When the launching of this ship (May 6/2005) Bono played hommage to the US flag: (I have underlined the Zapatero's words when he did not play any tribute to the US flag).TRCSG Sailor Reenlists Aboard Spanish Ship Alvaro de BazanRelease Date: 10/13/2005
Story Number: NNS051013-06
4:52:00 PMBy Journalist 2nd Class Kimberly R. Stephens, USS Theodore Roosevelt Public Affairs
ABOARD USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (NNS)
-- USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Operations Specialist 2nd Class Keison Hunt reenlisted aboard the Spanish ship Alvaro de Bazan (F 101) in the Persian Gulf Oct. 2.
Hunt is currently part of the U.S. Communications Assistance Team (CAT) that has been assigned in the integration of Bazan into the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG).Bazan is the first European ship with the Aegis weapons system and is assisting the TRCSG with Maritime Security Operations in the Gulf.
"I decided to reenlist on the Spanish ship because I knew that I would be the first U.S. Navy Sailor to do it, and it was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Hunt. It was also a first-time experience for many of the Spanish Sailors and officers on board Bazan to witness this type of ceremony."It has been an honor for me to preside over this ceremony on board my ship," said Bazan Commanding Officer Cristobal Gonzalez-Aller La Calle. "We don't have this kind of act for re-enlisting in the Spanish Navy, so it has been an interesting experience from which we can learn and maybe apply in a similar way."Hunts dedication in working with Bazan's CAT team has been an essential part of TR's Operations Departments endeavor to meet the challenge of joint operations."In spite of the language 'barrier,' the interaction has been good, especially with our communications team," said La Calle."I thought that it was a good experience because not many U.S. Sailors get the chance to be a part of another military. The Spanish crew was very friendly, and I enjoyed every moment of being on this ship," said Hunt.Alvaro de Bazan is currently working with TRCSG in support of Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the Persian Gulf. MSO sets the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. [continues here...]
Bono pays homage to US flagDefense minister José Bono yesterday paid homage to the US flag at a military ceremony in Virginia. Bono said, "We pay our deepest honor to your flag, which respects the Spanish people and stands for the value of freedom." Bono thanked the US for rendering tribute to the Spanish flag and therefore, in the name of the Spanish people, he wished to return the same tribute. He added, "In Europe we cannot forget that it was the United States who helped in the triumph over totalitarianism." Bono's attitude is in notable contrast to that of former opposition leader and current prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who at the Spanish armed forces day parade on October 12, 2003, whas the only invited guest who did not rise in salute to the US flag when it passed by the reviewing stand. Bono's words were equally surprising because he had previously stated, in order to justify Zapatero's scorn for the American flag, "Here we do not kneel down, we are just as sovereign as the US, though we may be smaller and not as powerful," and added that "Spanish soldiers are not at the disposition of the US government; shaking hands with the US president for us cannot mean turning our backs on the Spanish people." Yesterday, in the hangars of the US aircraft carrier Roosevelt, Bono attended the launching ceremony of the Álvaro de Bazán, the first new Spanish F-100 class frigate, and its addition to the Roosevelt's carrier group. Aboard the Roosevelt, anchored at Norfolk, Virginia, Bono addressed the ship's crew and declared that it would show the Spanish flag around the world. Concluded Bono, "The flag evokes feelings of equality and solidarity, and together we can do more and we will, because we want what the Constitution says."
The Alvaro de Bazan is the first European ship with the capability of forming part of a US carrier group thanks to its combat potential and radar system.
“I am extremely proud of the 7,000 Sailors in our strike group, each one of whom makes a vital contribution every day to our success, whether at sea fighting terrorism or helping to set the conditions for security and stability in this region,” said Rear Adm. James A. Winnefeld, commander, Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group. “Together, we’re all determined to carry this important mission through, until our last day underway.”Also it has helped the Operation Steel Curtain:
CVW-8's Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 141 led the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group’s first combat flights in support of OIF, when it began flying combat sorties Sept. 24. Since then, aircraft from CVW-8, which consists of Fighter Squadron (VF) 213 and VF-31; Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 87 and VFA-15; Sea Control Squadron (VS) 24; Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 124; and Helicopter Squadron (HS) 3; have conducted strikes in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom while protecting coalition ground troops.
The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group includes the Norfolk-based aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, with its embarked air wing, CVW-8; the Norfolk-based guided-missile cruiser San Jacinto; the Norfolk-based guided-missile destroyers Oscar Austin and Donald Cook; the Spanish frigate SPS Alvaro de Bazan (F101); and the combat logistics ships USNS Mount Baker (T-AE 34) from Naval Weapons Station Earle, N.J., and USNS Kanawha (T-AO 196) from Norfolk.
