Explosion Kills 40 on Route to Karbala

A woman suicide bomber dressed in a black abaya blew herself up in a crowd of women and children Shiite pilgrims south of the Iraqi capital on Friday, killing at least 35 worshippers, officials said. Interior Ministry spokesman Abdel-Karim Khalaf said 35 people were killed and 68 wounded, almost all women and children, in the attack in Iskandiriyah as pilgrims flocked on foot to the holy city of Kerbala for a major religious ceremony.

It was the deadliest attack in Iraq for almost six weeks, since a suicide bomber, initially said to be a woman but later identified as a man, killed 35 people near a Shiite shrine in the Kadhimiyah district of Baghdad on January 4.

Captain Mohammad al-Awadi of the police force for Babil Province, of which Hilla is the capital, said the bomber had hidden her explosives under an abaya, a traditional Muslim head-to-toe black garment for women.

She blew herself up among a crowd of women and children just after midday (0900 GMT), he said, in what was the third straight day of deadly attacks on Shiites heading to Kerbala.

The pilgrims had been eating near a tent in the town of Iskandiriyah set up for refreshments along the 110-kilometer trek south to Kerbala from Baghdad when the bomber struck, the Interior Ministry said.

A doctor at nearby Hilla General Hospital, where dozens of ambulances ferried the casualties, said most of the survivors had head and chest wounds. All 17 dead taken to that hospital were women and children.

The use of female suicide bombers in abayas has become a feared terror tactic in Iraq.

Earlier this month, police announced they had arrested a woman who had confessed to recruiting over 80 such suicide bombers and who helped orchestrate dozens of attacks.

Iskandiriyah lies within what used to be known as “the triangle of death” where Sunni fighters from Al-Qaeda, concealed in date-tree groves, would launch deadly attacks on Shiites who ventured into the mainly farming area.

Last February, a suicide bomber in Iskandiriyah, which lies 40 kilometers south of the capital, killed 43 Shiite pilgrims and wounded over 60 others.

Millions of pilgrims are traveling to Kerbala for Arbaeen, a ritual to mark 40 days after the Ashura anniversary of the killing of Imam Hussein by Sunni caliph Yazid’s armies in AD 680.

Kerbala provincial Governor Akeel al-Khazali told a news conference Friday that 5 million have already arrived in the city, including 110,000 from abroad.

Friday’s attack came a day after eight pilgrims were killed and more than 50 wounded in a bombing near Kerbala’s revered Imam Hussein shrine. An Interior Ministry source said the bomb in a gas pipe was detonated by remote control.

A blast near the same shrine 11 months ago left 43 dead.

On Wednesday, deadly bombings again targeting Shiites near a Baghdad bus station killed 16 people as violence across Iraq claimed at least 27 lives and shattered a relative lull since largely peaceful provincial elections on January 31.

Iraq has experienced a steadily improving security situation in the past year, but the latest attacks have underscored the country’s fragile security.

Shiite pilgrims heading to Kerbala have been targeted and killed by Sunni rebel groups in past years, adding to sectarian bloodshed that has seen hundreds of thousands killed since the US-led invasion of 2003.

On Friday, an Iraqi Army general and his son were found shot dead at their apartment in a mainly Sunni Muslim district of Baghdad on Friday, Interior and Defense ministry officials said.

Source: AFP with Daily Star

Update: The number of dead has risen to 40, with a further 80 wounded. (source: AP)

Aim Islam

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The War on Terror is a Hoax

According to US government propaganda, terrorist cells are spread throughout America, making it necessary for the government to spy on all Americans and violate most other constitutional protections. Among President Bush’s last words as he left office was the warning that America would soon be struck again by Muslim terrorists.

If America were infected with terrorists, we would not need the government to tell us. We would know it from events. As there are no events, the US government substitutes warnings in order to keep alive the fear that causes the public to accept pointless wars, the infringement of civil liberty, national ID cards, and inconveniences and harassments when they fly.

The most obvious indication that there are no terrorist cells is that not a single neocon has been assassinated.

I do not approve of assassinations, and am ashamed of my country’s government for engaging in political assassination. The US and Israel have set a very bad example for al Qaeda to follow.

