CLICK ON ANY OF THE LINKS BELOW OR SCROLL DOWN TO READ THE STORY. (Formatting not always good)
Anti-Syrian MP Killed in Lebanon Car Bombing
Suicide Car Bomber Wounds Four Civilians
U.S. Arrests Iraqi Terrorist Tied to Iran's Qods Force
Mutilated Bodies of 15 Soldiers Brought to Miramshah
27 Taliban, UK soldier killed in Afghanistan
Palestinian Issue -The Crux of the Arab-Israeli Conflict
Terrorists Lying in Wait for Canada?
World Cup May Make South Africa a Terrorist Target
Iran: Retaliation for Any Israeli Attack
The Pentagon's Counterspies: The Counterintelligence Field Activity
Hizb ut-Tahrir: Banned Elsewhere But Not in the US: Why?
Germany Intends to Criminalize Terrorist Preparation
Israel Declares Gaza an 'Enemy Entity'
Worst Approach to Counter-Terrorism Yet
How to Defeat Terrorism - Why Israel is Defeating Terrorism
TERROR ON TRIAL
Proving Liberty City 7's Intentions is Task for Feds
Curtain Falls as Miami Terrorism Trial Starts Up
Youth Charged Under Terrorism Act
Samir A. Convicted Again for Terrorism
Two in UK in Court on Terrorist Charges
British Woman gets 20 Years for 'Honor Killing'
POLICE AND CRIME ISSUES
Stress, Fear and Deception
TERROR MODUS OPERANDI
Turkish Hizballah: A Case Study of Radical Terrorism
Taliban Used Kids as Human Shields
Scotland Muslims Launch Representative Body
Varsities, Seminaries Failing to Curb Extremism
Hizb ut-Tahrir's Renaissance
Official: U.S. Tracking North Korea Shipments Bound for Syria
The Secretive Syrian-N. Korean Alliance
Iranian President Intends to Visit Ground Zero
Iran Trying to Woo Arab Gulf States
Dozens Died in Syria-Iran Missile Test
Grandmother Divorcing bin Laden Son
Why is Militant Islam Increasing in Popularity?
MEDIA-US: Cockroach Cartoon Crossed the Line, Iranians Say
A New Brand of Nonbelievers
Anti-Syrian MP Killed in Lebanon Car Bombing
September 19, 2007
An anti-Syrian lawmaker was killed in a car bombing in a Christian suburb of Beirut on Wednesday, shaking Lebanon just a week ahead of a crucial election in the divided country.
The killing of Antoine Ghanem was the latest in a string of attacks in recent years against prominent critics of Lebanon's neighbour and former power broker Syria.
'He has died,' Joseph Abu Khalil, a senior official from Ghanem's Phalange Party, told AFP.
The attack occurred in the Sin el-Fil neighbourhood in the eastern surburbs of the Lebanese capital and television footage showed several burnt-out and twisted cars, black smoke from cars still ablaze, facades of buildings wrecked, shattered glass, and bodies on the streets.
'The blast was caused by a car bomb that claimed numerous victims,' said another police official who did not want to be named.
Lebanese television said at least four people had been killed and a number injured but there has been no official confirmation of the death toll.
The explosion took place a week before parliament is due to meet on September 25 to elect a new head of state to replace pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud amid a near-complete political deadlock in Lebanon.
The blast apparently took place near the residence of former president Amin Gemayel, whose son, industry minister Pierre Gemayel, was gunned down on November 21, 2006.
Antoine Ghanem is a member of Gemayel's Phalange Party, a partner in the ruling anti-Syrian majority.
In June, another MP Walid Eido was murdered in a Beirut bomb attack that also killed nine people, the latest in a string of assassinations and attempts to kill anti-Syrian politicians and other prominent figures in Lebanon.
The country has been on edge since the February 2005 murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, which was widely blamed on neighbouring Syria and forced it to end three decades of military domination.
In February, on the eve of the second anniversary of Hariri's assassination, three people were killed in the bombing of two buses in a Christian village in the mountains outside Beirut.
Lebanon's political crisis was exacerbated when pro-Syrian opposition forces, led by the Shiite movement Hezbollah, withdrew six ministers from Siniora's Western-backed cabinet in November.
Analysts say failure by the political foes to choose a consensus presidential candidate could spark a dangerous power vacuum or even lead to the naming of two rival governments -- a grim reminder of the final years of the 1975-1990 civil war when two competing administrations battled it out.
Wednesday's attack took place shortly after a visit by Siniora to regional Arab powerhouse Saudi Arabia, which has been involved in efforts to end the impasse.
Parliament speaker Nabih Berri has called for Lebanon's 128 MPs to convene on September 25 for the election, but confusion still reigns over whether the vote will actually take place on that date.
A candidate needs a two-thirds majority to be elected president from a first round of voting, while a simple majority is enough in any later round.
An election can be held right up until the final deadline of November 24, with Berri having already announced that parliament will be in open session from November 14.
If the president's seat is left vacant, his powers are automatically transferred to the government.
Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070919/ts_afp/lebanonblast_0709 19161130;_ylt=AvCFdbvQLZhVb4HK_bnM8_Y5bg8F
Suicide Car Bomber Wounds Four Civilians (back)
September 19, 2007
A suicide car bomber blew himself up Wednesday and wounded four civilians while trying to hit an Iraqi army base in the northern city of Mosul, an Iraqi army officer said.
During clashes with insurgents that followed in a nearby area in this city, 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of Baghdad, Iraqi troops killed 14 militants while a roadside bomb at the same location killed one Iraqi soldier and wounded three others, Iraqi army Brig. Ahmed Zebari said.
The suicide bomber drove up to concrete barriers just before the gates of a base belonging to the Iraqi army's Second Division around 11 a.m. (06:00 GMT), when sniper guards spotted him and opened fire at his car, Zebari said.
There were no casualties inside the base, which is located in a residential area of the city, Zebari said.
Shortly after the attack, Iraqi soldiers fanned out from the base to ambush a group of gunmen and killed the 14 insurgents in an ensuing firefight. The militants' weapons, hidden in their cars, were seized, the brigadier said.
Elsewhere, another suicide bomber blew himself up overnight near a U.S. army checkpoint outside Muqdadiyah, about 90 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad, killing one civilian and wounding five others, including three women, a police official said.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to media, said he had no knowledge of any casualties the American troops at the checkpoint may have sustained. U.S. soldiers have sealed off the area, the official added.
Non-Verbal Communication (back)
September 19, 2007
The author is a student of the Israeli-Arab conflict and has served in an advisory capacity to prime ministers Ben Gurion, Eshkol, and Golda Meir
A renowned rabbi was once asked by one of his students what he thought of a speech the student had given. 'You gave an excellent speech ' the rabbi praised his student, 'but it wasn’t as good as silence'.
It seems that after all the Israeli wars, we have reached the level of silence in the Israeli-Arab conflict. Silence offers a cover for speculations to start whizzing in all directions and can be a weapon whose efficacy we shouldn’t take lightly.
I was not party to the plans for the Syrian operation, but I believe there is no doubt that the main aim of the operation was not to strike some Syrian military target. The main aim was to bolster Israel’s deterrence, which took a bad hit in the Second Lebanon War.
The operation sought to reestablish decisive IDF capabilities in a military confrontation:
A. I would dare to speculate that above all the operation demonstrates Israel’s intelligence capability, given that it identified a very highly classified target deep inside Syria;
B. Syria’s defense systems were supposed to provide warning of the air attack;
C. The dense anti-aircraft systems also failed.
D. If the Syrians also used ground units, the operation has exposed major weaknesses in the Syrian army’s entire defense system.
In other words, the operation sent a wordless message to Syria which said: 'we can attack you anywhere', just like the message David sent Saul in the midst of their life and death battle, when he could have killed Saul while he slept in the cave.
It is also very obvious that the operation ran the risk of a major escalation and the fact that it took place at all demonstrates Israel’s confidence and challenges the Syrian belief that Israel is afraid of battle.
The Syrian reaction is a chapter on its own. Despite polarized opinions in Israeli military intelligence (AMAN), the opinion that Syria is war-shy seems to have won the day. This assessment has proved right so far, though we cannot totally dismiss the possibility of a delayed response from Syria. This is not simply speculation since the Israeli attack has produced a passionate uproar inside Syria and we are hearing growing protests from influential groups in Damascus criticizing Bashar Assad’s the policy of restraint. The flood of foreign media commentaries doesn’t help either.
And finally, given the attack location in Deir A-Zur in northern Syria, it is almost guaranteed that Iran has 'shares' in the targeted installation. If that is the case, then a message has also been sent to Iran. And if North Korea has a finger in the pie, then they must also be sent an unequivocal message that their interference carries risks that cannot be overlooked, and that the US will probably want to say its piece—though without the niceties. It is doubtful that North Korea will be prepared to take its cooperation with Syria very far.
Again: we shouldn’t sound the all clear yet due to the danger of some kind of response from Syria, or Iran or both. Only time will tell. In the meantime, Syria has learned from Israel’s silence and respects it. 'Israel’s silence is proper' the Syrian spokesmen concluded. The silence on both sides of the border is quite reassuring. If it turns out we were wrong, then we can always say it was the calm before the storm.
Source: www.omedia.org/Show_Article.asp?DynamicContentID=2606&Menu ID=611&ThreadID=1014010
U.S. Arrests Iraqi Terrorist Tied to Iran's Qods Force (back)
September 18, 2007
Coalition forces in the Iraqi capital Baghdad arrested some 12 'suspected terrorists', one of whom is believed to have ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps – Qods Force (IRGC-QF), the United States-led military announced.
The coordinated early morning operations targeted a senior Special Groups leader directly linked, according to sensitive intelligence, to several other high-ranking terrorists operating in and around Baghdad, the Multi-National Force – Iraq (MNF-I) said in a statement on Monday
'Those in custody are believed to be involved in smuggling and storing weapons from Iran used to attack Iraqi civilians and the security forces that protect them', the MNF-I said.
'Intelligence further indicates that the group is linked to the production and distribution of deadly Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs) and the supporting of foreign terrorist operations', it added.
Mutilated Bodies of 15 Soldiers Brought to Miramshah (back)
September 19, 2007
Bodies of 15 soldiers who had gone missing during recent clashes with militants in the Shawal area of the North Waziristan Agency were brought to Miramshah on Tuesday.
The bodies and two security personnel wounded in the clashes were brought from Pesh Ziarat area of Shawal in helicopters. Sources said that militants had captured these soldiers on Sunday night and killed all of them. One soldier was still missing, officials said.
Eighteen militants were also killed in the clashes near the Afghan border.
Witnesses told Dawn that the bodies of the soldiers had been badly mutilated and limbs of many of them had been chopped off.
The sources said that the militants had initially refused to hand over the soldiers’ bodies.
On Tuesday, political authorities sent local cleric Maulvi Roman Shah from Miramshah to Shawal to persuade them to hand over the bodies and two wounded soldiers. After negotiations, the militants handed over the bodies to some Jirga members.
Meanwhile security forces in the Datakhel area of North Waziristan came under attack Agency on Monday night, and three soldiers were wounded.
The sources said that militants used rockets and missiles in the attack.
Militants also targeted Jaler Post in the Mirali area on Monday night. No casualty was reported.
27 Taliban, UK soldier killed in Afghanistan (back)
September 19, 2007
Afghan and US-led coalition forces killed 12 Taliban fighters on Tuesday, including two militant leaders involved in the kidnapping of 23 South Koreans in July, a provincial police chief said.
Ghazni Police Chief Ali Shah Ahmadzai said the insurgents were killed in a coalition air strike in the Giro district of the province.
'Two prominent Taliban commanders, Mullah Abdullah Jan and Mullah Muslimyaar, who were involved in the abductions of the South Koreans were killed,' he said.
'Precision munitions' were used to destroy a building, a US military statement said. Ali Shah said another of the leaders of the kidnappers was killed in a clash two weeks ago.
In the southern province of Helmand, Afghan and US-led coalition forces killed 15 Taliban insurgents in two different clashes. At a third location in Helmand, a British soldier was killed and another injured when an explosion shattered a dump truck, British Defence Ministry said.
Meanwhile, Poland plans to extend the presence of its up to 1,200-strong military contingent in Afghanistan for another year, its government said on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said he would ask the president to approve the extension. reuters
Source: www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2007\09\19\story_19-9- 2007_pg7_1
Palestinian Issue -The Crux of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (back)
September 10, 2007
US policy-makers have contended that the establishment of a Palestinian state would resolve the Palestinian issue, which is - supposedly - the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Really?
The 1948/9 War was conducted, by the Arab countries at the expense of Palestinian aspirations, in order to occupy the strategic sliver along the Mediterranean. Egypt conquered the Gaza Strip, prohibiting Palestinian national activities, expelling Palestinian leadership. Iraq occupied Samaria, transferring it to Jordan, which occupied Judea, annexing both Judea & Samaria to the Hashemite Kingdom, and coining the term 'West Bank.' Syria occupied and annexed the Hama area in the Golan Heights. The Arab League outlawed a provisional Palestinian government.
The 1956 (Sinai) War was triggered by Egyptian-sponsored Palestinian terrorism (intended to assert Egyptian control of the Negev), by the Egyptian-French-British conflict over the Suez Canal and by Egyptian support of anti-French elements in North Africa.
The 1967 (Six Day) War erupted in response to Egypt's blockade of Israel's southern (oil and commerce) waterway, Egypt's violation of the Sinai demilitarization, the Egypt-Syria-Jordan Military Pact, aimed at Israel's destruction, Syrian shelling of Israeli communities below the Golan Heights and Jordanian shelling of Jerusalem.Israel's 1967 control of Gaza ended a nightly curfew in Gaza, which was imposed by Egypt, in order to prevent Palestinian national activity.
The 1969-70 War of attrition along the Suez Canal took place irrespective of the Palestinian issue.
The 1973 War (the most recent Arab-Israel war) was initiated by Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq, independent of the Palestinian issue.
The 1982 PLO-Israel War in Lebanon (pre-empting a grand scale PLO assault on northern Israel) was not transformed into an Arab-Israeli war. The Arab League delayed its emergency session for 2.5 months until the PLO was expelled from Beirut! Arabs shed much pro-Palestinian rhetoric - not blood - for Palestinians!
The 1987-1992 First Intifada was not transformed into an Arab-Israeli war. No Arab military-financial support; only rhetoric.
The 1994-2007 Oslo-triggered Palestinian terrorism has not been transformed into an Arab-Israeli war. US and W. Europe financial aid to the PA has exceeded Arab aid!
The Arab-Israeli conflict was not triggered by the Palestinian issue. The Palestinian issue has not been the 'crown jewel' of the Arabs. A Palestinian state would undermine vital US interests: exacerbating global terrorism, dooming the Hashemite and Persian Gulf moderate regimes, promoting radical regimes, providing a Mediterranean platform to Iran, Russia and China and intensifying oppression of Palestinian Christians.
Terrorists Lying in Wait for Canada? (back)
September 18, 2007
Startling news from Scotland today indicates that Canada--Ontario in particular--may be the next site for terrorist attacks.
Indeed, it now turns out that the arrests of 12 men and 5 teenagers as suspected terrorists in Toronto on June 2, 2006, didn't stop there but cropped up almost year and a half later in Glasgow. The 12 men and five teens are in custody in connection with the alleged attacks to the current day.
It is claimed that the attacks foiled by the RCMP and Toronto police stopped a mission that was to include detonating truck bombs, slaughtering shoppers and storming the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) and parliament building where terrorists allegedly planned to behead Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
According to firstname.lastname@example.org, 'The security services feared Scotland's first home-grown 'wannabe suicide bomber' had been preparing to carry out a terrorist attack in Canada it emerged last night.' ( www.scotsman.com, September 18, 2007).
The message could just as well have been: 'SOS to Canada from Scotland: Heads up!'
The scene for the apprehension of the suspect terrorist in Scotland was the same one where terrorists drove a vehicle through the plate glass windows of Glasgow's Airport.
'Mohammed Atif Siddique was stopped at Glasgow Airport before he could board a flight to Pakistan amid concerns that he might go 'off the radar' and joined alleged Islamic extremists in planning large-scale terrorist attacks in Ontario.'
Is Siddique a member of the 300 suicide bombers that graduated in Pakistan last June, dispatched on missions to London, Germany and Canada?
Instead of disappearing off radar, Siddique was apprehended and found guilty yesterday of a string of terrorism offences at the High Court in Glasgow. He now faces a jail sentence of up to 15 years, to be decided on October 23.
'During his trial, the defence and prosecution had argued over whether the 21-year-old IT student was actively involved in promoting terrorist attacks or was merely a 'foolishly stupid young man' simply researching Islamic terrorism.
Canada Free Press (CFP) readers will recall that cyber terrorism is one of al-Qaeda' latest strategies. Terrorists using Internet websites to recruit and plan attacks are on the increase.
Siddique was accused of providing instruction or training in the making or use of firearms and explosive by means of the Internet, between September 2003 and April 2006.
On April 13, 2006, Siddique distributed or circulated terrorist publications by means of websites he set up.
After the judge handed down the verdict, Siddique's solicitor, Aamer Anwar, showed his displeasure, accusing the authorities of launching an 'unwarranted' attack on civil liberties and of creating a climate of fear for young Muslims.
Anwar said the Canadian accusations--which were not presented in court--were an attempt to 'smear' his client.
'Flanked by members of Siddique's family, who run a shop in Alva, Clackmannanshire, Mr. Anwar said: ''Today, Mohammed Atif Siddique was found guilty of doing what millions of young people do everyday--looking for answers on the internet.'
'This verdict is a tragedy for justice and for freedom of speech and undermines the values that separate us from the terrorists, the very values we should be fighting to protect. The prosecution was driven by the state, with no limit to the money and resources used to secure a conviction in this case, carried out in an atmosphere of hostility after the Glasgow airport attack and ending on the anniversary of 9/11.'
Anwar, who contends that Siddique did not receive a fair trial, said he is considering an appeal.
But Maureen Brown, assistant chief constable of Central Scotland Police, who was in charge of the investigation, said the verdicts had sent out a clear message to people in Scotland who may support the al-Qaeda cause. She said the case demonstrated that 'we will not tolerate terrorism in any form, including the possession of materials which would be useful to someone wanting to commit an act of terrorism or to induce or encourage someone to take such a course of action.
Siddique was detained at Glasgow Airport on April 5th last year, as he prepared to fly out to Pakistan with his uncle.
Sources close to the investigation said it was believed he might have been preparing to become involved in a terrorist attack in Canada.
'It is thought Siddique had been radicalized by a man from the north of England who was being monitored by the Secret Service and was having online chats with him. The man, who for legal reasons cannot be named, is suspected of being a major recruiting agent and handler for al-Qaeda, and is related to a central figure in an alleged Canadian suicide-bomb team' (emphasis CFP's).
Sources also claim Siddique had discussions with 'someone in Canada' over the possibility of setting up terrorist training camps along the U.S. border.
CFP, through Northeast Intelligence Network (NEIN) director Doug Hagmann, has run a number of stories during the past year and a half regarding radical Islamic compounds, some of which nestle the Canada-U.S. border.
A source close to the investigation said: 'The security services got intelligence that Siddique was about to leave Glasgow Airport for Pakistan, where he would completely go off the radar. Special Branch were asked to detain him without delay.'
One source said the Canadian connections were 'intelligence' rather than evidence.
Siddique possessed all of the trappings to perfect the image of homegrown innocence.
Described as a model pupil at school, Mohammed Atif Siddique was a well-presented, quiet young man who pitched in to help at the family shop in the Clackmannanshire town of Alva.
His father runs a newsagent's in the Myretoungate area of Alva, a town with a population of about 5,000.
Meanwhile Canadian authorities seem to have fallen asleep after the foiled terrorist attacks in the June 2 Toronto bust.
The Scotland experience underlines the vulnerability to a Canada with troops in Afghanistan.
World Cup May Make South Africa a Terrorist Target (back)
September 19, 2007
A Multilicity of tourist sites and the forthcoming 2010 Soccer World Cup make southern Africa vulnerable to terrorist attacks, warns the Institute for Security Studies (ISS).
While attention has been on the Horn of Africa and the Maghreb, where some of the continent's most prominent terrorist attacks have taken place, southern African states should be concerned.
That is the opinion of the ISS in a paper that was the basis for discussion of the United Nations (UN) global counterterrorism strategy. The paper was written jointly with the US-based Centre on Global Counter-Terrorism Co-operation.
'The possibility for international terrorism is always there and we need to start adopting a proactive approach,' Anneli Botha, a senior researcher at the ISS , said at a meeting on the UN's counterterrorism plan for the region.
Kurt Shillinger, head of the Security and Terrorism in Africa project at the South African Institute of International Affairs, said: '2010 is an obvious opportunity, but that would be true of any major sporting event.'
He said the South African intelligence community had the capacity to monitor movements and events in the country and the region.
'The question would be if they did get intelligence on something, how would they act on it?'
Individuals in SA have been implicated in global terrorism. Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, a Tanzanian living in Cape Town, was held after the 1998 US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Haroon Rashid Aswat, a British citizen who lived in Johannesburg, was held and accused of telephoning suspects in the London bombing of July 2005.
More recently, two South African cousins were named as international terror suspects by the UN Security Council for allegedly having links with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda and the deposed Taliban in Afghanistan.
Shillinger said although SA had anti-terrorism legislation, it preferred not to use it for fear of aligning itself with the US-led 'war on terror', and provoking a backlash from its Muslim community.
'Terrorists, like anybody engaged in any kind of commerce, need functional infrastructure,' he said. 'The pitfalls of state weakness may come to outweigh the benefits when it comes to the logistics of executing a terror attack.'
In an assessment of counterterrorism in Africa four months ago, the US state department said despite the Zimbabwe government's 'self-imposed isolation on most diplomatic issues', local intelligence and crime investigation agencies were responsive to US needs in the 'war on terror'.
Iran: Retaliation for Any Israeli Attack (back)
September 19, 2007
Iran has drawn up plans to bomb Israel if the Jewish state should attack, the deputy air force commander said Wednesday, adding to tensions already heated up by an Israeli airstrike on Syria and Western calls for more U.N. sanctions against Tehran.
Other Iranian officials also underlined their country's readiness to fight if the U.S. or Israel attacks, a reflection of concerns in Tehran that demands by the U.S. and its allies for Iran to curtail its nuclear program could escalate into military action.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Sunday that the international community should prepare for the possibility of war in the event Iran obtains atomic weapons, although he later stressed the focus is still on diplomatic pressures.
The comments come as the top U.S. military commander in the Middle East, Adm. William Fallon, is touring Persian Gulf countries seeking to form a united front of Arab allies against Iran's growing influence in the region.
Iran has periodically raised alarms over the possibility of war, particularly when the West brings up talk of sanctions over Tehran's rejection of a U.N. Security Council demand that it halt uranium enrichment.
'We have drawn up a plan to strike back at Israel with our bombers if this regime (Israel) makes a silly mistake,' Iran's deputy air force commander, Gen. Mohammad Alavi, said in an interview with the semiofficial Fars news agency.
Alavi warned that Israel is within range of Iran's medium-range missiles and fighter-bombers.
The Iranian air force had no immediate comment on the Fars report. But Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammed Najjar told the official IRNA news agency that 'we keep various options open to respond to threats. ... We will make use of them if required.'
Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards also weighed in, saying Iran 'has prepared its people for a possible confrontation against any aggression.'
White House press secretary Dana Perino said Alavi's comment 'is not constructive and it almost seems provocative.'
'Israel doesn't seek a war with its neighbors. And we all are seeking, under the U.N. Security Council resolutions, for Iran to comply with its obligations' under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, she said.
During a stop in Jerusalem, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Washington is committed to diplomacy, but added that the U.S. hasn't taken any military 'options off the table.' She said that 'it can't be business as usual' with Iran, a country whose president has spoken of wiping Israel off the map.
For diplomacy to work, she said, 'it has to have both a way for Iran to pursue a peaceful resolution of this issue and it has to have teeth, and the U.N. Security Council and other measures are providing teeth.'
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said his government took Iran's 'threat very seriously and so does the international community.'
'Unfortunately we are all too accustomed to this kind of bellicose, extremist and hateful language coming from Iran,' he said.
Israeli warplanes in 1981 destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor being built by Saddam Hussein's regime, and many in the region fear Israel or the U.S. could mount airstrikes on Iranian nuclear facilities if Tehran doesn't bow to Western demands to cease uranium enrichment.
Iran, which says it isn't trying to produce material for atomic bombs but rather fuel for reactors that would generate electricity, has said in the past that Israel would be the first retaliatory target for any attack. But Alavi's comments were the first to mention specific contingency plans.
David Ochmanek, an international policy analyst with the U.S.-based RAND Corporation, said Iran has the capability to attack Israel with a limited number of ballistic missiles, but Israel could potentially inflict greater damage on Iran.
'If Israelis attacked Iran it would be with high precision weapons that could destroy military targets,' he said. 'They could destroy Iran's nuclear reactor and do damage to the enrichment.'
'The Iranian response would be quite different,' Ochmanek said. 'It would be small numbers of highly innaccurate missiles and the intention would be to do this for psychological purposes rather than to destroy discrete targets. It's an asymmetrical relationship.'
A top Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander warned earlier this week that U.S. bases around Iran would also be legitimate targets.
'Today, the United States is within Iran's sight and all around our country, but it doesn't mean we have been encircled. They are encircled themselves and are within our range,' Gen. Mohammed Hasan Kousehchi told IRNA.
U.S. forces are in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the Persian Gulf, Kuwait hosts a major U.S. base, the U.S. 5th Fleet patrols from its base in Bahrain, and the U.S. Central Command is housed in Qatar.
Tensions have been raised by a mysterious Israeli air incursion over Syria on September 6. Israel has placed a tight news blackout on the reported incident, while Syria has said little. U.S. officials said it involved an airstrike on a target.
One U.S. official said the attack hit weapons heading for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, an ally of Syria and Iran, but there also has been speculation the Israelis hit a nascent nuclear facility or were studying routes for a possible future strike on Iran.
Former Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday he was involved 'from the beginning' in the alleged airstrike, the first public mention by an Israeli leader about the incident. Netanyahu, the leader of the parliamentary opposition, did not give further details.
Edward Djerejian, founding director of Rice University's Baker Institute, said the accusation that Israel had violated Syrian airspace, and possibly launched an attack on Syrian territory, was putting new concerns on an already tense situation.
'The region is very nervous,' said Djerejian, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and Syria.
With Iran adding to the talk of military options, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns called Wednesday for U.N. Security Council members and U.S. allies to help push for a third round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.
But Russia's U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said Moscow opposes new sanctions, adding they could hurt a recent agreement between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency aimed at resolving questions about the Iranian program.
Two U.N. resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran have failed to persuade the country to suspend uranium enrichment.
Burns said he would host a Friday meeting of the Security Council's permanent members — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France. Talks on a new resolution are also expected next week in New York, when world leaders attend the annual ministerial session of the U.N. General Assembly.
Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070919/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iran_israe l&printer=1;_ylt=Ag_W5PnRQVAtDGgrfj4XChkUewgF
The Pentagon's Counterspies: The Counterintelligence Field Activity (back)
September 17, 2007
Today the National Security Archive publishes a collection of documents concerning the organization and operations of the Pentagon's Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) and the TALON/CORNERSTONE database it has maintained. As the Defense Department announced on August 21, today that database will be terminated while work on new procedures for reporting of threats to the Defense Department and its facilities continues. In the interim, threat reports will be transmitted to the FBI.
The declassified documents published today include the key Department of Defense directive on the collection of information about Americans, as well as documents on the organization and missions of CIFA, an evaluation of charges of mismanagement by CIFA executives, and examples of data collected about protest activities as part of the Threat And Local Observation Notice (TALON) system.
Central to the collection are the documents that show the internal and public response by the Defense Department to questions raised about the propriety of the data base - specifically, its collection and retention of data on political protests. Also, included is a DoD Inspector General report on the operation of the TALON system, identifying a number of problems in operation of the system.
Electronic Briefing Book
The Pentagon's Counterspies
The Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA)
By Jeffrey Richelson
The Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), also known for a time as the Joint Counterintelligence Assessment Group (JCAG), was established by Department of Defense Directive 5105.67 (Document 2) in February 2002. A Defense Department background paper (Document 7) traces CIFA's origins to Presidential Decision Directive (PDD)- 75, 'U.S. Counterintelligence Effectiveness - Counterintelligence for the 21st Century,' signed by President William Clinton on January 5, 2001. PDD-75 called for a predictive and proactive counterintelligence (CI) system with integrated oversight of counterintelligence issues across national security agencies. (Note 1)
CIFA's functions, according to the February 2002 directive were to include:
evaluating DoD counterintelligence activities to determine the extent to which counterintelligence policies and resources adequately protect the Defense Department against the threats of 'espionage, terrorism, sabotage, assassination, and other covert or clandestine activities, including those of foreign intelligence services,'
providing counterintelligence threat assessments, advisories, and risk assessments to the heads of DoD components,
providing 'tailored analytical and data-mining support' to DoD counterintelligence field elements and activities,
conducting 'Domestic Threat Analyses and Risk Assessments,' and
identifying and tracking 'technologies requiring protection.' (Note 2)
In 2005 CIFA's authority was expanded when it received mission tasking authority (MTA) over the counterintelligence organizations of the military departments, such as the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the counterintelligence components of Defense Department agencies. An even more extensive expansion of CIFA's authority had been proposed earlier that year by The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, also known as the Robb-Silberman Commission. The Commission suggested that CIFA 'should have operational and investigative authority to coordinate and conduct counterintelligence activities throughout the Defense Department.' (Note 3)
After consultations with the National Security Council staff members responsible for implementing the Commission's recommendations, the Defense Department expanded CIFA's authority, but not to the extent suggested by the Commission. The tasking authority assigned to CIFA does not allow it to conduct counterintelligence agencies throughout the Defense Department but allows it to task any military department or DoD agency counterintelligence component to 'execute a specific CI mission or conduct a CI function within that organization's charter.' (Note 4)
CIFA has about 400 full-time employees and provides work for 800-900 contractor personnel. (Note 5) Its organizational structure (Document 3a) includes nine directorates, whose missions are explained in the CIFA Fact Sheet (Document 3b).
