Saturday, August 9, 2014

Why I will not attend the ISNA (August 2014) and RIS (December 2014) conferences


Tariq Ramadan -- August 10, 2014


In recent years I have been a faithful participant in two major events of the North American Muslim calendar. As a regular attendee at these annual gatherings, I wish to express my warmest thanks to the institutions, and to the women and men who made them the success they undoubtedly were.

This year, however, I have decided not to attend or participate in the conferences organized by ISNA from August 29 to September 1 in Detroit, and by RIS, from December 26-28 2014, in Toronto. The reasons are different, but point to similar causes.

The leaders of ISNA can boast a proud record of service to American Muslims, for which they must be thanked and congratulated. The annual ISNA convention is an important gathering, featuring a multiplicity of participants and a broad cross-section of activities. In recent years, however, the political positions taken by the organization’s leadership have not always been clear-cut. Though it is essential, I believe, to remain open to dialogue with the authorities, it is likewise essential that positions of principle must be maintained, re-affirmed and defended. Not simply for the good of the Muslims, but in the name of the contribution of American Muslims to their society. Criticism of the domestic policy of the current administration, like those that preceded it, is a moral obligation. Summary arrests, arbitrary prison terms, inhuman psychological torture and solitary confinement, the shadowy role of informers and the deeply troubling and unacceptable methods used by the FBI, which has provoked young people to engage in extremist actions, must be unconditionally condemned. Not in the name of Islam, but in the name of the values proclaimed by the United States. However, the ISNA leadership is too often silent, as if paralyzed by fear. It fares no better with respect to American foreign policy. Its silence over American support for the outlaw and inhuman policies of Israel cannot be justified, even less so after attending an iftar organized by the White House during which President Obama defended Israel while the Israeli ambassador tweeted his delight! We cannot be forever silent: what kind of active and responsible citizenship does the ISNA leadership offer young American Muslims? What kind of example? That of silent, fearful sycophants--or of free, public-spirited citizens who, while defending the values of human dignity and justice, serve their country in the most sincere and critical way? That of the unconditional loyalty of the timorous, or the critical loyalty of free individuals? To attend the ISNA convention would be to endorse their silence.

Nor will I be attending RIS this year. The reasons are different, the causes similar. The organizers have long demonstrated their effectiveness; they wish to convey the impression of favoring a plurality of voices. But in fact, it is the so-called “Sufi” and “apolitical” trend that lies at the core of the RIS convention. I do not have the slightest problem with this trend (on the contrary), or its underlying structures and aims. The problem is that some of the participants, scholars or preachers, under the guise of Sufism or in the name of avoiding partisan politics, defend highly politicized positions of support for states and dictatorships. Their silence and their inferences in the heart of the West, in Toronto or elsewhere, constitute visible support for the Gulf petro-monarchies or for despots such as al-Sissi in Egypt. This while dictators from Syria to Iraq by way of Egypt are imprisoning, torturing and killing innocents by the thousands. They cast themselves as above the conflict, while the “Sufism” they offer is highly politicized and too well adjusted to the boots of the State. But I will have none of this. When some speakers boast in public of their openness but refuse to participate in panel discussions to avoid being exposed, openness goes by the board. When the same people support dictatorial governments, coherence flies out the window. I cannot, by my presence, lend implicit approval to such positions. 

Spare me please any talk of my family background: I have sufficiently criticized the Islamist movements—all of them, without exception--and their choices that my approach cannot be reduced to anything resembling even implicit support. My position is that all dictators must be confronted, all injustices must be fought; we cannot be silent, or feign silence while supporting the worst regimes.

I have said it once and I will say it again: Western Muslims will in the future assume a critical role. Educated and living in free societies, they must acquire greater knowledge of their religion and become free, active and outspoken citizens, fully aware of their duties and dedicated to the defense of their rights. In the United States, just as in Canada and in Europe, they must defend everyone’s human dignity, and refuse to keep silent in the face of intimidation by the state. Drawing on their spirituality and their values, their commitment will be their finest contribution, the best possible example of the contribution of Muslim citizens to the future of the West. The leaders of the previous generation are too cautious, too fearful; they dare not speak freely. 

