Weblog (Feb. 1 - 28, 2005)

UNRWA's Ghastly Proposal for Extra Funding The outgoing chief of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Peter Hansen, who ranks among the worst administrators the U.N. has ever known (and that is saying something), today put forward a proposal to provide US$1.1 billion in extra funding for UNRWA. As I argued in "[UNRWA:] The Refugee Curse," the last thing Palestinians need is more dole from the outside. The first thing they need to do is liberate themselves from the accursed and anomalous refugees status, then take responsibility for their own lives. If Hansen has his way, Palestinians will be mired ever longer and more deeply in victimhood, dependence, radicalism, and violence. (February 24, 2005 Permalink)


Deport Saudi Diplomats on Religious Freedom Grounds? With the passage of the "Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004," it is now possible (according to section 5502, on p. 108) to deport "foreign government officials who have committed particularly severe violations of religious freedom." This is then spelled out to mean "Any alien who, while serving as a foreign government official, was responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom, as defined in section 3 of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998."

That section specifies "particularly severe violations of religious freedom" to mean

systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom, including violations such as—
(A) torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment;
(B) prolonged detention without charges;
(C) causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction or clandestine detention of those persons; or
(D) other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons.

William West, formerly of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, writes me that

Such violations are administrative (civil) statutes, not criminal statutes, and so are retroactive from the date of enactment of the law.

One can only speculate how many foreign government officials from majority Muslim countries might fall into this category, especially from places like Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Authority, Iran and a number of other authoritarian Islamic regimes who sponsor religious hatred against any religion other than Islam and even against moderate Muslims. The recent Freedom House report on the vitriolic Saudi-provided religious hate literature found in American mosques is just a beginning.

This is powerful new law, and it will be very interesting to see how the U.S. government enforces it.

Further, such violations would arguably also be human rights violations. That means that former foreign government officials who came to the United States and became naturalized U.S. citizens could, as human rights violators, be subject to revocation of that naturalization. This is provided for under Section 5501 (on page 107) of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. They are also subject to investigation by the Department of Justice's newly re-empowered Office of Special Investigations (Section 5505, on p. 108).

(February 28, 2005) Permalink


Favoring Islamists over Gays "Discrimination bill snubs gays to save Muslim vote" runs the headline in the Sunday Times (London), reminding one of Pim Fortuyn's worries and foreshadowing what should be a major divide in British and other Western countries, as homosexuals realize that they will suffer from the Islamist agenda. Here are some details:

Gay rights campaigners have been snubbed by the government for fear of upsetting Muslim voters who are regarded as more important to Labour's election campaign.

This week a new bill giving Muslims protection against religious discrimination will be published, but there will be no equivalent right for gays, as had been planned by ministers. Downing Street fears that Muslims, whose votes could be the key to saving the seats of many Labour MPs, might feel offended if they were "lumped together" with homosexuals. The change comes despite the fact that there are thought to be around 3m gay voters, compared with 1.3m Muslims of voting age in Britain.

Under the bill, it will become illegal for the provider of any goods or services — such as a hotel, shop, pub or restaurant — to refuse to serve someone on the grounds of their religion. It is already illegal to do so on the basis of race or gender. …

In favouring Muslim voters at the risk of upsetting gays, Labour is following in the footsteps of Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London. Livingstone has assiduously courted the Muslim vote, even at the expense of goodwill among the gay community. He invited the Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi to London despite the sheikh's views. Al-Qaradawi condemns homosexuality, advocates wife-beating and describes suicide bombers as "martyrs".

This decision, the article concludes, was taken by the prime minister's office.

Comment: This dramatic shift could signal a long term reversal in homosexual rights, making the last thirty years look anomalous in retrospect. (February 27, 2005) Permalink


Are the Saudis Diddling the Americans? The Ahmed Omar Abu Ali case has many intricacies, but what stops me short is reading this sentence by Michael Isikoff in Newsweek:

Abu Ali's Virginia-based parents—his father works as a computer analyst for the Saudi Embassy—say their son was tortured [while kept in a Saudi jail] into confessing to lies, and sued the federal government last year [to have him brought back to the United States].

