Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Dubai's 26 faces

Passport photos at the BBC, PDF diagram of the international movements of 22 of them, and a bit of Dubai's CCTV video.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Salman Rushdie's statement on Amnesty International

From The Sunday Times
February 21, 2010
Salman Rushdie's statement on Amnesty International

"Amnesty International has done its reputation incalculable damage by allying itself with Moazzam Begg and his group Cageprisoners, and holding them up as human rights advocates. It looks very much as if Amnesty's leadership is suffering from a kind of moral bankruptcy, and has lost the ability to distinguish right from wrong. It has greatly compounded its error by suspending the redoubtable Gita Sahgal for the crime of going public with her concerns. Gita Sahgal is a woman of immense integrity and distinction and I am personally grateful to her for the courageous stands she made at the time of the Khomeini fatwa against The Satanic Verses, as a leading member of the groups Southall Black Sisters and Women Against Fundamentalism. It is people like Gita Sahgal who are the true voices of the human rights movement; Amnesty and Begg have revealed, by their statements and actions, that they deserve our contempt."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The press opens up a bombardment of Amnesty's hypocrisy website for supporters of Gita Sahgal

Global Petition to Amnesty International: Restoring the Integrity of Human Rights (at the Sahgal site)

"Testimonial amico dei terroristi" Amnesty International sotto accusa (Il Giornale di Bordo)

The moral blindness of the "human rights" industry (The Spectator)

Amnesty shouldn't support men like Moazzam Begg (The Independant)

Double standards on human rights (The Guardian)

Amnesty has lent spurious legitimacy to extremists who spurn its values (The Times)

Amnesty International Stands by Jihadist (Washington Examiner)

And from Slate:

Suspension of Conscience

Amnesty International has lost sight of its original purpose.

By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, Feb. 15, 2010, at 12:19 PM ET

It's an old story, but it bears retelling. One day at the dawn of the 1960s, a lawyer named Peter Benenson was reading the newspaper on the London subway. He came across a small item reporting that two students from Portugal—then still a fascist dictatorship running a filthy empire in Africa—had been sentenced to seven years imprisonment for raising a toast to liberty in a public place in Lisbon. After a short cogitation, he decided to take action, and his open letter concerning "prisoners of conscience" was published on the front page of the London Observer. You may never have heard or read about this micro-event or its macro consequences, but I am willing to wager that you have heard of Amnesty International, which was the great tree that sprouted from this acorn. Its "branches"—the innumerable local groups that sprang into existence—have been responsible for the release of many political prisoners and the public shaming of many of the regimes that hold them.

In common with all great ideas, the Amnesty concept was marvelously simple. Each local branch was asked to sponsor a minimum of three prisoners of conscience: one from a NATO country, one from a Warsaw Pact country, and one from the Third—or neutralist—World. In time, the organization also evolved policies that opposed the use of capital punishment or torture in all cases, but the definition of "prisoner of conscience" remained central. And it included a requirement that the prisoner in question be exactly that: a person jailed for the expression of an opinion. Amnesty did not adopt people who either used or advocated violence.
This organization is precious to me and to millions of other people, including many thousands of men and women who were and are incarcerated and maltreated because of their courage as dissidents and who regained their liberty as a consequence of Amnesty International's unsleeping work. So to learn of its degeneration and politicization is to be reading about a moral crisis that has global implications.

Amnesty International has just suspended one of its senior officers, a woman named Gita Sahgal who until recently headed the organization's "gender unit." It's fairly easy to summarize her concern in her own words. "To be appearing on platforms with Britain's most famous supporter of the Taliban, whom we treat as a human rights defender," she wrote, "is a gross error of judgment." One might think that to be an uncontroversial statement, but it led to her immediate suspension.
The background is also distressingly easy to summarize. Moazzem Begg, a British citizen, was arrested in Pakistan after fleeing Afghanistan in the aftermath of the intervention in 2001. He was imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay and then released. He has since become the moving spirit in a separate organization calling itself Cageprisoners. Begg does not deny his past as an Islamist activist, which took him to Afghanistan in the first place. He does not withdraw from his statement that the Taliban was the best government available to Afghanistan. Cageprisoners has another senior member named Asim Qureshi, who speaks in defense of jihad at rallies sponsored by the extremist group Hizb-ut Tahrir (banned in many Muslim countries). Cageprisoners also defends men like Abu Hamza, leader of the mosque that sheltered Richard "Shoe Bomber" Reid among many other violent and criminal characters who have been convicted in open court of heinous offenses that have nothing at all to do with freedom of expression. Yet Amnesty International includes Begg in delegations that petition the British government about human rights. For Saghal to say that Cageprisoners has a program that goes "way beyond being a prisoners' rights organization" is to say the very least of it. But that's all she had to say in order to be suspended from her job. As I write this, she is experiencing some difficulty in getting a lawyer to represent her. Such is—so far—the prestige of Amnesty International. "Although it is said that we must defend everybody no matter what they've done," she comments, "it appears that if you're a secular, atheist, Asian British woman, you don't deserve a defense from our civil rights firms."
That may well change, and I hope it does. But Sahgal has it slightly wrong. Amnesty International was not set up to defend everybody, no matter what they did. No organization in the world could hope to do that. IRA bombers and Khmer Rouge killers and Gens. Pinochet and Videla were not Amnesty prisoners when they eventually faced the bar of the court. The entire raison d'être of the noble foundation was to defend and protect those who were made to suffer for their views. In theory, I suppose, this could include the view that women should be chattel, homosexuals and Jews and Hindus marked for slaughter, and all the rest of the lovely jihadist canon. But—see above—Cageprisoners defends those who have gone slightly further than merely advocating such things. It's well-nigh incredible that Amnesty should give a platform to people who are shady on this question and absolutely disgraceful that it should suspend a renowned employee who gave voice to her deep and sincere misgivings.
The other great thing about the early days of Amnesty International was its voluntary principle. It was all a matter of free individuals giving their time and money in the cause of the rights of others. Some estimates say that there are currently more than 2 million subscribers worldwide. It's now incumbent on any member who takes the original charter seriously to withdraw funding until Begg is cut loose to run his own beautiful organization and until Sahgal has been reinstated.

