Sunday, April 29, 2007

Uneasy Alliance Is Taming One Insurgent Bastion
New York Times
April 29, 2007

Uneasy Alliance Is Taming One Insurgent Bastion

RAMADI, Iraq — Anbar Province, long the lawless heartland of the tenacious Sunni Arab resistance, is undergoing a surprising transformation. Violence is ebbing in many areas, shops and schools are reopening, police forces are growing and the insurgency appears to be in retreat.
“Many people are challenging the insurgents,” said the governor of Anbar, Maamoon S. Rahid, though he quickly added, “We know we haven’t eliminated the threat 100 percent.”

Many Sunni tribal leaders, once openly hostile to the American presence, have formed a united front with American and Iraqi government forces against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. With the tribal leaders’ encouragement, thousands of local residents have joined the police force. About 10,000 police officers are now in Anbar, up from several thousand a year ago. During the same period, the police force here in Ramadi, the provincial capital, has grown from fewer than 200 to about 4,500, American military officials say.

At the same time, American and Iraqi forces have been conducting sweeps of insurgent strongholds, particularly in and around Ramadi, leaving behind a network of police stations and military garrisons, a strategy that is also being used in Baghdad, Iraq’s capital, as part of its new security plan.

Yet for all the indications of a heartening turnaround in Anbar, the situation, as it appeared during more than a week spent with American troops in Ramadi and Falluja in early April, is at best uneasy and fragile.

Municipal services remain a wreck; local governments, while reviving, are still barely functioning; and years of fighting have damaged much of Ramadi.

The insurgency in Anbar — a mix of Islamic militants, former Baathists and recalcitrant tribesmen — still thrives among the province’s overwhelmingly Sunni population, killing American and Iraqi security forces and civilians alike. [This was underscored by three suicide car-bomb attacks in Ramadi on Monday and Tuesday, in which at least 15 people were killed and 47 were wounded, American officials said. Eight American service members — five marines and three soldiers — were killed in two attacks on Thursday and Friday in Anbar, the American military said.]

Furthermore, some American officials readily acknowledge that they have entered an uncertain marriage of convenience with the tribes, some of whom were themselves involved in the insurgency, to one extent or another. American officials are also negotiating with elements of the 1920 Revolution Brigades, a leading insurgent group in Anbar, to join their fight against Al Qaeda.

These sudden changes have raised questions about the ultimate loyalties of the United States’ new allies. “One day they’re laying I.E.D.’s, the next they’re police collecting a pay check,” said Lt. Thomas R. Mackesy, an adviser to an Iraqi Army unit in Juwayba, east of Ramadi, referring to improvised explosive devices.

And it remains unclear whether any of the gains in Anbar will transfer to other troubled areas of Iraq — like Baghdad, Diyala Province, Mosul and Kirkuk, where violence rages and the ethnic and sectarian landscape is far more complicated.

Still, the progress has inspired an optimism in the American command that, among some officials, borders on giddiness. It comes after years of fruitless efforts to drive a wedge between moderate resistance fighters and those, like Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, who seem beyond compromise.

“There are some people who would say we’ve won the war out here,” said Col. John. A. Koenig, a planning officer for the Marines who oversees governing and economic development issues in Anbar. “I’m cautiously optimistic as we’re going forward.”

A New Calm

For most of the past few years, the Government Center in downtown Ramadi, the seat of the provincial government, was under near-continual siege by insurgents, who reduced it to little more than a bullet-ridden bunker of broken concrete, sandbags and trapped marines. Entering meant sprinting from an armored vehicle to the front door of the building to evade snipers’ bullets.

Now, however, the compound and nearby buildings are being renovated to create offices for the provincial administration, council and governor. Hotels are being built next door for the waves of visitors the government expects once it is back in business.

On the roof of the main building, Capt. Jason Arthaud, commander of Company B, First Battalion, Sixth Marines, said the building had taken no sniper fire since November. “Just hours of peace and quiet,” he deadpanned. “And boredom.”

Violence has fallen swiftly throughout Ramadi and its sprawling rural environs, residents and American and Iraqi officials said. Last summer, the American military recorded as many as 25 violent acts a day in the Ramadi region, ranging from shootings and kidnappings to roadside bombs and suicide attacks. In the past several weeks, the average has dropped to four acts of violence a day, American military officials said.

On a recent morning, American and Iraqi troops, accompanied by several police officers, went on a foot patrol through a market in the Malaab neighborhood of Ramadi. Only a couple of months ago, American and Iraqi forces would enter the area only in armored vehicles. People stopped and stared. The sight of police and military forces in the area, particularly on foot, was still novel.
The new calm is eerie and unsettling, particularly for anyone who knew the city even several months ago.

“The complete change from night to day gives me pause,” said Capt. Brice Cooper, 26, executive officer of Company B, First Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, First Infantry Division, which has been stationed in the city and its outskirts since last summer. “A month and a half ago we were getting shot up. Now we’re doing civil affairs work.”

A Moderate Front

The turnabout began last September, when a federation of tribes in the Ramadi area came together as the Anbar Salvation Council to oppose the fundamentalist militants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

Among the council’s founders were members of the Abu Ali Jassem tribe, based in a rural area of northern Ramadi. The tribe’s leader, Sheik Tahir Sabbar Badawie, said in a recent interview that members of his tribe had fought in the insurgency that kept the Americans pinned down on their bases in Anbar for most of the last four years.

“If your country was occupied by Iraq, would you fight?” he asked. “Enough said.”
But while the anti-American sheiks in Anbar and Al Qaeda both opposed the Americans, their goals were different. The sheiks were part of a relatively moderate front that sought to drive the Americans out of Iraq; some were also fighting to restore Sunni Arab power. But Al Qaeda wanted to go even further and impose a fundamentalist Islamic state in Anbar, a plan that many of the sheiks did not share.

Al Qaeda’s fighters began to use killing, intimidation and financial coercion to divide the tribes and win support for their agenda. They killed about 210 people in the Abu Ali Jassem tribe alone and kidnapped others, demanding ransoms as high as $65,000 per person, Sheik Badawie said.
For all the sheiks’ hostility toward the Americans, they realized that they had a bigger enemy, or at least one that needed to be fought first, as a matter of survival.

The council sought financial and military support from the Iraqi and American governments. In return the sheiks volunteered hundreds of tribesmen for duty as police officers and agreed to allow the construction of joint American-Iraqi police and military outposts throughout their tribal territories.

