Wednesday, November 23, 2005

How a Town Became a Terror Hub

How a Town Became a Terror Hub

Belgian Haven Seen At Heart of Network

By Craig Whitlock
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, November 24, 2005; A01

MAASEIK, Belgium -- The phones at city hall began ringing nonstop one morning last year when several masked figures were spotted walking through the cobbled streets of this pastoral town. A small panic erupted when one of the figures, covered head to ankle in black fabric, appeared at a school and scared children to tears.

It turned out the people were not hooded criminals, but six female residents of Maaseik who were displaying their Muslim piety by wearing burqas , garments that veiled their faces, including their eyes. After calm was restored, a displeased Mayor Jan Creemers summoned the women to his office.

'I said, 'Ladies, you can be dressed all in Armani black for all I care, but please do not cover your faces,' ' Creemers recalled. 'I tried to talk to them about it, but it was impossible. They said, 'We are the only true believers of the Koran.' '

What the city elders did not know at the time was that the women came from households in which several men had embraced radical Islam and joined a terrorist network that was setting up sleeper cells across Europe, according to Belgian federal prosecutors and court documents from Italy, Spain and France.

Over the next nine months, Belgian federal police arrested five men in Maaseik, a town of 24,000 people tucked in the northeast corner of Belgium. Each was charged with membership in a terrorist organization, the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, a fast-growing network known by its French initials, GICM.

With each arrest, investigators uncovered fresh evidence that placed small-town Maaseik at the center of a terrorist network stretching across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The town had served as a haven for suspects in the Madrid train explosions that killed 191...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Fresh violence hits Paris suburbs

Fresh violence hits Paris suburbs
Last Updated: Thursday, 3 November 2005, 15:33 GMT

Fresh violence hits Paris suburbs

Riots in Paris
Rioting youths opened fire on police and set dozens of vehicles ablaze in a seventh night of violence in Paris.

In escalating unrest, shots were fired at police and firefighters, while gangs besieged a police station, set fire to a car showroom and threw petrol bombs.

At least 15 people were arrested and nine injured across north-east Paris.

France's government is facing mounting criticism of its handling of the riots, triggered by the deaths last week of two teenagers of African origin.

Bouna Traore, aged 15 and Zyed Benna, 17, were electrocuted at an electricity sub-station. Local people say they were fleeing police during a disturbance, a claim the authorities deny.

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy met with the boys' families on Thursday, as a criminal investigation and an internal police inquiry into their deaths were opened.

Map of riot areas

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and Mr Sarkozy cancelled overseas trips to hold a crisis meeting in the face of the growing dissatisfaction with the government's failure to quell the violence.

Both men are likely rivals for the presidency in 2007, and their different approaches to the rioting has split the cabinet.

Mr Sarkozy has caused controversy by labelling the rioters as 'scum' and saying many of the suburbs need 'industrial cleaning', but Mr de Villepin has preached a more conciliatory message, urging ministers not to 'stigmatise' vast areas.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

French government in crisis mode, tries to cope with suburban Paris riots

French government in crisis mode, tries to cope with suburban Paris riots
17:20:49 EST Nov 2, 2005

CLICHY-SOUS-BOIS, France (CP) - France's government went into crisis mode Wednesday to deal with spreading rioting in the suburbs of Paris, with the prime minister postponing a trip to Canada and the president calling for calm.

In tough northeastern suburbs around Clichy-sous-Bois, where the accidental deaths of two teenagers last week first prompted angry youths to rampage, the hulks of burned-out cars littered streets and young men prepared for a seventh consecutive night of fighting with riot police.

Leaders at Clichy-sous-Bois' mosque prayed for peace and asked parents to keep teenagers off the streets.

The violence, which spread to at least nine Paris-region towns overnight Tuesday, laid bare the despair, anger and deep-rooted criminality in France's poor, unemployment-hit suburbs - some of them ghettos where police hesitate to venture despite proof they are fertile terrain for Islamic extremists, drug dealers and racketeers.

The unrest, concentrated in neighbourhoods with large African and Muslim populations, has highlighted the difficulties many European countries face with immigrant communities feeling marginalized and restive, cut off from Europe's prosperity and, for some extremists, its values.

'They have no work. They have nothing to do. Put yourself in their place,' said Abderrahmane Bouhout, president of the Clichy-sous-Bois mosque, where a tear gas grenade exploded Sunday, fuelling the anger of local youths who suspected a police attack. Authorities are investigating the incident.

To deal with the unrest, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin postponed a visit to Canada and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy cancelled a Nov. 6-9 trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In Ottawa, Melanie Gruer, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Paul Martin, said Villepin's visit will be rescheduled. The Canadian government is disappointed but understands the postponement, she said.

French President Jacques Chirac, meanwhile, told a weekly cabinet meeting that "the law must be applied firmly" but "in a spirit of dialogue and respect" to prevent "a dangerous situation" from developing. He acknowledged the "profound frustrations" of troubled neighbourhoods but said violence is not the answer.

"Zones without law cannot exist in the republic," he said.


CBS News | 13 Arrested In Paris Suburb Riots | November 2, 2005 07:30:05

13 Arrested In Paris Suburb Riots

PARIS, Nov. 1, 2005
After rioters torched several cars outside of Paris on the evening of Monday, Oct. 31, 2005, police work to extinguish flames. (AP /APTN)

Previous ImageNext Image

Fast Fact

(Interior Minister Nicolas) Sarkozy recently referred to troublemakers in the suburbs as "scum" or "riffraff" and in the past vowed to "clean out" the suburbs.

(AP) Youths torched cars, set garbage bins alight and threw stones at police in a fifth night of rioting in a Paris suburb, and set two primary school classrooms on fire as rioting spread to two other suburban towns, police and an official said Tuesday.

Police said that 19 people were detained in the late Monday and early Tuesday rioting in Clichy-sous-Bois and three other suburbs and 13 of them jailed. A total of 21 cars — two of them police cars — were burned, police said.

The mayor of Sevran said youths set two rooms of a primary school on fire, along with several cars. Police said three officers were slightly injured in Sevran.

"These acts have a direct link to the events in Clichy-sous-Bois," Sevran Mayor Stephane Gatignon said in a statement.

The troubles started Thursday night in Clichy-sous-Bois, northeast of Paris, following the accidental electrocution deaths of two teenagers who hid in a power substation to escape police whom they thought were chasing them. Officials have said police were not pursuing the boys, aged 15 and 17, at all.

Suburbs that ring France's big cities suffer soaring unemployment and are home to immigrant communities, often from Muslim North Africa. Disenchantment, and anger, run high.

Besides Clichy-sous-Bois and Sevran, troubles also erupted in Aulnay-sous-bois and Bondy, police said. All communities are in the Seine-Saint-Denis region, considered a "sensitive" area of immigration and modest incomes. "
After rioters torched several cars outside of Paris on the evening of Monday, Oct. 31, 2005, police work to extinguish flames. (AP /APTN)

(Interior Minister Nicolas) Sarkozy recently referred to troublemakers in the suburbs as 'scum' or 'riffraff' and in the past vowed to 'clean out' the suburbs.

(AP) Youths torched cars, set garbage bins alight and threw stones at police in a fifth night of rioting in a Paris suburb, and set two primary school classrooms on fire as rioting spread to two other suburban towns, police and an official said Tuesday.

Police said that 19 people were detained in the late Monday and early Tuesday rioting in Clichy-sous-Bois and three other suburbs and 13 of them jailed. A total of 21 cars — two of them police cars — were burned, police said.

The mayor of Sevran said youths set two rooms of a primary school on fire, along with several cars. Police said three officers were slightly injured in Sevran.

'These acts have a direct link to the events in Clichy-sous-Bois,' Sevran Mayor Stephane Gatignon said in a statement.

The troubles started Thursday night in Clichy-sous-Bois, northeast of Paris, following the accidental electrocution deaths of two teenagers who hid in a power substation to escape police whom they thought were chasing them. Officials have said police were not pursuing the boys, aged 15 and 17, at all.

Suburbs that ring France's big cities suffer soaring unemployment and are home to immigrant communities, often from Muslim North Africa. Disenchantment, and anger, run high.

Besides Clichy-sous-Bois and Sevran, troubles also erupted in Aulnay-sous-bois and Bondy, police said. All communities are in the Seine-Saint-Denis region, considered a 'sensitive' area of immigration and modest incomes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Books | No kids please, we're selfish

No kids please, we're selfish

The population is shrinking, but why should I care, says Lionel Shriver. My life is far too interesting to spoil it with children
Lionel Shriver
Saturday September 17, 2005

Meet the Anti-Mom. A story of motherhood gone dreadfully wrong, my seventh novel, We Need To Talk About Kevin, has drawn fire from Catholic websites for being hostile to "family", while grotesque distortions of the book's underlying theme ("It's all right to hate your own child, and if they turn out badly it's not your fault") have spored from article to article like potato blight. Devastated mothers send me confiding letters detailing horror stories of offspring just like the wicked boy in my book. Women who'd declined to have children flock to my readings, raising the novel as proof they were right.

Yet even as "Kevin" won the Orange Prize in July, when my role as poster-girl for "maternal ambivalence" jacked up yet another power, something strange was starting to happen. I sometimes departed from script. When a Sunday Times reporter (who clearly thought me a chilly, arrogant creep) asked if I didn't think that declining to reproduce was essentially "nihilistic", I piped readily, "Of course." And when a reporter from Birmingham asked tentatively in a phone interview, "Wasn't refusing parenthood a little ... selfish?" I bellowed into the receiver, "Absolutely!"