Operation Steel Curtain is an offensive aimed at preventing cells of Al Qaeda from entering Iraq through the Syrian border. Coalition ground forces consisting of 1,000 Iraqi Army Soldiers and 2,500 U.S. Marines began the offensive Nov. 4 near the town of Husaybah near the Iraq/Syria border.And now THE photo:
The connection between interna-tional terrorism and the “movement for independence” in Chechnya is substantial and explicit, but all too often ignored in the West. The popular assumption is that Chech-nya is a distant problem that need not be addressed by anyone outside Russia. Unfortunately, the evidence sug-gests otherwise. Islamic extremists and their terror-tactics have been a central factor in the Caucasus more than a decade ago. From Iraq to Af-ghanistan, London to Moscow, Is-lamic terrorists have firmly imbed-ded Chechnya into the global web of terror networks. A sparsely reported but highly sig-nificant development in the war against Islamic extremism in the Caucasus occurred on October 13 in the Russian republic of Astemirov-Balkaria. There, approximately 100 terrorists led by Wahhabi adherent Anzor Astemirov killed at least twenty-four police officers and civil-ians, though the Russian daily Kommersant reported the actual casualty count was higher than the official count. Chechens and a sig-nificant group of Arabs took part in the assault, and news reports sug-gested that radical Chechen leader Shamil Basayev may have been di-rectly involved in the operation. Leon Aron, the director of Russian studies at the American Enterprise Institute, believes that foreign Is-lamic militants have fueled much of the violence in the Caucasus and “hijacked Chechnya’s struggle for independence.” There is much to support this claim as many Islamic fundamentalists who have a history of international terrorism have be-come involved in the Chechen con-flict. Osama bin Laden’s chief lieu-tenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri, at-tempted to establish a base for Is-lamic terrorists in Chechnya in 1996. By 1999, it was estimated that at least 100 Al Qaeda members joined up with Chechens in the Caucasus. In addition, Shamil Basayev is be-lieved to have trained in Afghani-stan in 1994. Basayev has claimed responsibility for – among other horrendous acts of terror – the Beslan school hostage situation that claimed the lives of 330, including women and young children. This process of Chechen “Islamiza-tion” began in the mid 1990s as sig-nificant numbers of Arab fighters joined the fight of Muslims in Chechnya seeking to gain inde-pendence from the Russian Federa-tion. At that time, moderate Sufi Islam, long dominant in Chechnya, began to give way to Wahhabism. Money coming from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Af-ghanistan was paid to those who converted to Wahhabism and those who recruited others to join the mili-tant sect. As one Chechen convert explained: “I liked it that Arabs want to go on making war until they liberate the whole world of the [in-fidels]” and holy war should con-tinue “until all the Christians are converted to Islam.” The influx of Arabs and Islamic fundamentalists soon changed the face of the conflict in Chechnya. The Middle East Quarterly accurately noted last summer that “A close ex-amination of the evolution of the Chechen movement indicates that Islamists and followers of Al-Qaeda have increasingly sought to co-opt the Chechen movement as their own.” American and Russian intelligence services have found evidence sug-gesting that many of the same groups and individuals that fi-nanced al-Qaeda also provided support for Chechen leaders, such as the Saudi-born Ibn al-Khattab. Iran and Saudi Arabia are also be-lieved to have provided funding for Basayev and his followers. The ex-planation for this generosity is un-ambiguous: this diverse group of fanatics is united under the common goal of establishing an Islamic state in the Caucasus. The events on the ground continue to suggest that the forces attempting to establish an Islamic state from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea are relatively weak. However, as the United States and our Iraqi allies crush the hopes of the Islamists in Iraq who seek to create a new ca-liphate, their efforts will soon focus elsewhere - as is already evident with recent terror attacks in Jordan, Indonesia, and Bangladesh. An ex-tremely likely target will be Chech-nya and its neighboring republics. Alexei Malashenko, an expert on Chechnya at the Carnegie Center in Moscow, stated recently that “The Chechen conflict is spilling into neighboring republics, escalating the process of destabilization” in the Caucasus and Central Asia. This poses an enormous threat to both the territorial integrity of Russia and the long-term interests of the United States in the region. The process has already started and is likely to pick up increasing steam as Islamists be-gin to lose hope in Iraq and Af-ghanistan. The second Chechen war began in 1999 with the invasion of Chechnya’s neighboring republic of Dagestan. This was an attempt to spread the conflict in hope of gener-ating a larger Islamic rising. Al-though Russian forces quickly drove the aggressors back to Chechnya, the Islamists have far from given up hope. The Russian republic of Ingushetia has similarly