I am also a member of a generation that is passing on. It is up to the new generation to produce leaders who have understood that in bending over backwards, in saying “Yes sir!” they sacrifice not only their dignity, but forget and betray their duty. I dream of a new feminine and masculine leadership, educated, free and bold, a leadership that does not confuse the concept of dialogue with the authorities with unacceptable compromise and intellectual surrender, a leadership that does not transform Sufism, the historical underpinning of so many liberation movements, into a school of silence and cowardly calculation. As I look around me, I see the first premises of a dream come true, alhamdulLilah.

I am well aware that the position I am taking will sound off sharp criticism; others may simply decide not to invite me. For years I have dealt with criticisms of my person, my training, my credibility. I have no time to waste with these low blows and refer readers to my résumé, which can be found on my website (http://tariqramadan.com/english/biography/). These are the same individuals who attack my character to avoid responding to the content of my critical thought. I know their methods all too well, but I refuse to waste my time by answering their attacks, which are nothing but a manoeuvre to sidestep the true subject. It is impossible for me to attend such events when my presence alone would imply support for positions that stand in total contradiction to my vision of the role of Western Muslims in their society, now and in the future. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. It is imperative that we educate ourselves, and that we display good judgement and fortitude. If those around us are silent in the face of the unacceptable, the conscience of Muslims must not remain silent, neither in the name of wisdom betrayed, nor of Sufism perverted.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The word is out: Israel is a lunatic state



AUG 5 2014 @ 12:22PM


(Photo: 9-year-old Dina wounded when shrapnel pieces hit her eyes in an Israeli strike in Gaza, is treated at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza city on August 5, 2014. Palestinian Dina has difficulty in opening her eyes due to the flames and poisoned gas she has exposed in the strike. By Mohammed Talatene/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.)


What is one to make of the fact that the deputy speaker of the Knesset has called for ethnic cleansing in Gaza?

He’s not an obscure blogger for the Times of Israel. He is a luminary of the Likud – a man who got 23 percent of the vote in a contest for the Likud Party leadership. He was appointed to his current high position by Benjamin Netanyahu. And this is his proposal for Gaza:

a) The IDF [Israeli army] shall designate certain open areas on the Sinai border, adjacent to the sea, in which the civilian population will be concentrated, far from the built-up areas that are used for launches and tunneling. In these areas, tent encampments will be established, until relevant emigration destinations are determined. The supply of electricity and water to the formerly populated areas will be disconnected.

b) The formerly populated areas will be shelled with maximum fire power. The entire civilian and military infrastructure of Hamas, its means of communication and of logistics, will be destroyed entirely, down to their foundations.

c) The IDF will divide the Gaza Strip laterally and crosswise, significantly expand the corridors, occupy commanding positions, and exterminate nests of resistance, in the event that any should remain.

You read that right. There will be temporary “camps” where the Gaza population will be “concentrated”; they will be expelled with subsidies; basic supplies of water and electricity will be cut off for those who remain. The war-time ethics he recommends are: “Woe to the evildoer, and woe to his neighbor.” He backs the “annihiliation” of Hamas and all their supporters. His strategic goal is to “turn Gaza into Jaffa, a flourishing Israeli city with a minimum number of hostile civilians.” (Modern Jaffa, of course, was built on the ethnic cleansing of most of its Palestinian inhabitants in 1948.)

The usual response to this kind of thing among the lockstep pro-Israel community is that it is a tiny fringe opinion. And I can only hope they’re right. But what concerns me is that this racist, genocidal bigot was appointed deputy speaker of the Knesset by the current prime minister. What concerns me are the statements of Ayelet Shaked, the telegenic young protege of Naftali Bennett, who is touted as a future prime minister. This is from a Facebook post she wrote the day before the gruesome lynching of an Arab teen who was forced to drink gasoline and then burned to death by Jewish extremists. Note that her call for war came before any Hamas rocket was fired:

Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.

Again, she and Feiglin dispense with the distinction between civilians and militants in Gaza. So too did the president of the New York Board of Rabbis, David-Seth Kirshner, at a recent 10,000 strong rally for Israel in New York. Kirshner’s precise words?