Not only that, but the parents are utterly venomous on the subject of Saudi Arabia: His father, Omar, said, "The Saudi government are slaves of the Americans."His mother, Faten, stated outside a federal courtroom that her son "was tortured on orders of the USA; they are monsters."

Excuse me, but what is going on? Since when does an employee of the Saudi embassy publicly abominate the monarchy and turn to the U.S. government for redress? Is there something more here than meets the eye? (February 27, 2005) Permalink


I Am a "Crusader"? That's what leftoid propagandist Jim Lobe claims in the title of an article, "‘Anti-Islamist' Crusader Plants New Seeds," put out by the Rome-based Inter Press News Agency; yours truly is the crusader in question. This follows on a piece by Lobe, issued April 7, 2004, and titled "From Nation-Building to Religion-Building." In both, Lobe breathlessly informs his readership about grant proposals he purloined from the Middle East Forum. In the 2004 piece, he announces that the Forum seeks funds to build a new organization to represent moderate Muslims in the United States. The new article provides an update on this organization and also about the Forum's intent to institutionalize my effort to expose non-violent Islamists in the United States and other Western countries.

My commitment to both such projects should come as no surprise, for I have repeatedly argued that "radical Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the solution." For me to support moderate Muslims to self-organize would not seem to be big news; nor, given my years of "hand-to-hand combat" with Islamist groups, should it be a shock that I wish to turn this into an organized effort.

Lobe, however, presents my efforts as sinister, and that clearly appeals to his conspiracy-minded leftist and Islamist readership. His earlier article was reprinted on many of their websites, translated into foreign languages, and reported on with predictable indignation in Arab newspapers. No doubt, the new one will enjoy a similar succès de scandale. (February 24, 2005) Permalink


Jean-Marie Le Pen, Again Convicted of Racism Am I the only one to find something anomalous in the fact that the political figure who came in second in the race for the presidency of France in 2002 had a €10,000 fine upheld today by an appeals court for expressing his views on what is his central issue? He was fined on grounds of inciting racial hatred for having told Le Monde on April 19, 2003, that

The day that we have in France not just 5 million but 25 million Muslims, it will be them in charge. … The French will pull down their walls, go to the sidewalks, and lower their eyes. If they don't, they'll be told, "Why are you looking at me like that, buddy, you searching for a fight?"

Le jour où nous aurons en France, non plus 5 millions mais 25 millions de musulmans, ce sont eux qui commanderont. … Et les Français raseront les murs, descendront des trottoirs en baissant les yeux. Quand ils ne le font pas, on leur dit "qu'est-ce que tu as à me regarder comme ça, tu cherches la bagarre?"

Comment: One does not have to be a Le Pen fan to acknowledge that his views, however crudely expressed, represent an important viewpoint in the national debate over immigration and Islam. Le Pen should be able to state them without fear of getting in trouble with the law. That he cannot points to some of the profound contradictions in French society. (February 24, 2005) Permalink


 

Omar Abu Ali, right, speaks about the charges against his son, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, 23, as his wife, Faten Abu Ali, looks on.

 

 

How the Mainstream Media Headlines the Abu Ali Indictment The American government yesterday indicted Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, a raging Islamist, with plotting to kill the president of the United States. Details have emerged about his attending the Islamic Saudi Academy and the University of Medina. His fervent hatred of the United States apparently led to his joining up with Al-Qaeda. He had connections to Ismail Royer and the paintball jihadists. His mother wears a niqab. Islamist organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim American Society (MAS) jumped on his cause.

Given all this, how might mainstream media headline the story of Abu Ali's indictment? Here are three examples:

Chicago Tribune: "U.S. citizen charged with plot to kill Bush"
The Guardian: "American accused of plotting with al-Qaida to assassinate Bush"
The New York Times: "American Accused in a Plot to Assassinate Bush."

And then there is this gem:

Detroit Free Press: "Valedictorian suspect in plot on Bush's life."