The US deals with al Qaeda and Taliban by assassinating their leaders, and Israel deals with Hamas by assassinating its leaders. It is reasonable to assume that al Qaeda would deal with the instigators and leaders of America’s wars in the Middle East in the same way.

Today every al Qaeda member is aware of the complicity of neoconservatives in the death and devastation inflicted on Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Gaza. Moreover, neocons are highly visible and are soft targets compared to Hamas and Hezbollah leaders. Neocons have been identified in the media for years, and as everyone knows, multiple listings of their names are available online.

Neocons do not have Secret Service protection. Dreadful to contemplate, but it would be child’s play for al Qaeda to assassinate any and every neocon. Yet, neocons move around freely, a good indication that the US does not have a terrorist problem.

If, as neocons constantly allege, terrorists can smuggle nuclear weapons or dirty bombs into the US with which to wreak havoc upon our cities, terrorists can acquire weapons with which to assassinate any neocon or former government official.

Yet, the neocons, who are the Americans most hated by Muslims, remain unscathed.

The “war on terror” is a hoax that fronts for American control of oil pipelines, the profits of the military-security complex, the assault on civil liberty by fomenters of a police state, and Israel’s territorial expansion.

There were no al Qaeda in Iraq until the Americans brought them there by invading and overthrowing Saddam Hussein, who kept al Qaeda out of Iraq. The Taliban is not a terrorist organization, but a movement attempting to unify Afghanistan under Muslim law. The only Americans threatened by the Taliban are the Americans Bush sent to Afghanistan to kill Taliban and to impose a puppet state on the Afghan people.

Hamas is the democratically elected government of Palestine, or what little remains of Palestine after Israel’s illegal annexations. Hamas is a terrorist organization in the same sense that the Israeli government and the US government are terrorist organizations. In an effort to bring Hamas under Israeli hegemony, Israel employs terror bombing and assassinations against Palestinians. Hamas replies to the Israeli terror with homemade and ineffectual rockets.

Hezbollah represents the Shi’ites of southern Lebanon, another area in the Middle East that Israel seeks for its territorial expansion.

The US brands Hamas and Hezbollah “terrorist organizations” for no other reason than the US is on Israel’s side of the conflict. There is no objective basis for the US Department of State’s “finding” that Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist organizations. It is merely a propagandistic declaration.

Americans and Israelis do not call their bombings of civilians terror. What Americans and Israelis call terror is the response of oppressed people who are stateless because their countries are ruled by puppets loyal to the oppressors. These people, dispossessed of their own countries, have no State Departments, Defense Departments, seats in the United Nations, or voices in the mainstream media. They can submit to foreign hegemony or resist by the limited means available to them.

The fact that Israel and the United States carry on endless propaganda to prevent this fundamental truth from being realized indicates that it is Israel and the US that are in the wrong and the Palestinians, Lebanese, Iraqis, and Afghans who are being wronged.

The retired American generals who serve as war propagandists for Fox “News” are forever claiming that Iran arms the Iraqi and Afghan insurgents and Hamas. But where are the arms? To deal with American tanks, insurgents have to construct homemade explosive devices out of artillery shells. After six years of conflict the insurgents still have no weapon against the American helicopter gunships. Contrast this “arming” with the weaponry the US supplied to the Afghans three decades ago when they were fighting to drive out the Soviets.

The films of Israel’s murderous assault on Gaza show large numbers of Gazans fleeing from Israeli bombs or digging out the dead and maimed, and none of these people are armed. A person would think that by now every Palestinian would be armed, every man, woman, and child. Yet, all the films of the Israeli attack show an unarmed population. Hamas has to construct homemade rockets that are little more than a sign of defiance. If Hamas were armed by Iran, Israel’s assault on Gaza would have cost Israel its helicopter gunships, its tanks, and hundreds of lives of its soldiers.

Hamas is a small organization armed with small caliber rifles incapable of penetrating body armor. Hamas is unable to stop small bands of Israeli settlers from descending on West Bank Palestinian villages, driving out the Palestinians, and appropriating their land.

The great mystery is: why after 60 years of oppression are the Palestinians still an unarmed people? Clearly, the Muslim countries are complicit with Israel and the US in keeping the Palestinians unarmed.