A similar dynamic is playing out elsewhere in Anbar, a desert region the size of New York State that stretches west of Baghdad to the Syrian and Jordanian borders. Tribal cooperation with the American and Iraqi commands has led to expanded police forces in the cities of Husayba, Hit, Rutba, Baghdadi and Falluja, officials say.

With the help of the Anbar sheiks, the military equation immediately became simpler for the Americans in Ramadi. The number of enemies they faced suddenly diminished, American and Iraqi officials said. They were able to move more freely through large areas. With the addition of the tribal recruits, the Americans had enough troops to build and operate garrisons in areas they cleared, many of which had never seen any government security presence before.

And the Americans were now fighting alongside people with a deep knowledge of the local population and terrain, and with a sense of duty, vengeance and righteousness.

“We know this area, we know the best way to talk to the people and get information from them,” said Capt. Hussein Abd Nusaif, a police commander in a neighborhood in western Ramadi, who carries a Kalashnikov with an Al Capone-style “snail drum” magazine. “We are not afraid of Al Qaeda. We will fight them anywhere and anytime.”

Beginning last summer and continuing through March, the American-led joint forces pressed into the city, block by block, and swept the farmlands on its outskirts. In many places the troops met fierce resistance. Scores of American and Iraqi security troops were killed or wounded.
The Ramadi region is essentially a police state now, with some 6,000 American troops, 4,000 Iraqi soldiers and 4,500 Iraqi police officers, including an auxiliary police force of about 2,000, all local tribesmen, known as the Provincial Security Force. The security forces are garrisoned in more than 65 police stations, military bases and joint American-Iraqi combat outposts, up from no more than 10 a year ago. The population of the city is officially about 400,000, though the current number appears to be much lower.

To help control the flow of traffic and forestall attacks, the American military has installed an elaborate system of barricades and checkpoints. In some of the enclaves created by this system, which American commanders frequently call “gated communities,” no vehicles except bicycles and pushcarts are allowed for fear of car bombs.

American commanders see the progress in Anbar as a bellwether for the rest of country. “One of the things I worry about in Baghdad is we won’t have the time to do the same kind of thing,” Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of day-to-day war operations in Iraq, said in an interview here.

Yet the fact that Anbar is almost entirely Sunni and not riven by the same sectarian feuds as other violent places, like Baghdad and Diyala Province, has helped to establish order. Elsewhere, security forces are largely Shiite and are perceived by many Sunnis as part of the problem. In Anbar, however, the new police force reflects the homogeneous face of the province and appears to enjoy the support of the people.

A Growing Police Force

Military commanders say they cannot completely account for the whereabouts of the insurgency. They say they believe that many guerrillas have been killed, while others have gone underground, laid down their arms or migrated to other parts of Anbar, particularly the corridor between Ramadi and Falluja, the town of Karma north of Falluja and the sprawling rural zones around Falluja, including Zaidon and Amariyat al-Falluja on the banks of the Euphrates River. American forces come under attack in these areas every day.

Still other guerrillas, the commanders acknowledge, have joined the police force, sneaking through a vetting procedure that is set up to catch only known suspects. Many insurgents “are fighting for a different side now,” said Brig. Gen. Mark Gurganus, commander of ground forces in Anbar. “I think that’s where the majority have gone.”

But American commanders say they are not particularly worried about infiltrators among the new recruits. Many of the former insurgents now in the police, they say, were probably low-level operatives who were mainly in it for the money and did relatively menial tasks, like planting roadside bombs.

The speed of the buildup has led to other problems. Hiring has outpaced the building of police academies, meaning that many new officers have been deployed with little or no training. Without enough uniforms, many new officers patrol in civilian clothes, some with their heads wrapped in scarves or covered in balaclavas to conceal their identities. They look no different than the insurgents shown in mujahedeen videos.

Commanders seem to regard these issues as a necessary cost of quickly building a police force in a political environment that is, in the words of Colonel Koenig, “sort of like looking through smoke.” The police force, they say, has been the most critical component of the new security plan in Anbar.

Yet, oversight of the police forces by American forces and the central Iraqi government is weak, leaving open the possibility that some local leaders are using newly armed tribal members as their personal death squads to settle old scores.

Several American officers who work with the Iraqi police said a lot of police work was conducted out of their view, particularly at night. “It’s like the Mafia,” one American soldier in Juwayba said.

General Odierno said, “We have to watch them very closely to make sure we’re not forming militias.”

But there is a new sense of commitment by the police, American and Iraqi officials say, in part because they are patrolling their own neighborhoods. Many were motivated to join after they or their communities were attacked by Al Qaeda, and their successes have made them an even greater target of insurgent car bombs and suicide attacks.

Abd Muhammad Khalaf, 28, a policeman in the Jazeera district on Ramadi’s northern edge, is typical. He joined the police after Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia killed two of his brothers, he said. “I will die when God wills it,” he said. “But before I die, I will support my friends and kill some terrorists.”

The Tasks Ahead

Some tribal leaders now working with the Americans say they harbor deep resentment toward the Shiite-led administration of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, accusing it of pursuing a sectarian agenda. Yet they also say they are invested in the democratic process now.
After boycotting the national elections in 2005, many are now planning to participate in the next round of provincial elections, which have yet to be scheduled, as a way to build on the political and military gains they have made in recent months.

“Since I was a little boy, I have seen nothing but warfare — against the Kurds, Iranians, Kuwait, the Americans,” Sheik Badawie said. “We are tired of war. We are going to fight through the ballot box.”

Already, tribal leaders are participating in local councils that have been formed recently throughout the Ramadi area under the guidance of the American military.
Iraqi and American officials say the sheiks’ embrace of representative government reflects the new realities of power in Anbar. “Out here it’s been, ‘Who can defend his people?’ ” said Brig. Gen. John R. Allen, deputy commanding general of coalition forces in Anbar. “After the war it’s, ‘Who was able to reconstruct?’ ”

Indeed, American and Iraqi officials say that to hold on to the security gains and the public’s support, they must provide services to residents in areas they have tamed.
But successful development, they argue, will depend on closing the divide between the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad, which has long ignored the province, and the local leadership in Anbar, which has long tried to remain independent from the capital. If that fails, they say, the Iraqi and American governments may have helped to organize and arm a potent enemy.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Eye on Iran, Rivals Pursuing Nuclear Power
Since the "cat is out the bag" in terms of Iran's nuclear programs, other countries in the region are starting to look into their own nuclear program. And the race is on. This article here written in the New York Times mentions some of the demensions related to the the issue. If the Shia can have 'em why can't we? If the kafirs were scared of the "Shiite atomic bomb" they will definitelly be scared of the "Sunnai atomic bomb." Let me know what you think of this issue folks. --Khalil
Eye on Iran, Rivals Pursuing Nuclear Power
Published: April 15, 2007
Two years ago, the leaders of Saudi Arabia told international atomic regulators that they could foresee no need for the kingdom to develop nuclear power. Today, they are scrambling to hire atomic contractors, buy nuclear hardware and build support for a regional system of reactors.

