LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on January
Lebanon the militia state/Tony Badran/Now Lebanon/January 08/15
The Significance of Sisi’s Speech/Raymond Ibrahim /January 08/15
Another Arab country is slipping into chaos/Osman Mirghani/Asharq Al Awsat/January 08/15
Religious extremists are the real enemy of Germany’s Muslims/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Alawsat/January 08/15
On those who seek to justify the Paris attack/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/ January 08/15
Vive la liberté/Faisal J. Abbas/Al Arabiya/January 08/15
Lebanese Related News published on January 08-09/15
End in sight for Zina’s deadly rampage Zina stirs up a storm on social media
Zina: very typical and nothing unusual Lebanese leaders condemn deadly Paris attack Hariri condemns ‘heinous act’ Cabinet split over waste, food safety
Mar Mikhael: an ideal creative hub Refugees primary victims of the storm Amos in Beirut over Refugee Crisis as Kelley Urges Authorities to Specify Next Step
Families of Hostage Servicemen to Resume Sit-in at Riad al-Solh Square
Zarif Hails Hizbullah, Mustaqbal Dialogue, Efforts to Defuse Tension
Ali Eid Summoned for Hearing in Mosques Blasts Case
Garbage Crisis Unresolved, Salam Declines to Schedule Another Session
Report: FPM-LF Exchange Messages on Lebanon Stability, Taef
Ali Meets Berri, Says 'There Can't be Visas between Lebanon, Syria'
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on January 08-09/15
Canada Denounces Flogging of Saudi Activist
Police officer killed in second terror attack in Paris. Elite French unit preparing operation
Sisi makes historic Christmas visit to St. Mark’s Cathedral
Baghdad and Erbil hold talks on military cooperation against ISIS
No act of faith
Charlie massacre shocks the world French satirical paper high on jihadi hit-list old-blooded killers sow terror in Paris street Paris attack highlights Islamified France book Mideast expert, Dr. Walid Phares: World will see ‘more widespread jihadi attacks’
Pakistani President Approves Military Courts for Terrorism Cases
How France became Syria’s enemy No. 1
Suicide bomber kills 37 at Yemen police academy
Palestinians preparing ICC cases against Israel: chief negotiator
Libyan PM will not step down: cabinet source
Yemen tribes preparing to ward off Houthi offensive: sources
Jihad Watch Site Latest Posts
Canada’s Harper: “The international jihadist movement has declared war….we are going to have to confront it.”
Profs cover for Muslim Brotherhood front
Charlie Hebdo jihad attack: Free speech is a microcosm of a much larger issue
White House spokesman: US needs to “redouble” efforts to explain the true “tenets” of Islam
Ron Paul: Charlie Hebdo jihad attack was a reaction to France’s foreign policy
France: Muslims segregate themselves from society in growing Islamic mini-states
“You jihadwatch should wait and see what will happen to you soon for republishing that image. JUST WAIT AND SEE!!! Hahaha”
Ohio: Muslim “armed with knives” attempts to stab police at Columbus airport
Germany: PEGIDA is “an unexpected flash of patriotism”
Robert Spencer in FrontPage: The Charlie Hebdo Jihad Massacre: Time to Stand for Free Speech
Ireland: Muslim scholar threatens legal action if Muhammad cartoons republished
Jihadis republish hitlist with X over slain Charlie Hebdo publisher’s face
New jihad attack in Paris: Muslim shoots policewoman in the back
Canada Denounces Flogging of Saudi Activist
January 8, 2015 - Andrew Bennett, Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom, today issued the following statement:
“I am greatly concerned by reports that Saudi human rights activist Raif Badawi will tomorrow begin facing a punishment of 1,000 lashes, along with a 10-year prison sentence, for exercising his right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression.
“The public flogging outside a mosque in Jeddah each week for 20 weeks, with 50 lashes administered on each occasion, is a gross violation of human dignity, which I strongly denounce.
“Canada strongly upholds the fundamental freedoms of freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of association, among other inalienable human rights, as a basis on which society is established, thrives and progresses.
“The punishment being administered to Mr. Badawi is inhumane and is unbecoming of a society which seeks to advance itself within the family of nations. Such advancement must be predicated on respect for freedom of religion and other fundamental human rights. May clemency and mercy be shown in this case.”
“Jihadists have declared war, world must respond: Canada’s Harper,”
Julie Gordon, Reuters, January 8, 2015:
DELTA, British Columbia (Reuters) – The deadly attacks in Paris serve as a vivid reminder that jihadists are at war with those they disagree with, and the world must confront them, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Thursday. “The international jihadist movement has declared war. They have declared war on anybody who does not think and act exactly as they wish they’d think and act,” Harper told reporters when asked about Wednesday’s attack. “We may not like this and wish it would go away, but it’s not going to go away, and the reality is we are going to have to confront it.”…Harper said any doubts in Canada about the reality of threats posed by such extremists should have vanished on Oct. 22. That was the day when a radicalized Canadian gunman killed a soldier at the national war memorial and then stormed the Parliament building….Other manifestations of the threat posed by militant Islam in Canada included the case of the so-called “Toronto 18,” Harper said, referring to the 2006 arrests of a group of men charged with planning attacks on Toronto-area targets in a plot to get Canada to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Canada’s security agencies have been able to prevent most attacks by extremists from coming to fruition, Harper said. “But the fact of the matter is this recent development, the emergence of the so-called Islamic State, its sudden control of a vast territory with vast amounts of financial resources, has escalated this to a whole new global level,” he added.
Child Dies in Akkar, Schools to Stay Shut as Storm Brings Cold and Snow
Naharnet /The impact of Storm Zina continued to be felt across Lebanon on Thursday, as a cold snap brought unusually low temperatures to the coast and some mountainous towns remained cut off by snow. All public, private and vocational schools as well as nurseries will remain closed on Friday, the third consecutive day, at the request of the ministers of education and health. The storm also caused a new casualty overnight, with exposure to cold killing a two-month-old toddler in the Akkar town of Bebnin.
