The uncomfortable truth about Jamal Khashoggi – Omar Ghazi

Jamal Khashoggi

Omer GhaziThe redesigning of Jamal Khashoggi’s image as that of a journalist and a free-speech martyr is all part of the Left’s alliance with Islamists. …  By making heroes out of people like Khashoggi, the Left has shot itself in its own foot – Omar Ghazi

The chilling details of the Jamal Khashoggi murder coupled with narratives provided by Saudi officials—that change every day—have created an atmosphere of confusion. But nobody has bothered asking the right question: Out of the hundreds of journalists slaughtered across Islamic nations on a regular basis, what was so special about Jamal Khashoggi?

First of all, even a school-going child would know that very little happens inside the Saudi Kingdom without the knowledge of the crown prince Muhammad bin Salman. That he claims he was unaware of his officials allegedly carrying out the brutal assassination of an international critic of his policies is almost laughable.

It is also ludicrous to believe that the US would jeopardise its crucial economic relations with Saudi over this particular murder.

That being said, let’s take a look at the man Khashoggi was, the reasons he met his horrific demise—and why he became media’s favourite overnight.

Jamal Khashoggi apparently was a childhood pal of Osama bin Laden and shared his dream of establishing a global Islamic State—they just differed on its methods.

In fact, Khashoggi grieved the death of his childhood friend too. He was a staunch supporter of Al-Qaeda founder Abdullah Azzam all his life and he advocated shifting the Saudi regime to a more cleric-led society. He actively propagated the idea of a “Muslim Brotherhood” and wanted Saudi Arabia to abandon the US-Israel nexus and join the Muslim Brotherhood’s bond with Hamas for the destruction of Israel.

He was a huge proponent of political Islam. And while Muhammad bin Salman had been critical of Turkey and Qatar’s alliance with extremists, Khashoggi was very pro-Erdoğan-led-Turkey and its alliance with extremists.

Muhammad bin Salman broke ties with Qatar over its support of Hamas and Hezbollah, but Khashoggi criticised the crown prince over this decision and declared on Al-Jazeera that Saudi Arabia should return to its “religious roots”.

Khashoggi was more of an Islamist than ten Mohammed bin Salmans combined—he apparently wished to topple the current kingdom and have it replaced with an even more regressive Wahhabi regime. It was perhaps this disagreement that led to his death.

Why then did none of the mainstream media portals throw light on this purported part of his ideology?

And despite being such a huge supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic extremism, how did he not only get a US Green Card but also get hired by the Washington Post as a columnist?

The reason, perhaps, is that the Left has a monopoly on the media and they found in Khashoggi the voice of oppressed Palestinians and subjugated Islamists.

They, perhaps, thus portrayed him as the reformist, moderate, free-speech-warrior, now apparently killed by the dictator-duo of Trump and Muhammad bin Salman.

If the New York Times and the Washington Post were—and are—so sympathetic towards reformist voices oppressed by Middle-Eastern dictators, isn’t it surprising that Sharif Geber, Raif Badawi, Loujain al-Hathloul and hundreds of journalists who have been, and continue to be, tortured, electrocuted and mutilated on the orders of Erdoğan have found barely any mention?

The redesigning of Khashoggi’s image as that of a journalist and a free-speech martyr is all part of the Left’s alliance with Islamists against the rise of the supposedly fascist Right wing. They seem to have struck gold in Khashoggi’s assassination and are now using the chilling details of the incident to cloud the ideological inclinations of the slain journalist.

Muhammad bin Salman is no angel—he has behaved the same way any totalitarian dictator would, especially in how he has dealt with dissenters wishing to topple his regime. But the steps he has taken in the last few years are revolutionary by Saudi standards. He is creating a rift between politics and religious clerics, something neither the Left, nor Islamist ideologues like Khashoggi desire.

Despite all the regressive ideological inclinations of Khashoggi, this must be said—nobody deserves an inhumane demise like his.

But by making heroes out of people like Khashoggi, the Left has shot itself in its own foot and this is something it would regret. – Daily-O, 25 October 2018

» Omer Ghazi is an Indian blogger who takes special interest in history, philosophy and geopolitics. He co-founded Vicharak, an organisation that spreads awareness about social evils. When he is not writing articles on culture and religion, he enjoys playing the drums and writing rap.

Saudi Condolences


 

Julian Assange: Clinton Foundation and Islamic State are funded by the same money – DC

XHillary Clinton

Deccan ChronicleThe Clinton Foundation just recently confirmed it accepted a $1 million gift from Qatar while Hillary Clinton was US Secretary of State without informing the State Department. – Deccan Chronicle

London: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange claims that Hillary Clinton’s foundation has received generous donations from the same wealthy officials of Qatar who have also provided financial assistance to the dreaded Islamic State.

In an interview to documentary maker John Pilger for RT at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Assange said the Clinton Foundation, which was started by former US President Bill Clinton, has been receiving the money from those who also support the Islamic State.

Pilger asked Assange if “this notorious jihadist group, called ISIL or ISIS, is created largely with money from people who are giving money to the Clinton Foundation,” to which Assange said “Yes”.