Among the reports produced by CIFA are Significant Activity Summaries, Special Reports, Briefings, and Threat Advisories. According to one report, one briefing paper prepared by CIFA concerns whether Islam has been radicalized by terrorists or is inherently radical and supportive of terrorism. The briefing noted that 'political Islam wages an ideological battle against the non-Islamic world at the tactical, operational and strategic level. The West's response is focused at the tactical and operational level, leaving the strategic level - Islam - unaddressed.' (Note 6)
A special report produced by CIFA's West Coast detachment is the July 29, 2005, Production and Use of Fraudulent Military Identification Cards (Document 6). It summarized several incidents, including the observation of three individuals in a restaurant in Yukon, Oklahoma, using a laptop computer to produce what appeared to be military ID cards. Also noted was the seizure of equipment used to produce counterfeit military ID cards following a traffic stop near an Air National Guard Base in Michigan. (Note 7)
The information contained in the report concerning the incidents in Oklahoma and Michigan were drawn from reports that had been produced as part of CIFA's Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) reporting system - a system first established by the Air Force prior to the creation of CIFA. (Note 8) A Defense Department information paper (Document 14) on the system stated that:
The ability to acquire and analyze suspicious activity reports for indications of possible terrorist pre-attack activities is an absolutely critical component of the intelligence support to [the] force protection mission. Terrorists have the advantage of choosing the time and venue for their attacks, but normally have to conduct extensive pre-attack preparations to maximize their chances of success. The pre-attack phase of a terrorist operation, however, is the period of greatest vulnerability to the terrorist group, since it must surface to collect intelligence and conduct physical surveillance and other activities of the target... Therefore, an effective system for detecting terrorist pre-attack activities is a high priority task for the intelligence community, law enforcement, security elements, and local community authorities. (Note 9)
In May 2003, the Deputy Secretary of Defense decreed (Document 4) that TALON would be the formal mechanism for assembling and sharing 'non-validated' domestic information among intelligence, counterintelligence, law enforcement, security, and force protection organizations. Events reported (by DoD personnel, 'concerned citizens,' or local law enforcement) under the TALON system were to include 'non-specific' threats to the Defense Department; suspected surveillance of DoD facilities and personnel; elicitation (attempts to obtain security-related or military-specific information by anyone without the appropriate security clearance and need-to-know); tests of security; unusual repetitive activity; bomb threats; as well as any other suspicious activity. He also directed that, 'to the maximum extent possible,' TALON reports should be classified at the lowest possible level to ensure maximum distribution.' (Note 10)
As of 2005, the database of TALON and other counterintelligence reports was designated CORNERSTONE, while the intelligence and law enforcement system for sharing TALON and other related reports is known as the Joint Protection Enterprise Network (JPEN). In late 2005, it was reported that an effort, designated Project Voyager, was underway to improve the CORNERSTONE database to support coordination with local, state and federal law enforcement. (Note 11)
The database consists of a chronological listing by report date that also provides an incident date, incident summary, locations of the city/installation and state of the incident, type of incident (e.g. threat or anti-DoD vandalism), the disposition of the case (open or unresolved), credibility, whether the report was further researched, and the reason a report was discounted. The database is also undoubtedly used in data mining activities. Since March 2004, CIFA has awarded at least $33 million to a variety of major corporations to develop techniques for combing through classified and unclassified documents, commercial information, and Internet traffic to detect terrorists and spies. (Note 12)
One CIFA-supported database project, conducted by Northrop Grumman and designated 'Person Search,' is intended to 'provide comprehensive information about people of interest.' It is intended to include the ability to search government and commercial databases. The objective of a second project, 'The Insider Threat Initiative,' is, according to the Computer Sciences Corporation contract, to 'develop systems able to detect mitigate and investigate insider threats,' as well as to 'identify and document normal and abnormal activities and 'behaviors'.' Another contract provided a small firm with funding to develop techniques 'to track and monitor activities of suspect individuals.' (Note 13)
The Air Force produced 1,200 such reports in the 14 month period concluding at the end of September 2003. In the program's first year CIFA received more than 5,000 TALON reports. By mid-January 2006, the database contained about 13,000 items. (Note 14)
The database of TALON reports has contained some very different types of reports. The 400-page database of 1,519 'suspicious' incidents that were observed between July 2004 and May 2005 contained about two dozen that appeared to concern real threats. In August 2004 there was an aborted terrorist attack against Florida governor Jeb Bush and the USS Momsen at Panama City, Florida, during a decommissioning ceremony. Two reports from November 2004 concerned possible surveillance of the National Security Agency by nationals from the People's Republic of China and three North Korean illegals found on the Luke Air Force Base Bombing Range in Arizona. Reports from May 2005 concerned a South Florida al-Qaeda associate who was in possession of a pilot's license and had worked as a baggage handler at a Florida airport, and the identification of a U.S. person as an alleged financial conduit for suspected al-Qaeda members. (Note 15)
A very different type of TALON report from August 2004 concerned the arrest, in Atlanta, Georgia, of a Navy enlisted man for driving under the influence; a subsequent search of his vehicle revealed 'a picture of Usama bin Laden displayed as a screensaver on [his] cellular telephone. But it was a third type of TALON report, concerning the anti-war movement, that would prove to be controversial. One of these was a report submitted by the 902nd Military Intelligence Group, the Army Intelligence and Security Command's domestic counterintelligence unit. The report, which was listed in the database as pertaining to a 'threat,' concerned a small gathering of activists at a Quaker Meeting House in Lake Worth, Florida, to plan a protest of military recruiting at local high schools. (Note 16)
Another example of an event that attracted the attention of the 902nd was a March 2005 peace march through the streets of Akron, Ohio, that involved about 200 people and included stops outside a Marine Corps recruiting center and FBI office to listen to speeches against the Iraq war. Based on a tip from the Pentagon the marchers were followed by police cars. In addition, analysts with 902nd downloaded information from activist web sites, intercepted e-mails, and cross-referenced the data they acquired with information in police databases. In that or other instances photographs and records of protesters and their vehicles have been reviewed to determine if different activities were being organized by the same individuals. The analyst's conclusion was that 'Even though these demonstrations are advertised as 'peaceful,' they are assessed to present apotential force protection threat.' (Note 17)
There were approximately four dozen reports concerning anti-war meetings or protests, including reports that remained in the database long after it was concluded that the targets were unrelated to any threat. Among the meetings that attracted the attention of military counterintelligence authorities were a large anti-war protest in Los Angeles in March 2005, a planned protest against military recruiters in Boston in December 2004, a planned demonstration outside the gates of the Fort Collins, Colorado, military base, and a planned protest at McDonald's National Salute to America's Heroes - a military air and sea show in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. It was concluded that the Ft. Lauderdale protest was not a credible threat and a column in the database noted that it was a 'US group exercising constitutional rights.' (Note 18)
Press revelations - particularly in the Washington Post, the Post's Early Warning Web log, and on NBC - that CIFA's TALON database included reports on such activities revived memories of Army surveillance of anti-war activities during the 1970s, and the concern, by some, that the Pentagon had crossed the line from legitimate force protection activities to unjustified snooping on legitimate political activities. The Defense Department's response to the disclosures included a statement offering reassurance that the department 'views with the greatest concern any potential violation of strict DoD policy governing authorized counter-intelligence efforts and support to law enforcement.' More concretely, it claimed that a 'dot of information that was not validated as threatening is required to be removed from the TALON system in less than ninety days.' (Note 19)
The statement also revealed, in addition to a review of the TALON system that had been initiated in October by CIFA, that the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence had directed that four actions be taken after an initial assessment of TALON reporting procedures: (1) a 'thorough review of the TALON reporting system to ensure it complies fully with DoD and U.S. laws'; (2) a review to determine whether TALON policies and procedures 'are being properly applied with respect to any reporting and retention of information about any U.S. persons; (3) a review of the TALON data base to identify any other information improperly in the data base; and (4) refresher training for all DoD counterintelligence and intelligence personnel 'concerning laws, policies, and procedures governing collection, reporting and storing information related to warning of potential threats to DoD personnel, facilities, or national security interests.' (Note 20)
The statement was followed by a January 13, 2006, memo from the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Document 9) concerning the 'Retention and Use of Information for the TALON System.' In addition to specifying refresher training it gave the Director of CIFA until January 17, 2006, to advise the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence that all reports in the TALON database had been reviewed to identify any reports that did not belong. It also noted that the Under Secretary had established a working group to 'review and recommend changes to policy and procedures employed in the TALON program to ensure compliance with DoD policy.' (Note 21)
Two weeks later, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Counterintelligence and Security) Robert W. Rogalski provided an update (Document 10) on the review of the TALON system to the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. In his letter, Rogalski stated that TALON reporting had led to 'a number of investigations,' including terrorism investigations as well as identifying patterns that allowed the Defense Department to change security procedures in order to deter potential terrorist activities. Rogalski also wrote that:
Although the TALON reporting system was intended to document suspicious incidents possibly linked to foreign terrorist threats to DoD resources, some came to view the system as a means to report information about demonstrations and anti-base activity that would be of interest to field commanders from a force protection perspective. A very small percentage of these reports were submitted to the TALON/CORNERSTONE database.
CIFA has removed the TALON reports on demonstrations and anti-base activity from the database. The process to remove other reports that are no longer analytically significant is ongoing. All TALON reports are now reviewed at CIFA upon receipt to ensure compliance with the TALON reporting criteria. (Note 22)
He also promised that the Defense Department would soon issue detailed guidance that would clarify the purpose of the database, the rules governing the collection and retention of information, and specify more detailed procedures to be followed. In addition, Rogalski reported, the database would be reviewed again to ensure compliance. (Note 23)
Eventually, 2% of the 13,000 reports in the database were determined to be improperly retained. In a memo issued at the end of March 2006, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England (Document 12) informed its recipients that the review of the TALON Reporting System had been completed and confirmed that the system 'should be used only to report information regarding possible international terrorist activity.' (Note 24)
In April 2007, the new Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, Lt. Gen. James Clapper, reviewed the results of the TALON program, reporting that he 'did not believe they merit continuing the program as currently constituted,' according to a statement released by a Pentagon spokesman. However, a final decision on the program has not been made (or announced) by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. (Note 25)
In June 2007, the Department of Defense Inspector General released the results of his review of the TALON reporting program (Document 16). Its findings included the observation that CIFA and the Northern Command 'legally gathered and maintained U.S. person information on individuals or organizations involved in domestic protests and demonstrations against DOD' - information gathered for law enforcement and force protection purposes as permitted by Defense Department directive (5200.27) on the 'Acquisition of Information Concerning Persons and Organizations Not Affiliated with the Department of Defense.' However, CIFA did not comply with the 90-day retention review policy specified by that directive and the CORNERSTONE database did not have the capability to identify TALON reports with U.S. person information, to identify reports requiring a 90-day retention review, or allow analysts to edit or delete the TALON reports. (Note 26)
In August the Defense Department announced that it would shut down the CORNERSTONE database on September 17, with information subsequently collected on potential terror or security threats to Defense Department facilities or personnel being sent to an FBI data base known as GUARDIAN. A department spokesman said the database was being terminated because 'the analytical value had declined,' not due to public criticism, and that the Pentagon was hoping to establish a new system - not necessarily a database - to 'streamline' threat reporting, according to a statement released by the Department's public affairs office. (Note 27)
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Document 1: Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Department of Defense Directive 5240.1-R, Procedures Governing the Activities of the DOD Intelligence Components That Affect United States Persons, December 1982
This directive serves as the basic guidance for all DoD intelligence components, including CIFA, with respect to the collection, retention, and dissemination of information about U.S. persons. In addition to chapters dealing with those three topics, the directive also includes chapters on electronic surveillance, concealed monitoring, physical searches, searches and examination of mail, and physical surveillance.
Document 2: DoD Directive 5105.67, Department of Defense Counterintelligence Field Activity, February 19, 2002, Unclassified
This directives serves as the charter for CIFA. It specifies the mission of CIFA, DOD policy with regard to counterintelligence, its original organizational structure, the responsibilities of and functions of the senior Defense Department official responsible for intelligence (at the time the Assistant Secretary of Defense for C3I, the Director of CIFA, and other officials, the authorities of the CIFA director.
Document 3a: Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) - Organization Chart. Unclassified
Document 3b: Counterintelligence Field Activity Fact Sheet. Unclassified
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request
Document 3a shows the nine directorates that make up the organizational structure of CIFA. Document 3b provides a description of the functions of each of the directorates.
Document 4: Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense, Memorandum, Subject: Collection, Reporting, and Analysis of Terrorist Threats to DoD Within the United States, May 2, 2003. For Official Use Only
This memo from the deputy secretary of defense informs its recipients of a new DoD-wide reporting mechanism - the Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) - that contains raw information reported by members of the military as well as concerned citizens with regard to suspicious incidents. The memo also instructs a variety of DoD organizations to identify, collect, and report specific types of information consistent with the TALON framework. In addition, it specifies dissemination of such reports to appropriate military commanders and others responsible for installation security. One attachment provides background on the TALON system and an example of a TALON report.
Document 5: Department of Defense Inspector General, Counterintelligence Field Activity Data Call Submission and Internal Control Processes for Base Realignment and Closure 2005, May 13, 2005. For Official Use Only
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request
This report evaluates CIFA's provision of data with regard to base realignment and closure for 2005. The DoD IG conclude that CIFA's responses to the 17 questions posed 'were generally not fully supported.'
Document 6: DoD CIFA-W, Production and Use of Fraudulent Military Identification Cards, July 29, 2005. For Official Use Only
This report was prepared by the Western division of the CIFA. It reports on the production and attempted distribution of fraudulent military identification cards - summarizing three incidents that took place between March and July 2005. It also contains a section on 'historical perspective' and another on 'common access card (CAC) technology.'
Document 7: Robert W. Rogalski, Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Counterintelligence & Security), Subject: Background Paper, Department of Defense Counterintelligence Field Activity, December 1, 2005, Unclassified, w/att: Memorandum, Subject: Mission Tasking Authority, October 24, 2005
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request
This background paper was prepared in response to press inquiries concerning the domestic intelligence surveillance activities of CIFA. It dates the establishment of CIFA, traces its origins, and specifies its functions. It notes that the military departments, rather than CIFA, are responsible for the 'full spectrum' of counterintelligence functions. In addition, it reports that subsequent to the recommendation of a presidential panel and consultation with the NSC, CIFA was assigned Mission Tasking Authority - a responsibility that is explained at length in the attached memorandum.
Document 8: Stephen A. Cambone, Under Secretary of Defense (Intelligence) to John Warner, Chairman, Senate Committee on Armed Services, December 19, 2005. Unclassified
Cambone wrote this letter to Warner in response to an NBC Nightly News story 'alleging that Department of Defense (DoD) entities are collecting information on American peace activists and monitoring protests against the Iraq war' - specifically highlighting entries in the TALON reporting system. In his letter Cambone seeks 'to provide you some context not otherwise reported in the segment' - including the removal of 'dots' of information in less than 90 if not validated.
Document 9: Gordon England, Deputy Secretary of Defense, Subject: Retention and Use of Information for the TALON System, January 13, 2006. Unclassified
This memo, addressed to key officials in the military services and Defense Department agencies, followed the heavy reporting on CIFA and TALON system that appeared in mid-December in both major newspapers and on television. The memo both directed refresher training for all DoD intelligence and counterintelligence personnel on the policies associated with the TALON system, as well as directing the director of CIFA to advise the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence that all reports within the TALON database had been scrutinized to identify any reports that should not be in the database.
Document 10: Robert W. Rogalski, Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Counterintelligence and Security) to John Warner, Chairman, Senate Committee on Armed Services, January 27, 2006. Unclassified
This letter is a follow-up to Stephen Cambone's December 19, 2005 letter to Warner, intended to update Warner - based on the 'nearly completed' review of the TALON system. In it, Cambone compares the TALON reporting system to a 'neighborhood watch program' and notes the connection between TALON reporting and follow-up investigations, how the associated data-base came to include information about anti-base activity, and the removal of reports on demonstration and anti-base activity, and plans to issue new guidance.
Document 11: Stephen A. Cambone, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, Memorandum for Director, Counterintelligence Field Activity, Subject: The TALON/CORNERSTONE Database, February 2, 2006. Unclassified
This memorandum from the Department of Defense's senior intelligence official to the head of CIFA, following a review of TALON reporting, directed that all TALON reporting would conform to the provisions of the Department of Defense Directive governing the activities of department intelligence organizations that affect U.S. persons. He also directed that CIFA begin an immediate review to ensure that all reports in the TALON/CORNERSTONE database were in accordance with the DoD directive.
Document 12: Gordon England, Deputy Secretary of Defense, Memorandum, Threats to the Department of Defense, March 30, 2006, Unclassified w/enclosures: TALON Reporting System Procedures, Department of Defense memo of May 2, 2003 (Document 3)
This memorandum, addressed to senior officials in the Defense Department, Defense agencies and field activities, and military departments, is another that followed the review of the TALON Reporting System in the wake of press disclosures and questions about surveillance of anti-war and anti-base demonstrations. England directs the memos recipients to comply with the procedures listed in Enclosure 1 (TALON Reporting System Procedures) and ensure that the information in their TALON reports meet the criteria for reporting described in that enclosure.
Document 13: DoD Inspector General, Allegations of Mismanagement and Waste Within the Counterintelligence Field Activity, September 29, 2006. For Official Use Only/Law Enforcement Sensitive
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request
In addition to being the target of criticism for its domestic surveillance activities, CIFA was also the subject of allegations charging mismanagement, waste of taxpayers' dollars, and inadequate oversight at CIFA. One individual made were nine allegations. The DoD Inspector General's review concluded that four of the allegations were not substantiated, three were substantiated, and two warranted a referral to the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. Appendix contains a summary of the allegations, the DoD IG's findings and analysis. The specifics of the two allegations referred to the Defense Criminal Investigative Service are redacted from the released report.
Document 14: Department of Defense, Information Paper: DoD TALON, n.d. Unclassified
This undated paper on the TALON Reporting System, was written subsequent to Paul Wolfowitz's May 2, 2003 memorandum, but apparently before the controversy resulting from the December 2005 media reporting concerning TALON. It discusses the rationale and origins of the TALON System, noting some terrorist attacks where pre-attack surveillance (by the terrorists) either went undetected or unreported and 'was only recognized in hindsight' and that after 9/11 a group of intelligence and security professionals met to develop a capability to gather and analyze information reports of suspicious activity that might indicate preparations for a terrorist attack.
Document 15: Department of Defense, Review of the TALON Reporting System, n.d. Unclassified
While undated, this Department of Defense document was clearly produced in 2006 and reports on the results of the review of the TALON Reporting System that followed media disclosures and questions. The memo consists of four sections: 'Key Points,' 'Areas of Confusion,' 'Status of the Cornerstone Database,' and 'Analysis of TALON Reports.'
Document 16: Department of Defense Inspector General, Report No. 07-INTEL-09, The Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) Report Program, June 27, 2007. Unclassified
This inspector general report examines the legality and distribution of TALON reports. It also discusses the extent to which TALON reports contain U.S. person information and management actions and the impact of the Deputy Secretary of Defense's March 30, 2006 (Document 12) memo on the number of TALON reports produced.
Document 17a: TALON Report 902-09-11-04-110, November 9, 2004. Unclassified.
Document 17b: TALON Report 902-24-02-05-136, February 24, 2005. Unclassified.
Document 17c: TALON Report 902-01-03-05-148, March 1, 2005. Unclassified.
Document 17d: TALON Report 902-01-03-05-152, March 1, 2005. Unclassified.
Document 17e: TALON Report 902-07-03-05-167, March 7, 2005. Unclassified.
Document 17f: TALON Report 902-06-04-05-304, April 6, 2005. Unclassified.
Document 17g: TALON Report 902-08-04-05-320, April 8, 2005. Unclassified.
Document 17h: TALON Report TECH-12-04-05-008, April 12, 2005. Unclassified.
Document 17i: TALON Report 902-22-04-05-368, April 22, 2005. Unclassified.
These released TALON reports focus on planned protests against the Iraq war and/or the military in general. They specify the incident type, source, subject, and details. The subjects of the reports include protests in the vicinity of the Sacramento Military Entrance Processing Station, a variety of military recruiting stations, and the Fort Lauderdale Air and Sea Show. Groups whose protests are noted in the reports include Veterans for Peace, the Broward Anti-War Coalition, and the American Friends Service Committee.
Document 18: Office of the Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs), DoD to Implement Interim Threat Reporting Procedures, August 21, 2007. Unclassified
This brief announcement disclosed that CIFA would close the TALON/CORNERSTONE database on September 17, plans to develop a new reporting system, and information concerning force protection threats would be sent to the FBI until a new system was developed.
1. Robert W. Rogalski, Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Counterintelligence and Security), Memorandum for Public Release, Subject: Background Paper, Department of Defense Counterintelligence Field Activity, December 1, 2005; Walter Pincus, 'Pentagon Expanding Its Domestic Surveillance Activity,' www.washingtopost.com, November 27, 2005; National Counterintelligence Executive, 'The Presidential Decision Directive on Counterintelligence,' January 6, 2001, http://www.ncix.gov. That CIFA was also known as the Joint Counterintelligence Assessment Group is from Senator Richard Shelby, September 11 and the Imperative of Reform in the U.S. Intelligence Community, December 10, 2002, p. 38.
2. Department of Defense Directive 5105.67, Department of Defense Counterintelligence Field Activity (DoD CIFA), February 19, 2002.
3. Stephen A. Cambone, Memorandum, Subject: Mission Tasking Authority, October 24, 2005; The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, Report to the President of the United States (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2005), p. 574.
4. Cambone, Memorandum, Subject: Mission Tasking Authority.
5. Walter Pincus, 'Counterintelligence Officials Resign,' www.washingtonpost.com, August 10, 2006.
6. Paul Sperry, 'The Pentagon Breaks the Islam Taboo,' www.frontpagemag.com, December 14, 2005.
7. Department of Defense, Information Paper: DoD TALON; William Martin, CIFA West, Special Report, Production and Use of Fraudulent Military Identification Cards, July 29, 2005.
8. Department of Defense, Information Paper: DoD TALON, n.d.
10. Ibid.; Gordon England, Memorandum, Subject: Threats to the Department of Defense (DoD), March 30, 2006; William Arkin, 'Early Warning - Code Name of the Week: Cornerstone,' www.washingtonpost.com, November 29, 2005; Attachment to Paul Wolfowitz, Memorandum, Subject: Collection, Reporting, and Analysis of Terrorist Threats to DoD Within the United States, May 2, 2003.
11. William M. Arkin, 'Early Warning - The Pentagon Breaks the Law,' www.washingtonpost.com December 22, 2005; Arkin, 'Early Warning - Code Name of the Week: Cornerstone.'
12. Lisa Myers, Douglas Pasternak, and Rich Gardella, 'Is the Pentagon spying on Americans?,' www.msnbc.com, December 14, 2005.
14. Pincus, 'Defense Facilities Pass Along Reports of Suspicious Activity'; Myers, Pasternak, and Gardella, 'Is the Pentagon spying on Americans?'; Peter Spiegel, 'Pentagon Threat Database Kept Reports It Shouldn't Have,' Los Angeles Times, April 6, 2006, p. A31; Carol A. Haave, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Counter Intelligence and Security, 'Intelligence Community Standards, Sharing and Collaboration: A Policy View,' Statement for the Record before Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, May 13, 2004, p. 6.
15. William M. Arkin, 'Early Warning - Pentagon Domestic Spying,' www.washingtonpost.com, December 14, 2005.
16. Ibid.; Myers, Pasternak, and Gardella, 'Is the Pentagon spying on Americans?'
17. Robert Block and Jay Solomon, 'Pentagon Steps Up Intelligence Efforts Inside U.S. Borders,' Wall Street Journal, April 27, 2006, pp. A1, A14.
18. Myers, Pasternak, and Gardella, 'Is the Pentagon spying on Americans?'; Walter Pincus, 'Pentagon Will Review Database on U.S. Citizens,' www.washingtonpost.com, December 15, 2005; David S. Cloud, 'Pentagon Is Said to Mishandle A Counterterrorism Database,' New York Times, December 16, 2005, p. A36. In late 2006, TALON reports released to the ACLU included ones on planned American Friends Service Committee protests against recruiting centers in Springfield, Illinois and possible civil disobedience planned for three New York area recruiting centers. Also see Erich Lichtblau and Mark Mazzeti, 'Military Data Reveal Tips on Antiwar Activities,' New York Times, November 21, 2006, p. A17; TALON Report 902-24-02-05-136, Subject: Civil Disobedience Planned at Three New York City Recruiting Stations for 19 March 05, February 24, 2005; TALON Report 902-07-03-05-167, Subject: Protests Against Recruiting Centers in Springfield, IL Area on 18 March 05, March 7, 2005.
19. 'Pentagon Statement on Domestic Intelligence Surveillance,' www.fas.org, accessed December 15, 2005; Gerry J. Gilmore, 'DoD Orders Review of Anti-Threat Intel-Gathering System,' December 15, 2005, www.defenselink.mil.
20. 'Pentagon Statement on Domestic Intelligence Surveillance.'
21. Gordon England, Memorandum, Subject: Retention and Use of Information for the TALON System,' January 13, 2006.
22. Robert W. Rogalski, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Counterintelligence and Security) to Senator Carl Levin, January 27, 2006.
24. Spiegel, 'Pentagon Threat Database Kept Reports It Shouldn't Have'; Gordon England, Memorandum, Subject: Threats to the Department of Defense (DoD), March 30, 2006.
25. Mark Mazzetti, 'Pentagon Intelligence Chief Proposes Ending a Database,' New York Times, April 25, 2007, p. A16; Walter Pincus, 'Pentagon to End Talon Data-Gathering Program,' www.washingtonpost.com, April 25, 2007.
26. Inspector General, Department of Defense, Report No. 07-INTEL-09, The Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) Report Program, June 27, 2007, pp. 1-2.
27. Office of the Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs), 'DoD to Implement Interim Threat Reporting Procedures,' August 21, 2007; Sara Wood, Armed Forces Press Service, 'Defense Department to Close Talon System,' www.defenselink.mil, August 21, 2007; Associated Press, 'Pentagon to Shut controversial database,' www.msnbc.com, August 21, 2007.
Hizb ut-Tahrir: Banned Elsewhere But Not in the US: Why? (back)
September 17, 2007
Hizb ut-Tahrir (the Party of Liberation) is banned in virtually all Arab nations in the Middle East, such as Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt. It is banned in Tunisia and Libya, and also Turkey. It is regarded as such a threat that it is even banned in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which are already cauldrons of extremism. It is banned in all the former Soviet states in Central Asia, and since February 2003 it has been banned in Russia. It has been banned in Germany - on account of its anti-Semitism and its desire to use force for political ends - since March 2003, and it is also banned in the Netherlands. Yet in Britain, the United States, Canada and Australia, the group remains free to operate.
In Britain in August 2005, then-prime minister Tony Blair announced his intentions to ban the group. Hizb's reaction was to conjure up a veiled threat - a vision of angry young Muslims instigating riots across Britain should the group be proscribed. Blair's extremist advisers from the Muslim Council of Britain opposed the ban and said they would only accept it if the right-wing BNP party (British National Party) were also banned.
Blair quietly allowed the notion of banning the group disappear from his agenda. His unelected successor, Gordon Brown, was questioned in parliament on July 4, 2007, about the Labour Party's failure to ban the group in Britain. Brown prevaricated, saying that 'more evidence' was needed. He then said: 'We can ban it under the Prevention of Terrorism Act , and, of course, of course - I think the leader of the opposition forgets I've been at this job for five days.' Brown had been prime minister for seven days, but had been in the upper echelons of Blair's government for ten years.
In August 2005, after Blair brought up the issue of a British ban, Australian Attorney General Philip Ruddock ordered an investigation into the group by the national intelligence service, ASIO. Wassim Doureihi, spokesman for the Sydney branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), agreed to cooperate with any ASIO investigation. Eventually, Ruddock decided against banning the group.
What has happened in Britain and Australia is that politicians and legislators have looked at the surface and not the substance of Hizb ut-Tahrir, and have decided that it is not a threat. The group has numerous front groups, which dissolve and rename themselves. It has numerous websites, where extremist documents appear, only to be removed when attention is drawn to them. In recent years, Hizb members have presented themselves publicly as articulate and even moderate. In Britain, where the group has a strong base, its spokespeople dress smartly in suits and ties. It produces a glossy journal, called New Civilization, which also appears online. Though this discusses the Caliphate, it downplays the group's support for revolution and violence.
