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|How Widespread is Islamic Fundamentalism in Western Europe? |
|by Faith Defenders on |
Source: The Washington Post
One narrative about Muslim immigrants in Europe is that only a relatively small proportion holds views that are sometimes labeled as “fundamentalist.” Ruud Koopmans from the Wissenschaftszentrum in Berlin argues that this perspective is incorrect. He conducted a telephone survey of 9,000 respondents in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Austria, and Sweden and interviewed both Turkish and Moroccan immigrants as well as a comparison group of Christians.
His first finding is that majorities of Muslim immigrants believe that there is only one interpretation of the Koran possible to which every Muslim should stick (75 percent), and that religious rules are more important than the laws of the country in which they live (65 percent). Moreover, these views are as widespread among younger Muslims as among older generations
He then looks at hostility toward out-groups. Fifty-eight percent do not want homosexual friends, 45 percent think that Jews cannot be trusted, and 54 percent believe that the West is out to destroy Muslim culture. Among Christians, 23 percent believe that Muslims are out to destroy Western culture. Koopmans says these results hold when you control for the varying socio-economic characteristics of these groups (although the analyses are not presented).
Religious fundamentalism is the strongest correlate of out-group hostility both among Muslims and Christians. Fundamentalism here is taken to mean beliefs that believers should return to unchangeable rules from the past, that the Bible/Koran should be taken literally, and that religious rules are more important than secular laws. Although Muslims are more likely to be fundamentalist and hostile toward out-groups than Christians, there are many more Christians in these countries. So, the overall numbers of Christians who feel hostile toward Muslims still vastly outnumber the Muslims who believe the West is out to destroy Muslim culture. This accounts for the success of extremist parties in many of the countries in which the survey was conducted. It may be that Muslim perceptions are partially a response to this but we can’t tell. (The study, as far as I can tell, has little to say about the sources of these attitudes).
This study is bound to attract ample media attention (it already has) and will be seen as a verification for political parties with extreme views, such as Geert Wilders’s PVV in the Netherlands. This is not an issue per se, facts are facts, however uncomfortable they may be, and from what I can tell, this is a professional survey (technical report here) done by a reputable academic scholar. Indeed, the survey was conducted in 2008, and the researchers appear to have waited until now to publicize these findings. Nevertheless, I wished that the publication of a sensitive survey like this would be partnered with a bit more information. For example, I could not even track down country-specific marginals for the main survey questions and key analyses in the article come without tables or graphs.
Still, the finding that 54 percent of Muslims in these six Western European countries believe that the West is out to destroy Muslim culture can hardly be ignored. A Dutch newspaper, Trouw, cites Arabist Jan Jaap de Ruiter who argues that Muslims have a tendency to give “socially desirable” answers to survey questions. Even if this is true, I’d still be very concerned that the apparent socially desirable answer is that Jews should not be trusted and that the West is out to get Muslims. An added concern is the absence of generational differences in the survey responses; suggesting that this is not an issue that is likely to go away any time soon.
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|Kenya Mall Siege 'Over' but Death Toll Unclear |
|by Faith Defenders on |
|Source: MSN |
As Kenya began three days of mourning on Wednesday for at least 67 people killed in the siege of a Nairobi mall, it was unclear how many more hostages may have died with the Somali Islamist attackers buried in the rubble.
Declaring final victory over the al Qaeda-linked gunmen from al Shabaab who stormed the Westgate shopping center on Saturday, President Uhuru Kenyatta said that three floors in a part of the mall had collapsed near the end of the operation, leaving an unknown number of bodies under steel and concrete.
It was not clear what caused the structure to come down.
Five militants had been shot dead, Kenyatta said, and six security personnel died in the four days of fighting.
Sixty-one civilians had so far been confirmed dead, Kenyatta added. Kenyan officials declined to say how many of 63 people whom the Red Cross had earlier classed as unaccounted for may also have died in a showdown with guerrillas, who had threatened to kill their hostages and go down fighting.
Eleven people suspected of involvement with the well-planned and executed assault were in custody, the Kenyan president added. But he did not say how many, if any, were gunmen taken alive and how many may have been people arrested elsewhere.
It was also unclear whether intelligence reports of American or British gunmen would be confirmed. Al Shabaab denied that any women took part, after British sources said the fugitive widow of one of the 2005 London suicide bombers might have some role.
The shattered mall, an imposing, Israeli-built symbol of a new prosperity for some in Africa while many remain mired in poverty, lay largely silent overnight, after days of gunfire, explosions and bloodshed.
"The operation is now over," Kenyatta told Kenyans in a televised address. "We have ashamed and defeated our attackers
He announced three days of national mourning.
BODIES IN RUBBLE
Police said the attackers, who devastated restaurants and shops at a busy Saturday lunchtime, spraying bullets and grenades at Kenyans and foreigners, were now either dead or in custody.
"Now it is for the forensic and criminal experts," said a police spokesman, Masoud Mwinyi.
Kenyan security personnel wave frantically at bystanders to take cover as heavy gunfire erupts Monday, Sept. 23, from the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya.
Some of the 63 people reported to the Red Cross as still missing may simply not have been at the mall, or may have later made it home without the agency being made aware. But some, at least, appear to have been held hostage
"There are several bodies trapped in the rubble, including the terrorists," Kenyatta said. At the weekend, he had said there were between 10 and 15 militants holed up in the mall.
Several foreigners of many nationalities have already been named among the dead. The mall was a favorite with expatriates.
