Formation Of Al Qaida: US-Israel Collaboration

SPECIAL REPORT: The top secret Israeli-US program to establish “Al Qaeda”

By Wayne Madsen

Press clips gathered by the CIA and discovered in the National Archives’ stored CIA files point to an agency keenly interested in any leaks about the highly-classified CIA-Mossad program to establish Osama Bin Laden and the most radical elements of the Afghan Mujahidin as the primary leaders of the anti-Soviet rebels in the 1980s.

WMR  [Wayne Madsen Report] has pored through the CIA files and a complicated picture emerges of America’s and Israel’s top intelligence agencies, in cahoots with Saudi Arabia, establishing financial links and carve out intelligence programs to provide manpower and financial support to Bin Laden and his allies in Afghanistan. It was these very elements that later created the so-called “Al Qaeda,” which the late British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook described as nothing more than a “database” of CIA front organizations, financial supporters, and field operatives. However, one component omitted by Cook in the Al Qaeda construct is the Israeli participation.

Thanks largely to the CIA station chief in Riyadh in 1986-87, millions of dollars from the Saudi government, particularly then-deputy Prime Minister Prince Abdullah, now King Abdullah, and wealthy Saudi businessmen were funneled to the most radical leader of the Afghan rebels, Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, for whom militant southern Philippines Muslim rebels named their organization, the Abu Sayyaf group.

Accounting for only two percent of the mujahidin guerrillas in the field in Afghanistan, Sayyaf’s group began receiving hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of recruits from other countries, more than other six major mujahidin groups fighting the Soviets. The tilt to Sayyaf was a result of the intercession of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Saudi intelligence, the CIA, and Mossad. Another key Saudi intermediary was Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who the Bush family has dubbed “Bandar Bush” because of his close links to the Bushes, and who was the Saudi ambassador to the United States on 9/11.

The Reagan White House’s intermediary with Sayyaf’s group during 1986 and 1987 was Michael Pillsbury, the Assistant Undersecretary of Defense for Policy who continues to serve as a Pentagon consultant. Eventually, with the urging of Salem Bin Laden, and his older brother Osama, the CIA gave the green light for Sayyaf to bring into Afghanistan a dedicated group of Arab fighters, recruited from countries such as Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab countries. Some of the Syrian volunteers were refugee survivors of Syrian President Hafez Assad’s massacre of Sunni Muslims in Hama in 1982. Ironically, the first Arab training camp was established in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistani border and was known as Maasada, or the “Lion’s Den.” Masada is the site of the Roman siege of Jewish forces in 72 where the Jews committed suicide rather than surrender to the Romans. Masada is Hebrew for “fortress.”

Although the roles of Oliver North, National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, Iranian Jewish interlocutor and con-artist Manucher Ghorbanifar in using the Israelis as a pass-through for weapons transfers to the Iranians are well-known, not much has been reported on Israel’s role in providing financial and military assistance to Bin Laden’s and Sayyaf’s mujahidin forces at Maasada in Afghanistan during the war with the Soviets.

The CIA kept articles, mainly written by Jack Anderson and Andrew Cockburn, on the highly-classified but leaked CIA-Mossad-Saudi operation. Two CIA front companies, Associate Traders of Vienna, Virginia and Baltimore, Maryland, and Sherwood International Export Company, a license State Department arms broker with offices in Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Miami, and London, arranged for 60,000 rifles, bought for $3.6 million from the Indian Defense Ministry in September 1983, to be shipped with a false end-user certificate for Portugal, to be shipped to “Any UK Port.” In fact, the rifles were actually delivered to Saudi- and Pakistani-controlled mujahidin forces in Afghanistan, including those controlled by Bin Laden and Sayyaf.

Sherwood also used what was believed to be a Mossad front, Shimon Ltd., registered in the Cayman Islands, to ship $1.8 million worth of Brazilian rifles to Nicaraguan contras in Honduras and Costa Rica. Again, a false end-user certificate was used, one that stated the ultimate destination of the Brazilian rifles was Baltimore. Another Israeli firm, Tahal Consulting, and the Israeli ambassador in San Jose, Costa Rica, David Tourgeman, were involved in providing further military logistics support to the contras in Costa Rica and Honduras.

Sherwood’s Cayman Islands subsidiary Cromwell, Ltd., used the same registration agent in the Caymans that was used by Shimon Ltd. Shimon was discovered to have shipped $9.4 million in military equipment to Lagos, Nigeria, a shipment that was actually destined to Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA guerrillas in Angola. Joint CIA-Mossad operations to send weapons to guerrilla groups in Asia, Latin America, and Africa was code-named KK MOUNTAIN by the CIA. The specific CIA-Mossad operation to transfer weapons to the Nicaraguan contras and other forces around the world during the 1980s was called Operation Tipped Kettle by the CIA. Among the recipients of Israeli expertise and weapons in Tipped Kettle were the Medellin drug cartel’s death squads and Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega. Tipped Kettle also involved the secret transfer of arms by Israel to Iran. Some of the key Israeli players in Tipped Kettle were Lt. Col. Amatzia Shuali; Noriega adviser Michael Harari; Amiram Nir, counterterrorism adviser to then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres; and former Mossad deputy director general David Kimche.