The truth is, I had started to feel guilty.

Childless at 48, I'm now old enough for the question of motherhood to have become merely philosophical. Still, I've had all the time in the world to have babies. I am married. I've been in perfect reproductive health. I could have afforded children, financially. I just didn't want them. They are untidy; they would have messed up my flat. In the main, they are ungrateful. They would have siphoned too much time away from the writing of my precious books.

Nevertheless, after talking myself blue about "maternal ambivalence", I have come full circle, rounding on the advice to do as I say, not as I did. I may not, for my own evil purposes, regret giving motherhood a miss, but I've had it with being the Anti-Mom, and would like to hand the part to someone else.

Allusion to Europe's "ageing population" in the news is now commonplace. We have more and more old people, and a dwindling number of young people to support them. Not only healthcare and pension systems but the working young will soon be overtaxed, just to keep doddering crusties like me alive. Politicians sensibly cite age structure when justifying higher rates of immigration, and not only because Europeans so fancy themselves that they refuse to clean toilets. Even if the job appealed, there are already too few of the native-born of working age to clean all those toilets.

Yet curiously little heed is paid to why the west is "ageing". Our gathering senescence is routinely discussed as an inexorable force of nature, a process beyond our control, like the shifting of tectonic plates or the ravages of a hurricane. To the contrary, age structure is profoundly within human control. Remarkably resistant to governmental manipulation, it is the sum total of millions of single, deeply private decisions by people like me and a surprisingly large number of people I know.

We're not having kids.

Western fertility started to dive in the 70s - the same era when, ironically, the likes of alarmist population guru Paul Ehrlich were predicting that we would all soon be balancing on our one square foot of earth per person, like angels on the head of a pin. Numerous factors have contributed to the Incredible Shrinking Family: the introduction of reliable contraception, the wholesale entry of women into the workforce, delayed parenthood and thus higher infertility, the fact that children no longer till your fields but expect your help in putting a downpayment on a massive mortgage.

Yet all of these contributing elements may be subsidiary to a larger transformation in western culture no less profound than our collective consensus on what life is for.

Statistics are never boring if you can see through the numbers to what they mean, so bear with me. The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) is the number of children the average woman will bear over her reproductive lifetime. The TFR required to maintain a population at its current size is 2.1. ( It takes two children to replace the mother herself and her partner; the .1 allows for the fact that, in a fraction of births, the baby will not survive.) Higher than the European average, the UK's TFR is 1.7. Yet that's well below replacement-rate, so the seven million extra Britons predicted by 2050 will almost entirely comprise immigrants and their children.

The figures on the continent are even more striking. Italy, Greece and Spain, countries once renowned for their family orientation, all have a meagre TFR of 1.3, as does Germany, where a staggering 39% of educated women are having no children whatsoever. The cumulative TFR for all of Europe is only 1.4, expected to translate into a net loss of 10% of the population by 2050, by which time eastern Europe is likely to experience a population decrease of 22%. By 2000, 17 European countries were recording more deaths than births, and without immigration their populations would already be contracting.

Elsewhere, couples still heed the Biblical admonition to be fruitful and multiply. Niger, currently suffering from famine, has the highest TFR in the world at 8.0. By 2050, Yemen - a little smaller than France - is projected to have increased its 1950 population by 24 times, exceeding the population of Russia. At 3.0 (3.5 without China), the poor nations' TFR is twice that in the wealthy west, and these countries will provide virtually all of the extra three billion people expected to visit our planet by mid-century.

As for what explains the drastic disparity between family size in the west and the rest, sure, we have readier access to contraception. But medical technology is only one piece of the puzzle. During the industrial revolution of the 19th century, fertility rates in the west plunged in a similar fashion. This so-called "demographic transition" is usually attributed to the conversion from a rural agrarian economy to an urban industrialised one, and thus to children's shift from financial asset to burden. But what is fascinating about the abrupt decrease in family size at the turn of the last century is that it was accomplished without the pill. Without caps, IUDs, spermicides, vaginal sponges, oestrogen patches or commercial condoms. Whether through abstinence, backstreet abortion, infanticide or rhythm, people who couldn't afford more children didn't have them. Therefore the increased availability of reliable contraception around 1960 no more than partially explains plummeting birth rates thereafter. The difference between Germany and Niger isn't pharmaceutical; it's cultural.

I propose that we have now experienced a second demographic transition. Rather than economics, the engine driving Europe's "birth dearth" is existential.

To be almost ridiculously sweeping: baby boomers and their offspring have shifted emphasis from the communal to the individual, from the future to the present, from virtue to personal satisfaction. Increasingly secular, we pledge allegiance to lower-case gods of our private devising. We are less concerned with leading a good life than the good life. We are less likely than our predecessors to ask ourselves whether we serve a greater social purpose; we are more likely to ask if we are happy. We shun values such as self-sacrifice and duty as the pitfalls of suckers. We give little thought to the perpetuation of lineage, culture or nation; we take our heritage for granted. We are ahistorical. We measure the value of our lives within the brackets of our own births and deaths, and don't especially care what happens once we're dead. As we age - oh, so reluctantly! - we are apt to look back on our pasts and ask not 'Did I serve family, God and country?' but 'Did I ever get to Cuba, or run a marathon? Did I take up landscape painting? Was I fat?' We will assess the success of our lives in accordance not with whether they were righteous, but with whether they were interesting and fun.

If that package sounds like one big moral step backwards, the Be Here Now mentality that has converted from 60s catchphrase to entrenched gestalt has its upside. There has to be some value to living for today, since at any given time today is all you've got. We justly cherish characters capable of fully inhabiting "the moment", of living, as a drummer might say, "in the pocket". We admire go-getters determined to pack their lives with as much various experience as time and money provide, who never stop learning, engaging, and savouring what every day offers - in contrast to dour killjoys who are resentful and begrudging as they bitterly do their duty. For the role of humble server, helpmate and facilitator no longer to constitute the sole model of womanhood surely represents progress for which I am personally grateful. Furthermore, prosperity may naturally lead any well-off citizenry to the final frontier: the self, whose borders are as narrow or infinite as we make them.

Yet the biggest social casualty of Be Here Now is children, who have converted from obligation to option, like heated seats in the car. In deciding what in times past was never a choice, we don't consider the importance of raising another generation of our own people, however we might choose to define them. The question is whether kids will make us happy.


Sunday, August 21, 2005 - U.K.: Al Qaeda Plot Foiled

U.K.: Al Qaeda Plot Foiled

Sunday, August 21, 2005

LONDON — Scotland Yard believes it has thwarted an Al Qaeda gas attack aimed at ministers and members of parliament. The plot, hatched last year, is understood to have been discovered in coded e-mails on computers seized from terror suspects in Britain and Pakistan.

Police and MI5 then identified an Al Qaeda cell that had carried out extensive research and video-recorded reconnaissance missions in preparation for the attack.

The encrypted e-mails are said to have been decoded with the help of an Al Qaeda “supergrass.” By revealing the terrorists’ code he was also able to help MI5 and GCHQ, the government’s eavesdropping centre at Cheltenham (search), to crack several more plots.

The discovery of the suspected Commons nerve gas plot was behind the decision to increase security around parliament this summer.

A senior officer said the scheme had led to the intervention of Eliza Manningham-Buller (search), head of MI5, to assess parliament’s security.

The operation to deter the sarin gas attack is referred to in an internal police document obtained by The Sunday Times.

It is a minute of a meeting of senior police officers held last month at Specialist Operations 17 (SO17), the unit responsible for protecting parliament, and reveals that the team were waiting to be briefed on the plot.

This weekend a senior officer disclosed that the thwarted plot mentioned in the document involved a gas or chemical “dirty bomb” attack against parliament. “The House of Commons was one of their targets as well as the Tube,” he said.

“They were planning to use chemicals, a dirty bomb and sarin gas. They looked at all sorts of ways of delivering it.”


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

VirtueOnline-News - As Eye See It - THE ISLAMIZATION OF EUROPE - by Patrick Sookhdeo

VirtueOnline-News - As Eye See It - THE ISLAMIZATION OF EUROPE - by Patrick Sookhdeo

by Patrick Sookhdeo

11 August 2005

On Friday 20th May 2005 a crowd of some 300 Muslims burned a wooden cross outside the American embassy in London. This was part of a protest against the rumoured desecration of a Qur'an by American soldiers in Guantanamo Bay, during which British and American flags were also burned. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this event was that it was not deemed to be newsworthy, receiving little attention in the national press.

The whole scenario is reminiscent of what happens in so many Muslim-majority countries: a rumour of an insult to Islam, a violent and blasphemous anti-Christian reaction, police watching idly, and a complete lack of public interest let alone outrage. It could have been Pakistan, Egypt, Indonesia or Northern Nigeria. But it was the UK.

Europe is undergoing a rapid process of change as Muslims make their presence felt in politics, economics, law, education and the media. While there is a wide range of attitudes amongst Muslims in Europe, with many who are broadly content with the status quo and just want to live their lives peacefully, others are striving deliberately to drive forward the changes.

As a result of the efforts of the latter, Europe is gradually being transformed into a society in which Islam takes its place, not just as an equal alongside the many other faith communities, but often as the dominant player. This is not purely, or even primarily, a matter of numbers, but is more a matter of control of the structures of society. It is not happening by chance but is the result of a careful and deliberate strategy by certain Muslim leaders.