Update Feb. 15: Gita Saghal's supporters now have a Web site, which contains further material about Amnesty's betrayal of its founding principles. I urge you to visit it.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A bit from YouTube

My account there is
On my profile page there, I get some flak from (mostly) couch jihadis and as a rule I leave them up, for the benefit of anyone who is investigating such people. But today's effort came in the form of a private message, so I'll preserve it here. Click for the original size.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Two more pieces from The Times about the AI scandal

The conscience stifled by Amnesty

Second Amnesty chief attacks Islamist links
This second fellow is Sam Zarifi, who seems to be concerned with the Taliban region. His dissenting opinion was leaked to the Times, unlike Sahgal's.

Update 15 February: AI dimisses the criticism and continues to see nothing wrong with using a proponent of terrorism on their road shows. And they still refuse to say why they suspended Sahgal. They claim that there is "vigorous internal debate" within their furtive organization, which might be an underhanded way to reassure the faithful that AI allows some deviation from groupthink provided that it is kept secret from others. (Zarifi's opinion was leaked.)

AbdulElah Hider Shayea

عبد الإله حيدر شائع
which he renders in our alphabet as
AbdulElah Hider Shayea

photo from al-Jazeera

This Yemeni poses as a journalist but he is in fact an al-Qa'ida "publicist". He was one of only about 12 or 15 people who were authorized to start new threads on al-Qa'ida's major Arabic-language forum Hesbah. It was Shayea with whom Anwar al-Awlaki made his first contact since the airstrike in Shabwah on 2009.12.24 [1]. And the subsequent batch of al-Awlaki's terrorist "authorization" and incitement, broadcast by al-Jazeera, was signed by Shayea.

Until quite recently he was using this web space:
but that site has suddenly gone dead. (Maktoob itself is still in business.) My guess is that Shayea has been paid by al-Jazeera to work on behalf of al-Qa'ida exclusively via al-Jazeera in future. We'll see.

Update: that site is back in business. Nothing added since it went down.

[1] From that website:

لقائي مع الشيخ أنور العولقي بعد حادثة فورت هود ..
كتبها عبد الإله ، في 21 تشرين الثاني 2009 الساعة: 22:14 م

العولقي: الميجور نضال حسن اعتبرني موضع ثقته واعتبرته بطلا

الإمام الهارب المرتبط بـ«القاعدة» في أول مقابلة صحافية: يتحدث عن مرتكب مذبحة «فورت هود»

صنعاء ـ اليمن: سودرسان راغايان*
في أول مقابلة صحافية له بعد مذبحة فورت هود قال الشيخ الأميركي ذو الأصول اليمنية أنور العولقي إنه لم يأمر أو يضغط على نضال لإلحاق الضرر بأميركيين، لكنه كان يعتبر نفسه موضع ثقة الطبيب النفسي. كما كشف عن علمه بعدم ارتياح نضال للاستمرار بالجيش عن طريق رسائل البريد الإلكتروني التي بعث بها إليه. وقال الإمام الهارب إنه لعب دورا في تديّن نضال قبل ثماني سنوات عندما استمع إليه في محاضرة له في مسجد دارة الهجرة بشمال فيرجينيا. وقال العولقي إن نضال وثق به، وإنهما تبادلا المراسلات الإلكترونية خلال العام الماضي.
تقدم الصورة التي رسمها العولقي لمرتكب مذبحة فورت هود بعض الإشارات إلى الحالة الذهنية لنضال ودوافعه خلال الشهور التي سبقت مذبحة 5 نوفمبر (تشرين الثاني) التي قتل خلالها 13 مجندا أميركيا. كما أضافت تعليقات العولقي إلى التساؤلات حول ما إذا كانت السلطات الأميركية، التي كانت على علم ببعض رسائل نضال الإلكترونية إلى العولقي، قد استشعرت تهديدات محتملة. وكانت الاستخبارات الأميركية قد اعترضت بعض الرسائل الإلكترونية التي بعث بها نضال، لكن مكتب التحقيقات الفيدرالي استنتج أنها لا تشكل تهديدا جديا وأنه لا ضرورة لإجراء تحقيق.

لم تتمكن «واشنطن بوست» من إجراء المقابلة مع العولقي إذ رفض لقاء أي صحافي أميركي، لكنه تحدث عن علاقته بنضال ـ التي توثقت عبر ما يزيد على عشر رسائل إلكترونية ـ إلى عبد الإله حيدر شائع، الصحافي اليمني والخبير في شؤون الجماعات الإرهابية والذي يرتبط بصلات وثيقة مع العولقي المرتبط بـ«القاعدة». وقد اتصلت به «واشنطن بوست» لإجراء المقابلة كما دفعت له تكاليف سفره. وفي يوم الأحد عرض عبد الإله تفاصيل المقابلة التي أجراها مع العولقي، الكاتب والداعية الشهير الذي تلقى خطبه وكتاباته عن الجهاد اهتماما كبيرا بين الأصوليين. وقد س


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