The unsupported assertion that Iran supplies sophisticated arms to the Palestinians is like the unsupported assertion that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. These assertions are propagandistic justifications for killing Arab civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure in order to secure US and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East.

informationclearinghouse

Let’s Rethink Military Escalation in Afghanistan Before It’s Too Late

Why is our government sending an additional 30,000 US soldiers to Afghanistan? So far, not even members of the Obama administration seem able to answer this question. Last week, The Nation’s Robert Dreyfuss had a chance to ask Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen why they’re pushing to double our troop presence in Afghanistan. Both Gates and Mullen said that while they’re thinking about the war in Afghanistan in terms of a 3-5 year time frame, their immediate goals are unclear. What’s more, a final decision has not been made yet to commit those additional brigades.

Like Dreyfuss says, the fact that a final decision hasn’t been made is key, because it opens the door slightly for a much-needed public debate about what 30,000 more soldiers can possibly achieve. Some of the big questions that must be addressed include whether those extra troops alone will be able to secure a lasting peace for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States? That seems highly unlikely, considering each military operation targeting insurgents–like the one yesterday that killed 15 militants and 16 innocent civilians (including two women and three children)–only fans the flame of Afghan fury toward the United States.

Just as important, we must ask how are we planning to pay for this escalation, considering our economic crisis at home and the fact that so much of this war has been paid with borrowed money. And is committing tens of thousands more troops really the best way to help a war-torn nation with 40 percent unemployment and some 5 million people living below the poverty line? Proponents of escalation like Karin von Hippel, an Afghanistan expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, suggest that 30,000 more troops will make a psychological impact. But wouldn’t a more profound psychological impact come from to sending humanitarian aid, creating jobs, and getting Afghanistan away from what Secretary of State Clinton recently called a “narco state?”

Perhaps Andrew Bacevich, an international relations professor at Boston University, and author of The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, put it best in yesterday’s NY Times when he said,

“There’s clearly a consensus that things are heading in the wrong direction. What’s not clear to me is why sending 30,000 more troops is the essential step to changing that. My understanding of the larger objective of the allied enterprise in Afghanistan is to bring into existence something that looks like a modern cohesive Afghan state. Well, it could be that that’s an unrealistic objective. It could be that sending 30,000 more troops is throwing money and lives down a rat hole.”

Throwing money and lives down a rat hole is exactly what Derrick Crowe found on Daily Kos recently, when he did the math to figure out how many troops might actually be called for in Afghanistan. Crowe points out that by the military’s own standards, a successful counterinsurgency could require 655,000 troops throughout Afghanistan, or, if the military simply wants to go after surge proponents like the 14 million Pashtuns, we’re still talking 230,000 troops.

If that’s the case, then why send 30,000 soldiers at all? Is it to get us used to the idea that this is just the beginning of a long, drawn out, unwinnable quagmire of Vietnam proportions? Vice President Biden has grimly assessed there will be “an uptick” in casualties from the initial military escalation in Afghanistan. Already we have lost over 600 US soldiers–155 of which died in 2008 alone–to say nothing of the thousands of Afghan civilian casualties. Imagine how many more will die in this “uptick.” Imagine what escalation will cost on every level, and then let the debate begin to rethink a solution.

insight-info

America’s invasion of Syria

American attack on Syria

American attack on Syria

The attack of four American helicopters on the village al-Sikr which lies eight kilometers into Syria along the Iraqi border and resulted in the deaths of nine farmers of this village caused many people to doubt about America’s purpose in this attack.

America’s mission in a military point of view was not important because a few helicopters breaking the borders of a country in the middle of the night and striking civilians does not cause any damage other than the destruction of people’s natural rights – and America has a long history of doing just that. In giving excuses for their actions, America claimed that their purpose was to kill one of the leaders of Al-Qaeda. Another American source claimed that one of the well-known leaders of Al-Qaeda by the name of Abu Ghayda was killed in the raid. But, just as the report of the Associated Press in this regard mentioned, nobody heard of his name before this event. With this characterization it must be said that Abu Ghayda – if he really exists – became a member of Al-Qaeda after death becoming one of its leaders.

