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Understanding the ‘Christian fundamentalist’ label

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Given initial suspicions that Friday’s bombing and mass shooting in Norway were carried out by Islamic militants linked to al Qaeda, the way police ended up describing the suspect behind the attacks came as a big surprise even to many security experts: The alleged attacker was called a “Christian fundamentalist.”

But experts on European politics and religion say that the Christian fundamentalist label could overstate the extent to which the suspect, Anders Behring Breivik – who has told authorities that he carried out the attacks – was motivated by religion, and the extent to which he is tied to a broader religious movement.

“It is true that he sees himself as a crusader and some sort of Templar knight,” said Marcus Buck, a political science professor at Norway’s University of Tromso, referring to an online manifesto that Breivik appears to have authored and which draws inspiration from medieval Christian crusaders.

My Take: Norway attacks shows terrorism isn’t just Islamic

“But he doesn’t seem to have any insight into Christian theology or any ideas of how the Christian faith should play any role in Norwegian or European society,” Buck wrote in an email message. “His links to Christianity are much more based on being against Islam and what he perceives of as ‘cultural Marxism.'”

From what the 1,500-page manifesto says, Breivik appears to have been motivated more by an extreme loathing of European multiculturalism that has accompanied rapid immigration from the developing world, and of the European Union’s growing powers, than by Christianity.

“My impression is that Christianity is used more as a vehicle to unjustly assign some religious moral weight,” to his political views, said Anders Romarheim, a fellow at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies. “It is a signifier of Western culture and values, which is what they pretend to defend.”

“I would say they are more anti-Islam than pro-Christian,” Romarheim said in reference to what appear to be Breivik’s views.

The manifesto is religion-obsessed in that it rants for long stretches against Muslims and their growing presence in Europe.

Who is Anders Behring Breivik?

It calls for a European civil war to overthrow governments, end multiculturalism and execute “cultural Marxists.” The manifesto includes a link to a video asserting that the majority of Europe’s population will be Muslim by 2050 “unless we manage to defeat the ruling Multiculturalist Alliance.”

The author of the document identifies himself as Breivik, but CNN could not independently verify that he wrote the document, and Norwegian authorities would not confirm that the man in their custody wrote the manifesto, saying it was part of their investigation

Opposition to booming Muslim immigration to Europe, exacerbated by high birth rates in the Muslim community, has become a mainstay of Europe’s burgeoning far-right, helping right-wing parties gain seats in parliaments across the continent.

But those right-wing movements are mostly secular. Europe’s hard right does not have deep ties to Christianity in the way that the United States’ conservative movement is entwined with evangelical Christianity and other theologically conservative religious movements.

A far-right comeback in Europe

Recently adopted European laws aimed at curbing Islam’s public visibility, including France’s new burqa ban and Switzerland ban on minarets – towers that a part of mosques – were secular causes, not ones championed by Christian interests. Many Christian groups oppose such bans.

“The bulk of the anti-Muslim sentiment is not against Muslims as such, but is a secular rejection of how some Muslims allegedly want to place Islam at the center of society,” Buck said. “It is more anti-religious than anti-Muslim.”

Breivik’s apparent manifesto, by contrast, cites biblical verses to justify violence for political ends.

“Clearly, this is not a pacifist God we serve,” it says. “It’s God who teaches our hands to war and our fingers to fight. Over and over again throughout the Old Testament, His people are commanded to fight with the best weapons available to them at that time.”

“The biggest threat to Europe is the cultural Marxist/multiculturalist political doctrine of ‘extreme egalitarian emotionalism,'” the manifesto goes on. “This type of political stance involves destroying Christendom, the Church, our European cultures and identities and opening up our borders to Islamic colonization.”

The video that’s linked to in the manifesto also includes some religious language: “Celebrate us, the martyrs of the conservative revolution, for we will soon dine in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Experts on religion in Europe said those faith-infused views are likely peculiar to the suspected gunman and do not appear reflect wider religious movements, even as they echoes grievances of Europe’s right-wing political groups.

“He was a flaky extremist who might as well have claimed to be fighting for the honor of Hogwarts as for the cause of Christ,” said Philip Jenkins, a Pennsylvania State University professor who studies global religion and politics, describing the suspected Norway attacker. “He did not represent a religious movement. … People should not follow that Christian fundamentalist red herring.”

At the same time, Breivik told investigators during interviews that he belongs to an international order, The Knights Templar, according to Norwegian newspaper VG, which cited unnamed sources.

He described the organization as an armed Christian order, fighting to rid the West of Islamic suppression, the newspaper said. He also told investigators he had been in contact with like-minded individuals and said he counts himself as a representative of this order, it said.

For many in Norway, the potential implications of the suspected killer’s religion are still settling in.

“This is the first time we’ve heard of Christianity/religion as a driving force behind right-wing extremism,” Buck said. “The mainstream right-wing movements in the Nordic countries (very small and disorganized groups in Norway) would generally point to the Old Norse beliefs, if anything.”

“Norwegian, Nordic and European society,” he said, “were totally unprepared for a violent attack from someone who calls himself Christian.”

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India Threat Warning

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Terrorism

Terrorist attacks can occur anywhere at any time in India with little or no warning. We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in India at this time because of the high risk of terrorist activity by militant groups. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

We continue to receive reporting that terrorists plan to attack public places, including hotels and tourist locations, in New Delhi, Mumbai and other major cities. Terrorists may be planning attacks against Indian political and security interests. Terrorist attacks in India sometimes involve multiple, consecutive explosions. Many past attacks in Indian cities have been indiscriminate rather than directed against a particular target.

