News roundup — May 8

Bin Laden vows no US security in final tape

Osama bin Laden warned in his final audio tape recorded before being killed by American commandos there will be no US security before the Palestinians live in security, an Islamist website reported Sunday.

Addressing US President Barack Obama, he said: “America will not be able to dream of security until we live in security in Palestine. It is unfair that you live in peace while our brothers in Gaza live in insecurity.”

“Accordingly, and with the will of God, our attacks will continue against you as long as your support for Israel continues,” he warned in a message posted on, a conduit for Al-Qaeda communications.

The founder of Al-Qaeda said he had tried to send a “message” to the United States through Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to explode a bomb on a Detroit-bound US airliner in December 2009.

“If it were possible to send you messages by way of words, we would not have had to use planes to send them to you,” he said.

“So the message we wanted to convey through the plane of our hero, the fighter Umar Farouk, may God be with him, confirms a previous message which had been sent to you by our heroes of September 11,” he said in a clear reference to the September 11, 2001 attacks against the United States.

The audio recording lasting 1.02 minutes had no reference to the recent popular Arab uprising.

However, jihadists had said that the tape, made a week before bin Laden’s death, would have a message for the Arab Spring.

Another branch of the terror network, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), gave bin Laden credit for the popular Arab revolutions and asked followers to turn their “grief into action” against the West.

“Do not cry for him… Instead rise and go on his path… Rise and thwart the American Zionist Western unjust aggression with all of your power and energy,” the AQIM said in a statement.

“These events that are storming through the Arab region are only a fruit among the fruits of jihad in which the Sheikh (bin Laden) had a prominent role,” the AQIM said. (AFP)

NATO official: more progress than meets eye in Libya

There’s little sign of an end to the conflict in Libya, nearly two months after Western fighter jets began bombing leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces. The disorganized anti-Gadhafi rebels have been unable to break out of their stronghold of Benghazi in eastern Libya despite the air support.

With signs of a military deadlock, some in the West are calling for a renewed focus on isolating the Libyan dictator financially and politically. But NATO commanders leading the war effort caution patience and insist there has been more progress than meets the eye.

Everything points to a prolonged stalemate in Libya. In the east, the front is static: Gadhafi’s forces are dug in near the important oil ports of Brega and Ras Lanuf. In the west, the dictator’s forces are shelling the town of Zintan and are in firm control of Tripoli, the capital. In Misrata, the rebel’s main western enclave, Gadhafi’s forces still control the airport and all access to the city except the port, which Gadhafi has tried to mine and which he sporadically shells with heavy artillery.

But to U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Mark Ramsay, the glass is half full. NATO’s chief of operations and intelligence says Gadhafi now is unable to effectively command his forces in the field. Take communications: Gadhafi, he says, now has to use unsecured phones and couriers.

“He has to resort to all sorts of measures that no military professional wants to resort to,” Ramsay says. “I wouldn’t say he’s in the 1860 cavalry mode, but it’s getting pretty close to that.” (NPR)

Libya strikes fuel supply in Misrata

Military forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi struck the fuel terminal of this rebel-controlled city early Saturday with ground-to-ground rockets, igniting a fire that threatened the city’s fuel supply.

The barrage struck shortly after midnight, when rockets began landing and exploding in several areas of the terminal, officials there said.

At least one rocket hit a set of three mammoth tanks, which ruptured and burst into a fireball. The fire settled into a leaping blaze that towered overheard, visible for miles. Its glow illuminated the eastern section of the city throughout the night. Residents woke to a thick, drifting cloud of black smoke.

The attack on the terminal was another escalation against the besieged city, and the second pinpoint attack by Colonel Qaddafi’s forces in two nights.

Residents woke Friday to the news that Misurata’s port, its only lifeline to the outside world, had been peppered with antitank land mines.

At the fuel terminal, a small contingent of firefighters worked throughout the night and the day trying to contain the fire, which had destroyed all three storage tanks in one section of the terminal, but had not spread.

“We want to protect the other tanks from exploding,” said Mufta Youssef, one of the firefighters, after backing away from the containers’ blackened remains for a break from the heat.