Tamim bin Hamad Al ThaniAssange explained that although the US has never officially acknowledged in public the alleged support given to Islamic State by middle-east countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the e-mail exchange between Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager John Podesta, shows that they were aware of it.

In the email which was leaked last month, Clinton talks of putting pressure on the two countries over the alleged financial assistance to ISIS.

“We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region,” Clinton wrote in the mail.

The Clinton Foundation just recently confirmed it accepted a $1 million gift from Qatar while Hillary Clinton was US secretary of state without informing the State Department, even though she had promised to let the agency review new or significantly increased support from foreign governments.

Qatari officials pledged the money in 2011 to mark the 65th birthday of Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton’s husband, and sought to meet the former US president in person the following year to present him the check, according to an email from a foundation official to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign chairman, John Podesta. The email, among thousands hacked from Podesta’s account, was published last month by WikiLeaks. – Deccan Chronicle, 5 November 2016

• Hillary Clinton Is Saudi Arabia’s President Of Choice

• Saudi Arabia Has Funded 20% Of Hillary’s Presidential Campaign, Saudi Crown Prince Claims

Between Moolah and the Mullah – Tufail Ahmad

Saudi banker displays the new one hundred riyal note

Tufail AhmadMuslim community leaders of Kerala know only too well about this rapid radicalisation among the youth, but many of them are in denial. – Tufail Ahmad

The hammer-and-sickle is giving way to the crescent of Islamism in Kerala. This is evident in the headlines, and sometimes between the lines of reports that portend grave dangers for the state, perhaps even the whole country. On 13 September, news surfaced that a baby girl was born to Rifaila, who with her husband Ijaz and son and some two dozen other Keralites had left home to join the ISIS more than a year ago. The baby was born in war-torn Syria—a child of jihad, apparently—far from her parents’ house in Kasargode, north Malabar.

On the same day, it emerged that several of these Malayalees were indoctrinated in jihad by a UK-based couple. Though details are yet to be disclosed, it was Yasmin Ahmad who spilled the beans to Indian intelligence agencies on being questioned following her detention at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport. Ahmad is the second wife of Abdul Rashid, who had worked at Peace International School at A handout picture released by the King Faisal Foundation on March 1, 2015 shows Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz (L) presenting Zakir Naik, president of the Islamic Research Foundation in India, with the 2015 King Faisal International Prize for Service to Islam in Riyadh. Naik was honoured for being one of the most renowned non-Arabic speaking promoters of Islam. He founded the Peace TV channel, billed as the world's only channel specialising in comparative religion. Malappuram, run by radical televangelist Zakir Naik’s NGO, Islamic Research Foundation. Rashid, along with his first wife and child, is believed to be in Afghanistan.

Muslim community leaders of Kerala know only too well about this rapid radicalisation among the youth, but many of them are in denial.

On 12 September, Ismail Kangarappady, a prayer leader, told a gathering in Kochi, “One cannot even regard the ISIS as an Islamic terrorist outfit. The ideals they propagate have nothing to do with real Islam.” Sharif Melethil, an imam, told worshippers, “Seeking a mysterious paradise is not jihad.”

In Islam, there are two spiritual quests for paradise: one motivates the faithful to live for life after death, while the other often leads Muslims to migrate from non-Muslim lands to Dar-ul-Islam (‘House of Peace’), seen as countries under Islamic rule. During the Hijrat Movement, an offshoot of the 1920s’ Khilafat Movement, Indian Islamic scholars like Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Maulana Abdul Bari, Maulana Muhammad Ali and Maulana Abdul Majeed Sindhi issued a fatwa (decree) declaring that migration to Dar-ul-Islam from Dar-ul-Harb (‘House of War’) was desirable. As a result, a number of Indian Muslims migrated to Afghanistan, though they found themselves unwelcome there. In recent years, some Muslims of Kerala have been going to Yemen, and also to Sri Lanka, where operatives trained in Yemen have established camps.

“I don’t believe the missing youths from Kerala went to join the Islamic State,” Mujib Rahman, a teacher based in Kozhikode, had said in an interview back in July, when it wasn’t clear where the youths had gone. His hunch was that they had gone to Yemen, rather than Syria to fight alongside ISIS.

Rahman is a former president of the Ithihadu Shubbanil Mujahideen, the student wing of Kerala Nadvathul Mujahideen (KNM), a Salafist outfit that describes itself as an islaahi (reformist) group with roots in Abul A'la MaududiEgyptian and Saudi religious movements of the late-19th and 20th centuries. Bear in mind, however, that Islamic groups such as the Tablighi Jamaat, Jamaat-e-Islami, ISIS, Taliban and Al-Qaeda all call themselves “reformist” and consider their faith “purer” than that of others.

The KNM has split and reunited many times under the influence of Saudi Arabia-educated members who tend to return with a doctrinal version of Islam that’s at odds with what the group has traditionally preached. While the so-called moderate faction of the KNM has focused on such reforms (in their view) as allowing women into mosques and having the Friday khutba (sermon) in Malayalam, radicalised Saudi returnees have been propagating a kind of Islamic globalism that (among other measures) insists on Arabic for the khutba.

