Posted on 19 April 2013 by Emperor
Posted on 27 February 2013 by Amago
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and local residents insist that the answer is yes
In 2010, as WikiLeaks published hundreds of thousands of classified documents relating to the conduct of the US government, government defenders dismissively claimed that they revealed nothing new. Among the many documents disproving that claim were ones relating to a US policy in Iraq set forth in “Frago 242″, which ordered coalition troops not to stop or even investigate torture and other war crimes by the Iraqi forces they were training, but simply to “note” them.
And note them they did: the logs record thousands of cases of Iraqi forces severely beating, brutalizing and torturing Iraqi civilians while US forces, with rare exception, did nothing to stop it (when the documents were released, the Guardian detailed just some of the illustrative cases). As the Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder wrote at the time, the documents contain “incredibly awful reports of systematized detainee abuse by Iraqi soldiers and security forces right under the noses of the American-led coalition, which appears to have had virtually no incentive to put a stop to them” (as usual, these documents were classified not to safeguard US national security but rather to conceal bad and embarrassing acts on the part of the US government: that is why it is not hard to understand why the US government is so aggressive about punishing Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks, and other whistleblowers and journalists who expose these secrets).
In Afghanistan on Sunday, President Hamid Karzai alleged that the US is doing something much worse: not merely standing by and watching their trained forces torture and kill, but actively and systematically participating. As the Guardian’s Golnar Motevalli reported:
“The Afghan government has ordered US special forces to leave one of Afghanistan’s most restive provinces, Maidan Wardak, after receiving reports from local officials claiming that the elite units had been involved in the torture and disappearance of Afghan civilians. . . .
“The provincial governor and other officials from Maidan Wardak presented evidence against US forces at the national security council meeting. The presidential palace later issued a statement saying: ‘After a thorough discussion, it became clear that armed individuals named as US special forces stationed in Wardak province engage in harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people.
“‘A recent example in the province is an incident in which nine people were disappeared in an operation by this suspicious force and in a separate incident a student was taken away at night from his home, whose tortured body with throat cut was found two days later under a bridge,’ the statement added” . . . .
“Aimal Faizi, spokesman for Karzai, said the decision came after of months of reports of abuse.
“‘People have been complaining about US special forces units torturing people, killing people in that province, and nine individuals were taken from their homes recently and they have just disappeared and no one knows where they have gone,’ Faizi said.”
Since Sunday, the New York Times’ Matthew Rosenberg has written two detailed articles on these events. On Monday, he noted that the Karzai spokesman specifically cited “a raid on a village on 13 February, when American troops and Afghans working with them detained a veterinary student. ‘His dead body was found three days later in the area under a bridge,” the spokesman said.” This morning, Rosenberg noted that the student was actually beheaded.
Motevalli noted that “US military officials have rejected the allegations”. Rosenberg also notes that military officials express bewilderment over the allegation that these abuses are being “committed by Afghan irregulars who worked with elite American forces” and that “some Afghan officials believe the suspects are part of a force whose existence has been kept secret by the Americans.” And a NATO spokesman said that it was unable to confirm past claims of torture on the part of their Afghan forces.
But there’s no question, as Rosenberg notes, that “throughout the war,the United States military and the CIA have organized and trained clandestine militias. A number still operate, and remain beyond the knowledge or control of the Afghan government.” Recall that the CIA got caught making payments for years to Karzai’s suspected drug-running brother, Ahmed, “for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the CIA’s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar”. These are the US-controlled militias, beyond the authority of the Afghan government, on which the US intends to rely if and when it “withdraws” from that country.
It may very well be that US military officials are telling the truth when they claim they are not involved with these specific units, but that the Afghan grievances are completely accurate. That is because, as Rosenberg explains:
“One possibility that would match the descriptions of attackers offered by local Afghan officials and, at the same time, exclude American military forces would be that the suspects were working with the Central Intelligence Agency, whose operatives run militias in a number of provinces. A spokesman for the CIA refused to comment on the issue.
“One senior Afghan official said it was possible: Afghans, he said, make no distinction between military-type outfits. Americans with weapons, high-end gear and facial hair were ‘all special forces. It’s a phrase that catches all.’”
