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August 30, 2014 / 4 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘islamist’

Egypt Turning Into Syria as Youths Thrown off Roof (Graphic Video)

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

In a graphic reminder of how close Egypt is to the edge, if it hasn’t crossed that line already, Islamic supporters in Egypt were caught on camera throwing  two youths off the roof of a building. If that wasn’t enough, they began beating the boy’s crushed bodies, reminiscent of the act of cannibalism that underscored the complete breakdown of civilization in Syria, when a Syrian rebel ate the heart of a Syrian soldier, on camera.

The youths were celebrating the overthrow of the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohammed Morsi. The Islamists decided to put an end to that.

Islamic and revolutionary opponents have been fighting in the streets since the military coup. The Islamists seem to have an actual majority in Egpyt, where between 30% – 50% of the nation are illiterate.


Warning: Graphic!


As an aside, following the precedent of Hamas’s violent coup in Gaza, Judea and Samaria will clearly descend into the same chaos and anarchy if Kerry has his way, and a Palestinian state is created on this side of the Jordan river.

Taliban Terrorists Kill American Tourist,10 Others in Pakistan

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

A dozen or more Taliban terrorists in Pakistan, disguised in police uniforms, killed 10 tourists, including an American and one Pakistani citizen in a shooting attack in a relatively peaceful mountain area. The American may have been have been a Chinese American.

A local Taliban spokesman said the attack was in revenge for a May 29 U.S. drone strike that killed Taliban’s deputy leader, Waliur Rehman.

Also killed were five Ukrainians, three Chinese and one Russian. One Chinese tourist survived the massacre.

“The U.S. Embassy Islamabad expresses its deepest condolences to the family and friends of the U.S. citizen and the other innocent tourists who were killed in the Northern Areas of Pakistan,” Matt Boland, the acting spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, told reporters in a statement.

High Stakes in Iran for Ahmadinejad

Monday, May 6th, 2013

In Iran almost nothing is what it seems to be. Iranian culture is formal; it places a premium on politeness and manners. By violating both principles, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been mesmerizing Iranians, to the delight of the masses and the embarrassment of the few. When Iranian reporters in New York, for instance, told him that the Iranian parliamentarians had criticized him, he shot back “Goh khordand” (“They can go eat [explitive]“).

Referring to the U.S.-Iranian relationship, Ahmadinejad refers to breast-feeding babies and uses profanity, and his audience loves him! The first reference comes from a Persian expression: Mamaro looloo bord ["The ogre has taken away the mother's breastfeeding"], meaning: From now on, the rules have been changed and you had better listen to me.

Ahmadinejad constantly belittles the regime’s enemies — and is the most successful leader to do so since the death of Khomeini. Khomeini prophetically proclaimed, “America cannot do a damn thing,” and history seems to have proven him right — both throughout the presidency of Jimmy Carter, the pullback of the Marines from Beirut by President Reagan, through the present failure of the U.S. to halt Iran’s nuclear program.

Ahmadinejad keeps standing up to America and America keeps doing nothing to stop him. It was America alone, by doing nothing, that enabled Khomeini to achieve greatness and maintain his grip on power.

Ahmadinejad follows in Khomeini’s footsteps. He proclaims the holocaust is a myth; he constantly belittles America, and the U.S. still does nothing. When Ahmadinejad is interviewed by the American media, the interviewers are ill-prepared: they never ask follow-up questions, challenge his lies, or call his bluff.

Iranian society, like most of us, likes winners, and if winning comes through the principle of zerangi [winning at the expense of others], and you come out on top, all the better.

Ahmadinejad is, moreover, known as a big teller of tall tales and white lies: a chakhan. Telling tall tales and white lies is embedded within the Islamic culture of Iran: in the religious writings, telling white lies to your enemies is encouraged. As a devout Shi’ite Muslim, Ahmadinejad is practicing taqiya [dissimulation] — completely acceptable if used to advance the goals of the Islamic Republic — and also possibly your rule — whenever and wherever necessary.

