December 31, 2008
On Sunday, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a religious decree to Muslims to defend the people of Gaza in any way possible and said anyone who died from this would be a martyr.Following that, five hard-line student groups and the Combatant Clergy Society began signing up volunteers for military, financial or propaganda aid to Gaza.They have a Combatant Clergy Society? Of course they do.
But there apparently was one (brief) positive development...
Criticism of Hamas is rare in Iran. However, in an unusual move, the Iranian Kargozaran newspaper published a letter from another student group which called Hamas a terrorist organization for taking refuge in "kindergartens and hospitals." Following this, the Kargozaran, a reformist publication close to former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani, was shut down.Gee, what a shock. Seriously, though, let's hope the paper's editors and employees are safe. I don't think the Mullahs buy into the whole "dissent is the highest form of patriotism" thing.
December 30, 2008
"The blogosphere and new media are another war zone," said IDF Foreign Press Branch head Maj. Avital Leibovich. "We have to be relevant there."
Her sentiment reflects a growing awareness in the Israeli government that part of the failure of the 2006 Second Lebanon War was Israel's lack of readiness for the intense media debate surrounding its operations.Since the beginning of the Gaza air strikes, Israeli politicians have been appearing regularly on the largest international news networks to defend the IDF. Leibovich's YouTube initiative is another piece of the new media offensive.
December 22, 2008
Usually, the pretentious Powerline guys are on top of analyzing the out of control problems popping up with the Somali population and the rise of a clan-like sharia system in certain neighborhoods in the Twin Cities. The most high profile incident involved Somali cab drivers who refused to drive passengers who carried alcohol or dogs with them.
But so far, and I may have missed it, the guys who love to remind you ad nauseum that they attended super exclusive private schools and Dartmouth and how the Republicans will always lose, have missed discusing the rise of Somalis leaving their families and winding up fighting in Africa for assorted Islamic groups. So, it falls upon these half-witted shoulders to bring the issue to the fore.
Nearly two decades of civil war have ripped apart Somalia, including an invasion two years ago by troops from neighboring Ethiopia that ousted an Islamist government that U.S. officials say was allied with al Qaeda. Ethiopia has said it plans to withdraw, which would likely make way for the loose coalition of Islamist insurgents threatening to retake the central government's seat in Mogadishu.
U.S. Somali community leaders estimate that as many as 20 men may have left the U.S. to fight in the past two years.
The reports have raised concern among counterterrorism officials about immigrant youths being recruited by radical groups. For years, terrorism experts have believed that better assimilation of immigrants in the U.S. than elsewhere makes the threat of radicalization of young Muslims less than it is in Britain and other countries with large immigrant communities beset by high unemployment and less opportunity. The Somali case could cause that view to be reassessed.
E.K. Wilson, an FBI special agent in the bureau's Minneapolis office, said he couldn't confirm the existence of an investigation, but he said the FBI is aware that "a number of young Somali men from throughout the United States have left, potentially to fight with terrorist groups. We're in the process of working with the local Somali community to get the parents to come to us with concerns about radicalization of youths."
The FBI confirmed it is assisting the Somali government in the October bombing investigation, and that it helped repatriate the body of an American killed in the incident. The FBI wouldn't identify the person.
At a news conference at a Minneapolis mosque earlier this month, family members of three young men, 17 to 19 years old, told reporters that they were alarmed after the teens disappeared in early November. They next heard from the teens that they were in Somalia and had no contact thereafter.
The FBI is trying to find out whether there are recruitment networks helping the men travel to Somalia, according to people familiar with the probe.
The investigation is complicated by the close-knit, clan-dominated culture of Somalia, which persists even in the diaspora. The nation has been without a unified central government for nearly two decades, and has been ripped apart by conflict among warlords and clans.
"It's very serious," Mr. Jamal said. "The community finds itself dumbfounded. One thing they are really interested in is to find who is doing the financing, who is doing the training and who is sending them to fight a war."
December 19, 2008
The son-in-law's arrest followed a tip-off submitted by the father-in-law to the FBI’s website in which the Swede was reported to be “most likely linked to Muslim terror org AQ networks in Sweden and is known to speak about helping Muslim world on US terror.”
The man was arrested by armed guards as his plane touched down in Orlando. He was questioned for several hours and was forbidden from contacting anyone.
In his witness statement to Lund District Court he said he was forced to sit in a cell wearing only shorts and flip-flops. The cell was equipped with just a concrete bed and sackcloth bedclothes and was smeared with blood and faeces, he said. He was released from custody after a day but was forced to return to Sweden, which he said led to his company losing contracts. The arrest also means that he must now apply for a visa before making future visits to the US.
Lund District Court ruled that the father-in-law made the report to the FBI as revenge for what he saw as his son-in-law’s unreasonable behaviour towards his daughter. The couple were undergoing a separation at the time.
Among the reasons he gave for making the report was that his son-in-law enjoyed playing computer war games in which he would take the role of an Arab. He also claimed that he “practically said that the Taliban had the right idea about dealing with women.” The son-in-law denied ever playing war games or making comments about the Taliban and their views on women.
December 15, 2008
Entrepreneurs on bicycles would ride the rutted roads to Uganda, bringing back as many crates of alcohol as they could carry. Today restaurants in Juba offer wines, beers and spirits.
Finding alcohol in northern Sudan, however, remains difficult, though not impossible. In colonial times, British officers would sip pink gins or mugs of Camel beer in Khartoum's network of members-only clubs.
These, along with the British-built Blue Nile Brewery that produced Camel in Khartoum, dried up with the arrival of Sharia.
In recent years one restaurant in Khartoum became famous for serving beer in teapots — one just had to know to order the “special tea”.
Another establishment offered imported Tusker lager from Kenya; waiters would discreetly ask whether any Sudanese would be joining the table, before placing an empty bottle of alcohol-free lager on the table next to a full glass of the real thing.
Even these places have gone dry in the past two years and Westerners now have to rely on contacts at embassies or the UN, who are legally entitled to bring alcohol into the country.
The new brewery in Juba is expected to be up and running by February, taking water from the White Nile and producing soft drinks as well as the first Sudanese beer for many years.
David Raad, an advisor to SAB Miller, said: “The recipe is still being worked on but the market here prefers a lighter, crisper beer — a lager.”
South Sudan was left chronically underdeveloped by the civil war. Three years of peace has begun to change that, with new schools, hospitals and roads, but much of Juba is still given over to tent cities, where aid workers, businessmen and diplomats live and work while waiting for more permanent structures to be built.
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