Crossroads in History: The Struggle against Jihad and Supremacist Ideologies

In fighting Islamic supremacism, instead of an approach only based on tactical measures and efforts at clever twists of terminology, what if America had a true strategy that was instead based on the defense of our values on human equality and liberty?

The true challenge of Islamic supremacism to America and the free world is not about Islam, Islamism, or terrorism, but about us. It is a historic challenge to determine whether we truly have the courage of our convictions on equality and liberty and we are willing to fight for these ideals, or if we will instead accept the continuing growth of anti-freedom ideologies here and around the world.

Islamic supremacists are counting on their belief that America is no longer willing to fight for such freedoms, that it has gotten too soft to do so, and that regardless of the success or failure of individual Jihadist tactics, eventually we will tolerate a continued growth of Islamic supremacism. The crossroads in history that we stand at remains whether or not we will prove Islamic supremacists correct, or if the idea defined in our very Declaration of Independence and chiseled in a marble memorial in America’s capital – that “all men are created equal” – is an idea that America will once again sacrifice to defend.

America and the West are at a critical crossroads in history in their faltering struggle with Islamic supremacist ideologies and Jihadist terror tactics. Increasingly, groups seek to halt any meaningful debate and halt any challenge to the ideology behind Jihad, and they seek to redirect such debate and action to focus only on the terrorist symptoms of such a supremacist ideology. Such diversionary efforts are being made by non-violent Islamic supremacist groups and activists, government officials, academics, and media commentators. The solution to this can be found in recognizing how Islamic supremacism (as any supremacist ideology) is opposed to our values, and in understanding America’s historical experience in defeating other supremacist ideologies.

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Somalian Islamists Kidnap and threaten Aid Workers

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Dozens of heavily armed gunmen kidnapped two Italian aid workers and their Somali colleague in southern Somalia on Wednesday in what a government official described as a “terrorist act.”

Police are pursuing the kidnappers, government spokesman Abdi Haji Gobdon said.

“The kidnapping of two Italian aid workers and a Somali aid worker is a terrorist act. We condemn this barbaric act,” Gobdon told The Associated Press.

The gunmen, armed with machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades, surrounded the aid workers’ house in Awdhigle, village elder Ahmed Yunis said.

The gunmen then blindfolded the relief workers — an Italian man and woman and a Somali man — and took them away, Yunis said. He said it was not clear who the gunmen are or why they abducted the aid workers.

The village is about 45 miles south of the capital, Mogadishu.

Islamic insurgents vowed to target foreign aid workers after a U.S. missile strike killed the head of the Islamist al-Shabab militia, Aden Hashi Ayro, and 24 other people earlier this month. Ayro was reputed to be the top al-Qaeda commander in Somalia and was linked to a string of attacks on foreign aid workers and journalists.

Italy’s ambassador in neighboring Kenya, Pierandrea Magistrati, said that the Italian aid workers were taken from their home Wednesday morning and worked for the Italian aid organization Cooperazione Italiana Nord Sud.

“They’ve been kidnapped and we do not know where they are. We are checking with our contacts there (in Somalia),” Magistrati told The Associated Press. The ambassador said that so far the kidnappers have not made contact.

No country has an embassy or diplomats based in Somalia because of security reasons, and most embassies in neighboring Kenya are also responsible for dealing with Somalia.

Last month, a Briton and a Kenyan worker contracted to an aid agency were kidnapped and remain missing. Earlier this year, Doctors Without Borders pulled out its foreign staff from Somalia after two of them were kidnapped, and three foreigners and a Somali were killed when their car hit a land mine.

A German aid worker was also seized in February but released unharmed.

The insurgents have been battling the shaky transitional government since Somali soldiers and their Ethiopian allies ousted them from the capital in December 2006. The Islamists had ruled Mogadishu and much of southern Somalia for six months.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and turned on each other. The conflict between the government and the Islamists is complicated by a web of clan loyalties and the involvement of archenemies Eritrea and Ethiopia, which use Somalia as a proxy battleground.

The Myth of Occupied Gaza (Washington Post)

By David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey

Saturday, May 10, 2008; Page A15

Hamas claims that former president Jimmy Carter’s recent meeting with its leader, Khaled Meshal, marks its recognition as a “national liberation movement” — even though Hamas rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, which Hamas rules as an elected “government,” continue to rain down on Israel’s civilian population. While Hamas is clearly trying to bolster its legitimacy, the conflict along Israel’s southern border has a broader legal dimension — the question of whether, as a matter of international law, Israel “occupies” Gaza. The answer is pivotal: It governs the legal rights of Israel and Gaza’s population and may well set a legal precedent for wars between sovereign states and non-state entities, including terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda.

