Esman: Women are “Biggest Losers” in Arab Spring

The Failure of U.S. Policy toward Damascus

by Eyal Zisser
Middle East Quarterly
Fall 2013, pp. 59-65 (view PDF)

The failure of the Bush and the Obama administrations to topple Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad goes a long way to explaining Washington’s declining Middle Eastern position. United by a distinct lack of vision, as opposed to hopes and wishful thinking, as well as determination and a coherent plan of action, these otherwise very different administrations helped erode America’s stature in the region. Widely seen as a declining superpower that has lost belief in itself and its leading role in the world, Washington earns neither fear nor respect in the Middle East.

Bush vs. Assad

The U.S. invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003 was a decisive moment in the history of the Middle East. True, George W. Bush acquired a demonic image in the eyes of many, both in the region and beyond, but there is no doubt that history will prove that the stand he took against the region’s dictators, including some long-standing U.S. allies, was an important factor in creating significant cracks in the Middle East’s dictatorial walls and in encouraging the calls for justice and freedom that began to be heard there. In this sense, the Bush administration’s Middle East policy, which set as its aim the promotion of democracy, was an important preparatory factor, even an accelerator, for the developments that led to the outbreak of the 2011 Arab uprisings. The Iraq invasion made a strong impression on the region’s inhabitants, strengthening Washington’s standing in their eyes as a leading world power, politically, economically, and especially, militarily and technologically. At the same time, this image of the United States was accompanied by fear and awe—and unconcealed resentment, jealousy, and even hatred. Nevertheless, the routing of Saddam Hussein’s army convinced even Iran’s ayatollahs to pause in their mad dash to achieve nuclear power.[1]Only later, after Iraq became a treacherous swamp for Washington because of its failed policies there, did the halo of the initial victory lose its shine. Over time, the historical significance of the Saddam regime collapse lost much of its impact.

President Obama (left) meets with Jordan’s King Abdullah II (right) at the White House, April 26, 2013, where they discussed the Syrian crisis. Obama’s initial tough talk about Syrian use of chemical weapons being a “red line” that would evoke a strong U.S. response has become something of a joke even among the war-weary Syrian citizens. In April, the president walked back his pledge demanding instead a “chain of custody” to prove who used which weapons where.

At the same time, the war in Iraq placed the Bush administration on a collision course with Assad, who perceived the U.S. attack as being directed not only against Iraq but also against Syria. In the eyes of Damascus, the war was part of a joint U.S.-Israeli campaign directed at breaking up the Arab world and debilitating its might in order to strengthen Israel—or so the Syrians convinced themselves. It also seems that the Assad regime really believed that Washington would find it difficult to overthrow Saddam and assumed that the Vietnam war quagmire would be repeated in Iraq.[2]

In their memoirs, both George W. Bush and British prime minister Tony Blair testify that Washington had entertained the idea of carrying the military campaign from Baghdad to Damascus and overthrowing the Assad regime.[3] However, the initial shock experienced in the region, including by Syria, eventually wore off, especially as the U.S. administration found itself entangled in a morass of Shiite-Sunni violence in Iraq. Damascus thus concluded that it was in its interest for the United States to suffer total defeat in Iraq. As a result, the Assad regime began to turn a blind eye and even to assist the Muslim jihadis who crossed Syria on their way to fight the Americans in Iraq. Ironically, these same fighters were destined to return to Syria a decade later when the March 2011 revolution broke out there, leading a jihadist war against Assad’s “heretical” regime.

In light of this hostile course, the Bush administration came to the conclusion that the Syrian president was a clear and present danger to U.S. interests in the Middle East. However, Washington decided not to adopt a straightforward military option. Instead, U.S. leaders tried to exploit a series of opportunities that emerged in order to push Assad into a corner or even overthrow him. The steps taken were essentially political in character, but there is no evidence that they were part of an orderly or planned-out policy.

Read more at Middle East Forum

See also:

Ending the War on Terror

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Calling an end to the “war on terror” is not a solution, because terror is not the enemy – Islamic supremacism is

By :

In a piece last week in The Atlantic entitled “Terrorism Could Never Threaten American Values—the ‘War on Terror’ Does,” James Fallows says it’s high time that President Obama shows he understands the truth of that article’s title, and calls to put a stop to the “open-ended ‘Global War on Terror.’”

Fallows, a longtime national correspondent for The Atlantic, has argued at least as far back as 2006 that we had al Qaeda on the run, and that even though its “successor groups in Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere will continue to pose dangers… its hopes for fundamentally harming the United States now rest less on what it can do itself than on what it can trick, tempt, or goad us into doing.”

There is some undeniable truth to this. All one has to do is look at how Shoe Bomber Richard Reid, who wasn’t even successful in his attempt to bring down Flight 63 from Paris to Miami twelve years ago, transformed our air travel experience into a tedious, massively bureaucratic and intrusive TSA nightmare, detrimentally impacting our economy in the process (in a succinct summation of Fallows’ argument, famed atheist Richard Dawkins recently tweeted his irritation over what he deemed the pointless idiocy of airport security extremes: “Bin Laden has won.”). And of course, one could look at how terrorist acts have resulted, even more intrusively, in the surveillance state that emerged under George W. Bush and which has metastasized exponentially under Barack Obama.

“But if it saves a few lives…” goes the seemingly reasonable rationale for all this “security.” Of course we should protect American lives; the question is, are there more effective and reasonable ways to accomplish that and to combat terrorism which also don’t require severely diminishing our freedoms and individual rights?

