Saturday, November 29, 2008

Much to Say about Mumbai Terror - What they hate about Mumbai

Much will be written in the days to come about the terror attacks in Mumbai, India.
Today, Suketu Mehta, a professor of journalism at New York University, penned an op-ed in The New York Times, What They Hate About Mumbai, it bears close reading because it speaks volumes in a few words about the nature of terrorists and why they prey on the innocent.

Some of his points:

  • Mumbai is all about dhandha, or transaction. From the street food vendor squatting on a sidewalk, fiercely guarding his little business, to the tycoons and their dreams of acquiring Hollywood, this city understands money and has no guilt about the getting and spending of it.
  • But the best answer to the terrorists is to dream bigger, make even more money, and visit Mumbai more than ever.
  • If the rest of the world wants to help, it should run toward the explosion. It should fly to Mumbai, and spend money. Where else are you going to be safe? New York? London? Madrid?
  • So I’m booking flights to Mumbai. I’m going to go get a beer at the Leopold, stroll over to the Taj for samosas at the Sea Lounge, and watch a Bollywood movie at the Metro. Stimulus doesn’t have to be just economic.

Stephen M. Flatow

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pirates on the High Seas - Why is there no response?

Somali-based pirates hold a number of ships and many crew hostage in ports along the coast of Somalia. Why has there been no concerted effort to stop these attacks from happening? Brett Stephens of the Wall Street Journal comments in this short video report, Why Don't We Hang Pirates Anymore?

For a backgrounder on the link between piracy and terrorism, read "Terrorism Goes to Sea" by Gal Luft and Anne Korin in "Foreign Affairs," November/December 2004

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Holy Land Foundation - New York Times Coverage

The New York Times has weighed in with its coverage of the guilty verdicts announced yesterday in the Holy Land Foundation trial in which the purported charity and its officers were found guilty of providing aid and support to Hamas. See sidebar for more information on Hamas. Read Five Convicted in Terrorism Financing Trial.

The defendants and their supporters (of which there are many) maintain that all work of Holy Land Foundation was for charitable purposes, or in the words of one supporter, it

“simply provided food, clothes, shelter, medical supplies and education to the suffering people in Palestine and other countries."

What this naivete conveniently overlooks is that the main objective of Hamas is the destruction of a democratic country, Israel, through any means possible, including murdering its civilian citizens. Holy Land Foundation's contribution of money to Hamas for charitable and welfare purposes overlooks the fact that other Hamas resources were thereby freed to be used in the group's horrific acts of terror.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Holy Land Foundation Verdict - Islamic Charity Guilty of Supporting Hamas

The Holy Land Foundation trial ended today with guilty verdicts on 108 counts.
According to the Associated Press,
U.S. District Judge Jorge A. Solis announced the guilty verdicts on all 108 counts on the eighth day of deliberations in the retrial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, once the nation's largest Muslim charity. It was the biggest terrorism financing case since the attacks of Sept. 11.

The trial gives the United States a victory in its domestic war against terrorism after suffering setbacks over the last three years. In addition to the corporation, five officers were found guilty.

As previously noted by this writer, terrorism trials are difficult by their very nature and made more so considering that much information was developed during the Clinton Administration but not acted upon until the Bush Administration.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dirty Money to an American University - What is George Mason University Thinking?

The Washington Times reports today that "George Mason University is expanding its Islamic studies program with a $1.5 million grant from a Northern Virginia-based think thank still operating under the cloud of a six-year federal terrorism investigation." The donor is the International Institute for Islamic Thought.

The IIIT's Northern Virginia center was among 14 homes and offices raided by federal agencies in March 2002 in an attempt to disrupt domestic financing for global terrorism. The raids - known as Operation Green Quest - resulted in 21 search warrants, 12 arrests, four indictments and the seizure of about $10.3 million smuggled into the United States, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

What gives with GMU? Temple University received the same offer earlier in 2008 and saw the sense in distancing itself from the IIIT which is suspected of supporting admitted terror sponsor Sami Al-Arian's efforts with World and Islam Studies Institute at the University of South Florida to support Islamic Jihad's activities in the Middle East, especially targeting Israeli civilians.

