الجمعة، ديسمبر 19، 2008

A dangerous mix of propaganda and public affairs?

A dangerous mix of propaganda and public affairs?

Last Updated: Saturday, December 13, 2008 | 9:38 AM ET

UPDATE, Dec. 13, 2008:

Under intense pressure, the commander who had proposed merging the Afghan mission's Public Affairs and Psychological Operations teams, U.S. General David McKiernan, has now scrapped the plan.

On the evening of Oct. 14, 2004, a U.S. marine spokesman appeared on CNN announcing American forces had begun their assault on the insurgent-held Iraqi city of Fallujah.

In truth, that battle would not begin for another three weeks. But the statement was no mistake.

U.S. Gen. David McKiernan, commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Oct. 12, 2008.U.S. Gen. David McKiernan, commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Oct. 12, 2008. (Musadeq Sadeq/Associated Press)

It was, instead, a carefully planned ruse to see exactly how the insurgents would react. Within hours, reporters knew they'd been duped. It was a lie to gather intelligence.

From that point on, American journalists started questioning whether anything that was told to them was true. Soon, Canadian and other journalists may be asking the same question in Afghanistan.

A month before that 2004 CNN appearance, American commanders in Iraq had decided to combine public affairs, psychological operations and information operations under the umbrella of a single "strategic communications" office.

In short, those responsible for disseminating information to reporters and those responsible for spreading propaganda and influencing the Iraqi population were brought under a single command.

Fast forward to 2008: the commander of all NATO forces in Afghanistan is Gen. David McKiernan, the American who was the commander of ground forces during the 2003 invasion into Iraq.

McKiernan, the overall commander of the almost 50,000 troops from more than 40 countries that make up NATO's International Security Assistance Force, has recently ordered the combination of public affairs, information operations and psychological operations, just as was done in Iraq four years ago.

Allies worried

The move has worried the European NATO allies — Germany has already threatened to pull out of media operations in Afghanistan — amid concerns it could undermine the credibility of information released to the public.

Let's not kid ourselves. The public affairs officers dealing with journalists embedded with Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan will spin, restrict and enhance their message as it suits their goals. They may not share information unless confronted with it.

But we journalists don't tend to catch them in an outright lie. But, in an attempt to influence a government, group or individual's value systems or beliefs, psychological operations can and do distort the truth and lie.

Psy-ops have advanced far beyond the Vietnam-era of blasting rock music into the jungle to deny rest to the Viet Cong. In Afghanistan, the most obvious form of this is the numerous radio stations run by NATO nations in Afghanistan's various native languages. There are less obvious methods but the goal is the same: cause people to support or do something they may not be otherwise inclined to do.

Public affairs officers, meanwhile, co-ordinate the dissemination of information to journalists in Afghanistan and abroad and advise generals on a media strategy. Information operations don't specialize in speaking with journalists — rather they undertake activities to undermine the will of the enemy, while psy-ops include "black operations" or outright deception.

Seven years into the war, insurgent influence is spreading closer to the capital and many Afghans increasingly crave stability (albeit brutal and oppressive) like the Taliban rule once brought them. Afghans are increasingly opposed to the presence of foreign troops and to the government of President Hamid Karzai.

The Taliban have excelled — from the start — at the propaganda war. Their message is directed not just at Afghans but also at the citizens of countries that have troops deployed to Afghanistan.

Every time the word Canada is mentioned to a Taliban spokesman, he replies with a question. Why are Canadians doing the dirty work of Americans? Why are YOU their pawns? It's a message the Taliban feels can resonate with Canadians.

Militants gaining ground

Taliban militants, through their websites and the frequent calls or text messages to reporters, are also gaining ground in the information war.

Against this backdrop, there is certainly the temptation to blend the worlds of public affairs and psychological operations. But if it's done, it will undermine the credibility of anything NATO tells anyone again.

The ISAF spokesman, Canadian Brig.-Gen. Richard Blanchette, says McKiernan wanted the restructuring done by Dec. 1. But NATO headquarters in Brussels must review and approve the change, so his plan looks set to be delayed at the least.

If it goes ahead, the new command would be run by a one-star American general. Combined with the expected deployment of thousands more American soldiers, particularly in southern Afghanistan where Canadians currently operate, it demonstrates the gradual increase of American influence on all sectors of the war.

Everyone will be watching, but such a change could leave open the door that journalists in Afghanistan aren't just being spun, but deceived.



By Mauri’ Saalakhan
This is coming to our readers from Dallas, Texas. Once again I find myself in the southwestern part of the country regarding the Holy Land Foundation case; this time, unfortunately, on the post-conviction side of the issue. On November 25, 2008, after two contentious trials, five innocent men were convicted on every one of the 108 charges lodged against them. The question for many who closely followed the case is why?

Let us begin our examination of this question with an observation made by the late William M. Kunstler, from his highly informative and thought-provoking book titled “My Life As A Radical Lawyer.” On page 317 of chapter sixteen (“The Despised Muslim”) Kunstler writes:

Many of the beliefs and values that split the country in 1969 still divide us; there still exists a perpetual war between ’them’ and ’us,’ between the good guys and the bad guys, the inner city and the suburbs. We are a nation divided, torn apart by hatred, fear, and poverty. I see my work as one small attempt to end the factionalism, heal the wounds, and move society toward dispensing justice, real justice to everyone. In recent years, I have taken on many Muslim clients and have earned myself even more hatred and disapproval than for my representation of black defendants. Today Muslims are the most hated group in the country; the moment a Muslim is accused of a crime, the specter of terrorism is raised, and everyone panics.

