Al-Qaeda Finances: Have Money, Will Travel………

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This puts people like Abd al-Hamid al-Mujil in an uncomfortable position. Described by fellow jihadists as the “million-dollar man” for his successful fundraising on behalf of al Qaeda and other jihadi groups, Mujil directed the office of the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), a charity in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. Both he and the IIRO office he headed were designated as terrorist entities by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2006. But even if being “named and shamed” forced Mujil out of the terror-finance business, there are many others just like him. Just this week, David Cohen, the head of the Treasury Department’s Terrorism and Financial Intelligence branch told CNN that major donors from the Gulf states remain the key sources of funding for the al Qaeda core. There are no doubt dozens of radical funders now worrying that their names, bank accounts, or addresses will comes up in bin Laden’s spreadsheets — or “pocket litter” — and for good reason.……..

I have always argued that all these terrorist operations from Iraq to Pakistan must cost a lot of money. More money than the locals could provide. I have always written here that following the money trail from Iraq or Pakistan or Yemen will lead so a huge field of petroleum, an oil well. This is part of someone’s ‘foreign policy’, at least the Iraq part is. Bring pressure on Iraq by sending suicide terrorists across the border and finance them (the money is peanuts for the deep pocketed princes). Bring pressure on Pakistan and others the same way. Meanwhile, the money and the Salafi fatwas will keep the bombers away from the home front. As for the Western allies, and the other Arabs who fall victim? Oh, well, there is such a thing as collateral damage.
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Following Laika and Armstrong: Abu Dhabi and Iran Head Into Space………

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The world could soon see the first Emirati in space, as the Global Space and Satellite Forum 2011 (GSSF)focused on developing the regional space industry’s experts of the future. During the final day of GSSF, senior representatives from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) delivered an interactive UAE Space Career and Exploration video uplink to a gathering of aspiring Emirati astronauts and space industry hopefuls. Dr Omar Al Emam, Voluntary Space Technology Advisor, Arab Science and Technology Foundation (ASTF), spoke about the work of the NASA Lunar Science Institute in California and the importance of hands-on space technology for the youth of the region..……..

Space exploration sure has come a long way. Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space. I believe Alan Shepard (?) was the first American in space, although Neil Armstrong is the most known. In addition to so many humans having gone into space, there are many of other species as well. The Soviet Union, the first country to invade space, sent the first dog and first human into orbit in space (not together). Laika, a dedicated communist whom some Russians suspected of being a secret Trotskyite, was the first dog and her name means “barker”, as in woof woof. The Americans also sent many animals over time. The most popular animals for sending into space were your nearest cousins the simians. Which makes sense.
The UAE is hoping to send an astronaut into space aboard an American spaceship. The Saudis sent one of their princes on an American mission during the 1980s. When the prince landed back on Earth safely he was asked what was the toughest task he faced in space, and his answer was typical “I had a hard time determining which way to face Mecca”. The prince was a pilot but apparently he was no scientist. I understand that he was never asked another question again.
Back to the United Arab Emirates: it is not clear who they will send if NASA agrees, some years down the road. Can it be another shaikh? I doubt that Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed al-Nahayn, ruler of Abu Dhabi will go: he is probably too old and looks rather lumpy. Shaikh Mohammed of Dubai looks too damn serious for anyone to be locked up with in a small spaceship. All the other Bin Zayed al-Nahayan don’t look any more cheerful for company. I was going to nominate their foreign minister Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed al-Nahayn, Metternich of Abu Dhabi, but then who will run the march of our world toward peace and democracy in his absence?
The Iranians have also been threatening to send a man into space during this decade. They already have some satellites up and will launch more this year or next. They have not announced yet whether their spaceman will be a mullah (cleric) or a ‘civilian’. Ahmadinejad will be out of office by that time, which may mean something in this context, or maybe not.
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

An Iranian Exorcist, Saudi Muftis, Egyptian Abdelwahhab…………….

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Twenty-five close collaborators and supporters of Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his influential Chief of Staff, Esfandyar Rahim Mashai, have been arrested, allegedly including “exorcist” or “djinn catcher” Abbas Ghaffari. Many speculate this is due to a quarrel between Ahmadinejad and the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei over the resignation of Iran’s minister of intelligence. Last week, Morteza Nabavi, a conservative politician, accused [fa] team Ahmadinejad of thinking they were being empowered by djinns or genies. In a cabinet meeting on Sunday 8 May, 2011, Ahmadinejad responded by dismissing [fa] the notion that he has exorcists in his government as a joke. You can watch the video here [fa]……..

