Archive for March, 2009

News and Analysis (3/31/09)

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Unable to obtain enough evidence to detain the victims, Sgt. Mayo took rule of law into his own hands by handcuffing, blindfolding and executing the suspects:

Favoring a de-centralized government, Kurds stand to lose the most:

With Chief Justice Chaudhry back at the helm, ruling allows Shahbaz Sharif to return to his post as chief minister of Punjab:

The Chinese government has begun to engage in nighttime raids going from house to house to eliminate “illegal religious activity”:

Iran wants a strategy focused on training the Afghan army and police forces:

Israeli human rights groups including B’Tselem and Yesh Din believe a broad, independent investigation of the Gaza operation is needed because “they don’t trust the Israeli military to police itself” …

… meanwhile, Israel prosecutes two journalists for violating its censorship laws in their reports on the attack on Gaza:

News and Analysis (3/30/2009)

Monday, March 30th, 2009

With Sunni-Shi`a relations continuing to break down …

… chances are slim of the US holding its promise to withdraw from all Iraqi cities by the end of June:

The ICC arrest warrant has emboldened Bashir, who faced little risk leaving Sudan for the Arab conference …

… Meanwhile, the attack in Sudan is largely viewed as a warning for Iran:

Attorney says his client “was tortured so vilely that … it is not surprising that the videotapes of his torture were destroyed“:

Detailing his strategy in Afghanistan, Obama quickly rejected Bob Schieffer’s notion that Afghanistan has become his war:

News and Analysis (3/28-29/09)

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Officials would have been wise to remember, under extreme duress a prisoner will say anything you want to hear …

… but even if arrest warrants are issued, the probability of arrests remains extremely low:

To pressure Hamas to release its one Israeli captive, four thousand “inmates will be denied access to television, radio, newspapers, telephones and online education, and their jail canteen allowances will be reduced”:

Without fundamental reform, monetary aid continues to go to waste…

… and Iraq shows how quickly alliances based only on money break down …

… yet Zardari and Karzai welcome American foreign aid:

Critics say ACTA (a treaty negotiated in secret on “national security” grounds) aimed at protecting copyrights will give border guards unprecedented powers “to go through, copy, and confiscate any digital material” on any laptop including “personal material”:

News and Analysis (3/27/09)

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Congress take note: Nuclear armed Israel declares, ” There is no place where Israel cannot operate. Such a place doesn’t exist“:

Recently acquired Ottoman land registry archives may prove Israeli deeds are forged and ought to prevent the eviction of Palestinians:

Perhaps establishing a stable, democratic Afghanistan can be a rallying point to improve US-Iranian relations …

… Meanwhile, Obama agrees to send an additional 4,000 troops to train Afghan forces:

Open dialogue brings hope for peaceful relations between Syria, the Arab community and the West:

“They have a right,” an Iraqi policeman concedes. “Something like this happens and where’s the government? Where are the security forces?”:

Encourage Nonviolence Through Accountability

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

ENCOURAGE NONVIOLENCE THROUGH ACCOUNTABILITY

[This guest blog was submitted by Ashraf Nubani after the Washington Post, the New York  Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times all declined to publish an earlier version.]

There has been much criticism of the Palestinian response to Israeli occupation — especially the use of violence against civilian targets. We Americans, whose history includes a violent revolution, a civil war, and two world wars, are quick to call for the use of nonviolent resistance when it comes to non-Western peoples and areas of conflict. What then should be our collective response to those killed or injured while engaging in nonviolent resistance? Certainly, we should not blame the victim — especially if the victim is an American.

Tristan Anderson, 37, of Oakland, Calif., was been critically injured in the village of Ni’lin on the occupied West Bank after Israeli forces shot him in the head with a tear gas canister on Friday, March 13, 2009.  I have known him for many years and our hearts go out to him and his family. The canister penetrated Mr. Anderson’s skull and surgeons had to remove a portion of his right frontal lobe due to bone fragments lodged in his brain. Reconstructive surgery was required near his right eye. His parents and sister arrived in Israel on Monday.

Demanding an immediate, fair and independent investigation into his shooting is the minimal response we should expect to this blatant act of aggression that left Mr. Anderson fighting for his life at Tel Hashomer Hospital outside of Tel Aviv. Any investigation must provide satisfactory answers to several issues.

According to the International Solidarity Movement, the Israeli army began using a high velocity tear gas canister in December 2008.  The black canister, labeled in Hebrew as “40mm bullet special/long range,” can shoot over 400 meters. It emits no noise, no smoke trail, and virtually no warning when one is fired. The combination of the canister’s high velocity and silence is extremely dangerous and has already caused numerous injuries to Palestinians.