Krishnendhu R. Nath is an NRI based in Malaysia. On 14 June, the eighth day of Ramazan, she was travelling through Kerala’s Muslim-dominated Malappuram district. She felt sick and needed some lime soda. Her husband’s friend went looking from shop to shop along the highway, but was told that since it was the Muslim month of fasting, no refreshment could be sold. Startled by this, she herself went over to confront a shopkeeper. “What is the problem with selling nimbu pani during fasting season? What will travellers like us who have no fasting do?’” According to her Facebook post, the answer she got was: “It is not that we don’t like to. But our shops will be destroyed if we do that.” She got the same response at another shop. “Is this Saudi Arabia?” she exclaimed.

Non-Muslims are aghast at this aggressive display of religious identity in places that have a large Islamic presence. “The Hindu community in Malappuram is now far subdued, far outnumbered by Muslims,” says Vivek Vibha, an architect based in Kochi, observing that assertions of Muslim identity often go with indoctrination and intolerance. Hardliners then tend to gain an upper hand, many of whom manage to foist their thoughts on others and insist on old-fashioned codes of conduct. Ansiba Hassan, a Muslim actor from Kerala, faced abuse from Islamist trolls after she posed for a photograph with Buddhist monks. She was forced to remove the photograph from her Facebook page. Another female actor, Nazriya Nazim, was targeted for not wearing a hijab offscreen. Asif Ali, an actor, was abused for posting a picture from a UK cricket stadium with the caption, ‘The Mecca of Cricket—Lords.’

Professor Kausik Gangopadhyay, who teaches at Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode, notes a suddenness to the new religiosity of Muslims in Kerala. “When I moved to Kozhikode in June 2009, this was a far more open city. No shops will close in Ramazan, except for about half-an-hour at iftaar (sundown break of fast),” he says. “Now even the spelling of Ramazan has changed to ‘Ramadan’, the Arabic version. Saudi Arabia has more influence here. It’s a new influence.” Adds Vibha, “The new rise in Islamism in Kerala is due to money from the Middle East.”

The police confirm large inflows of funds from West Asia into Kerala, some of it illegal. Gold, for example, is smuggled in. Notes M. G. S. Narayanan, a renowned historian, “Money is being pumped in to Kerala. Elected governments always knew it, but did nothing about it.” Sajad Ibrahim, an associate professor of Political Science at University of Kerala, explains the phenomenon. “Don’t be under the impression that only Muslims are bringing money from Gulf countries. Christians from Kerala are working as professionals in the Gulf and get lots of money, followed by Hindus, but Muslims working there are in large numbers,” he says. “All NGOs of Muslims in northern Kerala are rich and powerful. Charitable organisations have links with political parties and exercise influence and power over them,” he adds. The situation in Kerala is unstable, he says, as the Popular Front of India (PFI) have been taking control of mosques and the acts of some Muslims under its sway have caused disharmony between Hindus and Muslims.

Tipu SultanOn 8 July, Muslims arriving for namaaz at Nadakkar, in the heart of Kozhikode, made a blatant show of defying civic rules by parking their bikes in the middle of the road in front of a police station opposite the mosque. The police say they were helpless. Some of the tensions date back centuries. The first recorded conflicts involving Muslims in Kerala go back to the time of Vasco da Gama, whose landing near Kozhikode in 1498 CE some believe brought elements of Europe’s Islam-versus-Christianity dynamics to India. However, it was attacks on Malabar in 1771 and 1789 by Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan that were turning points for Islamist fervour in the region.“Hyder Ali plundered Hindu temples because there was gold there,” says Narayanan, “This was the beginning of the divide between Hindus and Muslims. And Tipu Sultan’s attacks later worsened this divide, as he gave lands seized from Hindus to new lower-caste converts to Islam.”

Ali Musliyar was a principal leader of the Moplah RebellionAbout a century and a half later, the 1921 Malabar Rebellion of Muslims against the British and Hindus marked Kerala’s lowest point in inter-community relations. Some Kerala historians and Congress politicians of the time have presented it as an agrarian conflict, but the uprising had a religious dimension, one factor being the British efforts to rehabilitate Hindus displaced from their lands in Malabar, which provoked the wrath of Moppila Muslims. A large number of Kerala’s Muslims also supported the Khilafat Movement at the time, points out Narayanan.

In 1992, the Ayodhya issue played a critical role in the further radicalisation of Muslims in a state where they have been financially, socially and even politically better off than those in other parts of India.

As a party, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) wielded considerable clout in Kerala’s previous Congress-led coalition government. Abdul Rabb, an IUML minister, even took the liberty of parading his religious identity and power by renaming Ganga, the bungalow allotted to him, as Grace. The IUML flaunts a secular outlook, but various Islamic organisations thrive under its aegis. Last Ramazan, state-provided mid-day meals for students were stopped in the schools of Kozhikode and Malappuram after some Islamic clerics issued a fatwa against them, but IUML leaders could not oppose them, says Kochi-based lawyer Jaysankar.