The money laundering for the arms shipments was conducted through the First National Bank of Maryland in Baltimore, which initiated the money transfers through off-shore banks in the Cayman Islands and Panama. The ultimate destination of the funds was Switzerland, from where the weapons purchases were made without either the CIA’s or Mossad’s fingerprints. Tipped Kettle also involved the laundering of Saudi proceeds for the radical Sayyaf and Bin Laden mujahidin groups through Swiss bank accounts.

Another firm used in Tipped Kettle was Bophuthatswana International Ltd., a joint CIA-Mossad front, with a “do business as” [DBA] name of B International, operating from an office on Madison Avenue in New York. The firm was listed by the Justice Department as a registered agent of the apartheid-era self-proclaimed Republic of Bophuthatswana, an entity only recognized by South Africa. Mossad also used other apartheid republics in South Africa, including Ciskei and Transkei, to mask their illegal weapons smuggling operations. Tipped Kettle also involved the apartheid regime of South Africa and the military dictatorship of Argentina. The network was also used to smuggle arms to Argentina during that nation’s Falklands war with Britain.

CIA’s Operation Tipped Kettle: The trinity of CIA, Mossad, and Saudi Arabia provided weapons and cash to Osama bin Laden and Rasul Sayyaf in Afghanistan during 1980s.

Now, some 25 years later, there appears to be another Mossad weapons smuggling operation, operating with a wink-and-a-nod from Langley, that has appeared in the Pacific Northwest.

An individual named Oliver King was arrested May 19 in Washington State. King, charged with weapons smuggling, was reported to be an Iranian-born citizen of Canada. However, King, 35, is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and has alleged links to the CIA, the Department of Defense, and the National Security Agency, according to published press reports. According to a July 15 report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, King’s McMinnville, Oregon gun shop partner said King told him he was an agent of Mossad. King earlier told an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives that he was a veteran of the IDF.

The Post-Intelligencer reported that INTERPOL records consist of a rap sheet for King that includes convictions for fraud, assault, and weapons charges while living in Denmark. INTERPOL files also reveal that King has claimed phony degrees from the Danish Technical Institution. Seattle-based Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Roe has insisted that King was born in Iran, although his reported service in the IDF and Mossad would negate such a claim, unless King is an Iranian Jew. King is said to have been born Hamid Malekpour in Tehran.

King was arrested by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents after he was tracked from the Canadian border to his associate’s gun shop in McMinnville, called McMinnville Hunting and Police Supplies, and then to a rented storage unit in Ferndale, Washington, south of Blaine. The gun shop, located at 1000 Office Plaza on Highway 99 West, turned out to be an empty office. The Yamhill Valley News Register reported on May 24 that the gun store serves customers by appointment only. Local McMinnville and Yamhill County law enforcement officials were not aware of the federal investigation of the gun shop, which had failed to re-file for its Oregon state corporate license in February. The situation is reminiscent of local law enforcement seeing local criminal cases against Israeli art students and movers pre-empted by the FBI and other federal agencies before and after 9/11.

From the storage unit, ICE agents seized a sniper rifle, semi-automatic weapons, high-powered scopes, and ammunition from King’s storage unit and car. King is said to have been a resident of Canada since 2003 but his firearm’s dealers license was revoked by Canadian authorities because of suspicions he was smuggling weapons. King’s firearms license in Canada was issued under the name Hamid Malekpour. ICE’s arrest of King capped an investigation that lasted for over a year. A previous search of King’s car at the Blaine, Washington border crossing in February 2009, yielded a resume that claimed King operated businesses in Switzerland, Denmark, and the United States.

An Iranian visa issued this year and two issued last year were found in King’s passport, which was not due to expire until 2013. Subsequently, the passport was revoked for unknown reasons. King gave ICE agents conflicting stories on the reason for his last visit to Iran: consulting for an unnamed company, a hunting trip, and to visit relatives. After the questioning, King returned to his stated home in Vancouver, Canada. The similarities between King’s operations and Operation Tipped Kettle are striking. In the subsequent months, King crossed the border to the U.S. 18 times and said he was visiting a post office in Blaine.

In March of this year, ICE agents witnessed King stop on the shoulder of Interstate 5 and witnessed him performing “counter-surveillance” tactics. On May 19, at the Blaine crossing, King produced a newly-issued Canadian passport, without the Iranian visas that appeared in his original passport. In fact, the new Canadian passport bore the issue date of May 19, the same day King was arrested. King was then arrested at a storage unit in Ferndale after he picked up several boxes from the McMinnville “gun shop.” King claimed he was a “consultant” and that the guns did not belong to him but the owner of the McMinnville gun shop, a man named Amir Zarandi. When arrested, King denied being a Canadian citizen and said that he lived in Seattle. An BATF agent said King told him that he was a veteran of the Israeli army and that he was born in Israel. Read more of this post

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Israel Leaves Trail of Lies in Afghanistan

By Gordon Duff

LONDON TIMES RUNS SECOND ISRAELI PROPAGANDA PIECE IN A WEEK

The second time this week, the London Times has run articles submitted by Israeli intelligence, irresponsible, inaccurate and intended to bring chaos.  The first article claimed that US sources had verified Saudi Arabia’s intention to allow Israeli planes to use their territory for an attack on Iran.  The government of Saudi Arabia issued a strong denial in hours.  Today’s Israeli press release, carried as a news article by the London Times is far more sinister but also leaves a trail.  We are putting the London Times in for the Yellow Journalism Award of the Week, something usually reserved for Fox News.