Though the effects are only now becoming noticeable, the planning was done decades ago. In 1980 the Islamic Council of Europe published a book called Muslim Communities in Non-Muslim States which clearly explained the Islamic agenda in Europe. When Muslims live as a minority they face theological problems, because classical Islamic teaching always presupposed a context of Islamic dominance; hence the need for guidance on how to live in non-Muslim states. The instructions given in the book told Muslims to get together and organise themselves with the aim of establishing a viable Muslim community based on Islamic principles. This is the duty of every individual Muslim living within a non-Muslim political entity. They should set up mosques, community centres and Islamic schools. At all costs they must avoid being assimilated by the majority. In order to resist assimilation, they must group themselves geographically, forming areas of high Muslim concentration within the population as a whole. Yet they must also interact with non-Muslims so as to share the message of Islam with them. Every Muslim individual is required to participate in the plan; it is not allowed for anyone simply to live as a "good Muslim" without assisting the overall strategy. The ultimate goal of this strategy is that the Muslims should become a majority and the entire nation be governed according to Islam. (M. Ali Kettani "The Problems of Muslim Minorities and their Solutions" in Muslim Communities in Non-Muslim States (London: Islamic Council of Europe, 1980) pp.96-105) Not all Muslims would support this action plan. The more secularized are happy to become integrated within the majority society. Even amongst those who agree on the ultimate goal of creating an Islamic state, there are differences about methodology i.e. whether this should be a slow and peaceful transition, or whether it should be hastened by means of political dominance or even - say some - by violence.

Despite the variety of opinion amongst Muslims, it is not hard to recognize the different stages of the Islamic Council of Europe's strategy being put into practice within today's Europe. Muslims do tend to live in tightly concentrated areas, and show little sign of integrating into wider society. Saudi funding is paying for the erection of large and beautiful mosques, staffed by imams brought over to Europe from the "home countries". Sweden's third largest city, Malmø, is effectively ruled by violent gangs of Muslims, and some of the Muslim residents of the city still cannot read or write Swedish though they have lived there for 20 years. Denmark has recently seen the Nordgårdsskolen in Aarhus become the first school in the country to have 100% Muslim pupils. Britain's Muslim population (variously estimated at between 1.6 and 3 million) is concentrated in three areas: north-west England, the midlands and London. In some of these areas Muslims are now targeting the remaining Christian presence, arsoning churches, physically attacking church leaders and their property; the aim seems to be to "cleanse" these areas of non-Muslims.

European Muslims are Islamizing many aspects of life that also affect non-Muslims. Spanish Muslims have expressed their desire to "regain" the mosque of Cordoba. This building was originally a church, then turned into a mosque, and then turned back into a place of Christian worship. Halal meat is now routinely served in many British prisons, schools and hospitals, sometimes to Muslim and non-Muslim alike, and the hijab [Islamic headscarf] is worn in British schools. Muslims in the London borough of Tower Hamlets have forced name-changes for districts and local amenities if the existing name sounds too Christian for their liking.

In the UK, where Islam is making its most rapid advance, Islamic law (shari'a) is already practised unofficially, with shari'a councils and shari'a courts giving judgments on Muslim family matters. In education numerous concessions are being made to British Muslims, Islam often being given more prominence and respect than other faiths at state schools. An increasing number of university posts are being funded from Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries on condition that a certain line of thinking is promoted.

The ultimate goal of taking control of society, as depicted by the Islamic Council of Europe in 1980, is clearly in the minds of at least some Muslim leaders. A Dutch Imam has stated that Islamic law is superior to other forms of legislation so there is no need to obey other laws. Some Finnish imams preach on the Islamic duty to kill a Muslim who converts to another faith, adding that it is difficult to carry this out in Finland at present because Muslims do not yet "own the state". Furthermore, the freedoms of European society are being exploited by Islamic militants and their supporters to plan terrorist activities around the world. London - or "Londonistan" as it is becoming known - is one of the most important bases for Islamic terrorism worldwide. This has been illustrated by the July bombings in London itself.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

SPIEGEL's Daily Take: Schroder Plays Iran Card in German Election

Bash the US all you want Herr Schroder, but on the morning of the day after the election, the German economy is still going to SUCK! As the US economy continues to grow at 3.6% and the German economy continues to grow at .01%, US influence grows and German influence whithers.

We all want to be "peace-loving" people Gerhard, but until you can say the same about the Mullahs in Iran, you're spitting into the wind. Europe is just as far from the Iranian's missiles as Israel is and stands at least as great a chance of being the target. Israel may be filled with Jews who they hate rabidly, but Europe is filled with infidels who they hate only a little less rabidly.

We've already seen that the Iranians were simply using the negotiations with the EU3, including Germany as a way to buy time to build their uranium processing plants. If Europe is going back to the bargaining table after being laughed at by the Iranians it can only mean one thing. EUROPE DOES'NT HAVE THE ABILITY TO DO ANYTHING BUT NEGOTIATE.

Offering a non-agression pact with these madmen was madness in itself. It showed the Iranians just how weak Europe's position is. Europe has allowed their military forces to deterioriate to such an extent that they CAN'T do anything but talk. They can of course refer it to the UN Security Council, but the Iranians would just laugh at that. They've seen that coming and have stockpiled what they need to keep their nuclear program on track. Besides of course, Russia and China would veto any moves against their customer and oil supplier.

Now, the US needs to pull all its military forces from Europe and withdraw from NATO. I for one am tired of protecting EUnuchs. We spend a fortune, we prop up their economies with billions earned from our bases, we protect them and all we get for the trouble is kicked in the teeth every election cycle.

Get us out of all of these foreign entanglements, Mr. President!

SPIEGEL's Daily Take: Schroder Plays Iran Card in German Election

August 15, 2005

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has publicly warned the US against military action in Iran. Opposition leaders have accused Schröder of exploiting a sensitive international issue to curry votes with peace-loving Germans. Echoes of 2002?

The chancellor likes to criticize US foreign policy. First it was Iraq -- Now it's Iran.
In an election hitherto dominated by rows over economic policy, German foreign policy has suddenly taken center-stage. Prior to the last German election, Gerhard Schröder went on the offensive against US military intervention in Iraq, and now -- like the leopard who cannot change his spots -- Schröder has pulled the same trick again, warning the US against an invasion of Iran.

At a meeting of Social-Democrat supporters in Hannover on August 13, Schröder proclaimed -- to peals of applause -- "Let's leave the military option aside; we have already seen that it doesn't amount to anything." In an interview with the tabloid Bild am Sonntag, the chancellor then repeated his warnings. "I consider the military option to be extremely dangerous. So I can definitely rule that a government under my leadership would not take part."

This last remark, directly linking his re-election to commitment against military action in Iran, particularly riled opposition parties, who have since resoundingly attacked Schröder for shameless and irresponsible electioneering.

Wolfgang Schäuble, the foreign-policy chief of conservative opposition party CDU, told Die Welt today that, "Schröder is acting completely irresponsibly for electoral purposes. He's acting as thought the problem were in Washington, rather than in Tehran even though he knows that isn't the case." "The chancellor is creating the fatal impression in Tehran that the international community is not resolute," he added.

The liberal foreign-policy expert Werner Hoyer of the Free Democratic Party echoed Schäuble's remarks in a interview with der Tagesspiegel. "The subject is too serious for it to be introduced into the German election campaign, in any form." Hoyer then pointedly referred to the last election campaign: "We have already experienced the situation, when frivolous comments -- that time from Vice President Dick Cheney -- can affect the outcome of a German election," he said.

Hoyzer was referring to a speech which US Vice President Dick Cheney made on August 26, 2002 to a meeting of the "Veterans of Foreign Wars". In it, he affirmed US preparedness for unilateral intervention in Iraq. Schröder immediately called a press conference to brand such a policy a "mistake", which led to a rapid upswing in Schröder's election fortunes. The chancellor's opposition to military intervention in Iraq was largely credited for securing his "miracle" re-election, after his Social Democrat Party looked doomed to defeat.

This time round, the chancellor seized on comments US President George W. Bush made to Israeli TV from his ranch at Crawford, Texas on August 12. When asked about the possible use of force against Iran -- which last week restarted its nuclear enrichment program -- the President answered, "All options are on the table." "The use of force is the last option for any president. You know we have used force in the recent past to secure our country," he warned ominously.

What Schröder Is Saying about Iran

The following quotations have been excerpted from an interview with German Prime Minister Gerhard Schröder which is to be published in Thursday's issue of Super Illu, a general interest magazine targeted at readers in eastern Germany. The fact that Schröder chose an eastern German publication for his comments is a strategic move that comes like a hard punch in the gut for a handful of reasons. First, it plays to eastern German pacifism which could translate into votes for Schröder's Social Democrats. Second, it shows Schröder taking a firm stance on foreign policy at a time when his Christian Democratic opponents have made no firm stance on the issue. And finally, it shows Schröder illustrating firm leadership in the east at a time when his Christian Democratic detractors are stumbling and alienating potential voters in that part of Germany.

SUPER ILLU: Regarding foreign policy. There are concerns that the nuclear dispute with Tehran could escalate, that Iran could become the next Iraq. Should we be concerned?

SCHRÖDER: The situation is serious. I consider a military option to be extremely dangerous. For that reason I can, with certainty, rule out that a German government under my leadership would participate. I continue to believe that we can arrive at our goals in negotiations with persistence and patience.

SUPER ILLU: Will the USA play along?

