January 08, 2009
Unholy War: May 02 issue
The roots of today’s Middle East conflict may have more to do with Hitler’s Nazi holocaust than many in the west realise. As Israeli forces pound Palestinian and Hezbollah positions on a sporadic basis, and suicide bombers wreak havoc in Jerusalem, it is difficult to reconstruct history’s divergent strands and work out where the conflict has its origins. Difficult, perhaps. But not impossible. IAN WISHART traces the background
As tank shells and machine gun rounds rip holes in buildings and people alike, it is easy to point the finger in the Palestine conflict and make moral judgements. But where did the battle really begin? Why is there such enmity between both sides?
Western news reports usually focus on the creation of the Israeli state in 1948 as the catalyst, but increasingly experts are dusting off old news clippings and government reports dating back to the First World War to get a handle on the problem. Why? Because it seems the popular view of heavily-armed Jewish settler/terrorists kicking Palestinians out of their homes in the late 1940s may be only half the story.
It actually traces back to the emergence of two men – one the uncle of current Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, the other regarded as the father of modern Israel.
In 1893, in a dusty stone abode in what was then Turkish-controlled Palestinian Jerusalem, a baby boy named Haj Amin el-Husseini entered the world, oblivious to the course his life would take. That course was already being determined thanks to the work of Theodore Herzl, a Zionist who envisioned the return of the world’s Jews – scattered since the Roman times – to Israel.
Herzl was organising the return of Jews to the area, admittedly in small groups at first.
As a teenager El-Husseini began to resent the Jewish immigrants, but put his personal feelings on hold to fight in World War One as part of the Ottoman Imperial Army against the British. When the Turkish were defeated, Britain took control of the Palestinian area under a League of Nations mandate and, in accordance with its own stated policies, announced the creation of a Jewish National Homeland in Palestine (the Balfour Declaration).
The problem was, British officials governing neighbouring Egypt who sympathised with the Palestinians had previously indicated Britain would favour Arab interests above the Jews.
Although Jewish immigrants were at this point buying land and businesses, not seizing them, the immigration wave and growing political and economic power of the Jews was causing societal tensions, in much the same way but on a much larger scale to the Asian immigration wave to New Zealand of the nineties.
By 1920 tensions on the ground had risen to boiling point, and British officials on the ground gave 27 year old Haj Amin tacit approval to attack Jewish settlers. It came in the form of a meeting between British Colonel Waters Taylor and Haj Amin just a few days before Easter 1920.
According to official British records of what followed, the Colonel told him “he had a great opportunity at Easter to show the world…that Zionism was unpopular not only with the Palestine Administration but in Whitehall and if disturbances of sufficient violence occurred in Jerusalem at Easter, both General Bols [Chief Administrator in Palestine] and General Allenby [Commander of Egyptian Force] would advocate the abandonment of the Jewish Home. Waters-Taylor explained that freedom could only be attained through violence.”
Haj Amin took it on board, but rather than adopting the traditional British technique of subtlety, he openly led the riot that followed. As part of what was supposed to be the secret arrangement, British soldiers and police were withdrawn from Jerusalem over Easter, which allowed Arab mobs to attack Jews and loot their shops without interference.
When Jewish settlers regrouped and counter-attacked, they were arrested by the British and received up to 15 years’ jail. Haj Amin, because of his public role, was also arrested but escaped, and was sentenced to 10 years’ jail in absentia.
It was a token punishment. Just one year later Haj Amin’s allies in the British administration had arranged for him to be pardoned, and promoted to Grand Mufti – the official Muslim leader of the territory. Within three weeks, forces loyal to Haj Amin massacred 43 Jews in riots, the first of many attacks. Again, Jews who fought back were often arrested as part of the nudge and wink agreement between the British authorities and Mufti Haj Amin.
In 1929, rumours were spread by Haj Amin’s forces that Jewish religious ceremonies at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount would be used as a pretense by the Jews to attack Islam’s Dome of Rock. The huge Arab population were incensed and attacked the Jews, killing 133 and injuring 399.
An official investigation by British officials determined that the riots were caused by Arab fears about increased Jewish immigration, and the inquiry determined that Jewish immigration and land purchases should be restricted.
The Mufti, meanwhile, consolidated his status with the Palestinians by fundraising internationally for a refit of the Dome of the Rock, raising enough money to plate it in gold, but he was forced to flee Palestine after fomenting a rebellion in 1936 that finally put him offside with Britain.
Ironically, Haj Amin’s agenda was not the creation of a Palestinian state: he firmly believed Palestine was part of Jordan and Syria.
Haj Amin el-Husseini resurfaced in 1941 in Hitler’s Germany, meeting with the Fuhrer on a number of occasions and urging him to step up his ethnic cleansing against Jews, not just in Europe but in the Middle East.
The Grand Mufti formulated 15 drafts of declarations he wanted Germany and Italy to adopt, including declaring the Jewish homeland in Palestine illegal and giving Arabs free rein to adopt holocaust methods against the Palestinian Jews, by according “to Palestine and to other Arab countries the right to solve the problem of the Jewish elements in Palestine and other Arab countries, in accordance with the interests of the Arabs, and by the same method, that the question is now being settled in the Axis countries.”
Haj Amin knew the methods Hitler was using, having toured Auschwitz and, according to Nazi records, urging the gas chamber guards to work more “diligently” in wiping out Jews.
During his time in Germany, according to testimony to the Nuremberg Trials, the Palestinian leader was also instrumental in sinking a deal being brokered between Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann and the British that would have seen German POWs in Britain freed in exchange for the Nazis agreeing to release 5,000 Jewish children from concentration camps.
Haj Amin managed to torpedo the prisoner exchange, convincing the Nazi party to instead transfer the children from holding camps in Bulgaria to the main camps at Auschwitz and Belsen. Most are believed to have perished.
Speaking on Radio Berlin in 1943, Haj Amin el Husseini urged Muslims in Europe to join the Nazis in exterminating the Jews, “Kill the Jews wherever you find them – this is pleasing to Allah.”
The Palestinian leader also travelled to Bosnia in 1943, personally recruiting Bosnian Muslims to a special division of Hitler’s Waffen SS troops. The Bosnian division slaughtered more than 9,000 Bosnian Jews, and destroyed Serbian churches and villages. The seeds of much of the recent Serbian aggression against Bosnian Muslims were sown here.
Nazi SS chief Heinrich Himmler was so impressed with the Bosnian SS that he established a “Mullah Military School” in Dresden.
When Germany ultimately lost the war, Haj Amin was captured by French forces and indicted as a Nazi war criminal, but again managed to escape and fled to Egypt to continue his battle against Israeli Jews.
The creation of Israel was mandated by the United Nations in 1947. It split the region in half. Ironically, had the Palestinians accepted this settlement they would have been far better off than they currently are.
Instead, the Grand Mufti and the Arab nations decided to wage war for a reclamation of 100% of the Palestinian region and a desire, particularly on Haj Amin’s part, to finish the job that Hitler started. He didn’t want Jewish settlers captured. He wanted them dead.
What followed at the urging of Haj Amin can be directly blamed for the Palestinian refugee problem. On May 15, 1948, he appealed to the Arabs of Palestine to leave their homes and leave the country, because Arab armies were about to come in to drive out the Jews. The Palestinians did leave, but their liberators didn’t bother to show up, as a Jordanian newspaper noted in February 1949:
“The Arab states, which had encouraged the Palestinian Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies, have failed to keep their promises to return.”
As another displaced Palestinian lamented: “The Arab governments told us ‘Get out, so that we can get in’. So we got out, but they did not get in.”
One of the Grand Mufti’s most enthusiastic recruits was his nephew, Abd al-Rahman abd al-Bauf Arafat al-Qud al-Husseini, who set up the Palestinian resistance movement el-Fatah in response to the huge boost in Jewish immigration to the territory. Abd al-Rahman’s first troops initially greeted him and Haj Amin with the infamous Nazi salute.
Today, Abd al-Rahman is better known to the West as Yasser Arafat.
In 1956, after Egypt nationalised the Suez canal and Palestinian resistance groups stepped up attacks on Israeli settlements, Israel lashed out by invading Egypt, capturing the Sinai desert on the east bank of the canal. When the dust settled, a United Nations peacekeeping force was installed to act as a buffer and prevent further attacks on Israel from Egyptian insurgents.
By 1967, however, after months of sabre-rattling on both sides, Egypt signed a military treaty with Syria and Jordan, re-invaded the Sinai desert and closed the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping. Israel responded with a devastating pre-emptive strike, shattering the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian armies in just six days and capturing huge tracts of new territory, including much of the now disputed West Bank.
In 1973, Egypt and Syria launched a surprise counter-attack on the eve of a Jewish religious holiday. It was only through American intervention in the form of weapon supplies that Israel survived and was able to defeat the invasion forces.
Why did America become involved? A primary reason was the involvement of the Soviet Union behind the scenes in supplying Egypt and Syria with weaponry. In fact, Russia was preparing to send its own troops into the region to help finish Israel off, and was only deterred when the United States placed its armed forces on “full nuclear alert”.
At the end of the war, the US insisted that Egypt and Israel thrash out a workable peace deal. That peace process continued throughout the eighties and nineties, resulting in the creation of Yasser Arafat’s self-governing Palestinian Authority in 1993.
But always just under the surface have been competing agendas – from the Palestinian side the growing allegiance to Islamic fundamentalism based on the Koran’s instruction to “kill the infidels where you find them”, and from the Israeli side by right-wing governments continuing to allow Jewish settlers to build homes on captured Palestinian land.
The problem with modern journalism is that much of the past is being ignored. The new book by New Zealander Lloyd Geering, Who Owns The Holy Land?, for example, fails to mention the extensive Nazism of Grand Mufti Haj Amin, leaving readers with an arguably unbalanced picture of the passions at the heart of this conflict.
And Geering’s glaring omissions are typical, rather than the exception. One peace group, the MidEast Web for Coexistence, a joint Islamic/Jewish friendship organisation, has recently fired a number of bullets at zealots who deliberately hide the truth:
“What is not told is as important as what is told. The pen of the Jewish extremist makes the massacre of Deir Yassin disappear – over a hundred dead people are banished to nowhere. The pen of the Palestinian partisan erases the siege of Jerusalem and the Arab invasion of 1948. A writer in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, waves his magic pen and the Holocaust disappears. None of it happened. The Jewish extremist erases the Palestinian refugees. Reality is rearranged for convenience.
“Time and again, words create reality and programme actions. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic forgery of the Czarist secret police, is enshrined in the charter of the Hamas and propels Muslim extremists to their death. Osama Bin Laden wrote his Fatwas against America, and the words toppled mighty buildings. The Mufti of Jerusalem said ‘the Jews are destroying the holy Mosque of Al Aqsa’ and the riots of 1929 began. The same rumour started bloodier riots in 1997 and again in September 2000 [the start of the current uprising].
“At this moment, as is usual in our area, a battle is raging. The words are fighting alongside the tanks and bombs. Partisans are busy rewriting history. Suicide bombers are being written out by one side, civilian casualties are being written out by the other.
“Words are changing history, and people are being programmed to act on the words, never mind what happened. So the words help to create reality.”
Among the “words” being bandied around is the figure of 590,000 displaced Palestinians, turned into refugees by the creation of Israel in 1948. But a lesser known figure is the 850,000 Arab Jews who were forced to flee from their homelands in ten Arab states when the fighting broke out, also leaving behind homes and belongings, businesses, land and flocks. Those Jews were taken in by Israel. None has been compensated by the Arab states for the money and property they left behind.
In other words, it cuts both ways.
Strip away the rhetoric, and you are left with two men: Yasser Arafat, the one-time protégé of a self-confessed Nazi collaborator whose wish was to see all Jews gassed, and Ariel Sharon, holocaust survivor, Israeli terrorist turned military leader.
While you could point to Sharon’s involvement in the Deir Yassin massacre of Palestinian women and children in 1948, you could also point to Arafat’s uncle personally ensuring the deaths of thousands of Jews in Europe. You could point to the wave of Jewish immigration in the early 1900s, but you could also point to the Palestinian massacres of those same Jewish settlers.
Neither side is innocent in this conflict, but commonsense shows that had the Arab states accepted the UN fifty-fifty carve-up of Palestine in 1947, the Palestinians would have owned a lot more land than the 22% they currently occupy as a result of Israel capturing territory during failed Arab invasions. Having taken a gamble on the “might is right” option and lost, the Palestinians now seek to recover the territory they gave to the victors through a diplomatic solution.
Whilst there is an overwhelming pragmatism to such a solution, any Palestinian claim to occupy the moral high-ground is looking increasingly dubious.
March 10, 2008
The Arena: Mar 05, AU edition
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
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
Welcome New Iraq.
Welcome freedom and democracy.
Welcome peace and prosperity for all nations with out exception but terrorists!
Amen to that.
Nov 05, AU Edition
David J. Ford has spent a lifetime working in the region’s hotspots – including over a half-dozen years active service with the British Army’s Royal Military Police during the Malayan Emergency and the Borneo Rebellion in counterterrorism and anti-insurgency roles. He’s worked with corporations such as Hilton and Woolworth’s when their operations have been bombed or threatened, and upgraded Fiji’s aircraft safety program when the world’s airlines considered avoiding fly-overs due to perceived security risk. Now, in the wake of the latest Bali bombings, this international counterterrorism expert sees a chilling trend in Islamic fundamentalist suicide bombings
The terrible loss of 22 innocent lives in Bali on 1 October is a sharp reminder that Indonesia’s terror groups, be they Jemaah Islaamiyah, various splinter groups or other, independent radicals, have not lost their explosive bite – regardless of the arrest of 200 or so JI activists since the first Bali bombing in October 2002. The cruel, despicable use of suicide bombers has again confirmed it as the preferred weapon of Islamic extremists.
But as if the idea of a fanatic wandering into a crowded restaurant full of civilian tourists and workers, the latest bombings point to a potentially more sinister trend – one which adds a dangerous new wrinkle to our efforts to identify suicide attackers and keep them from bringing innocent people to grief. While very little information is known (or at least is being released) about the identities of the bombers themselves, police are known to be investigating the tantalizing possibility that the explosives were detonated by remote control via mobile phone, due to records of calls made at the time of the blasts. The question then becomes: Were these calls made to the individual bomber or – just as likely – were they used to actually trigger the explosive device?
This is a vital piece of information: if the explosives were detonated remotely, each of the bombers may well have been duped into carrying the bomb into the target location, on some pretext or other, without knowing the contents of their respective backpack. That could mean that they had no intention of dying, that they too were murdered. This would be a very worrying revelation indeed. If true, it could mean that in future, otherwise innocent, duped couriers could be of any race, colour or religious persuasion and from all walks of life.
Indeed, there is already precedent, albeit unsuccessful, for this sort of attack. In 1986, shortly before Anne Marie Murphy, a young pregnant Irishwoman, boarded an El Al flight in London bound for Tel Aviv to meet the parents of her Palestinian fiancé, the airline’s world-famous pre-flight interrogators got suspicious. They searched her baggage thoroughly and discovered that her so-called lover had duped her into carrying a load of plastic explosives and a detonator in one of her suitcases. Had she been allowed to board the flight, she may very well have unwittingly sent herself, her unborn child, and hundreds of others to an early grave.
Today, true followers of the teachings of the prophet Muhammad and of the Koran would testify that suicide by whatever means, and for whatever purpose, is strictly forbidden. Muhammad himself said, ‘Whoever purposely throws himself from a mountain and kills himself will be in the [hell] fire falling down into it and abiding therein forever; and whoever drinks poison and kills himself with it, he will be carrying his poison in his hand and drinking it in the [hell] fire wherein he will abide eternally forever; and whoever kills himself with an iron weapon will be carrying that weapon in his hand and stabbing his abdomen with it in the [hell] fire wherein he shall abide eternally forever.’
Let there be no doubt then that for a Muslim, suicide is strictly forbidden as a major sin. So why do they do it?
Desiring to be martyrs, these killers produce their own purely selfish justification for their intended actions. They argue that they are fighting a jihad, or struggle, which they interpret as against all non-believers of Islam, infidels, and that to die in such a war makes the warrior an instant martyr with all that entails – eternity in paradise, 72 virgins, the lot. And while suicide is forbidden within Islam, martyrdom is sought after as the ultimate achievement in this life and performed as a duty.
(Theologically, of course, this promise of paradise cannot stand on a number of points. Among other things, in Islam, the only wars that are permitted are between armies, which ‘should be engaged on battlefields and engaged nobly’. And as for indiscriminate killings, this too is prohibited. Muhammad said, ‘Do not kill women or children or non-combatants and do not kill old people or religious people’. By their very actions many of these religious zealots illustrate a propensity for mass murder without any plausible, religious justification but for some obscure political purpose. They are but pawns in a global game of politics and religious mayhem, and have chosen to ignore their own scriptures and the teachings of more moderate religious leaders to make their own interpretation of the Koranic scriptures.)
The incidence of suicide bombings has increased alarmingly over the past five years globally and will continue to do so at an ever-increasing rate as more young candidates graduate from Muslim religious schools, many financed by Saudi Arabia which promotes a strict so-called Wahhabi interpretation of Islam, that promote this unholy doctrine.
Others will be recruited as disenchanted fringe-dwellers who get roped in and indoctrinated by local radical religious leaders, as was the case with some of the recent London bombers.
And one cannot ignore the role played by the world media as al Qa’ida and other Islamic extremists continue to take heart from perceived successes (even if they are strategic or tactical failures) in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
That said, we must also be mindful that for some clerics and extremists there is also another apocalyptic agenda. The central tenet of Islam is that there is only one true religion, and that is Islam. It goes even further, instructing followers to work towards world domination by converting, or eliminating, all non-believers: to a strict Muslim, the world is divided into the dar al-Harb, or House of War (representing non-Muslim lands) and the dar al-Islam (the Muslim world). A quick glance at a map shows that all along the border of these two areas, conflict is the norm rather than the exception, and the existence of a Hindu outpost such as Bali in the midst of the world’s largest Islamic country is, to a fundamentalist Muslim, like a red flag to a bull.
A religious war, with Islam pitted against the West, suits the goals and aspirations of the likes of al Qa’ida and JI and keeps with the most important commandment of the Koran: to spread Islam throughout the entire world, by force where necessary.
It is possible that this aspect of the Koran and its scriptures could help explain why many Islamic scholars and clerics worldwide have shown reticence to openly condemn or to identify and expose Islamic terrorists in their midst. Though in Australia, Islamic clerics and leaders now appear to be trying to resolve these issues, even attempting to find consensus amongst their disparate groups with a view to accepting the broad application of Australia’s new anti-terrorism laws.
An explosive device, whether carried upon the person or in a vehicle by a suicidal extremist is seen as a very successful and effective weapon. And there appears to be plenty of misguided, well-indoctrinated volunteers seeking martyrdom. Thwarting a person bent on committing suicide using a bomb is nigh on impossible. The device can be detonated at will.
So how can we prevent or reduce the incidence of suicide bombings? There are several possibilities.
Firstly, Muslim scholars, together with all Islamic religious and community leaders must be more vocal and decidedly pro-active. They must, at every opportunity, distance themselves and all true believers from terrorist activity and from the minority religious leaders who continue to preach violence and murder. They must be prepared also to ferociously denounce these extremists to the security authorities lest the extremists and their followers grow in strength and develop momentum such as to bring all of Islam into disrepute, with the added risk of incurring the wrath of all free thinking people. And finally, they must promulgate widely at every opportunity that the act of suicide is abhorrent to the dictates of Islamic law and which immediately negates all chance of martyrdom for the offender.
The second and more immediate question is to find a way of further convincing potential candidates for suicide bombing that, from their religious standpoint, suicide would be pointless and self-defeating, as well as to bring shame on himself and his family.
How could this be done and how would we convince them of this?
Well, profoundly distasteful as the answer is it lies in making the suicide bomber’s body, or mortal remains, unclean in the eyes of Islam. Here we must keep in mind that this is a person who has rejected the norms of the civilized world, one who has corrupted the teachings of the Koran and who is prepared to kill and maim innocent, women and children and the elderly, and even his brothers in Islam, in order to achieve martyrdom. And one who by virtue of his actions can no longer consider himself a Muslim.