The parents of the girl Salam Jihad Burghol “brought her around 1:45 am to my house for examination and I determined that she died due to cardiac arrest,” the physician Kifah Kassar, who is also Bebnin's municipal chief, told the National News Agency.
“The death might be the result of cold and low temperatures but we cannot verify this in a scientific and accurate manner,” Kassar added. “When asked whether the child was ill or suffering from any disease, the parents said she was in good health and that she died suddenly. The weeping father said, 'This is what the storm did to us',” the doctor went on to say. Also in the Akkar district, the storm destroyed the ceiling of a farm owned by Abdul Qader Youssef al-Zohbi.
The collapse killed a large number of chickens at the farm, which is inhabited by a Syrian refugee family, according to the municipal chief of the town of Mashha. Meanwhile snow blanketed squares, balconies and gardens in the nearby town of Halba. “The scene was extraordinarily beautiful, especially that snow had not visited Halba in such intensity since more than 65 years,” NNA said. But snow also brought misery to some towns, with the municipal chief of Akkar's Kaftoun urging authorities, especially the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, to reopen the roads of the town which has been cut off since three days. In the afternoon, snow started falling again on Akkar, starting from the town of al-Bireh, which lies around 650 meters above sea level.
“Most mountainous roads in the Akkar district have been blocked by snow, with some residential neighborhoods and areas in Mount Akroum totally cut off,” NNA said. Also in the north, the storm wreaked havoc in the Zgharta region, uprooting advertising banners, tree branches and newly-planted pine trees. It also destroyed wooden huts at some farms and caused damage to crops. “The Bsharri region remained nearly cut off, although the snow storm has subsided, due to the poor and slow plowing of public roads, amid a power outage that started last Monday,” the agency added. In the northern region of Batroun, the thickness of the snow exceeded 70 centimeters in the town of Upper Tannourine. The area had witnessed snow at 500 meters above sea level in the morning.
Meanwhile, a thunderbolt hit the Mar Roukoz Church in the Batroun town of Mhamrash, causing damage to the electric wires, the hall and the electric generator. As for the south, heavy rains caused material damage in the Tyre region, with floodwater invading a number of shops in the town of Qana overnight and inflicting losses worth several thousands of dollars. The rain also damaged greenhouses and crops, especially at citrus and banana groves. Also in the south, bulldozers were not able to reopen all roads in the Shebaa region due to the thickness of the snow and the lack of enough vehicles, NNA said. The storm also cut off the Bekaa and North towns of Ham, Maaraboun, Jinta, Yahfoufa, Aynata and al-Arz, after the thickness of the snow reached more than 80 centimeters.
Ali Meets Berri, Says 'There Can't be Visas between Lebanon, Syria'
Naharnet/Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul Karim Ali denied Thursday that Syrians are now required to obtain visas to be able to enter Lebanon, reiterating his call for “coordination” between the two countries regarding border measures.
“There can't be visas between Syria and Lebanon,” Ali stressed after talks with Speaker Nabih Berri in Ain al-Tineh. Lebanon had on Monday begun imposing the entry restrictions on Syrians, including those fleeing their country's civil war. But Ali quoted Berri as saying that “this issue is merely a process to organize” the entry of Syrians. “It must be in coordination between the two countries, and Syria has always stressed the need for understanding and coordination,” Ali added. Berri and Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas had earlier stressed that the measures don't apply to Syrian refugees, noting that the procedures are limited to filling in a card that specifies the aim behind the visit of any Syrian and not a visa restriction. “The measures don't involve Syrians who hold a refugee cards and are registered by the U.N. refugee agency” UNHCR, Derbas said in comments published in As Safir newspaper on Thursday. He pointed out that Syrians only have to specify the aim behind their visit to Lebanon, denying that the new entry measures are racist.
“We want to reduce the influx of Syrians as the country can't handle anymore the social and economic burden imposed by the inflow,” Derbas told the daily. Berri's visitors quoted him as saying in comments published in Ad Diyar newspaper that the entry requirements are not a visa restriction but rather “a process to organize the entry of Syrians.” The speaker also stressed the importance of coordinating the matter with the Syrian state.
The entry restrictions are the first in the history of the two countries and come as Lebanon struggles to deal with more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees. The influx has tested the country's limited resources, as well as the patience of its citizens, particularly as security has deteriorated. For months, Lebanon's government has sounded the alarm, warning the international community that it could no longer deal with the influx. Starting October, the government said Lebanon would stop accepting displaced Syrians, with exceptions on humanitarian grounds only. A U.N. report said on Wednesday that Lebanon is hosting the largest number of new refugee arrivals between January and June 2014. UNHCR said Lebanon shot up from being the 69th largest refugee-hosting country to second largest within just three and a half years. Al-Joumhouria newspaper reported on Thursday that the new entry restrictions were highlighted during a meeting between head of the Lebanese-Syrian Higher Council Nasri Khoury and General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim. Khoury reportedly conveyed to Ibrahim the Syrian government's stance on the measures. The two officials also discussed the circumstances that prompted Lebanon to take such measures against Syrians. Syria's ambassador Ali has said his country understood the new rules, but urged "coordination" with Damascus. The new rules raise the prospect of Syrians being unable to flee the violence that has killed more than 200,000 people since March 2011.
Garbage Crisis Unresolved, Salam Declines to Schedule Another Session
Naharnet /The government failed anew on Thursday to reach a solution to the crisis of solid waste management, which prompted Prime Minister Tammam Salam to adjourn the cabinet session following an extensive yet unfruitful debate.
