Pakistani clerics, scholars demand pope’s removal, warn West of consequences

Pakistani clerics, scholars demand pope’s removal, warn West of consequences

Enraged over the Pope’s suggestion that Islam might be violent, Islamic clerics and scholars demand his removal and threaten jihad violence if their demand goes unheeded. Pope Rage Update from AP:

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — About 1,000 Muslim clerics and religious scholars meeting Thursday in eastern Pakistan demanded the removal of Pope Benedict XVI for making what they called “insulting remarks” against Islam.Benedict “should be removed from his position immediately for encouraging war and fanning hostility between various faiths” and “making insulting remarks” against Islam, said a joint statement issued by the clerics and scholars at the end of their one-day convention.

The “pope, and all infidels, should know that no Muslim, under any circumstances, can tolerate an insult to the Prophet (Muhammad). … If the West does not change its stance regarding Islam, it will face severe consequences,” it said.

The meeting was organized by the radical Islamic group Jamaat al-Dawat, which runs schools, colleges and medical clinics. In April, Washington put the group on a list of terrorist organizations for its alleged links with militants fighting in the Indian part of Kashmir….

The clerics and religious scholars said they did not regard Benedict’s latest comments as an apology.

“The pope has neither accepted his mistake, nor apologized for his words,” it said.

The statement also said jihad was not terrorism and that “Islam was not propagated with the sword, but it became popular and was accepted by the oppressed peoples of the world because of its universal values and teachings.”

“Jihad is waged to rid an area, state, or the world of oppression, violence, cruelty, and terrorism, and bring peace and relief to the people. History is full of incidents where Muslims waged jihad to provide relief to people of many faiths, especially Jews and Christians,” it said.

For this relief, no thanks.

Get Out of U.N. and Start Over

Written by Paul Weyrich
Monday, December 13, 2004
        I knew Jack Danforth when he was in the United States Senate, where he served eighteen years.  First elected in 1976, his final race in 1988 was as nasty as they come.         Indeed, he considered running for a fourth term in 1994, and I discussed steps we might take to inoculate him against the nasty charges liberals in his State of Missouri tend to make against center-right Senate candidates.  He finally decided that he just couldn’t stomach another campaign.  He retired and former Governor John Ashcroft was elected to succeed him.         Danforth remained in fairly low profile for the next decade until President Bush tapped him to be our ambassador to the United Nations.  (He was seen soon thereafter presiding at the National Cathedral for the funeral of President Ronald Reagan.  Danforth is, among other things, an Episcopal priest.)         After just six months on the job, Danforth has resigned.  He gave as the primary reason for the resignation the need to assist his wife of 47 years in her recovery from a very nasty accident.  But Danforth told friends he was very frustrated with his inability to implement the president’s policies at the United Nations.         No wonder. The United Nations now is dominated by nations of the third world whose values are so distant from our own that they won’t even object to the genocide occurring in the Sudan.         Danforth was known in the Senate as a man whose powers of persuasion were so intense that once he got onto an issue, his opponents often ran for cover.  Clarence Thomas worked for Danforth as a young assistant.         Senator Danforth’s blessing materially contributed to saving the Thomas nomination from defeat in the Senate, despite vehement opposition from civil rights and women’s groups on the left.        A man who is still a fervent Christian, a man who has principles, a man who is an articulate advocate for this country can hardly get along at the United Nations.         As we write, the United Nations is involved in a huge scandal that has the potential to escalate beyond anything we have known to date.         At a minimum U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan presided over the misappropriations of billions of dollars in the oil-for-food program designed to help poor Iraqis.  Instead, the money never reached the poor.  It was used to finance new weapons programs for Saddam Hussein, weapons which were manufactured by those who opposed U.S. intervention in Iraq, namely France, Germany, and Russia.  Some money apparently even reached Annan’s son.  There are new allegations suggesting that some of those dollars might have benefited Annan himself.         We may never know the whole story, because even though the former Federal Reserve Board chairman, Paul Volker, is supposed to be conducting an internal investigation at the request of the United Nations, and Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) is conducting a Senate investigation, neither has subpoena power and thus cannot access the necessary documents and people to set the record straight.        Senator Coleman has called on Annan to resign on the grounds that, at the minimum, Annan turned a blind eye toward what was going on or, at the maximum, the corruption may be much worse.  The Bush administration has backed Annan weakly, probably because it thinks Annan has been helpful in signing up resources for the Iraqi elections scheduled for late January.        I have a better idea.  Let’s get out of the U.N. and start over.         I am against any sort of world government.  It would only mean that a cabal who hates our religions and our way of life could gang up on the USA.  No good could possibly come from such an institution.         I do buy the notion that some sort of world forum can be useful perhaps to prevent genocide such as we are seeing in the Sudan.  However, I would only permit democracies to join.  Democracies are not perfect, but by and large they do not start wars.  Moreover, minorities tend to receive more humane treatment in democracies than in dictatorships.  So far, at least there is generally freedom of speech and religion in the democratic nations.         What about nations that claim to be democratic but which do not live up to minimum democratic standards?  Well, it would be a great incentive for them to change some of their policies to conform to minimum standards such as freedom of media, freedom of worship, and freedom of assembly and speech.         The current United Nations cannot live without the United States.  We pay about a quarter of its budget and for what?  To have us slapped down by a group of bloodthirsty dictators who hate our system of government?  To have human rights abuses investigated by a committee composed of the worst human rights violators on the face of the earth?  To have U.N. people run for cover as soon as the situation gets tough in Iraq?  For the life of me I can’t figure out any benefit to staying in the United Nations.        To be sure, the losers will scream bloody murder.  After all, the losing presidential candidate, Senator Kerry, made it clear that he believed in the United Nations more than he believed in the USA.  In fact, it was clear that he viewed the United Nations as a vehicle to restrain the aggressive, imperialist United States.         Many current senators are utopian in their outlook.  They actually believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that the United Nations, as presently constituted, can work.  In fact, they would claim it is working.  When you ask them for evidence they cite Bosnia and Kosovo.  First, it is the good old USA that is really the driving force in both places.  Second, if the U.N. troops were to withdraw the residents of both Bosnia and Kosovo would resume their previous way of life.  That is to say, they would be killing each other.  Does U.N. peacekeeping work when withdrawal does not occur after pacification?        The United Nations does perform some useful statistical work.  That could easily be absorbed by the new organization I am proposing.  That new organization could undertake some humanitarian work as well.  Much of the money collected by the United Nations for humanitarian purposes never gets to the intended recipients.  A new organization could fix that.  This new organization would not attempt to be a world government.  Good grief, no. Rather, it would be a forum to organize cooperation for the greater good.  The new group would only intervene when clearly something had to be done to save a population or, on rare occasions, to stop a war when honest negotiation is not possible.         It is clearly time to get those “Get the US out of the UN” bumper stickers out of the trunk in the attic.  As the saying goes, everything that’s old is new again.

Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said he is not an anti-Semite. — Is this guy nuts or what ///

Iranian leader ‘not anti-Semite’

Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said he is not an anti-Semite. “Jews are respected by everyone, by all human beings,” he told a news conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

The remarks come months after Mr Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be wiped off the map – and described the Holocaust as “myth”.

In response to questions about Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, he said the Iranians “do not need a bomb”.

The Iranian president’s comments on anti-Semitism came during remarks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Some people think if they accuse me of being anti-Jew they can solve the problem.

“No, I am not anti-Jew,” he said. “I respect them very much.”

“Let us remember that there in Palestine there are Muslims, Christians and Jews who live together,” he said.

Later, he added: “We love everyone in the world – Jews, Christians, Muslims, non-Muslims, non-Jews, non-Christians… We are against occupation, aggression, killings and displacing people – otherwise we have no problem with ordinary people.”

‘Nuclear talks’

The Iranian president said he was “at a loss” in understanding what further guarantees Iran needed to provide to prove its nuclear programme was, as it claims, entirely for civilian purposes.

Iran has failed to meet a UN deadline to suspend the enrichment of uranium.

However, Mr Ahmadinejad said talks with the EU on the issue were “on the right path”.

“Hopefully others will not disrupt the work,” he said

He said Iran was willing to negotiate on suspending uranium enrichment “under fair and just conditions”, but gave no timetable.

Mr Ahmadinejad also accused the US of double standards, asking what it had done to destroy its own nuclear weapons and accusing it of developing new ones.

‘Old system’

In comments taking in issues ranging from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Hurricane Katrina, the Iranian president was also critical of the international political system.

He said the current system emanated from a “group of victors who emerged from a world war and are ruling the world”.

He said that some members of the UN Security Council sat in judgement of other countries, despite the fact that they were parties to some of the world’s conflicts.

He did not specify which countries he was referring to.

In a speech to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Mr Ahmadinejad accused the US and UK of using the UN Security Council for their own ends.

He accused the two of being prosecutor, judge and jury in their differences with other countries.

U.S. list of state sponsors of international terrorism

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The U.S. list of state sponsors of international terrorism is a list complied by the U.S. State Department of countries that the United States’ sees as sponsoring terrorism. Inclusion on the list imposes strict sanctions.

The list began on December 29, 1979 with Libya, Iraq, South Yemen, and Syria.

Contents

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Countries currently on the list

  • Cuba – Added in 1982. Hosts or supports members of Basque ETA and the Colombian FARC and ELN groups.
  • Iran – Added in 1984. According to the State Department, “continued to provide Lebanese Hizballah and the Palestinian rejectionist groups—notably Hamas, the Palestine Islamic Jihad, and the PFLP-GC—with varying amounts of funding, safe haven, training, and weapons. It also encouraged Hizballah and the rejectionist Palestinian groups to coordinate their planning and to escalate their activities.”
  • North Korea – Added in 1988. Sold weapons to terrorist groups and to have given asylum to Japanese Communist League-Red Army Faction members. The country is also responsible for the Rangoon bombing and the bombing of KAL Flight 858.
  • Sudan – Added in 1993. “A number of international terrorist groups including al-Qaida, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Egyptian al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, the Palestine Islamic Jihad, and Hamas continued to use Sudan as a safe haven, primarily for conducting logistics and other support activities.” [1]
  • Syria – “provided Hezballah, HAMAS, PFLP-GC, the PIJ, and other terrorist organizations refuge and basing privileges.” [2]

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Countries that have been removed

  • Iraq – Iraq was removed from the list in 1982 to make it eligible for U.S. military technology; it was put back on in 1990. It has since been removed following the 2003 invasion. The State Department’s reason for including Iraq was that it provided bases to the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), and the Abu Nidal organization (ANO). Following the invasion, U.S. sanctions applicable to state sponsors of terrorism against Iraq were suspended on 7 May 2003 and President Bush announced the removal of Iraq from the list on 25 September 2004.
  • Libya – On May 15, 2006, the United States announced that Libya will be removed from the list after a 45-day wait period. [3] Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice explained that this was due to “…Libya’s continued commitment to its renunciation of terrorism,”.[4]
  • South Yemen – Dropped from the list in 1990 after it merged with North Yemen. It had been branded a terrorism sponsor due to its support for left-wing Arab terrorist groups.

Afghanistan has never been on the list, although a 2001 report from the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism declared that “Taliban-controlled Afghanistan remains a primary hub for terrorists.”[5] This is because the United States did not recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

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Sanctions

World map indicating (in dark red) the states listed as sponsors of international terrorism; states in green are states that have been removed from the list.

Enlarge

World map indicating (in dark red) the states listed as sponsors of international terrorism; states in green are states that have been removed from the list.

The sanctions which the US imposes on countries on the list are:

  • No arms-related exports
  • Controls over dual-use exports
  • Restrictions on economic assistance
  • Financial restrictions
    • US opposes loans by the World Bank and similar institutions
    • Sovereign immunity waived to allow families of terrorist victims to file for civil damages in US courts
    • Tax credits denied for income earned in listed countries
    • Duty-free goods exemption suspended for imports from those countries
    • Authority to prohibit a US citizen from engaging in financial transactions with the government on the list without a license from the US government.
    • Prohibition of Defense Department contracts above $100,000 with companies controlled by countries on the list.

[edit]

See also

Retrieved from “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._list_of_state_sponsors_of_international_terrorism

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Islamic Terrorism Timeline ———-detail links on this page work

Many terrorist events have happened all over the world.
The timeline shown here represents just a few of them.