According to eyewitness testimony, media reports and Israeli officials, the incident took place inside the village of Ni’lin and not near the separation Wall where demonstrators earlier had clashed with Israeli troops. Everyone agrees the incident took place at about 4:30 p.m. local time, after the four-hour demonstration had dwindled.  According to eyewitnesses, Teah Lindquist and Gaby Silverman, Mr. Anderson did not participate in the earlier clashes nor did he throw stones at Israeli troops. In addition, Ms. Silverman told one of our representatives that Israeli occupation forces delayed Mr. Anderson’s ambulance for nearly 20 minutes at the checkpoint before allowing it to make its way to the hospital.

As regrettable as this incident is, it does, however, draw attention to the very cause that Mr. Anderson placed his life in harm’s way to defend: Israel’s concrete separation barrier, which the International Court of Justice has deemed to be illegal because it is being built on Palestinian land. Ni’lin will lose approximately 625 acres of agricultural land when the Wall is completed. The village comprised 228 thousand acres in 1948, was reduced to 132 thousand acres after the 1967 war, and currently is 40 thousand acres. When the Wall is finished, 30 thousand acres will be all that’s left of Ni’lin. Residents have been protesting the Wall for months.

Palestinian, and now American, life is needlessly being endangered and lost every day because Israel, an ally of the United States, continues its illegal occupation by force of arms. Mr. Anderson is not the first to make this trek and pay a large sacrifice for it. This week marks the sixth anniversary of another conscientious and brave American who lost her life while defending against the demolition of a Palestinian family’s home in the Gaza Strip: Rachel Corrie, who was crushed to death by an Israeli soldier driving a bulldozer (supplied by Illinois-based Caterpillar Inc.) The U.S. still has not conducted an independent investigation into her death which the Israelis ruled “an accident.”

If the past is an indicator, we can’t rely upon Israel’s claim it is pursuing an investigation. In the report “Promoting Impunity: The Israeli Military’s Failure to Investigate Wrongdoing,” Human Rights Watch questioned the objectivity and integrity of the Military Police investigation into Ms. Corrie’s death. It faulted the investigation for poor preparation and for posing questions to witnesses that were “hostile, inappropriate, and mostly accusatory.” The report described other instances in which short summary findings were made available to the media after closed investigations with no involvement of nonmilitary witnesses nor victims or their families.

If we want to show the Palestinians a better way to achieve their quest for self-determination, we must show them that at the very least we seek justice and accountability for one of our own nonviolent protesters.

Hatem Bazian
President
American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)

Sami al-Arian Brown Bag Lunch

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

The case of Sami al-Arian touches on many of the aspects of  liberty we at the Minaret of Freedom Institute seek to defend. Ashraf W. Nubani is an attorney and although he is not working on the al-Arian case, he follows it closely. At our most recent brown bag lunch  updated us on the status of his case.

By rights, al-Arian’s struggles with the US government should be over. The former professor at the University of South Florida was initially charged in 2003 and spent almost three years defending his innocence. Al-Arian endured grueling conditions in the maximum security prison where he awaited trial in Florida. Access to phone calls, visits from family members and lawyers were  severely limited as al-Arian struggled to gain access to government evidence in preparation of his defense.

When his circus of a trial was finally over, al-Arian was acquitted of the most serious terrorism charges and the jury deadlocked (two jurors failing to support acquittal) on all the other charges. The mistrial meant more time in prison awaiting a second trial and al- Arian decided to cut a deal. Pleading guilty to three counts to “providing services to individuals the government claims were associated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad” and the prosecution agreed to a sentencing of time served and a quick deportation. However, Judge James S. Moody, Jr. decided to ignore these recommendations and imposed the maximum sentence allowed on al-Arian. Still, al-Arian was schedule to be released in April 2007.

The current controversy revolves around details of his plea agreement, specifically protection from having to further testify. Gordon Kromberg, a prosecutor for Eastern District of Virginia with a record of Islamophobic public comments, subpoenaed al-Arian to testify before a grand jury. Attorneys for al-Arian contend that since the clause mandating compliance was removed from the plea-bargain, al-Arian is legally protected from having to testify.

The plea bargain called for his speedy deportation after he finished serving time on the charges to which he plead guilty, but  Kromberg’s prosecution extends his detention. Ironically, Kromberg’s decision to charge Al-Arian with criminal contempt after repeated incarceration under civil contempt works in favor of al-Arian as he is now entitled to the protections given the criminally accused. Having spent a total of 2020 days in jail, al-Arian was recently moved from punitively harsh prison conditions he endured by Judge Leona Brinkema to house arrest. Although the defense has unable to get the criminal contempt charges dismissed, al-Arian would be allowed use the defense he relying on the advice of his attorneys that signing the plea bargain would immunize him from having to testify before a grand jury.