It is unclear how many foreigners may still be missing.
Survivors of the assault told tales of horror and narrow escapes. Some made it out after hours, even days, of hiding in terror. The uncle of one British four-year-old told the Sun newspaper his nephew had told a militant "You're a very bad man", as the gunman let some children and their mother go.
Officials said the raiders had set a major fire on Monday in a supermarket. On Tuesday, a thin trail of smoke drifted into a soggy sky as darkness fell, the result, rescue volunteers said, of soldiers detonating locked doors in a search for militants.
Police let some people retrieve cars they left behind when shoppers fled in panic. Journalists and others were kept well away behind a security cordon.
Kenyatta said he could not confirm intelligence reports of British and American militants, adding that forensic tests were being carried out to establish their nationalities. The government denied speculation that women were among the guerrillas, but said some had been dressed as women. That may have been a ploy to smuggle more weapons past mall guards.
It is unusual, if not unknown, for Islamist militants to use female fighters: "We have an adequate number of young men who are fully committed & we do not employ our sisters in such military operations #Westgate," al Shabaab said on Twitter.
It also dismissed comments by a Kenyan minister that two or three of the militants were young Somali or Arab Americans.
A British security source said it was possible that Samantha Lewthwaite, widow of Germaine Lindsay one of the London suicide bombers of July 7 2005, was involved in the Nairobi siege in some way. "It is a possibility. But nothing definitive or conclusive yet," the source said.
Lewthwaite is wanted in connection with an alleged plot to attack expensive hotels and restaurants in Kenya.
Making no mention of gunmen still in the mall, al Shabaab also drew a link to the most recent Islamist attack in London, when a soldier was stabbed to death on a busy street in May in the suburb of Woolwich. Michael Adebolajo and a fellow British Muslim convert of Nigerian descent face trial for murder.
"It's an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth...' Remember Mujahid Adebolajo? This is what he meant. His was #Woolwich, #Westgate ours!" read another al Shabaab Twitter post.
"These cowards will meet justice as will their accomplices and patrons, wherever they are," said Kenyatta.
He thanked other leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, for their support and used his address to praise the response of the Kenyan people and call for national unity, six months after his election was marked by ethnic tensions.
"Kenya has stared down evil and triumphed," he said.
Heavy smoke rises Monday from the Westgate shopping center in Nairobi.
Many Kenyans agree that the bloodshed has helped foster a greater sense of national unity.
"We are all talking about it. The one good thing is that the whole of Kenya has become one, except for al Shabaab," said Vipool Shah, who helped pull bodies out of the mall.
Kenyatta's focus on Kenya's troubles, and of his role in a global campaign against terrorism, was a reminder that he faces trial at The Hague in a few weeks time for crimes against humanity over violence that followed a 2007 election. The International Criminal Court adjourned the trial of his vice president this week because of the Westgate attack.
Kenyatta and his government have urged the ICC to drop the case and warm words for the Kenyan leadership from Western allies during the siege may have boosted their hopes that the court might be pressed to shelve proceedings in the interests of shoring up an important partner in the fight against al Qaeda.
The Nairobi attack came at a time when several violent Islamist groups from Mali to Algeria and Nigeria to Kenya have tapped into local grievances. But all have espoused an anti-Western, anti-Christian creed and are striking at state authority and international interests.
Regional intelligence experts believe the Nairobi raiders were members of a crack unit loyal to leader Ahmed Godane, who has been seeking to rebrand al Shabaab as a significant international jihadist group.
Al Shabaab had threatened revenge since Kenyan troops joined the war against Islamists in its chaotic northern neighbor two years ago. The group created funding, recruiting and training networks in Kenya. Kenyatta dismissed an al Shabaab demand to pull Kenyan troops from Somalia after the mall siege began.
The attack bears out Western concern that Somalia, a hotspot in the U.S.-led war on Islamist militants across the globe, may be a launchpad for strikes on regional countries even as African troops put them on the defensive in the Horn of Africa state.
Obama, whose father was Kenyan, said he believed the country - scene of one of al Qaeda's first big attacks, in 1998, when a bomb devastated the U.S. embassy in Nairobi - would continue to be a regional pillar of stability.
Somalia's prime minister appealed in Geneva for international support to combat al Shabaab, but said a military solution to their insurgency alone was not enough.
Abdi Farah Shirdon said: "We still have a difficult journey ahead of us. A military solution alone is not enough, promotion of rule of law, greater regional cooperation and economic stability and provision of public services are all key factors."
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|Are Terrorists Setting U.S. Wildfires? |
|by Faith Defenders on |
As the 2013 season of devastating wildfires continues to rage across the American West, the question of arson as a form of major terrorism is again being raised.
Already this year, 35,440 reported fires have burned a total of 3.9 million acres, with a quarter-million acres scorched the iconic Yosemite National Park.
Large blazes continue to burn in several states, with six alive in Idaho, five each in California and Montana, and one each in Alaska, Louisiana, Oregon, Texas and Washington.
The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, says at this time last year, 45,278 fires had burned 7.9 million acres, and in 2011, there were 55,619 fires devastating 7.2 million acres.
In July 2012, William Scott, a former National Security Agency official and Aviation Week editor, told the American Center for Democracy that terrorists are using fire as a tactical weapon of war.
“Perhaps the most simple form of economic warfare is wild land arson,” Scott said in his “Fire Wars” presentation. “That’s just setting fires in U.S. forests [and] grasslands.”
“For any terrorists that are determined to inflict significant damage with very little investment or risk, fire is an extremely high-leverage weapon of mass effect.”
