Al Qaeda's operational chiefs in Saudi Arabia are posing some hard questions about the huge investment of resources and manpower the organization is sinking in Iraq, where Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi is riding high with guns blazing and the blessing of al Qaeda leader Osama in Laden. These top men say openly that the movement's massive involvement in the anti-American campaign in Iraq is a mistake and should be withdrawn.Heh. Only took them three years to catch on.
One group even signed a dissenting article in the latest issue of Sawat al Jihad newspaper and its Internet site, Al Fatah (The Occupation). Both publications are aimed at the terrorist group's Saudi audience.
Their arguments were tactical rather than ideological. "Every jihad fighter should do battle in his own country and not fight in Iraq," said one article by an author identified only as "one of the sheikhs of jihad" and signed also by a group whose members identify themselves as Abdel Aziz Ahmed, Abu al Fadal "the Iraqi", Abu Omar and Abdullah Beer, head of the propaganda committee of the Algerian terrorist movement.
Abu Fadal's nickname shows that he fought in Iraq. Most of the names, of course, are clearly pen-names or noms de guerre, although insiders most probably know who they are. Their main argument is that ever since al Qaeda began pumping fighters into Iraq, they have become fish in a barrel. President George W. Bush was given the chance to kill off or capture a large section of the organization because of its concentration in a single theater of war.
"Al Qaeda and its adherents are wearing themselves out in a campaign they have no chance of winning," the article said, describing it as a plot hatched by Washington and the royal family to dispatch to certain death in Iraq young Saudis who would otherwise be fighting to overthrow the House of Saud and sabotage the kingdom's oil exports. This proves, according to the dissenting authors, that al Qaeda's "main target should really be the rulers of Saudi Arabia, not Iraq." The group is clearly spoiling for action against the Saudi ruling house.
"Ambush them! Strike them at every turn! Do not fear the battle to come. Instead of gradually working your way to the top, take on the ruling gang without delay. A viper fights with his tail, not his head. That is what our fighters are doing in Iraq (instead of Saudi Arabia). "Easy prey (American and Iraqi troops) are of no value, and the hunters (al Qaeda fighters) only give their own hiding places away by going after them."
The dissenting terrorist commanders spice their arguments with down-to-earth advice to operatives on how to keep their fixed-line,cellular and satellite telephones safe from US intelligence eavesdroppers. The Americans, they say, can identify members talking
on the phone by their "voice signatures."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a News Release on 19 January. In the release, CAIR announced a press conference for the same day, with Muslim and Christian groups represented.Sweet.
The topic? The recent brutal murders of a Christian Coptic family in Jersey City, New Jersey.
The end result? CAIR and their fellow travelers were left to hold their â€śpress conferenceâ€? by themselves. Every Christian group invited to attend found reasons to be elsewhere.
Just what did this Islamist hate group have to say that it thought any right-thinking American would want to hear?
ACAIR notes that this is not the first time CAIR has missed out on an invitation. The Bush administration set the example by not inviting CAIR representatives to events marking Islamic holidays at the White House. Are the Christians of Jersey City setting the example for their fellow Christians by turning their backs on this Islamist hate group? Is the tide of public opinion in America finally turning against this despicable organization?
â€¦if so, itâ€™s about time.
The way many high school students see it, government censorship of newspapers may not be a bad thing, and flag burning is hardly protected free speech.
It turns out the First Amendment is a second-rate issue to many of those nearing their own adult independence, according to a study of high school attitudes released Monday.
The original amendment to the Constitution is the cornerstone of the way of life in the United States, promising citizens the freedoms of religion, speech, press and assembly.
Yet, when told of the exact text of the First Amendment, more than one in three high school students said it goes "too far" in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.
The results reflected indifference, with almost three in four students saying they took the First Amendment for granted or didn't know how they felt about it. It was also clear that many students do not understand what is protected by the bedrock of the Bill of Rights.
Federal and state officials, meanwhile, have bemoaned a lack of knowledge of U.S. civics and history among young people. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., has even pushed through a mandate that schools must teach about the Constitution on Sept. 17, the date it was signed in 1787.
First Amendment No Big Deal, Students Say
The naval ship's pantry is stocked with wines, baguettes and pate, and its casual dress code is shorts and sandals. There's even an artist - a painter to keep an illustrated record of the trip. With a panache all its own, France's military is delivering aid to tsunami-battered Indonesia - and showing how a small force can make a difference.Great stuff-go on, tell another one!
A month after killer waves struck the Indonesian island of Sumatra, the French are part of an international relief operation that includes forces from more than a dozen nations, including Japan, Russia and Switzerland.Look ma, I'm saving lives! We're such shameless show-offs, I just can't stand us.
The 1,000 or so French sailors and soldiers arrived in Aceh province on the island's northern tip two weeks ago. Their 11 helicopters and two C-160 cargo planes are airlifting rice and tents to isolated villages devastated by the Dec. 26 earthquake-generated waves, which killed at least 145,000 people in Asia and Africa.
Foreign Legionnaires are clearing debris left by the waves, rebuilding schools in Maleuboh and occasionally extinguishing fires that flare.
The French, who also are conducting relief operations in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, object to comparisons with the Americans. "The feeling we had in France was that, as usual, the Americans were rushing in force to Indonesia and boasting about it," said flotilla spokeswoman Cmdr. Anne Cullerre. "For some people, it seemed outrageous.