As if he has not had enough quarrels, Ahamadinejad is reported to have lost other allies, including his indispensable Jinn catcher. Many of us think, erroneously, that only Catholics have Jinn catchers, or exorcists. We all do. What do you think all these official Muftis are? Egypt’s al-Azhar Mufti was appointed by Hosni Mubarak from within his own ruling party, and his job was to chase away any notion that the rule of a dictator may be un-Islamic. He tried to do his job, condemning the revolutionaries before and after January 25. But he has seen the light, apparently. Then there is that other great palace exorcist, the Saudi Mufti Shaikh Al Al Shaikh. He did his best to exorcise the Jinns of revolution and protest from the streets of Riyadh and Jeddah, and he succeeded. Shaikh Al Al Shaikh failed in the Eastern Province, but then these guys (and gals) in Qatif and Dhahran are not supposed to be true Muslims anyway, according the the not-s-secret teachings of Al and his ilk.
One advantage of an exorcist being part of the regimes: he won’t go to prison and get flogged in Iran and he won’t get flogged and beheaded in Saudi Arabia.
(FYI, only for those who are new to my blog: Shaikh Al Al-Shaikh is a direct descendant of Shaikh (a k a Imam) Mohammed Bin Abdulwahhab after whom the term “Wahhabi” was named. He was from the Najd area and should not be confused with the late great Egyptian musician and singer Mohammed Abdelwahhab who was not a Salafi (nor a Shi’a nor a Mthodist). Did I write that there are many Al Al-Shaikhs in various high positions in the Saudi state? Did I also write that I enjoyed the songs of Abdelwahhab, including al-Gondool, Cleopatra, al-Nahr al-Khaled, etc)
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Shaikh Fatah and Prince Hamas and King Bibi of Palestine and the Gulf…

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Palestine to merge with GCC when liberated. The Palestinian government seeks support from the GCC countries to resolve their long-standing conflicts with Israel and wants to merge with the GCC bloc when liberated. Dr Khairi Al Oraidi, Ambassador of Palestine to the UAE., addressing the media on the occasion of the Nakba or catastrophe day at the embassy premises on Thursday, said: “I believe in the important role which the GCC countries have been playing in the region socially and politically.” So, if Palestine or any other country becomes part of the GCC countries, it will be a great support for them especially for the people of Palestine, the ambassador said. Palestinians mark Nakba Day to remember the 63rd anniversary of ‘Nakba’ or ‘catastrophe’, a term Palestinian refugees use to describe their expulsion from their homes and towns when Israel was created on occupied Palestinian 
territories in 1948……..”

Okay, this should run its course soon. First Jordan, then Morocco, and now Palestine-of-the-future. I do believe the GCC summit in Riyadh opened the door for this new #FunnyGCC laughter-fest, and deservedly so. Time to stop: we already look, and sound, like the idiots of the international community (for elaboration read my blog post of yesterday and other posts of earlier days). The GCC leadership, the secretary general, that close friend and retainer of the Bahrain regime, ought to hold a news conference and explain to the peoples of our region WTF the GCC leaders meant, if anything, with their strange statement about Morocco and Jordan. I joked in one of my tweets that Benjamin Netanyahu may apply as well, but afterwards I realized that he is not an Arab ruler. Netanyahu would have to get the approval of his Knesset and his people first. And he knows it, he is not a total schmuck (that would be Lieberman, both of them). Dommage.
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Ahmadinejad (and Obama) in a New Fight with Parliament………

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A blazing row has erupted between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and parliament speaker Ali Larijani over the restructuring of ministries, media reports said on Thursday, in a fresh sign of tension in Iran’s ruling conservative camp. The row comes shortly after an unprecedented rift surfaced between Ahmadinejad and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei which saw the president disappear from public life for nearly two weeks. Larijani, an ardent critic of the president who was defeated by Ahmadinejad in 2005 presidential elections, publicly accused the president on Wednesday of “violating the law” by not following parliamentary procedures on the merger of ministries. “If the government has ambiguities in understanding the law, the parliament can explain the law to the government,” the reformist Arman newspaper on Thursday quoted Larijani as saying in sharp remarks aimed at Ahmadinejad. At the centre of the row are government proposals to merge several ministries, including energy and oil, so as to reduce their numbers to 17 from 21 in accordance with a overarching five year plan……..