If this was the case for Muslims in America in 1994, the year Kuntsler’s book was published, it is even more so in 2008; and the Holy Land Foundation trial, with its troubling conclusion, provides one of the most powerful case studies in support of this argument!

In December of 2001, after years of an Israeli-instigated transnational witch hunt, the Holy Land Foundation For Relief and Development - the largest Muslim charity in the United States - was shut down, its assets seized by the U.S. government. Within three years of this unconstitutional action, a number of the officers and supporters of this organization were indicted for allegedly giving “material support” to a designated terrorist organization (Hamas).

In the government’s superseding indictment {United States of America v. Holy Land Foundation For Relief and Development, et.al.} dated Nov 30, 2005, reference is made to the “International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA)” and a number of executive orders pursuant to this act, dating back to the Clinton Administration.

Of particular note is Executive Order 12947, issued on January 23, 1995. According to the indictment, “Executive Order 12947 and the Terrorism Sanctions Regulations prohibit, among other things: (a) transferring, paying, exporting, withdrawing or otherwise dealing in property or interests in property of a Specially Designated Terrorist that are in the United States, come within the United States, or come within the possession of or control of United States persons; (b) providing funds, goods or services to a Specially Designated Terrorist; (c ) any transaction for the purpose of, or which has the effect of, evading or avoiding, or which facilitates the evasion or avoidance of the Terrorism Sanctions Regulations; (d) any conspiracy formed for the purpose of engaging in a prohibited transaction. A willful violation of any of these provisions is a criminal offense.”

Just two days after this Executive Order was issued (January 25, 1995), Hamas was branded as a “Specially Designated Terrorist,” by President William J. Clinton in the Annex to Executive Order 12947.

It should also be noted that on October 8, 1997, by publication in the Federal Register, U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright designated Hamas as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, pursuant to Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as added by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA).

On September 23, 2001, President George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13324, which prohibited “transactions with organizations and individuals who, inter alia, commit, threaten to commit, or support certain acts of terrorism.” Then came the culmination of the long festering conspiracy against the Holy Land Foundation, and its interests.

Of significant note is the fact that neither the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), nor any of its officers or agents, were charged with any acts of terrorism in Occupied Palestine - NOT A SINGLE ACT! Instead, the government alleged in its complaint that by providing food and clean water; re-building homes, schools and clinics; by assisting widows and orphans - HLF and its agents were indirectly contributing material support to an outlawed terrorist organization (Hamas).

Of equal or greater significance is the fact that the very same Palestine-based “Zakat Committees,” which received monetary support from HLF, were lawfully registered relief organizations with Israeli authorities, and also received international assistance from USAID and United Nations relief organizations at the same time that they were receiving assistance from HLF!

So why were the defendants convicted on all counts? The answer is simple: BIGOTRY, FEAR, and a spirit corrupting HATRED rooted in ignorance. As Bill Kuntsler correctly stated over a decade ago, “Today Muslims are the most hated group in the country; the moment a Muslim is accused of a crime, the specter of terrorism is raised, and everyone panics.”

In such a climate, it is easy for the modern day magicians of an oft-times Pharonic justice system to secure convictions - through a cruel, manipulative sleight of hand and the exploitation of emotions - even when at the heart of those convictions are poor, oppressed, marginalized children. As the French philosopher, Voltaire, once said: “Those who can make us believe absurdities, can also cause us commit atrocities.”

Indeed. And thus, the struggle must continue.


The writer serves as Director of Operations for The Peace And Justice Foundation, a Muslim-led, grassroots human rights organization.

الأربعاء، ديسمبر 17، 2008

The Ignored Puzzle Pieces of Knowledge » الله أكبر! Ethiopia will leave Somalia in a week!

The Ignored Puzzle Pieces of Knowledge » الله أكبر! Ethiopia will leave Somalia in a week!: "And victory is only from Allah Ta’ala alone"

[The enemy of Allah with the Crusader PM of Ethiopia]

الله أكبر, الله أكبر, الله أكبر

This is marvelous news coming from Somalia. The Ethiopian Government has admitted it is “unable to control” Somalia i.e., they have lost miserably to the Mujahideen, and they will now pull out all of their troops in a week! الله أكبر! Somalia will return to be a land of Shari’ah bi idhnillah, and this time, the Mujahideen will have much more control over Somalia than they did before the war. Subhan’Allah, what beautiful news! Verily, these are the fruits of the Jihad which the Munafiqeen of the Ummah fail to see! الله أكبر! We ask Allah to keep our Mujahideen brethren steadfast.

This is a defeat for the Crusaders, may Allah humiliate them.

This is a delight for the believers, may Allah protect them.

This is a shock for the Munafiqeen, may Allah blot their eyes out.

Our path is… Our path is…

الجهاد !الجهاد!

And victory is only from Allah Ta’ala alone.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has confessed that he has been unable to crush Islamist groups in Somalia and build a foundation for the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia [TFG]

Mareeg-2008-12-14–The Ethiopian prime minister said that the time scheduled for Ethiopian troops to stay in Somalia is now over. He told the parliament in his country that Ethiopian troops have finally concluded their military activities in Somalia and will withdraw within a week. The prime minister said the two-year period in which Ethiopian troops were in Somalia has now come to an end.

The Ethiopian prime minister said it was not possible for them to crush armed Islamist groups in Somalia and build the foundation for a strong government within two years. He said this is not a loss for the Ethiopian government.