Fallows acknowledges the seriousness of terrorist acts themselves. “Attacks can be terribly destructive, as we saw in hideous form 12 years ago,” he continued in last week’s article. “But the long-term threat to national interests and values comes from the response they invoke. In the case of 9/11: the attack was disastrous, but in every measurable way the rash, foolish, and unjustified decision to retaliate by invading Iraq hurt America in more lasting ways.”

Perhaps Fallows misspoke here, because surely he knows we didn’t invade Iraq in retaliation for the 9/11 attack. We went into Iraq because during a “decade of defiance,” as Bush put it, Saddam Hussein had become an increasingly clear and present danger: harboring terrorists, financing terrorism, developing weapons of mass destruction, and ignoring years of UN demands about those weapons. Maybe Fallows means that going after Saddam was an unnecessary extension of the ill-named war on terror, but the “lasting ways” in which America has been hurt in Iraq and Afghanistan resulted more from our ongoing, blood-and-treasure-sucking, nation-building efforts there than from our invasions of those countries.

Read more at Front Page

 

Homeland Security Chairman on Benghazi Report: ‘Al-Qaeda Is Spreading Like a Wildfire’

download (61)By Bridget Johnson:

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said this morning that the new evidence unveiled showing al-Qaeda plotted the Benghazi diplomatic mission attack proves the “cries for help” from Ambassador Chris Stevens “were not responded to.”

CBS featured on 60 Minutes last night the first Western eyewitness to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack: a former British soldier involved in diplomatic security.

“About 30 minutes into the attack, a Quick Reaction Force from the CIA annex ignored orders to wait and raced to the compound, at times running and shooting their way through the streets just to get there,” the guard said. “Inside the compound, they repelled a force of as many as 60 armed terrorists and managed to save five American lives and recover the body of Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith. They were forced to fight their way out before they could find the ambassador.”

He noted al-Qaeda had promised to attack the Red Cross, the British and Americans in Benghazi, and had already carried out the first two before the Sept. 11 attack.

“They knew what they were doing,” the guard said. “That was a well-executed attack.”

Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) said the interview shows disturbing, crystal-clear warning signs ignored by the administration. “The fact that the people on the ground, for the first time, have come forward to tell their story about what happened and what they saw when they got to Benghazi before this — before 9/11 where the black flags of Al Qaida flying, they saw the Red Cross embassy attack — or Red Cross attacked, the British ambassador, an assassination attempt on him. And then the third thing, that they actually put all this on the Internet, sort of prophesying what they’re getting ready to do, was to take out our consulate in Benghazi,” he said this morning on Fox.

“This was all foreseeable, and warnings were made to State Department in Washington. And a cry for help was made by the ambassador. Those cries for help were not responded to,” McCaul added.

The chairman also noted that even though Ramzi Yousef, the 1993 World Trade Center bomber, and Saddam Hussein’s brothers were on the U.S. Rewards for Justice list, the Benghazi suspects, “these terrorists, have not been put on this list.”

“I just think it’s a sign for the administration, they’re not taking it seriously, it’s not a priority. This could bring these — these terrorists to justice. It’s been over a year. I think we had them in our sights, we let them go. And now this is the best chance we can get to apprehend them,” McCaul said.

He also predicted that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s role in blaming the attack on an anti-Muhammed video will stick with the potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate.

“She was behind all of this. And I think it’s gonna haunt her in any potential presidential election,” McCaul said. “I was one of the last ones to question her in Congress on Foreign Affairs Committee about these cables, about these warnings. ‘And what was your response, Madam Secretary?’ ‘I never saw them,’ she said.”

“I think this one is the most disturbing and offensive event of all the tragedy of Benghazi. And that is, you know, the military teaches that no left — no man left behind. No man left behind. And we left behind our ambassador and three other, Navy SEAL and two Foreign Service officers — we left behind to die. And what — you heard it last night. They called for additional help,” he continued.

“Al Qaida is spreading like a wildfire across Northern Africa, and is growing out of control.”

Read more at PJ Media

 

Pat Caddell: John Boehner “purposely” helping Obama cover-up Benghazi:

FGM: ‘It’s like neutering animals’ – the film that is changing Kurdistan

film on FGM

 

By  and :

A young girl is given a plastic bag of sweets and a bottle of lemonade after being genitally mutilated … the story of the 10-year fight against female genital mutilation by two film-makers has been made into a hour long documentary by the Guardian and BBC Arabic and will go out across the Arab world from Friday, reaching a combined global audience of 30 million viewers. This is the Guardian’s shorter web version of that film

It started out as a film about a practice that has afflicted tens of millions of women worldwide. It culminated in a change in the law.

Ten years after they embarked on a documentary to investigate the extent of female genital mutilation in Kurdistan, two film-makers have found their work changing more than just opinions in a fiercely conservative part of the world. Partly as a result of the film, the numbers of girls being genitally mutilated in the villages and towns of Iraqi Kurdistan has fallen by more than half in the last five years.

Shara Amin and Nabaz Ahmed spent 10 years on the roads of Kurdistan speaking to women and men about the impact of female genital mutilation (FGM) on their lives, their children and their marriages. “It took a lot of time to convince them to speak to us. This was a very taboo subject. Speaking about it on camera was a very brave thing to do.

“It took us weeks, sometimes months to get them to talk and in the end it was the women that spoke out – despite the men,” said Ahmed.

The result was a 50-minute film, A Handful of Ash. When it was shown in the Kurdish parliament, it had a profound effect on the lawmakers.

The film-makers’ work began in 2003, shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The stories they were told had a numbing consistency. In one scene in the documentary a young mother with her children sitting beside her tells Shara that in their village: “They would just grab the little girls, take them and cut them, and the girls came back home. I can still remember I was sick, infected for three months. I could barely walk after I was cut.”

A mullah tells the film-makers that “Khatana [the Kurdish term for FGM] is a duty; it is spiritually pure.” That is the position of the Shafi’i school of Sunni Islam that is practised by Iraqi Kurds. It is the same branch of Islamic law that predominates in Egypt, where studies show that up to 80% of women have been mutilated. But FGM is not just confined to some Muslim countries in the Middle East – it is also widespread in parts of Africa and
Indonesian. It pre-dates Islam or Christianity and is on record since
the time of the Pharaoh.

“It is about controlling women’s sexuality and keeping them under control,” said Nadya Khalife, from Human Rights Watch.

Read more at The Guardian

For more on FGM go to http://counterjihadreport.com/category/female-genital-mutilation/

Wanted it bad, got it bad

2234785817By Frank Gaffney, Jr.

Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, announced a deal last weekend that is supposed to make the Syrian problem go away.  Er, that is, make Bashir Assad’s chemical weapons go away.  Or at least disappear President Obama’s immediate political problem with breached red-lines and an America with no appetite for war with Syria in response.

The bottom line: Ain’t gonna happen.  The only question is:  Will this deal actually make things worse in any, or all, of those respects?

The old axiom, “you want it bad, you’ll get it bad,” applied to the three-days of fevered bilateral negotiations in Geneva that produced the so-called “plan” for international control and dismantling of the entire Syrian chemical arsenal.  President Obama and his top diplomat understood this Russian-supplied lifeline to be the only hope for extricating them from the disastrous debacle their feckless Syria policy had become.The best that can be hoped for from this deal is that it will reduce somewhat, Assad’s stockpile of chemical arms.  But it is national security fraud – something Team Obama has perpetrated serially since it came to office – to tell the American people the Kerry-Lavrov plan will actually eliminate it.  And the costs for even trying are likely to be far higher than we are being told.

Consider the following facts of life:

  • Dealing with toxic nerve agents, mustard gas and other lethal chemical weapons and the munitions they go in – even storing them, let alone moving and disposing of them – is a very hazardous business under the best of circumstances.  Needless to say, a civil war in which both sides are interested in having access to such weapons of mass destruction is not such an environment.  Already, there is talk about having to put somebody’s “boots on the ground” to secure whatever stocks are declared.  That is a formula for getting such foreign troops (ours?) killed when hostiles target the weapons they are protecting and/or embroiled as combatants in Syria’s civil war.
  • Not surprisingly, there are host of practical issues that likely will further undermine, if not absolutely doom, this deal.   They will help determine how expensive, complex and perhaps ultimately futile the Kerry-Lavrov disarmament scheme will be.  For example, are all the weapons supposed to be destroyedin place by next June – an undertaking involving the construction of specialized incinerators whose operation in this country has proven to be exceedingly time-consuming, costly and hazardous?  Who is going to pay for constructing such facilities and keep them from being targeted in the ongoing civil war?
  • Alternatively, are Assad’s weapons to be shipped out of Syria by then and if so, to where?  Russia?  Great idea.  Ditto places like Saudi Arabia or Turkey.  How about here? Any takers?
  • At its core, even the face value of any such ambitious disarmament plan rests on the accuracy of the inventory of Assad’s chemical arsenal.  What are the chances that we will get full disclosure – let alone by the end of the week?  As recent revelations about how the supposedly cooperative Muammar Qaddafi lied about his chemical stockpile remind us, totalitarian thugs are not trustworthy.  That is especially true of one in the Kremlin.

How this almost certainly will work is that Assad’s inventory will basically track with whatever intelligence assessment we shared with the Russians during last week’s version of “Let’s Make a Deal.”  That’s right:  Kerry’s delegation told Lavrov’s what we thought was there – approximately 1,000 metric tons of chemical weapons and agent.  The Russians, we’re told, affirmed that estimate.  And surely they shared our data with their Syrian client, on whose behalf, lest we forget, they are explicitly working.So if our data understates Assad’s actual stockpile, which is almost surely the case, you have what is known in the intelligence business as the “garbage in, garbage out” phenomenon: inputting erroneous assumptions leads inevitably to faulty conclusions.  In this case, that will likely mean that – even if all the other logistic, security and disposal problems are somehow overcome – at the end of the day, the Syrian regime will still have chemical weapons, and probably biological ones, too.

How could it be otherwise?  The U.S. government has never formally confirmed that Syria received chemical and/or biological weapons of mass destruction (WMD) from Saddam Hussein in the run-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom.  While there are reports that Assad is sending some of them back to Iraq now (among other shell-game style movements of his chemical arsenal among roughly 50 sites in Syria itself), our estimates are sure to be off.  Then, there’s the undeclared help Assad has received from North Korea and Iran in producing and concealing his WMD.

  • The larger problem is that all this sharing of information and other revelations about how we detect and monitor chemical weapons movements and dispositions is a field day for our adversaries’ counter-intelligence operations.  Count on them to learn from us and to make it vastly harder for us to know what they are up to in the future.

In short, the present crisis in Syria is not going away.  And the problems arising from previous, fraudulent deals to “rid the world of chemical weapons” are likely to be compounded by this one, not eliminated by Messrs. Kerry and Lavrov – any more than will be the case with all of Bashir Assad’s chemical arms.

How Do They Do IT? My Reflection on Veterans, Suicide, and the Syrian Quagmire

1236534_10151650065899150_1247205358_n-300x300by Kerry Patton:

Over the past several days, not even realizing it, something has changed within me. It’s my attitude and it sucks. I have said some hurtful things to many persons I cherish and for that I am deeply sorry. But why this sudden attitude change? Let me take a moment to ask a different question.

How do they do it?

How do veterans still living, those who fought in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, etc. do it? How do they sit every day and watch the news around them? How do they go on knowing their brothers of today are fighting aimless wars, and for what? How do they live knowing the current wars fought are plagued with disinformation and propaganda?

How do they do it?

These are questions I have been asking myself on an hourly basis for well over a week now. With every new report coming out of the United States, the United Nations, Syria, or wherever, I find myself getting sick to my stomach…literally.

How do they do it?

How do we veterans continue living knowing not only has our country furnished rogue nations and terrorist groups with weapons we would later be forced to fight but also weapons of mass destruction like those provided to Saddam Hussein during the 80’s? It’s a morality issue I find myself struggling with daily.

How do they do it?

For many, they don’t do it. And that is reality.

A serious epidemic is growing in America. That epidemic is suicide among veterans. According multiple reports, one veteran takes his/her life every 65 minutes. That’s an average of twenty-two per day.

Why is this statistic important?

As the United States contemplates some form of military action in Syria, veterans will be sitting in their chairs watching the news and growing with depression knowing our own brothers and sisters are being forced into harm’s way for no true national security reason which jeopardizes our own nation. We will seriously question the integrity of a nation we vowed to defend against all enemies—foreign and domestic.

Many veterans will obtain attitude changes like I have over such a decision and integrity loss. Many will be angered, saddened, outraged, depressed, etc. Many will be on edge. Many will even contemplate taking their own lives.

I am not suicidal. Angered, outraged, possibly even a bit depressed…but not suicidal.

If I have these feelings, surely I am not alone. With the possibilities of military action against Syria, veterans are going to be impacted unlike many American’s who never served a day in combat. We need to really look out for these warriors.

Starting on Sunday, September 8th through Saturday, September 14th we as a nation will endure National Suicide Prevention Week. This also may be the time we see the start of US military involvement in Syria.

During this week of suicide prevention, my brothers at Ranger UP will be posting articles on their Rhino Den blog to help support Suicide Prevention Week. This is just a heads up for what is to come and I ask all readers to constantly check in to their blog site to read what we veterans have to say about this growing epidemic.

This post is also about me and expressing my feelings of a shitty attitude. Thankfully, I would never allow myself to stoop to the point of no return. But others have, and will.

I have my own outlet to release my feelings through writing. I pray other veterans find outlets that work for them. Its critical they find ways to release their frustrations through healthy means. But I also understand some will just not find those means and lean towards the alternative.

Veterans need our support now more than ever. Be on the lookout folks. Let’s take care of our nation’s best and brightest because we face the potential of some seriously depressing times ahead of us especially if we find ourselves intervening in Syria.

Kerry Patton is the author of Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors

Is Islam Compatible With Democracy?

download (13)By Alon Ben-Meir:

The question raised by the ouster of Egypt’s President Morsi is whether Islam is compatible with democracy or any form of government that empowers the people and limits the power of leaders to hold merely representative offices with limited terms of public service.

Islam is the most recent of the Abrahamic religions to emerge on the world stage. Monotheism in general, and specifically as it developed in the Dark and Middle Ages, in principle reflects extremely authoritarian regimes.

Theologically, it posits a cosmic or heavenly hierarchy with absolute authority in God, angels in go-between positions, and a fallen humanity in need of salvation at the base of the pyramidal power structure.

It is no surprise then that in the centuries wherein the Catholic Church was at its zenith of influence in the West, political power was held by kings, popes, emperors, and powerful nepotistic and despotic elite with huge economic chasms between the people and their rulers.

Obviously, these structures were not compatible with democracy.

Christianity and Judaism, being monotheistic, are no less inheritors of this stratified and centralized power paradigm, but unlike Islam these religions were effectively secularized and toned down during the century of the European Enlightenment.

Thinkers like Descartes, Locke, Spinoza, Kant, Voltaire, Rousseau, Hume, and Hegel paved the way for Marx, Schopenhauer, Buber, and Sartre to challenge conventional approaches to religious ideologies and political formations.

Traditional monotheism, with its highly categorized view of man and God, may not in itself be wholly compatible with democracy, but modern Western monotheism gradually molded itself to new ways of thinking during the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, and was certainly forced to do so amid rapid scientific and technological advances.

The Islamic world enjoyed its own renaissance during the Islamic Golden Age (mid-8th to mid-13th century) with advances in the sciences, mathematics, and literature, yet the period declined and has never been restored to its former glory.

Where are Islam’s corresponding great modern philosophers and scientists who can pave the way for a similar transformation of both radical and even secular Islam in the Arab world?

In the Arab world today, the majority of its intellectuals are clerics, imams, and thinkers emerging from the core of Islamic values. Radical Islam simply does not routinely nurture free thinkers willing to brave the fires of what might otherwise become an Islamic Inquisition.

Is it even possible to transition from hierarchical religious authoritarianism to a modernized and even secularized form of Islamic democracy — one that accepts the separation of church and state?

While the possibility and harsh eventuality remains, this is a tall order since Islam, perhaps more than other monotheistic religions, invites itself into every aspect of social life. More specifically, Islam is inherently and by definition inconsistent with the separation of church and state.

It is instructive that the seeming separation between the two occurred under ruthless secular dictators such Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Hafez Assad’s family in Syria, and Qaddafi’s Libya. In all these instances, the authoritarianism seen in the rule of the Islamist Morsi was still there.

The Middle East is not the only place where religious ideology might compel people to vote against their own social, economic, and political interests. But history teaches that if there is any prospect in wedding Islam to democratic ideals, efforts to do so must concurrently work on religious, economic, and political levels.

Religiously, the concept of the separation of church and state has practically no hold in Islamic thinking. The idea is entirely foreign to most Islamic orthodoxy, and even if a political party were secular in name, they dare not forsake the basic tenets of Islam.

Read more at American Thinker

Elisabeth Sabaditsch Wolff – Wake Up People, We Need To Fight For Free Speech!

images (80)

By Elisabeth Sabaditsch Wolff:

Fascist totalitarianism has returned to my country. This time it does not come with the ring of jackboots on the cobblestones. No one’s door is battered down in the middle of the night. No cattle cars haul innocent victims away to an unknown destination.
This is a soft totalitarianism. It wears a business suit, smiles, and speaks in reasonable tones in the name of tolerance and diversity.

This time its victims are the natives of Austria, who are being deliberately replaced with a violent, barbaric, alien culture.

I am one of those victims.

For a number of years I have been giving educational seminars on Islam, sponsored by the Austrian Freedom Party. They are designed to educate people about the realities of Islam.

I learned those realities first-hand: I have lived in Iran, Kuwait, and Libya. As a little girl in Tehran, I watched the beginnings of Khomeini’s revolution. I was held hostage in Kuwait when Saddam Hussein invaded in 1990. And I watched people dance for joy in the streets of Tripoli on 9-11.

My experiences made me want to understand what lay behind all the ghastliness I had experienced, so I spent a lot of time researching Islam, and then began teaching others what I had learned. I told them that Islam did not respect free speech or other human rights, and was particularly brutal in its treatment of women. I explained that these characteristics derive directly from the totalitarian Islamic doctrines. In Islam, brutal repression is not a bug — it’s a feature.

My seminars became more popular, drawing a larger audience. As a result they drew the attention of the Multicultural Left, which is very influential in Viennese politics.
On two separate occasions in the fall of 2009 a leftist magazine, NEWS, sent an undercover reporter to secretly tape my lecture. They then turned the tapes over to the authorities and filed a complaint against me for my “hate speech”. In October 2009 I learned that I was under judicial investigation only through NEWS magazine — before I received any notice from the court.

For almost a year the investigation proceeded. Then, in October 2010, I was informed of my indictment and impending trial — once again, by reading it in NEWS, not through any official notification.

The trial began in November of that year and continued until the following February. The case eventually focused on my description of a phone conversation with my sister, in which I referred to Mohammed’s sexual relationship with Aisha. My sister was appalled at the thought that I might call Mohammed a “pedophile”. I said, “What else would you call a man who has a thing for little girls?”

This statement was what the court chose to highlight, along with various “hostile” remarks about Islam. However, it became obvious partway through the trial that it would not be possible to use these things to convict me under the charge that had been laid, which was “incitement to hatred”.

As a result, on the second day of the trial, the judge at her own discretion added a second charge, “denigration of religious beliefs of a legally recognized religion.”
When the verdict was handed down in February 2011, I was acquitted on the first charge, but convicted on the second, and fined.

It was clear that the judge was determined to find a charge under which I could be convicted. The convoluted logic for her decision was this: it was not factually correct to say that Mohammed was a pedophile, because although he had sex with a nine-year-old girl, he remained married to her until she was of age. That is, he proved that he only liked little girls part of the time, so he couldn’t have been a pedophile.

I know that sounds like a passage from a dystopian fantasy by Phillip K. Dick, but it’s not — it really happened, in a court of law, in the city of Vienna, the country of Austria, in the Year of Our Lord 2011.

The reality of Modern Multicultural Europe has merged with dystopian fantasy. As Humpty-Dumpty said to Alice, “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we have stepped through the looking glass into a strange new world.

Shielding the Enemy

20110228_IslamStarsStripesby JANET LEVY:

One year ago, in June 2012, the “National Security Five” — five members of Congress led by Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) — called attention to U.S. government infiltration by Muslim Brotherhood (MB) operatives. Based on disturbing information from court evidence and documents, correspondence, media reports, congressional briefings, and public statements, they found that individuals with questionable loyalty to the United States held high-level security clearances and worked in key national security positions. Tragically for the security of the United States and the safety of its citizens, these five earnest members of Congress, armed with ample evidence, were roundly criticized by both Republicans and Democrats, and their request for investigations was ignored.

Unfortunately for our country, this response is not atypical, but simply another in a series of thwarted or abandoned investigations over decades whose outcomes have critical national security implications for America.

A mere 20 years ago, responding to pressure from then-President Clinton to de-emphasize Arab international terrorism, FBI head Louis Freeh shifted the agency’s focus from foreign terrorists to domestic terrorists or “rightwing extremists.” As a direct consequence, 40 boxes of evidence from the first World Trade Center attack in 1993 that would have revealed valuable information about Al Qaeda operations were never reviewed and key evidence, including the presence of Arab nationals at U.S. flight schools, was ignored.

In the same way, serious evidence of Middle Eastern involvement in the Oklahoma City bombing that claimed 168 lives, injured more than 680 people and damaged 324 buildings within a 16 block radius was ignored. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) alluded to this in his 2006 Chairman’s Report for the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee on the attack. Rohrabacher cited suspicions of meetings and phone calls between bombing accomplice Terry Nichols and convicted 1993 World Trade Center (WTC) mastermind Ramzi Yousef. Similarly, the attack strategy and mechanics resembled the first WTC bombing. Finally, multiple witnesses reported seeing Hussain Hashem al-Hussaini, an Iraqi connected to Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard, in the company of McVeigh prior to the bombing, leaving the truck used in the attack, and driving away prior to the blast. These significant similarities didn’t even warrant an investigation by the Clinton administration.

The Clinton administration also ignored the findings of Able Danger, an 80-person military intelligence program (1999-2001) created to gather intelligence on Al Qaeda networks. The program’s findings were presented to the Pentagon more than a year prior to 9/11. The intelligence unit identified 60 terrorists inside the United States, including a Brooklyn cell headed by Mohammed Atta and three other terrorists later involved in 9/11. This crucial information was ignored by the Clinton Department of Defense (DoD), which chose not to act on it and not to pass it on to the FBI. Two members of the Able Danger team, Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer and Navy Commander Scott Philpott, attempted to arrange meetings on three occasions to transfer the open-source information about Al Qaeda to the FBI and to warn the government about upcoming attacks. But Clinton administration lawyers under the direction of Assistant Attorney General Jamie Gorelick thwarted their efforts and Able Danger was shut down before 9/11 occurred. Although Able Danger intelligence officer Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer provided intelligence from its investigation to the director of the 9/11 Commission, that information was not included in the final report and Lt. Col. Shaffer was not permitted to testify. Ultimately the DoD denied the accuracy of the information and retaliated against him. When Shaffer first published his book, Operation Dark Heart, the DoD bought and destroyed all 9,500 copies.

Remarkably, Able Danger had identified the threat to the USS Cole two weeks before the attack and the role played by the Al Farooq mosque in Brooklyn, a major funding, recruiting, and fundraising source for Al Qaeda in the late 1980s and 1990s.

Read more: Family Security Matters

 

The “Grievances” Defense

images (66)by Peter Huessy:

If grievances explain terrorism, the implication is that removing the grievances would remove the terrorism. The U.S. was warned, however, before 9/11, that it faced a “poisonous coalition” of terror groups, wealthy sheiks, military establishments and intelligence, all fueled with an apparently endless supply of indoctrinated recruits from madrassas and mosques. This coalition now has nuclear weapons. A credible case can be argued that the West has the right of self-defense.

The April terrorist attacks during the Boston Marathon killed and wounded scores of people. Machete-wielding thugs last week butchered a British soldier in full view of citizens on a London street. Simultaneously, in Sweden, a full five days of riots have seen burned cars, banks and schools, and assaulted citizens.

These attacks raise the uncomfortable question: “Why are we being attacked?”

A newly announced American policy to deal with such threats involves “addressing grievances and conflicts” that feed what is described as “extremism.”

But will this work?

After 9/11, despite the impression of a nation coming together, almost immediately many pundits, media outlets and academics blamed America. We were, for example, attacked because “our chickens [were] coming home to roost.” Three reasons were most often cited: our sanctions against Iraq; our deployment of troops in Saudi Arabia and our support for Israel.

Over a quarter of a century ago, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, our UN ambassador during the Presidency of Ronald Reagan’s, first explained this tendency to “always blame America first.” It flowed from a view that saw American military power as a harmful force in world politics. Steven Kinzer in All the Shah’s Men argued in 2003, just two years later, that, “It is not far-fetched to draw a line through the Shah’s repressive regime and the Islamic revolution [1979] to the fireballs that engulfed the World Trade Center in New York.” A decade later, former Congressman Ron Paul similarly argued the attacks of 9/11 were in retaliation for American troops being deployed in Saudi Arabia in 1990-1991, there to drive Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. And on May 23, the administration sought to explain what it terms “violent extremism” as a reaction to the “thousands of civilians that have been killed” in Iraq and Afghanistan,” implicitly by American intervention.

Even now, many weeks after the Boston Marathon bombing, the “Blame America” syndrome is on full display.

Read more at Gatestone Institute

Christians Face Persecution, Extinction in Islamic Lands

COPTIC CHRISTIANS PRAY INSIDE CHURCH IN CAIRO

During this Christian holiday season, the message from the world — and even from the top ranks of Christendom — to Christians facing Islamic jihad and the imposition of sharia would seem to be: “You’re on your own.”

by Clare M. Lopez
Radicalislam.org
March 27, 2013

Across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Islam is on the march again and Christians are marked for annihilation. In lands once known as the heartland of Christianity, where the Apostles and early missionaries spread their faith, Christianity is a faith under fire and Christians themselves are a dwindling presence.

Nowhere is the Islamic assault against Christians more intense than the killing fields of Syria, where rebel advances by both the al-Qa’eda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, and Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated militias of the Syrian Free Army (SFA), inevitably result in pogroms against Christian populations in every town they capture from the Bashar al-Assad regime that previously had protected Syria’s minority Christians.

As Nina Shea wrote recently at National Review Online, the 2,000-year-old Christian Assyrian community in embattled Syria literally faces extinction, as an Islamic “ethno-religious cleansing” targets its defenseless members with kidnappings, murder, rape and threats.

Like Iraq’s Assyrian and Chaldean communities before it (some of whose members had fled to Syria for safety), the Christians of Syria are now fleeing in droves, many to Lebanon, and some even back to Iraq. The Chaldean Catholic bishop of Aleppo, Antoine Audo, reports that as many as 30,000 Christians have fled that devastated city alone.

Juliana Taimoorazy, the founder and president of the Iraqi Christian Relief Council, has highlighted the desperate plight of Iraq’s original people, the Assyrians and Chaldeans, descendants of mighty civilizations and Christian since the first century. Since the Council’s founding in 2008, Taimoorazy has made it her mission to document and speak about the devastation wreaked against Iraqi Christian businesses, churches and homes in the years since 2003, when the ouster of Saddam Hussein brought to power the jihadist forces of Shi’ite Islam.

Waves of violence, killing and forced displacement have slashed the pre-2003 number of churches in Iraq from 300 to just 57, and the number of beleaguered Christians from some 1.4 million to perhaps only half a million in 2013.

Read more

 

Investigate Benghazigate

1451690329By Frank Gaffney:

After Iraq was liberated from Saddam Hussein’s despotic misrule, critics denounced the then-incumbent president with the charge that “Bush lied, people died.”  It never ceases to amaze that among the most prominent of those making this slanderous accusation were past and present Democratic legislators who had publicly pronounced exactly what George W. Bush did:  Saddam possessed – and used – weapons of mass destruction (WMD).  And they, like Mr. Bush, had every reason to believe and did believe that such weapons, or worse, might be used again unless his regime were overthrown.

Put simply, there never had been any conscious or deliberate effort to deceive the American people.  Neither did the President seek to deflect responsibility for his actions.  To the contrary, his top political advisor, Karl Rove, subsequently acknowledged that his greatest mistake – at least until he made a centi-million-dollar hash-up of Campaign 2012 – was preventing any official effort from being mounted to counter the calumny about Mr. Bush lying about Iraqi WMD, with the predictable effect of allowing the credibility of the Bush 43 presidency to be destroyed.

By contrast, people did die in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 due to Barack Obama’s policies and he lied about it, repeatedly and knowingly.  This scandalous reality has come to be popularly known as “Benghazigate.”

If we don’t find out what led up to, occurred during and happened afterwards –and the role played by the President and his senior subordinates throughout – there will certainly be more lies and may be more American deaths.

Read more at Center For Security Policy

 

New Syrian Opposition Leader: Islamist-In-Chief

Sheikh Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib

The new leader of Syria’s opposition has a history of statements that are anti-Semitic, outrageous, and sometimes downright bizarre.

BY MOHANAD HAGE ALI

Even as opponents of President Bashar al-Assad have gained ground inside Syria, the political opposition in exile has remained famously divided. The Syrian National Council, a body formed more than a year ago with the goal of uniting all opposition groups, was the poster child for these failures:  Many of its most prominent members resigned in anger over the Muslim Brotherhood’s domination of its top ranks and the council’s detachment from groups inside the country.

However, recent developments have prompted a burst of optimism about the state of Syria’s opposition. On Nov. 11, anti-Assad groups met in Doha, Qatar, where they hashed out an agreement, under U.S. and Qatari auspices, to form the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. The new rebel coalition was hailed as the first truly representative opposition body — and its new leader, Sheikh Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, was widely praised as the perfect figure to represent the opposition to the world.

Syria’s opposition received an immediate diplomatic boost after the formation of the new coalition. France recognized it as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people, and pledged to reexamine the possibility of shipping arms to the rebels. The Arab League also recognized the body, with Secretary General Nabil al-Araby hailing it as a “glimmer of hope.” By dispelling Western fears of growing jihadist influence within the Free Syrian Army, the rebels hope, the new coalition can open the door to increased financial and military assistance from the international community.

The election of the Cairo-based Khatib, a former imam of Damascus’s historic Umayyad Mosque who was imprisoned under Assad, is a crucial part of this strategy. Western media outlets such as the BBC were quick to declare him “a respected figure within Syria” who holds “moderate” political views, citing his trips to Britain and the United States, as well as his teaching experience at the Dutch Institute in Damascus, as evidence. However, public statements posted on the clergyman’s website, darbuna.net, paint a different picture.

Khatib’s website features numerous instances of anti-Semitic rhetoric. In one of his own articles, he writes that one of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s positive legacies was “terrifying the Jews.” He has also published others’ anti-Semitic observations on his site: In one article, written by Abdul Salam Basiouni, Jews are described as “gold worshipers.” Finally, in an obituary of a Gaza sheikh copied from IslamSyria, Jews are dubbed “the enemies of God.”

While Khatib used his post-election speech to call for equal rights for “all parts of the harmonious Syrian people,” his previous rhetoric toward his country’s minorities has been nothing short of virulent. One of his articles describes Shiite using the slur rawafid, or “rejectionists”; he even goes further, criticizing Shiites’ ability to “establish lies and follow them.” Such language, needless to say, will hardly reassure the country’s Alawite community, a Shiite offshoot to which Assad belongs.

