PALESTINIANS CLAIM WMD CAPABILITY
The Fatah terrorist faction has claimed the capability of chemical and biological weapons and has threatened Israel with a WMD attack, according to the Jerusalem Post. Leaflets distributed in the Gaza Strip state that the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade has spent the last three years developing the capabilty, the start of which seems oddly coincidental to the fall of Saddam Hussein (via Reliapundit):
The Aksa Martyrs' Brigades group announced on Sunday that it its members have succeeded in manufacturing chemical and biological weapons to be used against Israel.
In a leaflet distributed in the Gaza Strip, the group, which belongs to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party, said the weapons were the result of an effort that has lasted for three years.
The statment was a response to an Israeli Security Cabinet decision to give the IDF the green light to prepare all the forces necessary for a military operation against Gaza terror cells. As of 9:00 p.m. large amounts of Golani and Givati Brigade infantry troops were amassing on the Israeli side of the Gaza security fence.
According to the statement, the first of its kind, the group managed to manufacture and develop at least 20 different types of biological and chemical weapons.
The group said its members would not hesitate to add the new weapons to long-range rockets that are being fired at Israeli communities almost every day. It also threatened to use the weapons against IDF soldiers if Israel carried out its threats to invade the Gaza Strip.
If they're bluffing, they're making a very big mistake. And if they're not bluffing, then they have just signed the death warrants of both Hamas and Fatah and quite possibly the Palestinian Authority.
If these terrorists have acquired chemical and biological weapons, the IDF will rightly assume that they know have a choice only between which genocide will succeed. Given their history and strong sense of survival, they will certainly make the right choice -- and that will mean the end of the Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The only reason the Israelis don't push them into the Jordan and Egypt is because of their identification with Western values that rejects ethnic cleansing as any solution.
Once the first chemical or biological weapon gets launched against Israel, that decision will have been taken out of their hands. The Israelis will almost certainly launch a massive strike against the Palestinians in both directions -- and while Hamas and Fatah do moderately well at targeting unarmed civilians, the IDF will slice through them like butter. And if the Palestinians expect the West to stop them, they will have miscalculated badly.
The question will be where they acquired these weapons. They do not have the research facilities to have developed WMD on their own. If they actually do possess them, it seems a probablility that someone supplied Fatah with WMD.
Who has WMD? What country stocked them, until three years ago? And where does Hamas and Islamic Jihad, at least, have themselves established? Syria -- who has long rumored to have received the Iraqi stockpiles in 2002 and 2003, just ahead of the American invasion.
The Palestinians have just tipped us off to where the WMD went, and now we know where at least some it may have ended up. The Israelis may not be alone in marching through Gaza and the West Bank.
PALESTINIANS INVADE ISRAEL FROM GAZA
The Palestinians have escalated their continuous attacks on Israel from Gaza, which no longer qualifies as occupied territory, by raiding Israel. 'Militants' crossed over into Israel using tunnels, killed two soldiers and apparently kidnapped another, before crossing back into Gaza:
Palestinian militants launched on Sunday their first deadly raid into Israel from Gaza since an Israeli pullout last year, killing two soldiers and abducting another in an assault in which two attackers died.
The infiltration, through a tunnel militants dug under the Gaza border fence to reach an army post, raised tensions along the frontier to their highest point since Israel completed its withdrawal last September after 38 years of occupation.
Israeli forces scrambled into the Gaza Strip to search for the missing soldier, who the army said had been kidnapped. There was no immediate claim from any of the militant groups that took part in the dawn raid that they were holding him.
A strong Israeli military response to the assault, claimed by the armed wing of the governing Hamas group and the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) after recent air strikes that killed 14 Palestinian civilians, seemed likely.
The Israelis have fired missiles into Gaza in response to missile attacks by Islamic Jihad that started almost immediately after the Israelis withdrew from Gaza. The Palestinian Authority has refused to take any action to stop the rocket attacks by the Islamist terrorists, and Israel shortly afterwards started returning the fire.
Now that the Palestinians have escalated the conflict by invading Israel, we can surely expect a response in force by Israel. Their withdrawal from Gaza makes the invasion an act of war, although Israel will not likely try to invest Gaza again. What they will likely do is stage a raid in force by the IDF to clear out the region where the attacks originate and create a buffer area that they can patrol for long enough to make their point. They will also escalate their targeted attacks on terrorist leadership, including that of Hamas.
This will undermine both sides in the pending Palestinian civil war. Ismael Haniyeh will find himself having to go underground to avoid Israeli attacks, especially if their kidnapped soldier turns up dead. Abbas' efforts to return to negotiations will have to wait for the Israeli military response to reach its conclusion, and that may take a while. The best Abbas can expect will be a quick raid that might capture some of the rocket-launching terrorists, removing a headache for Fatah. Otherwise, both factions will find it difficult to reach any kind of understanding on proceeding with peace talks, and that will push them towards civil war. Sunday, June 25, 2006
MAD MURTHA: US MORE DANGEROUS THAN NORTH KOREA, IRAN
Murtha says U.S. poses top threat to world peace. (Hat tip: Sweetness & Light.)
MIAMI — American presence in Iraq is more dangerous to world peace than nuclear threats from North Korea or Iran, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said to an audience of more than 200 in North Miami Saturday afternoon.
Murtha was the guest speaker at a town hall meeting organized by Rep. Kendrick B. Meek, D-Miami, at Florida International University’s Biscayne Bay Campus. Meek’s mother, former Rep. Carrie Meek, D-Miami, was also on the panel.
GLOBAL JIHAD SETS UP SHOP IN SOMALIA
Somalia is fast becoming a full-fledged Al Qaeda state: Suspected al-Qaida aide leads Somali group.
MOGADISHU, Somalia - A fundamentalist Muslim who is listed by the U.S. State Department as a suspected al-Qaida collaborator was named Saturday as the new leader of an Islamic militia that has seized control of Somalia’s capital.
The militia, which changed its name Saturday from the Islamic Courts Union to the Conservative Council of Islamic Courts, said in a statement it had appointed Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys as its new leader. The Bush administration has said Aweys was an associate of Osama bin Laden in the early 1990s.