So, too, Turkey is preparing for its first atomic plant. And Egypt has announced plans to build one on its Mediterranean coast. In all, roughly a dozen states in the region have recently turned to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna for help in starting their own nuclear programs. While interest in nuclear energy is rising globally, it is unusually strong in the Middle East.

“The rules have changed,” King Abdullah II of Jordan recently told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. “Everybody’s going for nuclear programs.”

The Middle East states say they only want atomic power. Some probably do. But United States government and private analysts say they believe that the rush of activity is also intended to counter the threat of a nuclear Iran.

By nature, the underlying technologies of nuclear power can make electricity or, with more effort, warheads, as nations have demonstrated over the decades by turning ostensibly civilian programs into sources of bomb fuel. Iran’s uneasy neighbors, analysts say, may be positioning themselves to do the same.

“One danger of Iran going nuclear has always been that it might provoke others,” said Mark Fitzpatrick, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, an arms analysis group in London. “So when you see the development of nuclear power elsewhere in the region, it’s a cause for some concern.”

Some analysts ask why Arab states in the Persian Gulf, which hold nearly half the world’s oil reserves, would want to shoulder the high costs and obligations of a temperamental form of energy. They reply that they must invest in the future, for the day when the flow of oil dries up.
But with Shiite Iran increasingly ascendant in the region, Sunni countries have alluded to other motives. Officials from 21 governments in and around the Middle East warned at a meeting of Arab leaders in March that Iran’s drive for atomic technology could result in the beginning of “a grave and destructive nuclear arms race in the region.”

In Washington, officials are seizing on such developments to build their case for stepping up pressure on Iran. President Bush has talked privately to experts on the Middle East about his fears of a “Sunni bomb,” and his concerns that countries in the Middle East may turn to the only nuclear-armed Sunni state, Pakistan, for help.

Even so, that concern is tempered by caution. In an interview on Thursday, a senior administration official said that the recent announcements were “clearly part of an effort to send a signal to Iran that two can play this game.” And, he added, “among the non-Iranian programs I’ve heard about in the region, I have not heard talk of reprocessing or enrichment, which is what would worry us the most.”

The Middle East has seen hints of a regional nuclear-arms race before. After Israel obtained its first weapon four decades ago, several countries took steps down the nuclear road. But many analysts say it is Iran’s atomic intransigence that has now prodded the Sunni powers into getting serious about hedging their bets and, like Iran, financing them with $65-a-barrel oil.

“Now’s the time to worry,” said Geoffrey Kemp, a Middle East expert at the Nixon Center, a Washington policy institute. “The Iranians have to worry, too. The idea that they’ll emerge as the regional hegemon is silly. There will be a very serious counterreaction, certainly in conventional military buildups but also in examining the nuclear option.”

No Arab country now has a power reactor, whose spent fuel can be mined for plutonium, one of the two favored materials — along with uranium — for making the cores of atom bombs. Some Arab states do, however, engage in civilian atomic research.

Analysts caution that a chain reaction of nuclear emulation is not foreordained. States in the Middle East appear to be waiting to see which way Tehran’s nuclear standoff with the United Nations Security Council goes before committing themselves wholeheartedly to costly programs of atomic development.

Even if Middle Eastern nations do obtain nuclear power, political alliances and arms-control agreements could still make individual states hesitate before crossing the line to obtain warheads. Many may eventually decide that the costs and risks outweigh the benefits — as South Korea, Taiwan, South Africa and Libya did after investing heavily in arms programs.
But many diplomats and analysts say that the Sunni Arab governments are so anxious about Iran’s nuclear progress that they would even, grudgingly, support a United States military strike against Iran.

“If push comes to shove, if the choice is between an Iranian nuclear bomb and a U.S. military strike, then the Arab gulf states have no choice but to quietly support the U.S.,” said Christian Koch, director of international studies at the Gulf Research Center, a private group in Dubai.
Decades ago, it was Israel’s drive for nuclear arms that brought about the region’s first atomic jitters. Even some Israeli leaders found themselves “preaching caution because of the reaction,” said Avner Cohen, a senior fellow at the University of Maryland and the author of “Israel and the Bomb.”

Egypt responded first. In 1960, after the disclosure of Israel’s work on a nuclear reactor, Cairo threatened to acquire atomic arms and sought its own reactor. Years of technical and political hurdles ultimately ended that plan.

Iraq came next. But in June 1981, Israeli fighter jets bombed its reactor just days before engineers planned to install the radioactive core. The bombing ignited a global debate over how close Iraq had come to nuclear arms. It also prompted Iran, then fighting a war with Iraq, to embark on a covert response.

Alireza Assar, a nuclear adviser to Iran’s Ministry of Defense who later defected, said he attended a secret meeting in 1987 at which the commander in chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said Iran had to do whatever was necessary to achieve victory. “We need to have all the technical requirements in our possession,” Dr. Assar recalled the commander as saying, even the means to “build a nuclear bomb.”

In all, Iran toiled in secret for 18 years before its nuclear efforts were disclosed in 2003. Intelligence agencies and nuclear experts now estimate that the Iranians are 2 to 10 years away from having the means to make a uranium-based bomb. It says its uranium enrichment work is entirely peaceful and meant only to fuel reactors.

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s concerns grew when inspectors found evidence of still-unexplained ties between Iran’s ostensibly peaceful program and its military, including work on high explosives, missiles and warheads. That combination, the inspectors said in early 2006, suggested a “military nuclear dimension.”

Before such disclosures, few if any states in the Middle East attended the atomic agency’s meetings on nuclear power development. Now, roughly a dozen are doing so and drawing up atomic plans.

The newly interested states include Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Yemen and the seven sheikdoms of the United Arab Emirates — Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Al Fujayrah, Ras al Khaymah, Sharjah, and Umm al Qaywayn.

