Al-Qaeda blamed for Europe-wide forest fires
Al-Qaeda has been blamed for a recent series of forest fires across Europe, as the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service claimed they were set by arsonists as part of the group’s low-cost attack strategy.
Deadly fires have swept through forest land in EU countries such as Portugal and Spain. Photo: GETTY
Destruction: A large fire burns at dusk near a residential neighbourhood in Funchal, the largest city in Madeira, Portugal in July
Devastation: A burning forest fire in Pedralba, near Valencia, Spain, last month
9/11: Phone Calls from the Towers
“One conversation John [Lindauer] had with his sister in the summer of 2001 stuck in his mind for a different reason. ”So she goes, ‘Listen, the gulf war isn’t over,”’ he told me over dinner at a sushi place on the Sunset Strip. ”’There are plans in effect right now. They will be raining down on us from the skies.”’ His sister told him that Lower Manhattan would be destroyed. ”And I was like, Yeah, whatever,” he continued. When he woke up six weeks later to the news that two planes had crashed into the twin towers, and watched as ash settled on the window ledge of his sublet in Brooklyn, he had a dislocating sense of having his reality replaced by Susan’s strange world — an experience he would have again when he learned that his sister had been arrested by the F.B.I.”
Yemeni Researchers, Clerics On Houthi TV Indulge In Multiple Antisemitic 9/11 Conspiracy Theories
September 5, 2012:
Yemeni researcher Majed Al-Mitri : “What happened to the Twin Towers, the war against the so-called terror, and the American breeding of the so-called Al-Qaeda organization… All those operations and theatrical shows are run by the U.S. and by the Jews in a clandestine manner, in an effort to target Islam and the Muslims.” [...]
September 4, 2012:
Yemeni cleric Muhsen Al-Shami : “How did we reach the point where we are upset when a building of several stories in New York is attacked, and, consequently, entire cities and countries are destroyed, along with the people living in them, women and children are killed, and millions are displaced, under the pretext of the War on Terror?
“The destruction of the bastion of this nation is the true terrorism. That is what America and Israel want. That is what benefits the Jews and Christians. What harms them is the building of this nation to become a united nation, an aware nation, a nation that is capable of standing on its own feet.
“This is what constitutes a blow to the US, not the destruction of several stories of a building. A few million [dollars] can easily rebuild such a tower. End of story.
“The truth is that the fountain of terrorism and its roots are the people who, Allah said, ‘strive to spread corruption in the land.’ These are the people who, because of their corruption, their aggression, their disobedience, and their transgressions, were transformed by Allah into apes and pigs.” […]
September 5, 2012:
Yemeni researcher Muhammad Yahya Al-Kateb: “Brother, I can state categorically that the U.S. is conducting the greatest distortion campaign in its history. The [U.S.] operations that we are witnessing in Yemen today stem from the alleged terrorism – the alleged 9/11 operation by the so-called Al-Qaeda.
“The U.S. bases all its future plans on this distortion campaign.
“There are things that indicate clearly and categorically that [9/11] is entirely untrue. There are even documents, published in some books, that exposed the events of 9/11, showing that the U.S. and Israel had prior knowledge of it.
“Therefore, the declared goals, as stated by the U.S., are all part of a media game, through which the U.S. hopes to achieve its unstated goals – to humiliate and control the Yemeni people and to exploit their resources.” […]
Dangerous and deepening divide between Islamic world, West
Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:47am EDT
* Religion not the only cause of confrontation
* Close ties with U.S. seen as liablity now -analyst
* Arab Spring not as beneficial to West as had been hoped
By Peter Apps, Political Risk Correspondent
WASHINGTON, Sept 23 (Reuters)- For those who believe in a clash of civilizations between the Islamic world and Western democracy, the last few weeks must seem like final confirmation of their theory.
Even those who reject the term as loaded and simplistic speak sadly of a perhaps catastrophic failure of understanding between Americans in particular and many Muslims.
The outrage and violence over a crude film ridiculing the Prophet Mohammad points to a chasm between Western free speech and individualism and the sensitivities of some Muslims over what they see as a campaign of humiliation.
There seems no shortage of forces on both sides to fan the flames. The tumult over the video had not even subsided when a French magazine this week printed a new cartoon showing the prophet naked.
“It’s ridiculous,” Zainab Al-Suwaij, executive director of the America Islamic Congress, said of the violence that on Friday killed 15 in Pakistan alone as what were supposed to be peaceful protests turned violent.
“Yes, this video is offensive but it is clearly a grotesque over reaction that in part is being whipped up by radical Islamists in the region for their own ends. But it does show you the depth of misunderstanding between the cultures.”
