Suicide blast kills child, four Afghan policemen

9 04 2009
Source: AFP

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AFP) — A suicide bomber killed a child and four anti-drugs policemen in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, police said, as the US military reported killing 10 militants in overnight raids.

The blast occurred in the town of Lashkar Gah, capital of the turbulent southern province of Helmand, the heart of Afghanistan’s opium production — a lucrative trade that helps bankroll a Taliban-led insurgency.

A man walked up to a four-vehicle police convoy and detonated explosives strapped to his body, deputy provincial police chief Kamaludin Khan told AFP.

Four counter-narcotics policemen and a nine-year-old child were killed, while seven policemen and two civilians were wounded, Khan said.

The policemen were heading out to eradicate opium fields south of the town, he said.

Khan blamed the attack on “enemies of Afghanistan”, a term often used to refer to Taliban militants who are waging a bloody insurgency that profits from the huge opium and heroin industry.

Afghanistan produces 90 percent of the world’s opium, most of it coming from Helmand, where some of it is also manufactured into heroin in drugs labs.

The 1996-2001 Taliban government was able to radically cut back Afghanistan’s opium production but the insurgents now earn millions of dollars a year from the trade, officials say.

They take a “tax” from opium farmers and also earn money from protecting trafficking routes and fields, using the cash to buy weapons for their insurgency, according to Afghan and Western officials.

Part of an international effort to stabilise Afghanistan and rid it of extremists linked to Al-Qaeda in neighbouring Pakistan is a costly effort to tackle the drugs trade, which also feeds government corruption.

The Taliban swept to power in 1996 and were removed five years later in a US-led invasion after they did not hand over their Al-Qaeda allies following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The militants rose from Kandahar province, which is still one of their strongholds.

The US military said that Afghan and international troops raided a Taliban cell in the province’s Maiwand district overnight and killed six militants.

The cell was involved in attacks against Afghan soldiers and their international counterparts, it said.

A separate US military statement said four militants, one of them a woman carrying weapons, were killed in the eastern province of Khost in another overnight operation.

The raid targeted the Haqqani network and a separate outfit called the Islamic Jihad Union, it said.

The Haqqani group falls under well-known Soviet resistance commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, who is believed to be close to the fugitive Tailban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and Al-Qaeda.

Haqqani’s sons are said to have taken over militant activities from their now elderly father. The Islamic Jihad Union is also linked to Al-Qaeda.

There was no independent confirmation that the dead were all militants.

Last year was the deadliest of the Taliban-led insurgency, associated with extremist violence also picking up across the border in Pakistan.

US President Barack Obama has launched a new sweeping strategy to combat the mounting threat from extremists and turn around the insurgency in Afghanistan, including a focus on eliminating Al-Qaeda bases in Pakistan.

Alan Krueger: Civil Liberties and Terrorism

8 04 2009

Princeton University economist Alan Krueger finds an interesting connection between civil liberties and terrorism that undercuts the idea the economic conditions are the driving force behind terrorist acts:

Murdercide, by Michael Shermer, SciAm Skeptic: … The belief that suicide bombers [murdercide] are poor, uneducated, disaffected or disturbed is contradicted by science. Marc Sageman, a forensic psychiatrist at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, found in a study of 400 Al Qaeda members that three quarters of his sample came from the upper or middle class. Moreover, he noted, “the vast majority—90 percent— came from caring, intact families. Sixty-three percent had gone to college, as compared with the 5–6 percent that’s usual for the third world. These are the best and brightest of their societies in many ways.” Nor were they sans employment and familial duties. “Far from having no family or job responsibilities, 73 percent were married and the vast majority had children. . . . Three quarters were professionals or semiprofessionals. They are engineers, architects and civil engineers, mostly scientists. Very few humanities are represented, and quite surprisingly very few had any background in religion.” …

[A] necessary condition for suicide is habituation to the fear about the pain involved in the act. How do terrorist organizations infuse this condition in their recruits? One way is through psychological reinforcement. …[T]he celebration and commemoration of suicide bombings that began in the 1980s changed a culture into one that idolizes martyrdom and its hero. Today murderciders appear in posters like star athletes. Another method of control is “group dynamics.” Says Sageman: “The prospective terrorists joined the jihad through preexisting social bonds with people who were already terrorists or had decided to join as a group. In 65 percent of the cases, preexisting friendship bonds played an important role in this process.” Those personal connections help to override the natural inclination to avoid self immolation. “The suicide bombers in Spain are another perfect example. Seven terrorists sharing an apartment and one saying, ‘Tonight we’re all going to go, guys.’ You can’t betray your friends, and so you go along. Individually, they probably would not have done it.”

One method to attenuate murdercide, then, is to target dangerous groups that influence individuals, such as Al Qaeda. Another method, says Princeton University economist Alan B. Krueger, is to increase the civil liberties of the countries that breed terrorist groups. In an analysis of State Department data on terrorism, Krueger discovered that “countries like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, which have spawned relatively many terrorists, are economically well off yet lacking in civil liberties. Poor countries with a tradition of protecting civil liberties are unlikely to spawn suicide terrorists. Evidently, the freedom to assemble and protest peacefully without interference from the government goes a long way to providing an alternative to terrorism.” …

Surrender or face rout, Rajapksa tells LTTE;

6 04 2009
Surrender or face rout, Rajapksa tells LTTE; toll reaches 480
T V Sriram
Colombo, Apr 6 (PTI) With the LTTE remnants, including its top leaders, believed to be hiding in a narrow strip teeming with civilians, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa today asked them to lay down arms or “face rout” as troops braced for a final battle after killing 480 rebels in four days of fighting.

