|Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives|
Anger burns on the fringe of Britain's Muslims
By Hassan M. Fattah, New York Times, July 16, 2005
At Beeston's Cross Flats Park, in the center of this now embattled town, Sanjay Dutt and his friends grappled Friday with why their friend Kakey, better known to the world as Shehzad Tanweer, had decided to become a suicide bomber.
"He was sick of it all, all the injustice and the way the world is going about it," Mr. Dutt, 22, said. "Why, for example, don't they ever take a moment of silence for all the Iraqi kids who die?"
"It's a double standard, that's why," answered a friend, who called himself Shahroukh, also 22, wearing a baseball cap and basketball jersey, sitting nearby. "I don't approve of what he did, but I understand it. You get driven to something like this, it doesn't just happen."
To the boys from Cross Flats Park, Mr. Tanweer, 22, who blew himself up on a subway train in London last week, was devout, thoughtful and generous. If they understood his actions, it was because they lived in Mr. Tanweer's world, too.
They did not agree with what Mr. Tanweer had done, but made clear they shared the same sense of otherness, the same sense of siege, the same sense that their community, and Muslims in general, were in their view helpless before the whims of greater powers. Ultimately, they understood his anger. [complete article]
Biochemist has 'no al-Qaeda link'
BBC News, July 16, 2005
An Egyptian biochemist held for questioning over the London bomb attacks has no links to al-Qaeda, Egypt's interior minister has said.
Habib al-Adli told Egyptian newspaper Al-Jumhuriyah media speculation about Magdi Mahmoud al-Nashar was groundless.
He also denied agents of the British security services had participated in Mr al-Nashar's interrogation in Cairo.
Unofficial sources in Cairo and London say British agents are observing the 33-year-old's ongoing interrogation. [complete article]
Bombings kill 25 in Baghdad; one hits near president's home
By Andy Mosher, Washington Post, July 16, 2005
A suicide car bombing Friday night near President Jalal Talabani's official residence capped a day of explosions across the capital in which at least 25 people were killed, including policemen, security guards and civilians, and 111 others were wounded.
At least seven of the attacks were suicide bombings. One struck an Iraqi army base in the Shaab district, killing eight Iraqis and wounding 20, according to Iraqi officials. Another in the Sadiya district killed 11 people and wounded 24. After nightfall, a car bomb in western Baghdad killed six policemen and wounded 45 people, most of them civilians, Iraqi police reported. [complete article]
11 US soldiers face Iraq charges
BBC News, July 16, 2005
Eleven US soldiers have been charged with beating suspected Iraqi insurgents in custody, US officials say.
The charges were filed on Wednesday after a complaint by a fellow soldier, a US military statement said.
"None of the insurgents required medical treatment for injuries related to the alleged assault," the statement said without giving further details.
The US military is still reeling from the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad. [complete article]
Rove e-mail, alerting Hadley to chat with Cooper, surfaces
AP (via E&P), July 15, 2005
After mentioning a CIA operative to a reporter, Bush confidant Karl Rove alerted the president's No. 2 security adviser about the interview and said he tried to steer the journalist away from allegations the operative's husband was making about faulty Iraq intelligence.
The July 11, 2003, e-mail between Rove and then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley is the first showing an intelligence official knew Rove had talked to Matthew Cooper just days before the Time magazine reporter wrote an article identifying Valerie Plame as a CIA officer.
"I didn't take the bait," Rove wrote in an e-mail obtained by The Associated Press, recounting how Cooper tried to question him about whether President Bush had been hurt by the new allegations. [complete article]
State Dept. memo gets scrutiny in leak inquiry on CIA officer
By Richard Stevenson, New York Times, July 16, 2005
Prosecutors in the C.I.A. leak case have shown intense interest in a 2003 State Department memorandum that explained how a former diplomat came to be dispatched on an intelligence-gathering mission and the role of his wife, a C.I.A. officer, in the trip, people who have been officially briefed on the case said.
Investigators in the case have been trying to learn whether officials at the White House and elsewhere in the administration learned of the C.I.A. officer's identity from the memorandum. They are seeking to determine if any officials then passed the name along to journalists and if officials were truthful in testifying about whether they had read the memo, the people who have been briefed said, asking not to be named because the special prosecutor heading the investigation had requested that no one discuss the case.
The memorandum was sent to Colin L. Powell, then the secretary of state, just before or as he traveled with President Bush and other senior officials to Africa starting on July 7, 2003, when the White House was scrambling to defend itself from a blast of criticism a few days earlier from the former diplomat, Joseph C. Wilson IV, current and former government officials said. [complete article]
Ruling lets U.S. restart trials at Guantanamo
By Neil A. Lewis, New York Times, July 16, 2005
A federal appeals court ruled unanimously on Friday that the military could resume war crimes trials of terrorism suspects at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which were suspended last year.
The decision, by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, reversed a lower court's ruling that abruptly halted the first war crimes trials conducted by the United States since the aftermath of World War II. The appeals judges said the Bush administration's plan to try some detainees before military commissions did not violate the Constitution, international law or American military law.
Their ruling, in the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a driver for Osama bin Laden, was a significant legal victory for the administration, which has found itself engaged in several court battles over tools that officials say they need to fight terrorist groups. [complete article]
Gitmo detainee offers motives for bombings
By Paisley dodds, AP (via Seattle P-I), July 15, 2005
Moazamm Begg spent more than two years at the prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, where some fellow detainees were British-born Muslim radicals or self-proclaimed al-Qaida operatives - the same sort police believe carried out last week's suicide bombings in London.
During his imprisonment, Begg got to know Muslim extremists who spoke of their anger at the United States. Some talked of attacks. Many were recruited by foreign radicals.
As members of the Muslim minority agonize over how some of their own might have caused such carnage and brace for revenge attacks, Begg - who denied U.S. allegations that he was an aide to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden - offers a glimpse at the possible motives.
Racism in Britain, non-assimilation in some communities, and anger over Iraq, Afghanistan, and the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay might have been factors, the 37-year-old of Pakistani roots tells The Associated Press, six months after being released from the camp in Cuba. Britain negotiated his release along with three other British nationals. [complete article]
Why four young men turned to terror
By Kim Sengupta, Ian Herbert, Arifa Akbar and Jonathan Brown, The Independent, July 15, 2005
The focus of the investigation into the London suicide bombers and who might have motivated them has turned to a nondescript youth centre in a rundown district of south Leeds.
The Hamara youth access centre in Lodge Lane, Beeston, does not look like a seat of jihadist fundamentalism. It closed last December when its services were moved to a custom-built centre in the next street, and has since been empty and derelict.
But in the eight intervening months, it is known to have become a meeting place for Muslim youths. They may have fallen under the influence of a number of individuals. Several of the identified suicide bombers from last Thursday are known to have visited the property.
Detectives are also examining suggestions that a senior agitator named by a source in Beeston as "Mr Khan" and by other sources as "Mr K " may have played a part in recruiting and radicalising the three young men. He is not be confused with Mohammed Sidique Khan, one of the bombers, who was responsible for the attack on the Tube train at Edgware Road. [complete article]
Comment -- The Guardian reports on Khan as a 'father figure' but refers to him as being one and the same as Mohammed Sidique Khan. My guess is that The Independent got it right - not The Guardian.
Hunted chemistry expert arrested
BBC News, July 15, 2005
An Egyptian chemistry expert sought by police over the London bombings has been arrested in Cairo, Egypt.
Magdi Mahmoud al-Nashar, 33, had not been seen by colleagues in Leeds since early July.
British police are searching a house in Leeds linked to Mr al-Nashar, but have not formally named him as a suspect. [complete article]
Jamaican-born bomber from the suburbs of Middle England
By Adam Fresco, Sean O'Neill and Stewart Tendler, The Times, July 15, 2005
The fast-moving inquiry into the London bombings took a further twist yesterday when the terrorist on the Piccadilly Line train was identified as a Jamaican-born Muslim convert.
Lindsey Germaine, who was believed to be in his late 20s, was said by security sources last night to have died when he detonated his rucksack bomb as the southbound train pulled out of King’s Cross, killing at least 26 people and himself.
Scotland Yard said that forensic material had been recovered in the painstaking underground operation going on beneath King’s Cross.