Meles said the United Nations was responsible for stabilizing Somalia as it recognized TFG. He added that African Union at first also pledged to deploy 8,000 peacekeepers in Somalia and he was hopeful that they would quickly replace the Ethiopian troops who are in Somalia.

Meles answering questions asked in the Ethiopian parliament said Ethiopian troops will withdraw from Somalia as the time scheduled for them to block the formation of an extremist Islamic administration in Somalia has now come to an end.

Our aim was to counter plans being masterminded by the Eritrean government and the Islamist group, Al-Shabab, and anything else that might contribute to insecurity in Ethiopia. I believe we have resolved the issues that were a threat to Ethiopia for good, and we did this in the first two weeks of our first operation in Somalia. Our second operation was to assist the international community and Somalia in the restoration of peace before an international peacekeeping force is deployed. Unfortunately, I feel the situation [in Somalia] is worsening and it is not possible to restore peace in Somalia said the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi.

AU diplomats in Addis Ababa have said the international community is concerned about the deteriorating situation in Somalia. The diplomats said the replacement of thousands of Ethiopian troops who are heading back to their country will take several months.


الثلاثاء، ديسمبر 16، 2008

      The Failed Logic of Supporting the Troops          : Information Clearing House - ICH

The Failed Logic of Supporting the Troops

By Remi Kanazi

December 16, 2008 "Information Clearinghouse" -- -In the United States, a growing number of leftists are voicing their opposition to the Israeli occupation. They condemn the demolition of homes, the jailing of Palestinians without charge, and the confiscation of Palestinian land for settlements. They don't support the Israeli troops or their mission, nor do they give a free pass to those who are just "doing what they are told."

Nonetheless, many of these same individuals support the US troops in Iraq. Dangerously, most Americans put forth the notion that the troops' intrinsic heroism provides them with the impunity to destroy any bogeymen who stand in their way, cultivating a code of silence that strongly discourages dissent. It is under this premise that we support our "brave" and "noble" soldiers: we know their stories well, they miss their families, they are "just like us," and we should respect their service.

While one may comprehend the mindset of the troops, this understanding does not validate support for them. If the invasion of Iraq, the mission, and the occupation as stated policy are all wrong, then support for the armed forces carrying out the mission must also be wrong.

US soldiers are not a monolith and nearly everyone would argue that the majority of the troops are "good people." Yet, our emotional inclinations and the societal norm that tells us troops are good like bumper sticker slogans shouldn't serve as justification for supporting them and, by extension, the mission they are carrying out. We are led to believe that a soldier can either serve out the rest of his tour or be branded a disgrace and imprisoned for becoming a conscientious objector. In reality the choice is much starker: a soldier can refuse to serve or contribute to the death of a million Iraqis.

When people invoke the hardships our troops face, I think of the dead Iraqi mother, the splattered torsos painting the pavement, and the .50 caliber bullets that have hollowed out the bodies of Iraqi children. Each American has a distinct face and a tale that chokes us up, but our government and media have systematically dehumanized another people, whittling their presence in the world down to a nuisance that drains our budget, as though Iraq is a welfare state that strips our society of health care, education, and gas for cross country vacations.

Iraq is not Lehman Brothers pillaging our economy. Yet, even many self-described progressives deride the Iraqi people for their $79 billion surplus but make no mention of the fact that they lack proper access to electricity; Baghdad is still one of the most dangerous city in the world, and stability is nowhere in sight. Furthermore, a growing number among the mainstream left discuss Iraq in terms of "our" interests, criticizing the so-called ineptness of Iraqis and their unwillingness to embrace democracy (democracy that was never truly offered), all while five million have been made refugees, Baghdad has been cleansed of Sunnis, and each child, father, and mother live with horror stories we wouldn't wish upon our worst enemies. This is the result and reality of US occupation.

The assertion that troops are "just following orders" and that it is impossible to refuse once enlisted rings hollow. The US has not implemented a draft; on the contrary, each soldier chooses to fight in Iraq on behalf of the American government. This should not be applauded, nor should it be respected. Real courage would be abandoning this war—against orders, against the US administration—as a number of US soldiers have done (a phenomenon ignored by the mainstream media).

Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia is a well known conscientious objector who served nine months in prison for refusing to return to Iraq. In a 2005 article on AlterNet, Mejia wrote:

"I say without any pride that I did my job as a soldier. I commanded an infantry squad in combat and we never failed to accomplish our mission. But those who called me a coward, without knowing it, are also right. I was a coward not for leaving the war, but for having been a part of it in the first place. Refusing and resisting this war was my moral duty, a moral duty that called me to take a principled action. I failed to fulfill my moral duty as a human being and instead I chose to fulfill my duty as a soldier."

Perhaps most importantly, many people fail to make the connection that supporting the troops enables the war and presents people who are against the occupation with a false reality: the ability to support the troops while rejecting the mission. Standing in solidarity with the troops facilitates funding for the occupation; it redresses the "intrinsic nobility" of the soldier, which further weakens congressmen who rhetorically reject the war, but support it through their votes. Occupation is dirty, and so too are the people who employ it. Following orders should not replace humanitarian law, and the excuse shouldn't serve to satisfy our consciences.

We are asked to support US troops when logic is absent. We look at the troops as victims who are forced to do things they would not otherwise do; we give them immunity and their crimes become unseen collateral damage. Yet, Iraqis are not monsters; they are the victims that face the gun's barrel. We should only support the troops as much as we support this war. Anything less supports the victimizer and not the victim.

