"One cannot understand the nature of the attack in Taba, Egypt, unless we put it in the broader context. That same week the world map was drenched with blood: the bombing [in Taba] was preceded a few hours earlier by an explosion in the French capital. The explosion hit the embassy of Indonesia, the Islamic nation with the largest [Muslim] population, and as a result there were many victims. Two bombings occurred in Pakistan - in the first, an extremist blew up a mosque full of Shiites while they were praying, and a few days later another extremist attacked a group of Sunnis in response. In both bombings many innocent people were killed. In the center of the Algerian capital the militant Salafi group [i.e. Al-Jama'a Al-Salafiyya Li-Al-Da'wah Wa-Al-Qital] carried out an attack. During the exchange of fire, which lasted two hours, two people were killed and eight were wounded. Add to this the long list of cars containing suicide bombers, which led to the deaths of hundreds of Iraqis. [The car bombings] recurred in a number of towns [in Iraq], and such news items have become commonplace.
A Muslim’s first allegiance is to Islam. One’s nationality and other allegiances are secondary. In the latter half of the last century, Middle Eastern Arabs strove to establish a national identity and it proved a failure from its inception. In late October, 35 heads of state gathered for a meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in an effort to achieve a unified voice for Islam and to try to offset perceptions that Islam is linked to the violence being perpetrated worldwide. Observers, however, note that the OIC is unified only in its support for the Palestinian attacks on Israel. In his welcoming speech, Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malasia, told attendees that Jews "rule the world" and are to blame for all of the woes of Muslims. Absurd as this may seem to non-Muslims, it is integral to Islam and how Muslims perceive the world.
With considerable irony, Libyan rule, Col. Muammar Al-Qaddafi, speaking in early October, said, "Today, you cannot speak of Arab unity and pan-Arab nationalism," adding "The Arabs have become the joke of the world because they do not think of their future." But the Arab leaders of Saudi Arabia, Palestine, the Persians of Iran, and other Muslim nations who have funded and unleashed the Islamic Jihad are thinking of the future; the future of Islam.
Since the birth of the Islamic revolution, begun by the late Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran, Islam has been attempting to conquer the modern world by the sword. Despite the schism between the Sunni and Shiite branches of Islam, both are united in this quest. Jihad or holy war, in the words of Paul Fregosi, an expert on Islam, is "essentially a permanent state of hostility that Islam maintains against the rest of the world."
Women may neither vote nor run in Saudi Arabia's first nationwide elections, the government announced Monday, dashing hopes of progressive Saudis and easing fears among conservatives that the kingdom is moving too fast on reforms.
Some women considered the move yet another indignity in a country where they need their husbands' permission to study, travel or work. But others said they wouldn't trust themselves to judge whether a candidate is more than just a handsome face.
The religious establishment had been lobbying against women's participation in the elections, diplomats said.
But an electoral official cited administrative and logistical reasons Monday for the decision to ban women from the municipal elections, scheduled to be held in three stages from Feb. 10 to April 21.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there are not enough women to run women's-only registration centers and polling stations, and that only a fraction of the country's women have the photo identity cards that would have been needed to vote.
Many women in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, have balked at getting the ID cards — introduced three years ago — because the photographs would show their faces unveiled.
The decision was first announced by Interior Minister Prince Nayef in an interview published Monday. In his terse comment to a Kuwaiti newspaper, Nayef said only: "I don't think that women's participation is possible."
His remark was the first by a named top official on the issue. It settled a question that had been occupying Saudis since the government set the date for the elections in August. When the election law was published, it did not explicitly bar women from voting, which encouraged three women to declare themselves candidates.
"I am surprised," said Nadia Bakhurji, 37, the first woman to announce she planned to run. "I was optimistic and didn't think they would ban it."
Bakhurji said she hoped Nayef and the elections committee would "rethink their decision" and show transparency by saying why women have been banned.
She said that would give women the chance to "work hand-in-hand with them to solve these problems in time for elections," said Bakhurji, an architect and a mother of two.
"My concern is if they don't bring us on board now, we will be fighting for something that should be a given right," she said.
Not all Saudi women agreed. Taking a break from shopping at the food court of a Riyadh mall, Nour Ahmed and her five female friends split evenly on the issue.
"Women are capable of voting and making the right choices," said Ahmed, a 22-year-old marketing graduate. "Why aren't men and women equal in this issue?"
"We aren't," countered her friend Sarah Muhammad. "We have so little interaction with men that we will vote with our emotions, choosing candidates for their looks and sweet talk rather than for what they can deliver."
