Latest Analysis and Commentary

Qatar and Terror

by Denis MacEoin  •  November 22, 2014 at 5:00 am

Although outwardly more liberal than the Saudis, the Qataris have surpassed them as financiers of extremism and terrorism.

U.S. officials reckon that Qatar has now replaced Saudi Arabia as the source of the largest private donations to the Islamic State and other al-Qaeda affiliates.

Qatar, the world's wealthiest country per capita, also has the unsavory reputation for the mistreatment and effective slavery of much of its workforce.

Leaders of Western states threatened by jihadi advances are happy to sit down with the largest financiers of terrorism in the world, offer them help, take as much money as they can, and smile for the cameras.

Qatar finances terrorists with one hand, while the other joins hands with the West. Above: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in New York City on September 25, 2014. (Image source: U.S. State Department)

There is a central weakness in the coalition against the Islamic State [IS] in Syria, as pointed out by Bryan Bender in the Boston Globe. There are 62 members of the coalition, some of which are Arab states: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, Iraq, and Qatar. The U.S., however, carries the greatest weight in the air campaign against the self-proclaimed Caliphate. America had carried out 3,589 sorties by August 8, its partners 8; between September 23 (when most partners joined in attacks) and November 3, U.S. sorties numbered a further 3,320, with 1,090 by other coalition members.

The U.S., therefore, flies over 75% of missions -- an indication of American intent? It's not quite that simple.

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Turkey's Bark and Bite

by Burak Bekdil  •  November 21, 2014 at 5:00 am

Calls and campaigns against Israeli-made commodities and companies allegedly owned by Jewish businessmen, including Turkish Jews, fill Islamist newspaper pages every day.

"Moses is Moses. Jesus is Jesus. And Business is business." — Western Ambassador in Ankara.

Anti-Israel protesters in Istanbul, Turkey are shown waving the flags of Hamas and the PLO, as well as the black flag of jihad, July 19, 2014. (Image source: PressTV YouTube video screenshot)

Turkey's prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, expressed pride on Nov. 11, that "Turkey was the [world's] loudest voice against Israel's actions."

"From here, I once more call on Israel and Israel's brutal rulers: Don't you dare considering resuming these attacks against al-Quds [Jerusalem] and the al-Aqsa Mosque, regarding ... internal turmoil and tension in the Islamic world as an opportunity. Even if everyone remains silent, the government of the Republic of Turkey will not keep silent," Davutoglu said.

"Moses is Moses, Jesus is Jesus and business is business," a Western ambassador in Ankara said after shyly smiling at Davutoglu's televised speech. He was right.

In a recent article in this journal, this author reminded that:

"At an international donors' conference for Gaza in March 2009, the Turkish pledges stood at a mere $93 million. That pledge accounted for only 2.1 percent of all international pledges made at that conference.

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Deterioration of Human Rights in Iran
Interview with Shabnam Assadollahi

by Kaveh Taheri  •  November 21, 2014 at 4:30 am

If Iran is able to have nuclear-tipped missiles pointing at Berlin, Paris and London, it would not even have to use them. The threat would be enough.

Even more disturbing is that many people inside Iran have alerted the U.S. Administration for over three years about more — other — nuclear facilities secretly being built in Iran; these have not been declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

If you want the government to control your internet, you can move to China.

Since Hassan Rouhani (right) became the president of Iran, the surge in executions has given Iran the world's highest death penalty rate per capita.

Kaveh Taheri: What, in your opinion, is the cause of the surge in executions and arrests in Iran?

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Beautifying Islam

by Ahmed Vanya  •  November 20, 2014 at 5:00 am

Many people are understandably asking: What is the true nature of Islam? Is it that although there are many peaceful Muslims, Islam itself is not peaceful?

Classical Islamic law, developed over the history of Islam, is definitely not peaceful or benign, and therefore not suitable for this age; neither are its violent and grotesque progeny, such as Islamism and jihadism.

If Islam is a religion that stands for justice and peaceful coexistence, then this policy of jihad cannot be justified as sanctioned by a just and merciful creator.

Religious traditions have changed and evolved over time, therefore it is the duty of us Muslims, using reason and common sense, to reinterpret the scriptures to bring about an Islam that affirms and promotes universally accepted human rights and values. It is our duty to cleanse the traditional, literalist, classical Islam and purify it to make it an Islam that is worthy to be called a beautiful religion.