Since Nubani’s presentation, Judge Brinkema has drawn the line at the prosecutions repeated refusal to provide documentation regarding the government’s records regarding the meaning of the plea bargain and offered the defense ten days to file for dismissal on the grounds that prosecutors have not held to the promises of the original plea agreement, and that motion was filed earlier this week. Judge Brinkema correctly stated there is “something more important here, and that’s the integrity of the Justice Department.”

Among the many topics discussed during the brown bag lunch, the idea of creating a Muslim attorney association was the most practical. Why don’t Muslim lawyers band together, create legal resources for Muslims across this country? It seems the easiest way to combat ignorance in the legal system is to fight from within.

Imran Malik
Minaret of Freedom Institute
www.minaret.org

News and Analysis (3/26/09)

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Details remain vague as multiple sources link air raids, that were possibly carried out by  Israeli aircraft, to the US:

“[L]iberal Zionists … will soon have to decide whether they want a Jewish state or a democratic one” — Daphna Baram:

Accusations link the ISI with providing fuel, ammunition, and recruits for Taliban fighters and offering Lashkar-e-Taiba intelligence and protection:

Among the many challenges of Afghani reconstruction programs, 75% of the population is illiterate and the average annual income is $800:

As reform candidates criticize Ahmadinejad for making “a mess of socioeconomic and political structures” …

…Ali Larijani’s reaction to Obama’s recent overture to Iran is that   changes in policy rather than mere language are needed:

Despite the overwhelming evidence, Israel continues to deny any misuse of white phosphorus:

The strategy is aimed at curbing Karzai’s power while providing more aid to local resources rather than allowing the national government to allocate it:

News and Analysis (3/25/09)

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Soldier recalls rabbi saying “‘the fight is between the children of light and the children of darkness….’ His message was clear: ‘This is a war against an entire people, not against specific terrorists.'”

CAIR has accused the FBI of engaging in “McCarthy-era tactics”, particularly with its use of “agent provocateurs”:

The report acknowledges increasing costs resulting from the American withdrawal from Iraq, as well as uncertainty surrounding Iraq’s ability to provide basic services, security to its citizens:

Investigations of Islamic charities commenced following the “mutiny by border guards, which some officials believe was instigated or assisted by Islamic militants”:

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has introduced the idea of social audits, creating accountability with local leadership on how funds are spent:

Currently, assessments of progress are “anecdotal” depending on where and by whom the assessment was made:

Often viewed as a beacon of tolerance and openness in the Arab world,

News and Analysis (3/24/08)

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

After he rejected the government’s desperate plea bargain offer (which would gagged him from making accusations of torture), all charges against the defendant  were dropped:

Reminiscent of accusations that Hamas used civilians as human shields, Israeli confinement of Palestinians to the conflict zone had the same effect:

En route to prayers, a Uighur complains “government is government, we can do nothing,” about China’s modernization plan that would destroy energy-efficient traditional Islamic housing:

The proposed $1.5 billion in aid would be in addition to the $10 billion given for military assistance:

Budgetary problems have stalled the incorporation of Awakening Council members into government jobs, fueling sectarian divides:

“It is an unwanted provocative visit…. What is painful for us is that [Marzel] gets legitimacy from the state and there are 2,500 police protecting them.” – Umm el-Fahm Mayor Hamdan

In a crucial step towards resolving the complicated and intertwined politics of Lebanon and Syria:

News and Analysis (3/23/09)

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

What role did the US played in the arrest of Naji Hamdan, a US citizen who claims he confessed under torture?

Enemies of free speech, including the terrorist JDL, hide behind slanderous accusations of criminality against a good Samaritan:

The IDF attacked 34 medical care facilities” and “did not allow the evacuation of injured civilians who were besieged for days at a time and left the civilians without food or water for considerable periods” — Physicians for Human Rights-Israel:

Community attempts to address environmental and traffic issues around the expansion of the Islamic Saudi Academy are frustrated by debate over its curriculum:

A Fatah spokesman in the occupied West Bank told reporters that Kamal Naji had been “assassinated” — but by whom?:

The failed appointment of Freeman may serve as one small step towards an honest discussion in American about the US alliance with Israel:

Attempting to consolidate his influence, Zardari argues that the reinstatement of Chaudhry “could mark the end of a cycle of dictatorship” in Pakistan: