Monday, October 31, 2005

Military Jokes Military Humor

Military Jokes Military Humor - If the historic victory against the Japanese navy at Midway was described by contemporary media, what would they say?

Midway Island Demolished. Yorktown, destroyer sunk.
Many US planes lost
June 7, 1942

The United States Navy suffered another blow in its attempt to stem the Japanese juggernaut ravaging the Pacific Ocean. Midway Island, perhaps the most vital U.S. outpost, was pummeled by Japanese Naval aviators. The defending U.S. forces, consisting primarily of antique Buffalo fighters, were competely wiped out while the Japanese attackers suffered few, if any, losses.

In a nearby naval confrontation, the Japanese successfully attacked the Yorktown which was later sunk by a Japanese submarine. A destroyer lashed to the Yorktown was also sunk.

American forces claim to have sunk four Japanese carriers and the cruiser Mogami but those claims were vehemently denied by the Emporer's spokeman.

The American carriers lost an entire squadron of torpedo planes when they failed to link up with fighter escorts. The dive bombers had fighter escort even though they weren't engaged by enemy fighters. The War Dept. refused to answer when asked why the fighters were assigned to the wrong attack groups. The Hornet lost a large number of planes when they couldn't locate the enemy task force. Despite this cavalcade of errors, Admirals Fletcher and Spruance have not been removed.
Code Broken

The failure at Midway is even more disheartening because the U.S. Navy knew the Japanese were coming. Secret documents provided to the NY Times showed that "Magic" intercepts showed the Japanese planned to attack Midway, which they called "AF".
Obsolete Equipment

Some critics blamed the failure at Midway on the use of obsolete aircraft. The inappropriately named Devastator torpedo planes proved no match for the Japanese fighters. Even the Avengers, its schedule replacements, were riddled with bullets and rendered unflyable. Secretary of War Stimson dodged the question saying simply: "You go to war with the Navy you have, not the Navy you want or would like to have". Critics immediately called for his resignation.

Why Moslem Countries Cooperate Against al Qaeda

Why Moslem Countries Cooperate Against al Qaeda

Why Moslem Countries Cooperate Against al Qaeda
by James Dunnigan
October 23, 2005
Discussion Board on this DLS topic

Yemen, despite having an ongoing civil war with Islamic conservative Shia tribes on the Saudi border, plus many Sunni Arab Yemenis being big fans of al Qaeda, has made progress crippling terrorist operations in their territory. The recent arrest of al Qaedas senior man in Yemen, Mubkhit Salih al Kuabi was a major operation. More attacks on American ships were planned by al Qaeda, and al Kuabi was sent to make it happen. Apparently, the intelligence efforts of several Arab countries, including Jordan and Saudi Arabia, were used to identify and locate al Kuabi (who was working for Iraqi al Qaeda leader al-Zarqawi.)

Al Kuabi turned out to be a very senior guy, very well connected, and very useful once interrogators got to work on him. Yemen plays down this cooperation with other Arab countries, mainly because the Sunni Arab leaders of those nations fear the popular appeal of al Qaeda and their suicide bomber “martyrs.”

Sunni Arabs don’t like the idea of democracy in Iraq, and would really like the Sunni Arab minority there to be back in power. Al Qaeda wants that as well, but they want a Sunni Arab religious leader running the show. Al Qaeda also wants to take all the current Arab leaders and behead them. This is part of al Qaeda’s appeal to the average Arab. This is also the reason for the energetic efforts by Arab governments to wipe out al Qaeda.

Iraq: Sunni Arab Nightmare

Iraq: Sunni Arab Nightmare

Sunni Arab Nightmare

October 30, 2005: After two years of fighting, the Iraqi Sunni Arabs are seeing their worst nightmare come true. And that is an Iraqi army and police force that can do the job, and is not led by Sunni Arabs. For generations, Iraq was dominated by Sunni Arabs, because Sunni Arabs held most of the leadership posts in the army and police. Kurds and Shia Arabs were often the majority of the troops and beat cops, but they nearly always took orders from a hierarchy of Sunni Arab supervisors and officers. The Sunni Arabs knew that the management and leadership skills necessary to run an army or police force were not easily acquired. It took years of training and experience. There was no way the Kurds and Shia Arabs could quickly replace those Sunni Arab officers and NCOs. Thus Sunni Arab terrorists would drive out the foreign troops, especially the deadly Americans, and, then the Sunni Arabs would take over again. But then something very, very bad (for the Sunni Arab takeover plan) happened. Battalions and brigades of Iraqi troops began to show up, commanded by Kurds, Shia Arabs, and some turncoat Sunni Arabs, that could do the job. Currently there are 207,000 Iraqi soldiers and police that are trained and equipped for operations. There are sufficient leadership to deploy 120 army and police battalions for combat operations. About three dozen of these battalions are well enough led to undertake security operations without American supervision.

Every week, these Iraqi battalions undertake more operations, each raid or cordon and search operation providing the Iraqi officers and NCOs with more practical experience, and confidence that they can do the job. Each Iraqi battalion has a team of ten American advisors, who observe and advise, but are not numerous enough (and few speak Arabic) to run the battalion. The Americans help with things like logistics, which has always been a major weakness with the Iraqi army. The U.S. advisors also rate the Iraqi officers and NCOs for the Iraqi senior commanders, helping to select those who are able to do the job, and those who don’t, and must be removed. This is hard to do in Iraq, where everyone has a tribe to back them up. Try and remove a man from command of a army or police battalion, and you find that you are taking on the man’s entire tribe. Saddam Hussein didn’t have that problem, because if he had to remove an officer from command, he would often do it by killing the fellow, and telling his fellow tribesmen that there was more death to be had if the tribe objected.

The American have brought in a radically new way to deal with these problems, and it has taken the Iraqis some time to get used to it. But the Kurds and Shia Arabs want to succeed, because they know that if the Sunni Arabs regain control, many, many Kurds and Shia Arabs will die, particularly those who are now commanding army and police units.

As of mid-October, the 18 Iraqi army battalions in the Baghdad area, all but a few are capable of going out and searching for terrorists. That means, most of those battalions have officers and NCOs that can organize convoys full of troops capable of defending themselves while moving, and quickly running through the drills required for fighting off ambushes, searching buildings, taking prisoners and so on. American battalions usually serve as backup for the Iraqi battalions during these operations. The backup battalion provides reinforcements, if needed, and form a safety net for Iraqi battalions commanded by men new to the job. American battalions are full of leaders with ten to fifteen or more years experience. Iraqi battalions are led by men with one or two years experience.

Seven of the 18 Baghdad battalions can operate on their own, and the more they do, the more confident their officers and NCOs become. On a normal day, there are one or two dozen terrorist attacks throughout the city. Each attack triggers a response from the army and police, and an attempt to round up those responsible. The Iraqi army commanders have to know terrorist tactics. The Americans, and now Iraqi, compile information on exactly how the terrorists attack, and note things like how many local Iraqi civilians are involved in the attack (as lookouts, messengers, guides or even gunmen), and where they can be found right after the attack. The Iraqi troops and police are able to catch a lot of these low level terrorists, who will often reveal who they know, leading to more arrests. Each week, a higher portion of the terrorist suspects turn out to have blood on their hands, not just people who were in the wrong place, at the wrong time with the wrong attitude.

The Iraqi battalions are able to make terrorist attacks much more costly, for the terrorists. Thus the recent terrorist attack on the Palestinian hotel, resulted in over a dozen terrorist personnel killed or captured because of prompt action by Iraqi soldiers and police. As a result of this, two more trends are in evidence. First, more and more of the terrorist activity is moving outside of heavily policed Baghdad, to smaller towns where there are fewer security personnel. Second, more Sunni Arabs are giving up on plans for any quick take over of the government. These Kurdish and Shia Arab police and army officers were not supposed to show up so quickly, if ever. But there they are.

Commandos and Special Operations

Commandos and Special Operations: "Can't Get Enough Little Birds

October 31, 2005: The “commando Olympics” going on in Afghanistan has brought commando units from over a dozen countries together to pursue Islamic terrorists. In addition to all the cooperation, there’s also a lot comparing notes. One thing everyone has noted is the large number of useful gadgets American Special Forces troops have. The most envied item is the American Raven UAV. What makes this little (4.2 pounds) bird so popular is its low cost ($25,000 each) and performance (can stay in the air for 80 minutes at a time). The Raven is battery powered, and carries a color day vidcam, or a two color infrared night camera. Both cameras broadcast real time video back to the operator, who controls the Raven via a laptop computer. The Raven can go as fast as 90 kilometers an hour, but usually cruises between 40 and 50. It can go as far as 15 kilometers from its controller on the ground, and usually flies a preprogrammed route, using GPS for navigation. Each Raven unit consists of three UAVs and one ground control station. Ravens are launched by turning on the motor, and throwing it into the air. It lands by coming back to ground at a designated GPS location (and bouncing around a bit.) The Raven is made of Kevlar, the same material used in helmets and protective vests. On average, Raven can survive about 200 landings before it breaks something. While some Ravens have been shot down, the most common cause of loss is losing the communications link (as the aircraft flies out of range) or a software/hardware failure on the aircraft. Troops have taken to putting a label on each aircraft, saying, in the local language, that if the aircraft is returned to the nearest American military unit, there will be a reward. Several lost Ravens have been recovered this way.

