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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Israel, Hamas and Obama’s Foreign Policy

When US President Barack Obama phoned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday night, in the middle of a security cabinet meeting, he ended any remaining doubt regarding his policy toward Israel and Hamas.

Obama called Netanyahu while the premier was conferring with his senior ministers about how to proceed in Gaza. Some ministers counseled that Israel should continue to limit our forces to specific pinpoint operations aimed at destroying the tunnels of death that Hamas has dug throughout Gaza and into Israeli territory.

Others argued that the only way to truly destroy the tunnels, and keep them destroyed, is for Israel to retake control over the Gaza Strip.

No ministers were recommending that Israel end its operations in Gaza completely. The longer our soldiers fight, the more we learn about the vast dimensions of the Hamas’s terror arsenal, and about the Muslim Brotherhood group’s plans and strategy for using it to destabilize, demoralize and ultimately destroy Israeli society.

The IDF’s discovery of Hamas’s Rosh Hashana plot was the last straw for any Israeli leftists still harboring fantasies about picking up our marbles and going home. Hamas’s plan to use its tunnels to send hundreds of terrorists into multiple Israeli border communities simultaneously and carry out a massacre of unprecedented scope, replete with the abduction of hostages to Gaza, was the rude awakening the Left had avoided since it pushed for Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza.

In other words, in their discussion Sunday night, Netanyahu and his ministers were without illusions about the gravity of the situation and the imperative of winning – however defined.

But then the telephone rang. And Obama told Netanyahu that Israel must lose. He wants an unconditional “humanitarian” cease-fire that will lead to a permanent one.

And he wants it now.

And by the way, the eventual terms of that cease-fire must include opening Hamas-controlled Gaza’s borders with Egypt and Israel and ending Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza coast. That is, the cease-fire must allow Hamas to rebuild its arsenal of death and destruction quickly, with US political and financial support.

Until Obama made the call, there was lingering doubt among some Israelis regarding his intentions. Some thought that US Secretary of State John Kerry might have been acting of his own accord last Friday night when he tried to force Israel to accept Hamas’s cease-fire terms.

But then Obama made his phone call. And all doubts were dispelled.

Kerry is just a loyal steward of Obama’s foreign policy.

Obama is siding with Hamas, and its Muslim Brotherhood patrons in Qatar and Turkey, against Israel, and its Sunni Arab supporters – Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

It is Obama who demands that Hamas have open borders so it can resupply, and receive billions of dollars – starting with an immediate cash injection of $47 million from US taxpayers – so it can pay North Korea for more missiles and import building materials to reconstruct its tunnels.

The fact that the US’s current preference for genocidal, Jew-hating jihadists over the only liberal, pro-American, stable US ally in the Middle East is a White House position, rather than that of a rogue Secretary of State was actually exposed even before Obama’s phone call.

Sunday CNN’s Candy Crowley interviewed Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes. She asked him what the administration thinks Israel can do to prevent civilians from being killed in Gaza beyond what it is already doing. Rhodes replied, “I think you can always do more.”

In other words, Rhodes said that no matter what precautions Israel takes to try to minimize Palestinian civilian deaths in Gaza, the administration will never be satisfied. The White House will never acknowledge that Israel is in the right, or that it is fighting a moral war against a barbaric foe. And since the administration will never be satisfied, Israel can expect to be condemned by various UN bodies, including the Security Council, because no matter what it does to try to earn the support of the administration, it will never receive such support.

The discovery that the Obama administration is entirely in Hamas’s corner hit all of Israel hard. But it hit the Left the hardest. Few on the Right, which recognized Obama’s hostility from the outset of his presidency, were surprised.

As for political leaders, the government cannot risk giving the administration justification for its anti-Israel policies, so senior ministers have all said nothing.

Consequently, the harshest criticisms of the administration’s pro-Hamas position were heard from quarters where rarely a peep of criticism for Obama has been heard.

The Israeli Left went ballistic.

Haaretz, the far-left broadsheet that has seldom taken issue with even the harshest rejections of Israel’s rights, went bananas after its reporter Barak Ravid received the details of Kerry’s cease-fire agreement. As Ravid put it, Kerry’s document, “might as well have been penned by Khaled Mashaal. It was everything Hamas could have hoped for.”

Ravid continued, “What Kerry’s draft spells for the internal Palestinian political arena is even direr: It crowns Hamas and issues Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with a death warrant.”

And that is really the crux of the issue. The crowd at Haaretz is far more wedded to the PLO and Mahmoud Abbas than it is to the government of Israel. And the administration’s support for Hamas exposed the PLO as an irrelevance.

As the paper’s Amos Harel wrote the next day, Kerry’s pro-Hamas behavior convinced the Egyptians and other actors that the administration is “continuing its secret love affairs with the Muslim Brotherhood in the region.”

The Left understands that the administration’s behavior has destroyed it.

Leftists can no longer say that Israeli territorial withdrawals will win it international support.

They can no longer say that Israel will receive US support if it places the security of Palestinian civilians above the security of its own civilians and military forces.

They can no longer say that the PLO is the answer.