What is absolutely certain is that what Rosenberg calls the “aggressive tactics” of US special forces have previously “resulted in abuses, and attempted cover-ups” of exactly the type being alleged now.
As but one illustrative example: in 2010, as I wrote at the time, US forces in the Paktia Province, after surrounding a home where a celebration of a new birth was taking place, shot dead two male civilians (government officials) who exited the house in order to inquire why they had been surrounded, and then shot and killed three female relatives (a pregnant mother of ten, a pregnant mother of six, and a teenager). When local villagers loudly complained, the Pentagon lied about what happened, claiming that the dead males were “insurgents” or terrorists; the bodies of the three women had been found by US forces bound and gagged inside the home, and suggested that the women had already been killed by the time the US had arrived, likely the victim of “honor killings” by the Taliban militants killed in the attack. US media outlets, needless to say,mindlessly recited the US government’s claims (CNN: “Bodies found gagged, bound after Afghan ‘honor killing’”), but the Pentagon was finally forced to admit that its Special Forces had killed the women and then covered-up and lied about what happened.
Whatever is true about these latest human rights abuses, the perception is widespread in Afghanistan that the US is responsible and that the militias it is training are no better than the Taliban. From Rosenberg:
“The action also reflected a deep distrust of international forces that is now widespread in Afghanistan, and the view held by many Afghans, President Hamid Karzai among them, that the coalition shares responsibility with the Taliban for the violence that continues to afflict the country. . . .
“But Afghan officials cited as even more troubling American Special Operations units’ use of Afghan proxy forces that are not under the government’s control. Afghan civilians and local officials have complained that some irregular forceshave looked little different from Taliban fighters or bandits and behaved little differently.”
So that’s where the US is after almost 12 years of waging war in that country, the longest war in its history. The US is blamed on equal terms with the Taliban, at least. It maintains and supports (if not directs) non-government militias which are perceived, with ample evidence, as being death squads and torture units. Thus do we find, yet again, that the fruits of US humanitarian interventions – liberating the oppressed and bringing freedom and democracy to the world – are little more than replicating the abuses of the tyrannical regime it targeted, just under a different owner. Most amazing of all, the next time a new “Good War” is proposed, none of this will stop large numbers of Americans from believing that both the goals and the likely outcome will be beneficent.
A 2009 Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, found as follows regarding Afghanistan:
That last line is key: “in the name of restoring the rule of law, heavily-armed internationals and their Afghan counterparts are wandering around conducting raids that too often result in killings and being held accountable by no one.”
Posted on 12 December 2012 by Amago
By Samuel Burke and Claire Calzonetti, CNN, December 11th, 2012
Aasif Mandvi’s job title as a TV correspondent is both a complete joke and utterly realistic: Senior Muslim Correspondent.
He works for “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” the highly rated comedic news program that, at its best, can be even more influential than real American newscasts. And his work under that title, as well as countless others (“Senior Middle East Correspondent,” “Senior Asian Correspondent”) has propelled him to prominence.
But the comedian is no longer just going for laughs. In his new play, “Disgraced,” Mandvi takes a serious look at the tensions between Muslims, Jews and Christians that linger in post-9/11 United States.
The show breaks just about every taboo about the interface between East and West culture. Seated in an American living room, Muslim, Jewish, black and female characters discuss social issues like racial profiling and Islam in America.
“The identity of Islam and the way Islam is viewed by the West has changed after 9/11,” Mandvi said.
He was inspired to do the play by its writer, Ayad Akhtar, who sent Mandvi a draft two years ago.
“I read it and I thought, wow, this is an amazing play and very rare are there roles for brown actors and especially Muslim American actors that sort of deal with the identity issue in this way and in such a sophisticated, nuanced way as this play does,” Mandvi said.
The issues discussed in the play, Mandvi said, are universal – not unique to Muslims. “Jews, Christians and other people have come up to me and said, I identify with this Muslim character on stage and his own identification with his tribal identity. And the fact is that, you know, the way we were raised and the things we were taught shape us.”
Mandvi, who was born in India and raised in England and the United States, will continue his satirical reports for the The Daily Show.