The article itself is what we call a “plant.”  The substance of the times article includes a meeting with an imaginary Taliban commander and a hodge podge of misinformation, outright lies and subterfuge.  What is more important is why the article was written and why such a transparent piece of propaganda is a sign of Israel feeling the upheaval or worldwide scorn after the massacre of human rights activists in the Mediterranean.   The real pressure to cause a rift between NATO and Pakistan, something India and Israel have worked for, has been exacerbated by President Karzai’s attempts to draw close to Pakistan to support his failing regime.  Karzai, educated in India, had, for most of his rule, worked closely with India and, less publicly, Israel, something his people would have hated him even more for, if that were possible.

Continually dogged by accusations of corruption and for surrounding himself with druglords from the minority Northern Alliance, Karzai’s every act has moved Afghanistan into chaos and closer to civil war.  Now that the end is on him and on his friends, India and Israel, he has run to Pakistan for help and Israel has run to the Times to stop him.

The timing of the article, immediately after the Times attempted to divide the Islamic world by claiming Saudi Arabia and Israel were planning an attack on Iran, is, in itself an additional sign of how little the London Times is valued by organizations powerful enough to have it print stories that would humiliate any reputable paper.  It was important for Israel, the close ally of India, to discredit Pakistan and attempt to tie it to the Taliban, an organization that has killed thousands in Pakistan.  No mention is made of these attacks, however.  No mention of Israel and India and their role in arming and training the Taliban as part of a program of surrogate warfare against Pakistan, the world’s only Islamic nuclear state.

The gist of the article is simple:  Pakistan is running the Taliban because Pakistan ran the Taliban during the 1980s, when, frankly, the Taliban didn’t exist.  The article further claims that Pakistan’s ISI, their version of the CIA, is working with President Zardari to organize the Taliban. Read more of this post

Why CIA is the World’s Number One Terrorist Organization

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by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

The time has come to abolish the CIA –to smash it into a thousand pieces –as JFK had promised! Its leadership should be dismissed and investigated. Where there is probable cause, CIA members should be investigated and tried for crimes against humanity.The CIA, itself a ruthless, terrorist organization inspires terrorism in response. In some cases, notably the CIA and al Qaeda, the relationship between the CIA and terrorism is symbiotic. The CIA perpetuates an “American Holocaust”, the deaths of some 6 million people from its inception to the year 1987. For as Long as the CIA Exists, the US will never be safe from terrorism. It has long been time to realize JFK’s dream of smashing the CIA into a ‘thousand pieces’.

CIA operations follow the same recurring script. First, American business interests abroad are threatened by a popular or democratically elected leader. The people support their leader because he intends to conduct land reform, strengthen unions, redistribute wealth, nationalize foreign-owned industry, and regulate business to protect workers, consumers and the environment. So, on behalf of American business, and often with their help, the CIA mobilizes the opposition. First it identifies right-wing groups within the country (usually the military), and offers them a deal: “We’ll put you in power if you maintain a favorable business climate for us.” The Agency then hires, trains and works with them to overthrow the existing government (usually a democracy).–Steve Kangas, A Timeline of CIA Atrocities

Pakistan is a case in point.

Since 9/11, the Bush administration has been propping up Musharraf’s military regime with $3.6 billion in economic aid from the US and a US-sponsored consortium, not to mention $900 million in military aid and the postponement of overdue debt repayments totaling $13.5 billion. But now the administration is debating whether Musharraf has become too dependent on Islamic extremist political parties in Pakistan to further US interests, and whether he should be pressured to permit the return of two exiled former prime ministers, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, who have formed an electoral alliance to challenge him in presidential elections scheduled for next year.–Pakistan: Friend or Foe? The US shouldn’t prop up President Musharraf’s military regime, Selig S. Harrison

The late Benazir Bhutto revealed the truth before she was brutally gunned down in the streets of Karachi: US policy causes world terrorism. Conveniently for ‘official terrorists, she died before she could tell the rest of the story.

When the United States aligns with dictatorships and totalitarian regimes, it compromises the basic democratic principles of its foundation — namely, life, liberty and justice for all. Dictatorships such as Musharraf’s suppress individual rights and freedoms and empower the most extreme elements of society. Oppressed citizens, unable to represent themselves through other means, often turn to extremism and religious fundamentalism.Benazir Bhutto, A False Choice for Pakistan

A favorite CIA tactic is the CIA “front”.

