Friday, April 28, 2006

Iran before and after ellections

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Restating the Obvious About Islam, By Herb London

With war clouds on the horizon in the 1930’s and policy analysis in thralldom to a form of denial, George Orwell said: “Things have sunk so low that the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.” In our own time there is a reluctance to consider the true and emerging nature of Islam, what the faith teaches and its doctrines. For tactical reasons, many politicians in the West call Islam a religion of peace; some say it is a religion hijacked by extremists and others maintain that Sufis (a small minority sect) represent the true nature of Islamic pacifism. Very recently, however, MEMRI reports that an Islamic scholar Dr. Kamel Al-Najjar challenged these suppositions by restating the obvious: intellectuals, who call for a condemnation of violence among Moslems and an openness in Islam, do not understand the history of this religion. According to Dr. Al-Najjar, Islam was tolerant during only one brief period in its history. Islam was humane and tolerant when it was relatively weak, during the so-called Mecca period. Later Koranic verses call on Muslims to fight anyone who does not convert to Islam: “And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out.” The “verse of the sword” and other warlike verses were said to abrogate tolerant verses of the Mecca period. The Second Caliph (Omar Ibn Khattaab) imposed his well known contract on Christians which forced them to cut their hair and wear special garments so that they would be recognizable, and forbade them to ring church bells. Al-Najjar also notes that violence is rooted in Islam from inception. A child should be beaten if he doesn’t pray and a woman should be beaten if she disobeys her husband. Fatwas are routinely issued against those who criticize any form of the religion. And apostasy, as events in Afghanistan suggest, is a crime punishable by death. By the way, this Sharia code has been adopted in 14 Muslim nations. How then can Judeo-Christian societies co-exist with Islam when Christians are described a polytheists for their worship of the Trinity and Jews are portrayed as descendants of apes and pigs? The hostility engendered by claims that the Bible and New Testament are falsified is not easily overcome. Surely the West should attempt to discover the radiant face of Islam, but it can do so only with realism, facing harsh facts, and understanding a history that has been ignored or misunderstood. The emerging clash of cultures has to be considered without a white wash of Islamic history. Winston Churchill, who fought against the Mohammedans, recognized the extremism endemic to the religion. The rivers of the Sudan and Asia Minor turned red from the blood let by Islamic violence. It doesn’t make sense to ignore this past. This description does not presuppose a strategy. I do not know how this religious force let loose on the world stage can be moderated. However, I do know the first condition for strategic planning is an unvarnished view of the truth, what Orwell called the restatement of the obvious. On this score, we should not suffer from illusions. Islam is not comparable to other religions; it is distinctly uneasy with modernity. Islam has not had an Enlightenment. As a consequence, politics and religion are not separate entities. Sharia holds for both. Islam does not provide for individual rights; there are only group rights. And Islam is totalistic in the sense it pervades every aspect of one’s life. This leads to several poignant questions: Can Islam adapt to the 21 century without violence? Can Islamic leaders find precepts in the Mecca period that can predominate and reduce the extremist impulse? Can the young be reeducated to accept the views of other religions? The world jury awaits answers. In fact, the fate of the globe may hang in the balance of these answers. At the moment, however, it is best in my judgment, to consider conditions as they are rather than how we might like them to be.
About the Writer: Herbert London is president of the Hudson Institute. He is also the author of the book Decade of Denial (Lexington Books).