Following recent media reports of terrorist threats to the Cricket World Cup, Indian authorities have issued a general alert, advising security forces to remain vigilant and maintain a high state of security. The Indian authorities have put in place special security arrangements at all World Cup venues.

In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided. Possible targets include tourist sites (such as the Red Fort), commercial areas, public spaces and diplomatic premises, events and places known to be frequented by foreigners, restaurants and cafes, entertainment and recreation venues, prominent government buildings (such as the Parliament), offices of political parties, places of worship, markets and shopping malls, international hotels, hotels, guest houses, public transport networks including airports, trains and railway stations, schools, religious sites, including temples (such as the Lotus and Kalkaji Temples), pilgrimages and festivals. Attacks have included explosions at market places, sporting events, local courts, a cinema and local transport networks. These risks apply in all of India’s cities and tourist centres.

The Indian Government has in the past issued public alert warnings about possible terrorist attacks. You should take such alert warnings seriously and avoid any areas identified as a possible target of attack. Most recently, on 28 December 2010, the Indian Government issued a nationwide security alert warning of possible terrorist activity in major Indian cities over the Christmas/New Year holiday period.

Major secular and religious holidays and periods of religious significance, such as Ramadan, Eid Diwali, Christmas and New Year’s Eve could provide terrorist groups an opportunity or pretext to stage an attack. You should also be vigilant in the lead up to and on days of national significance, such as Republic Day (26 January) and Independence Day (15 August), and other notable anniversaries as militants have in the past marked such occasions with attacks.

Terrorists are active in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly during the summer months. In the past, tourist buses and groups have been targeted. The annual Hindu pilgrimage to the Amarnath Shrine, conducted from June to August, has been the target of terrorist attack in the past. See also Civil Unrest/Political Tension (below).

Maoist insurgents (or ‘Naxalites’) are primarily active in Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Orissa, primarily targeting the Indian Government and security forces, infrastructure and government buildings. Civilians have been killed and injured in suspected Naxalite attacks. Naxals may also call strikes in local areas affecting rail and road transport networks. On 6 April 2010 Maoist insurgents reportedly killed 76 members of the security forces in an ambush in Chhattisgarh state. On 29 June 2010 a further 26 members of the security forces were reportedly killed by insurgents in the same area. Naxals were thought to be responsible for derailing a train in West Bengal on 28 May 2010 that killed 150 people and injured a number of others. Visitors to these areas should monitor the local media and remain vigilant.

Terrorist attacks have also occurred in the state of Rajasthan; in Ahmedabad in Gujarat; outside a market in Alipurdar, West Bengal; and in Chhattisgarh.

Recent incidents of terrorism include:

On 19 September 2010, two foreign nationals were injured in a shooting incident at the Jama Masjid Mosque in New Delhi.

On 17 April 2010 two explosions outside a cricket stadium immediately prior to the commencement of an Indian Premier League match in Bangalore injured eight members of the security forces.

On 13 February 2010, a bomb exploded at the German Bakery in the Koregaon Park area of Pune, 100km south-east of Mumbai. Sixteen people, including three foreigners, were killed and 70 were injured. The bakery is well-known and popular with Westerners.

In November 2008 more than 170 people, including two Australians, were killed in a series of coordinated attacks targeting places frequented by foreigners in Mumbai. The targets included two luxury hotels, the Oberoi-Trident and the Taj Mahal Palace; a Jewish centre; the Victoria Terminus railway station; a hospital and a cafe.

In October 2008, a series of explosions occurred in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam, including Guwahati. Over 70 people were killed and hundreds injured.
In September 2008 five explosions occurred in New Delhi, killing 24 people and injuring almost 100.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.

Civil Unrest/Political Tension

Violent protests and demonstrations occur frequently throughout India. Communal violence has in the past claimed a significant number of lives, Australians could be caught up in attacks directed at others. You should avoid locations where protests and demonstrations are being held while in India as they may become violent. You should be aware that international events, political developments in the region and local events can trigger demonstrations in India.

Australians are urged to monitor international and local media for information concerning your safety and security and to follow the instructions of local authorities. You should obey any curfews imposed by the authorities in response to civil unrest.

There have been violent protests in the State of Andhra Pradesh in relation to the proposed formation of a separate state of ‘Telangana’. Further protests are possible. Australians are urged to avoid any protests, to monitor developments in the state through international and local media, and to follow any instructions given by authorities.

Outbreaks of anti-Christian violence have taken place in India. Religious missionary activity may attract some resentment. In January 1999, an Australian missionary and his two young sons were murdered in the eastern state of Orissa.

Jammu and Kashmir: We advise you not to travel to the state of Jammu and Kashmir (north India), other than to the Ladakh region via Manali, or by air to the region’s main city of Leh, due to frequent armed clashes, terrorist activities and violent demonstrations. Attacks have targeted tourists and tourist buses. Foreigners have been kidnapped in Kashmir. See under Natural Disasters, Severe Weather and Climate for information on recent flash floods in the Ladakh region.

There is an ongoing dispute between India and neighbouring Pakistan regarding Jammu and Kashmir. Serious security problems remain in the capital Srinagar and other parts of the state.

Continuing civil unrest, attacks and violent demonstrations in Jammu and Kashmir have resulted in a large number of deaths, with more than 100 people reported to have been killed since June 2010. The arrest, detention or death of those involved in protests could become catalysts for further violence. Curfews can be imposed in the Kashmir Valley at short notice, resulting in restrictions on movement, disruption to road transport and suspension of flights in and out of the area.