Focus in Kozhikode is one of several shopping malls in the state that has prayer rooms for Muslims—separate ones for men and women—but none for Hindus and Christians. This encroachment of Kerala’s secular spaces causes unease among Hindus. A. Vinod, a school teacher in Malappuram, notes that earlier homes had names in Malayalam, but Muslim houses now have them in Arabic. Muslims offering prayers in government offices is also common. “Some places should be secular spaces,” he says, adding that there is no such overt religiosity in areas of Christian influence like Tiruchur and Kottayam. In Western countries, airports have multi-faith prayer rooms but not special ones for Muslims.

In Kerala, the expressions “Sunni Muslim” and “Mujahid Muslim” are heard often. Both belong to the Sunni sect of Islam but “Sunni” here refers to a moderate Muslim, perhaps a peasant, with no hostility to non-Muslims and their lifestyles and religious practices. A “Mujahid”, however, means an unarmed radicalised Muslim who advocates piety, detests local rituals and ways of life, and actively opposes them when possible. At Narikunni, 20 km from Kozhikode, Naveen P. K. had opened a Patanjali ayurvedic shop, but posters for the brand’s products were removed by neo-Mujahid Muslims. Fewer Muslims now come to his shop, he says, adding that even Mujahids secretly send their servants to pick up ayurvedic medicines.

Mujahid Muslims represent what would be known internationally as the Wahhabi-Salafist version of Islam, which Jaysankar says has existed at the level of ideas in Kerala since the 1920s. Mujahids preach a puritan version of Islam and oppose Sufi practices at shrines. These are views held increasingly by the KNM as well, and it is from this corpus of ideas that grew the National Development Front (NDF), a radical Islamist group now known as PFI, which has roots in the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), a banned militant group that broke away from the Jamaat-e-Islami.

Abdul Nazer MahdaniAbdul Nasser Madani is a leader whose name figures in the radicalisation of Muslims. He spent jail terms in the cases of the Coimbatore blasts of 1998 and the Bangalore blasts of 2008. P. Unnikrishnan, a former Vigilance Department officer, says that after the demolition of the Babri mosque on 6 December 1992, Muslim zeal was stoked by fiery speeches made by Madani. “In 1999, we arrested some youths for radical activities who confessed that they were attending evening classes led by disciples of Madani,” he says, adding that it was through him that the Tamil Nadu-based group Al Ummah had links with the NDF, which was once the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which he had launched. Unnikrishnan argues that young men and women joining ISIS is an outcome of Islamist fervour in Kerala. He had arrested Ayub Ilyas Sabir for radical activities, he says, but he was granted bail and escaped to Pakistan. At least four infiltrators killed trying to enter Kashmir from across the LoC have turned out to be of Keralite origin. N. P. Balakrishnan, a former police officer, says that there were many arson attacks in the 1990s on cinemas in Malappuram that were the result of incendiary speeches delivered by Madani against the RSS. Over the years, the PDP was transformed into the NDF, and after assimilating other outfits, into the PFI as it is today—the spearhead of radical activism in Kerala and beyond.

There are also conflicts among Muslims in Kerala which reflect the sectarian schisms found in Islam elsewhere in India and abroad. Sayeed Muhammad, author of many books on Islam, says that both Sunnis and Mujahids—in the Kerala terminology—do not consider Ahmadis and Shias as Muslim. In Kerala society, while there are tombs of Muslim mystics, there is no Sufi movement to counter the radicalisation of Muslims, but some Sufi practices are found among Sunnis. While there might not be formal organisations representing Barelvis, Wahhabis and Ahl-e-Hadeesis (another extreme group), their radical ideas filter through to Malayalee Muslims in general. In this context, the gruesome murder in 1993 of Islamic cleric P. K. Muhammad Abdul Hasan Baqavi aka Maulvi Chekannur—whose body was never found—is an important marker on the state’s timeline of Islamist radicalisation. The maulvi had written a book arguing that everyone, including non-Muslims, could go to heaven by the dint of their good deeds, not faith per se. Salim Haji, an uncle of Maulvi Chekannur and president of the Koran Sunnat Society (KSS), which observes his 29 July death anniversary as anti-terrorism day, says that the cleric’s liberal views provoked orthodox groups which felt that he was against the hadiths, the collected sayings of Prophet Muhammad.

An RSS worker based in Thiruvananthapuram, who asks not to be named, rejects the idea that Hindus should worry about Muslim radicalisation. However, he says, “Although there are no cases of open violence, T. J. Josephthere is apprehension among Hindus…. This means that Muslims become followers of political Islam, [arguing for] the necessity of establishing an Islamic state. They are no longer nationalistic. They create hate against the pagan culture of Hindus,” says the RSS worker, “Radicalisation weans away Muslim youngsters from local society. They are taught to be part of only Muslim society. This introduces puritanical elements and they declare local festivals ‘unIslamic'”.