Wake up GMU. When you lie down with.....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Follow-up to al-Qaeda's Panning of Barack Obama

The New York Times has now weighed in with a story on al-Qaeda's dissillusionment with the election of Barack Obama.

Just what is al-Qaeda up to?

Ronald Walters, a political scientist at the University of Maryland, said he wondered whether Al Qaeda was responding to the aggressive tone of Mr. Obama’s campaign pledges to go after the terrorist network and capture or kill Mr. bin Laden. Dr. Walters said that if the tape was an attempt to reach black Americans or the Third World, it was “ham handed” and futile. [Pun intended? SMF]

“You’re talking about someone who looks like the rest of the world, and that’s got to be threatening to them,” he said, referring to Mr. Obama. “On 9/11, Al Qaeda didn’t make any racial distinctions in who it killed, and people remember that.”

Read Al Qaeda Coldly Acknowledges Obama Victory

Of Course You Realize, This Means War. Terrorists to President-elect Obama: The honeymoon's over.

Of Course You Realize, This Means War
Terrorists to President-elect Obama: The honeymoon's over.

Ah, for the lost innocence of . . . well, of three days ago, when David Ingatius of the Washington Post penned these words:
Let's try for a moment to read the mind of an al-Qaeda operative in the remote mountains of Waziristan as he listens to the news on the radio. His worldview has been roiled recently by two events--one confounding his image of the West and the other confirming it.

The upsetting news for our imaginary jihadist is the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States. This wasn't supposed to happen, in al-Qaeda's playbook. Its aim was to draw the "far enemy" (meaning America) ever deeper onto the battlefields of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Instead, the jihadists must cope with a president-elect who promises to get out of Iraq and whose advisers are talking about negotiating with the Taliban. And to top it off, the guy's middle name is Hussein.

That honeymoon sure didn't last. Today Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's Joe Biden, released a recording that, as the Middle East Media Research Institute mildly puts it, "criticized U.S. president-elect Barack Obama." Memri has the transcript, in which Zawahiri addresses Obama in the second person:

"You represent the direct opposite of honorable black Americans like Malik al-Shabazz, or Malcolm X (may Allah have mercy on him). You were born to a Muslim father, but you chose to stand in the ranks of the enemies of the Muslims, and pray the prayer of the Jews, although you claim to be Christian, in order to climb the rungs of leadership in America. And so you promised to back Israel, and you threatened to strike the tribal regions in Pakistan, and to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan, in order for the crimes of the American Crusade in it to continue. And last Monday, your aircraft killed 40 Afghan Muslims at a wedding party in Kandahar."

As for Malik al-Shabazz (may Allah have mercy on him), he was born to a black pastor killed by white bigots, but Allah favored him with guidance to Islam, and so he prided himself on his fraternity with the Muslims, and he condemned the crimes of the Crusader West against the weak and oppressed, and he declared his support for peoples resisting American occupation, and he spoke about the worldwide revolution against the Western power structure."

That's why it wasn't strange that Malik al-Shabazz (may Allah have mercy on him) was killed, while you have climbed the rungs of the presidency to take over the leadership of the greatest criminal force in the history of mankind and the leadership of the most violent Crusade ever against the Muslims."And in you and in Colin Powell, Rice and your likes, the words of Malcolm X (may Allah have mercy on him) concerning 'House Negroes' are confirmed."

Even those who think the victims of 9/11 were little Eichmanns who got what was coming to them cannot possibly countenance such racial insensitivity. The only thing that can be said in Zawahiri's favor is that he didn't call Obama "Hussein." (Shame on you, David Ignatius.)

And in case you think we're just looking on the Sunni side of the street, Memri also has an address by Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a member of the Iranian Assembly of Experts*, in which he expresses skepticism about the president-elect's promise of change:

Other people run the show. For almost 60 years – since the days of Eisenhower – American foreign policy has not changed one bit. It's only the game that has changed. Sometimes they think they can control things by using the slogan of change, and other times by using the slogan of the war on terror. So it wouldn't be right to pin one's hopes on them. . . .The American politicians should know that as long as they persist in their arrogance, this [Iranian] people will not change. The slogans of this people will remain the same. Our people has not changed one bit. Its slogan of hatred toward America continues to resound: Death to America.The crowd then chants the familiar "Death to America."