The Israeli Left has been Obama’s ace in the hole since he first ran for office, fresh from the pews in Jeremiah Wright’s anti-Semitic church. They were the grease in the wheels that legitimized the administration’s anti-Israel pressure group J Street. They were the ones who could be counted on to tell the US media and the American Jews that Netanyahu is to blame for Obama’s hostility.

Yet, rather than backtrack, and try to save the Israeli Left, the administration doubled down on Monday, releasing a series of statements condemning the Israeli media’s condemnations of Kerry’s pro-Hamas position.

By Monday afternoon, the administration went so far as to say that by criticizing Kerry, Israel’s media were endangering their country’s alliance with the US.

In other words, through his actions, Obama demonstrated that his “love affairs with the Muslim Brotherhood in the region,” are so central to his foreign policy calculations that he is willing to destroy the Israeli Left in order to strengthen the Brotherhood.

And this leads us to the larger point about Obama’s foreign policy, which his Sunday night telephone call to Netanyahu revealed. As rattled as Israelis are over Obama’s decision to support Hamas against Israel, Netanyahu made clear in his remarks Monday night that Israel has no choice but to keep fighting until we defeat this barbaric enemy.

Netanyahu didn’t mention Obama, but it was obvious that he was respectfully refusing to hand Israel’s head on a platter to Hamas’s friend in the White House.

And while it is hard for Israel to ignore Obama, it is impossible for Americans to ignore him. He runs their foreign policy.

Americans are the ones who need to be most alarmed by what Obama’s actions on behalf of Hamas reveal about the general direction of American Middle East policy under his leadership.

For the past five years, Americans from all quarters have concluded that the manifold failures of Obama’s Middle East policies – from Iraq to Iran, Libya, Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and beyond – owe to a combination of Obama’s personal disinterest in foreign affairs and his presumed preference for withdrawal and isolationism over engagement.

Obama himself has often encouraged this perception with his endless golf games and his talk about fighting “the war at home.”

Obama’s open, public engagement in Hamas’s war against Israel shows that the popular assessment is wrong.

Obama is as involved in the Middle East as all of his immediate predecessors were. He is personally leading US policy on every front. Kerry is not an independent actor.

The problem is that in every war, in every conflict and in every contest of wills that has occurred in the Middle East since Obama took office, he has sided with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, against America’s allies.

Under Obama, America has switched sides.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Religion of Peace? Obama Lied About Islam!

'What Part of This Can't You Get Through Your Thick Head?': Hannity's Fiery Exchange with Palestinian Guest on Hamas