Starting last week with a few relatively small embassy protests and a militant attack in Libya that killed the U.S. ambassador and three others, violence has since spread to more than a dozen countries across the Middle East and Asia.
Despite the focus on religion, few doubt there are other drivers of confrontation.
The war on terrorism, U.S. drone strikes, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Guantanamo Bay prison simply continue, in many Muslims’ perceptions, centuries of Western meddling, hypocrisy and broken promises.
Meanwhile, many Americans see those regions as an inexplicable source of terrorism, hostage-taking, hatred and chaos. In Europe, those same concerns have become intertwined with other battles over immigration and multiculturalism.
“It has always been a difficult relationship and in the last decades it has become even more delicate,” said Akbar Ahmed, chair of Islamic studies at American University in Washington. “Even a seemingly minor matter can upset the balance. … What is needed is more sensitivity and understanding on both sides, but that is difficult to produce.”
Not all the news from the region indicates an unbridgeable gap. Many Libyans, especially young ones, came out to mourn Ambassador Chris Stevens after his death and make clear that militants who killed him did not speak for them. Thousands of Libyans marched in Benghazi on Friday to protest the Islamist militias that Washington blames for the attack.
SPREADING DEMOCRACY AND MAKING FRIENDS
Still, the “Arab Spring” appears not to have made as many friends for America as Americans might have hoped.
The very countries in which Washington helped facilitate popular-backed regime change last year – Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen – are seeing some of the greatest anti-West backlash.
The young pro-democracy activists who leapt to the fore in 2011, Washington now believes, have relatively little clout. That leaves U.S and European officials having to deal with groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
There is concern that regional governments such as Egypt might now be playing a “double game”, saying one thing to the U.S. while indulging in more anti-Western rhetoric at home.
It may be something Washington must get used to.
“What you’re seeing now is that (regional governments) are much more worried about their own domestic population – which means being seen as too close to the U.S. is suddenly … a liability,” says Jon Alterman, a former State Department official and now Middle East specialist at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.
The current U.S. administration is not the first to discover democracy does not always directly translate into the sort of governments it would like to see.
In 2006, the election victory of Islamist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip was seen helping prompt the Bush White House to abandon a post-911 push towards for democratic change, sending it back towards Mubarak-type autocrats.
Rachel Kleinfeld, CEO and co-founder of the Truman National Security Project, a body often cited by the Obama campaign on foreign policy, said the new political leadership often had less flexibility than the dictators before them.
“Is that difficult for the U.S.? Yes, of course. But it would be a mistake to simply look at what is happening and decide we should go back to supporting autocrats,” she said.
The popular image of the United States in the Middle East stands in stark contrast to the way Americans view themselves.
Western talk of democracy and human rights is often seen hollow, with Washington and Europe only abandoning autocratic leaders when their fate was already sealed and continuing to back governments such as Bahrain still accused of repression.
“The simple truth is that the American people are never going to understand the region because they never ask the right question – which is what it feels like to be on the receiving end of American power,” says Rosemary Hollis, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at London’s City University.
Whoever wins the White House in November will face a string of challenges across the region.
As it faces down Iran over its nuclear program, while backing rebels in Syria and governments in the Gulf, Washington risks being drawn ever deeper into the historic Sunni-Shi’ite sectarian divide within Islam.
Already having to face up to its dwindling influence over Iraq, it must broker its exit from Afghanistan and try to keep nuclear armed Pakistan from chaos.
Then, there are relations with its two key regional allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, both troublesome in different ways.
Israel is threatening military action against Iran over its nuclear program, and U.S. officials fear Americans would feel the consequences if Israel does attack.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains deadlocked, and Obama’s rival for the presidency, Republican Mitt Romney, indicated in comments earlier this year and made public this month that he sees little chance of any change there.
Saudi Arabia might be a key oil producer and occasionally invaluable ally, but analysts say some rich Saudis, if not the government itself, have long funded and fueled Islamist and Salifist extremism and perhaps also Sunni-Shi’ite tension.
Said Sadek, professor of politics at the American University in Cairo, said people in the Middle East still prefer Obama to the alternative. “He is seen as the only president to ever really reach out to the Middle East. But (it) is a difficult place,” he said. “The countries that have gone through revolutions were always going to be unstable. … You could have perhaps 5 to 15 years of instability.”
While many Americans would like nothing more than to turn their backs on the region, Obama made clear this week he does not see that as an option: “The one thing we can’t do is withdraw from the region,” he said. “The United States continues to be the one indispensable nation.”