Over the years he has made it clear on the show that he is not afraid to use his ethnicity to make a joke, and a point. But is there any line he will not cross?
“I’ll exploit the brownness as far as I can,” he joked with Amanpour. “Sometimes, through satire, I get to sit on that fence between cultures, between East and West and comment on it and just by virtue of the fact that I am ethnically who I am.”
Original post: Daily Show correspondent takes on Muslim stereotypes
Posted on 31 July 2012 by Emperor
The “Muslim Brotherhood Infiltration” conspiracy theory still has life. Anderson Cooper discusses the ongoing saga and how the likes of Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney’s Islamophobic adviser, John Bolton are voicing their support for the Bachmann five:
Posted on 27 June 2012 by Emperor
This does not fit into the general rubric of evil-Mooslim-theocratic and anti-Democratic takeover:
Cairo (CNN) – Egypt’s first ever democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, will make history in another way: by appointing a woman as vice president, his policy adviser told CNN.
He will also choose another vice president who is Christian, Ahmed Deif said.
The news came as the man Morsi beat for the presidency, Ahmed Shafik, left Egypt on a trip to Abu Dhabi, and as Cairo’s administrative court overturned a rule that allowed the military to arrest people without a warrant.
“For the first time in Egyptian history — not just modern but in all Egyptian history — a woman will take that position,” Deif told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday, referring to one of the vice presidency slots. “And it’s not just a vice president who will represent a certain agenda and sect, but a vice president who is powerful and empowered, and will be taking care of critical advising within the presidential Cabinet.”
Although Morsi has previously argued for banning women from the presidency, he said before the election that as president he would stand for women’s rights.
“The role of women in Egyptian society is clear,” Morsi told Amanpour through a translator weeks before the runoff election. “Women’s rights are equal to men. Women have complete rights, just like men. There shouldn’t be any kind of distinction between Egyptians except that is based on the constitution and the law.”
The Islamist figure, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, also promised to ensure rights of minorities.
Egypt “definitely” will not be an “Islamic Republic,” Deif said Monday.
Morsi moved into his offices Monday, said Jihad Haddad, an adviser to the transition team.
He began the work of assembling a new government — one of the tasks he maintains the power to do after the military junta running the country recently slashed the presidency’s reach.
The process of picking people to serve in the Cabinet will take time and “won’t end in a day,” Haddad said.
Shafik, who lost in the runoff election to Morsi, left the country Tuesday for the United Arab Emirates, his attorney and a Cairo airport official said.
He traveled to Abu Dhabi, Cairo airport official Mohamed Sultan said.
He is not fleeing the country, Shafik’s attorney, Showee Elsayed, told CNN.
While some legal petitions accusing Shafik of corruption were submitted in April, prosecutors have not taken legal action on them, so “there are absolutely no legal cases pending against” him, Elsayed said.
Shafik was the final prime minister to serve under ousted President Hosni Mubarak.
Shafik’s office said Tuesday he “will establish a new political party upon his return from the UAE and Saudi Arabia where he is on private visits.”
He and his two daughters will be performing Umra, an Islamic religious pilgrimage to Mecca.
Meanwhile, Cairo’s administrative court, which hears civilian complaints against the government, rejected a controversial rule Tuesday that the ministry of justice had established before the election.
The rule stated that military personnel and intelligence forces could arrest civilians without a warrant.
Fourteen legal complaints were filed about the rule by various people and groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood.
The right to arrest civilians was previously reserved for police officers, the state-run Ahram news agency reported.
Posted on 18 April 2012 by Ilisha
An excellent analysis. (H/T: islamispeace)
By Timothy Stanley, CNN
The trial of mass murderer Anders Breivik has confirmed one thing so far: He seems quite mad. Looking plump and dumb, with a slightly receding hairline, the Norwegian gave a right-wing salute as he entered the courtroom and smirked his way through CCTV footage of his handiwork.
Breivik claims that he killed 77 people as an act of self-defense against the Islamification of Norway, that he is a member of the Knights Templar and part of an “anticommunist” resistance to multiculturalism. Reading his insane manifesto, it is tempting to dismiss him as a nut with a gun.