SEAN HANNITY, 'HANNITY' HOST: Welcome back to "Hannity." The Council on American Islamic Relations, better known as CAIR, has launched a massive letter-writing campaign, calling on Israel to end its military offensive in Gaza.
Now, in a press release, the pro-Muslim organization said in part, quote, "The U.S. government must not remain silent about Israel's unjust and disproportionate use of force against the Palestinians in Gaza. Because American taxpayers provide Israel with billions of dollars of aid each year, we have a right to demand that those funds not be used to take the lives of innocent civilians."
Now, interestingly enough, there was no mention of the terrorist group Hamas and their role in this conflict. After all, they started this conflict. So my question is, why is America's largest Muslim so-called civil rights group showing sympathy to terrorists?
Here to debate this, from the American Islamic Forum for Democracy -- Dr. Zuhdi Jasser is with us. And also joining us, the executive director of the Jerusalem Fund and Palestinian Center in Washington, Yousef, well, Munayyer is with us. Welcome all of you. Thanks for being here.
Yousef, let me ask you this. If I fire 1,600, 2,000 rockets into your neighborhood, I kidnap three children in your neighborhood, students, and I kill them, what do you think the proper proportionate response is?
YOUSEF MUNAYYER, JERUSALEM FUND AND PALESTINE CENTER: Well, maybe you should stop the ongoing for decades-long military occupation of Palestinian territory...
HANNITY: OK. OK, listen...
MUNAYYER: ... before you...
HANNITY: Listen, we can take it back to the 1948 partition plan, and we can look at the '67 war, the '73 war and the hostilities brought to Israel. They did give land for peace nine years ago. Now I'm asking you a question. If thousands of rockets are fired in your neighborhood, what -- and kids in your neighborhood are kidnapped, what are you going to do?
MUNAYYER: Sean, if the United States...
HANNITY: What are you going to do?
MUNAYYER: Sir, I'm going to try to answer your question...
HANNITY: Good. Answer it!
MUNAYYER: ... if you stop badgering me. Thank you. If the United States was invaded by a foreign military and besieged and surrounded, and the food that was coming into the United States was counted by the calories so that people would be put on a diet, as the Israelis claim...
HANNITY: You -- you have such a...
MUNAYYER: ... and bombs were being dropped...
MUNAYYER: Let me finish. Let me finish.
HANNITY: No, no, no, no! You're justifying...
MUNAYYER: Let me finish.
HANNITY: ... the terrorists and...
HANNITY: You are making a rationalization for rockets and kidnapping and murder! And you expect the -- you want to blame the victims in this case!
Zuhdi Jasser.
MUNAYYER: The only people blaming the victim here is you because there are countless...
DR. ZUHDI JASSER, AMERICAN ISLAMIC FORUM FOR DEMOCRACY: Yousef, this cycle of lack of -- Yousef, we can't continue to explain these things away. For crying out loud, it's Ramadan. And they continue to fly -- send rockets out, and organizations like CAIR, who, by the way, the FBI, by matter of policy, will not interact with because of the fact that they won't condemn Hamas as a terrorist organization. And still to this day, they will not recognize them because of that. So they, just like hitting a softball...
HANNITY: All right, Yousef, I have a question...
JASSER: ... Hamas launches -- let me finish. Hamas launches rockets on innocents, starts a war, war after war, and then they use that to say, Well, it's a bigger narrative. It's about the occupation. Meanwhile, they have a gender apartheid inside Gaza. Christians are evacuating because churches are being burned. Their doctrine is fascist and genocidal against Jews.
Palestinians aren't represented by Hamas, I don't believe, and yet they allow Hamas to drive the narrative globally...
HANNITY: Let me -- let me jump in here...
JASSER: ... and start wars.
HANNITY: I want to ask Yousef a question. Is Hamas a terrorist organization?
MUNAYYER: Do I get to actually speak now?
HANNITY: You get to answer the question! It's a simple yes or no question. Is Hamas...
MUNAYYER: Sir, you invited me on here.
HANNITY: Is Hamas...
MUNAYYER: Sir, you invited me on here...
HANNITY: I'm asking you a question! Is Hamas, whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel -- is that a terrorist organization? That's a yes or no question!
MUNAYYER: Thank you for your question. And now I will...
HANNITY: Now answer it!
MUNAYYER: ... provide an answer.
HANNITY: Finally!
MUNAYYER: It's very telling to me that, and it should be telling to your viewers, as well, by the way, that the moment you have a Palestinian voice on your program who begins to explain the legitimate grievances of Palestinian...
HANNITY: Is Hamas a terrorist organization?
HANNITY: Answer!
MUNAYYER: Sir, let me...
HANNITY: Answer the question!
MUNAYYER: Sir, let me finish. Am I guest on your program or...
HANNITY: Yes, you're a guest, but...
HANNITY: ... a filibuster! Answer! Is Hamas a terrorist organization?
MUNAYYER: The United States certainly considers Hamas a terrorist organization...
HANNITY: Do you consider -- I didn't ask what the United States thinks! I asked what you think! Can you hear?
MUNAYYER: Look, if you -- if you think -- if you think that we are going to have any progress in this situation by simply yelling at me...
HANNITY: Is Hamas -- I'll ask you...
MUNAYYER: ... not really going to be helpful.
HANNITY: All right, let me ask you nicely. Is Hamas...
MUNAYYER: Let me ask you, sir, a question at this point...
HANNITY: ... a terrorist organization? Is Hamas a terrorist organization? Yes or no!
MUNAYYER: Let me ask you a question, sir, at this point...
HANNITY: No! You don't answer a question with a question! Is Hamas -- what part of this can't you get through your thick head?
MUNAYYER: I think...
HANNITY: Is Hamas a terrorist organization?
MUNAYYER: Excuse me?
HANNITY: Yes or no!
MUNAYYER: Excuse me? I already answered...
HANNITY: Yes or no!
MUNAYYER: ... your question. I already answered your question.
HANNITY: You did not!
JASSER: Well, this is the problem, Yousef, is that we cannot -- why is he asking you if it's a terrorist organization? Because terrorist organizations use children as shields, launch rockets into civilian populations, start a war that victimizes the poor children that are being killed in this war.
And just like when America has to go into Afghanistan, has to go into Iraq, we saw pictures from CAIR and other organizations saying America is killing innocents, when, in fact, we were fighting a legitimate war that had unfortunate deaths that happened, and this is about if you want to fight...
MUNAYYER: Do I get to say anything?
HANNITY: You had your chance!
MUNAYYER: Do I get to say anything, Sean?
HANNITY: You didn't say Hamas is a terrorist organization. Good-bye.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