The Islamic militia seized control of the capital Mogadishu and much of southern Somalia from an alliance of warlords earlier this month. Aweys’ appointment makes it unlikely that the increasingly powerful militia will govern using the moderate brand of Islam practiced by most Somalis. Sunday, June 25, 2006
THE TARIQ RAMADAN CASE
Radical Islamic propaganda site IslamOnline really wants Tariq Ramadan to get into the United States. And a US federal judge is helping them: US Judge Slams Foot-dragging on Scholar Visa. (Hat tip: sr_soph.)
NEW YORK — A US federal judge issued on Friday, June 23, a three-month deadline for the Bush administration to rule on a visa application by prominent Muslim intellectual and scholar Tariq Ramadan.
“The government has failed to adjudicate Ramadan’s pending B-visa application within a reasonable period of time,” Judge Paul Crotty, Reuters reported.
Ramadan, one of Europe’s best known Muslim intellectuals, has been barred from entering the US since 2004 after his visa was revoked by authorities. He applied for a non-immigrant visa in September last year, but US officials have stalled on deciding his request, citing national security concerns.
Judge Crotty said the US government explanations on delaying a decision on the visa application was “less than convincing”.
“If the government has a legitimate and bona fide reason for excluding Ramadan, then it may exclude him,” he said. “But it must do so by acting on the pending visa application, not by studying Ramadan’s application indefinitely.” ...
The lawsuit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of the American Academy of Religion, the American Association of University Professors and PEN American Center — all of which had invited Ramadan as a guest speaker. ...
Over a dozen US academics protested the visa denial and the Chicago Tribune described it as a punishment for his views on Iraq invasion and Israeli policies.
The Guardian recently reported that US professors and teachers were facing hard time speaking their minds out and criticizing the Bush administration’s foreign policy with federal anti-terror sheriffs watching and students paid to tape “anti-America” statements.
US professors are having a hard time speaking out against President Bush? In which universe?
IRISH MOONBAT "ARRESTS US SOLDIERS
Now sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a self-righteous moonbat. When an Irish “anti-war” activist spied some US soldiers walking around in their uniforms, hilarity ensued.
SIX United States soldiers on their way home from service in Iraq were placed under citizen’s arrest after an anti-war activist spotted them walking around a town in their uniforms.
Shannon-based peace activist Conor Cregan said yesterday that he briefly detained the six on Thursday afternoon after finding them walking on the Limerick Road leading out of Ennis. “I placed the soldiers under citizen’s arrest because these soldiers are not supposed to be walking freely on the streets of Ireland in uniform. It is a breach of the Irish Constitution and Irish neutrality,”he said.
The six were part of a group of 238 troops who were forced to stay overnight on Thursday in due to technical problems experienced by their aircraft at Shannon airport. They were staying at the West County Hotel in Ennis and met Mr Cregan near the hotel on a public footpath.
He said yesterday: “I immediately called for the six to stop and said to them ‘I am placing you all under citizen’s arrest. Do not move’.”
The men remained on the footpath as Mr Cregan contacted emergency services. “I was put through to Ennis garda station, but the garda on duty made light of the matter,” Mr Cregan said. Saturday, June 24, 2006
VIOLENCE IN IRAQ: A COMPARISON
This report in today's Los Angeles Times says that 50,000 Iraqis have been killed since the American-led invasion in March 2003. A large majority of these were murdered by terrorists. The Times trumpets its figure, which it considers conservative, as a rebuke to the Bush administration--the article's very first sentence notes that its figure is "20,000 higher than previously acknowledged by the Bush administration." No doubt the Times' count will be so interpreted when it is repeated by hundreds of other news outlets over the next few days.
The Times makes no effort to put its 50,000 number into any sort of context. Reading its article, one might get the impression that pre-2003 Iraq was the balloon-flying paradise so notoriously depicted by Michael Moore. A bit of research, however, offers evidence that the current level of violence is, sadly, nothing new.
In January 2003, two months before the coalition's attack on Saddam's regime began, John Burns wrote a chilling account of Saddam Hussein's reign of terror in the New York Times. Burns' article, titled "How Many People Has Saddam Killed?", recounted some once-familiar numbers that seem to have been forgotten in the current media hysteria. Burns noted that Saddam was widely considered to be responsible for "a million dead Iraqis," a number that included 500,000 killed in the war Saddam launched against Iran. Burns tried to estimate separately the number that were simply murdered:
Casualties from Iraq's gulag are harder to estimate. Accounts collected by Western human rights groups from Iraqi émigrés and defectors have suggested that the number of those who have "disappeared" into the hands of the secret police, never to be heard from again, could be 200,000.
Burns' piece is notable, too, for its appalling description of Abu Ghraib prison at a time when it really was a center of torture and mass murder. As he documents the fear that penetrated Iraqi society, Burns also reminds us that beheadings in that long-suffering place are nothing new:
More recently, ... scores of women have been executed under a new twist in a "return to faith" campaign proclaimed by Mr. Hussein. ... Often, the executions have been carried out by the Fedayeen Saddam, a paramilitary group headed by Mr. Hussein's oldest son, 38-year-old Uday. These men, masked and clad in black, make the women kneel in busy city squares, along crowded sidewalks, or in neighborhood plots, then behead them with swords.
No doubt, some of the beheadings that have occurred over the past three years have been carried out by the very same people who committed the same outrages on Saddam's orders.
When I read the L. A. Times' breathless account of 50,000 dead Iraqis, my thoughts went back to pre-2003 days when leftists would claim that the United Nations' sanctions were responsible for enormous numbers of fatalities in that country. In the Muslim world it was commonly said that sanctions killed 100,000 Iraqi children a year, or a million altogether. Some estimates ranged as high as two million.
Such claims are wildly inflated. (Ironically, some of the same people who peddled these inflated figures when attacking the United States for supporting the U.N.'s sanctions are now in the forefront of denunciations of the war and its aftermath. By their own logic, they should be applauding the end of the supposed "genocide" that our invasion brought about.) But even on the most sober accounting, as in this article by Matt Welch in Reason magazine, it is clear that the sanctions regime did increase mortality among children as well as adults. Welch concludes:
It seems awfully hard not to conclude that the embargo on Iraq has been ineffective (especially since 1998) and that it has, at the least, contributed to more than 100,000 deaths since 1990.