Several foreign special operations organizations have expressed an interest in American UAVs, and the way they are used in the field. The British SAS recently purchased a larger micro UAV, the BUSTER (backpack unmanned surveillance targeting and enhanced reconnaissance). Similar to the Raven, each aircraft weighs ten pounds, is launched via a small catapult, and lands via a built- in parachute. BUSTER’s big advantage is that it can stay in the air for four hours at a time, and fly as high as 10,000 feet. "

Submarines

Submarines: "The American Nightmare Undergoes Sea Trials

October 30, 2005: Germany has commissioned its first Type 212 submarines. The first one, U-31, is now undergoing sea trials. Three more are under construction. These are special boats, as they possess fuel cells (for AIP, or Air Independent Propulsion) , which enable them to quietly operate underwater for weeks at a time. They still have diesel propulsion, but this is only used for surface travel. The 212’s are also very quiet, quieter than most nuclear boats in service. This makes them an even match for a current nuclear boat equipped with better sensors. The 1,500 ton 212’s are much smaller than nuclear boats (188 feet long, compared to 360 feet and 6,200 tons for the new U.S. Virginia class SSNs). The nuclear boats are used for a lot more than hunting other ships, and subs, while the 212’s are mainly attack boats, and well designed and equipped for it. While Germany is an American ally, their development of fuel cell technology for subs, and use of these boats in their own navy, are making this technology mature, and eventually available to many more nations. These 212 boats are, expensive (about half a billion dollars each), but that’s less than a third the cost of a nuclear boats. The 212’s are also highly automated, requiring a crew of only 27. But with six torpedo tubes, and a dozen torpedoes (plus anti-ship missiles, launched from the tubes, as well as mines), they could be, in the wrong hands, a major threat to the U.S. fleet. Cheaper to buy, cheaper to run (you don’t need as many skilled sailors for the crew) and very lethal, American admirals are watching very closely who the Germans export these boats to."

Attrition

Attrition

: "To deal with the demands of Iraq and Afghanistan, the army is doing some long-overdue housecleaning. So far, about 40,000 troops have been shifted from support to combat jobs. This has caused some ill-will among some of the troops transferred, especially among female soldiers, who are not as keen on the “field army” life as are most male troops. But the army has not experienced any fall in re-enlistments because of this. Troops know, far better than Congress or the folks-back-home, that there is a war on, and that the army is winning it. While under orders to keep quiet about the “when will the troops return from Iraq” subject, planners can track the growth in Iraqi police and army strength, against the decline in terrorist attacks, and support. U.S. Army troops strength in Iraq will be declining soon, and the risks of being in Iraq are already declining. Thus by the time the army got any new troops, as demanded by Congress, it would have nothing for them to do."

Al Qaeda Takes a Big PR Hit

Al Qaeda Takes a Big PR Hit
by James Dunnigan



A new poll by the Pew Research Organization, revealed that support for al Qaeda, in Moslem nations, was declining. In only one Moslem country, Jordan, was support for Islamic terrorism increasing (from 55 percent in 2002, to 60 percent now.) More typical was Morocco, where support for al Qaeda dropped from 49 to 26 percent. In Lebanon, only two percent of the population supported al Qaeda.

Jordan’s attitudes are influenced by the fact that most of the population considers themselves Palestinian (or at least descended from Palestinian refugees). Jordan has also seen very few al Qaeda attacks. This is mostly due to the efficient police force, who are dominated by the Bedouin minority that runs the kingdom. One aspect of that control is to allow people to say, and believe, what they want. While the Palestinian majority may not like the monarchy, they know that the Bedouins would respond violently to any uprising. That has happened often enough in the past half century to convince most Jordanians that, while you can shout nasty things at the king, don’t take a shot at him. That said, the current king of Jordan, and his late father, went out of their way to be nice to their Palestinian citizens, as long as there was no violence against the government. The occasional violation of this understanding is met with a swift, and sometimes violent, response. Jordan is not a police state, but it is very well policed.

The rest of the Moslem world has come to see al Qaeda as an aimless and violent group, who appear to have no realistic goals. That, plus the al Qaeda fondness for bloody attacks against Moslem civilians, turns most people off. The Pentagon Information Warfare operations against al Qaeda had something to do with this shift in opinion, but those operations cannot be discussed in detail without weakening their effect.

BREITBART.COM - Russia's Putin Won't Seek Third Term

BREITBART.COM - Russia's Putin Won't Seek Third Term
Russia's Putin Won't Seek Third Term

By STEVE GUTTERMAN
Associated Press Writer

MOSCOW
President Vladimir Putin said Monday he won't seek a third term in but vowed not to allow "destabilization" in Russia following the vote, leaving the door open for drastic action in the event of a crisis.

In an interview with Dutch media on the eve of a visit to the Netherlands, Putin reiterated that he opposes changing the constitution to prolong his time in power _ a possibility that has been widely discussed because his popularity and control over parliament.

But Putin said that the 2008 presidential election will be a "serious, difficult test for Russia" and stressed that full power and responsibility for the fate of the country will remain in his hands until the new president is sworn in.

"I will not allow any destabilization in Russia, in the interests of the ... peoples of the Russian Federation," Putin said in the interview with Dutch broadcaster Netwerk and financial newspaper NRC Handelsblad.

He did not elaborate, but the statement raised the possibility that Putin could take unpredictable measures in the name of stability in the event of unrest or a political crisis in the weeks between the election and the new president's inauguration.

He suggested such actions probably would not be necessary, saying that he believes "the political forces in Russia are mature enough to understand their responsibility to the people," and said the election would be a fair one in which the candidate with the most votes will win.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

US cedes some control in Iraq - The Boston Globe

US cedes some control in Iraq - The Boston Globe

Authority shifts at 27 of nation's 109 military bases

By Solomon Moore, Los Angeles Times | October 29, 2005

TIKRIT, Iraq -- Seeking to lower the visibility of US troops and grant more authority to Iraqi government forces, the American military has ceded control of 27 of the nation's 109 bases, US and Iraqi officials said.

Thousands of US troops have been redeployed in recent months from bases in Najaf, Karbala, Tikrit, and other cities, and Iraqis are in charge of patrol areas that include four districts of Baghdad and the town of Taiji, northeast of the capital.

American officials announced yesterday that the next major military installation expected to be transferred to Iraqi control was former president Saddam Hussein's palace complex in Tikrit. The site, renamed Forward Operating Base Danger, houses more than 6,000 US troops.

Iraqi and US officials said they had quickened the pace of such security transfers in recent weeks and planned to formalize what had been a piecemeal approach.

''We've already handed over nine different areas north of Baghdad as part of a national plan," said Robert Holby, a State Department official assigned to Tikrit. ''We want to put an Iraqi face on things. Everybody thinks that if we move away from the cities, this will make the violence go down."

Iraqi and American officials involved in negotiating the hand-overs say they are a first step toward withdrawing US troops. The current troop level in Iraq -- 161,000 -- is the highest of the war. The contingent was increased recently to prepare for this month's Iraqi constitutional referendum.

A month ago, generals testified on Capitol Hill that the US military presence may be inflaming Iraq's insurgency because it fueled the perception of a continuing American occupation. The generals also suggested that troop reductions should be considered to wean Iraqi forces from their dependence on US troops.

In recent interviews, Iraqi leaders said that giving more control to their forces would give US troops more flexibility and Iraqi troops more experience.

''We believe that there are some cities where the coalition does not need to be present and there is a need to reduce the visibility of their presence," Iraqi national security adviser Mowaffak Rubaie said. ''We also want to give the Iraqi security forces the chance to be in charge of all responsibilities as soon as possible."

Iraq election to offer voters legions of candidates

Iraq election to offer voters legions of candidates:

"Washington, which has some 160,000 troops in Iraq more than two and a half years after the invasion, hopes the participation of more Sunni parties in the December vote will undermine the insurgency and bring more Sunnis into the political fold.

Sunni Arabs, who represent about 20 percent of the population, have lost influence and they voted overwhelmingly against the constitution, narrowly failing to veto it.

The barometer of the election may be the ethnically and religiously mixed capital city, Baghdad, where the parties will contest 59 of the 230 seats allocated to the provinces.

Parliament will have 275 seats, of which 45 will be distributed nationally as 'compensatory seats' to parties that do not win seats in the provinces yet do score enough votes for at least one seat at a national level.

'This election law, which is special for countries with religious and ethnic minorities, aims for a fair distibution of seats,' Hindawi said.

The extent to which smaller parties can chip away at the big blocs may be crucial. The Shi'ite alliance won nearly half the votes at Jan. 30 elections for the current transitional parliament, but now faces disillusionment about insecurity, poverty and corruption. "

Allawi touts his vote list as non-ethnic and non-secular - Yahoo! News

Allawi touts his vote list as non-ethnic and non-secular - Yahoo! News

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraqi deputy Iyad Allawi has set up his own list to fight the December general elections, touting it as non-ethnic and non-secular and so better able to preserve the country's unity.
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Appearing at a televised news conference alongside him were communist leader Hamid Mejid Mussa and Adnan Pashashi, a Sunni Arab leader and former foreign minister who have joined the National Iraqi list.

"Growing ethnic polarization risks causing endless conflit in
Iraq which could also split along sectarian lines," Allawi warned on Saturday.

The former prime minister said that only his own alliance would offer a better deal for all.

Three powerful national lists have been established along communal lines by Iraqi Shiites, Kurds and Sunni Arabs to run in the December 15 vote.

"The facts prove that Iraq is in need of a powerful independent government," Allawi also said, while pledging to "preserve the unity of the country" and "to improve basic services".

Military Testing Infrared Gunfire Detector

Military Testing Infrared Gunfire Detector

Military Testing Infrared Gunfire Detector

By JEFFREY McMURRAY, Associated Press Writer

A sniper fires on American troops in Iraq. In the milliseconds before the bullet hits — in fact, before the shot is even heard — a computer screen reveals the gun's model and exact location. That's the kind of intelligence that can save soldiers' lives. The Army is currently testing the technology in combat.

The devices are made by Radiance Technologies, a small Alabama company, and differ in their approach to gunfire detection from systems already deployed in Iraq that rely on acoustics.

Radiance's invention, WeaponWatch, is powered by infrared sensors that detect missiles or gunfire at the speed of light.

"Obviously when the first shot is fired, you can't do anything about it," said George Clark, president of the company founded in 1999. "But what it does do is it allows you to not have a second fired."