Borders with Pakistan: We advise you not to travel in the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan (northern and western India), other than at the international border crossing at Atari, India and Wagah, Pakistan. Both India and Pakistan maintain a strong military presence at the border. Landmines pose a serious risk along some stretches of the India-Pakistan border.

North-eastern states of Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur: We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the north-eastern states of Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur. If you do decide to travel to these areas, you should exercise extreme caution. Armed robbery, kidnapping, extortion and terrorism occur frequently in these states. Insurgent groups have attacked civilians and bombed buildings. There is also a risk from insurgent groups in rural areas of these states.

Public transport, including buses, trains and railways, police stations and markets have been targeted in terrorist attacks in the north-east, including in Karbi Angalong and Guwahati, the largest city in Assam. On 8 and 9 November 2010, a series of attacks across Assam killed 23 people, including at markets and on an inter-district bus. In April 2009, a series of bomb attacks in Guwahati killed six people and injured over 20. In late October 2008, a series of explosions in Assam, including in Guwahati, killed more than 70 people and injured hundreds.

Crime

Women travellers, especially when alone, often receive unwanted attention and have been sexually harassed and assaulted. There have been a number of sexual offences reported against foreign women, including in Delhi and Goa. Women should avoid walking alone at night in less populous and unlit areas, including city streets, village lanes and beaches.

Travellers staying on houseboats in Kashmir have been intimidated and harassed by houseboat employees. There are persistent allegations and media reports of sexual misconduct involving religious cults and their leaders in India.

Petty theft is common in crowded areas such as markets, airports and bus and railway stations. There have been cases where property has been stolen from travellers on overnight or long-distance trains. Thieves on motorcycles commonly snatch shoulder bags and jewellery.

Travellers have been robbed and assaulted after consuming ‘spiked’ drinks or food. Incidents of tourists being robbed and assaulted while riding in taxis and rickshaws have been reported. Prepaid taxi services are generally considered the safest alternative. Taxis already carrying passengers should be avoided.

Some travellers have been intimidated or tricked into buying overpriced items after accepting unsolicited offers of assistance, particularly help with shopping for jewellery, gems and carpets.

Hikers have been attacked and have disappeared in the Kulu/Manali district in Himachal Pradesh, particularly on more remote trekking routes. Hikers are strongly urged not to hike alone and to obtain detailed information in advance about proposed hiking routes. Australians should register their presence with the local police and online with us.

In parts of India, religious missionary activity may attract some resentment. In January 1999, an Australian missionary and his two young sons were murdered in the eastern state of Orissa.

Local Travel

Touts are often found at airports, railway stations and bus stations and may use aggressive tactics to persuade travellers to buy tickets on tours. They may not have any connection to the relevant commercial service providers.

Travelling by road in India can be dangerous due to poorly maintained and congested roads. Accidents are commonplace. Roads are often shared with pedestrians, carts, cattle and other livestock and are particularly dangerous at night due to insufficient or non-existent street lighting. Local driving practices are often undisciplined and aggressive with poorly maintained vehicles. If a vehicle hits a pedestrian or cow, the occupants are at risk of being attacked or becoming victims of extortion. For further advice, see our bulletin on Overseas Road Safety.

To drive in India, you must have either a valid Indian driver’s licence or an International Driving Permit together with an Australian driving licence. An Australian licence alone is not sufficient.

Motorcycle riders must wear helmets. If you intend to ride a motorcycle, you should check that your travel insurance policy covers motorcycle riding.

Bus services are often overcrowded and drivers may lack adequate training.

Delays in travel can be expected throughout India due to additional security measures, especially in the lead up to and on days of national significance such as Republic Day (26 January) and Independence Day (15 August).

Standards maintained by transport services and tour operators, including adventure activities, may not be comparable to those in Australia. Check operators’ credentials and safety equipment beforehand and ensure your travel insurance policy covers your planned activities.

You may need to obtain permission from the Indian authorities to visit certain parts of the country, particularly in the northeast. Permits are generally required for Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, parts of Kulu District and Spiti District of Himachal Pradesh, border areas of Jammu and Kashmir, some areas of Uttarakhand (formerly Uttaranchal), parts of Rajasthan adjacent to the international border, the Tibetan settlements between Hunsar and Madikeri in Karnataka, Lakshadweep and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. There are severe penalties for entering a protected or restricted area without prior permission. Indian authorities generally require four weeks to process permit applications. You should seek advice from the nearest Indian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate; or the Ministry of Home Affairs, (Foreigners Division) at Jaisalmer House, 26 Man Singh Road, New Delhi.

Travellers should exercise caution while visiting Mamallapuram (also known as Mahabalipuram) in Tamil Nadu, South India, as the restricted area surrounding the Indira Gandhi Atomic Research Centre, Kalpakkam, is nearby and may not be clearly marked.

Fog often affects northern India, particularly during December and January, and may delay air and rail travel, and may make road travel more dangerous.

Piracy occurs in the coastal areas of India. See our travel advice on travelling by sea for more information. The International Maritime Bureau issues weekly piracy reports on its website. Tourist boats and other small commercial craft may not carry life preserving/saving equipment.

Airline Safety

There are concerns about the safety and maintenance standards of commercial helicopters operating in the north-eastern states of India.

For further information, please refer to our Aviation Safety and Security travel bulletin.

Natural Disasters, Severe Weather and Climate

Flash floods in August 2010 in the Leh area of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir caused large scale destruction. Reconstruction is ongoing and some roads remain closed. Shops, banks and other commercial establishments are operational. The main hospital in Leh is operating with limited capacity. Travellers who develop serious medical conditions in the area would be likely to require evacuation by air to Chandigarh or New Delhi. You should seek advice from local authorities on travelling conditions before entering affected areas around Leh.

