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Showing posts from July, 2014

Nigeria fights back against Boko Haram's radical Islam through the power of learning

In classrooms facing a sandy courtyard in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna, Maska Road Islamic School teaches a creed that condemns the violent ideology of groups such as Boko Haram. But not everyone has got its message. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, known as the “underwear bomber”, spent his youth in the school and ended up trying unsuccessfully to blow up a US airliner on Christmas Day 2009 with explosives hidden in his underwear. The school is steadfast in preaching tolerance to its pupils, and the Nigerian government is about to adopt this message in a new strategy for containing Boko Haram, which has killed thousands in a five-year campaign for an Islamic state. “We teach them that what they are doing is a total misunderstanding of the Islamic religion, that Prophet Mohamed was compassionate, he even lived together with the non-Muslims in Medina,” said the headteacher Sulaiman Saiki. “We teach them tolerance.” Abdulmutallab was radicalised in an al-Qa’ida camp in

Saudi-Israeli alliance is forged in Palestinian blood

This Saudi-Israeli alliance is forged in blood, Palestinian blood, the blood on Sunday of over 100 souls in Shejaiya.  There are many hands behind the Israeli army’s onslaught on Gaza. America is not unhappy that Hamas is getting such a beating.  As footage of the scenes of carnage on the streets of Shejaiya was coming through, John Kerry said on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday that Israel had every right to defend itself and the US ambassador Dan Shapiro told Israel’s Channel 2 news that the US would seek to help moderate forces become stronger in Gaza, meaning the Palestinian Authority. Nor is Egypt overcome with grief. Its foreign minister Sameh Shoukry held Hamas responsible for civilian deaths after their rejection of the ceasefire. Neither matter to Netanyahu as much as the third undeclared partner in this unholy alliance, for neither on their own could give him the cover he needs for a military operation of this ferocity. And that can come not from a handwringing but

The Tragedies of Ukraine and Gaza

By:  JUDY DEMPSEY The news coming out of both eastern Ukraine and the Gaza Strip has exposed the helplessness of the West in trying to cope with and resolve two intractable crises. In Ukraine, the government has blamed pro-Russian separatists for the downing on July 17 of  Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 , which was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The plane was carrying 283 passengers and fifteen crew members. There are no reports of survivors. Pro-Russian rebels and the Kremlin have denied any involvement. In the Middle East on the same day, Israel was preparing to send  troops into the Gaza Strip . The Israeli security forces said they wanted to bomb concrete tunnels through which Hamas, the radical Islamist movement that controls Gaza, has launched hundreds of rockets into Israel. Israel has already inflicted terrible suffering on the people of Gaza. More than  200 civilians, including 40 children , have been killed since the cu

US and Israeli Exceptionalism

Recently, the US House of Representatives voiced unanimous support for the Israeli onslaught on the people of Gaza. Many opponents of Israel’s continued occupation and oppression of the Palestinians pointed, like they always do, to the disproportionate influence the so-called Israeli Lobby has in Congress. While this is an established and verifiable fact, I would argue that the Lobby is just a manifestation of a less obvious but essential reason for the neverending support Israel receives from Washington and its apologists in the US media. As a resident of the United States one hears repeatedly of an illusion many fellow residents share. That illusion is called American exceptionalism. In short, the essence of this illusion is that the United States is a blessed nation whose actions in war, peace and otherwise are measured differently than those of almost every other nation. This means that the genocide of the indigenous peoples living on the continent that cleared the land for the se

A life inside Al Qaeda

By Jason Burke  MORTEN Storm is a former biker turned European militant Islamist blowhard, turned Al Qaeda associate close to some of the most senior operational extremists in the world, turned spy, turned whistleblower. This is, it`s not unfair to say, an unusual combination. Storm grew up in a tough, workingclass coastal Danish town. His alcoholic father left home, his stepfather beat him and he committed his first armed robbery at 13. There followed multiple expulsions, special schools and a promising career as a boxer curtailed by indiscipline. By his mid teens, he was involved in a local street gang mainly composed of local Palestinian, Turks and Iranian immigrants. `I gravitated to [them]. I felt like an outsider in Korsor and I always identified with the underdog,` he says early in this fascinating account of a decade or so spent inside both militant Sunni Muslim activism and security services`counterterrorism. Leaving the neighbourhood street toughs, Storm gradu

Who`s policing terrorists on social media?

By Ronan Farrow  `THE graves are only half empty; who will help us fill them?` Twenty years ago, that rallying cry on Rwandan radio helped explode ethnic enmity into one of history`s worst atrocities. In today`s Iraq, another vicious conflict between a formerly empowered ethnic minority and a longsubjugated majority is causing the deaths of thousands. At its heart is another mass-media appeal to bloodlust on radio`s modern-day equivalent: social media. This time, the world may have a chance to stop what it failed to in Rwanda. The Sunni Islamic State insurgents, locked in a deadly struggle with Iraq`s Shia majority, excel online. They command a plethora of official and unofficial channels on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. `Take up arms, take up arms, O soldiers of the Islamic State. And fight, fight!` commands one recent propaganda reel, featuring a sermon from the group`s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The material is often slickly produced, like The Clanging of Swords IV,

Dreams of an Islamic caliphate

A member of the Islamic State of Iraq and Al Sham stands on an armoured personnel carrier as he holds aloft a flag. — Reuters “O God do not allow us to go stray after showing the right path. Remove our differences. End our miseries. Teach us to love each other,” prayed the Imam at a Friday congregation in Virginia. “Ameen,” said the worshippers, with tears rolling down their cheeks. “Encourage unity among Muslims. Help the Muslims of Palestine and Myanmar,” prayed the Imam. “Ameen,” said the congregation, which included Pakistanis, Indians, Afghans and Arabs. As the prayer ended, they split in small groups, each speaking a different language, and walked out of the mosque. Some of them would gather again at  iftar , at a local mosque or a restaurant, each ethnic group sitting separately. Also read:  ISIS chief asks Muslims to obey him Islam promotes collective demonstration of faith. The five prayers, the annual fasting and the Haj all encour

ISIS’s cascading effect

  A PAKISTANI militant group Tehreek-i-Khilafat’s declaration of allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), now calling itself the Islamic State, has surprised many. Though most analysts are suspicious of the declaration and see it as insignificant, because little is known about the group, it does indicate that ISIS has started to inspire some individuals and groups in Pakistan with similar objectives. The rise of the Afghan Taliban in the 1990s inspired many Islamist political and militant movements across the world. Afghanistan became an attractive destination for thousands of Muslim radicals hailing from different parts of world. Today, ISIS is attracting Islamist militants and also financial resources in an almost similar way. As Pakistani militants and religious organisations do not operate in isolation, it is natural for them to draw inspiration from ISIS. Indeed, the ideological association and operational linkage between the Pakistani militants and