With the operation turning more complex after the rebels were forced into the no-fire zone, the security forces are now preparing to rescue over 70,000 Tamil civilians trapped there.

Rajapaksa said there will be no ceasefire with the rebels and maintained that the troops will free the civilians, who, the government alleges, are being held hostage by the LTTE.

The rebel remnants, including their supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran, second-in-command Pottu Amman and other senior commanders, are believed to be holed up in the 20 sq-km safety zone — a jungle strip along a beach in the north — after troops captured Pudukudiyirippu, the last LTTE bastion.

With recovery of more bodies of LTTE cadres from Pudukudiyirippu, the rebel toll in four days of close-quarter combat increased to 480, the military said today.

President Rajapaksa asked the LTTE, which have fought since 1983 for a separate homeland for Tamils in Sri Lanka, to surrender and avoid a “complete rout that is close now”.

“The only way out for the rebels is to save their lives, and if they lay down arms and surrender, it will save the lives of the trapped civilians too,” he said. PTI

Bomb Blast Kills Afghan Lawmaker

20 03 2009

19 March 2009

Wrapped body parts of lawmaker Dad Mohammad Khan and others killed in Helmand province on 19 Mar 2009
Wrapped body parts of lawmaker Dad Mohammad Khan and others killed in Helmand province on 19 Mar 2009

A roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan has killed a prominent lawmaker who was openly critical of the Taliban.

The attack Thursday killed Dad Mohammad Khan and four other men in southern Helmand province, the heart of the Taliban’s growing insurgency.

Khan was a member of parliament, former intelligence chief and a longtime critic of the Taliban.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the bombing and praised Khan as a leader who worked to bring peace to the region.

Khan fled Afghanistan during the Taliban rule and returned after the extremist government was ousted by U.S.-led forces in 2001.

He is the 10th member of parliament to be killed since democratic elections in 2005.

Elsewhere, international and Afghan forces say they killed two suspected insurgents and captured four others in a raid on an al-Qaida cell in the country’s eastern Nangarhar province. But the district’s chief is condemning the raid.

Bati Kot district chief Khaibar Momand said those targeted were actually civilians. He told the Associated Press that three of those detained are the district’s development director and his sons.

Separately, NATO led forces said they captured 18 suspected insurgents in eastern Logar province, including a suspected insurgent leader.

Maulana Mahmood Madani, India Today Conclave 2009

13 03 2009

Transcript of address by Maulana Mahmood Madani, former Gen Secy, Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind

The Dalai Lama made some valuable suggestions in the first session. If we follow them, it will mean a solution to 90 per cent of our current problems.

Today’s subject is what is the role of religion? In fact, the greatest problem is terrorism, which is a fact. And terrorism is giving a bad name to it. Today’s topic has changed from religion to Islam. But the crux of the problem is that terrorism is being used for political gains. People are using religion for political gains.

Who has been maligned by this? Religion, or plainly speaking, Islam. On the other side are those who have started the war on terror. It has its speakers, writers and fighters and they too have targeted Islam. One of the speakers said terrorism cannot be fought because there is no weapon to prevent suicide bombers. But I feel responsible people should neither lose hope nor show pessimism.

Some of us are putting up resistance against those who cause terror as well as those who are fighting it. Both—people who are causing terror as well as those who have started the war on terror—are helping breed terrorism. I meet people who disdain my appearance, especially my turban, my beard and my dress. To them, I am the symbol of a terrorist. Branding a particular appearance as terrorist or jihadi is helping terrorists achieve their nefarious designs.

A terrorist should never be called a jihadi. Jihad is mandatory for every Muslim as enshrined in the Quran but we will have to differentiate between jihad and terrorism. Jihad is being given a wrong connotation—shedding blood, indiscriminate killing, suicide bombing—and this has boosted the morale of the terrorists. Opposition to terrorism is the greatest jihad which is incumbent on every Muslim. We are also struggling to save the image of Islam and its misuse by vested interests.

I could not understand fully what Irshad Manji had said therefore I don’t know how to react. I hold madarsas is high esteem. I know of an organisation that runs 3,000 madarsas and another 12,000 are associated with it but these are an asset to India as well as Indian Muslims.

I am asked on television whether I love Islam or my country more. This is a tough question. If I say Islam, they call me unpatriotic. I am always asked to prove my loyalty to either Islam or to India. Now I say, I have two eyes and you should tell me I keep and which I should give away. But I give preference to my religion which has inculcated in me the spirit to lay down my life for the sake of my motherland.

Islam respects women but Muslims do not follow that. At the same time, Islam does not have casteism as well as parochialism but our society still practices it.

I regard India as a magnificent country and the best country for Muslims on this planet. We have a pluralistic society which is why India has spread the message of a civilised society. Our culture inspires us to love, not hate.

Women have different roles to play in a society and it is a known fact that if women are literate that community will remain literate. But women today face two cultures—one that raises the banner of advancement by creating nudity and the other that seeks to imprison them by curbing their rights. I feel women should be given the freedom to do what they want to do.