“The cabinet discussed the issue of solid waste and thoroughly discussed a report by the environment minister, but it was not able to reach a decision regarding this file and (Salam) decided to adjourn the session,” Information Minister Ramzi Jreij announced after a cabinet meeting at the Grand Serail. Salam for his part stressed that he “will not schedule another session unless a solution is found for the garbage crisis.” The dispute over the file has taken a political turn, with Environment Minister Mohammed al-Mashnouq and the Kataeb Party's ministers demanding a “technical” extension of the the Naameh landfill's operations and the Progressive Socialist Party's ministers rejecting such a move. The government's contract with the Sukleen firm on dumping waste in the aforementioned landfill will end on January 17. And as Mashnouq has demanded a brief grace period to conduct new tenders, Naameh's residents are rejecting any extension of the landfill's operations, citing major environmental and health risks.
Amid the presidential vacuum that started on May 25, any cabinet decree requires the signatures of all the ministers of the 24-member cabinet. “We insisted on the closure of the Naameh landfill on the set date and refused any extension. There is no solution looming on the horizon and we're heading towards a major crisis,” Health Minister Wael Abou Faour of the PSP announced after the session.
His remarks poured cold water on the hopes of the environment minister, who had announced before the meeting that PSP chief Walid Jumblat “would not oppose extending the Naameh landfill's operations should he sense seriousness in addressing the issue.”
Prior to the session, media reports quoted Economy Minister Alain Hakim -- who represents Kataeb -- as saying that “everyone knows by now that Jumblat owns a company that is ready to start managing waste,” claims that were swiftly denied by the minister. “If the waste management file was not approved today, the cabinet must be dumped at the Naameh landfill!” State Minister for Administrative Development Nabil De Freij announced ahead of the session.
Separetly, Jreij declared that “as in every session, Salam called for the election of a new president.”The cabinet also expressed “grief” over the bloody Paris attack on the offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which left 12 people dead on Wednesday.
“The council of ministers expressed its grief over the Paris crime, declaring the solidarity of Lebanon's government and people with France -- the pioneer of freedoms, topped by the freedom of journalism -- which has always stood by Lebanon,” Jreij said.
Report: FPM-LF Exchange Messages on Lebanon Stability, Taef
Naharnet/ Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces included issues linked to stability in Lebanon and the flaws in the implementation of the Taef Accord, An Nahar daily reported on Thursday. LF leader Samir Geagea revealed during a press conference on Wednesday that both sides have exchanged the messages ahead of his expected talks with his rival, FPM chief MP Michel Aoun. Geagea, a presidential candidate, spoke after MPs failed in a new round of elections to find a successor to President Michel Suleiman, whose term ended in May. The MPs of the Change and Reform bloc of Aoun - also a candidate - and the majority of the lawmakers in the Hizbullah-led March 8 alliance have boycotted the electoral sessions, causing a lack of quorum. An Nahar said that the FPM-LF messages included replies to the fears expressed by each party on the fate of the state, stability, the flaws in the implementation of the Taef Agreement in constitutional institutions and the representation of Christians.Other issues tackled by the two sides included the repercussions of the Syrian civil war on Lebanon and the proliferation of illegitimate weapons, said the newspaper. According to An Nahar, Change and Reform MP Ibrahim Kanaan and LF official Melhem Riachi, who are setting the stage for the talks between Aoun and Geagea, have briefed the two officials on the content of the messages. Kanaan told the daily that the next few days could witness a positive development on their joint working paper.He refused to give further details. But sources expected the Aoun-Geagea dialogue to take place mid next week.
The Significance of Sisi’s Speech
By Raymond Ibrahim /January 7, 2015
On New Year’s Day, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi—the hero of Egypt’s 2013 anti-Muslim Brotherhood revolution—made some remarkable comments concerning the need for a “religious revolution.”
Watch the video below or click here to read the excerpt:
Sisi made his remarks during a speech celebrating the birth of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad—which was ironically held on January 1, 2015 (a day not acknowledged or celebrated in the Muslim world as it is based on a Christian calendar)—and he was addressing the nation’s top Islamic authorities from among the Awqaf Ministry (religious endowments) and Al Azhar University.
Although Sisi’s words were directed to Islam’s guardians and articulators, they indirectly lead to several important lessons for Western observers.
First, in just a few words, Sisi delivered a dose of truth and hard-hitting reality concerning the Islamic world’s relationship to the rest of the world—a dose of reality very few Western leaders dare think let alone proclaim.
“It’s inconceivable,” he said, “that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible!”
What a refreshingly honest statement to come from not only a political leader but a Muslim political leader who has much to lose, not least his life! Contrast his very true words with the habitual reassurances of the Western establishment that Islamic world violence and intolerance is a product of anything and everything but Islam.
Even after the appearance of the head-chopping, infidel-crucifying Islamic State, politicians like U.S. President Obama and U.K. Prime Minister Cameron insisted that the “caliphate” is not Islamic, despite all the evidence otherwise. Yet here is Sisi, the pious Muslim, saying that the majority of the terrorism plaguing the world today is related to the holy texts of Islam themselves:
That thinking [that is responsible for producing “anxiety, danger, killing and destruction” around the world]—I am not saying “religion” but “thinking”—that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the centuries, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world!
As a Muslim, Sisi will not say that Islam, the “religion,” is responsible for “antagonizing the entire world,” but he certainly goes much further than his Western counterparts when he says that this “thinking” is rooted in an Islamic “corpus of texts and ideas” which have become so “sacralized.”
Recall that here in the West, Islamic terrorists are seen as mere “criminals” and their terrorism as “crimes” without mention of any Islamic text or ideology driving them.
The Egyptian president further invoked the classical Islamic teaching—the “thinking”—that divides the world into two warring halves: the Muslim world (or in Islamic/Arabic parlance, Dar al-Islam) which must forever be in a struggle with the rest of the world (or Dar al-Harb, the “abode of war”) till, in the Koran’s words, “all religion belongs to Allah” (Koran 8:39).
“Is it possible,” asked Sisi, “that 1.6 billion people should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live?”
Sisi made another important point that Western leaders and media habitually lie about: after affirming that Islamic “thinking” is “antagonizing the entire world,” he said that “this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.”