Annual monsoon rains from June to October can cause extensive flooding and landslides, particularly in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the north and east, and in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka in the south. In the past, floods have affected millions of people, resulting in many deaths. During these periods, fresh drinking water and food can be in short supply. The high risk of contracting a water-borne disease continues after the water recedes. Transport and communication infrastructure can also be affected. If you are travelling during the monsoon season, you should contact your tour operators to check whether tourist services at your planned destination have been affected.

Parts of India are in active seismic zones and are subject to earthquakes. Information on volcanic activity can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. Landslides and flooding occur in the monsoon season (from June to October) and may disrupt essential services, such as power, water and transport.

Coastal and some inland areas of India are vulnerable to cyclones which can cause coastal storm surges. You can obtain up to date advice on cyclone activity from the Indian Meteorological Department.

All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches. See the Tsunami Awareness brochure.

In the event of a natural disaster, follow the advice of local authorities.

Wildlife

Australians are advised to respect wildlife laws and to maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife, including marine animals and birds. You should only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens’ advice.

Money and Valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers’ cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers’ cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work overseas.

Make two photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers’ cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don’t carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passport.

For Parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling Parents brochure.

If you are planning on placing your children in schools or child care facilities overseas we encourage you to research the standards of security, care and staff training within those establishments. You should exercise the same precautions you would take before placing children into schools or child care facilities in Australia.

Ideas on how to select childcare providers are available from the smartraveller Children’s Issues page, Child Wise and the National Childcare Accreditation Council.

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March 14, 2011 at 8:24 am

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Talk to the Haqqanis, before it’s too late

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Last month Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair’s chief Northern Ireland negotiator, argued that “no group should be beyond talking to.” In the context of the current crisis and a shift towards seeking a peace deal in Afghanistan, this is particularly salient. President Hamid Karzai has recently announced the creation of a commission to lead talks with the Taliban. There is also emerging consensus in Washington that stability in Afghanistan can only be achieved by reaching some sort of a political settlement with the Taliban. But not talking to particular insurgent groups will not be a good idea, and a reliance on a policy of “decapitating” them is even worse.

One group that should not “be beyond talking to” is the Haqqani network, named for its leader Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani, and now considered one of the most feared insurgent groups in Afghanistan. The network is responsible for attacks against the Afghan government, the U.S. military, and the Indian Embassy in Kabul. Perhaps because of this central role in the Afghan insurgency, in July, Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Richard Holbrooke asserted that the Haqqanis are the Taliban network with the closest ties to al Qaeda and that dealing with them is ‘the most pressing task’ in combating the insurgency. Despite their alleged links to international terrorists, even Secretary Clinton has not ruled out supporting dialogue with them (with caveats). These comments suggest the door on the U.S. side may soon be slightly ajar. However, having spent the past six years talking with members of the network, including some of its senior members, it would appear that the Haqqani’s door is currently open for talks but may soon be firmly shut. The Haqqani network is in the midst of a generational power shift from father to son, which if completed will all but rule out any future talk of peace.

In June 2007, well before the Haqqani terrorist network had found its way into headlines in the western media, chatter spread through the mountainous tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan that the aging and ill Jalaluddin — insurgent leader, client of the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), facilitator of Osama bin Laden’s 2001 escape into Pakistan — had passed away, reportedly due to hepatitis. The intelligence community picked up on this rumor but quickly disproved it. At the time of this report I was living in the tribal areas of southeast Afghanistan and wrote a report titled “Jalaluddin Haqqani: Dead, Alive, Does it Matter?” In short the answer is yes and no. Yes, because had he died at the time, it would have left the network more vulnerable than at anytime since its emergence in late 2004. And no, because today the Haqqanis have nearly completed what could be best described as ‘succession planning’ resulting in a powerful network that many believe jeopardizes Afghanistan’s stability

It is well known that for almost a decade he has suffered from health problems and requires regular medical attention rendering him relatively inactive in the day-to-day workings of the insurgency. Furthermore, as a senior insurgent commander (and former Taliban Minister), Maulavi Haqqani’s profile as a “most wanted” does not permit travel to the Afghan battle space. Consequently, his 36-year-old son Sirajuddin (aka “Khalifa”) has increasingly taken over, with gusto, operational command of his father’s network.

However, these limitations speak nothing of the influence Maulavi Haqqani continues to enjoy as a tribal leader, religious scholar, ISI associate and close ally of Gulf Arab financiers. Indeed, the success of the Haqqani network rests with these social/religious/political connections that Maulavi Haqqani has carefully nurtured over the past 30-plus years; indeed, it was these very factors that also made him so popular with the CIA during the anti-Soviet jihad). It can be assumed that these networks, particularly with Arab financiers and the ISI, have been “inherited” by Sirajuddin. However, the same cannot be said about Maulavi Haqqani’s tribal, religious and mujahideen credentials. Sirajuddin is in his early 30’s, grew up in Miram Shah, Pakistan and, prior to 2001, only occasionally traveled to his native village of Garde Serai, nestled in the rugged mountains of Paktia province. In Miram Shah he was involved in Islamic Studies but, unlike his father, did not graduate from a prestigious madrassah and is too young to have been a well-known fighter during the anti-Soviet jihad.

Hence, the very elements that have contributed to the success of Maulavi Haqqani’s activities in eastern Afghanistan (and that could be used to assist in a peace process) — his personal influence as a tribal leader, mujahideen commander and religious elder — will be lost after he dies or passes control to Siraj.