When you are part of an election process that asks for a terrorist organization which proclaims in word and in deed that their primary objective is to destroy their neighboring country and not to build schools or commerce or jobs, you are complicit and you are not a civilian casualty.

In Israel, this theme is intensifying:

The statements of Ovadia Yosef, whose recent passing was met with flattering memorials both in Israel and the US, are legendary. The former Chief Rabbi of Israel and spiritual leader of many Middle Eastern Jews, said, among other things, that Palestinians “should perish from the world” and that “it is forbidden to be merciful to them”; of non-Jews in general, he declared that “Goyim were born only to serve us.” Despite comments like these, his funeral last October was the largest in the country’s history, with 800,000 Israelis attending.

In the past month, Rabbi Noam Perel, head of Bnei Akiva, the largest Jewish religious youth group in the world, called for the mass-murder of Palestinians and for their foreskins to be scalped and brought back as trophies, alluding to an episode in the Book of Samuel; and a Jerusalem city councillor, in charge of security, encouraged a crowd to mimic the Biblical character of Phineas (Pinchas in Hebrew), who murdered a fellow Israelite and his Midianite lover for the “crime” of miscegenation…

One local chief rabbi ruled that bombing Palestinian civilians is permissible, while another, considered a “liberal” by Israeli standards, declared the assault on Gaza to be a holy war mandated by the Torah–one which must be merciless.

Today, the former head of Israel’s National Security Council, Giora Eiland, called for treating all Gazans, including women, as enemy combatants:

We are seeing now that despite the IDF’s impressive fighting, despite the absolute military supremacy, we are in a sort of “strategic tie.” What would have been the right thing to do? We should have declared war against the state of Gaza (rather than against the Hamas organization), and in a war as in a war. The moment it begins, the right thing to do is to shut down the crossings, prevent the entry of any goods, including food, and definitely prevent the supply of gas and electricity … why should Gaza’s residents suffer? Well, they are to blame for this situation just like Germany’s residents were to blame for electing Hitler as their leader and paid a heavy price for that, and rightfully so.

I suppose someone will claim that the deputy speaker of the Knesset, and the former head of the National Security Council or the former chief rabbi in Israel or the head of the largest Jewish youth group in the world are fringe figures. But I note that, so far as I have been able to find, there have been no consequences for their statements for any of them. And I have to ask a simple question: which leader of another American ally has appointed a man who favors genocide and ethnic cleansing as the deputy speaker of the legislature? Which other democracy has legitimate political parties in the governing coalition calling for permanent occupation of a neighboring state – and deliberate social engineering to create a new demographic ethnic reality in that conquered land? Putin’s Russia has not sunk that low.

And we are not merely talking about a hypothetical situation. The grotesque death toll from Gaza is a distillation of this mindset – revealing at best a chilling contempt for Arab life and at worst, with the shelling of schools and shelters, a policy of indiscriminate hatred and revenge. Yes, killing women and children in shelters is about as low as you can get in wartime. As the State Department, in a rare moment of public candor, noted, it is appalling and disgraceful.

To see in front of one’s nose is a constant struggle. But I see evil in front of noses here – and evil that is gaining strength because of willful American blindness.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Jonathan Kay: Sun News’ cynical attacks on Justin Trudeau have crossed the line into anti-Muslim hysteria


Jonathan Kay
Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014

Screen Shot

For a while now, Sun News has been doing its best to portray Justin Trudeau as a sort of Islamist fifth columnist. This week, one Sun host told viewers that Trudeau is in thrall on Mideast issues to a “Saudi-born Muslim extremist” who “supports” terrorists. The same host warns darkly that there are three times as many Muslim voters in Canada as Jews.

This is not surprising, since some of the network’s journalists seem to regard themselves as semi-official members of Stephen Harper’s opposition-research team. And since many Sun viewers already suspect that Trudeau was born in Kenya along with Barack Obama, its Muslim Menace programming presumably plays well to the network’s base.

This week, the network began a new campaign relating to Trudeau’s visit to al-Sunnah al-Nabawiah mosque in his Papineau riding. A Sun host claims that visiting such a mosque is akin to “gladhanding for votes” in a prison full of criminals.