A move to have a sculpture of Tunjethu Ezhuthachan, an eminent figure of Malayalam literature, installed at his birthplace Tirur had to be abandoned because the local municipality opposed it under Muslim pressure. A plan by the Kerala government in 2012 to install a statue of the legendary Muslim actor Prem Nazir, who has a Guinness Book record for acting in over 700 movies, was also opposed by the Kerala Muslim Jamaah Council on religious grounds. On the campus of Cochin University of Science and Technology, the breasts of a plant figurine had to be pruned over similar protests. Even a bust of Mahatma Gandhi could not be put up in the nearby Union Territory of Lakshadweep, which is about three hours from Kochi, due to opposition from Muslims who are in a majority there.

In 2010, when Professor T. J. Joseph’s hand was chopped off—for the alleged blasphemy of Prophet Muhammad in an exam paper he had set—by goons of the PFI, Christian groups and the Left did not stand up in his support. M. G. Radhakrishnan, editor of Asianet News TV, says the Church and the Left were afraid that showing solidarity with Joseph could antagonise Muslims and worsen Christian-Muslim tensions.

The spiralling influence of moolah and the mullah can’t be missed along the Arabian Sea. – Open Magazine, 29 September 2016

» Tufail Ahmad was as Director of South Asian Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington, D.C. He is now described as a Contributing Editor at Firstpost and Executive Director of the Open Source Institute, New Delhi.

Saudi-funded Koran study in a madrasa

See also

Saudi Arabia backed the 9/11 attackers, says commission member John F. Lehman – Sahash Khanal

New York Daily News Front Page

Sahash Khanal“Saudi Arabia backed the 9/11 attacks, according to a former member of the 9/11 commission. In an interview with the Guardian, John F. Lehman revealed that the commission had found clear evidence of Saudi government employees being part of the support network for the September 11, 2001 attacks.” – Sahash Khanal

Saudi Arabia backed the 9/11 attacks, according to a former member of the 9/11 commission. In an interview with the Guardian, John F. Lehman revealed that the commission had found clear evidence of Saudi government employees being part of the support network for the September 11, 2001 attacks.

John F. Lehman, currently an investment banker working in New York and formerly the U.S. Navy Secretary for the Reagan Administration, was part of the 9/11 commission, a committee of experts put together by the Bush Administration in the aftermath of 9/11 to investigate the incident. Lehman has John F. Lehmanbecome the first commission member to publicly contradict the commission’s final report. Published in 2004, the report has no mentions of Saudi Arabia backing 9/11. In the interview, Lehman adds that he believes the Obama Administration should declassify a confidential congressional report on the Saudi’s ties with the 9/11 attacks.

Published in 2004, the 9/11 Commission’s report was largely criticized for its exoneration of Saudi Arabia. The report had found no evidence of collaboration between Riyadh and Al-Qaeda, the terrorist group responsible for 9/11. It had promptly concluded the following.

“Saudi Arabia has long been considered the primary source of Al-Qaeda funding but we have found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization.”

“There was an awful lot of participation by Saudi individuals in supporting the hijackers, and some of those people worked in their government,” Lehman told the Guardian. He was clearly implying that the commission had made a mistake in not revealing Saudi Arabia’s backing of the 9/11 attacks in their final report.

Purported links between the Arab Monarch and the deadly 9/11 attacks have, from the very beginning, been a subject of scrutiny given that 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, including Osama Bin Laden, the notorious linchpin of Al-Qaeda, who, until his death in 2011, remained the most wanted man on Earth. Lehman, however, was clear in stating that he does not believe the Saudi royalty or the country’s senior leadership of having any role in supporting Al-Qaeda or the 9/11 plot.

Lehman was critical of the commission’s chairman, Republican and former governor of New Jersey Tom Kean, and its vice-chairman, Democrat and Indiana’s congressman Lee Hamilton, who have, time and again, cautioned the Obama administration against revealing the full congressional report on the Saudis and the 9/11 attacks, this including a classified section: “the 28 pages.” “The 28 pages” are said to contain “raw, unvetted” material that could potentially tarnish the reputation of innocent people.

In their statements, the chairman and vice-chairman of the commission, far from revealing any knowledge about Saudi Arabia backing the 9/11 attacks, have in fact repeatedly praised them, calling them, “an ally of the United States in combating terrorism.” The commission’s investigation had involved just one Saudi official, Fahad al-Thumairy, a diplomat in the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles, in the investigation of the 9/11 plot who was suspected as being part of a support network for two Saudi hijackers who were living in San Diego a year before the attacks. Curiously, Thumairy was deported but was never convicted of any crime.

Lehman, in his interview, dismissed the findings of the investigation, calling them “a game of semantics” and revealing that the commission had identified at least five Saudi government officials who were, or might have been, involved. “There was an awful lot of circumstantial evidence,” he says that could have indicted them.

After a tense visit to Riyadh last month, President Barack had disclosed that he and his administration were contemplating declassifying some or all of “the 28 pages.” This decision has since sparked quite a controversy. Several lawmakers have demanded that the documents be made public so that it can shed light on Saudi Arabia’s backing of 9/11. While others, like CIA director John O. Brennan, have opposed the idea of full disclosure, arguing it contained mostly inaccurate material that could potentially tarnish the reputation of innocent people. – Inquisitr, 13 May 2016

» Sahash Khanal reports from Nepal. He is a student of International Relations at Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu.