Surely, such people do not deserve the respect and social norms usually accorded to the dead.
Muslims are strongly forbidden from eating pig meat, and they consider the animal itself unclean. (Indeed, this porcine prohibition took a darkly comic turn in the West Midlands, UK, council of Dudley recently, when council workers were ordered to take any pig-themed novelty items off their desk lest Muslim staffers be offended). The Koran states: ‘He hath only forbidden you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that on which any other name hath been invoked besides that of God’.
Muslims therefore consider that to eat pork is a very, very unholy act, andan abomination before God. Similarly, to touch a pig is to make one unclean and an unclean person cannot enter paradise. Hence, this person cannot be a martyr.
Is it not axiomatic therefore that in order to take away the prime incentive of the suicide bomber and other mass killers – that of entering paradise with all its promised sensual pleasures – we offer a counter promise? Authorities would guarantee the contamination of his remains with the blood of swine. And importantly, that the remains would not be returned to his family to enable ritual cleansing and purification.
This would have a very salutary affect and might even put an end to this madness. Remove access to martyrdom and you remove the very purpose, or excuse, for dying, and in its place, make people aware of the threat of carrying bags or packages for suspect people – lest they become unwitting bombers themselves. There is precedent for this: American General John Pershing, fighting Muslim militants in the southern Philippines after the Spanish-American War, wrapped the bodies of captured and executed terrorists in pig fat. As one officer reportedly told a militant at the time, ‘You’ll never see Paradise’. More recently, according to some reports, the Russian afforded the same treatment to the bodies of terrorists involved in the Moscow theatre siege of 2002.
Now is not the time for equivocation. The tightening of Federal and States’ counter terrorism legislation is a very good first step, in a pro-active sense, but it will do little to prevent the die-hard martyr working secretly and in concert with just a few cohorts. We must remove the suicide bombers very reason for dying.
It is time for straight talking and timely action however unpleasant and uncivilized that might appear. Unless the West and true followers of Islam face Islamic fundamentalism and revivalism head-on today, the world will experience a future to horrid even to contemplate.
Nov 05, AU Edition
ISLAM’S MESSAGE TO THE WEST
We’re coming to get you
Earlier this month the terror group Jemaah Islamiyah hit Bali again. Now, in this exclusive interview for Investigate magazine in Australia and New Zealand, given shortly before the latest bombings, alleged terror leader Abu Bakar Ba’asyir tells TAUFIQ ANDRIE and SCOTT ATRAN there’s no place to hide from militant Islam in the Pacific, and no hope of peace. Ever.
This interview was conducted on August 13 and 15, 2005 from Cipinang Prison in Jakarta. Questions were formulated by Dr. Scott Atran and posed for him in Behasa Indonesian by Taufiq Andrie. The
interview took place in a special visitor’s room, where Ba’asyir had seven acolytes acting as his bodyguards, including Taufiq Halim, the perpetrator of the Atrium mall bombing in Jakarta, and Abdul Jabbar, who blew up the Philippines ambassador’s house. The transcript follows the short introduction below.
In this interview, the alleged terrorist leader Abu Bakar Ba’asyir provides his justification for waging jihad against the West. He also explains the calculus of suicide bombers and discusses his interpretation of Islam concerning war and infidels. Despite accusations that he is head of the al-Qa’ida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist organization and has planned the most lethal terrorist attacks in Southeast Asia, Ba’asyir has only been convicted on conspiracy charges in the 2002 attack on a Bali nightclub that killed 202 people. His 30-month sentence for his role in that bombing, which included scores of Australian tourists among the casualties, was recently reduced by four months and 15 days.
Just outside the visitor’s cell is Hasyim, who runs Ba’asyir’s daily errands. Hasyim is a member of Majlis Mujahidin Indonesian (MMI), the country’s umbrella organization for militant Islamist groups headed by Ba’asyir. Like many Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) members, including Ba’asyir and JI founder Abdullah Sungkar, Hasyim originally came from Darul Islam, a post-independence group banned by the Suharto regime that has operated semi-clandestinely in Indonesian society much as the Muslim Brotherhood has in the Middle East.
In 1993, Sungkar split from DI, bringing with him most of the Indonesian Afghan Alumni that he and Ba’asyir had sent to fight the Soviets. Until Suharto’s downfall in 1998, Sungkar and Ba’asyir
expanded their network of Islamist schools from exile in Malaysia, funnelling students to training camps in Afghanistan and the Philippines, and expanding JI’s influence across Southeast Asia. After Sungkar’s death in 1999, Ba’asyir became “Emir” of JI – a position and organization whose existence he publicly denies but for which there is overwhelming evidence, including from current and former JI members Dr. Atran has interviewed. Although Sungkar himself established direct ties with bin Laden, it is under Ba’asyir’s stewardship that JI has adopted key aspects of al-Qa’ida ideology and methods, targeting the interests of the ‘far enemy’ (the U.S. and its allies) with suicide bombings (Bali, Marriot Jakarta, Australian Embassy, Bali again) in support of global jihad.
Referred to as Ustadz (“teacher”), Ba’asyir is surrounded by visiting family and students who offer him a daily assortment of news magazines and foods, especially dates, his favorites. His disciples tend to be well-educated, often university graduates, and they wash his clothes. Ba’asyir’s wife visits him once a month, and Ustadz offers to share the food she prepared with his prison mates, including Christians. He is a lanky, bespectacled Hadrami (a descendent from the Hadramawt region of Yemen, like bin Laden and Sungkar) who fasts twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays. He is 66 and seemingly in good health. Dressed in a white robe, red sarong and white cap, he is sitting on a wooden chair, one foot up perched on the edge. He exudes politeness and is all smiles, with a strong voice and easy laugh he answers questions as if teaching.
Q: You say that it is fardh ‘ain [an individual obligation] for Muslims to wage jihad against Infidels.
A: There are two types of infidels. The infidel who is against Islam and declares war on Islam is called kafir harbi [enemy infidel]. The second type is kafir dhimmi [protected infidel]. These are people who don’t fight against Islam, but don’t embrace it either and basically remain neutral.
Q: When in Cipinang, did Ustadz meet Father Damanik?  Is he kafir dhimmi?
A: Yes, I was visited and was respected by him. I have a plan, if Allah allows me, to pay a visit to his house. That’s what I call “muamalah dunia,” daily relations in the secular life. Because al-Qur’an sura 60 verse 8 says that “Allah encourages us to be kind and just to the people who don’t fight us in religion and don’t help people who fight us” so we are encouraged by Allah to be good and just to them. It means that we can help those who aren’t against us. On these matters we can cooperate, but we also have to follow the norms of Shari’ah. If Shari’ah says not to doing something, then we shouldn’t do it. Shari’ah never prohibited business in the secular world except in very minor things. So it is generally allowed to have business with non-Muslims. We can help each other. For example, if we are sick and they help us, then if they become sick, we should help them. When they die we should accompany their dead bodies to the grave though we can’t pray for them.
Q: What is the principle of Hudaybiyah [the covenant between prophet Muhammad and the People of the Book]?
A: Hudaybiyah means different things according to the legal situation. When Islam is strong, we come to the infidel’s country, not to colonize but to watch over it so that the infidel cannot plan to ruin Islam. Everywhere, infidels conspire to ruin Islam. There is no infidel who wouldn’t destroy Islam if they were given even a small chance. Therefore, we have to be vigilant.
Q: What are the conditions for Islam to be strong?
A: If there is a state, the infidel country must be visited and spied upon. My argument is that if we don’t come to them, they will persecute Islam. They will prevent non-Muslims converting to Islam.
Q: Does being a martyr mean being a suicide bomber?
A: As I explained [the day before] yesterday, there are two types of infidel terms for suicide: first, those who commit suicide out of hopelessness, second, those who commit suicide in order to be remembered as a hero. Both are types of suicide and there is no value in it.
In Islam there are also people who commit suicide out of hopelessness and we call this killing oneself. But if a person defends Islam, and according to his calculations must die in doing so, although he works hard in life, he will still go and die for Islam.The consideration is: “if I do this, will Islam benefit or lose? If I must die and without my dying Islam will not win, then my dying is allowed.” Because to die in jihad is noble. According to Islam, to die is a necessity because everyone dies. But to seek the best death is what we call “Husn ul-Khatimah,” and the best way to die is to die as a shaheed [martyr].
Q: Is it acceptable to postpone a martyrdom action in order to make the hajj [pilgrimage to Mecca]?
A: A martyrdom action cannot be postponed in this case because jihad is more important than making the hajj. For example one of most revered ulema, Ibn Taymiyya, was asked by a rich person:
“O Sheikh, I have so much money but I’m confused about donating my money because there are two needy causes. There are poor people who, if I don’t help, will die of starvation. But if I use the money for this purpose, then the Jihad will lack funding. Therefore, I need your fatwah [religious decision] O Sheikh”
Ibn Taymiyya replied: “Give all your money for jihad. If the poor people die, it is because Allah fated it, because if we lose the Jihad, many more people will die.”
There is no better deed than jihad. None. The highest deed in Islam is jihad. If we commit to jihad, we can neglect other deeds. America wants to wipe out the teaching of jihad through Ahmadiyah [an Islamic school of thought that believes that Pakistan’s Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is the Prophet Muhammad’s successor]. Through this organization, America works. Why? Because Ahmadiyah prohibits its followers to undertake jihad because [they argue] jihad is the teaching of Christians. This organization originates from India. Its headquarters are in London, funded by America. Ahmadiyah is America’s tool to destroy Islam, including JIL [Jaringan Islam Liberal, Islamic Liberal Network], an NGO in Jakarta that advocates a liberal form of Islam. It is funded by USAID.
Q: So is the idea to postpone is not allowed in any circumstances, even in order to visit sick parents?
A: No, no. If we are in jihad, the jihad must come first. Unless jihad is in [the state of] fardh kifayah [a collective duty, for the nation]. If jihad is in [the state of] fardh ’ain [an individual duty], jihad must be number one. There is no obligation to ask permission from one’s parents. But even if jihad is still in the fardh kifayah state, such as jihad to spy on infidel countries, Muslims don’t require their parent’s permission.
Q: Can a martyrdom action be permanently abandoned if there is a good chance that the martyr’s family would be killed in a retaliation action? similarly if the community where the martyr is from will also experience retaliation and casualties?
A: That is the risk and the consequence of jihad. If the martyr’s family understands Islam deeply, they will obtain many rewards. Their reward will come, if they understand. A martyr must have ikhlas [sincerity]. The parent who understands this concept must be thankful to Allah. This is the spirit of jihad that most scares the infidels. This is a moral force. According to General De Gaulle, moral force is 80% and actual action only 20% [of successful combat]. For infidels the motivation is to be a hero or [to die for] the nation. Some are even encouraged to drink [alcohol] so that they can become brave.
Russia was badly defeated in Afghanistan. [Afghanistan] is different than Eastern Europe which could be conquered in only a month or two. Russians thought [that they could conquer] Afghanistan in two weeks maximum because its people were backward, isn’t that right? That was Russia’s calculation based on their experience in Eastern Europe. But Afghanistan fought Russia back with their aqidah [by following Islamic doctrine] in the way of jihad. I’ll tell you a story so that you’ll understand. There was an Afghan mother who made cakes. She asked her children to distribute the cakes to the mujahideen. One by one her children were hit by shells on their way to deliver the cakes. When the mujahideen informed her they said : “Dear mother, please be strong because your children are martyred.” [The mother replied]: “I’m not crying for my children but I’m crying because I don’t know who’ll bring my cakes to the mujahideen.” Then one of the mujahideen agreed to replace her children. So, this is the spirit of jihad. You find ikhlas and willingness. Prophet Muhammad said: “I want to make jihad then die, then live again, then do jihad again, then live again, then jihad – for ten times.” This is because of the noble status for Muslims who became shaheed.
Q: Do you think the community which believes in martyrdom
actions cares if the martyr only manages to blow up himself/herself and fails to kill any of the enemy?
A: No, [provided that] the ni’at [intention] to be a shaheed must be for Allah. During battle it is different. Istimata is also different. Still, the whole notion revolves around martyrdom. But in places like London and in America there must be other calculations. In battle it is best to cause as many casualties as possible.
Q: Do you think God favors or cares more for the martyr who manages to kill 100 enemies or one enemy?
A: The value [nilai] and reward [pahala] is the same.
Q: In regard to the global condition, what kind of things can the West, especially America, do to make this world more peaceful. What kind of attitudes must be changed?
A: They have to stop fighting Islam, but that’s impossible
because it is “sunnatullah” [destiny, a law of nature], as Allah has said in the Qur’an. They will constantly be enemies. But they’ll lose. I say this not because I am able to predict the future but they will lose and Islam will win. That was what the Prophet Muhammad has said. Islam must win and Westerners will be destroyed. But we don’t have to make them enemies if they allow Islam to continue to grow so that in the end they will probably agree to be under Islam. If they refuse to be under Islam, it will be chaos. Full stop. If they want to have peace, they have to accept to be governed by Islam.
Q: What if they persist?
A: We’ll keep fighting them and they’ll lose. The batil [falsehood] will lose sooner or later. I sent a letter to Bush. I said that you’ll lose and there is no point for you [to fight us]. This [concept] is found in the Qur’an. The other day, I asked my lawyer to send that letter to the [U.S.] embassy. I don’t know whether the embassy passed on my letter to Bush [telling him], “You are useless, you’ll lose.” There are verses in the Qur’an that say, “You spend so much money yet you’ll be disappointed.” The verse is clear so I’m not some one who can predict the future but I get the information from Allah, so I’ll never be sad because I believe the time will come. Still, I feel that the Ummah [Muslim community] has a problem now. If the Ummah loses the [current] battle it isn’t because of Islam. A Muslim, as long as he is not “broken” [and remains committed to Allah’s rule] will get help from Allah.
Q: How about using nuclear weapons by Muslims, is it justified?
A: Yes, if necessary. But the Islamic Ummah should seek to minimalize [the intensity of the fighting]. Allah has said in verse 8 chapter 60 that we should equip ourself with weapon power – that is an order – but preferably to scare and not to kill our enemy. The main goal is to scare them. If they are scared they won’t bother us, and then we won’t bother them as well. But if they persist, we have to kill them. In this way, Prophet Muhammad sought to minimalize the fighting.
Q: In your personal view, what do you think of bombings in our homeland, namely the Bali, Marriott and Kuningan bombings?
A: I call those who carried out these actions all mujahid. They all had a good intention, that is, Jihad in Allah’s way, the aim of the jihad is to look for blessing from Allah. They are right that America is the proper target because America fights Islam. So in terms of their objectives, they are right, and the target of their attacks was right also. But their calculations are debatable. My view is that we should do bombings in conflict areas not in peaceful areas. We have to target the place of the enemy, not countries where many Muslims live.
Q: What do you mean by “wrong calculation,” that the victims
A: That was one them. In my calculation, if there are bombings
in peaceful areas, this will cause fitnah [discord] and other parties will be involved. This is my opinion and I could be wrong. Yet I still consider them mujahid. If they made mistakes, they are only human beings who can be wrong. Moreover, their attacks could be considered as self-defense.
Q: Does that mean you think they didn’t attack?
A: No, they didn’t attack because they defended themselves. They shouldn’t be punished. In Bali where 200 people died, it was America’s bomb. That was a major attack and Amrozi [the Bali plotter who bought the explosives] doesn’t have the capability to do that. 
Q: Did Amrozi tell you this himself?
A: He himself was surprised to see the explosion. When he said that it was Allah’s help he was right but he didn’t make that bomb. America did. There is much evidence to this effect and so the police dare not continue their investigations. According to England’s expert, that bomb was not Amrozi’s bomb. You should ask Fauzan. He knows this subject. That bomb was a CIA Jewish bomb. The Mossad cooperates with the CIA.  I had an exchange of views with the police and they didn’t say anything. I said to them, “You are stupid to punish Amrozi if he really knows how to make such a bomb. You should hire him to be a military consultant, because there is no military or police person [in Indonesia] who can make such a bomb.” However, when I asked Ali Imron  in the court he said: “Yes, I did it” I believe him [that he made one of the smaller bombs that went off]. A bomb expert from Australia said that anyone who believes that Amrozi and friends made that [bigger] bomb is an idiot; [this is also the opinion of] a bomb expert from England whose comments I read in a magazine. If Amrozi really did make that bomb, he deserves the Nobel Prize. So, the death penalty is not fair.
Q: I want to ask your opinion of Nasir Abas’s book where he said that you are the Emir of JI? 
A: This is a traitor, a betrayer. I was in Malaysia and I had a jama’ah [congregation] the name of which was Jama’ah Sunnah. We just studied Islam.
Q: Were you aware that Nasir Abas was your student?
A: Yes, I was. But he was not the only one there; he also studied with Ustadz Hasyim Gani. I joined his group. He died. I think Nassir Abas’s book is [written] on orders from the police and for money.
Q: According to you, the book is incorrect, especially on Jemaah Islamiyah and you being its Emir?
A: This is not a court and the real court has failed to prove it. 
Q: What was Nasir Abas’s motivation in writing that book?
A: I don’t know. But basically he got orders from the police and received some money. I think that was his motivation. He doesn’t have the courage to meet me. If I meet him, I’ll send him to do jihad in Chechnya or to the Southern Philippines so that Allah will accept his remorse [taubah]. He invented his own story.
Q: I heard that Nasir Abas came here. Did he meet you?
A: No, he came here to meet others.
Q: If I may know, when was the first time you heard the name
A: After the police questioned me; during the time I was filing a law suit against TIME magazine. Do you remember when I did that? They wanted me to take 100 million rupiah to stop the case but I didn’t. But I don’t know anymore about the case. During that time, I was under suspicion but I wasn’t arrested. That was the first time I heard the name al-Qa’ida.  A policeman from the intelligence section whose name I forget interrogated me from morning until afternoon. He asked about that name [al-Qa’ida]. That was the first time I heard of it. Before, I never heard of it. I went to Pakistan but I didn’t hear that name. I went there to accompany my son  and meet some Arabs but I never heard that name.
Q: How about Shaykh Osama bin Laden?
A: I heard his name a long time ago. I read his writings, saw his tapes and met Arabs in Pakistan who talked about him when I accompanied my son, Abdur Rahim. Who didn’t know Osama? He was a mujahid against the Soviets and he had his own military that he funded by himself. He was a hero who America also praised. He was then also supported by America. America was piggybacking on him because America didn’t have the courage to fight against the Soviets. They were afraid of the Soviets and they relied on the Afghans.
Q: Have you ever met him?
A: No, no. I want to though. After my release, I hope I can meet him. 
Q: Where will you find him?
A: If he still exists – but how could I? On Osama, my stand in court was clear. I have sympathy for his struggle. Osama is Allah’s soldier. When I heard his story, I came to the conclusion that he’s mujahid, a soldier of Allah.
Q: So you will always be on his side?
A: Many say this and Osama is right. His tactics and calculations may sometimes be wrong, he’s an ordinary human being after all. I don’t agree with all of his actions. He encouraged people to do bombings. I don’t agree with that. He said that JI followed his fatwah. His fatwah said that all Americans must be killed wherever they can be found, because America deserves it. Therefore [according to bin Laden] if Muslims come across Americans, they have to attack them. Osama believes in total war. This concept I don’t agree with. If this occurs in an Islamic country, the fitnah [discord] will be felt by Muslims. But to attack them in their country [America] is fine.
Q: So it means that the fight against America will never end?
A: Never, and this fight is compulsory. Muslims who don’t hate America sin. What I mean by America is George Bush’s regime. There is no iman [belief] if one doesn’t hate America. There are three ways of attacking: with your hand, your mouth and your heart.
Q: Does this mean America’s government? Its policies?
A: If its citizens are good that’s fine, especially the Muslim citizens. They are our brothers. Non-Muslims are also fine as long as they don’t bother us. A witness at my trial, Frederick Burks, wrote that he’s against Bush. 
Q: How can the American regime and its policies change?