SPIEGEL: My impression is that people in the USA must also realize that you may be able to win a war alone, but you cannot ensure peace afterwards alone. This is evident in Afghanistan, but even more so in Iraq.
Schröder is no doubt hoping to drive opposition parties into a tight spot by forcing them to declare their political standpoint on military action in Iran. In 2002, he accused conservatives of playing poodle to Washington, and this proved a hit with the electorate. Now, conservatives have responded by accusing the chancellor of endangering an already fragile trans-Atlantic relationship.

It is at yet unclear whether voters will be persuaded by Schröder's anti-American hyperbole, for the chancellor must do more than just overturn a far greater conservative political lead in the polls this time. The public is also far less concerned by the possibility of a military invasion of Iran in the first place.

Social Democrat Party Leader Franz Münterfering went on the radio Monday to defend his colleague and to reject claims of Machiavellian political opportunism. "The chancellor didn't direct the statements at anyone, rather he has generally made it clear that we want to be a peace-loving power," he said.


London Bomb Suspects Stood Out as Radicals - Los Angeles Times

One has to wonder if the Western Liberal tradition and Captialism doesn't work too well in some ways.

The first set of London bombers were 3 out of 4 from if not wealthy, then at least middle class families.

The second set were just the opposite. Largely criminals and grifters, several of them had 5-6 different identities, with which they were able to bilk the British social services system for large amounts of money. They received welfare checks, rent subsidies, child support subsidies, free medical care in the NHS and heavens only knows what else.

These people were PAID to kill native British citizens. They received gobs of government largesse and what did they have to do for a living? Absolutely nothing, above and beyond plan how they were going to murder innocent civilians, having no gainful employment.

They had plenty of cash available to purchase and peddle Islamic hate literature. Having no steady jobs, they were able to spend plenty of time at the Finsbury Park mosque where so many other Islamist murderers received instruction, including Richard Reid the shoe bomber and Zacharias Moussaui, the 20th hijacker. British authorities knew what was going on in that mosque. One can only see so many banners hung out at fundamentalist gatherings with such wonderful sentiments as "Sharia is the future of Britain", and not have SOME idea of what was transpiring inside.

Abu Hamza al-Masri, the one time leader of the Finsbury Park mosque is cooling his heels in a British jail on 14 anti-terrorism charges for soliciting murder etc. However, his Sharia law group and its website at are still in operation, so in effect even though he's been arrested, he hasn't been silenced and continues to spew his hate worldwide. While he's still in prison, his wife is drawing British welfare checks and get this: he even has a special nurse, at British taxpayer expense, to wipe his butt, since he has two hooks for hands which he lost in Afghanistan fighting the Russians.

What's wrong with this picture?

So lets get this straight:

The 5 people who attempted the second group of murders in London, shouldn't have been in the country. They got in by lying about being Somali immigrants which get special immigration treatment in Britain (for what God forsaken reason is beyond me).

At least one of them improperly received British citizenship, even though he had a record for crimes committed in Britain.

They had 5-6 different id's which they used to bilk the British social services system.

They received welfare checks.

They received rent subsidies.

They made absolutely zero attempts to hide their islamist feelings.

And yet they got away with it.

Yes, the Western Liberal system is broken.

London Bomb Suspects Stood Out as Radicals

By Jeffrey Fleishman and Sebastian Rotella, Times Staff Writers

LONDON — They first became known to the world as blurry images from subway cameras. But the men accused of attempting to bomb London's transit system July 21 had clearly defined their militancy in the months leading up to the failed attacks.

The suspects had sharpened their radicalism in the streets, mosques and housing projects of rough ethnic neighborhoods, investigators, witnesses and friends say. They were brazen voices in an unsuspecting city, marginalized East Africans who lived by their wits, dabbling in street crime and reportedly manipulating the immigration and welfare systems. During workouts at a West London gym, they channeled their private rage into public diatribes.


Brothers Ramzi and Wharbi Mohammed sold Islamic literature and recited religious verses on a gritty North Kensington street of antiques stores and cafes, skirmishing with a shop owner who chased them away. Hamdi Issac, now jailed in Rome, belonged to a gang of extremists who waged a belligerent campaign to take over a mosque in South London. Roommates Muktar Said Ibrahim and Yasin Hassan Omar were loud militants, praising Osama bin Laden to neighbors at the rundown building where Ibrahim is accused of preparing five backpack bombs.

Their agitation allegedly gave way to action after July 7, when four young British Muslims, three from the northern city of Leeds, ignited bombs on three subway cars and a bus, killing themselves and 52 others. Issac claims that his group struck two weeks later in an improvised, independent tribute to the dead bombers. Despite similar methods and targets, British authorities say they have found no link between the two plots.

In any case, those who had run-ins with the July 21 suspects remember aggressive rhetoric rooted in anger against Britain's support of U.S. policy in Iraq. During interrogations in Italy, Issac has returned obsessively to the war in Iraq, a senior Italian anti-terrorism official said.

"He's calm — he seems scared," said the Italian official, who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons. "He's open, gentle, polite; he doesn't get mad even when you provoke him. But when you ask him why he did it, he starts with the speech about Iraq: They are killing women and children, no one's doing anything about it, on and on. That's when you can see there has been a brainwashing."

The men's outspokenness reflects the unpredictability of potential jihadis. The 19 hijackers involved in Sept. 11, for example, masked their deadly intentions by trying to blend into Western society. Militants in Europe in other cases have been less discreet: Before setting off to fight and die with militants in Iraq last year, a group of young Parisian jihadis first caught the attention of police with aggressive behavior at street protests against banning Islamic head scarves in schools.

The suspects in the attempted London bombings were also preoccupied with other things: They dedicated themselves to ripping off the state, authorities say. They resided in public housing, collected unemployment and welfare benefits and used multiple identities to bilk the government for large sums, investigators say.

"These were people who came as refugees, were made welcome and treated properly," said a British official who asked to remain anonymous. "And they decided to abuse the social security system to a huge degree."

Months before the failed attacks, the Mohammed brothers strolled amid the shopkeepers and cafe owners on Golborne Road in North Kensington, a stretch of dusty awnings, shops and Moroccan grills where incense whirls with scents of mint tea and fish on ice. Golborne is a testament to the neighborhood's shifting ethnic dynamic: The Portuguese who first migrated here have given way to Moroccans and East Africans and, according to residents, rising crime.

Ramzi and Wharbi set up a tarp-covered stall on the corner of Golborne and Wornington roads, half a block from the clattering cups at Lisboa Patisserie, where the men often relaxed over coffee.

"They were handing out Islamic literature, and I had a kind of altercation with them," said a neighborhood antiques dealer, who feared retribution and gave his name only as Jerome. "There were four or five of them. They spoke in Arabic and English. I thought they were being unbearable and intense and I asked them to leave. They had had the stall for months and didn't have a license."

The brothers moved down the street and eventually disappeared. Ramzi, 23, lived about two miles away in Dalgarno Gardens, a maze of brick buildings that shadow drug dealers and working-class families.

"Ramzi was a cool guy," said Jamal Kamiri, sitting the other day on a bench behind Ramzi's apartment. "When I was younger, he used to play football with us. He used to carry a 9-millimeter pistol, but guns are common here and he wasn't a troublemaker. He carried it for protection.

"Ramzi disappeared for about nine weeks in 2003. I don't know where he went. When he came back, he was more religious. He started carrying the Koran and dressed in more traditional clothing like those long Pakistani shirts."

The Mohammed brothers are now in jail. Wharbi is charged as an accomplice.

On July 21, the short, sturdily built Ramzi was photographed wearing a New York sweatshirt while sprinting away from the scene of the attempted bombing at the Oval subway station in South London, police say.

Issac, the suspect being held in Rome, lived in a ground-floor two-bedroom apartment near that station.

Neighbors remember Issac, 27, as a muscular man with a long beard who wore Islamic robes even while riding his mountain bike in the predominantly black Stockwell area. He regularly made the long trek to the Finsbury Park Mosque in North London, a notorious crossroads for multiethnic terrorist networks, according to Issac's confession in Rome.

When London police cracked down on the mosque in 2003, Issac set his sights on his own neighborhood. He joined a group of about 20 militants who had left Finsbury Park and tried to take over a mosque in Stockwell, said Toaha Qureshi, a mosque trustee.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Telegraph - By breaking the seals at Isfahan, the Iranian president has deliberately set up a showdown with the West

Telegraph | News | By breaking the seals at Isfahan, the Iranian president has deliberately set up a showdown with t

By Con Coughlin
(Filed: 14/08/2005)

They smuggle arms to kill our troops, they encourage Shi'ite Muslim clerics in Iraq to set up their own independent state, and now they want to build an atom bomb.

More than 25 years after the ayatollahs first seized power in Teheran, the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to pose a grave threat to Western security.

Just as the West's impotence was exposed when Iran's Revolutionary Guards seized control of the American Embassy in Teheran in the immediate aftermath of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, so Western diplomats have been deeply embarrassed to discover that they are rapidly running out of options to prevent Iran from pushing ahead with its plans to build its own nuclear weapons arsenal.

Certainly that is the calculation being made by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the new Iranian president, after he authorised his nuclear scientists last week to unseal a key uranium conversion plant at Isfahan that had been mothballed by United Nations weapons inspectors at the end of last year over fears that it was being used as part of a bomb-making programme.

Uranium conversion is a key process in producing weapons-grade material for a nuclear bomb. By ordering work to resume at Isfahan, Mr Ahmadinejad has deliberately set the scene for a showdown with the West over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

The Iranians, of course, have always insisted that their "national nuclear industry", as they refer to it, is for purely peaceful purposes. This is despite the fact that, with known oil reserves in excess of 90 billion barrels, the country has more than enough energy reserves to last it until well into the next century.