WeaponWatch is a major reason that Radiance, which had only three employees six years ago, now has 275. Over that period, it's been one of the 500 fastest-growing small businesses in the United States.

Brother of one of Iraq’s VPs gunned down - Conflict in Iraq - MSNBC.com

Brother of one of Iraq’s VPs gunned down - Conflict in Iraq - MSNBC.com:

"In an interview Saturday with FOX News, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani complained that American commanders were stalling on giving Iraqi forces a bigger role in battling the insurgents.

“We ask them for things to change, they agree, and then nothing happens,” Talabani said. He said the Iraqis would prefer for coalition forces to concentrate on protecting oil pipelines and other key infrastructure."

Herald Sun: Police told to respect traditions

Herald Sun: Police told to respect traditions [ 25oct05 ]

Police told to respect traditions
Liam Houlihan, religious affairs reporter
25oct05

POLICE are being advised to treat Muslim domestic violence cases differently out of respect for Islamic traditions and habits.

Officers are also being urged to work with Muslim leaders, who will try to keep the families together.

Women's groups are concerned the politically correct policing could give comfort to wife bashers and keep their victims in a cycle of violence.

The instructions come in a religious diversity handbook given to Victorian police officers that also recommends special treatment for suspects of Aboriginal, Hindu and Buddhist background.

Some police officers have claimed the directives hinder enforcing the law equally.

Police are told: "In incidents such as domestic violence, police need to have an understanding of the traditions, ways of life and habits of Muslims."

They are told it would be appreciated in cases of domestic violence if police consult the local Muslim religious leader who will work against "fragmenting the family unit".

Islamic Women's Welfare Council head Joumanah El Matrah called the guidelines appalling and dangerous.
[...]

The guide also advises officers not to hold interviews with Aboriginal suspects or set court hearings during Aboriginal ceremonies involving "initiation, birth, death, burials, mourning periods, women's meetings and cultural ceremonies in general".

They are told to interview Baha'i suspects only after sunset in the fasting month.

And they are cautioned that when a Sikh is reading the Sikh Holy Script -- a process that normally takes 50 hours -- "he should not be disturbed".

The 50,000 handbooks instruct police to take shoes off before entering Buddhist and Hindu houses and mosques, and remove hats before entering or searching churches.

They are warned that taking photos or samples from Aboriginal suspects could raise fears they could be used for sorcery and spiritual mischief.

Australasian Police Multicultural Advisory Bureau head Gerard Daniells, who created the 82-page full-colour handbook, said common sense would prevail over the guide in an emergency.

Mr Daniells said the next edition would include Maori spiritual beliefs and practices.

The glossy guides would have cost at least $300,000 to produce, a printing industry expert said.

Police Association secretary Paul Mullet said members had an appreciation of different cultures but their overriding concern was for safety of the community.

BROOKS: WHY ARE DEMS SO OVERHEATED? - DRUDGE REPORT FLASH 2005

DRUDGE REPORT FLASH 2005 BROOKS: WHY ARE DEMS SO OVERHEATED?:

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald did not find evidence to prove that there was a 'broad conspiracy to out a covert agent for political gain. He did not find evidence of wide-ranging criminal behavior. He did not even indict the media's ordained villain, Karl Rove,' writes David Brooks in Sunday's NY TIMES.

'Leading Democratic politicians filled the air with grand conspiracy theories that would be at home in the John Birch Society.'

'Why are these people so compulsively overheated?.. Why do they have to slather on wild, unsupported charges that do little more than make them look unhinged?

Brooks quotes from an essay written 40 years ago by Richard Hofstadter called 'The Paranoid Style in American Politics.'

Hofstadter argued that sometimes people who are dispossessed, who feel their country has been taken away from them and their kind, develop an angry, suspicious and conspiratorial frame of mind. It is never enough to believe their opponents have committed honest mistakes or have legitimate purposes; they insist on believing in malicious conspiracies.

'The paranoid spokesman,' Hofstadter wrote, 'sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms -- he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization.' Because his opponents are so evil, the conspiracy monger is never content with anything but their total destruction.'

Brooks summarizes: 'So some Democrats were not content with Libby's indictment, but had to stretch, distort and exaggerate. The tragic thing is that at the exact moment when the Republican Party is staggering under the weight of its own mistakes, the Democratic Party's loudest voices are in the grip of passions that render them untrustworthy.'"

Saturday, October 29, 2005

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Three Indonesian girls beheaded

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Three Indonesian girls beheaded

Three girls have been beheaded and another badly injured as they walked to a Christian school in Indonesia. They were walking through a cocoa plantation near the city of Poso in central Sulawesi province when they were attacked.

This is an area that has a long history of religious violence between Muslims and Christians.

A government-brokered truce has only partially succeeded in reducing the number of incidents in recent years.

Police say the heads were found some distance from the bodies.

It is unclear what was behind the attack, but the girls attended a private Christian school and one of the heads was left outside a church leading to speculation that it might have had a religious motive.

Islamic state

Central Sulawesi and Poso in particular was the scene of bitter fighting between Muslims and Christians in 2001 and 2002.


Muslim gang members carry makeshift rifles as Christian homes burn in sectarian violence-wracked Poso, December 2001

Flashpoints: Sulawesi

More than 1,000 people were killed before a government-brokered truce.

Although the violence has been subdued, it has never gone away completely.

A bomb in May in the nearby town of Tentena, which is predominantly Christian, killed 22 people and injured over 30.

The fighting four years ago drew Islamic militants from all over Indonesia and many have never gone home.

Analysts say the militants have targeted central Sulawesi and believe that it could be turned into the foundation stone of an Islamic state.

The analysts have warned that the violence could resurface at any time.

Next Generation - Spend The Night - Online Sex Game

Next Generation - Spend The Night:

"A game in which adults are encouraged to indulge their sexual fantasies is bound to attract the media's attention but, so far, Republik's Spend the Night has been keeping a low profile. Come the middle of next year, when it launches online, that'll all change.

Details are scant at present, and Coshland doesn't want to give too much away, but the basics are simple. Players go online, choose a graphical identity, mooch around with other players, find someone they like, and find a room. Graphics claimed to be 'cinematic' are promised, and a simple interface allows the action to proceed.

'This is a fantasy multiplayer dating game,' says Coshland. 'It's not like the dating games that we've seen coming out of Japan where you try to win the favor of someone of the opposite sex. We're providing more of a game where two people can go on a date and interact in a 3D space.'

Target market

The male-orientated game and pornography industries have something in common in their oft-attempted and usually woeful attempts to woo 'the other 50% of the market'. Coshland reckons he's found the key. Women will be the target market of the game from a creative and a marketing standpoint.

'There is little to nothing with erotic content, that has been developed specifically targeted to women either in the game industry or in the adult industry,' he says. 'For whatever reason, women tend to be written off as people who have no interest in sexual content. We don't believe that to be true.'

'Women want to be a part of the experience'
He believes interactive erotic content will appeal to women in a way that passive erotic content doesn't. The theory goes that gawking at a porno mag or 'enjoying' a bad video may be okay for male consumers of erotica, but women want to be a part of the experience. It's the central theory that drives this development and is at the core of its success of failure.

'We have found, just in talking to people and focus tests, that women respond better to our concept than men. That's not so say that men aren't interested but women are truly intrigued by this idea because it's geared towards them and it involves them.'

He says 'every marketing cent' will be spent on targeting women, based on the theory that 'men will follow'. "

Wired News: Coming Soon: Online Sex Games

Wired News: Coming Soon: Online Sex Games

"I'm on a perpetual hunt for a sex game targeting women," says Brenda Brathwaite, a game industry veteran and featured speaker at this week's Women's Game Conference in Austin, Texas.

One of the questions I get asked most frequently is "where can I find good cybersex?" And one of my answers is games, with the caveat that you shouldn't join a MMPORG just for sex. Rather, games are places to meet other people who share at least one interest with you, and sometimes the relationships that arise lead to flirting and cybersex. Sometimes they don't.

Yet we're finally glimpsing games on the horizon that support relationship building and sexual interaction as part of the game play. What's more, these game developers recognize that a crucial part of attracting gamers is to appeal to all gamers -- not just the half of the population with penises.

"The Sims is hardly the 'No. 1 sex game,' but that game is all about relationship formation," Brenda says. "It's no surprise it's a huge hit with women."

What might surprise you is that Leisure Suit Larry's early adventures were also popular with women. "Larry is nonthreatening, he constantly fails and he's funny," she says. "Games that use sex and humor are fun and funny. Other (adult) games don't work so well right now."
[...]

"Erotic content for women is the fastest growing segment of the adult market," she says. "It stands to reason it's a growing segment in the gaming market as well."

It also stands to reason that if you want gamers to subscribe to an interactive sex game, you want to appeal to both men and women. In fact, if you can get women to sign on, the men will follow.

Two games scheduled to launch next year are taking this woman-friendly approach, although both companies are shy about describing exactly what the new games will entail.

Spend The Night will offer a graphically rich space where you can meet people, go on virtual dates and have cybersex. It might be the precursor to avatar-based online dating -- or at least, online screening of potential dates.

Naughty America (a working title) is so coy it doesn't have a website yet. It's a complete role-playing game in which you can choose whether to enter a "sex mode."

Both games recognize that they need to offer a variety of tools players can use to meet each other, develop relationships and interact sexually. And both are bending over backward to appeal to women.

Blurring the line between games and life | CNET News.com

The first advertisement appeared in USA Today a week ago, right on schedule.

People from around the world had stayed up all night waiting for it, talking in chat rooms and online forums. It had to be a clue, they thought. Everything before it had been a clue.

"LOST. The Cube," read the ad, posted at the top of the paper's "Notices" section. "Reward Offered. Not only an object of great significance to the city but also a technological wonder."
News.context

The cryptic notice, along with several subsequent ads in The New York Sun, The Times of London and Monday's Sydney Daily Telegraph, are the first tangible signs of a mystery called "Perplex City" beginning to unfold online.