A: We’ll see. As long as there is no intention to fight us and Islam continues to grow there can be peace. This is the doctrine of Islam. Islam can’t be ruled by others. Allah’s law can’t be under human law. Allah’s law must stand above human law. All laws must be under Islamic law. This is what the infidels fail to recognize, that’s what America doesn’t like to see. You should read a book, “The Face of Western Civilization” by Adian Husaini. It’s a good book, a thick one. The conclusion of the book is that Western scholars hold an anti-Islamic doctrine. It is true there will be a clash of civilizations. The argumentation is correct that there will be a clash between Islam and the infidels. There is no [example] of Islam and infidels, the right and the wrong, living together in peace.
1. Father Rinaldy Damanik is the leader of the Christian community in Poso District, Sulawesi where violence between Muslims and Christians led to hundreds of deaths on both sides between late 1998 and 2002 (and where intermittent violence continues to this day). I interviewed Father Damanik in his home in Tentena on August 10, 2005. It turns out that Father Damanik shared the same jail cell block successively for some months (September 2002 – January 2003) with Reda Seyam (legendary Al-Qa’ida film-maker), Imam Samudra (the JI computer expert condemned to death for planning the meetings and choosing the targets for the Bali bombings) and Ba’asyir. Damanik befriended all three. There are smiling photos of Reda and Damanik together, and Samudra and Ba’asyir have both confirmed their warm feelings toward Father Damanik. Damanik used to call Ba’asyir “Opa” (grandfather) and Ba’asyir’s wife would bring gifts of food to Damanik. They discussed
injustice, Shari’ah, faith in God, suicide attacks and opposing America. According to Dam- anik, they found much agreement on the sources of injustice but disagreed strongly over the means to overcome it.
2. Amrozi bin Nurahasyim was sentenced to death by an Indonesian court for having plotted the bombing of the Sari Club in Kuta, Bali along with Imam Samudra and Amrozi’s older brother, Mukhlas.
3. The story about the CIA-Mossad conspiracy is widespread among JI leaders and foot soldiers and (usually with a laugh) used to illustrate that that JI is itself a concoction of “Jewish Intelligence.”
4. Ali Imron, the younger brother of Mukhlas and Amrozi, was sentenced to life in prison for the Bali bombings after having
expressed remorse for his role in the attacks.
5. Muhammad Nasir bin Abas, who trained Bali bombers Imam Samudra and Ali Imron, received his religious instruction from Sungkar and Ba’asyir in Malaysia before they sent him in 1991 for three years to Towrkhan military camp in Afghanistan. He became a top JI military trainer but also gave religious instruction. In April 2001 Ba’asyir appointed Abas head of Mantiqi 3, one of JI’s strategic area divisions, which covered the geographical region of the Philippines and Sulawesi and was responsible for military training and arms supply. Abas turned state’s evidence in Ba’asyir’s trial, outlining the structure of JI and Ba’asyir’s position as Emir. But Abas refused to openly condemn Ba’asyir or accuse him of ordering any terrorist operations, always respectfully referring to Ba’asyir as Ustadz. In July 2005 Abas published Membongkar Jamaah Islamiyah (Unveiling Jamaah Islamiyah). The first part of the book details JI’s organization, ideology and strategy. The second part is a rebuttal to Samudra’s own book, Aku Melawan Terroris, and what Abas believes to be a tendentious use of the Quran and Hadith to justify suicide bombing and violence against fellow Muslims and civilians.
In between my interviews with Ba’asyir I interviewed Abas, who says that he quit JI over Ba’asyir’s refusal to condemn or contain the operations and influence of Riduan Isamuddin (aka Hambali). In January 2000, Hambali hosted a meeting in an apartment owned by JI member Yazid Sufaat in Kuala Lumpur that included 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and 9/11 highjackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf
al-Hamzi. As Abas tells it, Hambali, who was JI’s main liaison with Al-Qa’ida and a close friend and disciple of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, was given control of Mantiqi 1, which covered the geographical region of Malaysia and environs and was strategically responsible for JI finances and economic development. But Hambali was dissatisfied being saddled with the “economic wing” (iqtisod) and wanted to play a more active role in the conflict zones. The then-leader of Mantiqi 3, Mustafa (now in custody) blocked Hambali from muscling in on his area but Hambali was able to send fighters to fight Christians in Ambon (Maluku) in 1999, which was under Mantiqi 2 (covering most of Indonesia and strategically responsible for JI recruitment and organizational development). Encouraged by success in heating up the Maluku crisis, Hambali decided first to extend his (and al-Qa’ida’s) conception of jihad to all of Indonesia
(including the 1999 bombing of the Atrium Mall in Jakarta, the August 2000 bombing of the Philippines Ambassador’s house, and 17 coordinated Church bombings on Christmas eve 2000) and then to “globalize” the jihad by enlisting suicide bombers to hit Western targets and interests (including a failed plot to blow up Singapore’s American, Australian and Israeli embassies in
December 2001, and the successful 2002 Bali bombings and 2003 suicide attack on Jakarta’s Marriott hotel). Although Abas argues that JI shouldn’t be outlawed because many in JI reject Al-Qa’ida’s vision of global jihad, in fact JI’s infrastructure and leadership continue to protect (with safe houses) and condone (as “self-defense”) efforts by the likes of master-bomber Dr. Azhari bin Hussain and his constant sidekick, JI’s top recruiter Nurdin Nur Thop, who some tell me recently established a suicide squad, called Thoifah Muqatilah, for large actions against Western interests.
6. According to Abas, JI’s essential organization and ideology is outlined in a set of general guidelines for the Jemaah Islamiyah Struggle (Pedoman Umum Perjuangan
al-Jamaah al-Islamiyah, PUPJI), a 44-page manual that contains a constitution, outlines the roles of office bearers and gives details of how meetings must be organized (e.g., about what to do if a quorum cannot be obtained in the leadership council). The guidelines declare that anyone who adheres to fundamental Islamic principles that are devoid of corruption, deviation (e.g. Sufism) or innovation, can take the bayat (oath of allegiance) to the Emir of JI and become a JI member. Although JI would be, in principle, open to anyone who meets these conditions, in fact only carefully selected individuals, including the Mantiqi leaders, were allowed to take the bayat and obtain copies of the PUPJI. Such individuals generally (but not always) would have undergone previous training in Afghanistan or graduated at the top of their class in courses that Sungkar and Ba’asyir designed for JI recruitment (though designation of courses as JI was unknown to potential recruitees). Abas fulfilled both conditions. Although many people (including some Afghan Alumni I have interviewed) think of themselves as JI, or are not certain of whether or not they
belong to JI, Abas insists that if they did not formally take the bayat they are considered sympathizers or supporters of JI but not members (just as some prisoners at Guantánamo are sincerely uncertain as to whether or not they belong to al-Qa’ida if they did not formally take the bayat to Bin Laden).
Abas says the PUPJI was drafted by a committee, including Ba’asyir, and then formally approved by Sungkar as the basis for JI. When asked about the PUPJI in an earlier (untaped part of the) interview, Ba’asyir claimed, on the one hand, that the PUPJI manual was planted by police and intelligence services but, on the other hand, that it contains sound principles modeled on the doctrine of the Egyptian Islamic Group (Gama’at Islamiyah). Abas says that the manual also contains elements of Indonesia’s military organization, particularly in regard to the ranking of personnel (binpur) and responsibility for territory (bintur). He adds that although the PUPJI allows the JI to conduct itself as a “secret organization” (tanzim sir) – and conceal its doctrine, membership and operations from public view – it does not allow the practice of taqiyyah (dissimulation) to extend to lying to the (Muslim) public (another reason Abas gives for his leaving JI).
7. Other members of JI who openly
acknowledge sympathy with bin Laden and Qa’ida say much the same thing. For example, I interviewed the JI member who founded the first mujahidin training camp in 2000 for the conflict in Poso, Sulawesi. He had earlier been sent by JI founder Abdullah Sungkar during the Soviet-Afghan War to train in Abu Sayyafs’s Ihtihad camp in Sada, Pakistan and to study with Abdullah Azzam, Bin Laden’s mentor and the person who first formulated the notion of “Al-Qa’ida sulbah” (“the strong base”) as a vanguard for jihad. This JI member also acknowledges hosting Khalid Sheikh Muhammad at his home in Jakarta for a month in 1996. Yet, he claims never to have heard of “al-Qa’ida” applied to a specific organization or group headed by Bin Laden until 9/11.
8. Ba’asyir sent his younger son, Abdul Rahim, to the Afghanistan border during the Soviet-Afghan war to spend time under the wing of Aris Sumarsono (aka Zulkarnaen, who became JI’s operations chief) later enrolling Rahim in an Islamic high school in Faisalabad, Pakistan. Seeking a stricter salafist education for his son, Ba’asyir directed Rahim in the mid-nineties to Sana’a, Yemen, to study under Abdul Madjid al-Zindani (like Abdullah Azzam, Zindani was a legend among self-proclaimed “Afghan Alumni” who fought the Soviets). By 1999, Rahim was in Malaysia and soon under Hambali’s stewardship. Abdul Rahim now operates freely in Indonesia (reports in August 2005, place him in Aceh, heading a new charity, Camp Taochi Foundation) but he is suspected of having taken over JI’s contacts with Al-Qa’ida remnants after Hambali’s capture.
9. Ba’asyir’s statement that he never met bin Laden is contradicted by testimony from other JI members, both free and in custody. In the following letter (authenticated by Indonesian intelligence) dated August 3, 1998 and addressed to regional jihadi leaders, Ba’asyir and Sungkar state they are acting on bin Laden’s behalf to advance “the Muslim world’s global jihad” (jabhah Jihadiyah Alam Islamy) against“ the Jews and Christians:” Malaysia, 10 Rabiul Akhir 1419 [August 3, 1998] From: Abdullah Sungkar and Abu Bakar Ba’asyir To: Al Mukarrom, respected clerics, teachers (ustadz), sheikhs All praises upon God who has said: “The Jews and Christians will never be satisfied until you follow their way of worship” Al Baqarah: 120 Praise and peace upon Prophet Muhammad who has said: “If I’m still alive, I’ll surely expel the Jews and Christians out of the Arabian peninsula” And may God bless us and any of his followers who want to follow his orders.Respected clerics, teachers and sheikhs. This letter is to convey a message from Sheikh Osama Bin Laden to all of you. We send you this letter because we can’t visit and see you directly. However, we send our envoy, Mr. Ghaus Taufiq [a Darul Islam commander in Sumatra], to bring this letter personally to all of you. We also attach Bin Laden’s written message in this letter and Bin Laden also sends these messages to all of you:
1. Bin Laden conveys his regards (Assalamu’ alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh)
2. Bin Laden says that right now, after “Iman” (to believe in God), the most important obligation for all Moslems in the world is to work hard to free the Arabian Peninsula from the occupation of Allah’s enemy America (Jews and Christians).
This obligation is mathalabusy syar’i (a consequence of the shari’ah) that every Moslem must not consider this obligation to be a simple matter. Prophet Muhammad, although he was sick, ordered the Muslim Ummah to prioritize their obligation to expel the infidels from the Arabian Peninsula. Therefore, as the Prophet has said, the Muslim Ummah must take this obligation seriously. It is very important for the Muslim world to work very hard to free the Arabian Peninsula from colonization by the infidel Americans.
If we can free the Arabian peninsula as masdarul diinul Islam (the source of Islam) and makorrul haromain (Holy Mecca) from occupation by the infidel Americans, Inshallah (God willing) our struggle to uphold Islam everywhere on God’s land will be successful. Stagnation and the difficulty in upholding Islam at present stems from the occupation of the Arabian Peninsula by the infidel America. This great struggle must be put into action by the Ummah (Muslim community) all over the world under the leadership and guidance of clerics in their respective countries. Under such leadership, we will prevail.
The first step of this struggle is issuing fatwah (Islamic edict) from clerics all over the world addressed to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The edict must remind the King what Prophet Muhammad said about the obligation for the Muslim Ummah to expel the infidels from the Arabian Peninsula. Otherwise, this world will suffer a catastrophe. These edicts will give strong encouragement and influence to the King of Arabia. This is the message from Osama bin Laden conveyed to all of you.
Sheikh Osama bin Laden really wants to visit all clerics and Islamic preachers everywhere in the world to share his views so that there will be a common understanding about this momentous struggle. In the end, we will have similar movements simultaneously across the world. However, Bin Laden realizes that the situation outside his sanctuary is not presently safe. He also awaits your visit with his deep respect so that this great struggle may proceed. These are Bin Laden’s messages that we convey to all of you.
We take this opportunity to explain certain facts about Bin Laden:
• At present, Sheikh Osama stays in Afghanistan, in the Kandahar area, under the protection of Taliban
• He doesn’t oppose either the Taliban or Mujahideen. He’s trying to unify both groups.
From his camp in Kandahar, Bin Laden organizes plans to expel infidel America from the Arabian Peninsula by inviting ulemas and preachers from all over the world. In this camp, Bin Laden is accompanied by a number of Arab mujahideen, especially those who previously fought in Afghanistan. Bin Laden and these mujahideen prepare to form “jabhah Jihadiyah Alam Islamy” (The global jihadi coalition in the Moslem world) to fight against America. The above information is about Sheikh Osama Bin Laden that you should know.
If you have the time and commitment to visit Sheikh Osama, Inshallah, we can help you meet him safely.
We praise God to all of you for your attention and cooperation.
Jazakumullah khoirul jaza (Thanks to God the best thanks) Wassalamu’alaukim, Your brother in Allah
Abdullah Sungkar Abu Bakar Ba’asyir
10. Frederick Burks appeared at Ba’asyir’s trial testifying that he had interpreted at a 2002 meeting about Ba’asyir between an envoy of President George W. Bush and Indonesia’s then-president Megawati Sukarnoputri. Burks said the unidentified envoy accused Ba’asyir of involvement in a series of church bombings in Indonesia in 2000 and asked for the cleric to be secretly arrested and handed over to US authorities. Megawati declined, he said.
September 15, 2007
Breaking News - Investigate names terror trainees in NZ
Investigate magazine will name Monday two men it alleges have formal ties to a major terrorist organization, and who arrived in New Zealand on false documentation.
The men supplied false work and/or family details in order to be granted legitimate New Zealand work permits.
At least one of the men, who is still here, trained for three months at a jihad camp run by the al Qa’ida affiliate Lashkar e Taiba in Pakistan’s rugged North West Frontier province.
Documentation, video tapes and sworn statements obtained by Investigate reveal the training involved specialization in Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers...(more)
Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks trained at the same jihad camp with the same organization.
A number of men caught in Australia and the US after training at those terror camps have been jailed for between 13 and 70 years.
Although Lashkar e Taiba’s primary focus has been the disputed territory in Kashmir, since 9/11 the group has increased its attention on Islamic jihad throughout the West. A number of its members have been arrested in Australia over the past two years in connection with plans to attack Australian targets.
Just last week a man was jailed in the United States for 24 years for attending a jihad camp in Pakistan three years ago. Similarities to the New Zealand case include the type of training involved, and the fact that the American attendee also lied about his terror background to authorities. Aggravating features in the American case specifically include an admission by the man that he intended to use his terror training at some point in the US.
Investigate has no evidence that the men who arrived in New Zealand are involved in any terror planning in this country, but both men and their families are members of the radical Islamic organization Lashkar e Taiba - one family member having risen to the rank of unit commander.
Lashkar e Taiba is on the United Nations list of banned terror organizations, and is also listed by New Zealand Police as a banned organization.
Full details in the latest Investigate magazine, on sale Monday.
August 03, 2007
The Rise of the Neo-Coms
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:
North & South
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.
July 31, 2007
Unholy Alliance: Islam & Socialists in NZ: May 07 issue
caption: this 15 year old Indonesian girl was almost beheaded by Islamic extremists. Her crime: being a Christian
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:
“True belief means...that you hate the polytheists and infidels but do not treat them unjustly.”
“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.”
“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.”
[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.”
“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.
July 30, 2007
Wolves in Sheikh's Clothing: May 07 issue
WOLVES IN SHEIKH’S CLOTHING
Jonathan Last takes a troubling look inside moderate Islam
When I first met Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, he was a young counterterrorism expert just breaking into print. I had edited some of his work. He seemed like a normal fellow. But as we spoke, he told me a remarkable story.
Gartenstein-Ross grew up in Ashland, Oregon, one of the West Coast's hippie enclaves. His parents were liberal, ecumenical Jews who raised him to believe in the beauty of all faiths. There were pictures of Jesus in his living room and a statue of the Buddha in the backyard. Young Daveed was attracted to various liberal causes and concerned with social justice. He went to college in North Carolina, where he converted to Islam. Upon graduation, Gartenstein-Ross went to work for a religious charity, the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, which was run by a group of radicals.
After a year at Al-Haramain, he went to law school, where he eventually left Islam. In the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, Gartenstein-Ross learned that the FBI was investigating Al-Haramain for ties to terrorism. He reached out to the bureau and helped build its case.
Gartenstein-Ross has now told his story in a book, "My Year Inside Radical Islam." It is an important resource for understanding Islam in America.
There are two deep insights in "My Year Inside Radical Islam." The first is an illumination of one of the pathways to radicalism. When Gartenstein-Ross first converted, he embraced Sufism, a spiritual, moderate sect. He wasn't looking to become an anti-Western fundamentalist. But the more he interacted with other Muslims, the more he was pushed, in a form of groupthink, to embrace an increasingly restrictive faith. He learned that in Islam, all sorts of things are haram (forbidden). Alcohol, of course. And listening to music. And wearing shorts that expose the thigh. And wearing necklaces. Or gold. Or silk. Or using credit cards. Or shaving. Or shaking hands with women.
As Gartenstein-Ross explains, Islam has commandments for every aspect of life, from how to dress to how to wipe yourself after going to the bathroom. And once he joined the Muslim community, he found that the group was self-policing. Members were eager to report and reprimand one another for infractions. It is not hard to imagine how a well-adjusted, intelligent person might get caught up in such a social dynamic.
The book also illustrates the troubling state of Islamic organizations in the United States. Nearly every discussion of Islamic radicalism and terrorism is prefaced by a disclaimer that of course the vast majority of Muslims are morally opposed to both. This may well be true.
But the problem in the current struggle against Islamic fascism is that the radicals often find succor from moderate Muslims - even "moderates" aren't always as liberal as one might hope. While Gartenstein-Ross never came into contact with actual terrorists, he was surrounded by people - normal Muslim citizens - whose worldviews were unsettling.
Before 9/11, Al-Haramain's headquarters in Ashland was seen as a bastion of moderate, friendly Islam. Pete Seda, who ran the office, was publicly chummy with the local rabbi. The group encouraged public schools to bring children to their offices on field trips. All of this was for public consumption. In private, things were somewhat different.
One of Gartenstein-Ross' co-workers, for instance, often complained about the Nation of Islam, whose members he believed were deviants. He said, "Let them choose true Islam or cut off their heads."
Al-Haramain hosted a number of visitors, one of whom was a Saudi cleric named Abdul-Qaadir. He preached that those who leave Islam should be put to death. In defending the execution of apostates, he mused that "religion and politics aren't separable in Islam the way they are in the West. ... Leaving Islam isn't just converting from one faith to another. It's more properly understood as treason."
In warning Gartenstein-Ross about his engagement to a Christian, Abdul-Qaadir said, "As long as your wife isn't a Muslim, as far as we're concerned, she is 100 percent evil."
One night at services, a visiting member of the Egyptian branch of Al-Haramain declared that the Torah was "The Jews' plan to ruin everything." He continued, "Why is it that Henry Kissinger was the president of the international soccer federation while he was president of the United States? How did he have time to do both? It is because part of the Jews' plan is to get people throughout the world to play soccer so that they'll wear shorts that show off the skin of their thighs." (Former Secretary of State Kissinger was never president of either the United States or FIFA.)
The reaction of Seda - the "moderate" who cultivated a public friendship with the local rabbi - was, "Wow, bro, this is amazing. You come to us with this incredible information."