Scott explained that after U.S. Navy SEALs killed al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden, they “captured a treasure trove of material that provided some unprecedented insight into the al-Qaida plans. And one of those was a detailed campaign for starting fires throughout the [American] West.”
“U.S. officials have pretty much determined that some of the fires that burned in California [in 2011] were ignited by al-Qaida operatives,” Scott said.
An editorial in June by the Washington Examiner noted, “Those trying to downplay the threat of terrorism have dismissed such a possibility as paranoid. As Americans learned in 2001, and again as recently as 2012 in Benghazi and 2013 with the Boston Marathon bombing, terrorist threats are not something to take lightly.”
This year’s wildfire in Yosemite started Aug. 17 in the Stanislaus National Forest, but authorities believe it was not an act off terror. They say a hunter’s illegal fire swept out of control, torching 394 square miles of timber, meadows and sensitive wildlife habitat. The Associated Press reports it has cost more than $89 million to fight, and officials say it will cost tens of millions of dollars more to repair the environmental damage alone.
Yosemite National Park has been decimated by fire in the summer of 2013.
As WND reported in June, an expert on Islamic terrorism believes a wildfire that ravaged the outskirts of Colorado Springs, Colo., killing two people and destroying more than 500 homes, should be examined by terror investigators.
“One thing that my investigators have given me the authority to state is that they have all but ruled out natural causes as the cause of this fire,” said Sheriff Terry Maketa at the time. “I can’t really go any further on that, but I can say we are pretty confident it was not, for instance, a lightning strike.”
That single blaze in Colorado caused more than $85 million in damage, but that figure is expected to rise to possibly $120 million.
The causes for most forest fires are limited to electrical problems, out-of-control campfires or grills, accidents such as a car fire and sparks from chain saws or other back-country tools.
Those causes, to an expert investigator, are readily identifiable.
But authorities said they were focusing on a 28-foot square patch where they believe the fire started, examining some portions with a magnifying glass.
At the American Center for Democracy, noted terror funding expert Rachel Ehrenfeld suggested circumstances are a little suspicious.
Ehrenfeld, once targeted by a Saudi official with a foreign lawsuit over her work in the United States, was the reason the “Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitution Heritage Act” was adopted by Congress.
It put an end to lawsuits brought in foreign jurisdictions where speech protections do not exist or are not as robust as in the United States which were simply intended to censor or chill speech in the U.S.
“Bill Scott, who’s a senior fellow at ACD, warned about such a scenario last July, speaking at the ACD-EWI Economic Threats briefing on Capital Hill,” Ehrenfeld wrote. “An expert on aerial firefighting, he presented a sobering analysis of the devastating (2012) Waldo Canyon Fire [in Colorado], pointing out that the striking rise [in] Western U.S. wildfires may be caused by elements other than nature.
“He noted that in spring 2012, al-Qaida’s English-language online magazine, Inspire, published an article called ‘It Is of Your Freedom to Ignite a Firebomb,’ which featured instructions on how to build an incendiary bomb to light forests on fire.”
She explained that Russia’s security chief, Aleksandr Bortnikov, also has warned, “Al-Qaida was complicit in recent forest fires in Europe” as part of terrorism’s “strategy of a thousand cuts.”
“Since then, more fatwas advocating that ‘fire is a cheap, easy and effective tool for economic warfare’ have been issued,” Ehrenfeld wrote. “They’ve included detailed instructions for constructing remote-controlled ‘ember bombs, and how to set fires without leaving a trace.’”
Israel’s forests also have been targeted, she noted.
“While many of the fires that have scorched millions of acres and destroyed thousands of homes in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and other states have been identified as arson, none has been publicly attributed to criminal or terrorist groups, despite the presence of Mexican gangs and [a] large number of other illegals in our Western states,” she said.
Mother Jones reported Don Smurthwaite, a Bureau of Land Management spokesman, “downplayed” Ehrenfeld’s ideas, “but he didn’t dismiss the notion outright.”
“We don’t have any hard evidence that any wildfires in the U.S. were started by terrorists in recent years,” he told the publication. “But is it a possibility? Certainly.”
He noted the last confirmed weaponized wildfires were in World War II, when the Japanese sent incendiary balloons across the Pacific.
However, the Christian Broadcasting Network reported al-Qaida was advising would-be terrorists how best to burn America.
The terror group’s magazine included pictures, diagrams and explanations on how to start fires to obtain the most damage.
CBN analyst Erick Stakelbeck said the extreme detail provides reason for concern. The information, he said, is “all designed to cause the maximum amount of carnage and death.”
CBN noted that in the U.S., more houses are built in the countryside than in the cities and cited a Montana fire chief who said the prospect of a wildfire terrorist attack was not farfetched.
WND also reported websites run by jihadis made claims of arson in a number of California wildfires.
WND reported in 2004 that an Arabic-language jihadi website also posted a message purporting to be “al-Qaida’s plan of economic attack” on the U.S. that including proposals to turn the nation’s forests into raging infernos.
The National Terror Alert Response Center report said: “We are NOT implying that the California fires are an act of terrorism; however, the threat of pyro-terrorist attacks pose a significant risk to the U.S. and the fires in California and Greece earlier this year should be a wake-up call.”
Even in 2003, an FBI memo warned that national forests in the West could be the next target for terror by Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network.
The memo, obtained by the Arizona Republic, warned law enforcement that a senior al-Qaida detainee told interrogators he planned to spark multiple, catastrophic wildfires simultaneously in Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming to strike a blow to the U.S. economy.