Monday, April 24, 2006

Iran's President Recruits Terror Master

April 23, 2006 The Times Sarah Baxter, Washington and Uzi Mahnaimi, Tel Aviv
link to original article
Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, attended a meeting in Syria earlier this year with one of the world’s most wanted terrorists, according to intelligence experts and a former national security official in Washington. US officials and Israel intelligence sources believe Imad Mugniyeh, the Lebanese commander of Hezbollah’s overseas operations, has taken charge of plotting Iran’s retaliation against western targets should President George W Bush order a strike on Iranian nuclear sites. Mugniyeh is on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” list for his role in a series of high-profile attacks against the West, including the 1985 hijacking of a TWA jet and murder of one of its passengers, a US navy diver. Now in his mid-forties, Mugniyeh is reported to have travelled with Ahmadinejad in January this year from Tehran to Damascus, where the Iranian president met leaders of Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas. The meeting has been dubbed a “terror summit” because of the presence of so many groups behind attacks on Israel, which Ahmadinejad has threatened to wipe from the map. Jane’s Intelligence Review cited “reports in recent weeks” of Mugniyeh’s presence alongside the president. Michael Ledeen, a Middle East expert and former Pentagon and National Security Council official who wrote that Mugniyeh had “probably” been there, said last week senior American officials had confirmed it. “It’s hard to identify Mugniyeh because he is said to have changed his face and his fingerprints,” Ledeen said. “But senior government officials have told me I was right. He was there.” Shortly after the Damascus summit Henry Crumpton, head of counter-terrorism at the state department, singled out the elusive Mugniyeh as a threat. The Iranians, Crumpton said, “have complete command and control of Hezbollah. Imad Mugniyeh works for Tehran. And you can’t talk about Hezbollah and not think about Iran. They really are part and parcel of the same problem.” Mugniyeh lives in Iran and has evaded capture for more than 20 years, despite a $5m American bounty on his head. Western intelligence reports claim he has many connections to terrorist cells in Europe, Africa, Latin America and the US and he is said to have met Osama Bin Laden. “When and if the Iranians decide to hit the West in its soft belly, Imad will be the one to act,” a western intelligence source said last week. An Israeli defence source claimed Mugniyeh was in regular touch with the new Iranian intelligence minister, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ezhei. The minister is a long-time confidant of Ahmadinejad and was appointed by him. “We know that Mohseni Ezhei holds routine meetings with Mugniyeh, who is today Iran’s head of overseas operations,” said the Israeli defence source. “Since we know from previous Iranian terror attacks that it takes about a year to plan a substantial one, we should not be surprised if operations against western targets are already in high gear and Mugniyeh is certainly playing a major role.” The young Mugniyeh first attracted the attention of the West when he was involved in the kidnapping, torture and mutilation of William Buckley, the CIA station chief in Beirut, in 1984. He kept his victim at the Sheikh Abdullah camp in the Lebanese Bekaa valley and was allegedly the last person Buckley saw before he died. “Imad had good reason to retaliate,” said a well-informed source. “A car bomb killed his brother Jihad, who had taken Imad’s old job as bodyguard to Hezbollah’s spiritual leader.” Mugniyeh blamed the CIA, and Buckley was chosen to pay the price. The kidnapping led to the Iran-contra affair, one of the most embarrassing episodes of the Reagan presidency, in which arms were swapped for hostages. But by the time the Americans were negotiating with the Iranians, Buckley was already dead. Mugniyeh has also been linked to the demolition of the American embassy and marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 and is wanted in Argentina for his role in recruiting the bombers of the Israeli embassy and Jewish centre in Buenos Aires in the early 1990s. Mugniyeh left Lebanon for Iran in 1994 with his wife and son after an assassination attempt. He is since believed to have played an active role in fomenting trouble in Iraq. Ledeen described him last week as the “spinal column of the terror war against America in Iraq from the beginning”. According to Robert Baer, a former CIA agent who pursued Mugniyeh in the 1980s, “he is the most dangerous terrorist we have ever faced. Mugniyeh is probably the most intelligent, most capable operative we have ever run across, including the KGB or anybody else”. “He enters by one door, exits by another, changes his cars daily, never makes appointments by telephone — he is never predictable. He is the master terrorist, the grail we have been after since 1983”. Elite Iranian army officers who arrived in south Lebanon this month have taken command of thousands of rockets aimed at cities across Israel. They are believed to have been given control of the missiles by Hezbollah to deter possible Israeli attacks against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Al-Qaeda Finds its Missing Link in Iran
April 21, 2006 Asia Times Online Syed Saleem Shahzad
link to original article
KARACHI -- The US-led "war on terror" is entering a critical phase, with the al-Qaeda leadership being given a chance to revitalize its cause now that Iran is in the US crosshairs over its nuclear program. "Tehran has taken over the central stage by challenging American hegemony," Hamid Gul told Asia Times Online. "Tehran is today's inspiration force. It charms the Arab youths on the streets. The Arab rulers are terrified of this development, and this is the reason they are coming to Pakistan one after another." Gul is a former corps commander of the Pakistani army and ex-director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence. Persian-speaking Gul is reckoned as one of the architects of the jihadi movements that finally turned global and made Afghanistan their base in the mid- and late 1990s when the Taliban ruled. Gul was referring to visits to Pakistan by Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz and Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Salah. Islamabad is a US outpost in the "war on terror" that the two prominent Arab leaders visited, while at least one more is scheduled in coming weeks. Contacts close to the echelons of power in Pakistan's military headquarters, Rawalpindi, tell Asia Times Online that judging from the pattern of talks, all of the Muslim countries that side with the United States anticipate a US attack on Iran around October. And, according to these contacts, their strategy is to consolidate opinion in the Organization of Islamic Conferences to be prepared. This does not mean stopping the attack, but being ready for the fallout in the Middle East and beyond. "Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's anti-American calls have become the voice of today's Arab youths. They see in him a hero, and it has shaken the foundations