Such discourse seems less than rare at American Islamic organizations. A recent New Yorker profile of another homegrown radical, Adam Gadahn (a.k.a. "Azzam the American" and one of the FBI's most-wanted terrorists), recounted Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman's visit to the Islamic Society in Orange County, Calif. In his lecture, Rahman, later indicted for helping to plot the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, ridiculed the notion that jihad could be nonviolent and exhorted Muslims to take up fighting against the enemies of Allah. Sitting next to him and translating for the congregation was the local "moderate" imam. The New Yorker reports that "videotapes of the lecture were later offered for sale at the society's bookstore."
This would likely not surprise Gartenstein-Ross, some of whose Muslim acquaintances even disapproved of his decision to go to law school. Their objection was that, as a lawyer, Gartenstein-Ross would have to swear an oath to defend the Constitution. As one Muslim told him, "There are some things in the Constitution I like, but a lot of things in the Constitution are completely against Islamic principles."
This sentiment - not from an al-Qaeda fighter or a fire-breathing radical, but from a normal, devout Muslim - is important. The challenge Islam poses to the West goes beyond mere terrorism.
Jonathan V. Last is a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Doomsday Prophet: May 07 issue
UPI Intelligence Analysis
THE DOOMSDAY PROPHET
From Muslim hordes to atom bomb...Joshua Brilliant tracks the disturbing endgame of radical Islam
For the third time in its history, Islam is trying to bring the true faith to the rest of the world. However, this time is particularly dangerous, according to one of the world's leading authorities on Muslim history.
In a series of lectures at Israeli academic institutions, Princeton University Professor Bernard Lewis talked of the widespread Muslim-Shiite belief that time has come for a final global struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil.
“The fact that some of the societies are acquiring, or will soon acquire ... weapons of destructive power beyond Hitler's wildest dreams ... is something that we should be very concerned about,” he said.
Muslim believers consider themselves “the fortunate recipients of God's final message to humanity and it is their duty not to keep is selfishly to themselves ... (but) to bring it to the rest of mankind,” Lewis noted.
“In their first attempt to do so, they emerged from the Arabian Peninsula and conquered vast territories from Iran across North Africa to Spain, Portugal and parts of Italy. Converts conquered Russian lands and established an Islamic regime in Eastern Europe. There are even reports of an Arab raid into Switzerland. But that attempt to conquer Europe failed, and the Crusaders recovered the Christian holy places in Jerusalem.
“In the second round, the Ottoman Turks crossed southeastern Europe and reached Vienna. Twice they tried to capture it and failed. Western imperialism halted and reversed the Ottoman push.
“The current, third invasion, is not done by armed conquest or with migrating hordes, but by a combination of migration, demography, self denigration and self abasement, totally apologetic,” Lewis said.
Nevertheless, it arouses a fair and very alarming possibility that it could lead to a long, dreary race war between different communities in Europe.
“Signs of it are already visible in the form of neo-Fascist racist movements. If that is going to be the only response of Europe, apart from self-abasement, the outlook is grim,” he predicted.
Meanwhile, among Muslims there is a competition over who should lead their cause. This is one of the keys to understand the present situation, Lewis continued.
“On the one hand stand Osama bin Laden and his movement. He is a Saudi-Wahabi; in other words an ultra-conservative puritan Sunni-Muslim. The Saudi establishment considers him a rebel but they all belong to the same branch of Islam.
And then there are Muslim Shiites. They assumed a modern form and new vigor since the Iranian Islamic revolution of 1978.
Past friction, for example between the Ottoman Empire and Iran, was due to a rivalry over influence, not over religion.
“The current rivalry has acquired, a new acuteness ... It became more violent than in any time in the recorded history of Islam,” Lewis said.
“The Iranian revolution is resonating far and wide. It represents a major threat to the West but also to the Sunni establishment. It has led some Sunni leaders to re-evaluate the situation in the Middle East and their attitude towards Israel.
“Those leaders may dislike Israel and disapprove of it. However, they consider an uninterrupted line from Shiite Iran, across Iraq to Syria and Lebanon, and the large and growing Shiite populations around the coast of Arabia, to be a truly major threat.
“There are signs of ... a willingness on the part of many in the Sunni world to put aside their hostilities to Israelis ... in order to deal with the greater, more immediate and more intimate danger,” he said.
“We may see shifts in the policies of some Arab governments at least comparable with the great shift in Egyptian policy, when President Anwar Sadat opted for peace with Israel.
“The leaders contemplating such a change are very cautious. One reason is that their populations have been indoctrinated with hatred of Israel for so long that it is difficult to change tunes.”
There is another reason: Some uncertainty over how far they can trust the Israelis, Lewis said.
“During the summer's war against the Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon, many Sunni Muslim governments discreetly cheered the Israelis, hoping they would finish the job. Some of them could hardly conceal their disappointment that Israel failed to do so,” he said.
Western-style anti-Semitism of the crudest type, meanwhile, is spreading and occupying a central role in many Muslim countries. One finds it in textbooks, schoolbooks, and in university doctoral dissertations, he noted.
Lewis said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “really believes ... (in) the apocalyptic message that he is bringing. (Israeli experts noted that Ahmadinejad prepared a wide boulevard in Tehran for the return of the Mahdi who disappeared some 1,000 years ago.)
“Islam has a scenario for the end of time, a final global struggle between the forces of good, God, and his anointed, and the forces of evil,” Lewis argued.
With such beliefs, the strategy that prevented a nuclear war between the West and the Communist blocs, during the Cold War era, may not apply.
“Mutually assured destruction, which kept the peace during the Cold War, though both sides had nuclear weapons ... doesn't work. It is not a deterrent. It is an inducement,” Lewis said.
July 23, 2007
Camille Paglia, defender of the West: June 07 issue
Rod Dreher discovers feminist icon Camille Paglia channeling ‘Eve’s Bite’
“That's what's going to make us vulnerable to people coming from any side, including the Muslim side, where there's fervor. Fervor will conquer apathy. I don't see how the generation trained by the Ivy League is going to have the knowledge or the resolution to defend the West...We could well be reliving the last days of the Roman Empire" – Camille Paglia
If you ask me, it's a pity the cigar-smoking Bohemian Tory and the self-described "feminist bisexual maniac" never met. I think the late Russell Kirk and Camille Paglia would have hit it off at least as well as Pope Benedict XVI and the irrepressible Italian atheist Oriana Fallaci did in the months before she died. Here's why:
Dr. Kirk, the traditionalist man of letters widely considered the godfather of modern American conservatism, believed that the great task of contemporary conservatives was not any of the goals likely to appear on Republican campaign literature. He knew that culture was more important than politics and considered poets to be, in Shelley's phrase, "the unacknowledged legislators of the world." Because of this, Dr. Kirk taught that reviving the "moral imagination" - meaning re-engagement with the art and literature of the West's cultural patrimony - in the face of the disaster of modernity, was vital to saving our civilization.
Dr. Paglia, a professor at Philadelphia's University of the Arts who made her name in 1990 with the publication of "Sexual Personae," is no conservative - in fact, she's an atheist libertarian Democrat who extols the virtues of pagan sexuality. But she's downright Kirkian in her contempt for the egalitarian instinct and in her roaring disgust at modernity's disinterest in, or even contempt for, Western tradition.
And she holds her own tribe - American humanities professors - chiefly responsible.
"I remain concerned about the compulsive denigration of the West and the reductiveness so many leading academics in the humanities have toward their own tradition," she tells me. "They reduce it all to the lowest common denominator of racism, imperialism, sexism and homophobia. That's an extremely small-minded way of looking at culture and a betrayal of the career mission of these educators, whose job is to educate students in our culture."
Dr. Paglia, one of three judges for this year's Hiett Prize, has been saying that for a while now, which is one reason that conservatives love her. If modernity is, as one traditionalist conservative writer put it, a "perversion of the responsibility of stewardship," then Dr. Paglia, by championing Western culture against the sophisticated barbarians inside the academy, counts as a convicted anti-modernist.
But that wouldn't be quite right; she's a passionate partisan of modernist giants like Picasso, as well as low-culture rock `n' roll Dionysiacs. What galls Dr. Paglia is that the politics of leveling - affirming or denying greatness according to therapeutic political standards - is compromising scholarship.
This is not just an academic dispute. If students don't learn the Western canon, they will remain rootless, ignorant and alienated. They will fail to grasp what makes the West unique - and why it should be cherished, conserved and defended. "Sexual Personae" was a tour de force of cultural criticism, arguing that the genius of the West came from the irreconcilable conflict between classical paganism and Judeo-Christian religion.
The decline of religion in Europe frightens this stalwart atheist. "The Europeans have become very passive, all of them," she says. "There's a fatigued worldliness typical of Europe right now, and that's why nothing very interesting artistically is coming out of there."
Can you have a vibrant culture without cult? Traditionalist conservatives say no. Dr. Paglia is inclined to agree - and says that our lazy secularism and superficial religiosity puts America at risk of succumbing to acedia, the Greek term for spiritual slothfulness. She is shocked to discover how few of her college students grasp basic biblical concepts, characters and motifs that were commonly understood one or two generations ago. This stunning loss of cultural memory renders most Western art, poetry and literature opaque.
"The only people I'm getting at my school who recognize the Bible are African-Americans," she says. "And the lower the social class of the white person, the more likely they recognize the Bible. Most of these white kids, if they go to church at all, they get feel-good social activism."
What are they left with? "Video games, the Web, cellphones, iPods - that's what's left," Dr. Paglia laments. "And that's what's going to make us vulnerable to people coming from any side, including the Muslim side, where there's fervor. Fervor will conquer apathy. I don't see how the generation trained by the Ivy League is going to have the knowledge or the resolution to defend the West."
Our cultural crisis is precisely that serious, says Dr. Paglia, who believes - as does Pope Benedict, one of the most cultured men on the planet - that we could well be reliving the last days of the Roman Empire.
"If the elite class sees nothing in the West to defend, we're reproducing this situation of the late Roman Empire, which was very cosmopolitan and very tolerant, but which was undone by forces from within," she says.
What are those who want to conserve the traditional Western humanities as a refuge from cultural barbarism supposed to do? Says Dr. Paglia, emphatically: "It's up to people to educate themselves."
In this light, it's not a stretch to think of the Dallas Institute for the Humanities as a sort of secular monastery. Like the European monks of old, the scholars and teachers at the Dallas Institute are keeping the light of Western humanist tradition burning in a new Dark Age. We need more institutions like this in days to come. Friends of what the poet T.S. Eliot (and later, his friend Dr. Kirk) called "the Permanent Things" are going to need intellectual sanctuary.
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)
Download file May 05 Senate Report
June 16, 2007
Radical 'moderates' squash real moderates: Jun 07
Documentarians battle America’s PBS TV to get Islam film on the air, reports Karoun Demirjian
The film features grainy footage and dramatic music, presenting itself as a stark look at the way fundamentalist Muslims in America and Europe crush dissent by their more moderate co-religionists.But the very production of “Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center” has highlighted sharply different views about the state of Islam in the United States and showcased how intensely sensitive that subject remains.
PBS, which commissioned the project, is delaying airing the film after protests that it is anti-Muslim. Now its creators are launching a public campaign against PBS to get it shown.
The hourlong documentary is one of 22 episodes funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for PBS’ “America at a Crossroads” series, which examines post-Sept. 11 subjects such as terrorism, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the experience of American troops overseas and global perspectives on U.S. foreign policy.
“Islam vs. Islamists” follows the efforts of socially liberal Muslims in America and Europe to reclaim their religion from political extremism by speaking out against ultra-conservative imams in a sort of modern-day Muslim reformation.
But the film never made it into the initial lineup of 11 shows that aired recently. A film about widespread discrimination against Muslims, “The Muslim Americans,” did air as part of the series.
The producers and subjects of the “Islam vs. Islamists” film, who began to show it in private screenings last month, say that PBS began to demand what the producers saw as unrealistic editorial changes after the series’ advisers, acting on criticism from such Muslim groups as the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Nation of Islam, claimed the documentary unfairly portrayed Muslim religious leaders. They say their experience with PBS proves the point of their film: that moderate Muslims have no platform from which to criticize extremists in their own religion.
“I can’t see what they object to, except that they don’t want to see the true plight against modern-day Muslims,” says Hedieh Mirahmadi, a representative of a moderate imam who spoke at a screening in Washington that was organized by the film’s producers. “Not being able to see the political reality means that it may come to root in a very dangerous way.”
Mirahmadi argues, for example, that the Saudi-based Wahhabist movement, a fundamentalist form of Islam, has spread across the U.S.
Mary Stewart, a spokeswoman for WETA, the PBS station in Washington, and executive producer for the Crossroads series, said in a phone interview that even though the film hadn’t made the cut for the first 11 parts that were broadcast, it would be aired as soon as PBS feels that it has been satisfactorily edited.
“It is a film with a lot of promise,” she said. “But every film that comes through PBS goes through editorial standards. They have received notes on what editorial changes would need to be made to bring it up to standards for PBS.”Producers and hosts of the Crossroads series have publicly accused the production team for “Islam vs. Islamists” of showing an editorial slant by being overly alarmist and demonizing imams.But defenders of the documentary say it merely portrays, in realistic terms, the divisions within the Islamic community in the West.
The Muslims portrayed in the movie - including Naser Khader, the Danish parliamentarian who spoke out against Imam Ahmed Abu Laban and others leading the riots over last year’s cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad - say that PBS does not want to consider Western Muslims as a variegated group.
“In my opinion, we don’t have a crisis of civilizations, we have just one clash,” Khader says. “It is in Muslim society, between Islamists and those who say `yes’ to democracy and modernity.”
Speaking for the film’s production team, Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, a Washington national security think tank, insists that the film is finished and says PBS’ refusal to budge on editorial demands meant that the film’s relationship with the network was finished too. “They’re insisting on structural changes that would essentially eviscerate the message of the film,” he says.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting provided $675,000 for the production of “Islam vs. Islamists,” nearly all federal funds. Some members of Congress saw the film at a showing late April. A Corporation for Public Broadcasting spokesman said it is committed to finding a way to publicly show the film.
March 30, 2007
Preachers of Hate
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.”
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.
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  – 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.
“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 ,” 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.
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?
March 09, 2007
PACIFIC JIHAD: TERRORISTS IN NZ INVESTIGATE: OCT 00
Is the tide of Islamic fundamentalism now washing at our own door? One of the world’s most-wanted terrorists has visited New Zealand without being arrested by security authorities here, despite his involvement in attacks that have killed or injured more than 900 people. BEN VIDGEN and IAN WISHART report:
New Zealand security agencies were placed on high alert prior to the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland after the discovery that Palestinian terrorist leader Abu Nidal was in the country. Security sources spoken to by Investigate confirm the terrorist was "sprung" by a former Israeli security official who was part of a group of Israeli tourists in Queenstown.
And direct confirmation has also come from a Nelson doctor, Neal McCullum, whose Israeli friend was directly involved.
"Our friend, who speaks fluent Arabic, had been in the cafeteria [in Queenstown] when she had overheard some men talking in Arabic and had been disturbed at the nature of their conversation.
"She then approached a member of the tour she was with, a man who’d previously worked in security for El Al [the Israeli national airline], and described what she’d heard."
The security expert observed the group of men for a moment, and then identified one of them as Abu Nidal, the reputed head of the Abu Nidal Organisation. However, the former El Al guard had no desire to become involved in any international intrigue in New Zealand and was reluctant to report it. Dr McCullum says he strongly urged the female Israeli tourist to at least contact New Zealand security agencies, and report the Abu Nidal sighting to the Security Intelligence Service.
The SIS quickly picked up on Nidal’s trail, as he hadn’t yet left New Zealand, and "I was told it was the biggest joint operation involving the SIS, the police and the Army," says McCullum, now living in the lower North Island.
So what happened next? Nothing. Nidal was placed under extensive surveillance but wasn’t touched, "apparently because he was travelling on a diplomatic passport."
But there may be another reason why one of the world’s most-wanted terrorists went unmolested in New Zealand: some intelligence sources claim Nidal was secretly working for the Israelis, stirring up trouble in certain areas that Israel could then use as an excuse for a military strike on Palestine targets.
Before dismissing the idea that Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency could be so devious as to deliberately help an Arab terrorist group in order to further its own agenda, consider this: when investigators probed the collapse of the notorious Bank of Credit and Commerce International in 1991, they found not only evidence that Mossad was banking with BCCI, but also that payments had been made from the Mossad accounts to Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers rebels and the Abu Nidal Organisation.
Of course, it is not beyond the realms of probability that Nidal, whose real name is Sabri al-Banna, was being played for a sucker by Mossad.
In an interview with British author David Yallop, Nidal professes a hatred for Israel that seems entirely plausible:
"My family was the richest in Palestine. My father was the richest man. He owned over six thousand acres. His lands reached from south of Jaffa to the Gaza Strip. All that land.
"And all that land was confiscated by the Jews. You tell me. How much of my own land should I accept from the thieving Israeli government in return for giving them this peace?
"Where our orchards were, immigrant Jews now live. The home that I grew up in is now a District Court for the Israeli Army. What should I accept in return for giving these people peace? The ground floor?"
And yet, even Yallop floats the possibility that Nidal was working for Israel.
He recounts an interview with Abu Iyad, the Palestinian terrorist responsible for planning the attack on the Munich Olympic Games in 1972.
"Our discussion moved to how Abu Nidal’s organisation had been penetrated for many years by Mossad," writes Yallop. "Penetrated to such a degree that Abu Iyad, the head of the PLO intelligence and counter-intelligence, with all that implies, told me of his conviction that frequently the targets selected by Abu Nidal have been chosen by Mossad.
"He cited an example of Mossad targeting: Arafat’s PLO representative in London, Said Hammami. ‘At the time of Said Hammami’s murder in January 1978 he was in the middle of very secret negotiations with members of the Israeli government’."
The negotiations, the PLO intelligence chief told Yallop, would have seen a ceasefire in the Palestinian conflict and a recognition of Israel’s right to exist. This scenario was anathema to extremists on both sides who wanted no compromise.
" ‘A long time before Said’s murder he was warned by British Special Branch that he was on Mossad’s hit list. They told him their information came from the CIA. Said was also told by British security that the British Government had warned the Israeli Embassy that all known Mossad agents would be kicked out of Britain if the Israelis started getting the guns out’," Abu Iyad told Yallop.
"The implication was clear," Yallop reports: "Prevented by the British from doing the job themselves, Mossad had whistled up Abu Nidal."
Indeed, despite its public hatred for Israel, most of the Abu Nidal organisation’s attacks have been on the PLO and other Arab terror groups. Some time after his interview with Yallop, Abu Iyad was himself murdered in Tunis - by the Abu Nidal group. In the shifting world of intelligence and Maxwell Smart, enemies today may be friends tomorrow and enemies again by Friday.
An example of Israel’s duplicity is found in testimony by former Mossad agent Ari Ben-Menashe, who reports that Israel, not the Palestinians, was really behind the 1985 hijacking of the cruise liner Achille Lauro.
"That was, in fact, an Israeli ‘black’ propaganda operation to show what a deadly, cutthroat bunch the Palestinians were," he says.
A Palestinian working as a double-agent for Mossad was ordered to suggest "that it was time for the Palestinians to make an attack and do something cruel, although no specifics were laid out.
"Radi [the double agent] passed orders on to [terrorist leader] Abu’l Abbas, who, to follow such orders, was receiving millions from Israeli intelligence officers posing as Sicilian dons.
"Abbas then gathered a team to attack the cruise ship. The team was told to make it bad, to show the world what lay in store for other unsuspecting citizens if Palestinian demands were not met.
"As the world knows," says Ben-Menashe, "the group picked on an elderly American Jewish man in a wheelchair, killed him, and threw his body overboard. They made their point, but for Israel it was the best kind of anti-Palestinian propaganda."
Nor should such skulduggery come as a surprise if you recall the Iran/Contra scandal.
But New Zealand’s decision not to apprehend Abu Nidal may have been pragmatic as well as diplomatic: the repercussions of arresting a leading terrorist would be horrendous for a country not militarily or psychologically prepared for dealing with attacks on its interests overseas.
The fact that one of the world’s leading guerilla commanders could slip into New Zealand, apparently unnoticed by our security teams until a chance tip-off, speaks volumes about our ability to defend ourselves against the wrath of Islamic extremists: it is simply not something New Zealand is ready for.