So, while 50,000 murdered people constitute a tragedy, it is meaningless to look at this figure outside the context of Iraq's bloody history. That context includes not only the fact that far more people lost their lives--and far more brutally, for the most part--under Saddam. Equally important, it includes the fact that for the first time in a generation, the murderers and beheaders are hunted men rather than agents of a tyrannical government. The sacrifices now being made in Iraq need not be in vain, as long as Iraqis do not lose their commitment to freedom, and Americans do not lose their nerve.
One more thing: the L. A. Times article includes the intriguing observation that the large majority of people being murdered, by terrorists or, apparently, otherwise, are in Baghdad:
At least 2,532 people were killed nationwide last month. Of those, 2,155 — 85% — died in Baghdad.
The current population of Iraq is around 26 million, of whom approximately 6 million live in Baghdad. A murder rate of 377 x 12 = 4,524, for the 20 million people who live anywhere other than Baghdad, works out to 22.6 per 100,000. That's around four times the murder rate in the United States, and about the same as the murder rates in cities like Chicago, Philadelphia and Milwaukee. So, if the Times' figures are anywhere near accurate, it is absurd to say--as the Times article does--that "the entire country [is] a battleground."
CONGRESSMAN KING SAYS: THROW THE BOOK AT 'EM
Congressman Peter King, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called today for criminal prosecution of the New York Times:
King, a New York Republican, said he would write Attorney General Alberto Gonzales urging that the country's chief law enforcer "begin an investigation and prosecution of the New York Times - the reporters, the editors and the publisher."
"We're at war, and for the Times to release information about secret operations and methods is treasonous," King told The Associated Press.
The Bush administration has been astonishingly conciliatory toward a hostile press that has done everything possible to undermine it, and, often, the country's effort to defend itself against Islamic terrorism. I seriously doubt that the administration has the political will to prosecute the Times for what would seem to be an obvious criminal violation. Still, it's good to see momentum for criminal prosecution starting to grow. Sunday, June 25, 2006
The Scratching Post documents the effects on the New York Times of "Compromising National Security as a Marketing Strategy." The chart below shows the NYT's stock price over the last five years:
From a business standpoint, the Times' embrace of far-left politics on page one has been a disaster. I'm reminded of the analysis Michael Medved did years ago, showing that the movie studios' preference for R-rated and X-rated movies is not driven, as popularly believed, by economics. Newspapers like the Times, just like Hollywood, are willing to sacrifice their own economic interests in service of what they think is a higher value. I wonder, though, whether the owners of the Times Company's Class B shares, to whom the Sulzberger family owes a fiduciary duty, share the paper's disdain for profit. Saturday, June 24, 2006
HOW SECRET INFORMATION CAN CATCH TERRORISTS
Ha'aretz shows how secret information can catch terrorists when it remains a secret. The US got Western Union to assist our intelligence services and the Shin Bet in order to catch Palestinian terrorists attempted to move money through their network:
From the spring of 2003 until autumn 2004, the Shin Bet security service tracked down Palestinian terror cells in the West Bank thanks to information from the Western Union money transfer service, which was passed on by the FBI. ...
In early April, 2003, an Islamic Jihad activist went to a Western Union office in Lebanon and ordered a money transfer to Hebron. The Justice Department authorized Western Union to release this information to the FBI and the CIA, and eventually to the Shin Bet. According to Suskind, all this took just minutes, enabling Israeli intelligence to track the person who collected the transfer in Hebron and to uncover the terror cell.
According to the book, this method was used successfully many times over the next year and a half, until autumn 2004, when Palestinian operatives realized that their Western Union transfers were being used to trap them.
Ron Suskind revealed this operation in his book, The One-Percent Solution, and Ha'aretz's sources confirm it. The operation started with Western Union's parent company, First Data, offering its assistance to the FBI in order to help in the war on terror. The existing relationship allowed the FBI and Shin Bet to quickly capitalize on their intelligence, and for over a year First Data's help allowed American and Israeli intelligence to track Islamist terrorists and their funding. This money could not have been tracked through the Swift program, nor through any surveillance focusing on banks.
The terrorists eventually learned through hard experience that the wire transfers had been identified and used by Western intelligence and stopped using it. That explains why Hamas has had to rely on suitcases to move cash into Gaza and the West Bank; every other means of financial transfer has Western eyes watching it. At least it did until the New York Times blew the Swift project out of the water; now that they have exposed it, Swift will come under pressure to end its cooperation from at least some of its clients.
Suskind did no damage to our national security by revealing a long-defunct but successful program in tracking terrorist money. Eric Lichtblau, James Risen, and Bill Keller have done great damage by exposing the specific methods of a successful and ongoing program, one that broke no laws and had no impact on individual civil liberties, for no other reason than notoriety and profit. We can only win this war if we keep our national-security programs clandestine and quit tipping our hand to the people who want to kill us.
TALIBAN CALLS FOR TRUCE
The Taliban in Afghanistan has proposed a month-long truce in order to reach a permanent arrangement with the Pakistani government. The Waziristan region has seen fierce fighting involving Pakistani troops, and as the Americans and Canadians press an offensive in Afghanistan, the two-front war has taken its toll on the Taliban:
The militants, also known as local Taleban, have set the government four main conditions.
They want a withdrawal of army troops from the region within a month, and the removal of all new check posts from North Waziristan, their spokesman Abdullah Farhad told the BBC.
He also demanded the restoration of salaries and jobs and other incentives for local tribes and the release of tribesmen arrested during military operations against al-Qaeda and Taleban fighters in the region.
The governor of North Western Frontier Province, Ali Mohammad Jan Aurakzai, said a decision on these conditions would be taken in talks with the militants.
He promised to reciprocate with a goodwill gesture but did not elaborate.
This follows a similar arrangement in South Waziristan, where a truce has held for the past month. The Taliban would like nothing more than to lick their wounds in the mountain regions while offering support for their allies in Afghanistan. It appears that the Musharraf government might also like to get out of Waziristan and focus their efforts elsewhere, a move that would likely cause some friction with Washington if it results in increased fighting in Afghanistan.