WND also reported documents recovered from a remote area along the Pakistan border revealed that bin Laden wanted al-Qaida to launch a “global fireball” by lighting forest fires in Europe, the United States, Australia and South America.
The documents, uncovered during an operation led by the British intelligence service MI6, were described by experts in that agency as “the most worrying [plot] that the world is facing.”
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|The Problem with Reza Aslan's Book about Jesus is Not that he is a Muslim. The Problem With it is That He is Dishonest. |
|by Faith Defenders on |
Source: Jihad Watch
The Leftist media is in an uproar over Reza Aslan's recent interview on Fox News -- see the Huffington Post's account here. Many people have sent me tweets and emails skewering Fox's supposed inconsistency for giving Aslan trouble for writing about Jesus as a Muslim but welcoming me writing about Muhammad as a Christian.
This is not actually the case, but I am getting so many emails about this that I thought I'd make it clear: I have no problem whatsoever with Reza Aslan writing about Jesus as a Muslim. I do not believe that one has to be a Muslim to write about Islam, or a Christian to write about Christianity, or a Hindu to write about Hinduism.
I did put up one Jihad Watch post that touched on the fact that his Muslim religion was not being mentioned in the media, but my emphasis was on his dishonesty, as well as his links to the bloody mullahs of the Islamic Republic of Iran. On July 25, I posted this: "Liberal media love new Jesus book Zealot, fail to mention author is Muslim -- and member of lobbying group for Iranian mullahs," commenting on a Fox News commentary by John S. Dickerson. In his article, Dickerson noted: "Media reports have introduced Aslan as a 'religion scholar' but have failed to mention that he is a devout Muslim." This is true. In this NPR interview a section entitled "On his religious affiliation" has Aslan responding, "I wouldn't call myself a Christian..." and going on and on from there, but he never gets around to mentioning that he is a Muslim.
That's not exactly an honest answer when the question was put to him directly, and so I thought Dickerson's piece had merit. The emphasis of my post, however, was on Aslan's affiliation with a lobbying group for the Iranian mullahs and other unsavory connections to jihadists and Islamic supremacists, and the general fact that the mainstream media overlooks Aslan's superficiality, numerous errors of fact, and obnoxious demeanor because he reflects their ideological perspective.
What's more, on the notorious Fox interview, Aslan lied about his scholarly credentials. Matthew J. Franck explains in First Things that it was Aslan, not Fox's Lauren Green, who steered the interview into a discussion of himself rather than of the book:
In fact, it is Aslan who immediately turns the interview into a cage match by reacting very defensively to Green’s first question. And here is where the misrepresentations begin. For roughly the first half of the interview Aslan dominates the exchange with assertions about himself that seem intended to delay the substance of the discussion:
I am a scholar of religions with four degrees including one in the New Testament . . . I am an expert with a Ph.D. in the history of religions . . . I am a professor of religions, including the New Testament–that’s what I do for a living, actually . . . To be clear, I want to emphasize one more time, I am a historian, I am a Ph.D. in the history of religions.
Later he complains that they are “debating the right of the scholar to write” the book rather than discussing the book. But the conversation took that turn thanks to Aslan, not Green! By the final minute he is saying of himself (and who really talks this way!?) that “I’m actually quite a prominent Muslim thinker in the United States.”
Aslan does have four degrees, as Joe Carter has noted: a 1995 B.A. in religion from Santa Clara University, where he was Phi Beta Kappa and wrote his senior thesis on “The Messianic Secret in the Gospel of Mark”; a 1999 Master of Theological Studies from Harvard; a 2002 Master of Fine Arts in Fiction from the University of Iowa; and a 2009 Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
None of these degrees is in history, so Aslan’s repeated claims that he has “a Ph.D. in the history of religions” and that he is “a historian” are false. Nor is “professor of religions” what he does “for a living.” He is an associate professor in the Creative Writing program at the University of California, Riverside, where his terminal MFA in fiction from Iowa is his relevant academic credential. It appears he has taught some courses on Islam in the past, and he may do so now, moonlighting from his creative writing duties at Riverside. Aslan has been a busy popular writer, and he is certainly a tireless self-promoter, but he is nowhere known in the academic world as a scholar of the history of religion. And a scholarly historian of early Christianity? Nope.
What about that Ph.D.? As already noted, it was in sociology. I have his dissertation in front of me. It is a 140-page work titled “Global Jihadism as a Transnational Social Movement: A Theoretical Framework.” If Aslan’s Ph.D. is the basis of a claim to scholarly credentials, he could plausibly claim to be an expert on social movements in twentieth-century Islam. He cannot plausibly claim, as he did to Lauren Green, that he is a “historian,” or is a “professor of religions” “for a living.”
Here again, the problem is Aslan's dishonesty. I don't care about his scholarly credentials. Even if everything he had said about his degrees had been true, it would confer on his book no presumption of accuracy or truth. I am constantly assailed for lacking scholarly credentials, but as it happens, when it comes to writing about religion I have exactly the same credentials as Aslan, a B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, and an M.A. in Religious Studies. His other two degrees are in other fields.