experienced terror at the hands of the Chechens and their Islamist supporters. Repeated at-tempts to assassinate the pro-Moscow president of Ingushetia, Murat Zyazikov, have so far been unsuccessful. However, the em-ployed tactic of suicide car bomb-ings illustrates not only the same desired ends of the Chechens and their Islamist allies, but also the matching callous means. While the Islamists have failed to topple the Ingush leadership thus far, they did succeed in briefly taking the repub-lic’s capitol of Nazran in 2004. This operation was carried out by mili-tant followers of Shamil Basayev and concluded only after nearly 100 government officials and police offi-cers had been killed. The influx of radical Islam and the expansionist nature of the aspira-tions of its followers have made it evident that Chechnya has trans-formed from a republic seeking in-dependence to one of the global cen-ters of Islamic jihad. Vladimir Putin described the danger of a widening conflict in a December 2003 televi-sion appearance: “they have com-pletely different goals – not the in-dependence of Chechnya, but the territorial separation of all territories of compact Muslim residence. It fol-lows that we should resist that, if we don't want the collapse of our state. And if that happens, it will be worse here than in Yugoslavia.” Unfortunately, Putin was not exag-gerating. London’s Sunday Express reported that British intelligence sources revealed that Chechen fighters were some of the last hold-outs in the battle at Tora Bora in Af-ghanistan. Chechens have also gone to Iraq to fight Americans and our allies. The same British intelligence source told the Sunday Express: “These are not just people dreaming of a homeland, they are key global terrorist figures.” The source added: “British forces in the Gulf during the initial phase of the fighting were finding Chechen bodies among the fanatics fighting along Saddam Hussein’s troops. A number of the foreign fighters confronting our troops in Basra have turned out to be Chechens.” Thus, Chechens are clearly gaining experience in guer-rilla warfare and terrorist operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and those that survive will bring their skills back to Chechnya. However, to understand the scope of the events in Chechnya and its neighboring republics, one must also be acquainted with the global attempts to wreak havoc by the Chechens and their Islamist associ-ates not only in the Middle East and Central Asia, but in Western Europe as well. In 2002, Shamil Basayev engineered a plot to assassinate British Prime Minter Tony Blair at the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Had it been successful, the attack would have killed several members of the killed several members of the Royal Family and certainly would have had just as great of a psychological impact on the people of Britain as the July 7 attacks. Terrorists from Chechnya and its neighbors have targeted Russian and Western inter-ests in Britain, France, Spain, and elsewhere. Many of these plots originated in Georgia’s Shevardnadze Trail, a passage which runs through the eastern Georgia stretch known as the Pankisi Gorge and is described by former U.S. counterterrorism of-ficial Paul J. Murphy as a “lawless area that Georgia is unable to totally control and that has served as a conduit for financial and logistical support and fighter reinforcements into Chechnya since the early 1990’s.” The Pankisi Gorge has been the staging ground of alleged at-tempts to use ricin in London and bomb the Russian embassy in Paris. Chechens and members of al-Qaeda alike seek refuge and plot future attacks in Pankisi camps. Thus, it is clear that any attempt to combat terror in Chechnya and throughout the region will also have to attribute significant attention to the Pankisi Gorge. The April 2004 expiration of the Georgia Train and Equip Program, a United States effort to assist the Georgian government in combating terrorism and to bring order to the Pankisi Gorge, signals a lack of re-solve on the part of the United States to alleviate the terrorist prob-lem in Chechnya and its surround-ing territories. This will have to change and the United States must re-dedicate itself – to a greater de-gree than previously displayed – to eliminating this problem. The up-coming November 27 Chechen presidential elections are certainly a positive step; however, without lim-iting the influence of foreign Islamists and subduing the radical-ized portions of the Chechen popu-lation, the new government is cer-tain to exert little control and may be just another artificial façade un-able to stem the tide of Islamic ex-tremism currently engulfing Chech-nya and its surrounding regions. Robert T. McLean is a research intern at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C.
"Q. Some Muslims are hoping for a peaceful solution to this conflict, and to give heed to Western proposals and conditions for a cease-fire. How do you see the solution to this conflict?" "A. Islamic issues can only be solved by Islamic means, namely through abiding by Sharia (Divine Law) and not Western proposals or United Nations conditions. Any resolution through non-Islamic means places the future of Muslims in the hands of tyrants who will never accept the rise of an Islamic state."
