Friday, December 17, 2010

Ros-Lehtinen: Obama Wrong to Give ‘Blank Check’ to PA

by Hilary Leila Krieger

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, incoming chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, blasted the Obama administration on Wednesday for givposting the Palestinian Authority a “blank check” while pressuring Israel, signaling that a Republican-led House would complicate one of the major prongs of the White House’s emerging strategy for moving forward with the peace process.

With direct talks between the two sides stalled, the administration announced last week it planned to intensify Palestinian state-building as a means of making progress on the ground toward a peace agreement for a two-state solution. The US has supplied hundreds of millions of dollars toward this end, with the expectation that it would now, if anything, be increasing its assistance.

But Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican who will become the chairwoman of the influential committee in January, criticized the current approach to US funding for the PA in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.

“It’s a bailout for them which provides no incentives for them to reform. So they know they don’t have to do a darn thing – with this administration they will get a blank check and they will always get helped out,” she said of over $200 million in American funds the Palestinians received this past year alone.

“I think that’s the wrong approach, when we’re forcing the Israelis to make concessions and we’re giving the Palestinians anything they want,” she said.

Though many in the US administration and even some in Israel’s government have praised the work of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who under President Mahmoud Abbas oversees the institution-building and training of Palestinian security forces facilitated by the United States, Ros- Lehtinen urged close scrutiny of their activities.

“This feeling that Abbas and Fayyad are the good guys – if they’re the good guys, then we should start praying for Israel’s safety right now, because these are folks who have not wanted to be true partners for peace,” she said. “These guys are moderate when you consider that they’re not as extreme as [Hamas], but they’re not the epitome of democratic governance or openness or transparency.”

She also denounced the Obama administration’s treatment of Israel, including its focus on settlements.

“I believe we have had the wrong approach in the Obama administration of pressuring Israel to make concessions and appeasing enemies like Iran and Syria,” she said. “It’s shameful to make public statements about Israel as if a housing complex is an impediment to peace while the Palestinians’ so-called leaders get away with murder.”

Ros-Lehtinen said that support and aid for Israel – which is currently around $3 billion a year – would remain strong even under the budget-conscious GOP, but that the amount it received could be reduced if there were wideranging cuts, as the party has promised.

“I don’t know what the leadership wants to do in terms of levels of funding. If they say 5 percent across the board for everybody, then that’s the way it is,” she explained, but added that she supported an idea floated by incoming Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) to consider aid to Israel separately from other countries.

“What we would like to see is that countries that have been hard hit by natural disasters or hard-hit by thugs that surround them, that those countries will be in a special category,” she said, giving Israel and Haiti as examples.

Ros-Lehtinen also criticized any implication that Israel should be the state to confront Iran should military action be necessary.

“I don’t like the fact that our options are always, well, let Israel take care of it. It seems to be that that’s what we’re saying all the time,” she said. “Our message should be that all options are on the table and that we say it and convince people that we mean it, because we should be meaning it.”

Ros-Lehtinen said she intended to introduce legislation in the coming session to close loopholes in the Iran sanctions act passed this summer and push the State Department to do more to punish Russian and Chinese companies that continue to do business with Teheran. She also plans to refile a bill on UN reform, which includes provisions to push for changes at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and to remove the US from the Human Rights Council.

“UNWRA has been a tool used by the extremists of the Palestinian groups to bash Israel,” she said. “And a lot of the taxpayer dollars that go to the UN Human Rights Council – I believe in zapping those tax dollars. We can put that money to better uses.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Ros- Lehtinen joined the rest of the House in passing a non-binding resolution calling on US President Barack Obama to veto any attempt by the Palestinians to have the UN Security Council unilaterally declare statehood.

The resolution, sponsored by current House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Howard Berman (D-California) as well as Ros-Lehtinen, also lends “strong support for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in two states, a democratic, Jewish State of Israel and a viable, democratic Palestinian state, living side-by-side in peace, security and mutual recognition.”

Passage of the resolution was welcomed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which said in a statement that the organization “supports the House’s call for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its strong opposition to efforts to seek recognition of a Palestinian state outside of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.”

The PLO’s Washington delegation, however, expressed its “deep disappointment” in the vote.

“A declaration of statehood that is coordinated with organizations like the United Nations and members of the international community would not be a ‘unilateral’ step. This was, in fact, how the State of Israel came into being in 1948,” the PLO mission said in a statement.

“Members of Congress who are truly concerned about the safety and security of Israelis should recognize that they will never be safeguarded until Palestinians gain their freedom and legal rights,” it continued. “They should work to support the efforts of President Obama and his administration to bring peace to the region, rather than obstructing them and passing resolutions that hinder that effort.”

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Hilary Leila Krieger

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Austria Under Fire for Promoting Trade With Teheran

by Benjamin Weinthal

The Austrian Chamber of Commerce’s decision early this month to hold a workshop in Vienna to expand trade with Iran has sparked criticism from Austria’s Jewish community and the European NGO Réalité EU.

“The Chamber of Commerce is advising firms on how to circumvent the sanctions against Iran,” the Jewish community said on its website.

“Michael Tockuss, of the German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce, the most important lobbyist of the Holocaust- denying regime in Teheran,” was invited, the Jewish community said.

Austria has contributed to “the diligent construction of commemorative plaques and memorials since the Shoah,” but the Chamber of Commerce does not shy away from trade with Iran, the 7,500-member Jewish community said.

According to the community’s statement, current Iranian-Austrian trade relationship reminds one “that under the Nazis, German- Austrian industry profited from the annihilation of Jews.”

The Jewish community statement termed Austria’s business deals with Teheran “disgraceful and morally reprehensible.”

Dr. Diana Gregor, a political analyst and researcher with Réalité EU, an organization that tracks European- Iranian trade, told The Jerusalem Post this week that “Austria has the reputation of being docile toward Iran.”

In June 2009 and this month, the Austrian Chamber of Commerce held seminars to “intensify” business with Iran, said Gregor, an authority on Austrian-Iranian economic relations.

“There are roughly 680 Austrian companies that have business relations with Iranian firms or the Iranian state. Some 35 Austrian firms have local branches in Iran and another 500 companies occasionally conduct business with Islamic Republic,” she said.

“Austrian companies are earning good money in Iran” but rarely talk publicly about the activity, Gregor added.

Austria’s exports to the Islamic Republic have increased by 6 percent since the global economic crisis began, she said.

Responding to the criticism, the Austrian Chamber of Commerce said in a statement on its website that “in no way” will the seminar “show participating companies ways to circumvent international sanctions against Iran.”

According to the chamber, the concern is to explain to Austrian companies “the restrictions to be considered when commencing business relations with Iran.”

Gregor termed the Chamber of Commerce’s explanation a “lame excuse” and a “whitewash” of the real purpose of the workshop.

“The Austrian chamber of commerce is continually promoting the expansion of trade relations with the Islamic Republic and is proud of the past performance,” she said.

She cited Christoph Leitl, the chamber’s president, as someone who “not only supports the expansion but also actively solicits” Iranian trade.

The workshop showcased a who’s who of Austrian political and business leaders. According to the Jewish community, the attendees included Michael Friedl, Austria’s trade representative in Teheran; Dr. Gerta Mlejnek from the chamber; and Dr. Helmut Krehlik of the Austrian Ministry for Economy, Family and Youth.

Dr. Robert Granditsch, from the Austrian Federal Financial Ministry, was also present, as was Ferdinand Schipfer from the Österreichische Kontrollbank Aktiengesellschaft (OeKB), a company owned by Austria’s commercial banks that is the country’s chief “provider of financial and information services to the export industry and the capital market.”