Nevertheless, there’s no denying the political context to what Breivik did. Since 9/11, fringe and mainstream politicians in Europe and America have spoken of Islam as incompatible with Western values. Breivik quoted many of them in his manifesto. This is not to say that he took direct inspiration from those public figures, or that they bear personal responsibility for his crimes. But Breivik’s paranoia does conform to a popular — wholly negative — view of the twin problems of Islam and multiculturalism. Tragically, it is a view that few mainstream politicians have been willing to challenge.
Breivik makes two false claims. The first is that Islam is ethically inferior to Christianity and cannot exist peacefully within the secular democracies of the post-Enlightenment West. That is the open view of the Dutch Party for Freedom, the French National Front, the English Defense League and the Finnish True Finns. It was implicit in Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain’s aversion to the building of mosques. We might also infer it from much of the testimony presented at Rep. Peter King’s congressional hearings into the radicalization of American Muslim youth. King has opined that there are “too many mosques” in the United States and that roughly 80% of American Muslims are radical.
The mistake being made by all these people is to conflate a tiny minority of political Islamists — whose precise ideology has only really emerged in the last 30 years — with the entire global and historical community of Muslims. It is true that Islam has never undergone a total Reformation, but it has experienced mini-enlightenments. The most celebrated is the Islamic Golden Age (750- 1258), centered in Baghdad, in which the arts and sciences flourished in a manner that left Dark Ages Europe far behind. (You can also find humanist poetry and art in Persia and even a small amount of erotica in Northern Africa.)
Islam never outright rejected scientific empiricism but instead tried to reconcile and integrate it into its religious beliefs, with a surprising amount of debate about the primacy of either faith or reason. It preached that divine revelation could be found in other religions and so practiced tolerance in the lands that it conquered — a kind of Islamic multiculturalism. One of the giants of the European Enlightenment, Voltaire, favorably opined that Islam was more tolerant in its treatment of minorities than Christianity (consider the comparative persecution of Catholics in Ireland or of Jews in Spain).
Today, Islamic society looks different in every region where it is found. The royal families of Saudi Arabia have promoted ultra-conservative Wahhabism, which discourages personal vice, idolatry, veneration of saints, etc. The Bangladeshis prefer the more mystical Sufism, which places greater emphasis upon a subjective experience of Allah and is traditionally more tolerant of human foibles and dissent.
Almost every part of the Islamic world has produced progressive movements, some headed by women. Pakistan gave the world Benazir Bhutto and Indonesia Megawati Soekarnoputri. In all cases, the political development of Muslim countries has been as much shaped by poverty and the legacy of colonialism as it has Islam. Iran might have continued on a course toward liberalism had the West not sponsored an anti-democratic coup in 1953.
In short, there is no monolithic Islamic history or experience, which makes it hard or even disingenuous to talk about the challenge that Islam as a whole poses to the West. Put another way, no American would want anyone to think that the Westboro Baptist Church spoke for all of Christianity.
Breivik’s second, equally fallacious claim is that Islam’s growth in the West has been encouraged by liberal elites as a means to destroy traditional Christian culture. Indeed, multiculturalism has been strongly critiqued by two British prime ministers – Tony Blair and David Cameron. Cameron said that it had “failed” because it did not demand submission to the liberal principles of gender and sexual equality.
But multiculturalism is not a Marxist ideology carefully plotted by the “Saul Alinksy radicals” so loathed by Newt Gingrich. Rather, it was free-market economics and globalization that caused the mass migration of Muslims from East to West — and multiculturalism was simply a policy response. The aim was to protect the cultural integrity of both host and guest populations by allowing them separate spaces in which to develop.
Far from intending to threaten the religious or civil liberties of the majority Christian population (which remains vastly superior in numbers), the goal was to create a common framework of laws but otherwise leave everyone to their own devices. If Christianity has declined in the West, it’s the fault of the Christians who stopped going to church — not the small groups of Muslims quietly attending their local mosque.
And yet Muslims in Western countries now live under the pressures of anti-terrorist surveillance and social ostracism. They are forced to defend their Britishness, their Frenchness or their Americaness — even if they are third- or fourth-generation citizens of those countries. Breivik’s attack has raised the threat level against the West’s Muslims: They are now the target of our politically engaged sociopaths.