They made clear that the bomber was not Ejaz Fiaz, as was wrongly reported yesterday. But Germaine will not be officially named until a coroner opens an inquest. [complete article]
Crackdown on elusive extremists
By Vikram Dodd, The Guardian, July 15, 2005
Tony Blair's pledge to crack down on groups and clerics who foment support for terrorism prompts one obvious question. How many groups and individuals are there who set the ideological conditions that lead to attacks such as those in London?
The answer is that the authorities do not know.
One plan the government is considering is to make it easier to deport foreign-born people who preach hate or eulogise terrorist acts. [complete article]
Our leaders must speak up
By Salma Yaqoob, The Guardian, July 15, 2005
...if Muslim leaders succumb to the pressure of censorship and fail to visibly oppose the government on certain foreign policy issues, the gap between the leaders and those they seek to represent and influence will widen, increasing the possibility of more dangerous routes being adopted by the disillusioned.
This cycle of violence has to be broken. By confining analysis to simple religious terms, however, politicians are asking the impossible of our security services as well as Muslim leaders. No number of sniffer dogs or sermons denouncing the use of violence against innocents can detect and remove the pain and anger that drives extremists to their terrible acts. The truth is that shoddy theology does not exist without a dodgy foreign policy. [complete article]
Eminent Briton refused entry
By Richard Ford, The Times, July 15, 2005
Zaki Badawi, the chairman of the British Council of Mosques, was prevented from entering the United States after flying into New York on Wednesday.
He had been invited to speak at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York, where he had planned to give a talk entitled The Law and Religion in Society.
He said that he had received no explanation from the officials who denied him entry. The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices in Washington and New York City had not returned his calls on the matter. [complete article]
Islamic extremism: common concern for Muslim and Western publics
Pew Global Attitudes Project, July 14, 2005
Concerns over Islamic extremism, extensive in the West even before this month's terrorist attacks in London, are shared to a considerable degree by the publics in several predominantly Muslim nations surveyed. Nearly three-quarters of Moroccans and roughly half of those in Pakistan, Turkey and Indonesia see Islamic extremism as a threat to their countries. At the same time, most Muslim publics are expressing less support for terrorism than in the past. Confidence in Osama bin Laden has declined markedly in some countries and fewer believe suicide bombings that target civilians are justified in the defense of Islam.
Nonetheless, the polling also finds that while Muslim and non-Muslim publics share some common concerns, they have very different attitudes regarding the impact of Islam on their countries. Muslim publics worry about Islamic extremism, but the balance of opinion in predominantly Muslim countries is that Islam is playing a greater role in politics -- and most welcome that development. Turkey is a clear exception; the public there is divided about whether a greater role for Islam in the political life of that country is desirable.
In non-Muslim countries, fears of Islamic extremism are closely associated with worries about Muslim minorities. Western publics believe that Muslims in their countries want to remain distinct from society, rather than adopt their nation's customs and way of life. Moreover, there is a widespread perception in countries with significant Muslim minorities, including the U.S., that resident Muslims have a strong and growing sense of Islamic identity. For the most part, this development is viewed negatively, particularly in Western Europe. In France, Germany and the Netherlands, those who see a growing sense of Islamic identity among resident Muslims overwhelmingly say this is a bad thing. [complete article]
Rove reportedly held phone talk on CIA officer
By David Johston and Richard W. Stevenson, New York Times, July 15, 2005
Karl Rove, the White House senior adviser, spoke with the columnist Robert D. Novak as he was preparing an article in July 2003 that identified a C.I.A. officer who was undercover, someone who has been officially briefed on the matter said.
Mr. Rove has told investigators that he learned from the columnist the name of the C.I.A. officer, who was referred to by her maiden name, Valerie Plame, and the circumstances in which her husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, traveled to Africa to investigate possible uranium sales to Iraq, the person said.
After hearing Mr. Novak's account, the person who has been briefed on the matter said, Mr. Rove told the columnist: "I heard that, too."
The previously undisclosed telephone conversation, which took place on July 8, 2003, was initiated by Mr. Novak, the person who has been briefed on the matter said. [complete article]
Comment -- Even while Rove's role in this story becomes increasingly central it seems - at least to me - increasingly unlikely that he will face any criminal charges. Scott McClellan won't get any breathing space though and while he will no doubt persist in the stonewalling, there's a question - not about the investigation but about what's going on in the White House right now - that interests me: A White House under this level of political pressure and media attention must spend a good deal of time honing its communications strategy. What is Karl Rove's involvement in that process right now? Since Rove is the center of attention there would clearly be a conflict of interest in him having any involvement whatsoever in guiding these discussions. How could he possibly clearly discriminate between serving his own interests and those of the administration? Can McClellan confirm that Rove is outside the process? This isn't a question about the ongoing investigation; it's a question about the way this White House operates - an issue about which the American people are entitled to know.
8 months after U.S.-led siege, insurgents rise again in Falluja
By Edward Wong, New York Times, July 15, 2005
Transformed into a police state after last winter's siege, this should be the safest city in all of Iraq.
Thousands of American and Iraqi troops live in crumbling buildings here and patrol streets laced with concertina wire. Any Iraqi entering the city must show a badge and undergo a search at one of six checkpoints. There is a 10 p.m. curfew.
But the insurgency is rising from the rubble nevertheless, eight months after the American military killed as many as 1,500 Iraqis in a costly invasion that fanned anti-American passions across Iraq and the Arab world.
Somewhere in the bowels of Falluja, the former guerrilla stronghold 35 miles west of Baghdad, where four American contractors were killed in an ambush, and the bodies of two were hanged from a bridge, in March 2004, insurgents are building suicide car bombs again.
At least four have exploded in recent weeks, one of them killing six American troops, including four women. Two of five police forts being erected have been firebombed. Three members of the nascent, 21-seat city council have suddenly quit and another member has stopped attending meetings, presumably because they have been threatened.
Just as disturbing, even Falluja residents who favored purging the streets of insurgents last November are beginning to chafe under the occupation.
"Some preferred the city quiet, purified of the gunmen and any militant aspect," said Abdul Jabbar Kadhim al-Alwani, 40, the owner of an automotive repair shop, expressing a widely held sentiment. "But after the unfairness and injustice with which the city's residents have been treated by the American and Iraqi forces, they now prefer the resistance, just so they won't be humiliated." [complete article]
A suicide attack every day in the new Iraq
By Neil MacDonald, Financial Times, July 15, 2005
Suicide bomb attacks in Iraq have averaged at least one per day since the announcement of a new government in April, according to data gathered by the US military.
Last week saw 23 car bombs -- six of which were driven by suicide bombers -- detonated throughout the country, according to Brig Gen Donald Alston, the US military's top spokesman in Iraq. He added that six was the lowest number in the past 11 weeks.
Suicide bombers on foot, while also a regular feature, accounted for a lower number of attacks, Brig Gen Alston said. The figures confirm the increased role that suicide attacks appear to be playing in the Iraq conflict, as well as the seeming presence of a near-bottomless pool of recruits for "martyrdom operations", in the terminology of insurgent groups. [complete article]
Corruption threatens to leave Iraq with a 'ghost army'
By Patrick Cockburn, The Independent, July 15, 2005
A tidal wave of corruption may ensure the Iraqi army and police will be too few and too poorly armed to replace American and British forces fighting anti-government insurgents. That could frustrate plans in Washington and London to reduce their forces in Iraq.
The Iraqi armed forces are full of "ghost battalions" in which officers pocket the pay of soldiers who never existed or have gone home. "I know of at least one unit which was meant to be 2,200 but the real figure was only 300 men," said a veteran Iraqi politician and member of parliament, Mahmoud Othman. "The US talks about 150,000 Iraqis in the security forces but I doubt if there are more than 40,000." [complete article]
See also, Iraq seen wasting $300 million on substandard military equipment (Knight Ridder).
Time to pull out. And not just from Iraq
By John Deutch, New York Times, July 15, 2005
American foreign policy should be guided by two general principles: the first is advancing our security and political interests; the second is encouraging prosperity and responsive government for all people. It may be that with our encouragement and example, many countries will choose to adopt democracy and a market economy, presumably adapted to their own culture. Of course, others will follow a very different road for some time, perhaps indefinitely, as ethnic differences, poverty and historical and religious traditions affect and constrain choices.