Suspicions have been steadily growing about Iran's true intentions since the summer of 2002 when the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) revealed the existence of a top-secret underground uranium enrichment plant at Natanz. As a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Teheran is obliged to disclose all aspects of its nuclear programme to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna.

Even though the Natanz complex covers 250,000 acres and employs 1,000 personnel, the Iranians somehow managed not to inform the IAEA about it. Only when the NCRI provided evidence did the Iranians own up to its existence.

When UN nuclear experts were eventually allowed to inspect the site, they were amazed to find a massive underground complex, including two large halls designed to carry out uranium enrichment sunk 25ft deep with an 8ft thick concrete shell to protect them from air strikes. Once inside the complex, officials found 1,000 gas centrifuges, used for enriching uranium, and components for the manufacture of up to another 50,000 centrifuges.

None of this had been disclosed to the UN inspectors. But the most damning discoveries were the traces of enriched uranium found in soil samples taken from the site. Enriched uranium is a key component of a nuclear bomb, and when questioned on its provenance Iranian officials came up with the somewhat lame excuse that the particles has been "inadvertently" imported into the country in equipment purchased from abroad.

That country is most likely to have been Pakistan, which managed to develop and test its own nuclear weapons arsenal without the outside world knowing about it until it was too late.

British intelligence suspects that A Q Khan, the "father" of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, sold key nuclear technology to Iran to fund his own research programme.

In return, the Iranians sold technology from their Shahab 3 ballistic missile to Islamabad, which might explain Pakistan's successful launch of its own cruise missile - the Hatf VII Batr - at the end of last week.

Nor was the Natanz complex the Iranians' only embarrassing omission. Questions were also asked about the development of a secret heavy water plant at Arak. If the sole purpose of Iran's nuclear research were to develop an alternative fuel supply, it would have no use for a facility to make heavy water, another key component in the manufacture of nuclear weapons. Iran's controversial Busheyr nuclear power complex, which is nearing completion on the Gulf coast, is designed to run a light water nuclear reactor.

Faced with what, by any test, was pretty damning proof of Iran's duplicity with regard to its nuclear programme, the so-called EU3 - Britain, France and Germany - have spent the past two years in a wearisome game of diplomatic cat-and-mouse, trying to cajole Teheran into giving up the more sinister elements in its nuclear programme.

In return they have indicated that they would allow the Iranians to continue developing an indigenous nuclear power industry.


Britain keeps distance from talk of strike on Iran - Sunday Times - Times Online

I have to wonder exactly where the EU3 negotiators learned the art of negotiation. What kind of negotiators leave the sticks at home and only bring carrots along?

Well, it's hardly surprising I suppose. With the trashing of the European militaries in order to feed their socialist states, they have very little sticks. In fact, their main stick seems to be, to sic the US on the bad guys if negotiations break down.

Both Britain and Germany have resolutely stated that they will have nothing to do with any attack on Iran and have subsequently sent new offers to the Iranian nuclear team to renew discussions. After offering Iran a non-agression pact, Europe has left itself few options outside of bigger and bigger bribes and appeasements.

Of course if the EU were to raise their hands to the Iranians, the billions of Euros worth of business they do with Iran on a yearly basis would probably dry up immediately. At the moment, the Eurozone economies would take a serious hit and probably end up in recession should these "business" dealings disappear.

Rolling out the red carpet for Mugabe, Khomeni, Arafat and now the Mad Mullahs of Iran, the EU seem to have found their soulmates and are not only are militarily unable to mount an attack on Iran, they're philosophically unable to as well.

I really don't understand why the US is still a member of NATO. If they didn't have the US military to use as a crutch, Europe might have to develop their own military. The US pulling out of NATO and pulling its troops from Western Europe where they've been posted for almost 60 years would leave Europe all but defenseless and put them in a position of sink or swim.

Britain keeps distance from talk of strike on Iran - Sunday Times - Times Online

August 14, 2005

Andrew Porter and Tom Walker

THE foreign secretary Jack Straw sought to distance Britain yesterday from comments by President George W Bush that he would not rule out a military strike against Iran.

It came as diplomats gave warning that British attempts to solve the crisis prompted by Tehran’s resumption of its nuclear programme last week were doomed to failure.

Bush raised the temperature by giving an interview to Israeli television from his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Asked if he would consider force, he replied: “All options are on the table.” He added: “The use of force is the last option for any president and you know we’ve used force in the recent past to secure our country.”

The Foreign Office reacted swiftly. “Our position is clear and has been made very, very clear by the foreign secretary,” a spokesman said. “We do not think there are any circumstances where military action would be justified against Iran. It does not form part of British foreign policy.”

So soon after the invasion of Iraq, which has led to so much political turmoil for Tony Blair’s administration, Straw is anxious not to be seen trying to talk up any future forays. But some rightwingers in Washington have criticised Straw’s position, saying that every time the foreign secretary rules out any remote chance of military action the Iranians know there is no need to compromise.

Bush’s veiled remarks came as Foreign Office negotiators launched a new round of shuttle diplomacy to try to persuade Tehran to reverse last week’s decision to resume its enriching of uranium — seen by Washington and the European Union as a smokescreen for a secret nuclear weapons programme.

A spokesman said Britain’s negotiators had “worked their socks off” to convince a meeting in Vienna of the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to call on Iran to freeze activity at its Isfahan and Natanz plants.

Britain has made it clear that if Iran has not backed down by September 3, when Mohamed ElBaradei, the IAEA’s secretary-general, is to report on the country’s nuclear programme, it will push for Tehran to be taken to the United Nations security council. Officials in Vienna warned, however, that any attempt to impose sanctions on Iran would be likely to be vetoed by Russia and China.

“Iran has all the cards,” said one official close to the talks. “It’s going to be embarrassing for the Brits.”

Russia has a civilian nuclear contract with Iran worth £500m while China is increasingly reliant on Iranian oil and gas. Last October Sinopec, the Chinese state oil company, signed a £39 billion deal giving it a 51% stake in Yadavaran, Iran’s largest onshore oilfield.

KCTV5 - Iran calls for talks with E-U, says it will never stop uranium conversion

Not content with rubbing the EU's nose in the fact that the past 2 years of steady negotiating has been nothing but a sham, Iran has offered to enter negotiations anew, but dealing with unspecified goals, merely "another facility."

Your loyal editor suspects that the Iranians have need of another 5 years of negotiating sessions in order to actually construct their nuclear weapons, and since the US and Israel would undoubtedly balk, boors that they are, Tehran's nuclear officials are certain that the EUnuch negotiators will keep these inconvenient infidels off their back while they undergo their full weapons development program.

At the same time, the Iranian team has great expectations that the EU will once again offer their non-aggression pact, will assist Iran in its WTO bid and if the cards fall right, will even offer Iran a UN Security Council seat, though the last is improbable.

One has to wonder how long it will be before Europe understands that Iran is not suseptible to their chief negotiating tactics: bribery and appeasment. Their mission isn't to enrich themselves with things they can already buy. Their mission is to kill Jews, the Great Satan and every infidel on the planet.

Nuclear weapons to Tehran are nothing more than terrorism by other means. They have set up 4,000 centrifuges and have the materials necessary to set up 50,000 more. Their main heavy water plant (only usable in nuclear weapons) covers 250,000 acres of ground. They're taking this VERY seriously. They don't intend to make a bomb then forget about it. They fully intend to mass-produce these weapons and spread the knowledge far and wide thoughout the Muslim world.

A Chinese curse states: May you live in interesting times. We certainly are.

KCTV5 - Iran calls for talks with E-U, says it will never stop uranium conversion

TEHRAN, Iran A top Iranian nuclear official says his country will never again suspend uranium conversion. But he's still calling for more talks with Europe on uranium enrichment.

Conversion is a step before enrichment. Enriched uranium can be used as fuel at nuclear power plants and also as material for atomic bombs.

Last week, Iran rejected a United Nations resolution that urged it to stop the conversion. The foreign ministry spokesman says that issue "is over," but another facility is up for discussion.

Telegraph | News | Iran 'kept EU talking' while it finished nuclear plant

I find it more than a little frightening that a group of nations with any number of nuclear weapons at their disposal could be so gullible as the EU/EU3 has recently proven to be with their negotiating position re Iran.

With fantastical delusions to superpowerhood, they allowed themselves to be batantly hoodwinked by the Mad Mullahs in Tehran as the following article shows.

How the EU3, led by Jack Straw could possibly not know that they were being duped by a regime who violated the sanctity of an Embassy and completely ignore Ambassadorial rank; could send their children into minefields to clear it for their soldiers and holds nothing sacred, would suddenly have a change of heart and hold a negotiating position and a resulting treaty sacrosanct, is frankly, beyond me.

I knew it was a con. The US govt knew it was a con. Most people I know politically knew that it was a con. How could the EUnuchs not know? One word: Multiculturalism. Everybody's equal. No people or cultures are better than any other people or culture. All people in all times are equally trustworthy. As long as the EU negotiated in good faith and appeased to its utmost, then anybody they were sitting across the table from would do the same.

What I find truly astounding, is that this isn't exactly the first time this has happened. I remember when Lord Owen was negotiating with the "Bosnian Serbs" every week they came out with a new agreement which was broken, literally, before the ink was dry. 12 agreements and not one of them was worth a damn.

