March 10, 2008

The Arena: Mar 05, AU edition

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THE ARENA

JAMES MORROW
Australians should be proud of the role they played bringing democracy to Iraq

From the moment John Howard committed troops to help the United States enforce the slew of U.N. resolutions violated by Saddam Hussein, Australians were told that they should feel badly about it. By focusing narrowly on the question of Saddam’s WMD programs (and by also conveniently forgetting his history of gassing Iranians and Kurds), anti-war groups were able to conveniently ignore the greater promise of ousting Saddam Hussein: not only would the overthrow of his sick and genocidal cult of personality give a measurably better life to Iraq’s citizens, but it would also have the knock-on effect of bringing political freedom to a region sorely in need of it.

This willful ignorance came to an end on the 30th of January, a day which will be remembered as a defining moment of the first decade of the 21st Century. That was the day when ordinary Iraqis went to the polls to elect their own government — and in the process defied armies of Islamists, insurgents, Ba’ath party holdouts, and much of the Western media, all of whom predicted that the exercise of democracy would cause bloodshed from one end of Mesopotamia to the other.
In fact, the turnout was better than anyone could have expected, with early estimates pegging at somewhere around 72 per cent (much better than, say, an American or British national election). Sure, there was some grumbling, but so what if the Sunnis didn’t vote in huge numbers? The fact that a segment of the population which had for decades happily exercised tyranny of the minority got pouty and decided to pick up their ball and go home should be of no consequence to the legitimacy of the overall election. As the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto pointed out, Afrikaners refusing to vote when blacks were given the franchise in South Africa didn’t cause reporters to heave heavy sighs and complain about the sudden illegitimacy of that country’s democracy.

As Iraqis streamed out of polling places across the country, proudly waving their blue ink-stained index fingers indicating they had voted, it was fascinating to watch the story of their country change in the eyes of the Western media. For months on end, Australians had been subjected to a relentless barrage of stories about how, since the invasion, Iraq had spun wildly out of control and that (for reporters, at least) Baghdad was suddenly a place where leaving one’s hotel room to buy a pack of smokes was about as risky as poking your head above ground level in 1916 Verdun.

Thus the media’s reaction to the election’s overwhelming success was every bit as amusing as the courage of the free Iraqis was touching. Remember that for months every bombing, every setback, and every act of brutality (especially if it was committed by a wayward American soldier) was front-page news, not just in Australia but around the world. And the message was subtle but clear: Iraq and the Iraqis were better off under Saddam, because at least then the state had a monopoly on killing and mayhem. Once the Americans came in, the chaos was privatized – a far worse state of affairs.

But almost as soon as polls opened the story changed. If they didn’t exactly become cheerleaders for Iraqi democracy, the media managed to, if just for a day, agree that the voting was a good thing.
International wire service Reuters, which since 9/11 has been notorious for throwing “scare quotes” around the word “terrorist” – lest anyone think the agency was taking sides – suddenly reported that “millions of Iraqis flocked to vote in a historic election Sunday, defying insurgents who killed 25 people in bloody attacks aimed at wrecking the poll. Iraqis, some ululating with joy, others hiding their faces in fear, voted in much higher-than-expected numbers in their first multi-party election in half a century”.

The New York Times got caught up in the excitement as well, declaring that “if the insurgents wanted to stop people in Baghdad from voting, they failed. If they wanted to cause chaos, they failed. The voters were completely defiant, and there was a feeling that the people of Baghdad, showing a new, positive attitude, had turned
a corner”.

And closer to home, the Sydney Morning Herald’s Paul McGeough admitted in his first dispatch after the election that “the ballot had prevailed over the bullets and the bombs”, and even conceded that “the provisional figures will be seen as a stunning victory for Washington’s policy of democratising the Middle East and will cause great anxiety among the region’s unelected leaders, who fear such an Iraqi outcome will spur demands for radical reform across the region”.
This was an incredible (if temporary) about-face for McGeough, who has spent the last two years tipping an Iraqi civil war and once went so far as to run a story accusing interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi of shooting six terrorist suspects at close range — a bit of unsubstantiated urban myth that allowed the correspondent to think aloud about “a return to the cold-blooded tactics of his predecessor”, i.e., Saddam.

In standing up to the naysayers, and the terrorists, and those who suffer from that peculiar neocolonial racism of the Left which says that some people just aren’t cut out for democracy, ordinary Iraqis took a brave stand for their future. Not only did they send a message to their foes at home and abroad that they were not going to let freedom’s enemies win, but they also told Australians, Americans, and everyone else involved in making 30 January possible that the life and treasure spent in Iraq were not in vain. As Iraqi weblogger Hammorabi put it the night before the election,

Our voting is:
No to the terrorists!
No to the dictatorships!
No to hate and racism!
No to the fascists!
No to the Nazis!
No to the mentally retarded tyrants!
No to the ossified, narrow-minded and intolerant!
The Iraqis are voting in few hours time for the new Iraq.
We are going to create our future by ourselves not by dictators.

We are going to say:
Yes for the freedom and democracy!
Yes for the civilized Iraq!
Yes for peace and prosperity!
Yes for coexistence!
Yes for the New Iraq!
Let them bomb and kill us. It will not deter us!
Let them send their dogs to suck our bones. We care not!
Let them bark. It will not frighten us.
Let them see how civilised to be free and democratic!
Let them die by our vote tomorrow! It is the magic bullet which will
kill them!
Welcome New Iraq.
Welcome freedom and democracy.
Welcome peace and prosperity for all nations with out exception but terrorists!
Amen to that.


Posted by InvestigateDesign at 09:13 PM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2007

The Rise of the Neo-Coms

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RISE OF THE NEO-COMS

The Socialists Are Back


New Zealand’s new communists wear designer jeans, frequent Ponsonby and Thorndon, are hypocrites-extraordinaire, and have far more influence than Karl Marx ever fantasised. IAN WISHART discovers the links between radical socialism and radical Islam in New Zealand

A major investigative article in this magazine exposing radical Islam’s growing stranglehold on New Zealand mosques has flushed out an unlikely bunch of bedfellows, and the return of some old favourites. As you will have seen in this month’s Letters pages, more than 150 people have now signed a hate-letter to Investigate for daring to delve into visits by Islamic terror-fundraisers to New Zealand...

But the letter is surprising for one big reason: the huge number of socialists and local “moderate” Muslims prepared to condone the most extreme form of Islamofascism: the Wahhabi Salafist strain followed by the al Qa’ida terror group.

Here’s what the signatories wrote in a preface to their letter published on the Scoop website:

“The March 2007 edition of Investigate magazine carried a lengthy article by Ian Wishart which claimed that the New Zealand Muslim community is being infected by ‘Islamic extremism’. Mr Wishart's 18-page rant is New Zealand's first full-on example of Islamophobic gutter journalism,’ said Grant Morgan, organiser of RAM ­ Residents Action Movement.

"The most basic fact is that nobody in the New Zealand Muslim community has ever been charged with any act of 'terrorism', let alone convicted. That puts the lie to his propaganda of fear, suspicion and hate."

Morgan deliberately overlooks the Saudi men discovered in Hamilton trying to photocopy flight manuals for Boeing 757 jetliners – the same aircraft that were used in the 9/11 attacks just a few months later. Morgan also ignores the discovery that a roommate of the 9/11 hijackers at the time was later found living in New Zealand. Morgan ignores the plans for Sydney’s Lucas Heights nuclear reactor found in an Auckland house used by former members of the Afghan mujihadeen.

Most of all however, Morgan and the 160 or so “useful idiots” who signed his letter deliberately ignore that the local Muslim community have been inviting Islamic clerics with documented links to terrorism, to come to New Zealand and run youth camps and lectures.

Morgan’s letter talks of “our Muslim community” and “peaceful Muslims”, yet those same people invited guests here whose published literature, DVDs and comments include such gems as:

• “The clash of civilisations is a reality. Western culture ...is an enemy of Islam.” – Bilal Philips • “We know the Prophet Muhammed practiced it [marrying a 9 year old girl], it wasn’t abuse or exploitation” – Bilal Philips • “There is no such thing as a Muslim having a non-Muslim friend” – Khalid Yasin • “This whole delusion of the equality of women is a bunch of foolishness...there’s no such thing” – Khalid Yasin • “If you prefer the clothing of the [infidels] over the clothing of the Muslims, most of those names that’s on most of those clothings [sic] is faggots, homosexuals and lesbians” – Khalid Yasin • “Tried, convicted...punishable by death” – Khalid Yasin on the penalty for being gay • “Are you ready to die?” – essay by Siraj Wahhaj on jihad martyrdom • “The blessing of death” – essay by Siraj Wahhaj on the need for jihad • “The easy way to Paradise – how to get there” – essay by Siraj Wahhaj on the benefits of becoming an Islamic jihadi • “Kill Jews and worshippers of the Cross...as well as Hindus” – book worked on by Yahya Ibrahim • “Islam is a religion of peace” – Siraj Wahhaj talking to Western reporters

On the strength of those claims, all documented in our March article (now available online) from firebrand Wahhabi fanatics who’ve been teaching New Zealand Muslims for at least seven years, Investigate can only conclude that the list of signatories to Grant Morgan’s letter not only endorse such Islamic hatespeech, they also welcome it in New Zealand and believe local “peaceful” Muslims should bring more of these preachers out here.

In their letter, the signatories accuse Investigate of suggesting “that all Muslims adhere to the same ideas, and from this absurd generalisation he attempts to link peaceful Muslims to violent extremists.”

Investigate did not have to “attempt” to link anything: local peaceful Muslims invited the scum of Islam to New Zealand for lecture tours every year, while encouraging followers to read their books and watch their DVDs.

Are the invited guests “violent extremists”? Some were conspirators in terror plots to blow up New York landmarks. Others frequently talk of a coming battle between Islam and the West:

“It is abundantly clear that the big battle is inevitably coming,” said invited guest Yahya Ibrahim, “and that the Word of Tawheed (Islam) will be victorious without a doubt.”

Siraj Wahhaj told journalists that America and the West “will be crushed” unless they “accept the Islamic agenda”.

But no, the fact that men with opinions like these are the star attraction in peaceful New Zealand mosques is merely – according to Morgan in a Three-Wise-Monkeys impersonation – an attempt at “negative transference”.

Morgan wants “all New Zealand communities, including our Muslim sisters and brothers, to unite for peace,” but it seems that could be difficult if local Muslims take the advice of the hate preachers listed above.

According to the signatories, they are ordinary New Zealanders extending the hand of friendship to local Muslims and fighting Islamophobia on their behalf. But as you’re about to discover, many of the signatories are far from ordinary, and the groups they affiliate with are linked to support of extremist Islam in Britain as well. They are, in fact, a 21st century manifestation of an old Western foe – Soviet-style communism.

In a stunning display of dishonest hypocrisy and chutzpah, the Neo-Coms last year shot their mouths off about the Exclusive Brethren failing to list their religion on an election pamphlet, yet as you’ll see from the letter to Investigate, few of the most interesting signatories to us told anywhere near the full truth about who they are and what they represent.

Of the 163 signatures listed randomly in the letter, only two – Vaughan Gunson and Warren Brewer, declared themselves openly to be socialists. But an Investigate inquiry, coupled with revelations posted on Act party member Trevor Loudon’s blog, has shown a full 40 – at minimum, are socialists or communists, with potentially a further 20 falling into those categories as well.

Why would organisations so vocal about the apparent failure of the Brethren to be open, themselves be involved in a much larger covert exercise to disguise the political organisations they represent behind a series of entities with misleading names?

Take Grant Morgan, for instance, who organised the hate-letter. Morgan lists himself merely as “the organiser of RAM, Residents Action Movement”, which gained nearly 10% of the vote at the last Auckland Regional Council election in 2004. RAM portrays itself as standing up for the rights of Auckland residents in fighting rates hikes and the like. It arguably should be forced to stand at this year’s local body elections under its real name: Socialist Worker. RAM, you see, is merely a front organisation for the New Zealand branch of the radical British communist organisation, Socialist Worker.

Robyn Hughes, listed as the second signatory to the hate-letter, is a RAM member elected to the ARC. She just happens to be Grant Morgan’s partner, although this point, like the socialist background of both of them, is deliberately not declared.

But if you think this article is going to be an earnest hunt for “Reds under the Beds”, forget it, this hunt is hilarious in what it discloses about Neo-Coms. Did you know, for instance, that they still talk like party apparatchiks from a bad Cold War spy movie?

“I joined Socialist Worker,” David Colyer told an international socialist paper three years ago, “in 1997, my first year of university. I’d been a Marxist, in theory, for several years before that. The comrades, none of whom were students of the university, encouraged me to help build a movement.”

Did he just use the word “Comrades” in 2004?

“We want to replace the Labour Party with a new mass workers’ party, one in which...Marxists participate fully,” Colyer continued, veering onto his plans for a “broad left” newspaper, “which will include contributions from Socialist Worker [and] may well become the most important vehicle for spreading socialist ideas...We are still going to need some kind of Socialist Worker publication, around which to organise a Marxist current within the workers’ movement.”

And you thought Communism’s wombles had given up the ghost with the collapse of the Berlin Wall? Apparently not. They fever away to this very moment plotting the “revolution”.

“Here in Aotearoa,” notes a recent post on Socialist Worker’s blogsite, unityaotearoa.blogspot.com, “there are a number of events to remobilise the Anti War Movement. This Saturday will be an Anti-Imperialist St Patricks Day.”

Internationally, some members of the socialist groups organising “peace” marches have taken to wearing tinfoil hats in the hope of avoiding CIA “mindscans”. The CIA, however, takes the much simpler route of reading their online posts, some of which will have you rolling on the floor in hoots of laughter.

“If more decisive measures on global warming aren’t taken,” panted communist ARC councilor Robyn Hughes breathlessly during an Auckland protest last November, “Queen St may be under water in a generation...and then we will be swimming, not obeying road rules.”

Oh really? Even in Al Gore’s rib-tickling Inconvenient Truth it isn’t suggested that sea levels will rise by 3 to 4 metres in 25 years. Or even a hundred years. Sixty centimetres, at most, 10 centimetres more likely.

Regardless of how you rate their chances, the tinfoil hat brigade are still intent on world domination, however, with Peter Boyle – the editor of socialist magazine Links - citing “a new climate of collaboration in the international left. This is a project involving the left from the Communist Party, the Trotskyist, Maoist, ex-Social Democratic, independent left and liberation theology (‘Christian’ Marxism) traditions.”

A guest speaker at these international communist gatherings is New Zealand’s own Matt McCarten, the telegenic former advisor to the Alliance and Maori parties who’s now behind Socialist Worker and its plans to introduce a new hard left political party before the next election.

As Trevor Loudon notes:

“He began building a movement called the Workers Charter Movement, as the basis for a new mass-based political movement. The WCM was based around the Socialist Workers Organisation (and its front, the Residents Action Movement), elements of the Greens and Maori Party, the ‘Unite’ trade union, the late Bill Andersen’s Socialist Party of Aotearoa, and John Minto and Mike Treen’s Global Peace and Justice Aotearoa.”

The activities of the “comrades” wouldn’t normally be an issue, except for the fact that they have friends in high places.
Prime Minister Helen Clark, for example, has been a card-carrying member of Socialist International for most of her political career, and was a keynote speaker at Socialist International’s world conference in Wellington seven years ago. The organisation’s website lists the NZ Prime Minister as a member of its ruling “Presidium”, in the capacity as “co-chair, Asia Pacific Committee”.

Clark has appointed other key socialists to commanding positions in New Zealand’s bureaucratic infrastructure. They include Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan, and Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres.

Of de Bres, Trevor Loudon records:

“While studying German at Auckland University (1965-68) de Bres became active in the Student Christian Movement. Like many Marxist groups, the SCM hid it's real emphasis behind an innocuous name. Far from being a bunch of clean cut spiritual seekers, the SCM was and is a "Christian-Marxist" organisation.

“ ‘I studied Marx, Engels and Lenin, Marcuse, Rosa Luxemburg, Frantz Fanon, and modern German writers of the revolutionary left. Students saw their hope for revolutionary change in an alliance with the working classes, through radicalised trade unions. They had nearly pulled it off in Paris in 1968,’ [said de Bres].”

De Bres, among many incarnations, once ran the CORSO ‘charity’, which was a front organisation for the Maoist Chinese brand of communism, and later joined some of his old CORSO colleagues in setting up OXFAM New Zealand.

“OXFAM NZ tends to focus its aid into countries that have active revolutionary movements,” writes Loudon. “This is not surprising as its staff, trustees and patrons include a significant proportion of socialists and Marxist-Leninists.”

It is de Bres’ Human Rights Commission, with Helen Clark, that is ramming through the “National Religious Diversity Statement” in time for a declaration at Waitangi on May 29 that New Zealand is no longer a Christian country, and that New Zealand is adopting as Government policy the highly controversial “Alliance of Civilisations” programme commanded by the United Nations.

Unlike those who value Western civilisation and its traditions based on Judeo-Christian laws and institutions, the “Alliance of Civilisations” project rules that all cultures, from Stone-Age and recently cannibalistic Papua New Guinea through to the US, are equal.

“There is no hierarchy among cultures, as each has contributed to the evolution of humanity.”

The Alliance of Civilisations, incidentally, was the brainchild of Turkey’s Islamic Party Prime Minister – whose party is currently at the centre of riots in Turkey over suspicions of a plot to turn the country into an Islamic state – and also the socialist Prime Minister of Spain, whose Socialist Workers party swept to power after the al Qa’ida Madrid bombings. Under his stewardship, Spain pulled out of Iraq and legalised gay marriage.

Unlikely bedfellows, the socialist and the Islamic conservative? Perhaps, but it reflects a fascinating development worldwide.
As the hate-letter to Investigate magazine reveals, a huge number of Neo-Coms are swinging in behind Muslim groups and individuals in a PR jihad against Investigate. But it is not just New Zealand. Socialist Worker’s sister parties in Britain and Australia are doing exactly the same thing:

“The Australian media, working hand in hand with the Howard government and the opposition Labor Party, has seized upon a sermon delivered last month by a Sydney-based Islamic cleric to escalate its hysterical campaign against Muslims,” begins one report earlier this year in a socialist publication across the ditch.

“Last Thursday, the Australian published translated excerpts from a sermon delivered by Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali last month, in which the Muslim cleric appeared to blame rape victims for their plight. ‘She is the one wearing a short dress, lifting it up, lowering it down, then a look, then a smile, then a word, then a greeting, then a chat, then a date, then a meeting, then a crime, then Long Bay Jail, then comes a merciless judge who gives you 65 years,’ he said. This was an apparent reference to the extraordinarily harsh sentence imposed on 20-year-old Bilal Skaf for gang rape convictions in Sydney six years ago.”

Pause for just a moment: the Socialist movement in Australia is describing the prison sentences handed down to a group of Lebanese men who gang-raped an Australian girl just because she was an “infidel” as “extraordinarily harsh”?