America embarks on an especially perilous course, however, when it actively attempts to establish a government based on our values in another part of the world. It is one matter to adopt a foreign policy that encourages democratic values; it is quite another to believe it just or practical to achieve such results on the ground with military forces. This is true whether we are acting alone, as is largely the case in Iraq, or as part of an international coalition. [complete article]
Ostracising Hamas will not help in the search for peace
By Jonathan Steele, The Guardian, July 15, 2005
It seemed bizarre at first, in the wake of the London attacks, to sit down with men whose organisation has sent hundreds of suicide bombers into Israeli cities. But it was a valuable reminder that the use of political violence on civilians, however brutal, always has a specific context. To respond by declaring a generalised "war on terror" or condemning "this assault on civilised values" obscures the problem and makes the search for solutions harder.
Hamas - or the Islamic Resistance Movement in Palestine, to give its full name - denounced the London bombs within the first hours. They give both moral and pragmatic reasons. The victims were not legitimate targets - too remote to bear any responsibility for the crimes the bombers were avenging. [complete article]
'The world in one city'
By Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian, July 15, 2005
One American expression has no equivalent in British English. "Is this a great country or what?" Americans will say to themselves, sometimes ironically, but usually as an expression of open-faced wonder and gratitude at the splendour of their native land.
We Brits don't really go in for that. We knock ourselves, we knock the places we live in: this is the country that snaps up a book called Crap Towns. So last night in Trafalgar Square was a novel experience. A huge crowd, standing in their thousands in blinding sunshine, to be told again and again that they live in one of the greatest cities in the world. [complete article]
By Pervez Hoodbhoy, Los Angeles Times, July 10, 2005
One wonders what Osama bin Laden and his ilk learned from Hiroshima.
The decision to incinerate the Japanese city and another, Nagasaki, was not taken in anger. White men in gray business suits and military uniforms, after much deliberation, decided that the United States could not give the Japanese any warning, that although it could not concentrate on a civilian area, it should seek to make a profound psychological impression on as many inhabitants as possible. They argued that it would be cheaper in American lives to release the nuclear genie.
Crowds gathered in Times Square to celebrate: There were fewer of the enemy left. Rarely are victors encumbered by remorse. Declared President Truman: "When you have to deal with a beast, you have to treat him as a beast. It is most regrettable but nevertheless true."
Not surprisingly, six decades later, even U.S. liberals remain ambivalent on the morality of nuking the two Japanese cities. But terrorists are not ambivalent.
The New York Times reported that before the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States had intercepted an Al Qaeda message that Bin Laden was planning a "Hiroshima" against America. In a later taped message, released before the U.S. attack on Afghanistan, Bin Laden said, "When people at the ends of the Earth, Japan, were killed by their hundreds of thousands, young and old, it was not considered a war crime; it is something that has justification." [complete article]
Abu Ghraib tactics were first used at Guantanamo
By Josh White, Washington Post, July 14, 2005
Interrogators at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, forced a stubborn detainee to wear women's underwear on his head, confronted him with snarling military working dogs and attached a leash to his chains, according to a newly released military investigation that shows the tactics were employed there months before military police used them on detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
The techniques, approved by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld for use in interrogating Mohamed Qahtani -- the alleged "20th hijacker" in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- were used at Guantanamo Bay in late 2002 as part of a special interrogation plan aimed at breaking down the silent detainee.
Military investigators who briefed the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday on the three-month probe, called the tactics "creative" and "aggressive" but said they did not cross the line into torture.
The report's findings are the strongest indication yet that the abusive practices seen in photographs at Abu Ghraib were not the invention of a small group of thrill-seeking military police officers. The report shows that they were used on Qahtani several months before the United States invaded Iraq. [complete article]
Iraq's rush to failure
By J Alexander Thier, New York Times, July 14, 2005
Iraq is rapidly approaching a watershed moment: the unveiling of its new constitution. This event will probably be seen in retrospect as either the moment that the leaders of Iraq reconsecrated their troubled nation, or as the opening act of the country's descent into civil war. It is troubling, then, that events are proceeding with undue haste and a lack of public input, either of which might doom the process and invite a conflagration that would make the insurgency look like a garden party.
Despite President Bush's no-retreat-no-surrender rhetoric, the military and political truth about Iraq is growing clear: the American military will not defeat this insurgency. The rebels can be defeated only by political reconciliation among Iraqi leaders, and the constitutional process is the essential step.
The purpose of any constitution is to channel conflict and competition into politics. A constitutional process is supposed to translate the political will of a nation into a concrete agreement. But this seems unlikely to occur given the current timetable - the Iraqi government has until Aug. 15 to pass a new constitution and until Oct. 15 to hold a public referendum on it.
If the nascent government is able to devise a constitution by mid-next month, then they're probably missing the point. A constitution cannot be written in a few weeks by a handful of politicians at a conference table; creating a founding document requires the long ordeal of reaching political compromise and building trust. Given the intensity of conflict in Iraq, it is unlikely that broad political consensus can be achieved any time soon. [complete article]
Data shows faster-rising death toll among Iraqi civilians
By Sabrina Tavernise, New York Times, July 14, 2005
Iraqi civilians and police officers died at a rate of more than 800 a month between August and May, according to figures released in June by the Interior Ministry.
In response to questions from The New York Times, the ministry said that 8,175 Iraqis were killed by insurgents in the 10 months that ended May 31. The ministry did not give detailed figures for the months before August 2004, nor did it provide a breakdown of the figures, which do not include either Iraqi soldiers or civilians killed during American military operations.
While the figures were not broken down month by month, it has been clear since the government of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari took over after the Jan. 30 election that the insurgency is taking an increasing toll, killing Iraqi civilians and security workers at a faster rate.
In June the interior minister, Bayan Jabr, told reporters that insurgents had killed about 12,000 Iraqis since the start of the American occupation - a figure officials have emphasized is approximate - an average monthly toll of about 500.
The issue of civilian deaths in Iraqi has been a delicate one, with some contending that the Bush administration and the Pentagon have deliberately avoided body counts to deprive their critics of a potent argument against the war. Estimates have ranged from the 12,000 offered by Mr. Jabr to as many as 100,000 in a widely reported study last year. The new figures are likely to add to that debate. [complete article]
It is an insult to the dead to deny the link with Iraq
By Seumas Milne, The Guardian, July 14, 2005
In the grim days since last week's bombing of London, the bulk of Britain's political class and media has distinguished itself by a wilful and dangerous refusal to face up to reality. Just as it was branded unpatriotic in the US after the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington to talk about the link with American policy in the Middle East, so those who have raised the evident connection between the London atrocities and Britain's role in Iraq and Afghanistan have been denounced as traitors. And anyone who has questioned Tony Blair's echo of George Bush's fateful words on September 11 that this was an assault on freedom and our way of life has been treated as an apologist for terror.
But while some allowance could be made in the American case for the shock of the attacks, the London bombings were one of the most heavily trailed events in modern British history. We have been told repeatedly since the prime minister signed up to Bush's war on terror that an attack on Britain was a certainty - and have had every opportunity to work out why that might be. Throughout the Afghan and Iraq wars, there has been a string of authoritative warnings about the certain boost it would give to al-Qaida-style terror groups. The only surprise was that the attacks were so long coming. [complete article]
The investigation: bath filled with explosives found at 'operational base' of terrorists
By Jason Bennetto, The Independent, July 14, 2005
A bath filled with explosives has been found at a house in Leeds that was the "operational base" for the London suicide bombers.
The discovery of a such a large amount of high explosives has shocked detectives and has raised fears of further attacks.
The news came as anti-terrorist officers were investigating a supposed fifth member of the terrorist gang thought to be on the run in Britain. It is unclear what role the suspect played, although he is not thought to be among the al-Qa'ida planners behind the attacks who are still at large. [complete article]
See also, Tracing source of the explosives may reveal connection to al-Qa'ida (The Independent).
Britain sees more links to Al Qaeda
By Sebastian Rotella, Los Angeles Times, July 14, 2005
Investigators have linked one of the suspected London suicide bombers to a group of alleged extremists arrested here last year in a foiled terrorist plot by a Pakistan-based Al Qaeda group, authorities said Wednesday.