Remi Kanazi is a Palestinian-American writer, poet, and editor living in New York City. He is editor of the recently released collection of poetry, spoken word, hip hop and art, Poets For Palestine. For more information, please visit www.PoetsForPalestine.com.

        It’s not about them…it’s about us        : Information Clearing House - ICH

It’s not about them…it’s about us

Why We Must Prosecute Bush And His Administration For War Crimes

By Mike Ferner

December 16, 2008 "Information Clearinghouse"--- - During the rush to get the Nuremberg Tribunals underway, the Soviet delegation wanted the tribunal’s historic decisions to have legitimacy only for the Nazis. U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Robert Jackson, serving as the chief prosecutor for the Allies, strong-armed the Soviets until the very beginning of the tribunal before changing their mind.

In his opening statement Jackson very purposely stipulated, “…Let me make clear that while this law is first applied against German aggressors, the law includes, and if it is to serve a useful purpose it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment.”

Can there be a better reason for prosecuting George Bush and his administration for war crimes than those words from the chief prosecutor of the Nazis, a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, with the full support of the U.S. government? Robert Jackson’s words and the values this nation claims to stand for provide sufficient moral basis for putting Bush and Cheney, their underlings who implemented their policies and the perverted legal minds who justified them all in the dock. If those are not sufficient reasons, there is a long list of binding law and treaties – written in black and white in surprisingly plain English.

Bush imagined, and his attorneys advised, that he could simply wave aside these laws with “they don’t apply.” Imagine how a judge would treat even a simple traffic court defendant who brazenly stated the law was only a quaint notion, just “words on paper?”

Masses of people and an embarrassingly small number of their elected representatives in this country read the law for themselves and demanded otherwise, only to be silenced by the Guardians of Reality in the corporate news media.

But it’s all there, where it has been for 220 years, the Constitution’s “supremacy clause,” Article II, section 4, and in the War Crimes Act of 1996 (18USC §2441). They provide the authority to make additional treaties legally binding – no matter how much former White House lawyers David Addington and John Yoo may object.

Those additional treaties include among others, the Geneva Conventions, the Nuremberg rulings, the Laws and Customs of War on Land and UN General Assembly Resolution 3314. To give just a snapshot of how serious these laws are, consider this portion of 18 USC 2441 which defines a war crime as “…a grave breach in any of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party…” The guilty can be “...fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.”

Here, Justice Jackson answers another question about war crimes – who bears the greater responsibility: those who committed barbaric acts in the field or those who created the conditions for barbarism?

The case as presented by the United States will be concerned with the brains and authority back of all the crimes. These defendants were men of a station and rank which does not soil its own hands with blood. They were men who knew how to use lesser folk as tools. We want to reach the planners and designers, the inciters and leaders without whose evil architecture the world would not have been for so long scourged with the violence and lawlessness, and wracked with the agonies and convulsions, of this terrible war.

And yet it is not just because Bush violated the Constitution and federal law that he and his lieutenants must be prosecuted.

At Nuremberg, the foremost crime identified was starting a “war of aggression,” later codified by U.N. Resolution 3314, Art. 5, as “a crime against international peace.” Launching a war of aggression, as Hitler did against Poland, is considered so monstrous that the nation responsible can then be charged with “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity,” spelled out in detail in the Geneva Conventions. As Tom Paine said long before the U.N. formalized the definition of aggression, “He who is the author of a war lets loose the whole contagion of Hell and opens a vein that bleeds a nation to death.”

A small sampling of the contagion of Hell let loose by Bush includes illegally invading a sovereign state, using banned weapons such as white phosphorous and napalm, bombing hospitals and civilian infrastructure, withholding aid and medical supplies, terrorizing and knowingly killing civilians, torturing prisoners, killing a million people and displacing four million more in Iraq alone.

Following World War II, humanity resolved that wars do more than spark a series of loathsome, individual crimes. Leaders responsible for a war actually commit crimes against the entirety of humanity. They inflict harm on every human being, something that must be put right before humanity can be restored.

There is a final reason why we must prosecute Bush and Co. It is not what some argue, although they point to a serious danger: that Bush trashed the law and usurped powers, encouraging future presidents to expand where he left off. Such reasons are about George Bush and those who hold the office after him, but in the final analysis this is about us.

We are complicit in the horrors of this administration. We can claim neither ignorance nor innocence. We are complicit by the very fact that we are citizens of the United States, more so because we paid for the war, and even more so for this reason. Listen to a village sheik I met in Iraq describe it better than I ever could.

I met this man in a small farming village one afternoon in early 2004. He described how he and a dozen others were swept up in a raid by the U.S. Army and detained on a bare patch of ground surrounded by concertina wire. They had no shelter and but six blankets. They dug a hole with their hands for a toilet. They had to beg for water until one time it rained for three days straight and they remained on that open ground. He somehow found the graciousness to say he understood there was a difference between the American people and our government. Then through his tears he added, “But you say you live in a democracy. How can this be happening to us?”

Do we? Whether or not we bring our own government officials to justice for their crimes will determine the answer.

Ferner is a writer from Ohio and author of “Inside the Red Zone: A Veteran For Peace Reports from Iraq.”

الاثنين، ديسمبر 15، 2008

Politically Correct Khutbahs? - Ummah.com - Muslim Forum

Politically Correct Khutbahs?