George Bush and Saudi King

Prof Mohamad BazziThe ’28 Pages’: Did the Saudis finance 9/11? – Mohamad Bazzi

“Saudi Arabia has not faced such a sustained level of criticism from its US ally in decades. … Leading members of both parties in Congress are pushing through [a] bill that would lift sovereign immunity and allow the Saudi leadership to be held responsible in US courts for 9/11….” –  Prof Mohamad Bazzi

For years, Saudi Arabia’s leaders have argued that the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers who carried out the 9/11 terrorist attacks were Saudis is irrelevant. They insist there is no evidence Saudi officials or institutions provided a support network for al-Qaida and its hijackers. For a long time, Americans largely accepted that explanation.

But in recent months, the façade of Saudi Arabia as America’s most important ally in the Arab world and a force for stability in the Middle East has begun to crack. US public anger against Saudi Arabia is rising—over its war in Yemen, its treatment of women and dissidents and the use of its oil wealth to export extremist ideology by building mosques and dispatching preachers throughout the Muslim world. Prodded by some relatives of the 9/11 victims, Americans want a reexamination of whether any Saudi officials played a role in the attacks.

The most important debate today is over a classified 28-page section of a 2002 congressional report on the attacks, which the George W. Bush administration ordered kept secret. President Barack Obama has promised a decision on whether to declassify the material by next month. But the release of these so-called “28 pages” is even more urgent after a former member of the 9/11 Commission, an independent bipartisan panel that investigated the attacks in 2004, told the Guardian this week there was clear evidence that Saudi government employees helped some of the 9/11 hijackers.

“There was an awful lot of participation by Saudi individuals in supporting the hijackers, and some of those people worked in the Saudi government,” said John Lehman, a Republican who served as US navy secretary in the Reagan administration and was among 10 commission members. “Our report should never have been read as an exoneration of Saudi Arabia.”

The Saudis claimed vindication after the 9/11 commission report concluded it “found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded” Osama bin Laden or his al-Qaida terrorist group. (The report also added it “does not exclude the likelihood that charities with significant Saudi government sponsorship diverted funds to al-Qaida”.)

The narrow wording left open the possibility that lower-level Saudi government officials could have been involved in diverting funds to al-Qaida or in supporting the hijackers. This is why it’s essential for the Obama administration to declassify and release the 28 pages, even if they might contain “raw and unvetted” data from FBI files. The two leaders of the 9/11 commission—former New Jersey governor Tom Kean and former congressman Lee Hamilton—have long argued that only one Saudi official, a former diplomat in the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles, was suspected of helping two of the Saudi hijackers, who lived in San Diego a year before the attacks.

But Lehman said the commission investigated at least five Saudi government officials, including employees of the kingdom’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs, who potentially aided some of the hijackers. And former senator Bob Graham, a Democrat from Florida, who was co-chairman of the 2002 congressional panel that investigated 9/11 (and produced the “28 pages”), insists that other Saudi individuals and institutions were complicit in the attacks.

Saudi Arabia has not faced such a sustained level of criticism from its US ally in decades. A group of senators recently introduced a bill to place new restrictions on US weapons sales to the kingdom because of its war in Yemen. Leading members of both parties in Congress are pushing through another bill that would lift sovereign immunity and allow the Saudi leadership to be held responsible in US courts for 9/11 Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saudif victims’ families can prove that any Saudi officials played a role in the attacks. In response, Saudi leaders have threatened to sell off up to $750bn in US assets if the law is adopted.

The Saudi threats unleashed a new wave of anger against the House of Saud. The New York Daily News, for example, blared “Royal Scum” in a front-page headline about 9/11 families denouncing the Saudi “blackmail”.

Of course, the United States bears a significant part of the blame for its dysfunctional relationship with Saudi Arabia. Many Washington policymakers value the stability of the Saud regime above all else, and for decades they have been willing to turn a blind eye to the ruling family’s excesses and its support for Wahhabi fanaticism.

For years after 9/11, US officials tried to pressure their allies in Saudi Arabia and other “moderate” Arab regimes to crack down on financing for Islamic militants. But as the State Department cables released by WikiLeaks revealed, the Saudis were reluctant to shut off the flow of cash—millions of dollars a year, often raised during the holy periods of Hajj and Ramadan.

“It has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority”, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in a December 2009 cable addressed to US diplomats in the region. Eight years after September 11, she noted that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide”.

Today, with pressure growing for the release of the redacted 28 pages, the American public deserves a fuller examination of Saudi Arabia’s role in financing terrorism. – The Guardian, 13 May 2016

» Prof Mohamad Bazzi teaches journalism at New York University. He is a former Middle East bureau chief at Newsday. He is writing a book on the proxy wars between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Zacarias Moussaoui

2016: A vintage year for tech billionaires and jihadis – Taki

Zulfiqar, meaning “bifurcated” (Arabic: ذو الفقار‎ Dhū l-Fiqār) is the sword of the Islamic leader Ali (or Husayn ibn ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib) who was the cousin of Muhammed. Two swords were captured from the temple of Manat in the Raid of Sa’d ibn Zaid al-Ashhali. Muhammad gave them to Ali, saying that one of them was Al-Dhulfiqar, which became the famous sword of Ali and a symbol of Islam.