“They generally ask what they need to do for the introduction of power,” said R. Ian Facer, a nuclear power engineer who works for the I.A.E.A. at its headquarters in Vienna. The agency teaches the basics of nuclear energy. In exchange, states must undergo periodic inspections to make sure their civilian programs have no military spinoffs.

Saudi Arabia, since reversing itself on reactors, has become a whirlwind of atomic interest. It recently invited President Vladimir V. Putin to become the first Russian head of state to visit the desert kingdom. He did so in February, offering a range of nuclear aid.

Diplomats and analysts say Saudi Arabia leads the drive for nuclear power within the Gulf Cooperation Council, based in Riyadh. In addition to the Saudis, the council includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — Washington’s closest Arab allies. Its member states hug the western shores of the Persian Gulf and control about 45 percent of the world’s oil reserves.

Late last year, the council announced that it would embark on a nuclear energy program. Its officials have said they want to get it under way by 2009.

“We will develop it openly,” Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, said of the council’s effort. “We want no bombs. All we want is a whole Middle East that is free from weapons of mass destruction,” an Arab reference to both Israel’s and Iran’s nuclear programs.
In February, the council and the I.A.E.A. struck a deal to work together on a nuclear power plan for the Arab gulf states. Abdul Rahman ibn Hamad al-Attiya, the council’s secretary general, told reporters in March that the agency would provide technical expertise and that the council would hire a consulting firm to speed its nuclear deliberations.

Already, Saudi officials are traveling regularly to Vienna, and I.A.E.A. officials to Riyadh, the Saudi capital. “It’s a natural right,” Mohamed ElBaradei, the atomic agency’s director general, said recently of the council’s energy plan, estimating that carrying it out might take up to 15 years.

Every gulf state except Iraq has declared an interest in nuclear power. By comparison, 15 percent of South American nations and 20 percent of African ones have done so.

One factor in that exceptional level of interest is that the Persian Gulf states have the means. Typically, a large commercial reactor costs up to $4 billion. The six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council are estimated to be investing in nonnuclear projects valued at more than $1 trillion.

Another factor is Iran. Its shores at some points are visible across the waters of the gulf — called the Arabian Gulf by Arabs and the Persian Gulf by Iranians.

The council wants “its own regional initiative to counter the possible threat from an aggressive neighbor armed with nuclear weapons,” said Nicole Stracke, an analyst at the Gulf Research Center. Its members, she added, “felt they could no longer lag behind Iran.”

A similar technology push is under way in Turkey, where long-simmering plans for nuclear power have caught fire. Last year, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for three plants. “We want to benefit from nuclear energy as soon as possible,” he said. Turkey plans to put its first reactor near the Black Sea port of Sinop, and to start construction this year.

Egypt, too, is moving forward. Last year, it announced plans for a reactor at El-Dabaa, about 60 miles west of Alexandria. “We do not start from a vacuum,” President Hosni Mubarak told the governing National Democracy Party’s annual conference. His remark was understated given Cairo’s decades of atomic research.

Robert Joseph, a former under secretary of state for arms control and international security who is now Mr. Bush’s envoy on nuclear nonproliferation, visited Egypt earlier this year. According to officials briefed on the conversations, officials from the Ministry of Electricity indicated that if Egypt was confident that it could have a reliable supply of reactor fuel, it would have little desire to invest in the costly process of manufacturing its own nuclear fuel — the enterprise that experts fear could let Iran build a bomb.

Other officials, especially those responsible for Egypt’s security, focused more on the possibility of further proliferation in the region if Iran succeeded in its effort to achieve a nuclear weapons capability.

“I don’t know how much of it is real,” Mr. Joseph said of a potential arms race. “But it is becoming urgent for us to shape the future expansion of nuclear energy in a way that reduces the risks of proliferation, while meeting our energy and environmental goals.”


Is it permissible to close your eyes during prayer for a brief moment to attain submissiveness and tranquility?

ANSWER by Shaykh Muhammad 'Umar Baazmool, instructor at Umm Al-Quraa University in Makkah

It seems that this is permissible, however it must not be taken as a continual, regular practice.
It should be noted here that the norm is that a person is to pray without closing his eyes. It has been established that the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) prayed while wearing a garment given to him by Aboo Jahm. There were markings on this garment, or designs, and they distracted the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) from his prayer [1]. So know that the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) was able to close his eyes so that this garment would not distract him. Rather, he (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) did not teach us to close our eyes during the prayer.

This hadeeth shows that it is not legislated to close one's eyes throughout the prayer in order to attain humility and submissiveness. However, to close one's eyes for a second as mentioned in the question, for a very brief moment, to refocus and gain submissiveness, not closing one's eyes for the whole prayer, it seems to me that this is permissible, so long as it is not taken as a regular habit, and Allaah knows best.

[1] Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree #373 (1/603 of Fat-hul-Baaree) and Saheeh Muslim #1238 (3/46 of Sharh An-Nawawee)

This was translated exclusively for from a cassette recording with the knowledge and permission of the shaykh, file no. AAMB031, dated 1423/7/25.

What an anti-Giuliani ad should say

What an anti-Giuliani ad should say

Forget his messy personal life. Democrats should go right at his supposed strength -- 9/11 -- the same way Republicans attacked John Kerry's Vietnam service.

By Robert Polner

Mar. 13, 2007 Considering Rudy Giuliani's image as the hero of Sept. 11, 2001, and the nation's ultimate first responder, burnished yet again by the warm reception he received at a firehouse during a recent campaign swing through South Carolina, it might surprise many of his supporters to learn that the country's largest union of firefighters hates "America's mayor" with a passion.

The International Association of Fire Fighters, which represents most of the nation's paid firefighters, initially declined to invite Giuliani to its bipartisan presidential candidates forum on Wednesday, March 14. Giuliani was the only major candidate from either party who didn't get an invite. The organization drafted a blistering letter to explain why it was snubbing him. After the IAFF leadership relented on March 5 and decided to ask Giuliani to attend after all, they shelved the letter. When Giuliani said scheduling conflicts would keep him from attending the forum, the letter leaked out. It blasted Giuliani for his "disgraceful" order of November 2001 that forced hundreds of New York firefighters to stop searching ground zero for the remains of their fallen brethren.

"Our disdain for him," said the letter, "is not about issues or a disputed contract. It is about a visceral, personal affront to the fallen, to our union and indeed, to every one of us who has ever risked our lives by going into a burning building to save lives and property."

