Hit Iran Where It Hurts

Hit Iran Where It Hurts
By Dick Morris and Eileen McGann
FrontPageMagazine.com | December 28, 2006

The sanctions adopted by the United Nations are too weak, too puny, and too late to have any deterrent effect on Iran’s drive to build a nuclear bomb. But there is something the U.S. government, state governments, labor unions, pension funds, and each of us as individuals can do: we can stop investing in companies that help Iran exploit the oil and gas resources on which its economy depends.

Investment funds – including pension funds – all over America are helping Iran develop the nuclear weapons that will eventually threaten us by investing in companies that directly subsidize Iran. We must all band together to stop these self-defeating investments.

Frank Gaffney, a Reagan-era Pentagon official, is pioneering the way via his group, disinvestterror.org. Sarah Steelman, Missouri’s state treasurer, has followed his lead – the billion-dollar state pension funds have pulled investments in any company that abets terrorism.

Among Steelman’s first targets were the Swiss giant UBS Finance and the French firm BNP Paribas Finance Inc. Both got kicked off the Missouri funds’ list of approved brokers. UBS got the message and pulled out of Iran; it’s now seeking readmission to Missouri’s list. But BNP Paribus still works there.

Indeed, it’s an old friend of the Iranian regime. It headed a consortium that lent $1 billion to Iran Petrochemical Commercial Co. in September 2005. In 2002, it was central to Iran’s sale of $1.1 billion in bonds – the first foreign Iranian bonds for sale since 1979.

Gaffney’s targets include Royal Dutch Shell, the multinational oil conglomerate. It has extensive holdings in the key Iranian offshore oil fields Soroush and Nowruz, where its investments have been pivotal in raising oil output by 190,000 barrels per day – about an 8 percent increase in total Iranian output. (In October, Shell diversified its terror portfolio – winning contracts to search for and pump oil in Syria.)

In an ideal world, of course, there’d be real UN sanctions against Tehran, as well as strong action by the federal government. But vested interests make either near-impossible to achieve.

Back in the ’90s, for example, then-Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, R-NY, pushed through sanctions against foreign firms that do business in two terror-sponsoring nations, Libya and Iran. But the Europeans protested vigorously that the law was an extraterritorial infringement of their sovereignty. So, while President Clinton signed the bill, he took the advice of National Security Adviser Sandy Berger and waived any application of the law.

But there’s an alternative to shutting down Iran’s economy in one fell swoop – the death of a thousand cuts, via smaller-scale actions. The Gaffney approach aims at the same goals as D’Amato’s, but by private means.

And Steelman has added an important state component to the drive. Other public fund managers should pay heed. Here in New York, that means city Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. and the successor to Alan Hevesi as state comptroller.

Companies in the New York area should join in – and focus on persuading their banks to join the disinvestment project. Unions should direct their pension funds to do the same.

Even more than the rest of America, the town that is Terror Target No. 1 has good reason to end Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

A Bigot in Congress? I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States

A Bigot in Congress?
By Robert Spencer
FrontPageMagazine.com | December 28, 2006

Congressman Virgil Goode (R-VA) is being censured by almost everyone for his remarks about incoming Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Muslim immigration. “I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States,” Goode wrote in a letter to a constituent, “if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped.” He also noted Ellison’s intention to be sworn in on the Qur’an, declaring that “if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran.”

In an unsigned editorial entitled “A Bigot in Congress,” the Washington Post huffed that besides being a bigot, Goode was “colossally stupid” and suffering from “xenophobic delirium.” Goode, opined the Post, was “evidently napping in class the day they taught the traditional American values of tolerance, diversity and religious freedom. This country’s history is rife with instances of uncivil, hateful and violent behavior toward newcomers, be they Jewish, Irish, Italian or plenty of others whose ethnicities did not jibe with some pinched view of what it means to be American. Mr. Goode’s dimwitted outburst of nativism is nothing new.” The “real worry” was that “the rest of the world might take Mr. Goode seriously, interpreting his biased remarks about Muslims as proof that America really has embarked on a civilizational war against Islam.” The Post was not alone. The Baltimore Sun scored Goode for his “ignorance” and “mindless prejudice,” and editorialized that “Americans sincerely trying to put aside their biases are not well-served by elected officials who proudly espouse wrongheaded views fostering distrust and hatred.” And the New York Times, also in an unsigned editorial, “Fear and Bigotry in Congress,” scolded both Goode and radio host Dennis Prager (who also voiced objections to Ellison’s using the Qur’an in his swearing-in): “As for Mr. Prager and Mr. Goode, we appreciate their help in demonstrating how very fast things can get both nutty and unpleasant once the founding fathers’ wise decision to avoid institutionalizing any religious faith gets breached.” 