During Ahmadinejad’s latest trip to Isfahan province, the Fars News Agency, which is friendly towards him, carried multiple pictures of him and his choice for the next president, Esfandyar Mashai; it went on to show single photographs of Mashai. It just so happens that Mashai is also related to Ahmadinejad by marriage: his son married Mashai’s daughter. Blood alliances are a big factor in Iranian politics.

If we are to understand the fierce battles now raging among Iran’s rulers, we need to find answers to the following questions: What has emboldened Ahmadinejad to use such foul language in public when addressing his adversaries?

  • Who and what is emboldening him openly to support, as his successor, Mashai, a man singled out by other forces in the regime for criticism?
  • Are these signs of a major power shift in the Islamic Republic?

We can draw two conclusions from the above:

  • Ahmadinejad dares not give the impression that he is weak;
  • He is certain that his opponents — three Larijani brothers and Khamene’i — are weak.
  • As an activist, however, within the ranks of the veterans of the Revolutionary Guards, he must feel that they cover his back. This is a game of high-stakes poker, following in the footsteps of large sums that have been transferred out of Iran by the cronies of the regime.

The stakes are so high, in fact, that Ahmadinejad is providing videos of another Larijani brother, Fazael Larijani, demanding bribes. This video was screened in parliament to the shame and amazement of the speaker of parliament, Ali Larijani.

For Ahmadinejad, this is a win-win gamble. He can either succeed by blackmailing his opposition within the ruling Islamic regime not to harm him, or, should he be harmed, he will be granted martyrdom — a lofty and much sought-after status in the current messianic Shi’ite regime.

Is Fear of Blaming Islam Greater than a Need to Fight Terrorism?

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

“The lights are going out in the enlightenment” Professor Barry Rubin told The Jewish Press in an interview this week.  “Too many reporters have no interest in reporting accurately, too many professors have no interest in speaking accurately, and too many policy makers have no interest in promulgating responsible policy.”

Rubin was talking about the reluctance to name revolutionary Islamism – Rubin calls this the “mysterious motivation,” and he refuses to be cowed into playing that avoidance game.

Rubin wrote a very important article about this after he watched the mainstream media and Western politicos twist themselves into pretzels in an effort to avoid the obvious. Rubin explains that the West seems to believe that if we admit the ideology and movement of  Islamism threatens Western society, that will have radical implications for our worldview.

As a result, Rubin points out, most current policy makers and opinion shapers prefer to avoid any policy that considering Islamism as the motive for terrorism would necessitate.  The fear of short term pain is indulged at the expense of preventing the real danger that will follow.  And we are being lied to – “albeit for virtuous reasons” – by the politicians and the mainstream press.

What is the fear which leads to the conclusion that “doing nothing has become better than doing anything”? The fear is that speaking the truth: that the Tsarnaev brothers acted in accordance with their (or at least the older brother’s) understanding, as well as that of many Muslims, of what Islam requires will lead to disaster.  It will cause widespread hatred of Muslims to be unleashed, the specter of Islamophobia to spread, racism will again become rampant, and all the things that a hoped-for post-racist America tried to put behind it will again spread throughout the land.

But the failure to take Islam into consideration might be the very reason why, despite the warning the U.S. was given by Russia that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was “a radical Muslim and a strong believer” the U.S. nonetheless watched Tsarnaev leave the country for Russia and allowed the case file on him to expire during the time Tsarnaev was in a heavily radicalized Muslim territory of Russia, and why other terrorists have also been able to launch attacks.

In a telephone interview from his home in Tel Aviv, The Jewish Press spoke with Rubin, the director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.  Rubin is the author of more than two dozen books on topics including terrorism, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, the PLO, Israel, the Middle East and Islam, which have been published by the most esteemed publishing houses including the Oxford, Yale, Harvard and Cambridge University presses.

First Rubin lists off and explains the many ways the Tsarnaev brothers’ “mysterious motive” to maim and murder Americans has been and continues to be aggressively obfuscated. The list includes fingers pointed at a troubled youth; the Chechen code of honor; immigrants’ malaise; and unemployment.  Read his article, it is well worth seeing how he lays out this case.

Rubin then flips to the other side, and explores the justifications used to avoid saying Islamic extremism is a motivating factor in terrorism generally, and was so in the Boston Marathon Bombings specifically.