Nor would it have been easy for New Zealand authorities to arrest Abu Nidal: unless Arabic-speaking witnesses could testify that they heard him planning a crime, whilst in New Zealand, it might still have been difficult capture him even with the legal support of extradition treaties.
Which raises questions over last month’s New
Zealand Herald exposé on an alleged plot
by somebody to blow up Sydney’s Lucas
Heights nuclear reactor during the Olympic Games. "The plot may have been hatched by Afghani sympathisers of Osama bin Laden, the Western world’s most wanted terrorist - a suggestion that is believed to have raised alarm in official circles," reported the Herald in a frontpage "world exclusive" later picked up by major news outlets around the world. "Weekend Herald sources revealed that members of what appears to be a clandestine cell of Afghan refugees in Auckland continue to maintain direct telephone links with suspected terrorist organisations in their strife-torn homeland, including the Mujahadeen, a fundamentalist Muslim volunteer group.
"Detectives in Auckland stumbled on the apparent reactor conspiracy during an investigation into people smuggling by organised crime syndicates. They conducted a series of house raids in March and found evidence suggesting a conspiracy to attack Lucas Heights:
"The lounge of a Mt Albert home was converted into a virtual command centre, complete with conference table and maps.
"A Sydney street map was found with the site of the 1950s era reactor and access routes to it highlighted.
"Entries in a notebook outlined police security tactics, standards and chains of command for the Auckland Commonwealth Games in 1990.
"[There were] signs of a clandestine cell of refugees granted New Zealand residency."
Although four people have been charged with immigration offences, there is not enough evidence to charge anyone with anything more serious - not because the plot itself is not serious but because information on who might be involved is extremely scant.
The paper’s report, by investigative journalist John Andrews, was instantly downplayed by New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton.
Anderton, who sits on the security, intelligence and external relations Cabinet committee, conveniently didn’t bother to explain how a group of Islamic freedom fighters had come into possession of highly restricted New Zealand Police security material, telling the media the story was a beat-up and if there was a real security threat "I would know about it".
While other news media presumed Anderton and the Labour Government’s dismissal of the story was more aimed at avoiding any backlash against the Afghani community in this country, it is also possible that the Government was mindful of New Zealand’s trade interests in the Middle East and anxious not to publicly offend Islamic trading partners by appearing to pay too much attention to the issue.
But despite having little money, police records indicate the 20 or so Afghanis under investigation had recently travelled through Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines - the latter two countries are both currently dealing with outbreaks of Islamic fundamentalist violence aimed at overthrowing the incumbent governments.
New Zealand intelligence also indicates some of the "cell" members have been photographed carrying AK-47 assault rifles, and that some of the refugees given residency in New Zealand have fought in world hotspots such as Chechyna, Somalia, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.
And what of Osama bin Laden? Officially, he is the most-wanted terrorist on the face of the planet, and it probably isn’t totally a US overreaction. Some of the pictures in this article come from an anonymous website run by Osama bin Laden supporters in London.
Both there, and in published news reports in the mainstream media, bin Laden calls for a new crusade against Western infidels.
"This war will not only be between the people of the two sacred mosques and the Americans," bin Laden told a British TV crew in 1997, "but it will be between the Islamic world and the Americans and their allies, because this war is a new crusade."
In 1998, the Washington Post reported bin Laden’s issuance of a "fatwa", or religious decree, which states: "These crimes and sins committed by the Americans are a clear declaration of war on God, his messenger and Muslims."
Of all of the fundamentalists, bin Laden has shown the greatest propensity for causing maximum loss of life. In short, he has a yen for the spectacular.
In February of 1993 the World Trade Centre in New York was torn apart by a massive explosion. Several Muslim extremists linked to Osama bin Laden were later convicted.
But although the blast caused massive damage, it would have been much worse if it had gone according to plan. The US Court heard that the group had prepared cyanide nerve gas that was supposed to detonate with the bomb and spread across central New York, killing some fifty thousand nearby residents and workers within minutes. Fortunately, the heat generated in the blast was so intense that it incinerated the cyanide gas before it left the building.
Two years later, US investigators caught wind of a plot by bin Laden supporters to plant bombs on 12 airliners over the Pacific Ocean, set to explode almost simultaneously.
Although the plan was foiled, those responsible remain at large.
In 1998, bin Laden’s most devastating strike to date was made against the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania - more than 5,000 people were killed or injured.
What makes bin Laden difficult to deal with is the fact that he is an extremely wealthy Arab businessman who is choosing to put his money into efforts that previously required financing from Governments like Iraq or Libya.
Although the US has imposed sanctions on Afghanistan and launched retaliatory missile strikes on suspected bin Laden bases there, it is more difficult for Western intelligence to infiltrate an organisation with few ties to any state.
The FBI is also aware that bin Laden’s organisation, al Qaeda, may now have access to nuclear weapons, stating that the group has "made efforts to obtain the components of chemical [and] nuclear weapons.]
To make matters worse, that nuclear weaponry is reportedly less than ten centimetres in length, but capable of generating a blast equivalent to ten tonnes of TNT. Explosive sniffer dogs at airports are not trained to sniff Plutonium.
Earlier this year - predating the NZ Police discovery of the Sydney reactor plot - the FBI issued a worldwide security alert that bin Laden was planning a possible attack on the Olympic Games. Which makes Deputy Prime Minister Anderton and Australian Prime Minister John Howard’s rush to dismiss the signficance of the threat even more inexplicable. What were they expecting, a signed note from bin Laden saying "I’m coming to get you"?
The move to play it down may have far more to do with maintaining public confidence in the safety of major events like the Games, and not creating panic, than simple naivete on the parts of either Anderton or Howard.
As previously reported by Investigate, a massive explosive device was discovered at Auckland’s Sheraton Hotel during the 1995 Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference, apparently aimed at British Prime Minister John Major.
The device was defused without any public reference by Police or the New Zealand Government to its existence. Nor were the news media aware of it.
Despite John Howard’s public utterances however, and refusal to close down the Lucas Heights reactor for the duration of the Games, Australia is beefing up security around it, which they wouldn’t do if they weren’t taking the issue much more seriously than they have indicated to the news media.
Four Blackhawk helicopter gunships are being stationed in proximity to the reactor.
The United States meanwhile is continuing to post a NZ$10 million reward for information leading to the capture and conviction "in any country" of Osama bin Laden or any of his associates pictured above, all of whom are wanted on charges relating to the embassy and World Trade Centre bombings. Full details of the fugitives and the rewards have been posted on a US Government website by the Diplomatic Security Service, at www.heroes.net, which could make for a lucrative payday for somebody.
Given that it is possible that some of bin Laden’s men have been in New Zealand this year, it highlights the fact that the world is getting smaller everyday.
Intriguingly, the FBI reports that a notebook belonging to one of the wanted men contains the names and addresses of three Fijians, and the FBI is warning that bin Laden has built up an "extensive" South Pacific network.
Nor should the emergence of international terrorism on our doorstep come as a genuine surprise to thinking New Zealanders. The Security Intelligence Service is, after all, on record as saying it has twice thwarted attempts by foreign buyers to obtain nuclear weapons material from New Zealanders acting as "middlemen" in the deals.
The country’s "sleepy hollow" image provides a perfect cover for those involved in international intrigue, who want to discuss their global plans as far away from the CIA as possible.
Former NZ Special Air Service commander Alan Brosnan, now an instructor for the US State Department’s Anti-terrorism Programme, says the FBI warning’s about bin Laden’s Pacific plans should be taken seriously.
"He certainly has the motive, and the means, to pull off such an operation."
The New Zealand Special Air Service has already had a taste of what we could be in for - NZ troopers were deployed in a secret mission against the Abu Sayyaf rebels in the Philippines, who also have ties to Osama bin Laden.
One of the SAS soldiers reminded Investigate that NZ and Australia are not far away from the action any more.
References to Islamic extremists in this article do not refer to members of New Zealand’s Muslim community
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."
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.
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.
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
March 06, 2007
PROJECT BABYLON: WHO ARMED IRAQ? INVESTIGATE: APR 03
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
WAR & PEACE: ESSAY 2 INVESTIGATE: MAR 03
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.)...
MORE DETAILS IN PRINT EDITION
ISLAM VS THE WEST, PART 4 INVESTIGATE: DEC 02
On the other hand, say Western dissenters, we need to accept responsibility for our cultural imperialism, for the fact that our culture is offensive to many Muslims and that violent protest is sometimes the only way for their voices to be heard. We tasked HAMISH CARNACHAN with exploring the liberal perspective:
It was once a place of boundless beauty that touched those fortunate enough to have felt its tropical embrace. Her people were once regarded as some of the most gracious and hospitable of hosts. For travellers, Bali was once the retreat, a peaceful and idyllic destination, it was the centre of paradise for the millions of foreigners that flocked to her shores each year, the ultimate escape.
But on a balmy night in mid-October a group of terrorists armed with extremist ideology and a vehicle packed with plastic explosives raped Bali of her innocence in the milliseconds it took to tear the buildings and bodies of that congested block to shreds. There was no escape for the unsuspecting innocent, and the lethal talons of terror made a deadly lunge at our sheltered corner of the world.
The final death toll of the ‘Bali bombing’ is still not known. Most of the victims were tourists, visitors from all corners of western society, but it is estimated that about half were Australian citizens - ‘Australia’s own September 11’, was the phrase coined by many commentators and journalists covering the tragedy.
When New York was targeted and hit in an attack even more deadly in its success than the perpetrators had probably envisaged, American society demanded a military front against terrorism. Many of the United States’ allies were quick to rally to the country’s support and a call to arms - among the first to offer support was Australia.
Now, a battered and scarred Australian nation finds itself thicker in the foray than it probably ever intended. Australia too now calls for retribution.
But the terrorist foe is an unconventional enemy who can strike anywhere at anytime with, as we have witnessed, frighteningly little warning. So how do you fight this unseen menace when there is no apparent front, when there are no battle lines drawn?
Some commentators are starting to suggest that the West’s response of retaliatory aggression to counter the terrorist threat is not only futile but it is actually playing into the hands of those who are supposed to be brought to justice.
Bali is a melting pot of racial and ethnic diversity and has traditionally been a centre of religious tolerance. That harmony has since been lost too. It was vaporised along with the hundreds of lives lost at the Sari club that explosive evening in October.
And despite Muslim condemnation of these despicable assaults, the finger of blame has hastily turned upon followers of the Islamic faith. The fallout of the Bali bombing has now blanketed the global Muslim community, not just worshipers in Indonesia, under a shroud of even more intense scrutiny and suspicion.
The Muslim cleric and chief suspect in Indonesia is Abu Bakar Basyir. Described as South East Asia’s version of Osama Bin Laden, certainly he is unapologetic in denouncing America and Israel, and his followers have publicly threatened to call for a jihad against other interests in Indonesia if he was ever arrested.
In the face of mounting pressure from the western world, Indonesia has subsequently been forced to detain him and now faces a nervous wait to see if his followers act on their spoken intimidation.
And yet no matter how or what Muslims throughout the world do to censure these acts and threats of violence, westerners are increasingly starting to arrive at an ill-conceived generalisation that Muslims and Islam are a counterpart to terror and evil.
Certainly those associated with the Taliban and al Qa’ida are practitioners of the Islamic faith. The hand that they, and similar groups, have played in terror attacks around the globe cannot be questioned and are clearly inexcusable.
But should we now heed the warnings of a joint western and Islamic declaration, a voice that is increasing in volume, advising that the West is inadvertently being conscripted into the extremists’ service by focussing solely on these aggressive, retaliatory responses?
It is a proclamation that through the "American oppressors" indiscriminant reprisals the Islamic fundamentalists hope that the Muslim and Arab worlds will unite against their sworn enemy.
The Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University and author of Jihad vs. McWorld, Terrorism’s Challenge to Democracy, Benjamin Barber, suggests in his book that the modern response to terror cannot be exclusively military or tactical, as it has been to this point. Rather, he says, it must entail a commitment to democracy and justice even when they are in tension with the commitment to cultural expansionism and global markets.
"Eliminating terrorists will depend on professional military, intelligence, and diplomatic resources whose deployment will leave the greater number of citizens in America and throughout the world sitting on the sidelines, anxious spectators to a battle in which they cannot participate, a battle in which the nausea that accompanies fear will dull their appetite for revenge.
"The second front, however, engages every citizen with a stake in democracy and social justice, both within nation-states and in the relations between them. It transforms anxious and passive spectators into resolute and engaged participants – the perfect antidote to fear," writes Barber.
What he and others suggest, is that the root of terrorism has sprouted to combat what is perceived by those mired in poverty, as many of these militant fundamentalists are, as western imperialism creating injustice, massive social imbalance, and threatening their existence and way of life. They translate it directly as a threat against Islam.
Barber: "This is the free-market institutions and assiduously commercialised and ambitiously secularist materialism…defined by both its virtues (freedom, democracy, tolerance, and diversity) and its vices (inequality, hegemony, cultural imperialism, and materialism)."
Unless these grievances are addressed in an equally aggressive manner, there is mounting concern that there will never be a resolution to this wave of international violence, and the West risks inadvertently drawing more recruits into the ranks of terrorism.
So what are the grievances against the West, in general, and the United States, in particular? Why do these militant fundamentalists feel so disenfranchised from the global community that terror is the only means of making a point?
It seems the answer lies within the complex political nuances of two simple words: Foreign policy.
It is widely recognised that there is, and has been for some time, a growing resentment and spiritual unease by those for whom the West’s trivialisation and mixing of values is an insult to cultural diversity and spiritual seriousness.
For this reason it clearly doesn’t sit well with some sects when the West intervenes in the regions of Islamic and Arab politics. Some say that the world would be infinitely safer from terror if a settlement could be reached in the Middle East and the ‘wealthy’ West showed a serious interest in rectifying the disparity between rich and poor countries.
These are contentious issues but one fact is certain, the ‘War on Terror’ is achieving little as the spate of attacks on random civilian targets by militant fundamentalists has only intensified.
New Zealand peace activist and Indonesian human rights campaigner Maire Leadbeater warned the Government that this would be the case as early as November last year.
In a letter to Prime Minister Helen Clark following the terrorist attacks in New York she wrote: "We appeal to the New Zealand Government to bring the SAS forces home now and to publicly condemn this unjustified war…The toll of civilian casualties will mount to horrific proportions [and] the likelihood of terror attacks world-wide will increase…"
If the events that Leadbeater predicted hadn’t been so tragic, today she would almost be justified in crowing, "I told you so". Instead though, she insists on reiterating the same warning in the hope that someone may still heed the advice to avert any further catastrophes.
"I think the point is that the war on terrorism and the war on Afghanistan and Iraq is actually acting as a catalyst for more acts of terror," says Leadbeater. "It’s creating a huge wave of anger because it’s perceived as being totally unjustified.
"The root causes of terrorism are injustices. Now I would never justify terrorist activity, they must always be condemned, but generally speaking they grow out of absolute desperation.
"There is a perceived sense out there that the United States is determined to go after its own interests and pursue those regardless of the rights or wrongs of the situation, regardless of what happens to the innocent people who get in the way."
Leadbeater highlights the plight of the Iraqi citizens caught in the grip of crippling United States led, United Nations authorised, trade sanctions.
Iraq was penalised with these harsh restrictions, limiting medical aid and food assistance, following the 1990 Gulf War. They were imposed in the hope that the hardships would orchestrate a citizen-controlled regime change.
The United States justified the measures by informing the world, as it continues to do today, that Saddam Hussein was a threat to world peace, a terrorist who has in his possession weapons of mass destruction.
But it is no hidden secret that a matter of months before the war Hussein was still an admired friend of Washington. For years he received food aid and help in developing those very weapons of mass destruction that are now such a problem. Evidently, Hussein is a creature of the West’s own making.
United States intelligence was well aware that he used biological weapons against his own people, tortured nonconformists, and left a bloody trail of corpses in his path to authoritarian control. It was only when he disobeyed his minders and threatened western oil supplies in Kuwait that Hussein was ruled a menace.
Now, more than a decade after the sanctions were imposed, the United States is earnestly trying to gain backing to invade Iraq again. The goal – regime change to suit its own agenda.
The US makes no secret of the fact that it wants to form a beachhead in the strategically important Middle East. Overthrowing Hussein and establishing a democracy in Iraq, favourable to the West, is the aim.
In fact, White House officials even admit funding the man they want in power when Hussein falls.
A former CIA advisor for the Middle East has publicly warned that any American-dictated regime change could be catastrophic. He argues that the United States is making a massive assumption that a democratic system will work in a country that has never had democracy and has a mass of ethnic minorities.
If the plan were to fail the United States would only lose political capital yet Iraq could face an internal power struggle and the associated bloodshed.
Iraq’s neighbour Jordan and other Middle Eastern nations are firm in the belief that the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. Muslims and Arabs alike see America forcing its agenda in the region as the height of arrogance and the crippling sanctions as entirely unjust.
"Over the last 12 years hundreds of thousands of children have died in Iraq because of those sanctions," says Leadbeater. "John Pilger asked Madeline Albright [former Secretary of State] if that is worth it and she replied, ‘Of course it is’. Now, it is exactly that kind of attitude that obviously creates anger.
"You see it’s a funny bit of the script. In every case in the world it’s all right to look at the underlying causes but somehow when it comes to war on terrorism, if you look for underlying causes, you’re almost accused of condoning the terrorists’ violence.
"You always have to loudly condemn terrorist acts but if you look at cases like Iraq and Afghanistan far more innocent people have died as a result of the war on terrorism than the acts of terror themselves."
So at what point is a war
against terrorism justi-
fied? "I think that’s a
point that Pilger
makes. It’s an oxymo-
ron. It doesn’t make sense. But, yes, when a crime’s committed you must seek out and find who’s responsible and they must be brought to account," she says.
The religious advisor for the International Muslim Association of New Zealand, Sheik Mohammed Amir, is concerned that these extreme groups are tarnishing the Islamic faith, a creed he describes as "peaceful, a religion for humanity". He fervently denounces any form of violence and says there is no place for such acts under the teaching of Islam.
"Of course the things that happened in Bali, no one should accept. I do not know who was responsible or what the purpose was but whatever they think, this is not the way of dealing with it. It was a barbaric act."
Like Leadbeater, Sheik Amir believes that the violent acts are the workings of a desperate people and he remains very cautious of giving an impression of tolerance towards terrorism. Rather than the religious fundamentalism, as it has generally been portrayed, it is more of a political outcry says Amir who also highlights areas of western foreign policy as a problem.
"They might be wanting to send a message that what is happening in Afghanistan or in Bosnia or in Iraq is not just. This might be the only way they feel they can bring other nations to see what is happening. They might want to show the Americans or the Australians, who are heavily involved with this, that it is wrong," says Sheik Amir.
"There’s this policy towards Afghanistan, Iraq, and Palestine where thousands and thousands of people are being killed – it’s an injustice.
"There is not the same perception for the people being killed in Palestine and Iraq as there is when westerners are killed. If 10 or 20 westerners are killed the whole world starts crying but thousands of Palestinians are killed and not a word is spoken against this crime."
Many others also highlight the oppression of the Palestinian people as the cauldron of Arab and Islamic fundamentalists’ resentment for the West. Years of negotiating tenuous settlement deals and peace agreements have done nothing to ease the Palestinians suffering as the arrangements invariably fail and the factions fall back into conflict.
For more than two decades, in international isolation, the United States has maintained a rejectionist stance on a settlement that would ensure the territorial integrity and security of all states, including Israel, within its internationally recognised boundaries and a Palestine state in the occupied territories.
While the US regularly boasts it is "advancing the peace process", its unwavering stance on Israel has been blamed for undermining peace in the entire Middle East region.
For the Palestinian people, they now exist under an occupation more oppressive than South Africa’s now-abandoned policy of deep Apartheid, and helplessly watch on as Israel consumes vast tracks of the occupied territories’ land and resources in direct violation of United Nations’ resolutions.
"Look at the Palestinians," says Sheik Amir. "They’ve been suffering for 50 years now. They’re living miserable lives in poverty and they’re frustrated. And yet the whole world is silent. Where is the justice?