Given how widespread the condemnation of both Islam and multiculturalism is across the West, perhaps it is apt to describe Breivik as a symptom of Western psychological angst. It is a condition of neurosis about decline and paranoia about foreign invasion that is in desperate need of remedy.
Posted on 07 February 2012 by Amago
IOWA – The Muslim community in Iowa is frustrated and angry over FBI’s sending informants into mosques to spy on worshippers, seething with a sense of betrayal that has undermined trust between American Muslims and security agencies.
“That was really surprising, very sad that somebody would come or the FBI or Homeland Security would send somebody here to pretend to be Muslim and try to find out what goes on here,” Dr. Hamed Baig, president of the Islamic Center of Des Moines, told CNN on Friday, February 3.
“I feel there is no need for that.”
In Des Moines, Iowa, a small yet diverse Muslim community is divided into four mosques from Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and Bangladesh, among other nations.
Frustration among members of the Muslim community began after 42 year-old Arvinder Singh, who has been attending their mosques over the past seven years, was revealed to be an FBI informant.
Charged with “selling or transferring precursor substances for an unlawful purpose” in March of 2002, Singh said he was approached by FBI officers who told him, “‘You look Middle Eastern, and we need your help for the war against terror.’”
Singh, currently in Hardin County Jail in Iowa, where he’s been awaiting deportation, said the FBI came to him with a simple tradeoff: We’ll help you get your citizenship if you help us get some terrorists.
Having no information about Islam, Indian-born Singh was surprised to be approached by FBI agents.
“I was surprised. I said, ‘Me? I have no idea about this’ And they said ‘We’ll train you. You’ll get used to it. We’ll make you go and do some work for us.’”
Later on, he assumed a Muslim identity, Rafik Alvi, and went into the mosques pretending to be interested in converting.
He says sometimes the FBI gave him pictures of persons of interest and he would confirm that they were at the mosque. On a few occasions, Singh says he taped his conversations with congregants.
“They wanted me to go investigate some people in the area,” Singh told CNN in a jailhouse interview.
“See what they’re doing, who they’re meeting. Who’s their family member, who’s attending them, what they are talking about. That kind of work.”
The mosque infiltration has angered Iowa Muslim community, saying that the FBI just took a step backwards in building trust with the Muslims in his community.
“To know that somebody made an intrusive entry into the masjid for purpose other than prayer, or other than socializing or taking care of anybody who is in need makes me very much nervous and embarrassed, too, that I belong to a community where we have a member who has come for some other purpose,” Anis Rehman, executive board treasurer of the Islamic Center of Des Moines and a college professor, told CNN.
“But later when we saw that he was not actually a member but a pretender then it made me more angry,” Rehman said.
Rehman says the idea of a FBI informant in their tiny mosque is not only offensive but baffling.
“I find that to send an impostor into our community which is so small where not only we know each other but (where) the law enforcement agents can perhaps pick each one of us by name and by family, I don’t think that the incident [on] 9/11 could warrant such action in a small community like ours.”
Since 9/11, Muslims, estimated between six to seven million, have become sensitized to an erosion of their civil rights, with a prevailing belief that America was stigmatizing their faith.
FBI tactic of sending informants into mosques have deteriorated relations with the US Muslim community over the past few years.
In 2009, Muslim groups threatened to suspend all contacts with the FBI over sending informants into mosques.
US Muslims are particularly wary of the FBI’s history of targeting members of their community.
Basim Bakri, another Iowa Muslim, noted that if Singh’s claims are true, the FBI has just destroyed any chances of building trust with the Muslims in his community.
“I think the FBI owe[s] us an apology because they did violate our civil rights,” Bakri said.
“It wasn’t right at all, it wasn’t right from the beginning and they have no right to do that.”
Posted on 23 November 2011 by Amago
If you didn’t know by now, Hamas and Hezbollah hablan mucho Español. If you also didn’t know by now, GOP candidates like Rick Perry are retrying to combine the fear of immigrants and Mooslims taking over the country. Apparently, it is a tried and true method to win the GOP candidacy.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry warned viewers of CNN’s Republican debate on Tuesday that Hamas and Hezbollah were working out of Mexico. Perry’s answer came in response to a question about securing the southern border.