November 4, 1979 Teran, Iran   U.S. Embassy Taken OverA group of Iranian students who were angry at the United States attacked and seized its embassy in Tehran, Iran. They were supported by the countries leader, Ayatollah Khomeini.Details
1982 – 1991
Lebanon
  18 Americans KidnappedDavid Dodge was the president of the American University in Beirut. He was kidnapped the first time while he was on his way home from work. He was released, but he was kidnapped again. This time he was killed. His murder was called the most gruesome abduction, torture, and killing of a United States citizen. The terrorists videotaped his torture and murder. A group called the Organization of the Oppressed on Earth claimed responsibility, but the real suspects are the Hezbollah guerillas.Details
April 18, 1983
Beirut, Lebanon
  Truck Bombing of U.S. EmbassyA large vehicle packed with explosives is driven quickly into the U.S. Embassy compound in Beirut. When it explodes it kills 63 people. A group of terrorists called the Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.Details
October 23, 1983
Beirut, Lebanon
  Truck Bombing of U.S. Marine BarracksA large truck bomb with 2,500 pounds of TNT smashed through the main gate of the U.S. Marine headquarters in Beirut. 241 U.S. servicement are killed when it expoldes. A French paratrooper base is blown up just a few minutes later and 58 French soldiers are killed. A terrorist group called the Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.Details
December 12, 1983
Kuwait City, Kuwait
  U.S. Embassy Annex AttackedA truck loaded with explosives crashed into the U.S. Embassy anex in Kuwait. Four people were killed and at least 62 were injured. A terrorist group called the Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.Details
September 20, 1984
Beirut, Lebanon
  U.S. Embassy Compound AttackedA van filled with explosives sped through several barriers and groups of U.S. soldiers and stopped about 30 feet in front of the embassy annex. The driver of the van and 12 soldiers and visitors to the annex were killed. A terrorist group called the Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.Details
April 12, 1985
Madrid, Spain
  Restaurant BombingA bomb exploded in a restaurant where U.S. soldiers liked to eat. The explosion killed 18 Spaniard citizens and injured 82 other people. Only 15 of the Americans were injured, but none were killed.Details
June 13, 1985
Beirut, Lebanon/
Algiers, Algeria
  TWA Flight 847This airliner took off in Rome, Italy, but was hijacked and forced to fly to Beirut, Lebanon. Mohammed Hamadei from the terrorist group Hezbollah, Hassan Izz-al-Din from Lebanon, and Ali Atwa another terrorist hijacked the plane. Details

August 8, 1985

Frankfurt, Germany
  Rhein-Main Airbase BombingTwo Americans and 20 others are injured when a Volkswagon car loaded with explosives blew up at the U.S. Rhein-Main air base in Frankfurt, Germany. Two terrorist groups, West German Red Army faction and the French Direct Action, claimed responsibility for the bombing.Details
October 7, 1985
Port Said, Egypt
  The Ship Achille Lauro is HijackedAchille Lauro cruise ship hijacked by four Palistinian men who are members of the Palestine Liberation Organization. They murder a handicapped man from New York and throw his body overboard.Details
November 23, 1985
Valeta, Malta
  Egyptair Flight 648 HijackedThree Arab men from the terrorist group Abu Nidal Organization hijacked this plane and forced it to land in Valletta, Malta. There was a 30 hour standoff between the hijackers and the Egyptian comandos.Details
December 27, 1985
Rome, Italy and Vienna, Austria
  Grenades and Guns are used to Massacre Passengers at Rome and Vienna AirportAt the same time two groups of terrorists, one in Rome and one in Vienna, charge up to the counters of Israel’s El Air airline. They throw grenades at the tourists getting ready to fly on the airline.
Details
April 02, 1986
Athens, Greece
  TWA Flight 840 BombedAs the plane was beginning to land in Athens a plastic explosive bomb exploded under the seat of the passenger sitting in seat 10F. Four people were killed and nine others were wounded. The terrorist group called Ezzedine Kassam Unit of the Arab Revolutionary Cells claimed responsibility.Details  
April 05, 1986
West Berlin
  La Belle Disco in Berlin Bombed The La Belle is a nightclub that was popular with the United States servicemen. Two United States soldiers and one Turkish woman were killed in the explosion
December 21, 1988
Lockerbie, Scotland
  Pan Am Flight 103 BombingThe bomb that blew up this flight was packed in a small radio case. It was left on the plane by a terrorist that got off of the plane at an earlier stop. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist group claimed responsibility. The bombing was carried out so that they could take revenge on America when one of its warships accidentally mistook a Palestinian passenger plane as a war plane and shot it down.Details
January 25, 1993
Langley, Virginia
  CIA Employees in Langley, VA are ShotA Pakisini man, Mir Aimal Kasi, who lived in Virginia drove up to the CIA building in Langley, Virginia and shot two CIA agents. He was angry because he believed that the United States were mistreating Muslims who lived in the Middle East.Details
February 26, 1993
New York, New York
  1993 World Trade Center in New York BombedA group of Muslim terrorists are arrested after a rented van packed with explosives and driven into the World Trade Center’s underground parking garage. Six people were killed and more than 1,000 are injured in this terrorist attackDetails
November 13, 1995
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  U.S. Military Complex in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is BombedSeven people are killed when a powerful car bomb explodes in front of a military center run by the United States military. Three terrorist groups: Islamic Movement for Change, the Tigers of the Gulf, and the Combatant Partisans of God claim responsibility for the bombing of this military center.Details
June 25, 1996
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
  Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia are BombedA fuel truck was parked 35 yards away from a United States military compound. When the truck blew up 19 American soldiers were killed and 500 more people were wounded. The Movement for Islamic Change claimed responsibility for the bombing.Details
August 07, 1998
Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania are BombedThese terrorist attacks happened almost at the same time. More than 5,000 people were injured and 224 were killed when the buildings that they were working in collapsed during the explosions.Details
October 12, 2000
Aden, Yemen
  USS Cole BombedThe USS Cole was docked in Aden Yemen for refueling. A small craft pulled alongside the ship and two terrorists set off the bomb. The two terrorists were killed and so were 17 U.S. Navy seamen when the explosion blew a 20 by 40 foot hole in the side of the ship.Details
September 11, 2001
New York City, Washington, D.C.
  World Trade Center is Destroyed and the Pentagon is AttackedTerrorists hijack 4 domestic flights from Boston airport. Two of the planes slam in to the two World Trade Center towers, causing them to collapse. A third flight crashes into the Pentagon, and a fourth crashes in Pennsylvania.Details
 