By now, the average American voter knows that Giuliani offered important and comforting words to the nation on 9/11, filling a Bush-Cheney leadership vacuum. But voters may not know that he is not universally beloved by the real, rank-and-file first responders of 9/11, and that survivors and family members harbor bitter, lasting resentments. The public may also be unaware that Giuliani's preparation for and management of the crisis that has come to define his career, and on which his presidential ambitions rest, has actually become a case study for emergency management experts of what not to do. In fact, rather than representing his strongest qualification for the White House, his actions on 9/11 could be a political liability.
Conventional wisdom says that Giuliani is vulnerable to attacks on his many marriages, his estrangement from his children, his questionable cronies, and his positions on many social issues that sound suspiciously liberal. The man performed in drag and voted for George McGovern. But the real opportunity for Democrats -- if the Democrats are willing to seize it -- may lie in going straight at what is supposed to be Giuliani's strength.

In 2004, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth challenged the established image of John Kerry as a decorated, wounded Vietnam War hero. Democrats who had supported Kerry because they thought his military service made him electable were shocked to find a Republican-funded 527 group using spurious information and savage ads to create doubt in the electorate about the candidate's war record. Should Rudy Giuliani be the Republican nominee in 2008, Democrats can create the same doubt about him, but without relying on distortion. They could instead use the truthful words of sympathetic subjects who credibly blame Giuliani for the loss of their loved ones on Sept. 11.

These are people who have no partisan ax to grind -- many voted for Giuliani for mayor at least twice and would ordinarily have been considered part of his base. That will make their burning desire to set the country straight about his actual 9/11 record harder to dismiss, along with their genuine fear of what kind of president he would be.

The intensity of their feelings can be heard in the voice of Rosaleen Tallon. A stay-at-home mom who supports right-to-life candidates and lives in the unglamorous New York suburb of Yonkers, Tallon lost her brother Sean, a former Marine who became a probationary New York City firefighter, on 9/11. Six years later she is still enraged that Sean never heard the Fire Department's radioed "mayday" order to evacuate the twin towers before they fell. If he had, she says, he would have heeded the directions of his superiors and gotten out.

As Rosaleen will tell anyone willing to listen, the vintage radios that Sean and 342 other city firefighters carried at their deaths on 9/11 were known to be defective. The faulty radios were the target of years of scathing internal assessments, bureaucratic wrangling, and accusations of bidding favoritism, and still the Giuliani administration had never replaced them.

Here, in the radios fiasco, was government paralysis at its worst, the sort he frothed about as a reformist candidate for mayor. The city's firefighters were sent into the towers without the basic ability to send or receive maydays. The buck stops with Rudy, who knew that the same radios had faltered when the World Trade Center was first bombed by terrorists in 1993, the year he was elected mayor.

What is more, just three months before the 9/11 attack, a city firefighter trapped in the basement of a burning house in Queens broadcast a mayday on a high-tech digital radio issued by his administration to replace the older variety. When firefighters battling the blaze didn't hear his SOS -- it was picked up only by radios carried by firefighters a couple of miles away -- an uproar ensued. The firefighter survived, but the high-tech replacement radios, which had never been field-tested, were thus withdrawn, and the firemen went back to relying on their old radios, just in time for 9/11.

And on Sept. 11, the faulty radios were just part of a tableau of dysfunction. Fire Department officials couldn't communicate with police officials, whose helicopters had bird's-eye views of the unstable towers poised to fall. Police and fire communications weren't linked, and no one bothered to set up a unified police-fire command post on the street near the towers, which is Emergency Management 101. Meanwhile, the city's emergency dispatchers fielded a flood of 911 calls from panicked World Trade Center workers and gave out the wrong advice, or just threw up their hands -- "Do whatever you have to do, Sir."

Where was Rudy? He didn't know what to do or where to go because he had put his emergency command center in exactly the wrong place. Against the advice of experts, he had built the emergency command center in the area most likely to be attacked, an area that had already been attacked, the 23rd floor of No. 7 World Trade Center. It was off-limits on the only day it was ever needed.

Giuliani's supporters believe it would be impossible to undermine the ingrained perception of their candidate as a national icon, Rudy the Rock. But imagine what a talented and aggressive Democratic media consultant could do with Giuliani's real 9/11 record. Imagine Rosaleen Tallon and a Greek chorus of angry, bereaved New Yorkers in a spate of heart-tugging commercials. The ads could include not only the family members of men and women killed on 9/11, but also hard hats sickened by prolonged exposure to the toxic ground zero air that Giuliani declared safe to inhale within days of the attack. And the chorus could include the mayor's downtown constituents, who were left to rid their homes of chemical dust without city assistance, risking their own well-being. The New York City government now estimates that 43,000 people have significant 9/11-related health problems. Many, no doubt, would gladly go on camera.

Giuliani's vulnerability can be detected, in part, in his shifting accounts of his actions. He has said, for example, that technology for police-fire interoperability didn't exist at the time the planes slammed into the towers. A fawning 9/11 Commission swallowed that line, but the U.S. Conference of Mayors found shortly before Giuliani's testimony to the commission that of 192 cities it evaluated, three-quarters had radios interoperable across police and fire departments.
Giuliani has also said that firefighters remained in doomed towers because they, as a breed, are wired to their bones and sinews to stand their ground. But firefighters are also part of a quasi-military chain of command and are wired to obey orders during a crisis -- if they can hear them. Tellingly, Giuliani's Republican successor, Michael Bloomberg, who took office in January 2002, had little difficulty outfitting the FDNY with reliable radios, which they now carry with them into harm's way.

"He tells filthy lies, shamelessly parlaying his failures into a multinational empire and national campaign," said Sally Regenhard, the mother of a fallen firefighter. He cut and ran, she says. "All the heroes of 9/11 are dead or wounded, spiritually, emotionally or physically."

"He has alienated pretty much everybody in the 8,000-member fire department -- by and large, we all resent him," said New York City Fire Capt. Michael Gala, citing the city's response on 9/11, the very day upon which Giuliani's presidential hopes will rise or fall. "We don't forget. That's the big thing -- we don't forget."

Come 2008, will Democrats?

-- By Robert Polner
In America
NY Times Sunday 1/3/99
Bob Herbert: The Giuliani M.O.


City Hall is set off from the rest of New York by metal barriers, concrete barricades, signs that say "DO NOT ENTER" and "NO THRU TRAFFIC," and coils of yellow tape marked, "Police line -- do not cross." It's an ugly and depressing sight.