"Q. Several Islamic populations are fighting defensive wars against aggressors. Yet some of them raise the banners of nationalism that may incorporate elements of secularism, ethnic nationalism or religion. How would you describe the war in Chechnya?" "A. The fighting in Chechnya is a Jihad for the sake of Allah, a Jihad that aims to ensure that the word of Allah is supreme in this land. We consider most of the commanders and fighters as Mujahideen whose intentions are sincere and devoted to Allah Most high." "Q. The Russian military machine is massive and incorporates large numbers of troops and sizeable quantities of modern arms, yet the Russians are being decisively beaten on a daily basis by a small group of Mujahideen What are your comments in this regard?" "A. All of the Mujahideen's victories are attributed solely to Allah Most High... The jihad in Chechnya should serve as an example to all Muslims throughout the world that any Muslim rights that are forcibly usurped, including land, cannot be restored except through force. Negotiations only serve to lose one's rights and honour. Let us consider Palestine as an example. There are a small number of Jews occupying Palestine. The Arabs outnumber them and have larger military forces, however, instead of fighting for the sake of Allah like their brothers in Chechnya, the Arabs (nationalists and secularists) chose to negotiate with their enemy. This has resulted in the humiliation of the Arabs, and has failed to restore Arab rights and territories." "Q. The complete victory of the Mujahideen is now in sight. What will happen once the war is over. Will we witness a recurrence of the tragedies that took place in Afghanistan, Bosnia and other Muslim countries that freed themselves from the yoke of crusader invasions?" "A. Allah Most High has promised that those who glorify and fight for Allah in times of war, and who establish His Sharia in times of peace, will always have victory bestowed upon them... The Mujahideen will strive to ensure that the Muslims of Chechnya will continue to be united, and that the light of Sharia dispels the evil of disunity. It is only through Allah that success is granted." "Q. Many Muslims around the world have expressed their support and sympathy for their brothers in Chechnya. Most Muslims continue to support the Mujahideen through supplication to Allah, and by spreading awareness about the jihad in Chechnya. Has this support had any impact in Chechnya, if so, please give us some examples?" "A. The supplications of Muslims and their financial support has played an important role in the victories of the Mujahideen. This support has helped mitigate the difficulties faced by the Mujahideen who are lacking adequate supplies of food and medicine. We ask Allah to accept the support given to us by our brothers, and remind the Ummah that coming to the aid of Muslims who are oppressed is a sacred duty that Allah Most High has confirmed..."
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Plans to 'Top' 9/11 Strikes' (AFP) - - Three Algerians arrested in an anti-terrorist operation in southern Italy are suspected of being linked to a planned new series of attacks in the United States, interior minister Giuseppe Pisanu said Friday (12/23). The attacks would have targeted ships, stadiums or railway stations in a bid to outdo the September 11 2001 strikes by al-Qaeda in
New Yorkand which killed about 2,700 people, Pisanu said. The Algerians are suspected of belonging to a cell established by the al-Qaeda linked Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat. Washington
SpainJails Six Accused of Aiding al-Qaeda (Reuters) - A Spanish judge has jailed six people on suspicion of recruiting Islamic radicals to send as suicide bombers or insurgents to Iraq, Chechnyaor Kashmir, a court official said on Saturday (12/24). The six were among 16 people arrested in raids around . Another two people surrendered after learning police were looking for them. Spain
French Parliament OKs Anti-Terror Measures (AP) - France's parliament approved an anti-terrorism bill Thursday (12/22) that will boost the use of video surveillance and allow police more time to question terror suspects. The law will allow mosques, department stores and other potential targets to install surveillance cameras, and it will stiffen prison terms for terrorists and those providing support. It also will enable police to monitor people who travel to countries known to harbor terror training camps, and to extend the detention period for terror suspects from four days to up to six days.
[This] attack follows a string of nearly a dozen bombings carried out in Lebanon in the past year, beginning with the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri last February. Hariri had resigned from his post after turning against Damascus, and his death sparked massive rolling street protests that ultimately led to the final withdrawal of 14,000 Syrian troops from Lebanon. Tueni, like a handful of previous victims, was a staunch critic of Syria.
At least two others also died in the Tueni attack. Dazed and bloodied workers from nearby factories crunched across broken glass at the scene hours later; the smell of burned plastic and burned pine needles hung in the air as security forces wearing plastic gloves scoured the hillside looking for clues. For some Lebanese, the clues point to one culprit. “I accuse the military regime in Syria. I accuse the remnants of the military regime in Lebanon tied to Syria,” Nayla Moawad, a prominent MP from northern Lebanon, said at the offices of An Nahar. “This is a catastrophe.”