Representatives of German companies also participated in the seminar. Dr. Julia Pfeil of the Chicago-based Baker & McKenzie law firm’s Frankfurt office and Hans-Anton Sapper, chief executive officer of the Sapper Global ECS (Export Control Solutions) software company in Kempen, North Rhine-Westphalia, were listed.

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Benjamin Weinthal

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WaPo Reports on Palestinian Incitement

by Leo Rennert

In its Dec. 16 edition, the Washington Post features a page-one article by Jerusalem Correspondent Janine Zacharia, with the following headline: "Palestinian Authority reins in radical imams."

Zacharia reports that the PA's minister of religious affairs last year issued an order to West Bank imams on the PA payroll to end radical incitement in their sermons, as for example urging their flocks to kill Jews and destroy Israel. But it's not until recently that this edict has been enforced with "particular vigor."

"The practice, part of a broader crackdown on Muslim preachers considered too radical, shows the extreme steps the Palestinian Authority is taking to weaken Hamas, its Islamist rival, as it seeks to cement power and meet Israel's preconditions for peace talks," Zacharia writes.

On the face of it, this would seem to be encouraging news for the pace process, and that's how the Post plays it by giving it a prominent spot on the front page. The message conveyed to readers is that Mahmoud Abbas, under U.S. pressure, is finally getting his act together in meeting his responsibilities as a would-be reliable peace partner.

But Zacharia's article also leaves unanswered many questions about Abbas's real dedication to ending anti-Jewish and anti-Israel incitement.

For starters, one wonders why the Post -- after years of hiding from readers the persistent and vast extent of such incitement -- only becomes aware of it when the PA finally seems to be taking a few steps to curb this kind of vicious propaganda.

Furthermore, even if the content of sermons were being purged of the worst kind of incitement, there has been no letup in PA TV broadcasts, including instruction programs for children, which call for the elimination of Israel and creation of a single Palestinian state from the river to the sea. None of this is being reported by the Post.

Nor is the Post reporting Mahmoud Abbas's continuing glorification of Palestinian terrorists, especially those who staged mass killings of Israelis -- whether in Israel or at the Munich Olympics.

Nor, it turns out, is Zacharia herself satisfied whether it's a good idea to crack down on "vitriolic sermons" in the 1,800 mosques under Abbas's direct control.

"Critics say the heavy-handed policy violates freedom of expression, alienates segment of Palestinian society and is harbinger of the kind of police state the Palestinian Authority could become once statehood is achieved," she writes.

Makes one wonder if, on second thought, the minuses might outweigh the pluses in this purported crackdown on radical imams.

"It is disappointing to those who had expected greater tolerance from the Palestinian Authority which rules parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank," Zacharia sighs.

Notice also what a strange, yet revealing, way Zacharia uses to define authority in the West Bank -- the PA, she concedes, "rules" parts of the West Bank (i.e. Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron and virtually all other major Palestinian population centers) But if that's so, how come she writes in the same breath that the West Bank is "Israeli-occupied." So, it makes no difference that Abbas "rules" all key parts of the West Bank, the Post still peddles the notion of Israel as an "occupier."

Finally, while Zacharia at long last gets into the topic of anti-Israel incitement under Abbas's "rule," she hastens the draw an immediate equivalence with purported incitement emanating from Israel. If the PA is guilty, so is Israel. Here's how she puts it:

"The mosque crackdown comes as Israel and watchdog groups step up monitoring of statements in Palestinian government-run media and educational materials that dispute Israel's right to exist or demonize Jews. For their part, Palestinian leaders routinely complain about statements by Israeli political or religious figures that are hostile to Arabs, which they say undercut peace efforts."

Even when drawing a parallel -- and a false one at that -- Zacharia tilts the scales in favor of the Palestinian side. In her formulation, it is only anti-Arab incitement from Israel that "undercuts peace efforts" -- not the overwhelmingly harsher and far more frequent incitement against Israel under PA ''rule."

Equivalence in incitement? More than a bit of a stretch. Hostile feelings about Arabs pop up occasionally in Israel, but not at the inciteful level of genocidal calls to eliminate Muslims and Arabs. And when some Israelis cross the line, Israeli political and religious leaders are quick to condemn them publicly. For example, when some rabbis recently urged Jews not to sell property to non-Jews, Prime Minister Netanyahu quickly and publicly rebuked these rabbis. So did other political leaders and many other rabbis

By contrast, Abbas has yet to publicly repudiate Palestinian anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incitement, which, in fact, he continues to foment.

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Leo Rennert

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Israel on Campus - Where are We?

by Alexander Joffe

The situation on campus continues to change for Israel's supporters: abuse is now almost everyplace. There have been important successes, like upholding the recent veto of a "boycott, divestment and sanctions" (BDS) proposal at the University of California at Berkeley's student council, and the U.S. Civil Rights Commission's recent definition of anti-Semitism on campus as a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But there have also been notable failures, such as the continuing unwillingness of the administration of the University of California at Irvine to take harassment of Jewish and Israeli students and speakers seriously. Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren was heckled and silenced there by a group of students from the Muslim Student Association before university security stepped in and removed them. These students later accused the university administration of denying them their First Amendment rights.

At Evergreen State University Jewish students have felt compelled to transfer to other schools after overt harassment. Sukkahs have been vandalized in recent years at Stanford, the University of Colorado, the University of Southern California, and other campuses. "Israel Apartheid Week" is now an established part of the calendar at colleges across the country, bringing verbal harassment and even physical assaults against Jewish students. At these events, "Jews" are assumed to be "Zionists" and are subject to abuse on this basis, as well as because they are Jews. Worse, universities and the community at large are getting accustomed to it all.

Seeing the anti-Israel movement in isolation has always been part of the problem. There is a well-organized network of international anti-Israel activists and organizations. In the U.S. it operates at all levels, from giant state universities, to local churches, to suburban living rooms. The group that makes up "International Apartheid Week" sponsors a coordinated week-long protest in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Israel, Italy, South Africa, Holland and elsewhere. Groups like "Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition" sponsor speaking tours by noted anti-Israel figures such as Norman Finkelstein, George Galloway and countless others throughout the U.S.. Local branches of Al-Awda and the "International Solidarity Movement" are found throughout the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. Coordinated internationally, these groups share speakers and also train and bring "activists" to Israel. Muslim student groups facilitate and support these. and bring their own speakers, such as the radical Muhammad al-Asi, to their gatherings.

These groups have made common cause on and off campus with extremist groups, seemingly united by their hatred of Israel, the U.S., and its policies worldwide. Anti-Israel events have also been co-sponsored -- or organized as a part of "anti-war," "anti-globalization'" and "anti-imperialism'" protests -- by groups such as "Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER)," "United For Peace and Justice," and the "Stop the War Coalition." The U.S. and Israel appear to be regarded as part of a larger "capitalist-imperialist conspiracy" that must be "exposed" and "smashed."

Anti-Israel groups have also been allied with those defending Iran, such as the Socialist Workers Party; although the "Great Satan" and the "Little Satan" are both forthright about defending themselves and the freedoms of others. The related "boycott, divestment and sanction" (BDS) movements against Israel are also active everywhere, from the Cambridge City Council to the Olympia Food Co-op in Olympia Washington, to pension funds in Canada and England. This too is an international movement. The group "International BDS" is directed by the "Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions Campaign National Committee," made up of Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs), trade unions and Islamist groups While they have so far failed to get any American university or significant group to actually boycott or divest from Israel, they lie and say they have succeeded, as occurred recently at Hampshire College and Harvard University.

In Europe, BDS has mostly succeeded in provoking weekly protests outside Israeli shops, such as the Dead Sea cosmetics firm Ahava, and rampaging through French supermarkets.