State Dept. Official: ISIS No Longer a Terrorist Group But ‘A Full-Blown Army

“ISIL is no longer simply a terrorist organization,” Brett McGurk, deputy assistant secretary for Iraq and Iran at the U.S. Department of State, said at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Wednesday. “It is now a full-blown army seeking to establish a self-governing state through the Tigris and Euphrates Valley in what is now Syria and Iraq.”
ISIS continues to expand its hold on territory in Iraq, including overtaking the city of Mosul on June 10. Since then, the Sunni extremists have targeted Christians who are reportedly being told they have three choices: Convert to Islam, pay a fine or be killed. As a result, most, if not all, Christians have fled the city.
Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), chairman of the committee, said the Obama administration testified six months ago before the same committee about the threat posed by ISIS, but no action has been taken to thwart its advance.
Ed Royce
Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) chaired the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the U.S. response to developments in Iraq on July 23, 2014. ( Starr)
“Never has a terrorist organization possessed the heavy weaponry, cash and personnel that ISIS does today – which includes thousands of western passport holders,” he said.
At the hearing, which focused on the U.S. response to developments in Iraq, McGurk said the State Department has acted “along three parallel tracks.”
“First, and most importantly, we worked to ensure the security of our own personnel and facilities,” McGurk said. “Second, in parallel, we both relocated and surged U.S. diplomatic, intelligence, and military resources to develop strategic options for the president with real-time and accurate information.
“Third, we worked with Iraqi officials to strengthen their defenses of strategic locations, and set the political process on track, with a focus on forming a new government following national elections,” McGurk said.
Iraq's Shiite President Nouri al-Maliki has come under increasing pressure to step down, with critics accusing him of monopolizing power at the expense of the country's Sunni and Kurdish minorities. He has vowed to remain in the post he has held since 2006, and his bloc won the most votes in April elections, the Associated Press reported.
In his opening remarks, McGurk said ISIS or ISIL is “worse than al Qaeda” and a threat to the United States.
“ISIL is al Qaeda,” McGurk said, adding that this is the case even if it changed its name or leadership. “But it is al Qaeda in its doctrine, ambition and increasingly in its threat to U.S. interests.
“In fact, it is worse than al Qaeda,” McGurk said.
“The situation in Iraq remains extremely serious,” McGurk said in the conclusion of his prepared remarks. “While our immediate crisis response may have blunted the initial security crisis, ISIL represents a growing threat to U.S. interests in the region, local populations, and the homeland.”
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Baghdad on Thursday, urging lawmakers to "find a common ground" so they can address the crisis sparked by the rapid advance of the Islamic State extremist group and allied Sunni militants across much of northern and western Iraq last month, the Associated Press reported.
Ban said Iraq is facing an "existential threat" that could be overcome if it forms a "thoroughly inclusive government."

Flashback: Obama Urged Action to Protect Iraq’s Christians – in 2007 – The plight of Iraq’s Christians, targeted by Muslim militants, prompted a U.S. senator to write to the Secretary of State, voicing alarm about “their potential extinction from their ancient homeland” and saying the situation demands “an urgent response from our government.”
The letter was addressed to Condoleezza Rice, the date was Sept. 11, 2007, and the writer was Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), then running for the Democratic presidential nomination.
While Iraq’s Christian minority had come under attack and faced grave hardships since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 – a spate of church bombings in Aug. 2004 killed at least 12 people – religious freedom advocates have tracked a particularly severe deterioration over the past five years – on President Obama’s watch.
On the Open Doors USA’s annual watch list of the world’s worst persecutors of Christians, Iraq did not make the top ten between 2003 and 2010, instead taking positions in the low 20s or high teens.
In 2011 (covering events of the previous year) Iraq entered the watch list’s top ten, making eighth place. In 2012 it was ninth, but by 2013 Iraq had climbed to fourth place, the same positions in holds in 2014.
The deadliest single recorded act of violence against Iraqi Christians since 2003 occurred on Oct. 31, 2010: 53 killed in an armed attack on Baghdad’s Our Lady of Salvation church.
But the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL) worsened the situation significantly this year. The al-Qaeda-inspired jihadist group seized control of Mosul in the historical Christian heartland of Ninawa (Ninevah) province on June 10, and last week ordered those Christians who had not yet fled to convert, pay the jizya tax – a humiliating Qur’an-mandated tribute levied on conquered non-Muslims – or be killed.
ISIS fighters have identified Christians’ properties in Mosul by tagging themwith the Arabic letter N (for “Nasrani,” or Nazarene), according to the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Baghdad.
Christians who fled Mosul told the Associated Press they had to leave behind most of their possessions, and some reported being robbed by ISIS gunmen as they left.
“The last few days have been among the very worst in the long history of Iraq’s Christians,” Patrick Sookhdeo, international director of Barnabas Fund – an agency supporting minority Christians in Islamic countries – said on Wednesday.
“The impossible ultimatum from the merciless Islamists has forced those who had tried to stay in Mosul after it was taken over last month to flee,” he said. “And as if that was not bad enough, the militants took everything from them, leaving them destitute. They are in great need of our support and prayers at this distressing time.”
Iraq’s Christians include Chaldean Catholics, Assyrians, Orthodox Syriacs, Catholic and Orthodox Armenians, and Protestants. Many trace their origins to the ancient Assyrian empire.
‘Make protecting this ancient community a priority’
Despite the worsening situation Christians have faced in recent years, the Obama administration repeatedly has ignored recommendations by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent statutory body, for Iraq to be designated a “country of particular concern” (CPC) for religious freedom violations.
Iraq was originally blacklisted in mid-2002, but the Bush administration removed it in 2004, around the time the Coalition Provisional Authority transferred power to the interim Iraqi government.
ISIS jihadists have tagged Christian homes in Mosul with the Arabic letter N, seen here painted in red inside a circle. (Photo: Assyrian International News Agency)
The USCIRF first urged Iraq’s return to the CPC list in late 2008. The Bush administration’s last designation announcement, made in its closing days in January 2009, did not include Iraq, and neither has the Obama administration done so over the ensuing five years.
CPC designation empowers the administration to impose sanctions or take other measures designed to generate improved behavior from governments which either themselves violate citizens’ religious freedom, or allow others to do so.
Concerns raised by the USCIRF are not limited to Iraq’s Christians, but also to other vulnerable minorities such as the Yazidis, adherents of a religion that predates Islam and Christianity; and Mandaeans, a sect that reveres John the Baptist. Its annual reports also cite Sunni-Shi’ite tensions.
USCIRF chairperson Katrina Lantos Swett on Tuesday condemned ISIS’ ultimatum to Christians in Mosul, calling the group’s persecution of Christians, Yazidis, Shi’ites, and Sunnis who reject its ideology “deeply troubling and repugnant.”
“It is vital that the United States and other like-minded governments act to defend this fundamental freedom [of religion, conscience and belief] against the onslaught of those who seek to impose their dark vision of total religious repression on the peaceful Christian, Yazidi, and Muslim communities of Iraq and Syria,” she said in a statement.
In a speech on the House floor Tuesday, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) said what was happening to Iraq’s Christians amounted to genocide, and urged the administration to “make protecting this ancient community a priority.”
In his letter to Rice in the fall of 2007, then-Sen. Obama said Iraq’s Christian, Yazidi and Mandaean communities “appear to be targeted by Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish militants.”
“The severe violations of religious freedom faced by members of these indigenous communities, and their potential extinction from their ancient homeland, is deeply alarming in light of our mission to bring freedom to the Iraqi people,” he wrote.
“In addition, such violence may be an indicator of greater sectarian violence. Such rising sectarian violence and the Iraqi internally displaced people and refugee crises potentially could serve as catalysts for wider regional instability,” Obama said. “These crises demand an urgent response from our government.”