Nice to know where the tinfoil socialists really stand on women’s rights.

“There is now an inescapable necessity for all those opposed to militarism and war, and committed to the defence of democratic rights, to develop an independent political opposition to the xenophobic campaign being directed against Muslims,” the report continued.

And from Socialist Worker’s New Zealand blog:

“Even amongst revolutionary socialists, there is...Socialist Worker proudly on the side of Muslim people fighting Islamophobia in countries like Aotearoa and Britain.”

In other words, if you think the hate-letter to Investigate is anything more than part of a worldwide political stunt, think again.
NZ Labour list candidate, Anjum Rahmun of the Islamic Women’s Council, told a rally in Auckland two years ago that Muslims need to wage jihad against “those in our society who will use race and religion to divide us.”

This is the same Anjum Rahmun who signed the hate-letter, but left off the bit about being a Labour list candidate. A bigger question though is why Rahmun is not urging her fellow local Muslims to wage jihad against their guests Yahya Ibrahim, Khalid Yasin, Bilal Philips and Siraj Wahhaj for commanding that Muslims cannot be friendly with non-Muslims. If that jihad notice went out from the local “peaceful” mosques, Investigate missed it.

It is hard to work out which group is playing the role of “Useful Idiots” – the puppet of the other. Is radical Wahhabi Islam using atheistic socialists to help get a toehold in New Zealand? Or are the socialists simply taking gullible Muslims for a ride as part of their own schemes? The evidence strongly suggests the latter.

The Alliance of Civilisations document, for example, is 90% socialist ideology, and continues the aim originally spelt out by Karl Marx of abolishing national borders as part of a unified world, and encouraging greater immigration from the third world to the first.

“The solution is not to build walls around nations,” says the report. “Migrants make important contributions...Indeed, Muslim immigrants to the US, on average, have higher levels of education and are more affluent than non-Muslim Americans.

“Political, civil society and religious leadership in the West can help set the tone within which debates regarding immigration take place by speaking forcefully and publicly in defense of the rights of immigrants.

“American and European universities and research centres...should promote publications coming from the Muslim world on a range of subjects related to Islam and the Muslim world.”

The Alliance of Civilisations report, whilst stopping short of recommending outright censorship of the news, nonetheless recommends that sympathetic media outlets be identified to promote the goals of greater immigration and integration, and be encouraged to produce good-news stories about Islam whilst downplaying the negative.

“The Alliance of Civilisations should take advantage of major media, cultural and sports events for the promotion of its objectives.”

The report, due to be adopted by the New Zealand Government later this month, is a public propaganda campaign almost without precedent outside Nazi Germany. David Benson-Pope’s Ministry of Social Development is working on it, and a briefing document released this month explains some of it:

“The Waitangi Dialogue will focus on the broad themes of peace, development, security and education, and aims to develop a plan of action with proposals for practical projects in these areas. The overall emphasis of the Waitangi meeting will be on developing relations – or building bridges – between faith communities.

“High Level Symposium on the Alliance of Civilisations Report: Auckland, New Zealand, 24 May 2007 The New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, with co-sponsorship by the government of Norway, will host a high level symposium in Auckland on 24 May 2007 to discuss the report of the Alliance of Civilisations High Level Group.

“Prime Minister Clark wishes to ensure that the report receives full consideration including in the Asia-Pacific region. The symposium, which will be by invitation only, will bring together a small group of leaders, community representatives and experts to discuss the implications of the report for the region. Norway’s involvement will bring to the event the benefit of its considerable expertise as a leader in peace and reconciliation processes.”

As the letter-writer to Investigate put it:

“Basically the Alliance of Civilisations is a UN strategy whereby the secularism of the West can accommodate Islam peacefully - the focus appears to be on reconciliation of secularism with Islam with isolation of evangelicalism. Helen Clark has recently stated that NZ is no longer a Christian country. - meaning that Evangelical Christianity no longer has a place in NZ. It will be interesting to see who attends (‘by invitation only’) the coming meetings in NZ on the AoC, which Helen states she is going to personally facilitate, and who is not going to be invited - this may tell a story in itself.”

Which brings us back to the Socialists and Muslims’ Letter of Hate. Suddenly, with the revelation that die-hard tinfoil-hat wearing communists are using Muslims as “useful idiots”, the socialist-inspired Alliance of Civilisations document starts to make sense, especially with Helen Clark listed as the Asia-Pacific chair of Socialist International on their website, www.socialistinternational.org, in its report of the 2004 Socialist International World Council meeting held in Madrid that February.

“New Zealand is hosting the first symposium on the Alliance of Civilisations’ report in the Asia-Pacific region next month,” Clark said in an April 2007 speech in Valencia attended by the Spanish Prime Minister.

“It will be followed by a meeting in our country of the regional interfaith dialogue which brings together multi- faith delegations from South East Asian and South Pacific nations.

“The Asia Pacific region is at the intersection of many of the world’s great faiths. Peace and security in our region, as throughout the world, are dependent on us breaking down the artificial barriers we human beings have built between ourselves, so that we can celebrate our common humanity.

“We applaud Spain, together with Turkey, co-sponsoring the Alliance of Civilisations initiative at the United Nations. That has led to an important report on how to overcome the distressing polarisation we have seen between the Western and Islamic worlds...I believe that New Zealand’s close involvement in the affairs of the Asia Pacific make us of much greater interest to Spain at this time.”

Little wonder then, that New Zealand socialists are moving swiftly to try and prevent Investigate’s revelations from gaining wider traction or interfering with the implementation of the Alliance of Civilisations here.

Independent media, like Investigate, who dare to expose the arrival of extremist Wahhabism in New Zealand are targeted in the hope we’ll be intimidated into backing away from publishing further details.

But don’t expect other local media to report this. Socialist groups have also managed to buy the silence of most of the New Zealand news media, by offering inducements via the Media Peace Awards. The awards were set up in 1984, at the height of anti-nuclear protests worldwide, with the aim of encouraging reporting favourable to Peace Foundation causes. The Peace Foundation is another socialist front agency (see sidebar story). For the record, Investigate magazine has never entered them, but regular entries are received each year from:

Metro
North & South
The Listener
TV3
TVNZ
Radio NZ

North & South’s Jenny Chamberlain took the premier award in 2006. A year earlier it was her editor Robyn Langwell. The year before that it was North & South again, with both Metro and the Listener “highly commended”.

This is not to say that winners and finalists have not done good work, but as with any “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” arrangement it is journalistically ethically questionable whether any media should take part in a Media Peace Awards requiring them to give favourable coverage to a particular socio-political view. For example, would Investigate’s expose on Wahhabi Islam win a prize?

Journalism should only be judged on its news value, not its propaganda value. The obvious answer shows how the media can be bought and paid for with a few crumbs and a pat on the head.

The Media Peace Awards encourage slanted reporting. If you see a media outlet crowing about winning a Media Peace Award, you can judge their journalistic credibility for yourself.

Indeed, the close relationship between the Peace Foundation and NZ media may explain why neither TV3 nor TVNZ picked up the rights to the internationally acclaimed Channel 4 Dispatches documentary on radical Islam infiltrating British mosques this year. The documentary features many of the same people in the Investigate article, but it is arguably possible that neither TV channel wants to mess up its chances of winning a “peace” award by screening it.

The Peace Foundation, thanks to its close links with Labour, is also responsible for Ministry of Education policy on “peace studies”:

“From the outset,” records the Foundation’s website, “the Foundation concentrated on providing resources and stimulus for peace education in educational institutions, as well as servicing community groups. It also acted as a catalyst for the formation and/or maintenance of a number of groups including Students and Teachers Educating for Peace (STEP), Media Aware and the World Court Project. It also participated in a series of conferences arranged by Russell Marshall, during his term as Minister of Education from 1987-1990, and made a major contribution to the development of the Peace Studies Guidelines for schools.”

“In collaboration with the Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF), and in consultation with the Curriculum Development Unit of the former Department of Education, the Foundation published a resource book for teachers at the primary/intermediate level entitled Learning Peaceful Relationships. This has become almost a standard resource and some 12,000 copies have been sold both in New Zealand and overseas.

“In 1989 the Foundation produced a pamphlet to provide all Boards of Trustee members with specific information about the implementation of peace education, when the School Charters were being drawn up. In 2000 the Foundation published Thanks not Spanks, a book designed to give parents and caregivers ideas on how to raise children with out resorting to violence.”

Peace Foundation director Marion Hancock is one of those who signed the letter against Investigate.

But perhaps the final word as to the credibility of Grant Morgan’s list should go to some of the signatories themselves. When we first received the letter via email, we doubted that Morgan had either properly obtained all the signatures or properly set out Investigate’s case when seeking comment.

Morgan refused to provide a copy of the email he had sent to prospective signatories, so we decided to ring a few signatories at random. Rosemary Arnoux, a lecturer in French at Auckland University, admitted in a hilarious phone exchange (www.investigatemagazine.com/rosemary.mp3) that she had not even read the Investigate article she was “complaining” about, until after we’d queried Morgan’s bona fides.

INVESTIGATE: I’m just double checking that you have in fact seen it?
ARNOUX: What, your article? I scanned it rapidly on my computer this morning.
INVESTIGATE: You scanned it rapidly –
ARNOUX: [interrupting] I read it fast, very fast!
INVESTIGATE: You read it –
ARNOUX: [interrupting] Oh look! [click, hangs up]

Another was Mua Strickson-Pua, who told Investigate he actually quite liked the article, but needed to be staunch.

“I had a quick browse through. Ian, I felt it wasn’t too bad, I felt it was middle of the road, but I thought I would get in behind in terms of the people who had their concerns. I said I was happy to be a co-signatory, but at the same time I thought your article wasn’t too bad!”

A similar sentiment was echoed by Waitakere mayor Bob Harvey, who said he had to take a public stand regardless of what he privately thought.

“If I was you I’d probably do it the same, but I’m not doing that I’m being the mayor of a city and I actually care about some harmony before bloody car bombs start going off in Henderson.”

Quite. But if local Muslims keep mixing with al Qa’ida terror fundraisers and local communists spoiling to “bring on the revolution”, Harvey may not get his wish.


Posted by Ian Wishart at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)

July 31, 2007

Unholy Alliance: Islam & Socialists in NZ: May 07 issue

ESSAY
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caption: this 15 year old Indonesian girl was almost beheaded by Islamic extremists. Her crime: being a Christian

DANGEROUS LIAISONS

Muslims, Marxists and NZ Migration

There’s more controversy over Investigate’s 18 page special report on Islamic terrorist sympathisers in New Zealand. IAN WISHART analyses the impact of the story, and the latest developments

One of the extremist Islamic preachers of hate who featured in the March issue of Investigate has been banned from entering Australia, despite being allowed to tour New Zealand giving lectures and inspiration to hundreds of New Zealand Muslims.

Bilal Philips, who was named as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the plot to blow up a range of New York landmarks, including the World Trade Centre, in 1993, was able to slip into and out of New Zealand because the Minister in charge of the Security Intelligence Service, Helen Clark, has failed to activate a border protection watch list of individuals with known links to terrorism.

Although the legislation was passed in 2002, following requests from the United Nations, New Zealand has not named a single individual for Customs and Immigration officers to watch for. As Investigate reported in March (see online at www.thebriefingroom.com) , that oversight has meant dozens of radical extremists, some of them – like Philips – with known links to terrorist organisations, have been able to come and go at will without the New Zealand government evening realising.

Over the past few weeks, Investigate has received a series of, largely, form letters, a selection of which you can read in our Letters pages, accusing us essentially of whipping up ‘Islamophobia’ and endangering local Muslims.

The allegations are false. Additionally, we were surprised to discover the fingerprints of diehard left-wing Marxists on the whinge campaign, as this extract from a Socialist Worker blog this month reveals:

“Our members in the Residents Action Movement (RAM) are currently working with the Muslim community to respond against the despicable Islamophobia of Ian Wishart's Investigate magazine. We have marched together for Palestine , Lebanon and Iraq, and will be united on the streets if there are any attacks on Iran. We do not look on our Muslim comrades as victims, tokens, demons or others, but our brothers and sisters in the fight for peace and global justice.”

Keep taking the pills, boys. Maybe you’ll wake up from your own self-inflicted Matrix one day. Or perhaps you should read my new book, Eve’s Bite. Then you’ll really have something to whinge about.

If you read the Socialist Worker post in full, however (http://unityaotearoa.blogspot.com/2007/04/marxist-muslim-alliance-response-to.html), you’ll find they were responding in faux indignation at suggestions from a local Muslim that Marxists are using Muslims as stooges to foment unrest in New Zealand. I say the indignation is “faux”, because socialism is blatantly atheistic in nature and hostile to religion, so it is obvious to most rational people that socialists are indeed taking Muslims for a ride, and probably having a right old laugh at their expense.

However, allow me to explain in greater detail why the Investigate scoop in March is the biggest unreported story of the year so far (although it was picked up by the Christchurch Press and Newstalk ZB’s Larry Williams):

We are told local Muslims are “moderate”. Indeed, they self-identify as “moderate” and, as one Islamic acquaintance – Imran - told me this month, the moderateness reflects the fact that New Zealand is not “joining with the US in Iraq and Afghanistan”. The local community, he says, doesn’t feel any inclination to take to the streets because it knows most New Zealanders feel equally dubious about America’s adventures.

But here’s the rub – if that is the only reason for moderation, what happens if the wider New Zealand community at some point believe a war against radical Islam is justified?

Then there’s the definition of “moderate”. People make the mistake of trying to understand Islam the same way many understand Christianity. In the West, we are familiar with the debates about whether the Bible is fundamentally true (the conservative wing of Christianity) or fundamentally mythical (the liberal wing of Christianity). In Islam, there is no such polarity: you will not find a “moderate” Muslim willing to suggest that the Qu’ran is mythical. All practicing Muslims, whether extremist or “moderate”, believe the Qu’ran is true down to its last letter. They may disagree on how the Qu’ran and its edicts can be implemented in Dar al Harb (all the countries ruled by non-Islamic governments, literally translated from Arabic as “House of War”), but there is no dispute that the Qu’ran calls for the eventual unification of the entire planet under one Islamic ruler, the new Khalifah (Caliph).

As a Christian, I share many concerns that are similar to those of Muslims. Christians and Muslims are generally socially conservative. However, as I told Imran, New Zealand’s tolerance of moderate Islam hinges to a large extent on Islam doing a much better job at self-policing against radicals. Investigate magazine praised Christchurch moderates several years ago who blew the whistle on a move by Saudi terrorist fundraisers Al Haramain group to take over the Christchurch mosque. We saw that whistleblowing as self-policing in action.

But it was stunning to find out this year that extremist clerics, bearing large wads of money from extremist Saudi Arabia, have been intimately involved in guiding and helping the New Zealand Islamic community. Extremist preachers have DVDs and books on sale here, and local mosques are working for the introduction of shari’a principles in New Zealand.

Saudi Arabia is the home of Wahhabism, the most extreme form of radical Islam and the faction that Osama bin Laden belongs to. We should be very concerned about Saudi Arabia’s influence with NZ mosques, because here’s what the Saudis teach their children in school.

Year One (Five year olds):
“Every religion other than Islam is false”
“Fill in the blanks with the appropriate words (Islam, hellfire): Every religion other than ______ is false. Whoever dies outside of Islam enters ________.”

Now, if it stopped there, I’d have little to object to. You can go into any number of Christian churches of a Sunday and hear a message about Christianity being the only true religion. I have no problems with Islam making its absolute truth claim, even if I disagree with their faith in it. However, it doesn’t stop there, and Islam’s indoctrination of children in Islamic schools gets much worse:

Year Four:
“True belief means...that you hate the polytheists and infidels but do not treat them unjustly.”

Year Five:
“Whoever obeys the Prophet and accepts the oneness of Allah cannot maintain a loyal friendship with those who oppose Allah and his Prophet, even if they are his closest relatives.”

“It is forbidden for a Muslim to be a loyal friend to someone who does not believe in Allah and his Prophet, or someone who fights the religion of Islam.”

“A Muslim, even if he lives far away, is your brother in religion. Someone who opposes Allah, even if he is your brother by family tie, is your enemy in religion.”

Year Six (Ten year olds):
“Just as Muslims were successful in the past when they came together in a sincere endeavour to evict the Christian crusaders from Palestine, so will the Arabs and Muslims emerge victorious, Allah willing, against the Jews and their allies if they stand together and fight a true jihad for Allah, for this is within Allah’s power.”

Year Eight:
“The apes are Jews, the people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels of the communion of Jesus.”

Year Nine (13 year olds):
“The clash between this [Muslim] community (umma) and the Jews and Christians has endured, and it will continue as long as Allah wills.”

“It is part of Allah’s wisdom that the struggle between the Muslim and the Jews should continue until the hour [of judgement].”

“Muslims will triumph because they are right. He who is right is always victorious, even if most people are against him.”

Year Ten:

[Note: at the age of 14, Muslim students are required to start learning shari’a principles in more detail. These particular textbook quotes deal with “blood money”, which is the fine payable to a victim or their surviving heirs for murder or injury]

“Blood money for a free infidel...is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, whether or not he is ‘of the book’ [Christian or Jewish] or not ‘of the book’ [pagan, atheist, etc]”

“Blood money for a woman: Half of the blood money for a man, in accordance with his religion. The blood money for a Muslim woman is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, and the blood money for an infidel woman is half of the blood money for a male infidel.”

Year Eleven (15 year olds):
“The greeting ‘Peace be upon you’ is specifically for believers. It cannot be said to others.”

“If one comes to a place where there is a mixture of Muslims and infidels, one should offer a greeting intended for the Muslims.”

“Do not yield to them [Christians and Jews] on a narrow road, out of honour and respect.”

Year Twelve:
“Jihad in the path of Allah – which consists of battling against unbelief, oppression, injustice, and those who perpetrate it – is the summit of Islam. This religion arose through jihad and through jihad was its banner raised high. It is one of the noblest acts, which brings one closer to Allah, and one of the most magnificent acts of obedience to Allah.”

Pretty grim reading, huh? Those quotes are all taken from current school textbooks in Saudi Arabia as part of the compulsory “Islamic studies” curriculum, books smuggled out by families with children in Saudi schools and provided to the Institute of Gulf Affairs, a Washington DC think-tank headed by Saudi dissident Ali al-Ahmed. He in turn gave the textbooks to the Washington Post newspaper, to illustrate how millions of Arab children are being indoctrinated to hate the West and prepare for jihad and Armageddon.
The textbooks represent Wahhabi doctrine, and the chilling aspect of some of the emails Investigate received from NZ “moderates” was phrases like this one where they criticised us for using the phrase “Wahhabism (supposedly an "extreme" form of Islam) 20 times.”
What do they mean, “supposedly”?

If New Zealand Islamic “moderates” are questioning our suggestion that Wahhabism is “extreme” – you should be very afraid for your country.