Living in the West, barely a day passes without a negative mention of Islaam or Muslims in the Media. Many Muslims will argue that if only Muslims controlled the Media, Islaam would get a positive portrayal. Although there is some truth in this sentiment, it is a fatalistic mentality. We Muslims fail to utilise the one weekly media slot that we do have a monopoly over. This slot is available once a week for approximately one hour. It has a global audience of several million. I’m referring of course to the Friday Khutbah (sermon), delivered weekly in Masjids across the world.

Unfortunately, where many Imams have failed to comprehend that the Khutbah is an effective means of media in influencing the Muslim mindset, the British government seems to have grasped that concept rather well. Government guidelines (and cash incentives) for Imams often results in khutbahs that I call SAS: “Safe Apolitical Sermons”. These are on monotonous topics that are virtually impossible to be arrested for under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. The favourite subject is wudu, the obligatory ablution made prior to performing salah (prayer). I have yet to hear an Imam deliver a riveting khutbah based on Wudu. Admittedly, it is not the most stimulating of topics. And let's face it: if you're attending Jumu'ah prayer, it's not likely that you need to be taught how to make wudu.

Many years ago Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaqi remarked that during the time of the Spanish inquisition, whilst the streets of Andalusia ran with Muslim blood, the Jumu’ah khutbahs would focus on wudu, dhikr and other such innocuous topics. The political situation was completely avoided by Imams in the weekly sermon - due to fear of arrest. Evidently many Imams today are following this same craven path.

Imams, while we’re on the subject, fall into two prevalent groups, with very few exceptions. The first type is the Imam who behaves as if he is attending his citizenship ceremony rather than delivering a khutbah. A strong South Asian accent will emphatically proclaim “This country is very good. Very nice. Good for Muslims.” The obligatory side-to-side head waggling punctuates such patriotic pronouncements. The vast majority of his congregation have, unlike him, been born in the UK. The Khutbah fails to address, inspire or keep the attention of the congregation. Some will draw their shemaghs over their faces and discreetly doze off. The Friday Khutbah is attended as a routine habit.

The second type of Imam is the British-born, educated modernist. He too will extol the virtues of living in Britain, but is a far more engaging and dangerous speaker than the former. Quite often, prophetic traditions are distorted in order to give the false impression that there is nothing in Islaam that is incompatible with British culture and values. The listener often leaves the Masjid more confused about Islaam than when he entered.

I once attended a khutbah delivered by such an Imam. He delivered the message of forgiveness and turning the other cheek. He urged Muslims not to retaliate even when faced with aggression. He cited the example of a family in the US whose daughter had been killed in an islamaphobic attack, yet they urged the Muslim community to show restraint. He drew an analogy between this family and the Conquest of Makkah. He explained that the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), like this family, had forgiven the majority of his enemies, the very ones who had been killing the Muslims for a number of years.

It disturbed me that the Imam (purposely) failed to mention that prior to the Conquest of Makkah, the Prophet (SAW) had fought numerous battles with this same enemy and slaughtered many of them. Only after having gained dominance over his enemies, did he (SAW) march into Makkah with ten thousand followers, to peacefully take over the city and forgive whilst being in a position of strength. This is far removed from the scenario of an understandably intimidated family begging the community not to exact revenge. I didn’t consider that mentioning the Conquest of Makkah in its true context would have had the Imam indefinitely locked up in HMP Belmarsh, but perhaps he differed with me on that estimation.

Another time, I attended a masjid where the Imam was praising the British value of freedom of speech. He made the valid point that in the UK, one is free to stand at Speakers’ Corner and criticise the Government. He compared this to the oppressive regimes in Egypt, Saudi and Syria, where such proclamations would result in the disappearance of the one making them. Ironically, as the khutbah ended, a member of the congregation stood up and disputed with the Imam over a controversial point of fiqh. Instead of answering the young man’s questions, the committee panicked and immediately switched off the speakers. Needless to say, I was left with the cynical thought: what happened to freedom of speech?!

Imams need to deliver khutbahs that are inspiring and relevant to their respective communities. It is imperative that they utilise the Friday Khutbah’s potential to counter the misinformation which media sources use against Muslims everywhere in the world. The agenda of our Imams should be to educate their congregation with the pure unadulterated form of Islaam, rather than introduce a politically correct or British variation. Our Imams must resist the temptation to prostitute our religious values for a few pieces of silver. Islaam entails submission to Allah. Whilst our religion has its roots in Makkah and Madinah, it is a universal message. You cannot re-label it to read “Made in England”.

taken from www.al-istiqamah.com
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الجمعة، ديسمبر 12، 2008

Teen disappears: 'Mom, I'm in Somalia' - CNN.com

Teen disappears: 'Mom, I'm in Somalia'

  • Story Highlights
  • Teen vanishes from Minnesota last month, calls mom to say he's in Somalia
  • Authorities say more than a dozen Somalis have disappeared from U.S. recently
  • Local Somalis fear that the men are being recruited for possible jihad
  • Resident and activist says parents are "completely shocked"
From Chris Welch and Kelli Arena

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) -- Last month, 17-year-old Burhan Hassan told his family he was catching a ride to school with a friend. He then vanished.

His mother spoke to her son just a few days ago over the phone. To her shock, she says, he told her he was no longer in the United States.

"Mom, I'm in Somalia! Don't worry about me; I'm OK," the mother quoted her son as saying.

Details of how he got there and what has transpired in his life since his November disappearance are sketchy. His mother, who agreed to be identified only as Amina, says her son has clearly changed.