In the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE (48 years after Muhammad's death), depicted in Abbas Al-Musavi's painting, Husayn, the son of 'Ali and grandson of Muhammad, was killed along with his family and all his followers by the armies of the Umayyad Caliphate. It was the most crucial moment in the split between Shi'a and Sunni Islam. (Image source: Brooklyn Museum)

Looking at a year of beheadings by ISIS, child grooming abuses in the UK, judicial misconduct by the hanging judges of Iran, slaughtering and enslaving of Christians in Egypt and Africa, and various murders justified in the name of Islam throughout the world, many people are understandably asking: What is the true nature of Islam? Is it that although there are many peaceful Muslims, Islam itself is not peaceful?

If, for us Muslims, Islam is a religion of peace, justice, and mercy, how come the militants, who claim to be staunch Muslims -- who are ready to die for Islam and who claim to have established a state in the name of Islam in Iraq and Syria by sacrificing blood and lives -- are beheading journalists and aid workers, and enslaving religious minorities, all by citing Islamic Sharia Law?

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Turkey's "Foreign" Citizens

by Burak Bekdil  •  November 19, 2014 at 5:00 am

For most Islamists, there is no difference between the words "Israel," "the Israeli government," "Jew" or "Turkish Jew:" they are all the same, and are all regarded with hostility.

The interior of Neve Şalom Synagogue in Istanbul, which was bombed along with the Bet Israel Synagogue on November 15, 2003, killing 27 people and injuring over 300.

In 2008, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's official news agency, Wafa, reported that Israel had released poison-resistant rats to drive Arab residents of Jerusalem out of their homes. Scientists are still trying to understand how rats are trained to distinguish between Muslim, Christian and Jewish residents of a city.

In 2011, Saudi Arabia announced that it had "detained" a vulture carrying an Israeli leg band. The griffon vulture was carrying a GPS transmitter bearing the name of Tel Aviv University, and was condemned for being a part of a "Zionist espionage plot." We are still waiting to hear if the bird was beheaded or sentenced to life in prison.

Also in 2011, one of the two Turkish celebrities, who had been accused of raping prostitutes, defended himself by saying that the whole incident was "an Israeli plot against him."

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UK Salafist Group Linked to British ISIS Fighters

by Samuel Westrop  •  November 19, 2014 at 4:30 am

"Islamic radicals [are] hiding behind the scenes, influencing the minds of young people. ... Someone is persuading them, brainwashing them." — Ahmed Muthana, father of the jihadist Muthana brothers.

Nasser Muthana, center, appears in an English-language ISIS recruitment video.

Mehdi Hassan is the fourth British man from the coastal city of Portsmouth to be killed while fighting for ISIS in Syria. Hassan was just 19 when he left with four friends for Syria in October 2013. They named themselves the "Britani Brigade Bangladeshi Bad Boys." Four of the five have been killed.

Much of the media has, over the last few years, attempted to explain why British Muslims are being radicalized, and why some wish to fight for a terror group known and feared for its brutality.

Some commentators blame the darker corners of the internet; some point to the supposed glamour and glory of war, and others attribute part of the blame to "government policy" and the "persecution" felt by British Muslims living in a country allegedly full of "anti-Islamic feeling."

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Israel's Arabs Need Better Leaders

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  November 18, 2014 at 5:00 am

It is hard to see how the words and actions of these Arab Israeli leaders help, if at all, the Arab citizens of Israel.

It is time for these citizens to stand up to those Arab Israeli leaders who are causing them huge damage and remind them that they are supposed to represent Israeli Arabs and not the PLO or Hamas.

It is also time for them to start searching for better leaders.

A video still of the massive brawl between Muslims and Druze in the village of Abu Snan.

Some representatives of the Arab community in Israel are continuing to cause tremendous damage both to their constituents and coexistence between Jews and Arabs.

These representatives, who serve in the Knesset (Parliament), have forgotten that they were elected to look after the interests of Israel's Arab citizens.

Their fiery rhetoric and provocative actions are the main reason why a growing number of Israeli Jews have begun relating to Arab citizens as a "fifth column" and an "enemy from within."

These Knesset members are obviously confused as to who their constituents are. Many of them seem to believe that they were elected to the Knesset to represent the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Of course, not all of the 11 Arab Knesset members (out of 120) are involved in provocations and inflammatory rhetoric. Half of them appear to be working toward improving the living conditions of the 1.5 million Arab citizens of Israel.

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Dutch Officials Demonize Israelis

by Timon Dias  •  November 17, 2014 at 5:00 am

The truth is that there has never been an Israeli genocide against Palestinians, and that Israel has done everything in its power apart from not going to war at all -- that is, apart from surrendering -- to spare innocent lives, including the lives of people trying to destroy it.

Israel simply became a safe haven for a persecuted religious minority who sought statehood after having concluded that no state could guarantee their safety except for a Jewish state.

That Israel is not even any kind of player in this Muslim Sunni-Shia "ISIS War" apparently did not occur to Wijenberg.