The Syrian government quickly denied any involvement in Tueni’s assassination. But it’s clear that whoever carried out today’s bombing intended to send a message to the West. United Nations’ investigator Detlev Mehlis’s report on the murder of Hariri was released today and, as expected, the report points a finger at Syrian intelligence. The report goes even further, accusing the Syrian government of obstructing the investigation and harassing witnesses. Syria—already the target of a range of economic sanctions--could face further embargoes based on the findings. But after today’s bombing, some Lebanese no longer think the U.N. can curb Syrian influence in their country. “We have the Mehlis report but so what?” says Jean Luc Bersuder, a 48-year old photo editor at An Nahar. “It’s not over. Syria still has the capacity to make problems in this country.”
Hussein Malla / APTueni, in a file photo from June, 2005
Tueni is not the first person working at An Nahar to be attacked. Last June, columnist Samir Kassir was killed by a car bomb. And in September, television anchor May Chidiac survived a bomb planted underneath her car but lost an arm and a leg as a result of the attack. Tueni knew the danger he was in: colleagues say he had received several death threats over the phone in recent months. He traveled with heavy security and even spent the past month in Paris to keep a low profile. In an interview with a NEWSWEEK reporter last April, Tueni made it clear exactly who he saw as the biggest threat. “I believe [the Syrians] will try to keep a lot of spies here,” he said. “They’re trying to say to the people: We’ll be back in Beirut. They know the psychological effects are very important. I’m sure they’re preparing something else.”
Joseph Barrak / AFP - Getty Images
“We want your head, Bashar,” the crowds chanted in reference to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“We are here to revolt against the oppression and barbarity that is taking away our best men,” mourner Nabhan Abu Samra said.
Many thousands, most of them waving Lebanese flags, answered a call by anti-Syrian politicians for a large turnout at Tueni’s funeral, carrying his flag-draped coffin on their shoulders through the streets of central Beirut to the Greek Orthodox church where a service will be held.
“All of Lebanon bids goodbye today to the martyr of free speech Gebran Tueni,” said the frontpage headline of al-Mustaqbal newspaper, owned by the late Hariri.
The 48-year-old Tueni was among the most fiery critics of Damascus, publishing his biting editorials on the front-page of his an-Nahar newspaper, Lebanon’s leading daily.
Many Lebanese politicians have blamed Syria for Tueni’s murder, though Damascus has been quick to deny any involvement.
“Can no one say ’no’ in this country without being killed?” asked Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, who campaigned for Syria’s withdrawal, in a call to LBC television on Tuesday night.
“I am threatened now ... If what they want is to silence every opposition voice, then until when?”
A Lebanese flag was draped over Tueni’s seat in parliament, which held a special session in his honor on Wednesday. A large banner bearing Tueni’s picture was draped over the headquarters of an-Nahar in downtown Beirut.
Hussein Malla / APNayla Tueni, daughter of slain anti-Syrian journalist and legislator Gibran Tueni, mourns as she lays her hand on her father's coffin, in the Beirut district of Ashrafieh, Lebanon, on Wednesday.
In Martyr’s Square, the crowds also repeated the vow Tueni led them in making on the same spot at a symbolic March 14 rally: “We swear by God Almighty, Muslims and Christians, to remain united and defend great Lebanon forever and ever.”
Sanaa Mansour, dressed from head to toe in a black Islamic cloak, said: “We are here to show solidarity with all Lebanese, Muslims and Christians, and to call for an end to this series of deaths and for the complete liberation of our country.”
A Syrian was arrested Tuesday (12/27) on suspicion of involvement in the assassination earlier this month of Gebran Tueini, the anti-Syrian general manager and columnist of
's leading newspaper. Abed al Kader Abed al Kader was among three Syrian nationals detained earlier for questioning in the Dec. 12 killing of Tueini. Lebanon
According to current and former U.S. counterterrorism officials, some European governments were informed of at least some of the details of the CIA flight operations before or as they happened. Other European governments operated what one U.S. counterterror official acknowledged amounted to a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding the CIA airplanes. In other words, the governments may have been aware that something was going on in their airspace with CIA aircraft, but they did not really want to know what was happening, did not ask too many (or perhaps any) questions about the agency’s activities, and the United States did not volunteer any answers. A CIA spokesman declined to comment.
Because the European governments themselves either had some knowledge of the CIA activities, or, in other cases, may have ignored activities they had reason to suspect were going on, some European investigators believe that the nations that allowed CIA flights to use their airfields won’t be eager to answer any questions.