But anyway, it doesn't matter: there are plenty of fools with degrees, and plenty of geniuses without them. My work, and Aslan's, stands or falls on its merits, not on the number of degrees we have. Aslan's pulling rank on Lauren Green and starting to reel off (inaccurately) his degrees was a sign of insecurity: it implied that he didn't think his book could stand on its merits, and had to be accepted because he had a lot of degrees. And in fact, his book doesn't stand on its merits. Marvin Olasky notes in World Magazine:
Aslan states as fact, not theory, that “the gospels are not, nor were they ever meant to be, a historical documentation of Jesus’ life. These are not eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ words and deeds. They are testimonies of faith composed by communities of faith written many years after the events they describe.”
That’s what theologically liberal commenters propose, but Aslan either skipped or banished from his consideration the theologically conservative half, which states that Matthew, Mark, and Luke reported eyewitness accounts and emerged during the lifetimes of other eyewitnesses.
And indeed, there is no scholarly consensus that the Gospels were not meant to be historical or eyewitness accounts. Whether or not they really are historically accurate is a question that has been debated for centuries and will be debated until the end of time, but Aslan's claim that they were not "ever meant to be a historical documentation of Jesus' life" is false on its face. Luke's Gospel begins: "Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us, just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed." (Luke 1:1-4)
That sounds like a document that wants to be taken precisely as "a historical documentation of Jesus' life." So does John's Gospel when it says, "He who saw it has borne witness -- his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth -- that you also may believe" (John 19:35) and "This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true" (John 21:24). Again, whether these claims are true or not is another question, but the fact that the claims were made at all completely refutes Aslan's claim. As a scholar of the New Testament he thus stands as incompetent or -- here again -- dishonest.
Likewise his statement in the NPR interview: "I do not believe that Jesus is God, nor do I believe that he ever thought that he was God, or that he ever said that he was God." In the Gospels, Jesus takes upon himself the name "I am," the Holy Name of God according to Exodus 3:14, at least four times: see Mark 6:50, Matthew 14:27, John 6:20, and John 8:58. Aslan may, as a practicing Muslim, believe that the Gospels have been corrupted and that Jesus never actually made these statements, but not even to note that they (and others) exist is, yet again, dishonest.
And that's the problem with Aslan's book: not that he is a Muslim, but that he is not an honest man or a reliable scholar, no matter how many degrees he has. But after all, as his prophet said, "War is deceit."
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|If Only Our Foreign Enemies Were Republicans |
|by Faith Defenders on |
Contributor: Scott Allswang
I cannot recall, in the last five years, Barack Obama ever identifying the Iranians, Hezbollah, or the late Hugo Chavez as among our “enemies,” in the fashion that he once urged Latino leaders to punish conservatives at the polls: “We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.” If only the president would treat those who don’t like the United States in the same manner that he does those who do, he might bring great clarity to his now listless foreign policy. Indeed, why waste his rich vocabulary of teleprompted invective on fellow Americans, when there is an entire world out there that wishes the United States ill?
Imagine if Obama declaimed of the Iranians in Tehran that “those aren’t the kinds of folks who represent our core American values,” in the manner he once attacked John McCain for calling for border security in 2008. Could not a worldly Obama at least go after the intolerant Saudis for spreading Wahhabi-hatred worldwide and for sending subsidies to radical Sunni terrorists, in the detailed way he once deconstructed rural conservative voters of Pennsylvania? He might have taken apart these dogmatic religious absolutists in the following manner: “It’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” All such invective seems to sum up current Saudi society far better than it does the people of Pennsylvania. Could not the president finish by noting that their madrassas encourage divisions and discourage cooperation, just as he boldly lectured an Irish audience about the problems with Catholic parochial schools?
As far as these hyper-rich Persian Gulf sheikdoms go, could not the fearless Obama urge these “fat cats” to share their riches with poorer countries, in the manner he once sermonized to Americans in no uncertain terms: “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody”?
When Obama deals with the Palestinians, could he not say of them, as he once did without hesitation of the Republican Congress, “Even though most people agree … I’m presenting a fair deal, the fact that they don’t take it means that I should somehow do a Jedi mind-meld with these folks and convince them to do what’s right”? Of the Gaza flotilla incident that was used against ally Israel, Obama at least could offer one of his accustomed blunt retorts like “there is no there there,” as he did to his own domestic critics of Benghazi. Or better yet, he could have flipped it off as a “sideshow.”
Trouble in Syria? Tough Chicagoan Obama should warn Assad that America was bringing a gun to a knife fight, or that Americans were going to get in the faces of their enemies, just as the street-fighting candidate Obama once urged his supporters to confront Republicans.
Of natural disasters in Pakistan, the historically minded president might also see it as a metaphor of a sick society, in the way he said of Katrina that the hurricane catastrophe “was a powerful metaphor of what’s gone on for generations.” Greece is in shambles, its socialist/siesta culture unsustainable. If the candid president is going to lecture Americans with “we’ve been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades,” and with “this is a great, great country that had gotten a little soft and we didn’t have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades. We need to get back on track,” then perhaps he might extend that tough love to the bankrupt Greeks as well.
Egypt? Could not no-nonsense Obama say of Mohamed Morsi and his destruction of that country that he “was acting stupidly,” in the fashion he did with the Cambridge Police Department? Could not Attorney General Eric Holder be enlisted to talk down to the Libyans, who will not turn over the killers of our government personnel, by claiming they are abject “cowards”? Many Islamists in Nigeria are slaughtering Christians; could not an empathetic Obama express solidarity with the victims the way he did so poignantly with Trayvon Martin: “If I had a son, he’d look like a slain Christian Nigerian”?
Speaking of Christians, might Obama order his NASA chief to praise Christians for their contributions to civilization, in the manner Charles Bolden was ordered to redirect NASA’s mission to Muslim outreach: “Third, and perhaps foremost, he [Obama] wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science … and math and engineering”)?