There are words to be said about America’s purposes behind this attack:

Full article: www.insight-info.com

American Muslims Seven Years after 9/11

Seven years after 9/11, Muslims in America remained at the receiving end with assault on their civil rights and their faith in the name of “war on terror.” Muslims are the prime targets of the post 9/11 reconfiguration of American laws, policies, and priorities. Defending civil rights remains the single most important challenge before the seven million-strong American Muslim community as the consequences of the 9/11 tragic terrorist attacks continue to unfold seven years after the ghastly tragedy. The government initiatives have reshaped public attitudes about racial profiling and created a harsh backlash against the Muslim community. At the same time Muslims and Islam remain a popular past time for the US media and some prominent religious and political leaders who never miss any opportunity to attack Muslims and their faith in the name of extremism. Unfortunately, in the post-9/11 America, Islamophobia is not only more widespread but more mainstream and respectable.

Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson’s article titled “Holding Muslims at Arm’s Length” best reflect how fear mongering and Islamophobia is being used in the 2008 presidential election. He points out that in his year-and-a-half-long run for president, Obama has visited churches and synagogues, but no mosque. Jackson answers to Obama’s meaningful reluctance to visit a mosque when he quotes a Newsweek poll of May which concludes that only 58 percent of Americans think Obama is a Christian.

full article: www.insight-info.com

The Closing of the American Border

American Border

American Border

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the government seemed to put forth a unified stance on the need to combat terror. But you say in your book that there was actually a fierce internal fight between two groups – you call them The Cops versus The Technocrats. Who are they?

Indeed, this fight began the very night of 9/11. Jim Ziglar, who was the head of Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) at the time, was strongly opposed to what the Ashcroft Justice Department did after 9/11, which was to use immigration laws aggressively as a counter-terrorism tool, to hold people on immigration violations if they believed they had even the slightest connection to terrorism.

There was one faction that said, “Look, we need to use immigration law aggressively as our main tool in the war on terrorism.” Another group of people, most of them under Tom Ridge in the White House, and later the Department of Homeland Security, said, “Look, if we do that, all we’re going to succeed in doing is driving away people that we want and need to come to the United States. We need to be more targeted and intelligent about how we strengthen our border after 9/11.”

You quote George W. Bush saying to his customs chief, “You’ve got to secure our borders against a terror threat, but you have to do it without shutting down the U.S. economy.” How did the ones who were all for using immigration law win out?

The ones who wanted to strengthen border controls intelligently knew what they wanted to do, but it was a long process. You needed to develop new systems to identify more accurately who was coming into the United States and who you had reason to be concerned about.

The people in the Justice Department who wanted to use immigration law didn’t need to wait. Immigration law is an incredibly powerful tool for arresting and detaining any foreigner. One of the officials that I interviewed said, “Immigration law is like tax law – you’re guilty until proven innocent.”

LOCAL COMMUNITY LEADER SENTENCED IN TERRORISM CASE

Seyed Mahmoud Mousavi

Seyed Mahmoud Mousavi

LOS ANGELES – A federal court today sentenced Seyed Mousavi — a respected local community leader — before a packed courtroom to 33 months in prison for filing false tax returns, omitting group membership on naturalization forms, and violating the U.S. economic embargo against Iran. Though the government asked for a 9 year sentence, the Court was compelled by the myriad of evidence in Mousavi’s favor and ultimately sentenced him to less than one-third of the government’s request. From community members to concerned law students, there has been an outpouring of support for Mousavi in what has become an extremely politicized trial.

On June 29, 2006, the FBI raided Mousavi’s home, business and place of worship at gunpoint in the early morning hours, handcuffing family members and carting off boxes of documents and computers. More than a year later, Mousavi was arrested in his mosque despite assurance from the government that he would be allowed to turn himself in if they decided to charge him. On April 24, 2008, Mousavi — father of two UCLA students — was convicted of filing false tax returns, omitting group membership on naturalization forms, and violating the U.S. economic embargo against Iran. His lawyer failed to present evidence in his defense.