You can also read more information from a blog called "Colorado Coalition for Human Rights".Linked to this there is the very "strange" case of Khaled El-Masri.
The second one is called
Women of Al Qaeda
Jihad used to have a gender: male. The men who dominated the movement exploited traditional attitudes about sex and the sexes to build their ranks. They still do that, but with a difference: even Al Qaeda is using female killers now, and goading the men.Very little is known about the first woman to become a suicide bomber for Al Qaeda in Iraq, except that she dressed as a man. Two weeks after a U.S.-backed operation to clean out the town of Tall Afar near the Syrian border in September, she put on the long white robe and checkered scarf that Arab men commonly wear in Iraqi desert towns. The clothes disguised her gender long enough for her to walk into a gathering of military recruits with no one taking much notice. The clothes also concealed the explosives strapped around her womb. "May God accept our sister among the martyrs," said a Web site linked to the organization of Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi. She had defended "her faith and her honor." No name was given. But the bomb that blew apart that anonymous woman killed five men, maimed or wounded 30 more, and opened a new chapter not only in the war for Iraq but in the global struggle against terror.
Never before had any branch of Al Qaeda sent a woman on a suicide mission. Since female bombers first appeared in Lebanon two decades ago, their ranks have come mainly from secular Arab nationalist groups, from Kurdish rebels in Turkey and the non-Muslim Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam fighting the government of Sri Lanka. Only in the past few years did the Palestinian "army of roses" carry out terrorist attacks against Israelis, and the "black widows" strike at the enemies of Chechnya's rebels. Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda in Iraq, Al Qaeda and its offshoots around the world held back. But as he has before, Zarqawi broke the taboos. His strategy is to create images of horror, "to look like he has more capability than he truly has," says Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the Coalition forces spokesman in Baghdad. Zarqawi recruits where he can, he exploits whom he can and he attacks the softest of targets to get the peculiar kind of publicity he craves. Women are his new weapon of choice.In October, Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed that a second female bomber, this time accompanied by her husband, killed herself attacking an American patrol in Mosul. And last week the world learned of the third: Muriel Degauque, 38, a fair-skinned Belgian from the grim rust-belt city of Charleroi near the French border. As a girl, she often ran away from home. As a woman, she had a succession of failed relationships with Muslim men: a Turk, an Algerian and finally a Belgian of Moroccan descent who followed the teachings of radical Salafists, similar to those of Al Qaeda. They went to live for at least three years in Morocco, and when she returned home she was fully veiled: alienated, lonely, in the thrall of a husband who consumed her entire world. Muriel—now calling herself Myriam—"couldn't have children," a spokesman for the Belgian prosecutor's office said last week. Even when she was near her parents, she rarely spoke to them. The last they heard from her was during the summer. On Nov. 9, she blew herself up attacking Iraqi police near the town of Baqubah. American troops gunned down her husband shortly after Myriam was killed.
That same night, Nov. 9, bombers hit three hotels in the Jordanian capital, Amman. As scores of dead and wounded were still being counted, Al Qaeda in Iraq announced that a woman had been among the suicide attackers there, too. Zarqawi, once again, was publicizing his new approach. But what Zarqawi did not know was that the woman had failed to detonate her bomb.
Reform: Not Ignorant, Not Helpless
The West is focused on the extreme cases of oppression against Muslim women. But there's another world out there.
The West's exposure to Muslim women is largely based on Islam's most extreme cases of oppression: Taliban-dominated Afghanistan, Wahhabi-ruled Saudi Arabia and postrevolutionary Iran. Under those regimes, women were and are ordered to cover. Many Afghan women are forbidden to attend school, and no Saudi woman is allowed to drive. Yet despite the spread of ultraconservative versions of Islam over the past few decades, these societies are not the norm in the Muslim world. In Egypt, female cops patrol the streets. In Jordan, women account for the majority of students in medical school. And in Syria, courtrooms are filled with female lawyers. "Women are out working, in every profession, and even expect equal pay," says Leila Ahmed, Harvard Divinity School professor and author of "Women and Gender in Islam." "Though the atmosphere in Muslim countries is becoming more restrictive, no matter how conservative things get they can't put the genie back in the bottle."