Hamas Hate Crime

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sharia 'Justice' Comes To A Town Near You...? Philadelphia Mosque Leaders Accused of Trying to Cut Off Worshiper’s Hand With 2-Foot Machete — But Where Alleged Deed Happened Is the Shocker

The emir of a Philadelphia mosque was thrown in jail after police said he and the mosque’s imam tried to cut off a man’s hand with a 2-foot machete, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.

A prayer service had just ended at the Al-Masjid Ur-Razzaq Ul-Karim mosque Monday morning when Merv Mitchell, the mosque’s emir — along with the mosque’s imam, whose name was not released — confronted a man who usually helps organize prayer services, said police Lt. John Walker.
Mitchell and the imam accused the 46-year-old man of stealing jars of money from the mosque, Walker said. The man denied the accusation, the Philadelphia Inquirerreported. Police said he was dragged down a set of steps in the building to the back yard.
“They threw the victim to the ground and held his right arm against a log,” Walker said. ”One of the offenders grabbed a machete from inside the mosque, and struck the victim near his wrist. The blade cut through some of his tendons.”
The victim was treated at a hospital and later released, though the Inquirer said he needs reconstructive surgery.
Walker said investigators secured a search warrant for the mosque on Thursday and found the machete used in the attack. WPVI-TV reported it was 2-foot machete.
Mitchell, 37, has several aliases, including Mabul Shoatz. He was charged with aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy, simple assault, reckless endangerment, and related offenses, Reuters noted.
More from the Daily News:
Court records show that Mitchell has an extensive criminal history that includes convictions for robbery, theft, burglary and carrying a firearm without a license. [...]
According to city records, the mosque’s owner, Nothinne Mabul Mitchell, owes $80,326 in back real estate taxes.
The Department of Licenses and Inspections deemed the property unsafe in May 2013, and issued violations for a partially collapsed wall, roof and ceiling.
Walker said police would obtain an arrest warrant for the imam, who is 35, the Inquirer noted.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant.

Omar Ahmad - Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant
"Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth."
- Omar Ahmad
Founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

Returning Jihadis Creating Security Nightmare in UK Islam and Islam-related concerns dominated the news in Britain in June 2014, from returning jihadis to the spread of sharia law in daily

Islam and Islam-related issues were omnipresent in Britain during the month of June 2014. They can be categorized into three broad themes: 1) The British government's growing concern over Islamic extremism and the domestic security implications of British jihadists in Syria; 2) The continuing spread of Islamic Sharia law in all aspects of British daily life; and 3) Ongoing questions of Muslim integration into British society.