Fox talking head Susan Estrich said that “the Virgil Goode position on immigration is, basically, to stop it, especially immigration by Muslims. God forbid the world, especially the Muslim world, should see us as a country where diversity is valued and respected, and freedom of religion guaranteed….Where in the Bible does Mr. Goode find his basis for such hatred? And how in the world does Mr. Goode think we will ever fight terrorism, especially terrorism by Muslims, if we do not have the support, cooperation and trust of leaders in the Muslim community? If we are viewed, at the highest levels, as damning all those who believe in the Koran, who will take our side? Don’t we want to encourage Muslims to believe in the political process and participate in it?” 

All these criticisms share a common core assumption: that Goode has no reason to be concerned about Ellison, the Qur’an, or Muslims, and that any suspicion he does have is simply evidence of his bigotry and ignorance. In raising the specter of nativism, the Post was suggesting that America has been down this road before, and has nothing to show for it but shame. Suspicions about previous waves of immigrants amounted to nothing more than xenophobia, there was no Jewish conspiracy or Popish plot to subvert the United States Constitution, and concerns about Muslims and the Qur’an are just as hysterical and unfounded. Ellison, for his part, sounded a defiant note in an address in Dearborn, Michigan. To cries of “Allahu akbar” from a Muslim crowd, he declared: “On January 4, I will go swear an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. I’ll place my hand on the Quran.” 

Ellison said these words at a convention hosted by the Muslim American Society and the Islamic Circle of North America. According to a 2004 Chicago Tribune article, “A rare look at secretive Brotherhood in America,” the Muslim American Society was founded in 1993 as the United States arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian based terror group that has spawned both Hamas and Al-Qaeda. MAS members now maintain that the group has no ties to the Brotherhood, but there are indications that many in the group want to see the U.S. Constitution replaced by Islamic law. “We may all feel emotionally attached to the goal of an Islamic state” in America, said a speaker at a 2002 MAS conference, but “we mustn’t cross hurdles we can’t jump yet.” The Muslim American Society’s chapter for Ellison’s home state of Minnesota hosts a website that offers in an “Online Library” texts by the jihad theorists Syed Abul Ala Maududi and Sayyid Qutb. Qutb in his jihad manifesto Milestones asserts that “Islam is the way of life ordained by God for all mankind, and this way establishes the Lordship of God alone — that is, the sovereignty of God – and orders practical life in all its daily details. Jihaad in Islam is simply a name for striving to make this system of life dominant in the world.” Likewise, according to terror expert Steven Emerson, the Islamic Circle of North America “is a Jamad Islamia group, which is on record as calling for jihad in the United States, to promote the notion of an Islamic world. ICNA also published something very recently saying that they are against suicide bombings, except when it comes to killing Israelis.” 

Is it reasonable to ask Ellison if he shares such views? When he speaks at a conference sponsored by such organizations, is it simply bigotry to ask him if he holds views they are on record as having? When Muslim leaders around the globe have spoken about the necessity to impose Islamic law upon the world, is it sheer nativism to ask Ellison and American Muslims if they hold the same views? On June 29, 2005, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that “the wave of the Islamic revolution will soon reach the entire world.” As late as November 2003, the website of the Islamic Affairs Department (IAD) of the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington, D.C. stated that “the Muslims are required to raise the banner of Jihad in order to make the Word of Allah supreme in this world, to remove all forms of injustice and oppression, and to defend the Muslims.” This is a venerable idea within Islam: even the noted Islamic historian Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), whose name adorns the pro-democracy Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies in Cairo, taught that “in the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force.” In Islam, the person in charge of religious affairs is concerned with “power politics,” because Islam is “under obligation to gain power over other nations.”[1] 