Publicly, HT claims to be against terrorism and violence. In practice, HT has been increasingly involved with incidents of terrorism in the former Soviet nations. Lebanese members of the group have been implicated in failed bomb attacks upon two trains in Germany last year. HT openly seeks the destruction of democracies and the establishment of an Islamic super-state. It also publicly supports terrorism against Israel.
Behind its public proclamations, it has produced virulent anti-Semitic documents, such as the following from 1999, which was subsequently pulled from one of its websites: 'In origin, no one likes the Jews except the Jews. Even they themselves rarely like each other. He (swt) said: 'You would think they were united, but their hearts are divided' [Koran 59:14] The American people do not like the Jews nor do the Europeans, because the Jews by their very nature do not like anyone else. Rather they look at other people as wild animals which have to be tamed to serve them. So, how can we imagine it being possible for any Arab or Muslim to like the Jews whose character is such?'
The group maintains that it is non-violent, but on February 23, 1995, British members of Hizb ut-Tahrir brutally murdered Ayotunde Obanubi. This African student was attacked on the steps of his college in east London for 'insulting Islam'. Since 1995, the group has been banned from student campuses in the UK because of its violent campaigns of intimidation against women who do not wear the hijab, the Islamic headscarf. Throughout the 1990s, members of HT made death threats to Peter Tatchell, a UK homosexual activist. When one British HT member, Shiraz Maher, left the group he endured a campaign of vilification, with his parents' home address published on internet chat rooms, and individuals impersonating him on blog sites, misrepresenting his opinions.
A 186-point draft 'constitution' which appeared on a Hizb website claimed in its Article 7, clause c that 'Those who are guilty of apostasy (murtadd) from Islam are to be executed according to the rule of apostasy, provided they have by themselves renounced Islam.' This constitution similarly 'disappeared' when it drew negative attention.
In Australia in January this year, the question of banning HT came up again. Morris Iemma, state premier of New South Wales, was concerned about the leader of Indonesian Hizb ut-Tahrir who had been allowed into the country. Mohammed Ismail Yusanto attended an HT conference in Canterbury Road, Lakemba, Sydney on January 28. At this meeting he had urged 500 HT followers to 'Call for all military-aged Muslims to obtain military training and prepare for Jihad. There is no victory and glory without hard work and sacrifice - no pain, no gain.' A Palestinian HT leader, Issam Amera, told the Sydney conference: 'If two people are united and a third person comes along and tries to incite disunity... kill him.'
Originally, the conference was scheduled to be held at the Town Hall in Bankstown, a suburb of Sydney. Tanya Mihailuk, the mayor of Bankstown, had banned the group's use of the public building. She said: 'The promotional material was shocking. It showed daggers with blood put through the state of Israel. It would have certainly breached our conditions of hire in that it would incite racial vilification and violence.' In April 2006 HT members protested outside Bankstown Town Hall, voicing contempt for democracy, secularism, and Australia.
Ruddock claimed this January that Australia had no evidence that Hizb ut-Tahrir supported terrorism, but suggested that if Iemma wanted to ban HT at a state level, he could. Even Prime Minister John Howard argued that 'If they break the present anti-terrorist laws or indeed any other laws then they will be dealt with, but until there is sufficient evidence of that made available to the attorney-general, we can't, or shouldn't, act.'
In Indonesia, Ismail Yusanto has 100,000 followers in all 33 provinces, and campaigns for sharia law and abolishment of the country's secular-pluralist 'Pancasila' constitution. Hizb ut-Tahrir is also involved in violent campaigns to close down churches within Indonesia. Despite this, Yusanto was invited as a guest speaker at an Australian federal conference on national security. This meeting was sponsored by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and was held in the capital, Canberra, in August 2004. Yusanto is said to be a frequent guest at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Hizb ut-Tahrir has been increasing its influence around the globe. Around the time of 9/11 it was known to have footholds in 40 countries. It is now estimated to be flourishing in 45 countries around the globe. HT, which does not recognize countries as such, calls these national branches 'vilayas', or 'provinces' - an allusion to the future global Caliphate. Even though HT despises democracy and elections within nations, it allows its vilayas to elect their leaders and executive committees.
There is one central leadership of global Hizb ut-Tahrir, called a Qiyada. The head of this central committee is called an 'emir' and his tenure exists until his death. There have been three such emirs since the party was founded in 1953. Though the group has become more open about its structure and membership in recent years, sources for its funding remain a mystery.
The other parts of this article will examine the various Hizb ut-Tahrir 'vilayas' and local groups, their methodology and activities, as well as their growing influence in the United States. Before this, any understanding of the group's motives needs to take into consideration the circumstances that led to its creation.
The founder of HT was Mohammed Tagiuddin al-Nabhani (1909 - 1977). He was born in a village near Haifa to a family with a history of Islamic scholarship. His family ancestors had a long history in this region. His maternal grandfather Yusuf an-Nabhani (1849 - 1932) was a poet and had served as an Islamic judge under the Ottoman Caliphate. Through the teachings of this man, and also his mother, Taqiuddin al-Nabhani became immersed in the intricacies of Islamic jurisprudence. By the age of 12, states HT, Taqiuddin was able to memorize the entire Koran.
On March 3, 1924, the Ottoman Caliphate was officially abolished by the National Assembly of the newly-formed state of Turkey, founded by the secularist Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. This event would have horrified Taqiuddin, his mother and grandfather. The re-establishment of a Caliphate - a universal Islamic super-state - would become one of his main goals. It would also become the main plank of HT's beliefs. The dissolution of the Ottoman Caliphate would also inspire Hassan al-Banna to found the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) in Egypt in 1928.
It is not surprising that two individuals who were to become Taqiuddin al-Nabhani's close associates and mentors would themselves become senior figures in the Muslim Brotherhood hierarchy. One of these, according to Michael. R. Fischbach in the Encyclopedia of the Palestinians, was Haj Amin al-Husseini (1895 - 1974). During the British Mandate, which lasted from 1918 to May 1948, Husseini had been chosen to represent the Palestinians. The British appointed him the 'Mufti of Jerusalem' in 1921. Husseini organized deadly attacks against the Jews in the region, and also protests against the British. Husseini was sacked from his post in 1936, but after fleeing the Mandate territories in 1937, he went on to become a guest of Adolph Hitler in 1941. He also established the Handschar, a Muslim division of the Waffen SS in Bosnia. Husseini collaborated with the Nazi slaughter of Jews. Though prevented from returning to Jerusalem, Husseini was named a local leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1940s.
The other influential figure associated with the young Taqiuddin al-Nabhani was an immigrant from Syria called Izz ad-Din al-Qassam (1882 - 1935). Qassam had fought the French in 1921, and had been forced to flee from his native Syria to Haifa. From this time onward, Qassam was involved in al-Hussaini's demonstrations and attacks against Jews. In 1930 Qassam organized cells of Jihadists to attack Jews and also the British and their interests. For this, he would be hunted down by the British and shot on November 19, 1935. By this time Qassam was a prominent figure in the emerging Muslim Brotherhood movement. His name survives in the name given by the terror group Hamas (founded by Muslim Brotherhood members) to their military wing - the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades. Qassam's name was also given to the Qassam rocket. Taqiuddin al-Nabhani had been an associate of Qassam during his teens and also after he graduated from his studies.
Taqiuddin al-Nabhani's career as a practitioner of Islamic jurisprudence began after he had attended al-Azhar University and also the Dar al-Ulum (house of knowledge), both based in Cairo, Egypt. According to Fishbach, it was during his time studying in Egypt that al-Nabhani joined the Muslim Brotherhood. He was a teacher in Palestine from 1932 until 1938 but objected to Western-based academic practices. He applied to the Palestine High Court which employed him in Bisan, Tiberias and then Haifa. He became a legal assessor until 1945, and at the time he founded his 'party of liberation' he was an appeals court judge in the Sharia court in Jerusalem.
al-Nabhani became involved in a plot master-minded by Colonel Abdullah al-Tall. Tall was a notorious anti-Semite. al-Tall, author of The Dangers of World Jewry bemoaned the death of Husseini's associate Eichmann as a 'Martyr' in a 'Holy War'. Colonel al-Tall was Jordan's military governor in Jerusalem and King Abdullah's negotiator with the Jews when the state of Israel was being formed and the Arab-Israeli conflict took place. Originally both Palestine and Transjordan had been ruled under British mandate but the UN establishment of Israel was exploited by Jordan's Hashemite king, Abdullah I. His kingdom had been formed on May 25, 1946, before Palestine was free from the UK mandate. From May 1948, King Abdullah's forces had occupied Jerusalem.
Israel signed an armistice with Jordan on April 3, 1949. Defying UN protocols, King Abdullah had wanted to annex Central Palestine (the West Bank). His government had passed a resolution to this effect on April 25, 1950. On July 20, 1951, King Abdullah was shot dead at the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem as he arrived for Friday prayers. Colonel Abdullah al-Tall was one of six people found guilty of plotting the assassination, but he had fled to the sanctuary of Egypt. He was sentenced to death in absentia. Hizb ut-Tahrir admits al-Nabhani's involvement in the coup, but in its official biography gives no specific details.
al-Nabhani published the first of his 19 books in January 1950. This was a work entitled 'Saving Palestine'. al-Nabhani became distrustful of the Arab League (formed in 1945) after August 1950, when it had ignored a communication he had sent, urging the League to focus on uniting along religious lines. He seriously set himself the goal of establishing a political party. He founded Hizb ut-Tahrir with others between November 1952 and early 1953 at Jerusalem. The Jordanian government almost immediately declared the party illegal.
According to Michael. R. Fischbach, al-Nabhani's establishment of Hizb ut-Tahrir came at the same time as his official break from the Muslim Brotherhood. He had become disillusioned with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) because of its close links with the Jordanian establishment. Jordan has never sought to outlaw the MB, where it operates under the name Islamic Action Front. The MB had sent numerous fighters against Israel and had initially colluded with the 'Free Officer's' coup in Egypt, which took place on July 23, 1952. This brought Nasser to power, but the Arabist dictator did not reward the MB with political influence, as he had promised. By the time Hizb ut-Tahrir was established, al-Nabhani was doubting the authenticity of the MB's interpretation of Islam.
al-Nabhani formed Hizb ut-Tahrir with the intention of 'liberating' Palestine and also liberating Jordan from the Hashemite dynasty, which had been put in place by the British. The ultimate goal of Hizb ut-Tahrir was to establish a pan-Islamist Caliphate in the Muslim world, leading eventually to a global Islamic rule.
Even though the MB has recently been courting the Shia of Hizbollah and Lebanon, the Muslim Brotherhood had traditionally been a Sunni institution. For al-Nabhani, his notion of a Caliphate would not be one riven along sectarian lines but would operate along the lines of the jurisprudence practiced by his grandfather under the Ottoman Caliphate. When Taqiuddin al-Nabhan had practiced Islamic law in the West Bank, the system which had applied under Ottoman rule was still being enforced.
In his book The Islamic State, written in 1953, al-Nabhani discussed the importance of ignoring national boundaries that separated Muslim countries. He argued, much as MB now follows the precepts laid out in 'The Project' document, that Muslims in non-Muslim countries should erode those nations from within. He wrote that Muslims in non-Muslim lands 'should work towards turning their land where Islam is not implemented, and which is [thus] considered as Dar al-Kufr, into Dar al-Islam... It is therefore the duty of every Muslim to work from this moment on in order to establish [a] greater Islamic State [that] would convey the message of Islam to the world. One's work should start by carrying the Islamic da'wah (invitation to become Muslim) with the aim of resuming the Islamic way of life in all the Muslim countries; concentrating one's practical scope in one country or some selected [others] in order to achieve the point of support so that this serious task can be resumed.'
In the 1950s, Hizb ut-Tahrir spread through the Levant and into Saudi Arabia, and during the 1960s it spread to the nations of North Africa and Turkey, followed thereafter by other Muslim countries. Taqiuddin al-Nabhani was the first emir of HT. In 1955 he left Jordan, where he had been living, to travel to Damascus and Beirut. He was banned from returning, and lived in Syria and then Lebanon. He traveled to Iraq in 1973, and was imprisoned and tortured. Hizb ut-Tahrir claims that al-Nabhani had been wrongly identified as a 'scribe' of HT, rather than its leader. He died in Beirut on December 20, 1977.
His successor as emir was Abd al-Qadim Zallum (Abdul Kaddim Zalloum) a Palestinian graduate of al-Azhar University. When Zallum died, the Jordanian HT spokesman took his place. The new emir was installed on April 13, 2003. His name is Ata Abu Rashta (full name Abu Yasin Ata ibn Khalil Abu Rashta), a scholar who was born in Hebron in 1943. Extremely little is known of this individual, including his current whereabouts. In February 1997 he was imprisoned for three years for treason, following an interview he had given to al-Hiwar newspaper in 1995. Rashta publishes texts which are distributed on HT's numerous websites, and tape recordings of his speeches are played at the start of meetings.
Acts of Violence
On Monday, July 31, 2006 two bombs were discovered on German trains. Both had been found hidden inside suitcases while the trains were moving. The first bomb was found in a train approaching Dortmund station, and the other was on a train bound for Koblenz. The bombs were of a similar design - containing canisters of propane gas, wires, and a timer. The devices were both dismantled on the platforms of the stations when the trains arrived. Federal prosecutors claimed that the devices, had they gone off, would have had the power to maim and kill. It was later revealed that both bombs contained packaging from Lebanon.
On August 19, Youssef Mohammed al-Hajdib, a 21-year old Lebanese Muslim student, was arrested at Kiel railway station. He was charged with 'attempted murder, belonging to a terrorist organization and attempting to cause an explosion.' He had been identified from closed circuit TV images, and another man shown accompanying him was being sought. On August 25 the second man - a Syrian called Fadi al-Saleh - was apprehended. By this time, two individuals had been arrested in Lebanon.
One of the suspects in custody in Lebanon, who went under the code-name 'Hamza' was found to be a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir. He had apparently been involved in smuggling Kurds into Lebanon via Syria. Only a few months earlier, the Lebanese Interior Ministry had granted HT permission to operate, the first time since the group had been outlawed in 1953. Hizb ut-Tahrir later denied connections with any of the suspects.
In April this year, four suspects stood trial in Lebanon for their involvement in the German bomb plots. Youssef Mohammed el Hajdib and his brother Saddam were placed on trial in absentia. The trial suffered adjournments. In May these were connected with an uprising at the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in Tripoli in the north of the country. The uprising was led by Fatah al-Islam and has continued since. On September 2, the fighting appeared to be over. Saddam el Hajdib, who was fourth in command of Fatah al-Islam, was killed in this conflict in May.
This is certainly not the first instance where a Western European terror plot has involved a suspect who belonged to Hizb ut-Tahrir. It is a set pattern for HT to deny any involvement with its members who commit terrorist acts. On April 30, 2003 two British nationals tried to enter Mike's Place on the Tel Aviv sea-front. Both wore explosive belts. One individual, Asif Hanif from Hounslow, succeeded in blowing himself up. He killed three people and injured 65 others. His companion, Omar Sharif from Derby, could not detonate his belt and fled. His rotting body was found floating in the sea 12 days later. Both individuals were associated with the radical group al-Muhajiroun, which evolved from Hizb ut-Tahrir UK. Omar Sharif had initially become radicalized by HT at university, and was receiving emails from the group up until the time he tried to blow himself up. Hizb ut-Tahrir, of course, claims it had nothing to do with his radicalism.
The break-up of the former Soviet Union has created states in Central Asia which since the mid-1990s have become vulnerable to the advances of Hizb ut-Tahrir and its militant 'liberation theology'. The Central Asian states lie in a 'buffer zone' between Russia, Afghanistan and China and already have extremist terror groups, such as the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) and its parent group, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). The Islamic Jihad Union is linked with the recent plot in Germany to blow up Frankfurt airport and an airbase in Ramstein used by US military. The IMU, founded in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 1998, aims to set up an Islamist super-state comprising Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkemenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and also China's Xinjiang province. This proposed super-state is sometimes called 'Turkestan'. Both IJU and IMU have strong al-Qaeda links.
Hizb ut-Tahrir has already gained a foothold in most the regions that the IMU seeks to conquer, including Xinjiang province. Only the repressive nation of Turkmenistan appears not to have been fully infiltrated by the group. According to the South Asia Analysis Group, the first HT missionaries in Central Asia were British-Pakistani members of the group, who arrived in Uzbekistan in 1995. The arrival of these Pakistani-origin members happened five years before HT started operating in Pakistan.
In February 2007, a Uighir separatist called Tursun Talip, who came originally from China's Xinjiang province, was arrested in southern Kyrgyzstan. A source claimed: 'The Chinese citizen came to southern Kyrgyzstan in order to form a clandestine religious extremist organization. Talip planned to perpetrate terrorist acts and other actions targeted for socio-political destabilization with the assistance of the [Uighir separatist] group, which would unite members of outlawed radical groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Turkestan Islamic Party.'
At a terrorist trial involving 15 individuals in Uzbekistan in July 2004, the defendants pleaded guilty at the start of the trial. They also confessed to belonging to the IMU and Hizb ut-Tahrir. One defendant, 22-year old Farkhod Kazakbayev, spoke of an Uzbek group called 'Zhamoat' or 'Society' which had both al-Qaeda and HT links. IMU and HT have a shared aim, though the professed methods of achieving that aim differ. In some cases, there has been a crossover of membership, but here I must add a caveat.
Crackdowns against Hizb ut-Tahrir in Central Asian states have sometimes been violent and indiscriminate in their targets, particularly in Uzbekistan under the authoritarian leadership of Islam Karimov. Currently hundreds of Hizb ut-Tahrir members are in jail in Uzbekistan, mostly guilty of nothing more than not following state-approved religion. The fate of Muslims who do not follow accepted doctrine can be horrific. In August 2002 the bodies of two such Muslims who had died in prison were returned to their families. An examination of Mazafar Avazov's body showed he had effectively been boiled to death. On May 13, 2005, Muslims protesting peacefully in the Uzbek city of Andijan were massacred by troops. Hundreds died. The authorities blamed Hizb ut-Tahrir for violent incidents preceding the protests.
Tajikistan adjoins Afghanistan's northern border, and it has a growing number of HT members.The group was banned in 2001. During 2005 99 Hizb ut-Tahrir members were arrested in Tajikistan, including 16 women. By January 2006, 40% of those arrested had been convicted receiving jail terms of up to 12 years. According to prosecutor-general Abdasami Dadoboyev, during 2004 there had been 38 trials, in which 97 people had been sentenced. In 2003, 34 Hizb ut-Tahrir members were jailed in Tajikistan, rising to 70 in 2004. In September 2004, nine received sentences of 13 to 15 years' jail for crimes of organising a criminal group, inciting national, racial, religious and ethnic strife. In May last year 10 members of HT were sentenced to jail terms of 9 to 16 years for inciting social discord, and calling for the overthrow of the government.
In October 2006 Tajikistan's deputy interior minister Abdurahim Kakharov told a news conference: 'For some time we have seen an intensification of operations by Hizb ut-Tahrir and IMU in Tajikistan... Hizb ut-Tahrir is not giving up its objective - the formation of an Islamic Caliphate in Central Asia through overthrowing the constitutional regimes in these countries.' Mahmadsaid Jurakulov, head of the Department for Resisting Organized Crime, added: 'We have detained several members of IMU who also belonged to Hizb ut-Tahrir. The movements have similar goals and the propaganda efforts of one are backed by the military support and arms of the other.'
One individual who appeared to support Hizb ut-Tahrir and who seems to have been involved in terrorist activities was a mosque leader at Kara-Suu in Kyrgystan. This individual, Muhammadrafiq Kamalov, aka Rafiq Qori Kamoluddin, was imam of the al-Sarahsiy Mosque. Kara-Suu lies on the border with Uzbekistan and was the first Kyrgyz location targeted by HT. It also saw an Islamist uprising in March 2002. Kara-Suu is split in half, with one side in Uzbek territory. In May 2005, an Islamist uprising took place on the Uzbek side.
Though he denied being a member of HT, Kamoluddin said he welcomed HT members at his mosque, on the condition that they did not hand out leaflets. He had been arrested in May 2006and questioned in connection with a raids upon border stations on May 12. Kamoluddin's name and phone number had been found among the possessions of four militants killed in the raids. The frontier post of Tajikistan at Lakkon and the customs post of Kyrgyzstan had been the subject of the May 12 attacks, and the raiders had seized guns from a guardroom. They had shot dead three Tajik border guards and six Kyrgyz soldiers and customs officers. Kyrgyz authorities made several arrests, and claimed they had 'indisputable evidence' that the suspects were Hizb ut-Tahrir members.
On August 6, 2006, Kamoluddin was in a Daewoo vehicle seen speeding through the nearby city of Osh which had drawn the interest of members of Kyrgystan's National Security Service (SNB). The SNB hailed the car to stop, and gunfire was said to have come from inside the vehicle. SNB officers shot back and the car crashed, killing the occupants. Inside the vehicle was found 'one AK-SU Kalashnikov automatic rifle, three full magazines, 266 cartridges, four RGD-5 hand grenades, one F-1 grenade, one RPK automatic rifle magazine, a road map of Uzbekistan where a number of locations were marked with the word 'jihad,' one pair of army binoculars, extremist religious literature in the Kyrgyz and Uzbek languages, and fake passports.' The imam's family claimed his innocence. In October 2006 three individuals linked to Kamoluddin, who had been captured following the May raid upon a border post, were sentenced to death.
The literature disseminated throughout the Central Asian states by Hizb ut-Tahrir is frequently cited in arrests and raids. The magazine called Ong al-Waie (Conscience) has been in existence since 1989. Since 1993, it has been available in printed editions in Uzbek, Kyrgyz and Russian languages. The material in the illegally produced leaflets is copied and translated from the Arabic website http://www.al-waie.org/. Though the magazine is not an official HT publication, all Hizb ut-Tahrir leaders in Central Asian states are ordered to purchase each new edition as its views concur with those of the group. In the south of Kyrgystan, these publications are distributed to the general public.
An Uzbek researcher, Bakhadyr Musayev, said in 2004: 'As for the statements of Hizb-ut-Tahrir concerning its non-involvement, we all know that with organizations such as this deeds and words differ. We know that this organization is connected with terrorist organizations in the East. Nabkhani (founder of Hizb-ut-Tahrir) in his book System Of Islam said that whenever physical obstacles are encountered, they may to be removed by force or violence. Besides, the idea itself of the caliphate stipulates brainwashing. These men would not balk at it. Hizb-ut-Tahrir publishes al-Vai magazine. One of its articles in 2001 was titled How To Become A Shakhid [martyr].'
The literature produced by HT in the region is virulently anti-Semitic and is hardly peaceful. One leaflet proclaimed: 'Moslems!... Get rid of the chiefs, which do not pay attention to Shariat of Allah, sent warriors to Jihad and expel the Jews. There may be victims, maybe it is necessary to suffer and fight in the Jihad, and become a Shahid.' The rise of Islamism in the states which became independent after Soviet collapse has led to mass emigration of Jews. In 1989 there were 150,000 Jews in Central Asia, but now there are only 22,000.
At the start of this decade, HT was able to operate in Central Asia much more openly, less fearful of violent crackdowns. In 2003, a member of HT from Kara-Suu, Kyrgystan, spoke openly of his involvement in the group. 32-year old Dilyar Jumbabayev said that he belonged to a cell of five individuals, and gave 10% of his income to have membership of HT. Though he claimed that violence was a 'sin', he said he had no disagreement with the IMU or Bin Laden: 'certainly my brother. Saddam Hussein is also my brother. No matter whether he is Arab, Kurd, Turk or Palestinian, he is also Muslim.' DIsplayed outside his home was an illegal leaflet bearing the slogan: 'All Muslims of the world unite against the infidels.'
Last month, on August 15 it was announced that a group of 13 individuals were arrested in Shymkent in Kazakhstan. They were accused of plotting terrorist acts in April, to coincide with a visit by President Nazarbaev to Shymkent. Regional police official Khibratulla Doskaliev claimed that the suspects were members of Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Two groups have broken away from Hizb ut-Tahrir in Central Asia - Akramiya and Hizb an-Nustra (Party of Victory). Both groups seem restricted to Uzbekistan, and both are thought to have left HT because it did not officially support terrorism. Hizb an-Nustra Akramiya was formed by Akram Yuldasheyev, a former HT member from Andijan, Uzbekistan. According to Norway's Forum 18, this group was involved in the events leading up to the 2005 Andijan massacre. 23 businessmen (followers of Akramiya) had been on trial, and for four months there had been peaceful protests to have them released. On May 12, 2005, gunmen had freed the 23 accused men, and others, from their jail. These events, immediately preceding the Andijan massacre, were violent.
According to John C.K. Daly of Central Asia Caucasus Analyst: 'Shortly before midnight on May 12, armed men attacked a traffic police post, killing four on duty officers and seizing submachine guns, grenades and pistols from the post's weapons depot. The assailants then moved on and attacked a military base, shot five servicemen and acquired more weaponry. Duly armed, the insurgents in a fifteen-vehicle convoy then moved on the Andijan prison, where between 600 and 2,000 inmates were held. Attacking the facility, the gunmen distributed weapons and liberated nearly a third of the inmates, including the 23 defendants. The militants then moved to downtown Andijan, attacking the buildings of the National Security Council and the regional administration and police department. Repulsed at the two law enforcement sites, the gunmen commandeered the administrative building and took about 20 hostages, and before dawn began calling their relatives to bring women and children to the site to form human shields around the building. The stage was set for an inevitable showdown.'
According to Forum 18, most of those who had gathered in Andijan's main square (scene of the subsequent massacre) were employees of the 23 businessmen: 'According to eye-witnesses, Akramia members who had acquired weapons did not prevent free movement out of the square by those gathered there, but their attitude to the hostages did not meet international standards for the treatment of prisoners of war. Forum 18 learnt that several hostages received severe beatings. The hostages had wire tied round their necks and were placed at the perimeter of the square as human shields. Therefore the first to die from the shots fired by Uzbek government forces were the hostages.'
The raids upon the Kyrgyz/Uzbek/Tajik border stations that took place on May 12, 2006 where guns were seized, appeared to be marking the anniversary of the raids that preceded the Andijan massacre. A week after the 2005 massacre in Andijan, an Uzbek farmer named Bakhtior Rakhimov (pictured) led an uprising in the Uzbek division of Kara-Suu. He claimed he wanted to see an end to the rule of Islam Karimov, and the establishment of Islamic values in local government. Rakhimov may have hoped to see a downfall of Karimov, who has ruled Uzbekistan since 1991, but his uprising was crushed, and he was arrested.
The IMU first came to prominence in February 1999, after a series of bombings in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. It is generally accepted that these acts were committed by IMU, though the Uzbek authorities had claimed that Hizb ut-Tahrir were behind the blasts. On July 30, 2004, a series of bomb attacks took place at the US and Israeli embassies. 85 individuals, including 16 women, were arrested, and state prosecutors claimed that all suspects had been trained as suicide bombers. These attacks were assumed by some specialists to be the work of IMU, but Uzbekistan's president, Islam Karimov, insisted that they were the work of Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Even though Uzbekistan is a partner in the 'War on Terror', there is ample reason to be doubtful about some of its claims. In March 2004, when Britain's then-ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, was shown 'evidence' of a suicide-bombing campaign by the Islamic Jihad Union, he was skeptical. He wrote that 'each suicide bomber was alleged to be using explosives equivalent to 2kg of TNT. But nowhere, not even at the site of an alleged car bomb, was there a crater, or even a crack in a paving stone... The body of one of the alleged suicide bombers was unmarked, save for a small burn about the size of a walnut on her stomach.' The bombing campaign apparently claimed 47 lives, but even though the Islamic Jihad Union claimed responsibility, Uzbek authorities had tried to blame Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Though there is ample evidence for militancy and radicalism in Central Asia, there is also the problem of the totalitarian nature of rulers such as Karimov, who still perpetuate disinformation. The repressive nature of the governments may even be fueling Islamist sentiments. The climate of repression certainly seems to be encouraging a growth of HT membership in the region. The 23 Uzbek businessmen whose trial aroused widespread anger, culminating in the Andijan massacre, were accused of seditious activity. They threatened the status quo by promising their employees wages far higher than the national average. The behavior of the Uzbek authorities in their dealings with suspected Hizb ut-Tahrir members do nothing to further the cause of the 'War on Terror'. Police are accused of planting drugs, leaflets and even grenades on supposed Hizb ut-Tahrir activists.
In Russia, Hizb ut-Tahrir is considered dangerous and reactions to the group are punitive, though not on the scale seen in Central Asian republics such as Uzbekistan. On November 25, 2005, three members of Hizb ut-Tahrir from Nizhny Novgorod were sentenced to jail terms ranging from three to four years for spreading terrorist propaganda. The men had been convicted earlier. Their arrests had taken place in October 2001. 11 people had originally been apprehended but only the three men were charged. They had pleaded guilty to the charges. As well as extremist literature, grenades had been found in the raids.