Mohamed Sidique Khan, a 30-year-old primary school teacher, has emerged as a key figure among the four suspected bombers, European and U.S. investigators said. Although officials had said that Khan and the other three were unknown to security personnel before last week's attack, investigators now think Khan was an associate of some of those arrested in last year's plot.
That strengthens suspicions that the London attacks were carried out by an Al Qaeda branch that teamed Pakistani masterminds with Pakistani British operatives and had tried to strike Britain before, investigators said. [complete article]
Disbelief and fear in a town written off by Islamist extremists
By Vikram Dodd, The Guardian, July 14, 2005
Muslims in Dewsbury [, home town of bomber, Mohammad Sidique Khan,] said extreme Islamic groups had given up trying to gain a foothold in Dewsbury, but still tried up the road in Leeds, which has a large student population. "Leeds is as far away for us as London," said Mr Zaman.
He was adamant that the community would have "cried out" if anybody had had the slightest inkling of what Khan was planning.
Dewsbury is a main base for the moderate Muslim charity Tableek-e-Jamat, which sends missionaries around the world and is a dominant force in the West Yorkshire town's Islamic ideology.
Sitting surrounded by beds at his factory, Kozee Sleep, Mr Zaman said: "I condemn the London bombing though I understand why it is happening; the reasons are in Chechnya, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia. But our sharia law does not permit us to kill."
In May's general election the far-right British National party received its largest vote in any constituency in Dewsbury, with some 5,000 people supporting it.
Yesterday the BNP was reported to be on the streets trying to exploit the tragedy. [complete article]
Leeds asks: What made them do it?
By Dominic Casciani, BBC News, July 13, 2005
In Beeston itself tension is high, the air full of talk of fanatics, suicide bombers and an on-going threat to British society.
No young people on Wednesday were prepared to be photographed. Many were furious at the presence of reporters on their streets (one national newspaper sent 16 reporters) - and few held back with the vitriol when approached.
One young man working in a corner shop close to the raided properties said he knew two of the four suspects well.
Nothing he had seen had however prepared him for what they had apparently done, he said.
But the young man, wearing traditional Pakistani dress and a beard, stressed that one problem had to be addressed: Muslim leaders were simply not listening to the young. [complete article]
See also, Bombers were 'normal' Britons; officials fear homegrown terrorism (Knight Ridder).
Bringing Hamas into the peace camp
By Shlomo Ben-Ami, International Herald Tribune, July 14, 2005
The London terror attack is one more reminder of the urgent need to work out new policies that would help assuage the turmoil in Arab societies. The West needs to realize that none of the major problems of the Arab world are susceptible to military solutions. These, as the war in Iraq has made tragically clear, are only likely to exacerbate the conflict. Engaging political Islam needs to be a central component in a new reform and peace strategy in the Middle East. This is also true of the Israeli-Palestinian situation.
It is therefore lamentable that Hamas's proposal to form a national committee of all the political forces in the Gaza Strip to oversee Israel's withdrawal and secure the governability of the area was turned down by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, and received such slight attention from the "quartet" in charge of implementing the road map for an Israeli-Palestinian peace.
True, Hamas had turned down Abbas's offer to join a national unity government. But while inevitably keen to maintain its distinct identity, Hamas is clearly in the middle of a momentous shift in its strategy from jihadism to political participation that needs to be encouraged. If Hamas dismissed Abbas's offer, it was because they had every reason to suspect that this was a ploy to avoid quick parliamentary elections, where Hamas was poised to mount a serious challenge to Abbas's Fatah party. Abbas has already arbitrarily postponed the elections from fear of a Hamas victory. [complete article]
Israel moves on two fronts to secure Gaza withdrawal
By Harvey Morris, Financial Times, July 13, 2005
The Israeli government moved on two fronts on Wednesday to secure next month's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip by closing the territory's borders to rightwing Jewish activists and launching an offensive against Palestinian militants attempting to disrupt the pullout.
In the wake of a suicide bombing that killed four people in the Israeli city of Netanya on Wednesday, Ariel Sharon, prime minister, ordered the military to wage a "relentless attack" against Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian organisation that claimed responsibility for the first such attack in five months.
At the same time Israel banned its citizens from entering Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, from which some 7,000 Jewish settlers are due to be evacuated next month, in order to thwart planned rightwing demonstrations against the so-called disengagement plan. [complete article]
Israel arrests five in suicide attack
By Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times, July 14, 2005
Responding to the first suicide bombing in nearly five months, Israeli forces backed by attack helicopters and armored vehicles pushed into the West Bank city of Tulkarm and arrested several suspected militants, authorities said Wednesday.
The troops also were involved in a shootout that a Palestinian official said left one Palestinian police officer dead and another critically wounded.
Separately, Israel sealed off Jewish settlements slated for evacuation in the Gaza Strip, a closure that officials said would remain in effect until the end of the pullout, which is due to begin in a month. Israeli officials called it a necessary measure to prevent activists from inundating the area and disrupting the withdrawal plans through protests or violence.
The army's sweep through Tulkarm came as another victim in Tuesday's suicide bombing died of her wounds. The death raised the toll to four in the attack outside a shopping mall in the city of Netanya. Several dozen bystanders were injured. [complete article]
Dozens of Iraqi children, U.S. soldier die in suicide car bombing
By Leila Fadel and Mohammed al Dulaimy, Knight Ridder, July 13, 2005
A suicide car bomber exploded among a group of children who were taking candy, water and other gifts from U.S. soldiers Wednesday morning in Baghdad, killing about 40 people, including dozens of children and an American soldier.
"This horrific attack against children continues to bring home to everyone that the terrorists offer nothing of value or future for the Iraqi people," U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Steve Boylan said. "To attack children in this manner goes against all that is good and proper in the world."
Residents were stunned and angry at the loss of their children.
"The one who did this has no morality. This suicide bomber isn't an Arab or a Muslim or even a Jew. He's not human," Suheil Abd Ali said as he picked up burned, broken pieces of the car bomb.
"What happened today just furthers the loathing that people have against the terrorists," Boylan said.
But most residents of the neighborhood blamed American soldiers at least in part and said they wanted them off their streets.
"The killer is unknown but the motive is brought by the U.S.," Raed Abdullah, 33, said as he paid respects to a mourning father.
Ali Abdul Kadhel, 27, carried one of the small bodies after the attack and watched a piece of candy fall from the child's pocket.
"I found the bait that the Americans gave to the children to bring them to their death," he yelled as he carried the candy through the street.
Soldiers had arrived in the neighborhood that morning to warn residents about a car bomb in the area, witnesses said. One soldier yelled into a loudspeaker and told residents to open their windows and doors. Then they began to hand out toys, candy and water.
"They used the children as human shields," Kadhel said, yelling and waving his arm. [complete article]
Tough times for 5th Brigade of Iraq's army
By Ashraf Khalil, Los Angeles Times, July 12, 2005
The rank smell of sweat, stale cigarettes and garbage engulfs the cavernous aircraft hangar where hundreds of Iraqi men in khaki fatigues lounge on black metal bunk beds with bare mattresses. A door in the corner leads to the bathroom -- a dozen or so metal cubicles reeking of human filth.
For many of the more than 2,000 men who make up the Iraqi army's fledgling 5th Brigade, this dank metal shed with sporadic electricity and no running water has been their home for the last six months as they prepare to take their place on the front lines against the country's insurgency.
U.S. politicians and military commanders hail the rapid development of Iraq's security forces as the key to ending the insurgency and speeding the homecoming of the nearly 150,000 American troops in Iraq. But a day spent with the 5th Brigade reveals the interlocking obstacles of logistics, bureaucracy and human nature that stand in the way of that goal.
Uncomfortable, unsanitary living conditions on this abandoned Baghdad airfield have eroded brigade morale, Iraqi officers say. Many soldiers have quit, and more say they plan to.
"We come home from training or patrols soaking in sweat and can't even wash," says one soldier who didn't want to be identified for fear of being punished. "Is this the way we should live?" [complete article]
Shiites bring rigid piety to Iraq's south
By Steven Vincent, Christian Science Monitor, July 13, 2005
In Basra these days, it's not uncommon to see armed men from Shiite religious groups standing at the gates of Basra University, scrutinizing female students to make sure their dresses are the right length and their makeup properly modest.