Feature pieces on Abu Ali are no less striking. Here is my favorite headline

The Baltimore Sun: "Family, friends denounce charges against ‘pious man'."

Comment: Yet again, over-sensitivity to Muslim sentiments obstructs the plain telling of facts – as though Abu Ali's citizenship or class rank were the key factor in motivating him. A useful headline would read something like "Islamist Charged in Plot to Assassinate Bush." (February 23, 2005)

Feb. 25, 2005 update: UPI's legal affairs correspondent, Michael Kirkland, dismisses what he calls Abu Ali's "alleged ‘plot'" as but "a sweaty fantasy under the Saudi Arabian sun."

Feb. 27, 2005 update: "Case Adds to Outrage for Muslims in Northern Virginia" reads a New York Times headline today. Not a word yet from the Times, however, about the outrage of Americans about a Saudi-government school in Virginia possibly training an Islamist terrorist. Permalink


My Optimism about Ending the Syrian Occupation of Lebanon The Syrian occupation of Lebanon began in 1976 and I started writing about it a few years later. Through the long, black years of Syrian hegemony, I have always believed that it would end someday. Here are a few selections (note in particular the specific prediction in the discussion with Robert Satloff):

1986: In "Damascus and the Claim to Lebanon," Orbis, 30 (1986-87): 663-81 (not online), I felt despair but kept the door open: "Short of very major change in Damascus – such as a civil war breaking out after Hafiz al-Asad's death – there appears to be nothing to stop the Syrian government from fulfilling its long-term goal of hegemony in Lebanon."

2000: At a panel, "Syria-Lebanon-Israel Triangle: The End of The Status Quo?" hosted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on May 19, 2000 – just 4 days before the unexpected Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon and 22 days before the death of Syrian dictator Hafiz al-Asad – I had the following exchange with the institute's director, Robert Satloff:

SATLOFF: When do Syrian troops leave Lebanon?
PIPES: I would say in five years. I'm an optimist.
SATLOFF: Mark that down, 2005. (Laughter.)
PIPES: I don't think the president of Syria is going to live much longer. I think there will be a rapid diminution of Syrian power, Syrian will to control the country, Syrian ability to control the country. I think the Lebanese will take heart and will make efforts to push out the Syrians--I don't think it's for very long. It's for as long as Asad lives plus, you know, four or five years.

2000: With Ziad Abdelnour, I coedited the Middle East Forum's study group report, Ending Syria's Occupation of Lebanon: The U.S. Role, which appeared in May 2000. The report, signed by such future Bush administration figures as Elliott Abrams, Paula Dobriansky, Douglas Feith, Michael Rubin, and David Wurmser (as well as Eliot Engel and Richard Perle), flatly declares that "All foreign forces must leave Lebanon." In the policy recommendations for the U.S. government, it states that "the use of force needs to be considered" to attain that goal, adding that "If there is to be decisive action, it will have to be sooner rather than later."

2000: In September 2000, I published "‘We Don't Need Syria' in Lebanon," which holds that "one can anticipate the day when Lebanon will free itself of the Syrian yoke and again be a sovereign country."

2005: Encouraged by developments following the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri on February 14, I wrote today in "Lebanon's Liberation Approaches" that "For the first time in three decades, Lebanon now seems within reach of regaining its independence."

So, Lebanese, to be on schedule, you have just three months to oust the Syrian occupiers! (February 22, 2005) Permalink


If I Had Enough Time … Research Suggestions Given Away Here are some leads I wish there were time for me to work on; as there is not, I offer them for others to take up:

Terrorism in blue vs. red states: The United States is split fairly evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Given how much more inclined Republicans are to take steps to fight terrorism, is there quantitative evidence to suggest that the terrorists gravitate to the Democratic-dominated states to carry out operations?

Letters of marque, updated: For many centuries, governments lacking the means to hunt down pirates provided "letters of marque" to private ship owners, commissioning them to take down the pirates and take a portion of the profits. (Click here for some examples.) The concept is known as privateering; it was written in the U.S. Constitution ("The Congress shall have Power … To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal"), where it remains in force to the present. Should this idea be revived in the age of Al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorists?