HT is active in most locations in Russia, from Moscow to Siberia. In May 2007, investigations into Hizb activities were taking place in the regions of Tatarstan, Samara and Orenburg. In February this year, four HT members in Tobosk, Tyumen in the Urals, were given sentences of one to two and a half years. In March 2007, Russia's Supreme Court ruled that there was no legal right of appeal against the February 2003 decision to outlaw Hizb ut-Tahrir and 14 other groups.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is politically astute enough to avoid any open support for terrorist activity, but it does succeed in creating a climate amongst its followers that could naturally lead to violence or jihad. Many individuals were introduced to their first taste of radicalism by HT. British citizen Hassan Butt helped to create a jihadist 'pipeline' which sent UK Muslims into Pakistan and then on to Afghanistan, where they would fight coalition forces, or become involved in al-Qaeda. He claims he had become radicalized by Hizb ut-Tahrir while at university.
Kafeel Ahmed was one of two people who drove a burning Jeep Cherokee into Glasgow airport's entrance on June 30 this year. The vehicle contained propane gas canisters and gasoline. Ahmed poured gasoline onto himself and set it alight. He died later in hospital. He had become involved with radical Islam while training at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, between May 2004 and August 2005. His immediate neighbor at this time was the local convener for Hizb ut-Tahrir who, it is alleged, helped him to become radicalized. On account of this revelation, Gordon Brown was asked in the UK parliament about why the government had not banned Hizb ut-Tahrir. It also led Australian attorney-general Philip Ruddock to once again consider banning the group.
It is now believed that Britain is a headquarters for HT. Though there are no cases of UK Hizb ut-Tahrir being directly involved in acts of terrorism, the group has attracted amongst its membership some who openly practice violence. There are reports of the group being involved in acts of intimidation from universities to mosques and even on the streets of South London.
Intellectualism or Incitement?
Hizb ut-Tahrir presents itself as an intellectual group, but there is a gap between what it professes and what is practically possible. It claims to be non-violent, yet argues for the installation of a world-wide Caliphate. To institute a new 'world order' would unavoidably lead to violence. Political revolutions, by their nature, involve some amount of violence. There have been few examples of bloodless revolution. The 1989 'Velvet Revolution' of the former Czechoslovakia was bloodless, yet could have been crushed with violence, had the Soviets so desired.
The founder of HT, Taqiuddin al-Nabhani, spent much time discussing the nature of thought, but such sophistry is limited by its dogma. He believed that Islam was rational and therefore could be promoted through persuasion and rational discussion. Contradicting this, he maintained that the Koran cannot be questioned, and is thus beyond the bounds of true discussion. Persuading non-Muslims to accept Islam as a political system which allows no dissent from the tenets of one book would naturally result in conflict. This conflict was specifically alluded to on the group's U.K. website last November (since removed). The statement claimed that Hizb ut-Tahrir 'also aims to bring back the Islamic guidance for mankind and to lead the Ummah into a struggle with Kufr, its systems and its thoughts so that Islam encapsulates the world.'
For Nabhani's successors in Hizb ut-Tahrir the 'non-violence' paradox is not resolved. The dogma assumes that there can be rational discussions to implement a non-negotiable fundamentalism. Violence is officially eschewed, but HT promises that all social and political ills would be solved under a Caliphate, as explained in a tract I took from their U.K. website in 2005:
Its aim is to resume the Islamic way of life and to convey the Islamic da'wah to the world. This objective means bringing the Muslims back to living an Islamic way of life in Dar al-Islam and in an Islamic society such that all of life's affairs in society are administered according to the Shari'ah rules, and the viewpoint in it is the halal and the haram under the shade of the Islamic State, which is the Khilafah State.
How people would live under such a Caliphate is spelled out in detail in its 'draft constitution' (for the proposed Caliphate). Within parts of the Islamic world (Dar al-Islam, the 'abode of submission') it may be possible to persuade Muslims to achieve such goals, but for democratic, non-Muslim lands (Dar al-Harb, 'the abode of war'), or even democratic or clan-ruled Muslim lands, implementation will be harder to achieve without violence or extensive manipulation.
GlobalSecurity.org succinctly describes HT's proposed three-step strategy:
The first involves educating Muslims about its philosophies and goals. In the second step, the Muslims would then spread these views among others in their countries, especially members of government, the military and other power centers. In the third and final step, Hizb ut-Tahrir believes its faithful will cause secular governments to crumble because loyalties will then lie solely with Islam - not nationalities, politics or ethnic identifications.
Effectively, the strategy will involve indoctrination, infiltration, and undermining national stability. The arrival of Hizb ut-Tahrir in the Central Asian republics exemplifies all three modes, particularly undermining stability. In Tajikistan, for example, HT arrived in a country already destabilized by a civil war (1992 to 1997). In neighboring Kyrgyzstan, Hizb ut-Tahrir already appears to have infiltrated parts of the government administration. On September 3, 2007 it was revealed that two HT activists from Kara-Suu were able to have new identities issued to them in August, apparently with the assistance of municipal officials. The identification included birth and military registration certificates and medical security cards.
Such infiltration has happened in Britain, where HT has a strong following. In November last year it was revealed that Hizb member Abid Javaid works in the U.K. government's Immigration and Nationality Directorate, part of the Home Office. 41-year-old Javaid had been issued with a government grant to mount an HT exhibition. He is also one of the HT organizers at Croydon mosque in south London. At this mosque, Hizb ut-Tahrir has been involved in attempts to radicalize worshippers, using violence. This has gone on for years, to the consternation of the mosque administration.
Activities at Croydon mosque were reported by the BBC in November 2006 (video here). Journalist Richard Watson spoke to Shuaib Yusaf, one of Croydon mosque's administrators. Mr. Yusaf spoke of how HT members had instigated fights in the street outside the mosque. This 'gang warfare', as Mr. Yusaf described it, involved knives and even a sword.
An undercover member of HT, code-named 'Jay,' gave testimony. He said he was part of a five-man cell, one of 50 within the south London region. To gain full membership he had to gain five more recruits, part of a pyramid structure. To prove his allegiance to HT, he was told to 'mug' a non-Muslim on the street. He said that he was told: 'It's all right to hurt non-believers...They asked me to take money from three guys...by force.'
The BBC reported that while filming, information came that some HT members were intending to fire-bomb a synagogue. Incendiary substances were located in woodland, at the same time as police arrived. As expected, HT's official spokesman, Dr. Abdul Wahid, disassociated Hizb ut-Tahrir from the claims made in the report.
There have recently been high-profile defections of Islamists from Hizb ut-Tahrir U.K. These individuals - Ed Husain, Shiraz Maher and Maajid Nawaz - are still Muslims, but have rejected the methods and ideology of HT. Maajid Nawaz, who grew up in Westcliff-on-Sea in Essex, had spent years in jail in Egypt for promoting HT, which has been banned in Egypt since 1974. Nawaz (center in picture), along with two other British nationals and 23 Egyptians, had been convicted in 2004. Sentenced to five years' jail for membership of a banned group, Nawaz and his British companions were released in February 2006.
After 12 years' membership, he now condemns HT, saying: 'They are prepared to, once they've established the state, to fight other countries and to kill people in the pursuit of unifying this state into one state. And what I'd like to emphasize is that such a policy is not agreed upon within Islamic theology.. I think that what I taught has not only damaged British society and British Muslim relations and damaged the position of Muslims in this society as British citizens, I think it's damaged the world.'
It was in his Egyptian prison that Nawaz discovered that 'what I had been propagating was far from true Islam. I began to realise that what I had subscribed to was actually Islamism sold to me in the name of Islam...Now I am involved in trying to counter the black and white mindset that I once so vehemently encouraged. Although I was young when I was recruited to Hizb ut-Tahrir, I take full responsibility for my actions. I made the decisions that I did and I am responsible for undoing them. With this in mind I hope to publish a series of papers reevaluating certain core Islamist ideas that are essential to their message.'
Ed Husain (a pseudonym) is the author of The Islamist, an account of his times in Hizb ut-Tahrir. Within a week of the book's publication, he was receiving death threats. He states: 'From my involvement with Hizb ut-Tahrir I know it to be a sophisticated organisation: it rarely ever pulls the trigger. It raises the temperature and allows others to do the deed. That is how the murder of an innocent young man, Ayotunde Obonobi, took place in Newham in 1995.' Husain had attended Newham College when the Nigerian student was murdered by Hizb followers.
Husain recently wrote: ' The rhetoric of jihad introduced by Hizb ut-Tahrir in my days was the preamble to 7/7 and several other attempted attacks. By proscribing Hizb ut-Tahrir, we would send a strong message to extremists that Britain will not tolerate intolerance.'
From 2001 to 2005, Shiraz Maher was a regional officer for Hizb ut-Tahrir U.K. in the northeast of England. He also wrote many of the articles produced by HT. He found it hard to leave the group and de-program its ideas from his thinking. He now advises the BBC on political Islam. In a July 4, 2007 video report from the BBC, Maher affirms that there is now a vast disparity between what HT publicly pronounces and what it privately preaches.
HT in Britain has exercised this duplicity for some time. Last year, under the 'front' name of the East London Youth Forum it organized paint ball sessions as a means to recruitment. Other front groups have been named the Debate Society, the Muslim Women's Cultural Forum, the Islamic Society, the One Nation Society, the Millennium Society, the Pakistan Society and the 1924 Committee.
In September 2005 when the group was facing a possible ban, HT used deception to rent meeting rooms at the Quaker Friends House in Euston, North London. Rather than booking the space under their name, the booking was made under the name 'Salsa Bill's Publishing House.' The meeting was to discuss 'Hizb-ut-Tahrir and the Vision of the Caliphate'. Only after the booking was secured did the group produce fliers to advertise the event.
In 1995, Hizb ut-Tahrir was banned from university campuses for its rabid anti-Semitism and its physical assaults upon women students who would not wear the hijab or Muslim headscarf. Despite the ban, in October 2005 the group reappeared on campuses, calling itself 'Stop Islamophobia.' This infiltration was taking place at University College London (UCL), the School of African and Oriental Studies, Luton University and other establishments. Around the same time, it was reported that Hizb ut-Tahrir members had tried to take over the Students Union of a West Yorkshire University, and had once again resumed its campaigns of bullying young women to make them wear the hijab. In the fall of 2005, HT had already taken control of the university's Islamic Society.
Techniques of infiltration appear to have taken place within the news media. In September 2005, journalist Shiv Malik reported that two Hizb members were working within the computer firm IBM, and 'that Reuters, the international news and financial information agency, has at least one member among its employees.' Shortly after the London bombings of 7/7, which killed 52 innocent people, a blogger - Steve Burgess of the Daily Ablution - revealed that a Hizb member was working as a trainee journalist at the Guardian newspaper. This man, Dilpazier Aslam, had even written articles about the London bombings, and co-written profiles of the four suicide bombers.
Dilpazier Aslam's Guardian articles show selective bias. An article on a Manchester-based Islamic faith school is entitled: 'Islam is the secret of our success.' An article celebrating Eid ul-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, is presented as a cheery discourse on cookery for Guardian readers. He reported on Shabina Begum, a schoolgirl (supported by Hizb ut-Tahrir) who tried to challenge existing school dress regulations to accommodate her Islamist costume. When she won a minor battle, Aslam's article was entitled 'I could scream with happiness. I've given hope and strength to Muslim women.' Begum later lost her case.
Six days after the London bombings, Aslam wrote an article entitled: 'We rock the boat - Today's Muslims aren't prepared to ignore injustice.' In this, he wrote: 'Some 2,749 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks. To discover the cost of 'liberating' Iraqis you need to multiply that figure by eight, and still you will fall short of the estimated minimum of 22,787 civilian Iraqi casualties to date. But it's not cool to say this, now that London's skyline has also has plumed grey.'
When Aslam was confronted by his employers, and apparently refused a request to resign from HT, he was fired. He later threatened legal action, but in May 2006 he and the Guardian settled out of court.
A case of media bias in an already biased newspaper is infiltration, but not as serious as undermining democracies and societies. In Bangladesh, democracy was suspended indefinitely, amid reports of widespread corruption within the major parties. It is now under a 'caretaker' administration. Dominic Whiteman of monitoring group VIGIL has noted that HT has been recruiting Bangladeshis in east London, and has been taking out advertisements in local newspapers for the migrant Bangladeshi community. With the nation of Bangladesh in a political crisis, it seems that HT has designs which would exploit the current situation.
The 'coordinator and spokesman' of the HT in Bangladesh is Mohiuddin Ahmed, who lectures in business management at Dhaka University. He is able to mobilize large gatherings for Islamist causes in the nation. In February 2006 HT mobilized 5,000 people to demonstrate at Dhaka, the capital, against Danish cartoons of Mohammed. Slogans on banners read: 'Death to those who degrade our beloved prophet!', 'Hang culprits', 'Free speech is war on Islam.'
Shortly after democratic campaigning was suspended this year, members of HT's youth front, the Bangladesh Chhatra Mukti, mounted an active campaign against the respected economist Dr. Muhammad Yunus. In 2006, Yunus won the Noble Peace Prize for his work in establishing the Grameen ('village') Bank. This bank exists by making micro-loans and charging minimal interest, and has lifted untold people in Bangladesh, mostly women, out of the mire of poverty. When Dr. Yunus was due to visit the university to receive an honorary Doctor of Law award, HT's youth wing circulated leaflets condemning him. In protests outside the university, Bangladesh Chhatra Mukti activists waved black flags and called Dr. Yunus an 'imperial agent.'
In July 2004, HT Bangladesh was accused of making death threats against ten individuals. These included politicians, thinkers and journalists. Hizb denied any involvement. Two months before, HT was under suspicion when the British High Commissioner, Anwar Choudary, was injured in a bomb blast at an Islamic shrine in Sylhet, in the northeast of the country. Three people had died. Two days before the attack, Hizb had distributed leaflets around the shrine, condemning the British and Americans.
On its website and on the ground, Bangladesh HT has been making capital out of another cartoon crisis, this time involving the drawings of Swedish artist Lars Vilks. In protests made by HT, several people have been arrested, though some have recently been freed.
HT in Bangladesh began its life after Khondakar Golam Mowla, a lecturer in management at Dhaka University had gone to study in London in 1993. Here he met Nasimul Gani and Kawsar Shahnewaj. Following Mowla's return to Bangladesh, in 2000 the three individuals established Bangladesh HT. Some of Mowla's opinions can be found here. He is the author of the book 'The Election of Caliph/Khalifa and World Peace'. In 2005, intelligence officials were concerned that the group would try to mount a coup. During the current political crisis in the country, HT needs to be watched carefully.
HT is no stranger to attempts at destabilizing nations, as demonstrated in the volatile environments of the Central Asian republics. It is also active in Africa. Yemen is (with the United Arab Emirates) one of the few Arab nations where HT can operate legally. In Tanzania, HT appears to be deliberately attempting to destabilize the local economy of Zanzibar. This island is semi-autonomous, and most of its economy survives on tourism. IN 2005, a total of 500,00 tourists had visited the island. In September 2006, HT was campaigning on Zanzibar to persuade the Muslim population to turn against tourists. Abbas Hussein, a senior HT leader justified this action by saying: 'Tourism is the source of moral and religious decay in Zanzibar. Visitors are just coming here to pollute the culture and religion of Zanzibar.'
Traditionally, regional leaders of HT have been secretive. In Britain, Jalaluddin Patel, the leader of HT has spoken openly about his role. He can be seen addressing a conference in a YouTube video (nb - it is boring). He told the Jamestown Foundation in 2004 that he had been elected to his role in 2000 and 2002. Patel works in information technology. A lackluster speaker, Patel has been involved in HT UK since 1992, becoming a full member in 1994 when he was 18.
When Patel joined the British branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir, its leader was Omar Bakri Mohammed who was born in Syria in 1958. Unlike Patel, Bakri was immensely charismatic, even though he has openly supported terrorism. In 1991 he issued a 'fatwa' against prime minister John Major. While senior leaders are currently defecting from U.K. HT, Bakri was able to attract young members to the group. With a Syrian man named Farid Kassim, Bakri (also called Omar Bakri Fostok) had founded the British branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir in 1986. Bakri had been in Saudi Arabia before he arrived in Britain in 1985. He had been expelled from the kingdom after he founded a group called 'al-Muhajiroun' (the emigrants) which the Saudi authorities identified as a 'front group' for Hizb ut-Tahrir. A decade later founding the British branch of HT, Bakri left, or was expelled. He took with him his most ardent supporters and founded a group which he called al-Muhajiroun.
As I will show in the final part of this article, Bakri's followers were directly involved acts of Jihad, and also colluded with the establishment of Hizb ut-Tahrir in the United States.
To Ban Or Not To Ban?
Omar Bakri Mohammed, who co-founded the British branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir in 1986, gave a revealing interview to the Jamestown Foundation in March 2004. Bakri said he had been actively involved in the Muslim Brotherhood from age 15 to 17 in his native Syria, and then joined Hizb ut-Tahrir in Lebanon. His MB connections had drawn attention from the Syrian authorities, causing him to flee to Lebanon. In 1979 he went to Egypt for six months, before going to Saudi Arabia where he established a branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir, which by 1983 had 38 members. In 1983, HT in Kuwait expelled him from the group, but he continued to operate a group which called itself 'al-Muhajiroun'.
Bakri arrived in Britain and was approached by the German head of Hizb ut-Tahrir who persuaded him to rejoin HT. He co-founded a British branch of HT in 1986 but this was, he claimed, not part of the official structure of international HT. Bakri stated that he had left HT UK voluntarily on January 16, 1996. It would be a month later that he would form his own group, which he called al-Muhajiroun.
What is interesting from Bakri's interview is the claim that under the leadership of the second emir, Abd al-Qadim Zallum (or Abdul Kaddim Zalloum) who governed HT from the end of 1977 until spring of 2003, there were splits within the international group. Bakri spoke of 'camps' which officially came into existence after 1996. Camp 2, led by Abu Rami, was prominent in Jordan. An offshoot of Camp 1 (the main HT faction) was known as Hizb Waed (the Party of Promise) but is only active in Jerusalem. This is Camp 3. Bakri explained that Camp 4 comprised reformists, called Reformers of Hizb ut-Tahrir. This grouping was led in Germany by Dr Tawfiq Mustafa, and in the United States by Iyad Hilal.
For a group that claims to propose establishing global hegemony under a world-wide Caliphate, such splits only highlight how unrealistic HT's aims are. If its own structure cannot unite, it sets a poor model for others to follow. It is unknown if the current emir, Ata Abu Rashta, has managed to fully unite these various factions within HT.
On Saturday, August 4, 2007, Hizb UK held a conference at Alexandra Palace in north London. A poorly-made video presentation (available on YouTube) which advertised the conference attempts to show the global unity of HT. Using snippets of video and pictures from websites, HT activists are shown from the following countries: Pakistan Bangladesh, Switzerland, Jordan, UAE, Palestine, Jordan, Yemen, Turkey, Belgium, Indonesia, Australia and America.
What is striking from the image from America is that it shows only one individual (pictured), rather than a group. This is not 58-year old Iyad Hilal, who led 'Reformers of Hizb ut-Tahrir'. It is Dr Jaleel Abdul-Adil, a convert to Islam, who is now the 'new face' of American Hizb ut-Tahrir (HTA). He spoke at the August conference in Britain. Jaleel Abdul-Adil is a professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Like Dr Abdul Wahid, the spokesman for the British branch of HT, he is a psychiatrist. At UIC, he works in the area of juvenile disorders, and is part of the Disruptive Behavior Disorders Clinic. He is also an associate professor at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
According to Abdul-Adil's resume, he specializes in 'evidence-based, culturally-sensitive family therapy for urban youth, including conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder, gang involvement, and inner-city violence. Dr. Abdul-Adil is the co-founder of Young Warriors, a youth intervention program that uses modern rap music and hip-hop media to promote critical thinking and prosocial skills in urban adolescents. He remains involved in developing other innovative youth interventions such as using movie and television materials and faith-based collaborations with local religious institutions.'
Abdul-Adil also dispenses online Islamic psychological advice, on CrescentLife.com. A video of Abdul-Adil giving a lecture on Islam can be found on YouTube.
The original emir of HTA, Iyad Hilal, is a US citizen of Palestinian-Jordanian origin. He is the author of several books - Treaties in Islam, Gull Crisis, Palestinian Quest, Masiiahah in Islamic Activities (all in Arabic) and also Muslims in the West, in English. He is better known for his book 'Studies in Usul ul-Fiqh'. This treatise on Islamic jurisprudence can be found online in an edited version. This book is a required part of course material in the Fiqh course at the Qatar-based Islamic Studies Academy.
In August 2005 Stratfor stated that Hilal had been in the US for 20 years. He had been involved in HT since his youth. Hilal would travel between Orange County in California and New York (from the 1980s onward) while he was establishing the group. HT had offices in these locations, and between around 1991 to 1995, Hilal was imam of a mosque in New York. By 1995, the chapter in New York lost members in rows over ideology and leadership, a situation made worse in 1997 by the splintering of the Jordanian 'Camp 2' from 'Camp 1'. Stratfor states that by 2000 many members of the New York branch had defected to Omar Bakri's group al-Muhajiroun.
BBC journalist Richard Watson stated in a recent report (video) that at the end of the 1990s, Omar Bakri Mohammed wanted to expand into the US. The information on what had happened in New York's HT chapter was made more clear by private investigator Bill Warner. In 2005 he had taken BBC reporter Richard Watson to the Masjid al-Fatima on 37th Avenue, Woodside in Queens. Here, the BBC filmed Aqeel Khan, the founder and secretary of the Queens Islamic Center at the mosque, while Bill Warner interviewed him. During the mid 1990s, the mosque had been infiltrated by radical members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, much as they had tried to take over the Croydon mosque in London.
Aqeel Khan said: 'They had their own programs, which were not the directions of the mosque... There were five times (a day) prayer, but then they had their own meetings here and we - the general public - were not invited.' The Hizb ut-Tahrir members were officially ousted from the Queens mosque after $400,000 went missing from the masjid funds, but they continued to frequent the mosque. It appears to be at this mosque, where radical Hizb members already worshipped, that al-Muhajiroun developed its first US presence.
The ideology of Hizb was similar to that of Bakri's al-Muhajiroun, but the latter group's direct methods appealed to young radicals. Individuals such as Syed 'Fahad' Hashmi from Flushing, Queens, had became involved in al-Muhajiroun. Hashmi, who formerly belonged to the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) is thought to have introduced Mohammed Junaid Babar to al-Muhajiroun. Babar had been a student at St John's University. Both attended the Masjid al-Fatima.
In 2004, Junaid Babar was convicted of setting up a terror training camp in Malakand, Pakistan, and assisting al-Qaeda. One of the individuals that attended this camp was Mohammed Sidique Khan, leader of the cell that killed 52 people in London on July 7, 2005. Babar gave evidence at the 'Operation Crevice' trial: on April 30, 2007, five British individuals from al-Muhajiroun were given life sentences for plotting terror attacks in the UK. After the convictions, it was revealed that Omar Khyam, the leader of the Operation Crevice cell, had met and discussed jihad operations with Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, another 7/7 bomber, on several occasions in 2004. Their meetings had been monitored by MI5.
al-Muhajiroun was officially disbanded by Omar Bakri Mohammed in October 2004. Using a tactic employed by HT, he continued to guide his followers who then belonged to new groups, operating under new names. In the UK, al-Muhajiroun members operated in groups called al-Ghurabaa, the Saviour Sect, (which changed its name to the Saved Sect) and these also founded a group called Ahlus Sunna Wal Jammah. Members of the US al-Muhajiroun group reformed as the Islamic Thinkers Society.
With its membership plundered by al-Muhajiroun's more radical sect, the US branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir appeared to be in poor shape. Iyad Halil, a greengrocer by trade, had gone back to Orange County. He apparently ceased his role as emir of HTA in 2000. Hizb continues to operate in North America, but its profile until recently has been low. Hizb ut-Tahrir frequently mounts anti-US demonstrations. In Britain, HT has 10,000 active members. With anti-American attitudes prevalent within international HT, it may be harder to recruit from the US Muslim population. Research from Pew Global Attitudes indicates that US Muslims are generally more supportive of America's statehood than British Muslims, who are the most anti-Western in Europe.
HT, regarding itself as an intellectual movement, is keen to indoctrinate its recruits in the intricacies of Islamic law and thought before they can reach positions of influence. According to a report by Madeleine Gruen of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, because HT America members 'have been raised on a steady diet of pop culture, they are endowed with the unique ability of being able to export HT and jihadist ideology to a world that dislikes America but loves its entertainment industry.' She noted that after 2003, 'public mention of HT in the US became scarce.'
Despite the absence of overt mentions of the name Hizb ut-Tahrir in North America, Gruen notes that under front names, HTA continues and is undergoing a renaissance. Web businesses proliferate, such as 'Khalifah Klothing' which is run from British Columbia in Canada, and in Los Angeles in January 2006, an HT 'circle' formed Ummah Films. This group recruits young people from LA mosques to act as production assistants. American HT members are active on chat rooms on the internet.
In a report from last month, Gruen explains that while Iyad Halil had operated in Orange County and NYC, another leader called Mohammed Malkawi set up operations in Chicago and Wisconsin. Malkawi, of Palestinian-Jordanian origin, had been a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Wisconsin. He had recruited Naveed Butt, who is the spokesman of Pakistan HT, into the group when they had both worked for Motorola. Mohammed Malkawi has written on high-speed software architecture. His video lectures can be found on YouTube.
The arguments on banning or accepting HT are still current. The group has openly allowed anti-Semitic literature to be published. It was on account of its anti-Semitic attitudes that the group became outlawed in 2003 in Germany. In Denmark, HT is legal, but it has come into conflict with the authorities. In March and April 2002, HT Denmark was responsible for distributing copies of a leaflet in a Copenhagen square which, according to the BBC: 'makes threats against Jews, using a quote from the Koran urging Muslims to 'kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have been turned you out.' The leaflet also said, 'The Jews are a people of slander...a treacherous people... they fabricate lies and twist words from their right context.' And the leaflet describes suicide bombings in Israel as 'legitimate' acts of 'Martyrdom'.'
The person responsible for these leaflets was Danish HT leader Fadi Abdullatif, was given a 60-day suspended jail sentence for distribution of racist propaganda in October 2002. In 2004, Abdullatif was responsible for leaflets which called upon Muslims to go to Fallujah in Iraq, to fight Americans. He claimed in these fliers that if any national leaders tried to prevent their travel, they should kill these leaders. In August 2005, Abdullatif was arrested for this offense and was officially indicted in March 2006 for threatening the government. On August 17, 2006, Fadi Abdullatif was found guilty, and was given a three month jail sentence.
In 2004, there were requests for Hizb ut-Tahrir to be banned in Denmark, but the director of public prosecutions ruled that the group was legal. Where the group directly calls for the overthrow of governments, such issues could relate either to threats against national security, or sedition. However, the reason why most Middle Eastern and North African countries have outlawed HT are less to do with national security, and more to do with lese-majesty, or 'insulting the state'. In the Central Asian republics, HT is banned partly because the group destabilizes secular political edifices, and partly because governments, particularly Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, appear threatened by anything that does not conform to their notions of strictly controlled religious practice.
In Pakistan, where there are 65 members of the National Assembly who belong to the Islamist MMA parties, the outlawing of Hizb ut-Tahrir seems irrational. In October 2005, the president of the MMA, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, openly called for an Islamic revolution to overthrow the government, and received no punishment. During the February 2006 cartoon protests, the same individual led calls for the death of the elected President. If the MMA, which seeks to turn Pakistan into an Islamic state, is officially legitimate, then why is HT Pakisitan illegal? Over the past few years members of HT Pakistan have been subjected to frequent arrests. In January 2006, Naveed Butt legally challenged the Pakistani government's decision to outlaw HT, but lost his case.
Maajid Nawaz, who defected from HT Britain after being a member for more than a decade, does not believe that the group should be banned, but it should be challenged and belittled intellectually. Ed Husain, who had only been involved in HT UK for a short time, does support a ban, on the grounds that HT's indoctrination is a springboard to acts of terrorism. The actions of some British individuals from al-Muhajiroun would seem to validate that claim. In November 2005 Britain's Association of Chief Police Officers argued that a ban on the group would send it underground. Shiraz Maher, a former leading member of HT UK, has argued that the group's main activities happen 'underground' anyway.
Zeyno Baran and Ariel Cohen are scholars who have argued passionately that the US government should ban Hizb ut-Tahrir. Both have given testimony before Congress to this end. Dr Cohen is the Central Asian expert at the Heritage Foundation and until May this year, Zeyno Baran was director of the international security program at the Nixon Center. Since May, she has been a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute.
An article in the Washington Post from December 2004 stated there had been no reports of HT being active in the US, even though Stratfor has claimed that the FBI (or some of its field offices) has been aware of HTA since early 1994. The article maintains that the International Crisis Group had opposed such a ban.
Zeno Baran has stated in a 144-page Nixon Center report from the same time that: 'While HT as an organization does not engage in terrorist activities, it has become the vanguard of the radical Islamist ideology that encourages its followers to commit terrorist acts.'
Maybe for this reason, the public face of Hizb ut-Tahrir is changing, at least in America. Madeleine Gruen points to the reinvention of the group's profile, although the underlying doctrine remains the same as it has ever been. Now HT America is trying to be 'cool'. Even the former regional emir, Iyad Halil, produced a magazine entitled 'Khalifornia' as an attempt to make the group appeal. Dr Jaleel Abdul-Adil speaks to HT members like a true Salafist, yet he dresses in bright-colored robes at such events. He also has an interest in Hip Hop culture to boost his 'credibility' with young people.