It is the latest well-funded entry in a young medium called "alternate-reality gaming"--an obsession-inspiring genre that blends real-life treasure hunting, interactive storytelling, video games and online community and may, incidentally, be one of the most powerful guerrilla marketing mechanisms ever invented.

These games are intensely complicated series of puzzles involving coded Web sites, real-world clues like the newspaper advertisements, phone calls in the middle of the night from game characters and more. That blend of real-world activities and a dramatic storyline has proven irresistible to many.

"It's a very addictive form of entertainment," said Steve Peters, a Las Vegas musician who is one of the founders of the Alternate Reality Gaming Network, a set of Web sites devoted to the topic. "People stay up all night; it really is very immersive."

It's exactly that dedication that has made alternate-reality games powerful marketing mechanisms. The two biggest games so far have been associated with products: Stephen Spielberg's "A.I." movie and Microsoft's "Halo 2." Advertising executives say it's a promising tool.

Lebanon army tightens siege of Palestinian militants - Yahoo! News

Lebanon army tightens siege of Palestinian militants - Yahoo! News:

SULTAN YACOUB, Lebanon (AFP) - The Lebanese army tightened the noose around seven Palestinian militant bases close to the Syrian border after a militant leader said his men were holding six soldiers captive and the UN envoy called for action to disarm the fighters.

Officers said some 500 soldiers backed by 50 armoured cars were now deployed around the camps in the foothills of the Anti-Lebanon range that marks the border -- two operated by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) and five by Fatah-Intifada.

Troops were seen manning checkpoints on all access roads to the bases and operating armoured patrols on the tracks linking PFLP-GC bases in Sultan Yacoub and Kfarazabad to those of Fatah-Intifada around Halwa, 15 kilometres (10 miles) away.

'We have cut off all the Palestinian bases' supply routes and the land links between them,' one Lebanese officer told AFP, asking not be identified.

'We have also deployed troops on eight dirt tracks used by the Palestinians to bring in men and material from
Syria.'

The immediate trigger for Wednesday's deployment around the bases was the murder of a surveyor working for the Lebanese military the previous day, which commanders blame on militants from Fatah-Intifada.

'We have irrefutable proof that the surveyor was killed by shots coming from a base operated by Fatah-Intifada, which is prevaricating and has yet to hand over the killers,' the officer said."

Telegraph | News | Best-seller urges Chinese to release their inner wolf

Telegraph | News | Best-seller urges Chinese to release their inner wolf:

"But these are not the only reasons why the book has prompted debate in newspapers and the internet. Littered through the text are numerous psychological and political commentaries, culminating in a 50,000-character appendix.

Jiang's theory is that China's farming culture created a desire for peace secured by a strong ruler. As a result, Confucianism and an authoritarian education system created a nation of sheep, weak in the face of aggression.

Among the predators were wolf-like nations such as the Mongolians, which subjugated China under Genghis Khan.

Now, he says, the danger is reversed as the sheep take over, crushing the free spirits of its own minorities, like the Chinese Mongolians with whom he once lived, and destroying the environment.

Individualism, a way of looking at life that many Chinese insist is western and alien to their culture, has been exercising the country a lot this summer.

The biggest television sensation of the year was an all-female version of Pop Idol. It attracted the usual would-be pop stars: china-doll beauties singing syrupy love songs.

But the winner, Li Yuchun, had spiky hair and an androgynous figure and sang songs written for men - and she took China by storm.

'The result was a good symbol for Chinese society,' Jiang said. 'Young people are longing for freedom, to speak and to experiment.'

In private, Jiang warns that the rise of China without democracy risks becoming like Nazi Germany, an analogy that infuriates the Chinese leadership whenever it is made.

The book itself, however, is subtle enough to have won favourable reviews in the state media, an irony not lost on the author.

In fact, he says, his great fear is that the readers have simply not grasped his meaning. 'I think in the West they may understand it more fully,' he said."

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iraqi parties form election blocs

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iraqi parties form election blocs

The main Sunni parties that boycotted the vote in January have set up a coalition, the Iraqi Accord Front.

The US hopes Sunni participation will sap support from the insurgency.

Iraq's political process received a boost this week with the announcement that voters had backed the new constitution in the 15 October referendum.

The result came despite strong opposition from the minority Sunni community.

The new Sunni alliance, announced on Tuesday, called on Iraqis to take part in the December's poll and to reject any calls for a boycott.

They want to increase Sunni representation in the national assembly, which is dominated by Shia and Kurd parties partly because of the Sunni boycott in January.

Clashes

The ruling Shia Islamist parties only agreed to register as a united bloc after a last-minute agreement on Thursday evening.

"The United Iraqi Alliance will be maintained," said Jawad Maliki, of Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari's Dawa party.

The three principal Shia movements - the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the Dawa party, and the movement led by Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr - settled a deal despite reports of power struggles and rivalries.

Militias linked to SCIRI and Mr Sadr have clashed with each other in southern Iraq in recent months.

The two main Kurdish parties - the Democratic Kurdistan Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan - will also be running together, they announced.

A fourth challenge for votes will come from the Shia former Pime Minister Iyad Allawi, who has expanded his secular list to include Sunni personalities, as well as communists and liberals.

This centrist bloc hopes to capitalise on the perceived failures of the current transitional government, and to provide an alternative for voters opposed to sectarian politics and violence, the BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says.

Telegraph | News | Sunnis and radical Shias enter Iraq poll

Telegraph | News | Sunnis and radical Shias enter Iraq poll: "

Sunnis and radical Shias enter Iraq poll
By Oliver Poole in Baghdad
(Filed: 29/10/2005)

Two groups at the forefront of the violent resistance to the American presence in Iraq - the country's Sunni community and followers of Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shia cleric - yesterday put forward candidates for December's national election.

The move is a notable success for the US, which has been trying to draw both factions into the political process after they officially boycotted January's vote."

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Sistani ends Shia party backing

Sistani ends Shia party backing

Ayatollah Sistani, one of Iraq's most senior Shia clerics, will not endorse any political groups for December's election, his spokesman has said.

The grand ayatollah wants Iraqis to vote according to their beliefs, Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalai said in a sermon on Friday.

The ayatollah's statement may worry the ruling Shia-led coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance.

His support before the January election helped them win over many Iraqi Shia.

Delivering a Friday sermon in the holy city of Karbala, Sheikh Karbalai revealed that Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, a marja, or source of emulation for his followers, would not back any party.

"The marja enjoins Iraqis to participate massively in the forthcoming elections, but does not support any political group in particular," he said.

"It's up to Iraqis to make their choice based on their beliefs."

Friday, October 28, 2005

Economy Grows at an Energetic Rate in 3Q: My Way News

Economy Grows at an Energetic Rate in 3Q

By JEANNINE AVERSA

WASHINGTON (AP) - Economic activity expanded at an energetic 3.8 percent annual rate in the third quarter, providing vivid evidence of the economy's stamina even as it coped with the destructive forces of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The latest snapshot of the country's economic performance, released by the Commerce Department on Friday, even marked an improvement from the solid 3.3 percent pace of growth registered in the second quarter.

Growth in the third quarter was broad-based, reflecting brisk spending by consumers, businesses and government.

"Holy Katrina! The economy weathered two major hurricanes and in spite of that showed accelerated growth," said Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics. "I think what this shows is that fundamentally the economy was and is in really good shape."
[...]

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Cuba unexpectedly accepts U.S. hurricane aid - Hurricanes' Aftermath - MSNBC.com

WASHINGTON - Cuba has unexpectedly agreed to a quiet U.S. offer of emergency aid following Hurricane Wilma, and three Americans will travel to Cuba to assess needs there, the State Department said Thursday.

Washington has routinely offered humanitarian relief for hurricanes and other disasters in Cuba, and Cuban leader Fidel Castro himself has routinely turned the offers down. After Hurricane Dennis pummeled the island in July, Castro expressed gratitude for Washington’s offer of $50,000 in aid but rejected it.

“This was the first time they have accepted an offer of assistance,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, at least based on the “collective memory” of diplomats at the department.

I love how the lefties are always crowing about how Cuba's hurricane preparation far exceeds ours. Too bad there's no free press in Cuba so we can see how things really are on the island. I hope Castro dies soon so Cuba can be free.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Iran lets senior al Qaeda suspects roam free: report - Yahoo! News

Iran lets senior al Qaeda suspects roam free: report - Yahoo! News

BERLIN (Reuters) -
Iran is permitting around 25 high-ranking al Qaeda members to roam free in the country's capital, including three sons of
Osama bin Laden, a German monthly magazine reported on Wednesday.
ADVERTISEMENT

Citing information from unnamed Western intelligence sources, the magazine Cicero said in a preview of an article appearing in its November edition that the individuals in question are from Egypt, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia and Europe.

They are living in houses belonging to Iran's Revolutionary Guards, the report said.

"This is not incarceration or house arrest," a Western intelligence agent was quoted as saying. "They can move around as they please."

The three sons of Osama bin Laden in Iran are Saeed, Mohammad and Othman, Cicero reported. Another person enjoying the support of the Revolutionary Guards is al Qaeda spokesman Abu Ghaib, the report said.

Iran first said late last year that it had arrested and would try a number of foreigners suspected of having links to al Qaeda, a loose network of military groups that Washington blames for the attacks of September 11, 2001 and bomb attacks in Spain, Indonesia, Egypt and elsewhere.

The report in Cicero also accused the Revolutionary Guards' secret service of offering logistical support and military training to senior al Qaeda leaders.