1. Islamic Extremism and Syria-Related Threats

The dramatic rise of the Sunni militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS] in June added a new sense of urgency to the ongoing debate over how to prevent British jihadists from carrying out terrorist attacks in the UK upon their return from fighting in Syria.
British Prime Minister David Cameron warned on June 17 that British citizens and other Europeans fighting alongside Islamist insurgents in Iraq and Syria posed the biggest threat to Britain's national security.
Britain's top counter-terrorism officer, Cressida Dick, on June 22 told the BBC that roughly 500 Britons have now gone to fight in Syria. Speaking to BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend, Dick warned that British jihadists represent a "long-term" terrorist threat that British police will be dealing with for "many years."
The former head of counter-terrorism at MI6, Richard Barrett, on June 22 told Sky News's Murnaghan program that as many as 300 radicalized young men had already returned to the UK. He said it was an "absolute nightmare" for security agencies because they do not have the resources to track all of them.
On June 17, the Daily Mail reported that more British citizens signed up to fight in Iraq and Syria than joined the Army Reserve during the past 12 months. Only 170 extra reservists enlisted over the past year, despite a government target to boost the stand-by force by 11,000 by 2018.
On June 22, the Financial Times reported: "The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has halved its counter-terrorism budget even as officials warn of the most severe threat to the UK from overseas terror groups since the London bombings in 2005."
On June 22, the Sunday Times reported that British jihadists are faking their deaths on the battlefield in Syria in an attempt to return to the UK undetected. In one instance, the martyrdom of a fighter in Syria was announced by his colleagues on social media, only for police to arrest the "dead" individual at the port town of Dover.
The Times also reported that a British jihadist using the nom de guerre Abu Rashash Britani recently posted a message on Twitter that said: "When we establish khilafah [an Islamic state], a battalion of mujahideen shud head to UK & capture David Cameron & Theresa May n behead them both :)"
Another jihadist from Birmingham named Junaid Hussain tweeted that the "black flag of jihad" will soon fly over Downing Street. He also tweeted: "Imagine if someone were to detonate a bomb at voting stations or ambushed the vans that carry the casted votes. It would mess the whole system up." Hussain re-tweeted a warning from a like-minded countryman for British people to "watch out," because "we'll come back to the UK and wreak havoc."
A 19-year-old jihadist from Portsmouth named Muhammad Hassan promised a "killing spree" of British citizens if he were ever to return to Britain.
In a June 22 interview with the Andrew Marr Show on BBC1, former British Defense Secretary Liam Fox said that given the increased threat to national security, the British state should be given more power to intercept the communications of Islamic extremists.
Home Secretary Theresa May, speaking at the annual Lord Mayor's Defense and Security Lecture in London on June 24, called for a change to British law that would hand the security services more powers to scrutinize online communications, a bid that has previously been blocked by the Liberal Democrats due to privacy concerns.
May also defended the government's use of surveillance powers. She said:
"There is no program of mass surveillance and there is no surveillance state. The real problem is not that we have built an over-mighty state but that the state is finding it harder to fulfil its most basic duty, which is to protect the public."
May's denial of the existence of a British "surveillance state" was contradicted by a senior official from her very own office.
A London-based group called Privacy International on June 17 published a 50-page document in which Charles Farr, the Director General of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (a directorate within the Home Office which leads work on counter-terrorism in the UK), revealed a secret government policy justifying mass surveillance of UK residents.
In the document, Farr detailed how the Government Communications Headquarters [GCHQ], a British intelligence agency that works closely with the US National Security Agency, justifies the indiscriminate intercepting all online searches and electronic communications over Internet services such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Farr's statement marked the first time the government has openly commented on how it exploits the UK's existing legal framework for surveillance to intercept communications.
Meanwhile, the government said it was stepping up efforts to work with the Internet industry to remove Islamic extremist propaganda that is hosted in the UK or abroad. During a briefing on June 24, a government spokesperson said: "Since December [2013] we have removed over 15,000 pieces of terrorist-related content from the Internet."
The move came after three British jihadists appeared in a recruitment video urging their fellow countrymen to fight for ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The 13-minute English-language video entitled "There Is No Life Without Jihad" features one jihadist from Scotland and two others from Wales describing the life and mission of a jihadist.
The imam of the South Wales Islamic Center, Sheikh Zane Abdo, said he feared that the video would encourage other British Muslims to travel to Syria to fight. The imam said:
"I guarantee that many young people who are very susceptible to this type of message will have watched that video and maybe have been encouraged to now go and follow in the footsteps of Nasser and his brother, which is a real problem."
On June 24, the Daily Mail published a map showing how Cardiff, the capital of Wales, has become a hotbed for Islamic extremism. The article says Islamic hardliners are leafleting Muslim communities in the city with propaganda encouraging young men to become jihadists in Syria, Iraq and the UK.
Some of these meetings were allegedly organized by groups linked to Anjem Choudary, a Muslim hate preacher who wants to turn the United Kingdom into an Islamic state.
The Home Office said on June 26 that it was banning three groups linked to Choudary. The groups Need4Khilafah, the Shariah Project and the Islamic Dawah Association are all aliases of al-Muhajiroun, a Salafi-Wahhabi extremist group that was banned in 2006 but has continued to operate ever since then by using different names.
According to a report published by the Times of London on June 27, Choudary's network "has now been proscribed as a terrorist organization operating under 11 different names, but neither he nor any one of his associates has so far been prosecuted for membership of an illegal group."