Any woman violating their standards of Muslim dignity, relates Henan, a psychology student, is ordered home. "These religious militiamen tell us how to dress, and prevent us from listening to music in public or interacting with male students," she says. "It makes me burn inside."
Henan is not the only Basran furious at the extremist Shiite Muslims who now dominate this southern Iraqi port city bordering Iran. Especially among the middle and intellectual classes, an increasing drumbeat of resentment is rising about what many see as a distortion of Basra's traditionally easygoing, tolerant attitudes toward life. [complete article]
Uproar has roots in Rove's vast reach
By Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten, Los Angeles Times, July 13, 2005
President Bush once said he would fire any White House staffer who had leaked the identity of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame. But if that source turns out to be Karl Rove, the president's longtime political guru, a firing would be a devastating blow to the White House.
Rove, after all, is more than just a top presidential aide: He was the architect of Bush's rise to power. He orchestrates policy initiatives and is aggressively charting a course for long-lasting Republican dominance.
But Rove is facing a barrage of questions over his conversation with a reporter about the case. His lawyer denies any criminal wrongdoing and any intent to leak the name of an undercover CIA employee. The disclosure this week that Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper talked in 2003 with Rove on "double super secret background" about Plame, as Cooper wrote in an e-mail to his bureau chief, revealed one aspect of Rove's vast White House duties that had been rarely discussed publicly: press relations. [complete article]
United States: the slide to disorder
By Philip S Golub, Le Monde Diplomatique, July, 2005
Late 20th-century globalisation, understood as the unification of the world economy under a neoliberal model, appears exhausted. The symptoms are manifold: imperialist wars, rising nationalism, aggravated trade conflicts within and without the capitalist core, global social turbulence. Underlying all these are deep structural imbalances in the world economy and a universal widening of social inequalities within and between nations.
These disintegrative trends are weakening, and may end up tearing apart, the schemes of interstate cooperation and the regimes of global governance that underpin the world capitalist order. They highlight the contradiction between the transnational character of capitalist expansion and the segmentation of the modern interstate system along national lines.
That contradiction proved fatal to the first wave of globalisation brought about by western colonial expansion in the late 19th century, when nationalism and militarism combined to wreck the British-centred international economic order and shatter the long post-1815 European peace. The rise of a strong militarised German state, and intensified inter-imperialist rivalries, challenged and ultimately overcame the ability of Britain to hold the centre. Economic liberalism and free trade, the dominant models of the mid-19th century, weakened from the 1880s on, came crashing down when Wilhelmian Germany made a direct bid for European hegemony in 1914. The first phase of western globalisation under British auspices ended in a sea of blood. [complete article]
THE U.S., CHINA AND OIL
Big shift in China's oil policy
By Peter S. Goodman, Washington Post, July 13, 2005
Until recently, China's view of the global energy map focused narrowly on the Middle East, which holds roughly two-thirds of the world's oil. Special attention was directed toward one well-supplied country: Iraq.
Through cultivation of Saddam Hussein's government, China sought to develop some of Iraq's more promising reserves. Beijing advocated lifting the United Nations sanctions that prevented investment in Iraq's oil patch and limited sales of its production.
Then the United States went to war in Iraq in 2003, wiping out China's stakes. The war and its aftermath have reshaped China's basic conception of the geopolitics of oil and added urgency to its mission to lessen dependence on Middle East supplies. It has reinforced China's fears that it is locked in a zero-sum contest for energy with the world's lone superpower, prompting Beijing to intensify its search for new sources, international relations and energy experts say. [complete article]
Unocal bid opens up new issues of security
By Steve Lohr, New York Times, July 13, 2005
The fate of the China National Offshore Oil Corporation's bid for Unocal remains uncertain, but one thing is clear. The takeover offer has prompted a gathering groundswell in Congress to make sure oil is defined as a product vital to America's national security.
If the political push gains momentum, it will change the mandate and reach of a little-known, secretive body with representatives from 12 government agencies, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. The outcome of Cnooc's bid for Unocal may rest in the hands of that committee.
One salvo came at the end of last month with a House resolution that declared that permitting the Chinese company to buy Unocal would "threaten to impair the national security of the United States." It passed 398 to 15. [complete article]
Bush adviser helped law firm land job lobbying for CNOOC
By Jonathan Weisman, Washington Post, July 12, 2005
President Bush's top independent intelligence adviser met last winter with investment bankers in China to help secure his law firm's role in lobbying for a state-run Chinese energy firm and its bid for the U.S. oil company Unocal Corp., according to his law firm, Akin Gump.
The involvement of James C. Langdon Jr., chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and a major Bush fundraiser, underscores the tangled Washington connections beneath CNOOC Ltd.'s bid. Both CNOOC and its rival for Unocal, Chevron Corp., have enlisted lobbyists and public relations professionals with deep ties to the Bush White House and Republican leaders in Congress. Wayne L. Berman, a principal lobbyist for Chevron, is a Bush "Ranger," having raised at least $200,000 for the president's campaign. His wife, Lea, is the White House social secretary. [complete article]
Why Iraq has made us less safe ...
By Daniel Benjamin, Time, July 10, 2005
Sir Ivor Roberts, Britain's Ambassador to Italy, declared last September that the "best recruiting sergeant for al-Qaeda" was none other than the U.S. President, George W. Bush. With the American election entering its final furlongs, he added, "If anyone is ready to celebrate the eventual re-election of Bush, it is al-Qaeda." The remarks, made at an off-the-record conference, were leaked in the Italian press, and Sir Ivor, facing the displeasure of his Foreign Office masters for committing the sin of candor, disowned the comments. But now, as the soot settles in the London Underground, the words hang again in the air.
It is, of course, bad manners to point the finger at anyone but those responsible for the killings in London. They shed the blood; they must answer for it. But as the trail of bodies that began with the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 continues to lengthen, we need to ask why the attacks keep coming. One key reason is that Osama bin Laden's "achievements" in standing up to the American colossus on 9/11 have inspired others to follow his lead. Another is that American actions--above all, the invasion and occupation of Iraq--have galvanized still more Muslims and convinced them of the truth of bin Laden's vision. [complete article]
Focus turns to London bombers' support base
By Jimmy Burns, Bob Sherwood, Stephen Fidler and Cathy Newman, Financial Times, July 12, 2005
UK police on Wednesday turned the focus of their investigations to the hunt for the logistics support base used by home-grown suicide bombers responsible for last week's devastating attacks in London.
It is believed to be unlikely that four suspected suicide bombers - three from West Yorkshire - were working alone or assembled the sophisticated explosive devices themselves. [complete article]
See also, Hunt for the master of explosives (The Times).
The suicide bomb plot hatched in Yorkshire
By Jason Bennetto and Ian Herbert, The Independent, July 13, 2005
The terrorists responsible for the Tube and bus attacks in London have been revealed as home-grown suicide bombers.
The four young British men, all thought to be of Pakistani origin, are believed to have blown themselves up with rucksack bombs on Thursday, killing at least 52 people.
Three of the bodies of the terrorists responsible for what was the first suicide bombing in western Europe have been identified, while a fourth is thought to be among the remains in the wreckage on the Piccadilly line between King's Cross and Russell Square.
Police raids at six homes in north Yorkshire yesterday also led to one arrest. But senior security sources warned last night that they suspected al-Qa'ida planners bomb-makers and organisers were still at large and further suicide bombings were likely. [complete article]
We rock the boat
By Dilpazier Aslam, The Guardian, July 13, 2005
If I'm asked about 7/7, I - a Yorkshire lad, born and bred - will respond first by giving an out-clause to being labelled a terrorist lover. I think what happened in London was a sad day and not the way to express your political anger.
Then there's the "but". If, as police announced yesterday, four men (at least three from Yorkshire) blew themselves up in the name of Islam, then please let us do ourselves a favour and not act shocked.
Shocked would be to imply that we were unaware of the imminent danger, when in fact Sir John Stevens, the then Metropolitan police commissioner, warned us last year that an attack was inevitable.