The American Enterprise: Not a Sunni Day for the Left

The American Enterprise: Not a Sunni Day for the Left

Two leading writers on the Left, Sam Rosenfeld and Matthew Yglesias, recently garnered significant attention with a piece they wrote in The American Prospect entitled “The Incompetency Dodge.” In short, they argue that liberals who supported U.S. entry into Iraq—but have since qualified their support by contending that there weren’t enough forces and/or the post-war planning was abysmal—are engaging in a “fool’s endeavor.”



Rosenfeld and Yglesias contend that “using force to build a pluralistic liberal democracy where none existed before could count as a moral justification for war if we had any sense of how to feasibly engage in such an endeavor, but the evidence from Iraq and elsewhere indicates that we do not.” Moreover, they reason that “injustice exists in the world that is beyond America’s capacity to remedy. Refusal to see this—which is part and parcel of the incompetence dodge—may be the liberal hawks’ most dangerous tic.”



This is an attractive and facile argument. However, it is contradicted by results in Iraq and the Middle East.



Kevin Drum, a liberal former supporter of the Iraq intervention, agrees with Rosenfeld and Yglesias’s thrust, but thinks they take it too far, since it would permit U.S. intervention only in cases of genocide, and admits as much in his response, “Make War No More?...” in the Washington Monthly:



“In other words, democracy is nice—eventually—but the bigger issue is kicking over the status quo in the Middle East and forcing change. And the hawks would argue that this is happening. Slowly and fitfully, to be sure, but count up the successes: Iraq and Afghanistan are better off than before, Libya has given up its nuke program, Lebanon's Cedar Revolution is a sign of progress, Egypt has held a more open election than any before it, and the Syrian regime is under considerable pressure.



Did the invasion of Iraq precipitate these changes? I think the hawks considerably overstate their case, but at the same time they do have a case. Even if Iraq is a mess, it might all be worthwhile if it eventually produces progress toward a more open, more liberal Middle East. At the very least, it's an argument that needs to be engaged.”



And Drum’s engagement of the argument comes in his conclusion: “The Iraq invasion has had some positive effects on the Middle East, but they’ve been modest and have been counterbalanced by some negative effects—and those effects are likely to get ever more negative as time goes by.”



Victor Davis Hanson replies by pointing to the root of the Left’s opposition to the U.S. role in Iraq. “While no mainstream Democrat has yet gone the McGovern route, it is still politically toxic for any to state publicly that we should be optimistic about the future of Iraq, inasmuch as they are convinced that such an admission could only help George W. Bush.” Hanson judges that, “when all this is over—and it will be more quickly than we imagine—there will be a viable constitutional government in Iraq. But the achievement will be considered either a natural organic process, or adopted as a success by former critics only at its safe, penultimate stage.”



Another military expert, Austin Bay, chimes in about the key role of “Iraq as the Central Front” that confronting terrorists in Iraq plays for the transformation of the Middle East:



“I think a confrontation with al-Qaeda on Middle Eastern turf was a strategic must…. Bringing the terror war back to Arab Muslim turf is the political and psychological ‘strategic judo’ it takes to expose al-Qaeda as the mass murderers they are—mass murderers of Muslims.”



Even the New York Times’ defeatist in Baghdad, Dexter Filkins, was forced to recognize the significance of last Saturday’s turnout in Iraq’s constitutional referendum, which was heavier than last January’s turnout and higher than most U.S. elections. It “represents the first evidence that Iraqi’s Sunni Muslims, whose community forms the heart of the guerrilla insurgency, have decided to join the budding Iraqi political process.” Another New York Times report tells us that, for the first time, “Syria’s Opposition Unites Behind a Call for Democratic Changes.”



As Hanson predicts, we may yet see the New York Times’ rabid editorialists recognize the success of the U.S. in transforming the Middle East to a more benign, democratic region. But, it’ll surely be a good while for their eyes to open to the news on their own pages.



The Arab League, dominated by corrupt Sunni Arab despots who opposed the U.S. action in Iraq, has woken up. Its Secretary-General, Amr Moussa, has finally declared that the Arab League “condemns Iraq’s insurgents.”



David Gelernter instructs the negativist Left with “A History Lesson,” in the Los Angeles Times, where he writes: “Democracies rarely declare war to improve the world…. They fight to protect themselves…. But once a war is underway, free peoples tend to think things over deeply…. America at war has lifted its sights again and again from danger, self-interest, and self-defense to a larger, nobler goal. Same story, war after war. Iraq fits perfectly.”



In response to such claims, however, Kevin Drum states that “these are all good arguments, but I think they obscure two more fundamental points that Sam [Rosenfeld] and Matt [Yglesias] don't address. Point #1 is the fact that democratization was probably never more than a small part of the original plan anyway, so maybe the whole ‘democracy at the point of a gun’ argument isn't all that important.”



That may be so for the Democrats, who are obsessed with re-fighting their 2002 campaign against intervention. They repeat, “no WMD’s found,” but ignore Saddam’s efforts to retain the capacity. They search, less and less successfully, for any sign of difficulties. They try to settle scores with Judith Miller for defiling their New York Times editorial altar of incessant harping.



But the world has moved on past them. Even some Sunnis are deserting the American Left’s arsenal of criticism. Not a Sunni day for the Left.

Democratic Revolutions Slow, Painfully Incremental Miracles - On Point Commentary by Austin Bay �StrategyPage.com

Democratic Revolutions Slow, Painfully Incremental Miracles - On Point Commentary by Austin Bay StrategyPage.com

Democratic Revolutions Slow, Painfully Incremental Miracles
by Austin Bay
October 26, 2005
Discussion Board on this On Point topic


The Iraqi constitution -- now ratified by the Iraqi people -- is another signal that the democratic revolts of 2004 and 2005 won't be defeated by murderous tyrants and autocrats.

The democratic revolts began with Afghanistan's October 2004 presidential election. Ukraine's Orange Revolution added momentum. Palestinians and Iraqis went to the polls in January 2005. Lebanon's pro-democracy street rallies, following the murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, continued the surge.

Democratic revolutions, however, are slow, painfully incremental miracles. Take Iraq's constitutional process as the au courant example. Prior to the election, Iraqi Sunni negotiators insisted on an amendment procedure, and they got it. This means the ratified constitution can change, and probably will. Which means the constitutional process "ain't over."

And that isn't necessarily bad. On the day of the election, I received an email from an Iraqi reader. He's a Sunni Arab, a businessman and by no means a public figure. While protecting his identity, I will note I visited his hometown while on active duty last year in Iraq.

His letter mixed excitement and pride with a touch of dread, as he noted that the constitutional process and election experience told him that "major players (in Iraq) are coming more and more to realize that dialogue, alliances, common interests and just plain politics are the way to win -- not violence, intimidation and terror. So this (lesson) is apparently slowly 'sinking in' in our confused and frightened Iraqi mentality."

The promise of amendment held real appeal. He thought the emerging Iraqi consensus amounts to: "OK, enough misery. We need a stable government that can provide its first order of business (security). Let's say yes, and since it is not a divine thing, we can always change it."

[...]

Via global television, the entire planet will witness a Mesopotamian tyrant in the dock (talk about a historic first). Arabic-speaking audiences will need no translators, nor will their autocrats, as the tyrant is called to account for his crimes. Saddam will rant, but let the fool exhaust himself with bombast and bluster. The windbag act will only expose his weakness.

[...]

A fair, transparent, just trial, instead of fueling ethnic and religious tensions, could well further reconciliation.

After casting his constitutional referendum ballot, Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said: "The constitution is a sign of civilization. This constitution has come after heavy sacrifices. It is a new birth."

Jaafari echoed comments I heard last year in Iraq. Several Iraqis told me they knew democracy was "our big chance." One man said Iraq had the opportunity to "escape bad history" -- and Iraq has a lot of bad history to escape. Two other Iraqis said toppling Saddam and building a more open society was their chance "to enter the modern world."

Telegraph | News | Agent behind fake uranium documents worked for France

Telegraph | News | Agent behind fake uranium documents worked for France

The Italian businessman at the centre of a furious row between France and Italy over whose intelligence service was to blame for bogus documents suggesting Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy material for nuclear bombs has admitted that he was in the pay of France.

The man, identified by an Italian news agency as Rocco Martino, was the subject of a Telegraph article earlier this month in which he was referred to by his intelligence codename, “Giacomo”.

His admission to investigating magistrates in Rome on Friday apparently confirms suggestions that - by commissioning “Giacomo” to procure and circulate documents - France was responsible for some of the information later used by Britain and the United States to promote the case for war with Iraq.

Italian diplomats have claimed that, by disseminating bogus documents stating that Iraq was trying to buy low-grade “yellowcake” uranium from Niger, France was trying to “set up” Britain and America in the hope that when the mistake was revealed it would undermine the case for war, which it wanted to prevent.

Why Ask Why? - Terrorist attacks aren't caused by any policy except that of the bombers themselves. By Christopher Hitchens

Why Ask Why? - Terrorist attacks aren't caused by any policy except that of the bombers themselves. By Christopher Hitchens

Do not forget that on Aug. 19, 2003, a gigantic explosion leveled the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, which then served as the Iraq headquarters of the United Nations. The materials used to do this were of a high military grade not available to any random "insurgent" and certainly came from the arsenals of the fallen regime. The main target—and principal victim—was Sergio Vieira de Mello, the dashing Brazilian who had been sent by Kofi Annan to reanimate the U.N. presence in Iraq. De Mello had been the most devoted and humane of the world body's civil servants and had won himself golden opinions in Cambodia, Lebanon, Sudan, and the Balkans. But it was his role as U.N. supervisor of the transition in East Timor that marked him for death. A communiqué from al-Qaida gloated over the end of "the personal representative of America's criminal slave, Kofi Annan, the diseased Sergio de Mello, criminal Bush's friend." It went on to ask, "Why cry over a heretic? Sergio Vieira de Mello is the one who tried to embellish the image of America, the crusaders and the Jews in Lebanon and Kosovo, and now in Iraq. He is America's first man where he was nominated by Bush to be in charge of the UN after Kofi Annan, the criminal and slave of America, and he is the crusader that extracted a part of the Islamic land [East Timor]."