A truce with Islamists in this region sounds like a bad deal for the US, and it might impact our previous reluctance to conduct cross-border missions. Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri have long been rumored to hide in these regions, and an end to Pakistani military operations would at first blush mean greater security for the al-Qaeda masterminds and a renewed opportunity for them to rebuild some operational connections to their network.
We shall see what this means; perhaps the deal might require the betrayal of bin Laden and Zawahiri, who after all ordered two assassination attempts on Musharraf. We can only hope that the Pakistanis remain firm in their efforts to stop Islamofascist terror.
UPDATE: Maj. Gen. Benjamin Freakly, the commander of the forces in Afghanistan, tells Fox News that this both impacts his fight in Afghanistan and is a result of their successes against the Taliban. He notes that the cease-fire only applies to Pakistan, and he has no intention of letting up on the enemy. He's not surprised that the Taliban has fought back recently. The Canadian additions allowed the Coalition to expand their pressure on the Taliban in areas that had not been touched before. Sunday, June 25, 2006
NYT REVEALS SECRET BRIEFING ON THE PAINFULLY OBVIOUS
The New York Times has revealed yet another war secret, this time publishing details of negotiations between CENTCOM and the Iraqi government on troop reductions in Iraq. Michael Gordon reveals that General George Casey has briefed the Pentagon on specific troop reductions that will cumulatively reduce troop strength in Iraq by 60% at the end of 2007:
The top American commander in Iraq has drafted a plan that projects sharp reductions in the United States military presence there by the end of 2007, with the first cuts coming this September, American officials say.
According to a classified briefing at the Pentagon this week by the commander, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the number of American combat brigades in Iraq is projected to decrease to 5 or 6 from the current level of 14 by December 2007.
Under the plan, the first reductions would involve two combat brigades that would rotate out of Iraq in September without being replaced. Military officials do not typically characterize reductions by total troop numbers, but rather by brigades. Combat brigades, which generally have about 3,500 troops, do not make up the bulk of the 127,000-member American force in Iraq, and other kinds of units would not be pulled out as quickly.
American officials emphasized that any withdrawals would depend on continued progress, including the development of competent Iraqi security forces, a reduction in Sunni Arab hostility toward the new Iraqi government and the assumption that the insurgency will not expand beyond Iraq's six central provinces. Even so, the projected troop withdrawals in 2007 are more significant than many experts had expected.
This leak appears to come from a high-placed military source, as this kind of briefing would have a small number of attendees. That tends to make a mole hunt rather quick to conduct, and the Pentagon will undoubtedly start looking very quickly for the leaker -- unless they staged it themselves. The White House has faced a lot of pressure to show results in Iraq, and while it has come in a rush recently, the training of the Iraqi troops has mostly passed under the media radar. If we already have the reductions in process, the pressure from Congress to set deadlines will likely fade.
Otherwise, the news that Casey has planned for troop reductions should not surprise anyone. We knew from the Washington Post article by Mowaffak al-Rubaie, the Iraqi national-security advisor, that these transitions had already started and would accelerate soon. Rubaie explained this on June 20th:
Iraq has a total of 18 governorates, which are at differing stages in terms of security. Each will eventually take control of its own security situation, barring a major crisis. But before this happens, each governorate will have to meet stringent minimum requirements as a condition of being granted control. For example, the threat assessment of terrorist activities must be low or on a downward trend. Local police and the Iraqi army must be deemed capable of dealing with criminal gangs, armed groups and militias, and border control. There must be a clear and functioning command-and-control center overseen by the governor, with direct communication to the prime minister's situation room.
Despite the seemingly endless spiral of violence in Iraq today, such a plan is already in place. All the governors have been notified and briefed on the end objective. The current prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has approved the plan, as have the coalition forces, and assessments of each province have already been done. Nobody believes this is going to be an easy task, but there is Iraqi and coalition resolve to start taking the final steps to have a fully responsible Iraqi government accountable to its people for their governance and security. Thus far four of the 18 provinces are ready for the transfer of power -- two in the north (Irbil and Sulaymaniyah) and two in the south (Maysan and Muthanna). Nine more provinces are nearly ready.
George Bush has made it clear that the troops required now to secure these provinces would return home when the Iraqis took command of security from us. Gordon's report just confirms what Rubaie has already told us: the Iraqis have made themselves ready to take charge. Casey's briefing on proposed troop reductions reflect the reality on the ground in these provinces. Even Gordon notes that the reductions come at the pace dictated by the situation on the ground and not to an artificial timetable.
The Times, then, has told us that General Casey has held a briefing detailing the numbers and rotation strategy of a process long expected and described on numerous occasions. The fact that the Pentagon held this briefing recently shows that Rubaie had his facts straight, and that the Pentagon considers the progress substantial enough to proceed with planning the reductions. Otherwise, this is nothing new nor surprising.
If the Pentagon felt that they needed to leak this information for political purposes, it just shows how corrosive the debate on the deployment in Iraq has become to the war effort. If not, then expect the DoD to get very serious about tracking down the leaker. In either case, the New York Times has once again specialized in publishing classified material on a story with only marginal news value.
ADDENDUM: I would caution my friends on the Right from getting too far ahead on comparisons between this story and the Lichtblau/Rosen series. No intel methods got blown in this story, and apart from the fect of the briefing itself, Michael Gordon's reporting does little but confirm the strategy that the White House and DoD have stated from the time Saddam Hussein got chased out of Baghdad. It doesn't even note specific dates or deadlines, apart from an educated guess that the provinces will turn over in time for the four-brigade drop by the end of this year, and the halving of the force by the end of next year. It looks like the kind of leak that serves to build confidence in the effort rather than undermine it.
UPDATE: Michelle was nice enough to link to me, and reminds us that the law regarding classified information does not distinguish between "controlled" and "uncontrolled" links. Make sure you check out her excellent collection of adapted WWII posters exhorting Americans to keep quiet about confidential information. These, unfortunately, are different times.
UPDATE II: Josh Marshall misses a couple of points in his analysis (via TMV):
No leaving Iraq until 2009, the president says. But then the administration leaks word that the pull-out is in 2007. No plan -- just whatever sounds best at the moment.
Against a phased withdrawal before they were for it.