Islamist organizations and individuals in the West: A profusion of radical Islamic institutions have grown up in North American and Western Europe since the 1960s, and especially since about 1990. Trouble is, most of them are unknown in terms of personnel, ideology, track record, and intentions. The same applies to prominent Islamist personalities. I personally have made a specialty of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, with quick forays to study other organizations (such as the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, the Muslim American Society, and the Progressive Muslim Union). I watch individuals such as Jamal al-Amin and Khaled Abou El Fadl. But vastly more research is needed. As I have done previously, I again urge anyone with time on his hands and a desire to defeat terror to sharpen the pencils and boot up the computer.

Analyze Islamic holy books vis-à-vis Zionism: The Qur'an contains many proto-Zionist sentiments (see, for example, this collection) but what do they amount to? An in-depth analysis of the Qur'an, the Hadith, and other authoritative writings is much needed.

A full-length study of UNRWA: It's a truism that Jerusalem stands at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but I say that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and the so-called Palestinian refugee problem stand at its fetid core. An in-depth study of UNRWA's evil doings would be a step toward the conflict's resolution. (February 22, 2005)

Paintball and jihad: "The connection between paintball and jihad is one an enterprising researcher might look into," I noted in a comment at "Islamist Paintball, Anyone?" I sketch some of the connections there between this unlikely duo, but the topic deserves in-depth scrutiny.

 

Lee Malvo's jail-time sketch of Osama bin Laden

 

 

Malvo's mentality: Law enforcement and the mainstream media did its best in October 2002 to avoid ascribing the Beltway Snipers' motives to a jihad, something I have argued with in an article, "The Snipers: Crazy or Jihadis?" and a blog, "The Beltway Snipers' Motives." More evidence has surfaced since that should be closely analyzed. For example, Lee Malvo's defense (yes, defense) team introduced more than 80 drawings, an essay, and other writings that their client produced during his time in jail during his first year of captivity. (I reproduce one of them, of Osama bin Laden, "Servant of Allah," here.) The pictures, a good number of which deal with Islamic topics, can be seen at the court's website. As described by the Associated Press, here are some details:

·         The World Trade Center with a jet flying into it and the caption, "You were warned."

·         A detailed depiction of the White House in crosshairs. "You will weep and moan & MORN. You will bleed to death. little by little. Your life belongs to Allah. HE will deliver you to us," reads an inscription above the White House drawing. To one side of the crosshairs, it says, "Sept. 11 we will ensure will look like a picnic to you. "

·         Drawings and notes calling for jihad.

·         Drawings of Louis Farrakhan, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and Muammar Qaddafi. Permalink


Which Middle East Specialists Get Assigned in U.S. Classrooms? The Center for History and New Media (whose slogan is "building a better yesterday … bit by bit") at George Mason University has tweaked google.com so as to produce a fascinating "Syllabus Finder." Put in an author's name and it churns out a listing of the syllabi where that author is assigned, giving quantitative insight into whose writings are assigned in classrooms.

Looking at Middle East studies, I ran twenty-four names of writers about history and politics who fit into three categories and got the following results:

Yesteryear's Greats

HAR Gibb 22
S D Goitein 12
Gustave von Grunebaum 1
Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall 10
Philip Hitti 5
Henri Lammens 3
Edward Lane 11
Louis Massignon 4

Middle East studies establishment

Joel Beinin 24
Juan Cole 129
John Esposito 114
Cornell Fleischer 6
Nikki Keddie 30
Rashid Khalidi 52
Edward Said 868 (many of which are not Middle East studies classes)
Michael Sells 62

Dissidents

Fouad Ajami 102
Bat Ye'or 25
Ibn Warraq 34
Elie Kedourie 34
Stanley Kurtz 41
Martin Kramer 52
Bernard Lewis 356
Daniel Pipes 120