The May 12 terrorist attacks on the al Hamra, Jadawal and Vinnell compounds in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, which killed more than 90 people, were not merely assaults on “symbols” of the imperialist West. The bombers were also intent on weakening the rule of Saudi royal family.While the timing of the bombings in Saudi Arabia and in other countries — just hours before US Secretary of State Colin Powell arrived in Saudi Arabia — suggested a coordinated assault on US targets, the bombings in Riyadh were targeted at key props of the reactionary regime.All three Saudi Arabian targets were associated with Saudi Arabia’s role as a US client state: residential compounds housing mainly expatriates working in the country, the offices of the Vinnell Corporation and the residences of its employees.Vinnell, founded in California in 1931, first gained a foothold in Saudi Arabia in 1975. An article by Matt Gaul in the June 1998 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, revealed that it was the culmination of a close relationship between the corporation, the US military and Washington’s intelligence agencies. This relationship stretched back to the end of World War II, when the US government used the company to ship supplies to the China’s counter-revolutionary party, the Kuomintang.During the 1950s and ’60s, Vinnell constructed US military airfields in Japan, Okinawa, Taiwan, Thailand and southern Vietnam. According to Gaul, it was during this period that Albert Vinnell, the corporation’s founder, “offered his staff’s services to the [CIA], and several CIA agents used employment with Vinnell as cover for operations in Africa and the Middle East”.– Rohan Pearce, CIA front targeted in terrorist attacks, 28 May 2003

How does the CIA do it? Read more of this post

Washington’s Road to Ruin

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By James Petras. Axis of Logic

The Obama Administration has heightened tensions with China through a series of measures which can only be characterized as major provocations designed to undermine relations between the two countries.  These provocations include political support for separatist movements, such as the US-funded theocratic-monk led Tibetan secessionists and the Washington-based Uyghur secessionists, as well as through the $6.4 billion-dollar advanced arms sales to Taiwan, a virtual protectorate of the US Navy.  President Obama has publicly met with and openly backed these separatist and secessionists groups, flaunting Washington’s refusal to recognize China’s existing borders.  This is part of the US strategy of encouraging the physical break-up of independent nations, which are viewed as ‘obstacles’ to its program of global military empire building.

In addition to continuing and escalating the hostile policies of his predecessor, the Obama Administration has exploited several other issues in order to rally American public opinion and mobilize overseas allies behind its confrontational posture.  First, the Obama Administration claims that China’s currency (the Renminbi) is artificially undervalued to give Chinese exports an unfair price advantage, thus undercutting US manufacturing exports and costing “millions of American jobs”. And secondly, the Administration claims that, after the US had opened its domestic manufacturing market to Chinese firms, the Chinese would not ‘reciprocate’ and open their financial sectors to Wall Street investment banks.

In retaliation for growing Chinese exports, Washington has raised protective tariffs on steel pipes and automobile tires, and issued Congressional threats of further protectionist measures.

The US has insists that other nations support its aggressive policy toward Iran, including imposing trade, investment and financial sanctions, supporting the provocative US naval build-up in the Persian Gulf and backing Israel’s bellicose threats to bomb Teheran.  In contrast, China rejects economic sanctions, in favor of negotiations, while increasing its trade and investments in strategic sectors of the Iranian economy.  In the United Nations Security Council, the US has exerted diplomatic and mass media pressure to force China to vote for a Zionist-authored proposal of wide-reaching sanctions against Iran.  Obama refuses to accept China’s rejection of the US military-driven policy of regime change and the Chinese pursuit of free trade with Iran.

The US Administration’s selective definition of “self-determination” includes giving support to secessionist ethno-religious regional movements in China, while, at the same time, invading and occupying independent states, like Iraq and Afghanistan, ordering missile attacks on other states, like Pakistan and Somalia, establishing over 700 military bases world-wide with extra-territorial jurisdiction and engaging in assassinations of its opponents abroad via the CIA and Special Forces.

In contrast, China is not at war and opposes military invasions of sovereign states.  China does not have overseas military bases and is menaced by the US policy of encircling China’s frontiers with American bases in client states in Northeast, Southeast and Central Asia.

While US military occupation forces brutally violate human rights of millions of citizens in occupied or targeted countries, and threaten the civil rights of critical Americans with arbitrary rulings, secret trials and the suspension of habeas corpus, the Obama regime excoriates China for its prosecution of opposition activists.

The Obama regime has latched onto a conflict between a private US corporation, Google, and Chinese hackers, which it alleges are state sponsored, turning the issue into a major struggle for “internet freedom” at the level of state to state relations.  Despite the expanding presence of scores of US-owned IT companies in China, the Obama regime has raised the issue of “internet censorship” to the level of a major ideological confrontation.

Climate change is another source of aggravation between the states.  At the Copenhagen summit in December 2009, Obama rejected any formal agreement on the reduction of carbon emissions while deflecting criticism and blame on to China and other developing countries, which had agreed to informal substantive targets on CO2 reductions.

Of all these points of contention, the most serious is Washington’s financial, diplomatic and political support for ethnic secessionist groups in China, threatening the security and territorial integrity of the Chinese state. This paramount issue has re-awakened painful memories of earlier imperialist carving up of China, its rich port cities and territories and has  forced the Chinese authorities to consider retaliatory measures.