And it's no different than pre-war Germany in the British negotiating position with Hitler. "Peace in our time."

This is going to get a LOT of people killed one way or the other. We're either going to have to disarm Iran like we did Iraq, or we're going to have to hide in holes in the ground when they start launching nuclear missiles at the demon Jews or the Great Satan. But not the EUnuchs. They'll sit safely on the sidelines, wringing their hands and continuing to count the profits that they're making from these madmen ruling from Tehran while other people shed their blood to make up for the dispicable arrogance and willful blindness of European "soft power."

Hey, EU diplomats, repeat after me: We're only infidels. We're only infidels. We're only infidels!

As Winston Churchill declared to Neville Chamberlain on his return from Munich with Hitler's worthless treaty: "You had the choice between dishonor and war. You chose dishonor, but you will have war." There will be war over Iran and its nukes, no question.

Telegraph Iran 'kept EU talking' while it finished nuclear plant

By Colin Freeman

(Filed: 14/08/2005)

An Iranian foreign policy official has boasted that the regime bought extra time over its stalled negotiations with Europe to complete a uranium conversion plant.

In comments that will infuriate EU diplomats, Hosein Musavian said that Teheran took advantage of the nine months of talks, which collapsed last week, to finish work at its Isfahan enrichment facility.

Technicians working at the Isfahan uranium conversion facility
"Thanks to the negotiations with Europe we gained another year in which we completed the [project] in Isfahan," he told an Iranian television interviewer.

Mr Musavian also claimed that work on nuclear centrifuges at a plant at Natanz, which was kept secret until Iran's exiled opposition revealed its existence in 2002, progressed during the negotiations.

"We needed six to 12 months to complete the work on the centrifuges," said Mr Musavian, chairman of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council's foreign policy committee. He made his remarks on August 4 - two days before Iran's foreign ministry rejected the European Union offer of incentives to abandon its uranium enrichment programme.

Critics of the regime will see his comments as confirmation that Iran never contemplated giving up its programme, despite top-level diplomacy involving Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, and his French and German counterparts.

The US was always pessimistic about the talks' chance of success. Yesterday President George W Bush refused to rule out using military force to press Iran into giving up its nuclear programme, which Washington suspects is a front for weapons-making. "All options are on the table," Mr Bush told Israeli television.

Mr Musavian, whose remarks were translated by the Middle East Research Institute based in Washington, was responding to criticism from Iranian hardliners that Teheran should never have entered into the EU negotiations.

He said that until then, Iran had dealt solely with the UN-backed International Atomic Energy Authority, which had given it a 50-day deadline to suspend uranium enrichment on pain of referral to the UN Security Council.

"The IAEA give us a 50-day extension to suspend the enrichment and all related activities," he said. "But thanks to the negotiations with Europe we gained another year, in which we completed the [project] in Isfahan."

The plant, about 250 miles south of Teheran, carries out an early stage of the cycle for developing nuclear fuel, turning yellowcake into UF4 and then into UF6, a gas essential to enrichment.

"Today, we are in a position of power," Mr Musavian said. "Isfahan is complete and has a stockpile of products." Mr Musavian also said that Iran had further benefited from sweeteners offered by the EU, including the invitation to enter talks on Iran joining the World Trade Organisation.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

BBC NEWS | Politics | The last days of 'Londonistan'

BBC NEWS | Politics | The last days of 'Londonistan'

By Paul Reynolds - World Affairs correspondent, BBC News website

Massari's case highlights difficulties the UK government faces

The London bombings have spurred the British government into proposing a series of new laws designed to put an end to the reputation of the capital as "Londonistan", a centre for militant Islam.
It wants to create offences such as "indirect incitement to terrorism", "acts preparatory to terrorism" and using the internet for terrorist recruitment and training.

It also wants to make it easier to deport foreign nationals who openly preach jihad and violence.

However, one attempted deportation shows how human rights legislation and its interpretation by the judiciary can prevent the executive in a Western democracy from simply exercising its will.

At a time when al-Qaeda and its associates are showing a resilience and ability to strike at widespread targets in London and Egypt - let alone Iraq - the government feels such legal protections must be looked at again.

The Massari case

The case in point is that of Muhammad al-Massari, an exile from Saudi Arabia, who runs a website that shows videos of suicide bomb attacks in Iraq, including one in which three British soldiers were killed.

An extended interview with Mr Massari was shown in a BBC television documentary about how the internet is an integral part of the far-flung al-Qaeda network, of which the Iraqi insurgents led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are part.

[Mr al-Massari] opposed the Saudi royal family from an Islamist point of view... The royal family was not greatly amused

British official

In the 1990s, Mr Massari ran a group in London called the Committee for the Defence of Legal Rights. At that time, he specialised in sending faxes into Saudi Arabia to promote his cause.

According to a British official who has tracked the case, the Saudi government told the British authorities at the time that he was more Islamic militant than human rights activist.

"He opposed the Saudi royal family from an Islamist point of view. He thought, and probably still does, that it was not Islamic enough, that it was corrupt and decadent," the official said.

"The royal family was not greatly amused."

Attempt to deport

During the Conservative government of John Major, a high-level assurance was given to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah that Britain would send Mr al-Massari back.

That is when the legal problems began.

The case was handed to an unusually senior British official, a sign of how important it was deemed.

For the next 18 months, this official spoke to almost every lawyer in the government but was blocked at every turn.

The issue was that of the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees, which says in Article 32: "The Contracting States shall not expel a refugee lawfully in their territory save on grounds of national security or public order."

Government lawyers said that British national security was not sufficiently engaged, even though the then-Home Secretary Michael Howard argued that British interests in the Gulf were at risk from Mr Massari's activities.

The Dominica solution

Eventually, another route was explored.

"We looked at whether another country might take him," said the British official. "We narrowed it down to about 10. They all said that they would like to help but always added that their relations with Saudi Arabia might be jeopardised. Finally it came down to one - Dominica."

"Other countries have managed perfectly well, consistent with human rights, to expel people who are inciting in other countries

Tony Blair

Dominica, a former British colony, is a volcanic dot in the Caribbean, one of the lushest of the West Indian islands and about as far away from the Middle East as you can get.

It had been run for 15 years by a tough prime minister named Eugenia Charles, an admirer of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Dominica agreed to take the Saudi exile.

"Massari appealed and the court upheld his appeal," said the official.

" It held that although Dominica had signed the 1951 Convention, this was not incorporated into its domestic law, so there was a chance he would be sent on somewhere else. We could not get rid of him."

The promise to the Crown Prince could not be fulfilled. The Saudis were not pleased.

Guardian journalists condemn sacking of radical Muslim

Guardian journalists condemn sacking of radical Muslim - Brand Republic

by Gordon MacMillan Brand Republic 28 Jul 2005

McCall: NUJ has condemned her sacking of Aslam

LONDON – Guardian journalists have condemned the sacking of Muslim journalist Dilpazier Aslam, who was revealed by bloggers to be a member of the anti-Semitic Islamic group Hizb'ut Tahrir.

His sacking was discussed at a National Union of Journalists meeting, at which Aslam was present. According to political blog Harry's Place, part of Aslam's defence was his surprise at the outrage caused by his 7/7 article in The Guardian, in which he called the suicide bombers who killed 52 people "sassy".

Aslam said that he had worked closely on the piece with Guardian comment editor Seumus Milne, who he said had suggested certain phrases that appeared in the controversial article.

At the NUJ meeting, Aslam is understood to have been asked several pointed questions about the anti-Semitism of Hizb'ut Tahrir. Aslam is reported not to have given satisfactory answers to these questions.

Despite this, the meeting still narrowly backed him and condemned his sacking by Guardian Newspapers chief executive Carolyn McCall.


News | This is London - Suspect paid thousands in benefits

Suspect paid thousands in benefits

26 July 2005

One of the would-be suicide bombers who tried to blow up a London Tube train had been handed thousands of pounds in taxpayers' money.

Yasin Hassan Omar, 24, was given 75 pounds a week in housing benefit to pay for the one-bedroom flat where he has been the registered tenant since February 1999.

His housing benefit stopped in May but he may have been given up to �24,000 over the last five years.

The flat, on the ninth floor of a 12-storey tower block in New Southgate, north London, is believed to
have been used as a bomb factory by the suicide team who unsuccessfully targeted the London transport network last Thursday.

Explosives experts were examining material found inside.

Neighbours said another suspected bomber Muktar Said-Ibrahim, 27, had also been staying at the flat.

And they described seeing men lugging boxes into the flat only a few weeks ago. The men said the boxes contained wallpaper stripper.

More London bombers 'had 16 unexploded bombs'

London bombers 'had 16 unexploded bombs'

27/07/2005 - 15:45:52

The London bombers left a stash of 16 unexploded bombs in a car, some packed with nails, it was revealed today.

Security experts believe the July 7 plot, which killed 56 people, may have been much larger and the explosives intended for a second strike.

The bombs were recovered from a car believed to have been rented by suicide bomber Shehzad Tanweer, according to ABC News.

The vehicle was found five days after the attacks in Luton, where the bombers boarded a train to London.

Exclusive pictures obtained by the US network show some of the bombs flat-packed like pancakes, while others were packed with nails to use as shrapnel.

An X-ray picture of one of the bombs shows nails bulging out of the side of a bottle-shaped bomb.

Security analyst Robert Ayers, told ABC: "Bombs don't kill by concussion. Small bombs, they kill by the blast effects of fragments of glass or metal, and this is designed to kill people."

He said he believed the explosives were left for a second strike.