The evolution of Islamic terrorism

Definition of Terrorism“the unlawful use of — or threatened use of — force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives.”
— U.S. Department of Defense publication

In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S., the threat of militant Islamic terrorism — rooted in the Middle East and South Asia — has taken center stage. While these extremely violent religious extremists represent a minority view, their threat is real. As pointed out by RAND’s Bruce Hoffman, in 1980 two out of 64 groups were categorized as largely religious in motivation; in 1995 almost half of the identified groups, 26 out of 56, were classified as religiously motivated; the majority of these espoused Islam as their guiding force. To better understand the roots and threat of militant Islam, here’s a closer look at how modern terrorism has evolved in the Middle East and South Asia.The colonial era, failed post-colonial attempts at state formation, and the creation of Israel engendered a series of Marxist and anti-Western transformations and movements throughout the Arab and Islamic world. The growth of these nationalist and revolutionary movements, along with their view that terrorism could be effective in reaching political goals, generated the first phase of modern international terrorism.In the late 1960s Palestinian secular movements such as Al Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) began to target civilians outside the immediate arena of conflict. Following Israel’s 1967 defeat of Arab forces, Palestinian leaders realized that the Arab world was unable to militarily confront Israel. At the same time, lessons drawn from revolutionary movements in Latin America, North Africa, Southeast Asia as well as during the Jewish struggle against Britain in Palestine, saw the Palestinians move away from classic guerrilla, typically rural-based, warfare toward urban terrorism. Radical Palestinians took advantage of modern communication and transportation systems to internationalize their struggle. They launched a series of hijackings, kidnappings, bombings, and shootings, culminating in the kidnapping and subsequent deaths of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich Olympic games.These Palestinian groups became a model for numerous secular militants, and offered lessons for subsequent ethnic and religious movements. Palestinians created an extensive transnational extremist network — tied into which were various state sponsors such as the Soviet Union, certain Arab states, as well as traditional criminal organizations. By the end of the 1970s, the Palestinian secular network was a major channel for the spread of terrorist techniques worldwide.Key Radical Palestinian Groups

(descriptions taken directly from the U.S. State Department publication “Patterns of Global Terrorism, 2000“)

  • Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP): The PFLP, one of the original members of the PLO, [1] is a Marxist-Leninist group founded in 1967 by George Habash. The group was against the 1993 Declaration of Principles; participation in the PLO was also suspended. Participated in meetings with Arafat’s Fatah party and PLO representatives in 1999 to discuss national unity but continues to oppose negotiations with Israel. Committed numerous international terrorist attacks during the 1970s, has allegedly been involved in attacks against Israel since the beginning of the second intifadah in September 2000. Syria has been a key source of safe haven and limited logistical support.
  • Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC): This group, led by Ahmed Jibril, split from the PFLP in 1968, wanting to focus more on terrorist than political action; violently opposed to the PLO and is closely tied to Syria and Iran. The PFLP-GC conducted multiple attacks in Europe and the Middle East during the 1970s and 1980s. Unique in that it conducted cross-border operations against Israel using unusual means, including hot-air balloons and motorized hang gliders. Currently focused on small-scale attacks in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip.
  • Abu Nidal Organization (ANO): Anti-Western and anti-Israel international terrorist organization led by Sabri al-Banna; left the PLO in 1974. Organizational structure composed of various functional committees, including political, military, and financial. The ANO has carried out terrorist attacks in 20 countries, killing or injuring almost 900 persons. Targets have included the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Israel, moderate Palestinians, the PLO, and various Arab countries. Major attacks included the Rome and Vienna airports in December 1985, the Neve Shalom synagogue in Istanbul and the Pan Am flight 73 hijacking in Karachi in September 1986, and the City of Poros day-excursion ship attack in Greece in July 1988. Suspected of assassinating PLO deputy chief Abu Iyad and PLO security chief Abu Hul in Tunis in January 1991. ANO assassinated a Jordanian diplomat in Lebanon in January 1994. Has not attacked Western targets since the late 1980s. Al-Banna relocated to Iraq in December 1998, where the group maintains a presence. Financial problems and internal disorganization have reduced the group’s capabilities; activities shut down in Libya and Egypt in 1999.

While these secular Palestinians dominated the scene during the 1970s, religious movements also grew. The failure of Arab nationalism in the 1967 war resulted in the strengthening of both progressive and extremist Islamic movements. In the Middle East, Islamic movements increasingly came into opposition with secular nationalism, providing an alternative source of social welfare and education in the vacuum left by the lack of government-led development — a key example is The Muslim Brotherhood. Islamic groups were supported by anti-nationalist conservative regimes, such as Saudi Arabia, to counter the expansion of nationalist ideology. Yet political Islam, [2] more open to progressive change, was seen as a threat to conservative Arab regimes and thus support for more fundamentalist — and extremist — groups occurred to combat both nationalist and political Islamist movements. Meanwhile, in Iran, a turn to revolutionary Shia Islam under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini further eroded the power and legitimacy of the U.S.-backed authoritarian Pahlevi regime, setting the stage for the Shah’s downfall.The year 1979 was a turning point in international terrorism. Throughout the Arab world and the West, the Iranian Islamic revolution sparked fears of a wave of revolutionary Shia Islam. Meanwhile, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the subsequent anti-Soviet mujahedeen war, lasting from 1979 to 1989, stimulated the rise and expansion of terrorist groups. Indeed, the growth of a post-jihad pool of well-trained, battle-hardened militants is a key trend in contemporary international terrorism and insurgency-related violence. Volunteers from various parts of the Islamic world fought in Afghanistan, supported by conservative countries such as Saudi Arabia. In Yemen, for instance, the Riyadh-backed Islamic Front was established to provide financial, logistical, and training support for Yemeni volunteers. So called “Arab-Afghans” have — and are — using their experience to support local insurgencies in North Africa, Kashmir, Chechnya, China, Bosnia, and the Philippines.In the West, attention was focused on state sponsorship, specifically the Iranian-backed and Syrian-supported Hezbollah; state sponsors’ use of secular Palestinian groups was also of concern. [3] Hezbollah pioneered the use of suicide bombers in the Middle East, and was linked to the 1983 bombing and subsequent deaths of 241 U.S. marines in Beirut, Lebanon, as well as multiple kidnappings of U.S. and Western civilians and government officials. Hezbollah remains a key trainer of secular, Shia, and Sunni movements. As revealed during the investigation into the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, Libyan intelligence officers were allegedly involved with the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine — General Command (PFLP-GC). Iraq and Syria were heavily involved in supporting various terrorist groups, with Baghdad using the Abu Nidal Organization on several occasions. State sponsors used terrorist groups to attack Israeli as well as Western interests, in addition to domestic and regional opponents. It should be noted that the American policy of listing state sponsors was heavily politicized, and did not include several countries — both allies and opponents of Washington — that, under U.S. government definitions, were guilty of supporting or using terrorism.Key Radical Religious Groups