Taki Theodoracopulos“The idea that the link between Islam and terror cannot be admitted is as outrageous as the claim that Islam does not preach violence against infidels. Days after the California massacre by an Islamic couple, Donald Trump was warned by the US attorney general that the First Amendment does not protect actions predicated on violent talk. In other words, if you tell the truth about Islam we just might throw you in the pokey.” – Taki

Mark ZuckerbergThis is going to be one hell of a year, hell being the operative word. It will be the year the greatest Greek writer since Homer turns 80 (but we’ll keep quiet about that for the moment). Our world is so stuck in reverse that a woman who was stabbed in Miami during the Art Basel shindig, and was bleeding and begging for help, was mistaken for an artwork and ignored. The woman survived but will art? Conceptual art must be the biggest con since Bernie Madoff and then some.

And speaking of con artists, I’ve never had any respect for Mark Zuckerberg, someone who is reputed to have copied the idea for Facebook from a couple of ex-classmates, and who now pledges the majority of his $45 billion fortune to charity thereby generating a public relations bonanza. But he has created an investment vehicle, not a charitable foundation with non-profit status. He has set up an LLC, a limited liability vehicle that allows a person to do things with their money without being subject to the rules, oversights and transparency requirements that govern charitable foundations. Smart little fella this Zuckerberg, but sort of a conman nonetheless. It will also cut his tax bill, thank you very much.

This year should also be a vintage one for social media, those nice apps that terrorists use so cleverly to help them murder innocent and unarmed people. While the Middle East remains a stagnant pile of poverty, intolerance and tribalism, the west keeps on taking the hits from the scum we accepted to our shores who have been radicalised via the apps that have made billionaires out of geeks who would have had sand kicked in their faces since time immemorial, but no longer. It’s time for governments to step in—and if your high life correspondent is saying that, something must really be wrong.

Radical Islam has caught on to the fact that political correctness shackles western military might, and will play it to the hilt in the future. Time is on Islam’s side. We will continue to curb freedom of speech, even after Barack Obama is out of office. It is a mistake of historic proportions. The idea that the link between Islam and terror cannot be admitted is as outrageous as the claim that Islam does not preach violence against infidels. Days after the California massacre by an Islamic couple, Donald Trump was warned by the US attorney general that the First Amendment does not protect actions predicated on violent talk. In other words, if you tell the truth about Islam we just might throw you in the pokey. Nice.

The coming year should not be a good one for my old Swiss friend Sepp Blatter. (And if you believe that I’m a friend of his, you need help.) After years of graft and kickbacks and making money, the show is about to close. The gusting winds of change are rattling the windows of the great edifice to dishonesty built not by Blatter alone, but by all his predecessors too. Football is as rotten and dishonest a game as there is, and in my country alone the owner of Olympiacos, the number one team, has been accused of bribing referees yet is still allowed to own the team and call the tune. This pig comes to Gstaad in winter. Bribes, fraud, kickbacks, crooked banks; this is the modern version of the beautiful game as the hucksters who publicise it call it.

Salman bin Abdulaziz al-SaudAnd in 2016 Taki will finally be able to call himself a farmer. My new chalet will be ready and I will be moving in sometime in July. (All I need now is to find some farm girls, but back to politics before my daughter reads this.) The world’s most-misguided leaders, Salman of Saudi Arabia and his ludicrous son Napoleon-Mohammed, are trying to build reputations as leaders of the Arab world. All they’ve managed to do, by bombing the hell out of hospitals in Yemen, is prove that the Saudi air force is on a par with that of Luxembourg, which doesn’t have one. Thousands of civilians have died in Yemen yet the Saudis, with a grand coalition, have achieved nothing. The little Napoleon has eaten humble pie and only western power will extricate him from the mess he and the rest of the Saudi gangsters have created. Alas, he will get it in 2016.

Finally, if the west had enough guts to stop the extensive transfers of cash from wealthy donors (ruling families) of the Gulf, perhaps those nice guys in Isis would stop raping nine-year-olds and go back to the fat wives they left behind. We need Russia and Uncle Sam to get together on this, but Barack seems to hate old Vlad. I happen to love him.

I’ve had enough. I am finally letting the real Taki show. So there’s not much more to say, except to all of you loyal readers, have a very happy new year. – The Spectator, 1 January 2016

» Taki is a Greek-born high society columnist and author living in New York City, London, Paris and Gstaad, Switzerland.

Mark Zuckerberg vs Julian Assange

Men can eat their wives if severely hungry, says Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti – Chris Hewett

Chris Hewett“Saudi Arabian Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah allegedly issued the guidelines to allow a husband to eat his wife’s body parts in extreme circumstances.” – Chris Hewett

Men in Saudi Arabia “can eat their wives if they are suffering severe hunger” under a bizarre new fatwa reportedly announced by a religious leader in the country.

Saudi Arabian Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah allegedly issued the guidelines to allow a husband to eat his wife’s body parts in extreme circumstances.