First, the plan all along has been for a phased withdrawal; the difference is that the Democrats have insisted on tying that withdrawal to calendar dates, while the Bush administration has insisted on tying it to progress on the ground. Second, the plan as reported by the Times does not end the Iraq deployment in 2007. If Josh had read this more carefully, Casey proposed that only four or five brigades (out of 14 currently) would remain at the end of 2007. That's not a pull-out by anyone's definition. The final withdrawal would probably come from Anbar and Baghdad, and that could take another two years of close logistical support past the rest of the drawdown to achieve.
As I said, this article reports nothing new to those who have paid attention. Saturday, June 24, 2006
TALIBAN LOSES IN AFGHANISTAN, GAINS IN PAKISTAN
By Bill Roggio
The latest round of fighting in southeastern Afghanistan has claimed over 82 Taliban fighters in two separate engagements in Kandahar and Uruzgan provinces. Security Watchtower provides a breakdown of the estimated casualties of Taliban and Coalition forces in southeastern Afghanistan since the beginning of April. An estimated 600 Taliban have been killed and 22 captured, with 41 Afghan and Coalition security forces killed or wounded combined. The estimated Taliban casualties do not contain the number of wounded, which is often twice the number killed in combat.
Afghanistan UN Security Accessability Map (as of June 20, 2006).Click to view map, .PDF, approximately 1 Megabyte.
As the Coalition ramps up its forces and adds another 9,000 troops to the southeastern theater, the Taliban continues to take a pounding on the battlefield. The security situation in the region is fluid, but the Coalition is clearly gaining the upper hand as it moves forces and devotes energy into regions largely ignored by the central Afghan government. Coalition and Afghan sources estimate the Taliban strength between 2,000 to 5,000 active fighters, while the Taliban puts their strength at 12,000. Using the high Coalition estimate of 5,000 and an estimate of 1,800 Taliban killed and wounded, the Taliban has experienced a 36% attrition rate over the past three months. Using the Taliban estimate of 12,000 strong, the Taliban has experienced a 15% attrition rate. Both are frighteningly high numbers, and belie the reports of a sophisticated and powerful Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan.
To underscore this point, I sat in on a platoon level briefing prior to a Canadian assault earlier this month on the Dari and Panjwai districts in Kandahar province. Intelligence indicated the Taliban were massed in the hundreds, and possessed assault rifles, RPGs (rocket propelled grenades), mortars and other more sophisticated weaponry (I will omit the weapons for security purposes). The grunts of Charlie Company of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, mobile assault team and the tip of the spear for Canadian forces, laughed at the intelligence reports the Taliban possessed mortars and other weapons, as they have shown little inclination to bring these weapons to bear on the battlefield. Mortars are hardly sophisticated weapons, they are a staple weapon of platoon and company sized infantry units. That the Taliban cannot effectively deploy these weapons speaks volumes of their sophistication and training.
But the security situation in Afghanistan cannot be viewed in a vacuum; western Pakistan directly affects Afghanistan's stability. The Talibanization of western Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province and Baluchistan has an impact of the situation in Afghanistan. The tribal agencies of North and South Waziristan are openly referred to as Talibanistan. Bajaur is a operational base and staging area into Afghanistan for mid-level al-Qaeda commanders, and senior al-Qaeda command (bin Laden and Zawahiri) are believed to be operating from nearby Dir.
“The Taliban’s sphere of influence has expanded to [the tribal agencies of] DI Khan [Dera Ismail Khan], Tank and the Khyber Agency, where clerks of the area have started to join them. There has been a sharp increase in attacks on heavily-defended military targets in these areas as well,” said Pakistani Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao last April. Coalition and Afghan commanders and government officials have openly stated the Taliban senior command are operating from the city of Quetta in Baluchistan, and have given the Pakistani government addresses of the location of senior Taliban leaders.
The Talibanization of western Pakistan continues. In a sign the Pakistani government is operating from a position of weakness, the government is proposing yet another ceasefire with the Taliban, while local Islamists bomb "a computer and a music centre" in Dir and a bazaar in Dera Ghazni Khan. Last week a suicide fuel truck bomb detonated in the Afghan province of Nangahar after crossing from Khyber agency in Pakistan.
It is no accident the most troubled provinces of Afghanistan reside on the border with Pakistan. The latest United Nations Afghanistan UN Security Accessibility Map (as of June 20, 2006) perfectly illustrates this point. The red & yellow band in Helmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Ghazni, Zabul and Paktika province is scene of Operation Mountain Thrust. The eastern Afghanistan provinces of Kunar, Nuristan and Nangarhar is in the American zone of operations, and the scene of the ongoing Operation Mountain Lion. And while the map appears dire at first glance, the United Nations, a risk adverse organization, considers the oranges zones as "representing a manageable level of risk with the application of more detailed and security measures." The UN considers a small fraction of Afghan territory as a "not accessible" or "no-go" zone.
Ayman al-Zawahari, al-Qaeda's second in command, recent videotapes underscores the al-Qaeda's position in western Pakistan. Far from living in a cave, Zawahiri has access to the daily news and Internet, as well as a production facility to make high quality video products. The tape where Zawahiri lashes out against Afghan President Hamid Karzai and calls for a general Afghan uprising against the Coalition clearly cites the May 26th accident in Kabul. The turnaround time between the incident and the release of the tape is about three weeks. Zawahiri clearly is confident in the security of his line of communications. His actions indicate he has nothing to fear from reprisal from the Pakistani military or intelligence units. Sunday, June 25, 2006
WAPO WHITEWASHES JIHADTV
The Washington Post runs an unbelievable whitewash of Al Jazeera today, by former Nightline producer Joanne Levine (now a shill for JihadTV), with the headline howler of the week: Al-Jazeera, as American as Apple Pie.
Many Americans automatically think “terrorist TV,” or “Osama bin Laden’s network.” They see al-Jazeera, the Arabic-language channel based in Qatar, as the al-Qaeda leader’s mouthpiece, broadcasting his videotaped messages of jihad.
Yet the truth is that al-Jazeera is a pioneer of news independence that the U.S. government once lauded for bringing freedom of the press to the Middle East. Now it’s planning to broadcast worldwide, including in the United States. But as its Arab owners work to make that a reality, the prejudice here persists, and those of us who work for the network find ourselves running, at every turn, into resistance, rejection and racism.
Extreme Mortman has their number: Beware Al Jazeera’s Public Diplomacy.