(descriptions taken directly from the U.S. State Department publication “Patterns of Global Terrorism, 2000”)·         Hezbollah: Radical Shia group formed in 1982 in Lebanon. Strongly anti-Western and anti-Israeli. Closely allied with, and often directed by, Iran but may have conducted operations that were not approved by Tehran. Known or suspected to have been involved in numerous anti-U.S. terrorist attacks, including the suicide truck bombing of the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in October 1983 and the U.S. Embassy annex in Beirut in September 1984. Elements of the group were responsible for the kidnapping and detention of U.S. and other Western hostages in Lebanon. The group also attacked the Israeli Embassy in Argentina in 1992 and is a suspect in the 1994 bombing of the Israeli cultural center in Buenos Aires. Operates in the Bekaa Valley, the southern suburbs of Beirut, and southern Lebanon. Has established cells in Europe, Africa, South America, North America, and Asia. Receives substantial amounts of financial, training, weapons, explosives, political, diplomatic, and organizational aid from Iran and Syria.

  • Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ – Al-Jihad, Jihad Group, Islamic Jihad): Egyptian group active since the late 1970s. The EIJ is apparently split into two factions: one led by Ayman al-Zawahiri – who currently is in Afghanistan and is a key leader in the Usama bin Laden (UBL) network – and the Vanguards of Conquest (Talaa’ al-Fateh) led by Ahmad Husayn Agiza. Abbud al-Zumar, leader of the original Jihad, is imprisoned in Egypt and recently joined the group’s jailed spiritual leader, Shaykh Umar Abd al-Rahman, in a call for a “peaceful front.” The group’s traditional goal is the overthrow of the Egyptian Government and creation of an Islamic state. Given its involvement with UBL, EIJ is likely increasingly willing to target U.S. interests. The group has threatened to strike the U.S. for its jailing of Shaykh al-Rahman and the arrests of EIJ cadres in Albania, Azerbaijan, and the United Kingdom..
  • Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ): The PIJ, emerging from radical Gazan Palestinians in the 1970s, is apparently a series of loosely affiliated factions rather than a cohesive group. The PIJ focus is the destruction of Israel and the creation of a Palestinian Islamic state. Due to Washington’s support of Israel, the PIJ has threatened to strike American targets; the PIJ has not “specifically” conducted attacks against U.S. interests; Arab regimes deemed as un-Islamic are also threatened. The group has stated its willingness to hit American targets in Jordan. PIJ cadres reportedly receive funding from Tehran and logistical support from Syria.
  • Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS): Emerging from the Muslim Brotherhood during the first Palestinian intifadah (1987), HAMAS has become the primary anti-Israeli religious opposition in the occupied territories. The group is mainly known for its use of suicide bombers and is loosely organized, with centers of strength in Gaza and certain areas in the West Bank. HAMAS, while condemning American policies favoring Israel, has not targeted the U.S. directly.
  • Al-Gamaat Al-Islamiyya (IG – the Islamic Group, al-Gama’at, Islamic Gama’at, Egyptian al-Gama’at al-Islamiyya, GI): The IG, begun in the 1970s, is the largest of the Egyptian militant groups. Its core goal is the overthrow of the Cairo regime and creation of an Islamic state. The IG appears to be a more loosely organized entity than the EIJ, and maintains a globally present external wing. IG leadership signed Usama Bin Ladin’s February 1998 anti-U.S. fatwa but has denied supporting UBL. Shaykh Umar Abd al-Rahman is al-Gama’at’s spiritual leader, and thus the U.S. has been threatened with attack. From 1993 until the cease-fire, al-Gama’a launched attacks on tourists in Egypt, most notably the attack in November 1997 at Luxor that killed 58 foreign tourists. Also claimed responsibility for the attempt in June 1995 to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Has a worldwide presence, including Sudan, the United Kingdom, Afghanistan, Austria, and Yemen. The Egyptian Government believes that Iran, Bin Ladin, and Afghan militant groups support the organization.

The disintegration of post-Cold War states, and the Cold War legacy of a world awash in advanced conventional weapons and know-how, has assisted the proliferation of terrorism worldwide. Vacuums of stability created by conflict and absence of governance in areas such as the Balkans, Afghanistan, Colombia, and certain African countries offer ready made areas for terrorist training and recruitment activity, while smuggling and drug trafficking routes are often exploited by terrorists to support operations worldwide. With the increasing ease of transnational transportation and communication, the continued willingness of states such as Iran and Iraq to provide support, and dehumanizing ideologies that enable mass casualty attacks, the lethal potential of terrorist violence has reached new heights.The region of Afghanistan — it is not a country in the conventional sense — has, particularly since the 1989 Soviet withdrawal, emerged as a terrorist training ground. Pakistan, struggling to balance its needs for political-economic reform with a domestic religious agenda, provides assistance to terrorist groups both in Afghanistan and Kashmir while acting as a further transit area between the Middle East and South Asia. Since their emergence in 1994, the Pakistani-supported Taliban militia in Afghanistan has assumed several characteristics traditionally associated with state-sponsors of terrorism, providing logistical support, travel documentation, and training facilities. Although radical groups such as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda, and Kashmiri militants were in Afghanistan prior to the Taliban, the spread of Taliban control has seen Afghan-based terrorism evolve into a relatively coordinated, widespread activity focused on sustaining and developing terrorist capabilities. Since the mid-1990s, Pakistani-backed terrorist groups fighting in Kashmir have increasingly used training camps inside Taliban-controlled areas. At the same time, members of these groups, as well as thousands of youths from Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), have fought with the Taliban against opposition forces. This activity has seen the rise of extremism in parts of Pakistan neighboring Afghanistan, further complicating the ability of Islamabad to exert control over militants. Moreover, the intermixing of Pakistani movements with the Taliban and their Arab-Afghan allies has seen ties between these groups strengthen.Since 1989 the increasing willingness of religious extremists to strike targets outside immediate country or regional areas underscores the global nature of contemporary terrorism. The 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, are representative of this trend.Key Groups in the New Phase of Militant Islamic Terrorism