Comments: (1) The old masters do indeed go largely unread. (2) The dissidents get a surprisingly good representation, even if in some cases they are supposed to be read negatively, perhaps because they are so few in number. (3) Being part of the establishment is not guarantee of being read (it is a big establishment, after all), but it offers the route to scoring highest of all. (4) What is assigned is partially a function of what publishers make available, but in the age of photostats and the internet, this is less the case than it used to be. That said, authors ubiquitous on the internet are likely to have a greater class readership than those less well represented. (February 22, 2005) Permalink


The Bureau of Prisons Explains Islam Many branches of government need to understand Islam, but probably none deal with Muslims and their religious practices in so practical and detailed a way as do the wardens of prisons. It is therefore particularly dismaying to see that the highest prison authority in the United States, the Bureau of Prisons (which oversees all federal correctional facilities), has bought the Islamist line.

My evidence for this comes from the Annual Refresher Training (ART) that all BOP staff must participate in. The 2005 course includes a lesson plan, "Islam in the Correctional Environment," designed by the Training and Staff Development Branch at BOP's Central Office in Washington, DC. This 18-page document has a general Islamist caste; and it contains two points of special interest.

·         There is only one non-BOP reference in the lesson plan, that being to a pamphlet put out by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, "A Correctional Institution's Guide to Islamic Religious Practice" (p. 2). I presume this means that the BOP relies on that booklet.

·         The lesson plan's Introduction (p. 3) asserts: "Since September 11, events have aroused significant media and public attention on our neighbors who represent Islam in America. The concept of ‘Jihad' has been exploited causing fear, anxiety, and confusion about the tenants [sic] of a religion centered in peace and obedience to God. Many have come to understand the concept of ‘Jihad' as a Holy War, but in reality, ‘Jihad' depicts the struggle one endures to be submissive to God."

Comment: Not only has some of the highest ranking staff in the BOP Central Office acquiesced to CAIR, but it proffers a la-la-land description of jihad that is unhistorical, inaccurate, and (given the prison environment) downright dangerous. (February 10, 2005) Permalink


What You Can Do To Help Win the War on Terror What can citizens do to help forward the war on terror? My thoughts follow, starting with some old standbys and going on to something more unusual.

(1) Join and donate to organizations. Most individuals are not in a position on their own to make a difference but can do much more by joining organizations that subscribe to their views and giving generously to them. There are potentially many such organizations (including my own Middle East Forum) but, perhaps surprisingly, no single one exclusively and effectively devoted to strengthening governments in the war has yet emerged.

(2) Get active in the political process. Give of your time and money to candidates and, of course, vote.

(3) Write letters to the editor or get active in internet polemics.

(4) Engage in research. This is the new element. There are some remarkable stories of private individuals becoming learned in the ways of radical Islam and their activities have led to all sorts of important results, including the arrest of an apparent terrorist, discrediting an expert witness, canceling an official reception, shutting down a conference, and closing an Internet site. I advise researchers to focus on their geographic area – a city, a region, a university, or (in the case of small ones) a country. There is an unending need to look critically at Muslim institutions and individuals, so as to distinguish the extremists from the moderates, the enemies from the allies.

Or to put it more starkly, Rita Katz of the SITE Institute says in the current issue of Newsweek, "Almost every [Islamist] Web site has a section on how to do jihad over the Internet" and these advise would-be holy warriors: "If you can't do jihad physically, do it on the Internet." The same applies to counterterrorists. (Feb. 9, 2005) Permalink


More Incidents of "Denying Terrorism" I published a column by this title today, documenting thirteen cases of presumptive Islamist terrorism, when the first response of the police, prosecutors, and politicians is to look the other way, insisting that there is no link.

But my column lacked space to include all the prior cases, and no doubt future ones will come along, so here is an ongoing factual appendix:

·         The 1991 murder of Makin Morcos, a Coptic doctor living in Sydney, Australia, gunned down at his medical practice. A month after the shooting, his offices were torched by an arsonist. An outspoken critic of the oppression of Copts in Egypt, Morcos had since 1985 been making broadcasts on 2BCR radio. Muslim organizations formally complained about his radio show and he received some ten death threats in the mail, one of which stated, "We're going to get you - we're going to take your life away." Despite these leads, Detective Constable Glen Porter said the police had no evidence to suggest the killing was politically or religiously motivated. "At the moment it could just be a robbery gone wrong but something might come up later to suggest otherwise." That something did not "come up" and the coroner discounted the suggestion that it was a political killing, concluding instead that Morcos was probably murdered by a disgruntled patient or by drug addicts in a robbery that went awry. (Sources: The Daily Telegraph Mirror, April 19, 1991, The Sydney Morning Herald, April 27, 1991, and August 15, 1992; with thanks to Mark Durie for the information.)