The British HT membership, predominantly made up of individuals whose ancestry comes from the Indian subcontinent, is currently careful not to fall foul of the Terrorism Act 2006. Schedule 1, section 1 (3) of this Act outlaws the 'glorification of terrorism', including terrorism abroad. This severely limits what the group can publicly say.
British HT's leadership appears to be struggling, leading to defections. It is possible that Britain is the location of the current HQ of international HT. Its 'pyramid structure' of management evolved in countries where the group was banned outright, where it was dangerous to know too many individuals. Such hierarchical principles belong to another time, another place, like the greatly mythologized Caliphate.
The intellectual upper levels of British HT discuss comparisons of Marxist theory against Islamic 'Aqeeda' (doctrine) in student fashion, but the lower tiers of the pyramid are recruited from the street and are not restrained by such intellectual conceits. In the days of Omar Bakri Mohammed, senior members could say whatever they liked with impunity. Bakri made outrageous statements. He encouraged his supporters to commit acts of violence against others, including other members. But he had a personality and even a sense of humor that drew loyalty, unlike the current suit-wearing peddlers of dogma.
At the very base of the pyramid are British HT's disaffected and alienated young recruits, who have poor education and who will never hone their Aqeeda skills to rise to upper levels. For them, HT is a vehicle to express contempt and hatred for the society in which they live. They are taught that the West hates all Muslims. Within such an environment their anger is encouraged. They are given empty promises of a Caliphate which would only come about in a hypothetical future. Among these youths, beyond the direct gaze of their leaders, threats and acts of violence already happen. How long before such violence involves explosives?
Germany Intends to Criminalize Terrorist Preparation (back)
September 20, 2007
Germany's justice minister plans to extend the country's anti-terror laws. In the future, preparing an attack or receiving explicit training for a violent act will be punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
The worldwide threat of terrorist attacks includes Germany, according to the country's Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries.
'We cannot exclude a terrorist attack in our country,' Zypries told reporters in Berlin on Tuesday, September 18. 'As regrettable as this realization is, it is unfortunately by no means new.'
The justice ministry has therefore proposed new legislation, which would make the preparation of terrorist acts, as well as the instruction of such actions, a criminal offence. If convicted, offenders would face up to 10 years in prison.
Existing anti-terrorist laws no longer timely
Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: The men arrested in Germany were planning bombs using hydrogen peroxide
The proposal comes after authorities arrested three men earlier this month for planning massive terrorist attacks targeting US nationals in Germany.
The justice ministry has been reviewing Germany's criminal law over the past few months to determine whether loopholes existed. The planned legislation would allow preparations ahead of terrorist attacks to be legally dealt with more systematically, Zypries said.
Existing German laws against terrorism could not be applied to terrorist acts today, the ministry said. Laws introduced to battle the militant, left-wing Red Army Faction (RAF) in the 1970s stipulated that a terrorist organization must have at least three members before its formation -- or support of the organization -- can be deemed illegal.
But terrorist structures have changed since then, the ministry said.
'As opposed to the RAF, Islamic offenders are often active without any firm connection to a hierarchically based group,' it said in a statement.
Yet the related danger was nonetheless 'considerable' and therefore needed to be punishable by law, it said.
Only explicit training for a terrorist act will be a crime
The first proposal to the new legislation stipulated that preparing a terrorist attack would be punishable by six months to 10 years in prison. This included acquiring weapons, chemicals or other substances in order to commit a violent offense. The proposal would also outlaw financing a terrorist attack.
Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Zypries wants more legal means to fight terrorism
This legislation would also cover, for example, a suspect charged with carrying out a bombing in Germany who had previously traveled to a terrorist camp to receive explosives training, or a person who took flight training in order to hijack an aircraft.
The ministry said, however, that the law would apply only to training with the specific intent to carry out a terrorist attack. This means that attending a training camp in itself would not necessarily be a crime. Prosecutors said the three men arrested in Germany on September 4 trained at camps in Pakistan run by the Islamic Jihad Union.
The second proposal in the new legislation would criminalize publishing or acquiring instructions for attacks or bombs, for example, via the Internet. If the instructions were deemed to motivate others to commit attacks, the crime would carry a prison sentence of up to three years.
Zypries' proposals will now be coordinated within the federal government. A ministry draft will then be sent to Germany's 16 federal states before formulating a bill in parliament.
Israel Declares Gaza an 'Enemy Entity' (back)
September 19, 2007
Israel's Security Cabinet declared the Gaza Strip an 'enemy entity' on Wednesday in order to cut off power and fuel supplies to the coastal strip, a move likely to cloud Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit on a peacemaking mission.
The group of top Israeli political and defense ministers did not set a date for a cutoff. A statement from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office said Israel did not intend to provoke a humanitarian crisis.
Rice arrived Wednesday to mediate progress on key issues dividing Israel and the Palestinians before a U.S.-sponsored peace gathering. But even before she landed, Palestinian officials said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would ask her not to set a firm date for the peace conference until it is clear he and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert can agree upon a joint statement setting out their goals.
'President Abbas will ask Rice tomorrow not to set a specific date for the conference until they see the possibilities of having an agreement with Israel,' an official in Abbas' office said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because Abbas and Rice had not yet met.
The conference tentatively is scheduled for Washington in November. The U.S. thinks Abbas has a freer hand to reach a final accord with Israel now that he has expelled Islamic Hamas militants from power for violently seizing control of Gaza in June. Abbas has set up a new government of moderates in the West Bank.
The Israeli Security Cabinet's declaration of Gaza as an 'enemy entity' could become the most severe retaliatory measure Israel has taken recently against Palestinian rocket fire from the strip. Israel has been carrying out airstrikes and limited ground incursions. It also has sealed Gaza's borders, halting trade in and out of the area.
While Hamas has not been directly involved in the rocket attacks, it has done little to halt them. Israel says it holds the group responsible.
'Additional restrictions will be imposed on the Hamas regime, limiting the transfer of goods to the Gaza Strip, cutting back fuel and electricity, and restricting the movement of people to and from the strip,' a statement from Olmert's office said.
The statement said the sanctions would be enacted 'following a legal review' and would be designed to avoid a humanitarian crisis. The decision needs no further approval by any Israeli authority.
Impoverished Gaza's 1.4 million people are almost entirely dependent on Israeli suppliers for power and fuel, and a cutoff would draw international condemnation.
'The objective is to weaken Hamas,' Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Security Cabinet meeting, according to one participant.
Israel's current policy of airstrikes and brief ground incursions has been ineffective. Barak said Israel was moving closer to a large-scale military operation in Gaza _ an option that has not halted rocket fire in the past and would likely mean heavy casualties on both sides.
'Every day that passes brings us closer to an operation in Gaza,' Barak was quoted as saying.
Rice's spokesman, Sean McCormack, said the planned Israeli sanctions would come up in the secretary's discussions with Israeli officials. 'They made very clear they did not intend this to have any negative effect on the humanitarian situation, something about which we and others are quite concerned.'
Hamas and Abbas' government both condemned the Security Cabinet's move.
'It is collective punishment against the people of Gaza, and discourages serious political discussion,' said Ashraf Ajrami, a minister in Abbas' government.
Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said his group would 'confront the new aggression and escalation with all possible means.' A cutoff of resources, he said, would doom the Washington conference.
'If the occupation government considers half of the Palestinian population and land as its enemies, how can we expect any results regarding fundamental issues?' he asked.
At the same time, a Hamas official said the group's exiled leaders in Damascus would meet with their Islamic Jihad counterparts to discuss the possibility of halting the rocket fire. He spoke on condition of anonymity because a date for the meeting had not been set.
The crude rockets from Gaza, which Israel evacuated two years ago, have killed 12 people in southern Israel in the past seven years, injured dozens more and disrupted daily life in the region.
Hamas' control of Gaza will burden Abbas as he and Olmert try to move toward a final accord. Their first step is hammering out a joint platform on the most contentious issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before the Washington conference _ final borders, the status of disputed Jerusalem and a solution for Palestinian refugees and their descendants.
The Palestinians hope the gathering will bring a solid framework for a final agreement but Israel wants to retain greater flexibility with a more general statement of goals.
On her way to the region Wednesday, Rice said she hoped conference participants would not only 'sit and talk and talk and talk.'
'It's extremely important from our point of view that it be serious and substantive,' Rice told reporters aboard her plane. 'We can't simply continue to say that we want a two-state solution _ we've got to start to move toward one.'
Rice was slated to meet Olmert and his top ministers Wednesday, and with the Palestinians on Thursday.
Olmert was to present Rice with an Israeli plan to ease travel restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank, Israeli officials said. The removal of two dozen dirt barriers that block villages is one of several Israeli gestures to bolster Abbas against Hamas.
Source: www.comcast.net/news/index.jsp?cat=GENERAL&fn=/2007/09/19/ 767297.html
Worst Approach to Counter-Terrorism Yet (back)
September 18, 2007
On Wednesday, October 3rd, the New Jersey Department of Homeland Security is hosting its '5th Annual Counter-Terrorism Conference' titled, 'Radicalization: Global Trend, Local Concern?' The conference is part of the agency's 'First Responder Training' and speakers and experts are brought in to instruct department employees on various topics related to security and counter-terrorism.
In a decision that defies reason, slated to speak on a panel called 'To What Extent is Radicalization a Concern in the U.S.?,' is none other than Georgetown University's John Esposito, a man who has never met a radical Muslim he didn't like.
At a banquet held by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Dallas in August of this year, Esposito stated:
I've got to tell you, you know, I mean, Sami al-Arian's a very good friend of mine. I remember that when his kids told me that he was supporting a Republican I just said, 'Tell your dad, as a lifelong Democrat, even though I don't always vote Democrat, he's 'gonna regret voting for a Republican. And you know, God help Sami al-Arian in terms of this administration and any others who have to live through this.
Esposito finished his speech, telling the crowd, 'One of the most impressive people I have met under fire is Sami al-Arian.' Incidentally, the banquet was in large part held to support the defendants in the current trial against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief in Development (HLF), in which the closing arguments are underway. The charity stands accused of diverting over $12 million to the terrorist group Hamas. And Esposito told the audience that his appearance at the banquet was intended to 'show solidarity not only with the Holy Land Fund, but also with CAIR,' and started his speech by saying, 'let me begin by saying that CAIR is a phenomenal organization.'
At the banquet, CAIR Chairman Parvez Ahmed unleashed the following corker, in a typical effort to conflate his organization and his favored causes as representative of all American Muslims:
It is not the Holy Land Foundation that is under fire, but it is the entire American Muslim community is under fire.
CAIR is, of course, an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial, and if nothing else, the HLF trial has officially and publicly exposed CAIR's numerous links to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
But back to Esposito: His good friend Sami pled guilty in 2006 to a 'conspiracy to make or receive contributions of funds, goods or services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Specially Designated Terrorist.'
A notorious firebrand when speaking to perceived supporters, Esposito's buddy told a crowd of Muslim supporters both 'Let us damn America, let us damn Israel, let us damn their allies until death' and 'The Koran is our constitution… Jihad is our path … Victory to Islam… Death to Israel… Revolution… revolution till the victory' at meetings held in support of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Esposito knows this, as these videos were entered into evidence into Sami's trial. Yet as recently as last month he still refers to Sami, in front of a crowd of American Muslims at a conference held by a Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas-front group, as his 'very good friend.'
Additionally, Esposito has praised Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi as a 'reformer,' interested in the relationship between Islam and 'democracy, pluralism and human rights.' The very same Qaradawi who has sanctioned suicide bombings against American troops in Iraq, calling those who die fighting U.S. forces 'martyrs,' and civilians in Israel, referring to such terrorist acts as 'just' and a 'divine destiny.'
In a perfect world, such praise and associations would be as damaging as they are damning, yet Esposito has profited tremendously from such views, endorsements and friends. In December 2005, Saudi 'philanthropist' Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal donated $20 million to Georgetown University to 'teach about the Islamic world to the United States.' According to the Washington Post, this is what the Prince got for his money:
The Georgetown center, part of the university's School of Foreign Service, will be renamed the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. The $20 million will endow three faculty chairs, expand programs and academic outreach, provide scholarships for students and expand library facilities, Alwaleed said.
Center director John L. Esposito said in an interview that 'a significant part of the money will be used to beef up the think tank part of what the center does.'
Famously, money from Alwaleed Bin Talal comes with strings attached, not that Esposito would be bothered by such preconditions. After 9/11, then-NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani turned down a check for $10 million from the prince, after Alwaleed Bin Talal issued a press release stating that America had to 're-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance towards the Palestinian cause.' Despite the prince's 'generous' gift to Georgetown, his money is probably better spent elsewhere, as anyone who knows anything about Esposito would understand he hardly has to be bribed to parrot the radical Islamist/Saudi worldview.
And for those who insist that voicing skepticism and concern about the influx of Saudi money on institutions of higher learning is nothing more than 'Islamophobia,' not every one is fooled, including various leaders of the Australian Muslim community, as reported yesterday in The Australian, 'Muslims attack $1m Saudi gift to uni':
UP to $1 million will be pumped by Saudi Arabia into an Australian university, sparking fears the money will skew its research and create sympathy for an extremist Muslim ideology espoused by al-Qai'da.
Muslim leaders and academics have attacked Queensland's Griffith University for accepting an initial $100,000 grant from the Saudi embassy, which they accused of having given cash in the past to educational institutions to improve the perception of Wahhabism - a hardline interpretation of Islam.
The Australian understands the Griffith Islamic Research Unit will in coming years receive up to $1 million from Saudi Arabia, which has injected more than $120 million into Australia's Islamic community since the 1970s for mosques, schools, scholarships and clerical salaries.
A former member of John Howard's Muslim reference board, Mustapha Kara-Ali, accused the Saudis of using their financial power to transform the landscape of Australia's Islamic community and silence criticism of Wahhabism. 'They want to silence criticism of the Wahhabi establishment and its link to global terrorism and national security issues,' he said.
Esposito does not share Kara-Ali's fears and wholeheartedly embraced his Saudi gift horse. But the New Jersey Department of Homeland Security should know better. During his August 2007 CAIR speech, Esposito stated, 'The reality of it is there is no major significant threat in the mosques in America,' and no one should expect anything other than his continued downplaying of the threat posed to the U.S. by radical Islam and its adherents. Inviting the self-described 'good friend' of a convicted terrorist operative, a man who praises as a 'reformer' the pro-suicide bombing spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood, a bought and paid for spokesman for the Wahhabist, Saudi worldview, to discuss the issues and problems associated with Islamic radicalization in the U.S. is very likely the most counter productive and wrongheaded approach yet devised by a government agency dedicated to protecting the United States.
How to Defeat Terrorism - Why Israel is Defeating Terrorism (back)
September 19, 2007
Mirza David runs International Security Academy, a training organization that specializes in Counter Terrorism & Protection. Founded in 1987, Mirza has adapted Israeli attitudes and techniques from his own experiences with Israeli security and built a world wide training consortium.
I first met Mirza at the height of the second Intifada. He wanted to meet 'this crazy American who came to our country under siege and brought his wife'. Since then we have become friends and I found myself training with him, enduring hardcore Israeli tactics: 'You are twenty seconds late for this lecture: twenty push ups for the entire class!' and my favorite: 'If you yawn in class' (this is at midnight after a full day of exercises, and hands on training since 06:00) 'you get to do 100 push ups!' No one yawned. This made carrying 250 lb German bodyguards in a fireman’s carry over hills seem a lot easier. But what I learnt here was the tough Israeli mind set, the reliance on the human factor versus the latest toys, the importance of knowing why you were executing what you were doing and having the physical will to complete the task.
To give you some background to this essay Mirza sent me, Israelis are stuck between, literally a rock and a hard place. Jews are still haunted on some level by the Holocaust and the spiritual damage it did to us. We cannot become the oppressors that our enemies want us to be. At the same time Israelis must handle the continuous jihad to eliminate their existence in the Middle East, with their sworn enemies intent on their own 'Final Solution'. Witness Hamas’ charter that refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist and calls for its destruction.
So along comes Abu Mazen, a so called Palestinian moderate (at least to some media), with a refined position for the West that calls for some peaceful recognition between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
Now, both Hamas and al-Fatah are talking about a third Intifada, against each other and Israel.
As many Israelis confess, we all want peace. Even old warriors do not want to send their sons and their grandsons into war.
Mirza outlines one solution here but more importantly he highlights four strong reasons why Israel has been so successful in countering terrorism and supporting a vibrant and growing economy: the human factor.
Nick Spill runs a Security and Investigation company in Miami Beach, Florida.
NHS Inc. www.miamibeachpi.com.
Mirza David runs Interantional Security Academy. www.securityacademy.com.
His article, with his permission, appears below.
How to Defeat Terrorism
A friendly advice for those who press the US Defense Army in Iraq
We have recently learned that Mr. Abu Mazen (who was among the founders and leaders of the P.L.O, the leading Palestinian terrorist organization, founded in 1974 by the arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat) and who has been elected as 'Rais' (Head) of this organization and is known today to world leaders as the President of the Palestinian Authority, is strongly backed and called by the Egyptian President Mr.Mubarac and by the Jordanian King Mr. Abdulla as the only Palestinian leader who is able to bring peace and progress to his people.
To those who have forgotten, this Terrorist organization has been one of the most active and brutal of our time.
In the 33 years since its foundation, this terrorist organization has been the catalyst and model for terrorist organizations all over the world, and specifically in the Arab world.
I must admit that the organization’s political achievements, and especially the status of its leader among world leaders, despite its terrorist activities, have been highly impressive. The declared and guiding position of the former 'Rais', Yasser Arafat, formulated that only the use of force, weapons and a violent struggle, based on terrorist activities, killing and mass murders of Israelis inside Israel and abroad, will force the Israelis to give up.
This mode of operation led many around the world, including military specialists, to the conclusion that there is no way other than to respond to the terrorists’ demands, since there is no way to overcome terrorism.
With your permission, I will return to Mr. Abu Mazen, who was appointed Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority while Yasser Arafat was still serving as 'Rais' two years ago, and later resigned/was deposed.
One of the main, and perhaps the central reason for Mr. Abu Mazen’s resignation was known to all the European and world leaders, who did not cease to pressure Israel 'to sit down and negotiate with Arafat without prior conditions'. The 'prior conditions' were those of Israel’s Prime Minister, to cease from the terrorist attacks before any negotiation could begin.
Mr. Abu Mazen opposed Yasser Arafat on the way the Israelis should be fought. His premise, which he expressed already ten years ago, was that, 'It would be a mistake to deal with the Israelis through violence and violent uprisings, such as killing and murder; acts of terrorism will only strengthen them and their refusal to negotiate.'
Luckily for the Palestinians, as well as for the Israelis, the Creator intervened and took Yasser Arafat, this time for good. The Palestinian people, who have been coerced into acts of terrorism and violence by its leaders for the past 33 years, causing poverty, pain and suffering, took the first opportunity to elect not only a new leader, but primarily a new way, which Abu Mazen represents.
Today, two years after his election, Israel and the Palestinian Authority have begun to operate towards the building of trust and mutual aid, in order to obliterate the painful memories of the past and to build a quieter, safer and more prosperous future for both the Palestinian and Israeli people.
Yes, it is certainly possible to defeat terrorism and not only to overcome it.
And if I am not mistaken, this is also the first time in history that the head of a terrorist organization has admitted that the path of terrorism has not led to the accomplishments hoped for, and it should be terminated, even if unilaterally.
How was this accomplished?
Among the reasons for Israel’s tremendous ability to cope with its enemies, we can identify four main sectors, which have aided its strong resilience in the face of the intense and brutal terrorism that Israel has suffered over the past four years.
1.A strong and determined national leader, knew how to turn each painful terrorist attack into a means of reinforcing and strengthening the collective resilience.
2.The army, police force (for internal security), Secret Service and organizations assist and take care of those injured, which operate professionally, responsibly and with the highest motivation, which served together as a live defense against terrorism. This was primarily due to the definition of tasks, awarding suitable and appropriate training and tools, as well as public recognition, appreciation and understanding of the necessity of their activities for the defense of the civilian population in Israel.
3.The civilian security arrays: security companies and organizations, which held preliminary training and instruction for their employees, before they were assigned to vital public positions. This sector also took responsibility and often became a live defense line against terrorism and killing.
4.The entire civilian population, many of whom underwent pre-military or military training, and whose level of preparedness alleviated the response to acts of terrorism, both prior, during and afterwards. This sector’s resilience; its support of the leadership and other sectors in command; as well as its belief that the solution of crises is being handled and executed effectively, enabled one and all to find the strength to withstand horrendous terrorist attacks, which often caused Yasser Arafat to believe that he had succeeded in breaking the Israelis’ spirit.
Israel’s secret weapon has, and always will be, the human factor, or, to be more precise, the education, training and preparation of Israelis have defeated Palestinian terrorism.
The analysis was carried out by Mr. Mirza David, founder and Director of the International Security Academy - Israel, which operates training centers for fighting terrorism in various countries worldwide.
TERROR ON TRIAL
Proving Liberty City 7's Intentions is Task for Feds (back)
September 18, 2007
The selection of a federal jury starts Tuesday in the trial of the Liberty City Seven, whose arrests were hailed by the Justice Department as ``yet another important victory in the war on terrorism.''
As news of the Miami men's alleged plot of destruction raced across the country in June 2006, then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales declared, ``homegrown terrorists may prove to be as dangerous as groups like al-Qaeda.''
Yet the case of the seven -- accused of plotting to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago and FBI buildings in Miami and other major U.S. cities -- is strikingly different from another high-profile terrorism case linked to al-Qaeda that just ended in Miami with the conviction of the ``dirty bomber.''
In the case of Jose Padilla, there was evidence of the former Broward County resident training overseas with al-Qaeda and two other defendants providing ''material support'' for its terrorism network abroad.
The Liberty City Seven case features a small band of religious followers of the Moorish Science Temple who fell under the sway of an FBI informant, posing as an al-Qaeda operative, who pitched much of the terrorism plan to the group with promises of money.
Along the way, wiretaps and videotapes captured all seven men taking an oath to the global terrorism organization, but 12 Miami-Dade jurors will have to decide whether any of them actually played a role in the largely concocted terror plot.
The trial of the seven men before U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard could last through the fall. Each defendant, if convicted on all four conspiracy counts, faces up to 70 years in prison.
The evidence weighs most heavily against the group's reputed ringleader, Narseal Batiste, a construction worker who allegedly came up with the idea of blowing up the Sears Tower. He was recorded on a wiretap saying he respected al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, likening him to ``an angel.''
The evidence against some of Batiste's six supporters is not as clear-cut.
The challenge for federal prosecutors will be proving the defendants' criminal intentions to join the fledgling terrorism conspiracy -- one that an FBI deputy director ultimately acknowledged was more ``aspirational than operational.''
Attorneys for the defendants will argue that the FBI's informant -- a Middle Eastern man from an unidentified country who was paid $36,570 and granted asylum for his insider work -- crossed the line by enticing their clients to commit illegal acts. That defense, along with expected attempts to discredit the government's key informant, likely will be the most provocative elements of the case.
''If they succeed, the government has to show the defendants were predisposed to commit this crime when the opportunity presented itself,'' said University of Miami law Professor Bruce Winick. He added that he found the group's al-Qaeda oath ''ambiguous'' because it doesn't specify any violent acts.
Batiste, a Chicago transplant, had ambitions to build up a righteous nation of the Moorish Science Temple, a sect that blends Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
Batiste and his men regularly met in a one-story concrete warehouse in Liberty City that they dubbed ``the Temple.''
Batiste taught them martial arts and military movements. In October 2005, Batiste began talking with a North Miami store owner of Arabic descent about his mission to create a Moorish government in the United States.
He explained to the shopkeeper that extreme Islamic groups, such as al-Qaeda, could help. The shopkeeper, an FBI informant, told the agents handling the undercover case. They had him introduce another bureau informant to Batiste.
Despite suspicions about that informant, who went by the name ''Mohammad,'' Batiste came to trust him. In March 2006, he led Batiste in al-Qaeda's loyalty oath inside a GMC truck. Days later, six other Batiste followers also took the pledge, in another Miami warehouse that was under FBI video surveillance.
Hopomg for Money
Batiste had hoped to receive up to $50,000 from the informant as part of their joint venture, according to court records. Batiste remained focused on the Sears Tower plot, records show. The FBI informant steered him and his followers to the fictitious al-Qaeda scheme to target government buildings.
Toward that end, Batiste and a few of his followers took photos of a few local target sites, including the FBI building in North Miami Beach and the federal courthouse complex in downtown Miami, records show.
But not all of Batiste's original supporters were on board. A few of the defendants' post-arrest statements cast doubts about their commitment to Islamic extremism.
One member, Lyglenson Lemorin, told FBI agents that ''he believes he was one of the first to object to the oath'' -- admitting he was ''fearful.'' Lemorin, who had left Miami for Atlanta well before the June 2006 arrests, said he knew ``nothing good would come from this.''
Curtain Falls as Miami Terrorism Trial Starts Up (back)
September 18, 2007
The Miami trial of seven men accused of plotting to blow up U.S. government and commercial buildings opened on Tuesday with the removal of a waist-high curtain designed to hide the suspected terrorists' leg shackles.
U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard said she had ordered the red curtain erected around the defense side of the courtroom because she felt the sight of chains would compromise the defendants' right to be presumed innocent by jurors.
Federal marshals took it down after defense lawyers argued that the curtain was more prejudicial than any glimpse of the slender ankle chains, which were not visible to spectators until the defendants walked out after the jury candidates left the courtroom.
'I think it emphasizes that we're really dangerous,' Narseal Batiste, the alleged ringleader, replied when the judge asked if he wanted the red curtain.
That set the stage for jury selection to begin in the trial of the seven men arrested in 2006 on charges of plotting to blow up the 110-story Sears Tower in Chicago -- the tallest building in the United States -- and other buildings, including the FBI office in Miami and the federal court complex where they are on trial.
They face up to 70 years in prison if convicted on all four counts of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to destroy buildings with explosives and seditious conspiracy.
The 'Liberty City Seven,' named for the poor Miami neighborhood where the young men lived on and off at a warehouse, are accused of swearing allegiance to al-Qaeda and plotting to wage war on the U.S. government.
Government officials called their June 2006 arrests an important victory in the war against terrorism and the indictment says they aspired to carry out attacks 'just as good or greater than 9/11.'
But Deputy FBI Director John Pistole said at the time of their arrest that their plans were 'aspirational rather than operational.' Other government agents said they posed no real threat because they had no actual al-Qaeda contacts or means of carrying out attacks and no weapons other than a cosh found in one man's car.
Defense attorneys say the defendants were manipulated by paid FBI informants who concocted the plot and did most of the talking in secretly recorded conversations. One informant posed as an al-Qaeda agent and accompanied the defendants on a trip to photograph targeted buildings, apparently providing the camera.
Several defendants worked at a construction company Batiste ran and joined his efforts to establish a 'Moorish Science Temple' sect that mixed Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Freemasonry, Gnosticism and Taoism.
An FBI agent testified in pretrial hearings that they studied martial arts and trained with paintball guns. The first three dozen jury candidates were asked if they had any paintball experience.
One former policeman said he had trained with paintballs while on the force. Another man said his son played paintball at birthday parties. Another jury candidate turned to her neighbor and whispered 'what?' when the judge asked if they had ever 'gone paintballing.'
Jury selection was expected to take about two weeks in a trial that could last into January.
Youth Charged Under Terrorism Act (back)
September 18, 2007
A teenager has been charged with offences under the Terrorism Act, police said.
The 17-year-old male, from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, was charged with two offences after he was arrested at an address in the town on Tuesday September 11, West Yorkshire Police said.
The first charge relates to the possession of material for terrorism purposes, under section 57 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
The second relates to the collection or possession of information useful in the preparation of an act of terrorism, under section 58 of the same Act.
He will appear before Westminster Magistrates Court on Wednesday morning.
Source: http://ukpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5jrfdoNFtQGvUn521tryJ6pQ 6m6vQ
Samir A. Convicted Again for Terrorism (back)
September 18, 2007
A Dutch Muslim radical was sentenced to four years in jail by an Amsterdam appeals court on Monday for planning a terrorist attack in 2004.
Samir Azzouz had already been acquitted on the same charges twice by a lower court and an appeals court which said his plans were 'so clumsy and primitive' that they were not a threat.
But the case was referred for re-trial by the Dutch supreme court earlier this year, and the Amsterdam appeals court ruled Monday that the Azzouz was indeed planning an attack.
Police found floor plans of government buildings, chemicals and night vision goggles and a silencer for a gun at his home.
Azzouz, 21, was convicted in December last year and sentenced to eight years in prison for planning terrorist attacks against Dutch politicians and the headquarters of the intelligence services in 2005.
Arrested in 2003 because police suspected he was planning to make a bomb, he was released due to lack of evidence.
He was arrested again in 2004 on the charges he is now convicted of, and again in October 2005. He has been in jail since his last arrest.
Azzouz has been linked to a group whose leader was jailed for the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh.
According to prosecutors in other cases against Azzouz he had ties to Mohammed Bouyeri, who was sentenced to life imprisonment two years ago for killing Van Gogh in November 2004.