Consider this, look again at the awful carnage in Bali, and shudder if you ever said, or thought, that the bombs in London in July, or the bombs in Baghdad every day, or the bombs in Bali last Friday, are caused by any "policy" but that of the bombers themselves. Note the following:

1) East Timor was for many years, and quite rightly, a signature cause of the Noam Chomsky "left." The near-genocide of its people is an eternal stain on Indonesia and on the Western states that were complicit or silent. Yet Bin Ladenism wants not less of this killing and repression but more. Its demand to re-establish the caliphate is a pro-imperialist demand, not an anti-imperialist one.

2) Random bombings are not a protest against poverty and unemployment. They are a cause of poverty and unemployment and of wider economic dislocation.

3) Hinduism is considered by Bin Ladenists to be a worse heresy even than Christianity or Judaism or Shiism, and its adherents, whether in Bali or Kashmir, are fit only for the edge of the sword. So, it is absurd to think of jihadism—which murders the poor and the brown without compunction—as a movement against the rich and the "white."

So, what did Indonesia do to deserve this, or bring it on itself? How will the slaughter in Bali improve the lot of the Palestinians? Those who look for the connection will be doomed to ask increasingly stupid questions and to be content with increasingly wicked answers.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Rebellion Creeping Through Caucasus - Yahoo! News

Rebellion Creeping Through Caucasus

By Kim Murphy Times Staff Writer Sun Oct 23, 7:55 AM ET

GHIMRI, Russia — A dripping and cavernous tunnel, three miles through the belly of the mountain and lighted only by a spindly strand of dim bulbs, marks the entrance to the land of deep gorges and outlaw villages of the Caucasus range.
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[-71724]

Emerging in the bright daylight on the other side is like entering another world, a Russia that is not Russia. Road signs every few feet are bright green with Arabic script: "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is his prophet." Several dozen signs bear the words of a legendary Caucasian warrior: "He who thinks about consequences is not a hero."

Since the 19th century, Russia has tried to tame the 650 miles of snowy peaks and fertile lowland slopes between the Caspian and Black seas. Today, the Caucasus wars seeping out of
Chechnya through the surrounding, predominantly Muslim republics are increasingly being waged under a banner of militant Islam.

This creeping Islamic revolution, analysts suggest, is the latest outcome of the Kremlin's failure to adopt a coherent policy for combating religious extremism in a nation with 23 million Muslims.

Moscow's disorganized and violent attempts to suppress Caucasian Muslim insurgents have swept up thousands of innocent believers in the process. The brutal arrests, police raids and mosque closures appear to be alienating a population that until now had largely sympathized with Russia's attempts to quash terrorist attacks and bring peace to the region.

In areas like this mountainous region of Russia's Dagestan republic, the battle for hearts and minds may be lost. Ghimri, a tiny village of terraced gardens on the slope of a 5,000-foot abyss, is known as a lair of insurgency that outside police rarely enter except in force.

Islamic militancy is no stranger to Ghimri, from which 19th century warrior Imam Shamil fought under the banner of Islam against Russian troops until his surrender in 1859.

Today, women and even young girls wear head scarves, and some cover their faces. Arabic, the language of the Koran, is taught to all students. The local imam moved last year to establish separate schools for girls and boys and was thwarted only when no second building could be found. The mosque in the neighboring village, where the imam is chairman of the town council, broadcasts two hours of Islamic programming four days a week.

The village of 3,800 has also imposed many aspects of Islamic Sharia law as a supplement to Russian law. Thieves may be asked to make a public apology at the mosque, rather than going to a government-run jail.

Residents here have unabashed contempt for the regional government.

"People turn to Sharia law because the authorities who are supposed to represent the law breed lawlessness. People have very little hope of getting any justice from the secular authorities, so they turn to the muftis for support," said Kazimagomed, 38, an unemployed construction worker who declared "it will be the end of me" if his last name were published.

Already, Kazimagomed said, there are signs of a clash of civilizations at his own doorstep. "If we don't change everything from the roots to the very top in Dagestan, then war will be inevitable — and not war like Chechnya, or some of those other places, those small run-ins, but a war that will last for centuries."

In a report to the Kremlin leaked to the Russian media this year, President Vladimir V. Putin's envoy to the region, Dmitry Kozak, warned of a backlash over corruption and poverty that he said could lead to instability across the northern Caucasus.

"Sharia enclaves" — a logical projection of what is starting to happen in Ghimri — could lead to the emergence of an Islamic state in Dagestan's mountains, the report predicted.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Independent Online Edition > Homer becomes Omar for Arab makeover of Simpsons

Independent Online Edition > Homer becomes Omar for Arab makeover of Simpsons:

With Omar as Homer, and Badr substituted for Bart, The Simpsons is now playing on Arab television.

But in order not to risk offending an Arab audience, the characters in Al Shamshoon, as the show is now called, have modified some of their most distinguishable traits.

Omar may look the same as in the series that debuted in 1987, but he has swapped Duff beer for soft drinks; no longer hangs out at "seedy bars with bums and lowlifes" - Moe no longer owns a bar - and eats barbequed Egyptian beef sausages instead of non-Halal hotdogs. He even grazes on Arab kahk cookies in place of doughnuts.

The dysfunctional family, that continues to live in Springfield, have not wholly reformed. Omar is still lazy and Badr continues to bate his teachers and parents.

The adaptation, which began in time for Ramadam when television viewing figures peak, uses the original Simpsons animation. High profile Egyptian actors, including Mohamed Heneidy, are providing the character's voices.

With a primetime slot, Arab satellite channel MBC hopes the show, which has run for 17 seasons and won 12 Emmy awards in America, will be the first in a succession of similar adaptations.

Michel Costandi, business-development director of MBC TV Network, said: "I think The Simpsons will open new horizons for us to the future. We are opening up a new genre of programming in the Middle East."

Suppliers of Arabic-dubbed Western cartoons say demand had been high for years, with the Walt Disney Co. dubbing countless animations. With 60 per cent of the population in the Arab world under the age of 20, and 40 per cent under 15, the market is likely to expand.

VDH's Private Papers::With a Whimper

VDH's Private Papers::With a Whimper

With a Whimper
How the violence in Iraq will end.
by Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online

The Western media was relatively quiet about the quite amazing news from the recent trifecta in Iraq: very little violence on election day, Sunni participation, and approval of the constitution. Those who forecasted that either the Sunnis would boycott, or that the constitution would be — and should be — rejected, stayed mum.

But how odd that in the face of threats, a higher percentage of Iraqis in this nascent democracy voted in a referendum than did we Americans during our most recent presidential election — we who have grown so weary of Iraq’s experiment.

Something must be going on when the cable-news outlets could not whet their appetite for carnival-like violence and pyrotechnics in Iraq, and so diverted their attention to Toledo, where live streams of American looting and arson seemed to be more like Iraq than Iraq.

[...]

It's Not An American Face You See Now

By needs we had a high profile, and it unfortunately seemed to get only higher. Americans, not Iraqis, gave lectures on everything from electricity production to constitutional reform. There was essentially no Iraqi army, so Americans were put in the unenviable position of enforcing law and order — a necessary task that nonetheless could only breed resentment in the heart of the Arab and Islamic Middle East. And there was not even a semblance of a legitimate government to replace Saddam. Former dissidents were either dead or tainted with Western exile. Future democrats were in the shadows, unsure whether the beheaders and assassins might in fact turn out to be their new Taliban-like rulers.

A good way to predict accurately our future in Iraq would be to ask how these three dilemmas have evolved over the last 30 months. Fortunately, there is no replacement position for an American proconsul, and we have forgotten how rare it is now to see an American on television in any official position. No one is talking, at least publicly, of future bases or a permanent and large American presence. Instead, the Iraqis are more worried that we might leave than stay. All that is a good sign.

Second, with over 200,000 Iraqi security forces, various local policemen, and American and Coalition troops, there are perhaps nearly 400,000 actively opposed to the terrorists. The number is growing rather than shrinking. We are seeing more enlistments than defections. The result is that, incrementally and insidiously, Americans are less and less in the position of being the cop, swat-team, or battalion that Iraqis see daily as the providers of their order and security. As in the case of fewer visible diplomats, so too fewer observable soldiers shift the onus onto the Iraqis to solidify — or lose — their gift of democracy.

Third, a second national referendum was even more tranquil than the first. Things are not static in Iraq, but are on a clear path to key parliamentary elections and the first truly popularly elected government in the region’s history in December. This is already putting enormous pressures on the Syrians and some of the Gulf states, as Arab audiences see less Americans patrolling and more Iraqis voting on their television screens. And now we go from a humane and sober election to the trial of Saddam Hussein, as the first tyrant to be tried in the Middle East experiences the justice that neither he nor any other regional strongman ever granted to others.

On the periphery of all this, we are seeing a decline in Osama bin Laden’s popularity, more European worries about radical Islam, and a number of formerly ambivalent nations like Japan, India, and the former Commonwealth ever more eager to work with the United States.

Iraq? Huh?

And the reaction at home? Apparently no matter. The media has long since written Iraq off as a “quagmire” and a “debacle.” The war is now hopelessly politicized and has been misrepresented in two national elections. Then we heard that the war’s purpose was either to steal oil (the price actually skyrocketed), enrich Halliburton (in fact, few other conglomerates wished to venture to Iraq), or do Israel’s dirty work (it just withdrew voluntarily from Gaza). Our aims were said to be anything other than to remove the worst dictator in modern memory, allow the Arab world a chance at democracy, and undo the calculus of Middle-Eastern terrorism that is so parasitic on the failures and barbarity of regional autocracies.