In other words, Islamic terrorism and chaos is not a product of grievance, territorial disputes, colonialism, Israel, offensive cartoons, or anything else the West points to. It’s a product of their “own hands.”
Again, one must appreciate how refreshing it is for a top political leader in the heart of the Islamic world to make such candid admissions that his Western counterparts dare not even think let alone speak. And bear in mind, Sisi has much to lose as opposed to Western politicians. Calls by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists that he is an apostate are sure to grow more aggressive now.
The critic may ask, “All well and good, but words aside, what has Sisi actually done to help bring about this “religious revolution”? In fact, one popular journalist, Ibrahim Eissa, recently said just this on live television in Egypt:
Five months have passed since he [Sisi] became president, after his amazing showing at elections. Okay: the president has, more than once, indicated the need for a renewal of religious discourse…. But he has not done a single thing, President Sisi, to renew religious discourse. Nothing at all.
Yet it seems that Sisi has an answer for this, too: it is not his job as president of Egypt to reform the thinking of the Islamic world; rather, that role belongs to the ulema—which is precisely why he addressed them with such candid words. Indeed, he repeatedly stressed that it is the ulema’s job to lead this “religious revolution.”
Thus, “I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move…. I am saying these words here at Al Azhar, before this assembly of scholars and ulema—Allah Almighty be witness to your truth on Judgment Day concerning that which I’m talking about now.”
Meanwhile, while Sisi was making these groundbreaking if not historic statements, the Western mainstream media, true to form, ignored them and instead offered puerile and redundant headlines, most critical of Sisi, like:
“Egypt President Sisi urged to free al-Jazeera reporter” (BBC, Jan 1; to which I respond, “Why, so Al Jazeera can continue lying and misleading the West about Sisi and Egypt’s anti-Muslim Brotherhood revolution?”)
“Egyptian gays living in fear under Sisi regime” (USA Today, Jan. 2; to which I respond, “Homosexuals live in fear in all Islamic nations, regardless of Sisi.”)
“George Clooney’s wife Amal risks arrest in Egypt” (Fox News, Jan. 3; to which I respond, “Who cares? Only her innocence or guilt matter, not her husband’s fame”—which is the only reason Fox News chose the story in the first place.)
Whether concerning the true nature of Islam or the true nature of Sisi, here is the latest example of how unfathomably ignorant all those millions of people who exclusively follow the so-called “mainstream media” must surely be.
Mideast expert, Dr. Walid Phares: World will see ‘more widespread jihadi attacks’
Jan 7, 2015
Greg Corombos/ 07.01.15
Masked Islamic terrorists killed 12 people in Paris on Wednesday in a brazen attack that terrorist expert Walid Phares believes amounts to war, and he said those trying to distance the killers from any connection to Islam are doing the world a great disservice.
On Wednesday, heavily armed and masked gunmen stormed into the offices of the satirical French magazine Charlie Hedbo, asked for victims by name and murdered 10 of them while wounding many others. The terrorists also killed two police officers on the street outside the magazine’s offices.
Phares, who is also an adviser to Congress on the Middle East and terrorism, said the details of this attack chill him even more than the hostage crisis that played out in Australia last month. “The more worrisome kind of act that we saw today, which is the crossing of a benchmark or a red line, is a military-style attack. This is a team of four. They acted two-by-two, according to reports, and they executed a military mission, using for the first time not just machine guns but also [rocket-propelled grenades]. This is Paris. This is not Baghdad or Mosul, and things have changed,” said Phares, who urges the West to understand how the radicals view this fight.
“What we saw today is war,” Phares said. “This is not people who are offended by an issue anymore. This is a cold-blooded operation that killed many top French artists. This is an intimidation. This is a unilateral action taken not in reaction, because those cartoons were published a long time ago. The majority of those who protested, protested on the street. So people need to make a distinction between what is terrorism and what is a protest.”
The Paris terrorist attacks come less than a month after the Sydney hostage standoff and the terrorist massacre of scores of students at a school in Pakistan. Phares said the world will likely see many more of these targeted attacks that are harder for intelligence efforts to detect.
“We have been seeing, and will unfortunately be seeing, more widespread jihadi attacks of various kinds,” he said.
Phares is also denouncing the response by some media outlets to suggest the staff of Charlie Hebdo should have expected such a response following the publication of Muhammad cartoons years ago, and he is also critical of outlets scrubbing their archives of images that may be offensive to Muslims or adherents of any other religion. He said history proves that self-censorship in the hopes of appeasing enemies does not work.
“These are the absolute wrong moves,” Phares said. “We’ve seen in the late ’20s and ’30s how concession after concession, the National Socialists, the Fascists – and the Bolsheviks in the ’50s – would demand concession after concession, that this would be hurtful to German nationalism or Italian nationalism. This is how they built their totalitarian web.”
Political and media figures also fueled controversy on Wednesday by refusing to attach a motive to the attacks, even as they reported that the terrorists were shouting “Allahu Akbar” and that they had avenged Muhammad. Again, Phares said denying obvious connections only pushes the world further away from addressing the root cause of these sorts of attacks.
“I fully understand that we need to make a distinction between a religion, members of that religion and this ideological group, but this immediate rush toward making that distinction and saying Islam has to do or nothing to do with it, this is a theological debate. It has nothing to do with the debate about this movement,” he said. “I feel that by rushing to the other direction, we forget to identify and condemn and isolate an ideology.”
India, Pakistan on the Brink, Again
Tarek FatahظThe Toronto Sun
January 8, 2015
The crew of a Pakistani vessel suspected of carrying terrorists set the ship ablaze after being intercepted by the Indian coast guard.
During the holiday season, while North American media obsessed over North Korea's alleged hacking of Sony Corporation and dressed it up as a major international incident, a far more serious confrontation between two other nuclear powers escaped their attention.
While sanctions on North Korea grabbed headlines, few of us were aware of the rising tensions between India and Pakistan that could have far-reaching consequences for us in the West.