"The Americans must rethink their foreign policy in the Middle East if they want world peace. They can’t fool everyone forever and hopefully people are starting to realise. The only way for peace is justice. If you act justly then nobody will point the finger."
Peace activist Maire Leadbeater agrees that the United States’ involvement in other nations’ affairs needs to be scrutinised, particularly in Indonesia following the Bali bombing.
As the US push Indonesia to "shore-up their military", Leadbeater can’t help but query this "ill-conceived solution" to the terrorist threat in the area because, she says, "many of the Muslim extremist groups work very closely with the military".
"That is absolutely contradictory, because backing the Indonesian military is increasing support for the extremists."
The American congress had, in a complete reversal in foreign policy, opposed restoring military aid to Indonesia. Assistance was only to resume when the perpetrators of war crimes against the East Timorese, carried out by the Indonesian Army under former president Suharto, had been brought to justice.
Again, it is now well documented that the United States, along with its western allies including Australia and New Zealand, turned a blind eye to the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of East Timorese over more than two decades because it didn’t suit their interests.
"They had a show trial in Jakarta but most of them have since been acquitted," says Leadbeater. "You can’t say there’s been justice but America is starting to restore military aid anyway.
"The West is culpable for a lot of what has happened in Indonesia. It’s well known that the CIA helped Suharto come to power by pointing out the opponents he needed to eliminate.
"When you look at Indonesia, the consequences of that terrorist attack are going to be really felt by the Indonesian people. They’re going to lose the civil liberties that they’re only just starting to get back."
The Green party recently expressed concerns that new anti-terrorism legislation would threaten the civil and democratic rights of New Zealand citizens. Similar sentiments are starting to be expressed by other civil liberty supporters around the world too and surely the pinch is being felt by Muslim people as the moral authority of the powerful West combines to accuse all of their kin – moderate or extreme.
"Islam has been portrayed as a very extreme religion and more or less when people think of Muslims or Islam they think of terror. But as Muslims we totally dissociate ourselves with such activity. The two should not be joined together," says Sheik Amir.
"It is not an Islamic issue – it’s a desperation issue. Just like Christians, if they are desperate then they will do anything. The only difference is that Christian extremists, like the terrorists in Ireland, aren’t labelled by their religion."
Sheik Amir says that until injustices are rectified, or the oppressed are offered an avenue to secure their basic rights, suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism will continue.
The problem is though, that whatever they are fighting for, terrorists are actually doing more harm than good because retaliation invariably inflicts a higher toll on the innocent than those who carried out the acts.
Yet, what other alternative is there when passive resistance falls on deaf ears? For millions of the disenfranchised direct conflict is not an option – they are outgunned by most of the governments with whom they hold a grievance.
So what do we do?
We can condemn and retaliate against these "religious extremists’ atrocities", all the while running the risk of alienating mainstream Muslims into the arms of their fundamentalist brethren.
Alternatively we can condemn the perpetrators of these despicable crimes, bring them to justice, but also consider the root causes of their perceived desperation.
Maybe these are merely callous acts by an evil enemy. But, perhaps theirs is an outcry for justice and if we don’t ask the question, "why?" then more and more young Muslims may start to line the ranks of those we are trying to defeat.
As Independent writer Yasmin Alibhai-Brown suggests: "Depressingly, the only time Muslims are seen and heard by the world is when the pitiless among them turn to sickening violence or threaten Armageddon. Until this happens, their grievances or aspirations are ignored or crushed by the powerful...we will not parrot the lies of Bush, Blair, Putin or Sharon. We can see too clearly that these leaders share the responsibility for the terrifyingly unstable world we are all now trying to cope with."
ISLAM VS THE WEST, PART 3 INVESTIGATE: DEC 02
In the west, the word ‘peace’ has a certain meaning, but among militant followers of the Prophet, peace can only be attained once the world has surrendered to Allah and his holy warriors. IAN WISHART backgrounds the rise, fall and rise of extreme Islam
There is a saying that those who don’t learn lessons from the mistakes of history are condemned to repeat them: it could also be said that those growing up in New Zealand’s education system are doubly condemned – our education curriculum appears to have left out some crucial elements of world history, notably the Sword of Islam, leaving a generation utterly ignorant of the potential fate awaiting them. With the world dancing on the precipice of war, some key perspectives are finally beginning to penetrate an otherwise liberal western media.
One of those is the just released book, The Shade of Swords by Muslim journalist M J Akbar, who argues that the West is about to be enveloped in a fight to the bitter end with Islamic fundamentalists which, if the West isn’t careful, it will ultimately lose.
Traditionally, liberals and the peace movement have blamed the US and western culture generally for "oppressing" Muslims, forcing the Islamic faithful to take extreme action to defend their cultures and beliefs from "Western imperialism". The truth, says Akbar, is much less cut and dried.
Islam’s roots are well documented, originating with a supernatural experience in a cave that left a young Muhammad with the firm belief that the archangel Gabriel had summoned him to be God’s messenger on Earth.
But Islam was born in violence. Not only did the angel allegedly try to choke Muhammad to death at one point, so did his tribe, the Quraysh. From its very inception, Islam (according to Akbar, the best translation is "surrender") has been about a fight to survive. Muhammad called this principle "Jihad", and drew two distinctions. Ultimately the greater jihad, "Jihad al Akbar", was the struggle to perfect oneself, the struggle to be a better person in the eyes of Allah. But of more pressing concern, said the Prophet, was the lesser jihad, "Jihad al Asghar" – the struggle to defeat infidels, non-believers and opponents who threatened the new faith.
It is this kind of jihad that the West confronts today. It is a problem the West has faced for 1,400 years. Yet few New Zealanders have any real knowledge of this fact, and even fewer understand the real root causes of the conflict.
It hasn’t crossed the mind of most Westerners that the world has been without a dominant Muslim empire for only the last 80 years out of that past millennium and a half. The pressures finding vent in the Twin Tower attack and the Bali bombing are not caused by "western imperialism" writes Akbar, but by a regrouping of the old Islamic forces of empire – the desire to rule the world is once again burning in Arabic Muslim hearts.
Osama bin Laden is a university-trained Muslim theologian. He studied the history of Islam at Riyadh University in Saudi Arabia. It is that history that inspired him to take up arms against the West. It is that history that Akbar’s bestselling new book covers in gory detail.
modern impressions of islam in the West have been polluted by myth and misunderstanding, but perhaps not in the way you might expect. Perhaps the biggest myth is this one: "Islam is a religion of peace".
"Both sides should acknowledge candidly," said Muslim professor Bassam Tibi of Germany’s Göttingen University recently, "that although they might use identical terms these mean different things to each of them.
"The word ‘peace’, for example, implies to a Muslim the extension of the Dar al-Islam - or ‘House of Islam’ - to the entire world. This is completely different from the Enlightenment concept of eternal peace that dominates Western thought."
Perhaps it is a case of generational collective amnesia. The last Europeans to remember Muslim armies 200,000 strong storming their barricades died in the early 20th century, around the same time that the last Caliph was deposed when the Ottoman empire was crushed at the end of World War I.
WITH THE MUSLIM ‘peril’ beaten for the first time in 1,400 years, the world hardly had time to breathe a sigh of relief before a new threat in the form of Nazi fascism was on the rise, heralding yet another massive war.
From those wars, and the smaller conflicts that followed, a shell-shocked civilian populace in the West begged for peace. When Communism collapsed in the 1980s, it seemed as if the world was finally, after a century of conflict, about to witness calm. But they had forgotten the ambitions of the remains of Empire, Islam’s nascent priesthood who nursed fantasies of their own.
"Perhaps," writes M J Akbar in The Shade Of Swords, "the West became too complacent, and too certain that Arab regimes that owed their survival to Western patronage had ended their last jihad against Israel in 1973.
"They underestimated the Muslim will to martyrdom. They did not recognise the child who would walk with complete calm under the shade of swords."
The phrase, and title of the book, is an allusion to a reputed saying of Muhammad recorded in the Hadith – a collection of alleged quotes and anecdotes that together with the Qu’ran form the backbone of Islamic literature:
"Know that Paradise is under the shade of swords."
It is an invitation to die for God, and thus obtain Paradise. This same message is being drummed into Palestinian schoolchildren today by their teachers, parents, imams and television commentators.
One Palestinian psychologist conducted a survey last year that shows more than 60% of Palestinian children aged between 6 and 11 dream of becoming suicide bombers. He warns that within 10 years an entire generation of pre-programmed killers will be coming of age.
So, is the violence in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Bali and New York typical of Islam or an aberration involving minority extremists? Paradoxically, it is both.
Within only a few years of creating the new faith, the prophet Muhammad found himself and his followers facing sometimes incredible odds on the battlefield. When the Muslims won those battles, they concluded that Allah had willed it so and that it would not matter whether they were 20 strong or 2,000 strong provided Allah was on their side. Muhammad’s Qu’ranic verses contained many passages exalting Muslims to die defending the faith and so attain Paradise, complete with 70 virgins to cater for their every physical desire.
So fixated have some Muslim warriors become on this principle that those left alive are disappointed. "We live, only to die in the service of Allah! That is our destiny and glory."
When Muslim generals ordered their men into certain death against the incredulous Persians, the latter were quoted as exclaiming "Mad! Mad! Mad! We are not fighting against men but against jinns!" (genies)
Almost from the moment they are born, writes Akbar, Muslims true to the faith are taught not to fear death but to welcome it.
Cannon fodder who simply laugh in the face of bullets, bolstered in the certain belief that Allah himself will greet them on the other side, bringing blessed relief and an end to a miserable earthly existence.
"Every muslim child" writes historian John Glubb in The Great Arab Conquests, "is brought up on the accounts of the Prophet’s life and the Arab conquests, and thus the tradition of personal bravery to the neglect of skill has been perpetuated...Islam is essentially a soldier’s religion."
Perhaps to drive home the point, Verse 216 of Al Baqarah in the Qu’ran says:
"Fighting is prescribed upon you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth and ye know not."
Verse 38 of Surah 9 adds:
"O ye who believe! What is the matter with you, that, when ye are asked to go forth in the Cause of Allah, ye cling heavily to the earth? Do ye prefer the life of this world to the Hereafter?"
The Qu’ran teaches that Muslims who refuse to go to war for Allah will burn in hell eternally.
In Surah 3, Verses 169 and 170, the Qu’ran promises:
"Think not of those who are slain in Allah’s way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord; they rejoice in the Bounty provided by Allah: and with regard to those left behind, who have not yet joined them [in their bliss], the [martyrs] glory is in the fact that on them is no fear, nor have they cause to grieve."
Which is one of the verses that gives sustenance to Palestinian mothers. While New Zealand mothers would do everything possible to dissuade sons from going to war, Muslim mothers are taught to rejoice in it.
While the Qu’ran was dictated from Muhammad’s visions during his lifetime, and initially talks of tolerance towards other religions, the Prophet’s views changed over time.
Surah 3:85 states:
"If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him."
Surah 9:5, known as "the verse of the sword", adds:
"Fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, beleaguer them and lie in wait for them in every stratagem."
As if to put the seal on his attitude towards the other two dominant religions in his area, Christianity and Judaism, Muhammad’s last major instruction just before he died, as recorded by his followers, was:
"Let not two religions be left in the Arabian peninsula."
His followers took it well beyond Arabia. At the head of conquering armies they seized Jerusalem, North Africa and swept into Spain, slaughtering, taking slaves and raping women before selling them as concubines.
To be fair, the European crusaders did much the same when they pushed back against Islam later in the Middle Ages, but the West appears to have adopted some collective Liberal guilt for the atrocities of the Crusades, without calling Islam to task for its own aggression. Indeed, for the first 400 years nearly all the pushing was being done by Islam.
in ad 634 muslims conquered Christian Syria. It was Jerusalem in 637, then from 653 wave after wave of Muslim attacks against Constantinople, now Istanbul in modern Turkey, which at the time was the seat of empire for the Christian church in eastern Europe and the Middle East.
Briefly, the attacks were mounted in 653, 664, 668, 670, 671, 672, 673, 674, 675, 676, 677, 678, 716, and 717.
In the 717 campaign, a Muslim force of 180,000 Arabs beseiged Constantinople. They lost. It would be another 700 years before Islam’s bloodthirsty troops finally brought down Constantinople, turning 30,000 surviving Christians into slaves and concubines.
In between times, the Catholic church struck back with its Crusades, seizing Jerusalem and slaying every Muslim man, woman and child they found - contemporary reports said rivers of blood flowed as high as chest-deep through some Jerusalem streets.
It was a brutal conflict. Right into the 1800s Muslim armies would foray into Bosnia, Hungary and the like and kidnap Christian children to be sold as sex slaves or converted to Muslims to serve the Emperor. It is these atrocities, and more committed by Muslims during World War II when they formed a special Islamic division of Hitler’s SS, that continue to stoke the fires of conflict in the Balkan states today. Nothing is ever as simple as it appears at first sight.
Eventually though, after the transfer of power and looting, life settled down. Christians and Jews were allowed to live in the Ottoman empire, but as second and third class citizens respectively.
Muslims were to wear white turbans as a symbol of their purity in Allah’s eyes, Christians consigned to blue and Jews yellow.. There were extra taxes imposed on non Muslims as well.
Only two years ago, while they still existed, the Taliban in Afghanistan were aiming to re-introduce the marks of class, with orders that non Muslims would have to wear different coloured armbands.
Islam has never had a desire to co-exist with any other religion without being the dominant partner, and its repeated attempts to forcibly overpower Christianity by conquest have been motivated less by an overt desire for power and more by the admonition to convert the infidels.
Islam, the Qu’ran teaches, supercedes the Christian Bible and Christians are ordered to rescind their faith in Jesus Christ and submit to Allah.
Yet M J Akbar believes the size and influence of Christen-dom has always been a motivating factor in Islam’s decision to wage war against it.
"Such raw passions have eased in a thousand years, but each age offers its own variation on a confrontation that begins with the birth of Islam. This is not a ‘clash of civilisations’ because both Islam and Christianity embrace more than one civilisation and culture," he writes.
"At the heart of this conflict, often manifest as a political struggle for territory and power, is a basic, even fundamental, theological and ideological difference.
"For Muslims, Muhammad is a man and the last prophet in a sequence that begins with Adam and includes Jesus; for Christians, Jesus is divine and the final redemption of mankind. It is consequently incumbent upon the Church to declare Muham-mad an impostor. To do anything else would be to make Christianity a 611 year old religion and Christ’s mission would not be deemed eternal. The Qu’ran repeatedly tells Christians to return to the monotheism of Abraham, renounce the concept of the Trinity, and accept Muhammad as the Last Messenger. The Qu’ran venerates Jesus; for the Church to return the compliment would be suicide."
Forget oil, forget Palestine, forget about US troops using Saudi airbases. The bottom-line clash has been, and always will be, about religious truth.
While many in the West no longer profess a belief in Christianity as such, militant Islam ignores the subtleties. It assumes you are Christian if you are born in the West.
Nor will pleading that you are not a Christian save you from militant Islam’s plan: Christians and Jews are "people of the book" to Muslims, brothers who are simply misguided. Atheists, agnostics and followers of Eastern religions occupy an even lower tolerance rung in the eyes of Islamic fundamentalists.
You are what you are born into, in Islam. If you are born a Muslim then the penalty proscribed by the Qu’ran for converting to Christianity is death. Which is one reason why in Muslim countries you rarely see an open conversion. Islam cannot take the competition, and has outlawed Christian churches in many of the more hardline Muslim states.
In Saudi Arabia, two westerners recently spent more than a year in jail for being found in possession of Christian music CDs, a la Amy Grant, in their own apartments.
It has often been this way, between East and West. When Constantinople fell in 1453, Sultan Mehmet "rode on a white horse towards the Cathedral of Hagha Sophia, mother of all churches, built in the sixth century by Justinian. He dismounted in front of the cathedral, picked up a handful of dust, poured it over his turban and proclaimed the shahadah: ‘There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet’. The cathedral in that instant became a mosque," writes M J Akbar..
While Christianity can and does support religious freedom based on the biblical doctrine of free will, militants argue the Qu’ran says humans have no free will: they must utlimately submit to Islam or die.
This creates another intriguing paradox: while Islam says it can tolerate in principle Christianity at a spiritual level, it cannot tolerate its physical presence. Yet while Christianity can tolerate Islam’s physical presence, it can make no faith connection to Islam’s spiritual side.
This is because if one of the religions is correct the other, by definition, must be a false religion.
Nor do Islamic fundamentalists make a distinction between those in the West who sympathise with them politically - they are, says the Quran, but a means to an end.
But there is an- other twist to the crisis that needs to be understood by the West: Islam itself has been hijacked. Although it has always been strident, a particular strain of Islamic interpretation has become dominant in the Middle East and Central Asia - Wahhabism.
It is the scholar Wahhabi, who died in 1787, who can be directly blamed for the style of Islam now practiced in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Egypt and within Indonesia’s militant groups.
The ultimate goal of Wahhabists is a worldwide Islamic state that governs every country containing Muslims, according to Shariah law. Those who then refuse to bow to Allah and stand in Islam’s way will be killed as the Qu’ran admonishes. The Prophet, according to one Islamic commentator in this magazine, made no distinction between and paid no heed to differing creeds, cultures and customs. They either converted or they paid the price. It actually doesn’t matter whether the Prophet did this or not: hundreds of millions of militant Muslims today believe those claims and have made it a new truth.
It is this battle to take the message of Islam to the world that is now being fought in nightclubs, theatres and office buildings around the world.
The opponents in America’s "War on Terror" do not fear death, they welcome it. They do not recognise the right of other cultures to maintain their beliefs and customs - it is not what the Qu’ran instructs.
And their ambition is the return of the Caliphate, the return of something like the Ottoman empire.
The sun is rising in the East once again, while in the West we have hamburgers, coca-cola and Shirley Maclaine’s New Age workout video.
"It’s not a clash between civilisations," writes Mark Steyn in the Spectator, "but within them - in the Muslim world, between what’s left of moderate traditional Islam and an extreme strain of that faith; and in the West between those who think this culture is worth defending and those who’d rather sleepwalk to national suicide while mumbling bromides about whether Western hedonism is to blame for ‘lack of services for locals’ in Bali.
"To read Robert Fisk is like watching a panto cast on drugs: No matter how often the baddies say, ‘I’m behind you!’, Robert replies, ‘Oh, no, you’re not!’."
Steyn accuses Western peaceniks of going on a "sleepwalk to national suicide" by ignoring the real issue of "Islamofacism", and notes:
"Only when the entire world is a Dar al-Islam will it be a Dar a-Salaam, or ‘House of Peace’. The objective is not a self-governing Palestine but the death of the West."
But although Steyn also talks of traditional moderate Islam, such a concept is hard to define. Mid-East Islam has always been fundamentalist in nature; its relative silence during the past century is more due to licking the wounds from World War I than developing any significant new interpretation of the Qu’ran.
And while it’s true that Asia’s Muslim countries, like Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia have developed a strand of Islam that borrows culturally from Buddhism, leaders in Asia are noting a big rise in Arab-style fundamentalism among previously moderate Asians.
Steyn’s "Islamofascists" are just as much targeting moderate Muslim regimes, like Indonesia, as they are America, because there is - they say - no Qu’ranic authority for moderates. Islam is all or nothing.
So what, if any, are the answers?
The first and most urgent choice belongs to Muslim communities in the West: do they wish to see Shariah law forcibly established in Western countries and a system of Government that is inextricably intertwined with Islam?
In the West, by and large, governments are democratic, popularly elected - albeit manipulated by multinationals - but nonetheless the societies have legal systems that allow freedom of speech, freedom of movement and freedom to worship whatever faith you belong to.
Under the proposed Islamic regime favoured by Hizb ut Tahrir, Al Qa’ida, Jemaah Islamiyah and others, democracy and those freedoms go.
Muslims in the West must decide whether they will stand with the West against the move by one religion to become a world government, or whether they wish to join that move. If the decision is the latter, then those Muslims would, under New Zealand law, be exposing themselves to treason charges if they were in any way to assist an outside power or group in an attempt to overthrow our current system of governance.