Azzouz attended religious meetings at Bouyeri's Amsterdam residence before he killed the filmmaker.
Bouyeri has always maintained he acted alone, and prosecutors could not prove otherwise.
Two in UK in Court on Terrorist Charges (back)
September 19, 2007
Two people appeared in court Wednesday after being charged with terrorist offenses.
Raingzieb Ahmed, 32, charged with three counts, spoke only to confirm his name and age during a five-minute hearing at London's City of Westminster Magistrates Court.
A 17-year-old from Dewsbury, England, who faces two counts, also spoke only to confirm his identity during a separate appearance.
Ahmed was arrested at Heathrow Airport in London on Sept. 7 after returning from Pakistan, where he had been held on suspicion of militancy, Greater Manchester police said.
He was charged with directing activities of a terrorist organization, possession documents useful to terrorists and possession of a rucksack containing traces of explosives allegedly for terrorist purposes.
District Judge Timothy Workman ordered Ahmed held pending an appearance in Central Criminal Court on Oct. 5.
The 17-year-old, who cannot be identified, was arrested Sept. 11. Workman adjourned the case for one week when the suspect is to return to court.
He is accused of possessing quantities of potassium nitrate and calcium chloride, which he allegedly intended to use for terrorism.
The second charge involves the possession of a document, the 'anarchist's Cookbook,' which would be useful in preparing for a terrorist attack.
Source: www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/09/19/europe/EU-GEN-Britain-Terror -Charges.php
British Woman gets 20 Years for 'Honor Killing' (back)
September 19, 2007
A 70-year-old British woman was sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in prison on Wednesday for the murder of her son's wife, whom she blamed for bringing shame on her Sikh family by seeking a divorce.
Bachan Athwal wept as she heard the sentence at London's Old Bailey court for the 'honor killing' of Surjit Kaur Athwal, 27, who was murdered after being lured to India.
The pensioner had vowed that a divorce would happen 'over my dead body' because she thought it would disgrace their family, the court heard.
Her son Sukhdave Singh Athwal, 43, was also found guilty of murder and was sentenced to at least 27 years in prison.
Judge Giles Forrester said the murder was 'unspeakable.'
'This was a heinous crime characterized by great wickedness,' he said.
'There was no motive worthy of the name. You did it because you thought she had brought shame on your family.'
The pair killed Athwal, who disappeared in December 1998 after she decided to walk out of her arranged marriage. She was lured to India by her mother-in-law and her husband on the pretext of attending family weddings, but instead was strangled.
The alarm was raised after Athwal, a customs officer, failed to return to her home in Hayes, west London. Her body, believed to be somewhere in the Punjab area in India, has never been found.
The victim's family called for a public inquiry into why it took so long to bring her killers to justice.
'The long journey of Surjit's case has exposed serious inadequacies in policing practice and government policy in the UK as well as in India,' they said in a statement.
Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070919/wl_nm/britain_honour_dc&pr inter=1;_ylt=AhFHyOMRvG4cf8Qd4ryHvuRn.3QA
POLICE AND CRIME ISSUES
Stress, Fear and Deception (back)
September 19, 2007
Looking for signs of 'stress, fear and deception' among the hundreds of passengers shuffling past him at Orlando International Airport one day last month, security screener Edgar Medina immediately focused on four casually dressed men trying to catch a flight to Minneapolis.
One of the men, in particular, was giving obvious signs of trying to hide something, Medina said. After obtaining the passengers’ ID cards and boarding passes, the Transportation Security Administration officer quickly determined the men were illegal immigrants traveling with fake Florida driver’s licenses. They were detained.
'It wasn’t that unusual,' Medina said. 'We see more and more of that stuff down here. Every day, that is what I’m looking for.'
The otherwise mundane arrests August 13 illustrated an increasingly popular tactic in the government’s effort to fight terrorism: detecting lawbreakers or potential terrorists by their behavior. The TSA has embraced the strategy, training 600 of its screeners, including Medina, in detection techniques. Such screeners patrol the Washington region’s three airports, and by year’s end, 1,000 screeners at more than 40 airports will be trained.
The TSA also plans to train screeners in the art of observing slight facial movements that indicate a person is lying.
Although civil libertarians and top Democrats in Congress say the techniques raise serious questions about privacy rights and racial and ethnic profiling, TSA officials say the behavior-detection officers may play a more important role in thwarting terrorist attacks than traditional screening techniques.
The teams have referred more than 40,000 people for extra screening since January 2006. Of those passengers, nearly 300 were arrested on charges including carrying concealed weapons and drug trafficking. TSA officials will not say whether the screeners have helped nab potential terrorists, but they say terrorists and other lawbreakers exhibit the same behavioral clues.
'In this kind of environment, you can’t be sure they are going to come to the checkpoint with a prohibited item, per se,' said Kip Hawley, the TSA’s administrator. 'Unless you do something more than that, you are going to miss the next attack. A behavior-detection officer will detect somebody no matter what the weapon is.'
The TSA’s teams are the most publicly acknowledged effort by the government or the private sector to come up with strategies and technology to detect lawbreakers or terrorists before they commit a crime. Other technologies under development or being deployed include machines that detect stress in voices and software that scans video images to match the faces of passengers with those of known terrorists.
The government is testing other technology that can see through clothing with Superman-like vision or can help determine whether somebody might be carrying an explosives-laden vest by analyzing electromagnetic waves. Some of that technology, including back-scatter X-ray devices, has already been deployed at some airports and in mass-transit terminals.
TSA officials acknowledge that those technologies are years from deployment and may not be as flexible as their behavior-detection officers, whom they can post outside airports, in terminals or train stations, or at checkpoints.
The behavior-detection program works like this: On a recent afternoon, two specially trained officers — they always work in teams — stood by a checkpoint at Dulles International Airport while another team of two roamed the terminal. The officers watched for anyone who seemed nervous, out of place or was acting suspiciously.
The TSA won’t publicly disclose what behavior screeners are looking for. However, screeners, former screeners and consultants say the officers are looking for people traveling without bags, sweating and constantly checking out every person passing by, especially those with badges and guns. People who avoid eye contact or veer away when police approach also draw their attention.
When deciding whether to target a passenger, TSA screeners generally do not rely on one trait but a combination of behaviors.
On the recent afternoon, the two roaming officers were keeping an eye on a passenger who had gone through and then exited security. The man was sitting on a concrete barrier at the passenger drop-off area. He didn’t have bags, smoked a cigarette, seemed to be talking to himself and kept standing up and sitting down. Eventually, when he returned through the checkpoint, officers pulled him aside and questioned him. They said they found nothing suspicious and let him go.
To become a behavior-detection officer, screeners undergo four days of classroom training and three days of supervised on-the-job work.
A new tool in their arsenal is the ability to determine when the slightest facial movement is masking a lie. All of the TSA’s behavior-detection officers and the agency’s 1,000 inspectors, who also work at airports, will be trained in the technique.
David Matsumoto, research director for the Ekman Group, which conducts the TSA 'micro-facial expression' training, said that micro-expressions are signs of concealed emotions and 'are indications that the travelers have an emotional state that they don’t want anyone else to know about.'
The expressions often last less than 1/15 of a second, he said.
'When you’re not trained to see them, when you blink, you’ll miss them,' Matsumoto said. 'Even if you don’t blink, they’re so fast people don’t realize what is happening.'
The TSA’s growing reliance on detecting behavior and the close study of passengers’ expressions concerns civil liberties groups and members of Congress.
'The problem is behavioral characteristics will be found where you look for them,' said John Reinstein, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, which is suing the Massachusetts State Police over an incident in which an officer trained in behavior detection detained a passenger at the airport in 2003.
'The fact remains that Muslims and people of Middle Eastern descent are perceived to be of particular threat,' he said. 'So it is highly likely that those are the people whose behaviors will be more highly scrutinized. There is still the danger that [the technique] will be used in a racially discriminatory manner.'
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the program’s aggressive expansion caused him concern. He plans to hold hearings on the issue in the next few months, he said.
'We have to be careful in using this so we don’t single out people who look different than us,' Thompson said. 'When we get into something that is approaching behavior, we have to be very careful that we don’t stereotype people because of their dress or their race. And we have to understand and protect the civil liberties and civil rights of people in this country.'
TSA officials say they have received no complaints from passengers about profiling or privacy violations connected to the behavior-detection effort.
'We spend a substantial portion of our training going over why everyone knows racial profiling is illegal,' said Carl Maccario, a TSA program analyst who coordinates the detection effort. 'As a security tool, it is also ineffective. If you are racially profiling, the real terrorist is going to slip past you. This is actually an antidote to racial profiling, because officers have to articulate exactly what made them suspicious.'
TERROR MODUS OPERANDI
Turkish Hizballah: A Case Study of Radical Terrorism (back)
April 18, 2007
The Republic of Turkey is one of the many countries that have been struggling with terrorism for decades. This article concentrates on the development and activities of Turkish Hizballah. Following an overview of the resurgence of radicalism and terrorism in Turkey, the main characteristics of Turkish Hizballah are highlighted and compared to other notorious terrorist groups, KONGRA-GEL (Kurdistan People's Congress) in Turkey and the Hizballah in Lebanon. The ideology, goals and structure of Turkish Hizballah are also examined. A final analysis focuses on contemporary trends, including law enforcement and security operations against Turkish Hizballah, as well as related policy implications.
The phenomenon of terrorism has plagued countries throughout the world for centuries. In September 2001, when the United States experienced its first major terrorist attacks on American soil since the World Trade Center bombing of 1993 and the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, the American public suddenly became painfully aware of a variety of fundamentalist religious terrorist groups that had been active elsewhere in the world for many years. The Republic of Turkey is one of the many countries that have been struggling with terrorism for decades. This article will focus on the development and activities of a specific terrorist group: Turkish Hizballah. An overview of the resurgence of radicalism and terrorism in Turkey, the main characteristics of Turkish Hizballah are highlighted and compared to other notorious terrorist groups, KONGRA-GEL (Kurdistan People's Congress) in Turkey and the Hizballah in Lebanon. Subsequently, an examination of the ideology and structure of Turkish Hizballah will lead to a final analysis focused on more contemporary trends of the terrorist group.
By Süleyman Özören (University of North Texas & Cécile Van de Voorde, University of South Florida)
Terrorism in Turkey
For over three decades, Turkey has been affected by domestic insurgencies and political violence without receiving from the international community much of the attention it deserved. In particular, Turkey has been plagued by terrorism for several years and on many fronts. Active terrorist groups include not only the Turkish Hizballah (Party of God), but also the Kurdish separatist group known as the Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress (PKK-KONGRA GEL, formerly called PKK), the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C or Dev-Sol), as well as other entities tied to terrorist groups based in Syria and Iran. In order to understand the development of Hizballah in Turkey, it is crucial not only to comprehend the resurgence of political Islam and radical terrorism in a fundamentally secular country, but also to distinguish Turkish Hizballah from both the more notorious PKK-KONGRA GEL and its Lebanese namesake.
Religious Violence and Radical Terrorism in Turkey
Although religious faith itself cannot produce violence and terrorist behavior, it may be interpreted to justify an attack on social structure. Three circumstances must be present in order to motivate believers to shift their thoughts towards violent action: (1) believers must perceive a threat to their values, (2) a theology must be transformed into a dogma produced by textual interpretation and (3) the true believers must embrace the violence as a means for preserving their faith. Where these criteria are met, terrorism becomes an integral part of theology.1 Nevertheless, Islam does not inherently condone terrorism: the word Islam shares the same Arabic etymological root as the word peace and the Holy Qur'an condemns war as an abnormal state of affairs opposed to God's will.
Essentially, Islam is 'an apolitical religion concerned solely with spiritual and ethical guidance' and using Islam as both a religion and a state or global political structure may be perceived as 'a deviation from and a perversion of that true conception'.2 Furthermore, political Islam may be construed as 'an illegitimate extension of the Islamic tradition outside of the properly religious domain it has historically occupied'.3 In recent years, the phrase 'political Islam' has been used to refer to 'the seemingly unprecedented irruption of Islamic religion into the secular domain of politics' as 'Islam has become a central point of reference for a wide range of political activities, arguments and opposition movements'.4 Nevertheless, even though Muslim activists often use Islam for political purposes, it is important to note that not 'all forms of contemporary Islamic activism involve trying to 'capture the state'.'5
The role of Islam in Turkey is peculiar insofar as it is intricately related to Turkish history, nationalism and identity. Historically, Turkish Islam has been tolerant and respectful of other religions, which helped Ottomans expand their empire and rule over millions of people without significant conflicts. Furthermore, the first Turkish Muslims, who were heavily influenced by Sufi-oriented ideas, 'kept a certain distance from the politics of their times in contrast to other Islamic movements'.6 As a result, prominent religious leaders have denounced any action associated with violence by asserting that a terrorist could not truly be a Muslim and, conversely, a Muslim could not be a terrorist.
Owing to its unique location between Europe and Asia, Turkey has been composed of and influenced by a variety of cultural, ethnical and historical entities for centuries. Diversity is still a hallmark of contemporary Turkey and the rapidly modernizing country has seemingly set 'an example of what is possible in integrating Islamic movements into its relatively democratic political system. By accommodating Islamic voices and expanding the boundaries of participation, Turkey has preserved and consolidated its democracy and civil society'.7
Nonetheless, fundamentalist terrorism is still a reality and such radical terrorist groups as Turkish Hizballah are active in Turkey today. Overall, the activities and ideologies of these groups have been met with much resistance by the mainstream society. Major issues have been revived and causing growing concern throughout the country, including radicalism, integrism, separatism and terrorism.8
Major Differences Between Turkish Hizballah and PKK-KONGRA GEL
The most prominent source of Turkish terrorism, which Turkish Hizballah is sometimes confused with, is the Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress (PKK-KONGRA GEL). PKK-KONGRA GEL was founded in 1974 by Abdullah Öcalan as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK (Partya Karkeren Kurdistan), a Kurdish political party and insurrectionary group adhering to a Marxist-Leninist ideology.9 The main objective of PKK-KONGRA GEL has been the creation of an independent United Democratic Kurdistan in southeast Turkey (Anatolia), northern Iraq, Iran and Syria. Since the early 1980s, it has led a brutal campaign of guerrilla warfare and terrorism against Turkey with the collaboration and protection of various countries and groups, mainly Syria and Greece. In the early 1990s, PKK-KONGRA GEL evolved from radical activism in rural areas to more structured urban terrorism. Today, the group operates in Turkey, Europe and the Middle East. It is arguably one of the best-organized terrorist organizations in the world with an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 members, mainly located in northern Iraq, and thousands of sympathizers throughout Turkey and Europe. The financial stability of PKK-KONGRA GEL is guaranteed by its heavy involvement in narcoterrorism, arms smuggling, kidnapping (primarily children and tourists) and other forms of organized crime. Between August 1984 and February 2000, PKK-KONGRA GEL was credited for about 22,000 terrorist actions. The leitmotiv of PKK-KONGRA GEL’s left-wing extremists is the use of their ethnicity as an incentive for politico-ideological recruitment. Paradoxically however, PKK-KONGRA GEL has arbitrarily murdered Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin, that is, the people on whose behalf it allegedly acts. The group further considers both the Kurdish Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (the two main Kurdish groupings in northern Iraq) as enemies.10
PKK-KONGRA GEL is most notorious for its promotion and use of terrorist suicide attacks, a modus operandi Turkish Hizballah has never resorted to. The suicide terrorism techniques used by PKK-KONGRA GEL are characteristic of a continuum that entails not only a hierarchical organization with a highly charismatic leader (known as the ‘pioneer’), but also the idea of a ‘suitable culture’ likely to promote self-sacrifice for the sake of religion or the interests of the group through intense indoctrination. Thus, PKK-KONGRA GEL’s ‘indoctrination of its members is based on praising valor and rebellion against oppression and victimization’.11 Additionally, situational factors play an important role in the continuum of PKK-KONGRA GEL’s suicide terrorism campaign. Whereas PKK-KONGRA GEL only ordered a few suicide attacks in prisons until the 1990s (none of which resulted in mass casualties), several attacks took place in the 1990s that were mainly prompted by political or internal crises. Many of the terrorist suicide attacks perpetrated by PKK-KONGRA GEL actually coincided with the arrest, imprisonment, sentencing or extradition of Öcalan, as well as upsurges in repressive measures adopted by the Turkish government. Between 30 June 1995 and 15 July 1999, fifteen terrorist suicide attacks occurred and caused the death of thousands of people, including many women and children. In addition, PKK-KONGRA GEL, which strives to impose its subversive views on the uneducated and the ignorant, is also responsible for the assassination of more than a hundred schoolteachers.
PKK-KONGRA GEL membership is often favored by educated people who prefer its more transparent actions. PKK-KONGRA GEL and the Hizballah have openly clashed in Turkey since PKK militants killed the father of a Hizballah member in 1990 and Hizballah militants retaliated by murdering a PKK sympathizer. According to Turkish Hizballah, the main reason for their struggle with PKK-KONGRA GEL is that the latter is a Marxist-Leninist group that kills Muslims and collaborates with Armenians, who are considered to be Infidels. In reality, their rivalry results from a long-standing fight for authority over southeastern Turkey. Both PKK-KONGRA GEL and Turkish Hizballah have high stakes in that region, which is composed of a highly religious Muslim population. From an ideological perspective, even though it has nothing to do with religion, PKK-KONGRA GEL understands that the only way to influence such a public is to use the imams (prayer leaders). Consequently, in order to gain support from the religious population of the area, PKK-KONGRA GEL has established the Kurdish Prayer Leaders Association (Kurdistan Imamlar Birligi). The PKK-KONGRA GEL strategy obviously contradicts the ideology and tactics defended by Turkish Hizballah, which seeks to radically alter the secular regime in Turkey by organizing religious people toward the use of violence. For a long time, PKK-KONGRA GEL claimed to be the only dominant group in southeastern Turkey. Yet, Turkish Hizballah has engaged in hostile activities against PKK-KONGRA GEL interests in the region, which has reinforced the struggle between the two groups in Turkey. As a result, both sides lost over 500 members between 1992 and 1995, including 22 imams killed by Hizballah.
Major Differences Between Turkey’s Hizballah and Lebanon’s Hizballah
Turkish Hizballah has no official organic ties with either the Lebanon-based Islamist terrorist group also named Hizballah12 or its offshoots throughout the Middle East.13 Notwithstanding a few similarities in terms of ideology, methods and goals, they are essentially very distinct terrorist groups. Officially backed by Iran, the Lebanese group known as Hizballah seeks to reestablish the supremacy of Islam in the political and socio-economic life of the Muslim world.14 Hence, as indicated by the political manifesto of the group, its goals are mainly to eradicate any western influence from Lebanon and the Middle East in general, to destroy Israel, as well as to liberate Palestinian territories and Jerusalem from Israeli occupation. The ultimate purpose underlying Hizballah’s actions in Lebanon is to establish a radical Shia (or Shiite) Islamist theocracy in that country. Lebanon’s Hizballah is indeed based on Shia ideology, whereas Turkey’s Hizballah is predominantly rooted in Sunni Islam. Besides, in Lebanese Hizballah, the spiritual leader assumes an important function in terms of motivating his members along the lines of the Shiite writings. This responsibility is apparently not as primordial for Turkish Hizballah, as notably evidenced within the Ilimciler group when Huseyin Velioglu served as political and spiritual leader despite his weak religious background or training (which actually led Fidan Gungor, the leader of the Menzilciler group, to claim Velioglu was incapable of leading his group).
Lebanon’s Hizballah has been active not only in Lebanon, but also throughout Europe, North America, South America and Africa. The terrorist group has resorted to various tactics, including car bombings, kidnappings and hijackings, primarily targeting western and Jewish interests. Turkish Hizballah, on the contrary, has not perpetrated attacks outside of Turkey, which is also why it is not technically or officially considered an international terrorism organization. In terms of affiliation with other terrorist organizations, the main difference between the two groups lies in the fact that Lebanon’s Hizballah has served as an umbrella organization for such terrorist groups as Hamas. Turkey’s Hizballah, on the other hand, has only had very limited relationships with such groups. In addition, Turkey’s Hizballah does not strive to be legitimized, whereas Lebanon’s Hizballah has become a major part of Lebanese politics. As such, the Lebanese Hizballah has been struggling for the liberation of southern Lebanon from Israeli occupation for years. Furthermore, it has carried out social activities to support social, economic and educational life of the Shiite community. It thus functions like a de facto government for the Shiite people of southern Lebanon. In contrast, the functions of Turkish Hizballah are strictly limited to a very secret group that has nothing to do with everyday life in the community. The main purpose of Turkey’s Party of God is to establish a religious-based government by overthrowing the existing secular government.15
Moreover, Lebanon’s Hizballah pioneered suicide bombings in the Middle East, another important characteristic that differentiate it from its Turkish homonym. The Lebanese group is responsible for the wave of suicide terrorism that started in April 1983 when a truck laden with explosives was driven into the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, killing 49 and wounding about 120 people. The goals of Hizballah suicide operations evolved over time as the group gained notoriety at the local and international levels and became a role model for and supporter of several other terrorist organizations. The group and its Iranian benefactors used suicide terrorism as a propaganda tool for the dissemination of the precepts of the Islamic revolution throughout the Middle East. Foreign UN peacekeeping forces eventually had to leave Lebanon and the Israeli army also retreated from central Lebanon to a restricted strip further south. Hizballah further used suicide terrorism as an instrument of deterrence and reprisal against Israel. The use of suicide attacks as a primary method of operation has now declined to one attack per year or less, but the overall success of Hizballah has been observable even outside of Lebanon, where the terrorist group inspired and occasionally sponsored several other terrorist entities.
Ideology and Structure of Turkish Hizballah
The Growth of Hizballah in Turkey
According to a U.S. Department of State report, ‘Turkish Hizballah is a domestic terrorist group of mostly Kurdish Sunni Islamists with no known ties to Lebanese Hizballah. Turkish officials and media assert that Turkish Hizballah has received limited Iranian support.’16 Turkish Hizballah, also known in Iraqi Kurdistan as the Kurdish Revolutionary Hizballah (Hisbullahi Kurdi Shorishger), is thus composed of Kurds, a large ethnic group that is predominantly Sunni Muslim and concentrated in the mountainous regions of the border area between Turkey, Iran and Iraq. The ‘network is alleged to be responsible for numerous assassinations and disappearances over the past decade, including a number of high-profile terrorist incidents. . . . 1999 estimates suggested that Hizbullah may have as many as 25,000 adherents, including 4,000 armed militants.’17 Hizballah members are economically and socially alienated from mainstream society: they typically come from low-income families and half of them are not steadily employed, which reflects the situation of the Turkish socio-economic crisis. More importantly, one fourth do not have any kind of education and about a third of the members only have an elementary-school-level education.18
Based in southeastern Anatolia, Turkish Hizballah originally operated mainly in the cities of Diyarbakir, Van, Batman and Mardin. Members of the terrorist group habitually gathered in and around bookstores, where they discussed their ideologies and spread their propaganda. According to official reports, the founding members of Turkish Hizballah initially gathered at one bookstore, Vahdet, but they were never able to form a homogenous group.19 Due to ideological divergences and leadership disputes, Turkish Hizballah separated into two major groups: Ilimciler (Scientists) and Menzilciler (Rangers). The Ilimciler, led by Huseyin Velioglu, met at the Ilim Bookstore, whereas the Menzilciler, led by Fidan Gungor, congregated at the Menzil bookstore. Beside leadership struggle, the two factions were opposed in the tactics they used to accomplish the goal of the terrorist organization. While the Ilimciler defended armed struggle and comprised Hizballah’s most brutal factions, the Menzilciler believed it was too early for such radical action and opposed, for instance, attacks on suspected PKK-KONGRA GEL members.20 An intra-group struggle stemmed from the battle for leadership and caused the death of over a hundred people on both sides. In 1994, the assassination of Menzilciler leader Fidan Gungor by Ilimciler members almost obliterated the dispute between Ilimciler and Menzilciler, but the truce was short-lived and the factions remain opposed to this day.
In the late 1990s, Hizballah attempted to widen its area of operation to cities in the western part of Turkey, especially Istanbul. The ongoing conflict between Hizballah and PKK-KONGRA GEL in southeastern Turkey was the major impetus for the shift. Still, western cities like Istanbul did not prove to be as favorable an environment as southeastern cities had been (e.g., Diyarbakir, Van, or Mardin) for the development of Hizballah. The efforts of the group were seriously curbed as major operations were carried out against Hizballah cells in and around Istanbul in early 2000, one of which led to the killing of Huseyin Velioglu, the Ilimciler group leader, and the arrest of his two top lieutenants, Edip Gumus and Cemal Tutar.
Ideology and Goals
The ideology defended by Turkish Hizballah is similar to the principles almost all terrorist organizations have adhered to throughout the world and history. According to Turkish Hizballah, the world is divided between two forces, Good and Evil, which represent the Ultimate Truth. ‘It is likely that in closing themselves off from others, they became isolated and lived in an imagined community that struggled to destroy the ‘unjust other’ in order to prove that they were the 'just selves'.’21 Based on such ideology, Turkish Hizballah has opposed every group that has deviated from what they believe to be the true path of Islam, including other Islamic movements and organizations.
Hizballah’s brand of radicalism further derives from ‘the threat of the Modern Kharijites’.22 The uncompromising principles defended by the Kharijites (Hariciler) were in fact the source of the first rebellion against the rulers of the Islamic world.23 The Kharijites divided the world into two parts, one that belonged to true Muslims and another belonging to nonbelievers; they declared a jihad against all nonbelievers and apostate Muslims and used any means available to them in order to rid the world from the infidels.
The ultimate goal of Turkish Hizballah is to overthrow the constitutional secular regime of Turkey in order to introduce a strict Islamic state inspired by Iran. Accordingly, a two-fold scheme has been devised: people are first invited into the group (the term officially used is davet, to invite) and then, once the group has secured enough supporters, it can deal with other organizations in the region.24 Besides, as has been observed in other terrorist groups, Turkish Hizballah follows the rigid rule of ‘you are either with us or against us.’ Those who believe in the same values and means as Turkish Hizballah side with the group, while those who do not are against it. If they choose not to change their mind and join the struggle, opponents of Turkish Hizballah are destroyed by any means available and necessary. Thus, the ‘unjust others’ targeted by Turkish Hizballah have included moderate Kurdish businessmen who support the secular constitutional government, as well as religious individuals who do not embrace the ideology of the terrorist group.
The structure of Turkish Hizballah clearly defines each position by the specific functions assigned to each individual (see Figure 1). There are three major levels in the hierarchy of the group: leadership, top council (Sura) and lower-level (city) council.
Leadership. The first level of the hierarchy of Turkish Hizballah is the leadership. It is divided between two individuals: the spiritual leader and the political leader. The former has no power or influence on the decision-making or the execution of the operations; he does, on the other hand, have to support the members by means of religious motivation. The latter has decision-making power regarding the activities of the group: he can modify or change the directions of general operations. Although political and spiritual leadership positions are typically not assumed by one man, Huseyin Velioglu was an exception, since he served as both the spiritual and the political leader of Ilimciler, the dominant Hizballah faction.
Top council. The second major hierarchical structure of Turkish Hizballah is the top council, or Sura, a central committee composed of high-ranking political and military members. Important decisions regarding the group are discussed and made by the Top Council, which controls both the military and the political wings of Hizballah.
Lower-level council (city-level council). At the local level, that is, in Turkish cities and towns, the hierarchy of Hizballah is divided between the military and the political branches, following a pattern similar to the Sura framework. The military wing is the unit that carries out the armed operations of the Hizballah in Turkey. The leader of the military wing, who can be a member of either the Sura or a lower-level council, is responsible for the execution of the armed operations on behalf of either council he has membership in. The military wing is composed of unit leaders and operation teams or units. Within each lower-level council, unit leaders are in charge of directing military operations carried out by up to three operation teams. They are supervised by the city leader and direct his orders to the operation units. The latter come last in the chain of command of the military wing; they are typically composed of two to six people. As a rule in the Ilimciler group, operation teams are bound by secrecy: members know only of the members in their own team, not of any members of the group in general (according to official reports, members of operation team A will have code names starting with A, for instance, whereas members of a group B will have code names starting with B).
The political wing, on the other hand, is responsible recruiting new members and communicating the precepts of Hizballah to persuade the people of Turkey to establish an Iranian-like regime. The leader of the political wing of Hizballah is a member of the Sura. High-ranking officials of the political wing are in charge of public relations and propaganda operations. Furthermore, Hizballah radicals perform duties of propaganda and recruitment in units operating in local schools and colleges. Finally, the public unit, generally organized in and around mosques, as well as in neighborhoods and villages, has no influential role in the decision-making process regarding the future operations of the Hizballah.