Transcript of Q&A session with Irshad Manji, Maulana Mahmood Madani and S. Gurumurthy

Akbar (moderator): …that was raised to Maulana Mohammad. Ali and he gave this answer in 1925 after the Khilafat movement. And I must say I was so happy to hear about gender bias, I say this to audiences which are predominantly Muslim when I get an opportunity to address them and I am very pleased that at his last conference about seven thousand Maulvis were there in Hyderabad when he was launching his continued effort to explain and challenge the philosophy of terrorism which he is doing all over the country, he asked me to speak and there I thought it more important.

And I keep telling my fellow Indian Muslims that if you do not eliminate gender bias in your society, you are not going to enter the 19th century – who is inviting you into the twenty-first? You are just not going to get it. And in fact it is a very valid point that he made that it is really the struggle for modernity that we are facing. I know the Pakistani High Commissioner is here, but I will beg his pardon, because I do want to make a point which I hope you will not take amiss – I do believe it very strongly so therefore I am making it, not in the purpose of nationalism but I hope with a little more, let us say, less emotional objectivity.

What is the difference between India and Pakistan? Indians and Pakistanis are the same people, they have same strengths, same weaknesses. I believe, it is my view, that we have moved in different trajectories because the idea of India is stronger than the Indian and the idea of Pakistan is weaker than the Pakistani. That is the basis. And what is it?

Basically, I believe that India was fashioned around a modern idea which is built around, what might be called, three equalities and one equity. Three equalities being equal political right, democracy – one vote, one person, religious rights – secularism, irrespective of your religion you are equal before the law, number three – gender equality, critical, gender equality is critical for the creation of a modern society, and fourth economic equity – you cannot have economic equality that is an absurdity, but economic equity over and over again our various government, successive governments have actually fashioned economic policy with a view that there can growth without social justice, there cannot be.

So, this is what makes us a modern state and I do not really believe that faith is sufficient glue for the creation of a nation. If any faith, if for example Islam was sufficient for creation of nationhood, why would there be twenty-two Arab countries? As simple as that, however, I know nobody is asking for the revocation of the two nations but I think it may still make sense for the revocation of what might be called the two nation theory.

Finally one point that Guru you made about the cutting of trees. No author can ever resist an opportunity to plug his book. Right! If you read the Shade of Swords, Hazrat Abu Bakr who was the first Khalifa to send out army, right, he defined the ten rules of Jihad. Rule number eight or seven is very clear, seven is that you cannot kill innocents and so on that is well known and well advertised. Rule number eight that you cannot destroy palm trees, that you cannot destroy trees; you cannot do what is called destruction of fields which is part of Koran philosophy.

You cannot touch anyone worshiping, even if it is idol worship and so on. So there are great things that we have to find in common, the point is what to find what is in common rather than to find what creates conflict. And I think on that note may I, there is still time, may be take questions. I am sure there are questions. Please identify yourself. I will have one request, which is not a request, please be brief and make it a question rather than a viewpoint. Remember that Uncle Aroon has invited only three speakers.

Irshad Manji: I must tell you that I don’t consider myself a moderate Muslim at all. There is nothing moderate about my position. What I am is a, mind it, reformed Muslim and it is a very important distinction that Americans, especially as they stumble over themselves to determine who is an extremist and who is moderate, I think the more important distinction to be made today is who is a moderate and who is a reformer. Let me just quickly explain what I mean by this distinction.

Moderate Muslims certainly denounce violence that takes place under the banner of Islam. In many cases, public opinion has pushed them to do so. But the problem is they still deny the role that religion plays in inciting the very violence that is committed in religion’s name. You will often hear the next time a bombing or a beheading takes place, an Islamist group claims credit for this, you will often hear moderate Muslims say – no, no, please don’t misunderstand, Islam has nothing to do with this.

Not only is this dishonest, as many of the terrorists themselves prove, when they quote from scriptures, okay, not only is it dishonest, but it is dangerous, because in their denial moderate Muslims in effect hand over the opportunity for reinterpretation to those with already malignant intentions. In effect moderate Muslims say, “you terrorist get to walk away with the show, we are not going to come back at you with bold and competing reinterpretations – we can’t, because if we did, then we will be acknowledging that religion does really play a role”.

And we can’t go there since Islam is perfect. We reform minded Muslims, who are in a much smaller vocal category, we say – hold on, we must go there. Just as liberal Jews and liberal Christians had reinterpreted their violent passages for a brand new context, we have to do the same. And reinterpretation is not the same as re-writing. As a matter of fact, the Kuran itself contains three times as many verses calling on Muslims to think and analyze and reflect instead of versus that tell us only what is right or only what is wrong. In other words, three times as many verses promoting ‘Ichdihat’ than verses promoting blind submission. So by that calculation alone, I believe Sir, reformed minded Muslims are at least as authentic as the moderate mainstream and quite possibly more constructive. Thank you.

Question: My name is Dinesh Trivedi. Evidently there is so much of light out here, the light of knowledge, yet there is so much of darkness outside. My question is, is this terror purely money and business oriented or is conflict of civilization?

Answer (Gurumurthy): See, it is a mix of both. The war on terror is as bad, as Dr. Madani said, Jihad itself. And there is a mix up of so many things – geo-politics, money, economic interests, personal prejudices and so you are absolutely right there is a civilizational dimension as well as political and economic dimension. But, the more important thing which I tried to emphasize, may be in a lighter vein I distinguished, how some religions have been able to avoid this kind of situation in which the monotheistic faith have landed themselves.