Cops in patrol cars are prominently stationed inside the barricades. They are there to insure that none of you give even a moment's thought to the foolish notion that City Hall is a place that belongs to you, a place where you might be welcome.

It once was, but that's over. Rudolph Giuliani is the Mayor now. City Hall belongs to him and the changed atmosphere reflects his personality -- cold and remote and unforgiving.

Last week the Mayor came up with another one of his heartless and vindictive public-policy moves. He is evicting a successful state-run psychiatric center from a city-owned building in Brooklyn in order to open a homeless shelter there. This is not because of a need for a homeless shelter. It is simply to punish the local Councilman, Stephen DiBrienza, for sponsoring homeless legislation that the Mayor didn't like.

This kind of move, carefully and cruelly crafted by the Mayor, no longer astonishes anyone. When Mr. Giuliani acts reprehensibly, it is widely seen as no big deal, just "Rudy being Rudy." Only a nitwit or an out-of-towner could think that concern for the troubled individuals helped by the psychiatric center would stop this Mayor from shoving a homeless shelter in the face of the offending Councilman.

Ed Koch is hardly a disinterested observer. But he has a pretty accurate take on Mr. Giuliani, with whom he has frequently feuded.

"His is an administration where there is no individuality among the commissioners," said Mr. Koch. "You don't even know their names, because they are in perpetual fear of doing anything that will bring down the wrath of the Mayor."

Mr. Giuliani's modus operandi, said Mr. Koch, is to "dehumanize and demonize" his opponents. "If you are a critic, you are not just a critic, you're a threat to the world. You've gotta be destroyed. Go for the jugular is what he does on every occasion. So taxi drivers whose livelihood is involved -- whether you agree with them or disagree with them, they want to be heard -- they become taxi terrorists. Food vendors become poisonous."

When the Mayor's opponents want to exercise their right to peacefully protest his policies, they frequently are stymied. "He doesn't allow for any difference of opinion," said Mr. Koch. "When he bars the different groups that want permits, they have to go to court. They win every time. But nevertheless, it means you have to hire lawyers. Not everybody has that true grit that will take you all the way to the end."

Compared with the Giuliani administration, the Koch administration of the late-70's and 80's (which I covered closely) was a golden era in terms of the openness of City Hall, the tolerance of peaceful dissent and the flow of information to the press, the public and other agencies of government.

Mr. Koch noted that many government officials have had to sue Mr. Giuliani for information they had a right to see, and that was provided routinely in prior administrations. Lawyers representing the Independent Budget Office, the Public Advocate, the City Council, the Comptroller's office and others all had to go to court against Mr. Giuliani.

"Every one of them won," said Mr. Koch. "Isn't this an abuse of power? I think it is."
Mr. Koch believes that Mr. Giuliani, on balance, is doing a good job, and a "brilliant" job fighting crime. "I agree with about 80 percent or more, substantively, of what he wants to do," said the former Mayor. "It's the way he wants to do it."

I wouldn't give Mr. Giuliani such high marks, but that's for another column. The simple fact is that New York closed out 1998 with fewer homicides than any year since 1964. New York ended the year with fewer homicides than Chicago, which has four and a half million fewer people.
Those kinds of statistics are what enable the Mayor to get away with policies and behavior that offend decency, undermine democracy and ought to be widely denounced and curtailed.
The post-Giuliani era is coming. Maybe then the barricades can be removed and we can show that a safe city can also be a free and open one.

Sunday, January 3, 1999
Copyright 1999 The New York Times
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

April 8, 2007 -- Bryant Park Hotel doorman Gregory Smith campaigned door to door for Bill Clinton in 1992, he voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton in both her Senate elections - but last week he went online and gave $25 to Barack Obama for president.

He says he has dumped the Clintons for the upstart Democratic senator from Illinois, whom he calls "a needed breath of fresh ideas and openness." The doorman told The Post that Hillary Clinton's flip-flop on the war and her earlier coyness about her presidential ambitions have turned him off her - probably forever.

Smith, 43, is one of 100,000 who in their own small way helped Obama almost match the seemingly indomitable fund-raising prowess of the Clintons in the first 2008 reporting period announced last week.

But losing the support of a onetime Bill Clinton campaigner seems a particularly bruising blow to the Clinton campaign.

Riding on the success of last week, Obama is scheduled to hit the city Monday to try to lure more like Smith away from Sen. Clinton.

While Obama trails her by more than 10 percentage points in the latest national polls and by 30 percentage points among New York voters, the Illinois senator has made waves with his stealthy, grass-roots fundraising.

His donor list was double Clinton's - and half of his donations were received through his Web site. And the $25 million that Obama raked in blew away the expectations of political observers, coming in just $1 million shy of Clinton's record haul.

Smith once considered himself a die-hard supporter of the Clintons. He even boasts of shaking hands with the former president last year when he dined at the hotel's chic Japanese restaurant, Koi.

But in the 2008 White House showdown, Smith is all about Obama. He says the reason for the switch is simple: honesty.

"Hillary, in my eyes, is a professional politician. I have issues with professional politicians. The friends that I have are cynical about politics. That's why I like Barack. He's more believable than Hillary. Barack chose politics to better people," Smith said.

"She's been haunted about not clearly answering her stand with the war. It's OK to admit a mistake because we are all human and all fallible. But she won't say that.

"At the end of the day, when somebody is voting inside the polling booth, they will go Mr. Obama's route because Hillary hasn't properly answered the question for the parent who lost a child over there."

Smith's mom moved him and his two sisters to New York from Jamaica when he was 15. He graduated from Erasmus Hall HS in Brooklyn and went on to Kingsborough Community College and the State University College at Buffalo, where he graduated with a degree in political science.

He and his wife, Jackie, a graphic designer, and their two sons, Caleb, 1, and Gabriel, 5, live in the Kensington area of Brooklyn. They bring in just $900 a week.

"I gave to [Obama] on a doorman's salary," he said.

Smith said his allegiance started to switch almost immediately after Sen. Clinton's re-election, when he bought a copy of Obama's second book, "The Audacity of Hope," in November.
After finishing it, he started penning a letter to Obama, which he mailed in January just as the candidate was about to declare his intentions to run.

"I want you to know that I, and many of my friends, stand with you for a better America, a better tomorrow," he wrote.

"Because of you, I am optimistic again, like I was when, in 1993, a younger, less seasoned man heard for the first time a very bright and charismatic candidate running from Arkansas for the presidency of the United States of America. I was compelled to help then, and I find I am more so now, having had children."