Thankfully, the offending phrase is in a chain letter presumably drafted with the help of the communist insurgents over at Socialist Worker, so it may not yet have widespread support within NZ Islam. But that doesn’t negate the reality that it was moderates who invited the Wahhabi hatemongers here in the first place.

So here’s my take on the Islamic issue for NZ.

I believe you should have freedom to worship. I believe you should have the freedom to dress conservatively, including the hijab if you so choose. I believe you should have the right to preach Islam. I believe you should have the same individual rights as other members of the NZ community. I believe you should be free from discrimination and not treated as second class citizens.

BUT...there are some particular limits in regard to your religion. Islam is not just a religion – properly understood, it is a complete system of government and a political system that does not tolerate democracy. In that sense, I suspect I speak for many non-Muslim New Zealanders when I say that this country shall never be part of Dar al Islam [an Islamic nation under shari’a law]. If you nurse such fantasies, pack your bags and return whence you came, because you are the problem.

You have emigrated to a country which – regardless of the prattle from the New Zealand government – is founded on the Judeo-Christian democratic tradition, not an Islamic theocratic one.

If you can live with this reality, then you are welcome here as fellow New Zealanders. And if you can start policing the extremists out of your mosques and lecture halls and bookshops, then the rest of us won’t have to do it and we’ll respect you all the more for your stand.


Posted by Ian Wishart at 09:46 PM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2007

DISRESPECT - GEORGE GALLOWAY IN NZ: Aug 07

Disgraced British MP George Galloway is pushing a pro-Islamic agenda on a visit to New Zealand.

(Story currently in print edition)

Other Resources:

Download file May 05 Senate Report

Senate Inquiry final report Oct 05

UN Independent Inquiry final report (scroll to page 72)


Posted by Ian Wishart at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2007

Preachers of Hate

SPECIAL INVESTIGATION
HELEN HOODWINKED BY PREACHERS OF HATE

OSAMA BIN LADEN’S TENTACLES REACH NEW ZEALAND’S FIVE MAIN CENTRES IN MASSIVE BORDER SECURITY BREACH

Some of the world’s most extreme Islamic preachers, and organizations
linked to terrorist groups, have spent seven years infiltrating New Zealand’s moderate Muslim community – running training camps and “intensive” courses – and the Government never realized. IAN WISHART has the extraordinary story that’s left local Muslim leaders shocked and embarrassed, and raised major questions
not just about our border security, but whether al Qa’ida has been actively recruiting on the ground in New Zealand


A massive breach in New Zealand’s national security has been discovered by Investigate magazine, with revelations that senior Islamic “preachers of hate”, some with links to al Qa’ida, have been able to come and go from New Zealand with no one in the media, the Government or even the security services apparently aware of who they were.

Among the roll-call of dishonour that’s left the head of New Zealand’s Muslim community reeling and pledging major changes within mosque vetting procedures: two firebrand clerics named as “unindicted co-conspirators” in New York’s infamous
1993 Day of Terror case, when Ramzi Yousef tried to blow up the World Trade Centre the first time and a dozen other men planned to explode ammonium nitrate car bombs at other major New York landmarks.

Additionally, Investigate’s inquiries have shown that a large number of the organizations listed as international affiliates of New Zealand’s mosques have been named by the United Nations, intelligence and law enforcement agencies as supporters, fundraisers and sometimes active participants in al Qa’ida terror plots. Yet members of these organizations have been able to come to New Zealand unobstructed, supply “educational and spiritual” literature to Muslim youth here and run training camps, as recently as last July.

Undercover video footage taken by Britain’s BBC television of training camps run by the same organization overseas has shown children being trained to become suicide bombers.

The President of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ), Javed Khan, was doubly shocked to find out about the backgrounds of the extreme Wahhabi Islam visitors, because his organization had personally invited them here to help encourage local Muslims in their faith.

For seven years, preachers, whose works include book urging followers to kill Jews, Christians, pagans and Hindus, have been holding “workshops” in mosques and university student halls up and down New Zealand, yet no one from the Government, Security Intelligence Service or police ever lifted a finger to ring Javed Khan and ask why moderate NZ Muslims were inviting the world’s most extremist clerics here.

While Khan and senior figures in New Zealand’s Islamic community are now urgently reviewing their policies and links to overseas Islamic groups, there’s also growing concern about why, if the Government really regards the NZ Muslim community as friends, it never even bothered to have a quiet word in their ear. Worse, if the Government didn’t know about the backgrounds of the extremists visiting New Zealand, what implications does that have for national security?

For most New Zealanders, the story of modern Islam and the government’s walk-on-eggshells approach to it, begins with September 11:

IN THE BEGINNING
As the smoke from the gaping holes that had been New York’s twin towers still swirled in an acrid mist across Manhattan, choking rescue workers with the fumes from 3,000 vapourised human bodies and thousands of tonnes of vapourised buildings, New Zealand’s acting Prime Minister when the Islamic terror campaign struck, Jim Anderton, raced to get a press release out.

“Acting Prime Minister Jim Anderton is urging New Zealanders not to associate New Zealand’s Muslim community or Afghan refugees with acts of terrorism in the United States yesterday.

“One of the great things about New Zealand is our tolerance and the absence of political and religious extremism in New Zealand. I call on New Zealanders to remember that and not blame or associate people in New Zealand with the terrorism in the US on the basis of national origins.

“It is reprehensible to link the terrorist attacks in the US to refugees in New Zealand, let alone to New Zealand’s Muslim community. Even if Islamic extremists are ultimately shown to be responsible for the terrorist activity, refugees to New Zealand are by definition trying to get away from persecution by extremist regimes and they can hardly be blamed for that,” concluded Anderton.

Leaving aside a possibility that clearly hadn’t occurred to the Deputy Prime Minister – that refugees may simply be extremists from a losing faction fleeing persecution by the extremists of the winning side – the message of tolerance towards Islam became almost a national hymn throughout the West.

A year later, just after the Bali bombings that claimed a further 202 lives at the hands of Islamic extremists, the Labour Government was once again calling for tolerance towards the real victims of terror – Muslims themselves.

“I chose to [meet] with the Muslim community,” declared Ethnic Affairs minister Chris Carter in December 2002, “because Muslims everywhere have had a very difficult twelve months. The New York and Bali terrorism attacks have focused unwelcome attention on what is a fundamentally peaceful religion.”

Among issues raised by Muslims for the government to consider, said Carter, were:
“The fact that Arabic was not taught as part of the school curriculum, despite it being one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, [and] a lack of family counseling services that were sensitive to the cultural differences of the Muslim community.”

On a number of occasions, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Helen Clark has told the country that Islam is a religion of peace. One of the most recent of these declarations accompanied the history-making visit of the PM to the Federation of Islamic Associations of NZ (FIANZ) annual conference at the South Auckland Mosque on May 28 last year.

In a copy of the FIANZ newsletter sent to Investigate, Clark – who’d previously refused to say “Grace” at a state banquet for the Queen, broke royal protocol by wearing trousers, and had a run in with Maoridom over her place on the marae as a woman – is photographed wearing the Islamic hijab – a sign to Muslim men of her secondary status as a woman and submission to Islam’s requirements.

“In her address,” says the FIANZ document, “she acknowledged
and thanked FIANZ and the Muslim community at large for maintaining calm and building better relationships with others subsequent to attacks on Auckland masjids (mosques) after the London bombings.

“Speaking on the diverse New Zealand people she said that migration over many years has resulted in a multi-faith and multi-cultural society.

“Speaking of various initiatives by her Government she mentioned the special ‘Building Bridges’ programme by the Office of Ethnic Affairs, police recruitment of ethnic people, and the Ministry of Social Development’s ‘Building Cohesion in Society’.

“Looking to the future she mentioned three priorities for Muslim kiwis: Modernisation and transformation of the economy;
Building stronger family, young and old; Building a unique national identity of our diverse country.

“In all three, the Muslim community has a part to play…Quranic classes are necessary for a sense of identity.”

You would think such an important and history-making speech by the Prime Minister would be on the government’s website. It is not. No news release about the visit was sent out electronically to media, nor is there a report in Auckland’s journal of record, the New Zealand Herald. Instead, the only printed report of this visit is that contained
in the FIANZ newsletter, which concludes:

“We need to build a distinctive New Zealand with one identity built on each of us being sincere in who and what we are, where we come from, what our hosting home and culture are. Openness and dialogue are important to go ahead as a nation.”

Elsewhere in the same FIANZ newsletter, the familiar refrains are echoed – “Islam means peace”, it declares in an article on outreach to the wider New Zealand community for Islam Awareness Week. Few New Zealanders would know, however, that the correct Arabic translation of Islam is “submission”, not peace. To a Muslim, peace only comes through submission to Allah, but the phrase gets shortened to “Islam means peace” for Western consumption.

It is little PR shortcuts like this that make Islam an easier sell to young westerners: Islam is seen as the underdog, misunderstood and bullied by the West. But this is a carefully crafted façade largely driven worldwide by Saudi extremists and Saudi money.

According to independent estimates, the Saudi Arabian regime has spent somewhere in the region of NZ$110 billion exporting Wahhabi Islam – the variety of Islam followed by terrorist group al Qa’ida – worldwide. That money, itself the proceeds of petro-dollars, has been used to train Muslims in extremist Saudi universities
and send them overseas as missionaries to train local Muslims in the most fundamentalist strains of Islam.

To put this in perspective, bear in mind that 15 of the 19 hijackers killed in the 9/11 attacks were Saudi Arabian. Nearly all had been Saudi-trained.

The tone of Saudi extremist Islam was recognized early by New Zealand, as the Prime Minister herself noted on 21 September 2001 when she followed President Bush’s lead in separating moderates from extremists.

“President Bush made it clear that the teachings of the Islamic faith are good and must be distinguished from the terrorists who have blasphemed that faith and tried to hijack it.

“I call on New Zealanders to make that distinction too. Our country also contains people of many faiths, and all those faiths and those of peaceful intent who follow them must be respected.”

Clark did not explicitly state what al Qa’ida’s blasphemy was, but the group’s aims are on the record as being consistent with Saudi Arabian Wahhabi Islam: the submission of the entire world to Islam, as is predicted in the Qu’ran and which Muhammed instructed his followers to achieve; the introduction of Shari’a law worldwide; and a return to what Wahhabists see as fundamental Islamic values, such as women being forced to wear veils, and pagans, atheists and gays being stoned to death.

Implicitly in the Prime Minister’s statement, these are the extremist blasphemies New Zealand was joining the US in fighting against.

“President Bush has said that he sees this as an international effort. New Zealand is in it for the long haul too. What the United States is asking the whole world to address is a radical terrorist network which has shown its capability to deliver co-ordinated acts of hideous violence. New Zealand supports the United States’ determination to root out al Qa’ida and other terrorist groups worldwide. This will be a lengthy campaign,” declared Clark.
Yet despite the tough talk, the New Zealand government appears to have been asleep at their posts as Islamic extremists from Saudi Arabia quietly infiltrated the very same mosques Labour had been praising as moderate.

BILAL PHILIPS “The clash of civilizations is a reality. Western culture…an enemy Islam” – Bilal Philips

In the very same 2006 FIANZ newsletter featuring Helen in the hijab is another, seemingly innocuous, article recording the July 06 visit of “Islamic scholar” Dr Bilal Philips. It wasn’t a random visit. Philips was expressly invited here by FIANZ as a warm-up act for Islam Awareness Week.

“During his visit to New Zealand,” says the report, “Dr Bilal held lectures in Dunedin, Wellington, Hamilton and Auckland…He received his BA degree from the Islamic University of Madina and his MA in Aqeedah (Islamic philosophy) from the King Saud University in Riyadh.”

Madina is to Islam what Medellin is to Colombian drug barons: the heart of the empire. For the record, and to give you an idea of the Wahhabi pedigree of Philips, the University at Madina is regarded as the most fundamentalist of all the Islamic study centres, and the King Saud University in Riyadh was also attended by Osama bin Laden.

“The theme for [Bilal’s] lectures was “Muslim Minorities living in Western Civilisations”, notes the FIANZ report. “There were full attendances in all the Centres he presented his lecture.

His lectures were very enlightening and educational.

“A recurring advice throughout his lecture is for the Muslim community in New Zealand to join together to pursue an Islamic way of life in education, housing and commerce.”

The newsletter records that Philips visited the Federation’s offices to hold discussions with local Muslim leaders Hanif Ali and Sheikh Amir, as well as discussions with Muslim students at Victoria University and intensive workshops on how to spread Islam with “a group of enthusiastic brothers and sisters” at Auckland’s Avondale Islamic Centre.

“The visit of Dr Bilal was indeed very successful and FIANZ hope to continue in the tradition of welcoming respected overseas Islamic scholars/speakers to New Zealand to further enrich our community.”

OK. That’s how local Muslims saw Philips through their eyes. But what does Bilal Philips really talk about on his sellout lecture tours? We might never have known had Philips not shot to fame on a major investigative documentary screened on Britain’s Channel 4 last month by the Dispatches programme.

Neither TVNZ nor TV3 in New Zealand have run the programme yet, but it created huge waves in Britain and America because it exposed self-professed “moderate” Muslims at the UK’s biggest mosques preaching messages of hatred and jihad against the West as recently as just a few weeks ago. A Dispatches journalist went undercover for several months to secretly film lectures in the mosques given by Bilal Philips and others.

In one segment of the programme, Philips was covertly filmed telling Muslim men it was OK to marry 9 year old pre-pubescent girls, because the prophet Muhammad did it.

“The prophet Muhammad practically outlined the rules regarding marriage prior to puberty, with his practice he clarified what is permissible and that is why we shouldn’t have any issues about an older man marrying a younger woman, which is looked down upon by this [Western] society today, but we know that Prophet Muhammad practiced it, it wasn’t abuse or exploitation, it was marriage.”

Philips later argued to the media he was only re-stating the Qu’ranic position, but it is clear from his comments above he endorsed it.

But marrying pre-pubescent girls in the name of Islam wasn’t the only message Philips has preached. In 1991, as part of a Wahhabi infiltration of US military units stationed in Saudi Arabia for Gulf War 1, he led Islamic evangelism programmes – paid for by the Saudi government – that reportedly converted some 3,000 US soldiers to Islam, some of whom later joined Islamic jihad movements. This was first revealed in a Washington Post article on November 2, 2003, which quotes Bilal Philips.

“The clash of civilizations is a reality. Western culture led by the United States is an enemy of Islam.”

Remember: this is a man hailed at the time as a leader and a scholar by moderate New Zealand Muslim leaders, and who held sellout lectures and workshops for young Muslims up and down the country last year.

One spin-off from Bilal Philips’ efforts in 1991 however was that the Pentagon suddenly had to find Muslim chaplains to minister to its freshly converted Islamic US soldiers. “One architect of this initiative was Abdurahman Alamoudi, who was indicted Oct. 23 on money-laundering charges for allegedly taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from Libya, which is designated by U.S. officials as a state sponsor of terrorism,” reported the Post. An extra irony is that Alamoudi was an election campaign donor to both Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Hillary Clinton, evincing a “bob each way” mentality.

The article goes on to say that the Pentagon is now “worried” about the loyalties of its Islamic troops.

“Some military officials believe that the al Qa’ida terrorist network is trying to recruit Muslim members of the U.S. armed services and contractors who work with them. Other officers have expressed fears that some Muslim soldiers, sailors and airmen might one day decline to take up arms against fellow Muslims.”

A news article listed on Wikipedia and sourced to Intelwire directly links Bilal Philips to known terrorists.

“An al Qa’ida operative sought to recruit US veterans as paramilitary trainers and combat volunteers in 1992 and 1993, at the explicit direction of a cleric [Philips] who converted thousands of Gulf War soldiers to Islam on behalf of the Saudi government,” begins the report.

“Clement Rodney Hampton-El was convicted of conspiring to blow up New York city landmarks in a 1993 terror plot linked to the World Trade Centre bombing in February of that year.”

As an al Qa’ida trained explosives expert with ties to the first World Trade Centre bomber Ramzi Yousef, Hampton-El (better known as “Dr Rashid”) gave evidence at his 1995 federal trial that he’d been summonsed to a meeting at the Saudi embassy in Washington in 1992 and told wealthy Saudis were bankrolling a project to recruit US soldiers as jihadists, and that he would be given a budget of US$150,000 for his role in the project. He testified that Bilal Philips then gave him a list of US Muslim soldiers to approach and worked with Hampton-El to achieve the goal.

Philips’ involvement is a matter of public record in the court documents (US vs Rahman, S5 93 Cr.18, August 2, 1995), yet he managed to slip through New Zealand immigration in July 2006 no problems at all.

But wait, there’s more. In the mid-90s, Bilal Philips was teaching at an Islamic school in Cotabato, the Philippines – home territory to the deadly Abu Sayyaf terrorist group and an al Qa’ida recruiting ground for the Pacific (see Investigate, Feb 05).

Osama bin Laden’s brother in law, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa was documented by both US and Filipino authorities as funneling money to Abu Sayyaf via the Islamic Da’wah Council of the Philippines – an organization listed on the website of FIANZ in New Zealand as one of its international affiliates.

“In May, 1993,” continues the Intelwire story, “Bilal Philips sent for Hampton-El, who was flown first to Saudi Arabia for a week, then to the Philippines for a week.

“In Manila, Hampton-El testified, he met with Philips at an Islamic conference… sponsored by wealthy Saudis and the Islamic Da’wah Council of the Philippines. The Da’wah Council was one of Khalifa’s [Osama’s brother in law] charities.

“On his return to New York, Hampton-El told friends that he was planning to move to the Philippines and join an Islamic militant movement there. According to testimony and surveillance tapes presented at his trial…he visited training camps in the south of the country during the May 1993 trip. He also described visiting a terrorist safehouse with Bilal Philips.

“Bilal Philips, Osama bin Laden and Mohammed Jamal Khalifa were all named by the [US] government as unindicted co-conspirators in the Day of Terror trial,” reports Intelwire. For his part, Hampton-El is languishing in a maximum security penitentiary in the US where he won’t be eligible for parole until 2023.

So Bilal Philips is a very strange houseguest for moderate Muslims in New Zealand to be inviting over.

But it doesn’t stop there. The deeper Investigate dug into the moderate mosques in New Zealand, the messier it got. Of all the names of invited overseas scholars who’ve come here that it was possible for us to verify [due to variant English spellings of Arabic names], virtually none was a “moderate” – most were Wahhabi extremists and some, like Bilal Philips, have links directly to terrorists.

SHEIKH KHALID YASIN
In May 2005, another extremist Wahhabi preacher arrived in New Zealand as a guest of the Muslim Association of Canterbury, Sheikh Khalid Yasin. Trained, again, in Saudi Arabia, this American convert to Islam is well known for a verbal jihad in his lectures.