Contemporary Trends of Turkish Hizballah
Modus Operandi, Victim Selection and Activities
When Turkish Hizballah first came to the attention of the Turkish public, it was often mistaken for the Lebanese movement of the same name. The major differences between the two groups, as explained above, were rapidly clarified and Turkish Hizballah steadily gained notoriety throughout the 1980s and 1990s ‘for the killings of Kurdish rebel sympathizers . . . at the height of a conflict between Turkish security forces and the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party.’25 Ever since its emergence in Turkey, Hizballah has been operating in great secrecy. Unlike most terrorist groups, it typically does not claim responsibility for its actions and usually does not publish any written propaganda. Turkish Hizballah started out as ‘a mainly urban phenomenon’ observed in predominantly Kurdish cities of southeastern Turkey and became particularly known for its distinct ‘style of assassination carried out in broad daylight, often by pairs of young assassins using pistols of Eastern European manufacture’.26
Initially, only suspected members or sympathizers of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (then PKK) were targeted by Hizballah. Opponents of governmental policies and separatists ‘were being killed at the rate of two a day . . . [and] more than a thousand people were killed in street shootings from 1992 to 1995.’27 In the late 1990s, however, Hizballah started killing secularists, moderate Muslims, representatives of Kurdish religious charitable foundations and clerics from other religious movements. One of the first widely publicized incidents attributed to Turkish Hizballah was the April 1997 grenade attack on the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The attack, originally attributed to ‘some hard-core group’, specifically targeted ‘the spiritual heart of hundreds of millions of Orthodox Christians all over the world’ and occurred in a ‘climate of extreme nationalism and militarism’.28 In January 2000, police and security forces became yet another tactical target to boost the motivation of the group members when Police Chief Gaffar Okkan and five police officers were assassinated in Diyarbakir, the largest city in the southeastern Turkey. Okkan had led a very successful operation to take apart Hizballah factions the year before and had subsequently been added to the death list of the group.
A 2000 indictment of high-ranking Ilimciler members actually specified that the activities of Hizballah in Turkey ‘included shootings, arson, assault with meat cleavers, kidnapping, beatings and attacks with acid on women not dressed in an Islamic manner.’29 Kidnapping is indeed one of the methods of operation favored by Hizballah in Turkey. Targets vary from PKK-KONGRA GEL members and sympathizers to members of other religious movements; businessmen have also been kidnapped for ransom, as was discovered during recent police raids.30 Above all, Turkish Hizballah has set a gruesome record for torture in Turkey. The Ilimciler group in particular has resorted to extremely brutal torture techniques in a methodical and premeditated manner. Some have argued that Turkish Hizballah is an intrinsically fundamentalist and terrorist group in which ‘killing and torturing were perceived of as inherently a part of their mission.’31 Turkish Hizballah victims are characteristically bound and gagged and subjected to severe torture prior to being killed. Some tortured bodies are even buried alive and most corpses have thus far been recovered from shallow graves, concrete blocks, or coal sheds.32 Such tactics have been used either to merely inflict pain on the victims or to persuade them of the validity and righteousness of Hizballah’s struggle in Turkey. Even individuals from the Menzilciler group and other religious people opposed to Hizballah’s ideology and tactics have been subjected to torture by the Ilimciler group.
Suspected support from Iran.
The 1979 Iranian Revolution posed the first major threat to the stability of Turkish-Iranian relations in the twentieth century.41 Regarding terrorism in particular, the activities of PKK-KONGRA GEL and other right-wing terrorist groups have increased Turkey’s suspicions about neighboring Iran. For example, during his interrogation, Abdullah Öcalan alleged that Iran had served as a mediator between Hizballah and PKK-KONGRA GEL and members of Hizballah have asserted they received training in Iran.42
In April 1998, the daily newspaper Cumhurriyet claimed to have uncovered evidence of links between Iran and various radical Islamist groups outlawed in Turkey, including Hizballah. In an effort to dismiss the allegations, the Iranian Embassy in Ankara declared: ‘Iran recognizes no group entitled Turkish Hizbollah (party of God) in Turkey’ and also rejected ‘any link with the Turkish Hizbollah or any other illegal group in Turkey’.43 Even Hizballah members, in fact, have dismissed those claims as inconceivable and revolting. However, Cumhurriyet affirmed that the Iranian regime was in effect the ‘spinal cord’ of Turkish Hizballah and that their accusations were supported by a ‘statement made by the Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi’.44
In June 2000, as officially reported by the Representative Office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran [RONCRI], Turkey ‘sent Iran a detailed dossier drawn up by its security forces on the Turkish Hizbollah, a fundamentalist organization suspected of carrying out hundreds of assassinations with support from Iran.’45 Official reports abound regarding members of Turkish Hizballah receiving weapons, financial support and training from Iran, notably from the Iranian Secret Service.46 Both Iranian and Turkish officials have vehemently denied that members of Turkish Hizballah had ever been armed or trained by the Iranian government, but no investigation has ever been launched to establish the truth. Even allegations that Turkish Hizballah has formally approved of the Iranian Revolution have not been verified and the Turkish terrorist group therefore remains officially unrelated to its Iranian neighbor. Overall, it has been noted that the relationships entertained by the ‘Iranian theocratic regime with the neighboring Turkey have never been easy ever since the victory of the Islamic revolution of 1979.’47 Turkey keeps accusing Iran of not only helping Turkish Islamist and terrorist groups to create an Islamic Republic, but also supporting and protecting PKK-KONGRA GEL separatists.
Law Enforcement Response and Nationwide Security Operations
Since the early 1990s, Human Rights Watch and other organizations have openly criticized the laissez-faire attitude of Turkish authorities towards the activities of Hizballah in their country. ‘Belated police operations against Hizbullah often appeared to be carried out for show, rather than as a determined move against a dangerous illegal armed group. Initially, police did not move against the more ruthless Hizbullah Ilim group . . . but against their rival, the Menzil faction, which was reportedly opposed to attacks on suspected PKK members. . . . The authorities were inexplicably coy about their successes in combating Hizbullah and declined to respond to Amnesty International’s repeated requests for detailed information on prosecutions of alleged Hizbullah members.’48 Consequently, some argue, ‘by action or omission, the Turkish state bears some responsibility for the slaughter committed by Hizbullah.’49
Following a concentrated effort to bring down the secular branch of Turkish Hizballah, about four hundred people linked to the terrorist group by local authorities were arrested in February 1999.50 In addition, weapons and propaganda material were seized during raids in three southeastern Turkish provinces. These arrests marked the first stage of a nationwide effort by Turkish law enforcement to dismantle the country’s Hizballah network. In early 2000, a ‘crackdown on Turkey’s violent and shadowy Hizbullah network’ gave the formal fight against Islamic fundamentalists ‘a more direct security dimension’,51 just as Hizballah leaders were attempting to restore the strength of their group. Hizballah safe houses were raided methodically and mass graves of victims tortured and executed by Hizballah members were discovered throughout the country. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies,52
The operation launched by the Turkish police . . . against suspected members of the Turkish Hizbullah has dealt a severe blow to the operational capabilities of the militant Islamist organisation. There are also widening splits within the Kurdish nationalist and moderate Islamist movements. These divisions are causing frustration among younger radicals. Unless the government acts swiftly to improve socio-economic conditions and ease cultural and religious restraints, there will continue to be a stream of ready recruits for Islamic militant groups. It is becoming more likely that the focus of armed resistance to the Turkish state will shift in the long term from Kurdish nationalism to religious fundamentalism.
By the fall of 2000, nearly a thousand alleged members of the radical Islamist group were taken into custody. About twenty thousand pages of documents were also recovered from computer archives. Up to seventy alleged high-ranking Sura members and local-level council leaders of the right-wing terrorist group were apprehended and put on trial, ‘accused of killing 156 people and wounding 80’: most of them faced the death penalty for ‘organizing an armed group that aimed to bring strict Islamic law to Turkey.’53 The alleged deputy leader of the group, Edip Gumus, declared that they had ‘fought for Islam’ but not taken part ‘in a single armed attack,’ adding, ‘we intended to make Islam rule the world, not just Turkey. . . . We did not spend a single bullet aiming to break the state’s constitutional order. If we had wanted to do that we could have made Turkey a lake of blood with a group of 20 or 30 people.’54 In January 2001, Turkish authorities launched another massive security operation following the assassination of Police Chief Gaffar Okkan and five of his colleagues in Diyarbakir. Okkan, as mentioned earlier, had led the successful anti-Hizballah campaign in his province the year before. According to official reports, efforts by Hizballah to spread out to western Turkish cities have been quelled and the expansion movement has been stopped.55 In recent years, Hizballah’s actions seem to have alienated more members and sympathizers and the public has even renamed the group Hizbul Vahset, or Party of Slaughter.
Terrorism is not a new phenomenon. It has been observed in various forms throughout the world for centuries. In the past few decades, terrorism has developed internationally with the establishment of global terror networks and intensified into a seemingly paroxysmal issue that many countries have been unable to address effectively. Turkey has been struggling with political violence and terrorism on many fronts for more than three decades. In effect, the resurgence of fundamentalism and radicalism has caused major concerns regarding the revival of radicalism, integrism, separatism and terrorism in and around Turkey. Turkish authorities have had to adapt their policies and response strategies in order to deal more effectively and independently with various terrorist groups, from the separatist Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress (PKK-KONGRA GEL, former PKK) to the radical fundamentalist Turkish Hizballah. The latter, composed predominantly of Sunni Muslim Kurds, has been striving to overthrow the constitutional secular regime of Turkey in order to establish a strict Islamic, Iran-inspired state. Turkish Hizballah has targeted PKK-KONGRA GEL sympathizers and suspected members, secularists, moderate Muslims, representatives of Kurdish religious charitable foundations and even clerics of different religious faith. Amidst allegations of leniency towards Hizballah and official support for the terrorist group, Turkish authorities attempted to topple the secular branch of Hizballah in the late 1990s and have vowed to dismantle the terrorist network. However, Turkish Hizballah’s regimented methods and extremely violent actions, as well as its distinctive brand of radicalism, have baffled and overwhelmed authorities for years. The radical terrorist group is a contemporary version of the Kharijites, a sect that deviated from mainstream Islam: their extremism is constantly fueled by pervasive forms of social alienation, such as widespread illiteracy and inferior education, as well as the inadequate economic and social development of certain segments of Turkey’s society.
The relative success of their counter-terrorism approach notwithstanding, Turkish law enforcement authorities have had to regularly reassess, adapt and alter some of their tactics in order to fit the constantly evolving threat posed by the various terrorist groups active in the country. The outcome of counter-terrorism strategies depends largely upon the ability of law enforcement authorities and state officials to comprehend the source of the problem and, accordingly, to tackle it at its roots. With regards to radical religious fundamentalist groups, it is crucial to correctly define their goals and ideology instead of merely associating their fanaticism with Islam in a simplistic and reductionist attempt to justify or explicate their actions. Thus, these groups must be clearly distinguished from mainstream Islamic society and the Islamic community as a whole should not be stigmatized as terrorist or violent.
Having acquired much experience in the fight against terrorism over the last few decades, Turkey has now established itself as a major actor in the global war on terror. Indeed, Turkey could play an important role in countering international terrorism and dismantling global terror networks worldwide. Over the years, Turkey has acquired massive amounts of intelligence about terrorist groups and their members active both in Turkey and in surrounding countries. Sharing that intelligence with the international law enforcement community would be an invaluable contribution to the global fight against terrorism. In addition to intelligence, Turkish law enforcement agencies and security forces could transfer their experience to law enforcement agencies in other countries by providing training and education: Turkey could in fact become a training hub for agents in Middle Eastern as well as other European countries. Considering that many international terrorist groups have gained importance and even established networks throughout Europe, sharing intelligence and creating training programs would most likely provide new opportunities and tools to counter international terrorism. More importantly, Turkey could become a model nation for Middle Eastern countries by effectively integrating an Islamic perspective including tolerance and respect for other religions within a secular democratic regime.
1. Jonathan R. White, Theologies of Terror: Religion and Domestic Terrorism (New Orleans, LA: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences 2000).
2. Alexander Flores, ‘Secularism, Integralism and Political Islam’, Middle East Report 183 (1993) p.32-33.
3. Charles Hirschkind, ‘What is Political Islam?’, Middle East Report 205 (1997) p.12.
5. Ibid., p.14.
6. Bulent Aras and Gokhan Bacik, ‘The Mystery of Turkish Hizballah’, Middle East Policy 9/2 (2002) p.156.
7. M. Hakan Yavuz, ‘Political Islam and the Welfare (Refah) Party in Turkey’, Comparative Politics 30/1 (1997) p.63.
8. E.g., Nezihi Cakar, ‘Turkey’s Security Challenges’, Perceptions: Journal of International Affairs 1/2 (June – August 1996); John L. Esposito, Unholy war: Terror in the name of Islam (New York: Oxford University Press 2002); Alexander Flores, ‘Secularism, Integralism and Political Islam’, Middle East Report 183 (1993) pp.32-38; Mark Juergensmeyer, Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press 2000); Masoud Kazemzadeh, ‘Teaching the Politics of Islamic Fundamentalism’, Political Science and Politics 31/10 (1998) pp.52-59; Heinz Kramer, A Changing Turkey: The Challenge to Europe and the United States (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press 2000); Sabri Sayari and Bruce Hoffman, Urbanization and Insurgency: The Turkish Case, 1976-1980 (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation 1991).
9. Sometimes also referred to as the Kurdistan Labor Party or the Mesopotamian Army.
10. Dogu Ergil, ‘Suicide Terrorism in Turkey: The Workers’ Party of Kurdistan’, in Anti-Defamation League (Ed.), Countering suicide terrorism (New York: Anti-Defamation League 2002) pp.109-133.
11. Ibid., p.118.
12. The Party of God is also known as: Hizbullah; Hizbollah; Hezbollah; Hezballah; Hizbu’llah; Islamic Jihad (Islamic Holy War); Islamic Jihad Organization; Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine; Ansar al-Allah, Ansar Allah or Ansarollah (Followers of God, Partisans of God, or God’s Helpers); al-Muqawanah al-Islamiyyah (Islamic Resistance); Organization of the Oppressed; Organization of the Oppressed on Earth; Revolutionary Justice Organization; Organization of Right Against Wrong; and Followers of the Prophet Muhammed.
13. Rex A. Hudson, Who Becomes a Terrorist and Why: The 1999 Government Report on Profiling Terrorists (Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press 2000); F. Stephen Larrabee and Ian O. Lesser, Turkish Foreign Policy in an Age of Uncertainty (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation 2003); Chris Morris, ‘Turkey’s Muslims Pray for Peace’, BBC News (Jan. 2000) http://news.bbc.co.uk
14. The term Hizballah was not coined in the early 1980s. In fact, it is a Qur’anic reference to the perpetual conflict between the true believers and the infidels of the Hizbasheitan, the party of the devil. These infidels were pagans; today, the party of the devil is composed of the heretics belonging to the western culture and Judaism. Hence, the teachings dictate that if Muslims are the victims of a worldwide conspiracy, they must belong to both Hizballah and Jundalla (the Army of God). This explains why religious fundamentalist groups are characteristically semi-military organizations whose members are viewed as soldiers fighting a holy war through various forms of terrorist activities.
15. E.g., Aras and Bacik (note 6); Human Rights Watch, What is Turkey’s Hizbullah? (Feb. 2000) http://www.hrw.org; Hurriyet, Hizbullahin Dunu Bugunu [Hizballah Yesterday and Today] (2000) http://arsiv.hurriyetim.com.tr/hizbullah.htm; Mats Wärn, Staying the course: The 'Lebanonization' of Hizbullah (1999) http://almashriq.hiof.no
16. United States Department of State, Patterns of Global Terrorism (2001) http://www.state.gov
17. Larrabee and Lesser (note 13) p.37.
18. Taha Akyol, Hizbul Cahil [Party of Illiterate] (2000) http://www.milliyet.com.tr; Justus Leicht, Political and Social Dimensions of the Turkish Financial Crisis (2001) http://www.wsws.org/articles/2001/mar2001/turk-m07_prn.shtml
19. See Aras and Bacik (note 6).
20. See Human Rights Watch (note 15).
21. Aras and Bacik (note 6) p.7.
22. Michael O’Brien, The Threat of the Modern Kharijites (London: Paper presented at the Meeting of the Royal United Services Institute for Defense Studies 2002).
23. Taha Akyol, Hariciler ve Hizbullah [Kharijites and Hizballah] (Istanbul, Turkey: Dogan Yayincilik Publications 2000); Department of Religious Affairs, Bulletin (2000) http://www.diyanet.gov.tr
24. See Aras and Bacik (note 6).
25. Reuters, Alleged Turkish Rebels Say They Fought for Islam (2000) http://www.cnn.com
26. See Human Rights Watch (note 15).
28. Athens News Agency, Grenade Attack on Ecumenical Patriarchate Widely Condemned (1997) http://www.greekembassy.org
29. Chris Morris, ‘Islamic Militants on Trial in Turkey’, BBC News (July 2000) http://news.bbc.co.uk
30. See Hurriyet (note 15).
31. See Aras and Bacik (note 6).
32. E.g., Chris Morris, ‘Turkey’s Muslims Pray for Peace’, BBC News (Jan. 2000) http://news.bbc.co.uk; Chris Morris, ‘More Bodies Found in Hezbollah Probe’, BBC News (Jan. 2000) http://news.bbc.co.uk; Chris Morris, ‘Islamic Militants on Trial in Turkey’, BBC News (July 2000) http://news.bbc.co.uk
33. See Human Rights Watch (note 15).
36. Larrabee and Lesser (note 13) p.37.
37. Dorian Jones, Hizbollah leaves trail of horror in Turkey (2000) http://www.rnw.nl
39. Chris Morris, ‘More Bodies Found in Hezbollah Probe’, BBC News (Jan. 2000) http://news.bbc.co.uk
40. Chris Morris, ‘Turkish Hezbollah: 'No State Links'’, BBC News (Jan. 2000) http://news.bbc.co.uk
41. E.g., John Calabrese, ‘Turkey and Iran: Limits of a Stable Relationship’, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 25/1 (1998) pp.75-94; Emmanuel Sivan, ‘Sunni Radicalism in the Middle East and the Iranian Revolution’, International Journal of Middle East Studies 21/1 (1989) pp.1-30.
42. Ely Karmon, The Demise of Radical Islam in Turkey (1999) http://www.ict.org.il; Milliyet, Hizbullah Devlete Sizdi [Hizballah Leak to the State] (1999) http://www.milliyet.com.tr
43. Iran News, Iran Dismisses Link with Any Illegal Group in Turkey (1998) http://www.salamiran.org
44. See Reuters (note 25).
45. Representative Office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, Brief on Iran: Absence of Turkish President Overshadows Regional Summit in Iran (2000) http://www.iran-e-azad.org
46. E.g., Calabrese (note 41); Chris Morris, ‘Istanbul Police in Islamist Shootout’, BBC News (Jan. 2000) http://news.bbc.co.uk; Representative Office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (note 45).
47. Payame Azadi, Iran Accused of Killing Prominent Turkish Journalist (2000) http://www.savanne.ch/iran/0516Iran.htm
48. See Human Rights Watch (note 15).
50. Chris Morris, ‘Turkish Police Seize 400 Islamists’, BBC News (March 1999) http://news.bbc.co.uk
51. Larrabee and Lesser (note 13) p.37.
52. International Institute for Strategic Studies, ‘Turkey’s Divided Islamists’, IISS Strategic Comments 6/3 (2000) http://www.iiss.org
53. See Reuters (note 25).
55. Chris Morris, ‘Turks Pursue Kurds Inside Northern Iraq’, Guardian Unlimited (April 2000) http://www.guardian.co.uk; Chris Morris, ‘Turkey Launches Huge Security Sweep’, BBC News (Jan. 2001) http://news.bbc.co.uk
Taliban Used Kids as Human Shields (back)
September 19, 2007
Taliban fighters carrying machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades used children as human shields during a battle in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, forcing U.S.-led coalition soldiers to hold their fire for a time, the coalition said.
The clash in Uruzgan province began when more than 20 insurgents attacked a joint Afghan and coalition patrol, the coalition said in a statement.
As aircraft prepared to bomb the site, 'coalition forces as well as the aircraft identified several insurgents in one compound using children as human shields,' the statement said. Ground troops and the aircraft withheld fire to avoid injuring the children, it said.
The soldiers did fight the insurgents when they tried to flee the compound, and more than a dozen suspected militants were killed, the coalition said. The report, which was impossible to verify independently, did not list any casualties among troops or civilians.
Maj. Chris Belcher, a coalition spokesman, said Taliban militants have used children as shields before. In June, insurgents forced women and children into a canal in Uruzgan while battling coalition forces, and many of the human shields died in the crossfire, he said.
'If you look at some of the actions where the Taliban have had women and children carrying ammunition for them, where they've used civilian houses, and now in this case they're using children to shield themselves, I'd say that shows they really don't care about Afghans,' Belcher said.
The U.S.-led coalition and the NATO force in Afghanistan themselves were strongly criticized earlier in the year by President Hamid Karzai and others for causing civilian casualties in airstrikes on suspected militant locations. The number of such casualties has dropped recently.
Also Wednesday, NATO said it was investigating a weapons shipment recently intercepted by troops in Farah province near the Afghan border with Iran.
'Although we know that it came from the geographic area of Iran, there is no definitive indication that it came from the Iranian government. We're still evaluating what is contained in that shipment,' a NATO spokesman, Maj. Charles Anthony, said.
A Washington Post report Sunday said the shipment seized September 6 was being sent to the Taliban and included armor-piercing bombs similar to those that have been used against foreign troops in Iraq.
Troops intercepted two other shipments said to be from Iran earlier in the year, but NATO's top general in Afghanistan, Gen. Dan McNeill, has said there is no evidence linking them to the Iranian government.
Last month, President Bush accused Iran of playing a destabilizing role in Afghanistan. But Karzai has called Iran's role helpful.
During a visit to Kabul last month, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he had 'serious doubts' that his country was supplying weapons to Taliban insurgents. He called Afghanistan a 'brotherly nation' whose stability is paramount for the region.
About 2,500 Afghan and NATO soldiers launched an operation Wednesday in the Gereshk region of Helmand province. The southern province has been the site of the fiercest battles this year and is the world's largest opium-producing region.
The NATO command said the troops would conduct 'security and stabilization' operations in the upper Gereshk Valley, but provided no other details.
Insurgency-related violence has killed more than 4,500 people this year, including 3,100 militants and 600 civilians, according to an Associated Press tally of figures from Western and Afghan officials.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul warned American citizens that suicide bomb attacks were expected to increase during the holy month of Ramadan. One such attack wounded eight Afghan policemen in Helmand's Garmsir district, while another suicide bomber blew himself up on the road leading to the U.S. air base at Bagram without causing other casualties.
In southern Zabul province, Taliban militants killed three security guards protecting a construction project in Qalat, said Gulab Shah Alikhail, spokesman for the governor.
Scotland Muslims Launch Representative Body (back)
September 19, 2007
Scottish Muslims Wednesday announced that they have formally set up an umbrella body to represent their interests.
Named the Muslim Council of Scotland (MCS), it has brought together an unprecedented array of Scotland’s mosques and Islamic organisations, uniting hitherto disparate strands within the Muslim community.
Working together through MCS are some 35 affiliates groups from around Scotland and from the different backgrounds, sects and schools of thought amongst Scottish Muslims.
Its first convener is former Glasgow councillor Bashir Maan who is now a member of the Scottish Assembly. He commented: 'I’m honoured to be involved in this long overdue initiative. Many is the time when Scottish institutions have wondered who to deal with in the Muslim community and at last there is an answer.
'We look forward to engaging with all sectors of Scottish society - government, media, civic organisations, the police, other faith groups - in the very near future.'
Source: www.app.com.pk/en/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id =16860&Itemid=2
Varsities, Seminaries Failing to Curb Extremism (back)
September 19, 2007
Governor Khalid Maqbool has said that universities and religious seminaries are failing to eliminate extremism from society and falling prey to the extremist ideas. Speaking at an iftar dinner to vice chancellors and students of universities at Governor’s House on Tuesday, he said that it was a tragedy that universities and madrassas were producing students who fought in the name of religion. He said that the universities should follow the example of the Jamia al-Azhar University in Egypt, giving its students religious education and also a modern outlook. He said that madrassas were a part of our culture and had produced many scholars. He also said madrassas were forced to change their role by extremists. The government had spent billion of rupees on the development of public universities and the Higher Education Commission had also allocated Rs 35 billion for public universities this year, he said. He said that the universities were equipped with electronic libraries, international standard gyms and hostels. He said the new academic programmes would give good education to the people at low cost. The tuition fees of public universities had not been raised, he added. The governor asked citizens to be tolerant to other religions and also importance to universal education.
Source: www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2007\09\19\story_19-9-2 007_pg7_33
Hizb ut-Tahrir's Renaissance (back)
September 19, 2007
Hizb ut-Tahrir (the Party of Islamic Liberation) is undergoing a dramatic increase in activity both worldwide and locally.
Founded in Jerusalem 54 years ago, the Sunni pan-Islamic Party seeks to establish a Middle Eastern Caliphate to promote further expansion of Islam.
Active in 40 countries from Asia to the US, Hizb ut-Tahrir urges its membership to 'kill Jews wherever you find them.' One of Hizb ut-Tahrir's most active cells is stationed the United Kingdom, where a proposal is currently on the table to ban the organization.
The party is not only fervently anti-Zionist, but it also endorses the murder of any other 'Infidel' in its path.
Earlier this month, German police arrested three men on suspicion of plotting to bomb military and civilian airports, restaurants, and nightclubs-two of which were Uzbek members of a Hizb ut-Tahrir splinter cell.
This splinter cell, the Islamic Jihad Union, was unknown until spring of 2004 after bomb attacks in the Uzbek cities of Tashkent and Bukhara that left 47 people dead. In July 2004, this same cell bombed the US and Israeli embassies in Tashkent.
Uzbek authorities and secret services claim that Hizb ut-Tahrir's cells in the region have recently received a boost in activity and members.
Uzbekistan was always the most preferable spot for Hizb ut-Tahrir's 'activists', as the local population has proven highly receptive to militant Islamist ideology. After the collapse of the USSR in the mid-1990s, fundamentalist preachers of Hizb ut-Tahrir managed to recruit strong support in Uzbekistan, winning over a restless people under by a weak government.
Uzbekistan became Hizb ut-Tahrir's stronghold in the region. Its current instability renders it even more attractive to Hizb ut-Tahrir, whose activity is becoming increasingly aggressive.
The murder of Mark Weil, director of Tashkent's independent Ilkhom Theatre and one of the most prominent Jewish artists of Uzbekistan, explains the recent blacklisting of Uzbekistan by Israeli LOTAR experts as a country of potential danger to Israeli tourists.
For Hizb ut-Tahrir, Uzbekistan functions as a gateway to expansion into the adjacent, more stable Muslim countries.
Kyrgyz security services arrested at the beginning of September several municipal officials along the Uzbek border after who accepted bribed to forge identification documents for members of Hizb ut-Tahrir to illegally enter the country.
Kazakh secret police also report a sudden upsurge of Hizb ut-Tahrir's activity, as Kazakhstan is one of the ideal targets for the movement.
Several years ago the KNB (National Security Service of Kazakhstan) almost succeeded in uprooting Hizb ut-Tahrir in the country. Today the fundamentalists are trying to even the score by destabilizing this powerful regional player, a major gas, and oil and uranium supplier to the world.
According to the KNB, several newly formed fundamentalist cells were disrupted last month with members originating in Uzbekistan, Russia and Chechnya. Police found leaflets and CDs during the raids that followed-the cells were working to recruit young Muslims for international action.
The detained fundamentalists were also planning violent acts against banks and prominent businessmen in Kazakhstan. Proceeds from their armed robberies were to be transferred to militant groups in various international hotspots, including Afghanistan and Palestinian territories.
The confiscated propaganda included video clips, which had been previously published on YouTube. The clips depict Muslims being attacked by Western forces and ask 'for how much longer?' Produced by the Hizb ut-Tahrir's Malaysian branch, the clips call on Muslims to 'arise and shake off the dust' of European colonialism and show members marching in support of Palestinians to the commentary 'Oh armies of the Muslim world, we await your help.'
Palestinians are thought to be receiving funding from the flourishing Hizb ut-Tahrir branches worldwide. They are taking over Hamas estates on the West Bank.
After taking control of Sair village, north of Hebron, Hizb ut-Tahrir accounted for close to 400 followers. On August 11 10,000 supporters marched through Ramallah, Fatah's stronghold, calling for the creation of a Caliphate.
'Hizb ut-Tahrir's rise symbolizes the fall of Hamas' brand of political Islam and Fatah's nationalist ideology,' claims Palestinian analyst Hani al-Masri. 'Palestinian despair is Hizb ut-Tahrir's tool'.
Hizb ut Tahrir has no military wing in the Palestinian Authority yet.
Official: U.S. Tracking North Korea Shipments Bound for Syria (back)
September 18, 2007
The U.S. military and intelligence community have been tracking several shipments of material they believe have left North Korea and are destined for Syria or may have already landed there, a Pentagon official confirmed.
The monitoring has been taking place for the past several weeks, he said.
The official could not confirm several recent news reports that nuclear material from North Korea has arrived in Syria and was the potential target of a recent Israeli airstrike there.
In fact, he said none of the information he had reviewed as part of his job indicated any nuclear material was involved.
Some of the material is believed to have been high-grade metals that could be used in weapons such as missiles or solid-fuel rocket technology.
But 'there is concern with shipments going into the region and with their eventual arrival in Syria,' the official said.
The United States is also looking into the possibility material had been shipped from North Korea to Iran and traveled overland into Syria, he said, adding there were indications a ship had docked in Syria recently.
'Shipments have landed we are concerned about,' he said.
The Syrians have been talking to the North Koreans about buying solid-fuel rocket technology for their missiles and those shipped to Hezbollah, other analysts said. That development would pose an increased risk to Israel.