On New Year's Eve, as people partied around the globe, a naval incident was unfolding in the Arabian Sea, some 365 km off the Indian city of Porbander.
India's defence ministry would later disclose in a statement that its coast guard ships and aircraft had intercepted a "suspect" Pakistani fishing boat after Indian intelligence tracked the vessel as it left port near Karachi.
Fishing boats that cross into the other country's waters are regularly impounded by both India and Pakistan, but this boat was hundreds of miles into international waters when the Indians started giving chase.
Instead of stopping and allowing the Indian Coast Guard officials to board the boat, the Pakistani vessel tried to escape. This resulted in an hour-long chase that reportedly only ended when the four "fishermen" set their vessel on fire before blowing themselves up. The Indian Coast Guard released a video of the boat exploding in a huge ball of fire.
"I can assure you that those on the boat were not smugglers. The boat was blown up and only people who are motivated and trained could commit suicide."
Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar
India's Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar claimed the boat was carrying "suspected terrorists" who were "in touch with the Pakistan Army and the Pakistani establishment."
After the Indian Express newspaper and the opposition Congress suggested the men on the boat were smugglers, not terrorists, Parrikar asserted: "I can assure you that those on the boat were not smugglers. The boat was blown up and only people who are motivated and trained could commit suicide."
For its part, Pakistan strongly rejected Indian allegations the boat was on a terror mission, calling the charges "baseless and preposterous".
A Foreign Office spokesperson in Islamabad repeated the now familiar Pakistan refrain that, "Pakistan is opposed to terrorism in all forms and manifestation and has been the biggest victim of terrorism."
The alleged "terror boat" journey was eerily similar to one undertaken by another group of Pakistani terrorists in their 2008 attack on Mumbai.
Seen in the context of Pakistan blaming India for the recent Taliban massacre of students at an army school in Peshawar, could the boat have been part of a reprisal terror attack gone bad?
On Feb. 21 last year, the former head of India's Intelligence Bureau, who has now taken over as Prime Minister Narendra Modi's national security adviser, uttered a sentence at a speech on India-Pakistan relations that may indicate the seriousness of the current crisis. Ajit Kumar Doval told an audience at a lecture on the "Strategic Response to Terrorism" at an Indian university: "You can do one (more) Mumbai; you may lose Balochistan."
Balochistan is Pakistan's largest province where there is a guerrilla war for independence from Islamabad. It sits at the mouth of the Straits of Hormuz from where much of the world's oil supplies are exported.
If Doval is right, the next war between India and Pakistan will be fought over Balochistan and may involve Islamabad authorizing the "first use" of tactical nuclear weapons.
The Porbander boat incident may very well become the Gulf of Tonkin incident that more than 50 years ago triggered the Vietnam war.
**Tarek Fatah is a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, a columnist at the Toronto Sun, host of a Sunday afternoon talk show on Toronto's NewsTalk1010 AM Radio, and a Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is the author of two award-winning books: Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and The Jew is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism.
Lebanon the militia state
Tony Badran/Now Lebanon
In Baghdad as in Beirut, the US has consented to this pro-Iranian set-up under the pretext of combating terrorism
During his recent visit to Beirut, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Matthew Spence reportedly told Lebanese officials that “the war on terror has created a new reality, which has allowed the state to expand its influence at the expense of Hezbollah’s influence.” This contention is becoming something of a conventional wisdom. Lebanese MP Bassem Shabb made the same case in a recent article. The truth, however, is that Hezbollah has broken down the state and all its institutions.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the case of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) soldiers held by Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria. Last week, after Qatar withdrew its mediation effort to release of the soldiers, the Association of Muslim Scholars stepped into its place. However, its efforts were immediately sabotaged when none other than the LAF Directorate of Intelligence (DI), which is very close to Hezbollah, apprehended the sister-in-law of a commander of a franchise of the Islamic State (ISIS), exacerbating an already tense situation. This effectively killed the Association’s mediation efforts. This begs the question: why would the DI seek to undermine efforts to release fellow LAF soldiers? The answer is that Hezbollah, which dominates the state, has other ideas.
From the beginning of the episode, Hezbollah has made it clear that it opposes a government-negotiated release of the captives — even as it has pursued that course of action itself to secure the release of one of its fighters. Instead, it has pushed for escalation and for the LAF to enter into open confrontation with Syrian rebel groups.
Back in September, not long after the soldiers were captured, Hezbollah mouthpiece Ibrahim al-Amin penned an editorial that laid out the group’s objectives. Amin pushed two themes: the LAF should launch a wide-ranging war against the Syrian armed groups in Arsal and elsewhere. But, he reasoned, the LAF is not capable of prosecuting such a war by itself, and as such needs to work hand-in-hand with the Syrian regime and Hezbollah.
Since then, Hezbollah, its allies and affiliated media have hammered incessantly on these two talking points. Since the US announced the coalition to fight ISIS, it’s been a constant refrain of the Iranian camp that the Assad regime should be an interlocutor, if not a member, of the coalition.
Jamil al-Sayyed, one of the Assad regime’s most notorious henchmen in Lebanon, offered the latest installment in this thread. In an interview on Monday, Sayyed revealed that the Assad regime had proposed giving the armed factions in Qalamoun safe passage to the Syrian interior in return for the release of the captive soldiers. This corridor would be under the supervision of the UN, and, Sayyed added, the LAF would be given Saudi and American cover “to close the open wound between Lebanon and Syria,” in reference to Arsal and its hinterland into Qalamoun.
In other words, the Assad regime, like Hezbollah, wants to piggyback on the LAF. Assad understands that the LAF enjoys full US backing, so if he can’t get into the room with the Americans through the front door, he’ll try to sneak in through the LAF’s window.
Assad’s gambit didn’t work. Hezbollah’s game with the LAF, however, continues. For one, the Shiite militia has more or less successfully pushed the LAF into its war with the Syrian rebels. Last week, the LAF shelled Arsal’s outback and blocked most roads to the area. And while the Army command talks with bravado about going after terrorists, the LAF, and the DI in particular, have been rampaging against Syrian refugee camps and arresting people left and right, often keeping them in unlawful detention.