While extreme right-wing groups have always hated Israel, usually on traditional anti-Semitic terms, anti-Israel organizations are now primarily on the far left. But Neo-Nazis, radical Muslims and anarchists are all happy to put aside their differences to join in hatred of Israel. Far right groups such as the John Birch Society or the Lyndon LaRouche movement and neo-Nazis are still not welcome on campus. But left-wing groups have been accepted or even invited on American university campuses by faculties that either embrace them or who are merely "tolerant" of their presence, and who indignantly pull out free speech and academic freedom defenses when challenged. University administrations and trustees have been equally tolerant. They simply want the problem to stay manageably quiet, and for the money to keep flowing in from the government and from donors.

The language and tools of human and civil rights have also been hijacked. The respect for NGOs like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International is especially high on campuses, along with the United Nations, since these represent secular and "global" alternatives to the U.S. government and groups like church-based charities. NGOs and international organizations are wrapped in a "halo effect" provided by the secular religious term "human rights." To question them and their ideas is to appear to be "against human rights." Mainstream NGOs tend to focus on Israel to a disproportionate degree, as opposed to countries that violate human rights extravagantly; these NGOs bitterly criticize every Israeli action to defend itself against terrorist attacks and overt threats of annihilation. Other NGOs, such as Adalah, Badil and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, often backed by the European Union, attack Israel as virtually their sole focus, and are deeply connected with the BDS movement. Even Israel's defense of its identity as the sole Jewish state has been cast as a violation of "international law" and "human rights," and regularly send speakers to appear regularly on U.S. campuses.

The Goldstone investigation, ordered by the United Nations Human Rights Council, was apparently intended provided legal cover for the intensification of such abuses of law and language. By ignoring evidence presented to them by Israelis, and ignoring the words and deeds of Hamas, the report reached a completely predictable outcome that has rippled around the world. Shooting back at those who shoot at you was declared de facto a "war crime;" Israeli politicians and military leaders have now been subjected to investigations and arrest warrants in Europe, on charges brought by NGOs, Muslim groups and other fellow travelers. Pro-Palestinian groups have long claimed that Israel is practicing "genocide," albeit a strange kind that actually increases the life span and numbers of its alleged "victims," as just this year alone, over 180,000 Palestinians, as well as people of all races and creeds are treated daily in Israeli hospitals.

This vitriol, however, his has spilled over onto college campuses in the U.S., where Israel is branded as a criminal state by a growing number of activists and professors, both inside and outside the classroom. Convincing idealistic college students not to be blinded by the "halo effect" around NGOs is a challenge. Helping them to recognizing that faith in NGOs and other forms of "global governance," which may be distorted and politicized, and is part of a Western secular religion of internationalism, albeit where there is no further recourse, is vital to understanding and combating their abuses.

The hijacking of human and civil rights has been especially cruel blow to persecuted peoples elsewhere. Darfur, while not entirely off the map, has been pushed far to the back burner in favor of "engagement" with the cruel government of Sudan. Accusations that Sudanese persecution and mass murder are all Zionist fabrications are common from those who elsewhere express passion for the "plight of the Palestinians." These trends also explain something about why the plight of persecuted Christians in Muslim countries like Pakistan, Egypt and Iraq, and Christian communities fighting for survival in countries like Nigeria, get so little attention. Anything that takes away from the obsessive focus on the supposedly unique evil and cruelty of Israel is dismissed as either a myth or disinformation. Even Christians slaughtered in church in Baghdad receives barely a fraction of the attention of an announcement that an Israeli urban planning committee has approved construction of housing in Jerusalem. In the view of all too many, Christians can only be the persecutors and not persecuted. Defending Christians on campus is often as difficult as defending Israel.

The unique focus on Israel on campus increasingly fits former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky's '3-D test' of the new anti-Semitism; demonization, double standards, and delegitimization. Israel is singled out for special attention, judged not simply by Western standards but impossible ones -- and then condemned. The revival of the "one state solution" by academic activists as the preferred outcome is another such sign. To them, Israel is so uniquely bad and its future such an impossible blight that it must dissolve itself and share its land, institutions and wealth by accepting the "right of return" by Palestinian "refugees." Never mind that ethnic groups all over the world are busy trying to break away from one another. The Czechs and the Slovaks divorced in 1993; and the Scots and the Welsh have been trying to get out of the United Kingdom for centuries; there is Quebec from Canada; the Basque from Spain; the Chechnyans from Russia; the Kurds from Turkey, and so on. Israel is expected to go out of business, voluntarily or by force,. Increasingly, if one does not accept that Israel is uniquely bad and its dissolution necessary, one is called a racist. Accepting that Israel must go is a litmus test for both the far left and the far right, and for all too many liberal Jews and Christians alike.

In short, the situation on for Israel and its supporters on campus is abysmal. Jewish students especially are finding it harder and harder to avoid being actively challenged by professors, activists and the general campus atmosphere; they are urged to give up Israel and join the "mainstream," or be labeled "far right" or "racist." Once students are informed about Sharansky's 3-D test, however, and sensitized to the way concepts like "human rights" and "international law" are being abused, it will be apparent that there are few places to hide.

There are no easy solutions. Becoming informed about the facts is a prerequisite. Groups like the David Project and Christians United for Israel are active across the country providing resources and support for students and communities who refuse to accept the one-sided picture of Israel's "original sin" put forward by many professors and activists. Larger Jewish institutions such as the Jewish Federations of North America and many Hillels (although unfortunately not all) are more conscious of the problem and have begun taking steps to combat the skewed propaganda. The Israeli Foreign Ministry and Israel Defense Forces are also equipped to get information into the hands of those who are countering attacks on Israel,

Sadly, the uncritical financial and moral support of universities continues from Jews and others, who refuse to believe that isolated incidents add up to a pattern. The treatment of Jews and Israel in Western universities merely reflects the larger corroding intellectual and moral health of the West.

The nature of activism is changing rapidly. Groups of rival students standing on opposite sides of the quad holding banners has given way to aggressive behavior in which students are challenged and assaulted by activists, and active responses are quickly met with un-thought-through bumper-sticker cries of "racism" or "Islamophobia," '"censorship" or "interference in academic freedom," wherein name-calling replaces discussing issues.

Pro-Israel groups have not stooped to that level of intimidation, insults and even violence, which means that their voices are typically drowned out. But pro-Israel groups must aggressively hold universities to their own standards of free speech and freedom from intimidation. Universities want to cover up exactly how ugly anti-Israel protests have become. This cannot be permitted.

Both pro-Israel and anti-Israel protests should be filmed to document just who is using what kind of language and techniques. Legal complaints about universities and state and Federal authorities should be pursued when necessary. Parents and alumni need to get involved as well, letting their peers and the universities know that campus anti-Semitism is unacceptable and has consequences.

Social networking is another new battleground, along with new media. The numbers of pro-Israel Facebook groups and YouTube videos are tiny compared to those belonging to pro-Palestinian groups. The need to organizing these areas is obvious, relatively easy and does not require an aggressive personality or special leadership training. Getting Israel's message out, and showing the lengths to which anti-Israel activists will go, is vital.

BDS petitions have a way of being submitted at the end of a student council meeting and debated on Friday nights or holidays. Once publicized, they tend to wither in the light of day. And new, creative means to get Israel's case across have been used across the country – "buy-cotts," in which Israeli goods are sold, dance parties where a message is delivered, and expert panels are only some of the ways. Keeping a bright light shone on campus is especially important. The best way to fight back is to use the truth. Finding like-minded people through church and synagogue groups also remains key. But having the courage to speak up for Israel in ways large and small remains a challenge that canbe met by first finding resources within ourselves.

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Alexander Joffe

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Barcelona: Islamist Stronghold on the Mediterranean

by Soeren Kern

American and Spanish officials say the autonomous region of Catalonia in northeastern Spain is "a major Mediterranean center for radical Islamists" and the United States has proposed setting up an intelligence hub at the US Consulate in Barcelona to counter the growing threat, according to diplomatic cables that were obtained by Wikileaks and published by the Madrid-based El País newspaper on December 11.