In fact, the network botched the story: In the clip that Sun News had loaded on its web site as of 2pm on Thursday, the host reads out an old statement from the U.S. government, declaring that the mosque is among nine institutions where “known al-Qaeda members are recruited, facilitated or trained.” But the statement actually didn’t say “are.” It said “were.” (You can actually see the text in the printed version of the U.S. memo, which appears on the screen as the Sun host misquotes the key word.) As this CBC report from 2011 indicates, the reference relates to several jihadis who passed through Montreal in the late 1990s.

If Sun News has information suggesting that al-Sunnah al-Nabawiah mosque remains a hotbed for terrorist recruitment and indoctrination, CSIS no doubt would want to hear about it. Then again, CSIS has been on this beat since 9/11. And thanks to their efforts (as well as whistleblowers within the Islamic community), there has been a wholesale purge of terror-implicated figures within Islamic mosques, charities and community groups all over the Western world, including here in Canada. No doubt, al-Sunnah al-Nabawiah mosque peddles all sorts of dogmatic Muslim theology that most of us don’t like. But if there is any evidence that the place has been connected to terrorism over the last 15 years, I’m yet to see it.

We have been hearing quite a bit lately about how anti-Israeli activism and rhetoric often crosses the line into anti-Semitism. And this is a valid concern. But am I the only observer who is unsettled by Sun News’ casual suggestion that visiting congregants at a mosque is morally akin to visiting convicted criminals in a prison? Or the network’s strategy of scaremongering confused viewers about the number of Muslims in this country? Or libelling a Trudeau advisor as some sort of al-Qaeda cheerleader because his geopolitical views happen to lie to the left of John Baird and Stephen Harper?

If al-Sunnah al-Nabawiah mosque contains a single congregant who lies afoul of Canada’s anti-terrorism laws, send in the cops

Moreover: If indeed it is true that al-Sunnah al-Nabawiah mosque remains a religious home for unassimilated Muslim immigrants with radical, un-Canadian views, shouldn’t that be all the morereason for Canadian politicians to let those congregants know that if they want to live and flourish in this country, they need to adapt to our values?

Justin Trudeau’s riding of Papineau is one of the poorest and most diverse in Canada. It is full of immigrants who are wrestling with the process of integrating into Canadian life. What sort of MP would we want for such a riding — one who brags to Sun News viewers about how he wouldn’t set foot within 50 feet of this or that house of prayer, lest he be tainted by association with the teeming Muslim hordes who pray therein … or someone who actually seeks to engage with these people and draw them into the political mainstream?

If al-Sunnah al-Nabawiah mosque contains a single congregant who lies afoul of Canada’s anti-terrorism laws, send in the cops. Better yet, send in CSIS undercover agents to penetrate the would-be conspirators and keep our country safe. But if all you’ve got is a faded memo about stuff that happened when Bill Clinton was still President, send in the politicians. It’s a mosque, not a prison — even if the folks at Sun don’t see much of a distinction.

Facebook Censors Author Naomi Wolf On Gaza

Naomi revealed that Facebook sent her a warning, suggesting her account could be removed, and explaining that they had censored images she posted from her sources in Gaza. More.....

Saudi Arabia and the third Gaza war



Author Bruce RiedelPosted August 6, 2014

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has assumed a very low profile so far during the third Gaza war, speaking publicly rarely and primarily backing its Egyptian ally behind the scenes. Some have confused this quiet as a tacit entente with Israel against Hamas misreading the Saudi position; the kingdom increasingly regards the Netanyahu government as a criminal state. 

The Saudis have been unusually taciturn for much of the Gaza war between Hamas and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The Saudi finance minister announced a $53 million grant for emergency aid to Gaza on July 14 to help the victims of “brutal Israeli aggression,” but the king did not speak out personally until Aug. 1. King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz then denounced Israel for committing a “war crime against humanity” and engaging in a “collective massacre.” He did not specifically mention Israel, but the official Saudi press made clear he meant Israel in general and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in particular. The king never mentioned Hamas at all, but he did speak a great deal about “terrorists” who “distort the pure and humane image of Islam.” The Saudi press has explained those remarks as applying to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS), not to Hamas. He did say the worst kind of terror is state terror, another reference to Israel in Saudi speak.

