Monday, April 30, 2007

Italy: New 'immigrant party' launched

(ADNKI).- A new political party representing the interests of immigrants has been launched in Italy, coinciding with proposed changes to the law which would allow immigrants the right to vote in Italian local body elections. "The party is a result of the collaboration between Italians and the representatives of the main immigrant communities present here in Rome," Ukrainian Maria Pratsiuk, spokesperson of "Nuovi Italiani" (New Italians) told Adnkronos International (AKI). "If parliament approves the bill presented in cabinet on Tuesday... there will be a million and a half new electors in Italy," added Pratsiuk. "The creation of this new party coincides with the decree-law changing the current immigration norms. The text applies the Strasbourg Convention giving active and passive voting rights in local administrations to foreigners who have lived legally in Italy for more than five years," she said.


Saturday, April 28, 2007

Al-Qaeda’s ‘British propagandists’

(Timesonline).- Violent al-Qaeda propaganda, including footage of the beheading of hostages, was distributed around the globe by computer by young men sitting in their bedrooms in Britain, a court heard yesterday. Three men appeared before Woolwich Crown Court accused of inciting terrorism abroad. They were said to have a “close affiliation” with al-Qaeda in Iraq. Younis Tsouli, 23, Waseem Mughal, 24, and Tariq al-Daour, 21, allegedly played important roles in al-Qaeda’s “media war” and had massive quantities of films, audio recordings, books and documents promoting the extremist ideology of Osama bin Laden and global jihad. Among the footage found in police raids on their homes in London and Kent were films of the beheading of the British engineer Kenneth Bigley as well as the executions of American, Korean, Japanese, Egyptian, Iraqi, Turkish and Bulgarian hostages.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Ethiopian rebels kill 74 in oil attack

(Associated Press).- Ethiopian rebels who have fought alongside Islamic militants in neighboring Somalia stormed a Chinese-run oil field at dawn Tuesday, killing 74 people and destroying the exploration facility in a restive border region. It was the first such attack on a foreign company in this Horn of Africa nation, in contrast to Nigeria on the western side of the continent, where rebel groups frequently attack international oil concerns. Chinese officials said nine Chinese oil workers and 65 Ethiopians died and seven Chinese were taken away by the rebels. It wasn't known if the rebels suffered any casualties. The assault by more than 200 gunmen lasted nearly an hour, and followed a warning last year from the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front against any investment in eastern Ethiopia's Ogaden area that could benefit the U.S.-allied government. Formed by Ethiopia's ethnic Somali minority, the Muslim group has been fighting for secession of the Britain-sized region with 4 million inhabitants since the early 1990s, but it had mounted only occasional hit-and-run attacks on government troops in recent years.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Lal Masjid calls for jihad against ‘un-Islamic’ govt

Lal Masjid’s chief cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz on Monday decreed that Gen Pervez Musharraf’s government was “un-Islamic” and it was obligatory for every Muslim to wage jihad against it for rule of law and speedy dispensation of justice. “The government is un-Islamic and the present system and political hierarchy have failed to deliver,” said Maulana Abdul Aziz in an interview with Daily Times. “We have no intention to wage a war against the government leading to a bloodbath. However, if it launches a crackdown on Jamia Hafsa or Lal Masjid, of course our movement would automatically turn into a militant movement,” Aziz said. He said democracy was a flawed system. “Democracy is nothing but counting of heads. It cannot differentiate between good and bad people, as in this system the vote of a devout Muslim equals the vote of a frail Muslim,” he said. Asked to comment on suicide attacks, he said: “Suicide attacks in Pakistan are un-Islamic, but if the government took action against Jamia Hafsa, we would allow our followers to launch suicide attacks against it to save the honour of our female students.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Debate on Virginia Tech Muslims Students' Mailing List Concerning Permissibility of Praying for Mercy for Non-Muslim Victims

The liberal Arabic-language website Aafaq reports that a Muslim student set off a debate when she sent an email to the mailing list of a Muslim students' association (rabitat al-tullab al-muslimin) at Virginia Tech asking the students to pray that Allah have mercy on those killed and wounded in the shooting attack at the university. According to Aafaq, the dean of student affairs at American International University, Abu Hamza Hijji, responded, writing that Allah the Most Merciful forbids praying for mercy for the non-Muslim dead, or even for the non-Muslim living, and that it is only permitted to pray that they be rightly guided. He added that what happened was a sad occurrence, but that does not give Muslims the right to transgress the laws of Allah the Most Merciful.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Philippines: Abu Sayyaf beheads seven christians