No one was wounded in the attack or the firefighting effort, officials said.

The tanks contained diesel fuel and gasoline — each roughly 6,000 cubic meters, or 1.5 million gallons — said Muftah Bazina, the terminal’s director.

The effect on the city’s energy supply was not immediately apparent. Misurata has been cut off from new sources of fuel since the uprising against the Qaddafi government began in February. But it began the siege with large reservoirs of diesel fuel and gasoline, and so far there have not been shortages. (New York Times)

Libya rebels remake schools for Gaddafi-free thought

How do you teach in schools where history books omitted revolutions, geography books had few maps and children learned never to question authority?

Libyan rebels are having to come up with responses to those and related issues as they try to reopen schools in rebel-held Benghazi where in the past much of the curriculum was devoted to the wisdom of longtime ruler Colonel Muamma Gaddafi.

Before the uprising against him began in February, “Mushtama” and “Fikr-al-Jamahiri” weekly lessons based on the Gaddafi doctrine were mandatory and the leader’s thinking permeated everything from history to Arabic textbooks, rebels say.

Schoolchildren studied insights from Gaddafi’s Green Book, which famously includes lines like “Women menstruate every month or so, while men, being male, do not” and were quizzed on topics like “Why was Gaddafi’s 1969 revolution successful?”

The correct answer to that, students learned, lay in four points, the first point being that it was planned in secret.

“It was really shameful that you had to memorise and repeat all the things it said as if you were convinced of it,” said Brayka Tarhouni, a doctor who was told to repeat her second year of university after passing all her medical subjects but failing Fikr-Al-Jamihiri.

Those subjects will no longer be taught when schools reopen, but rebel officials said there is much more to overhaul.

“My son in fourth grade was being taught about the Stone Age in history class,” said Hanal el-Gallal, who oversees education issues for the local council in the rebel base of Benghazi.

“History was completely distorted. If you ask any Libyan about historical events, they wouldn’t know about it.

“They don’t know anything about World War One, World War Two or the French Revolution. He (Gaddafi) was scared of any story that might make people stand up for their rights.” (Reuters)

Scores held in Egypt after sectarian clashes

Egypt’s military rulers have detained 190 people in connection with the clashes between Muslims and Christians in Cairo in which at least 12 people have been killed and more than 230 others wounded.

The situation remained tense on Sunday, a day after violence first erupted in the Egyptian capital’s northwestern neighbourhood of Imbaba.

Witnesses said the clashes broke out after a mob of ultraconservative Muslims marched on a Coptic Christian church in Imbaba.

The march began over an apparent relationship between a Coptic woman and a Muslim man, amid reports that the woman was being held inside against her will and prevented from converting to Islam.

The verbal clash soon developed into a full-fledged confrontation where the two sides exchanged gunfire, firebombs and stones, and another church nearby was set on fire. (Al Jazeera)

Muslim clerics en route to conference on Islamophobia get kicked off flight by pilot

Two Muslim religious leaders were asked to leave a commercial airliner in Memphis – and were told it was because the pilot refused to fly with them aboard.

Masudur Rahman and another imam had already been allowed to board their Delta Connection flight from Memphis, Tennessee, to Charlotte, North Carolina before they were asked to get off the plane.

Ironically, the two men were headed to a North American Imams conference discussing Islamophobia or fears of Islam and discrimination against American Muslims.

Racism? Masudur Rahman and Mohamed Zaghloul were removed from a flight to North Carolina because the pilot did not want to fly with them

‘It’s racism and bias because of our religion and appearance and because of misinformation about our religion.’ Mr Rahman said. ‘If they understood Islam, they wouldn’t do this.’

Mr Rahman said he and Mohamed Zaghloul, of the Islamic Association of Greater Memphis, were cleared by security agents and boarded the plane for an 8.40am departure.

The aircraft pulled away from the gate, but the pilot then announced the plane must return, Mr Rahman said.

When it did, the imams were asked to go back to the boarding gate where they were told the pilot was refusing to accept them because some other passengers could be uncomfortable. (Daily Mail)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email