Levine writes, “most people in this country have never watched al-Jazeera.” I have. Before I joined New Media Strategies, it used to be part of my job, when I worked for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the U.S. government agency that runs America’s international broadcasting efforts.
What did I see? Constant victim-based images that peddled what America was doing to Iraqis and what Israel was doing to Palestinians. I saw program after program, promo after promo, feeding into the notion that Arabs are being routinely victimized by the rest of the world, catering to an overwhelmingly anti-American audience.
Sometimes the approach is quite subtle — hidden behind the cloak of “showing both sides.”
For instance, at the same time in early 2005 that the Senate was holding confirmation hearings for Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State, al-Jazeera was airing a documentary re-enactment of Abu Gharib.
And how did al-Jazeera mark the most recent anniversary of 9/11? The network showed the Michael Moore film “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Sunday, June 25, 2006
From Reuters: Miami men hit with "home-grown terrorism" charges.
Seven men were charged on Friday with conspiring to attack the landmark Sears Tower in Chicago and the FBI building in Miami in a mission they hoped would be "just as good or greater" than September 11, U.S. officials said.
But Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told a news conference in Washington that the plotting of the "home-grown terrorism cell" never went beyond the earliest stages.
"There was no immediate threat," Gonzales said, acknowledging the defendants never had contact with al Qaeda and did not have weapons or explosives. ...
A south Florida grand jury indicted the men on Thursday. The indictment said the men pledged loyalty to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda in order to seek support from it for their desire to "wage war" against the U.S. government and build an Islamic army. ...
"On or about December 16, 2005, Narseal Batiste provided the 'al Qaeda representative' (actually the FBI informant) with a list of materials and equipment needed in order to wage jihad, which list included boots, uniforms, machine guns, radios and vehicles," the indictment also said.
Their aim was to "'kill all the devils we can' in a mission that would 'be just as good or greater than 9/11,' beginning with the destruction of the Sears Tower," it said.
Earlier this month, when the Canadian Jihad was exposed, it was also reported:
[Last July, the FBI's Counterterrorism 6] was alerted after police detectives stumbled across a cache of firearms, ammunition and military vests in a Los Angeles apartment during a robbery investigation. Also seized were books on Islam and Osama bin Laden, plus a list of synagogues, military recruiting centers and other sites.
Federal prosecutors later charged that the facilities were being targeted by homegrown terror suspects who planned to kill scores of people in shooting rampages. Four men -- three of them U.S.-born -- now face counts of conspiring to wage war against the U.S. government, kill armed service members or murder foreign officials.
What motivates a person to wage war against their own country and sympathize with the likes of Osama bin Laden? Part of the answer lies in the spread of multiculturalist ideas. These citizens have been taught by our intellectuals to hate their home countries, and that hate is fertile ground for Islamism.
In February, Keith Windschuttle explained how cultural relativism undermines Western culture from within: The Adversary Culture.
Cultural relativism claims there are no absolute standards for assessing human culture. Hence all cultures should be regarded as equal, though different. ...
The moral rationale of cultural relativism is a plea for tolerance and respect of other cultures, no matter how uncomfortable we might be with their beliefs and practices. However, there is one culture conspicuous by its absence from all this. The plea for acceptance and open-mindedness does not extend to Western culture itself, whose history is regarded as little more than a crime against the rest of humanity. The West cannot judge other cultures but must condemn its own.
Since the 1960s, academic historians on the left have worked to generate a widespread cynicism about the nature of Western democracies, with the aim of questioning their legitimacy and undermining their ability to command loyalty. ...
The anti-Westernism of which I am speaking is not only about the past but has as much to say about current affairs.
The aftermath to the assaults on New York and Washington on September 11 2001 provided a stark illustration of its values. Within days of the terrorist assault, a number of influential Western intellectuals, including Noam Chomsky, Susan Sontag and youthful counterparts such as Naomi Klein of the anti-globalisation protest movement, responded in ways that, morally and symbolically, were no different to the celebrations of the crowds on the streets of Palestine and Islamabad who cheered as they watched the towers of the World Trade Centre come crashing down. Stripped of its obligatory jargon, their argument was straightforward: America deserved what it got. ...
Enclosed by a mindset of cultural relativism, most Westerners are loath to censure Muslims who go on violent rampages, burn down embassies and threaten death to their fellow citizens. Many of us regard this as somehow understandable, even acceptable, since we have no right to judge another religion and culture. ...
Their real aim is not religious respect but cultural change in the West. They want to prevent criticism of its Muslim minority and accord that group special privilege not available to the faithful of other religions. Instead of them changing to integrate into our way of life, they want to force us to change to accept their way of life. Sunday, June 25, 2006
CAIR: US TERROR SUSPECTS NOT MUSLIMS
And indeed, there are aspects of what has been reported about them, as we have noted here, that suggests they are not orthodox Muslims. But as they seem to have identified themselves as Muslims and their cause with Al-Qaeda's, it would be foolish to take CAIR's advice and ignore that element of the case.
"US Terror Suspects Not Muslims: CAIR," from IslamOnline, with thanks to all who sent this in:
CAIRO — The Council on American-Islamic Relations, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has urged the media not to associate the seven suspects arrested on charges of plotting terrorist attacks in the US with the country's Muslim minority, insisting they were not Muslims.
"Given that the reported beliefs of this bizarre group have nothing to do with Islam, we ask members of the media to refrain from calling them Muslims," Ahmed Bedier, Director of CAIR Florida chapter, said in a statement e-mailed to IslamOnline.net.
Seven men — five US citizens, a legal resident and a Haitian — appeared in court on Friday, June 23, a day after they were arrested in Miami.
US Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales said the seven were charged with conspiracy to provide material support to Al-Qaeda and terrorists.
They face four terrorism charges, including a plot to blow up the 110-floor Sears Tower, the world's third tallest building, in Chicago and the FBI regional headquarters.
The charges sheet said the group's leader, Narseal Batiste, recruited individuals for an operation "which included a plot to destroy by explosives the Sears Tower."...
Bedier criticized the media for referring to the arrestees as Muslims.
He regretted "a lot of talk on conservative radio and television stations and opinion that this is militant Islamism, radical Islamism."