But it's not clear these shipments are in fact tied to the recent Israeli airstrike in northern Syria against a facility that was believed to be holding weapons.
Another U.S. official said he has seen satellite imagery of that attack that shows a hole in the center of a building's roof with the walls still largely intact.
That would strongly indicate a laser guided bomb was used with a fused warhead that exploded after the bomb entered the building roof. The photo is highly classified and not expected to be publicly released.
All of these events have sparked a flurry of controversy in intelligence services around the world about whether the Israelis bombed a secret Syrian nuclear program.
The Israeli government was very happy with the success of the operation, sources said after the airstrike earlier this month.
Syria accused Israel of a 'flagrant violation' of its obligations after the attack.
Source: http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/09/18/nkorea.shipme nts/index.html?eref=edition_asia
The Secretive Syrian-N. Korean Alliance (back)
September 18, 2007
Global media speculation centering on a North Korean-flagged freighter that docked in the Syrian port of Tartus three days before the alleged September 6 IAF strike on Syrian territory has focused the world's attention on the mysterious port. In fact, published sources demonstrate the centrality of Tartus to a prolonged history of secretive military cooperation between the two countries.
Two Web sites list the al-Hamad freighter as having docked at Tartus on September 3, flying North Korean colors. A third Web site, run by the Egyptian Transportation Ministry, says the al-Hamad docked in the Nile Delta one month earlier and later passed by the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli.
The al-Hamad is believed to be a 42-year-old, 1,700-ton general-purpose freighter. Its cargo on the fateful voyage was listed as cement. The origin of the freighter, according to one report, has been removed from Web sites that track shipping movements.
According to Russian sources, the London-based Almashad Alsiasi publication and the AXIS Global Research and Analysis Web site, Tartus is one of the bases where Syrian Scud missile launchers (Transporter-Elevator-Launcher vehicles) are stationed. Most of the launchers were brought to the port from North Korea or built using North Korean blueprints and parts.
The process reportedly began in 1991. That March, using the $2 billion that it received from America for participation in the First Gulf War, Syria contracted for the delivery of more than 150 Scud-C missiles and 20 launchers from North Korea, for an estimated $500 million. Western intelligence officials said the sale received prior approval from Saudi Arabia, Steve Emerson of The Wall Street Journal reported that summer. The equipment was to be shipped to the Syrian ports of Tartus and Latakia aboard foreign vessels.
The first such delivery took place in May 1991, according to reported comments by David Ivri, the former director-general of Israel's Defense Ministry. Carried aboard a Yugoslavian freighter, the missiles were delivered to Tartus, as reported by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies and by Bill Gertz in the Washington Times.
The North Korean ship Mupo reportedly returned home without delivering its cargo of missiles and assembly equipment for Syria - but the cargo did get there in the end. The Mupo was said by US defense officials to be carrying eight launchers and additional missiles, part of the Syrian order for 150 Scud-C's, the Washington Times reported. The ship followed a circuitous route in an effort to avoid Israeli interception, and its cargo was transferred to another freighter at Gibraltar.
In June 1991, the Washington Times reported, a large shipment of North Korean Scud-C missiles arrived in Cyprus and was transferred to smaller vessels for transshipment to Latakia and Tartus.
Next, in March 1992, 24 Scud-C missiles, along with missile-production and assembly equipment, were delivered to Tartus aboard the North Korean freighter Tae Hung Ho. The manufacturing equipment was destined for missile factories in the Syrian cities of Hama and Aleppo, the Nuclear Threat Initiative Web site reported.
Later, according to the same Web site and other sources, Tartus became a secondary conduit for military cargoes, as most subsequent shipments were made by air, sometimes through Iran.
By 1996, according to the AXIS Global Research and Analysis Web site, the Tartus base had several dozen mid-range Scud-B missiles, able to strike up to 300 kilometers away.
In 2000, several reports suggested (including from the Wisconsin Project On Nuclear Arms Control and the Nuclear Threat Initiative Web site) that the North Korean firm Chon-gchon-gang had delivered 50 Scud-D (No-Dong) missiles to Syria via Tartus, and some of them were installed at the local base. Other sources said Syria had also acquired seven new launchers. At the end of September 2000 and in the middle of 2001, some of these missiles were modernized and test-fired in the Aleppo area.
Syria's acquisition of Scud-D missiles was seen as significant because it would allow Damascus to strike targets throughout Israel from launchers positioned deep inside its territory and less easily detected by Israel.
According to Russian sources, the Wisconsin Project and Munich Focus (in November 2005), the Scud-D may have had problems with its guidance system, later reportedly addressed.
Reports on the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin and Nuclear Threat Initiative Web sites also noted that Syria had begun assembling Scud-C missiles at a factory built by North Korea. These reports indicated that Syria was capable of producing some but not all of the components needed to construct the projectiles. Several of the 26 launchers were reportedly adapted for Scuds with chemical warheads. It is unknown how many of them are stationed in Tartus.
In June 2002, US and Israeli officials said Syria was mass producing a longer-range version of its Scud C missile, with possible assistance from North Korea and Iran, Jane's Defence Weekly reported. Unconfirmed reports suggested that North Korean scientists were working at several Scud launch sites, including at the Tartus base.
On May 19, 2004, US officials confirmed that a train crash in North Korea had caused the death of approximately a dozen Syrian technicians. The Syrians were accompanying a train car full of missiles and missile components being moved from a facility near the Chinese border to a North Korean port. From there, they were to have been shipped to Tartus or Latakia; the cargo was destroyed in the subsequent explosion. The officials said there was no evidence of chemical or biological weapons in the shipment.
Then the Russians reportedly entered the picture. Several Western experts (in particular the AXIS Global Research and Analysis Web site) reported that in November 2004, two ships from the Russian Black Sea Fleet, acting in the framework of a joint exercise with NATO on the 'prevention of WMD distribution,' arrived for a 'routine check' at Tartus.
Iranian President Intends to Visit Ground Zero (back)
September 19, 2007
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad requested to visit Ground Zero during an upcoming trip to New York. That request was rejected Wednesday. But a source tells Eyewitness News that the decision may not stop him.
A law enforcement source says the Iranian mission to the United Nations has informed the Secret Service that the Iranian president intends to visit Ground Zero Monday at 10 a.m.
The source says regardless of the NYPD's rejection of the request for a Ground Zero tour, Iran's president and his entourage will be accompanied by a Secret Service protective detail, a detail provided to all heads of state when they visit the United States.
The Iranian mission to the United Nations made the initial request to the NYPD and the Secret Service, who will jointly oversee security during the president's two-day visit.
Ahmadinejad is scheduled to arrive September 24 to speak to the U.N. General Assembly, as the Security Council decides whether to increase sanctions against Iran for its uranium enrichment program.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the NYPD and Secret Service were in discussions with the Iranian mission about the logistics for the possible visit to the World Trade Center site.
'There has been some interest expressed in his visiting the area,' Kelly said. 'It's something that we are prepared to handle if in fact it does happen.'
The request was rejected Wednesday afternoon in a meeting which included NYPD, Secret Service and Port Authority officials, who said the site is closed to visitors because of construction. They said requests for the Iranian president to visit the immediate area would also be opposed by the NYPD on security grounds.
Kelly said that Ahmadinejad had not indicated why he wants to visit the site of the terrorist attacks of September 11th.
Mayor Rudy Giuliani released the following statement on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:
'Under no circumstances should the NYPD or any other American authority assist President Ahmadinejad in visiting Ground Zero. This is a man who has made threats against America and Israel, is harboring bin Laden's son and other al-Qaeda leaders, is shipping arms to Iraqi insurgents and is pursuing the development of nuclear weapons. Assisting Ahmadinejad in touring Ground Zero - hallowed ground for all Americans - is outrageous.'
Senator Hillary Clinton released the following statement:
'It is unacceptable for Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who refuses to renounce and end his own country's support of terrorism, to visit the site of the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil in our nation's history.'
Iran Trying to Woo Arab Gulf States (back)
September 19, 2007
At a time of increasing tension between Iran and the West, a senior Iranian official has again proposed the establishment of a security pact with mostly Sunni Arab Gulf states that historically have enjoyed close ties with the United States.
Yahya Rahim Safavi, a senior military advisor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, told Iran's Alalam TV that foreign military presence in the Persian Gulf has caused insecurity, and that the states on either side of the Gulf were themselves able to provide regional security.
'U.S. troops are gatecrashers and must leave Iraq and the Persian Gulf,' he said, asserting that as a powerful and influential country in the region, Iran protects the common interests of Gulf and Mideast states.
'Iran hails the idea of joint defense agreements with Arab states,' said Safavi, who until recently served as commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
The Iranian Students News Agency reported that Safavi said Khamenei had proposed a defense pact and 'now it is their [Gulf states'] turn to show their will.'
Despite Washington's attempts to characterize Iran as a danger, he said, Arab states in the region were well aware that Iran bore them no ill-will.
The 'uninvited guests' should leave the region, which belongs to Iran and the Arabic countries, Safavi said.
Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain are members of the 26-year old Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a grouping established following the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war in the early 1980s. The GCC traditionally has viewed Shia Iran with suspicion.
Members of the bloc have strong defense ties with the West: Qatar is home to the U.S. Central Command, and will soon also host a French military training school. The U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and 5th Fleet are headquartered in Bahrain, and the U.S. Army has bases located in Kuwait.
The Bush administration last year launched the Gulf Security Dialogue, an initiative aimed at improving GCC members' air and naval capabilities and their capacities to defend against non-conventional weapons attack.
In late July, Washington announced some $20 billion in arms sales to the Arab Gulf states, and the head of Central Command, Adm. William Fallon, is this week visiting the GCC members.
Iranian expert Dr. Ilan Berman, vice president for policy at the American Foreign Policy Council, noted that Iran has proposed a regional collective security mechanism several times in the past.
He pointed in particular to an article by Iran's then-U.N. envoy, M. Javad Zarif, published in the New York Times in May 2003 -- shortly after the fall of Baghdad -- calling for an 'indigenous and internationally guaranteed regional security arrangement.'
Although this isn't the first time that Iran has made overtures to the states along the Gulf's western shoreline, the latest effort comes amid heightened tension over Iran's nuclear program and U.S. accusations of a toxic Iranian role in the violence in Iraq.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner's warning that the nuclear standoff with Iran could lead to war drew an angry response from Tehran, including threats to fire long-range missiles at Israel and at U.S. forces in the region.
'Today the Americans are around our country but this does not mean that they are encircling us. They are encircled themselves and are within our range,' the Irna state news agency quoted IRGC Gen. Mohammed Hassan Koussechi as saying.
Earlier this month, Iran proposed formal talks with the GCC states on negotiating a free-trade agreement.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki explained at the time that Tehran wanted to broaden political and economic ties with the neighboring states, based on mutual interests.
The Iranian initiative comes at a time when the U.S. is urging its allies to isolate Tehran economically and diplomatically over the nuclear dispute.
The Riyadh-based secretary-general of the GCC, Abdelrahman al-Attiya, said Tuesday that the bloc's economic and trade cooperation committee would review Iran's proposal, and welcomed all efforts aimed at enhancing mutual interests in the region, the Kuwait news agency reported.
Source: www.cnsnews.com/ViewForeignBureaus.asp?Page=/ForeignBureaus /archive/200709/INT20070919b.html
Dozens Died in Syria-Iran Missile Test (back)
September 18, 2007
Proof of cooperation between Iran and Syria in the proliferation and development of weapons of mass destruction was brought to light Monday in Jane's Defence Weekly, which reported that dozens of Iranian engineers and 15 Syrian officers were killed in a July 23 accident in Syria.
According to the report, cited by Channel 10, the joint Syrian-Iranian team was attempting to mount a chemical warhead on a Scud missile when the explosion occurred, spreading lethal chemical agents, including sarin nerve gas.
Reports of the accident were circulated at the time; however, no details were released by the Syrian government, and there were no hints of an Iranian connection.
The report comes on the heels of criticism leveled by the Syrians at the United States, accusing it of spreading 'false' claims of Syrian nuclear activity and cooperation with North Korea to excuse an alleged Israeli air incursion over the country this month.
According to globalsecurity.org, Syria is not a signatory of either the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), - an international agreement banning the production, stockpiling or use of chemical weapons - or the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
Syria began developing chemical weapons in 1973, just before the Yom Kipper War. Globalsecurity.org cites the country as having one of the most advanced chemical weapons programs in the Middle East.
Grandmother Divorcing bin Laden Son (back)
September 19, 2007
The British grandmother who married Osama bin Laden's son is divorcing him because she fears they will be murdered, it has been reported.
Parish councillor Jane Felix-Browne, 51, told the Sun the pair are both in fear of their lives.
Five-times married Mrs Felix-Browne met 27-year-old scrap metal dealer Omar bin Laden in Egypt in September.
At the time she said she had 'married the son, not the father' and hoped people would not judge her harshly.
But now she said terror chief Osama's powerful Saudi family feel they have been humiliated by the marriage.
She told the Sun: 'People are opposed to my marriage because I am British. I wasn't prepared to see the man I love die.
'It was a really, really good marriage, a strong marriage. But I cannot stand by and watch my beloved husband die before my very eyes.
'The bin Laden family are afraid of the political implications of a British woman being married to the son of Osama bin Laden. They fear embarrassment and complications, not just in their own country but also in Britain and America.'
When their marriage was announced, Mrs Felix-Browne said she believed she met Osama bin Laden at a party in London in the 1970s.
Saudi Arabian-born Osama bin Laden is one of the world's most wanted men, with a 25 million-dollar bounty from the US government on his head.
Source: http://ukpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5jf0vskV6UWEXKF1MqC0 3U0bZBi_g
Why is Militant Islam Increasing in Popularity? (back)
September 19, 2007
After September 11, 2001, when the new era of terrorism had already begun, it seemed impossible to think that six years later, Osama bin Laden, who had organized the most impressive terrorist act in human history, would still be casually addressing a multi-million strong global television audience, giving his latest message, as always, in a very didactic style.
In 2001, right after the first shock of the collapse of the World Trade Center had passed, it seemed that in a matter of very little time the world's number one terrorist would be captured, tried and duly punished. Especially given that at that moment, very different world leaders are united around the idea of fighting terrorism. For a brief period it seemed that this idea could help overcome all other differences and arguments between those countries that consider themselves civilized and enjoy claiming leadership in certain spheres. After all, it was a question of saving, at the least, the whole Christian civilization, which had been so boldly called to arms. It was also a question of saving democracy in the form it had taken since the European Age of Enlightenment.
Today, however, bin Laden has turned into a constantly active and almost routine player in world politics. He is its newsmaker. His latest television address was not limited to threats against the United States or even the Western world. He expressed his thoughts even about global warming and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the U.S. mortgage crisis and the country's 'crippling taxes.' He has his own 'philosophical point of view' about Noam Chomsky's writings and the latest anniversary of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He urged Americans and other Westerners to convert to Islam, if only because there are no taxes involved, except for 'zakat,' which doesn't exceed 2.5 percent.
Most importantly, he, Osama bin Laden, announced the bankruptcy of the western model of democracy. And the biggest paradox of the last six years is probably the fact that, contrary to the hopes entailed after September 11, today the number of people all over the world who would agree with bin Laden's thesis is larger, not smaller.
In the blood-soaked aftermath of September 11, 2001, many people believed that the West, along with the post-Communist world, would close ranks in the face of the Islamist terrorist threat, united by common values of freedom and democracy. Many people believed that the 'progressive' part of mankind would take special steps to strengthen the democratic model and to promote it in countries that have not adhered to democratic values. However, no export of democracy took place: the scale did not even slightly tilt toward the democratic model offered by the West in any of the countries that militant terrorist Islam considers as its 'natural' environment. On the contrary, militant Islam is more and more often seen as the alternative, and an ever more widely attractive model for social development. The most striking example of the spread of this tendency is the victory of the Hamas movement in the Palestinian elections, as well as this movement's strengthened position in neighboring Lebanon through Hezbollah. This group has been strengthened to such an extent that during the military conflict with Israel last year, the Islamic forces were not defeated.
The appeal of the democratic model of social order has actually decreased in the eyes of many people and nations that had been promised a logical way of development through the democratic model.
The attempts made by Russia's official theorists to develop a specifically Russian form of democracy, the so-called sovereign democracy, also indirectly reflect a certain dissatisfaction - dissatisfaction with the present state of classical democratic institutions in the whole world in general as well as with their specific implantation onto Russian soil. They have the impression that something is wrong with classical democracy; but what exactly is wrong is not quite clear to anyone yet.
Different versions of theories on how not all nations are equally 'ready for democracy' are formulated as a defensive reaction. There are attempts at establishing a correlation between the standard of living and the level of democratic development. On the other hand, the spread of, and increase in popularity of, a militant Islamic ideology in the Arab world is explained by poverty, unresolved social problems and lack of civilization prospects for those populations. However, it seems that, so far, all of these explanations cover only part of the problem; they are not able to clearly explain why Islam in its militant, terrorist form is more and more attempting to establish itself as a real civilizational alternative to the democracy of the Western and Christian world. And why has classical democracy, which had been able to withstand the no less 'charismatic' Communist ideology during the Cold War, suddenly stopped its triumphant procession around the world. It would seem there must really be something wrong with it.
Georgy Bovt is a Moscow-based political analyst
Source: www.indianmuslims.info/news/2007/sep/19/why_militant_islam_increa sing_popularity.html
MEDIA-US: Cockroach Cartoon Crossed the Line, Iranians Say (back)
September 18, 2007
As the war of words between Western nations led by United States and Iran's hardliner government over its nuclear programme has escalated in the last few weeks, a cartoon published on the editorial page of the Columbus Dispatch on Sep. 4 has created a furor amongst Iranians worldwide.
The cartoon by staff member Michael Ramirez portrayed Iran as a sewer with the word 'extremism' on its lid. Cockroaches are shown spreading out across the region and infecting Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan with 'extremism'.
Ramirez is a Pulitzer Prize-winning former Los Angeles Times editorial cartoonist who left the paper involuntarily as part of the restructuring. He is well-known for a series of provocative cartoons defending the George W. Bush administration and its 'war on terror'.
The cockroach cartoon has not provoked the violent response seen following the publication by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad which many people of Muslim faith perceived as offensive and blasphemous.
But for many Iranians, it is a visualisation of a new propaganda war that echoes the way a large part of the U.S. media backed the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Ali Sheikholeslami, executive director of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Northern California, told IPS that the cartoon perpetuates the dehumanisation of Iranians, and Muslims in general.
'Comparing people to cockroaches happened during the Nazi era and before the Holocaust in Germany,' he said. 'A similar pattern happened in Rwanda before the genocide in 1994 -- a comparison between Tutsis and cockroaches.'
'When you dehumanise a group of people, then you can nuke them, you can kill them, you can destroy them, and unfortunately that process is moving [forward],' he added.
He believes that the cartoon is a continuation of the same theme shown in a special programme aired by the Fox network on Iran a few months ago. That documentary, titled 'Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West', was actively promoted by a group called HonestReporting, which monitors the media for allegedly negative portrayals of Israel.
'It's very sad that American media has come down to such a level and there is no public outcry of the American public against these types of cartoons or this type of dehumanisation of an entire nation,' Sheikholeslami added.
Nikahang Kowsar, an award-winning Iranian editorial cartoonist based in Toronto, told IPS: 'I can't agree with [Ramirez's] ideas. His cartoons are mostly in favour of the Bush administration. He reminds me of the Russian cartoonists who were loved by the Kremlin.'
'Although we all exaggerate objects in our cartoons to give a better sense to our subjects, showing the whole country as a sewer didn't amuse me,' he said.
'I interviewed Mike Ramirez for my radio show and asked him what he meant,' Kowsar told IPS in a phone interview. 'Mike said that he did not mean to harm Iranians but just wanted to point out the danger of extremism and its roots in the Middle East, related to Iran's government.'
'Let's say he's right. But didn't he think that his drawing was somehow insulting the whole nation? Many of us have nothing in common with the Iranian government, but we love our land, our origin and our people,' said Kowsar. 'I see it as unfair journalism that is in favour of power, lacking balance and part of the neocon propaganda against Iran.'
Ramirez's portrayal of Iranians as cockroaches reminds Kowsar of the racial profiling that has taken place in the United States following the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks. 'If we go back to [Egyptian-American scholar and activist] Edward Said's concept of 'Orientalism', we are all the 'Others' that have to be dealt with in a different way.'
Several calls to Ramirez for comment were not returned.
Hans-Henrik Holm, a professor of world politics at the Danish School of Journalism and adjunct professor at Berkeley University in California, noted that 'there is no law against stereotyping.'
'However, if the cartoon is seen as a statement against a country or its people, then of course it is directed against a group of people, not against the policies and goes beyond the stereotyping and becomes hateful and hate speech,' he told IPS. 'The problem with this cartoon is that you can read it in both ways. I don't know the cartoonist, but I would doubt that he is thinking of this as directed towards Iranians as a people. But many Iranians see it that way.'
After Ramirez's cartoon appeared, Dokhi Fassihian, a board member of the National Iranian American Council, sent a protest letter to the editors of the Dispatch, based in the U.S. state of Ohio.
'The bigotry demonstrated by the publication of this cartoon not only betrays the mission to inform your readers, it endangers our country at an extremely sensitive time in our nation's history by serving to further divide us at home and thrust us toward further conflict abroad,' she wrote.
Fassihian added that by publishing 'this shocking cartoon', the editors of the Columbus Dispatch have insulted and propagated hate against a large segment of the U.S. population that traces its roots to an ancient and proud civilisation.
'Iranian Americans have been living in the United States since as early as the 1950s and 1960s, first as students, then as immigrants seeking a better life,' Fasihian wrote in her letter. 'In a short period of time, they have established themselves to be one of the most successful and highly contributing immigrant groups that have recently settled in this country.'
In an entry on Iranian.com, a popular website, Tinoush, a blogger, commented on the cartoon's subtext. 'What do you do with a cockroach? You kill it, most likely. How guilty do you feel if someone dropped one of those exterminator bombs in a hole infested with roaches? Not really guilty; you may even thank them or at least feel relieved. Well, Iranians are now cockroaches and Iran is a roach-infested sewer.'
Holm says his main problem with the cartoon is that the name of the country as a whole is on the sewer. 'If the cartoonist put the name of the president of Iran or something which identifies with ...Iranian foreign policy, the drawing would have been more clear on this point,' he said.
'It can easily be misunderstood, and in that sense the cartoonist has failed because has wanted to be critical. A good cartoon should make a political statement without stereotyping. The more a cartoonist reverts to stereotyping, the greater the risk is to be misunderstood and be hurtful to the people,' said Holm.
The five permanent United Nations Security Council members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany are due to meet to discuss a new draft U.N. resolution on sanctions against Iran in Washington on Friday. Iran has said any new sanctions will lead Tehran to review its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency -- a step that could put an end to the diplomacy between Iran and the west that has been gradually going forward over the last few weeks.
*Omid Memarian is a peace fellow at Graduate School of Journalism at University of California, Berkeley. He has won several awards, including Human Rights Watch's highest honour in 2005, the Human Rights Defender Award.
A New Brand of Nonbelievers (back)
September 17, 2007
As the debate in Western Europe about radical Islam heats up, a new and unlikely group of people are adding their voice to the discussion.
They call themselves 'ex-Muslims.'
Raised as Muslims but having renounced their religion, this new brand of nonbelievers say they aim to make the rejection of Islam an acceptable topic for public debate and to confront threats of violence they say are associated with leaving the faith.
'We want to support people who want to change their religion, but their parents, their society have them clasped in it and won't let them out,' Ehsan Jami, the 22-year-old founder of the Dutch Committee for Ex-Muslims told The Associated Press. 'They would realize that they are not standing alone.'
Jami, who is of Iranian origin and works as a city councilman for the Dutch Labor Party, officially launched his Committee in The Hague six days ago, on September 11, a day he says he chose specifically for its symbolic significance.
The group, which has no official member list, but which organizers say counts 'hundreds' of sympathizers, follows in the footsteps of similar initiatives founded earlier this year in Britain, Germany and Scandinavia.
The launch of the Dutch Council for Ex-Muslims was met with massive media attention in the Netherlands, and it has reignited a tense national debate on the social and cultural integration of the country's 1 million Muslims.
Organizers say that by speaking frankly about their split with Islam they hope to break through what they call the public's 'self-censorship' when it comes to the issue of Muslim fundamentalism, which they say threatens what they consider basic European values such as freedom of religion and freedom of speech.
But commentators, both Muslim and not, have criticized Jami for what they call his unnecessarily provocative and polarizing statements, such as calling Islam a 'religion of oppression' and comparing the faith to fascism or Nazism.
'If the idea is 'everyone should be free to believe and say what they want,' then we support that,' said Khalil Aitblal, 29, a spokesman for the Union of Moroccan Mosques in Amsterdam and Surroundings, and a practicing Muslim. 'But if the message is to stand out through insulting or denigrating statements, then I have to wonder, what exactly is your message?'
Jami told ABC News he did not believe he was being provocative, only 'critical.'
Since announcing plans for the Committee in May, Jami has been violently attacked by fundamentalist Muslims on three different occasions. A 17-year-old is still in custody, accused in an assault on Jami outside a Dutch supermarket in August.
'I have a heavy security detail,' Jami said of concerns over his personal safety.
Terrorism Creates Troubled Times
The launch of the Dutch Committee for Ex-Muslims comes at a tense time in Europe, as the continent confronts issues of home-grown Islamic radicalism and terrorism. This month, German authorities foiled a major terror plot targeting American military bases and civilians. Two of three suspects were German citizens.
In 2004, a Dutch-born Muslim murdered filmmaker Theo van Gogh on a street in Amsterdam over his criticism of the religion.
But there are signs Jami's Committee for Ex-Muslims reflects a broader trend of anti-fundamentalism among Europe's nonpracticing Islamic populations. Although membership across the different European organizations of 'ex-Muslims' totals only about 1,000 people, founders say they are growing quickly.
'Our membership has almost tripled in the months since we've been established,' said Maryam Namazie, director of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, which she founded in June. 'It's the same in Germany, and in other countries as well.'
Others Afraid to Join
Namazie, 41, who became an atheist in her 20s when her family left Iran after the establishment of the Islamic Republic, was present at the launch of Jami's Dutch committee in The Hague earlier this week.
She says she believes the councils of ex-Muslims represent a 'silent majority' among Europe's Islamic population.
'The people who join are just the tip of the iceberg,' she told ABC News. 'A lot of people call and say they would like to join but they're afraid or intimidated.'
Namazie added that those who define themselves as ex-Muslim believe that outsiders often view Europe's Islamic communities as homogenous and frightening. She said her council intends partly to separate members from more fundamentalist elements in the public eye.
'We all have the label 'Muslim,'' Namazie said, 'but we are also often labeled to be part and parcel of the most reactionary Muslim groups around.'
Such concerns, it seems, are shared by many of Europe's 13 million Muslims.
A Global Attitudes poll conducted by Washington's Pew Research Center in 2006 found that 44 percent of Britain's 1.8 million Muslims describe themselves as 'very worried about' Islamic extremism, a concern second only to anxieties about unemployment. In France 30 percent shared worries about religious radicalism; in Germany that number stood at 23 percent.
Martijn de Koning, a fellow at the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World, said such worries are indeed common among many European Muslims, if not always obvious to the outside world.
'Debates about fundamentalism and radicalization have been taking place within the local Muslim communities for years,' de Koning told ABC News from his office in the Netherlands. 'But often people keep those discussions within the community. They're very concerned about the impression it'll create in the outside world.'
People like Jami try to 'break open that debate, through provocation,' de Koning added. 'They have a certain amount of authority, because they themselves come from that tradition. They're in a unique position to say what the issues are in the religion and where the problems lie.'
Still, many observers criticize the tactics of groups like Jami's.
On September 10, the day before the presentation of the Dutch Committee for Ex-Muslims, a different group of 'ex-Muslims' held a news conference at a large mosque in Amsterdam to denounce Jami's methods as offensive and unnecessarily confrontational.
'We defend the right to be able to walk away from any religion, including Islam,' said former Muslim Behnam Taebi in a statement quoted by The Associated Press. 'But they are using that right as a cover to categorically insult Muslims and to stigmatize them as 'violent' and 'terrorists.''
Aitblal of the Union of Moroccan Mosques in Amsterdam agreed.
He said there are thousands of nonpracticing Muslims in the Netherlands who have stepped away from their faith for one reason or another, but who do not identify with Jami's message and who have not felt threatened over their personal choice.
'Such insulting statements are destructive,' he told ABC News of Jami's combative rhetoric. 'They hurt people in our society, and they destroy our sense of social cohesion.'
But Namazie said provocation is the ex-Muslims' very point.
She likened the outcry over Jami's statements to the uproar over Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, published in 2005. Visual representations of Muhammad are forbidden in Islam and the cartoons sparked a flood of protests throughout the Muslim world.
They say, ''You have a right to say what you want, but why should you offend?'' Namazie said of her and Jami's critics. 'My answer is, well, Islam offends me, the political Islamic movement offends me and that's what free speech is about.'
'If you don't like the way it's done,' she said, 'you do it another way. But until then we're the ones that are doing it, and that are standing up. Obviously it's going to make a lot of people uncomfortable, but that's how change comes about.'
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