And like Bilal Philips, Yasin also rocketed to stardom in Britain as a result of January’s TV documentary exposing preachers of hate. In Yasin’s case, the TV crew found DVDs on sale at “moderate” mosques in London where Yasin says women are worthless.

“This whole delusion of the equality of women is a bunch of foolishness…There’s no such thing.”

He also claims AIDS is a western conspiracy.

“Missionaries from the World Health Organisation and Christian groups went into Africa and inoculated people for diphtheria, malaria, yellow fever, and they put in the medicine the AIDS virus, which is a conspiracy.”

But despite being welcomed by moderate Muslims in New Zealand, Yasin had a tougher time being interviewed by Nine Network’s Sunday programme in Australia, which dragged out yet more video clips of his lectures from around the world.

“There’s no such thing as a Muslim having a non-Muslim friend,” he told believers at one rally – which doesn’t gel with the gestures of friendship from the same local Muslim leaders who invited him to New Zealand.

“If you prefer the clothing of the kafirs [infidels] over the clothing of the Muslims, most of those names that’s on most of those clothings [sic] is faggots, homosexuals and lesbians.”

“How do you feel about the fact that the Government is saying we should set up some new rules to make sure that no potential terrorists are developed or cultivated. And also we want to see inside the mosque and places so we can see before something happens. How do you feel about that? Because that’s what’s being talked about. Now, if they didn’t say exactly that, I’m telling you that’s what it means!”

Naturally, young Australian Muslims digesting the questions he phrased it felt threatened, victimized and angry. Yet Yasin’s messages of hate are a very good reason for the Islamic community to be transparent.

Despite Arab TV network al Jazeera broadcasting Osama bin Laden’s admission that he ordered the 9/11 attacks, Sheikh Yasin – who has lectured extensively in NZ mosques and universities – shows himself to be a 9/11 denier.

“There has been no evidence that has surfaced, no bona fide irrevocable, irrefutable evidence that has been surfaced that showed that there is a group called al Qa’ida that did the September 11 bombings.”

He told Sunday’s Sarah Ferguson that “sophisticated entities” blew up the twin towers.

“Sophisticated entities means entities who themselves were governmentally instructed, equipped, motivated. We now know that the way the World Trade Centre fell, the way those buildings fell – they fell from internal explosive charges, the same way it’s done in a construction site.”

Yasin calls for homosexuals and lesbians to be put on trial for immorality, “and if they are tried, convicted, they are punishable by death”.

In his Sunday interview, and in his lectures to Muslim students in Australia, he preaches the message that Muslims everywhere are victimized. When Sunday raised the case of the Islamic bookshop in Sydney caught selling a how-to book on suicide bombing, Yasin simply denied it.

“There is no books [sic] in no Muslim bookstore that says how to become a suicide bomber. This witch-hunt against Muslims is what we are against. I have not been able to find one single incident.”

SIRAJ WAHHAJ
Another Muslim scholar brought out to New Zealand in 2001 – just months before 9/11, was American convert Siraj Wahhaj, invited here by FIANZ. Wahhaj was once hailed as a “moderate” in the US, and became the first American Muslim to deliver the daily prayer in the US Congress, in 1991, as a recognition of his “moderate” views. But like Bilal Philips before him, Siraj Wahhaj was leading a double life: teacher’s pet moderate Muslim on the outside for the benefit of politicians and the media, die-hard radical extremist on the inside. Wikipedia records that Wahhaj was named by the US Department of Justice as another of several “unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators in the attempt to blow up New York City monuments” including the World Trade Centre in 1993.

As Salon magazine reported on September 26, 2001, Wahhaj had a close relationship with an Islamic terrorist, the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdul Rahman, inviting him to speak at Wahhaj’s Brooklyn mosque and even testifying as a character witness for Rahman in court.

Wahhaj, who like Philips slipped into New Zealand without opposition by the SIS, police or border security, is also quoted in Salon as calling the original Gulf War 1 – against Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait – “one of the most diabolical plots ever in the annals of history”, and “part of a larger plan, to destroy the greatest challenge to the Western world, and that’s Islam.”

Comparing the fall of Soviet Russia to the current crisis in the West, Wahhaj warned America too will be crushed unless it “accepts the Islamic agenda”.

Journalist Daniel Pipes, in The Danger Within, details a 1992 address Wahhaj gave to an audience of New Jersey Muslims.

“If only Muslims were more clever politically, he told his New Jersey listeners, they could take over the United States and replace its constitutional government with a caliphate. ‘If we were united and strong, we’d elect our own Emir [leader] and give allegiance to him…Take my word, if 6-8 million Muslims unite in America, the country will come to us’.”

So that was Siraj Wahhaj’s agenda just a year after reading the opening prayer in the same US parliament he was hoping to overthrow, and he is welcomed as an esteemed speaker by moderate Muslims in New Zealand.

The website MilitantIslamMonitor.org has compiled its own research on Wahhaj.

“There’s no such thing as a Muslim having a non-Muslim friend”

“Wahhaj extolled the joys of martyrdom in this Jihad website entry, ‘No one who dies and goes to Paradise is going to want to come back to this world, except a Martyr, a person who gave their life for Islam, for Allah, they will want to come back to the earth and die ten more times in the way of Allah, because of the great gifts Allah has given them in Paradise’.

“Wahhaj often writes and speaks on the subject of martyrdom in Islam. Some of his works are entitled: ‘Are you ready to die?’ ‘The blessing of Death’ ‘The easy way to Paradise – how to get there’.

“In addition to martyrdom Wahhaj is a proponent of polygamy and has produced many tapes on the subject.”

While the latter topic might fit Labour Party policy in New Zealand, it is doubtful Wahhaj’s commitment to military jihad would.

For his part, Wahhaj has told American media they’ve misunderstood him, that “Islam is a religion of peace”, and that he really is a moderate.

ISLAMIC YOUTH TRAINING CAMPS
In addition to general visits and lecture tours by people like Bilal Philips, the Muslim community has been seeking specialist input for the spiritual training of young Muslim men in New Zealand. The FIANZ Annual Report for June 2000 through May 2001 records one such “North Island” camp, held at the Kauaeranga Forest Education Camp on the Coromandel Peninsula between 12 and 14 January 2001.

“The theme of the camp was ‘The Khilafah and man’s role as Khalifah’.”

While the words may not mean anything to the average reader, the “Khilafah” is the Arabic word for the restoration of the Caliphate – worldwide Muslim rule under one Caliph. The last Caliphate fell with the collapse of the Ottoman empire in Turkey after World War One, and extremist Muslims blame the West for this. A “Khalifah” is the future leader of Islam worldwide, the one who will unite the planet under one crescent.

“In accordance with Islam, it is the duty of the Muslims worldwide to elect a Khalifah. Such an appointment is seen as a duty (fard) similar to all other duties within Islam. The duty is seen as inevitable, and any divergence from the path is considered a grave sin, and therefore any neglect of this duty will be punished accordingly. The establishment of a Khilafah is seen as vital, because without it Islam cannot possibly be applied,” notes one Islamic scholar on the point.

Jemaah Islamiyah, the group responsible for the Bali bombings, is trying to establish a Khilafah state ruled by Muslims that covers Australia, through Indonesia and South East Asia, which is one of the reasons Prime Minister Helen Clark outlawed Jemaah Islamiyah in 2002.

“Jemaah Islamiyah is an extremist Islamic organization…its stated goal is to create an Islamic state…the organization has established links to al Qa’ida, based on a shared ideology and cooperation in relation to terrorist activities and training,” said Helen Clark.

Meanwhile, the FIANZ annual report detailing the NZ youth camp continues:

“Sixty brothers, aged between 15 and 25, attended…to improve and encourage youth practice of Islam and also to foster a greater awareness of one another amongst New Zealand Muslim students.”

Nor were South Island Muslim students left out. They had their own camp near Mosgiel in mid April 2001.

“The theme of the camp was ‘Islam is the Solution’. Approximately 100 brothers and sisters attended.”

There was another big training camp only weeks later, from 3 to 10 July 2001, arranged in association with Auckland’s Al-Manar Muslim Trust (affiliated to Mt Roskill’s Masjid-e-Umar mosque), which hosted 40 young Muslims from around the country.

“Three Sheikhs from Saudi Arabia supervised it,” notes an Al-Manar briefing on its website. “The camp was very successful, the youths and their families expressed their gratitude for such an activity, where the principles of Islam, strengthening the brotherhood ties and the development of the youths’ skills were the main purposes of the camp.

“At the closing ceremony of the camp, which was held in a very beautiful area in the north of New Zealand, prizes were given to the participants by Dr Anwar Ghani, the president of…FIANZ.”

Similar camps have been held every year since, many of them with invited Saudi-trained preachers like Yahya Ibrahim, who inspired the youth at the 2004 Muslim Youth Camp held at Tui Ridge Park in Rotorua.

YAHYA IBRAHIM
A Canadian of Egyptian descent who currently lives in Australia, Ibrahim hit the headlines just over a year ago when US Homeland Security officials barred his entry to the United States on unspecified grounds. Ibrahim had been scheduled to speak at an Islamic rally in Texas, and had been seen by some as a “moderate”. Others, however, are not so sure. Fluent in Arabic, he specializes in translating the works of some of Saudi Arabia’s most extreme Wahhabi preachers into English. Among them, three books by Sheikh Abdurahman al Sudais, whose views and television broadcasts across the Middle East urge Muslims to kill “Jews and worshippers of the Cross” as well as “Hindus”. It would be fair to say Sudais is an equal opportunities genocidal maniac.

Another of Ibrahim’s translations is Explaining the Hadith of Battling The Jews, a book often used by the terrorist group Hamas to justify suicide bombings and other attacks on Israel. The translation includes verses like “…the decrepit nation in which the scattered Jews of the world were gathered unrightfully and in oppression – the State of Israel – shall cease and be erased from existence.

“It is abundantly clear that the big battle is inevitably coming and that the Word of Tawheed (Islamic monotheism) will be victorious without a doubt.”

In another of his translations it is written, “Allah has cursed the Jews in the Qu’ran on numerous occasions, informing us of his anger towards them…the enemies of the Prophets – especially the Jews – shall not be given inheritance of the earth during
their worldly life and they shall face a grievous everlasting punishment in the Eternal Fire in the next life.”

In one of his own lectures, available on the internet, titled “How kuffars [infidels] try to take the light out of Islam”, Ibrahim himself tells Muslims they can have nothing in common with Western society, Christians or Jews, that all are “evil” – hardly the message of moderation when Prime Minister Helen Clark talked of the “peaceful intent” of Muslims.

Then there’s the comments of Ethnic Affairs Minister Chris Carter in January 2003, a full year before the New Zealand Muslim community invited Yahya Ibrahim here to train Muslim youth in January 2004.

“New Zealand’s Muslim community should be applauded for their declaration of peace and goodwill today,” Ethnic Affairs Minister Chris Carter stated.
“Ten Muslim groups from all over the country have signed a declaration to all New Zealanders affirming their commitment to peace and stability, and to being an integral part of our nation.”

The signed declaration Carter refers to was issued in the name of FIANZ, but it was FIANZ a year later that brought in Ibrahim.

One of Ibrahim’s taped lectures begins with a statement that the Qu’ran warns all Muslims who their “enemies will be”, and he then launches into a stinging attack on liberal western society, atheists, Jews and Christians. Further on in the tape, Ibrahim launches into homosexuals.

“When we look around and see the society that we are living in, we see people who are committing fornication and Allah punishes them by giving them a disease like AIDS. We look again and we see the murders, we look again we see the drug addictions, we look again and we see the prostitution, we look again and we see the disbelief in the laws of Allah: there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet! There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet! These words stand for everything against that, stand against drugs and prostitution and disbelief. These words stand against all of that.”

It is hard to reconcile the teachings of Yahya Ibrahim to kiwi Muslims on a youth camp, and his translation works heralding a coming world battle where Islam will reign victorious, with the stated declaration that Muslims are happy to be part of a New Zealand liberal society lead by a very liberal Labour government.

As Canadian commentator David Ouellette remarked after Ibrahim was banned from the United States a year ago, “In Australia, Ibrahim is widely considered as a ‘bridge builder’ between Muslims and non-Muslims. Yet, publicly available information on Ibrahim appears to point to the profile of a hardcore activist of the Wahhabi strain working to spread in the West the hateful, terror-inspiring Salafi ideology, the likes of whom should not be welcome in free societies fighting Islamic extremism.”

FUNKY COLD MADINA: SAUDIS IN NZ
You could put down a visit by one of the men above as just an aberration, a mistake made by innocent Muslim leaders in New Zealand. But taken as a whole – given that the visits involved packed lecture sessions up and down the country, youth training camps in some cases, and that all of them are extremist Salafi/Wahhabi firebrands – it does raise questions about what kind of Islamic society in New Zealand local Muslims are aiming for.

Take Auckland’s Al-Manar Trust, mentioned earlier as a Saudi-backed organizer of the youth camps. On its website, Al-Manar says one of its prime objectives is the introduction of Shari’a in New Zealand – at least among Muslims.

“One of the main objectives of the Al-Manar Trust is to expand the knowledge [of] Islamic Share’ah principles between Muslims in New Zealand.

“To achieve that goal, Al-Manar Trust has organized the following Share’ah educational courses in co-operation with Saudi Arabian universities: The first educational session – in co-operation with the International Islamic Youth Association.

“The courses were run by eight lecturers [who] came to New Zealand from the University of Imam Mohammed Bin Saud in Riyadh. There were 300 participants in the courses.

“The second educational session – after the major success of the first session, another session was held in co-operation with Al-Haramain Charity Association, between 11 July till 21st of July 2001.

“Over 250 attended the lectures given by Sheikhs from Saudi Arabia.”

Take a moment to join some dots here. Early in the article under the “Youth Camps” heading you’ll recall Al-Manar Trust organized a national Muslim youth training camp from the 3rd to the 10th of July 2001, supervised by three Saudi sheikhs. Lo and behold, on 11 July a group of Saudi sheikhs from Al-Haramain charity begin conducting intensive lectures for adult Muslims. By a process of elimination it seems highly likely it was Al-Haramain involved in the youth camp as well. Which makes the next piece of information we’re about to give you highly relevant.

It is true that New Zealand Muslims used to overwhelmingly be moderate, but in the last few years the balance has started to tip – only the media and politicians haven’t noticed it. The first public inkling of trouble came in late 2003 when genuine moderates in Christchurch warned the Government that extremist Saudi’s linked to the Al Haramain terrorist organization were infiltrating the local mosque.

“An Islamic ‘charity’ involved in fundraising for al Qa’ida and the southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah is trying to set up a front organization in New Zealand, and may get approval to do so,” Investigate reported in November 2003.

“Al Haramain operates in more than 60 countries worldwide, and its attempts to get a toehold in New Zealand hit the headlines last month when a group of Muslim community leaders sent a letter to the New Zealand government, warning that the Saudi-backed Al Haramain would bring chaos and disaster to New Zealand if their application is approved.

“That application includes setting up an Islamic school to teach Wahhabi Islam – the radical branch of the religion – and establishing an ‘Islamic bank’ in New Zealand.

“While daily news media have played down Al Haramain’s links to terrorism, Investigate has now confirmed an extensive relationship between the ‘charity’ and al Qa’ida. Those links include Al Haramain’s involvement in a series of al Qa’ida suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia earlier this year [2003] – the Saudi government shut down ten offices…as a direct response after discovering it was funding Osama bin Laden’s organization.

“Additionally, a senior figure in Indonesian-based Jemaah Islamiyah arrested three months ago [in 2003], Omar al Faruq, has told investigators that his organization has received extensive funding and moneylaundering services from Al Haramain.”

The website for the Wellington mosque, iman.co.nz, noted in a 2003 news release (still on the web) that two senior figures from Al Haramain, Sheikhs Abdul Majeed Ghaith al Ghaith and Menea al Dakeel, toured NZ mosques in May 2003.

Despite being warned of the threat, Labour’s then Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff dismissed the fears of the Islamic moderates in Christchurch, saying the government was “leaning towards the view that it’s mainly an internal conflict in the Muslim community in Christchurch that they need to sort out among themselves,” and describing Al Haramain as “largely a distinguished and peaceful charitable organization focusing on the education and welfare of the Muslim community around the world.”

What neither Goff nor Investigate knew in late 2003 was that Al-Haramain didn’t have a toehold, but a stranglehold on NZ Islam and had been indoctrinating local Muslims for at least two years.

Within months of making arguably one of the most ignorant comments of his career, Phil Goff could only watch from the sidelines in 2004 as the United Nations froze the worldwide assets of Al Haramain because of its strong links to al Qa’ida and other terror groups, whilst masquerading as a distinguished and peaceful charity.

The damage to the Christchurch mosque, however, had already been done. Although the UN move kept Al Haramain officially out of the picture, the Saudi financiers of terror and Wahhabi Islam simply fronted up with some other Muslim ‘charities’ to help New Zealand’s Muslim community and their mosques.

The resulting tension has split the Muslim community in Christchurch into different factions.

Disquiet was also voiced in the New Zealand Herald last year by local Muslim leader Abdullah Drury, who warned that 30 years of making the Muslim community a mainstream part of New Zealand was disappearing out the door because the huge influx of recent immigrants under Labour has changed the balance of power. Where once Muslims had a sense of their NZ identity, Drury says the new leaders’ “hearts, minds, rationale and prejudices are still firmly rooted in their home countries.

More than one North Island critic has stated that some Canterbury Muslims think they’re still living in Africa or the Middle East.

“Why are things falling apart now?” asks Drury. “The most significant contribution stems from the massive and poorly planned influx of immigrants and refugees from Africa and the Middle East in the 1990s. Nobody in the local Muslim community
ever anticipated or planned this.”

From 13,000 Muslims in 1996, there are now almost 37,000, and the Islamic community has jumped 50% under Labour.

Says Drury:

“The pioneering Muslim families who established Islam in this country have been effectively overwhelmed: swept out of office by the superior numbers of the new faces, or entrenching themselves and encouraging newcomers to set up their own Islamic prayer arrangements.

“There was also a substantial change in composition. In the 1970s most Muslims in New Zealand were…mostly from societies with long traditions of interaction with white Anglo-Saxon culture and customs: Indians, Fiji Indians or Pakistanis.

“Now, there is a substantial bloc, often Arab or African, with considerably poorer education than their predecessors, with vastly different language skills and cultures to those this country has traditionally absorbed.

“This,” warns Drury, “has exacerbated community differences along ethnic, linguistic or cultural lines inside mosques from Christchurch to Auckland…very quickly [the Arab/African faction] use their disproportionately larger numbers to vote in their own leaders. Consequently, a fair number of mosques in New Zealand are currently being administered or dominated by people and groups who have arrived in this country within the last 10 years, some substantially less.”

And if that’s a warning from a moderate Muslim worth listening to, consider this: the new leaders in New Zealand’s mosques have strong ties to Wahhabism.

The Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) website notes the Islamic organisations and educational institutions it is now affiliated to. The majority of those links, checked out by Investigate, track back to extremist organizations with known involvement in either exporting Wahhabism or terrorism.

As the FIANZ annual report from 2001 notes:

“Over July-August-September 2000 New Zealand was blessed, or more accurately blitzed, by several visits by various groups of scholars from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“The first such group came from the Al Imam Mohammed bin Saud Islamic University of Riyadh between 25 July and 12 August. They were led by Dr Abdul Aziz al-Omari.”

Try this as an interesting exercise: Google al-Omari’s name and you’ll find it’s the exact match for a 29 year old Saudi hijacker killed on one of the planes that hit the twin towers a year after this NZ visit. Although unlikely to be the same person, you’ll find both Omari’s attended the same university.

The FIANZ report continues:

“Sheikh al-Omari ran an 11 day Islamic Seminar at the new Blockhouse Bay mosque. This group then split into three parties who traveled the country giving lectures and conducting brief courses in Aqidah, Fiqh and methods of Da’wah [spreading Islam].

“Between 23-25 August Dr Abdul Aziz al Shaum and Dr Mohammed al-Sawai al-Omari, also from the Imam Mohammed bin Saud Islamic University, conducted a similar whirlwind tour of New Zealand, visiting Muslim communities in Auckland through to Dunedin in a matter of days.”

The question of precisely why Saudi Arabian clerics from some of the most extreme, terror-linked Universities in the world, were sweeping through New Zealand every year remains unanswered. But they kept on coming.

“Over 25-28 August, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth and the South Pacific Da’wah Council organized a Da’wah training course in Auckland featuring Dr Abdullah al-Malki, Dr Sayeed al-Ghamdi, Dr Abdul Rahman Mohammed al-Jarri and Brother Abdul Rahman al-Fifi of the King Khalid University in Riyadh.

“Drs al-Malki and al-Ghamdi then went on to visit Muslims in Christchurch, Dunedin
and Wellington over 29 August-1 September. The other two scholars made corresponding visits to Hamilton and Palmerston North over the same period.”
Sayeed al-Ghamdi’s name is similar to another of the 9/11 hijackers, although the two are not the same.

But what of some of the organizations mentioned here?

THE WORLD ASSEMBLY OF MUSLIM YOUTH
Based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, this charity (WAMY) is involved in education programmes for Muslim youth, including training camps, in New Zealand.

“The Muslim Association of Canterbury (MAC) received an air cargo from WAMY, Saudi Arabia, that was intended to cover an Intensive Islamic course run by WAMY,” records a Christchurch mosque newsletter for August 2002, a year after 9/11.

“On 16 July [2003],” a MAC report says, “four scholars from WAMY in Saudi Arabia visited the mosque and conducted a 10 day Intensive Islamic course. More than 300 brothers and sisters attended the course. There was a special scholar for the children.”

The World Assemby of Muslim Youth is also listed as a special affiliate of FIANZ. But what does it really do?

Left wing American journalist Greg Palast, no friend of the Bush administration’s War on Terror, nonetheless highlighted the ongoing involvement of WAMY in the US as a failure of national security:

“On November 9, 2001,” wrote Palast in a 2004 dispatch carried by Scoop in New Zealand, “when you could still choke on the dust in the air near Ground Zero, BBC Television received a call in London from a top-level US intelligence agent. He was not happy. Shortly after George W. Bush took office, he told us reluctantly, the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the FBI ‘were told to back off the Saudis’.

“We knew that. In the newsroom, we had a document already in hand, marked ‘SECRET’ across the top and ‘199-I’ – meaning this was a national security matter.
“The secret memo released agents to hunt down two members of the bin Laden family operating a ‘suspected terrorist organisation’ in the USA.”

The “suspected terrorist organization”, it transpired, was WAMY.

“Called the World Assembly of Muslim Youth,” writes Palast, “the group sponsors soccer teams and summer camps in Florida. BBC obtained a video of one camp activity, a speech exhorting kids on the heroism of suicide bombings and hostage
takings. While WAMY draws membership with wholesome activities, it has also acted as a cover or front, say the Dutch, Indian and Bosnian governments, for the recruitment of jihadi killers.

“Certainly, it was worth asking the bin Laden boys a few questions,” says Palast, “but the FBI agents couldn’t, until it was too late.”

Remember, WAMY has been actively involved in Muslim youth camps in New Zealand right up until now.

But, as Palast points out, the “back off the Saudis” instruction meant the US headquarters of WAMY, in Virginia, wasn’t raided by the FBI until May 2004, long after the bin Ladens had fled, presumably taking with them all incriminating information.

Although a squad of 50 agents reportedly surrounded and sealed off the WAMY office, they “seized mostly empty files and a lot of soccer balls,” wrote Palast.

Over on Wikipedia, the encyclopedia acknowledges WAMY’s claim to be nothing more than a football-mad bunch of Muslim boy-scouts, but then refers to evidence about WAMY that’s emerged from some of the Guantanamo detainee hearings:

“The terrorists that plotted the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing kept literature handed out by WAMY. Here are some samples: ‘The Jews are enemies of the faithful, God and the angels. Teach our children to love taking revenge on the Jews and the oppressors’.

“Here are some examples of what specifically to teach the children: ‘In 1989 Abdul-Hadi Nemin carried out his own heroic operation while on bus #405 of Tel Aviv-Jerusalem line; he charged at the bus driver, chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ [God is great!], twirled the steering wheel toward the cliff and caused the bus to take a big fall. As a result of his courageous act, 14 Israelis were killed and 27 were injured’.”

This was the kind of “boy scout” training WAMY was caught teaching to Muslim youth. WAMY had been run by Omar bin Laden and Abdullah bin Laden.
The Muslim youth group has also been named in a major United Nations report,
“Terrorism Financing: Roots and trends of Saudi terrorism financing”, prepared for the UN Security Council in December 2002. The report states that WAMY, Al Haramain and the Muslim World League – another ‘charity’ supporting New Zealand’s mosques – are all major fundraising arms for al Qa’ida and other terrorist entities.

It is interesting, too, how these ‘charities’ are able to fly a dozen preachers all the way from Saudi Arabia to New Zealand just to run a youth camp or a few lectures. The Al-Manar Trust in Auckland acknowledged as much in its newsletter.

“Al-Manar Trust was able to build a very friendly relationship with Islamic associations overseas. Some of these associations have provided Al-Manar Trust with valuable books and resources.”

One of its goals, it says, is building an “Islamic nation” here.

“The youth activities organized by Al-Manar Trust include [a] weekly lecture for Muslim youths, sports activities and camping. The activities’ aim is to reinforce the Islamic principles and to strengthen the brotherhood ties between them. Al-Manar Trust is very keen to continue providing these activities to our youth because we believe in the youths’ important role in building the future in our Islamic nation.

“Protecting our youth from the influence of the western society that they live in is a very important factor in achieving our goal.”

In other words, forget warm fuzzy talk from the government about common ground: whatever the Muslim leaders are saying publicly, privately some appear to be creating a state within a state, a kind of Islamic apartheid which will grow in significance as Islamic immigration grows, helped by theology and resources from Saudi Arabia’s extremist, terror-linked “charities”.

Al-Manar has already used that expertise and resource to begin Islamification outreach programmes “at New Zealand universities and visiting prisons”. The Trust says it recognizes “the importance of introducing Islam and its principles to the New Zealand society. Therefore, the Trust intends to provide the public and university libraries with a set of Islamic books, which are simple, easy to understand and very comprehensive. There is a lot of potential to spread the word of Allah in New Zealand. New Zealand is a very peaceful country where Islam has no enemies
and the people are kind, simple and keen to read.”

Among the resources Al-Manar has, it boasts its library “has the full set of Dr Tarek Sweedan cassettes”. Sweedan, or under one of the many alternative English spellings of his Arabic name, Tareq Sweidan, hosted a TV show in the United Arab Emirates two years ago where he urged Muslims to find gay men and kill them:

“Anyone caught committing sodomy – kill both the sodomiser and the sodomised. The clerics determined how the homosexual should be killed. They said he should be stoned to death. Some clerics said he should be thrown off a mountain. This is an abominable act in human life, and so the punishment is severe.

“If moral values sink to this level, Man becomes lower than a beast. Therefore the punishment was extremely severe, and the position of Islam was clear and courageous. There should be no lenience in this case, and governments and countries must enforce the law strictly against anyone committing such an abomination.”

New Zealand has certainly seen its fair share of stoned gay men in recent years, but the stoning Sweidan contemplates would be a vastly different kind of experience.
Over at CooperativeResearch.org, Tareq Sweidan was named, along with Abdullah bin Laden of WAMY, of being involved in a US finance company allegedly raising money for terror.

Under the heading, “Prisoner’s Library”, the Al-Manar newsletter says:

“We have noted that the prisoners are the largest group in New Zealand to accept Islam as their faith…We believe there is a lot of potential work that can be undertaken in that area, such as a small Islamic library in each prison. Therefore we need support
from Muslims around the world to help us by providing the Islamic books, particularly the translation of the meanings of our Holy Qura’an and translation of various hadith.”

The Sunday Star-Times published details of the Aotearoa Maori Muslim Association converting Maori prisoners to Islam three years ago, although the AMMA claimed its comments had been deliberately sensationalized by the newspaper. Nonetheless, a young Muslim woman calling herself ‘Penelope’ posted a message on the NZMuslim.net bulletin board warning of the dangers of prison outreach:

“These converts are Maori gang members – drug traffickers, drinkers, wife beaters, thieves, rapists – you name it, they are the dregs of NZ society. The interviewer got it right – they are drawn to Islam because they perceive Osama Bin Laden as a hero, beheading videos as light entertainment and jihad as their cause against Christian/Judaic non-Maori New Zealanders. I think it is only fair to warn you that these despicable criminals are not interested in Islam as a religion – they are only interested in submission and power for themselves and their gangs and they will use the name of Islam to hide behind whilst continuing their evil and illegal practices.

“FIANZ is doing the Muslim community in NZ no favours by financially supporting this “missionary of Islam” in his conversion of uneducated thugs. Do you really want these people in your community representing your religion? The sooner all NZ Muslims and the Muslim councils of NZ advise FIANZ to withdraw any support from this man the better, or you will all be tarred with the same brush. NZ does not need an Islamic Black Power or Islamic Mongrel Mob gangs – these men will never change their ways, drug-dealing and death are part of their lives – even their own people live in fear of them.

“It is the responsibility of FIANZ to stop financing this madman before it is too late and he and his converts degrade the good name of Muslims in NZ.

“Do not be flattered that these criminals are converting to Islam – they see Islam as a way to oppress and terrorise the good and lawful people of this land and Islam will eventually take the blame! Every decent Kiwi is certainly ashamed of them.

“And don’t think it won’t happen, because if this man continues bringing these undesirables to Islam – it will!”

THE CALL OF THE WILD ONES
Naturally, we wanted to put all of these issues to FIANZ and its President, Javed Khan. To his credit, Khan just about fell off his chair in shock when Investigate began running through the list of people and organizations with terror links that FIANZ had brought out here.

We began by raising the visit of Bilal Philips just six months ago, a man whose photo is in the latest FIANZ newsletter. Javed Khan was unaware of Philips’ videotaped comments about marrying nine year old girls, and was stunned to hear about his involvement in the Day of Terror trial.

“No, I was not aware of any of that!”

Khalid Yasin, who’s been to New Zealand on numerous occasions, was another whose statements took Khan utterly by surprise. When we told him of Yasin’s claim that Muslims were not permitted to have non-Muslim friends, for example, Khan was audibly disappointed.

“Oh, gosh.”

We took Javed Khan through the many statements of Siraj Wahhaj, from his comments on martyrdom to his wish to overthrow the US government, to his involvement in the Day of Terror case and his desire for polygamy.

“No, I was not aware of any of this, to be quite honest,” admitted Khan.

On the links between World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) and al Qa’ida, Khan told Investigate, “I am aware that at one stage WAMY was blacklisted by the US, as an organization which was affiliated with al Qa’ida or had some sympathy
with al Qa’ida. But that blacklisting I understand has been lifted because after further investigation they found this allegation was not founded on any sort of concrete evidence.”

When we pressed Khan’s memory further on the point, he told us that a letter had come from WAMY rejecting the US allegations. But in fact, there has been no lifting of the blacklist. Although WAMY continues to operate in 55 countries, including
New Zealand, and works closely with the Western charity Oxfam, its literature for children’s camps in other countries has been found to include incitement to hate crimes and jihad against Jews, and at least one of the 9/11 hijackers was on its payroll. Osama bin Laden’s nephew remains the organisation’s Treasurer at head office in Saudi Arabia.

WAMY organised a big youth camp here in New Zealand only seven months ago.
Javed Khan says New Zealand’s Islamic federations had initially cut ties with WAMY when it was blacklisted, “but they wrote to us, saying that this was a totally false allegation and WAMY was not involved in any of those activities. And we have been involved for quite some time with WAMY – they helped us out, well previously they used to but not now, after the United States started to take control of funds going out. But our youth camps were very well organized and we wouldn’t have anyone coming talking to us promoting hostage taking or suicide bombing. To my knowledge no one has ever come and taught anything like that to our youth.”

But the problem, as we pointed out to Khan, was not necessarily what the al Qa’ida linked groups and preachers actually said while they were in New Zealand, so much as the mana that would rub off on them in students’ eyes because of the fact they’d been invited by the New Zealand mosques. In other words, by being welcomed as esteemed leaders, wasn’t FIANZ unwittingly encouraging NZ youth to search out more of their lectures and material online and start buying into the global jihad?

“It could happen, yeah, I agree it is possible.

“But now I think we have become much wiser. What we have decided to do, before inviting any overseas speakers in the future, is that we will vet what they are saying, their websites, all those things, well in advance of extending any invitation for them to come here.

“We were a bit lax and we took people on face value in the past, but after coming to know about all this, and there was some talk internally about one of our speakers, we have decided that we have to be extremely careful before inviting anybody to come here to New Zealand. We have become much wiser as parents and we will really investigate into the backgrounds of any people who want to come here and decline somebody who has the sayings and doings that you have described.”

We asked Khan about Auckland’s Al-Manar Trust, which had worked closely with WAMY on the youth camps and whose library was carrying the “stone the gays to death” Tareq Sweidan cassettes.

“That would be a concern to me, yeah,” says Khan, although he adds that the guys who run Al-Manar are “pretty moderate sort of people, although they are from an Arab background, but I have pretty regular discussions with them.” On the issue of comments like building an “Islamic nation”, Khan laughs, putting it down to a poor command of the English language. “I’m sure they mean ‘Islamic community’.”

But if the New Zealand mosques are moderate, we ask, why are there so many ties to Wahhabi organizations linked to terror?

Khan ponders the question for a moment, and says he hears what we’re saying in regards to some of those organizations.

“But you’ve got to remember we’ve had associations with some of these organizations since FIANZ was formed (in 1979), before al Qa’ida even existed. The extreme teachings that are advocated, or that any of these people are advocating, are not taken any heed of as far as we are concerned.

“Look,” he says, “we don’t have those firebrand-type teachers or speakers [based] here, like demagogues, who go out telling people ‘this is what you need to be doing…committing suicide is becoming a martyr’ – we don’t have anybody like that who does things like that, and if we find anybody doing that we’ll deal to it pretty quickly.

And yet…and yet, we ask Khan, the reality is that for seven turbulent years FIANZ has been inviting in men who are the rock stars of international Wahhabism – latterday Pied Pipers – without even realising what songs they’re singing. It hardly inspires confidence in FIANZ’s ability to diagnose the problem.

And precisely how do moderates teach young Muslims to view the wider New Zealand culture, given its current climate of extreme liberalism?

“Everybody has a TV, youngsters these days are not fools. We advocate that you abide by the law of the country in which you live. If the law of the country legalizes homosexuality then you have to respect that law, although it is against the teachings of Islam. But you have to accept that that’s the law, and whatever is legal you cannot go against in that country. Now that has been coming out very strongly, the imams have been telling their congregations that we are living in a country with its own set of laws and you have to live by the laws of this country.”

Whether that message is strong enough to combat the allure of the “rock stars” remains to be seen. Khan says that although there have been strong historical ties to Saudi organizations, that source of money has dried up recently and local Muslims are having to dig into their own pockets to pay mosque expenses.

He insists that the community is moderate but, as we remind him, the parents of the kids who blew up the London Underground were moderates: their children were not.
Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Massey University, Peter Lineham, is one who believes the New Zealand government is aware of a growing extremism in the young but was hoping no one would notice.

“The complexity of Islam is that very often we see the face of the woman from Hamilton, who is a very moderate Muslim, but certainly there are other voices in Islam. You need to bear in mind that the Government is pretty nervous about the potential for radical Muslims – within the international Western security
framework there’s a great deal of nervousness about terrorist links with Islam but they deliberately won’t talk about it.

“I think this is why they’re promoting things like religious dialogue, because their attitude is that religious dialogue, and the proposed religious harmony agreement coming out later in the year – I think the hope is that documents like this will convince Muslims to not align themselves with the radical side of Islam.

“I suspect that these are things that the Government is very concerned about but doesn’t want to draw attention because it figures that there will be a negative reaction from the Islamic community that perceives itself being attacked. And so they therefore try and work with moderate Islamic leaders. If you look at the people associated with these religious harmony dialogues like the one coming up in Hamilton next month, they’re clearly trying to build and strengthen the moderates. They’re following the British line on this.”

The problem, as Lineham himself acknowledges, is that the British are failing to make a dent in the uptake of extremist Islam, despite six years of bowing, scraping, and praise for “tolerance”.

In July last year, to mark the first anniversary of the London Tube Bombings, the Times newspaper in Britain published a national opinion poll of British Muslims. There are one million Muslims living in London. Of those polled, 7 percent agreed suicide attacks on civilians in the UK are justifiable.

That’s 70,000 Muslims in London who support mass murder in the name of Islam. The figure rose to 16% (160,000) who supported suicide attacks against military targets in Britain – that’s roughly one in every six Muslims!

No similar poll has ever been commissioned in New Zealand, but if seven percent of Kiwi Muslims supported suicide bombings here, that’s still a hefty 2,600 people – some of whom might just be prepared to volunteer for martyrdom, especially
after listening to some of the hardline preaching in NZ’s mosques that nobody realised was going on.

As Mark Steyn notes in his book America Alone, another poll of British Muslims found 60% want to live under shari’a law in England! Ask the 300 who attend the intensive Islamic courses each year in New Zealand, and you’d probably get a near-100% agreement.

With a few more years’ percolation, and immigration growth in double digits every year, imagine the sort of headache New Zealand could end up with.

Religious studies professor Peter Lineham remains cynical about the Government’s current reliance on “Interfaith dialogue” to promote greater understanding and tolerance.