Shocked would be to suggest we didn't appreciate that when Falluja was flattened, the people under it were dead but not forgotten - long after we had moved on to reading more interesting headlines about the Olympics. It is not the done thing to make such comparisons, but Muslims on the street do. Some 2,749 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks. To discover the cost of "liberating" Iraqis you need to multiply that figure by eight, and still you will fall short of the estimated minimum of 22,787 civilian Iraqi casualties to date. But it's not cool to say this, now that London's skyline has also has plumed grey. [complete article]
Radical Muslim youth who aspired to be UK's first suicide bombers
By Ewen MacAskill and Vikram Dodd, The Guardian, July 13, 2005
Britain has produced a handful of would-be suicide bombers over the last five years but, until last Thursday, only one who successfully completed a mission. That bomber was Asif Hanif, 21, from London, who walked into Mike's Bar, a blues bar on the seafront at Tel Aviv, in 2003 and blew himself up, killing two musicians and a waitress, and injuring more than 40 others.
He was acting on behalf of the the Palestinian group Hamas, responsible for most of the suicide bomb attacks on Israel.
His accomplice, Omar Khan Sharif, 27, was also British, a father of two from Derby. He went into the bar but failed to detonate his bomb and, after a scuffle, escaped. His decomposed body was found a week later floating in the sea near the bar.
It has since emerged that Israeli intelligence warned their British counterparts several weeks before the attack of their concern about British Muslims becoming involved in the Middle East conflict.
British intelligence was already alert to the possibility after monitoring British Muslims radicalised by Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Israel-Palestine and Iraq. [complete article]
U.S. hoping London blasts will unite West
By Michael Moran, MSNBC, July 11, 2005
U.S. policymakers are working this week to hammer home the Bush administration's perspective on last week's bombings in London, a view that emphasizes the bloodthirsty nature of al-Qaida, the necessity of re-examining long-established notions of law enforcement and the longer-term importance of bringing democracy to the Islamic world, beginning in Iraq.
With critics of British Prime Minister Tony Blair linking the attack to his decision to join the U.S.-led war in Iraq, the United States is hoping to help Blair counter such claims by pushing for a reassessment of the West's approach to terrorism. From President Bush down, the message is one of determination to fight on mixed with encouragement for democratic nations to "take off the gloves," as one American diplomat put it, in the fight against terrorism.
"These kind of people who blow up subways and buses are not people you can negotiate with, or reason with, or appease," Bush said on Monday before the FBI Academy's graduating class in Quantico, Va. Using the appearance to tout the benefits of the Patriot Act, which gave unprecedented new powers to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, he vowed to "continue to take extraordinary measures to defend the homeland" and urged American allies to do the same. [complete article]
Comment - The London bombings should have silenced the farcical claim that, "We will stay on the offense, fighting the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them at home." Yet President Bush repeated the line in his radio address this weekend.
American newspapers and commentators have been quick to suggest that London invited the attacks by being too liberal and allowing the creation of "Londonistan." Paradoxically, the city was attacked by people who supposedly "hate freedom" yet those who would defend it are in effect saying that London suffers from too much of a good thing.
Even as who "these kind of people" are is not yet specifically known, police raids in Leeds today suggest the possibility that this may in part be homegrown violence. It's not hard to imagine that for a few individuals, jihadism simply added an ideological detonator to an already volatile mix of social injustice and alienation. A "summer of violence" in Northern England in 2001 brought renewed attention to Britain's fragile race relations. The sight of Leeds' celebrity footballers walking free later that year after almost beating to death an Asian student was an event that shocked and outraged the Asian community. And as we now speculate on who the London bombers are and what were their motives, the chances are that Iraq, Afghanistan, al Qaeda, Islam, Palestine, Israel, jihadism, US foreign policy, British-American ties, racism, alienation, humiliation, the seductive power of a cult of violence, and a lust for notoriety, will all figure in the answer.
Iraq Shiites in campaign for foreign troop pullout
AFP (via Yahoo), July 11, 2005
Radicals within Iraq's Shiite majority community launched a petition for the withdrawal of US-led troops, which they said was drawing support from across the sectarian divide.
Supporters of firebrand cleric Moqtada Sadr, who led a bloody six-month uprising against the coalition last year, said they were aiming to secure one million signatures inside four days.
"We started this morning and so far we have had a good response, not only from Shiites -- Sunnis and Christians have also been coming to our office to show their support," said Ibrahim al-Jaberi, an official in Sadr's movement.
"We have also received more than 100 calls from Iraqis living abroad in support of our initiative," he said, adding that more than 400,000 people had signed the petition by midday (0800 GMT).
The petition, which Jaberi said would be submitted to the Iraqi government and United Nations, reads: "I hereby declare my rejection of the forces of occupation and demand their withdrawal". [complete article]
Iraq troop levels to decrease
AP (via Military.com), July 12, 2005
Major reductions in U.S. troop levels in Iraq next year appear increasingly likely, although Pentagon officials said Monday it is too early to predict the specific size and timing.
The Pentagon is eager to pull some of its 135,000 troops out of Iraq in 2006, partly because the counterinsurgency is stretching the Army and Marine Corps perilously thin as casualties mount and partly because officials believe the presence of a large U.S. force is generating tacit support for anti-American violence.
It appears highly unlikely that any significant numbers will be withdrawn before the end of the year. U.S. commanders expect the insurgency to remain at or near its current strength at least until after a scheduled October referendum on a new Iraqi constitution, followed by December elections for a new government. [complete article]
See also, Iraqi official says Iran will not train troops
Continuing violence has killed 39,000 - survey
Reuters (via News.com.au), July 12, 2005
Nearly 40,000 Iraqis have been killed as a direct result of combat or armed violence since the US-led invasion, a figure considerably higher than previous estimates, a Swiss institute reported today.
The public database Iraqi Body Count, by comparison, estimates between 22,787 and 25,814 Iraqi civilians have died since the March 2003 invasion, based on reports from at least two media sources.
No official estimates of Iraqi casualties from the war have been issued, although military deaths from the US-led coalition forces are closely tracked and now total 1937.
The new estimate of 39,000 was compiled by the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies and published in its latest annual small arms survey, released at a UN news conference. [complete article]
10 reportedly die in police custody
By Richard C. Paddock, Los Angeles Times, July 12, 2005
Ten men arrested at a hospital while visiting relatives died after they were locked in a closed Iraqi police van for more than four hours in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, a Sunni Muslim group charged Monday.
The incident came to light after an 11th victim regained consciousness and used his cellphone to call relatives for help, said the Muslim Scholars Assn., a prominent Sunni organization.
The victims, all Sunnis ranging in age from 20 to 30, were subsequently taken to a second Baghdad hospital by police who said the men were "terrorists" caught fighting the Americans, said a police source who confirmed most of the Muslim group's account.
The deaths prompted harsh criticism from the Muslim Scholars Assn., which is often critical of U.S. actions in Iraq. It called the incident a violation of human rights and questioned whether police were engaging in "organized terrorism." [complete article]
Little incentive to nab bin Laden
By Ahmed Rashid, International Herald Tribune, July 12, 2005
The terrifying spectacle of a great city once again plunged into chaos and grief underlines one of the more glaring failures of the U.S.-led war on terrorism: the failure to capture Osama bin Laden.
Washington has mainly itself to blame. By transferring resources, satellite surveillance and manpower to Iraq, the United States not only took the pressure off bin Laden, but also gave the Taliban, Al Qaeda, drug barons and warlords time and space to reconstitute themselves in Afghanistan, where insurgent attacks are causing the bloodiest summer since 2001. [complete article]
Iraq, Internet fuel growth of global jihad
By Dan Murphy, Christian Science Monitor, July 12, 2005
Investigators still don't know who carried out last Thursday's attacks in London. But they say those responsible were probably Islamist terrorists who viewed their assault as revenge for Britain's part in the Iraq war.
The attacks that killed at least 52 in London follow two years in which the Iraq war has inflamed Islamist hatred of the US and key allies like Britain.
According to US assessments, the turmoil in Iraq has replaced the still-simmering conflict in Afghanistan as the chief recruiter of international jihadis. Analysts say anger over the conflict is helping to spread the ideology of global jihad to young Muslims in Europe.
But it is the confluence of America's decision to invade Iraq and new communication technologies that has created the most powerful machine for recruiting new terrorists in history, says Evan Kohlmann, an American terrorism consultant who has tracked jihadi websites since the late 1990s.