Perhaps Obama could teach the grasping and cash-rich Chinese that now is not the time for them to profit and that at some point their rapacious international companies should cease the money-making, in the same manner he instructed Americans: “I mean, I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.” The Chinese are said to have the dirtiest air and water on the planet – might a green Obama remonstrate with them about their duty to planet Earth, in the way that he damned his Republican opponents for wanting to “have dirtier air, dirtier water”?
To a hostile Vladimir Putin — reported to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars — the statist Obama might remark that the Russian leader did not build his fortune, at least not without the help of the state. Or more directly, civil-rights organizer Obama might remind polite society of the often-bigoted Putin that he was “a typical white person,” in the manner he once derided his own grandmother. If only Putin was BP, Obama would have him worried about the president musing over “whose ass to kick.”
Obama could also from time to time enlist First Lady Michelle Obama as well. She would be wonderful in courageously reminding a bullying China that it is “just downright mean.” To the corrupt United Nations, a no-holds-barred Michelle could confront its members by reminding them that she had never before been proud of that organization. Perhaps to the Europeans who piggy-back on American defense expenditures, the tough-love first lady might remonstrate as she did with American voters: “Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.”
Turning to more concrete action, the IRS has global reach. Could it not turn on Hezbollah the way it has gone after the Tea Party?
Instead of inflammatory language like “patriots” and “tea party,” might the agency fixate on “terrorism” and “jihad”? And just as the FBI did not detain Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Major Hasan, or Anwar al-Awlaki after these suspects came to their attention, could it not finally let go of the poor video-maker Mark Basseley Youssef, innocent of inciting the al-Qaeda related terrorists in Benghazi?
For that matter, if controversial films are supposedly catalysts to hate-filled violence, could not the exasperated Obama condemn his powerful friend Recep Erdogan for airing on Turkish state television the anti-Semitic and anti-American Valley of the Wolves? Was not the multimillion-dollar slick Turkish production that played throughout the Islamic world more detrimental to U.S. interests than Youssef’s cheap video farce?
The Associated Press and James Rosen are small-fry leakers in comparison to the things al Jazeera says about America. Why not monitor that new agency’s phone banks, or perhaps even the parents of al Jazeera reporters? If Obama goes after Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Fox News by name, cannot he conjure up at least something like his earlier slur “teabaggers” for the anti-American Islamist media?
Is al Jazeera all that less subversive than Fox News? If EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson can use a fake name and adopt a phony alter ego to evade accountability from her domestic critics, can’t our own government operatives do that abroad to confuse Islamists? Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius shook down American companies to pony up money to promote Obamacare; can’t she similarly coerce our allies to help pay more for the joint venture in Afghanistan?
American politics is historically a rough-and-tumble business, characterized by invective and slurs. What is different with the Obama administration is not that it goes after its critics, but rather that it does so in an extreme fashion that it does not employ for those abroad who oppose the United States at almost every turn. Diplomacy is one thing, but being far harsher with domestic than foreign critics is a peculiarity we have not seen since the Nixon era, when an “enemies list” did not reference Red China or Leonid Brezhnev’s Russia as much as those who worked for the Washington Post.
Barack Obama received a Nobel Peace Prize, not for anything concrete that he did, but in the eyes of the award committee for his rhetorical efforts to bring the world together. Obviously, the Nobel judges did not think that included half of Obama’s fellow Americans. For Obama, the problem is not so much foreign radicals, revolutionaries, authoritarians, and dictators who hate the United States as it is those within America who, he thinks, cause such odious folk abroad to justifiably despise us.
In other words, if not for our conservatives, the NRA, the pro-lifers, the traditional marriage bunch, the one-percenters, the crazy House Republicans, and the Tea Party/Sarah Palin sorts, our enemies abroad might have become our friends.
And that depressing ideology explains why the president of the United States saves his best invective for his own.
Source: PJ Media
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|How to Stop Jihad in its Tracks |
|by Faith Defenders on |
Contributor: Scott Allswang
In recent weeks, abject intel failures in America, Britain and France have proved deadly. Associated Press reported that at the “Boston Marathon, in the streets of London and in the shadow of one of Paris’ most recognizable monuments,” Muslims “carried out jihadi attacks with little help, using inexpensive, widely available knives and explosives from everyday ingredients. In each of the attacks, suspects had previously been flagged to law enforcement and deemed not to be a priority.”
A French government report that has just recently been released shows the breadth of this intelligence failure. A French academic, Mathieu Guidere, explained that the West’s intelligence agencies were “not originally made for fighting against this kind of threat. They’re intended to fight against cells, against groups, against organizations, but not against individuals. It’s a question of adapting. That’s why there are the same errors in Boston, London and France. There was identification – but not detention – before the suspects passed into the realm of action.”
However, David Omand, Britain’s former security and intelligence coordinator, disagreed, saying that “no reliable psychological test or checklist has been devised that can predict when such an individual may tip over into actually taking violent action. Short of a police state on East German lines the number of such individuals who can be subject to very intensive surveillance sufficient to detect preparations for violent action is but a small proportion of the total – and of course individuals can flip quickly even where they have been checked out previously.”
It’s true that Western intelligence officials don’t have a “reliable psychological test or checklist” to ferret out jihadists, whether or not one can be devised. France’s highest security official, Manuel Valls, complained that the Paris jihad attacker “simply didn’t ‘fit the profile of a jihadist.’”