For Hezbollah, the fate of the soldiers matters little. The situation represents an opportunity it is utilizing to the fullest. It opens a way to keep the Sunnis in a corner, having to sit and watch Hezbollah work hand in glove with the LAF but unable to speak against the LAF, lest they are accused of supporting terrorism.
For its part, the LAF is playing along willfully. The thing is — the LAF knows it can get away with all this because of the international, specifically American, support it enjoys as a partner in the fight against terrorism. It can have it both ways: it can do Hezbollah’s bidding and still get international support, without worrying about pushback from the Sunni political establishment.
And so, Spence's reported admonition that “the LAF cannot deal with Hezbollah as a partner,” is disingenuous. The Obama administration knows full well that that’s precisely the reality in Lebanon, just as it knows it to be the case in Iraq with the Shiite militias and the Iraqi Security Forces. In Baghdad as in Beirut, the US has consented to this pro-Iranian set-up under the pretext of combating terrorism.
The LAF is not safeguarding the expansion of state authority at Hezbollah’s expense. If anything, it is servicing what NOW colleague Elie Fawaz has dubbed “the militia state.” As it pursues rapprochement with Iran, the Obama White House is effectively sanctioning this model of state institutions, namely national armies and security forces, integrated with Iranian-run militias.
**Tony Badran is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He tweets @AcrossTheBay.
Police officer killed in second terror
attack in Paris. Elite French unit preparing operation
DEBKAfile Special Report January 8, 2015
A female police officer, one of two shot in the second terror attack in Paris, Thursday, Jan. 8, has died after being shot in the back in the Malakoff district. There were two gunmen – one seen with an assault rifle and a bullet-proof vest Police captured one shooter, the second escaped – one witness said he fled into the Metro and disappeared on a train, another that he was picked up by a car. He is still at large along with the two Islamist killers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, who shot dead 12 people at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris Wednesday. Unnamed sources say the brothers have been located in northern France, reported refueling their car at a gas pump. Elite French police unit in full combat gear is seen preparing for an operation.
Somber crowds massed in the Place de la Republique at midday for a one minute of silence in tribute to the murdered journalists and police officers.
We reported earlier that the youngest of three French nationals being sought by police for magazine massacre, turned himself in to the police, an official at the Paris prosecutor's office said. French police were still in a huge manhunt for two of the attackers who escaped by car after shooting dead some of France's top cartoonists as well as two police officers, amid fears of further attacks. They were quickly identified by an identity card left in the getaway car, as two Paris-born brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, of Algerian origin aged 34 and 32. Cherif was part of an Iraqi jihadi network dismantled in Paris and served 18 months in prison on terror charges in May 2008. The two returned from Syria in summer. The third, Hamyd Mourad, 18, is of no fixed abode or known nationality, turned himself in after seeing is name in social media.
Other arrests are taking place in circles linked to the two brothers.
Police published pictures of the two brothers Thursday morning calling for witnesses and describing the two men as "armed and dangerous."
During the attack, one of the assailants was captured on video outside the building shouting "Allahu Akbar!" (God is Greatest) as shots rang out. Another walked over to a police officer lying wounded on the street and shot him point-blank with an AK-47 assault rifle before the two calmly climbed into a black car and drove off.
The third man was not seen in any of the footage and it was not clear if he was directly involved in the attack.
A further four wounded victims are still fighting for their lives.
Tens of thousands joined impromptu rallies across France in memory of the victims and to support freedom of expression. There was no claim of responsibility. However, a witness quoted by 20 Minutes daily newspaper said one of the assailants cried out before getting into his car: "Tell the media that it is al Qaeda in Yemen!"
debkafile reported on Jan. 7 after the attack:
The heavily armed Islamist gunmen who murdered 12 people including police officers at the satirical Charlie Hebdo magazine in central Paris Wednesday, Jan. 7, got clear away and are feared by French and other European security agencies to be seeking out more targets. They are on the loose with AK-47 assault guns, a supply of ammo, and possibly a grenade launcher. Another 10 people were injured, 5 critically.
France has raised its terror alert to its highest level as it launches a massive manhunt for three killers. Its European neighbors have also taken precautions.
This act of terror raised a whole new set of concerns. The gunmen conducted themselves in the calm, deliberate manner of trained professional soldiers, rather than crazed suicidal jihadis. Their combat experience was evident, whether from fighting in the Islamic State’s battles in Iraq and Syria or other Islamist arenas.
Three years ago, Charlie Hebdo ran cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad and in the current New Year, poked fun at ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
French security authorities infer that the terrorists, dressed in black and masked, were gunning for predetermined targets from the fact that they carried lists and asked for their targets by name when they passed through the corridors of the magazine building. They then shot the journalists on their list with cold-blooded precision.
According to one unconfirmed report, the Charlie Hebdo editor and lead cartoonist were among the victims.
Another Arab country is slipping into
Osman Mirghani/Asharq Al Awsat
Thursday, 8 Jan, 2015
On September 25, 2014 Asharq Al-Awsat published my article, “The Costly Neglect of Libya,” which dealt with the deteriorating situation in that country and the absence of coordinated and effective steps on the part of the Arab world and the international community to stop the fighting and help it recover from its ordeal. Today, more than three months later, nothing seems to have changed, apart from things going from bad to worse. Many believe that Libya has completely collapsed, and that, even if no “caliphate” similar to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) has been declared yet, there are several different groups in control of large swaths of the country and its basic facilities and sources of national wealth. These groups have taken advantage of the climate of chaos, Libya’s sheer size and harsh terrain, and the proliferation of large quantities of sophisticated weapons captured from the army’s arsenals and Muammar Gaddafi’s battalions in the wake of the fall of his regime.