(descriptions taken directly from the U.S. State Department publication “Patterns of Global Terrorism, 2000”)·         Al-Qaeda (The Base): Established by Usama Bin Ladin (UBL) circa 1990, Al Qaeda aims to coordinate a transnational mujahideen network; stated goal is to “reestablish the Muslim State” throughout the world via the overthrow of corrupt regimes in the Islamic world and the removal of foreign presence – primarily American and Israeli – from the Middle East. UBL has issued three anti-U.S. fatwas encouraging Muslims to take up arms against Washington’s “imperialism.” Al Qaeda provides financial, manpower, transportation, and training support to extremists worldwide. In February 1998 bin Ladin issued a statement under the banner of “The World Islamic Front for Jihad Against The Jews and Crusaders,” saying it was the duty of all Muslims to kill U.S. citizens, civilian or military, and their allies. Allegedly orchestrated the bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, on August 7, 1998. Claims to have been involved in the 1993 killing of U.S. servicemen in Somalia and the December 1992 bombings against U.S. troops in Aden, Yemen. Al Qaeda serves as the core of a loose umbrella organization that includes members of many Sunni Islamic extremist groups, including factions of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), the Gama’at al-Islamiyya (IG), and the Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM). The group is a prime suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks as well as the U.S.S Cole bombing.

  • Armed Islamic Group (GIA): Having initiated terrorist activities in 1992 following Algiers refusal to accept a democratically elected Islamist government, the GIA has conducted multiple mass killings of civilians and assassinations of Algerian leaders. While present in areas such as Yemen, the GIA reportedly does not target the U.S. directly. However, it is possible that GIA splinter movements or personnel may become involved in anti-U.S. action.
  • Aden-Abyan Islamic Army (AAIA): The Aden-Abyan Islamic Army is allegedly affiliated to the Yemeni Islamic Jihad and has been implicated in acts of violence with the stated goal to “hoist the banner of al-Jihad, and fight secularism in Yemen and the Arab countries.” Aden-Abyan Islamic Army leader Zein al-Abideen al-Mehdar was executed for participating in the December 1998 kidnapping of 16 Western tourists. Four of the hostages were killed and another 13 hostages were freed when Yemeni security forces attacked the place where the hostages were being held. In March 1999 the group warned the U.S. and British ambassadors in Yemen to leave immediately.
  • Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM): Formerly part of the Harakat al-Ansar (HUA), the Pakistani-based HUM operates primarily in Kashmir. Long-time leader of the group, Fazlur Rehman Khalil, in mid-February stepped down; the popular Kashmiri commander and second-in-command, Farooq Kashmiri, assumed the reigns. Khalil, who has been linked to Bin Ladin and signed his fatwa in February 1998 calling for attacks on U.S. and Western interests, assumed the position of HUM Secretary General. The HUM is linked to the militant group al-Faran that kidnapped five Western tourists in Kashmir in July 1995; one was killed in August 1995 and the other four reportedly were killed in December of the same year. Supporters are mostly Pakistanis and Kashmiris and also include Afghans and Arab veterans of the Afghan war. The HUM trains its militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • Jaish-e-Mohammed (Army of Mohammed): The Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) has greatly expanded since Maulana Masood Azhar, a former ultra-fundamentalist Harakat ul-Ansar (HUA) leader, formed the group in February 2000. The group’s aim is to unite Kashmir with Pakistan. It is politically aligned with the radical, pro-Taliban, political party, Jamiat-i Ulema-i Islam (JUI-F). The JEM maintains training camps in Afghanistan. Most of the JEM’s cadre and material resources have been drawn from the militant groups Harakat ul-Jihad al-Islami (HUJI) and the Harakat ul-Mujahedin (HUM). The JEM has close ties to Afghan Arabs and the Taliban. Usama Bin Ladin is suspected of giving funding to the JEM. Group by this name claimed responsibility for the USS Cole attack.
  • Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LT) (Army of the Righteous): The LT is the armed wing of the Pakistan-based religious organization, Markaz-ud-Dawa-wal-Irshad (MDI)–a Sunni anti-U.S. missionary organization formed in 1989. One of the three largest and best-trained groups fighting in Kashmir against India, it is not connected to a political party. The LT leader is MDI chief, Professor Hafiz Mohammed Saeed. Almost all LT cadres are foreigners–mostly Pakistanis from seminaries across the country and Afghan veterans of the Afghan wars. The LT trains its militants in mobile training camps across Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Afghanistan.

[1] Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Al Fatah
The PLO was founded in 1964 as a Palestinian nationalist umbrella organization committed to the creation of an independent Palestinian state. After the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, militia groups composing the PLO vied for control, with Al Fatah — led by Yasser Arafat — becoming dominant. Al Fatah joined the PLO in 1968 and won the leadership role in 1969. In 1969 Arafat assumed the position of PLO Executive Committee chairman, a position he still holds. Al Fatah essentially became the PLO, with other groups’ influence on PLO actions increasingly marginalized. Al Fatah and other PLO components were pushed out of Jordan following clashes with Jordanian forces in 1970-71. The Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 led to the group’s dispersal to several Middle Eastern countries, including Tunisia, Yemen, Algeria, Iraq, and others. The PLO maintains several military and intelligence wings that have carried out terrorist attacks, including Force 17 and the Western Sector. Two of its leaders, Abu Jihad and Abu Iyad, were assassinated in recent years. In the 1960s and the 1970s, Al Fatah offered training to a wide range of European, Middle Eastern, Asian, and African terrorist and insurgent groups and carried out numerous acts of international terrorism in Western Europe and the Middle East in the early-to-middle 1970s. Arafat signed the Declaration of Principles (DOP) with Israel in 1993 — the Oslo Accords — and renounced terrorism and violence. The organization fragmented in the early 1980s, but remained the leading Palestinian political organization. Following the 1993 Oslo Accords, the PLO — read Al Fatah — leadership assumed control of the nascent Palestinian National Authority (PNA).
[2] Political versus Fundamentalist Islam
Political Islam, as opposed to fundamentalist or neo-fundamentalist Islam, posits a worldview that can deal with and selectively integrate modernity. In contrast, fundamentalist Islam calls for a return to an ontological form of Islam that rejects modernity; groups such as Al Qaeda and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad are representative of fundamentalist Islam.
[3] A Note on State Sponsors of Religious Terror Groups
Unlike the “secular” national, radical, anarchist terrorism sponsored by states such as Libya, Syria, Iraq, Cuba, North Korea, and behind the scenes by the former Soviet camp, most of the Islamic terrorist groups have never been sponsored by states. Many Egyptian organizations emerged from the Egyptian domestic landscape. Algerian groups likewise were not sponsored by foreign states. Hezbollah certainly can be viewed as an Iranian surrogate, but other movements, while open to state assistance, remain operationally and ideologically independent.

