February 1/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 6,1-6. He departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.
When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, "Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house."So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.He was amazed at their lack of faith. He went around to the villages in the vicinity teaching.

Free Opinions
Hezbollah: Iran's Proxy in Lebanon. By: Elias Bejjani-FrontPage - 01.02.07

Latest News Reports From miscellaneous sources For 1/02/07
Bishops to re-launch their initiative for an agreement between
Moussa to Return to Beirut Early February-Naharnet
6,000 Lebanese Troops Assigned to Maintain Peace in Beirut-Naharnet
Abu Faour Discloses Syrian Conditions banning a Settlement to the Lebanese Crisis-Naharnet
Saniora Welcomes Nasrallah Call for Settlement-Naharnet
Journalists Held in Hariri Murder Case Bailed Out-Naharnet
March 14 Alliance Wants an End to 'Occupation' of Downtown Beirut-Naharnet

British police arrest nine terror suspects-AP
On status and youth-Ha'aretz
Blow back in Lebanon-Middle East Online
Hezbollah's star on the wane?MWC News
Bush supports Lebanon government-Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Bush seeks civil war in Lebanon, Shias told-The Herald

Latest News Reports From the Daily Star For 1/02/07
Injecting sense into the terrorism debate-By Rami G. Khouri
Conditions are right for Moussa to get Lebanon's leaders to start leading
Bush takes swipe at Iran, Syria, Hizbullah
Nasrallah warns of plot to foment civil war
Paris III includes something for private sector, too
Fadlallah urges Islamic unity during Ashoura
Spooked Beirutis fear new 'balloon-borne' Israeli plot

Nine nabbed in Britain on terror charges
By ROB HARRIS, Associated Press Writer
BIRMINGHAM, England - Counterterrorism police arrested nine men in an alleged kidnapping plot Wednesday — a plan that reportedly involved torturing and beheading a British Muslim soldier and broadcasting the killing on the Internet. The kidnapping plot was the first of its kind to be uncovered in Britain, according to counterterrorism officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.Police would not confirm the potential victim's occupation or details of the plot that was unraveled in the predominantly Pakistani neighborhood in central England. A dozen houses and two Islamic bookshops were cordoned off and being searched. Since suicide bombers killed 52 people in London on July 7, 2005 — killings carried out by Muslim extremists who grew up in Britain — counterterrorism units have conducted several raids across Britain. Several sweeps have been conducted in Birmingham, including a raid in August, when suspects were arrested in a major plot to use liquid explosives to blow up at least 10 planes between the United States and Britain. The potential victim of the latest plot — a British Muslim soldier — was under police protection, Sky News reported, saying the kidnapping was going to end in an " Iraq-style" execution. The British Broadcasting Corp. also reported that the plan was to kidnap a soldier. "The threat of terrorism has been growing over the years," said David Shaw, a police spokesman in Birmingham. The operation took months. Birmingham is the hometown of Britain's first Muslim soldier to be killed in Afghanistan last year — a death that prompted militant Islamist Web sites to denounce Cpl. Jabron Hashmi, 24, as a traitor. One site — that of extremist British sect al-Ghurabaa — posted an image of the soldier surrounded by flames.
Last year, a London street vendor was sentenced to six years in prison in a plot to kill a decorated British soldier. Abu Baker Mansha was accused of targeting Cpl. Mark Byles, whose address and other materials, were found in Mansha's apartment. Byles was awarded a military cross for bravery following an attack in which several Iraqi insurgents were killed — exploits covered by British newspapers. One of the articles with Byles' name was circled and found in Mansha's apartment. The Defense Ministry said 330 Muslims are serving in the British armed forces. It would not comment on reports that the intended victim was a soldier.
Dozens of people have been kidnapped in Iraq, and captors have often broadcast their pictures on the Internet. One widely publicized kidnap-slaying was that of 62-year-old Kenneth Bigley from Liverpool. He was abducted from a Baghdad suburb where he was working in September 2004 and beheaded three weeks later. His death was captured on video. "People don't trust their own children any more," said Shabir Hussain, chairman of the Ludlow Road Mosque in Birmingham. "You feel like you should challenge your son or daughter: `Where are you going at night? What are you watching on TV? What are you doing on the Internet?' In a raid last year in London, a man was shot by police, sparking complaints from Muslim communities across the country.
"The police and government seem to be against Muslims and are trying to turn us against one another," said Kadir Mohammad, 18, who lives in one of the raided neighborhoods. Britain's MI5 has said it set up a network of eight new regional offices across the country in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, including a center in the West Midlands. The service had previously had regional branches in Northern Ireland, but uses the new offices to liaise with police in counterterrorism work. Prime Minister Tony Blair's official spokesman declined to comment on the police operation.
Sky TV reported that British investigators contacted Pakistani intelligence agents four days ago about the plot. The Foreign Office would not confirm there were such discussions. In Islamabad, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said, "The British authorities have confirmed to us that there is no Pakistan connection." She gave no other details on the contact between authorities in the two countries.