The cleric is reported to have said the ruling represents the “sacrifice of women and obedience to her husband”—but campaigners are understandably outraged.

Faisal bin Hassan Trad (left), Saudi Arabian ambassador to the UN Office at Geneva (UNOG), presents his credentials to Michael Møller, acting director-general of UNOG on January 7, 2014.The announcement has sparked major concerns about the already well-documented poor treatment of women in the country.

A statement reportedly from the cleric’s office said: “A fatwa attributed to the Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, which allows a man to eat his wife or parts of her body if the husband was afflicted with a severe hunger, raised concern and debate over social media since yesterday evening.

“The fatwa is interpreted as evidence of the sacrifice of women and obedience to her husband and her desire for the two to become one.”

The controversial Muslim leader has previously called on all churches to be destroyed under Islamic law.

But his latest declaration is yet to appear on his official website and no confirmation of its legitimacy has been made.

Women’s rights in Saudi Arabia are notoriously scarce.

Until 2011 they were banned from voting or running in public elections and earlier this year all female television presenters were told they must adhere to a strict Islamic dress code.

The country has an abysmal human rights record, including against women, and females are banned from going anywhere in the country, or even opening a bank account, without a male chaperon.

Punishments for breaking such trivial laws include public lashings and humiliations. – Mirror, 10 April 2015

Cannibalism in Islam

Outrageous! Saudi Arabia’s UN ambassador leads Human Rights Council! – Frida Garza & Svati Kirsten Narula

Charles & Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud

The UK and Saudi Arabia struck a dodgy deal to get on the UN human rights council – Frida Garza

The United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia both serve on the United Nations’ human rights council (HRC), an influential watchdog group for abuses around the world, but the two nations may have achieved that status by unlawful means. Leaked documents obtained by the Australian (paywall) show that the UK and Saudi Arabia exchanged money and votes to get each other elected to the HRC in 2013. 

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador was recently appointed to lead the human rights council, despite fierce opposition from critics who say the kingdom’s atrocious human rights record—including its recent verdict to behead and crucify a 21-year-old activist

The alleged vote-trading happened in November 2013 in New York, during the session to elect states for 2014-16 membership to the HRC. Discussion of the vote-trading scheme happened over diplomatic cables between the two nations, dated January and February 2013. 

The Australian and the UN Watch, a non-governmental body that monitors the UN, translated the Saudi cables, and found that the UK asked the Arab state to support its candidacy to join the human rights group. Saudi officials responded, by offering their support, in return for the UK’s. 

“The ministry might find it an opportunity,” the cable read, “to exchange support with the United Kingdom, where the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would support the candidacy of the United Kingdom… in exchange for the support of the United Kingdom to the candidacy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” 

In another cable, Saudi Arabia paid $100,000 USD ($66,099 GBP) to the UK for unspecified “expenditures” related to nominating the Arab state to the HRC. – Quartz, 30 September 2015

Faisal bin Hassan Trad (left), Saudi Arabian ambassador to the UN Office at Geneva (UNOG), presents his credentials to Michael Møller, acting director-general of UNOG on January 7, 2014.

This is what happens when you make Saudi Arabia head of the UN Human Rights Council – Svati Kirsten Narula

Leaked documents recently showed that Saudi Arabia struck a dodgy deal with the UK to obtain its seat on the United Nations’ 47-member human rights council (HRC). The Middle Eastern kingdom has an awful human rights record—though to be fair the same can be said of other HRC members

But if Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in the HRC—and its ambassador’s chairmanship of a key HRC panel—was lamented by global human rights defenders, its actual impact there has been downright scandalous. This week, Saudi Arabia reportedly pressured the council into dropping an inquiry it was planning to launch into human rights abuses in Yemen’s ongoing civil war, in which a Saudi-led coalition has been accused of indiscriminate bombings of rebel-held areas. On Monday, according to Doctors Without Borders, Saudi forces bombed a wedding near the western port city of Mokha and killed at least 130 civilians, mostly women and children. 

According to the New York Times, the Netherlands yesterday (Sept. 30) withdrew a draft resolution—due largely to Saudi pushback—which would have instructed the UN high commissioner for human rights to send investigators to Yemen and to ask the warring parties to allow humanitarian deliveries of food and aid. 

“In the face of stiff resistance from Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners, and to the dismay of human rights groups, Western governments have accepted a resolution based on a Saudi text that lacks any reference to an independent, international inquiry,” the Times reported. The new resolution asks the HRC only for “technical assistance.” 

Philippe Dam, deputy director of Human Rights Watch, told the Times that this is “a lost opportunity” for the HRC “and a huge victory for Saudi Arabia, protecting it from scrutiny over laws of war violations which will probably continue to be committed in Yemen.” 

Saudi Arabia supports the exiled Yemeni president Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and the Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Houthi rebels has instituted a blockade at the country’s ports. It is meant to stop the Houthis from obtaining supplies from Iran, but is also blocking access to sorely needed aid for civilians. – Quartz, 2 October 2015

Victims of Saudi air raid that hit a wedding party in Yemen’s Taiz province.