Rima Khaled, 20, said Saudi women are not used to playing a role in public life, and many social and traditional restraints should first be removed before they can.
"What's the point of voting?" she asked. "Even if we did vote, we would go home to the men in our lives who will have the last say in whatever we do."
Democracy is a force terrorists dread. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has warned his al Qaeda associates that democracy in Iraq would "suffocate" the terror campaign he is orchestrating from his base in Fallujah. Voters Saturday in two very different parts of the world proved his point. Australians enthusiastically re-elected John Howard, a staunch U.S. anti-terror ally, and the Afghans pulled off, against tremendous odds, the country's first national election for a president.
In Afghanistan, voters bravely defied death threats from Zarqawi's Taliban allies and turned out by the millions in an unprecedented demonstration of people power. Only three years ago, Afghan women risked being flogged or even executed for trying to exercise the most basic rights. On Saturday, they lined up to vote equally with men, even if in keeping with Muslim tradition women voted separately.
Scott and 51 other Americans were taken captive Nov. 4, 1979, when Iranian terrorists stormed the gates of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran. Scott, then 48, still recounts the events of that day in vivid and raw detail.
"Well, it was just a bad day all around," Scott said. "If you have ever heard thousands upon thousands of people marching by a building to the point where the building begins to shake, well, that's what we had. They were chanting, 'Death to Americans! Death to the hostages!'
"In a city of some 9 million people, most of whom are out for your blood, it's an eerie feeling."
Within minutes, Scott's captors covered his head with a leather hood and bound his hands with wire behind his back. Upon discovering he spoke fluent Farsi -- the predominant language in Iran -- the terrorists carted Scott off to be interrogated as a suspected CIA officer, he said.
"It was three and a half weeks of pure hell and torture," said Scott, who later underwent spinal surgery because at one point his captors hung him by his wrists for three straight days.
On four other occasions, Scott said, he was marched out of his 5-by-7-foot cell and lined up with other hostages to be executed.
"Each time you wondered if this execution was going to be the real one," Scott said. "You would hear the chambers being loaded and the orders to fire. And nothing would happen. Then, after a few moments, you would hear them start to laugh. It was all part of the mind games.
"But not once did any one of us ever plead or beg for our lives. We figured if they were going to kill us, then they would kill us. But we weren't going to give them the satisfaction of hearing us plead or beg for our lives. I'm still proud of that today."
Hizballah has a budget of millions of dollars -- though not an unlimited mint of money -- with which it funds gangs of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the other factions. Each gang gets paid separately, weaving a ramified web of dependency between the various groups and their outside controller. In effect, a patronage system is being created in parallel to the one that Yasser Arafat has built up throughout his career. In many cases, the cadres receive double support, from the Muqata’ah and from Beirut. On the ground, however, Arafat’s hold over his thugs is getting weaker.Ehud Ya'ari: Unit 1800
Interestingly, Hizballah is not trying to establish an organization of its own in the territories along the lines of a "Hizballah-Palestine," although there were signs of that in the past. The decision that Nasrallah has taken with his Iranian patrons is to try to conquer Fatah from within: to leave the outside shell while changing the inner contents.
That notwithstanding, there is no systematic effort by Arafat or the heads of his security services to halt the infiltration. Here and there they have tried to stop up holes, but there is no real mobilization to this end.
The Islamic Jihad organization turned into a branch of Hizballah years ago, while Hamas has so far prevented a Hizballah invasion of its field cadres. With Hamas, Hizballah uses a different system. Contacts are based on understandings between Khaled Mashaal, head of Hamas’s politbureau, and Nasrallah.
These developments constitute a unique example of Sunni organizations giving themselves over to a Shi’ite movement, and even one as overtly pious as Hizballah. While in Iraq an ever-worsening confrontation is brewing between the Shi’ites and Sunnis, here the trend is opposite -- so much so that among the Islamic Jihad terrorists there is a fashion of converting to Shi’ism. And even Hamas which -- like all the sister movements of the Muslim Brotherhood -- rejects Khomeinism outright, finds itself cosying up to Iran for support.
Like all Israel's Muslim neighbors, Egypt's masses have for generations been raised on a daily diet of anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism. It comes at them from all directions: from their president, from their media, from their imams, their school teachers and their academic scholars.No surprise in Sinai
In the publishing and dissemination of classic and modern anti-Semitic literature, only Iran is more prolific than Egypt.
As reported by Katherine Grace Johnson, the Egyptian press frequently portrays Arab terrorist attacks, including the bombing of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, as Israeli acts.