America and its allies are now facing a multifront war: In Iraq, which is turning out a new generation of Arab jihadis; in Europe, where Muslim admirers of Al Qaeda are embracing the cause because of anger over the Iraq war; and on the Internet, which has become a megaphone for radical jihadi ideologies. [complete article]
Blast in Lebanon wounds deputy prime minister
AP (via NYT), July 12, 2005
A car bomb hit the motorcade of Lebanon's outgoing deputy prime minister Tuesday, wounding him and killing at least one other person, officials said. A string of bombings has hit Lebanon this year, but this was the first aimed at a pro-Syrian politician.
The blast left one vehicle a charred and twisted wreck and damaged several others in the motorcade of Elias Murr, who is also the outgoing defense minister. Murr, who was slightly wounded, later released an audiotape from the hospital saying his was all right. At least 12 other people, including the Mexican ambassador's wife, were also wounded, officials said.
President Emile Lahoud, Syria's staunchest ally in Lebanon, has reportedly been pressing for Murr -- his son-in-law -- to be given a position in the new government that anti-Syrian politicians are trying to put together. The anti-Syrian coalition that now controls parliament is trying to form a Cabinet without influence from Damascus' allies. [complete article]
Americans expect attack, poll finds
By Richard Benedetto, USA Today, July 11, 2005
President Bush urged Americans on Monday to maintain their resolve in the face of terrorism, even as a poll suggested that last week's bombings in London rattled U.S. residents.
A USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll taken after explosions rocked the British capital revealed a surge in U.S. anxiety that there will be further acts of terrorism at home.
Taken Thursday through Sunday, the poll found 55% of Americans believe terrorist acts are very likely or somewhat likely in the next several weeks. That's a jump from 35% in a poll June 16-19. [complete article]
After the London bombings
Sombre but united London shows depth of grief and strength of will
By Hugh Muir and Mark Honigsbaum, The Guardian, July 12, 2005
They came from every stratum of London society - politicians, theologians, senior police officers and civil servants, but also builders, students and transport workers. In a remarkable display of civic strength, Londoners yesterday came together to open a book of condolence at City Hall for those killed and injured in last week's terrorist bombings.
In [a] letter addressed directly to the terrorists, an anonymous Londoner had written: "If you are looking to boost morale, our pride, then you have succeeded. If you want to ensure our commitment to our way of life you have achieved much. If you expect people to crawl out of smoke-filled tunnels, head to work and otherwise get on with their daily lives, you were right. If your aim was to raise our strength and defiance, congratulations." The letter ended with the rhetorical question and retort: "Burning with fear? Not bloody likely." [complete article]
A multinational list of missing in London
By Ellen Knickmeyer, Washington Post, July 12, 2005
Shahara Akther Islam, a slender and fashion-conscious woman of 20, set off for her job as a bank cashier last Thursday, her beloved plaid Burberry handbag slung over her shoulder.
It was to pay for such purchases that Islam -- a cosmopolitan, British-born worker and the dutiful Muslim daughter of Bangladeshi immigrants -- had decided to take a job right after high school, according to her uncle, Nazmul Hasan.
Like many other commuters in Thursday's morning rush hour, Islam never made it to work. Her travel path put her on one of three Underground trains that rolled out of King's Cross station about 8:40 a.m., each carrying a bomb that exploded about eight minutes later. A fourth bomb blew the roof off a bus about an hour after that. [complete article]
Admiration mingled with astonishment over calm response
By Giles Tremlett, The Guardian, July 12, 2005
Spaniards who lived through a similar attack in Madrid last year view London's phlegmatic return to normality with a mixture of admiration, incomprehension and outrage.
While the Madrid train bombings brought millions of mourners on to the streets of Spanish cities and provoked angry demonstrations, political rows and a change of government, Spaniards have found Londoners' stiff upper lip almost unintelligible.
Nowhere was this more so than in Madrid, where comparisons were made between Thursday's attacks and the train bombings that killed 191 people in March last year.
"The British have been exemplary on their day of pain and chaos, but in Madrid people reacted as well, or better," Pilar Cernuda, an ABC news paper columnist, claimed.
Spanish journalists in London have looked in vain for the communal mourning, group solidarity or mass indignation that filled Madrid's streets in the days after the attacks.
"The feeling that people had reacted in an orderly manner was a point of pride in people's conversations in a country where the word 'emotional' is used to indicate a personality defect," El Correo's London correspondent told readers. [complete article]
London bombings may be turning Muslim activists against al-Qaida
By Scheherezade Faramazi, AP (via CNews), July 11, 2005
For years, radical Islamic activists have operated freely in Britain, raising money for their cause, beaming satellite-TV spots or running Internet sites condemning the United States in support of al-Qaida.
But even supporters of the ideology of Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida's leader, say the London bombings were the wrong thing to do.
"The goal here was illegitimate," said activist Yasser al-Sirri.
Al-Sirri, head of the Islamic Observation Center, said Muslims who live in Britain - even those who consider the host government their enemy - have an Islamic duty under an unwritten "security covenant" to obey the country's rules.
His comments suggest a possible split within Britain's radical Islamic community about how to wage the struggle against the West - through terrorism like Thursday's bombings or through psychological warfare as well as violence only in clearly defined combat zones.
"God says if anyone wants to do something (against the country), he must leave that country and fight them outside... He can go to Iraq and fight the American forces there, or British forces, but he shouldn't (kill British civilians). What's the fault of the civilians?" said al-Sirri, an Egyptian accused by the United States of sponsoring terrorism in Afghanistan. [complete article]
White House won't comment on Rove, leak
By Pete Yost, AP (via WP), July 11, 2005
For the better part of two years, the word coming out of the Bush White House was that presidential adviser Karl Rove had nothing to do with the leak of a female CIA officer's identity and that whoever did would be fired.
But Bush spokesman Scott McClellan wouldn't repeat those claims Monday in the face of Rove's own lawyer, Robert Luskin, acknowledging the political operative spoke to Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, one of the reporters who disclosed Valerie Plame's name.
McClellan repeatedly said he couldn't comment because the matter is under investigation. When it was pointed out he had commented previously even though the investigation was ongoing, he responded: "I've really said all I'm going to say on it."
Democrats jumped on the issue, calling for the administration to fire Rove, or at least to yank his security clearance. One Democrat pushed for Republicans to hold a congressional hearing in which Rove would testify.
"The White House promised if anyone was involved in the Valerie Plame affair, they would no longer be in this administration," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. "I trust they will follow through on this pledge. If these allegations are true, this rises above politics and is about our national security." [complete article]
See also, Matt Cooper's source (Newsweek).
Comment As the Press batters McClellan on Rove/Plame link, let's not forget that US Code Title 50 Section 421 says nothing about "naming." Karl Rove's last ditch attempt to save himself was to say "I didn't know her name. I didn't leak her name." However, Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, went one step further and a step too far when he said, "Karl didn't disclose Valerie Plame's identity to Mr. Cooper or anybody else." We know from Matt Cooper's email that Rove did identify Plame as "wilson's wife" and the statute simply refers to "any information identifying" a covert agent.
Allawi: this is the start of civil war
By Hala Jaber, The Times, July 10, 2005
Iraq's former interim prime minister Iyad Allawi has warned that his country is facing civil war and has predicted dire consequences for Europe and America as well as the Middle East if the crisis is not resolved.
"The problem is that the Americans have no vision and no clear policy on how to go about in Iraq," said Allawi, a long-time ally of Washington.
In an interview with The Sunday Times last week as he visited Amman, the Jordanian capital, he said: "The policy should be of building national unity in Iraq. Without this we will most certainly slip into a civil war. We are practically in stage one of a civil war as we speak." [complete article]
Secret plan to quit Iraq
By Simon Walters, Mail on Sunday, July 10, 2005
Britain and America are secretly preparing to withdraw most of their troops from Iraq - despite warnings of the grave consequences for the region, The Mail on Sunday has learned.
A secret paper written by Defence Secretary John Reid for Tony Blair reveals that many of the 8,500 British troops in Iraq are set to be brought home within three months, with most of the rest returning six months later.
The leaked document, marked Secret: UK Eyes Only, appears to fly in the face of Mr Blair and President Bush's pledges that Allied forces will not quit until Iraq's own forces are strong enough to take control of security. [complete article]
The bombings elicit shock and shrugs from war-weary Iraqis
By Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times, July 9, 2005
Iraqis reacted with shock but also shrugs at the London bombings, the kind of attack that has become as common to Baghdad as drizzle is to the British capital.