(ADNKI).- The al-Qaeda-linked Muslim Abu Sayyaf rebels have decapitated seven hostages and sent their heads to the army in Jolo, in the southern Philippines archipelago of Sulu. The victims, all Christians, were working on a government road construction project in the city of Parang, when they were abducted Tuesday by rebels led by commander Albader Parad. The Philiippine army said on Friday it will intensify its efforts to wipe out Abu Sayyaf. Two were reportedly teenagers, aged 16 and 17, who were working to pay for their college education and help their impoverished parents in nearby Zamboanga City. Militants had asked a ransom of 5 million pesos, approximately 105,000 dollars for them. Military sources say the beheadings are Aby Sayyaf's response to the army's offensive against the rebel group which started last August. Over 70 alleged terrorists, including Abu Sayyaf chieftain Khadaffi Janjalani who died in a firefight in September 2006, have been killed in the offensive.


Monday, April 23, 2007

Sunni sheiks in Anbar to form new national party to oppose al-Qaida

More than 200 Sunni sheiks in Iraq's western Anbar province have decided to form a new political party to oppose al-Qaida. The men met Thursday in Ramadi, Anbar's provincial capital, and agreed to form a new party called Iraq Awakening, said Sheik Jubeir Rashid, a participant at the meeting. The group would be a national party, with a platform of opposition to al-Qaida and cooperation with the Shiite-led government in Baghdad. Rashid is also an aide to Sheik Abdul Sattar al-Rishawi, leader of the Anbar Salvation Council — an alliance of clans in the province which back the government. Al-Rishawi is one of the chief organizers of the new party as well. The Iraq Awakening party would not be linked to any existing Sunni groups, Rashid said.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Muslims in UK tracked with cameras: High-tech CCTV units keep eye on activity in Islamic neighborhoods - Britain's national security service MI5 is testing surveillance cameras in enclaves of London and other Muslim-dominated area of Britain where terrorists are known to operate. Based on the latest satellite technology, the $10,000 cameras have a ring of eight powerful lenses that can provide a panoramic view. Software in the system can also indicate up to 50 behavior traits to identify a person "as a potential terrorist." Within a year the cameras will be able to signify "facial movements indicating tension and other furtive behavior," confirmed an MI5 officer. More...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

France: muslims mull political choices

(ADNKI).- France's largest, conservative Muslim group, the Union of Muslim Organisations in France (UOIF), on Friday began its annual conference in the Le Bourget neighbourhood on the outskirts of Paris, with the country's presidential elections, due next weekend, looming large. The presidential hopefuls had been invited to attend but as the event got underway it was still unclear which if any of them would be attending. In an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI) UOIF president Thami Breze said the conference would "urge Muslims to go to the polls" and "question candidates about the fears and worries of the Muslim community". However Breze underlined that Islamic groups did not intend to give indications to Muslims on the choice of one candidate over an other but encourage them to choose based on the position of the candidate regarding Islam.

Sharp drop in Baghdad deaths after crackdown

MSNBC - Iraqi civilian deaths have fallen in Baghdad in the two months since the Feb. 14 start of the U.S.-led offensive, according to an Associated Press tally. Outside the capital, however, civilian deaths are up as Sunni and Shiite extremists shift their operations to avoid the crackdown. And the sweeps have taken a heavy toll on U.S. forces: Deaths among American soldiers climbed 21 percent in Baghdad compared with the previous two months. Figures compiled by the AP from Iraqi police reports show that 1,586 civilians were killed in Baghdad between the start of the offensive and Thursday. That represents a sharp drop from the 2,871 civilians who died violently in the capital during the two months that preceded the security crackdown.

Darfur: UN report denounces rapes by Sudan soldiers

(ADNKI).- The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called for investigations into widespread sexual violence during attacks by Sudanese government forces and allied militia in Darfur as well as the disappearance of over a dozen men allegedly at the hands of rebels there. In a new report, the High Commissioner's Office describes attacks in December 2006 in eastern Jebel Marra, Darfur. At least 15 cases of sexual assault, including rape, had occurred, according to the report. At least two pregnant women were targeted in the violence. "Soldiers came in cars heading towards the hills. Three were in green military uniform and the fourth was in civilian clothes. All four of them were armed and all of them raped me," said one 13-year old victim, according to the report.