Imperial Policies:  At What Price?

The Obama regime’s political and diplomatic provocations against China in pursuit of its military-driven empire, come at a very high real and potential price.  We cannot assume that China will remain a stoic punching bag for the US, absorbing territorial threats, economic pressures and gratuitous diplomatic insults without taking counter-measures especially in the economic sphere.

China’s Crucial Role as US Creditor

Obama’s provocative militarist posturing toward China endangers major US private and public economic interests, including China’s financing of the burgeoning US debt.

China is the world’s largest and fastest growing investor in US securities.  According to a detailed study by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) (July 30, 2009), China holds a  vast amount of long-term treasury debt, US agency debt, US corporate debt, US equities and short-term debt estimated at over $1.2 trillion.  China’s investment in US Treasury securities were used to help finance the economic ‘recovery’ (such as it is).  If the Obama regime persists in its provocations, China may decide to unload a large share of its US securities holdings, inducing other foreign investors to also sell off their holdings (CRS op cit).  This would lead to a sharp depreciation of the dollar and force Washington to raise interest rates, which could drive the US into a deeper recession/depression.  Economists, who claim Chinese economic interests would suffer from such a sell off, overlook the fact that for Beijing, national sovereignty is more important than short-term economic losses, especially in view of US support for secessionist movements.  Moreover, the Chinese have a high rates of savings, huge foreign reserves and increasingly diverse markets and suppliers of essential commodities.  China is in a better position to absorb the ‘shock’ of a decline in US economic relations resulting from American bellicosity than the debt-ridden, negative-saving, military-driven North American economy.
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Post London: Delhi begs Saudis for role in Afghanistan

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Moin Ansari:

RIYADH: Shashi Tharoor, minister of state for external affairs, was at the centre of yet another controversy after his remarks here on Saturday evening that Saudi Arabia could be a “valuable interlocutor” between India and Pakistan.

The remark, in response to a question from a reporter, triggered a storm on Sunday, with many viewing it as a deviation from the country’s stand to treat the dispute with Pakistan as a bilateral affair, and reject all suggestions of third-party mediation.

Tharoor strongly argued that he had been misinterpreted as he had not used the word “mediation or anything like that”. He also tweeted, ruing the misinterpretation of the word “interlocutor”, while insisting that an “interlocutor was different from a mediator”.
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NATO-Israel cooperation, will the Arabs react?

If Israel succeeds in joining NATO, its regional belligerency would be backed by the collective strength of the entire alliance. Before that happens, will the Arabs react?

Israel wants to be a member of NATO. It no longer looks down its nose at military alliances. It no longer wants to stay away from Western military arrangements. It wants in.

A majority of Israelis believe NATO membership would boost Israel’s security as well as NATO’s strategic power. Interestingly enough, there has been no Arab reaction to Israel’s desire to join NATO, no Arab attempt to block the move, and no preparations to deal with its consequences.

Israel and NATO have grown closer over the past decade or so. In 2000, NATO expanded its Mediterranean Dialogue through talks with seven countries from the Middle East and North Africa; namely, Egypt, Israel, Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Mauritania. In 2004, NATO- Mediterranean talks were held under the name “Partnership for Peace”. Six new countries were included in the new dialogue: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Israel, in particular, was eager to use every opportunity the Partnership for Peace had to offer.

On 24 February 2005, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer became NATO’s first secretary-general to visit Israel. In the following month, NATO and Israel held their first joint military drills in the Red Sea. Within weeks, a flotilla of six NATO ships called on the Israeli port of Eilat. Israel (and Jordan) also took part for the first time in joint military drills held within the Partnership for Peace programme in Macedonia in the former Yugoslavia in February 2005.

According to the UK-based Jane’s military magazine, Israel’s “geopolitical position” provided NATO with a foreign base to defend the West, while NATO’s military and economic might enhanced the security and economic potential of the “host country”. Read more of this post

The media plays a significant role in manufacturing Islamophobia within western societies

The media plays a significant role in manufacturing Islamophobia within western societies by manipulating and shaping an individuals opinion on anything and everything.  It presents us with distorted images of Islam and that in turn conjures stereotypes and prejudice.

For people who are sceptical about the notion of ‘Islamophobia’, a study was conducted in the US where  the public were asked to write down, with as little thought and as much honesty as possible, all the words that come to mind when you think of the words “Islam” or Muslim”.

Most people gave an almost routine set of answers.  The names and events they thought of tended to be associated with violence, e.g., Osama Bin Laden, 9/11, Palestinian suicide bombers.  The ideas and practices were associated with oppression, e.g., Jihad, veiling, Islamic law. And the places were limited to the Middle East, e.g., Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran.  Of course some answers escaped the pattern, e.g., the Qur’an, pilgrimage to Mecca, Muhammad Ali, but these were relatively few.  When asked about their answers, many responded unfortunate as such associations may be, Muslims and Islam feature prominently in many of the world’s conflicts and injustices, and this they conclude says something about their religion.  Judging from the portrayals of Muslims and Islam in Western media, it’s hard to argue with them.