The three cables, all of which are from the US Embassy in Madrid, say that Catalonia has become "a prime base of operations" for Islamic terrorists; and thanks to uncontrolled immigration the region, it now has a "large Muslim population susceptible to jihadist recruitment." The documents also provide insights into the extent of the links between Islamic terrorists and organized crime in Barcelona, which the cables call a "crossroads of worrisome activities." Viewed as a whole, the cables largely corroborate the conclusions of many independent analysts about the huge challenges Spain faces from militant Islam.

A five-page cable, dated October 2, 2007, describes the link between mass immigration to Spain during the past decade and the rise of radical Islamism in the country. The document, which is classified secret and apparently authored by then-Ambassador Eduardo Aguirre, says: "Heavy immigration – both legal and illegal – from North Africa (Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria) and Southeast Asia (Pakistan and Bangladesh) has made Catalonia a magnet for terrorist recruiters. … The Spanish National Police estimates that there may be upwards of 60,000 Pakistanis living in Barcelona and the surrounding area; the vast majority are male, unmarried or unaccompanied, and without legal documentation. There are even more such immigrants from North Africa. … They live on the edges of Spanish society, they do not speak the language, they are often unemployed, and they have very few places to practice their religion with dignity. … Individually, these circumstances would provide fertile ground for terrorist recruitment; taken together, the threat is clear."

The cable also describes the "amorphous threat represented by the nexus of terrorism, crime and drug trafficking" in Catalonia, which the document says has become an international magnet for drug trafficking, human trafficking, money laundering, illegal smuggling, prostitution, organized crime and counterfeiting. Spain-based Islamist extremists are strongly influenced by the Takfir wal-Hijra doctrine, which justifies the use of illegal proceeds to fund jihadist operations, and accepts non-Muslim practices such as drinking alcohol and drug trafficking as a cover for extremist activities.

"There is little doubt that the autonomous region of Catalonia has become a prime base of operations for terrorist activity. Spanish authorities tell us they fear the threat from these atomized immigrant communities prone to radicalism, but they have very little intelligence on or ability to penetrate these groups," the cable says.

"Specifically, we propose that our Consulate General in Barcelona become the platform for a multi-agency, jointly-coordinated counterterrorism, anti-crime, and intelligence center. … The Spanish political class is gradually waking up to the threat, and would likely look favorably on our proposal," the cable concludes.

Another cable, dated September 15, 2005, provides eight pages of historical background and in-depth analysis of the Islamist groups based in Spain. The cable says: "Spain is both a significant target of Islamic terrorist groups and a major logistical hub for Islamic extremist groups operating across the globe. … Historically, Spain-based extremists have tended to be older (30-40 years), first-generation immigrants with a history of militant activity in their home countries. The first Islamists did not establish themselves in Spain until the late 1980s and early 1990s, coming mainly from Syria and Algeria. The influx of large numbers of North African immigrants is changing the profile of Spain-based Islamic extremists, creating a large pool of young, alienated men available for recruitment."

According to the document, "Extremist groups active in Spain tend to be decentralized, collaborating on an ad hoc basis and united more by friendships, family ties, and loyalty to the global jihadist cause than by membership in any given terrorist organization. While Spain-based groups at first focused on organizing themselves and providing logistical support to extremists in other countries, they became increasingly aggressive after the September 11 attacks and the subsequent GOS [Government of Spain] crackdown on Islamist terrorist cells in Spain. … Spain's withdrawal of troops from Iraq does not appear to have reduced the desire of extremists to strike at Spanish targets."

The most important recent development in the local Islamic extremist community in Spain has been the influx of Moroccan radicals. "Moroccan extremists tend to be less well off and most are involved in criminal activity. … Moroccan extremists appear to have moved to the forefront of the jihadist community in Spain, at least in numerical terms. The large and growing Moroccan community provides Islamic extremist recruiters in Spain with an ample supply of poor, alienated young men and access to funds from drug trafficking and other illegal activities," the document says.

The cable says "there are at least 300 suspected Islamist terrorists or logistical operatives in Spain and the Ministry of Interior's senior terrorism adviser believes there may be as many as 1,000. … Islamic terrorist organizations with a presence in Spain include: al-Qa´ida, Moroccan Islamic Combat Group (GICM), Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC), Armed Islamic Group (GIA), Ansar-al-Islam, Salafiya Jihadiya and Hizballah."

"The rapid growth of the Moroccan immigrant community, combined with worrisome trends among Spain-based extremist groups, suggest that Spain is likely to remain an active front in the war on terror for many years to come," the cable concludes.

Another five-page cable dated October 24, 2007 says: "The Spanish are worried that their Muslim immigrant population is prone to radicalization and our counterparts tell us that Spanish prisons have become hotbeds of budding jihadist activity. … We believe that they [the Spanish authorities] would be receptive to any advice or guidance we could provide from experiences integrating our own Muslim populations to encourage the Spanish to think about this problem in new ways."

All of the three cables indicate that the Spanish authorities are unable and/or unprepared to deal with the security challenges posed by Islamist groups, and Spanish inter-agency bureaucratic rivalries are a major impediment to progress. One document says "Spain's National Police, Civil Guard, and National Intelligence Center rarely meet among themselves. … By all accounts, a national counterterrorism center created in 2004 to improve coordination among the services has thus far failed to achieve its purpose. As a result, there does not appear to be a consolidated terrorist lookout list shared among the services."

Another cable says: "Spanish authorities are having trouble following the flow of illegal drugs and laundered money through Catalonia. … Spanish authorities do not have a complete grasp of the entire spectrum of the mafias' activities. … Spanish authorities remain challenged to cope with the magnitude of the problem."

Overall, Spain's march against Islamist groups in Barcelona has been "two steps forward, one step back." Spanish officials have achieved several important operational successes against Islamist groups in Catalonia. In January 2008, for example, Spanish police arrested eleven suspected Islamic extremists of South Asian origin just days before they were set to stage suicide attacks on the Barcelona subway system. The defendants, nine Pakistanis and two Indians, are believed to have been acting on orders from the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, a Pakistani Taliban group linked to al-Qaeda, and motivated by their opposition to the presence of Spanish troops in Afghanistan.

Since then, Spanish police have detained dozens more Islamists in Catalonia suspected of funding terrorist groups and recruiting fighters to travel to Iraq. On December 1, 2010, for example, Spanish police arrested six Pakistanis and one Nigerian in Barcelona on charges of collaborating with Islamist terrorism. The detainees are accused of robbing tourists in Barcelona of their passports, forging them and then sending them to al-Qaeda-linked groups around the world, including the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, accused of plotting the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed at least 160 people.

Several recent incidents, However, show the increasing assertiveness of Catalonia's Muslim community. In December 2009, nine Salafists in Catalonia kidnapped a woman, tried her for adultery based on Sharia law, and condemned her to death. The woman escaped and fled to a local police station just before she was to be executed by the Islamists.

In January 2010, an imam in Tarragona was arrested for forcing a woman to wear a hijab head covering. The local prosecutor had asked the judge to jail the imam and three others for five years for harassment, but the Socialist mayor tried to get the case dismissed to prevent "a social conflict." In November a judge finally sentenced the imam to one year in prison for harassing the woman.

In September 2010, CNI, the Spanish intelligence agency, reported a "jihadist media offensive" unlike any seen since the March 2004 Islamist terror attacks in Madrid. Intelligence analysts say the popular jihadist Internet forum Atahadi Islamic Network has been publishing an unusually large number of Arabic-language articles against Spain. Prompted by an August 2010 border crisis between Spain and Morocco that involves Spain's two North African enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla, jihadists are now calling for a "crusade" to recover the two cities.