The former head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Turki Al Faisal, wrote for Al-Monitor on July 25 that Israel’s actions in Gaza are a “barbaric assault on innocent civilians” and were destroying any chance for implementing the Saudi peace plan for a two-state solution. Prince Turki, who is today a private citizen and always candid, did strongly criticize Hamas for many “mistakes,” especially its “ill-advised alignment with Qatar and Turkey,” both of whom have backed Hamas more vigorously. The Saudi ambassador in London wrote a public letter criticizing those who suggested any collusion between Israel and Saudi Arabia in Gaza as “utter rubbish” and “baseless lies.” Prince Nawaf accused Israel of “genocide” and “a crime against humanity” in Gaza. He was responding to right-wing Israeli press reports alleging contacts between Saudi national security adviser Prince Bandar and the head of the Mossad and British press reports also asserting back-door collusion.

The Saudis' major goal in the Gaza war is to support their protege and ally Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, whom the Saudis helped put in power a year ago and whom they keep in power with billions in economic grants. Riyadh and Cairo now despise the Muslim Brotherhood. Since Hamas is the Palestinian offshoot of the Egyptian Brotherhood, Sisi wants to see it humiliated. This is the major difference between this Gaza war and the last Gaza war in 2012 when the then-Brotherhood controlled government in Cairo supported Hamas. 

Abdullah and the other royal princes in Saudi Arabia are well aware that many Saudis, especially young people, admire Hamas for fighting against Israel. The royals are not eager to appear soft on Israel especially when gruesome images of dead children are appearing every night on Arab television.

Israel and Saudi Arabia have colluded in the past when their interests coincided. The best example is Yemen in the 1960s when they each supported a royalist insurgency against an Egyptian occupation army. The Mossad parachuted supplies to the royalists while the Saudis provided sanctuary to them so they could bog Nasser’s Egypt down in an Arabian Vietnam. The Mossad and Saudi intelligence cooperated indirectly via British mercenaries, but the Saudis always refused to meet the Israelis face to face.

The Israelis and Saudis were also on the same side in the Cold War against the Soviet Union. Despite what the movie "Charlie Wilson’s War" leads you to believe, however, they did not cooperate in the final and decisive battle of the Cold War, the campaign in Afghanistan waged by the mujahedeen against the Soviet 40th Red Army. In fact, the Saudis vetoed any Israeli role in the Afghan war when the CIA and Congressman Wilson raised the idea.

The Saudis and Israelis have more often been on opposite sides of Middle East conflicts. The kingdom backed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war, for example, while Israel backed the ayatollahs of Iran. King Fahd was adamant that Israel stay out of the Kuwait war in 1991. The kingdom today finds it very awkward to be in the same camp as Israel in calling for tough measures to ensure Iran does not get a nuclear bomb.

Saudi reluctance to partner even indirectly with Israel reflects both strategic and tactical considerations. The kingdom is a strong supporter of Palestinian rights; from firsthand experience I can attest the king is particularly committed to the Palestinian cause. He scolded US Secretary of State Colin Powell for US support to Ariel Sharon in the second intifada in a Paris meeting and almost accused the secretary of being a party to war crimes then. 

The Palestinian issue has great resonance with average Saudis. It has been the main irritant in the US-Saudi relationship since it began in 1945 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt met King Ibn Saud in the Suez Canal to create the oldest US partnership with a Middle East state. In 1973, of course, King Faisal cut off oil exports to the United States over the Arab-Israel conflict, the lowest low point in the relationship’s history. US-Saudi relations have historically thrived when the Americans are actively and successfully engaged in promoting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Tactically, the Saudis do not trust the Israelis to keep secrets. One Saudi prince once told me the Israelis are like “cheap tarts” who can not keep their mouths shut about their trysts. They undoubtedly suspect the Israeli right wing is actively promoting talk of collusion today to make life more difficult for the king.