Still, Muslim women are feeling like pawns in a political game: jihadists portray them as ignorant lambs who need to be protected from outside forces, while the United States considers them helpless victims of a backward society to be saved through military intervention. "Our empowerment is being exploited by men," says Palestinian Muslim Rima Barakat. "It's a policy of hiding behind the skirts of women. It's dishonorable no matter who's doing it." Scholars such as Khaled Abou El Fadl, an expert on Islamic law and author of "The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam From the Extremists," says this is an age-old problem. "Historically the West has used the women's issue as a spear against Islam," he says. "It was raised in the time of the Crusades, used consistently in colonialism and is being used now. Muslim women have grown very, very sensitive about how they're depicted on either side."
Surely the late feminist Doria Shafik felt the scorn of men—Arab and British—while fighting for the right to vote in 1940s Egypt. Yet Shafik persevered and cast her first ballot in Cairo in 1956. "I render thanks unto God to have been born in the land of mysteries," she later wrote. "To have grown up in the shadow of the palms, to have lived within the arms of the desert, guardian of secrets ... to have seen the brilliance of the solar disk and to have drunk as a child from the Nile sacred river." Millions of Muslim Arab women still love the societies they're born into, regardless of jihadist manipulation or American intervention. If reform is to come, they will surely be the ones who push it forward.
During the interview, she declared: “To end one’s career in defense of Iraq is an honor.” Ammash laughed while recounting the anonymous phone calls that were bombarding her and other Saddam aides, urging them to defect and abandon the regime for the sake of their families. She said she’d received e-mails filled with computer viruses, as many as 18 in a single day. “It doesn’t fit the image of the U.S.,” she complained, evoking the notion that gentlemen don’t mess with a lady’s e-mail.
Articulate and well-mannered, Ammash had been educated in the United States; she received a masters from Texas Woman’s University in Denton and a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Missouri. She was said to have been a key figure in Saddam’s biotech and genetic research programs and to have been trained by Nassir al-Hindawi, the alleged father of Iraq’s biological weapons efforts. However Ammash told me her scientific work focused on the what she called the carcinogenic effects of depleted uranium, which had been present in some U.S. bombs and missiles during the 1991 war to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation.
Of course, I didn’t believe everything she said (and she probably didn’t believe I was a journalist acting in good faith, either). Although we talked for nearly two and a half hours over tea, this was hardly a normal interview. It was a chat on the eve of war. Ammash and I both knew that bombs would soon be falling on Baghdad and that Saddam’s regime was, most likely, in its last days.
One thing Ammash said did stick in my memory. She stressed that Iraqis remained fiercely proud of their civilization despite decades of violence and deprivation. “This country is Mesopotamia. Ninety-nine percent of the American people don’t know the country they’ll soon be bombing is Mesopotamia,” she said. “This nation has been serving civilization for 6,000 years. We invented the first alphabet … every American who enjoys education owes that to us.”
To be sure, the “Mesopotamia card” was part of a spiel that Saddam’s aides had propagated before the war in an effort to stir up international sympathies. But pride in their history is also one reason why even Iraqis who opposed Saddam remain so resentful of what they see as foreign occupation. When I was in Iraq on assignment for a couple of months this past summer, some Baghdad friends who’d welcomed the sight of American Marines in 2003 now nurtured a festering and deep-seated ambivalence about the U.S.-led occupation. Some said they actually preferred the yoke of an Iraqi autocrat such as Saddam to the rule of an American conqueror, even a benign one.
Today it’s obvious that many aspects of the U.S. presence in Iraq have been far from benign. When Ammash’s husband, Ahmed Makki Mohammed Saeed, told me in 2004 that he’d been “tortured” while being detained by U.S. authorities, I wasn’t sure whether to believe him. Revelations about U.S. abuses at Abu Ghraib prison had not yet surfaced. And his accounts sounded bizarre: being subjected to hours and hours of earsplitting American rap music laced with profanity and being doused with cold water, then forced to stand for hours in front of a freezing air-conditioner turned up full blast.
Still, the sheer weight of detail suggested to me that he wasn’t making it up. And subsequent tales of torture from other former detainees indicated that he might actually have been one of the luckier ones among them.
It's curious then that they have asked the police to leave them alone, that the rios began not because there were youngsters who were stealing things from cars but when the police entered Clichy-sur-Bois, and that the rioters were screaming and shouting "Allah Akbar".
For now, at least, the fires have died out—but an acrid bitterness still hangs in the air. Ask those on the football pitch behind the high wire fences of Montfermeil. Year after year, coach Kaddor Slimane, a son of Algerian immigrants who grew up in neighboring projects, has seen his teams win their league's sportsmanship award. Yet what does their good behavior mean in the "outside" world, where they are seen through the lens of limitations and stereotypes? "The French are racist," he says. "They just don't want to admit it." Life in the projects isn't so bad when you are a child, says Amad, a 24-year-old community activist who declined to give his last name for fear of racist attacks. "But once you reach a certain age, you're fed up. There's nothing to do except play soccer or hang out," in voiceless exile from the "other" France.