Israel has been accused of introducing hoof-and-mouth disease in Egypt, of exporting radiation-contaminated food to Egypt; of introducing "most of the plagues that afflict agriculture and animal health; of causing earthquakes in Egypt; of bombing the World Trade Center in New York while contriving to throw blame on the Arabs; of introducing AIDS into Egypt; and of polluting the entire globe.
Egyptian newspapers blamed Israel for the 9-11 attacks on the United States, saying America was targeted because of its support for Israel's "repression" of the Palestinian Arabs.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa, in his capacity as Secretary General of the Arab League, blamed Israel for terrorist attacks on a synagogue in Turkey and for the general upsurge of terrorism in the Middle East.
According to Steven Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute writing in the National Review on May 6 this year: "In March 2004, the deputy editor of the Egyptian government daily Al Jumhuriyah wrote an article that accused the Jews of perpetrating every terrorist attack throughout the world."
"Regarding the Madrid bombings which took place March 11, Abd Al-Wahhab Adas claimed, in reference to the explosives and cassettes of the Koran found near the site, 'It is obvious that the Jews are the ones who placed these things, in order to prove to the entire world that the Arabs and Muslims are behind these bombings.' Adas added about the Jews: 'It is they who are behind the events of September 11.'"
Egyptian school textbooks published instill this hatred of the Jew in the tender years of an Egyptian child's life.
"Malice, greed, treachery, exploitation of others, fomenting of dissension, deception, racism, arrogance, hypocrisy, trickery and hostility - all are presented as characteristics of Jews," according to a report by the New York based Center for Monitoring of the Impact of Peace on textbooks used in both religious and secular Egyptian schools.
"In the context of the Middle East conflict, the Jews are referred to as a treacherous people and as enemies of the Egyptian people - in one case, even after the conclusion of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel."
A movie based on czarist-era anti-Semitic publication The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was recently screened on prime time, government controlled, TV, which weekly broadcasts mosque sermons demonizing the Jews and instilling a sense of duty in all devout Muslims to help destroy Israel.
Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf is a best seller in the souks of Cairo. The only thing we have against Hitler, wrote one Egyptian columnist, is that he did not complete the destruction of the Jews.
Peace treaty or no peace treaty, Egypt continues to arm apace for war, spending billions of dollars in US aid to upgrade its military. It is currently believed to be building the largest air force in the Middle East. None of the country's neighbors are threatening to invade Egypt. And when Cairo carries out military maneuvers - war games - its "mock" enemy is a powerful nation from the east, one it has to confront in the Sinai - the nation of Israel.
IT IS 6:20pm and as I put a few potatoes into a saucepan to boil, the lights flicker off. Power cuts are nothing new in Harare these days, but it has been a bad week in the once efficient, clean capital everyone used to call the Sunshine City.Dark days in Zimbabwe's Sunshine City
After days of ignoring "no petrol" signs outside the city’s fuel stations, the state-run newspaper has finally admitted that once again, there are fuel shortages.
Thousands of commuters have been left stranded, the minibuses they depend on stuck in fuel queues, a recurring feature of life in Zimbabwe in the past four years.
The Sunday Mail assures us the fuel situation is "expected to be back to normal by Tuesday next week" and adds that it is the oil companies’ and not the government’s fault.
When the mouthpiece of the president, Robert Mugabe, tells you not to worry, you know something is seriously wrong. So it is back to measuring out every precious drop of fuel and rationing trips to the supermarket.
Not that shopping trips are much of an option these days. The cash is running out. Fears that Zimbabwe’s energetic central bank governor, Gideon Gono, will close down more banks - six financial institutions have had their operations suspended recently - have fuelled massive cash withdrawals by depositors wanting to take their cash somewhere safer.
"There’s no money in the bank, there’s no money in the machine," one man complaining in Sam Levy’s Shopping Village in the plush Borrowdale suburb.
Water is another commodity in short supply, with doubts about the safety of municipal water for months now. Boil twice, then filter, I have been advised. But dubious water is better than no water, as people across Harare know only too well.
The city council last month introduced 18-hour water cuts to many suburbs, blaming breakdowns at an aging water treatment plant and pipe leakages.
Saudi Arabia says foreigners face deportation if they eat, drink or smoke in public during daylight hours in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.Saudi Arabia to Deport Foreigners who Violate Ramadan Code in Public
The country's interior ministry said foreigners who publicly break the Ramadan fast would be dismissed from their work and deported from the country. The ministry said non-Muslim residents must respect the feelings of Muslims by not publicly breaking the fast.
The four-week-long Ramadan period is expected to begin later this week.