The king's Aug. 1 speech also laid out his main priority today, which is fighting the growth of al-Qaeda and its offsprings on the kingdom’s borders. The creation of a self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria by IS is a direct challenge to the monarchy’s legitimacy, if there is a true caliph then the king and the House of Saud are usurpers wrongly ruling Mecca and Medina. Saudi forces have been reinforced on the Iraqi-Saudi border as IS has advanced this summer. In the south, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) attacked a Saudi border outpost this summer and despite an enormous Saudi effort over six years now AQAP is far from defeated. Indeed, Yemen is becoming less stable with AQAP in south Yemen still dangerous and pro-Iranian Zaydi Houthi rebels controlling more and more of northern Yemen on the Saudi border. The Saudis have fought several border conflicts with the Houthis.

The coup in Egypt is the most positive development the king has seen in the region since the start of the Arab Spring. Abdullah has staked the kingdom’s pocket book behind keeping Sisi in power and that determines his Gaza policy. As for Netanyahu, the Saudi ambassador to the United Kingdom laid out the kingdom’s policy when he wrote Netanyahu “will answer for his crimes before a higher authority than here on earth.”

See also: Gazans Turn Their Rage on the Arab Leaders Who Watched Them Die http://shar.es/LRcLX

Washington Post accuses Snowden of aiding Al Qaeda

By Tom Carter 

7 August 2014


The US media campaign to smear National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden continues. On August 3, an article appeared in the Washington Post entitled, “As evidence mounts, it’s getting harder to defend Edward Snowden.” Authored by Stewart Baker, the article claims that Snowden’s disclosures aided Al Qaeda. Specifically, Baker writes that a study by a company called Recorded Future proves that “Snowden’s revelations about NSA’s capabilities were followed quickly by a burst of new, robust encryption tools from Al Qaeda and its affiliates.”

“This is hardly a surprise for those who live in the real world,” Baker continues. “But it was an affront to Snowden’s defenders, who’ve long insisted that journalists handled the NSA leaks so responsibly that no one can identify any damage that they have caused.”

The article goes on to denounce at length cyber security expert Bruce Schneier, who defended Snowden against the charge that his disclosures aided Al Qaeda. On June 11, 2013, Schneier wrote in the New York Times: “The argument that exposing these documents helps the terrorists doesn’t even pass the laugh test; there’s nothing here that changes anything any potential terrorist would do or not do.”

Baker’s “mounting evidence” that Snowden’s disclosures helped Al Qaeda consists of a single “study,” released in May of this year, by Recorded Future, a start-up company that produces online data-mining software that it calls “web intelligence.” The company advertises its “capabilities” in “cyber threat intelligence,” “corporate security,” “competitive intelligence” and “defense intelligence.”

The study itself, if it is accurate, simply indicates that in the period after Snowden’s disclosures, various Islamist groups, including Al Qaeda, apparently began using three types of encryption software that had not been previously used. Before Snowden’s disclosures, these groups had already implemented two types of encryption software.

“Of course, this could be random, but it seems unlikely,” wrote Christopher Ahlberg, CEO of Recorded Future, in an email to the New York Times. Despite its flimsy factual foundations, the allegation that Snowden’s disclosures have aided Al Qaeda continues to echo throughout the establishment media.

In any event, whether or not Snowden’s revelations of government crimes against the US Constitution and the American people tipped off Al Qaeda is beside the point. The clear implication of Baker’s argument, which is echoed by virtually all intelligence officials, politicians and media pundits who attack Snowden, is that, in the interests of a supposed “war on terror,” the Bill of Rights should be scrapped and some form of dictatorship established.

In his article, Baker conceals his own background and bias from his readers. What he does not tell his readers—but what one can learn by visiting Wikipedia—is that Baker is a former general counsel of the National Security Agency (1992–1994). He has held various other positions over the years within the military-intelligence apparatus, and was appointed by George W. Bush as assistant secretary to the newly formed Department of Homeland Security.

As far as his accusations that Snowden helped Al Qaeda are concerned, the word “hypocrisy” does not seem strong enough. Snowden is being denounced for aiding Al Qaeda on behalf of a political establishment that, in fact, has a long history of providing weapons, finances, and intelligence to Al Qaeda and its affiliates throughout the world.

In the Syrian civil war, stoked up by Washington, the CIA has operated training camps for Al Qaeda-linked fighters in Turkey and Jordan. Through these countries, the US has funneled weapons and finances to the Islamist fighters (see: ISIS: The jihadist movement stamped “Made in America”).