"He was different," she said of his attitude on the phone. VideoWatch a report on missing Somalis »

Hassan is one of more than a dozen young men of Somali descent -- many U.S. citizens -- to have disappeared from Minneapolis over the past six months, according to federal law enforcement authorities. Authorities say young men have also disappeared in Boston, Massachusetts; Portland, Maine; and Columbus, Ohio.

"A number of young Somali men have traveled from throughout the United States to include Minneapolis to Somalia, potentially to fight," said FBI Special Agent E.K. Wilson.

Amina speaks about her son in the past tense, almost as if he were dead. She worries about him night and day.

"Now that he's gone, I can't sleep," she said. VideoWatch Amina talk about her son »

The fear among the Somali community in Minneapolis is that their young men are being preyed upon and recruited to fight jihad, or holy war, in Somalia. Some have even called to tell their parents not to look for them.

"Those I talked to were completely shocked and dismayed as to what happened. They were completely in disbelief," said Omar Jamal of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center, based in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The shock is magnified by what happened to one of them: Authorities say a 27-year-old named Shirwa Ahmed blew himself up in an apparent suicide bombing in northern Somalia in October.

Amina doesn't like to think about that and refuses to believe that her son could be learning similar tactics.

She and her son lived in an apartment along the Mississippi River in a thriving Somali neighborhood in Minneapolis. Hassan's father died years ago, and she raised him as a single parent. Hassan's other siblings have all moved out.

"I'm feeling empty tonight, like I have [nothing]," she said.

Amina says she now forgets to cook. It's gotten so bad that when she's out shopping, she'll often feel that her son is back home again. She'll quickly return, only to remember he's still away.

She struggles when she recalls how smart he is and how he was studying to become a doctor. Holding up a copy of his high school class schedule, which includes Advanced Placement courses in mathematics, chemistry and biology, she says Hassan was to graduate in May.

He wanted to attend college in Arizona, and he wanted her to move there with him.

"He was planning to be a physician assistant. He told me to move ... to Arizona because he said in Arizona, we can get [those jobs] as soon as possible after graduating," she said. "His expectations were high."

She added, "He doesn't like to fight. Sometimes, he was a comedian. He likes to laugh or to say things that make you laugh. He was a very kind person."

Amina says her son has called a few times, most recently Saturday. She says that each time, it feels as if her son is being watched or listened to by at least one or two other men, because she can hear other voices in the background.

"It's like a kidnapped person. And he has no freedom, because if he said, 'Mom, I have to leave here; I have no life,' then they would kill him."

The question that plagues Amina and just about everyone in Minneapolis' Somali community is: How could these young men who were well-educated and who stayed out of trouble in the United States wind up in war-torn Somalia, possibly as fighters?

In Hassan's case, his mother fled the nation when she was pregnant with him, and they eventually came to the United States to escape the country's violence. She says her son's demeanor changed a couple months before he disappeared. He became more withdrawn, and she doesn't know why.

Other local Somalis have voiced concern that, because a large number of the men missing attended the same Islamic center after school, it could have played a role.

Amina does not believe the center itself played a role but thinks there are certain people associated with it who may be involved.

On Monday, representatives of the mosque, Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center, held a news conference to address the issue. The mosque's attorney, Mahir Sherif, strongly denied any allegations that it is connected to the men's disappearance, saying the center "has not and will not recruit for any political cause."

"I haven't talked to any of them [since the stories came out]. I haven't seen any of them fighting," Sherif said. "I mean, I would be speculating. I'm hearing what everybody else hears."

Amina keeps hoping her son will return and that somebody in the community will come forward with more information.

"I'm asking for those who took my son or know anything about it to come forward. I'm asking you kindly to help and facilitate how to make possible to return [him]. Most sincerely."

All AboutSomaliaMinneapolis

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الخميس، ديسمبر 11، 2008

I hid his sins for 40 years.... - Ummah.com - Muslim Forum

I hid his sins for 40 years....
It was narrated that in the days that Musa - alayhis salam - wandered with Bani Israaeel in the desert a grizzly drought befell them. Together, they all raised their hands towards the heavens praying for the blessed rain. Then, to the astonishment of Musa - alayhis salam - and all those watching, the few clouds that scattered the sky vanished, the heat scorched down, and the drought intensified.

It was revealed to Musa- alayhis salam - that there was a sinner amongst Bani Israaeel that had disobeyed Allah for more than 40 years of his life. “Let him separate himself from the congregation,” Allah told Musa- alayhis salam -. “Only then shall I shower you all with rain.”

Musa - alayhis salam - called out to the throngs of humanity, “There is a person amongst us who has disobeyed Allah for 40 years. Let him separate himself from the congregation and only then shall we be rescued from the drought.” That man, waited, looking left and right, hoping that someone else would step forward…but no one did. Sweat poured from his brow and he knew he was the one.

If he stayed amongst the congregation all would die of thirst; yet, if he stepped forward he would be humiliated for all eternity.

He raised his hands with sincerity he had never known before, with humility he had never tasted, tears poured on both cheeks, “O Allah, have mercy on me! O Allah, hide my sins! O Allah, forgive me!”

As Musa - alayhis salam - and Bani Israaeel awaited for the sinner to step forward, the clouds hugged the sky and the rain poured. Musa - alayhis salam - asked Allah Ta'ala, “O Allah, you blessed us with rain even though that sinner did not come forward.” And Allah Ta'ala replied, “O Musa, it is for the repentance of that very person that I blessed all of Bani Israaeel with water.”