In September 2005, the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Postem, published 12 depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.  Awareness of the cartoons became widespread and a global protest soon grew, typified by peaceful gatherings of thousands of protestors in many places.  Unfortunately some Muslim’s reacted violently.

Islamophobia is even presented in popular films such as Hollywood blockbusters and children’s cartoons.  A report by the Islamic Human Rights Commission argues that films such as Aladdin and East is East have contributed to demonizing Muslims as dangerous and violent.  For example, in Aladdin, rather than presenting the Arab culture and Islamic religion in a positive way, it is associated with harsh punishments and oppressive practices.  In the British film East is East, a mixed raced Anglo-Pakistani family is presented struggling with their traditional background forced upon them by their father.  The representation of the Muslim husband is of a polygamous wife beater.


Sadly, media outlets consistently overlook the voices of moderation that come from the majority of Muslims.  When violence flared in 2006 over the controversial Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, very few of America’s frontline newspapers reported the condemnation of the violence issued immediately by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), one of the most important Islamic organisations In the US and only one of many that decried the attacks.  In another instance the year before, a Connecticut newspaper ran an editorial decrying the lack of public statements by Muslim leaders against the then recent terrorist attacks in London.  The state chapter of CAIR wrote back asking why the newspaper had not mentioned its own denunciation of the violence, which the group had sent the newspaper.  In fact, since this event, a great variety and number of Muslim leaders in the US and abroad condemned the attacks but received little coverage by the American media.

The media is always quick to stereotype Muslims as terrorists by linking the news to religion when Muslims have done something wrong.  But does the media link crimes carried out by Westerners to religion?

The answer is no.  The Columbine High School shooters religions were not disclosed, nor are the religions of any Western perpetrators.  The media believes that any Muslim who commits a crime is doing so in the name of Islam and therefore feels the need to disclose his religious views.

Because Muslims seldom appear in news reports or other media sources except as perpetrators of violence, supposedly in the name of Islam, many Westerners understandably conclude that all Muslim’s act from inherently religious motivations and that Islam is dangerous. Muslims become two-dimensional, existing only as Muslims, seemingly never sharing identities or interests with non-Muslims.  However, Westerners engage with Muslims in thousands of ways every day: a student and her classmates, a banker and his customer, a homeowner and her neighbours.  The globalised world we inhabit makes possible increasingly intimate connections between distant individuals with increasing speed.  So why, despite all this contact, do domestic news and entertainment sources seldom mention the terms “Muslim” or “Islam” except in the context of conflict, violence and bloodshed?? By: Ismail Farooki. Cambridge –England

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Pentagon Confronts Russia In The Baltic Sea

Rick Rozoff | Twelve months ago a new U.S. administration entered the White House as the world entered a new year.

Two and a half weeks later the nation’s new vice president, Joseph Biden, spoke at the annual Munich Security Conference and said “it’s time to press the reset button and to revisit the many areas where we can and should be working together with Russia.”

Incongruously to any who expected a change in tact if not substance regarding strained U.S.-Russian relations, in the same speech Biden emphasized that, using the “New World Order” shibboleth of the past generation at the end, “Two months from now, the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will gather to celebrate the 60th year of this Alliance. This Alliance has been the cornerstone of our common security since the end of World War II. It has anchored the United States in Europe and helped forge a Europe whole and free.” [1]

Six months before, while Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he rushed to the nation of Georgia five days after the end of the country’s five-day war with Russia as an emissary for the George W. Bush administration, and pledged $1 billion in assistance to the beleaguered regime of former U.S. resident Mikheil Saakashvili.

To demonstrate how serious Biden and the government he represented were about rhetorical gimmicks like reset buttons, four months after his Munich address Biden visited Ukraine and Georgia to shore up their “color revolution”-bred heads of state (outgoing Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko is married to a Chicagoan and former Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush official) in their anti-Russian and pro-NATO stances.

While back in Georgia he insisted “We understand that Georgia aspires to join NATO. We fully support that aspiration.”

In Ukraine he said “As we reset the relationship with Russia, we reaffirm our commitment to an independent Ukraine, and we recognize no sphere of influence or no ability of any other nation to veto the choices an independent nation makes,” [2] also in reference to joining the U.S.-dominated military bloc. Biden’s grammar may have been murky, but his message was unmistakeably clear.

Upon his return home Biden gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal, the contents of which were indicated by the title the newspaper gave its account of them – “Biden Says Weakened Russia Will Bend to U.S.” – and which were characterized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies as “the most critical statements from a senior administration official to date vis-a-vis Russia.” [3]

It took the Barack Obama government eight months to make its first friendly gesture to Russia. In September of last year the American president and Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that they were abandoning the Bush administration’s plan to station ten ground-based midcourse interceptor missiles in Poland in favor of a “stronger, smarter, and swifter” alternative.

The new system would rely on the deployment of Aegis class warships equipped with SM-3 (Standard Missile-3) missiles – with a range of at least 500 kilometers (310 miles) – which “provide the flexibility to move interceptors from one region to another if needed,” [4] in Gates’ words.

The first location for their deployment will be the Baltic Sea according to all indications.