See single god religions have to be more careful. A multi-god religion like Hindu religion, you know, we made peace between gods, got them married or whatever and ensured that gods lived in peace. The monotheistic faith have allowed their gods to clash. It is purely failure of interpretation according to me. No god can clash with other gods. He can only try to see my flock is retained with myself.

So I think there is a tremendous failure of religious failure in monotheistic faith and more in Islam and to that extent I agree with my fellow panelist Irshad Manji that there is a failure of leadership and what requires, and I wouldn’t exactly use the word ‘reformed’ because it is not a very good word in these days because economic reforms have thoroughly failed, and so I would like to use the word ‘introspection’ instead of reform. Every religion needs introspection. Every segment of a religion needs introspection and every leader and faithful needs introspection.

Maulana Mahmood Madani: Me is bare mein kehna chahonga ki Guruji ne jo bat kahi hai who, partially me use agree karta hoon, ki yakinan apna muhasba hame khud karna chahiye aur sab mazab walon ko iske bare me dekhna chahiye, karna chahiye aur kiya bi jata raha hai, lekin reinterpretation ka jo issue hai, who bhi bilkul hona chahiye. Usse bhi mein agree karta hoon ki reinterpretation bhi hona chahiye, lekin mein isse agree nahi karta hoon ki reinterpretation kaun karega. Yahan par masla khada ho jayega ki reinterpretation kaun karega. Hamare yahan bahut sare legal problem aati hain to uske bare mein legal opinion li jati hain, Soli Sorabji ko pucha jaata hain – Mehmood Madani ko koyi nahin puchta uske bare mein na. Nahin puchta na? Kay Sanjay Dutt election lad sakte hai ya nahi lad sakte, mujhse nahin pucha jata hai. To baat yeh hai ki jo logon ki jo field hai, us field ke logon ko usmein kaam karna chahiye aur jaroor karna chahiye.

M.J. Akbar: Just one point. The three major monotheistic faiths – Christianity or Judaism, Christianity and Islam have one thing in common, they have the same God.

Question: You know I was wondering listening to all of you, what would be the final aim of, if I may say, the top management of terrorism? The people down, they use perhaps religion to make good people into terrorist, so they feel that alright if you do this you will go to heaven so people at the lower rungs what they do I can understand, but the real managers or the management of terrorism, what do they want and do they think they will succeed? Bombay saw about two hundred people dead, the papers mentioned that they were aiming at five thousand people to be there. Even if that had happened and what then, but if that happened do you think the terrorist would have earned whatever was ruling of a nation or capturing of a nation? What is it that the terrorist wanted?

Answer (Gurumurthy): For the terrorist, terror is an advertisement, it is a public relation campaign, it is a motivational exercise. This is where Bush went wrong. He made terrorist larger than they are, more powerful than they are, more motivated than they are. The hatred against Bush transformed into motivation for terror. We should never handle terror that way. The most important way of handling terror is for people here who accrue higher positions in the society to understand that you cannot tackle terror purely by modernity. Modernity is one of the targets of terror.

So we must understand the actual ground level reality and try to think of it. Actually, I find layers and layers of differences. So my feeling is a very powerful sustained dialogue is needed. And I found, probably Maulana Madani is one of the most important personalities of “Orthodox Islam”. But I don’t find any difficulty in talking to him. Both of us understand religion. Only those who understand religion, religious sentiments, can have the dialogue. We must promote dialogue between religions – honest dialogue, sincere dialogue, not false dialogue that all religions are same. They are not same.

All religions have the same goal – they don’t have the same goal. They don’t have the same methods. But all religions must learn to live together is the principle. That is the only way by which we can get over this menace, I entirely agree with Doctor sahab that we are promoting terrorists when we club them with Islam. But I would certainly say that Islamic scholars like him must come out and clarify that non believers in Islam do not mean Kafirs. Generally non-believer is a Kafir.

You ask a Hindu, he will say a Christian according to him is a believer; a Muslim according to him is a believer, only the person who doesn’t believe in any religion, a Hindu will consider him a non-believer. But a non-believer in Islam is considered to be a ‘non-believer’, then the problem arises. That is what I told him before we came here and that is my appeal to him. If this concept is accepted all the space which the terrorist want to occupy is denied to them.

M.J. Akbar: ‘Lakun De Nakun Velyadin” – very important and basic principle of the Koran, your religion for you and my religion for me. As simple. That is the best definition of secularism. We don’t impose upon each other. May I just in answer to that have one sentence? One of the purposes of top management, that was really a very good question, is to destroy alternative models of society through chaos with your inability to defend yourself. So each time it is a major test.

Question (Mohini): My question is to Madani Sahab. Religion is a personal affair. It is my personal relationship with my god. That is it. Why should any Mullah or any Sankaracharya or the Akal Takht or the Pope in Rome tell me what sort of relationship I should have with my God? Apne kaha ki kisi religious leader to precepts lay down karne hain. I don’t accept that. Can you convince me?