I disagree. All of the Muslims involved in these attacks absolutely fit the profile of an operational jihadist. The question is, who determines what the profile of a jihadist is? Are intelligence officials in Britain, France and the United States consulting with experts on jihad like Robert Spencer or Ibn Warraq? No. So of course they get it wrong. Barack Obama scrubbed all counter-terror materials and training of jihad and Islam – how can an accurate profile of a jihadist be rendered by American intelligence officials? Last week, Obama recommended that to prevent “violent extremism” inspired by violent jihadists, intel agencies must work with Muslim groups (the same groups that work to dismantle counter-jihad programs) “to identify signs of radicalization and partner with law enforcement when an individual is drifting toward violence.”
Historically, they oppose us. They protest our freedom rallies. The Daily Mail reported Monday that the jihad murderer Mujahid Adebolajo “was among hundreds of young Muslims who gathered outside Harrow Central Mosque in North-West London” on Sept. 11, 2009, so as to “‘defend’ it against a planned joint protest by the English Defence League and Stop the Islamisation of Europe group.” The jihad murderer was protesting our group – in the company of numerous Muslim “moderates” who deplored our “Islamophobia.”
But where are their protests, beyond simple press statements, against how the Islamic jihadists have used the texts and teachings of Islam to justify the jihad murders in Boston and London? Where are the protests against the Quranic texts and teachings that command jihad? This is who Obama is advising us to count on?
The mainstream jihad-sympathizing AP is reporting that in the wake of the Boston, London and Paris attacks in the past month intelligence agencies are struggling to access red flags.
It is not difficult. We outline the program in our AFDI 18-point platform:
- AFDI calls for profiling of Muslims at airports and in hiring in professions in which national security and public safety could be compromised.
- AFDI calls for immediate investigation into foreign mosque funding in the West and for new legislation making foreign funding of mosques in non-Muslim nations illegal.
- AFDI calls for surveillance of mosques and regular inspections of mosques in the U.S. and other non-Muslim nations to look for pro-violence materials. Any mosque advocating jihad or any aspects of Shariah that conflict with constitutional freedoms and protections should be closed.
- AFDI calls for curriculum and Islam-related materials in textbooks and museums to describe the Islamic doctrine and history accurately, including its violent doctrines and 1,400-year war against unbelievers.
- AFDI calls for a halt of foreign aid to Islamic nations with Shariah-based constitutions and/or governments.
- AFDI denounces the use of Shariah law in any Western court or nation.
- AFDI advocates deportation hearings against non-citizens who promote jihad in our nations.
- AFDI calls for an immediate halt of immigration by Muslims into nations that do not currently have a Muslim majority population.
- AFDI calls for laws providing that anyone seeking citizenship in the United States should be asked if he or she supports Shariah law, and investigated for ties to pro-Shariah groups. If so, citizenship should not be granted.
- AFDI calls for the cancellation of citizenship or permanent residency status for anyone who leaves the country of his residence to travel for the purpose of engaging in jihad activity, and for the refusal of re-entry into his country of residence after that jihad activity.
- AFDI calls for careful investigation of Muslims resident in non-Muslim countries who have obtained naturalized citizenship or permanent residency status, to ensure that that status was not obtained under false pretenses.
If these steps were implemented, the jihad in the West would be stopped in its tracks.
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|DHS Flags Tweets About 'Militia,' but not 'Jihad' |
|by Faith Defenders on |
|Contributor: Scott Allswang |
You can thank the Electronic Privacy Information Center for forcing the Department of Homeland Security to release its list of “keywords” that are used to by its agents to monitor you on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites.
The list, including phrases, reveals which words you probably want to avoid or else risk being flagged and eyeballed as a possible terrorist or someone who is otherwise posing threats to the United States. Words included such innocuous terms as: “Militia,” “exercise,” “cops,” “national security” and “facility.” Interestingly and of note, “jihad” was not included, nor were the words “Middle East,” “Arab,” “Muslim,” “terrorist” or “pressure cooker.” Perhaps those are on a different DHS red flag list?
The Electronic Privacy Information Center sued to obtain the list, but not before it had filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the documents contained within DHS’ 2011 ‘Analyst’s Desktop Binder,’ which, according to a Forbes report, is “used by workers at their National Operations Center, which instructs workers to identify ‘media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities.’”
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|Israel Prepares as War Clouds Gather |
|by Faith Defenders on |
|Contributor: Scott Allswang |
From the window of Shrifa Schlomitz’s dental surgery at the top of a high rise in the Stella Maris area of Haifa, you can clearly see the three Patriot missile batteries pointing over the Mediterranean Sea towards the Lebanese border, just 30km away.
Dr Schlomitz has no interest in seeing them removed at the moment. Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group with which Israel fought a six-week long war in 2006 – a war that brought Haifa into the firing line of Hezbollah rockets – is too close for comfort again and the group’s deepening involvement in the Syrian civil war has increased the threat of new attacks, according to some.
“The rockets make us feel safer – it gives some kind of security. If they weren’t there people would be asking the government ‘what are you doing to defend us?’,” he says.
“I don’t think they will dare attack us. We would respond immediately and erase them from the map. But we’re in a standby situation; people know what can happen. People know there is potential danger, but also we have to live our normal lives at the same time. We know the situation can change very quickly.
In recent weeks, the drums of war have been beating louder. A week ago, there were reports in the Israeli media that a rocket was fired from Lebanon towards Israel. It didn’t land – but the tension is being ratcheted up.