No sooner was the powder dry from his losing skirmish with Khamenei than Ahmadinejad was in another fight, this time with Parliament and its Speaker Ali Larijani. This one is also about the allocation of power. But this is a rehash: presidents are always in a struggle with legislatures, just ask Mr. Obama. It seems that Mr. Ahmadinejad has serious problems with people named Ali. It is also notable that as we get closer to the next election round in Iran, these political and policy tensions erupt into public disputes. It is a common fight between the executive and legislative branches of government over political turf and policy goals.
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Ahmadinejad Bows to Khamenei: no Iranian Trotsky………

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President stressed the importance of the Rule of Just Jurisprudent (Velayat-e-Faqih) and said the government would serve Islam, the Islamic Revolution and the nation. President Ahmadinejad made the remarks during the cabinet session in Tehran. Dr.Ahmadinejad said that his government would continue defending the Rule of Just Jurisprudent. President urged all officials to defend the notion of Supreme Jurisprudence which has been inherited by Iranians throughout centuries. ‘I hope all those who have been deviated from the true path of Supreme Jurisprudence to return to the reality,’ President Ahmadinejad said………

Also Sprach the official website of Iran’s president.
So, after several weeks of tension and political poker, or is it chess, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has thrown in the towel and accepted the supremacy of Ayatollah Khamenei. Like any good Iranian president since the very second one, he has acceded to the wishes of the Supreme Jurisprudent, reinstating the minister of intelligence he had sacked a few weeks ago. In doing so, he has underlined that Iran is indeed a theocracy.
Only one Iranian president has ever defied the “leader” in a sustained way, and that was the first president of the Islamic Republic, Abulhassan Bani-Sadr, who had to escape to France quickly before his arrest. But Bani-Sadr was mot pitted against just any “Supreme Leader”; he was pitted against Ayatollah Khomenei, father of the republic.
For a few days it looked like Ahmadinejad would hold the line and end up losing his job (but saving his principles). It would have been intriguing: Ahmadinejad as an unlikely rebel against the system that made him a leader. An Iranian Trotsky, if you will (okay, I agree it is a stretch). But, like the reformist Mohammed Khatemi before him, he decided to cling to the job. Oh well, now we really know who is the boss.
Cheers
mhg




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A Salafi Education System, an Orphanage………….

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Six orphan girls aged between 12 and 18 were flogged in Saudi Arabia after being convicted of attacking the head of their orphanage, an official said today. The girls received 10 lashes each under the country’s strict interpretation of Islamic law at a women’s prison in Medina, Islam’s second holiest city, in the west of the desert state. ‘The order against the six orphans is a legitimate court order,’ Mohammed al-Awadh, the public relations manager at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said. ‘The ministry does not have the right to interfere in a court order.’ The girls received 10 lashes each under the country’s strict interpretation of Islamic law at a women’s prison in the city of Medina, Saudi Arabia. He gave no details of the ruling but the Arabic-language newspaper Okaz said the girls had been convicted of ‘acts of mischief’ and attacking the director of the orphanage. The girls defended their actions, saying they were harassed by the director, Okaz reported. International human rights groups have criticised the Saudi justice system for applying corporal punishment for petty crimes, as well as limb amputations for thieves and beheadings for murderers under its strict interpretation of Islamic law…..In January 2010 a teenage girl was sentenced to 90 lashes and two months in prison for hitting her school principal on the head with a cup when she took away her mobile phone……..”

Notice these were girls, female students, who were flogged. Male students would not get flogged for such actions. I have never read of male students getting flogged for defiance. Salafi shaikhs have whole lectures about the when, how, and where of beating one’s wife. One can see some on YouTube . These were also orphan girls, which means they are easy prey for these animals.
Cheers
mhg




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Freedoms the GCC will Bring to Morocco and Jordan………….

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A pro-democracy activist in Bahrain appeared to have been beaten and possibly tortured before he appeared in court this week, according to the New York-based nonprofit Human Rights Watch. Abdulhadi Khawaja was one of 14 defendants, mostly opposition leaders in the Persian Gulf state, who were charged with seeking to “topple the regime forcibly in collaboration with a terrorist organization working for a foreign country,“ Human Rights Watch said in a statement Tuesday. Seven others were charged in absentia. When Khawaja’s wife and daughter spoke with him briefly after he appeared in court Sunday, the first time they had seen him since his arrest April 9, he told them he had suffered four fractures to his face, including one to his jaw that required four hours of surgery. Khawaja’s daughter Maryam told Human Rights Watch that her mother and sister met with him for 10 minutes after the initial hearing………The state-run Bahrian News Agency called the reports “fabricated, politically motivated news.”……..

Amnesty believes that many of the defendants in #Bahrain are likely to be prisoners of conscience detained simply 4 exercising their right
#AmnestyInternational on #Bahrain -At least two have said they were tortured, raising fears about their chances for a fair trial.