Libya today is not a country contested between the elected parliament that has taken refuge in Tobruk on the one hand, and the General National Congress (GNC), backed by Islamist militias and its allies in Tripoli, on the other. It is a state over which battling different militias with different allegiances, parties with tribal and factional tendencies, as well as groups motivated by internal and external calculations, are fighting. The longer this drags on, the more complex the crisis will become and the more difficult it will be to solve, making Libya a failed state like Somalia, which has been disintegrating since the fall of Siad Barre’s regime in 1991.
In the face of the deteriorating situation, attempts by fellow Arab states and the international community to deal with the crisis have been characterized by impotence. A few days ago, the UN mission to Libya postponed until further notice a round of talks between rivals which was scheduled to take place this week. The UN said the head of the mission will continue consultations to agree on the time and place of the meeting. Holding such a meeting will be a tough task given the multiple political parties in Libya and the wide gap between their positions. The UN knows it is in no position to put pressure on Libya’s factions, who are well aware that the international community has neither the desire nor the ability to intervene militarily to force a solution on them. Since NATO’s intervention in Libya to topple Gaddafi, the North African country was left to drown in chaos, joining the list of Arab countries destroyed by internal conflict.
In any case, an international intervention in Libya remains an undesirable option. First, it may add fuel to the raging fire and thus provide a fertile ground for jihadist organizations looking for an environment in which to grow. Secondly, previous cases of intervention in the region have mostly led to terrible disasters, complicating crises instead of solving them. There are several examples of this. With the postponement of the dialogue called for by the UN, the Arab League held an emergency meeting to discuss the deteriorating situation in Libya, but the meeting did not offer anything other than the usual statements expressing concern, denouncing violence and emphasizing solidarity with the people, without taking practical steps to help the country overcome its ordeal. Testifying to the state of Arab impotence, the Arab League Council contented itself with expressing its appreciation of the efforts of the neighboring countries and the UN envoy to Libya while announcing its support of the UN endeavors, instead of reaching a solution.
What remains puzzling, however, is that the Arab League, shackled by an ancient charter, repeats every time a crisis hits the region a statement which has become familiar, confirming the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the troubled countries, and rejecting interference in their internal affairs. At the same time, it supports the efforts of the UN to intervene, mediate and hold dialogues. How can one reject international interference aimed at rescuing an Arab country while supporting and backing the UN when it attempts to intervene?
The answer is well-known: inter-Arab differences are crippling the Arab League, making its meetings an arena for delivering speeches and bickering, and rendering its statements meaningless rhetoric. Unless the wider Arab situation changes, the Arab League itself cannot be blamed for this since it is nothing but a mirror of the Arab world’s status quo. Hence the emergency meeting’s failure to offer a roadmap to solve the deteriorating situation in Libya, or agree a common position on the demands of the Tobruk-based government for immediate intervention to protect state institutions and facilities from militias. Approval of such a demand means sending troops, which is almost impossible in the light of the current situation. Nevertheless, the Arab League’s charter in the past did not prohibit sending Arab peacekeepers to member states. Nor did it stand in the way of Arab intervention to compel parties to enter into dialogue. Today all that the Arab League has to offer is statements, while another Arab country is lost.
President Francois Hollande, who arrived on the scene within minutes, commented that “40 people were saved.” They were evidently saved because they did not appear on the gunmen’s death list.
debkafile’s counter-terror sources note that this attack was the first instance in the war of terror, that Islamists murdered Western journalists for their views on religion in the heart of a West European capital.
Shouting "Allahu Akhbar!" and “We have avenged the Prophet’s honor!” theyleft the building and sped past a police force in the street, shooting accurately at the windscreens of their vehicles. They then jumped into a black getaway car which stood waiting with open doors. A short while later, they stole another vehicle and switched cars.
The president called an emergency cabinet meeting shortly after the attack. Our sources note that although French security and intelligence services have maintained a high terror alert for the past month after a series of incidents against Jewish targets, they failed to predict or forestall one of the most spectacular Islamic attacks seen in Europe in recent years.
Religious extremists are the real enemy of Germany’s Muslims
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Alawsat
Thursday, 8 Jan, 2015
It is not difficult to sum up the situation in Germany: there are bad Muslims and bad Germans. The 18,000 Germans who took to the streets of Dresden against what they dubbed the “Islamization of Germany” include racists as well as people angered by the heinous and ugly political acts committed by Muslims across the world. Among these Germans are those who blame others for the difficult economic situation they find themselves in, specifically the influx of foreigners which has led to competition over jobs and benefits.
Germany itself is home to some Muslim religious and political extremists who have distorted the image of the rest of the 3 million Muslims who live peacefully in Germany. Muslim extremists in Germany are more dangerous and harmful to Muslims than angry, racist and fascist Germans. Germany is a tolerant, secular and civil state that has 2,500 mosques. Its regulations, courts and executive institutions protect the Muslim community from racist groups. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned the anti-Islam protests as a detestable act. The justice minister also led a protest against racists in the same square as the anti-Islam rally.
Arabs make up a small minority of Muslims in Germany. Moroccans, who rank fourth after the Turks, Bosnians and Iranians, account for 80,000 persons. Those of Lebanese origin rank sixth with just 50,000 immigrants.
The talk about the Islamization of Germany is nothing more than a silly scarecrow. After all, Muslims are a small minority, and it is said that the number of Germans who converted to Islam comes in at 100,000, which is a small number considering the country’s population of 80 million. Most of those who converted most likely did so following mixed marriages and not due to preaching. Muslims have been persecuted following the damage to their image and that of their religion. This has occurred ever since Al-Qaeda surfaced and also due to the massive propaganda of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which made headlines with violent practices such as the beheading of Western hostages.