of pro-American dictators and monarchs," Gul explained. "They [Arab rulers] are anxious and restive. They are seeing their doomsday started. Since Pakistan and Arab rulers operate under the US umbrella, they are basically joining their heads together to contain the Iranian threat. "The way Iran has spun its web in the region, all strategic levers are coming into Tehran's hands. The Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan led by [Gulbuddin] Hekmatyar is part of the Islamic movement and already close to Iran, but it is only a matter of time when Taliban-related movements will resolve all differences with Iran and join hands with Tehran," Gul said. Historically, Arabs have viewed Iran with hostility, and there are some who are skeptical whether Iran will continue in its current role as anti-US champion should back-channel diplomacy, especially involving Russia and China, lead to a resolution of the crisis over its nuclear program. Within two weeks, the International Atomic Energy Agency will give a final report to the United Nations Security Council, the results of which could determine whether or not sanctions are imposed on Iran. Critics argue that should the crisis be defused, Iran will back down from its present rhetoric and leave all radicals in the lurch. After all, they argue, Tehran has indirectly facilitated US interests in the region, be they in Afghanistan or Iraq. "I don't agree with this notion," Gul said dismissively. "Iran raised funds for Hamas at a time when the whole Muslim world was sympathetic with Hamas but did not dare to openly support them. Iran [this week] pledged [US]$50 million. "At the same time, it is untrue that Iran supported US designs in the region. Instead, it cleverly played its cards and now it is evident that it has trapped the Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq," said Gul. Al-Qaeda's grand design Iran's becoming a rallying point for anti-US sentiment in the Muslim world fits well with al-Qaeda. Asia Times Online has already outlined a pivotal debate in al-Qaeda on two major issues - the question of a base and that of a unified command structure. Integral to the first issue was whether al-Qaeda should get rid of its shadowy image and fight in the open. This would involve the establishment of an Islamic state (base) from which calls for jihad could be issued and jihadi forces prepared. Al-Qaeda has achieved this target in the Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan on the Afghan border by setting up a virtual independent state, which is being expanded into South Waziristan and many towns in Afghanistan, in Kunar, Paktia, Khost, Helmand and Zabul provinces. But although the Afghan resistance is linked with the Iraqi resistance and they have started open battles against US-led forces in Afghanistan, the question of a unified command that would control resistance movements whether they be in Iraq, Palestine or Afghanistan is still unanswered. This is where Iran could now fit in, by evolving from an inspirational anti-US model to taking a lead role in orchestrating resistance movements, in collaboration with al-Qaeda. For radical Islamists, the situation is a major turnaround for their cause of pan-Islamicism and one that could even resolve 1,400 years of historical, ideological and political differences in the Muslim world. "The Islamic Revolution of Iran [1979] was in fact a victory of all Islamic movements which were striving to establish one Islamic role model in the world so that it would be an inspirational force and would convince the masses that the Islamic system of life was still workable after 1,400 years," Muslim intellectual Shahnawaz Farooqui explained to Asia Times Online. Shahnawaz is a young Pakistan-based Muslim intellectual, a teacher, writer and a poet. His main work is in the field of the interpretation of Muslim history and Muslim ideologies. His views are often aired in the Iranian media. "The Iranian revolution was in fact a complete revolution under the leadership of imam [Ruhollah] Khomeini. It was above any sectarian bounds. After the revolution, Khomeini announced that the base of Shi'ite-Sunni differences was historical rather than theological. "Shi'ites believe that Ali deserved to be the first Muslim caliph, and they rejected all three before Ali and believe Ali is the first caliph. Sunnis believe that the first three caliphs, Bakr, Omar and Osman, are all [the] righteous [ones] and that Ali was the fourth caliph. Imam Khomeini addressed this issue and called it historical differences which had no connection with basic Islamic theology, and if Shi'ites gave up their historical point of view on the issue of the caliphate, it would make no difference, but on the other hand it would wipe out Shi'ite-Sunni differences once and for all," Shahnawaz maintained. "Unfortunately, imam Khomeini could not convince anybody - neither his internal circles of clerics nor Al-Howza [the supreme Shi'ite religious council in Iraq] as no one among the Shi'ites was ready to give up their historical position on the question of the caliphate. "However, the situation turned bad after the demise of Khomeini and it was felt that during the period of [ex-president Hashemi] Rafsanjani and [former president Mohammed] Khatami the Iranian revolution was somewhere lost. "However, the victory of President Ahmadinejad has once again revived the very spirit of the Iranian revolution, and once again all Islamic movements, whether it is the Muslim Brotherhood, Jamaat-i-Islami, Hamas, Islamic Jihad or any other, are joining hands with Tehran," said Shahnawaz. "To me, President Ahmadinejad has redeemed the Iranian Islamic revolution with all its ideological legacies," Shahnawaz added. Syed Saleem Shahzad is Bureau Chief, Pakistan, Asia Times Online. He can be reached at

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Qouted from news website

Tehran - An 18-year-old Iranian woman has been sentenced to death for killing the man she says tried to rape her.
Iran's Etemad newpaper reports that the woman, identified as Nazanin, claimed self defence after she had stabbed a man to death in March 2005.
Nazanin, 17 at the time, had been out with her niece and their boyfriends in Tehran when two men started harassing them. She said the men tried to rape them after their boyfriends had run away.
Nazanin told the newspaper: "I committed murder to defend myself and my niece, I did not mean to kill him. I did not know what to do because nobody came to help us."
The European Union and international human rights groups have been pressuring Iran to stop executing convicted minors.
The United Nations general assembly has adopted a non-binding resolution denouncing the practice.
Iran's judiciary says minors are not executed in the republic. It has also proposed a law prohibiting the death penalty or flagellation for those who were minors at the time of the crimes.
In Iranian law, a boy can be executed from the age of 15, and a girl from the age of nine. However, the execution is carried out when the offender is over 18 years old.
The Iranian press reported a disabled man had been executed in public on Friday.
At least 81 people were executed in Iran last year. Amnesty International reports at least 159 people were executed in Iran in 2004.