The ayatollah should be careful what he wishes for. After all, he could change U.S. policy to bring it in line with a certain Beach Boys number.

* What would we do without 'em?

Good writing Mr. Taranto.

Terror Verdict in Canada

From The Globe and Mail – "Judge says firebomb attacks were acts of terrorism, man sentenced to 4 years"

"He had been depicted as immature, naive and devoid of religious fanaticism. Yet Azim Ibragimov was committing acts of terrorism when he firebombed two Jewish institutions in Montreal, a judge said yesterday."

Despite efforts to paint him as a minor player in the attacks, Quebec Court Judge Gilles Cadieux said Mr. Ibragimov played an "active role" in the two firebombings, which he qualified as hate crimes that spread fear and "panic" in the Jewish community.

It is sometimes difficult to understand the motives behind these two terror attacks. What we are certain about is that Ibragimov's attacks succeeded in causing damage, both physical and psychological, to its victims in the Jewish community. Score one for the prosecutors and judge who got this guy off the street.

Stephen M. Flatow

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Israel: 250 Palestinians to Be Released

The New York Times reports that "Israel said that it would release 250 Palestinian prisoners next month as a gesture to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas." According to the report "the candidates for release were aligned with Mr. Abbas’s Fatah movement and would not include members of Islamist organizations."

Another effort by Israel to curry favor with the Palestinians? What has Israel learned from past releases? First that many released prisoners return to the terror groups they left. Second, there is no effort by the Palestinian Authority to comply with any of its obligations as agreed upon in the Roadmap.

FoxNews also picks up on the story.

I subscribe to the theory that a leopard is incapable of changing its spots. The same applies to terrorists.

Stephen M. Flatow

Monday, November 17, 2008

Saudi King's Interfaith Conference - a Follow-up

Last week we wrote about the Saudi king's interfaith conference at the United Nations. Today New York Post writer Benny Avni weighs in with a column called UN Masquerade.

Recognizing that the "king won much praise last week for convening talks at the United Nations ostensibly meant to promote peace and 'religious tolerance'" Avni advises that

"if you take a close look at King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud's agenda, some of it is hardly praiseworthy. In fact, if he gets any traction at the UN (or anywhere else), it'll mark a giant step backward for both peace and tolerance."

Writing about what he calls a "scary agenda," Avni points out that the king
"wants the world's moral blessing to restrict any and all speech about Islam,its adherents and regimes that promote them - except, of course, that which is approved by official censors. He also wants to throw the UN's moral weight behind punishments meted out to those who violate such restrictions, even if he doesn't say that explicitly.

"Meanwhile, Abdullah failed to make even the slightest gesture toward softening his own regime's brutal intolerance of other religions and cultures. Some parley on "religious tolerance."

Looks like the king is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Let's hope the world is smart enough to see through his latest PR stunt.

Read UN Masquerade

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Saudis Dubious Interfaith Agenda at the UN

"The country's lack of religious freedom betrays its lofty rhetoric. The real aim of its 'dialogue' is to promote a global blasphemy law." So write, Donald H. Argue and Leonard A. Leo in today's (Nov. 13, 2008) edition of the Christian Science Monitor.

They write
World leaders gathering at the United Nations this week for a special session of the General Assembly to advance interfaith dialogue should have no illusions that their efforts will miraculously promote mutual respect between religious communities or end abuses of religious freedom.

"What," you ask, "does this have to do with terrorism?" Good question with a better answer. Terrorism as we know it today arises from intolerance of views. How much different is it when Palestinians murder Israelis because they see no place for Jews in the Middle East and Islamists murder artists for "blaspheming" Mohammed? Not much, if you ask me, because Islamists believe that it is either their way or the highway, the bloody highway.

The Saudis' dubious interfaith agenda at the UN |

Monday, November 10, 2008

Holy Land Foundation Trial Nearing End

The retrial of the Holy Land Foundation is nearing its end but you would not know that if you read The New York Times. Why is it that Federal terror prosecutions do not receive the coverage our present state of affairs would seem to require? I take that back, a little, because the news has been full of stories dealing with Federal prosecutorial missteps when dealing with the subject.
The Holy Land Foundation is standing trial a second time for its alleged support of Hamas, a designated terror organization. The defense? All money went to charitable purposes.

Today's news is from the Dallas News.