Moreover, the respect of Maulavi Haqqani within Afghanistan as a mujahideen leader is matched by the respect he derives from being a prominent tribal and religious elder. As a result, it has been difficult for the various Zadran sub tribes of Paktia, Paktika and Khost to actively oppose his network’s activities in their respective tribal regions.

Indeed, today the Haqqani network is spreading its influence geographically into areas previously dominated by other insurgent groups (such as the Mansoor network in Zurmat district of Paktia). It has also, for the first time since the beginning of the Haqqani-led insurgency in late 2004-early 2005, recently embarked upon the systematic targeting and killing of moderate tribal leaders from within the Zadran tribe. This all looks like succession planning. Tactically, Sirajuddin must know that when his father dies (be it of natural causes or otherwise), the tribes would certainly be better positioned to oppose him, should they choose (and be empowered) to do so.

Added to this equation is the knowledge that U.S. pressure on Islamabad to tackle the Haqqani network could see their safe havens in North Waziristan come under increased pressure in the future. Maulavi Haqqani had the necessary contacts and influence to navigate his way through policy shifts in Islamabad. A question mark remains over whether Siraj, in the absence of his father, would be as adept at maneuvering between possible future policy shifts.

The time is ripe, therefore, for a dialogue to take place, one that will be easier to negotiate while the older generation of fighters that knows the benefits of peace is still alive. From my discussions with representatives of Maulavi Haqqani, he still claims to be fighting in Afghanistan for ‘peace.’ Sirajuddin, on the other hand, does not know the meaning of the word. He has been brought up in war, has never lived as a citizen of a functioning nation state, has little to no experience of government, is not a tribal elder and is not even a credible religious leader. In this regard he is motivated more by a radical Islamist ideology than his father, and less obviously constrained by a desire to maintain good relations with the local tribal leaders.

For example, on a visit to Afghanistan this year I met with a prominent Zadran tribesman who had returned from North Waziristan the previous week and had spent the night with Siraj. He had taken a message to the commander that the latter’s insurgent activities in the Zadran tribal area were having negative consequences for his fellow tribesman. Upon relaying this message, the elder was informed by Siraj that he was welcome to stay the night and receive his hospitality but that if he ever returned again with such a message he would not leave with his head on his shoulders. Such a blunt message to a respected Zadran tribal elder could not and would not have come from his father.

Despite appearances, my years of working closely with various tribal and religious leaders of the Zadran tribe has convinced me that there is a pro-peace middle majority that has hitherto been marginalized by the political process, the military intervention in the region and the insurgency. Sadly, some of the best of these leaders have already been targeted by the insurgents or have wrongfully been detained by the International Military Forces. Unless greater security and political space is afforded to the current Zadran tribal and religious leadership in Paktia, Paktika and Khost, the outcome of the Haqqani network’s succession planning will go ahead unchallenged.

In order to prevent this scenario from transpiring the United States must make a clear distinction between the current Haqqani network and al Qaeda. The Haqqani network is an Afghan network focused on Afghanistan. There is no evidence that the objective of the Haqqani network is to support an international jihadist agenda. To this end, Washington and Kabul should embark upon a policy of engagement (as part of a broader political outreach effort to all various elements of the Taliban) to separate the two. Locally, U.S. forces must pay greater attention to the local tribal dynamics as part of its counterinsurgency approach. In the southeast, this should include support to the tribal police (or arbakai) and ensuring that the pro-peace tribal majority is not subjected to intimidation, detention (or worse) by the international military presence.

However, should we fail to capitalize on this opportunity for dialogue, a more radical network, combined with the absence of the tribal and religious constraints that Maulavi Haqqani must regularly negotiate, will mark the beginning of a new, more violent generation of the insurgency in eastern Afghanistan. And this new insurgency will leave no prospects for dialogue or peace.

‘Ground Zero mosque’ Imam thanks U.S. Jews for support

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By: Natasha Mozgovaya

ADL says plan to build mosque two blocks from Ground Zero is ‘counterproductive’; Jstreet collects over 10,000 signatures in support of plan.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the main force behind a plan to build a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero in New York, thanked on Tuesday the American Jewish supporters who backed the proposed center amid a widespread contoversy.

“I express my heartfelt appreciation for the gestures of goodwill and support from our Jewish friends and colleagues”, he said. “Your support is a reflection of the great history of mutual cooperation and understanding that Jewish and Muslim civilizations have shared in the past, and remains a testament to the enduring success of our continuing dialogue and dedication to upholding religious freedom, tolerance and cooperation among us all as Americans.”


Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, executive director of the Cordoba Initiative

Tempers have been heating up in the New York City area over the plans by the American Society for Muslim Advancement and another Islamic group known as the Cordoba Initiative to build a $100 million, 13-story, Islamic cultural center and mosque just two blocks from Ground Zero.

Other provocative aspects include the fact that the majority of the money will allegedly come from the Saudis and the Ford Foundation, as well as the plan to inaugurate the new center on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

On Saturday, the Anti Defamation League condoned the plan, calling it “counterproductive.”

The Cordoba Initiative N.Y.C project, which became known as the “ground zero mosque”, stirred heated national debate in the US, which shifted since the last Wednesday to the Jewish organizations, following the statement on the controversial project.

The ADL stressed its commitment to the freedom of religion and rejection of bigotry – but, regarding the sensitivity of the site chosen for the new Islamic center, ADL defined the insistence of the Cordoba initiative to build the 13 storey Islamic community center, including the mosque, two blocks away from the 9/11 attacks site as “counterproductive,” adding that “proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site to send a positive message about Islam”, said a statement.