“#AmnestyInternational on #Bahrain – Bahraini authorities have already denied the defendants their basic legal rights

Bahrain oil company fires 300 workers over protests goo.gl/ENkSn #feb14 #bhn #feb14
University of #Bahrain turns to look like Guantánamo bit.ly/jlbG7P #feb14 #bnn…..

I know Jordan and Morocco are not exactly Jeffersonian democracies, not even Turkish democracies. But they are more democratic than the GCC countries. They certainly are more “democratic” than the tribal quasi-feudal fiefdoms that are Saudi Arabia and the UAE, or the tribal sectarian fiefdom that is Bahrain under al-Khalifa. I assume they don’t torture people like this in Morocco anymore. But rejoice, people of Morocco, you’ll get this as soon as you join the Gulf Tribal Monarchy Council. I know your regime is not nearly as vile as some in our region, but that is okay: no regime in the world is probably as vile as the al-Khalifa of Bahrain. As an added bonus, you ‘ll also get the benefits of Salafi sectarianism and maybe even Apartheid.

I am waiting for Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton to express their utter joy in this proposed expansion of the joys of tribal absolute monarchy freedom to Morocco and Jordan. While holding their noses, of course. Imagine, to the shores of the Atlantic, a stone’s throw away from Lexington (Mass.) and the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. This march of royal liberty, will it cross the ocean westward?
Cheers
mhg




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Qatar and FIFA: Did They or Didn’t They?………

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And now, thanks to a few lingering sour grapes in England over their failed 2018 bid, we’re learning that it really was just the tip. Six more members of the 24-man FIFA executive committee have been implicated in a Parliamentary inquiry on evidence given by former FA chairman Lord Triesman and the Sunday Times. And among the allegations, there appears to be an answer to why Qatar was able to beat the U.S. by such a wide margin in the 2022 vote. From the AP: The Sunday Times sent further evidence—which it did not publish at the time for legal reasons—to the British committee on Monday to be made public using parliamentary privilege. Two of the paper’s investigative journalists told the committee in a letter that a whistleblower who had worked for the Qatari bid told them in December that the country “had paid $1.5 million to two FIFA ExCo members—Hayatou and Jacques Anouma of the Ivory Coast—to secure their votes.” It’s kind of funny in an awful sort of way that Qatar (allegedly) used the U.S.’s own currency against them, rather than something more valuable like euros or Canadian dollars. But not nearly as funny/awful as the alleged bribe solicitations Triesman revealed.……

The Brits have been complaining about this from the gate. It is probably not just all sour grapes: I have had some suspicions, let’s say some wonderment about how they decided to have the World Cup in a place where the summer temperatures pass 120 F. I know: we grew up playing in the sun under those temperatures and more (my neck of the Gulf is hotter but drier). But those Europeans and East Asians and South Americans?
Sports selections can be notorious for corruption, but that is covered up with all the great athletic performance and goodwill they generate. I don’t know all the details, but I know that IT (with or without the SH) happens. Which may also mean that the Qataris won it fair and square, at least by ‘current’ FIFA standards.
Cheers
mhg




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Iran: Will Ahmadinejad Follow Bani-Sadr?………..

     
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An unprecedented power struggle at the heart of the Iranian regime has intensified after it emerged that the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, had given an ultimatum to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to accept his intervention in a cabinet appointment or resign…… The extraordinary confrontation came to light after Ahmadinejad declined to officially support Khamenei’s reinstatement of a minister whom the president had initially asked to resign. The rift between the two men grew when the president staged an 11-day walkout in an apparent protest at Khamenei’s decision. In the first cabinet meeting since ending his protest, the intelligence minister at the centre of the row, Heydar Moslehi, was absent and in the second one on Wednesday, he was reportedly asked by Ahmadinejad to leave…….

In 1981, Iran’s first elected president Abolhassan Bani-Sadr fled the country after disagreements with the powerful ayatollahs. Now Ahmadinejad may face the same fate. He has been asked by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to re-instate the minister of intelligence (a cleric) or resign. He seems reluctant to cede on this issue, and may resign. He is a stubborn person and may just defy the Ayatollah and refuse to resign. That is why some clerics are threatening charges of ‘heresy’ if he disagrees: an elected president openly defying the unelected Ayatollah can be a thorny issue for the regime. It may focus more attention of the unelected post of “Supreme Leader”. It may re-invigorate the silenced opposition.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Multidisciplinary: Middle East, North Africa, Gulf, GCC, World, Cosmos…..