Musa- alayhis salam - wanting to know who was this blessed man, asked, “Show him to me O Allah!” Allah Ta'ala replied, “O Musa, I hid his sins for 40 years. Do you think that after his repentance I shall expose him

الخميس، ديسمبر 04، 2008

AbuMubarak : Message: Is America the New Mongols for the Muslims?

Now That the Elections are Over By Sheikh Anwar - Ummah.com - Muslim Forum

Now That the Elections are Over
Posted (Anwar alAwlaki) in Imam Anwar's Blog on November-5-2008

One of the characteristics of a humiliated and oppressed community is their submission to their oppressor and their tolerance of oppression. On the other hand they are arrogant and intolerant among themselves. This is how it was with Banu Israel when living under the Pharaoh. I am sorry to state this but unfortunately this attitude is been reflected by many American Muslims who humiliated themselves by voting for candidates who have no serious concern for their issues.
I mentioned in my previous post:

The perception the American Muslims are giving is that by giving them nothing substantial and by giving them just a little bit of recognition you can get their support, vote and loyalty even if you carry on your war against their brothers and sisters. Just like a dog owner abusing his dog but as long as the bone is thrown out the dog will still give his owner all his loyalty. It is sad but true.

The American Muslims who decided to vote have made a fool out of themselves and the whole world knows it.
Under the heading:”America’s outcast Muslims: Once Bush backers, Muslims today are staunch Democrats. But both Obama and McCain shun them.” The UK’s The Guardian states: “American Muslims have been called the “outcasts” of this presidential election. Muslims themselves have told the media that Islam is being treated as “political leprosy”, a “scarlet letter”, or the “kiss of death”".
Why not just call them house Negros?

The Australian newspaper The Age says: “Neither campaign courts America’s Muslim vote.” they go on to state that: “Neither presidential candidate has made a single visit to a mosque.” If they didn’t even bother to visit a mosque, which is no more than a ceremonial thing anyway but does make the house Negros happy, how can one expect from them any support on our issues? Nevertheless the proud American Muslims have been running around in service of both candidates.
Many American Muslims still insisted on voting. Chasing a mirage that somehow the new president will improve their lot. First it was Bush now Obama. There is a striking similarity between the American Muslim community and the Muslims of al Andalus who chose to stay behind after Muslim Spain fell into the hands of the Catholic monarchs. There are some writings that reveal that after all the oppression they suffered they still had hope that their situation would improve, even after the Catholic monarchs showed them the worst treatment. Since there were no elections back then and no Barak Obama they were clinging their hopes on a Mahdi that would appear and deliver them to safety. A few decades later no Mahdi appeared and their children and grandchildren slowly but surely were loosing their identity until Islam ceased to exist all together in the Iberian peninsula. I do not believe that America would do the same because they have grown wiser and more sophisticated than their Spanish predecessors. Muslims will be allowed to pray, fast, and practice Islam as long as it is contained within the spiritual compartment. But they will not be allowed to be Muslim in the full sense of the word. The issues of Sharia law, Jihad, wala and bara, hudud, khilafah, the Quranic teachings concerning the Jews and Christians, and support of Muslim resistance fighters around the world will not be tolerated. Now the spiritual aspect will also be under attack, probably not by the government but by the society at large. The American culture will destroy their families. It will deprive their children and grandchildren of their identity. Time will be the witness.
Muslims have given their vote for free. Back in the nineties we were told that we should not expect anything back because we are not seen as a voting block (back then the prominent view among the Muslims was against participation in the elections.) Well now there is definitely a voting block and it is quite large as some reports say that the Muslim registered voters are around two million!
So what are the Muslims getting in exchange for their vote? Nothing.
Brothers and sisters you can vote, you can run around supporting the campaigns, you can stay silent about the aspects of your religion that do not appeal to your fellow citizens, you can speak out against your Muslim brothers and sisters who support the Muslim causes around the world, you can try your best to fit in and be accepted and the end result will be that you will always be seen as the enemy and you will never be accepted unless you do one thing: give up your religion.
“And never will the Jews and Christians approve of you until you follow their religion” [2:120]

With all of this activism and increased participation the situation of the American Muslims did not improve but in fact it regressed. The Bush campaign of 2000 has outreached to the Muslims more than both candidates of 2008.
Giving a fatwa calling on people to vote in democratic elections is not an easy thing. One would expect solid evidence from Quran and sunnah when inviting people to take such a step. However what I have seen is the opposite. I would ask you to read such fatawa and judge them not based on the names or numbers of scholars who are behind them but on the evidence. There was a moment in time when the majority of the scholars of the Muslim world were towing the official line of the Mu’tazila and that didnt make it right. Then look at the fatawa of scholars such as al Albani, the Lanjna da’ima, Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, al Gabashy and many of the scholars of the salafi orientation around the world who are against participation in democratic election. That is the position of large Islamic movements and individuals such Sayed Qutb, Dr. Israr Ahmad, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, and the Salafi Jihadi movement. In Yemen prominent scholars from the Muslim Brotherhood have finally come to the conclusion that the democratic process is no more than a game that wastes the efforts of Muslims with very little gain.