Yet, the liberal Jews were quick to slash the ADL on its “hypocrisy” and the harm the latest decision caused to their declared mission. The pro-Israeli lobby JStreet collected over 10,000 signatures in support of the center that were delivered to the Landmarks Preservation Commission ahead of its vote on the Cordoba House (the commission unanimously voted Tuesday to deny landmark designation to the site).

“Appalled by the opposition to plans by American Muslims to build a community center in lower Manhattan modeled after Jewish Community Centers all over the country, J Street is collecting petitions in support of religious freedom and against anti-Muslim bigotry”, J street announced on their website.

Liberal “Tikkun” magazine editor Rabbi Michael Lerner called ADL’s decision a “shame,” adding that “ADL leader Abe Foxman presented the position of this organization that claims to oppose discrimination by reading a formal statement that seemed to be a perfect example of shooting and crying.”

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, the founder of The Shalom Center, supported the center along with about 30 rabbis and Jewish leaders, and asked the supporters to contact Foxman’s office to make him change his organization’s position.

AJC also declared Tuesday that the Cordoba Islamic Center “has a right to be built – but urged the founders of the center “to address concerns about funding and support for terrorism”.

The Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman called to impose some conditions on the center construction – basically, to stop the project “until there is further evaluation of its impact on the families and friends of victims of the 9-11 attacks, the intention of the center’s sponsors, and their sources of funding”.

Sharif el-Gamal, lead developer of the Park 51 project and member of the Jewish community center in upper Manhattan told Haaretz he did not expect the attention they have been receiving as he had been trying to buy the building for five years with this intention to build the center. “I’ve been looking for almost 10 years within this vicinity. It’s not easy to find real estate in New-York.”

El-Gamal, who has a Jewish sister-in-law, added that “the mosque will be a small component of a larger facility and it will be run as a separate non-profit. There will be a gym, a pool, restaurant. A spa, multi-use facilities, and also a September 11 memorial space to honor the victims.”

Critics of the mosque have raised the fact that Imam Feisel Abdul Rauf went on record as telling CNN, right after the 9/11 attacks, “U.S. policies were an accessory to the crime that happened. We (the U.S.) have been an accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. Osama bin Laden was made in the USA.”

Responding to the critics, Abraham Foxman told “Haaretz” that his statement was distorted by “all kinds of groups and people with political agendas.”

“ADL’s position is very clear and simple – it is about location and sensitivity, it is not about religious freedom and prejudice. When the Catholic Church wanted to build a prayer center near Auschwitz, we said no and called the world to confront it,” Foxman said.

“We were labeled anti Christians, until Pope John Paul said they can build their center one mile away. And it’s been there for the last 15 years, without any conflict,” he added.

Don’t blame Pakistan for failure of the war: Imran Khan

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Associated Press of Pakistan

LONDON, Chairman, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Imran Khan in his article appearing in the British daily ‘The Times’ has called on political leaders in the US and UK to realise that people in the streets of New York and London are not threatened by the people in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan but by the growing radicalisation of their own marginalised Muslim youth. Khan noted that there is no danger of Talibanisation in Pakistan but there is a very real threat of chaos and radicalisation, especially of the youth.

Speaking about the conflict in Afghanistan, Khan wrote: “There is only one solution to this chaos. This is to implement an immediate ceasefire and commence talks with all militant groups in Afghanistan.

Either America leaves or Pakistan withdraws from this war.”

He goes to say: “The US should not worry about Pakistan. Once the bombing stops, it will no longer be jihad and the suicide attacks will immediately subside. About 18 months ago the former head of the CIA’s Kabul station, Graham Fuller, wrote in the International Herald Tribune that once the US leaves the region Pakistan will be stable.”

According to him ‘there is now a general recognition that the war in Afghanistan cannot be won militarily. All the Taliban have to do to win is not to lose. The Americans won’t stay and everybody knows that.

‘The focus has come to rest on the inevitable need to talk with all militant groups in Afghanistan. While most important players are ready to talk peace, the US remains confused and has still to straighten out its policy. This confusion is once again taking its toll, especially on Pakistan.

‘As the US and Nato realise the failure of their military policy in Afghanistan, they are seeking to shift the centre of gravity of the war into the north west of Pakistan, the region known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). One of the fears raised in the West at the prospect of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan is that it will lead to a Taliban- controlled nuclear Pakistan. That fear betrays a total ignorance about the evolution of the Taliban movement as well as the impact of the War on Terror on Pakistan.

‘Remember, there was no Pakistani involvement in 9/11. Nor throughout the period of the Taliban regime in Kabul was there Talibanisation in Pakistan.

When the Americans were drawing up their military response to the 9/11 attacks, they drew up a list of seven conditions for Pakistan to meet to attract US support. The assumption was that ex-President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, might agree to three or four. Instead he unilaterally signed up for the lot. These conditions were a total violation of the human rights of the people of Pakistan and the sovereignty of the country.

About suicide bombing, he wrote :’We never had suicide bombings in our history until 2004. Now we have 30 to 40 deaths a day from shells or bombings and the suicide attacks continue to increase. While we have received about $15 billion in aid from the US, our own economy has lost about $50 billion.

We have borrowed a record amount of money from the International Monetary Fund, which was only given to us because of our role in the war, not because we could afford to pay it back. Our social and economic fabric is being destroyed because of the conditions that the IMF has imposed.

Furthermore, Imran Khan mentioned about US failure to take advantage of the situation in the post 2001 situation.