The first pictures of the bloody wreckage deep in the London underground tunnels have also been obtained by ABC.

The extent of the devastation at Edgware Road station and on the train between King�s Cross and Russell Square, where 27 were killed, was shown on World News Tonight.

Mr Ayers said you could see how the bomb had blown out the train�s sides, and the roof had been blown to bits."


27 July 2005

BY THE time four young British Muslim men had turned themselves into human bombs and murdered 52 innocent people, I'd left London behind.

At dawn on July 7, the city was still basking in the glory of winning the bid to host the 2012 Olympics. The spirit of optimism was palpable.

London was definitely looking up. Two weeks later, it feels as though I've been through a time warp.

The capital is now a dramatically different place. But for all the tragedy, carnage and mayhem I'm not altogether sure that it's a worse one. The picture is crystal clear and the enemy exposed.

We're in no doubt now about the kind of terrorist we're dealing with. Not illegal immigrants or refugees raised on a diet of hatred and fear but young men who appeared, on the face of it, to be polite and courteous citizens.

They've enjoyed, as much as anyone else in Britain, opportunities to make a decent life for themselves. The state, it now emerges, was even bankrolling two of them.

Fugitive bombers Yasin Hassan Omar, a 24-year-old Somali, and flat-mate Muktar Said-Ibrahim had been living rent-free in their council flat and receiving income support. You can't say fairer than that, can you?

And yet still the woolly liberals wring their hands and wonder where we all went wrong. The truth is, we didn't.

The suicide bombers of July 7 came from backgrounds that were no more or less dysfunctional than your average child in Britain today.

Some grab their chances with both hands to succeed in life. Others succumb to the super-chav ambition of acquiring designer clothes and breeding a succession of illegitimate babies.

This lot turned, instead, to religious extremism and embraced the insane, impossible dreams a jihad offered them, of martyrdom and heavenly virgins.

Intellectual or political reasoning has nothing to do with their cause. The foreign policy of the West is a useful weapon of propaganda but at the heart of their terrorism is the desire - irrational though it may seem to us - that we should live by their religion.

For years, they've worshipped at the altar of mad mullahs like Omar Bakri and Abu Hamza, both of whom have been allowed to preach their messages of hate and pure venom in this country, with impunity.

What's happened in Britain is a wake-up call. A shocking reminder that we're not exempt from the brain-washed, murderous young man trained to deceive and groomed to kill.

I wonder how many of us, as we grieve for those killed by car bombs in Sharm-el-Sheik, spared a thought for the 40 people who also lost their lives in an Iraq blast - all victims of a lorry containing 500lb of explosives driven into a police station.

Al-Qaeda, make no mistake, holds no mercy for Iraqis, who are, in the main, Shia Muslims.

The dreadful, appalling fact is that we needed an atrocity to truly understand the horror other nations have suffered for years. (Let's not forget that it was in 1993 - long before the war in Iraq - that al-Qaeda set off a truck bomb in the World Trade Center.)

And, more importantly, we needed it to recognise that what's happened in Britain these past two weeks has been simmering for just as long. Finally, the government has woken from its slumber to do something about it. Proposals to outlaw acts preparatory to terrorism and the "indirect" incitement of violence should have been in place long ago.

Had they been, imams able to poison the minds of young recruits - now in place to carry out their suicide missions - would have been silenced.

Yes, like everyone else in London, I feel anxious on the underground and buses. I'm also furious to be robbed of the freedom we've all taken for granted.

We should be entitled to go round the city without looking over our shoulders. Instead we travel in nervous silence, staring at the floor and looking suspiciously at young Asian men carrying rucksacks.

But I feel a lot less nervous knowing our police are visible and will employ a shoot-to-kill policy, that finally our immigration services will do their job more rigorously and that the mullahs who refuse to condemn terrorism will be deported.

We are no longer sleepwalking into a disaster. We've faced the nightmare.

Now we just have to get through it.

Pakistani is a bad word in Britain

Pakistani is a bad word in Britain

July 25, 2005

It has been thirty years since I first set foot in London, and I can't help musing over the changes that have been wrought in those decades. You can no longer ask your taxi driver to take you past Downing Street, the men at the immigration counter peruse you much more intently (though they are still as polite), and there is a definite chill in the air which has nothing to do with London's famously gloomy skies and everything to do with how one looks. Until they are reassured that I am a (Hindu) Indian and not a (Muslim) Pakistani, there is a wariness everywhere.

'Paki' has long been a term of abuse in Britain (though not in the United States). It goes back at least twenty years to the days of the infamous race riots. But where it was once mere tinged with contempt there is now more than a little loathing and hatred too.

"Don't be fooled by the apparent normalcy," was the grim warning delivered by a senior figure in the police services, "London has changed after the blasts, and so has Europe." And it all has to do with the apparent role of the 'Pakistanis' in the London blasts. The quotation marks are deliberate since the criminals who carried out the explosions were not really Pakistanis, but British citizens of Pakistani origin. That is a significant difference.

In the past, so the wry quip goes, they were born in Pakistan and would come to Britain for higher studies; today they are born in the United Kingdom but make the trip to Pakistan to finish off their education. My interlocutor may have been speaking tongue in cheek, but I cannot imagine such a comment being made three decades ago.

The old illusion that the terrorists are simply a misguided minority is fast giving way to the new conventional wisdom, namely that the terrorists are simply the most visible face of militant Islam. The second point being hammered away by the security forces into the heads of their political masters is that the most advanced colleges of terrorism, their Oxford and Cambridge as it were, are all in Pakistan. Hasib Hussain, Mohammed Sidique Khan, and Shahzad Tanweer -- three of the four suspects in the London blasts -- were either of Pakistani origin or attended some institution in that country. Other British citizens of Pakistani origin are being questioned in connection with the case.

The three men named above died in the July 7 blasts they are suspected of having set off, and cannot speak for themselves. In the popular imagination, however, the voice of Islamic fundamentalism was heard loud and clear across the Channel in The Netherlands. Muhammad Bouyeri is on trial for murdering Dutch film-maker Theo Van Gogh (a distant relative of the famous painter) because the director had been critical of some Islamic customs in one of his films. (Never having seen the film, I am not sure what the fuss was about.) Confronted with the victim's mother, Bouyeri contemptuously told her that he could feel no pity for an 'infidel.' He followed this with the defiant proclamation, 'If I'm ever released, I'd do the same again. Exactly the same!'


Mark Steyn: Wake up, folks - it's war!

Mark Steyn: Wake up, folks - it's war!


A couple of items from Tuesday’s papers. On the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian pilot programme for the Met’s new shoot-to-kill policy, the Daily Telegraph reports:

‘A Home Office spokesman last night admitted that it had not yet identified his immigration status: “We are looking into the case and will provide more information as soon as we are able to do so.’’’

Meanwhile, the Times includes this background information on one of the thwarted bombers of the 21 July attacks — Yassin Hassan Omar, a Somali ‘asylum-seeker’:

‘Omar, who was last seen vaulting a barrier at Warren Street station, has been the registered occupant of the flat since 1999. Ibrahim, who was last seen in Hackney Road, East London, after his failed attempt to blow up a No. 26 bus, shared it with him for the past two years. Omar received £88 a week in housing benefit to pay for the council property and also received income support, immigration officials say.’

So here’s how things stand:

1) Four days after Mr de Menezes became the most famous foreigner in the United Kingdom, Her Majesty’s Government is unable to give a definitive answer on his immigration status.

2) Four years after 9/11, British taxpayers are subsidising the jihad — in Mr Omar’s Bounds Green council flat and in many other places.

There’s a pleasant thought the next time you’re on a bus when some Islamakazi self-detonates: it’s on your tax bill; P-A-Y-E — pay as you explode.

Number One comes at a time when the relevant department, the Home Office, not content with being unable to run its existing records system for foreigners, is determined to inflict an expensive and cumbersome bureaucracy on every non-foreigner in the land. Indeed, the Home Secretary has now upgraded it into a fundamental human right: ‘Just let us put in place our hierarchy of rights,’ Charles Clarke told MEPs just before the second attacks. ‘The right to live. The right to go to work on the Underground. The right to have an ID card.’ Human rights-wise, that last one is right up there with the right to be subject to confiscatory taxation.

And Number Two isn’t some stunning shocking development, either. In The Spectator of 29 December 2001, I noted the likes of Zac Moussaoui, the French citizen who became an Islamist radical while living on welfare in London, and wrote:

‘If you’re looking for “root causes” for terrorism, European-sized welfare programmes are a good place to start. Maybe if they had to go out to work, they’d join the Daily Mirror and become the next John Pilger. Or maybe they’d open a drive-thru Halal Burger chain and make a fortune. Instead, Tony Blair pays Islamic fundamentalists in London to stay at home, fester and plot.’

I wasn’t the first to notice the links between Euro-Canadian welfare and terrorism. Mickey Kaus, an iconoclastic California liberal, was way ahead. But, after three-and-a-half years, one would be entitled to assume that a government whose fortunes are as heavily invested in the terrorist threat as this one’s might have spotted it, too — especially given the ever greater numbers of British jihadi uncovered from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Israel and America.

That’s why I regretfully have to disagree with the editor of this great publication in his prescription of the current situation which appeared in these pages a week or two back under the headline ‘Just don’t call it war’. As you’ll have gathered, the boss objects to the language of ‘war, whether cultural or military.... Last week’s bombs were placed not by martyrs nor by soldiers, but by criminals.’