The politicians whose inaction and confusion (and seeming indifference) contributed to the violence, on the other hand, have rediscovered their voices. Almost as if the riots never happened, many are once again speaking in familiar platitudes and posturing about law and order. "All those who participated in the riots will have to pay, today or tomorrow," France's Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy declared on Dec. 15 at an homage to injured police and firefighters. Then he waded into the crowd, alongside his political rival, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, for handshakes and photos.
For a brief moment, in the immediate aftermath of the riots, genuine change seemed possible. As if to make up for lost decades, French officials rushed to propose new initiatives designed to address "root causes" of the unrest. The government is stepping up plans to knock down the soulless housing blocks that make life in France's banlieues so oppressive and alienating, and to replace them with smaller-scale housing surrounded by greenery. It injected an additional 100 million euros into the 2006 budget for social-support organizations in troubled communities. And it promised, yet again, to focus laserlike on unemployment, which ranges from 20 to 40 percent in many ghetto communities—two to four times the national average.
In a move that has caused alarm in the outgoing Iraqi administration, American and British officials have made clear that they regard the end of Iraq’s two-and-a-half-year transitional period as the green light to begin withdrawing some of their combined force of around 170,000 troops as early as March.
A senior Western diplomat in Baghdad said yesterday: “One of the first things we will talk about (with the new Iraqi government) is the phased transfer of security, particularly in cities and provinces. It will happen progressively over the next year.”
America has more than 160,000 troops in central and northern Iraq, and Britain about 8,000 based in four southern provinces. Contingency plans are already in place for the small British contingents in the two provinces of Dhiqar and Muthana to go as early as the spring.
The third to go will be Misan province, a far more restive region. A senior British officer said that Iraqi security forces might be able to “keep a lid on the violence” by the end of this year.
The Americans have increased their troop levels to help to bolster security for the elections on Thursday. But they are planning to pull out 30,000 by the new year and may reduce their presence below 100,000 in the coming months. US forces have already handed over security in Najaf and Karbala provinces and in city centres such as Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s home town.
The moves appear to run contrary to statements by President Bush and John Reid, the Defence Secretary, who insist that coalition forces will not “cut and run” and will stay until the mission in Iraq is complete.
Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, told The Times yesterday that a hasty exit risked plunging the country into a new bout of violence.
“Those who advocate an early withdrawal do not know what is at stake. The huge investment in blood and money sacrificed by the US could be squandered.
“There would be regional interventions by neighbouring countries and others. The fate of this country and the whole region could be endangered,” he said.
The move to hand over security to the 225,000 Iraqi soldiers and police who have now been trained for active duty comes in the face of mounting public pressure in both Britain and the US to disengage from Iraq, amid the rising death toll and spiralling costs.An opinion poll conducted for the BBC in Iraq found that only 10 per cent regarded the removal of US troops from the country as the priority for the new government. The public has doubts about the ability of the Iraqi security forces, in particular the police, which is riddled with militia, and the army, which lacks equipment, training and leadership.
An example? The most recent E': a girl Bengali of twelve years - second average - discovers itself married with a also Bengali boy of fourteen years. And this without that it moves from Vicenza where lives from eight years with the family of immigrates to you muslim, and without that the boy makes a step towards Italy. They have thought next to all the parents of he and she. Now, but, the dodicenne it cannot participate to the festivities of the friends, to attend school companions, to approach boys and girls of other religions and other countries, it must sobbarcarsi the house jobs, must digiunare when glielo they impose even if not of it can more from the hunger, is forced to make the tasks to late evening in the month of ramadam the etc. In the point that, reached the esasperazione, with a forbicina in a toilette of the school tries the suicide cutting itself the veins to the wrists since more do not succeed sopportare the separation and the solitudine. One does not forget that to school - where it is between best - it cannot design, because the Islam not chip ax the figures. Ahead in the years it will be able also to discover far away of being one between the mogli of its husband quattordicenne. Thanks, Mr. Ruini parish priest. And the Italian girls lascino not to infatuare itself from the faces and the exotic customs of the Muslims. Perhaps the saying is excessive "moglie and buoi of the countries yours". But a truth spirit contains it.This is an automatic traslation from italian done by Bablefish (sorry, I understand Italian but really cannot translate it, although I think everyone can understand it)|W|P|113490996130839514|W|P|To marry an islamist?|W|Pfirstname.lastname@example.org