‘It is unfortunate that the US was unable to use the window of opportunity that it had in the immediate aftermath of the removal of the Taliban Government in late 2001. It could have brought in a truly broad-based Afghan government and invested in the development of the country. Instead, it continued its military actions and brought corrupt and criminal elements into power in Kabul.

Israel Keeping The World In Turmoil

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By Gordon Duff

This week, newspapers around the world received reports and signed documents from South Africa. The reports said that, in 1975, Israel agreed to sell South Africa nuclear weapons. South Africa then released an arms agreement signed by current Israeli President Shimon Peres. This is the document “heard round the world.”

Meetings being held in New York to set up a conference for 2012 to guarantee that the Middle East is nuclear free. Israel has been informed that it will not be able to hide behind denials and that the nuclear arsenal put on the sale block by Israel in 1975 and nobody knows how many times since, has to go. When Israel was finally caught, it changed at least one part of a game, but the game will go on. South Africa’s willingness to come forward has shocked the world only because of the selfless honesty of the act, something unseen in today’s world.

What does it mean? Neither South Africa nor Israel are admitting that the nukes were delivered. General beliefs are that they were, a real shock to Nelson Mandela when he took office, from prisoner of apartheid to commander of a nuclear power. What is proven by this is that Israel was, even 35 years ago, a nuclear state, in direct violation of numerous international treaties. It also proves that Israel offered nukes to South Africa, a rogue nation under sanctions that covered not only any weapons but trade as well. This made Israel a criminal state and Mr. Peres a war criminal.

More than that, it makes any aid America gives Israel illegal. If Israel is nuclear, which is now official, and in violation of international treaties, just as with Iraq and Iran, then America has to demand inspections and disarmament. There is no choice. This is the law. Law for Iran, law for Iraq is also law for Israel. Israel has expected this day for years. The US can’t give or sell arms to any country with an illegal nuclear arsenal. Worse than this, we are sworn to defend the world from any nation that would spread nuclear weapons, a charge made by the South African government, one that has been made before, but can no longer be ignored.

THE ZIONIST HISTORY OF NUCLEAR DECEIT

How did Russia get the bomb? Americans gave Russia the technologies, not just Americans but Zionists, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Morris Cohen, Martin Sobell, David Greenglass, Klaus Fuchs and Harry Gold. This was a couple of years before the establishment of the State of Israel or we would have called them all Israeli-Americans. They believed that America couldn’t be trusted and that infamous mass murderer Josef Stalin could. From this point on, spying against America, everything from secret weapons to defense plans, everything America depended on to stay safe was stolen and sold to Russia, China or North Korea by spy organizations run out of Israel.

The Rosenbergs died, excuted for their crimes. They were communists and believed in what they were doing. Today this isn’t the case. America’s military secrets are being peddled around the world for money, to keep the world on edge and has built Israel into a military superpower based on stolen American technology and, we are told, a nuclear arsenal built from stolen American designs and fueled with 2.5 tons of “misplaced” plutonium, one of the great secrets of our era.

Today these famed nuclear spies, the ones who brought about the Korea War and more, would be sitting in Tel Aviv doing TV interviews with the famed “dancing Israeli” film crew tasked by the Mossad with filming the 9/11 attacks. Israel has no extradition. 40,000 Americans died in Korea. Can we call that a holocaust too?

PEDDLING NUKES

America’s nuclear program, Livermore Labs, Oak Ridge, Hanford, Rocky Flats, Fernald, Pantax, Portsmouth, Mound, Pinellas, Savannah River, Sandia Labs, Los Alamos and more, needed to enrich uranium, design and fabricate nuclear weapons is vast, covering enough area to encompass some states. Tens of thousands of employees, hundreds of billions of dollars and physical facilities so large they could be seen from the moon are involved. Yet, by 1975, not only was Israel armed to the teeth with nukes, a tiny country, but had so many they could sell them on the open market like gumdrops.

The only possible answer was that America was supplying Israel with weapons grade fissionable material, plutonium or uranium 235. A number of investigators and whistleblowers have tracked these shipments to NUMEC in Pennsylvania and to France. I have spoken with some who were involved in the investigation. No report has been made. Everyone involved has been discredited or silenced. Is it a rumor or did Israel kill the Kennedys for trying to create a “nuclear free” Middle East? As this is the only very strong motivation for the assassinations that has never been made into a movie or filmed in a TV series or documentary, I am putting my money on this. John F. Kennedy may have signed his own death warrant when he sent the final demand to Israeli President David ben Gurion on July 5, 1963 demanding inspection of the Dimona nuclear facility. Ben Gurion resigned rather than receive the letter and before a new demand could reach Tel Aviv, Kennedy was dead.

NO SCIENCE NEEDED, JUST STEAL IT

The world is a funny place. With 95% of the worlds weapons design and development being done in the US, why is it that American technologies show up in enemy hands continually? Could the long history of Israeli spying against the US be involved?

Case in point, the JA 10 Strike Fighter; Designed to go toe to toe with the F 16 at a third the cost, the Chinese JA 10 is a bargain. Problem is, it is also largely American. Is America upset that their design and avionics are showing up in Iran? Why has China built a plant to construct this advanced fighter in Paksitan, a fighter that is the result of a joint project between the governments of Israel and China?

Are you confused? You are supposed to be. With Russia building a plant in India to produce a new stealth fighter based on the stolen plans of the F 22 Raptor, why shouldn’t Paksitan be producing their version of the F-16? What do these two enemies have in common? “Their planes are largely American designs, designs stolen by spies, and distributed by Israel, even to Pakistan, Israel’s sworn enemy.