"Americans long for a politics that is not about 'us' versus 'them,' 'red state' versus 'blue,' or about winning a political game, but about producing better lives for the citizens of this nation and the world."

"People are hurting, and those who are 'our' designated leaders are so disconnected from those who hired them to lead that they can't even see the great divide they themselves have created."
Although Smith had read Obama's first book, a memoir titled "Dreams from My Father," and felt a connection to another black man who grew up without a father - like Smith had - it was the political philosophy and positions set forth in the second Obama book that swayed him to Obama's campaign.

He said he felt somewhat duped by Sen. Clinton during her last campaign and never got over her voting to authorize war in Iraq.

"If she didn't go about the calculations, I would have liked her more," he said about her dodging questions about her presidential aspirations during her Senate re-election in 2006.
Although Clinton has since advocated a troop withdrawal, Smith finds even her new stance disheartening.

"Mr. Obama, on the flip side, was never for the war to begin with," he said.
Obama was not in the Senate at the time of the 2002 resolution to authorize war, but spoke out against it at the time.

"She definitely isn't as genuine," Smith said.

He believes Obama is the right choice for the working class because he will advocate for universal health care and work to reduce the costs of education.

"You are a man of vision, and you see America in an optimistic way and hopeful way, and I - one of many - believe in your audacity of hope," he wrote.

Smith had never donated to a political campaign before, but just two days before the deadline for the fund-raising push, when the Obama camp made last-minute appeals by e-mails, Smith typed in his debit-card number and gave his $25. The campaign mentions Smith's support on a blog - though Obama has never personally thanked the doorman.

"I plan to give more when I can as often as I can," Smith said of his endorsement of Obama. "Whatever I can do or what little amount I can give, I plan to."

NEW YORK POST is a registered trademark of NYP Holdings, Inc. NYPOST.COM, NYPOSTONLINE.COM, and NEWYORKPOST.COMare trademarks of NYP Holdings, Inc. Copyright 2007 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.
A Saturday Afternoon in Dewsbury
First Published 2006-11-20, Last Updated 2006-11-20 09:58:05
A Saturday Afternoon in Dewsbury
Aishah Azmi, a 23-year-old classroom assistant at a junior school in the Yorkshire town of Dewsbury was suspended from her position for refusing to remove her niqab. Last month her claims of harrassment were dismissed. Recently, Wendy Kristianasen spent a Saturday afternoon in the town of Dewsbury.

Aishah Azmi, the teaching assistant who refused to remove her niqab, has put Dewsbury back in the news and it now dreads the media. A leading member of the community said, about a hostile article in The Times on 21 October: “The press is writing things that are plain wrong and very damaging. They’re still trying to link the Merkezi mosque to the 7/7 bombers and now they’re weaving a web of conspiracy because [bomber] Mohammed Siddique Khan’s wife happened to work at the same school as Aishah Azmi.”

What do Dewsbury people think of Azmi? The local Labour MP, Shahid Malik (who is a Muslim), said the industrial tribunal ruling in her case “was a victory for common sense,” and urged Azmi to drop her intended appeal against the decision.

Abdul Hai Munshi, a community leader from Savile Town, said: “The school was very reasonable. You can’t impose your views on others. And also she wasn’t wearing Islamic clothes when she went for her job interview. It’s simple: If you want to wear the niqab, either you don’t go out to work or you work somewhere where they agree to it. You have the choice. And that’s especially the case for Muslims because, in Islam, women aren’t responsible for bringing in the money. It’s their husbands who should be the breadwinners.”

Fatima, who calls herself a liberated Muslim woman and works closely with the local community, warned: “The Azmi case has had an impact. Some who wear niqabs have been harassed and all now feel they’re under public scrutiny.” She believes that “when it comes to educating kids, it’s the children’s needs that come first. There are plenty of Muslim women who teach but they do it at Muslim schools because they don’t want to create any sort of inconvenience. You need a religious scholar to pass judgment.” Just such a scholar, Maulana Ilyas Dallal, said: “Islamically, she’s within her rights to veil her face. But the truth is she should never have taken the job in the first place.”

The furore has made Dewsbury women more determined to cover up, in solidarity if not in defiance. Amina Bulbulia runs the youth and women’s centre at the Indian Muslim Welfare Association in nearby Batley, where there are classes in sewing and cookery and time out trips for carers. Women who come to the centre wear the hijab; 25% also wear the niqab (which they reposition when Amina’s mobile rings to warn of a male visitor). As they celebrated the end of Ramadan with an open day that drew 1,000 women and raised money for tsunami victims, Amina said: “The whole of Batley is backing Aishah Azmi. We don’t see anything wrong with her wanting to wear the niqab. If there are men, like the head teacher, who might come into her classroom, she needs to veil. She just wants to be a good citizen within her community and she’s not being allowed to do her job. We believe in equal rights and that’s the stated policy of Kirklees council too. So they’re going against their own policy.”

Dewsbury’s town centre was packed with shoppers on the holiday weekend. In a chic central cafe, with its state of the art computers and leather sofas, there was a comfortable mix of ethnicity. Two pretty teenagers in pastel hijabs coordinated with super-high heels sat next to English grannies. Three girls in head-to-toe black entered, and discreetly removed their niqabs to drink their lattes. A generation ago they might not have been wearing niqabs, but then they would not have been out enjoying themselves unaccompanied.

In the famous open market, people from everywhere were doing their shopping, eyeing only the merchandise. Opposite, in Kingsway Arcade, Bodanskis was doing a roaring trade in samosas, shamis, sheekis and chip butties. A girl all in black chatting on her mobile phone through her niqab walked arm in arm with a girl in western clothes and long red hair. A couple impressed with their confident stride and innovative style: He wore white Salafi-length shalwar kameez under a denim jacket, his partner a large fancy scarf with her niqab wrapped over the top.

Between the market and the cafe there were two church weddings (bridesmaids, photographers, a vintage Rolls) to loud peals from Dewsbury Minster. In the centre of town, a girl in a black hijab roared with laughter on the Crazy Wave ride, in front of a giant photographic backdrop of near naked men and women embracing. (Does anyone who worries about the niqab reflect on the offensive potential of this pervasive imagery?)