While no mainstream Democrat has yet gone the McGovern route, it is still politically toxic for any to state publicly that we should be optimistic about the future of Iraq, inasmuch as they are convinced that such an admission could only help George W. Bush. Some of us who are Democrats are baffled that the party that used to decry cynical realism, gave us the Truman Doctrine and JFK’s tough stance against Communism, galvanized us to hold steady in WWI, WWII, and Korea, and preached that we must promote and protect democracies, is now either joining the isolationist Right or drifting into quasi-pacifism — or simply standing against anything that the opposing party is for.

The public too is turned off. Perhaps it is the constant media stream of IEDs and suicide bombs — never the news of thousands of new schools, a free and stable Kurdistan, progress in the Shiite south, or any of the other countless positive developments from elections to Saddam’s trial. Polls reveal that the American people care little that, in terms of military history, the removal of Saddam Hussein and the creation of a constitutional government in his place — in less than three years and at the cost of 2000 lives — are still formidable achievements, making the lapses seem minor in comparison to those in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

No, we have now gone too far for all that. And how could we not, after the wild charges of Richard Clarke, Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, and Joe Wilson, the celebrity venom of everyone from Sean Penn to Donald Sutherland, the media revelations of Rathergate, Eason Jordan’s false charges that our military targets journalists, and Newsweek’s falsities about flushed Korans?

Don’t forget either the contributions of U.S. senators such as Dick Durbin (comparing our Guantanamo guards to Nazi, Stalinist, and Cambodian murderers) or Ted Kennedy (claiming Abu Ghraib was reopened for the same Saddam-type atrocities by Americans), who did their small part to libel those who gave freedom to millions. Whatever the good news of this election or the one in December — much less the increasing isolation of the nearby tyrant Assad, the flowering in Lebanon, and the rumbles in the Gulf and Egypt — it won’t make much difference anymore to the American people. They have decided that they are tired of the Middle East and only want to go back to the world before 9/11, forgetting that the easy shoot-a-cruise-missile-at-a-cave strategy ultimately led to the 9/11 attacks.

[...]

We don’t expect much either from Arab intellectuals. Most determined a priori that whatever America was for, they were against. Very soon they found a way to jettison their out-of-date “America is a cynical realist who backs dictators” into the new party-line, “America is a fool that rams down foreign democracy and misplaced idealism.”

This was a subsidized toady culture that didn’t care much what Saddam or the Assads did — they were at least Arabs who killed other Arabs, after all. Indeed, most Egyptian or Gulf elites excused their own complicity with homegrown dictatorships by vilifying the Americans when they were realists and then ridiculing them when they turned idealists. So Arab mythmaking will provide any needed exegesis of Iraq to explain how the most frowned-upon people of the Middle East under Saddam will soon be the most respected under themselves.

UN office doctored report on murder of Hariri - World - Times Online

UN office doctored report on murder of Hariri - World - Times Online

THE United Nations withheld some of the most damaging allegations against Syria in its report on the murder of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister, it emerged yesterday.

The names of the brother of Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria, and other members of his inner circle, were dropped from the report that was sent to the Security Council.

The confidential changes were revealed by an extraordinary computer gaffe because an electronic version distributed by UN officials on Thursday night allowed recipients to track editing changes.

The mistaken release of the unedited report added further support to the published conclusion that Syria was behind Mr Hariri’s assassination in a bomb blast on Valentine’s Day in Beirut. The murder of Mr Hariri touched off an international outcry and hastened Syria’s departure from Lebanon in April after a 29-year pervasive military presence.

Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, described the report’s findings as “deeply troubling”. Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said: “It is an unpleasant story which the international community will take very seriously indeed.”

But the furore over the doctoring of the report threatened to overshadow its damaging findings. It raised questions about political interference by Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary- General, who had promised not to make any changes in the report.

One crucial change, apparently made after the report was submitted to the UN chief, removed the name of President al-Assad’s brother, Maher, his brother-in-law, Assef al-Shawkat, and other high-ranking Syrian officials.

The final, edited version quoted a witness as saying that the plot to kill Mr Hariri was hatched by unnamed “senior Lebanese and Syrian officials”. But the undoctored version named those officials as “Maher al-Assad, Assef Shawkat, Hassan Khalil, Bahjat Suleyman and Jamal al-Sayyed”.

The deleted names represent the inner core of the Syrian regime. Maher al-Assad, President al-Assad’s younger brother, is a lieutenant-colonel and head of the Presidential Guard. He is known for his quick tem- per and six years ago was said to have shot his brother-in-law, General Assef Shawkat, in the stomach during an altercation.

TIME.com: Stench Prompted U.S. Troops to Burn Corpses -- Page 1

Stench Prompted U.S. Troops to Burn Corpses
The desecration of Taliban dead prompts outrage in Afghanistan


There simply wasn't enough room on the rocky hilltop above Gonbaz village in southern Afghanistan for the U.S. platoon and the corpses of the two Taliban fighters. The Taliban men had been killed in a firefight 24 hours earlier, and in the 90 degree heat, their bodies had become an unbearable presence, soldiers who were present have told TIME. Nor was the U.S. Army unit about to leave — the hilltop commanded a strategic view of the village below where other Taliban were suspected to be hiding.

Earlier, Lt. Eric Nelson, the leader of B Company, I-508 platoon leader had sent word down to Gonbaz asking the villagers to pick up the bodies and bury them according to Muslim ritual. But the villagers refused — probably because the dead fighters weren't locals but Pakistanis, surmised one U.S. army officer.

It was then that Lt. Nelson took the decision that could jeopardize his service career. "We decided to burn the bodies," one soldier recounts, "because they were bloated and they stank." News of this cremation may have remained on these scorching hills of southern Afghanistan, had the gruesome act not been recorded on film by an Australian photojournalist, Stephen Dupont. Instead, when the footage aired on Australian TV on Wednesday, it unleashed world outrage. A Pentagon spokesman described the incident as "repugnant" and said that the army was launching a criminal investigation into the alleged desecration of the corpses, which is in violation of the Geneva Convention on human rights.

Fueling the furor was the fact that the TV report showed that after the bodies were torched, a U.S. Psychological-Operations team descended on Gonbaz in Humvees with their loudspeakers booming: "Taliban, you are cowardly dogs. You are too scared to come down and retrieve the bodies. This just proves you are the lady-boys we always believed you to be."

Muslims traditionally bury their dead, and as one Kabul cleric Mohammed Omar told newsmen, "The burning of these bodies is an offense against Muslims every where. Bodies are burned only in Hell." But as one U.S. officer in Kandahar pointed out, the Taliban and al Qaeda never show any qualms about defiling the bodies of dead Afghan or American soldiers. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, anxious to quell any new wave of protests against the U.S. troops in Afghanistan of the sort that followed allegations of Koran desecration at Guantanamo, publicly condemned the burnings. A statement from the U.S. military command for Afghanistan said, "Under no circumstances does U.S. Central Command condone the desecration, abuse or inappropriate treatment of enemy combatants."

World Tribune.com -- UN report rocks ruling elites in Syria, Lebanon

UN report rocks ruling elites in Syria, Lebanon


A United Nations investigation headed by German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis has identified political and military leaders as suspects in the Hariri assassination, Western diplomatic sources said.

The report, relayed on Thursday to UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, determined that leading Syrian and Lebanese intelligence officers lied to UN investigators and could be subject to prosecution.

The UN investigation would also examine the purported suicide of Syrian Interior Minister Ghazi Kanaan, a major suspect in the Hariri killing, Middle East Newsline reported. Kanaan's family was said to have accused the Assad regime of killing Kanaan to prevent him from cooperating with the Mehlis probe.

[...]

The report concluded that four Lebanese generals, now in detention in Beirut, helped plan the Hariri assassination. The Lebanese generals were also said to have coordinated with Gen. Rustom Ghazaleh, then head of Syrian intelligence in Lebanon.

"Gen. Jamil Al Sayyed, according to the witness, cooperated closely with Gen. Mustapha Hamdan and Gen. Raymond Azar in the preparation of the assassination of Mr. Hariri," the report said. "He also coordinated with Gen. Ghazali — and, among others, people from Mr. Ahmed Jibril in Lebanon."

"Gen. Hamdan and Gen. Azar provided logistical support, providing money, telephones, cars, walkie-talkies, pagers, weapons, ID-cards etc," the report continued. "Those who knew of the crime in advance were among others, Nasser Kandil and Gen. Ali Al-Hajj."

The UN identified Jibril, commander of the Syrian-sponsored Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, as one of the plotters. Jibril, financed by Iran, has been based in Damascus and maintains military bases in eastern and central Lebanon.

Another leading suspect in the Hariri assassination was identified as Ahmad Abdel Al. Abdel Al, a Lebanese Sunni Muslim cleric, has been leading figure in the Association of Islamic Philanthropic Projects, or Al Ahbash.

[...]

Based on testimony from 400 Lebanese and Syrians, the report said Hariri was threatened by Syrian President Bashar Assad in late 2004. The report said Assad was angered over Hariri's opposition to a constitutional amendment that would grant Lahoud another term in office.

"If you think that [French] President [Jacques] Chirac and you are going to run Lebanon, you are mistaken," the report quoted Assad as telling Hariri. "It is not going to happen. President Lahoud is me. Whatever I tell him, he follows suit. This extension [of Lahoud's term] is to happen or else I will break Lebanon over your head and [Druse leader] Walid Jumblat's. So, you either do as you are told or we will get you and your family wherever you are."

The 54-page report detailed the evasions and lies by leading Lebanese and Syrian security and intelligence officers. Ghazaleh, Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk A-Shaara as well as Assad adviser Walid Mualem were said to have provided false statements to UN investigators regarding their meetings with Hariri.

"After an initial read, the results are clearly troubling and will require further discussion with the international community," U.S. envoy to the UN John Bolton said.

In a letter to the president of the UN Security Council, Annan said he plans to extend the mandate of the investigatory commission until Dec. 15.

Annan said the extension was requested by Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora.

The diplomats said Lebanon and Syria were bracing for a storm over the next few weeks as the Security Council considers additional resolutions against Damascus. The diplomats said they expect a wave of Syrian-aligned attacks in Lebanon in a campaign to intimidate the Siniora government.

"The UN could end up declaring leading members of the Syrian and Lebanese governments as criminals sought for prosecution," a diplomat said.

"In Lebanon, this will probably lead to the resignation of the remaining pro-Syrian politicians or army officers. In Syria, it could mean severe tension in the Assad regime, which fears the exposure of its intelligence network."

Mehlis's report urged that over the next few weeks leading Syrian intelligence officers, including Assad's brother-in-law Assaf Shawkat, undergo UN interrogation outside of their country. The interim report also identified a Palestinian insurgency leader harbored by Syria as a leading suspect in the Hariri killing.

"If the investigation is to be completed, it is essential that the government of Syria fully cooperate with the investigating authorities, including by allowing for interviews to be held outside Syria and for interviewees not to be accompanied by Syrian officials," the report said.

"Many leads point directly towards Syrian security officials as being involved with the assassination," the report added.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Ynetnews - News - British Muslim group declares new jihad

British Muslim group declares new jihad

A Ynetnews investigation has uncovered online recruitment of British Muslims for participation in terror attacks; 'We should give them another magnificent day in history' threatens one man
Yaakov Lappin

A declaration of war on Britain and the West is continuing to be issued by British Muslims in the United Kingdom, as the pro-jihad message of Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, recently banned from Britain, is echoed by his followers who have remained behind.

Bakri, who is now based in Beirut, once headed the al-Muhajiroun group, linked to the 2003 terror attack on the Mike’s Place Bar in Tel Aviv. The suicide bomber behind that attack was a British Muslim.

Using internet sermons, recordings, videos and documents, followers of Bakri, who say they are in touch with the Lebanon-based preacher, call on British Muslims to join al-Qaeda and to carry out acts of terrorism.
[...]

Mizaan, who told listeners “that is my real name,” said: “There is the camp of Islam and the camp of Kuffar (non-Muslim). Today we still have these two camps. And today there is the camp of Islam behind Sheikh Osama Bin Laden, the emir (leader) of jihad today, and we have the camp of kuffar led by George Bush with his cross. So yes we are two distinct groups, and we should never stand with the kuffar.”

“Islam is better than everything and it will rule over the whole world, whether the kuffar likes it or not,” declared Mizaan.

“We should, all of us, glorify the terrorism. And we should incite religious hatred. Don’t worry ... it’s not illegal for us to say that mujahadin (jihad fighters) on 9/11, were the magnificent 19, and it’s not illegal for us to say that Mohammad Sidique Khan (the suicide bomber who blew himself up in London) and the four on 7/7 (London attacks), that they were the fantastic four – now we can say so without any worry.”

“We will always glorify killing the kuffar in the name of Allah. To raid the kuffar in the name of Allah. Even if some women and children are caught in the raid by accident. They are part of them, it is not your fault,” said Mizaan.

“The kuffar wants to force their own homosexuality on the Muslims. The mujahadin have every right to hit back. So don’t be surprised if the mujahadin do another 7/7, and another 9/11,” he said.

“In fact, we should give them another magnificent day in history. Another fantastic four (the four London suicide bombers). We should hit them time after time, day after day, every single week, every single month, every single year, we should hit them from every side, from the left and the right. From the planes above them, and the trains below them, we should hit them every way we can.”

“Even if it’s just a man kuffar, if your target kills him, even if 20 women among them are killed by accident on the way, it is no problem. And that is what happened with the shahada (martyrs) when they went to raid,” said Mizaan.

“So don’t think what happened on 7/7 or 9/11 was something new, no, that’s the Sunnah (sayings and actions of Muhammad). There’s never been jihad without casualties.”

Film rolls as troops burn dead - World - smh.com.au

Film rolls as troops burn dead - World - smh.com.au

Film rolls as troops burn dead
By Tom Allard
October 19, 2005
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US soldiers in Afghanistan burnt the bodies of dead Taliban and taunted their opponents about the corpses, in an act deeply offensive to Muslims and in breach of the Geneva conventions.

An investigation by SBS's Dateline program, to be aired tonight, filmed the burning of the bodies.

It also filmed a US Army psychological operations unit broadcasting a message boasting of the burnt corpses into a village believed to be harbouring Taliban.

According to an SBS translation of the message, delivered in the local language, the soldiers accused Taliban fighters near Kandahar of being "cowardly dogs". "You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burnt. You are too scared to retrieve their bodies. This just proves you are the lady boys we always believed you to be," the message reportedly said.

"You attack and run away like women. You call yourself Taliban but you are a disgrace to the Muslim religion, and you bring shame upon your family. Come and fight like men instead of the cowardly dogs you are."
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The burning of a body is a deep insult to Muslims. Islam requires burial within 24 hours.

Under the Geneva conventions the burial of war dead "should be honourable, and, if possible, according to the rites of the religion to which the deceased belonged".

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Nalchik: The 9/11 That Wasn't - Security Consulting Intelligence Agency - Strategic Forecasting

Security Consulting Intelligence Agency - Strategic Forecasting

Nalchik: The 9/11 That Wasn't
By Fred Burton

Russian military forces are continuing mop-up operations in Nalchik, a city in the Caucasus region where Islamist militants last week staged a series of coordinated attacks -- signaling attempts to widen the Chechen conflict to other parts of Russia. The incident, which burst into the international news Oct. 13, is significant on several levels -- not least of which was the much-improved counterterrorism response by Russian forces, without which the raids conceivably might have expanded into something approaching the Sept. 11 attacks in terms of geopolitical impact.

As it happens, the events that took place involved some 100 to 150 armed militants, who attempted to seize control of the airport at Nalchik while also assaulting police stations, government offices and the regional headquarters of the Russian prison system, among other targets. All told, about 100 people were killed -- more than 60 of them militants, and roughly equal numbers of security forces and civilians. That's hardly what anyone would term a "minor incident," but compared to other attacks by Chechen militants -- such as the school hostage crisis in Beslan in 2004 or a similar event at a Moscow theater in 2002 -- the Russian response was swifter and the outcome much better.

This is not due to dumb luck: The response logically stems from drastically improved intelligence-gathering and targeting priorities in Russian counterterrorism strategies, which underwent a sea change following the Beslan incident. In fact, there is reason to believe that the militants who planned the attacks in Nalchik (an operation that has been claimed by Moscow's arch-enemy, Shamil Basayev) actually were forced into carrying out their operation prematurely, after Russian intelligence got wind of a much larger and more chilling plot -- one combining all the most deadly tactics of both Sept. 11 and Beslan.

Russian military contacts and other sources have told us that the events in Nalchik apparently were supposed to be only the first phase of a plan that ultimately was to include flying explosives-laden aircraft into high-profile targets elsewhere in Russia. Though the exact targets have not been confirmed, sources say possible targets included the Kremlin, a military district headquarters and railway hub in Rostov-on-Don, a nuclear plant in the vicinity of Saratov, and a hydroelectric plant or dam on the Volga. Sources also say the militants had a back-up plan that would have involved mining important government buildings and taking hostages -- tactics the Chechens have used in other headline-grabbing attacks.

This is from Stratfor. You have to pay through the nose for their intel info, but it is fascinating. I subscribed to their free email newsletter, and that's where I got this article. George Friedman's book was excellent also.

TorontoSun.com - Salim Mansur - Islam's worst enemies

TorontoSun.com - Salim Mansur - Islam's worst enemies

Following the Bali bombing, U.S. President George Bush delivered a major speech in Washington to the membership of the National Endowment for Democracy. He expressed most clearly and specifically -- for the first time on record -- who and what is the enemy the U.S. and its allies are fighting in the war on terror.

"Some call this Islamic radicalism; others, militant jihadism; still others Islamo-fascism," Bush said. "Whatever it's called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam. This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision: The establishment, by terrorism and subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom."

With these remarks, Bush clarified what many of us Muslims know by our experience and the history of our faith tradition -- that is, how greatly Muslims themselves have been terrorized through centuries by the same people who are now waging their indiscriminate war against those who refuse to accept their violently bigoted perversion of Islam.

Osama bin Laden is today the public face of this murderous ideology, whose first victims were members of the prophet Muhammad's immediate family. The worldview of these murderers -- irrespective of how they strive to link their acts to Islam -- is starkly primitive. Their world consists of nominal Muslims, to be ruled by them as Taliban chief Mullah Omar ruled Afghanistan, and infidels against whom they must wage an endless war.

In Bali the infidels are Hindus; in Iraq the infidels are Shiites and misguided Kurds; for Palestinians, the infidels are Jews. Americans, Europeans, Russians, Chinese, and Hindu Indians are all infidels who are present inside, or inhabit the bordering lands of Muslims, particularly the Middle East. As enemies of radical Islamists, they are to be terrorized indiscriminately, as was the objective of the London bombers this past July, with the aim that they will be compelled to withdraw from lands considered Islamic.

The internal war within the Muslim world, which is as old as Islam itself, went savagely global in the final decades of the last century. On 9/11 this internal conflict among Muslims erupted inside the United States, awakening America to the international menace of radical Islam in much the same way as Japanese militarism did 60 years earlier at Pearl Harbor.

But there are legions of Americans and Europeans, with supporters elsewhere in other continents, who are wilfully blind and deaf to the reality of radical Islam that Bush has sought to make plain in his public remarks.

They continue to insist that the violence of Muslim terrorists, despite being despicable, must yet be explained by reference to some "root causes" linked with the history of Western colonial imperialism.

Hence, these "useful idiots" (in Lenin's memorable phrase) give pause to the vast majority of Muslims -- in particular those in North America and Europe -- whose silence in the face of evil feeds the bloodlust of Muslim terrorists.