“The problem with interfaith discussions, as I see it,” says Lineham, “is that the interfaith attracts the people who are interested in interfaith discussions and they’re not necessarily a fair representation of their faith communities. The Christians who’ve been involved have very rarely been representative of the whole of the Christian community. I do think that the Christian community in NZ does have to find some way of living with people from other religions, but for those of us who are Christians the concern is that we can’t do that in a way that reduces our allegiance to our faith. And unfortunately, the leaders of the interfaith discussions do seem to have a more relativist approach to their faith.”

In the meantime, the big question is whether the seven year security breach – that allowed some of the most extremist Wahhabi clerics on the planet to hold seminars and training camps in New Zealand – has had an impact on the hundreds of young Muslims who attended. As terror analysts like Rohan Gunaratna point out, al Qa’ida works by shoulder-tapping people quietly, and setting up small localized cells that no one, not even their parents, knows about.

The people who listen to Islam’s firebrands will not become suicide bombers overnight, if ever, but the more exposure they get to messages of hate over the long term, the less these people will feel they belong to New Zealand society.

How can they belong when the Qu’ran, in verse after verse quoted by Bilal Philips and others, repeatedly tells ordinary Muslims not to mix with infidels, not to become part of their society, and to remain a nation apart?

And how can a good Muslim sit back and twiddle their thumbs when the same Qu’ran then instructs him that the entire world must submit to Islam in order for the Mahdi to return and usher in the end times? The Qu’ran says that infidels are actually born Muslims who rejected the faith and must be brought back to it. That’s why they call Western converts to Islam, “reverts”.

So those twin tensions exist: reject the infidel world, then conquer the infidel world for Allah, and in doing so earn a place in Paradise. That is precisely the message being preached by people who have been welcomed in NZ’s mosques.

To an extent, of course, this is a one-dimensional portrait of the problem. There are young kiwi Muslims who do have Western friends while maintaining their own faith and managing to pray five times a day. They enjoy McDonalds and they wear the hijab. They have been born here, they’ve grown up here. New Zealand is indeed home.

If young Muslims can maintain that balance and perspective, and if other New Zealanders in turn can tolerate those differences, then a comfortable balance may yet be found. But that will become a harder task if the local mosques don’t start rejecting
Wahhabi preachers and literature. It will become a harder task if Muslim children only go to Muslim schools and don’t mix with other cultures. It will become a harder task if Muslim teenagers are told on camps by people like Khalid Yasin, “There is no such thing as a Muslim having a non-Muslim friend.”

Already, on NZ Muslim websites in New Zealand, you can read messages where people say they no longer have a nationality – their nationality is Muslim. Unlike Christians, who were instructed to tolerate Roman control, Muslims are told in the Qu’ran they are not allowed to live by Rome’s rules – they either make Rome submit, or leave themselves.

A pretty similar warning has been issued by the Australian government, with both John Howard and his deputy Peter Costello warning hardline Muslims that if they want to live under Shari’a, they’ll have to leave Australia.

One final question that arises out of this story: where is the SIS, where is border control? How did several men with known links to terrorism and al Qa’ida walk repeatedly through immigration gates at New Zealand airports? Are the intelligence agencies taking the view that it’s better to watch from a distance than ban outright, or are the agencies as totally unaware as the Prime Minister seems to be?

In the meantime, the photographic image of New Zealand’s first elected female Prime Minister – a woman who has built her entire career on feminism and women’s rights – voluntarily wearing in her own country what millions of women around the world see as one of the ultimate symbols of oppression of women – that image will echo in the minds of many in the months to come as people weigh up whether Labour has allowed a massive breach of New Zealand’s national security.

As this issue was going to press, the Government issued a news release welcoming a decision by Saudi Arabia to send more a further 350 of its own students to study in New Zealand, “as part of an expanded scholarships programme for Asia and Oceania”.

“This represents a strong endorsement by Saudi Arabia of the quality of our teachers and the excellence of our learning environments,” boasted Tertiary Education Minister Michael Cullen.

“There has been steady growth in students from the Gulf States studying in New Zealand institutions since 2001. More than 500 Gulf students are currently enrolled in New Zealand institutions, many from Saudi Arabia and Oman.”

It does beg the question however: if Saudi Arabia loathes Western culture so much, why is it really boosting the number of its students in New Zealand to more than 700?

Posted by Ian Wishart at 02:05 AM | Comments (7)

March 09, 2007

WILD GEESE: THE WMD HUNT INVESTIGATE: AUG 03

Did the Weapons of Mass Destruction ever exist, or was it just a ruse? JIM LANDERS, IAN WISHART & WILLIAM SHERMAN examine the evidence, the allegations and the fallout from Gulf War 2

In the months before the war with Iraq, the Bush administration argued a rationale for toppling Saddam Hussein that was compelling to a majority in Con-gress and with the American people. Iraq had defied the will of the United Nations for 12 years. Iraq had biological and chemical weapons. It was seeking nuclear weapons. Mr. Hussein was a supporter of terrorism, and – after Sept. 11, 2001 – the United States could not "wait for a mushroom cloud" to appear before acting to eliminate a threat to American security.

Some of those assumptions now are being challenged. Searchers have found no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. At least some of the intelligence used to justify war has proved false.

The most compelling evidence to come forward regarding Iraq’s nuclear ambitions is from an Iraqi scientist who says the program was dormant but ready to re-emerge once U.N. sanctions against Iraq were lifted.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan has again defended the administration’s rationale for war. He cites Bush’s Oct. 7 speech in Cincinnati, where the president said Iraq possessed biological and chemical weapons and was seeking nuclear weapons.

"The case was very solid about the threat that was presented, particularly in light of Sept. 11," McClellan says.

Gregory Treverton, a former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council during the Clinton administration, says Bush came up with "a quite stunning doctrine" by mixing two rationales: the need to disarm Iraq and to pre-empt the possibility that it might attack U.S. interests or allies.

"For all its technical wizardry, the U.S. intelligence community still lacks the ability to locate, target and take out some opponents’ weapons of mass destruction capability with any precision.

"Taking out a foe’s WMD [weapons of mass destruction] means, as it did in Iraq, taking out the foe."

Vice President Dick Cheney led the Bush administration’s efforts to explain the doctrine of hitting your enemy before he hits you. In a speech last August in Nashville, he emphasized Iraq’s nuclear weapons program to argue that Iraq posed a threat to U.S. national security.

Cheney said using U.N. inspectors to block Iraq’s weapons programs "would provide no assurance whatsoever," and he argued instead for regime change to stop Hussein from giving such weapons to al-Qa’ida.

"Deliverable weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terror network or a murderous dictator or the two working together constitutes as grave a threat as can be imagined," said Cheney. "The risks of inaction are far greater than the risk of action."

Less than a week before the war, Cheney added: "We know he’s out trying once again to produce nuclear weapons, and we know that he has a long-standing relationship with various terrorist groups, including the al-Qaeda organization."

WEAK INTELLIGENCE

The key to a decision to go to war was intelligence. So far, critics maintain, the record of intelligence used by both Mr. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair to justify war is not good.

Greg Thielmann, a retired State Department official who evaluated weapons intelligence for Secretary of State Colin Powell until last September, said "Iraq posed no imminent threat to either its neighbours or to the United States."

"Cheney’s argument was basically for pre-emptive war and regime change rather than for disarmament," Thielmann wrote in an e-mail response to questions. "If the U.N. would have been able to resolve the open WMD questions – and it was making progress – Cheney would have still favored pre-emption and regime change.

"But the American people wouldn’t accept that as justification for war, so he needed to scare them with a bogus nuclear weapons charge and anger them with a spurious al-Qaeda link. It worked."

Needless to say, Cheney’s spokeswoman dismisses Thielmann’s remarks as "nonsense."

"We’re confident that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," says Jennifer Millerwise, the vice president’s press secretary. "He even has a history of using them."

The intelligence on Iraq’s nuclear weapons program includes several strands of information. President Bush cited Hussein’s published exhortations to scientists he called his "nuclear mujaheddin" to get on with the mission.

NUCLEAR QUESTIONS

Before going back into Iraq this year, the International Atomic Energy Agency was concerned about satellite photos showing new construction at sites used in the past for nuclear weapons programs.

In 1998 and 1999, Iraq attempted to purchase from Germany 120 highly sophisticated electrical switches as spares for six lithotriptor machines used to treat kidney stones with ultrasonic waves.

Kelly Motz of Iraq Watch, a nonproliferation group, said the switches also could be used to trigger the precise detonations needed to initiate the explosion of a nuclear bomb.

The two incidents most often cited by the Bush administration and the British in arguing Iraq was still pursuing a bomb concerned Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium in Africa, and its purchase of sophisticated aluminium tubing to use in uranium enrichmnt centrifuges.

Powell stressed the acquisition of such tubes as evidence of Iraq’s nuclear ambitions in his address to the U.N. Security Council last February.

Thielmann and the IAEA have said the tubes were most likely for Iraq’s artillery rockets and were not well-suited for uranium enrichment.

Powell noted the disagreement at the United Nations but would not let Iraq off the hook, saying the tubes could be adapted for centrifuge use and were banned by U.N. sanctions.

CIA Director George Tenet last month said the agency got fragmentary reports late in 2001 and early in 2002 that Mr. Hussein was trying to acquire raw uranium in Africa.

At the CIA’s request, former U.S. Ambassador to Gabon Joseph Wilson traveled to Niger to investigate. He found nothing to confirm the reports.

The British government, meanwhile, also received reports that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium in Africa. It has not divulged its source for this information.

Bush referred to the British finding in his State of the Union address. Last month, Bush conceded the reference to Niger should not have been in the speech, and Tenet has taken responsibility for not having the reference removed.

FORGED DOCUMENTS

Last March, the International Atomic Energy Agency said documents it received from the CIA detailing Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium in Niger were forgeries.

Britain is standing by its report. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice has noted that the CIA had received other reports of Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium involving Somalia and the Congo.

Tenet said the CIA’s belief that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program rested on six assumptions that did not include the reports concerning efforts to acquire uranium in Africa.

The most compelling evidence that Iraq was still interested in acquiring nuclear weapons emerged last month, when Dr. Mahdi Shukur Ubaydi, a top Iraqi nuclear scientist, came forward with blueprints and components for uranium enrichment he had buried in his yard.

The CIA says Dr. Ubaydi had kept his information from International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors when they questioned him. He said the items were part of "a secret, high-level plan to reconstitute the nuclear weapons program once sanctions ended."

Bush, Cheney, Tenet, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other senior administration officials argued before the war that Iraq had already reconstituted its nuclear weapons program and had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.

The Army and Marine Corps assumed in their battle plans that Iraq would use such weapons against U.S. troops. It was one of the reasons speed of attack had such a high premium in Gen. Tommy Franks’ war plan.

PLANS, NOT STOCKPILES

Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., the ranking minority member on the House Intelligence Committee, was in Baghdad last month with other panel members and met with David Kay, head of the U.S. military’s weapons search effort.

"They are confident that they will find the WMD programs, and I believe them," she says. "But they’re less confident that they will find stockpiles."

Harman says it now appears that Hussein kept intact cadres of scientists who had worked on weapons’ programs and limited production capabilities but perhaps no stocks of the weapons themselves.

That would undermine some of the assumptions of Western intelligence agencies.

Tony Blair, in the forward to a British white paper on Iraq’s weapons programs, declared Hussein’s military planning "allows for some of the WMD to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them."

Bush argued his case for action on Oct. 7 in Cincinnati.

"Some ask how urgent this danger is to America and the world. The danger is already significant, and it only grows worse with time. If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today – and we do – does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?" - JIM LANDERS

There is a saying in the Arab world that Saddam Hussein was reportedly fond of quoting: "My en-emy’s enemy is my friend." During the first Gulf War back in 91, Saddam made it clear - firstly - that he had no friends, and secondly that given that particular twist of fate he had a wide range of enemies he could manipulate to suit his purposes on any given occasion.

Saddam’s shifting allegiances during his political career are legendary, and testimony to his willingness to use anyone or any organisation that he feels could assist his interests.

That background is worth bearing in mind as investigators try to sift through the wreckage of Iraq, looking for what appear to be non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

As the United States first prepared for conflict with Iraq a year ago, it gave three main reasons in support of a pre-emptive strike against Baghdad. Firstly, claimed President George W. Bush, Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. Secondly, claimed Vice President Dick Cheney as recently as March 16, Iraq was "trying once again to produce nuclear weapons", and further that Iraq had "reconstituted nuclear weapons."

Thirdly, the US and Britain both warned that Saddam Hussein’s regime posed a clear and present danger to world security because of its links to terrorist organisations like al Qa’ida and its ability to provide weapons of mass destruction to such groups.

So how accurate were those claims?

IRAQ’S BIOCHEMICAL WEAPONS

Leaving aside the daily media fixation with the lack of evidence discovered post-war, the real question isn’t so much "Did WMD ever exist?", as it is "What happened to Iraq’s WMD?".

As previously reported, Iraq’s WMD programme goes back prior to Saddam Hussein’s takeover in 1979, with the purchase of billions of dollars in weapons systems and technology from France and Germany. Hussein also converted the country’s civilian nuclear programme to a military one, and hired former Nazi scientists who’d designed the poison gas systems for Auschwitz to work on chemical weapons for use against Israel.

Iraq manufactured and deployed nerve gas agents against invading Iranian troops in the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, and against Iraqi civilians in the Kurdistan province, killing thousands.

Despite continuing criticism of the lack of evidence, Iraq’s possession of biological or chemical weapons still appears highly likely if not certain. The reasoning for such a claim is simple:

The chemicals are simple to make, using ordinary agricultural products. Additionally, US forces and media discovered hundreds of brand new chemical warfare protection suits that had been issued to Iraqi troops - suits that would not have been necessary unless the possibility existed of chemical warfare.

While a strong argument can be made that no weapons have been found and therefore they cannot exist, at the time of going to print the US still hasn’t found Osama bin Laden after two years of searching, but that does not prove that he doesn’t exist.

IRAQ’S NUCLEAR AMBITIONS

The second claim centred on Iraq’s alleged nuclear weapons programme. Iraq had been working on atomic bombs right up to the end of the 1991 Gulf War. The real question was not whether Iraq had lost the urge to obtain "the bomb", but whether it had lost the ability.

Hans Blix, the Swede placed in charge of the UN Weapons Inspection process last year, had previously been in charge of the International Atomic Energy Agency throughout the period that Iraq had been using its IAEA-inspected facilities to secretly manufacture nuclear weapons. In other words, say critics, Blix was a hopeless inspector first time around and unlikely to have improved this time.

But Anglo-American claims about Iraq’s nuclear capabilities this year appear to have been based on forged documentation suggesting Iraq had tried to purchase uranium from the African country, Niger.

While anti-war protestors immediately tried to pin the forgeries on the Bush administration, it now appears Britain and the US were the victims of a French practical joke.

Niger, a former French colony, runs its uranium mining operations in association with a French Government agency. According to UK press reports, the original tip-off about Niger and Iraq came to Britain’s MI6 directly from the French secret service, the DGSE.

Was it a deliberate attempt by the French to mislead the British about Iraq? As previously reported in Investigate, Iraq’s initial nuclear weapons programme was based entirely on French military and nuclear technology and assistance.

Reeling from the backlash over the Niger claims, the White House has released portions of a classified document in attempt to show why speechwriters included a now-disputed line in President Bush's State of the Union address relating to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The line reads: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

In the latest round of intelligence agency backside-covering that’s followed this controversy, the CIA has admitted it didn’t want the reference to Niger included in presidential briefings because it wasn’t convinced of the veracity of the reports. The agency has however maintained that evidence does exist about Iraqi efforts to obtain uranium elsewhere in Africa.

To that end, the US has released portions of the previously classified document summarizing six intelligence agencies' views and findings, called the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate [NIE], concluded there was "compelling evidence that Saddam is reconstituting a uranium enrichment effort for Baghdad's nuclear weapons program."

Questions remain unanswered however about how much the White House knew and when. US national security adviser Condaleeza Rice denies concerns were raised about the uranium reference.

"If there was a concern about the underlying intelligence there, the president was unaware of that concern and as was I," she said in a July 11 press briefing.

But, as WorldNetDaily.com reports, documents emerged last week that cast doubt on her explanation.

"According to a memo sent to Rice on Oct. 6, the CIA warned her the uranium charge suffered from a "weakness in evidence." CIA Director George Tenet also tried to wave Rice's deputy Steve Hadley off the charge in several phone calls. On Oct. 7, Bush dropped the allegation from a speech he delivered on Iraq in Cincinnati. Three months later, it reappeared in his State of the Union speech.

"Rice has yet to explain the inconsistency presented by the memo," reports WorldNetDaily.

"She also has maintained that the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, or NIE, on Iraq – a 90-page Top Secret report prepared by the U.S. intelligence community, and sent to the White House on Oct. 2 – did not raise doubts about the uranium evidence.

"If there were doubts about the underlying intelligence to that NIE, those doubts were not communicated to the president, the vice president or to me," Rice said on July 11.

"And in a June 8 ABC News interview, she said, "The intelligence community did not know at that time or at levels that got to us that there were serious questions about this report."

"But her remarks are at odds with the facts. The six intelligence agencies that prepared the NIE, which was sent to Rice's office, had so little faith in the veracity of the uranium reports that they voted unanimously to leave it out of the NIE's conclusions, or "key judgments," which were recently declassified. WorldNetDaily obtained a copy of them from the NSC.

"In fact, they are conspicuously absent from the list of evidence supporting the key judgment that "Saddam [Hussein] is reconstituting a uranium enrichment effort for Baghdad's nuclear weapons program."

The NIE report in fact says:

"Most agencies believe that Saddam's personal interest in and Iraq's aggressive attempts to obtain high-strength aluminum tubes for centrifuge rotors – as well as Iraq's attempts to acquire magnets, high-speed balancing machines, and machine tools – provide compelling evidence that Saddam is reconstituting a uranium enrichment effort for Baghdad's nuclear weapons program. (DOE agrees that reconstitution of the nuclear program is under way, but assesses that the tubes probably are not part of the program.)"

In other words, although Iraq had clear intent to develop nuclear weapons, it probably had not done so by the time war was declared.

It should be noted however that with nuclear material readily available - as both Iran and North Korea have illustrated - it may well only have been a matter of time before Baghdad re-entered the atomic arms race.

IRAQ’S LINKS TO AL QA’IDA

Another purported justification for war was on the alleged links between Iraq and al Qa’ida.

When the World Trade Centre was blown up in 2001, the Bush administration initially rubbished suggestions of a link to Iraq.

For a start, most of those responsible were Saudi Arabian, and there was little evidence linking Saddam Hussein with Islamic extremists like al Qa’ida.