Israel’s critics argue that Gaza remains “occupied” territory, even though Israeli forces were unilaterally withdrawn from the area in August 2005. (Hamas won a majority in the Gazan assembly in 2006 and seized control militarily in 2007.) If this is so, Jerusalem is responsible for the health and welfare of Gazans and is arguably limited in any type of military force it uses in response to continuing Hamas attacks. Moreover, even Israel’s nonmilitary responses to Hamas-led terrorist activities — severely limiting the flow of food, fuel and other commodities into Gaza — would violate its obligations as an occupying power.

Israel, however, is not an occupying power, judging by traditional international legal tests. Although such tests have been articulated in various ways over time, they all boil down to this question: Does a state exercise effective governmental authority — if only on a de facto basis — over the territory? As early as 1899, the Hague Convention on the Laws and Customs of War on Land stated that “[t]erritory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army. The occupation applies only to the territory where such authority is established, and in a position to assert itself.”

The Hague Convention is a founding document of the modern law of armed conflict, and its definition of occupied territory was woven into the 1949 Geneva Conventions. There, the relevant provision provides that “[i]n the case of occupied territory, the application of the present Convention shall cease one year after the general close of military operations,” although certain protections for the populations continue “to the extent that such Power exercises the functions of government in such territory.” That is the key — exercising the functions of government. This proposition was recognized in a seminal Nuremberg prosecution, the Trial of William List and Others.

It is because an occupying power exercises effective control over a territory that international law substantially restricts the measures, military or economic, it can bring to bear upon this territory, well beyond the limits that would be applicable before occupation, whether in wartime or peacetime.

The Israeli military does not control Gaza; nor does Israel exercise any government functions there. Claims that Israel continues to occupy Gaza suggest that a power having once occupied a territory must continue to behave toward the local population as an occupying power until all outstanding issues are resolved. This “principle” can be described only as an ingenious invention; it has no basis in traditional international law.

The adoption of any such rule (designed to limit Israel’s freedom of action and give Hamas a legal leg up in its continuing conflict) should be actively opposed by the United States. Its adoption would suggest that no occupying power can withdraw of its own volition without incurring continuing, and perhaps permanent, legal obligations to a territory. This issue is particularly acute regarding territory not otherwise controlled by a functioning state — failed states or failed areas of states where the “legitimate” government cannot or will not exercise effective control. Such places — call them badlands — were once rare. Over the past 15 years, though, there has been an explosion in the number of such areas, notably parts of Afghanistan, Somalia and portions of Pakistan.

Gaza is exceptional only in that its international legal status is indeterminate. Its last true sovereign was the Ottoman Porte. It was part of the British Palestine Mandate and has since been administered by both Egypt and Israel. Today, no state claims sovereign authority, though it is expected that Gaza will become part of a future Palestinian state. For its part, Hamas acknowledges no higher authority and functions as a de facto government in Gaza. It is a classic example of a terrorist-controlled badland.

Unduly handicapping states that intervene in such badlands — whether to protect their own interests, those of the local population or both — is unrealistic and irresponsible. Requiring agreement by the “international community” (whatever that may be) as a precondition for extinguishing such a designation is equally unproductive if the goal is saving lives. Consider the example of Darfur.

Even worse is pretending that groups such as Hamas are merely criminal gangs that must be dealt with as a local policing problem — just one of the potential side effects of imposing an “occupied” status on a territory. This implicates U.S. interests directly, since America’s ability to use robust armed force against al-Qaeda and similar non-state actors remains critical to defending our civilian population from attack. Efforts to limit states’ rights to use military force against such groups simply benefit the globe’s worst rogue elements and endanger the civilian populations among which they operate. Here, as in so many other areas, the traditional international law that imposes the obligations of an occupier only on states that physically occupy a territory makes perfect sense.

The writers are Washington lawyers who served in the Justice Department under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. They were members of the U.N. Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights from 2004 to 2007.

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/09/AR2008050902296.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Double Iraq suicide blast kills 30 in wedding attack

May 1, 2008

A double suicide attack struck a wedding convoy north-east of Baghdad today killing at least 30 and injuring 65.