Members of the forum proposed attacking the Barcelona metro, among other targets, on September 24, the day the city celebrates its annual Festes de la Mercè. The holiday has its origins in a medieval Roman Catholic religious order established to liberate Christians from Muslim captivity at a time when the Iberian Peninsula was under Islamic occupation (711-1492).

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Soeren Kern

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Accused Bomb Plotter's Mosque Tied to Radical Group

by IPT News

The mosque attended by accused Baltimore bomb plotter Antonio Martinez is part of a network of mosques run by the radical group Jama'at al-Muslimeen that questions the existence of the Holocaust, supports the release of convicted terrorists and wants the United States to stop "interfering" in Muslim countries, Maryland corporate records show.

Martinez, who was arrested Dec. 8 and charged with plotting to blow up an Army recruiting center in Catonsville, Md., attended the Al-Madina mosque in Baltimore, friends and associates told The Baltimore Sun.

That mosque, Maryland records show, is owned by the All Farooq Foundation of Catonsville. The foundation's incorporation papers, which were filed with the state of Maryland on Feb. 3, 2009, say that all leaders of the foundation "must have at least one year of active membership in the Masjid Jamaat al-Muslimeen community."

State records show that the Masjid Jama'at al-Muslimeen's address – 4624 York Rd. in Baltimore – is the same as the group Jama'at al-Muslimeen, which is run by Kaukab Siddique, an assistant professor of English at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and a longtime opponent of Israel and U.S. policies in Muslim nations.

Incorporation papers filed Oct. 6, 2003, by the Masjid Jama'at al-Muslimeen with the state of Maryland list Siddique as one of four mosque trustees. The mosque's stated purpose and rules for elections and trustees are virtually identical to those for members of the All Farooq Foundation and are in the same handwriting, records show.

Jama'at al-Muslimeen (JAM) also calls itself the Islamic People's Movement International, according to its website. At a Nov. 6 conference in Greensboro, N.C., the group's officials reelected Siddique as JAM's leader, according to an account of the meeting in New Trend, an online magazine edited by Siddique.

At the Nov. 6 meeting, JAM leaders approved a series of resolutions that included calls to:

  • Question the accuracy of historical accounts of the Holocaust in which 6 million Jews were killed by the German Nazi government in World War II. "No one has a right to exclusive victim status. As for offensive viewpoints, comments and abuse on Jesus … in the Zionist media have gone beyond decency, without any attempt at scholarship," the resolution says.
  • Remove U.S. troops from Muslim nations. "We demand immediate withdrawal of all U.S. and NATO troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. We urge an end to the occupation of Kashmir by India and of Chechnya by Russia. We call for an end to U.S.-Israeli interference in Somalia, Sudan and Nigeria," the resolution says.
  • Demand that President Obama free "Muslim political prisoners." Those prisoners include Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheik imprisoned for life for a variety of terrorist plots; Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman and former U.S. resident imprisoned for life for plotting to kill American troops in Afghanistan; and Ali Al-Timimi, a former Islamic lecturer in Washington who's serving a life sentence for trying to recruit members to help the Taliban kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Maryland records show that JAM controls three mosques in the state, either directly or through the All Farooq Foundation. They are the Masjid Jama'at al-Muslimeen in Baltimore, the Al-Madina Mosque in Baltimore and the Masjid Al-Muneer in Curtis Bay, Md. The Al-Muneer mosque was incorporated in May.

JAM's officials include Badi Ali, imam of the Islamic Center of the Triad in Greensboro, N.C.; Abdulalim Shabazz, a mathematics professor at Grambling State University in Louisiana and Abu Talib, a JAM activist in Brooklyn, N.Y. The group's website also lists affiliated mosques in Knoxville and Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Ali has history with two American-based support groups for Palestinian terrorist organizations. He is listed among the members in a 1991 document attached to an organizational chart for the Palestine Committee, a group created by the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States to support Hamas. A year later, Ali identified himself as the North Carolina chairman of the Islamic Committee for Palestine (ICP) in a letter to the New York Times.

The ICP was the "active arm of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine."

Siddique, JAM's longtime leader, has an extensive history of calling for the destruction of Israel.

On Sept. 3, he was among a series of activists who protested U.S. policies at an Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day rally in Washington's Dupont Circle. There he said that Muslims "must put their hands on the Quran and say that they do not recognize Israel as a legitimate entity."

Other media organizations followed the IPT News report on that event. That reporting led Pennsylvania legislators to write Lincoln University President Ivory Nelson to investigate Siddique's "anti-Semitic" activities and determine if his teachings included anything related to the Holocaust.

"While he has a right to free speech on his own time, he does not have the right to teach this trash to students in a classroom," said state Sen. Daylin Leach, a Democrat, of Siddique.

Lincoln University is a historically black state-run university in eastern Pennsylvania. Siddique is listed as a member of the school's English faculty.

Siddique also posts many of his beliefs in New Trend, his online magazine. There, an analysis of his recent writings finds him praising radical Islamist thinkers such as Syed Qutb, a Muslim Brotherhood ideologue and the theological inspiration for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden; criticizing the history of the Holocaust and calling for the "victory of Islam" in Afghanistan, Iraq and other nations. For example:

  • The U.S. power structure wants to set up a 'mosque' near Ground Zero," he said during an Oct. 8 speech at an unnamed mosque in Baltimore, the Oct. 11 New Trend reported. "Rabbis are supporting it. Israel has destroyed more than 130 mosques. Why are the Jews supporting a mosque in New York?"
  • "We pray for the victory of Islam in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kashmir, Chechnya, Somalia, Sudan and Nigeria where the Muslims are struggling for victory," the Dec. 6 New Trend reported Siddique saying in a speech at an unnamed mosque in Baltimore. "Above all we pray, O Allah, for your help to defeat the Yahood [Jews] and remove them from Palestine."

Martinez, the accused bomb plotter also known as Muhammad Hussein, echoed many of these beliefs, court documents show. According to confidential witnesses cited in the federal complaint, Martinez spoke often his desire to commit jihad, not just against U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan but in the United States as well.

"I wanna actually be Shaheed [martyr]) .... Like actually die for the cause of Allah," Martinez told one witness, the criminal complaint shows.

Martinez's desire for jihad is similar to those called for on the JAM website, including a Feb. 20, 2009, speech by Ali in which he calls for jihad that "is a victory against hypocrites who secretly collaborate with the enemy." In December 2008, Ali said in a speech that Hamas was "independent Islamic body in the captive Middle East" that was targeted for destruction by Israel and other Arab nations.

Original URL:

IPT News

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Dissident Watch: Anwar al-Bunni

by Simcha Katsnelson

In April 2007, Anwar al-Bunni, a top Syrian human rights activist and attorney, was sentenced to five years imprisonment for "disseminating false information likely to undermine the morale of the nation … slandering and insulting state institutions," and "joining an international group without the government's authorization." Though his first sentencing, it followed years of constant harassment from the Syrian authorities, including threats against family members, smear campaigns aimed at dissuading potential clients from seeking his services, and around-the-clock surveillance.[1] Instead of taking any action on Bunni's behalf, the bar association in Damascus suspended him from numerous cases he litigated and threatened him with disbarment.[2]

Anwar al-Bunni

Bunni's arrest in 2006 followed the signing of the "Beirut-Damascus, Damascus-Beirut" declaration urging the improvement of Syrian-Lebanese relations. Relations between the two countries have been strained for decades but reached an all-time low following the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri. The Lebanese blamed the Syrians, who responded with strenuous denials and a subsequent and long-awaited withdrawal from Lebanon under heavy international pressure. In 2008, Damascus established diplomatic relations with Lebanon after decades of evasion reflecting its perception of that country as a natural part of "Greater Syria."[3]

Bunni has been detained under harsh conditions and has faced torture and beatings from prison guards.[4] In 2006, the Syrian regime placed increased travel restrictions on other human rights defenders including Bunni's brother, Akram, who was prevented from flying to Brussels to discuss the human rights situation in Syria. Bunni estimates that members of his family have spent an aggregate of sixty years in prison.[5] While Bunni is currently serving his prison sentence, his brother, who also signed the Damascus declaration, was recently released along with two other dissidents after serving a 30-month prison sentence.