300,000 Turks protest possible run for president by Islamic-rooted prime minister

(International Herald Tribune).- Protesters draped themselves in the flag and poured into the capital's streets and squares, calling on the government to resign and chanting slogans including, "We don't want an imam as president". Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan represents a challenge to secularists' traditional approach to government in this 99-percent Muslim country. Many fear that if he or someone close to him wins the presidency, the government will be able to implement an Islamist agenda without opposition. But with Erdogan's popularity and firm control over parliament, his opponents may have little power to stop him if he does decide to run. His party was elected to an overwhelming majority in parliament and can appoint whomever it wants to the presidency.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Balkans: Wahabis seen as growing regional threat

(AKI).- Although still a small group, Wahabis, followers of a fundamentalist school of Islam, are being seen by officials and observers as a growing threat to the Balkans. Tensions between Wahabis and mainstream Muslims have been simmering for the past 18 months as Wahabis seek to gain influence in Bosnia-Heregovina and also in Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo. In the past months, seven suspected militants were arrested in southern Serbia and a radical Islamist training camp and weapons cache uncovered. Evidence, the Serbian interior ministry says, that Wahabis are trying to recruit potential terrorists and plot attacks. More...

Fugitive iranian assassin claims missing FBI agent being held by Tehran

A former FBI agent missing for more than a month may be in the hands of Iranian authorities, according to an American fugitive assassin living in Iran. Dawud Salahuddin, an American citizen who was granted asylum in Iran after admitting to the 1980 murder in Maryland of a former Iranian diplomat, told the Financial Times that he met retired FBI Agent Robert Levinson in a hotel on Kish Island on March 8, three days before he was reported missing on March 11. Levinson's family has said he was at the Iranian resort to help with a film about the island, which is known for its beaches, turtles and liberal atmosphere. While the FBI has stressed that Levinson is not working for the bureau, Salahuddin told the Financial Times that he met with Levinson to put him in touch with Iranian officials who might assist him in a cigarette-smuggling investigation he was conducting for a tobacco company. More...

Is Al Qaeda's influence spreading to Morocco?

(Jill Carroll).- Troubling signs are emerging that Morocco is becoming fertile ground for more sophisticated militant groups. The latest evidence: A trial of 50 Islamists who allegedly planned to attack the US Embassy in Rabat, a military base, and tourist destinations. And unlike the groups behind previous terrorist bombings in this moderate Muslim monarchy, this group was drawn not from the slums of Casablanca, but from the society's upper echelons. There is also evidence of NorthAfricans working with Al Qaeda insurgents in Iraq and Pakistan – raising concerns that they will return home with their newfound skills. The group on trial, called Ansar al Mehdi, includes middle-class Moroccans, some drawn from the Army, and four women, two of whom are married to Royal Air Maroc pilots, according to statements government officials have made to Moroccan media. That's a significant shift.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Pakistan: Sharia gangs roam streets of capital city to enforce their law with threats

(Timesonline).- Shiraz Ahmed was tending his music store in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, when a group of 15 bearded young men walked in bearing bamboo poles and a chilling message. Politely but firmly, they instructed him to take down the colourful array of Bollywood and bhangradance tunes on display and to restrict his business to Islamic music. Until last week he might not have worried about these men from Islamabad’s Lal Masjid (Red Mosque). After all, his shop is legal and within walking distance of Pervez Musharraf’s presidential palace. But this was just one of several signs in the past ten days that a creeping campaign to “Talebanise” Pakistan has spread from tribal areas on the Afghan border right to the heart of the capital.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

In Overture to Iran, Qaddafi Declares North Africa Shi'ite and Calls for Establishment of New Fatimid State

MEMRI - On March 31, 2007, Libyan leader Mu'ammar Qaddafi called, in a speech in Niger to Tuareg tribal leaders, for the establishment of a second Shi'ite Fatimid state in North Africa, after the model of the 10th-13th century empire that ruled North Africa, Egypt, and parts of the Fertile Crescent. In his speech, Qaddafi denounced the division of Muslims into Sunni and Shi'ite as a colonialist plot, and rebuked the Arab League members for "hating Iran." "Colonialism… Has Begun to Group the Arabs Against Iran and Iran Against the Arabs". On the other hand, at the beginning of the month, Qaddafi gave a speech in which he denied the existence of a non-Arab Berber people (this also being a colonialist plot), provoking protest among Berbers and supporters of minority rights in the Middle East and North Africa. More...