As is so often true when vilifying Israel, "Israel" is, at bottom, most likely just a transparent fig-leaf for again vilifying "Jews."

When asked in a radio interview what to do about Dutch Muslims travelling to foreign battlegrounds, Pieter Broertjes, Mayor of Hilversum, said: "They are adults. Dutch citizens went to Israel to fight the British, we didn't stop them either." (Image source: Museum Hilversum)

An increasingly popular argument, when certain Dutch officials and Muslim commentators discuss Islamic State [IS] jihadists from Europe, is that these jihadists are really no different from European Jews who choose to serve in the Israel Defense Forces [IDF].

In The Netherlands this trend seems to have started when an op-ed, entitled, "Jihad for Israel," written for Al-Jazeera by Columbia University PhD. candidate Hanine Hassan, was translated into Dutch for the website "Wij Blijven Hier," which means "We Are Here To Stay." The website is hugely popular among Dutch youths from a Muslim background.

The main thesis of the op-ed was that serving in the IDF should be as punishable as joining IS, as the IDF, too, is a genocidal regime, just like IS.

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"Zionist" Olive Trees in Turkey

by Burak Bekdil  •  November 16, 2014 at 5:00 am

"Islamic state in Palestine in place of Israel and the Palestinian territories, and the obliteration or dissolution of Israel." — Hamas Charter.

Turkey's supreme court declared the olive grove to be "under state protection," after it was totally destroyed.

Some Turks are prepared to hate even olive trees because "they are Jewish."

The uprooted olive trees of Yırca, Turkey, on November 7, 2014. (Image source: Greenpeace Turkey)

Islamists often come in two flavors: Those who would decapitate an infidel, take out his heart and eat it in front of cameras, like the jihadists in Syria; and those who have the same sentiments and goals but pursue smarter means to Islamize the whole universe through "de jure" methods, including the ballot box.

Turkey's leaders fall into the second category, but some Turks these days feature a third flavor: Non-Violent Idiocy.

Hamas's infamous charter, proclaimed in 1988, is a must-read for self-declared Western intellectuals who tend to "angelize" the terrorist group in order, often, to reinforce their own intellectual identities. The charter (or the Covenant) calls for the eventual creation of an "Islamic state in Palestine in place of Israel and the Palestinian territories, and the obliteration or dissolution of Israel."

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"Sheikh Google's" Radical Islam

by Irfan Al-Alawi  •  November 16, 2014 at 4:00 am

"'Sheikh Google' is the real threat to young Muslims." — Hifsa Haroon-Iqbal, British Muslim mother, Daily Telegraph.

These mild legal outcomes indicate that U.S. officials do not appreciate how inflammatory the materials are.

(Image source:

As informed Muslims know, present-day radical Islamists have proven adept at using the internet – far more than have their moderate and Western opponents. "Internet savvy" jihadism appears as evidence of the youthful constituency of the extremists. They have grown up with the internet, video games, and other online diversions. When fanatical ideology takes hold of them, the internet is one of the obvious places for the process to begin.

In an important 2003 article in The Weekly Standard, entitled "The Islamic Terrorism Club," Stephen Schwartz, wrote about some of the more obnoxious pro-jihad Arabic-language websites then operating from Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The jihad-net expanded considerably in the decade that followed.

Even before September 11, 2001, however, many Muslims who opposed the fundamentalists were focusing on Islamist websites in English, as a means to anticipate threats from radicals.

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Free Speech v. Political Correctness

by Abraham H. Miller  •  November 15, 2014 at 5:00 am

The Free Speech Movement seems to have evolved into its opposite, a censorship by others or of oneself, disguised as political correctness.

Bazian is in the forefront of the movement to prevent Bill Maher from speaking on campus. Bazian himself however, seems to like being unrestrained when he wants to speak.

Apparently to Bazian, Jewish money promotes undue influence, but Saudi money has no Wahhabi fundamentalist strings attached. Maybe Bazian should ask whether there is something in Islam that causes so many of its adherents to cast non-Muslims as "the other."

The organized Muslim groups have not exactly embraced Freedom of Speech or Assembly as primary values.

UC-Berkeley Professor Hatem Bazian demands that Bill Maher be disinvited from speaking at his university. Above, Bazian addresses an anti-Israel rally on July 20, 2014, appearing in front of a man carrying a sign saying "We captured Israeli soldiers in Gaza". (Image source: YouTube video screenshot)

Each year, the University of California hosts a lecture in honor of Mario Savio. On December 2, 1964, Mario Savio stood on the steps of Berkeley's Sproul Hall and launched into an unrehearsed speech, often considered one of the best 100 of the century. The speech would make him the voice of what became known as the Free Speech Movement.