·         The 1993 murder of the Reverend Doug Good, a pastor in Western Australia, stabbed to death just before he was going to officiate at the marriage between a Christian man and an Iranian woman who had converted from Islam to Christianity. Good's attacker, an Iranian Muslim, killed the pastor while visiting his home, claiming he was defending himself form a homosexual advance. He was convicted and sentenced to six years of jail time for "unintentional killing."

·         The 2000 Molotov cocktail attack on the synagogue in Düsseldorf, Germany. The Palestinian assailant was said to be "angered" by Israeli actions against the Palestinians, with no hint of his aggressive action having the goal of intimidation.

·         The 2001 explosion at the AZF fertilizer factory outside Toulouse, France, the worst-ever catastrophe in a French chemical plant, included among the dead a known Islamist working in the plant wearing the multiple layers of clothing the coroner compared that of suicide jihadis; still, the authorities professed to find "no shred of evidence" of the explosion being a terrorist act.

·         The 2003 murder of two American soldiers by Hasan Akbar at an army base in Kuwait, U.S. Army spokespersons responded with talk about an "attitude problem," a desire for "retribution," and "resentment." The chief chaplain at Akbar's home base announced without any evidence that the murders were "not an expression of faith."

·         The 2003 murder of Sebastian Sellam, 23, a disc jockey at a Parisian night club, killed in an underground parking lot by a Muslim neighbor who slit his throat twice and mutilated his face with a fork, even gouging out his eyes. The assailant announced to Sellam's horrified mother, "I have killed my Jew. I will go to heaven." He has been hospitalized for mental illness and apparently will never stand trial.

·         The 2003 murder of Chantal Piekolek, 53, as she was working in her Parisian shoe store when Mohamed Ghrib, 37, entered the store and stabbed her 27 times in the neck and chest. There was no evidence of sexual assault.

Additionally, some airplane incidents might have been whitewashed. The year 2001 saw the shooting down over Ukraine of a Sibir airliner from Israel to Russia, killing 77, ascribed to the accidental launching of a Ukrainian military missile; and the crash of American Airlines 587 in New York, killing 265, where the NTSB found "no evidence [of] … any criminality" despite the possible presence of an Al-Qaeda operative.

Readers are invited to send other examples of denying Islamist terrorism to me at the address below. (February 8, 2005) Permalink


Khaled Abou El Fadl Reveals His Islamist Outlook I have devoted considerable attention to the deceptions of Khaled Abou El Fadl, professor of Islamic law at the University of California, Los Angeles and famed Muslim "moderate." (My article on him calls him in the title a "stealth Islamist.") Abou el Fadl has just helped me make my case in comments he made to the Dallas Morning News about the recent Freedom House report detailing the diffusion of Saudi materials in American mosques. Here is an excerpt of the news item, written by Jeffrey Weiss:

Opposition to Israel, to colonialism and to immoral aspects of Western culture – all cited in the report – aren't evidence of Wahhabi extremism, he said. Freedom House suggested that the U.S. government should crack down on distribution of the material. But Dr. Abou el Fadl said that's not a good solution. "When we resort to bannings and manipulative use of immigration laws and national security laws to counter this literature, all we end up doing is transforming the Wahhabi side into a world victim by feeding into conspiracy theories," he said.

This desire to continue the distribution of Saudi publications hardly comes as a surprise to me, given Abou El Fadl's record of apologizing for Wahhabism and even lending his skills to it, as documented in my 2004 article. How long will it be until his Islamist outlook is generally recognized? (February 4, 2005) Permalink


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