated by nine brothers is the naval base which gives shelter to the ship Kennedy.”

This is thought to have been a reference to the USS John F Kennedy, which is often at Mayport Naval Base in Jacksonville, Florida.

The message discussed targets at the base, adding: 'These are clubs for naked women which are opposite the First and Third units.”

It also referred to using six Chevrolet GT vehicles and three fishing boats and blowing up petrol tanks with rocket propelled grenades.

Tsouli replied to the message by saying “He needs the recipe for making car bombs,” and a “recipe” was supplied by one contributor, including gas cylinders as one ingredient.

Investigators have found no link between the Tsouli chat room and the group of doctors and medics currently in custody over attempted car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow.

However, sources said it was “definitely spooky” that the use of doctors for terrorist purposes was being discussed in jihadi terrorist circles up to three years ago.

What's 'spooky' is that this discovery didn't prompt British authorities to tighten their scrutiny of Muslim physicians in Britain two years ago. The jihadists have a track record of doing the things they brag about planning. Shouldn’t the authorities have learned long since to take these kinds of threats seriously?

Our God is f**kin' LOVE, and He'll f**kin' KILL anyone who says different!

Ayman al-Zawahiri seems to be a bit tense these days:

Al-Qaida's deputy chief called on all Muslims to join the holy war against the West.

"May Allah pluck out your eye if you haven't yet seen that jihad is an individual duty," the transcript quoted al-Zawahri as saying.

Could be a reaction to the public relations reversals al-Qaida has been suffering in recent weeks, with Sunni leaders in Iraq turning against them (actually, that's been going on for over a year -- American news outlets had to wait until after the 2006 elections to break the story) and the Muslims in Britain feeling pressured to distance themselves from jihad.

In a strongly worded statement Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), condemned the barbarity of the London and Glasgow car bomb attempts.

"Let us be absolutely clear," he said. "Those who seek to deliberately kill or main innocent people are the enemies of us all."

He pledged on behalf of the MCB "all the necessary support" to prevent "such murderous actions". He said: "When the house is on fire our responsibility is not to blame each other, it is to extinguish the flames...."

Dr Abdul Bari said: "It is our Islamic duty not only to utterly and totally condemn such evil actions, but to provide all the necessary support to prevent such atrocities taking place". He added that the events of the past few days had been "very disturbing and challenging".

Well, okay, Dr. Abdul Bari was referring specifically to terror in the UK.

"It looks sadly as if the terror threat currently facing our country will be with us for some time to come," he said at a press conference called in response to the bomb plots.

"There is no cause whatsoever that could possibly justify such barbarity. Those who engage in such murderous actions and those that provide support for them are the enemies of all, Muslims and non-Muslims, and they stand against our shared values in the UK."

One may hope that the good Doctor and his coreligionists may someday extend their outrage at and opposition to terrorist murder to those places and times when the victims are, say, Iraqis, or (dare one dream?) Americans and Israelis.