“We’re seeing countries start to come in and infiltrate. We know that Hamas and Hezbollah are working in Mexico as well as Iran with their ploy to come into the United States,” Perry said.
He continued: We know that Hugo Chavez… and the Iranian government has one of the largest — I think their largest embassy in the world is in Venezuela. So the idea that we need to have border security with the United States and Mexico is paramount to the entire western hemisphere.”
Posted on 15 July 2011 by Emperor
The expose on the fraud known as Shoebat continues on CNN:
Robert Spencer, watch out you’re next.
Posted on 16 June 2011 by Amago
Editor’s note: Rep. Michael Honda, D-California, is senior Democratic whip and a member of House Budget and Appropriations Committees.
(CNN) — Who would have thought that my early childhood experience in a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II would offer such useful insight, 65 years later, in determining the direction America is headed? In reflecting on this week’s second round of Muslim radicalization hearings, planned by New York Rep. Peter King, I feel as if a mirror is being held up to my life, giving value to lessons learned as a child.
Make no mistake. Growing up in internment Camp Amache in Colorado was no joy ride — just look at the pictures. We were treated like cattle in those camps. Never mind that we were born in America. Never mind that we were patriotic Americans and law-abiding citizens. Never mind that we were constructively contributing to the American economy. Despite all this, hundreds of thousands of Americans suddenly became the enemy at the height of the war, with no cause, no crime, and no constitutional protection.
We look back, as a nation, and we know this was wrong. We look back and know that this was a result of “race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership.” We look back and know that an entire ethnicity was said to be, and ultimately considered, the enemy. We know that internment happened because few in Washington were brave enough to say “no.”
We know all this, and yet our country is now, within my lifetime, repeating the same mistakes from our past. The interned 4-year-old in me is crying out for a course correction so that we do not do to others what we did unjustly to countless Japanese-Americans.
This time, instead of creating an ethnic enemy, Rep. King is creating a religious enemy. Because of prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of Republican leadership, King is targeting the entire Muslim-American community. Similar to my experience, they are become increasingly marginalized and isolated by our policies.
Never mind that many were born in America and have no allegiance to their ancestors’ native homeland. Never mind that they are patriotic Americans and law-abiding citizens. Never mind that they are constructively contributing to the American economy. Regardless of all this, millions of Americans have become the new enemy, with no cause and no crime.
There is no question that a congressional hearing, which targets an entire religion, is morally and strategically wrong-headed. First, it is un-American. This is not the America that I know and have helped build as a lifelong public servant. The America that I know has always provided refuge for those fleeing persecution, from early settlers to recent refugees. The America that I know does not hate and discriminate based on race, religion or creed.
Second, it is counterproductive. King is undermining his own objective. In hosting these hearings, King, as chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, has declared, erroneously, that the Muslim-American community does not partner actively enough to prevent acts of violence — or in the case of prisons, extremism. Despite the offensive and fallacious nature of King’s concern, given extensive evidence that contradicts his claim, the Homeland Security chairman’s strategy makes future partnerships unpalatable.
In one fell swoop of his discriminatory brush, King, in his apparent attempt to root out radicalization, marginalizes an entire American minority group, making enemies of them all. To add insult to injury, King has quipped (again, speciously) that America has too many mosques and that extremists run 80 percent of them. We can only hope that Rep. King does not completely undermine all the goodwill established across this country between Muslim Americans and law enforcement officials. You can be certain that few will want to work with King going forward.
Don’t get me wrong. I support the Homeland Security Committee examining “radicalization” in this country, and in our prisons, provided it is a comprehensive review, not a discriminatory one that targets only one subgroup of America. I support the committee examining “violent extremism” in this country, including an examination of militias and the 30,000-plus gun-related deaths that happen each year. I support a committee chair that is keen to keep our homeland secure.
This is not the case with King. These hearings do little to keep our country secure and do plenty to increase prejudice, discrimination and hate. I thought we learned a lesson or two from my internment camp experience in Colorado. I hope I am not proven wrong.
The opinions in this commentary are solely those of Michael Honda.