Thanks to the American “war on terror,” Al Qaeda offshoot ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has established its own sectarian state purporting to be a caliphate stretching across vast swathes of western Iraq and eastern Syria.

If supporting Al Qaeda is a crime, then it is necessary to prosecute not Snowden, but tens of thousands of personnel within the American military-corporate-intelligence complex, beginning with those who helped organize Al Qaeda in the 1980s during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, all the way through to those who built up Al Qaeda and its affiliated forces in Syria, Libya and elsewhere in recent years.

The “study” itself proves nothing. There is absolutely no evidence that Snowden directly or indirectly assisted Al Qaeda in any way. The study merely purports to show that a list of groups (not limited to Al Qaeda) began using different encryption methods in the time period after Snowden’s revelations.

The accusation that Snowden “aided Al Qaeda” mirrors the “aiding the enemy” charges against Bradley Manning (see: US government charges Manning with “aiding the enemy” in court martial). Baker’s article is evidence that this bogus theory would be invoked against Snowden, should he ever find himself in the clutches of the American judicial system.

The media campaign to confuse the issues surrounding Snowden’s disclosures is acquiring a note of hysteria and desperation. The claim that Snowden is growing “harder to defend” turns reality on its head. In fact, it is the US military and intelligence apparatus, caught in countless lies and violations of law, that is being exposed as a criminal operation. Snowden continues to enjoy broad support throughout the world.

The statement that Snowden is “harder to defend” comes on the heels of revelations, derived from documents disclosed by Snowden, concerning the close intelligence relationship between the United States and Israel (see: New Snowden leak highlights collaboration between NSA and Israeli intelligence). In addition, Glenn Greenwald reported this week that over 40 percent of the 680,000 people on the US government’s “Terrorist Screening Database” have “no recognized terrorist affiliation” (see: US terror list ensnares hundreds of thousands).

The online comments on Baker’s article are overwhelmingly hostile. One commenter observes that Baker’s article “is obviously just propaganda designed to defend his criminal gang that is still running the government today.”

Documents disclosed to journalists in May of last year by Edward Snowden exposed a massive conspiracy on the part of the National Security Agency against the US Constitution and against the world’s population. Snowden lifted the lid on unrestrained and illegal mass surveillance, caught president Obama and senior officials in lies, and exposed the so-called “war on terror” as a fraud. In doing so, he performed an invaluable service to working people in the US and around the world.

While the American political establishment and media claimed that its spying activities were limited to terrorist groups seeking to harm ordinary Americans, Snowden revealed that the NSA’s own “collection procedure” is: “Collect it All,” “Process it All,” “Exploit it All,” “Partner it All,” “Sniff it All,” and “Know it All.”

Snowden exposed as a lie Obama’s claim that “nobody is listening to your phone calls.” Snowden also revealed that Director of National Security James Clapper had committed perjury while testifying under oath before Congress. Clapper was asked, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” He replied, “No, sir.”

In the upside-down world of establishment America, it is Snowden (who became trapped in Russia when the US unilaterally revoked his passport) who is being hounded and threatened with prosecution. The actual criminals that Snowden exposed remain at large.

On August 5, a watchdog computer program that monitors the activity of the Internet addresses on Capitol Hill caught someone with an anonymous address in the US House of Representatives editing Wikipedia to smear Snowden. A Wikipedia article was edited to refer to Snowden as “the American traitor who defected to Russia.”

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Seven Dangers to Human Virtue


UK MPs demand end to Israeli restrictions on Palestinian land

Excessive Israeli restrictions on Palestinian territories cannot be justified on the grounds they protect the Jewish state, a British parliamentary committee said on Wednesday. “We challenge the assertion that restrictions which curtail economic development in the OPTs [Occupied Palestinian Territories] are based on Israel’s security needs and can be justified on security grounds,” the report by the International Development Committee said. MORE....


Cash, Weapons and Surveillance: the U.S. is a Key Party to Every Israeli Attack

The U.S. government has long lavished overwhelming aid on Israel, providing cash, weapons and surveillance technology that play a crucial role in Israel’s attacks on its neighbors. But top secret documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden shed substantial new light on how the U.S. and its partners directly enable Israel’s military assaults – such as the one on Gaza.