Throughout Berkeley, the Free Speech Movement [FSM] represented a strong part of Berkeley's historic and cultural identity.

The FSM, however, seems to have evolved into its opposite, a censorship by others or of oneself, disguised as political correctness. It is an ideology that makes sensitivity to the feelings of the "previously excluded" trump basic rights.

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Will the newly elected Congress push Obama into being tougher on Iran's nuclear weapons program?

by Alan M. Dershowitz  •  November 14, 2014 at 9:50 am

Now that both Houses of Congress are under the control of Republicans, will President Obama have as free a hand in making a deal with the Iranian mullahs regarding their nuclear weapons program?

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The Church of England Chooses Extremist Islam

by Samuel Westrop  •  November 14, 2014 at 5:00 am

It is troubling that the first non-Christian to address the Church of England synod can be linked to extreme Islamist networks. By inviting Fuad Nahdi, the Church is lending credence to the notion that only radical Islamism can represent British Islam. What hope, then, for those genuine moderates within Britain's Muslim community?

Fuad Nahdi, director of the British Islamic organization Radical Middle Way. (Image source: RMW video screenshot)

A British Muslim activist is to speak before the Church of England's general synod on November 18 -- the first time a non-Christian has addressed the assembly.

Counter-extremism campaigners, however, have expressed disappointment that the Church would choose an activist accused of connections with extremist groups.

Fuad Nahdi, director of the British Islamic organization Radical Middle Way [RMW], has a long history of working with activists and groups tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, described by the former head of the MI6 as being, "at heart, a terrorist organization;" and Jamaat-e-Islami, the Brotherhood's South Asian cousin, responsible for acts of genocide during Bangladesh's 1971 Independence war.

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A Turkish Quest to "Liberate" Jerusalem

by Burak Bekdil  •  November 13, 2014 at 5:00 am

Both Turkey's President Erdogan and its Prime Minister Davutoglu have declared countless times that Gaza and Jerusalem (in addition to Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Somalia, and the Maghreb) are Turkey's "domestic affairs."

In truth, there is no mention of any city's name in the Qur'an.

Spot the difference: In the eyes of Turkey's political and religious leadership, Istanbul and its Hagia Sophia (once a Greek Orthodox Basilica) were legitimately "conquered" by the Muslim Ottomans, while Jerusalem and its al-Aqsa mosque (built atop the ruins of the Jewish Temples) are illegally "occupied" by Israel. (Images source: Wikimedia Commons)

Turks have a different understanding of what constitutes an occupation and a conquest of a city. The Turkish rule is very simple: The capture of a foreign city by force is an occupation if that city is Turkish (or Muslim) and the capture of a city by force is conquest if the city belongs to a foreign nation (or non-Muslims).

For instance, Turks still think the capture of Istanbul in 1453 was not occupation; it was conquest.

In a 2012 speech, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (then Prime Minister) said: "Just like Mecca, Cairo and Istanbul are cities of the Qur'an." In truth, there is no mention of any city's name in the Qur'an. Never mind.

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Why Abbas Will Not Condemn Terror Attacks

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  November 12, 2014 at 5:00 am

Secretary of State Kerry's "peace process" actually put Israelis and Palestinians on a new collision course.

Not a single Palestinian Authority official has denounced the wave of terror attacks on Israel. They, too, are afraid of being condemned by their people for denouncing "heroic operations" such as ramming a car into a three-month old infant.

Kerry and other Western leaders do not want to understand that Abbas is not authorized to make any concessions for peace with Israel. For Abbas, it is more convenient to be criticized by the U.S. and Israel than to be denounced by his own people. Ignoring these facts, Kerry tried to pressure Abbas into making concessions that would have turned the Palestinian Authority president into a "traitor" in the eyes of his people. Abbas knows that the people he has radicalized would turn against him if he dared to speak out against the killing of Jews.

Victims of what official Palestinian Authority media organs call "heroic operations": Left, Dalia Lamkus, 26, run over and then stabbed to death by a terrorist on Nov. 10. Right: Three-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun, murdered on Oct. 23 when a terrorist rammed a car into her stroller. Several other victims were killed or injured in these attacks.

The recent spate of terror attacks in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the West Bank did not come as a surprise to those who have been following the ongoing incitement campaign waged by Palestinians against Israel.

This campaign escalated immediately after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's last failed "peace process" between Israel and the Palestinians. Kerry's "peace process" actually put Israelis and Palestinians on a new collision course, which reached its peak with the recent terror attacks on Israelis.

Kerry failed to acknowledge that Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas does not have a mandate from his people to negotiate, let alone sign, any agreement with Israel. Abbas is now in the tenth year of his four-year term in office.

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