Having addressed that choice, the focus then returns to whether any viable solution exists to the underlying problem?
Islamic fundamentalists correctly point out that when the Ottoman empire was carved up by the victorious West at the end of World War I, the component Arab nations were placed under the rule of Western puppets, families and leaders effectively in the pay of Western interests whose role was to build the nations as secular states, not rebuild the Ottoman Caliphate.
Arabia, for example, was renamed Saudi Arabia by the ruling family that the West installed, the Sauds - the first time that the origin of the Islamic empire had ever been renamed after one particular family.
Those ruling families in Arabia and elsewhere continued to foster business relationships with the West, in return for which they have repressed the would-be Islamic empire builders, executing them or throwing them in jail as insurgents over the years.
But such repression can only last so long: Islam’s genie wants back out of the bottle. The question for the West, then, is a moral dilemma: we are faced with a particular group of people who are currently oppressed and are not free in a Western understanding of the word. This group attempts to engender sympathy from the liberal West on the basis of that oppression.
Yet (and here’s the rub), were the West to assist in freeing this group from its oppression, that same group would then move heaven and earth to break down the West’s freedom. As Hizb ut Tahrir says, "Islamic conquest is mercy, Western colonisation is punishment." In other words, if Muslims conquer the West, that is good, if the West retaliates, that’s oppression.
The truth is, Islamic militants are evil. Contrary to popular Western opinion, George Bush and Vladimir Putin may well be right: the movement is the biggest threat to world peace in existence.
The closest analogy to the world’s current plight is a variation on the story of the Three Little Pigs. Imagine an ending like this: the Big Bad Wolf is outside Political Liberal Pig’s brick house (he inherited it from his brother Practical) trying to blow it down when a snowstorm strikes, leaving an exhausted wolf huddled and shivering in the icy cold, close to death. Taking pity on the weakened wolf, Political Liberal Pig throws open the door and invites Big Bad Wolf in by the fire where it’s nice and warm...
ISLAM VS THE WEST, PART 2 INVESTIGATE: DEC 02
So just how much of a threat to world peace are the extremists? SHAYKH MUHAMMAD HISHAM KABBANI, leader of america’s islamic supreme council, warns that militants will tear islam, and the world, apart
Today, throughout the world, there has been a wave of radical movements, which sometimes turn militant, whose source can be traced to the Wahhabi movement. What is this movement and how did it spread throughout the Muslim world, and now the Western world? What are its ideological differences with traditional Islam and how are these differences influencing and supporting modern day radical movements? What can be done to diminish the power of these movements?
Traditional Islam views religion as a pact between man and God and therefore the domain of spirituality. In this belief, there can be no compulsion or force used in religion. From the time of the Prophet Muhammad (s), peace and tolerance were practiced between different religious groups, with respect to distinctions in belief. Contrary to this, the "Wahhabi" ideology is built on the concept of political enforcement of religious beliefs, thus permitting no differences in faith whatsoever. In "Wahhabi" belief, faith is not necessarily an option; it is sometimes mandated by force.
The origins of nearly all of the 20th century’s Islamic extremist movements lie in a new Islamic theology and ideology developed in the 18th and 19th centuries in tribal areas of the eastern Arabian Peninsula. The source of this new stream of thought was a Muslim scholar named Muhammad ibn Abd-al Wahhab, hence the name "Wahhabism."
The premise of this new, narrow ideology was to reject traditional scholars, scholarship and practices under the guise of "reviving the true tenets of Islam" and protecting the concept of monotheism. Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s brand of "purification" of Islam consisted of prohibiting many traditionally accepted acts of worship, reverence of the person of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and the pious saints, and burning books containing traditional prayers, interpretations of law and commentaries on the Qur’an and Hadith. He encouraged his followers to interpret the holy books for themselves and to act on their interpretations in light of their own understanding, regardless of their understanding of fundamental principles or lack thereof. Anyone who did not profess to this new ideology was considered outside of the realm of Islam - an apostate, disbeliever or idolater, thus making the shedding of their blood and confiscation of their wealth permitted. In this way, he was able to secure a significant following whose legacy continues in one form or another until today.
The traditional schools were immediately supplanted by extremist ideologues and radical centers of education. Africans tell the story of a young man sent to study Shari‘a at great expense by his Sunni parents. Upon his return a few years later, he refused to eat a chicken slaughtered in his honor by his father stating, "my father is an apostate." Scenarios like this one quickly caused a great rift between the generations of peace-loving Muslims and the chaos-driven youth who were their children.
More ugly still is the violence wreaked by ex-tremists on the Muslims of Syria, Egypt, Algeria, Afghanistan, Daghestan, Chechnya, and within the Indian Subcontinent. Violence and societal upheaval were instilled at the new schools by radical ideologues like Egyptian ex-Communist Sayyid Qutb. Sayyid Qutb declared a Muslim is either a "revolutionist" or an infidel, and went so far as to declare all the Islamic societies of his time apostate and fit to be overthrown. He stated, "Islam is a force that runs to gift freedom to all people on the earth with no regard to the variety of their religious beliefs. When this force meets with aberrant forces, it is the duty of his so-called ‘Islam’ to struggle and annihilate them." Invoking the memory of the original Kharijis, he also wrote, "Islam is a whole: its separated parts should be united and the differences removed."
Their dismissal of the traditional schools of thought, their development of schools as incubators for radical ideology, their attack on the source texts of Islam and generations of recognized scholars, and their financing by ideological counterparts worldwide, have truly enabled the Neo-Kharajite movement to dominate the vision of Islam in the world.
Traditional Muslims, the silent majority, remain numerous and confidant enough to repel the Neo-Kharajite movement from within Islam, given the necessary support. However, backed by the oil-wealth of their ideological counterparts overseas, Neo-Kharajites have a definitive advantage over the majority of Muslims, who have only their own humble resources at their disposal. Only with real financial and political support can classical Muslim scholars and moderate, mainstream Muslims reclaim the banner of Islam from these usurpers, retake the podium they have hijacked, repel these extremists and discredit their heretical ideology. Truly, this is a battle worth fighting. And it is a battle which, with the help of Almighty God, we can and must win.
Unfortunately, many American Muslim organizations lack the courage to stand up and speak forthrightly about this matter. Too often we see leaders of the community, equivocating between implicit support for extremists and general condemnations of terrorism. Broadbrush, vague condemnations are nothing but a show to prove one’s moderation when Muslims sit around the interfaith table with Jews and Christians. This has the community spinning around in confused circles, for the people can’t help reflecting the actions and words of their leaders.
Equivocation on clear moral issues can only lead to perplexity among the common worshippers and loss of confidence in the upright principles of Islam. The cause of these conflicting messages is that on the one hand leaders fear they might divide the community (which in reality is already divided into many factions), and on the other hand they fear for their own positions, due to their connections with extremists around the world through their U.S. offices.
roots of extremism
Bin Laden has issued a fatwa to all his followers stating, "The U.S. is the enemy of Islam and we must fight it. Our order throughout the world is to kill any member of its army and its leaders, and this is a religious duty." This fatwa was issued by bin Laden in retaliation for the U.S. government’s detention of Shaykh Omar Abdur Rahman.
We found a similar fatwa has been issued by one of the highest religious officials of Saudi Arabia, Imam Abdur Rahman al-Hudhayfi, grand imam of Masjid an-Nabawi of Madina al-Munawwara of Saudi Arabia, during Jumah prayer March 13, 1998. In his 29-page fatwa the Imam stated:
"The followers of Judaism and Christianity know for certain that Islam is the true religion, but jealousy towards the Muslims, arrogance, love of wealth and selfish desires are a barrier between them and Islam....We have to be aware that movements that have been initiated to bring together interfaith sessions of different religions are seriously detrimental to Muslims. It is clear that truth and falsehood cannot be compromised. We further disapprove of invitations to such compromises which are being extended by those ‘intellectuals’ who are not even acquainted with the basic and essential doctrines of Islam..."
Al-Hudhayfi—Imam of the 2nd most holy mosque for Muslims—continued,
"How can there be any compromise between Islam and Judaism when Islam is unique in its purity, its light, its brilliance, its justice, its magnanimity and high morality for mankind, while on the other hand Judaism is a collection of materialism, treachery, low and degraded morals, lawlessness, greediness and covetousness.... Similarly there is no relationship between Christianity and Islam. Islam is a pure unitarian religion believing in the unity of God, filled with justice and blessings, whereas Christianity is a collection of misguidedness..."
The similarity of the thinking behind these two fatwas cannot be missed. Instead of a comprehensive approach to solving the problems of the Muslim ummah, these two extremists find it easier and politically expedient to blame America, Russia, or any extraneous power for the current sorry state of the Muslims. In the two edicts one can see the expression of views prompted primarily by the political agendas of the individuals issuing them. Whenever a situation arises where a certain goal is sought, declarations are made to arouse the emotions of the masses. However what is said in no way reflects the traditional Islam and the majority of Muslims. Rather, these ideologues are expressing their own extremist dogma, inherited through their ancestors from the teachings of Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab, 18th century founder of the "Salafi"/Wahabi sect. This sect has developed and been promoted very intensely in the last thirty years by a number of regimes, with the disastrous result that the extremism which vaulted them into power has now come full circle and threatens to sweep them away.
Thus we see bin Laden, a Saudi, with his network of militants, working to destroy the government of Saudi Arabia, no doubt strengthened by the fatwa of the Saudi imam, Abdur Rahman al-Hudhayfi. This contradicts the explicit teaching of Prophet Muhammad (saws) not to oppose a ruler as long as he does not prevent the performance of prayer—even if he commits injustice. Thus extremists use Islam when it suits them and likewise contravene it at their convenience.
Spouting verses of Qu’ran and Prophetic traditions, well-financed Wahhabi/Salafi preachers exploit the spiritual yearnings of the people and harness them to adopt their teachings.
While outwardly ‘Islamic’, the main ingredients of traditional Islam are missing: love, compassion, mercy, tolerance, respect and forgiveness. These words are rarely spoken, and if so only in regard to people of the same creed.
All others are rejected as "unbelievers" to be ignored, and, undoubtedly if the Wahhabis were given power, to be eliminated. The actual focus of these preachers is not so much Islam as it is politics. Arguing that Islam is a religion of action in which state and religion are not separated, they reduce Islam to political goals and power-seeking, subjugating its spiritual dimension completely.
The cleverest dimension of the Wahhabi/Salafi ideological onslaught is their ability to earn the sympathy of Western thinkers and analysts by claiming to be "reformers" of Islam. They present innocuous literature of struggling for religious freedom and practice as if to demonstrate their supposed non-violent, ideological goals. Yet, what they deceitfully conceal is those ideological goals are not a matter of choice.
Their desire for an "Islamic state" for example is not just an ideal, it is a duty they will not surrender or relinquish. Therefore, the pursuit of such an ideal will inherently lead to violence as long as there is societal or governmental opposition to its establishment. Their ideological goals do not provide for negotiation, compromise, or mediation with other societal perspectives of the nation-state.
It is imperative for the foreign observer to critically determine at what point the pursuit of religious ideals is actually an incitement to violence and civil unrest. As nations founded on principles of democracy and freedom, we should not condone the imposition of any ideals— social, political, or religious—by physical force or psychological intimidation.
In the late 80’s and early 90’s a flood of Muslim radicals from Arab Gulf nations, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, North Africa began to cross the borders of Central Asian nations and the Caucasus unimpeded. With the downfall of communism, the newly emerging nations had little or no resources to fight the insurgencies. Fighters, mainly trained in Afghanistan, as it is alleged, with funding from Wahhabi sources and through the sale of opium and other narcotics, were able to penetrate borders, make quick guerilla attacks and then rapidly withdraw. Trained in the crucible of the Russo-Afghan war, these radicals were primarily fighters, with little interest in ideology. However, their backers were radical ideologues: Bin Laden, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Shaykh Umar Abdur Rahman and numerous other Arab ‘reformers’, following the teachings of the strict Wahhabi/Salafi ideology.
Latter-day reformers of Islam, the Salafis like Rashid Reda, Jamaluddin Afghani and other modernist pan-Islamic thinkers, and radicals like Syed Qutb, Hassan al-Banna, Mawlana Mawdoodi, had all drunk deeply at the fount of Wahhabi ideology, and from it came their militant approach. These groups rejected traditional religious understanding and instead focused on the politicization of religion. Though they have since renamed their movements as if to disconnect them from ‘Wahhabism’, the essence of their teachings is the same.
Trained in their home countries in militancy, establishing core cells and building up organizational and financial prowess, these radical leaders were not content with establishing mosques, Islamic schools or social institutions -they sought to build a military movement. Initial goals— overthrow the governments of their home countries or adopted nations and create the "Islamic state", following their version of "pure" Islamic law— adapted to suit their ideology.
These heavily funded operations often posed as relief organizations, but in reality they were working to spread the Wahhabi/Salafi ideology adopted by various radical movements. The massive infiltration of political Islam into a society previously void of political activism laid the foundation for an organizational strategy founded on anti-government pseudo-Islamic rhetoric.
Today the strategy of the Wahhabis in Central Asia is two-pronged: 1) flood the religious ‘market’ with massive quantities of literature from radical Wahhabi/Salafi reformists, which advocates the "Islamic revolution" or ‘Jihad’ against the government, targeting students and intelligentsia who are now free to read and study;
2) encourage militant activism, ranging from public protests and the founding of anti-government mosques and schools, to the actual engagement in acts of terror and military insurgency operations. Such operations are often staged from remote areas of neighbouring countries, creating a ‘natural’ barrier to governmental forces that pursue them.
According to Salafi/Wahhabi ideology, the end justifies the means. Therefore it comes as no surprise to find the ‘scholars’ of militant Islam declaring permissible all that Islam in fact declares prohibited. This includes:
· Declaration of ‘Jihad’, against Muslim governments and their citizens reasoning that the failure to implement Islamic law makes the government enemies of Islam and ‘unbelievers’. This contradicts authentic Islamic law, which states that unless a government prevents Muslims from praying, revolt is not permitted. This ruling is derived from the verse in the Quran, "Obey God, obey your Prophet, and obey those in authority over you."
· Killing any member of the government stating that they are ‘kafir’ or ‘unbelievers’. Though seemingly just a matter of words, such a declaration amongst Muslims subjects them to immediate death since they would be considered "enemies of Islam". Such an accusation of heresy or apostasy is a grave sin in Islam and contradicts traditional Sunni belief.
· Killing citizens who do not revolt against the government, as collaborators with unbelief.
· Selling Islamically forbidden products and materials, i.e. opium, to finance any aspect of their ‘Jihad’.
· Dealing in arms smuggling.
· Kidnapping, buying and selling human beings.
Take Chechnya. Chechens are moderate Muslims who want to follow the Islamic legal standards in rules of worship and civil society, but who see no reason to impose such law on anyone else. When the first war for Chechen independence took place, it was not so much religiously motivated as it was supported by religious enthusiasm.
What took place during the latter phase of the war and after the peace treaty with Russia resulted in today’s disastrous situation in Chechnya.
Using Shamil Basayev (responsible for the Moscow theatre siege) as their kingpin, the Wahhabis were able to establish an independent militant movement operating outside all laws and restrictions.
The Wahhabis poured finances and arms into Basayev’s militia, creating a full-scale army in Chechnya. Their intent on expansion was clearly demonstrated by the insurgency into Daghestan in August 1999. The primary objective is to create an Islamic state, with the expectation that eventually it will stretch from Afghanistan to North Africa, and from Turkey south to Yemen and the Sudan.
It is very well known that cer-tain networks have flourished in many countries throughout the world. Small but well-fi-nanced militant movements arise, coming against their government and the common people, instigating conflict. The danger lies when an outside government supports such extremist movements under the false impression that this constitutes preserving religious freedom.
To understand such movements, one must understand the scope of Islam and the psychology of Muslims, since what we are seeing today is an ideological movement turned militant. It is important to note that the Wahhabi ideology itself is extreme in its interpretation and can turn militant over time. Why is this form of thinking attractive to some Muslims? What are the political agendas behind "religious" movements? How are holy books used to justify illegal actions performed in the name of the religion? Education is a key factor in containing and countering the spread of this type of extremism and its associated movements.
It would be highly beneficial if a think tank or research institute were to be formed in order that government officials, researchers, and media understand Islam on a deeper level, rather than making rash generalizations based on superficial understandings. To truly understand the world Islamist extremist movement, one must realize it is not just a social phenomenon as so many theorists mistakenly assume, but is a full-fledged ideological war of words and weapons alike.
Islam vs The West, Part 1
From riots in Pakistan to demonstrations in Europe, Asia and even Australia, intelligence agencies are keeping a close eye on the rise of HIZB UT TAHRIR, or The Party of Islamic Liberation, an extremist Muslim network that also has links to some New Zealand Muslims. The group is stridently pushing for war between Islam and the West and says there is no room for compromise or negotiation. This is part of its manifesto:
Islam is a universal mes-sage for all human beings whichever race, gender or people they come from. He (swt) said: "And We have not sent you (O Muhammad [saw]) But as a (Messenger) to all Man-kind, giving them glad tidings and warning them" [TMQ 34:28] Islam makes those who believe in it into one Ummah (people). However much the ethnicity, gender, peoples and languages may differ. An Ummah which professes a single Deen and worships only one Lord and faces one Qibla (direction). There is no superiority of a nobleman over the common man, a white over a black, or an Arab over a non-Arab except in Taqwa (God fearing).
Islam is the last Message Allah has revealed to His servants. It abrogates all the messages revealed before as Judaism, Christianity and others. Allah (swt) has obliged the followers of the previous messages to leave their religions and profess belief in Islam. Allah (swt) has obliged man to worship Him until he inherits the earth and those in it. Allah (swt) will not accept from any human being in the world to follow a deen other than Islam. He (swt) said: "And whosoever seeks a deen other than Islam, it will never be accepted from him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers." [TMQ 3:85]
the aim of hizb ut-tahrir
Its aim is to resume the Is-lamic way of life and to con-vey the Islamic da’wah to the world. This objective means bringing the Muslims back to living an Islamic way of life in Dar al-Islam and in an Islamic society such that all of life’s affairs in society are administered according to the Shari’ah rules, and the viewpoint in it is the halal and the haram under the shade of the Islamic State, which is the Khilafah State. That state is the one in which Muslims appoint a Khaleefah and give him the bay’ah to listen and obey on condition that he rules according to the Book of Allah (swt) and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saw) and on condition that he conveys Islam as a message to the world through da’wah and jihad.
The Party, as well, aims at the correct revival of the Ummah through enlightened thought. It also strives to bring her back to her previous might and glory such that she wrests the reins of initiative away from other states and nations, and returns to her rightful place as the first state in the world, as she was in the past, when she governs the world according to the laws of Islam.
It also aims to bring back the Islamic guidance for mankind and to lead the Ummah into a struggle with Kufr, its systems and its thoughts so that Islam encapsulates the world.
The Party accepts Muslim men and women as its members regardless of whether they are Arab or non-Arab, white or coloured, since it is a party for all Muslims. It invites all Muslims to carry Islam and adopt its systems regardless of their nationalities, colours and madhahib (Schools of Thought), as it looks to all of them according to the viewpoint of Islam.
The method of affiliating the people to the Party is through their embracing of the Islamic ‘aqeedah, their maturity in the Party culture, and by their adoption of the thoughts and opinions of the Party. The person in question imposes himself on the Party, when he melts into it, and when the da’wah interacts with him and he adopts the thoughts and the concepts of the Party. So the affiliation that binds together the members of the Party is the Islamic ‘aqeedah and the Party’s culture which originates from this ‘aqeedah. The women’s circles in the Party are separate from the men’s circles.
Women’s circles are supervised by either their husbands, relatives who they cannot marry or by other women.
hizb ut-tahrir’s work
The work of Hizb ut-Tahrir is to carry the Islamic da’wah in order to change the situation of the corrupt society so that it is transformed into an Islamic society. It aims to do this by firstly changing the society’s existing thoughts to Islamic thoughts so that such thoughts become the public opinion among the people, who are then driven to implement and act upon them. Secondly the Party works to change the emotions in the society until they become Islamic emotions that accept only that which pleases Allah (swt) and rebel against and detest anything which angers Allah (swt). Finally, the Party works to change the relationships in the society until they become Islamic relationships which proceed in accordance with the laws and solutions of Islam. These actions which the Party performs are political actions, since they relate to the affairs of the people in accordance with the Shari’ah rules and solutions, and politics in Islam is looking after the affairs of the people, either in opinion or in execution or both, according to the laws and solutions of Islam.