Bunni is a founding member of the Syrian Human Rights Association and the Freedoms Center for the Defense of Journalists and Journalism in Syria. He has denounced human rights violations including the use of torture and has advocated for democratic practices and reform in Syria.[6] He also formed a center for human rights training funded by the European Union and established by a Belgian nongovernmental organization; part of his arrest and conviction stemmed from his collaborating with an international institution. The center has since been shut down before it could begin its activities.

Shortly after Bashar al-Assad became president of Syria in 2000, Syrians freely gathered together in forums to engage in intense political and social debate, known as the "Damascus Spring," and to demand democracy and an end to corruption.[7] The government subsequently cracked down on these forums, and many activists were suppressed or imprisoned. Bunni has advocated freedom of nonviolent expression and has spent his legal career defending those who have faced persecution for such rights, including activists from the Damascus Spring.[8] He has also been a proponent and defender of the rights of Kurds, the largest minority group in Syria.
In a 2008 visit to Damascus, French president Nicolas Sarkozy pleaded with his hosts for Bunni's immediate release to no avail. Bunni has insisted that he did not violate the Syrian constitution and is being held solely for his opinions. "I didn't commit any crime," he said. "This sentence is to shut me up and to stop the effort to expose human rights violations in Syria."[9]

[1] "Call for the Release of Jailed Syrian Human Rights Lawyer," Human Rights First, New York and Washington, D.C., Feb. 14, 2007.
[2] Ibid.
[3] "Timeline: Syria," BBC News, accessed Sept. 14, 2010.
[4] "Call for the Release of Jailed Syrian Human Rights Lawyer."
[5] Joe Pace, "Anwar al-Bunni: Interview with Syria's Leading Human Rights Lawyer," Syria Comment, Aug. 7, 2005.
[6] "Call for the Release of Jailed Syrian Human Rights Lawyer."
[7] The Washington Post, Jan. 19, 2006.
[8] "Call for the Release of Jailed Syrian Human Rights Lawyer."
[9] BBC News, Apr. 24, 2007.

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Simcha Katsnelson is a student at the University of Pennsylvania and a former intern at the Middle East Forum.

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International Al-Qaida Plots Include U.S. as Target

by IPT News

Al-Qaida is preparing a series of attacks on Western targets, especially in the United States, during the Christmas season, Middle Eastern and European officials say.

Iraqi authorities said Wednesday that captured insurgents confessed that al-Qaida is plotting suicide attacks in the United States and Europe in the coming weeks. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari called the confessions indications of a "critical threat."

Some of the insurgents told Iraqi authorities they are part of a group which takes direct orders from al-Qaida's central leadership. The captured suspects "represent the main structure of the al-Qaida organization in Iraq," said Iraqi Interior minister Jawad al-Bolani.

Last Saturday's car and suicide bombings in Stockholm were just a small part of many attacks planned as part of the wider al-Qaida plot, the captured insurgents said. The Iraqi-born man suspected to be behind the attacks, Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, is now said to have been trained by al-Qaida's affiliate in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI).

After Saturday's bombings, the ISI warned that if NATO countries didn't withdraw their troops from Afghanistan "immediately and unconditionally," that they "should expect that we will strike at the heart of Europe." The ISI also said that the bombings were "only the beginning of a new era of our jihad."

If the insurgents' claims are true, they could indicate another page in the ISI's violent history. It has claimed credit for numerous bombings in which hundreds were killed and injured in Iraq this year alone. In 2007, the group's former leader, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, was the first to threaten to kill Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonist known for his depictions of the prophet Mohammed, offering a $150,000 reward for his death. Vilks was referenced in an email sent 10 minutes before Saturday's bombings. The email, received by a Swedish news agency, warned "our actions will speak for themselves. As long as you don't stop your war against Islam and degrading the prophet and your stupid support of that pig Vilks."

Meanwhile, a court in London was told Wednesday that Pakistani Abid Naseer planned to bomb the heart of Manchester, also as part of a wider al-Qaida plot. "The conspiracy extended to planning attacks in the UK, Norway and the United States of America," said David Perry, a lawyer representing U.S. authorities. Previously, U.S. and Norwegian authorities linked the Manchester attack to a plot to bomb the New York City subway and an unspecified target in Norway. Attorney Melanie Cumberland noted that Naseer is a "significant threat" and is motivated by "deeply held religious beliefs."

Nasser was arrested last year as part of a British counter-terrorism operation. He was ordered deported, but won an appeal arguing he might face torture or death if he returned to Pakistan. Britain was unable to come up with enough evidence to charge Nasser, but he now faces extradition to the United States based on material support and explosives charges. "The allegation is that the defendant was an al-Qaida operative who participated in a conspiracy to attack Western interests by the use of explosive devices," said Perry.

Wednesday's reminders of al-Qaida's intentions to launch many attacks in several Western countries ring true to al-Qaida's recent message. In the second issue of al-Qaida's English-language magazine, Inspire, the terrorist organization urged supporters to target any "countries that support Israel or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." The most recent issue of Inspire notes that al-Qaida's strategy is shifting towards a using higher number of small scale attacks, a "strategy of a thousand cuts," rather than fewer grander attacks.

The Saturday Stockholm suicide bombing - allegedly only one of many planned al-Qaida attacks in the U.S. and Europe - may be an example of how al-Qaida is putting this plan into effect.

Original URL:

IPT News

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Making Friends with the Octopus: Jordan Bows to Iran

by Barry Rubin

Here's an old joke that applies to the contemporary Middle East. The Lone Ranger was a Western lawman who chased bad guys with his friend, a Native American named Tonto. One day, they were surrounded by dozens of Native American warriors.

The Lone Ranger turned to Tonto and said, "Don't worry! We can fight them off."

Tonto replied, "What do you mean 'we,' Paleface?"

Or, in other words, if your friend decides he can't rely on you to get him out of a jam he can always change sides.

Which brings us to Jordan. Let me begin by telling a story I've never recounted before. The year is 1990, after Iraq has invaded and seized Kuwait. I'm sitting in a meeting with some high-ranking Jordanian military officers and officials (don't ask, it's a long story).

Someone asks what they would do if Iraq's army appeared on Jordan's border and Saddam Hussein asked safe passage to attack Israel. Before responding, the highest-ranking Jordanian there leaned over to the man sitting next to him and whispered in Arabic, "Of course, we'd fight them!"

At the time, of course, the Jordanians knew they could depend on their superpower ally, indeed the only country of that type in the world, the United States.

In 2003, of course, Saddam was overthrown. From Jordan's standpoint, though, he was replaced by Iran as a threat. And just as the Jordanians had wanted and needed American protection from Baghdad now it required that shield to save it from Iran. We already knew this, of course, but the Wikileaks have documented that fact.

Even in 2004, King Abdallah warned Americans about the Iranian threat. According to the State Department cable, Jordanian officials called Iran an "octopus" whose tentacles "reach out insidiously to manipulate, foment, and undermine the best-laid plans of the West and regional moderates."

According to the Jordanian government, Iran's "tentacles," its allies in seizing control of the region and putting into power revolutionary Islamism, are Qatar, Syria, Hizballah, Hamas, and Shia Muslims in Iraq.

Now, however, the king is singing a different tune. In fact, he has just accepted an invitation from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to go to Tehran. It is "imperative,"
says the king, "to undertake practical steps for improving Jordanian-Iranian relations."