Was all this integration, separation, or just people having a good time in multiethnic, multicultural Britain? The problem was that these mingled people later returned to their very separate communities: the old Brits to the ex-mining areas eastwards in Chickenley and Thornhill, where the British National party holds sway; the Gujarati-speakers (who had migrated from either side of the India-Pakistan border) southwards to Muslim Savile Town; and a mixture of 50% Pakistanis with assorted others westwards to Ravensthorpe and Dewsbury Moor. (These two districts, with Chickenley, are ranked among the most deprived areas in Britain.) The problem of geographic isolation is not new. What is new is that the Muslims now know themselves to be under siege.

Wendy Kristianasen is a journalist in London and editorial director of the English edition of Le Monde diplomatique

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Islamic Studies Director Tapped
Published On Thursday, November 16, 2006 3:22 AM

The Harvard Crimson

Crimson Staff Writer

Gurney Professor of History Roy P. Mottahedeh ’60 has been appointed director of a new Islamic Studies program at the University, in charge of developing an initiative funded by a $20 million gift from a Saudi royal prince.

Mottahedeh wrote in an e-mail that the primary focus of the program will be “the study of the cultures of Muslims in the [past] fifteen hundred years, and across the geographical spread in which such cultures have existed.”

According to Mottahedeh, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud’s 2005 gift will come in installments, the first of which has already arrived and is dedicated to graduate fellowships. Subsequent installments will pay for the creation of four new professorships—in Islamic Science, Central Asian Studies, South or Southeast Asian Studies, and Contemporary Islamic Science and Thought—as well as for acquisitions by the Harvard Library.

Dean of the Divinity School William A. Graham wrote in an e-mail that three of the new professorships will ideally be filled by “Islamic specialists on non-Arab Islamic culture and thought” and that the intent is “to increase coverage of Islamic civilization” with no interest in political issues.

“The Islamic Studies for the Islamic Middle East and North Africa at Harvard is very strong,” Mottahedeh, himself a Middle East scholar, wrote. “The present community of scholars strongly welcomes the extension of Islamic studies to areas beyond these regions.”

Jewett Professor of Arabic Wolfhart P. Heinrichs, a member of the steering committee for the new program, said that the program will help address glaring gaps in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations that he says an “unsympathetic administration” has ignored.

“We just lost two fields, Persian Languages and Literatures, and Turkish Languages and Literatures, and we cannot accept any AM or PhD candidates for these fields,” he said. This is “a situation that clearly needs to be rectified.”

Heinrichs said that he is hoping to steer the program toward a focus on modern Islamic studies—“the fields that are of the greatest interest to undergraduates.”

—Staff writer Yifei Chen can be reached at

Shaykh Fowzaan advises the Muslim Ummah
At this present time (today), the Muslims are suffering from evil attacks from the overpowering enemy (forces) from all sides, from the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, the war in Palestine, (and) the war in Lebanon. And that which we hear and read from our preachers (khateebs) and writers (journalists), all of it is condemnation of the actions of the enemies. And there is no doubt in (any of) these issues. However, are the disbelieving enemy affected by these raised voices? The disbelievers, from long ago, have wanted to wipe out Islaam from existence, as Allaah (Ta'aala) says:

{And they will never cease fighting you until they turn you back from your religion (Islaamic Monotheism) if they can}, [Soorah al-Baqarah, Aayah 217].

But the issue is, what have the Muslims prepared in response to them and in preventing their attacks?
Indeed it is obligatory upon them, firstly, to: Look at their current state in terms of their religion and their adherence to it, for indeed that which has afflicted them is as a result of negligence in (practising) their religion. And in a narration (it is said): ((If the one who knows Me is disobedient to Me, I will cause the one who does not know me to overpower him (in authority))). And what happened to the Banee Israa.eel (Israelites) when they left their religion and caused mischief on the Earth, Allaah caused them to be overpowered (in authority) by the disbelieving Magians (fire worshippers) and:

{they entered the very innermost parts of your homes} as Allaah has mentioned at the beginning of Soorah al-Israa., Aayah 005].

And Allaah threatened them, that if they were to return (back) to their ways, then He will punish them. So it is imperative that we assess our current affairs and rectify that which is corrupt from our affairs with regard to the religion, for (certainly) the Sunnah of Allaah does not change. And Allaah (Ta'aala) says:

{Verily, Allaah will not change the (good) condition of a people as long as they do not change their state (of goodness) themselves (by committing sins and by being ungrateful and disobedient to Allaah). But when Allaah wills a people's punishment, there can be no turning it back, and they will find besides Him no protector}, [Soorah ar-Ra'd, Aayah 11]
Secondly, it is (incumbent) upon us to prepare ourselves with that which we can confront our enemies with, as Allaah (Ta'aala) says:

{And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war (tanks, planes, missiles, artillery) to threaten thereby the enemy of Allaah and your enemy, and others besides them, whom you may not know, (but) whom Allaah does know}, [Soorah al-Anfaal, Aayah 60].

And that is by putting together (preparing) armies and (acquiring) suitable weapons and (thereby attaining) defensive strength/power.

Thirdly, the unification of the Muslims upon the (firm) belief of Tawheed and ruling in accordance with the Sharee'ah (of Allaah) and (firm) adherence to Islaam in all our affairs from (our) dealings and (good) manners and ruling by the Book of Allaah and commanding the good and forbidding the evil, and calling to (the Path of) Allaah upon (sound) knowledge, insight and sincerity.

Allaah (Ta'aala) says:
{And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allaah (i.e. this Qur.aan), and be not divided among yourselves}, [Soorah Aal-'Imraan, Aayah 103] and He (Ta'aala) says:

{and do not dispute (with one another) lest you lose courage and your strength departs, and be patient. Surely, Allaah is with those who are as-Saabiroon (the patient)}, [Soorah Al-Anfaal, Aayah 46]

So it is not possible to unite whilst there are differences in 'aqeedah and in (our) aims and goals, until the 'aqeedah is correct and the goals are one (namely) for the victory of the Truth and the raising of the Word of Allaah (above all else); If only the preachers and advisors in their speeches and advice would concentrate on these issues (just) as they are (concentrating on) criticising the attacking enemy.

The evil aims of the enemy must be explained (exposed), and that the weakening of the Muslims and the grabbing of their wealth and possessions are not (the) only intended (aims), rather, on a major level it is intended to corrupt their 'aqeedah and (cause) their turning away from their religion until they have destroyed them to pieces.

And this is what I wished to warn about with regards to this catastrophe."

Translator: Mohammed Akhtar Chaudhry, Abu Abdullaah
Date Published: Tuesday, 10 October 2006