These reasons fall primarily into two groups; the first, that by linking the act of terrorism with Islam, even the movement of Islamism, it will unleash a wave of Islamophobic violence, and two, that such attacks are really our (that is, that of the U.S. and of the West) fault.

Rubin, an honest-to-goodness liberal (not “progressive”) finds these lists of false motivations and obviously flawed self-blame theories not just foolish, but dangerous.

A variant of the “you can’t link Islam to terrorism” problem is to insist that the only kind of Islamist strategic threat dangerous to the United States is the one that emanates from al Qaeda.

“If it isn’t al Qaeda, it supposedly isn’t our problem,” is how Rubin described to The Jewish Press this refusal to look directly at the problem.  “In Syria, for example, up to three dozen radical Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, have received arms due to U.S. supported policies but only one – the direct affiliate to al Qaeda – is barred from this program,” Rubin said.

The connection between Islamism and terrorism has to be dealt with forthrightly – sometimes the motivation for a terrorist act will be Islamist terrorism, and sometimes it won’t be, but when it is and we avoid naming it, we are setting ourselves up for a continuation, a metastases of the problem.

AMERICAN MUSLIMS AREN’T COWED

Islam’s Jew-Hating Hadith in Context

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Saudi cleric Muhammad Al-Arifi made the following “observations” which aired on Palestinian Arab Al-Aqsa TV, September 12, 2008:

Studies conducted in Tel Aviv and in the Palestinian lands occupied by the Jews showed that they plant trees around their homes, because the Prophet Muhammad said that when the Muslims fight the Jews, each and every stone and tree will say: “Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” The only exception is the gharqad tree, which is one of the trees of the Jews, and if they hide behind it, it will not reveal their presence. According to reports of people who went there and saw it with their own eyes, man Jews plant gharqad trees around their homes, so that when the fighting begins, they can hide behind them. They are not man enough to stand and fight you.

Muslim Waffen SS soldiers reading a pamphlet by the Mufti of Jerusalem Haj-Amin el-Husseini.

Muslim Waffen SS soldiers reading a pamphlet by the Mufti of Jerusalem Haj-Amin el-Husseini. From Jennie Lebel’s 2007 biography of the Mufti.

These Jew-hating motifs were reiterated by Egyptian Minister of Religious Endowments Talat Afifi, during an interview shown on Sada Al-Balad TV, March 14, 2013. In response to an interviewer’s query about visiting Israel with “only with a Palestinian visa,” Afifi replied,

This is premature. Let’s wait until it happens. However, we hope that the words of the Prophet Muhammad will be fulfilled: “Judgment Day will not come before the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Jews will hide behind the rocks and the trees, but the rocks and the trees will say: Oh Muslim , oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him – except for the gharqad tree, which is one of the trees of the Jews.” We fully believe that the future of this land lies with Islam and the Muslims.

While such hatemongering statements appear utterly bizarre to Jews devoid of any understanding of Islam’s foundational texts, and notwithstanding Sinem Tezyapar’s attempt to negate this reality in The Jewish Press, Egyptian cleric Ali Afifi, and earlier, Saudi cleric Al-Arifi’s inflammatory references to Jews, have sacralized origins immediately apparent to Muslim audiences. The crux of their remarks, in fact, merely reiterate verbatim, a canonical hadith, specifically Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985, which is also featured prominently in the Hamas Covenant, article 7.

Briefly (see 1, 2, 3, 4 for an in depth 4-part discussion), what are the hadith, and which specific antisemitic motifs do they contain? Hadith, which means “story” (“narrative”), refers to any report of what the Muslim prophet Muhammad said or did, or his tacit assent to something said or done in his presence. (Hadith is also used as the technical term for the “science” of such “traditions”). As a result of a lengthy process which continued for centuries after Muhammad’s death (in 632), the hadith emerged for Muslims as second in authority to the Koran itself. Sunna, which means “path” refers to a normative custom of Muhammad or of the early Islamic community. The hadith “justify and confirm” the Sunna. Henri Lammens, a seminal early 20th century scholar of Islam, highlighted the importance of the Sunna (and, by extension, the hadith):

As early as the first century A.H. [the 7th century] the following aphorism was pronounced: “The Sunna can dispense with the Koran but not the Koran with the Sunna.” Proceeding to still further lengths, some Muslims assert that “in controversial matters, the Sunna overrules the authority of the Koran, but not vice versa”…all admit the Sunna completes and explains it [the Koran].