Why is it that suddenly the king finds this to be so imperative? Because Iran is getting stronger-and may soon have nuclear weapons-and he can't depend on the United States to protect him. This is one more signal about how "regional moderates" feel about the current situation.

President Barack Obama thinks he's being nice to "Arabs" and "Muslims." In fact, he's being mean to America's friends. And they will do whatever is necessary to save themselves. If the United States cannot or will not protect them, they find it "imperative" to get in good with its enemies.

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Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

New Hizballah Crackdown

by IPT News

The U.S. Treasury Department targeted Hizballah's financial and logistical support network Tuesday, designating the terrorist organization's fundraisers and an operational commander. The "multinational network generates millions of dollars in funding and secures strategic geographical strongholds for Hizballah," Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey said in announcing the moves.

The designations include Ali and Husayn Tajideen, the brothers and business partners of previously designated man named Kassim Tajideen. Together, the three have reportedly funneled millions of dollars to Hizballah. At least one of the brothers, Ali, is a former Hizballah commander.

The sanctions targeted a network of businesses the brothers own or control. Those businesses—from the real estate, food and diamond trades, among other fields—spanned the globe, from Gambia, Lebanon, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, and the British Virgin Islands. The men used the proceeds from their businesses to funnel millions of dollars in financial support to Hizballah.

In addition to striking a blow to the financial dealings of Hizballah, Treasury also designated Hizballah's chief representative in South America, Bilal Mohsen Wehbe. As chief representative, Wehbe has relayed information and direction between Hizballah leaders in Lebanon and South America.

Hizballah's presence in South America was well established even before its 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires killed 29 and wounded hundreds of others. The terrorist organization has long-used parts of the region as a training ground, in particular the tri-border region where Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay meet.

These new Treasury actions aim at further disrupting the ability of Hizballah to fundraise, plan, and train from within South America. See the recent Investigative Project on Terrorism report on Hizballah in the United States here, here, and here.

Original URL:

IPT News

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Man Charged in Facebook Threat to Bomb DC Metro

by IPT News

Authorities have unsealed a criminal complaint against a Virginia man who threatened to bomb the D.C.-area Metro subway system in postings on Facebook. Awais Younis, also known by his online identities Sundullah "Sunny" Ghilzai and Mohkhanmed Khan, was charged December 6 for making the threats.

FBI agents first learned of Younis on November 28, after someone contacted the New Orleans field office regarding "a person making several threats to use explosives in the Washington, D.C. area," including the Metro transit system, an affidavit filed with the court said. In an online chat, Younis described plans to build a pipe bomb. He said he knew "what type of shrapnel would cause the greatest damage." Younis also mentioned placing a pipe bomb under a sewer head in Georgetown in order to maximize casualties.

The affidavit offers no information indicating whether Younis acted on his threats.

On December 5, Younis allegedly lashed out at his unnamed Facebook friend, saying "BITCH I know what you are up too and you better stop if you know what is good for you!!!!! … you are sticking your nose where it doesn't belong into something bigger then you and I. that is the problem with Americans they cant leave well enough alone until something happends then they sit there wondering why we dropped the twin towers like a bad habit hahaha. im telling you right now you are going to regret doing what you did. for your peace i hope what i am hearing is all lies."

The complaint was filed the following day.

Younis was a recent graduate of George Mason University, where convicted terrorist Zachary Chesser attended. He also spent time studying at the University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University. He was also a summer intern for three months in the Department of the Interior.

Facebook was also a major source of information about another plot, Muslim convert Antonio Martinez's attempted bombing an armed forces recruiting center in Cantonsville, Maryland.

This is the second arrest involving the DC Metro in two months. Ahmed Farooque is alleged to have conspired with an FBI informant, whom he believed was an al-Qaida agent, to bomb the DC metro system.

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IPT News

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'We Have no Intention to Apologize to Turkey for Flotilla'

by Staff

Israel has no intention of apologizing to the Turkish government over the events of the flotilla raid on May 31 which left nine Turkish passengers dead, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Wednesday during a speech to the Knesset.

Ayalon's remarks contradict an official statement from The Prime Minister's Office which said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyhau was working on improving relations with Ankara after Turkey offered help to extinguish the Carmel fires.

Ayalon responded to a series of proposals expressing the state's intention to compensate the families affected by the events of the raid.

"These proposals rely on newspaper reports. I am not responsible for these reports," Ayalon said.

MK Danny Danon (Likud) also on Wednesday sent Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan a sarcastic letter of apology in which he asked for forgiveness that naval fighters used maximum restraint and killed only nine terrorists on board the Mavi Marmara aid ship.

He said that Israel knew that there were terrorists on board the ship and the instruction was to kill every person that endangered the life of the fighters.

Danon also asked for forgiveness that Israel did not check the passengers of the ship before it left Turkey and did not prevent them from arming themselves with live ammunition.

Original URL: Staff

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MPAC Conference Features Radicals

by IPT News

One of the nation's leading Islamist political organizations hosts its annual convention this weekend, opting to showcase a slew of radicals and terror apologists on its program.

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) is calling this Saturday's conference at the Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles, "The Struggle for America's Conscience."

Among the invited speakers is a leader of a Virginia mosque whom law enforcement officials consider to be "associated with Islamic extremists," a director of a group founded by the Muslim Brotherhood with a history of radical statements, and MPAC officials with their own record of undermining law enforcement counter-terror efforts. In addition, a White House aide responsible for outreach to the Muslim world is scheduled to appear. But even he has a record of criticizing American terrorism prosecutions and policies.

That's on top of the rhetoric put forth by the host group MPAC, which rails against law enforcement terrorism investigations and has argued that the U.S. is wrong to designate Hamas and Hizballah as terrorist groups.

Convention topics include "Islamophobia, U.S.-Muslim world relations, terrorism, violent extremism, civil rights, homeland security, bigotry, civic engagement, war, reform." It would be refreshing if that leads to a frank assessment of what is driving a spike in homegrown terrorist plots during the past two years, including recent arrests in Portland, Baltimore and Virginia.

But the titles of the MPAC convention panels, and the people chosen to speak on them, suggest that developing strategies to combat terrorism will take a back seat to yet another pity party in which the problems of rising jihadist thought are blamed on American law enforcement or "Islamophobes."

The first panel, dedicated to the "State of our Union," draws primarily on MPAC-friendly policymakers, including Executive Director Salam al-Marayati; Rashad Hussain, President Obama's Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference; and Reem Salahi, a self-styled civil rights attorney. While claiming publicly to be working towards greater integration into the United States, each of these three have a history of radicalism.

Al-Marayati has a substantial record of defending terrorist groups and extremist organizations. Under his leadership, MPAC has defended terrorist organizations and criticized U.S. counterterrorism efforts. For example, MPAC's 2003 counterterrorism paper advocated the removal of Hamas, Hizballah, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad from the government's list of terrorist groups. The organization argued that Washington's "preoccupation" with these groups "raises the question as to whether targeting Palestinian groups serves true national security interests or is based on political considerations."

The true nature of the organization recently revealed itself at an MPAC-sponsored rally in New York City. At a March 27, 2009 protest to Defend al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Quds, participants repeated pro-Hamas chants:

"Free free Palestine. This is not loud enough. We have a lot of people. Free free Palestine. Long live Palestine. Free free Palestine. Long Live Palestine. Long live Palestine. From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free. From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free."

That chant, from the river to the sea, is subtle. But the message is clear – a Palestine extending from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea erases the state of Israel.

While one could write off these statements simply as pro-Palestinian rhetoric, the leadership of the organization has gone so far as to demonize Israel as a perpetrator of war crimes. In an April 2009 newsletter released by the Western New York chapter of MPAC, the President of the organization, Khalid J. Qazi, wrote:

"[O]ne has to ask the question as to how and why the World can stand by while the State of Israel is subjecting Palestinians to a Holocaust in their own home land."