Answer (Madani): Dekhiye baat yeh hain ki, yeh baat bilkul sahi hai ki kisi ko, kisi ke saath zabardasti karne ka koi hak nahin hain. Lekin jab ham ek society mein rahte hain to hamari ek us society ko jo hum munasib samajhte hain – hamse sawal kiya jar aha hein ki ye Jihad ho raha hain, ab Jihad ke bare me bataye ki kya hai yeh. Yeh Jihad hai? Hum kehte hain Jihad nahin hain yeh fasad hain. Kehte hain na! Aur usko log pasand bhi karte hain, kyonki woh zarorat hai, woh zarorat hai is waqt ki hame kehne hai, ladna hain un logon se joh Jihad ke naam par fasad faila rahain hain. Asi hi doosere issues par bhi, jisko sahi lage maan lo, nahi sahi lage mat maano. Zabardasti toh kuch hein nahin isme. To joh bhi mazhab ho, jaise kal Dalai Lama Sahab the, woh compassion ki baat karte theh, love ki baat karte theh, aur bahut sari baatein unhon-ne kari. Kisi ko achcha lagega bilkul manega, kisi ko achcha nahin lagega to woh apne dil mein hate leke baithega – ki hame hate hain aur hate mein hi rahna hai.

To hain bhi hate wale log duniya mein. Yeh apni apni choice kit baat hain. Hum to bata sakte hain ki duniya ko modernization ki tarafh is taraf lejane wale log bahut bada challenge ban ke hain. Hamari civil society break ho rahi hain, tuth rahi hain. Hamara joh Hindi mein kehte hain, English zaban mein to culture kahte hain, Urdu mein hum log tehzeeb kahte hain. Hamari tehzeeb khatre mein hein. Tehzeeb alag cheez hai, mazhab alag cheez hai. Mazhab bilkul alag cheez hai – woh individual matter hain, bilkul sahi. Lekin hamari ek tehzeeb hai, hamari ek society hain, India ki bhi apni ek tehzeeb hai – sanskriti, hamari sanskriti joh hain, hame usko bachana hai. Hum modern ho jayen, bilkul ho jayen – apne kapdon se, apne khane pene se, lekin vichar se hamen modern nahin hona chahiye. Vichar hamara wahi rahna chahiye jo hamari sanskriti ne hame diya hain. Yeh ek khayal hai, aapko nahin achcha lagta nahin maniyein.

Question (Mohini): Aap keh rehe the ki jo interpretation hain religion ka woh kisi Maulvi se, ya Akal Takht se aana chahiye.

Answer: Meine Maulvi se nahin kaha. Dekhiye, har cheez ka ek field hai. Us field ka joh specialist ho usise aap karaiye. Jho aadmi jis field ke baare me jaanta nahin, mein Indian Penal Code ke baare mein nahi jaanta, kuch pada nahin uske baare mein, meri who field nahin hai, to mujhse uske baare mein koyi bhi nahi poochtha. Lekin dharam ke baare mein sab log sab se poochne lagte hain aur sab bolne lagte hain. Yeh problem aa jaati isme thodi se.

Question: I’am Anuradha from the SRM University. When a child is born, you know, the child is neither a Hindu or a Christian the child just takes the religion that the family follows. Later the child also has a choice to convert into the religion the child likes. What is the significance of religion? How important are these interpretations to them? Will our children become the victims of religion because we are not agreeing on a common understanding of what religion means to us.

Answer (Irshd Manji): If I may try to answer that very profound question and it is deep. Something else that is deep today in this modern world is the sense of meaninglessness. You know, we live in an age as everybody knows, of globalization and this relatively free movement of capital, of goods, of people, even of jobs what few exist now, but what it suggests is that people are thrown into chaos of their own. And so many people around the world don’t quite know who they are.

And so in a time of such aggressive fluidity it is easy for religion to become calcified to be source of absolutes and for people to cling and to be able to say through this I know who I am.

The problem with that notion of who I am is that it is actually not about who you are at all, it is about what you are. Identity is only about what you are. It is constructive, often in relation to the other – integrity, which is not identity. Integrity is much more complex. It takes into account your particular values, your personal narrative, your authentic journey in this world.

That I believe is one of the great transitions that we have both the opportunity and the challenge to make through our children, you know, in the years coming is that transition from identity into integrity and what are we teaching our children about integrity. If anything, do we even use that word in our own languages? Do we even understand that concept of homeness.

Because it allows us to be many contradictory things at once, whereas identity allows you to be only one thing at once and that reduces you as a multi-faceted human being to something far less than you actually are. And I wanted to springboard after that idea to quickly address the Gentleman’s question about – what is it that the terrorist want? I know sir, I remember very clearly that you were asking about the top tier management. But my constituency is a relatively a young one. In the people from whom I hear around the world are in their teens, in their twenties and in their thirties and many young fundamentalist actually do e-mail me, usually to berate me, but then I, you know, engage in conversation and I come to learn some of the insights about how they got to be where they are.

I must tell you I am amazed that this not reported in the media. But I hear this over and over again from young radicalized Muslims in the West that they are not just fighting, what so many people say is the racism of their society – that is easy, that is a lazy answer, what they tell me is that they are also actually fighting what they call the tribalism within their own, Pakistani in many cases, I am thinking of the U.K. in particular or Bangladeshi communities in particular, where their elders are saying to them this is who you are – which is really to say what you really are, this who you are, this is where you belong, this is what you believe. No questions allowed. End of story.

And you know what, in this world of free movement of information these kids are not to be infantilized that way. Do we really think that they are that stupid? Do we not realize that they are making decisions every single day as they navigate information and misinformation on the Internet. They feel utterly humiliated by their own and not just by their so-called outside oppressors. And so that makes them extremely vulnerable to anybody who preaches to them. And that is the power of religion.