Do you still want to buy gas at Hugo Chavez controlled Citgo??? Citgo Petroleum Corporation or Citgo, a subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela S.A., the Venezuelan state-owned petroleum company

  

 If we quit buying Citgo gas it would cost the Chavez regime at least $30 billion. See the facts below

  

Citgo

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Type: Subsidiary of PDVSA (State-Owned Enterprise)
Founded: 1965 Bartlesville, Oklahoma
Headquarters: Houston, Texas
Key people: Félix Rodriguez, President, CEO & Director
Industry: Oil and Gasoline
Products: Petrochemical
Revenue: $32.028 billion USD (2004)
Employees: 4,000
Website: www.citgo.com

Citgo Petroleum Corporation or Citgo, a subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela S.A., the Venezuelan state-owned petroleum company, is a United States-incorporated firm refiner and marketer of gasoline, lubricants, petrochemicals and other petroleum products. PDVSA is controlled by the Venezuelan government. The Citgo gasoline brand was inaugurated in 1965 by the Cities Service Company, a United States based energy company that first rose to prominence in the early 1900s. Cities Service Company was acquired by Occidental Petroleum Corporation in 1982. That same year, Cities Service Company transferred all of the assets of its Refining, Marketing and Transportation division (which comprised its refining and retail petroleum business) into the newly formed Citgo Petroleum Corporation subsidiary, to ease the divestiture of the division. In 1983, Citgo and the Citgo brand was sold by Occidental to Southland Corporation, owners of the 7-Eleven chain of convenience stores; 50% was sold to Petróleos de Venezuela in 1986, and the remainder in 1990. As of 2004, it is headquartered in Houston, Texas, with over 4,000 employees and annual revenue in excess of $32 billion. Citgo has supplied 14,000 retailers, but in July 2006 announced plans to cease serving 14% of their independent retailers in the United States. Before relocating its headquarters to Houston, Citgo was headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Cities Service Company continued on under various Occidental names as a part of OXY’s domestic exploration and production business, but all Cities Service trademarks are now owned by Citgo.)

A number of 7-Eleven stores in the U.S. are licensed to sell motor fuel and lubricants under the Citgo brand.

A Look At Hugo Chavez

A Look At Hugo Chavez

Steve

A former Venezuela-based foreign correspondent, David Paulin, explains one reason why Hugo Chavez is so virulently anti-American as he sits atop the only non-Middle Eastern OPEC member state.

Hugo Chavez’s bizarre anti-American rant at the United Nations has got Americans asking, “What makes Chavez tick?”

To understand him, stop thinking of oil-producing Venezuela as a Latin American country. Think of it as a dysfunctional Middle Eastern petro-state. Doing that is the key to understanding Chavez and Venezuela.

Chavez is not alone in his thinking, which can be considered a manifestation of outward hatred diverted from internal failings.

Chavez’s anti-Americanism, moreover, achieves the recognition he never could attain by providing mundane things such as decent public services, crime control, and serious anti-poverty programs. It’s no wonder that Chavez gets along so well with oil-rich Middle Eastern thugs, who also are adept at the blame game, as they accuse Israel, America, or whatever they can come up with to excuse their dysfunction.

No wonder so many Third World delegates in the U.N. applauded Chavez’s anti-American rant. They, like Chavez, find it easier to blame America than to accept responsibility for their personal and collective failures.

Yet while Chavez is enjoying his increasing celebrity status abroad, this appears not to be the case at home in Venezuela.

Some may be curious if you still buy your gasoline at Citgo

Hamas Columnist: Hizbullah’s Victory in Lebanon Opens the Door for a Third Intifada