The proximity of Russia’s two largest cities, St. Petersburg and Moscow, especially the first, to the Baltic coast makes the basing of American warships with interceptor missiles in that sea the equivalent of Russia stationing comparable vessels with the same capability in the Atlantic Ocean near Delaware Bay, within easy striking distance of New York City and Washington, D.C.

Although Washington canceled the earlier interceptor missile plans for Poland, on January 20 the defense ministry of that country announced that not only would the Pentagon go ahead with the deployment of a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 anti-ballistic missile battery in the country, but that it would be based on the Baltic Sea coast 35 miles from Russia’s Kaliningrad district. [5]

The previous month Viktor Zavarzin, the head of the Defense Committee of the Russian State Duma (the lower house of parliament), said “Russia is concerned with how rapidly new NATO members are upgrading their military infrastructure” and “that Russia was especially concerned with the reconstruction of air bases in the Baltic countries for NATO’s purposes which include signal and air intelligence radio of Russian territory.” [6]

As it should be.

Since the Baltic Sea nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were ushered into NATO as full members in 2004, warplanes from Alliance member states have shared four-month rotations in patrolling the region, with two U.S. deployments to date.

Shortly before the patrols began almost six years ago the Russian media reported that “Relations between Russia and Estonia have been tense ever since NATO built a radar station on the Russian-Estonian border last year. On March 23, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko warned Russia would retaliate ‘if NATO planes fly over Russian borders after the Baltic nations join the alliance.'” [7] Read more of this post

The Toy Boxes Of Arabia

I expected it but not so soon. Eat your heart out, O you Sheikh of Dubai. The dung head next door is going to build a 1 km tall Tower of all Towers. While the Palestinians are shackled and the Chosen Ones overlord the whole of Middle East this enlightened luminary of House of Saud, aka The Corrupt of the Earth, can find no better use for his petro dollars than building another sand tower. Al Waleed once was the largest stockholder of Citi group and CNN’s Riz Khan a few years ago eulogised him in a widely publicised biography as the man with vision. Well, some vision. Fisk puts the absurdity of the situation succinctly thus:

“Afghanistan is collapsing in blood; Iraq remains a state of semi-civil war; the Israelis continue to thieve land for Jews and Jews only from the Arabs who hold the title deeds to that property – and Prince al-Waled wants to build a tower reaching a kilometre into the sky. Do the Saudis – who gave so much largesse to the Taliban (we have to forget this, of course, along with the fact that the Saudis provided most of the murderers of 9/11, which is why we bombed Kabul rather than Riyadh) – not have the slightest idea of what is going on around them?”



Robert Fisk’s World: The stakes get higher as Arab princes try to outdo each other

Do the Saudis not have the slightest idea of what is going on around them?

Prince al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia is quite a man.

He says he doesn’t want to be the prime minister of Lebanon – everyone who wants to be the prime minister of Lebanon says that – but he is immensely wealthy. True, his bank balance has sunk from $23.7bn to a mere $13.3bn since 2005 (thus sayeth Forbes magazine). But he’s just announced that he wants to construct the world’s tallest building – a 1km-high goliath which will dwarf his neighbour emir in Dubai who last month opened the paltry 25,000ft Burj Khalifa amid the sand dunes of his bankrupt creditors. The nephew of King Abdullah, al-Waleed understandably calls his company Kingdom Holdings. He also happens to be a major shareholder in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp – which is why you won’t be reading these words in The Times. Long live Kingdom Holdings, I suppose.

Because yesterday morning, I was taking an al-Jazeera television crew around the repulsive, obscene, outrageous, filthy, stinking slums of the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps not far from my home in Beirut, a place of such squalor that the gorge rises that human beings even live there. Sabra and Chatila – yes, the site of that infamous massacre in 1982 when Lebanese Christian militiamen allied to Israel slaughtered up to 1,700 Palestinian civilians while the Israeli army surrounded the camps, watched the killings – and did nothing. They were the survivors of the great exodus or ethnic cleansing of 1948 – or their sons or grandsons – who fled Galilee for the “temporary” safety of Lebanon and, like the visa applicants of the movie Casablanca, wait and wait – and wait – to go home. Which they will never do. “I am very positive,” Prince al-Waleed said when he announced his new priapic tower, to be constructed in the Red Sea port of Jeddah. “We are always looking for new investments.”

Now I know that there are a lot of fine philanthropists in the Gulf, Prince al-Waleed among them, but what is one to make of all this? Afghanistan is collapsing in blood; Iraq remains a state of semi-civil war; the Israelis continue to thieve land for Jews and Jews only from the Arabs who hold the title deeds to that property – and Prince al-Waled wants to build a tower reaching a kilometre into the sky. Do the Saudis – who gave so much largesse to the Taliban (we have to forget this, of course, along with the fact that the Saudis provided most of the murderers of 9/11, which is why we bombed Kabul rather than Riyadh) – not have the slightest idea of what is going on around them?