Akbar: Thank you very much. Must compliment India Today for putting together such an erudite panel. Just by way of observation that is not a question, nothing official about it, for that I get plenty of opportunity otherwise, M.J. you talked about the two nation theory and very rightly said that what the two nations truly exist, that is a matter of fact, matter of history. But as regards the theory itself, let me tell you that this is still the feeling in Pakistan – that this is the glue which keeps the people of Pakistan together. But, I must also quickly add that this is in no way to suggest that on the average the people in Pakistan do not want good, better relations with India.

That is besides the point. But the fact of the matter is that the two nation theory, you know, sixty plus years ago there was an idea, a realization – the two nations have come to stay, but at the same time as I have said there is a genuine desire on both sides, I believe, to improve relations with each other. So that is about the two nation theory. Maulana Sahab aapne farmayah ki yahan aapko badhi pazerahi milti hai, yahan aapko badhi achi tarah se sunah jaata hain. Mein aapko yakin dilate hoon ki aap Pakistan Tashreef layen, apko wahan bhi isi kisem se aapko haatho haath liya jayega, jis tarah yahan liya jaata hain.

Question (Aroon): I am Aroon uncle, Aroon Chacha. It seems to me that most of terrorism which is happening today is happening in the name of Islam for whatever reason. And it seems to me also that they are also winning this war in terms of hearts and minds. What is it specifically that the Panel would suggest for media, politics, society as a whole, that how do you counter it? I know it is a big large issue, people had said in our conclave that you know, it is poverty, it is discrimination and the war on terror creates its own reaction. But, I think that these are all a minority. How do we fight this war on terror as individual, physically. Theological debates can happen, but in the end we have to deal with this on the ground.

Answer (Madani): Media ke point of view se keh rahan hoon, Islamist terrorist ka labze bandh kardena chahiye, isseh uneh support milit hai. Jihadi kehna bandh kar dena chahiye, agar musalman hain to kaha jaye Muslim terrorist. Islamic na kahen. Islamic keh dene se woh baat wahan chali jaati hain ki ye unko support hain. Unko usseh alag karna hai. Choteh se group mein unko sideline karna hai pure muslim ummah se aur Islamic world se.

Gurumurthy: Islamic scholars should be asked to deny that Hindus are Kafir. Second India is not Darul Harab. This should be unanimous opinion. Not one institution saying it and others denouncing it. This is the only way you can win a theological test with terrorism. See you can never contain it by any other means – secular means, modern means, military means, political means are inadequate. You have to get into the core of what is their claim over Islam. Their claim over Islam is that non-Muslims are non-believers, non-believers are not Muslims. You have to say non-believer means you don’t believe in any religion. The Hindu position should be taken by Islamic scholars; that is the only answer and the entire intellectual establishment should demand it.

Madani: Dekhiye, Muslaman is mulk mein minority hain and minorities hi kafi chalta bhi hai uske hawale bahut sari baaten hoti hain, seedhi bhi or ulti bhi. Mein manta hoon ki musalman is mulk ki second-largest majority hain aur musalman is mulk ka asset hain aur ushe asset banna hai, ushe mayus nahin hone dena hain, hopelessness usme paida nahi hone deni hain, usko mainstream me lana hain.

Yeh joh sawal aata hai baar baar, Musalman is mulk ko Darul Harab manta hai – achcha nahin mante ho to sabit karo, sab log mil karke fatwa do. Isi tarah se kaha jaata hai, ke tum log kafir mante ho isliye problem.

Hum kahten hain hum kafir nahin mante hai isliye problem hai, uske bawajood bhi problem hai problem ke bahut sare sources hain. Please gaddhe me mat dalo, deewar se mat lagao, aise kaam mat karo ki jisse logon mein hamesha yeh baat paeda rahe ki hum to mujrim hain. Terrorism pe humne shuruh kiya aur kafhi kuch kiya to kisi sahab ne mujhe kaha ki pahle fatwa lao tab manenge. To hum fatwa le Aaye. Ab kahene lage ki Darul Aman mano aur iska fatwa do. Woh fatwa bhi leaye. To ab sabh log mil kar ke kehane ke baad aur bhi kayi sawal khade ho gaye, log karte rahenge.

Irshad Manji: I haven’t had a chance to answer that question. Very briefly, we talk about you know ensuring that various schools of Islamic thought can agree that Hindus are not Kafirs or infidels of any kind. This again inculcates the Islamic interfaith blessing for marriage the one that is translated into Hindi actually makes the case for why the Hindus are believers in a way that Muslims can accept, so for those of you who are interested there are some copies for you.

Aroon chacha you asked and again I am taking you literally, you asked what is it that individuals can do because we are talking big pictures concepts here, what is it that you can do?

Sri Lanka suicide blast kills 14, wounds minister

13 03 2009

Source: AP

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) – A suicide bomber attacked government ministers leading a procession to mark a Muslim festival in southern Sri Lanka, killing 14 people and severely wounding one of the officials.The government blamed Tamil Tiger separatists for Tuesday’s blast, which wounded 45 other people, saying the rebels had grown desperate in the
face of an army offensive that has driven them close to defeat after more than 25 years of civil war.If the assault was carried out by the Tigers, it shows that the guerrillas can still launch strikes far from their traditional strongholds in the north and east even as they face battlefield defeat.
As the military has pushed the rebels into an ever-shrinking sliver of territory in the north, human rights and aid groups have voiced concern for the fate of the tens of thousands of civilians trapped in the pocket. Heavy artillery attacks Tuesday killed at least 49 ethnic Tamil civilians and wounded hundreds of others, the top government health official in the war zone said.While fighting rages in the north, the suicide attacker struck in the southern town of Akuressa as six ministers led a procession toward a mosque for a ceremony to commemorate the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.Television footage showed men in white robes and caps slowly parading down the street before the blast sent them running in all directions. Afterward, charred bodies lay scattered among their torn clothes and severed limbs just outside the mosque compound’s gates.?I heard a huge sound, and then I saw people had fallen everywhere.