In addition to that I found out that many people are asking the ones who are telling the people not to vote to bring their evidence! The burden of proof is on the ones who call others to participate in a disbelieving system, in a disbelieving country not the other way around. Anyway the evidence for not voting are all the verses of Quran that refer to governance as a right of Allah in surat al Nisa and al Bakarah, the verses talking about disavowal of the disbelievers in surat al Bakara, al Nisa and al Mumtahina, and the hadiths of Rasulullah that instruct us to be separate from the disbelievers. There are scholars who wrote detailed papers on the subject and you may find the links to them on the comments made by some brothers and sisters on my last two posts.
For those who did send me evidence for the position on voting I did respond to some of them and there remains the issue of the Muslims in Abyssinia and Yusuf (as). The response to this is very straightforward: Both the king of Abyssinia and the King of Egypt were not at war with the believers and were both very supportive of the Muslims. In addition to that, there are authentic narrations that al Najashi was Muslim and weaker ones that state that the king in the time of Yusuf became Muslim. But lets assume that this is not the case. Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of Fiqh should realize that there are stark differences on how Islam calls us to deal with those who are at war with us and those who are not. Allah says:
Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes - from being righteous towards them and acting justly towards them. Indeed Allah loves those who act justly. [60:8]

Now that Obama is in office we will see how these four years will unfold. I personally think that since what Obama stands for is falsehood, the justifications of the Muslims in choosing him were false and the process in which the Muslims chose him were also false we cannot expect any good to come out of falsehood.
“Indeed Allah does not amend the work of the corrupters” [10;81]

Assalamu alaykum
Your Brother
Anwar Al Awlaki

الأربعاء، ديسمبر 03، 2008

Guantanamo prosecuter quits over inmates tortured into confessions. - Ummah.com - Muslim Forum

Guantanamo 'a stain on US military'

By Gordon Corera
Security correspondent, BBC News

The tribunals used for putting suspects on trial at Guantanamo Bay are a "stain on America's military", a former military prosecutor has told the BBC in his first interview since resigning.

For Lt Col Darrel Vandeveld, a devout Catholic, the twin responsibilities of religious faith and military duty led to a profound moral crisis.

His resignation has led to charges against six inmates being dropped, at least for now, and called into question the possibility of a fair legal process at Guantanamo.

"I know so many fighting men and women who are stained by the taint of Guantanamo, so I'm here to tell the truth about Guantanamo and how a few people have sullied the American military and the constitution," he told me during an interview in his home town of Erie, Pennsylvania.

A reservist, Darrel Vandeveld was called up as a military lawyer after 9/11 and served in Iraq, Bosnia and Africa.

In 2007, he became a prosecutor for the military commissions which tried terrorist suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, a role he took enthusiastically.

"I went down there on a mission and my mission was to convict as many of these detainees as possible and put them in prison for as long as I possibly could," he told the BBC.

"I had zero doubts. I was a true believer."

But his zeal did not last long.

When he arrived, he says he found the prosecutor's office in chaos, with boxes scattered around the floor, files disorganised, evidence scattered in different places and no clear chain of command.

And more seriously, he soon discovered that defence lawyers were not receiving information which could help clear their clients, including evidence that suspects had been "mistreated" in order to secure confessions.

Accused of attack

It was one case in particular, that of a young Afghan called Mohammed Jawad, which caused most concern.

Mr Jawad was accused of throwing a grenade at a US military vehicle.

Col Vandeveld says that in a locker he found indisputable evidence that Mr Jawad had been mistreated.

After Mr Jawad had tried to commit suicide by banging his head against a wall at Guantanamo, Col Vandeveld says that psychologists who assisted interrogators advised taking advantage of Mr Jawad's vulnerability by subjecting him to specialist interrogation techniques known as "fear up".

He was also placed, Col Vandeveld says, into what was known as the "frequent flyer" programme in which he was moved from cell to cell every few hours, with the aim of preventing him sleeping properly, and securing a confession.

A devout Catholic, Col Vandeveld found himself deeply troubled by what he discovered.

But the classified nature of his work meant he was unable to share his growing doubts with friends and family.

As a result, he took the unusual step of emailing a Jesuit priest called Father John Dear, who is a well known peace activist.

In his email, Col Vandeveld talked of having "grave misgivings".

Father Dear was initially unsure if the email was serious and fashioned a quick reply.

"I sort of didn't believe it. But on the off chance he was a military prosecutor I wrote back and said 'quit'."

Col Vandeveld says his jaw dropped when he read the email, adding: "I lived in dread of that answer."

But eventually he did resign and has chosen to speak out about what he saw, giving the BBC his first interview.

"I never suffered such anguish in my life about anything," he says, looking back over the period.

"It took me too long to recognise that we had abandoned our American values and defiled our constitution."

Cases dropped

Col Vandeveld was prosecuting six cases, including that of Binyam Mohamed, the last British resident held at Guantanamo.

After his resignation, charges in these cases were dropped but with the possibility they may be re-filed at any point.

Col Vandeveld declined to discuss details of Mr Mohamed's case and others which remain classified.

But Binyam Mohamed's lawyers say he was tortured as part of the CIA's extraordinary rendition programme and are hopeful that he may not be charged again, on the grounds that this might reveal too many details of the rendition programme.

Col Vandeveld was forced to undergo a mental status evaluation after expressing his concerns and his military career is over.

But he has returned to his community in Erie where local newspapers have praised the stand he took. He has no regrets.

In response to his claims, a Pentagon spokesman told the BBC: "We dispute Darrel Vandeveld's assertions and maintain the military commission process provides full and fair trials to accused unlawful enemy combatants who are charged with a variety of war crimes."

President-elect Barack Obama has said he wants to shut Guantanamo but no-one thinks it will be easy.

Col Vandeveld believes that it is possible though.

"No justice will be obtained at Guantanamo," he said. "And if that entails moving them (the suspects) temporarily to the US for trial: so be it."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/12/02 16:53:02 GMT


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