Some, however, are not so sure. Gilbert Merritt, a US federal judge working to help establish a new justice system in Iraq, claims to have been given documents indicating a direct relationship between Baghdad and Osama bin Laden. Nor is Merritt a Bush-nominated "hawk" - he is in fact a "Democrat and a man of unimpeachable integrity", according to US media reports. Merritt told of one document he was given in June:

"The document shows that an Iraqi intelligence officer, Abid Al-Karim Muhamed Aswod, assigned to the Iraq embassy in Pakistan, is "responsible for the coordination of activities with the Osama bin Laden group.’’

"The document shows that it was written over the signature of Uday Saddam Hussein, the son of Saddam Hussein. The story of how the document came about is as follows.

"Saddam gave Uday authority to control all press and media outlets in Iraq. Uday was the publisher of the Babylon Daily Political Newspaper.

"On the front page of the paper’s four-page edition for Nov. 14, 2002, there was a picture of Osama bin Laden speaking, next to which was a picture of Saddam and his ‘’Revolutionary Council,’’ together with stories about Israeli tanks attacking a group of Palestinians.

"On the back page was a story headlined ‘’List of Honor.’’ In a box below the headline was ‘’A list of men we publish for the public.’’ The lead sentence refers to a list of ‘’regime persons’’ with their names and positions.

"The list has 600 names and titles in three columns. It contains, for example, the names of the important officials who are members of Saddam’s family, such as Uday, and then other high officials, including the 55 American ‘’deck of cards’’ Iraqi officials, some of whom have been apprehended.

"Halfway down the middle column is written: "Abid Al-Karim Muhamed Aswod, intelligence officer responsible for the coordination of activities with the Osama bin Laden group at the Iraqi embassy in Pakistan.’’

Circumstantial evidence, yes. Smoking Gun? Not quite, but it should be a warning to doubters that the burden of proof for both sides is significant.

Some investigations have previously tied Iraqi intelligence agents to the 1993 attempt by Ramsi Yousef to blow up the World Trade Centre (also in collusion with al Qa’ida) and the 1995 plot to hijack 11 aircraft over the Pacific - that plot coming to light after Yousef’s arrest in the Philippines.

But where the anti-war movement may yet gain the strongest traction is over the status of Iraq’s oilfields. US journalist Paul Sperry, in a new book called Crude Politics: How Bush’s Oil Cronies Hijacked the War on Terrorism, argues that although not the overarching motivation, the oil lobby has manipulated events to take maximum advantage of the situation.

Sperry cites a report to a White House energy task force back in April 2001, which ‘recommended considering a "military" option in dealing with Iraq, which the report charged was using oil exports as a "weapon" by turning its spigot on and off to "manipulate oil markets".’

As if such price fluctuations and speculations are not already inherently part of the global oil market, fuelled in a large part by Western financial markets trading in oil futures.

"The report advised the Bush administration," says Sperry in a WorldNetDaily report last month, "to - at a minimum - bring UN weapons inspectors back to Iraq and then, ‘once an arms control program is in place, the United States could consider reducing restrictions on oil investment inside Iraq’ to gain greater control over the reserves and ‘inject’ more stability into world oil markets."

JudicialWatch, an organisation dedicated to acting as a public watchdog on major issues in the US, has also recently obtained pertinent documents in the case, including a map of the Iraqi oil fields presented to the Energy task force. - IAN WISHART

In the hunt for Saddam Hussein’s billions, investigators have identi-fied five networks of more than 100 companies used to launder money skimmed from Iraqi oil sales. Saddam’s gangster regime set up shell companies in Switzerland, Jordan, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg and Panama, according to investigators.

Those company networks and their banking affiliations were used to enrich the former Iraqi strongman, his sons Uday and Qusay, and other family members.

"Ultimately, the money was stolen from the Iraqi people," says Taylor Griffin, spokesman for the Treasury Department, which is heading the government’s laundering probe along with U.S. Customs, the Secret Service and various intelligence agencies.

Last month, investigators isolated US$1.2 billion in previously unknown assets outside Iraq. The assets include cash, real estate and diamonds held in the names of the companies controlled by Saddam.

With names like Jaraco SA and Dynatrade SA, the companies used major banks in Switzerland, France, Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates to conduct transactions, according to investigators.

The intricate web was managed at the top by about 20 of Saddam’s relatives and friends, who spent most of their time outside Iraq.

The mastermind of this vast criminal enterprise was believed to be Saddam’s half-brother, Barzan Ibrahim Hasan al-Tikriti. Now in American custody, he could provide a road map to Saddam’s hidden wealth.

Hasan, the Five of Clubs in the U.S. deck of most-wanted Iraqis, was Iraq’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva for 10 years, ending in 1998.

During that time, he helped set up and manage a money-laundering network that was among the most sophisticated in the world, say investigators.

A second manager was Tariq Aziz, Iraq’s Foreign Minister, according to a Treasury Department source. Aziz, also in U.S. custody, traveled widely under diplomatic immunity.

Estimates of the hidden loot range as high as US$40 billion, but Saddam’s personal trove "is in the single-digit billions, not more than 10," according to investigator John Fawcett.

"I’m kind of conservative in calculating his wealth," says Fawcett, who has focused on Saddam’s finances for more than three years, most recently on behalf of Kreindler & Kreindler, a Park Avenue law firm.

The firm is trying pinpoint the links between Saddam’s assets and financing of al-Qaida. Once identified, those assets could be seized, recovered in court proceedings and distributed to families of those who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"We think Saddam’s laundered money was used in part to provide financial support to al-Qaida, and we’re looking at billions of dollars hidden in financial institutions and companies," says lawyer James Kreindler.

One clue as to the size of Saddam’s laundered legacy was found last month - US$780 million in makeshift vaults in a palace compound and another cache of $112 million found in dog kennels on the grounds.

The cash was in $100 bills, and in the dog kennels there were 200 aluminum boxes with $4 million in each box, all sealed with tags reading Bank of Jordan.

Customs and Secret Service agents in Baghdad are tracing the serial numbers to learn the origin of the bulk cash shipments, said Customs spokesman Dean Boyd.

The serial numbers on the bills will reveal which U.S. bank first received the cash from the Federal Reserve. From there, it may be possible to trace how the money got to Saddam’s palace.

"We’ve also uncovered a lot of documents on Saddam’s financial apparatus," Boyd says. For more than 20 years, Saddam skimmed 5 percent of just about everything that moved in and out of Iraq.

"Kickbacks were everywhere," claims Fawcett.

Sulfur and fertilizer exports and imports of tobacco and alcoholic beverages were among the items subject to the rakeoff, according to the British Foreign Office and the Coalition for International Justice.

The rakeoff in 2000 alone included monthly imports of 300 million cigarettes, 38,000 bottles of whiskey, 230,000 cans of beer, 120,000 bottles of vodka and almost 19,000 bottles of wine, according to Peter Hain, a British foreign office official.

Saddam also fleeced pilgrims to Iraqi Shiite shrines in the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, making them travel in buses owned by the Al-Hoda company, controlled by Uday Hussein, and stay in designated hotels.

A nine-day pilgrimage costs at least $900, much of which went to Saddam’s family, according to the coalition.

But the principal source of the regime’s skimmed revenue was oil exports, including more than US$6.6 billion from the United Nations-sponsored oil-for-food program, General Accounting Office investigators found.

That program involved a direct exchange of exported Iraqi oil for food and medicine. It was part of U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War to prevent the diversion of oil proceeds to weapons.

In the last five years, the regime managed to duck the U.N. sanctions with a large-scale smuggling operation involving shipments through Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Persian Gulf countries.

During March 2002, Iraq smuggled out between 325,000 and 480,000 barrels a day, according to the General Accounting Office.

Barges, tankers, pipelines and trucks were used to get the oil out past U.N. inspectors’ scrutiny, and at one point, an estimated 45,000 Turkish truckers were on the roads, loaded up with oil, the agency said.

Until the sanctions were imposed, Iraqi oil exports were not monitored, and all were subject to the 5 percent kickback. In the early years of Saddam’s 25-year reign, Iraq exported as much as 3.2 million barrels per day.

The kickback-laundering system is essentially quite simple. Oil buyers, whether companies or countries, bought Iraqi oil from Saddam-controlled trading companies located outside the country.

The trading companies would forward 95 percent of the money to the Iraqi oil ministry and send Saddam’s 5 percent to shell companies outside Iraq, investigators said.

Directors of those shell companies would deposit the 5 percent in company bank accounts, and the money was effectively laundered. Swiss and French lawyers did the paperwork.

Gold, artworks, hotels, construction and metal fabrication concerns, money market accounts, commodity trading companies and publishing are among Saddam’s laundered investments.

Kroll Associates, a private investigative company, and the International Campaign to Indict Iraqi War Criminals, a U.S.-funded organization based in England, have identified other key figures in the financial network.

Hussam Rassam, a 67-year-old Iraqi businessman who established residency in Switzerland in 1987, was the administrator of the Saddam family pension fund, valued at $41.6 billion in 1990, according to a Kroll report.

Hussam "was appointed (administrator) in 1989 after the execution of his predecessor for skimming funds," said the report.

A telephone call to Hussam’s home in the Swiss Canton of Vaud was answered by a French-speaking woman who told a reporter, "Mr. Hussam isn’t here."

Whether Saddam and his sons are alive remains an open question, but it’s unlikely they could ever again enjoy their over-the-top opulent lifestyles.

Previously frozen Iraqi assets include $20 million in the Cayman Islands, $85 million in the Bahamas and $14 million in Japan.

"What’s the total, and where is it all?" asks Griffin. "I wish I knew." - WILLIAM SHERMAN


Posted by Ian Wishart at 12:54 AM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2007

PROJECT BABYLON: WHO ARMED IRAQ? INVESTIGATE: APR 03

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Popular myth these days would have you believe Saddam Hussein is a creature of the CIA, a stooge of the West, armed to the teeth by America and set loose. The truth, as IAN WISHART reveals, is not quite so simple...

So now that the bullets are being fired, who can be fingered as Saddam Hussein’s suppliers of weapons of mass destruction? In a bitter irony, the answer is emerging: France and Germany, including some of the same European politicians who spoke so strongly against the US-led war. It is a story of massive campaign donations from Iraq to French and German politicians, along with multi-billion dollar arms and infrastructure deals. It is also the story of a forgotten era in modern world history – the Cold War.

While many civilians in the West have been able to level numerous allegations at America’s door over shady links to regimes like Iraq in the past, few of those allegations are set in their proper historical context.

Up until 1990, and throughout the sixties, seventies and eighties, world security was defined in a delicate superpower balancing act between the USA and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the USSR. The communist-based Soviet Union was determined to export its political system to as many countries in the world as it could, by force if necessary, and both superpowers were ultimately behind a range of secret and not-so-secret wars in a battle for control of territory and strategic resources like oil. The Middle East – unstable and home to a large chunk of that oil, as well as the key Suez canal transport pathway – had long been a pawn in the superpower game, with groups on both sides willing to sell their allegiance to the highest bidder.

An aspect often forgotten in current times is that Soviet control of Middle East oilfields could have brought the West to its knees. By turning off the oil tap to the West, the USSR would have simultaneously reduced the West’s ability to go to war on the issue - without the oil to power the tanks, planes and ships, a US led battle force would have ground to a halt. Alternatively, all fuel in the West would have been diverted to the war effort leaving citizens without fuel for heating, transport or industry.

In other words, the stakes were extremely high.

What also makes a direct comparison between our current world and the Cold War period difficult is the bloodshed that could have resulted from a superpower clash: with the ability to nuke the entire planet dozens of times over, and mindful that it only took the assassination of a Grand Duke to begin World War I, strategists in both the US and USSR were loathe to directly intervene in "enemy" territory merely on human rights grounds.

It is only since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 that America and the West have been free to take humanitarian military action in previously unthinkable areas like Yugoslavia, a former communist satellite state.

So if that’s the historical matrix, where does the battle against Iraq have its roots?

The WMD (weapons of mass destruction) trail begins in 1975 when Saddam Hussein – at that stage still the Vice President of Iraq - joined forces with French Prime Minister (now President) Jacques Chirac in a deal to purchase French military equipment and armaments.

Hussein had, only weeks earlier, signed an agreement with the Soviet Union to purchase a nuclear reactor facility from the Russians, but the Soviet deal contained a catch: Russia was insisting on safeguards to ensure that fuel from the reactor could not be reprocessed to make nuclear weapons. Saddam was hoping he could get a better deal out of France.

Jacques Chirac sent an arms negotiation team to Iraq on March 12, 1975, who offered up to 72 of the then state-of-the-art Mirage jet fighters, as well as 40 German Dornier jets (West Germany, in 1975, was still under a United Nations ban on exporting weapons, imposed after WW II, and channelled their defence sales through France to undermine the UN sanction).

The French, for their part, were desperate to source cheap oil from Iraq in order to maintain their overall share of the world oil market. Saddam needed weapons and the ability to manufacture them under license in Iraq; France needed Iraqi oil. It was, noted commentators at the time, a marriage made in heaven.

In their desperation, French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac also promised Saddam that France could build Iraq a nuclear reactor capable of breeding enough weapons-grade uranium to make three or four Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs a year. For public consumption however, France treated the reactor project as a civilian-use nuclear power station – a facade that first began to crumble only a few days after the deal was signed when Saddam Hussein told the Lebanese newspaper, Al Usbu al-Arabi, "The agreement with France is the first concrete step toward the production of the Arab atomic weapon."

As word leaked in the French media of Iraq’s intentions, some newspapers began satirising the name of the reactor, Osirak, as "O’Chirac". To save Chirac’s political sensibilities, Iraq changed the name of the reactor project to Tammuz.

Saddam’s personal relationship with Chirac was close. During numerous official and private visits, Chirac developed a taste for masgouf carp, a type of fish native to Iraqi rivers. Saddam arranged for 1.5 tonnes of masgouf to be flown to Paris as a gift to Chirac. In the French press, Jacques Chirac’s nickname was "Mr Iraq".

"Beyond Iraqi oil and the Mirage deal," writes US journalist Kenneth Timmerman in The Death Lobby: How The West Armed Iraq, France signed up to build "petrochemical plants, desalination plants, gas liquefaction complexes, housing projects, telecommunications systems, broadcasting networks, fertiliser plants, defence electronics factories, car assembly plants, a subway system, and a navy yard, not to mention Exocet, Milan, HOT, Magic, Martel, and Armat missiles; Alouette III, Gazelle, and Super-Puma helicopters; AMX 30-GCT howitzers; Tiger-G radar, and a nuclear reactor capable of making the bomb. It was a multibillion dollar relationship."

Under the nuclear contract, France not only agreed to build two reactors, Tammuz I and II, but also to train 600 Iraqi nuclear scientists at French universities. France had refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1970, saying it regarded its right to export nuclear material as an "issue of national sovereignty" and that it did not regard itself as bound by the Treaty.

But it wasn’t just nuclear technology that Iraq was sourcing from France. The Paris-based Institut Merieux was contracted to build Iraq’s first biological weapons research facility, although officially it was listed as "an agricultural bacteriological laboratory". The purchase went through an Iraqi agency, the General Directorate of Veterinary Services.

A year later, in 1976, Saddam Hussein was pushing for chemical weapons manufacture as well. The French Prime Minister again helped out, opening doors for Iraq in the United States. Because of its reputation for supporting terrorism, Iraq was on the US banned list, but by going through France it was hoping to bypass US restrictions. The "personal friend" of M’sieur Chirac was introduced to a French engineering company with a subsidiary branch in the US. That branch called on a New York chemical equipment company, Pfaudler & Co, and told them Iraq needed to build a pesticide factory because "Iraqi farmers are unable to protect their crops from the ravages of desert locusts and other pests".

This seemed like a reasonable request, and Pfaudler sent staff to Iraq to begin work on the project. The US company pulled out of the deal several months later when it became apparent that Iraq wanted to manufacture 1,200 tonnes of Amiton, Demeton, Paraoxon and Parathion – highly toxic organic compounds that can be converted into nerve gas.

Why would France support a regime like Iraq? Apart from the "oil for guns" advantages, Chirac saw Saddam Hussein as a similar victim of superpower politics – caught between two military giants when Iraq really wanted to steer an independent course. France, also, saw itself as "independent", and had refused full membership of NATO out of a desire to maintain full control of its nuclear arsenal.

Ninety-three percent of Iraq’s weapons had been sourced from the Soviet Union up to this point, but the USSR was keeping Iraq on a tight leash. France, and other smaller arms manufacturers, offered no such fine print in their supply contracts – "you buy it, it’s yours" was the official line.

French media reports indicate there was some opposition within Chirac’s cabinet to the idea of giving Iraq nuclear weapons technology, but "when Andre Giraud, the head of the French nuclear energy committee, protested strongly, Chirac threatened to sack him if the deal was not completed according to the signed agreement. Indeed, the matter was considered to be of such importance that President Giscard d’Estaing took personal control of the affair in order to ensure it’s smooth passage."

When the Soviets got wind of Iraq’s planned switch, they firstly threatened to call in Iraq’s debts and, when that didn’t work, threatened to withhold spares or maintenance for Iraq’s existing Soviet-made military equipment. French officials, confronted at diplomatic cocktail parties by still-fuming Russians, just grinned widely and said nothing.

Annoyed by the American company’s decision to pull out of the "pesticides factory" deal, Iraq approached two British firms in late 1976, ICI Chemicals and Babcock and Wilcox. According to the Washington Post newspaper, ICI refused to become involved because it too was "suspicious of the sensitive nature of the materials and the potential for misuse". ICI tipped off British authorities, and it is widely accepted that the CIA was made aware of the Iraqi plans by early 1977. The CIA, however, was going through some painful Congressional investigations over its unauthorised international activities and reportedly wasn’t keen to conduct another Boy’s Own adventure in Baghdad.

Instead, Saddam Hussein tried his luck in East Germany. He dispatched scientist Dr Amer Hamoudi al-Saadi to Leipzig for discussions with Karl Heinz Lohs, the director of the Leipzig Institute for Poisonous Chemicals. According to Lohs in an interview with German newspaper Der Spiegel years later, al-Saadi pulled no punches.

"You Germans have great expertise in the killing of Jews with gas. This interests us in the same way...How [can] this knowledge...be used to destroy Israel?"

Germany was the first country in the world to use chemical weapons – nerve gas – in World War I and despite a 1925 Geneva Protocol banning their manufacture Germany kept working on and perfecting chemical weapons, using organophosphates.

Belgian and Swiss companies had already been contracted to begin construction of a "phosphate" processing plant at Al Qaim in Iraq. According to foreign workers interviewed later, Iraqi officials made sure that staff on the ground were not given a birdseye view of the project. Thus, an ostensibly civilian agricultural plant was constructed with Western involvement, without a realisation that the factory was part of a larger chemical weapons project.

Saddam Hussein continued to play cat and mouse with the Soviet Union, at one stage assuaging their superpower neighbour by purchasing NZ$6 billion worth of fighter aircraft, but at the same time warning the USSR not to meddle in internal Iraqi politics. Saddam even went so far as to cut off water and electricity to the Soviet embassy during one spat.