At the organization's 9th Annual Convention on December 5, 2009, Laila al-Marayati tried to minimize Hamas violence. "[W]e need to stop talking about Israelis and Palestinians as if they are equals because they are not," she said. "We know that. And that rings hollow every time when you talk about they're partners and bringing people, because the Palestinians still are under occupation."

Throughout Salam al-Marayati's tenure with MPAC, the organization has broadly condemned a wide-range of law enforcement tools, arguing in May 2001 that "domestic counterterrorism efforts, such as unconstitutional use of secret evidence, also disproportionately target Muslims." The organization has also criticized the use of profiling, fusion centers, and informants, amongst other tools.

In an April 2009 interview with al Watan al Arabi, al-Marayati claimed that U.S. counterterrorism policies were representative of a broader "war on Islam." In an interview in Arabic that was translated into English, al-Marayati argued "there is Islamophobia in the American government too, and this is a problem, since there are people in it spreading fear of Islam and distributing misleading generalizations against American Islamic organizations"

The effect of this agitation, according to MPAC is that the "war on terrorism," is viewed as a de facto "war on Islam." As al-Marayati argued in a 2000 article titled Defining Terrorism for America: Jewish and Muslim Cases and their Readings by the American Public, U.S. policies encourage:

"double standards in opinion—and policymaking vis-à-vis counterterrorism; it also exacerbates tensions in interfaith relations…biases the Middle East peace process, and intensifies the clash of civilizations between Islam and the West."

Joining al-Marayati will be Rashad Hussain and Reem Salahi, who each have their own records of demonizing U.S. counterterrorism efforts.

Prior to becoming President Obama's Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Hussain frequently criticized law enforcement efforts to combat radical Islam. During a 2004 talk before the Muslim Students Association (MSA), Hussain cast the terror-support indictment of Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative Sami Al-Arian as an example of politically-motivated cases. At the time, Al-Arian was a year away from trial for providing material support to a terrorist organization. After initially denying that he made the comments, Hussain had to backtrack after a tape of the event surfaced. "The judicial process has now concluded, and I have full faith in its outcome," he said in a subsequent statement.

Al-Arian pled guilty to "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."

Hussain's comments before the MSA may have been his first public criticism of U.S. law enforcement, but they weren't his last. As a Yale law student in 2007, he published a paper in the Texas Journal on Civil Liberties & Civil Rights called, "Preventing the New Internment: A Security Sensitive Standard for Equal Protection Claims in the Post 9/11 Era." In it, he raised the specter of internment camps to argue that the U.S. used the September 11 attacks to justify sweeping enforcement action against Muslim immigrants. In a 2008 policy paper for the Brookings Institute, Hussain advocated a politically correct use of language, eschewing references to "Islamic terrorism" and "Islamic extremist" and recommending they be replaced with references to "Al-Qaeda terrorism."

Panelist and attorney Reem Salahi, meanwhile, has attacked the government's no-fly list, participated in convoys to funnel logistical and financial support to Hamas, and lashed out at the administration of UC-Irvine for suspending the Muslim Student Union (MSU) after it orchestrated repeated disruptions of a speech given on campus by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren in February.

Internal communications show that MSU leaders orchestrated a plan to interrupt Oren more than a dozen times by students who stood up and shouted that he was a murderer and a war criminal. That included a detailed "game plan" on where people would sit and how they would disrupt the speech.

Salahi, a former assistant director of the MSA at UCLA, immediately condemned the arrests of 11 students, saying that while some members had participated in the protest, the organization was deemed "guilty by association."

She also accused Oren of being "both racist and Islamophobic" after he issued an open letter to the UC Irvine student body in which he said his speech was "hijacked by a minority of students" and that he was willing to return and meet with students who disagree with him.

After assessing the "State of our Union," the afternoon session at the MPAC convention looks at the "State of the Ummah (Muslim people)." The panel includes religious leaders who have defended terrorist organizations and leaders. Among them is Johari Abdul Malik, the current Director of Outreach at Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Virginia. Both Abdul Malik and his mosque have been associated with terrorists.

Dar al-Hijrah has been a place of worship for notable terrorists and extremists including Abdurahman Alamoudi, who attended the mosque before his September 2003 indictment for illegal financial dealings with Libya and participating in a plot to kill then-Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah., and Hamas political leader Mousa Abu Marzook, who attended the mosque while living in the United States. As the Investigative Project on Terrorism recently reported, government documents written in 2002 stated that the mosque was "associated with Islamic extremists" and "operating as a front for Hamas operatives in U.S." The mosque "has been linked to numerous individuals linked to terrorism financing" and "has also been associated with encouraging fraudulent marriages," a December 2007 report said. Another December 2007 report advised that Dar Al-Hijrah "has been under numerous investigations for financing and proving (sic) aid and comfort to bad orgs and members."

Abdul Malik himself has made numerous statements in support of terrorism. At a 2001 conference hosted by the Islamic Association of Palestine, a now defunct propaganda branch of Hamas, he called for attacks against Israeli infrastructure to show Muslim displeasure with Israel's treatment of Palestinians:

"I am gonna teach you now. You can blow up bridges, but you cannot kill people who are innocent on their way to work. You can blow up power supplies… the water supply, you can do all forms of sabotage and let the world know that we are doing it like this because they have a respect for the lives of innocent people."

Abdul-Malik has defended convicted terror facilitator Ali Al-Timimi, an extremist cleric who stated "mujahideen killed while fighting Americans in Afghanistan would die as martyrs." According to court documents, Timimi recommended that his followers "obtain jihad training from Lashkar-e-Taiba because its belief system was good and it focused on combat." Abdul-Malik told the Times Union, on July 16 2005, that Timimi's conviction was "like being convicted of murder, even though you haven't killed anyone." He also told the New York Times about his concern that the conviction would "chill free speech." As the newspaper reported:

"There is a view many Muslims have when they come to America that you could not be arrested for something you say," said Imam Johari Abdul Malik, outreach director at Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church. "But now they have discovered they are not free to speak their minds. And if our opinions are out of vogue in the current climate, we feel we are all at risk."

Abdul-Malik also is on record about the past moderation of Anwar al-Awlaki, a previous spiritual leader at Dar al-Hijrah who went on to become an al-Qaida affiliated radical fighting America from Yemen."Let's be clear," Abdul-Malik told National Public Radio, "when Anwar Al Awlaki was at Dar Al-Hijrah, he was articulating the same message that I articulate today in Dar Al-Hijrah, a very open, a very engaging, a very community wise and contemporary understanding of the faith within the framework of its traditionalism."

Abdul Malik's claims aside, the IPT has demonstrated that Awlaki first demonstrated a tendency toward radicalism over a decade ago while he still was preaching in America.

Joining Abdul-Malik on the Ummah panel is Suhaib Webb, educational director for the Muslim American Society, a front for the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States. In addition to the organization's ties to the Brotherhood, MAS leaders have praised Palestinians for choosing "the jihad way" to liberate their land and enthusiastically responded to calls for Hamas and Hizballah supporters to show themselves.

Finally, rounding out the afternoon panel is MPAC co-founder Maher Hathout, who has previously acted as an apologist for extremism and terrorism. In a January 2009 speech at the Islamic Center of Southern California, Hathout argued that responsibility for Islamophobia lies with those groups which are "exploiting the fear of the country after 9/11, and the agitation of the previous administration to spread lies about Islam and about Muslims to intimidate, marginalize them to prevent Muslims from being part of the American discourse."

We have previously detailed how MPAC's veneer of moderation is undermined by its routine defense of designated terrorist organizations and its opposition to U.S. counterterrorism measures. The 2010 convention program offers little indication anything has changed.

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