They were covered with blood and flesh, and the wounded people were screaming,? Ahamed Nafri, 29, said by telephone from the hospital in the nearby town of Matara.Police and bystanders hauled the badly bleeding Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Mahinda Wijesekara into a van. He was later flown to the capital for treatment to a head wound.Dr. Hector Weerasinghe, director of Colombo National Hospital, said the minister underwent three hours of surgery and was still in serious condition late Tuesday.The government said the attack killed 14 people and wounded 45 more.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s office said selecting a mosque on an Islamic festival for the attack showed the rebels ?hatred? of Muslims and strengthened the government’s resolve to defeat them.There was no indication Muslims were specifically targeted on Tuesday. However, the Tamil Tigers used violence to drive many Muslims and ethnic Sinhalese, who are mainly Buddhist, from areas dominated by Tamils, who are mostly Hindu.

In one of the bloodiest incidents, suspected rebels attacked a mosque in an eastern town in 1990 with guns, grenades and machetes, killing 140 worshippers.Muslims, many of them descendants of Arab or Indian traders, make up about 7 percent of Sri Lanka’s population. Many speak Tamil but the community has largely stayed out of the war.With most communication to the north severed, rebel spokesmen could not be reached for comment.

The Tamil Tigers have fought since 1983 for an independent state for the Tamil minority, which suffered decades of marginalization at the hands of governments dominated by the Sinhalese majority. More than 70,000 people have been killed.

2 blasts strike Myanmar’s biggest city

5 03 2009
source: Associated press
March 3rd 2009

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Two explosions shook parks near busy thoroughfares in military-ruled Myanmar’s largest city Tuesday night. An official said there were no casualties although onlookers saw one man being led to an ambulance.

The official said it was not immediately clear what caused the blasts in Yangon. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to release information.

Security personnel rushed to the sites of both blasts and blocked off one road, while soldiers and police stopped and searched vehicles along another main thoroughfare that passes by the sites of both explosions.

The was no immediate comment from the ruling junta — standard practice in the tightly controlled nation where almost all government comment is released through state-run media.

Witnesses said the first blast took place at about 9:40 p.m. at a small park in western Yangon near Myeinigone junction, a busy area with a bus terminal.

The explosion could be heard several blocks away and witnesses saw smoke rising from the scene. Police and soldiers arrived with bomb-sniffing dogs, and onlookers saw a man being walked to an ambulance.

The official said no one was injured.

The witnesses said the second blast, shortly after 11 p.m., occurred by a bus stop next to another park at Kamayut junction, another busy thoroughfare. Several truckloads of solders were quickly deployed to the area.

Terrorism is rare but not unknown in Myanmar, which has been under near-continuous military rule since 1962. Several small bombings occurred in Yangon last year, injuring about a dozen people.

The government usually blames bombings on its political opponents or ethnic rebel groups seeking autonomy. The groups deny carrying out such activities.

The deadliest such attack in recent years took place May 7, 2005, when three bombs went off almost simultaneously at two upscale supermarkets and a convention center in Yangon, killing about two dozen people and injuring more than 160 others. The perpetrators remain unknown.

In recent years, bomb explosions have also been reported in other parts of the country, notably at transport terminals and on buses, the most-used form of transportation.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Hawala money in India linked to terror funding: US

2 03 2009

Source: Dailytimes

* State Dept report recommends New Delhi prioritise cooperation with international initiatives for increased transparency

Daily Times Monitor

LAHORE: ‘Hawala’ money in India is directly linked to terrorist financing, the US has warned, suggesting New Delhi should strengthen its anti-money laundering and counter terrorism-finance legislations.

Citing a US State Department report, the Times of India reported that Washington had also recommended New Delhi work towards becoming a full-fledged member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental body that develops policies to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. Noting the Indian parliament’s move to pass the Prevention of Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill, the report suggest India should make necessary legislative amendments to bring its anti-money laundering finance regime in conformity to FATF.

Prioritise: “Given the number of terrorist attacks in India and the fact that in India hawala is directly linked to terrorist financing, India should prioritise cooperation with international initiatives that provide increased transparency in alternative remittance systems,” said the report.

Released by Assistant US Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs David Johnson, the report quotes Reserve Bank of India estimates that remittances to India sent through legal, formal channels in 2007-2008 amounted to $42.6 billion. It cites Indian observers as saying funds transferred through hawala are equal to between 30 to 40 percent of the formal market.

The report noted that India’s strict foreign-exchange laws and transaction reporting requirements, combined with the banking industry’s due diligence policy, makes it difficult for criminals to use formal channels to launder money. However, large portions of illegal proceeds are often laundered through ‘hawala’, ‘hundi’, or other informal money transfer systems.

Listing out the steps New Delhi still needs to take, the report said India should become a party to the UN Conventions against Transnational Organised Crime and Corruption. “Also, India should pass the Foreign Contribution Regulation Bill for regulating non-governmental organisations, including charities,” it said. “India should devote more law enforcement and customs resources to curb abuses in the diamond trade. It should also consider the establishment of a Trade Transparency Unit that promotes trade transparency; in India, trade is the back door to underground financial systems,” the report said.