The Muslim activist asserted that the suspects seem to belong to "some sort of cult group."
Media reports said the seven detainees were part of the "Seas of David" religious group.
A man identified himself as a member of the "Seas of David" told CNN on Thursday, June 22, that they had no connection to terrorists.
"We are not terrorists. We are members of David, Seas of David," said the man, identifying himself as Brother Corey.
He said the group blends the teachings of Christianity and Islam.
"We study Allah and the worship of the regular Bible."
He went on: "We study and we train through the bible, not only physical -- not only physical, but mentally." Sunday, June 25, 2006
MUSLIMS ADDRESS SILENCE ON EUROPE ATTACKS
Why should they condemn people who they don't even believe are real Muslims? Because other Muslims believe they're real Muslims, are are susceptible to their recruitment based on appeals to Qur'an and Sunnah. Isn't that a good enough reason?
From AP, with thanks to Kasia:
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - Europe's Muslims have remained largely silent in the face of terrorist attacks that have killed 254 people in Madrid, London and Amsterdam. Europeans want to know why.
Why have so few of them publicly condemned the train and bus bombings in Madrid and London? Why have so few spoken out against the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, killed because his work was considered an insult to Islam?
Talk to Europe's mainstream Muslims privately, however, and it turns out they have a lot to say.
Seek them out in the neighborhoods where they live and work - in the outdoor markets and butcher shops that sell halal meat, in the book stores that display literature on Islam and the West, in the boutiques that promote Islamic dress codes, in the Turkish restaurants and smoky Tunisian teahouses, in their schools and youth clubs - and they denounce, the vast majority unequivocally, attacks against civilians in both Europe and the United States.
"Van Gogh was a crazy man, but no one has the right to kill anyone who says bad things about the Quran," said Mohammed Azahaf, a 23-year-old student who runs a youth center in Amsterdam. "If you kill one, it's like killing the whole of mankind," he said, quoting a line from the Muslim holy book.
Of course, others differ, and on Islamic grounds -- specifically, the example of Muhammad:
At the time of the Messenger Muhammad (saw) there were individuals like these who dishonoured and insulted him upon whom the Islamic judgement was executed. Such people were not tolerated in the past and throughout the history of Islam were dealt with according to the Shariah. Ka’ab ibn Ashraf was assassinated by Muhammad ibn Maslamah for harming the Messenger Muhammad (saw) by his words, Abu Raafi’ was killed by Abu Ateeq as the Messenger ordered in the most evil of ways for swearing at the prophet, Khalid bin Sufyaan was killed by Abdullah bin Anees who cut off his head and brought it to the prophet for harming the Messenger Muhammad (saw) by his insults, Al-Asmaa bintu Marwaan was killed by Umayr bin Adi’ al-Khatmi, a blind man, for writing poetry against the prophet and insulting him in it, Al-Aswad al-Ansi was killed by Fairuz al-Daylami and his family for insulting the Messenger Muhammad (saw) and claiming to be a prophet himself. This is the judgement of Islam upon those who violate, dishonour and insult the Messenger Muhammad (saw).
What would Mohammed Azahaf say to that? He was quoting Qur'an 5:32: "On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our messengers with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land." What would he say to someone who asserted that Van Gogh was "spreading mischief in the land," and so deserved what he got?
These are serious questions, because Muslims do say such things. If Mohammed Azohaf really rejects that perspective, he should have a response.
Why, then, the public silence?
For some of the more than five dozen Muslims interviewed for this story in Amsterdam, Paris and London, it's a sense of shame, or even guilt, that innocents have been killed in the name of Islam; they say those feelings make them seek to be "invisible." For those lucky enough to have jobs, there is little time to protest or even write letters to newspapers. For others, there is fear of being branded anti-Islam in their communities.
Dutch Muslim rapper Yassine SB wrote a song about his anger over Van Gogh's murder but scrapped plans to perform it out of fear of being ostracized by the Islamic community. He also turned down requests by a popular Amsterdam radio station to sing a song against terrorism.
Why would they ostracise him, if they all condemn what happened to van Gogh?
"If you sing that, it's like you choose the Dutch, not Muslims," said Yassine SB - the initials stand for his surname Sahsah Bahida - who is popular among Dutch North African youths like himself for his songs against racism.
"People will say 'you are a traitor,'" said the 20-year-old musician....
Why, many Muslims ask, should they have to speak out against, or apologize for, actions of radicals who do not represent them - people they do not even regard as true Muslims?
Because, as the van Gogh anecdote reveals, there are more of these untrue Muslims than anyone wants to admit. Something has to be done about it.
Many find the very idea of being asked or expected to denounce such acts "extremely offensive and insulting," said Khurshid Drabu, a senior member of the Muslim Council of Britain.
A thought experiment: imagine you are a member of a group. Any group. And other members of the same group are committing violent acts against innocent people and justifying doing so by appealing to the philosophy of your group. But you think they are misusing that philosophy. Would you be insulted at people who ask you to explain how they are misusing it, and to resist their doing so, or would you find the actual misusers of your cherished philosophy more insulting?
"I'm British," said Tuhina Ahmed, 24, a British-born Muslim in London whose family came from Gujarat in India. "I could have been blown up as well." Why, she asked, should she have to make a public statement to prove her objection to terrorism?
Because the terrorists did come from your group, and claim your religious ideology, Tuhina. Do it for Britain. If you care to, that is.
To many, the pressure to denounce acts of terror smacks of President Bush's warning that 'you are either with us or against us.'
"People and politicians say where are the Muslim people, why aren't they on the streets defending themselves? They say we should go into the streets and condemn what happened so they see us as good Muslims," said Karima Ramani, a 20-year-old Dutch born to an Algerian father and Moroccan mother. "I don't feel it's my duty. I'm not responsible for the death of Van Gogh."...
Yet the Internet is filled with blogs - mostly from Westerners but also by some Muslims - asking why Muslims are not expressing revulsion at the attacks. They see the silence as giving the terrorists strength.
"Isn't silence, justification, fear and hesitation in condemning terrorism, a factor in the encouragement of these individuals to appear on numerous platforms and satellite channels and claim that they represent a religion in the absence of active influential groups and institutions?" asked a blog entry by Ahmed Al-Rabei, a Kuwaiti journalist who works for London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat.