The hadith compiled by al-Bukhari (d. 870) and Muslim b. al-Hajjaj (d. 875) are considered, respectively, to be the most important authoritative collections. The titles Sahih (“sound”) or Jami, indicating their comprehensiveness, signify the high esteem in which they are held. Their comprehensive content includes information regarding religious duties, law and everyday practice (down to the most mundane, or intimate details), in addition to a considerable amount of biographical and other material. Four other compilations, called Sunan works, which indicates that they are limited to matters of religious and social practice, and law, also became authoritative. Abu Dawud (d. 888), al-Tirmidhi (d. 892), Ibn Maja (d. 896), and al-Nasi (d. 915) compiled these works. By the beginning of the 12th century, Ibn Maja’s collection became the last of these compilations of hadith to be recognized as “canonical.”

Toulouse Killer’s Mother: He was Good and Kind

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

The man who gunned down a rabbi and three other Jews at a school in Toulouse last year really was “good and kind kid,” his mother told France 3 television. Mohammed Merah also had killed three French soldiers before he went on a rampage in Toulouse, killing his victims at point-blank range.

Mohammed Merah’s mother Zoulikha Aziri said, “Then he changed all at once, I don’t know why. He’s dead and took many people with him.” She said her son “never mentioned jihad.” Aziri also denied reports by other relatives that “there was talk of jihad” in the family.

Souad Merah, Mohammed’s sister, also was interviewed in Wednesday’s broadcast. She was questioned by French police last year after she was filmed praising her brother’s “bravery” and his actions. In November, one of Merah’s five siblings, Abdelghani Merah, said Mohammed Merah “grew up in an atmosphere of anti-Semitism.”

The families of Merah’s victims unsuccessfully sought a court injunction to block the 105-minute documentary titled “The Merah Affair: A shooter’s Itinerary.”

Lawyers for the family of Jonathan Sander, the rabbi Merah killed along with two of Sander’s sons and another girl at a Jewish school on March 19, 2012, called the film “obscene.”

“There is a form of indecency and obscenity in giving the stage to the people closest to Merah,” Ariel Goldmann, one of the family’s attorneys, was quoted as telling BFMTV, a television station.

The film, directed by Jean-Charles Doria, also included previously unpublished security camera footage from the days that preceded the shootings and an overview of failures that prevented authorities from catching Merah before the attacks. Merah had traveled abroad multiple times to receive military training in terrorist camps.

Obama’s CIA Pick and His Romance with Islam

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

One of the first things Barack Obama did after taking the oath of office (which he actually did on Sunday, January 20, as prescribed by the Constitution) was to submit a list of candidates for cabinet-level posts. One of these was Secretary of Defense, and his nominee was Chuck Hagel. I’ve had a lot to say about Hagel’s views about issues related to Israel, all bad.

But this post isn’t about Hagel. It is about another cabinet-level appointment, that of John O. Brennan, Obama’s counter-terrorism adviser (actually “Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Assistant to the President”) as head of the CIA.

What do we know about Brennan? He held several important posts in the CIA, including station chief in Saudi Arabia from 1996-99. His academic background includes the study of Arabic and Arab culture; he received a B.A. in political science from Fordham University, including a year abroad at the American University in Cairo, and an M.A. in Government specializing in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. He speaks Arabic ‘fluently.’

Now there is nothing wrong with having this kind of background. After all, insofar as the threat of terrorism is a major concern, and the fact that almost all terrorism today emanates from the Arab and Muslim world, the CIA director can’t know too much about it.

But on the other hand, there is the phenomenon of the ‘Arabist’ — the Westerner who studies Arabic and is so taken by the culture that he adopts the Arab worldview and politics. T. E. Lawrence is probably the most well-known, but contemporary examples abound (for example, the academic Juan Cole).