The hawala system can provide the same remittance service as a bank with little or no documentation, at lower rates and with faster delivery, while providing anonymity and security for its customers, the report said. It claimed that while most money laundering in India was aimed towards facilitating widespread tax avoidance, criminal activity contributes substantially

The 19th-century roots of terrorism

2 03 2009

By Chuck Leddy Globe Correspondent / February 26, 2009
Source: The Boston Globe

Terrorist bombings of nightclubs, restaurants, and hotels are, unfortunately, the stuff of today’s headline news. But the bombing of Paris’s Café Terminus in 1894 was a new, stunning phenomenon made possible by a violent philosophy and the development of dynamite. Yale historian John Merriman does many things in “The Dynamite Club,” his book about the bombing, and does them quite well, from explaining the intellectual and social underpinnings of anarchism to detailing the invention of dynamite to taking us inside the murky underworld of extremist Émile Henry, who built and then set off the 1894 bomb.

THE DYNAMITE CLUB: How a Bombing in Fin-de-Siècle Paris Ignited the Age of Modern Terror By John Merriman

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 259 pp., illustrated, $26

“This book is motivated by a very simple question: Why did Émile Henry do what he did?” In seeking an answer, Merriman meticulously details the massive socioeconomic inequalities of 19th-century Paris, and the rest of Europe, which created alienation and resentment, especially among impoverished intellectuals such as Henry. Merriman shows us the dual worlds of Paris, the conspicuous consumption of the relatively few haves and the desperation, sickness, and want of the majority have-nots. Henry’s radical father had been forced to flee France after the 1871 Paris Commune, and young Henry adopted an extreme anarchist philosophy that advocated violence to destroy the social and political order.

Unlike socialists, anarchists like Henry rejected “electoral politics because they saw it as a means of propping up the bourgeois state,” writes Merriman. Acts of violence were needed to destroy the state, and as with today’s Islamic terrorist groups, anarchism developed a cult of martyrdom whereby those who died destroying the enemy were celebrated as heroes. Merriman effectively explains anarchism’s reverence for martyrs, showing how Henry was consumed by a need to avenge the death of other anarchists.

Henry performed his first act of terrorism in November 1892. He walked into the Paris headquarters of the Carmaux Mining Co. and placed a bomb, wrapped as a gift, at the front door. A suspicious employee contacted the police, who came and carefully carried the package to the nearest police station. “Two minutes later, the bomb exploded. Unimaginable horror followed,” writes Merriman, detailing the gruesome deaths of five victims inside the station. Henry fled to London, satisfied with his handiwork.

Henry lived on the lam in London and Paris, in a global anarchist underworld rife with secrecy, violence, and the fear of police informants. Merriman writes about international police efforts to uncover anarchist plots around the world, especially in London: “As part of this effort, police agents from France, Italy, Russia, and other countries were dispatched to Britain, where they infiltrated anarchist groups,” the author notes. Yet Henry remained on the loose, planning his next bombing.

On Feb. 12, 1894, Henry left a bomb in the crowded Café Terminus. Merriman describes the ensuing destruction: “The explosion left a sizable hole in the wooden floor and punctured the ceiling. Amid general panic, the screams and shouts of the wounded joined the smoke.” Incredibly, only one person died inside the cafe, while 20 were injured. Henry was captured fleeing the scene. Under police interrogation, he proudly admitted both bombings.

Tried for murder, Henry defiantly justified his actions as payback for police repression against anarchism. On May 21, 1894, he was guillotined in front of a Paris crowd. In describing the fate of a single terrorist, Merriman has skillfully illustrated how social alienation fueled the rise of extremist ideas and acts. The lethal impulses that motivated Henry aren’t so different, the author concludes, from the impulses that lead to terrorism today. This accessible account is historically eye-opening and psychologically insightful.

Chuck Leddy is a freelance writer who lives in Dorchester.

Sri Lanka lost $200 billion due to terrorism

1 03 2009
Source: Financial Times

By Quintus Perera

Terrorism has cost Sri Lanka over $200 billion in terms of low business confidence, investors shying away and tourism suffering while, pressure exerted on the currency and borrowing has also become difficult, according to the country’s foreign secretary.

Dr Palitha T.B. Kohona, Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, making a presentation on “Sri Lanka – Progress Towards Peace and Prosperity” as the keynote speaker at the Rotary District Conference last week, said however that the country’s resilience has risen to these challenges. He said successive governments have continued the process of ensuring economic development amidst vast difficulties.

He said the country continued to advance economically and considerable success has been demonstrated in accomplishing the Millennium Development Goals, as agreed at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000 which aims at reducing poverty and improving the lives of people. He said that poverty in Sri Lanka has dropped.

Dr Kohona said that despite the adverse publicity and the determined efforts (by terrorists) to destroy the country, even from within, Sri Lanka received a record level of FDI in excess of US $ 800 million in 2007.
He observed the cynical willingness of some to accept allegations made by organizations overtly sympathetic to the LTTE and some NGOs, who have a vested interest in continuing their operations in the country which is a tourist haven.

Nalin Fernando, Governor, Rotary International District 3220, Sri Lanka elaborated on Rotary’s social and humanitarian activities carried out in Sri Lanka while Aziz Memon, Representative of the Rotary International President from Pakistan made a detailed presentation of Rotary International activities.