In public, Israeli politicians are at pains to suggest that they will not take sides in the Syrian conflict even though Hezbollah has publicly thrown its weight behind Bashar al-Assad’s government. Recent reports that the Netanyahu government was also hoping that Assad stays in power and maintains the quiet on the shared border were angrily countered.
Despite its protestations, Israel has attacked targets inside Syria, both last month and in February. It will not admit to the action, but officials have lined up to argue that Israel has the right to prevent sophisticated weaponry reaching Hezbollah fighters in southern Lebanon.
It is a calculated risk. Hezbollah – whose leader Hasan Nasrallah warns of a “strategic response” to the Israeli attacks – is known to have many short- range rockets, but longer-range, more advanced, missiles would threaten Israel’s biggest city, Tel Aviv, further south and would bring the nearby Ben Gurion airport into play.
And it is for that reason that Israeli officials are so concerned about the Russian insistence that it will deliver a batch of its advanced S300 missiles to Damascus.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu said before cabinet [last week] that Israel will act to prevent the S300 missiles becoming operational, so if they arrive in Syria, Israel must act,” says Jonathan Spyer, a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Centre in Herzilya.
“Otherwise, it will find that the statement is hollow and devoid of content – that’s where logic takes us. At the same time, Assad cannot carry on not acting if Israel attacks again.”
Last week, the Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar, reported that the first consignment of the S300 missiles had arrived in Syria from Moscow – although privately Israeli officials have rubbished the suggestion.
The Russians insist that the weapons will help to restore balance in the region, but the Israelis – just a few weeks after Netanyahu went to Russia to discuss the Syrian crisis with Vladimir Putin – have openly threatened to destroy them.
The Defence Minister, Moshe Ya’alon, said that Israel will “know what to do” if the S300s are delivered, adding that the deal is “clearly… a threat to us”. Another minister, Yuval Steinitz, said that Israel would, “react to any threat. I hope Damascus understands that. We will react forcefully.”
He described the deal to supply the missiles to Syria as, “morally wrong”. Experts say that the S300s would enable Assad to shoot down manned aircraft and incoming missiles; the Israelis fear that in Hezbollah’s hands, they could become an even more lethal threat.
If the diplomatic arena is becoming ever more highly charged, on the ground there is not the same urgency. The Independent arrived in Nahariyya, just 5km from Lebanon, just before a scheduled nationwide air-raid drill. At precisely 12.30pm, the sirens started. Everyone ignored them.
That evening’s television news showed people in Tel Aviv rushing for the shelters. But not in Nahariyya. “People here are not getting too excited,” says Michael Younger, a middle-aged resident. “It was a test, everyone knew it was a test.”
Whether it’s stoicism, or just the bravado that is common in places such as Nahariyya, Younger says that people in the town are used to Hezbollah’s rockets. “What can we do? But everyone here is talking about it – we are waiting for it all to happen again.”
Spyer doubts that Hezbollah is the main threat. “I don’t think Hezbollah wants to open up another front, with Israel. It is acting on Iranian orders – it is part of a larger Iranian effort, to keep Assad in power. It is not a surprise that Nasrallah was in Tehran on 30 April, and now his fighters are engaged in the conflict.”
In Matula, Israel’s most northerly town, where Hezbollah flags can clearly be seen just a few hundred metres away, Spyer’s words may be of little comfort. The town, which saw heavy fighting in 2006, was reportedly the target of the rocket on Sunday. “I didn’t know there was a drill this morning and I got really scared when the siren went off, I thought that this was it,” says college student, Vered Idon. “I’m a bit worried. You can hear the explosions in Syria from here, and that’s scary, but it’s OK.”
In the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967 and, after occupying the area for 14 years, formally annexed in 1981, preparations are going ahead. The Independent passed numerous flatbed trucks which are used to transport armoured personnel carriers and tanks. At one point, we saw at least 50 APCs lined up in a car park.
“I hope there’s a war,” says Ziv Peretz a father of two young children in the Golan town of Katzerin. “Then we can kill them all, finish them all off. I doubt anything will happen, because the Arabs know they will lose.”
Red Cross fears for injured in besieged town
The International Committee of the Red Cross says it is alarmed by reports of conditions in the besieged Syrian town of Qusayr and has called on all sides in the conflict to allow in aid for those injured in the fighting.
The rebel-held Qusayr has come under a bloody onslaught in recent weeks as government forces, supported by fighters from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, have tried to reclaim the town. Qusayr is only a short distance from the Lebanese border and its capture would represent a significant gain for President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
Reports from the town suggest that there could be thousands of civilians trapped by the fighting. The Red Cross said water, food and medical supplies were becoming scarce, and many of the wounded desperately required medical attention.
“We have already requested access to Qusayr and we are prepared to enter the city immediately to deliver aid to the civilian population,” said Robert Mardini, the ICRC’s head of operations in the Middle East.
“Civilians and the wounded are at risk of paying an even heavier price as the fighting continues… Thousands of other civilians are reported to be in Qusayr still – hundreds of them severely wounded and without access to medical care.”
Despite the stark warning, on Saturday Russia rejected a draft UN Security Council declaration circulated by British diplomats, which raised “grave concern about the situation in Qusayr, and in particular the impact on civilians of the ongoing fighting”.
Russia, which like Britain has veto power over Security Council resolutions, said the UN had not condemned the original capture of Qusayr by rebel fighters, and so it would be inappropriate to endorse such a resolution now.
Source: The Independent
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