"How can you really boast of doing something from this tragedy? People were saying, 'They are doing it again. They are showing off.'"
Vice Adm. Rolin Xavier, who heads the French military effort, dubbed Operation Beryx, said, "We are not in the shadow of the Americans but we work alongside them."Stop it, you're killing me!
Critics of the U.S. military's work in Indonesia say Washington has seized on the disaster as a pretext for advancing its strategic interests in the archipelago and improving ties with the Indonesian military.
Those ties effectively were cut in 1999 after Indonesian troops and their proxy militias killed 1,500 East Timorese after the half-island territory voted for independence in a U.N.-sponsored independence referendum.
During her recent Senate confirmation hearings, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the tsunami provided a "wonderful opportunity" for the United States to reap "great dividends" in the region.
The dispatch of the USS Abraham Lincoln's strike force has been viewed in some quarters as an effort not only to help survivors, but also to burnish America's image among Islamic communities worldwide by delivering aid to the largest Muslim country in the world.
The French maintain they do not have strategic interests in the region.
The contrast with U.S. forces does not end there. The U.S. military bans alcohol aboard naval vessels and sailors generally wear casual clothes only in their quarters.
But French sailors aboard the Jeanne D'Arc pick from wine, beer and other alcoholic drinks, and their ready-made meals come with pate. On deck, they sunbathe in the muggy heat in shorts and sandals.
However, what really sets the French apart is the paunchy, bearded civilian riding a sloop to the shore. He is artist Michel Bellion, appointed to paint the French military in action in his trademark bold strokes and bright colors.I'm just...
"I'm here to show the drama," said Bellion, pulling out a sketch book as he accompanied a team of doctors vaccinating children. "For me, it's hell. That is what I want to show. I'm not looking to make it beautiful. I'm trying to show the emotion."
British Muslim organizations are becoming far more vocal on foreign policy matters. Two positions would appear to be axiomatic: opposition to the Iraq war and Britain's continued involvement in Iraq, and a resolute anti-Zionism which both delegitimizes the State of Israel and scorns Jewish anxieties when it comes to anti-Semitism.Read it all, it's a well-detailed analysis: Evaluating Muslim-Jewish Relations in Britain
Prior to the furor over Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses, national origin was the principal component of Muslim immigrant identity in Britain. The Rushdie Affair introduced an overarching Muslim identity over these distinct communities. By the end of 1988, a UK Action Committee on Islamic Affairs (UKACIA) had been formed to coordinate protests against Rushdie. By January 1989, Muslims in the northern English city of Bradford were burning copies of the book in public.
It can be argued that alleviating the social plight of British Muslims does not necessarily require legislation which characterizes the policy focus as a problem of discrimination against a religious minority. Moreover, a number of studies have questioned the assumption of an organic link between deprivation and Islamist politics. More sensitive social policies and better employment prospects will not, by themselves, dilute the appeal of the radical Islamist agenda.
A November 2004 poll conducted by The Guardian demonstrates that it is political and religious issues, rather than economic and social ones, which energize Muslim activism in the UK. According to the poll, 88 percent of Muslims want to see schools and workplaces incorporate Muslim prayer times as part of their working day - a demand all but unknown among other religious groups.
The key issue which divides the British Jewish and Muslim communities is the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Jews are confronted with a rigid Islamist standpoint which concedes no legitimacy to the State of Israel and which justifies terrorist violence against Jews in the name of Palestine, regardless of whether the victims carry Israeli passports.
The separation of the secular and religious domains is a prerequisite for both successful Muslim participation in the institutions of Europe and for reform of the Muslim world itself. At the present time, Britain and other EU states are trying to reach a modus vivendi with an Islamic communal infrastructure that does not accept this separation.
During our service I rejoiced in the quiet around us, unbroken by any disturbance. Then I noticed a woman regarding us with a sour expression. She listened as one of our members gave a talk on the weekly Torah portion and then approached another member, muttering, â€śShe doesnâ€™t know what sheâ€™s talking about.â€?Read it all. In Greece, in Chalkidiki, there's a whole peninsula where women are not allowed at all.
â€śYou can speak here too if you have something pertinent to say,â€? my colleague offered. â€śJust bear in mind that everything this woman is saying has a basis in Jewish sources.â€?
â€śThat doesnâ€™t matter,â€? the woman said. â€śI donâ€™t like it.â€?
And there it is. It doesnâ€™t matter that Jewish law allows women to pray as a group and read from a Torah scroll. It makes no difference that the learned ones among usâ€”and in dozens of womenâ€™s tefilla groups throughout the worldâ€”can cite chapter and verse to prove it. Some people would simply rather not be bothered with the facts. They donâ€™t like what weâ€™re doing; it makes them feel uncomfortableâ€”and so they believe that this gives them the right to behave in ways that would earn them censure and perhaps even arrest under almost any other circumstances.
An edict of the Emperor Constantine Manomachos in the year 1060, enforced to this day, forbids women from setting foot on the peninsula. This stringent exclusion of females applies to domestic animals as well. Mount Athos, Greece
â€śYea, this is going to be a great representative government with a third of the country not voting.â€? opined Dark on the Democratic Underground message boards. Apparently he was too stoned to realize that their turnout was equal to or better than the turnout in our last national election, even though we didn't have to risk our lives when going to the polls. Confederate Yankee