2. Sharia Law in Britain

On June 25, Britain became the first Western nation to issue Islamic bonds, completing a plan that was more than seven years in the making. Investors placed £2.3 billion ($3.9 billion) of orders, more than 11 times the amount of bonds on offer.
Islamic bonds, known as sukuk, are structured to comply with Sharia law, which forbids interest payments. In practice, this means the bonds are backed by assets or cash flows that allow Muslim investors who are prohibited by Sharia law from buying traditional debt to share in profits or receive rental income.
This sukuk is using an ijara structure, a Sharia-compliant sale and lease-back contract, allowing the rental income of three central government offices to underpin the transaction. In an ijara sukuk, a party leases equipment, buildings or other facilities to a client for an agreed rental price.
The sukuk is the centerpiece of Prime Minister David Cameron's bid to turn London into a "world capital for Islamic finance."
But critics say that Cameron's ambition to attract investments from Muslim investors is spurring the gradual establishment of a parallel global financial system based on Sharia law.
On June 24, the Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts, said that a Sharia-compliant alternative to the conventional student loan could become available in the UK beginning in 2016.
Willetts said a cooperative system called takaful was being examined as a way of enabling Muslim students to fund their studies according to Sharia law, which prohibits Muslims entering into interest-bearing loans.
Rather than borrowing money and paying it back with interest to a third party, which is prohibited by Sharia law, students would sign a contract promising to pay the takaful, perceived as a charitable donation.
"It would be a tragedy if any student, particularly a Muslim student because of concerns about so-called interest rates, were put off from going to university," Willetts said. "This does not mean we are introducing Sharia law in the UK," he added.
On June 10, Willis Group Holdings PLC, a multinational insurance brokerage company based in London,launched the UK's first Sharia-compliant commercial real estate insurance. The policy will retain price neutrality, meaning the premiums are equivalent to a like-for-like non-Sharia policy.
The Managing Director of the Willis Real Estate Practice, John Dilley, said:
"Hand in hand with the growth in Islamic finance is the demand for Sharia-compliant insurance cover, in particular for real estate investors. Access to underwriting capacity, which is compliant with Islamic law for major risks, has not previously been available in the UK. Willis has responded to the needs of real estate investors by developing the UK's first Sharia-compliant real estate insurance solution."
On June 6, the British Ministry of Defense (MoD), in response to a Freedom of Information request, admitted that soldiers are unknowingly being fed halal (Arabic for lawful according to Sharia law) meat on military bases.
On June 4, Gardner Asset Management and Shariyah Review Bureau [SRB], a Sharia advisory firm, announcedthe creation of an Enterprise Investment Scheme [EIS] that will allow Muslims to investment in a renewable energy project in a manner that complies with Sharia law.
The scheme will use an Islamic finance structure known as a wakala, whereby an agent is appointed by investors to manage and run the investment on their behalf, without using conventional interest-bearing debts within the company.
The CEO of London-based advisory firm Simply Sharia, Faizal Karbani, said: "This will be the first certified Sharia-compliant green energy EIS offered to UK investors and we think the structure of the investment fits well with the values and principles of Sharia."
Meanwhile, the Islamic Bank of Britain [IBB], the UK's only wholly Sharia-compliant retail bank, on June 23 nameda new CEO. IBB's longest-serving employee, Sultan Choudhury, is being tasked with "delivering a strategy designed for growth and profitability." IBB has never made a profit since its founding in 2004.