If you  believe that the phenomenon of Islamic terrorism is related to specific grievances held by ‘extremists’ who are exploiting the essentially peaceful religion of Islam for their purposes, then possibly having a CIA director who is an Arabist is not a problem.

But on the other hand, if you believe that we are experiencing the beginnings of a true civilizational conflict between Islam and the West, then it could be a big problem indeed.

So is Brennan an Arabist in this sense? I’m not sure.

In February 2010, Brennan spoke to Muslim students at NYU in a meeting ‘facilitated’ by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). His talk can be found in these four video clips: hereherehere, and here.

In the first one, he says that Islam is “a faith of peace and tolerance and great diversity,” something which I suspect the Coptic Christians of Egypt would dispute. He can be heard speaking in somewhat rusty Arabic. He describes meeting Muslim students from various countries including “Palestine,” and refers to “al-Quds, Jerusalem” — where, he says, the three faiths for whom the city is holy show that they can coexist despite tensions. (But he fails to note that this has only been the case since the city has been under Jewish control!)

Later, he discusses at length the problem of prejudice against Muslims in America and the need to protect their rights, but he does not mention the very real lack of rights experienced by non-male or non-Muslim populations in Muslim-controlled lands.

He praises the Saudi monarchy for the stewardship of the holy cities of Islam and the haj, but does not talk about the brutal, medieval darkness of that kingdom where slavery flourishes and petty thieves have their hands cut off.

He praises ISNA and other Muslim organizations for working to protect the rights of Muslims, but does not mention their involvement in fund-raising for Hamas or other terrorist groups, or their connection to the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, he criticizes the U.S. government for interfering with the obligation for Muslims to practice zakat — charity.

Brennan is 100 percent on board with the Obama policy that our enemies consist only of “al-Qaeda and its extremist allies,” organizations that have distorted the peaceful nature of Islam. In fact, he opposes the use of the word ‘jihadists’ to refer to Islamic terrorists, because:

They are not jihadists, for jihad is a holy struggle, an effort to purify, for a legitimate purpose. And there is nothing, absolutely nothing holy or pure or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children.

As I argued in response to similar remarks in 2009 — Brennan misunderstands the nature of our enemy:

Doubtless Osama bin Laden believes that his jihad against the U.S. is a “holy struggle for a moral goal.” But Brennan’s definition leaves out the historical meaning of ‘jihad’ as an expansionist, offensive struggle against non-Muslims, an aspect which is still very much part of the concept in the minds of many present-day Muslims (for an exhaustive and persuasive analysis of this topic, see Daniel Pipes: “Jihad and the Professors“)…

… jihad in this sense was highly important in the past and has been reemphasized by modern Islamist thinkers like al-Banna and Qutb.

Brennan clings to the idea that we can somehow undercut the spread of violent Islamist ideology by employing economic development and education to fight the “ignorance” that allows al-Qaeda to recruit:

I think Brennan underestimates the pull of the militant Islamist ideology itself, especially in Arab cultures. After all, the leadership of radical groups like al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hizballah, etc. are all well-educated, and in the case of bin Laden, quite wealthy. It can be argued that in some cases — like the Palestinian Arabs, who have probably been the recipient of more Western ‘development’ aid than any other similar group — there are religious/cultural pathologies that work against political stability and economic development, as well as making the culture fertile ground for radical ideologies.

So when Brennan suggests that we need to attack these ‘conditions’ as well as fight ‘extremists’, he misses two points:

  1. The ‘extremists’ are not just a small group of crazies, but part of a significant faction of fundamentalist Muslims who — while they may not themselves engage in violent jihad — accept the ideology of militant Islamism which promotes it. As long as this is the case, there will always be a supply of ones whoare violent.
  2. Unless the cultural and religious issues that make it hard for societies to develop in what we Westerners see as a positive direction (democracy, economic development, fair allocation of resources, etc.) can be counteracted, Western attempts to ameliorate poverty, lack of education and political repression will be seen as so much cultural imperialism.

Since 2010, militant Islamism has made great advances in the Middle East, and it is becoming harder and harder for those like Brennan to claim that it is a distortion of the peace and beauty that is “mainstream” Islam. Has he changed his thinking?

We may find out. Unlike the position he holds today, his new job requires Senate confirmation.

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