Every advanced technology given by the US to Israel is reverse engineered and peddled to Venezuela, North Korea, China or the highest bidder. Any technology not offered is stolen. The game? Just as with peddling nukes to South Africa back in 1975, it is all about business.

REALITIES OF THE ARMS BUSINESS, LIES AND COVER

Were it not for Israels power at media manipulation, there would be little outstanding about them. Watching, in recent weeks, Israel drop news stories about how they are accused of sinking the BP oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico or attacking South Korea is amusing. Israel has even planted stories that they caused the recent earthquakes in Haiti. Why spread these crazy “Men in Black” rumors, more “men from Mars” than reality?

The game is called “poisoning the story.” The real thing Israel is hiding is that it has been selling weapons to North Korea, including highly advanced Germany built diesel/electric submarines that, in some situations, are more advanced than Americas nuclear fleet. Because of the holocaust, Israel can buy anything. Peddling missile guidance systems or submarines to North Korea is simply business. If they don’t do it, the French surely will and probably have.

Whenever a story gets “too close for comfort,” our friends, sometimes the Israelis, sometimes the CIA, embellish it a bit. What reporter will look into a story with two paragraphs of “alien abduction” and “anal probe” added on. Thus, Israel is getting miles of cover for making fun of accusations that they sank the South Korean naval vessel. They didn’t do it, they just supplied the weapons.

The only reason Israel is on our radar is that their “games” played on the American stage with their puppet networks like Fox News and their political hacks, McCain, Lieberman, Waxman, Schumer and so many more, countless more, are ready to send a generation of American kids to war against Iran on the word of a proven liar, Israel, proven liar over peddling nukes, proven liar over Palestinian settlements, proven liar over Iraq’s nuke program lies told and retold by the master storytellers who daily reinvent themselves as victims.

Is Israel doing anything others wouldn’t? Think about it. France, Switzerland, Sweden, Russia, China, Romania, Germany, all selling weapons to every country on earth. This isn’t a moral business. Billions a year are paid in bribes to government officials around the world. Nearly every country on earth would rather have a missile defense system than schools and hosptials for their children.

ARE THERE REAL LAWS AND WHAT IS THE U.S. OBLIGATED TO DO?

Whatever international law is on the books, it is generally dependent on the ability to enforce it through conflict. Thus, international tribunals are ineviably called “victor’s justice.” American law is something different. If Israel has nukes, we have legal obligations in accordance with treaty that change our relationship. This is why the “ignore the nukes” game that Helen Thomas has been playing with Washington’s spineless “elite” for years has been so important. “Queen of the White House press corps” for decades, Thomas recognized the duplicity and threat that may have brought down John Kennedy and ended an American rebirth of freedom.

The America nobody wants to live in but everyone wants to immigrate to, legally or not, is not what the constitution mandates, the people want nor what it was on its way to becoming. Everyone agrees on this part. We were hijacked back in November 1963. Every day since then has been something from an “alternative universe.”

Thus, we are back at June 5, 1963 again but with no John Kennedy around. The letter to Netanyahu won’t be written. The inspections won’t be demanded. America has everything in place to secure Israel, to press for a settlement of the Palestinian issue, a realistic one involving sacrifice on the part of every country in the region including the oil drenched Arabs that Israel enjoys parading in front of us. Nearly 2 decades of wars, occupation, “no fly zones” and our utterly transparent phony “war on terror” could, with honesty, diplomacy and good will, be directed into sustainable regional economic partnerships capable of ending extremism and ignorance.

Admissions of culpability by everyone involved, including both India and Paksitan, our drug dealing CIA along with Britains MI-6 and the oil company thieves proping up the corrupt states, have to hit the table. Without Chinese oil money and American and Israeli games, Iran would have been a democracy years ago. Similarly, raping Africa of its resources has cost the lives of millions and everyone is involved.

WHY ISREAL, WHY TODAY?

Israel has made a laughing stock of America, robbing America blind while living off our welfare. Israel is the consumate “welfare Cadillac state.”

They cash their ADC check while their kids rob banks, sell drugs and work to turn America into a hell on earth. They do the classic “step n’ fetchit” when we are looking, “poor Israel” the vicim of the holocaust, surrounded by enemies, then peddle hi-tech weapons to North Korea. The “tough love” we love to talk about for our own welfare mothers needs to be used on Israel.

Israel may be a friend, someday, but not now. Did we make them what they are by being bad parents?

Gordon Duff is a Marine Vietnam veteran. A 100% disabled vet. He has been a featured commentator on TV and radio including Al Jazeera and his articles have been carried by news services around the world. He has been a UN Diplomat, defense contractor and is a widely published expert on military and defense issues.

Israel mounts air strikes on Gaza after attacks

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Israel launched air strikes in the Gaza Strip overnight after Palestinian militants fired a rocket and mortar shells at the Jewish state, Palestinian officials and the Israeli military said on Wednesday.

Palestinian medical officials said about a dozen people were slightly wounded by debris from the air strikes. There were no Israeli casualties.

A Palestinian militant group that identifies with al Qaeda claimed responsibility for firing the rocket and mortar shells at Israel from Gaza, which is ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement.

Hamas security sources said the Israeli air strikes hit an airport in the southern Gaza Strip which is not in use and a Hamas training camp in the north.

An Israeli military spokesman said the air strikes were a response to the cross-border attacks from Gaza and that warplanes had targeted tunnels used by militants.

Hamas, which seized the Gaza Strip from forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007, says it has reached an understanding with other militant groups to halt rocket fire. But smaller groups have carried on firing at Israel.

Israel says it holds Hamas responsible for any attacks carried out from the coastal territory.