What is manifested in these political actions is culturing the Ummah with the Islamic culture in order to melt her with Islam and to cleanse her of the corrupt creeds, false thoughts and erroneous concepts including the influence of Kufr thoughts and opinions.
What is also manifested in these political actions is an intellectual and political struggle. The manifestation of an intellectual struggle is through the struggle against the thoughts and systems of Kufr. It is also manifested in the struggle against false thoughts, corrupt creeds and erroneous concepts by demonstrating their corruption, showing their error and presenting clearly the verdict of Islam concerning them.
As for the political struggle, it is manifested in the struggle against the disbelieving imperialists, to deliver the Ummah from their domination and to liberate her from their influence by uprooting their intellectual, cultural, political, economic and military roots from all of the Muslim countries.
The political struggle also appears in challenging the rulers, revealing their treasons and conspiracies against the Ummah, and by taking them to task and changing them if they denied the rights of the Ummah, or refrained from performing their duties towards her, or ignored any matter of her affairs, or violated the laws of Islam.
So all the work of the Party is political, whether it is in office or not. Its work is not educational, as it is not a school, nor is its work concerned with giving sermons and preaching. Rather its work is political, in which the thoughts and laws of Islam are presented in order to act upon them and to carry them so as to establish them in life’s affairs and in the State.
The Party conveys the da’wah for Islam so that it is implemented, and so that its ‘aqeedah becomes the foundation of the State and the foundation of its constitution and canons. This is because the Islamic ‘aqeedah is a rational creed and it is a political doctrine from which originates a system that deals with all of man’s problems, whether they are political, economic, cultural, social or any other issue for that matter.
world domination begins at home
Islam is a universal ideology, but its method does not, how-ever, allow one to work for it universally from the begin-ning. It is necessary, however, to invite to it universally, and make the field of work for it in one country, or a few countries, until it is consolidated there and the Islamic State is established.
The whole world is a suitable location for the Islamic da’wah. But since the people in the Muslim countries have already embraced Islam, it is necessary that the da’wah starts there. The Arab countries are the most suitable location to start carrying the da’wah because these countries, which constitute part of the Muslim world, are inhabited by people who speak the Arabic language, which is the language of the Qur’an and hadith, and is an essential part of Islam and a basic element of the Islamic culture.
The Hizb began and started to carry the da’wah within some of the Arab countries. It then proceeded to expand the delivery of the da’wah naturally until it began to function in many Arab countries and also in non-Arab Muslim countries as well.
step by step, they will submit
The method adopted by Hizb ut-Tahrir to convey the da’wah is Shari’ah Law derived from the seerah of the Messenger of Allah (saw) in his performance during the conveyance of the da’wah. This is so because it is obligatory to follow him, as Allah (swt) says, "Surely, in the Messenger of Allah, is the best example for those who believe in Allah and the Last Day and remember Allah often." [TMQ 33:21]
"Say if you love Allah follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your sins." [TMQ 3:31]
"Whatever the Messenger gives you take it, and whatever he forbids you abstain from it." [TMQ 59:7]
There are many other such verses which denote that following the Messenger of Allah (saw), taking him as an example and taking all aspects of the deen from him is obligatory.
Since the Mus-lims nowadays live in Dar al-Kufr, because they are gov-erned with laws other than the rev-elation of Allah (swt), so their land resembles Makkah where the Messenger of Allah (saw) was first sent as a Messenger. Therefore, it is necessary to take the Makkan part of the Messenger of Allah’s seerah as an example in conveying the da’wah.
By studying the life of the Messenger of Allah (saw) in Makkah until he (saw) had managed to establish the Islamic State in Madinah, it is evident that he (saw) went through clearly defined stages, in each of which he (saw) used to perform specific clear actions. So the Party took from that the method of action, the stages of its action and the deeds which it has to perform during these stages in accordance with the deeds which the Messenger of Allah (saw) performed during the stages of his work.
Based on this, the Party defined its method of work into three stages:
The First Stage: The stage of culturing to produce people who believe in the idea and the method of the Party, so that they form the Party group.
The Second Stage: The stage of interaction with the Ummah, to let the Ummah embrace and carry Islam, so that the Ummah takes it up as its issue, and thus works to establish it in the affairs of life.
The Third Stage: The stage of establishing government, implementing Islam generally and comprehensively, and carrying it as a message to the world.
The Party started the first stage in al-Quds in 1372 AH (1953 CE) under the leadership of its founder, the honourable scholar, thinker, able politician, qadi in the Court of Appeals in al-Quds, Taqiuddin al-Nabhani (may Allah’s mercy be upon him). In this stage, the Party used to make contact with the members of the Ummah, presenting to them, on an individual basis, its idea and method. Whoever accepted the basic idea, the Party would organise for him intensive study in the circles of the Party, so that he became purified by the thoughts and rules of Islam adopted by the Party and thus in the process became an Islamic personality. Thus he interacts with Islam and enjoys an Islamic mentality and Islamic emotions leading him to start to carry the da’wah to the people. When a person reaches this stage he impresses himself on the Party and thus becomes a member of it. This is the way in which the Messenger of Allah (saw) had acted in his first stage of the da’wah, which continued for three years, by inviting people individually and presenting to them that which Allah (swt) had revealed to him (saw). He gathered together secretly those who believed in him on the basis of this ideology.
He was concerned to teach them Islam and read to them from what was revealed and was being revealed to him until he had melted them with Islam. He used to meet them secretly and teach them in places hidden from the eyes of the people. They also used to perform their worship in disguise.
Eventually, the da’wah for Islam spread in Makkah, and people started to talk about it and began to enter Islam in groups.
At this stage of the da’wah, the Party focused its attention on building its body, increasing its membership and culturing the individuals in its circles by the concentrated Party culture until it had managed to form a party structure from people who were melted by Islam, and who had adopted the thoughts of the Party and had interacted with these thoughts and conveyed them to the people. After the party had managed to form its structure and society had become aware of it, recognised it and its thoughts and what it was calling for, the Party moved to the second stage.
the second stage
This stage is the inter-action with the Ummah to make her carry Islam and to establish in the Ummah the common awareness and the public opinion over the thoughts and the rules of Islam adopted by the Party, so that she adopts them as her own thoughts and strives to establish them in life, and proceeds with the Party in the work to establish the Khilafah State and to appoint the Khaleefah in order to resume the Islamic way of life and carry the Islamic da’wah to the world.
In this stage the Party developed its activities from only approaching individuals to also talking to the masses collectively. In this stage it used to carry out the following functions:
The concentrated culturing of individuals in circles to build the body of the Party and increase its members, and produce Islamic personalities that are capable of conveying the da’wah and rushing forward into the intellectual and political struggle.
The collective culturing of the masses of the Ummah with the thoughts and the rules of Islam which the Hizb had adopted, through lessons, lectures, and talks in the mosques, centres and common gathering places, and through the press, books and leaflets. This was done in order to create a common awareness within the Ummah and to interact with her.
The intellectual struggle against the Kufr creeds, systems and thoughts, the erroneous ideas and the fraudulent concepts by exposing their falsehood, defects and contradiction with Islam, in order to deliver the Ummah from them and from their effects.
The political struggle, which is represented by the following:
A struggle against the Kufr colonialist states which have domination and influence on the Islamic countries. The challenge against colonialism in all its intellectual, political, economic and military forms, involves exposing its plans, and revealing its conspiracies in order to deliver the Ummah from its control and to liberate it from any effect of its influence.
A struggle against the rulers in the Arab and Muslim countries, by exposing them, taking them to task, acting to change them whenever they denied the rights of the Ummah or neglected to perform their duty towards her, or ignored any of her affairs, and whenever they disagreed with the rules of Islam, and acting also to remove their regimes so as to establish the Islamic rule in its place.
To assume the interests of the Ummah and to adopt its affairs in accordance with the Shari’ah rules.
The Party has carried out all this work following what the Messenger of Allah (saw) did after Allah (swt) had revealed to him,
"Proclaim what you are ordered (to say) and turn away from the idolaters. " [TMQ 15:94]
The Messenger of Allah (saw) proclaimed his message and invited Quraysh to Mount Safa and told them that he was a Messenger sent to them. He asked them to believe in him. He started to make his call to the masses as well as to the individuals. When Quraysh opposed him, he confronted Quraysh, its false gods, creeds and thoughts, explaining their falsehood, corruption and defects. He defamed them and attacked them as he attacked all the existing false creeds and ideas.
The Party was clear, open and challenging in the carrying of its thoughts and in confronting the false thoughts and political parties, both in its struggle against the disbelieving colonialists and in its struggle against the rulers. It does not flatter, coax, act courteously or prefer safety, irrespective of the results or the circumstances of its da’wah. It challenges everybody who disagrees with Islam and its laws, a matter which has exposed it to severe harm committed by the rulers against it; such as imprisonment, torture, deportation, pursuit, attacking members livelihoods, impairment of interests, banning from travelling and murder. The oppressive rulers in Iraq, Syria, Libya and others have killed dozens of its members. The prisons of Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia are full of its members.
The Party sustained all this through following the example of the Messenger of Allah (saw). It was he (saw) who came with the Message of Islam to the whole world. He challenged it in an open manner, believing in the truth which he (saw) called for. He (saw) challenged the whole world, struggling with all and sundry, without giving any account to their habits, traditions, religions, creeds, rulers or common people. He paid not the slightest attention to anything except the Message of Islam. He took the initiative against Quraysh by defaming its gods. He challenged them about their beliefs and he insulted them whilst he was only one person, without either adequate means or helpers, and having no weapons except his deep Iman in the Message of Islam which he (saw) was sent with.
The fact that the Party does not use material power to defend itself or as a weapon against the rulers is of no relevance to the subject of jihad, because jihad has to continue till the Day of Judgement. So whenever the disbelieving enemies attack an Islamic country it becomes compulsory on its Muslim citizens to repel the enemy. The members of Hizb ut-Tahrir in that country are a part of the Muslims and it is obligatory upon them as it is upon other Muslims, in their capacity as Muslims, to fight the enemy and repel them. Whenever there is a Muslim amir who declares jihad to enhance the Word of Allah (swt) and mobilises the people to do that, the members of Hizb ut-Tahrir will respond in their capacity as Muslims in the country where the general call to arms was proclaimed.
When the society became unresponsive to the Party as a result of the loss of the Ummah’s confidence in its leaders and chiefs on whom it had placed its hopes, the difficult circumstances under which the region was placed in order to ease the implementation of the conspiracies, the oppression and despondency which the rulers practised against their peoples and the severe harm which the rulers inflicted on the Party and its members, when the society became unresponsive for these reasons the Party started to seek the support of the influential people with two objectives in mind: For the objective of protection, so that it could manage to continue its da’wah while secure from affliction. To take over the rule in order to establish the Khilafah and apply Islam.
In addition to performing the actions of seeking material support, the Hizb continues to perform all the actions which it used to carry out, like concentrated circles, the collective culturing, focusing on the Ummah to make her carry Islam and establishing the public opinion for Islam within it. It continued to struggle against the colonial disbelieving states by revealing their plans and exposing their conspiracies, as it continued to struggle against the rulers by adopting the interests of the Ummah and taking care of its affairs.
The Party still continues in its work and hopes that Allah (swt) will grant to it and to the Islamic Ummah the help, success and victory, and at that moment the believers will rejoice.
one ring to rule them all...
The ruling system in Islam is a system which defines the structure, descrip-tion, foundations, pil-lars and apparatus of the State. It defines the basis on which the State is established and the thoughts, concepts and criterions according to which the affairs are looked after, and the constitution and canons which it applies. The Islamic ruling system is a special and distinct system, for a State which is special and distinct, fundamentally different from all the existing ruling systems in the world. Whether with regards to the basis on which the State is established, the thoughts, concepts and criterion according to which the people’s affairs are looked after, the structures in which it is represented or the constitution and canons which it applies.
The structure of the Islamic ruling system is the Khilafah system, in which the Muslims pledge to their Khaleefah to hear and obey him so that he rules them with Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (saw). It is a system established on the basis of the unity of the State and unity of the Khilafah. It is not permitted for the Muslims to have at any one given time more than one State on earth, or have more than one Khaleefah. If a second Khaleefah is given the Bay’a (oath of allegiance) despite the presence of a Khaleefah, the second Khaleefah is fought against till he gives Bay’a to the first Khaleefah or he is killed. He (saw) said: "If a Bay’a has been taken for two Khulafa, kill the latter of them."
one ring to find them...
Muslims of America are American citi-zens. The constitution gives them the same rights as the Christians. And so they think they are free and equal. After that particular Tuesday have the Muslims dared to voice their opinions in freedom? Have the Muslim women dared to go out in their Islamic dress without a sense of fear? Did the Muslims dare to show their emotions regarding the strikes against Afghanistan? Are they able to say in the du’a of nazilah: O our Lord! We have assigned you (to deal with) America and those who ally with them? Can they say on the minbars: O Allah! Help your servants the mujahids? Their bonds, equality and freedoms are lies and false. Their ideology can never melt/mold people. As for our Deen, its brotherhood is real and its molding is complete. We saw an Immigrant (muhajir) from Quraysh drawing closer to Allah by killing his kaafir relative. An American trusts a protestant who has British citizenship more than a Muslim who has American citizenship. So where is this bond?
one ring to bring them all...
Today it is Fard (obligatory) for every Mus-lim to work to establish the Khilafah. The Islamic Khilafah was destroyed in 1924. Ruling by Islam in the state and society ceased from the time the Khilafah state was destroyed. Muslims are forbidden from remaining for more than three days without a pledge to a Khaleefah being on their neck. Muslims are also forbidden to rule by anything other than Islam and to stay silent about the implementation of Kufr laws over them. Due to all of the above, Muslims all over the world are sinful in the sight of Allah, and they deserve His punishment except those who involved themselves in the work to establish the Khilafah and to restore the ruling by that which Allah has revealed. The sin would not be lifted from them until the Khilafah was re-established and the ruling by that which Allah has revealed restored.
and in the darkness bind them
The Islamic Aqeeda being a basis of the State obliges that the Islamic State should not have any thought, concept, rule or crite-rion which has not emanated from the Is-lamic Aqeeda i.e. not taken from the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (saw). Because it is not enough that the basis of the State be the Islamic creed only in name. Rather this basis should be represented in everything related to its existence, and in every one of its issues whether tiny or great. Therefore, it is not permitted that there should be any concept taken from democracy or nationalism because it contradicts with the rules of Islam.
Anyone who rules by other than Islam is either a Fasiq (transgressor) or Kafir (disbeliever).
Islam differs from the previous religions of Judaism, Christianity and others. Allah has made it an ideology built on a rational creed (Aqeeda) from which a system emanates treating all of life’s problems for the whole of mankind. Allah has enjoined and obliged upon Muslims to rule according to it and to make it the judge in every affair of their life.
And He (swt) forbade them to rule by anything other than it in any affair of their life. He has described the one who rules by other than Islam or arbitrates to anything other than Islam as deserving punishment on the Day of Judgement, if he did not believe that the thing other than Islam is better than Islam. However, if he believed in that he will be a Kafir (disbeliever) He (swt) said: "And whoever does not rule by that which Allah has revealed, they are the disbelievers (Kafirun)" [TMQ 5:44]
The Islamic ruling system is not republican. The republican system is based on the democratic system, which is a system of Kufr, based on the creed of separating religion from life. The sovereignty in this system is for the people who enact the laws.
Whereas the Islamic system is established on the basis of the Islamic Aqeeda, and on the rules of the Shari’a. In this system the sovereignty is for the Shari’a and not for the Ummah. Nor does the Ummah or the Khaleefah possess the right to legislate. So the legislator is Allah (swt). The Khaleefah only possesses the right to adopt rules for the constitution and canons from the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (saw).
Therefore, it is not permitted to say that the system of Islam is a republican system or talk of a Islamic republic, due to the great contradiction between the Islamic system and the republican system.
Islam cannot be applied in its entirety without the Islamic State. Ruling by that which Allah has revealed and the forcing of the rules of Islam in all affairs of life cannot be attained without the presence of a state. Allah has made the state a method for the implementation of the laws of the Shari’a. The Messenger (saw) established the state ever since he migrated from Makkah al-mukarrama to Madinah al-munawwara, where the verses of legislation and the solutions for the problems of life began to be revealed one after another. The Prophet (saw) used to implement whatever was revealed to him in terms of the Ahkam (rules) at the very moment they were revealed until the revelation of Islam was made complete, and His (swt) saying was revealed:
"This day, I have perfected your religion for you, and completed My Favour upon you, and chosen for you Islam as Deen" [TMQ 5:3] The Messenger of Allah was a messenger who received the message from his Lord so as to convey it to the people. He was also a ruler and a leader of a state in which he implemented that which Allah had revealed to him.
After the journey of the Messenger (saw) to his Lord, Most Sublime, came the state of the Righteous Caliphs (Khulafa ar-Rashidin). The Khulafa used to implement everything that had been revealed by Allah of the systems and laws. The ruling by that which Allah has revealed continued in the Islamic state after them until it was destroyed after the 1st World War at the hands of the Kafir Mustafa Kamal who was of Jewish origin and a British agent. He did so, by the instruction of Britain, the disbelieving state and the enemy of Islam and the Muslims.
islam protects the honour and the west violates it
Western Capital-ism is a shame-ful and licen-tious civilization for which there is no precedent known in history. Abnormal behavior, mutilation and nudity can be found amongst human beings. But in capitalism these acts are protected by law. And this is unprecedented. We do not hear of mutilation amongst animals but the western civilization guarantees it as a personal freedom. Rather, for them it is a human right or the rights of women.
The westerners and those infatuated by the west feel no embarrassment in saying that Islam deprived women their rights, or that it suppresses and oppresses them. How astonishing it is that such a people would protect her rights? Will it be a people who consider the woman a well-kept jewel or someone who degrades her and considers her a commodity? The one who wants her like a dairy cow working like a slave girl or as a mother and housewife?
Those who oblige her to work or those who allow her to work? The one who gives his life to protect her as an honour or the one who does not know in which brothel she has spent the night? The one who embraces her and builds a family with her or the one who satisfies his desires with her on a sudden impulse and then abandons her to look after the children of fornication or to have an abortion?
islamic attire compulsory for all women
Some people try to say that the (Islamic) attire of women is merely a tradition which is for her to either wear or take off, claim-ing that it has no connection to the Deen. It seems that such people proceed from the capitalist creed of separating religion though the evidence regarding the Islamic attire of women is not unknown to any Muslim who recites the Qur’an. There is no scope to reject it or even disagree with it. Allah (subhana wa ta’allah) says: "O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies. That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful" [TMQ Al-Ahzab: 59].
And He ‘azza wajalla says: "And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent, and to draw their outer garment over their bosoms" [TMQ An-Nur: 31]. The first ayah obliged the jilbaab which is the loose flowing garment (worn) above the ordinary clothes which starts from the shoulder to the feet. In the second ayah the khimar has been made obligatory, which involves covering the head until it covers the juyub.
islamic conquest is mercy, western colonialism is punishment
The colonized countries without exception have their rights violated, resources plun-dered, and their will taken away. This situa-tion is constant. The colonialists ensured their presence by evil styles known to ev-eryone. It is enough just to indicate how people of backward nations drown at sea and die in containers trying to come to the capitalist countries in order to be servants and labourers for the colonizers. Did this exist in the history of the Islamic conquests? Was anyone prevented from moving about within the state? Was a conquered land deprived of industry, agriculture and trade?
The Ummah should know that she will not be powerful and feared again except by uniting behind an Imaam. Otherwise she will remain in a state of misery and humiliation. He (sallalahu alaihi wa sallam)said: "Unity is mercy (rahmah) and division is punishment (‘azaab)."