The 3 million Muslims residing in Germany cannot do much to defend their image because the Islamic region is rife with awful images and news which is used by racists to incite people against Islam and against peaceful Muslims who live in the West and other countries. What is always worth a shot, by Germany’s Muslims and other Germans, is directing their anger towards Muslim extremists, expelling them from their communities and distancing them from their schools and children. Fighting Muslim extremists in Germany is more important to Muslims than fighting German racists whom the state will deal with and punish. Perhaps the state will roll up its sleeves and also fight Muslim extremists as it is not possible—and unacceptable—that the war only be waged against racists while overlooking extremist Muslims. Those extremist Muslims exploit the tolerance and civil rights granted to them as members of society in order to market a culture of hatred, incite violence against followers of other religions, and seek to control Muslim schools, mosques and charity and humanitarian institutions.
This stance does not protect Germany from the alleged Islamization but it saves Muslims from the rotten apples among them and from those who sabotage their communities, destroy them, or impose their extremist ideology on their people. Those who deserve freedom in civil societies are those individuals who respect freedom and not those who exploit it to serve their own interests.
On those who seek to justify the Paris attack
Thursday, 8 January 2015
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
There’s no difference between those who killed youths of the Syrian al-Sheitaat tribe, those who enslaved Iraqi Yazidi women, those who killed Saudi border guards a few days ago and those who killed the Charlie Hebdo journalists in Paris. The perpetrators are the same as extremism and extremists come from among us, from among Muslims. The source of the crime is the same across the board, even if the crime scenes are different.
We are going through a major ordeal. This is the beginning of a torrent of violence rooted in rhetoric and capable terrorist organizations. We may even witness crimes that are bloodier than the daily practices of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the al-Nusra Front.
“Paris is yet another target of the same ideology, violence and media wrought havoc that mires our region from Iraq to Syria”
We don’t need to blame murderers because they are terrorists whose plans and hostility against the world are clear. However, we do blame those who justify these terrorists’ crimes and who try to mislead Muslims with lies and excuses. Some people have even written in defense of the heinous crime of murdering French journalists which shocked the world. What sort of ignorant man can think that a government conspires to kill its own citizens in order to serve a foreign plot? What nonsense and ignorance can make some of us descend to this level of justifying the murder of fellow journalists?
Condemning these acts
Apologists of killers provide cover and legitimacy for terrorists at a time when we are all supposed to be at the forefront of those condemning these acts. Those defending terrorists must realize the severity of the crimes which they are committing. These actions and similar ones over the years have secured for terrorism a base in our region. Their sin is no less grave than the crimes of ISIS and al-Qaeda whom they have long praised. They have misled millions of people by presenting terrorist groups as defenders of the rights and existence of the Muslim diaspora. Paris is yet another target of the same ideology, violence and media wrought havoc that mires our region from Iraq to Syria, Yemen to Somalia and Libya, and before that in Riyadh, New York and even Doha. No Arab capital was spared this evil which is the natural result of extremist religious thinking and misleading media reporting. It’s because of them that our region remains incapable of exiting this tunnel of terrorism which has now become a threat to the whole world. The threat of Islamic extremism has grown; it is now larger than attempts to justify it or remain silent over it. It has become the biggest threat to the world’s stability and today it’s the only cause which unites superpower countries, from China to Russia to the U.S. to Europe, against it. Considering the spread of this Islamic extremist threat, these countries will not keep silent when this disease of terrorism reaches their soil and they won’t accept ignorant justifications or statements bragging about what happened in Paris and other countries.
Vive la liberté!
Thursday, 8 January 2015
Faisal J. Abbas/Al Arabiya
By all standards, the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo was an atrocious crime not just against France, and freedom of expression, but against Islam itself.
Indeed, such acts done in the name of Islam are, ironically, the worst disservice that could ever be done to the religion and its followers; the majority of whom don’t subscribe to the practices and violent acts of the likes of ISIS and al-Qaeda.
Looking back at the recent history and awful events such as New York’s 911 attacks, London’s 7/7 bombings and what happened in Paris yesterday, one can’t help but to feel sorry that we – Muslims – have become our own worst enemy.
It is surreal that such acts, committed in the name of Islam by the likes of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda, have done more to harm the religion and its followers than any damage that anyone else could have possibly inflicted upon us.
“Such acts done in the name of Islam are, ironically, the worst disservice that could ever be done to the religion and its followers”
What upsets one the most is the disgraceful arguments still being made in defense of such crimes, particularly when it comes to the Charlie Hebdo incident where some argue that the helpless editors and cartoonists deserved what they got because they insulted Islam and its symbols.
Such arguments are simply absurd! I am not sure what religion the perpetrators follow, but if it is Islam then I ask why they cherry-pick the parts that only justify their offences and forget the fact that the Prophet Mohammad’s life was full of examples were he forgave those who threw stones at him, insulted him, took his belongings and tortured and killed his followers?
Furthermore, what have the perpetrators achieved? If anything, they led to thousands of people accessing and sharing the cartoons which they found offensive and dozens of newspapers around the world re-publishing them. As such, they actually help spread the very same material which they were trying to suppress.
“I am not sure what religion the perpetrators follow, but if it is Islam then I ask why they cherry-pick the parts that only justify their offences”
On that note, it is definitely worth remembering that Islam – the religion that once built a great civilization and brought enlightenment, science and arts to the modern world – shouldn’t be allowed by people who really care for it to seem like it can be shaken or disturbed by a mere cartoon.
The truth is we allowed Islam to be hijacked by a bunch of cowards. If the perpetrators behind the Charlie Hebdo attack were really concerned about Islam and its icons, then perhaps their priority is to look at the acts of the likes of Osama bin Laden and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi which allowed others to mock us in the first place!
In a recent cartoon published by Charlie Hebdo, a sword-wielding ISIS fighter shouting “Die, infidel!” is attempting to decapitate a man who looks puzzled - as he claims he is in fact the Prophet Mohammad!
Whether or not this cartoon is actually blasphemous, it really does hit the nail on the head when it comes to depicting the mentality of ISIS. And what is certainly ironic is that if the beloved Prophet Mohammad was to return today with all the tolerance, forgiveness and fairness he preached; he would probably be denounced by the very same radical people who committed yesterday’s crime in his name.