Saniora Welcomes Nasrallah Call for Settlement
Prime Minister Fouad Saniora has welcomed a call from Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah not to allow Lebanon's political crisis to slide into armed conflict. "These comments are a positive gesture," said Saniora. Nasrallah has "over the past two days been rejecting any recourse to violence or arms" to resolve the political impasse, Saniora said, according to the premier's office. "We encourage and support these efforts."
In a speech to thousands of supporters gathered in the southern suburbs of Beirut for the Shiite festival of Ashoura on Tuesday, Nasrallah said: "The only solution for us, Lebanese, is through political dialogue." "We refuse a recourse to arms ... The demands of the Lebanese Opposition are political, a settlement can only be political and we encourage any mediation efforts to reach such a solution," he said.
Nasralah said Hizbullah will "not be lured into using its weapons" against other Lebanese factions, and called for an independent judicial investigation to bring to justice culprits in the violence that swept Beirut last week. "We underline our determination to avoid any collision" with other Lebanese parties, Nasrallah said, declaring that "I adhere to the just demands of the Opposition."
He called for the formation of "a state (government) based on cooperation … to steer Lebanon out of its crises."Contacts have been under way with Saudi Arabia and Iran, as well as the Arab League, since six ministers resigned from the Saniora cabinet in mid-November. Hizbullah has since been spearheading a protest since Dec. 1 to demand a new government of national unity. Four people were killed and more than 160 wounded Thursday in street clashes between government supporters and opponents that was sparked by a cafeteria quarrel at Beirut's Arab University (BAU) between Sunni and Shiite students. As a precaution, two Lebanese universities due to reopen on Wednesday will stay closed until next Monday, authorities of the BAU and the state-run Lebanese University said.(Naharnet-AFP) Beirut, 31 Jan 07, 07:52

Abu Faour Discloses Syrian Conditions banning a Settlement to the Lebanese Crisis

Mp Wael Abu Faour said Wednesday that Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani has relayed to Arab mediators five Syrian conditions that prevent any settlement to the ongoing Crisis in Lebanon. Abu Faour, a member of Walid Jumblat's Progressive Socialist Party, said Larijani relayed the five Syrian conditions to "Arab and regional circles" mediating a settlement to the Lebanese crisis.
He was apparently referring to Saudi officials who have been meeting Iranian envoys trying to mediate in the Lebanese crisis.
The conditions set by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, according to Abu Faour, are: the formation of a new 30-seat government in which the Hizbullah-led opposition controls 11 seats, allowing it to veto decisions. The Syrian conditions also include the adoption of a new elections law in three months, early parliamentary elections in six months, rejection of early presidential elections, and rejection of any attempt to form an international tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri and related crimes prior to completion of the international investigation in these atrocities. Abu Faour stressed that such Syrian conditions "burn all bridges leading to dιtente.""As long as some Lebanese political factions are tied up to the Syrian regime, there is no chance at all of reaching a solution," he added. Abu Faour's PSP is a member of the March 14 majority alliance that backs Premier Fouad Saniora's government, which the Hizbullah-led opposition is trying in vain to topple since Dec. 1.
Beirut, 31 Jan 07, 18:21

Moussa to Return to Beirut Early February

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa will return to Lebanon next month in a new bid to find a way out of the country's political crisis, a Lebanese government source told Agence France Presse. "Amr Moussa is returning to Lebanon in early February, in the first two weeks of February," said the source. "He has some contacts and consultations to make before coming back to Lebanon."
Fears that Lebanon's political crisis could develop into armed conflict grew after clashes last week between opposition and government supporters left at least seven people killed and more than 250 others wounded. Media reports have said that Premier Fouad Saniora, upon his return from the Paris III donors' conference last week, asked Moussa to resume his mediation between Lebanon's feuding parties. Saniora on Tuesday welcomed a call for calm and dialogue by Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, whose party has been spearheading the opposition campaign to oust the government.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 31 Jan 07, 11:51

6,000 Lebanese Troops Assigned to Maintain Peace in Beirut

The daily Al Hayat on Wednesday said a 6,000-strong Lebanese army force was recently assigned to maintain peace and prevent any disorder.
Al Hayat said the Lebanese army command, which continues to coordinate with Lebanon's Internal Security Forces, has lately set up a "new security plan for Beirut."It said Beirut, under the plan, was divided into "four security zones in which 6,000 soldiers were assigned to keep peace and prevent any security disturbance."The army command pledged in a directive issued Tuesday that "what has happened will not recur," a reference to the spate of violence that has swept Lebanon since last Tuesday in which at least seven people were killed and more than 250 wounded. "Let it be known that what has happened will not recur. You are required to enforce laws and instructions under the supervision of your superiors," Gen. Michel Suleiman said in the directive, addressed to army troops. Beirut, 31 Jan 07, 10:28

Journalists Held in Hariri Murder Case Bailed Out

New TV reporter Firas Hatoum held in custody for 44 days on charges of stealing evidence linked to the investigation into ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's murder, was bailed out on Wednesday. Hatoum as well as cameramen Abdel-Azim Khayyat and assistant Mohammed Barbar were released after paying a bail of L.L. 500,000 (about 330 dollars) each, judicial sources said. Last month, General Prosecutor Said Mirza accused the men of breaking into the Beirut apartment of Mohammed Zuhair Saddiq, a key witness in the Hariri assassination. He also accused them of stealing documents that constituted "important evidence" in the Hariri case from Saddiq's apartment in Khaldeh. The three, if convicted, face jail sentences of between three and 15 years. Saddiq, a Syrian, was freed from a French prison last February because of a lack of guarantees that he would not face the death sentence if extradited to Lebanon, French judicial officials said at the time. The witness was detained in Oct. 2005 when the U.N. commission investigating Hariri's murder recommended his arrest on grounds he gave false evidence to investigators. Lebanese prosecutors have since charged him in absentia and want him extradited for giving false testimony to mislead the U.N. probe and playing an indirect role in Hariri's killing.(AFP-Naharnet)
Beirut, 31 Jan 07, 15:16