Over the last decade, the NSA has significantly increased the surveillance assistance it provides to its Israeli counterpart, the Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU; also known as Unit 8200), including data used to monitor and target Palestinians. In many cases, the NSA and ISNU work cooperatively with the British and Canadian spy agencies, the GCHQ and CSEC.

The relationship has, on at least one occasion, entailed the covert payment of a large amount of cash to Israeli operatives. Beyond their own surveillance programs, the American and British surveillance agencies rely on U.S.-supported Arab regimes, including the Jordanian monarchy and even the Palestinian Authority Security Forces, to provide vital spying services regarding Palestinian targets.

The new documents underscore the indispensable, direct involvement of the U.S. government and its key allies in Israeli aggression against its neighbors. That covert support is squarely at odds with the posture of helpless detachment typically adopted by Obama officials and their supporters. READ MORE....

Sunday, August 3, 2014

IRANIAN REGIME INTENSIFIES GENDER SEGREGATION IN FEAR OF SOCIAL UNREST

03 August 2014 -- Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran


NCRI - The implementation of the repressive gender segregation plan of segregating male and female employees in Tehran municipality which was announced last month by Tehran's Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf is now spreading to other agencies within the Iranian regime, according to the reports by state-run media reports.

The repressive measure has angered various sectors of the society particularly the women. The furious reaction has forced the regimes' officials to try to defend their misogynous plan.

Defending his plan, Tehran's mayor Qalibaf said, “We should not allow a lady to be in contact or socialize during office hours with strangers for days and months, and spend more time with strangers than being with her close family members and husband and children. What’s happened to our dignity?”

The head of Administrative Court of Justice, Ali Akbar Bakhtiari, described the plan as a measure for ‘securing integrity of women’s working environment’. He said this does not constitute ‘a gender discrimination or separation’.

Hassan Rouhani’s interior minister, Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, this plan as being “in conformity with the regime’s values that would increase the revenue.” (Fars News Agency- July 23, 2014).

Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi is known as ‘death minister’ for his membership in three-member ‘Death Committee’ responsible for 1988 massacre of political prisoners of over 30,000 political prisoners.

A group of 183 members of the Iranian regime’s parliament 'have supported a plan by Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf to segregate female and male employees in Tehran Municipality.' They said the measure provides “special attention and respect to women”.

A directive ratified in the council of mayors and their deputies on 17 May 2014 says: “all senior or median directors should use only male employees for posts such as chief of bureau, secretary, phone operator, typist, and in charge of follow-ups...” (state-run news agency ISNA, July 16, 2014).

The municipalities were notified of this confidential directive by the council of deputy mayors of Tehran municipality.

In the course of implementation of this directive, women were banned from holding some posts in the municipalities and lost their jobs.

In line with this policy of gender apartheid, Tehran municipality is planning to designate seperate benches to be used by boys and girls in public parks.

The Science and Technology University of Tehran has issued a repressive series of regulations named “Moral Charter” based on which ‘no social interaction of male and female students is allowed on the campus.’ The charter bans use of perfume or after-shave.

In addition to this plan, the regime has intensified its repressive measures against women under bogus reasons.

The number of imprisoned female bloggers has reached 10. A young woman was arrested by the agents of the police (State Security Forces) while performing a piece of music at the City Hall in the city of Karaj.

The police in Iran continues to insult, humiliate and harass women under the pretext of improper veiling.

Ms. Sarvnaz Chitsaz, Chair of the Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, said the implementation of gender apartheid, suppressive medieval plans, and expansion of repression against Iranian women reveals the ignominious nature of claim of 'moderation' by Hassan Rouhani. These measures show the regime’s fear of social unrest in Iran, where the women play a leading role, Ms. Chitsaz added.

“Silence and turning a blind eye by the western countries on the disastrous situation of human rights in Iran, especially the rights of women, under the pretext of nuclear talks would only result in further repression in Iran. Any political or economic negotiation or agreement with the Iranian regime must be conditioned upon the improvement of human rights, especially the rights of freedom-loving women, in Iran,” said Ms. Chitsaz.