"Isn't it a tragic crime to label the millions of European Muslims as guilty because of the rhetoric of a few professional lunatics, while the rest remain silent and wallow in self-pity? We have to admit that Islam has been hijacked particularly in European countries."
Muslim leaders say they and other Muslims have marched in a number of anti-terrorism rallies in Europe - the largest was held on the first anniversary of Madrid's 2004 bombings - and Muslims can't be expected to pour into the streets every day. They also say they have condemned the attacks in the media.
The fact that they would have to pour into the streets "every day" shows how ineffective their condemnations have been. When will they begin efforts to teach against the jihad ideology in mosques? If they care to.
Surveys indicate a small but significant chunk of Europe's Muslim population supports the terrorists.
In a poll of British Muslims after the July 2005 suicide attacks on London's transport system, 6 percent thought the bombings were justified. Another 24 percent condemned the attacks but had some sympathy with the bombers' grievances.
Many Europeans blame the Continent's Muslim leadership, which they accuse of making ambiguous and qualified condemnations that give the impression they are making excuses for the bombers: grievances over the war in Iraq or the West's support for Israel.
"It's the leaders who are most responsible," said Rory Miller, senior lecturer of Mediterranean studies at King's College, London....
Azahaf, 23, was among the thousands who marched in Amsterdam against Van Gogh's killing. "I demonstrated not for Van Gogh but for freedom to talk, to say what you want," he said.
Olivier Roy, a respected French scholar of Islam, says Muslim silence is a "classical psychology of immigrants" - wanting to be "normal" and become mainstream. "For them, integration means to be recognized as citizens. They don't want to be recognized for their specificity."...
Sure, but to this the Islamic community, with its set and comprehensive social order, has proved particularly resistant.
Many of Europe's best-integrated Muslims say their lives are so far removed from those of the radicals that it simply has never occurred to them to protest.
Alia Kdeih, 50, came to Paris in 1977, at the height of a civil war in her native Lebanon. She got her degree from the Sorbonne, married a Lebanese and presents a cultural program on the Arabic service of French government-owned Radio Monte Carlo. Her elegant Western-decorated apartment in a middle-class Paris neighborhood has only a few flavors of Lebanon.
Kdeih said she will not go into the streets to condemn the attacks even though she's appalled by them - pointing out that her identity is not defined by Islam.
"It's not something I want to stress," she said. "I don't feel responsible for what happened even if they are Muslims." Saturday, June 24, 2006
ISLAMISTS DIRECT BRITAIN'S TERROR DEBATE
Here’s Michael Gove, on the insane, suicidal political correctness that has hobbled Britain’s response to the July 7 bombings, as the most virulent Islamist front groups have been treated as if they were immune from criticism: To allow Islamists to direct the post-7/7 debate was a disaster.
THE BRITISH State has come under severe criticism following the Forest Gate raid for its intelligence failures in the fight against terrorism. But the biggest failure of all in the battle against Islamist extremism has gone practically unnoticed.
Tony Blair has acknowledged that the fight against Islamist terrorism cannot be restricted to a police action against isolated individuals or small groups. Last summer he spelt out that a much broader effort is required to tackle, at root, the ideology of Islamism that has bewitched so many minds. But in the struggle against extremism the British State has failed to tackle the underlying ideological currents that favour Islamism. Organisations such as the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) and the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), whose members have shown sympathy for extremist positions, are rarely challenged, and certainly not publicly by the Government or its agencies.
For moderate Muslims the picture is dispiriting. They see the most religiously conservative and politically provocative groupings enjoy the lion’s share of attention and they wonder how serious the British State is about countering extremism. How can they convince young men within their community that the path of moderation brings respect and a voice in the nation’s deliberations when the most influential voices are seen to belong to those with radical agendas?
In Islamist circles a complementary message is absorbed. The British State does not have the courage to face down the advocates of political Islam. Islamists in Britain scent weakness. Just as Islamists abroad believe the West does not have the stamina to resist for long, so Islamists within the UK believe the momentum is with them. Islam’s Leninists have drawn the bayonet, probed, and found mush.
Proof of the British State’s institutional weakness came directly in the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings. At the Prime Minister’s behest the Home Office established a series of working groups to tackle the threat of Islamic extremism. A variety of individuals were appointed whose past statements or current affiliations made them very curious conscripts in the struggle against extremism. Sunday, June 25, 2006
CAIR COMPLAINING TO FBI ABOUT BLOGS
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has begun filing complaints with the FBI about comments on this blog and others (not front page posts). I know this because I’ve spoken with two different agents recently about LGF comments that were reported to the FBI by CAIR.
Just thought you might like to know too. The premier Islamist front group is starting to go after the blogosphere, using the tools provided by our own society.
UPDATE: CAIR, by the way, is being bankrolled by the United Arab Emirates: The CAIR-U.A.E. Connection.
An Arab nation with ties to 9-11 has pledged a major endowment to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, even as the Washington-based nonprofit group insists it receives no foreign support.
The United Arab Emirates recently announced on its official government website that it has set up an endowment serving as a source of income for CAIR. The amount of the funding is undisclosed, but sources say it will be enough to help CAIR finance the construction of a new $24 million office building and a planned $50 million public-relations campaign aimed at repairing Islam’s — and the UAE’s — image in America. ...
CAIR — Washington’s biggest Muslim lobbying group — is quoted in the UAE statement, but has not released its own statement. It is not commenting publicly about the size of the endowment or other details.
But the UAE, which formally recognized the Taliban and acted as a launching point for the 9-11 hijackers, has already taken a nearly $1 million stake in CAIR’s existing headquarters near the U.S. Capitol. As first reported in the book, Infiltration, Dubai holds the deed to the building. The transaction took place in 2002, according to local property records.
UPDATE: Jeff Goldstein weighs in: Why, it’s because they CAIR!
When is the last time an LGF commenter was arrested for assaulting a Muslim, or, say, hijacking a jet airplane and flying it into a skyscraper?
If the FBI wants to try sniffing out hate speech, perhaps it should check out any number of mosques or Islamic centers funded by the Saudis. Because rumor has it Wahabbism isn’t exactly the most ecumenical platter of Islam on the buffet ... Saturday, June 24, 2006
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