Read more at Foreign Policy

US to take Iran group MEK off terror list, sources say

AP: The Obama administration will remove from the U.S. terrorism list an Iranian  militant group formerly allied with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, officials  said Friday, describing a move that will infuriate Tehran and end years of  high-profile campaigning by the group.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will notify Congress of her intent  later Friday, the officials said. A court order had given her until Oct. 1 to  make a decision about the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, or MEK. The officials spoke on  condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak about the  matter.

Clinton’s decision comes just days after the last big batch of the Iranian  exiles reluctantly left their decades-old paramilitary base in northeastern  Iraq, relocating for now to a refugee camp outside Baghdad. The U.S. had  insisted that the MEK’s 3,000 members comply with an Iraqi demand to leave Camp  Ashraf as a condition of the MEK’s removal from the list of foreign terrorist  organizations.

Derided by its critics as a cult, the group has journeyed through multiple  countries and the shifting alliances of the Middle East over its four-decade  history. The MEK helped Islamic clerics overthrow Iran’s shah before carrying  out a series of bombings and assassinations against the Iranian government. It  fought in the 1980s alongside Saddam’s forces in the Iran-Iraq war, but disarmed  after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. It has since suffered violent  recriminations from Iraq’s new Shiite-dominated government.

The decision to remove the MEK list rested on two factors: whether it still  had the capacity and intent to commit acts of terror. Several American military  officials and defense contractors were killed by the MEK in the 1970s, U.S.  officials maintain, and its attacks have killed hundreds of Iranians. But the  group contended it swore off violence more than a decade ago and now only seeks  a peaceful overthrow of Iran’s theocratic government.

The MEK assembled a high-profile roster of champions even as it remained on  the U.S. blacklist. Luminaries who’ve advocated for the MEK’s removal from the  list include former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former FBI Director Louis  Freeh, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed  Rendell and James Jones, President Barack Obama’s first national security  adviser.

That led the Treasury Department earlier this year to examine whether the  officials were providing illegal material support to designated terrorists; that  civil inquiry probably would be nullified now. Removal from the list also should  make it easier for the MEK to raise money and recruit in the United  States.

The organization is far from Iran’s mainstream opposition, however.

The group has an ideology mixing Marxism, secularism, an obsession with  martyrdom and near adoration of its leaders. A 2009 report by the security think  tank RAND accuses it of fraudulent recruiting as well as “authoritarian control,  confiscation of assets, sexual control (including mandatory divorce and  celibacy), emotional isolation, forced labor, sleep deprivation, physical abuse  and limited exit options.”

MEK supporters say this is Iranian propaganda, pointing to several former  members who’ve freely left the group.

It also vehemently rejects the Iranian accusation that members have worked  with Israel to assassinate several Iranian nuclear scientists. U.S. officials  say there is no evidence to suggest recent terrorist activity by the  group.

U.S. officials said Clinton’s letter to Congress would not amount to a final  designation. That will probably come in a couple of weeks as officials unfreeze  assets held by the group in the United States and other legal work that might  allow it to open a U.S. office.

Camp Ashraf is not yet fully closed. An estimated 200 exiles remain there to  try to sell off the property that was left behind in the move, but Iraq’s  government wants them to leave quickly.

The hostility of Baghdad’s Shiite leaders reflect its desire to build  stronger ties with Iran, but also the deep hatred for the group in Iraq because  of its purported role in helping Saddam crush Shiite and Kurdish revolts in the  1990s.

When the MEK handed over its hundreds of tanks and artillery pieces to U.S.  forces, the Bush administration agreed to protect the group and posted soldiers  and a general at the camp for years. The army and the MEK even worked on joint  patrols and other emergency plans.

But for Iraqi authorities the camp remained a no-go zone. In effect, the MEK  attempted to defend a sovereign zone inside the post-Saddam Iraq, which U.S.  officials say contributed to violence.

An Iraqi raid last year left 34 exiles dead.

The MEK has shown footage of the atrocities and gained U.S. support. But it  said it needed the administration to act because the terrorist label helped  Iraqi authorities justify mistreatment of its members and made it harder for  residents to find permanent homes in other nations.

Most of its members are now in Camp Liberty, a former U.S. base designed as a  compromise way-station for the United Nations to speed them out of Iraq  peacefully. Several governments are weighing whether to accept them. Washington  could allow the immigration of some, but none that were actively involved in  terrorist attacks from the 1970s-1990s, officials have said.

After suffering a crackdown under Iran’s monarchy, the MEK helped Ayatollah  Ruhollah Khomeini overthrow U.S.-backed Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in Iran’s  Islamic Revolution in 1979.

It then quickly fell out with Khomeini, and thousands of its followers were  killed, imprisoned or forced into exile. It launched its campaign of  assassinations and bombings against Iran’s government in retaliation. The U.S.  declared it a terrorist organization in 1997 at a time when Washington sought  warmer relations with Tehran under the reformist presidency of Mohammad  Khatami.

Yet the group also has provided the Americans with intelligence on Iran and  convinced many governments that it has abandoned terrorism. In 2002, it revealed  Iran’s secret work on uranium enrichment near the city of Natanz — intelligence  that many speculated came from Israel’s Mossad.

Read more at Fox News