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August 13, 2006 No.1246
Hamas Columnist: Hizbullah’s Victory in Lebanon Opens the Door for a Third IntifadaIn an article published on August 7, 2006, in the Hamas semiweekly Al-Risala titled “Victory in Lebanon – towards a Third Intifada,” columnist Ibrahim Abu Heija’ encourages Hamas to use what he sees as Hizbullah’s victory as a springboard for a third Palestinian intifada. In the same issue, a cartoon (shown below) was published depicting Hassan Nasrallah as a general with dead Israeli soldiers hanging as tassels on his epaulettes. The following are excerptsfrom the article: [1]  “The Greatest Beneficiary [of the Victory in Lebanon] Will Ultimately Be the Palestinian Resistance” “What has become evident from the ongoing battles in the proud and resistant south of Lebanon is the confirmation of Israel’s failure in achieving its goals and the confirmation of the decline in its deterrence capability in comparison with what it was before it got embroiled in the Lebanese quagmire – despite the bloody slaughters that Israel committed against unarmed civilians… “What is noteworthy here is not only the collapse of the Israeli defense doctrine in the face of a well-organized community possessed of faith and will, such as Hizbullah, but what is more important in the Israeli loss is to examine the consequences of the victory and its implications on additional levels. “Hizbullah, which achieved the victory, will be the least of those who benefit from this victory, due to certain considerations relevant to the Lebanese arena, which is based on sectarian division. This does not mean that it will not gain greater strength and legitimacy than it had before, particularly since the Israeli aggression, as is evident, proceeds without direction and without any reckoning of consequences, and therefore gets itself entangled in guerilla warfare, in which Hizbullah is unsurpassed in its skill, and has a Syrian and Iranian backing that denies it nothing in terms of arms, money, support, and protection. “It detracts nothing from Hizbullah’s standing, nor from its right to enjoy the honor of victory, that it is a shield protecting Syria and Lebanon from breaking apart, and is a shield for Iran against an attack on its nuclear reactor. “However, the greatest beneficiary will ultimately be the Palestinian resistance, because all of the Arab, regional, and international equations, whether they are at variance or in agreement, revolve around the Palestinian cause, either in order to liquidate it or to defend it.” “This is an Important Moment That the Palestinian Resistance Must Seize” “This is an important moment that the Palestinian resistance must seize. It benefited from [a similar moment] at the beginning of the Al-Aqsa [Intifada], when the West Bank and Gaza spoke the Lebanese language, after they had long been immersed in American and Israeli illusions. And following [the Al-Aqsa Intifada], the incomplete [Israeli] withdrawal from the Gaza Strip was carried out. “And now, after the cease-fire [hudna] has been tried and the experience of changing the [Palestinian] Authority reached its peak, the door will be opened for a third Palestinian intifada that will transform the resistance from the stage of reaction [to Israeli] actions to [resistance] that is carried out at our initiative.” “The Arab Regimes… Showed Solidarity With Israel… and Placed their Bets on an Old Horse and a Losing Card” “The intifada will be honed on four sides: [1] The victory in southern Lebanon [underlines] the necessity of elites and Islamic and [pan-Arab] nationalist movements enhancing their service to the masses. This is especially true after the Arab regimes have lost the thin patriotic coating under which they hid and openly showed solidarity with Israel and manifested their dissatisfaction with the resistance [i.e. Hizbullah], and it did not occur to them that they had placed their bets on an old horse and a losing card. “This will fling the door wide open for the strong elites and movements to [make] radical changes in the structures of Arab [society], and the Palestinian resistance will benefit from this, anyway you look at it. “On the [second] side, the spectacle of failure in Lebanon will increase the bungling of the American administration in Iraq, and will expose its selective method of reform. This will affect America’s Mediterranean plans, and will lead it either to recoil and flee, or else will lead it to measures and solutions which aim to patch together the Palestinian issue through fragile regional and international coalitions. Neither course will save the United State’s standing and will not turn back the clock. “The Victory in Lebanon Will Weaken Those Palestinian Voices that [Call] for Making Concessions… and Cease-Fires” “The [third] side is this: the victory in Lebanon will weaken those Palestinian voices that are heard from time to time, sometimes calling for making concessions, at other times calling for fortuitous cease-fires. Hamas will be given a significant margin to gain legitimacy for carrying out [armed] resistance on various fronts where [at present] the Palestinian Authority objects and the resistance desists. “The Israeli Defeat in Lebanon Will Force Israel to Move towards Partial Withdrawals from the Shab’a Farms, the West Bank, and Perhaps the Golan Heights…” “The [fourth] side: the Israeli defeat in Lebanon will force Israel to move towards partial withdrawals from the Shab’a Farms, the West Bank, and perhaps the Golan Heights, in order to diminish the effects of its defeat, but this will in no way deceive the Palestinians, the Syrians, or the Lebanese; rather, it will push them all to make yet another move towards achieving their rights. “In general, it is important for the Palestinian resistance to exploit the effects of the victory in Lebanon for its own interests in order to achieve its rights and move forwards towards its objectives, and to encourage the whole public to unite behind its program. “The growing aggression in the Gaza Strip against children and women will be the most important incentive for accomplishing the equation of the new resistance and taking it beyond the implications of the prisoners’ document and the consideration of being in power to activating all the components of deterrence and counter-deterrence – namely, taking it from considerations of defense and reticence to the elements of attack and advance. That is, towards a third intifada.


[1] Al-Risala (Gaza), August 7, 2006.
 

  

House Panel Approves Electronic Surveillance Bill

House Panel Approves Electronic Surveillance Bill Legislation would grant the administration ‘even broader authority to spy on Americans,’ say privacy advocates. Grant Gross, IDG News Service Thursday, September 21, 2006 08:00 AM PDT A U.S. House of Representatives Committee has approved a controversial bill that would broaden the U.S. government’s ability to conduct electronic surveillance on U.S. residents by making it easier for federal law enforcement officials to get court-issued warrants. The Electronic Modernization Surveillance Act, opposed by several privacy groups, would also allow federal law enforcement officials to spy on U.S. residents for up to 90 days without a court order in the period after a terrorist attack. The House Judiciary Committee approved the legislation Wednesday by a 20-16 vote, with all committee Democrats present voting against the bill. The bill, sponsored by Representative Heather Wilson (R-New Mexico, would reduce the amount of information required from federal agents applying for a wiretapping warrant from the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The bill would clarify that the U.S. government can seek wiretaps on any type of electronic communication, not just telephone- or radio-spectrum-based communication. A Tool Against Terrorism? Republicans praised the bill, saying it will help the U.S. government fight terrorism. The bill will provide the U.S. intelligence agencies “greater agility and flexibility as they try to thwart our determined and dangerous terrorist enemies,” Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) said in a statement. The full House is expected to vote on the bill by the end of the month. The committee’s action comes after President George Bush called on Congress to approve a controversial electronic surveillance program conducted by the U.S. National Security Agency. The NSA has conducted the program, reportedly targeting U.S. residents speaking with foreigners who have suspected terrorism connections, without getting court warrants. Bush has asked Congress to authorize the NSA program to ward off multiple court challenges against it. In August, a U.S. judge in Michigan ruled the NSA program is illegal and must be halted. The Bush administration has appealed that ruling. Or an Attack on Privacy? The Senate Judiciary Committee approved three surveillance bills last week. The Center for Democracy and Technology, a privacy and civil liberties advocacy group, called the Wilson bill and the Senate’s National Security Surveillance Act two of the worst bills now in Congress. “Couched in the seemingly laudable terms of ‘modernization,’ the bills would radically undermine the privacy of innocent Americans — not just by legitimizing the administration’s warrantless surveillance programs — but by granting this and future administrations even broader authority to spy on Americans in the United States without judicial review,” the CDT said on its Web site.