For example, we all know that the Americans maintain stocks of weapons among their allies. They keep munitions in South Korea and, indeed, in the Arab Gulf (aka Saudi Arabia). But very quietly this week, they agreed to double their munitions supplies in Israel from $400m of weapons to $800m. Of course, Washington’s gift of $9bn to Israel up to 2012 – never, of course, to be spent on those illegal colonies which are built against international law on Arab land but which Barack Obama now pusillanimously ignores – has nothing to do with this. But don’t imagine that – in the event of a new “preventive” war – Israel cannot draw on these supplies for its own army and air force. After all, it was a missile taken to Saudi Arabia by the US marines for use against Iraq in 1991 that ended up in the hands of the Israeli air force as part of a quid pro quo for not joining in the war against Baghdad – and which was subsequently used to kill civilians in a Lebanese ambulance in 1996.

But these days, Arab compliance reaches new heights every day. Now, for example, we have the Egyptian government – and its ever popular president (see the American-approved presidential election results which are way above 90 per cent) – building a wall around Rafah, part of the vast mass of poverty which constitutes Gaza, thus preventing food, gasoline (and, no doubt, weapons) from reaching the trapped Palestinians of this prison camp. A camp, one has to add, which meets with the full approval of Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara, whose honourable involvement in the invasion of Iraq has now been outdone by is extraordinary success as peace envoy to the Middle East.

Egypt’s intelligence boss (a certain Mr Sulieman who might be the next president of Egypt were it not for his pattern of heart attacks) approves of this wall, which is a very definite assistance to Israel and which will yet further impoverish the Palestinians of Gaza to the point at which the inhabitants of Sabra and Chatila might actually feel themselves lucky they don’t live in “Palestine”.

In Israel itself, the deputy foreign minister humiliates the Turkish ambassador – while complaining about an anti-Semitic series on Turkish television – by forcing the diplomat to sit on a low sofa, refusing to shake hands and addressing him, with two colleagues, from higher chairs. The foreign minister himself, our dear friend Mr Lieberman, has now acquired the habit – every time poor old (and I mean old) US envoy George Mitchell raises the question of Jerusalem – of walking out of the room. That’s what Obama’s point man is worth. Israel’s crazies – Netanyahu is a moderate chap by comparison – now prove that Israel can be just as much a banana Raj as the rest of the Middle East.

But fear not. The princes and the emirs and the caliphs and the presidents will be able to outbid each other in towers and hotels. I have a bigger painting set than yours. I have a sharper pencil, more crayons, a larger train set (Qatar, please note), a bigger bear than yours. And the world will watch this tragedy and marvel at the toy boxes now being opened in the Middle East. And, by the way, how many crayons do the children of Sabra and Chatila have?

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London forum discarded India’s ‘greater’ Afghan role: Qureshi

* World accepts Islamabad’s stance that ‘Af-Pak’ policy not applicable to Pakistan
* Must engage elements willing to disarm

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi

LONDON: Afghanistan’s six immediate neighbours, as well as China and Russia (six-plus-two), feel no need for a “greater Indian role” in Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Thursday.

Addressing a news conference at the Pakistan High Commission, Qureshi said the international community participating in the London Conference on Afghanistan had accepted Islamabad’s stance that a joint Pak-Afghan policy was no longer applicable to Pakistan, as both countries had their own distinct outlooks.He said the conference addressed Pakistan’s concerns regarding Afghanistan.

Af-Pak policy: “So this Af-Pak terminology was a mistake. We are two different countries with different levels of development. Our institutions and their capacities are different and today there was a clear departure from Af-Pak,” the foreign minister said. He said the conference also rejected new regional structure as advocated by certain elements.

Pakistan, Qureshi said, was of the opinion that the existing mechanisms in place were adequate and working well, and there was no need for new regional architecture. The foreign minister said as India had no border with Afghanistan, it did not fit into the scheme of things though it may continue to play a role in assisting development in Afghanistan. “We conveyed our point of view to Turkey in the trilateral and regional meetings held recently, we made our point loud and clear. In our interaction with various countries, we expressed our concern and today our point of view was understood and incorporated. The Afghan president and other important countries were of the view that there was no need for the new structure in the region.”

Engagement: Qureshi said Pakistan had been advocating that the international community would have to engage with elements willing to lay down arms and willing to shun violence. The international community, he added, endorsed this point of view. Qureshi said the Pakistani government had been pursuing a policy of dialogue, deterrence and development and the international community supported the point of view.

“So in many ways this conference was productive from Pakistan’s point of view,” he stressed. To a question, the foreign minister said Pakistan wanted the reconciliation and reintegration process to be “Afghan­owned and Afghan-led”, adding that President Hamid Karzai had asked Pakistan to help facilitate the reconciliation process with the Taliban.

“It is for the Afghans to take the lead and tell us what they want from us. We feel that stable and peaceful Afghanistan is in the best interest of Pakistan,” he said. Regarding the Saudi King Abdullah’s role in the reconciliation process, Qureshi said Saudi Arabia had historic links with Afghanistan and was an important country that could play a productive role in this regard. He mentioned that during his meetings with his counterparts from Malaysia and Indonesia, it was agreed that Muslim countries could a play a proactive role in Afghanistan along with Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Qureshi said British Foreign Secretary David Miliband had stood by Pakistan at the London Conference. app

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