3. Muslim Integration

British regulators placed five Muslim-dominated state schools in Birmingham under "special measures" after inspectors found that pupils there were being systematically exposed to radical Islamic propaganda.
Ofsted, the agency that regulates British schools, carried out emergency inspections of 21 primary and secondary state schools in Birmingham after a document surfaced in March 2014 that purported to outline a plot—dubbed Operation Trojan Horse—by Muslim fundamentalists to Islamize state schools in England and Wales.
The inspection reports, which Ofsted made public on June 9, show that Muslim hardliners are indeed seeking to run at least five state schools in Birmingham according to a "conservative Islamic perspective."
Sky News reported on June 3 that senior leaders at three schools in Birmingham alerted the government more than two decades ago about the rising influence of Muslim extremists in the school system, but that their concerns were dismissed because of political correctness.
Separately, the BBC reported on June 2 that Birmingham officials were warned that hardline Muslims were trying to extend their influence in Birmingham schools as early as 2008. Again, no action was taken.
On June 16, a new law entered into effect that makes forced marriage a criminal offense in England and Wales and is punishable by up to seven years in prison. The law also makes it a crime to breach a so-called Forced Marriage Protection Order (issued by courts to prevent people from being married against their will). This crime now carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.
In addition, the law makes it a crime to take British nationals overseas with the intention of forcing them to wed, even if the forced marriage does not ultimately take place. It is estimated that every year, hundreds of British girls are being taken out of school and flown abroad to be married, sometimes to men who may be two or three times their age.
Research commissioned by the UK Department of Education estimates that between 5,000 and 8,000 young women in Britain are the victims of forced marriages each year. But some charities say the actual number is far higher: many victims are afraid to come forward.
The BBC reported on June 12 that some Muslim families have begun hiring bounty hunters to track down the victims of forced marriage who try to run away. In one instance, parents in Scotland paid a gang to trace a 17-year-old woman who ran away from home after she was told she had to marry in Pakistan. The bounty hunters eventually found her and fearing for her life, she went through with the wedding in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, a radical Islamic group edged closer to building one of the world's largest mosques in London after a star Muslim opponent of the controversial mega-mosque was intimidated into silence.
Tablighi Jamaat -- a fundamentalist Islamic sect opposed to Western values such as democracy and equal rights, but committed to "perpetual Jihad" to spread Islam around the world -- is fighting a no-holds-barred battle to build a massive mosque complex in West Ham, a neighborhood in the East London Borough of Newham.
A public hearing was convened on June 3 to determine whether the mosque will be built. On the first day of the inquiry, however, Tehmina Kazi, the only Muslim brave enough to give evidence against the mosque, abruptly withdrew from giving testimony after being "persuaded" by Muslim hardliners to remove her objections.
By successfully silencing Kazi, Tablighi Jamaat removed a highly effective obstacle to making the mega-mosque a reality. All eyes will now be on Eric Pickles, a cabinet minister, who will take the final decision on whether the mosque project goes ahead.
In Scotland, the Glasgow City Council has authorized the Glasgow Central Mosque to broadcast the Islamic call to prayer -- known as the adhan -- during the Commonwealth Games, to be held in the city from July 23 to August 3.
The adhan will be broadcast once a day from July 10 to August 4 at approximately 10 pm. There will be some overlap with Ramadan, which began on June 28 and runs through July 27.
The general secretary of the mosque, Nabeel Sheikh, said he wants to cater to Muslims visiting the city for the Games. He also said the broadcast of the adhan would help to highlight the "open outlook" of Glaswegians. Sheik added:
"Many of our non-Muslim friends who have visited Dubai, Tunisia or Turkey and have heard the adhan have told me the positive impact it has had on them. The world's media will also be in Glasgow and they can leave with a positive impression of the city and emphasizing the tolerance and open outlook of Glaswegians."
In Edinburgh, a Muslim immigrant from Iran was found guilty on June 3 of murdering his wife because she refused to submit to his authority. Ahmad Yazdanparast, 61, was found guilty of the October 2013 murder of Ahdieh Yazdanparast, 46, the mother of his three children.
During Yazdanparast's trial at the High Court in Edinburgh, the court heard how he doused his wife with gasoline and set her on fire. Yazdanparast's defense attorney told jurors: "He wasn't being listened to, he wasn't being obeyed. He lost control of his wife and he murdered her."
Yazdanparast, who identified himself in court as a "British Muslim," said that in Iran the man was superior to the woman and had authority over her, but in Britain his wife had become too Westernized and was acting as if she were superior to him.
At the Woolwich Crown Court in Greenwich, a 20-year-old Muslim man, Farooq Shah, was found guilty on June 26 of stabbing to death a pregnant Romanian prostitute, allegedly because she was plying her trade near a mosque in Ilford, a town in Essex. He was sentenced to life in prison and will serve a minimum of 29 years.
At the Snaresbrook Crown Court in north London, the trial began on June 24 for five Muslim gang members accused of beating a 23-year-old American student, Francesco Hounye, over the head with a bottle. Prosecutors say the Muslims were angry that Hounye, who had been on a night out and was walking home with a friend in Shadwell, east London, was drinking alcohol on the street.
At the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales [Old Bailey] in London, a 32-year-old Islamic radical from Luton, Abu Rahin Aziz, was found guilty in absentia on June 19 of punching, kicking and striking a football fan named Andrew White and leaving him covered in blood.
The court heard how a group of nine Muslims were handing out Islamic literature and shouting "F*ck the Queen" as White lay bleeding on the ground. Aziz, an associate of firebrand cleric Anjem Choudary, fled the UK before his trial and is thought to have joined jihadists in Syria.
In a separate but related trial at the Old Bailey, nine members of the so-called Muslim Patrol were found guilty of promoting sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims at a protest march led by Choudary in central London. The brawls, which took place in May 2013, are believed to be the first Iraqi-style Muslim infighting on British streets.
In an interview published by the Daily Telegraph on June 17, the former head of the anti-immigrant English Defense League, Tommy Robinson, described the omnipresence of Islam at Woodhill Prison, a maximum security prison where he was serving an 18-month sentence for mortgage fraud.
Robinson, who was released in early June, says many prisoners are converting to Islam in order to become part of a Muslim gang, which gives them some degree of protection. He also says radical preachers are enforcing Sharia law in the prison wings. According to Robinson, "The guards don't run the prison, Islam does."
Finally, a Christian health worker launched a legal challenge after being disciplined by the National Health Service [NHS] for "bullying" a Muslim colleague by praying for her.
The saga began when the Muslim woman asked her colleague, a 37-year-old occupational therapist named Victoria Wasteney, about the anti-human trafficking community work being carried out by her church, located in East London, home to a large Muslim community.
Wasteney later invited the Muslim woman to a community sports day organized by her church. She also prayed for the Muslim woman, who was in tears over the many problems in her personal life.
Wasteney was issued a written warning and forced to accept a range of requirements designed to stop her from discussing her faith and beliefs with colleagues. She was also suspended on full pay for nine months.
Wasteney said she was challenging her employers in court because political correctness in the NHS was stifling ordinary conversations about faith. "I believe in tolerance for everyone and that is why I am challenging what has happened to me," she said.