"We had four car bombs exploding here in this neighborhood just a little while ago," said Haider Mahdi, a salesman in the capital's Karada district. "It's happening on a daily basis all around the country."
Iraqi political and religious leaders dutifully condemned the bombings. Spaniards pulled out of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq after the March 11, 2004, attacks in Madrid, and President Jalal Talabani urged Britons on Friday to stay the course. "We are confident that these vile crimes will not dissuade the people of the United Kingdom of Great Britain from their noble values," he said in a statement. [complete article]
Leaked No 10 dossier reveals Al-Qaeda's British recruits
By Robert Winnett and David Leppard, The Sunday Times, July 10, 2005
Al-Qaeda is secretly recruiting affluent, middle-class Muslims in British universities and colleges to carry out terrorist attacks in this country, leaked Whitehall documents reveal.
A network of "extremist recruiters" is circulating on campuses targeting people with "technical and professional qualifications", particularly engineering and IT degrees.
Yesterday it emerged that last week's London bombings were a sophisticated attack with all the devices detonating on the Underground within 50 seconds of each other. The police believe those behind the outrage may be home-grown British terrorists with no criminal backgrounds and possessing technical expertise.
A joint Home Office and Foreign Office dossier - Young Muslims and Extremism - prepared for the prime minister last year, said Britain might now be harbouring thousands of Al-Qaeda sympathisers. [complete article]
Police hunt 'mercenary' terror gang recruited by al-Qa'ida
By Sophie Goodchild, Severin Carrell and Raymond Whitaker, The Independent, July 10, 2005
Police and intelligence agents areinvestigating the theory that a gang of white "mercenary terrorists" was hired by al-Qa'ida to carry out last week's devastating attacks on London.
The Independent on Sunday can reveal today that investigations into the bombings of three Tube trains and a bus, which left at least 49 people dead, are focusing on the possibility that criminal gangs were paid to mount the worst atrocities in British history.
Last night, amid fears of further attacks, police evacuated the centre of Birmingham after receiving intelligence of a threat. A spokesman estimated up to 30,000 people were being cleared from the Broad Street area, packed with clubs, bars and restaurants. [complete article]
Look out for the enemy within
By John Gray, The Observer, July 10, 2005
Along with the death and injury they inflicted, Thursday's bombings were a demonstration of an unpalatable truth. The threat of indiscriminate terror will be with us in any future we can realistically foresee. Terror has causes and it is right that they should be identified. The war in Iraq has given al-Qaeda a major boost, enabling it to link its extremist agenda with grievances that are widely felt in Islamic countries. At the same time, it has resulted in a massive diversion of resources from the real work of counterterrorism and significantly boosted terrorist recruitment.
The 'war on terror' suggests terrorism is a global phenomenon but, actually, it remains almost entirely national or regional in its scope and goals. The Tamil Tigers do not operate worldwide any more than the IRA or Eta. Only al-Qaeda has a genuinely global reach, and it has been strengthened by American policies that have turned Iraq into a terrorist training ground.
Western governments have helped make al-Qaeda what it is today, but it would be folly to imagine that any shift in their policies can neutralise the threat it now poses. No longer the semi-centralised organisation it was before the destruction of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda has mutated into a brand name that covers an amorphous network of groups that are linked together mainly by their adherence to an apocalyptic version of Islamist ideology. This network is the vehicle of a movement that has more in common with Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese cult whose members planted sarin nerve gas on the Tokyo underground, than it does with any version of traditional Islam. [complete article]
British response to attacks is measured
By John Daniszewski, Los Angeles Times, July 9, 2005
When Al Qaeda struck the United States on Sept. 11, the response was immediate and visceral. Led by President Bush, Americans were angry and determined to hold those responsible to account. In less than a month, the United States had launched a war in Afghanistan.
When bombers struck in Spain last year, the Spanish people also were galvanized. Within days, they had ousted a conservative, pro-American prime minister and elected a leftist administration that immediately pulled Spanish troops out of Iraq.
By comparison, after the worst terrorist attack ever on British soil, this country's response has been almost preternaturally calm and measured, almost serene. [complete article]
Experts see new kind of war
By Charles J. Hanley, AP (via LAT), July 9, 2005
New York and Washington. Bali, Riyadh, Istanbul, Madrid. And now London.
When will it end? Where will it all lead?
The experts aren't encouraged. One prominent terrorism researcher sees the prospect of "endless" war. Adds the man who tracked Osama bin Laden for the CIA, "I don't think it's even started yet."
An Associated Press survey of longtime students of international terrorism finds them ever more convinced, in the aftermath of London's bloody Thursday, that the world has entered a long siege in a new kind of war. They believe that al-Qaida is mutating into a global insurgency, a possible prototype for other 21st-century movements, technologically astute, almost leaderless. And the way out is far from clear.
In fact, says Michael Scheuer, the ex-CIA analyst, rather than move toward solutions, the United States took a big step backward by invading Iraq. [complete article]
Al Qaeda's smart bomb
By Robert A. Pape, New York Times, July 10, 2005
... Al Qaeda is today less a product of Islamic fundamentalism than of a simple strategic goal: to compel the United States and its Western allies to withdraw combat forces from the Arabian Peninsula and other Muslim countries.
... the overwhelming majority of attackers are citizens of Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries in which the United States has stationed combat troops since 1990. Of the other suicide terrorists, most came from America's closest allies in the Muslim world - Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia and Morocco - rather than from those the State Department considers "state sponsors of terrorism" like Iran, Libya, Sudan and Iraq. Afghanistan produced Qaeda suicide terrorists only after the American-led invasion of the country in 2001. The clear implication is that if Al Qaeda was no longer able to draw recruits from the Muslim countries where there is a heavy American combat presence, it might well collapse.
... what is common among the attacks is not their location but the identity of the victims killed. Since 2002, the group has killed citizens from 18 of the 20 countries that Osama bin Laden has cited as supporting the American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. [complete article]
Franchise terrorism: 'Trying to hit al-Qa'ida is like trying to hit jelly'
By Raymond Whitaker and Paul Lashmar, The Independent, July 10, 2005
Every atrocity such as the London bombings raises the same questions: was al-Qa'ida responsible? If the network was not directly involved, did it give the attack its blessing? Is Osama bin Laden still giving the orders? And where is he hiding?
If we are fighting a "war on terror", then al-Qa'ida is clearly the enemy. But even before it was disrupted by the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the arrest of many members of its inner circle, it was never an organisation with a clear hierarchical structure. It has always been as much an ideology as a tangible group. [complete article]
Noteworthy articles from the last seven days:
This terror will continue until we take Arab grievances seriously
By David Clark, The Guardian, July 9, 2005
Leaked memo shows Iraq pull-out plans
By Andy McSmith, The Independent, July 9, 2005
The struggle against terrorism cannot be won by military means
By Robin Cook, The Guardian, July 8, 2005
The 28,000 victims of terrorism
By Tim Reid, The Times, July 7, 2005
In Gitmo: interrogation and the war on terror
Jane Mayer interviewed by Amy Davidson, The New Yorker, July 7, 2005
Where has all the money gone? Following the auditors into Iraq
By Ed Harriman, London Review of Books, July 7, 2005
Zarqawi's pledge to target Shia militia fuels tension
By Patrick Cockburn, The Independent, July 7, 2005
Experts: No good options for Iraq
By Ron Hutcheson, Knight Ridder, July 7, 2005
Iraq insurgency forces Pentagon rethink on ability to fight two wars at once
By Julian Borger, The Guardian, July 6, 2005
Iraq seen emerging as prime training ground for terrorists
By Warren P. Strobel, Knight Ridder, July 4, 2005
America knocks at Syria's nervous door
By David Hirst, Daily Star, July 6, 2005
Help from France key in covert operations
By Dana Priest, Washington Post, July 3, 2005
Grim world of new Iraqi torture camps
By Peter Beaumont, The Observer, July 3, 2005
Living in the shadow of American occupation
By James Glanz, New York Times (IHT), July 4, 2005
U.S. endures deadliest year in Afghanistan
By Bryan Bender, Boston Globe, July 3, 2005
Iran's nuclear lies
By Christopher Dickey, Newsweek, July 11, 2005
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