Sorry, but that’s the way to lose. A narrowly focused ‘criminal’ approach means entrusting the whole business to the state bureaucracy. The obvious problem with that is that it’s mostly reactive: blow somewhere up, we’ll seal it off, and detectives will investigate it as a crime scene. You could make the approach less reactive by a sustained effort to improve scrutiny of immigration, entitlement to welfare and other matters within the purview of government. But consider those two snippets from the Tuesday papers and then figure out the likelihood of that happening. A ‘criminal’ approach gives terrorists all the rights of criminals, and between British and European ‘human rights’ that’s quite a bundle. If it’s a war, you can take wartime measures — including withdrawal from the UN Convention on Refugees, repeal of the European Human Rights Act, and a clawback of sovereignty from the EU. But if you fight this thing as a law-enforcement matter, Islamist welfare queens will use all the above to their full extent and continue openly promoting the murder of the Prime Minister, British troops, etc. with impunity.

Softly-softly won’t catchee monkey. Slo-mo conflicts are the hardest to win, in part because in advanced societies the public finds it hard to stay focused. Granted, there are exceptions to that rule: the government, battling the commies in Malaya, went the Boris Johnson route and declined to call it a war; and the eventual victory in the Malayan ‘Emergency’ might tend to support his thesis. It was said that London was reluctant to use the term ‘war’ for reasons of home and business insurance, but it’s also a broader kind of insurance: it lowers the stakes, it softens the people up for a non-victory — as in the Irish ‘Troubles’. Sometimes, as in Malaya, you happen to win one of these ‘emergencies’ or ‘troubles’, and that’s a bonus. But the point is, by designating something as other than a war, you tend to make it peripheral, and therefore loseable.

That’s not an option here. Madrid and London — along with other events such as the murder of Theo Van Gogh — are, in essence, the opening shots of a European civil war. You can laugh at that if you wish, but the Islamists’ most often-stated goal is not infidel withdrawal from Iraq but the re-establishment of a Muslim caliphate living under Sharia that extends to Europe; and there’s a lot to be said for taking these chaps at their word and then seeing whether their behaviour is consistent.

Furthermore, there’s a lot more of the world that lives under Sharia than there was, say, 30 years ago: Pakistan adopted it in 1977, Iran in 1979, Sudan in 1984.... Fifty years ago, Nigeria lived under English common law; now, half of it’s in the grip of Islamic law. So, as a political project, radical Islam has made some headway, and continues to do so almost every day of the week: since the beginning of the year, for example, some 10 per cent of southern Thailand’s Buddhist population have abandoned their homes — a far bigger disruption than the tsunami, yet all but unreported in the Western press. And whatever one’s opinion of the various local conflicts around the world — Muslims vs Buddhists in Thailand, Muslims vs Hindus in Kashmir, Muslims vs Jews in the Holy Land, Muslims vs Russians in Chechnya, Muslims vs Christians in Africa — the fact is that the jihad has held out a long time against very tough enemies. If you’re not shy about taking on the Israelis and Russians, why wouldn’t you fancy your chances against the Belgians and Spaniards?

If the jihad has its war aims, maybe we should start thinking about ours. What would victory look like? As fascism and communism were in their day, Islamism is now the ideology of choice for the world’s grievance-mongers. That means we have to destroy the ideology, or at least its potency — not Islam per se, but at the very minimum the malign strain of Wahabism, which thanks to Saudi oil money has been transformed from a fetish of isolated desert derelicts into the most influential radicalising force in contemporary Islam, from Indonesia to Leeds. Europeans who aren’t prepared to roll back Wahabism had better be prepared to live with it, or under it.

Mustering the popular will for that sort of struggle isn’t easy. But the longer you leave it the harder it becomes. Whether or not one accepts the Johnson line that Iraq is irrelevant to the war on terror, it requires a perverse genius on the part of Tony Blair to have found the political courage to fight an unpopular war on a distant shore but not the political courage to wage it closer to home where it would have commanded far more support.

On a couple of very fleeting visits to London and Belfast in recent weeks, I had the vague feeling that Britain is on the brink of a tragedy it doesn’t quite comprehend. America’s post-9/11 muscular nationalism was easily mocked by Europeans, but its absence in London is palpable: try to imagine Mayor Giuliani uttering half the stuff Ken Livingstone said in the last fortnight (‘The bombings would never have happened if the West had simply left the Arab nations alone in the wake of the first world war’). Even if he’s right, the message it communicates is weakness: bomb us, and we apologise — or at the very least go to comically absurd lengths to distinguish terrorism against London from terrorism against Israel. Tony Blair, in his recitation in the House of Commons of nations afflicted by terrorism, couldn’t even bring himself to mention the Zionist Entity. Boris Johnson, in his call to non-arms, began with an elaborate riff on the difference between Brits and Jews in these matters:

‘If we were Israelis, we would by now be doing a standard thing to that white semi-detached pebbledash house at 51 Colwyn Road, Beeston. Having given due warning, we would dispatch an American-built ground-assault helicopter and blow the place to bits. Then we would send in bulldozers to scrape over the remains....’

More - UK 'blocked bomb plotter' arrest - Jul 28, 2005

UK 'blocked bomb plotter' arrest

British police continue to make arrests in July 21 incidents

Thursday, July 28, 2005; Posted: 7:44 p.m. EDT (23:44 GMT)

Police detained nine people in an early morning raid in south London on Thursday.

Nine more arrests in connection to July 21 failed bombings. (4:34)

Four suspects arrested in Birmingham (5:32)

(CNN) -- About a month before the July 7 bombings in London, British authorities balked at giving U.S. officials permission to apprehend a man now believed to have ties to the bombers, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

Haroon Rashid Aswat, 30, of Indian heritage, is currently in custody in Zambia, U.S. and Zambian officials told CNN.

U.S. authorities wanted to capture Aswat, who was then in South Africa, and question him about a 1999 plot to establish a "jihad training camp" in Bly, Oregon.

According to the sources, U.S. officials had located Aswat in South Africa weeks before the July 7 attacks that killed 52 bus and subway travelers and the four bombers.

U.S. authorities had asked South Africa if they could take Aswat into custody. South Africa relayed the request to Britain, but authorities there balked because he was a British citizen, the sources said. While the debate was ongoing, Aswat slipped away. (Full story)

British authorities now suspect Aswat lent support to the July 7 bombers.

According to U.S. officials, Aswat was an unindicted co-conspirator in the terrorist camp case, which resulted in a guilty plea in 2003 by the main defendant, James Ujaama, of Seattle, Washington. (Full story)

Meanwhile Thursday in Britain -- one week after failed attacks on London's transit system that appeared to imitate the July 7 bombings -- a nationwide manhunt focused on three of the suspected terrorists.

Authorities have taken 20 people in custody, including one of the suspected bombers, as part of the investigation into the July 21 attacks on three Underground trains and a double-decker bus.

Nine men were arrested in the Tooting area of south London early Thursday -- six at one address and three at another, according to Metropolitan Police. Searches at the addresses were ongoing.

But as those arrests were announced, the country's top police official said more attacks were possible if the three other suspects in the attempted bombings remained at large.

"It does remain possible that those at large will strike again," Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair said. "It does also remain possible that there are other cells who are capable and intent on striking again."

As part of its investigation into the attempted bombings, police have taken 1,800 witness statements, have received 5,000 calls to the terrorist tip line, and are examining 15,000 closed-circuit television tapes.

The British government also announced that the Brazilian man mistakenly shot and killed by police at an Underground station last week had a false stamp on his passport and had been in Britain for two years with an expired visa. (Full story)

Police arrested three women Wednesday night on suspicion of "harboring offenders" in connection with the July 21 plot.

They were taken from a south London apartment raided by armed police and remained in custody Thursday in central London.

Three neighbors told CNN that one of the suspected would-be bombers -- the one who allegedly tried to set off a bomb at the city's Shepherd's Bush Underground Station -- lived there, having recognized him in a new photo released by police.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Dutch Filmmaker's Killer Gets Life Sentence - Yahoo! News

Dutch Filmmaker's Killer Gets Life Sentence - Yahoo! News

Dutch Filmmaker's Killer Gets Life Sentence

By ANTHONY DEUTSCH, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 43 minutes ago

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - A Dutch court sentenced the killer of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh to life in prison Tuesday, the harshest sentence possible for a murder that heightened ethnic tensions and raised concerns about homegrown Islamic terrorism.

Mohammed Bouyeri, 27, had mounted no defense at his two-day trial earlier this month for the Nov. 2 slaying of Van Gogh, whom he accused of insulting Islam, and told the court he would do it again if given the chance.

Presiding judge Udo Willem Bentinck said life in prison was the only fitting punishment for a crime that sought to undermine Dutch democracy and the political system. He said the three-judge panel had concluded there was no possibility for Bouyeri to return to society, citing his lack of remorse.

Bouyeri, wearing a black and white checkered headscarf, showed no emotion as he shook his lawyer's hand following the verdict. He had earlier told the court he had intended to die in the action and become a martyr for his faith.

Bouyeri has two weeks if he wants to lodge an appeal, but that appeared unlikely.

He was convicted of the murder, described in the judgment as a terrorist attack, the attempted murder of bystanders and police officers, illegal possession of firearms and of impeding the work of a member of parliament, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whom he had threatened to kill in a letter impaled in Van Gogh's chest.

The judgment said Bouyeri had shown "a complete disregard for human life." Van Gogh was "butchered mercilessly," it said, and it was "a miracle that only two bystanders were hit by stray bullets."