Across the border in Iran, though, Soviet KGB agents had been working to destabilise the ruthless pro-American regime of the Shah. Although the Western world saw Islamic fundamentalist students and the Ayatollah Khomeini behind the coup in Iran in 1979, it was the USSR who’d laid the groundwork in an effort both to rid the region of American influence but also to gain access to Iranian oil.

Not only was Iran lurching into Soviet orbit, Saddam also feared the flow-on effects of Islamic fundamentalism if it spilled across the border into Iraq’s majority Shiite community.

Having constructed its "pesticides" factory, Iraq began purchasing raw ma-terials for it in July 1983. The first shipment, 500 tonnes of thiodiglycol – an ingredient of mustard gas – was sourced through a Dutch company, which went on to supply many hundreds of tonnes more. The Dutch company acted as a ‘front’, ordering the chemicals in from the US. That particular deception wasn’t discovered by US authorities until 1986, three years after the first chemical weapons had been used by Iraqi forces against Iran. But US intelligence agencies had acted swiftly after the first gas attacks in December 1983, and a report to the US Government in early 1984 recommended the immediate imposition of export controls on chemicals that could be used in weapons. Iraq and Iran were the first on the banned list, but the warring nations went through so many middlemen that eventually the banned list included the entire world, save for 18 Western nations.

"During the [Iran/Iraq] war," writes Egyptian investigative journalist Adel Darwish in Unholy Babylon, "the United States, Britain and France tempered their strictures against Iraq and its production and use of chemical weapons because they were already preoccupied with confronting a more immediate threat – Ayatollah Khomeini and his fiery brand of Shia fundamentalism which was threatening to spread throughout the Islamic world."

Former Reagan-era National Security adviser Geoffrey Kemp explained to Darwish:

"The Ayatollah was calling us the Great Satan and trying to undermine governments throughout the Gulf States".

Iran, says Kemp, was seen at the time as a much greater threat to world peace than Iraq.

"It wasn’t that we wanted Iraq to win the war. We didn’t want Iraq to lose. We weren’t really that naive. We knew [Saddam] was an SOB, but he was our SOB."

Contrary to popular conspiracy theory, however, most of Iraq’s military assistance was not coming from the United States at all. Instead, throughout the war with Iran and right up to the 1991 Gulf War, the bulk of ordinary weapons, and WMD material, was coming from Europe – specifically France and Germany.

In October 1990 West German company Josef Kuhn was outed for supplying Iraq with biological weapons, two mykotoxins whose effects included skin irritation, blisters, dizziness, nausea, diarrhoea and eventually death.

West German companies were also involved in building three chemical weapons plants codenamed Ieas, Meda and Ghasi, whose task was to produce a chemical agent that could penetrate gas masks and NBC (nuclear/bio/chem) protection suits. They were successful, by all reports. A quantity the size of a sugar cube is sufficient to kill 2,500 people.

Saddam Hussein’s quest to develop the first Arab nuclear bomb has come unstuck several times. While French nuclear en-gineers worked around the clock to bring the two nuclear reactors online, both Israel’s Mossad spy agency, and Russia’s KGB, had infiltrated the project. Both countries harboured extreme concerns about a nuclear-tipped Iraq. At the same time, the Iraqi facilities were being guarded by agents from the French security agency DST. Nonetheless, Mossad managed to slip past the French and obtain the data they needed.

There was another irony: despite the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Iran, the Iranian secret service SAVAM continued to liase closely with Mossad over their common enemy, Iraq. SAVAM supplied Israel with aerial photos of the nuclear reactors, and Israel hatched a plan to bomb them.

On June 7, 1981, 16 Israeli F-15s and F16s launched a lightning raid, skimming just 10 metres above the ground virtually all the way from Israel to Iraq to avoid radar detection. Sixteen massive concrete-piercing bombs were dropped, and all hit their mark. The French nuclear reactors built for Iraq were rubble.

Undeterred, Iraq’s nuclear programme was resurrected with the aid of German advisers in 1987, and efforts were made to secretly procure the necessary components from companies around the world. Both the CIA and Britain’s MI6 were authorised to crack down on Iraq’s efforts, and more export bans were introduced.

The American bans were more successful than the British ones. Ministers in Britain’s Tory Government had shareholdings in companies who were trying to win Iraqi defence contracts under the table. The Opposition Labour party, now in Government under Tony Blair, attempted to expose as many of the secret deals as they got wind of.

Key nuclear components ended up coming from Germany, China, France and Pakistan. China, in particular, supplied seven tonnes of lithium hydride, a chemical essential to the nuclear weapons programme.

Western intelligence estimates in 1990, prior to the Gulf War, estimated that Iraq would have a functional nuclear weapon by 1997. One agency to disagree was America’s Defence Intelligence Agency, which warned Iraq was much further ahead than previously believed. In November 1990 the DIA warned that an atomic bomb in Baghdad may only be "two months" away. As events transpired, there is evidence the DIA was right.

In their book Brighter Than The Baghdad Sun: Saddam Hussein’s Nuclear Threat To The United States, Times of London jour-nalists Daniel McGrory and Shyam Bahtia interviewed defecting Iraqi nuclear scientists after the end of the 1991 Gulf War. They discovered Saddam Hussein almost had his nuclear bomb ready to drop on US troops, but the nuclear weapons plant and the weapon were destroyed – quite by accident - during the aerial blitz that began the war.

"Total fluke. Absolute fluke — so terrifying," McGrory told WorldNetDaily.com. "We came so close to seeing the doomsday bomb being created and that is what Saddam wanted. When Desert Shield began with Saddam already in Kuwait, we poured tens of thousand of troops and manpower into the Arabian desert, thinking, "Why is Saddam sitting there watching and waiting? Why doesn’t he do something?" Our fear was that, the day before the U.N. deadline, Saddam would — wily old fox that he is — pull back, and the allies would go wobbly and say, well, we don’t want to invade; there is no point now.

"The truth is, what he had done was to gather his scientists and say, "You work day and night and you deliver me the doomsday bomb. I will detonate it before the ground war, and that will show them." He was betting that if he proved he had a nuclear device the allies would not have taken him on in war.

"Ironically, the Pentagon played a war game before the invasion began and the one question fed into the computer was: "What would we do if Saddam possessed a nuclear weapon?" The computer chewed on it for a while and spit back, "Nothing!"

McGrory also details the way some of the 18,000 nuclear scientists and workers were kept in line by Saddam Hussein. One key scientist, Hussein Shahristani, resisted Saddam.

"He went to prison; he was tortured; he was made to watch a 7-year-old boy hanged from his wrists and then executed for the sin of writing on the blackboard "Saddam is a buffalo."

"Shahristani still refused to break. He spent eight and a half years in solitary. He was allowed one visit with his wife in the very early days and their newborn child. And he watched a Republican Guard snatch the child from his wife’s arms and hold a gun to the child’s head while he had a five-minute meeting with his wife. His captors asked, "Do you wish to persist with your refusal?" Begging his wife for forgiveness, he said, "Look, I can’t take part in this."

Shahristani, who now works to help Iraqi refugees, told a British news conference in December last year:

"My most vivid memory is hearing the screams of very young children being tortured in the neighboring torturing rooms.

"However, I was more fortunate than many of my fellow political prisoners in the country. I did not have holes drilled into my bones, as happened in the next torture room. I did not have my limbs cut off by an electric saw. I did not have my eyes gauged out.

"Women of my family were not brought in and raped in front of me, as happened to many of my colleagues. Torturers did not dissolve my hands in acid. I was not among the hundreds of political prisoners who were taken from prison as guinea-pigs to be used for chemical and biological tests.

"They only tortured me for 22 days and nights continuously by hanging me from my hands tied at the back and using a high voltage probe on the sensitive parts of my body and beating me mercilessly. They were very careful not to leave any permanent bodily marks on me because they hope they can break my will and I will agree to go back and work on their military nuclear program.

"In a way I was lucky to spend 11 years in solitary confinement because I did not have to see what was going on in the larger prison – the country of Iraq – in which 20 million people were kept captives. I did not have to witness the ceremonies in which mothers were ordered to watch public executions of their sons and then asked to pay the price of the bullets that were used in the executions.

"I did not have to watch people’s tongues being pulled out and cut off because they dared to criticize Saddam or one of his family members. I did not see young men’s foreheads branded and their ears cut off because they were late for a few days to report to their military duties. I did not see the beautiful southern Iraqi Marshes drained and the reeds burnt and the Marsh Arabs massacred and their old ways of life destroyed. I did not see the beheading of more than 130 women, who were beheaded in public squares in Iraq, and their heads put out for public display.

"In many ways I was fortunate to have survived it all to tell the stories of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who are not here to tell their stories. These atrocities have been going on for over two decades while the international community have either silently watched it, or at times even tried to cover it up.

"Saddam is not a run-of-the-mill dictator; he is exceptional. Weapons of mass destruction in Saddam’s hands are dangerous to the Iraqi people and to mankind."

As McGrory’s book notes, rape was also a tool of the regime.

"The man would arrest senior figures in the administration for no reason other than to get to their wives. In one case, a woman (she told us herself — she is now living in Scotland in absolute peril) was forced into a room where Saddam was staring at a file on his knee. He didn’t look up, just beckoned her over and she had to sit on his knee like some kind of recalcitrant child; she reports Saddam said, "Your husband has been a very naughty boy." And, with that, he raped her in the room, watched over by several guards.

"When another woman came in, she was so appalled with what he was about to do to her that she scratched her own face with her fingernails and blood began to pour down her face. Saddam is a fanatically fastidious man who hates any kind of dirt and when the blood dripped onto his suit, he pushed her away. Disgusted with what she had done, he said to the guards, "Take her outside and you deal with her." And four or five Republican Guards took her outside and raped her."

McGrory, like Darwish and Timmer-man, confirms the strong links between Europe – particularly Germany – and Iraq’s WMD programme.

"They have some appalling people. There are a couple of German scientists who were taken over to Iraq who actually worked for Hitler. They were still alive, these old boys, and they felt their worth was not really recognized in Germany. They were tempted by the fast buck and went over to Iraq. One man used to play Hitler’s speeches in his room and said quite openly, "The only other leader I would work for other than Adolf is Saddam Hussein; they are two of a kind." Well, they are.

"In fact, early on, Saddam used to carry around a copy of "Mein Kampf" like it was a Bible. His father had run off and left him, before he was born, and he was brought up by an uncle — a dreadful man — and this man taught Saddam from the time he could walk and talk that the Nazis were a great power. His uncle’s philosophy was that the Jews are lower than flies. And, when Saddam came to power, he allowed his uncle to publish his appalling rantings and insisted that everyone in Iraq should receive a copy of his thoughts."

McGrory also told WorldNetDaily of the vast personal fortune compiled by Hussein while his citizens starved under UN sanctions.

"It is thought to be in the region of US$100 billion. This could be one of the richest countries in the world. It oozes oil; it has fantastic agriculture; it has everything going for it and he has just wastefully, wastefully frittered it away along with his sons and relatives. The indulgences are shocking. The truth is, they whine about sanctions, saying they are hurting people, but you go to Baghdad and you see the fastest and finest cars. Uday at one stage had 34 cars."

But perhaps the last word on the threat that Saddam Hussein posed prior to US intervention should be left to Kenneth Joseph, one of a number of antiwar demonstrators who travelled to Iraq as would-be human shields.

Joseph’s group found the experience a real eye-opener, and his group managed to film 14 hours of uncensored video footage before they wereasked to leave Iraq with the rest of the human shields.

UPI news agency reported Joseph, a young American pastor with the Assyrian Church of the East, as saying the trip "had shocked me back to reality."

Some of the Iraqis he interviewed on camera "told me they would commit suicide if American bombing didn’t start. They were willing to see their homes demolished to gain their freedom from Saddam’s bloody tyranny. They convinced me that Saddam was a monster the likes of which the world had not seen since Stalin and Hitler. He and his sons are sick sadists. Their tales of slow torture and killing made me ill, such as people put in a huge shredder for plastic products, feet first so they could hear their screams as bodies got chewed up from foot to head."

Copyright 2003 onwards


Posted by Ian Wishart at 01:52 AM | Comments (0)

WAR & PEACE: ESSAY 2 INVESTIGATE: MAR 03

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A 19 year old Iraqi exile in Britain, RANIA KASHI, tells her friends to welcome the war, not protest it

Dear All, I am writing this email after a lot of deliberation about whether I have the right to use my strange and unique position (within our group) to argue the case FOR an invasion in Iraq. But in the end I have decided that I have more to lose if I keep quiet.

Firstly, my parents, my family, are from Iraq. My parents fled from Iraq some 23 years ago leaving everything and everyone behind when at that point 17 of our relatives had been "disappeared" or imprisoned for no reason whatsoever. They sought refuge in Kuwait for 4 years, but once again were forced to flee with us (my brother and I) in tow when Saddam had the Kuwaitis deport the Iraqi men back to Iraq. On the border he had these returnees shot dead.

We were lucky; we made it safely to Britain. My father was lucky - his brother was caught trying to escape and tortured. So here I am, 19 years later, never having set foot in the country of my parents.

The anti-"war" feeling prevalent amongst people I speak to seems to me totally misjudged and misplaced. I have to be honest here and say that I feel it is based partly on a lot on misunderstanding of the situation in Iraq and partly on people’s desire to seem "politically rebellious" against the big, bad Americans. And let me say, that I also agree the American government is indeed big and bad; I have no illusions about their true intentions behind an attack on Iraq.

More than you or I, the Iraqis know the ignorant and truly atrocious attitude of the American government towards most of the world’s population. Iraqis felt the effect of this when America (and the rest of the West in fact) eagerly supported and supplied Saddam when he waged his war-of-attrition against Iran causing the death of 1 million Iraqis and Iranians and the disappearance of many more - there was no anti-war movement to help them.

They felt the effect of this attitude when America and the West ignored, supplied even, Saddam’s use of biological weapons on the people of Halabja, killing 5000 people in one day, and causing the deformed births of babies in the area to this day.

Iraqis know well the untrustworthy nature of the Western governments when the coalition gave Saddam permission, a few days after the end of the Gulf War, to massacre the uprising peoples of Iraq when they had wrested control from him in most cities of Iraq.

The people of Iraq echo our discontentment with America and the West’s policy in Iraq, for they know the realities of such a policy far better than any of us shall ever know.

I want to ask those who support the anti - "war" movement (apart from pacifists - that is a totally different situation) their motives and reasoning behind such support. You may feel that America is trying to blind you from seeing the truth about their real reasons for an invasion. I must argue that in fact, you are still blind to the bigger truths in Iraq. I must ask you to consider the following questions:

1. Saddam has murdered more than a million Iraqis over the past 30 years, are you willing to allow him to kill another million Iraqis?

2. Out of a population of 20 million, 4 million Iraqis have been forced to flee their country during Saddam’s reign. Are you willing to ignore the real and present danger that caused so many people to leave their homes and families?

3. Saddam rules Iraq using fear - he regularly imprisons, executes and tortures the mass population for no reason whatsoever - this may be hard to believe and you may not even appreciate the extent of such barbaric acts, but believe me you will be hard pressed to find a family in Iraq who have not had a son/father/brother killed, imprisoned, tortured and/or "disappeared" due to Saddam’s regime. What has been stopping you from taking to the streets to protest against such blatant crimes against humanity in the past?

4. Saddam gassed thousands of political prisoners in one of his campaigns to "cleanse" prisons - why are you not protesting against this barbaric act?

5. An example of the dictator’s policy you are trying to save - Saddam has made a law to give excuse to any man to rape a female relative and then murder her in the name of adultery. Do you still want to march to keep him in power?

I remember when I was around 8 I went along with my father to a demonstration against the French embassy when the French were selling Saddam weapons. I know of the numerous occasions my father and many, many others haves attended various meetings, protests and exhibitions that call for the end of Saddam’s reign. I have attended the permanent rally against Saddam that has been held every Saturday in Trafalgar Square for the past 5 years. The Iraqi people have been protesting for YEARS against the war - the war that Saddam has waged against them. Where have you been?

Why is it now that you deem it appro-priate to voice your disillusions with America’s policy in Iraq, when it is actually right now that the Iraqi people are being given real hope, however slight and precarious, that they can live in an Iraq that is free of the horrors partly described in this email?

Whatever America’s real intentions behind an attack, the reality on the ground is that many Iraqis, inside and outside Iraq support invasive action, because they are the ones who have to live with the realities of continuing as things are while people in the West wring their hands over the rights and wrongs of dropping bombs on Iraq, when in fact the US & the UK have been continuously dropping bombs on Iraq for the past 12 years.

Of course it would be ideal if an invasion could be undertaken, not by the Americans, but by, say, the Nelson Mandela International Peace Force. That’s not on offer. The Iraqi people cannot wait until such a force materialises; they have been forced to take what they’re given. That such a force does not exist - cannot exist - in today’s world is a failing of the very people who do not want America to invade Iraq, yet are willing to let thousands of Iraqis to die in order to gain the higher moral ground.

Do not continue to punish the Iraqi people because you are "unhappy" with the amount of power the world is at fault for allowing America to wield. Do not use the Iraqi people as a pawn in your game for moral superiority - one loses that right when one allows a monster like Saddam to rule for 30 years without so much as protesting against his rule.

Some will accuse me of being a pessimist for accepting that the only way to get rid of Saddam is through force. I beg to differ; I believe I have boundless optimism for the FUTURE of Iraq, where Iraqis are able to rebuild their shattered country, where Jews, Muslims, Christians, atheists, communists - all peoples of any and all backgrounds are able to live in peace and safety and without fear of persecution. I beg you to imagine such an Iraq, such a democracy in the Middle East, and ask where in that do you see pessimism? Such an Iraq is what is being envisaged and sought by many millions of Iraqis; such an Iraq is where I hope I will be able to take my children.

If you want to make your disillusions heard then do speak out, put pressure on Blair, Bush & Co to keep to their promises of restoring democracy to Iraq. Make sure they do put back in financial aid what they have taken over the years, and make sure that they don’t betray the Iraqis again. March for democracy in Iraq. If you say that we can’t trust the Americans then make sure that you are a part of ensuring they do fulfil their promises to the Iraqis.

So I conclude by asking you to consider your REASONS for supporting the anti-"war" movement, and if you are going, the anti-"war" demo. If you still feel that what I have said does not sway you from this stance, then I can do no more.

In some ways I do admire the movement because it proves what people can achieve when they come together and speak out. Unfortunately for Iraq nobody spoke out earlier.

(*I use apostrophes with "war" because in truth it will be no war, but an invasion. A war presumes relatively equal forces battling against each, with resistance on both sides. A US-led force will encounter NO resistance from the Iraqi people or the army.)...
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Posted by Ian Wishart at 01:45 AM | Comments (0)