On the basis of what evidence do Goode’s many detractors assume that neither Ellison nor any other Muslim in the United States subscribes to these views? Bigotry is an obstinate and irrational hatred of a particular group. Is it obstinate or irrational, or any kind of act of hatred at all, to ask Ellison to clarify where he stands on the MAS’s desire for the eventual imposition of Islamic law in the United States? He has chosen to be associated with MAS and ICNA. He ought to be willing to clarify matters accordingly. And the mainstream media ought to be willing to take time out from vilifying Virgil Goode long enough to entertain the possibility that this case doesn’t quite fit their preconceived notions.

[1] Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History, translated by Franz Rosenthal; edited and abridged by N. J. Dawood, Princeton University Press, 1967, p. 183.


Islamists quit Somali capital

Islamists quit Somali capital

  • December 29, 2006

SOMALIA’S Islamic movement abandoned Mogadishu yesterday and clan militiamen poured into the streets to take control of the capital, as government forces backed by Ethiopia surrounded the capital.

Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, the executive leader of the Council of Islamic Courts, said he had ordered his forces out of Mogadishu to avoid bloodshed in the capital. Residents living south of Mogadishu said they saw convoys of Islamic fighters driving south.In Mogadishu, gunfire echoed through the streets and hundreds of gunmen, who had fought for Koranic rule just hours earlier, took off their Islamic uniforms and submitted to the command of clan elders who ruled the capital before the Islamic courts took over in June.

The city of two million was reported to be in a state of chaos and panic as clan militia began looting Islamic courts’ bases and buildings belonging to Islamic courts officials, witnesses said.

The scene was reminiscent of the anarchy 15 years ago that led to an unsuccessful UN intervention in which 18 US troops were killed.

Clan leaders were due to meet last night to discuss throwing their support behind the Government. Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Ghedi, speaking from his base in Baidoa, called on Islamic militias to withdraw to bases outside the city and allow traditional elders to maintain security.

President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed was expected to hold a press conference late yesterday to offer moderates a truce.

Government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said talks for the peaceful surrender of Mogadishu were under way.

“We will not attack Mogadishu,” Mr Dinari said. “Islamic courts militias are already on the run and we hope that Mogadishu will fall to our hands without firing a shot.”

On the outskirts of Mogadishu, government forces took over the northern town of Balad and were just outside the western town of Afgoye, cutting off the seaside capital to the north and west, residents and government officials said.

Government forces also took control of Baledogle airport, the country’s most important airfield.

Leaders of the Council of Islamic Courts issued a statement yesterday which said they would maintain security in Mogadishu and allow the people to decide who they want to rule them.

“The (council) allows that Somalis should have the option to determine their future and would be ready for taking over the responsibility,” the statement, signed by the courts’ top three leaders, said.

The Islamic courts captured Mogadishu in June and went on to take much of southern Somalia, often without fighting. The council’s fortunes started to reverse on Sunday, when Ethiopia sent reinforcements across the border to help the internationally recognised Government.

Somalia’s complex clan system has been the basis of politics and identity here for centuries. But because of fighting, the country has not had an effective government since 1991, when clan-based warlords overthrew a dictator and then turned on one another.

Two years ago, the UN helped set up the interim Government. It has been unable to assert much authority, in part because it has been weakened by clan rivalries.

The conflict in Somalia has drawn concern in the US, which accuses the Islamists of harbouring al-Qa’ida terrorists, and has given its tacit support to Ethiopia’s involvement.

The African Union and the Arab League called on Wednesday for all foreign forces to withdraw from Somalia, and for the Government and Islamic courts to return to peace talks.

The Organisation of the Islamic Conference urged parties to spare Mogadishu because of the potential for “enormous human losses”.

The UN Security Council failed yesterday for a second time to agree on a statement calling for an immediate ceasefire.