Police said the attacks occurred in the busy market town of Balad Ruz in the restive Diyala province. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the attack bore hallmarks associated with al Qaeda in Iraq.

A second bomber was said to have struck as crowds rushed to evacuate the wounded from the first attack, a common tactic used to maximise casualties.

The bombers detonated their explosive vests within minutes of each other according to Major General Abdel Karim al-Rubaie, head of the provincial military command.

“The first bomber blew himself up amid a crowd of people. Minutes later another bomber blew himself up as people were trying to rescue the victims of the first attack,” Mr Rubaie said.

He said the attack took place at around 7pm (1600 GMT) in a street known to sell wedding dresses and gifts.

Suicide bombings are a tactic mainly employed in Iraq by Sunni Arab militant groups such as al Qaeda.

Iraq has seen a jump in violence over the past month, mainly involving clashes pitting Shi’ite militias against US and government troops in Baghdad and the south. But al-Qaeda has also struck with a number of large suicide bombings in the north.

Iraqi government figures show April was the deadliest month for civilians since August last year.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article3857590.ece

Is the Qur’an Hate Propaganda?

A Beslan massacre victim

What the Holiest Book of Islam Really says about Non-Muslims


Introduction
Why the Violence? Why the Indifference?

When Islamic terrorists massacred 186 children and 148 other non-Muslims on the morning of September 3rd, 2004 at a schoolhouse in Beslan, Russia, very few Muslims celebrated the high-profile event and some even took the time to denounce it. But, in a community renowned for its peevishness, there was very little passion over the routine slaughter of innocents in the name of Islam.

While rumors of a Qur’an desecration or a Muhammad cartoon bring out deadly protests, riots, arson and effigy-burnings, the mass murder of non-Muslims generally evokes yawns. In the six years following 9/11 more than 10,000 acts of deadly Islamic terrorism were perpetrated, yet all of them together fail to provoke the sort of outrage on the part of most Muslims that the mere mention of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo inspires.

This critical absence of moral perspective puzzles many Westerners, particularly those trying to reconcile this reality with the politically-correct assumption that Islam is like other religion. The Judeo-Christian tradition preaches universal love and unselfishness, so it is expected that the more devout Muslims would be the most peaceful and least dangerous… provided that Islam is based on the same principles.

But beneath the rosy assurances from Muslim apologists that Islam is about peace and tolerance lies a much darker reality that better explains the violence and deeply-rooted indifference. Quite simply, the Qur’an teaches hate.

Consider the elements that define hate speech:

  • Drawing a distinction between one’s own identity group and those outside it
  • Moral comparison based on this distinction
  • Devaluation or dehumanization of other groups and the insistence of personal superiority
  • The advocating of different standards of treatment based on identity group membership
  • A call to violence against members of other groups

Sadly, the Qur’an qualifies as hate speech on each count (despite the best intentions of many Muslims).

The holiest book of Islam draws the sharpest of distinctions between Muslims and non-Muslims, lavishing praise on the former while condemning the latter. Far from teaching universal love, the Qur’an incessantly preaches the inferiority of non-Muslims, even comparing them to vile animals and gloating over Allah’s hatred of them and the dark plans for their eternal torture. Naturally, the harsh treatment of non-believers by Muslims is encouraged as well.

What does the Qur’an, believed by Muslims to be the literal and eternal word of Allah, really say about non-Muslims? Continue reading

Islam: Spread by the Sword (Father Zakariya)

Man attacked and threatened for not being a ‘Proper Muslim’

A man in an asylum center was attacked by his 23 year old neighbor for having alcohol in his fridge. The two men shared a kitchen in one of the immigration service’s houses in Halmstad. One day when the victim came home from work, his neighbor broke into his room and attacked him with a knife. “You are not a proper Muslim. I will kill you,” he threatened.

The reason was that the man – also a Muslim – had some beer in the fridge. The man fled from the apartment, and when he came back he found his room vandalized and destroyed with detergent.

To the court the 23 year old declared that he wanted to clean away the evil from the room.

The man was sentenced to psychiatric care for unlawful threat, breaking in, and causing damage. He is also to pay the victim 21,200 kronor in damages.

http://www.hn.se/m_standard.php?id=927835&avdelning_1=109&avdelning_2=168