Though not charged with or convicted of acts of terrorism, the government attempted to paint Mousavi with the broad brush of “terrorist.” The prosecution invoked unsubstantiated assertions, xenophobia and “secret evidence” of terrorism early-on in the case. As a result, Mousavi sat in jail without bail for over one year on these non-violent charges. At a hearing last week attended by 120 supporters, a new defense team presented substantial evidence of Mousavi’s innocence but was denied a motion for a new trial.

full article: www.insight-info.com

Less Than Half the World Believes al Qaeda Was Behind 9/11 Attacks

9/11 Victims

9/11 Victims

An international poll released this week by the Project on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) found that outside the United States, many are skeptical that al Qaeda was really responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.

Sixteen thousand people in 17 countries — allies and adversaries in Asia, Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East — were asked the open-ended question: “Who do you think was behind the 9/11 attacks?”

On average, fewer than half of all respondents said al Qaeda (although there was significant variation between countries and regions). Fifteen percent said the United States government itself was responsible for the attacks, 7 percent cited Israel, and fully 1 in 4 said they just didn’t know.

Among our closest allies, very slim majorities believe al Qaeda was the culprit. According to the study, “Fifty-six percent of Britons and Italians, 63 percent of French and 64 percent of Germans cite al Qaeda. However, significant portions of Britons (26%), French (23%), and Italians (21%) say they do not know who was behind 9/11. Remarkably, 23 percent of Germans cite the U.S. government, as do 15 percent of Italians.”

Whatever one thinks of “alternative” theories of who the perpetrators were that day, the results are an eye-opening indication of how profoundly the world’s confidence in the United States government has eroded during the Bush era. The researchers found little difference among respondents according to levels of education, or to the amount of exposure to the news media they had. Rather, they found a clear correlation with people’s attitudes toward the United States in general. “Those with a positive view of America’s influence in the world are more likely to cite al Qaeda (on average 59%) than those with a negative view (40%),” wrote the authors. “Those with a positive view of the United States are also less likely to blame the U.S. government (7%) than those with a negative view (22%).”

full article: www.insight-info.com

Turning Away From American State Terrorism

Elections 2008

Elections 2008

The choice we face in November is very clear. It is a choice to continue to support the US terror war, or to turn away from this path of unlimited destruction. This lie-based war is all about terrorism –whether America actually fights terrorism or promotes its use. To
find the answer to this conundrum all we have to do is turn our gaze to Pakistan.

In Pakistan we find the complete history of the American “war on terrorism,” from its Cold War origins nearly thirty years ago to its present incarnation in the illegal American aggression in Pakistan’s Frontier region (FATA, Federally Administered Tribal Areas) and in American attempts to reignite the Cold War with Russia. The latest cross-border attack against Pakistan in South Waziristan, which involved American helicopters and ground troops, costing 15 villagers their lives, represents the first steps in American attempts to escalate its war into a reasonable facsimile of another world war.

Once again, America claims that its aggression against Pakistan is a legitimate act of self-defense against the “Pakistani Taliban” (TTP,Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan), who, it is claimed, are responsible for America’s faltering war effort in Afghanistan. Wednesday’s
aggression was another attempt to get TTP leader Baitullah Mehsud (branded “public enemy number one” by the US) or one of his top commanders. Mehsud is the key to understanding America’s true role in the terror war, that of state terrorism planner and facilitator, in order to later assume the role of defender against the terrorism it causes.

Baitullah Mehsud assumed control of the TTP from its founder, his infamous cousin Abdullah Mehsud. Abdullah was a prisoner at Guantanamo before being inexplicably released to return to Pakistan, where he founded the new Taliban splinter group. On his second day in S. Waziristan he instigated the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers
from the building of the Gomal Zam Dam, beginning the TTP fight against America’s adversaries in the region.

Setting the pattern for all future American terror attacks, the American media reported that America’s secret allies, the TTP, were “al Qaida linked.” Whenever and wherever the Western media uses the expression “al Qaida linked,” to describe terrorist attacks, they are referring to American terrorism. This is also painfully true about those sinister forces that killed 3,000 American civilians on September 11, 2001. American/”al Qaida” terrorism always targets civilians, even American civilians. Next to the US military, al
Qaida is the greatest killer of innocent Muslims in the world.

full article: www.insight-info.com

LOCAL COMMUNITY LEADER MOST RECENT VICTIM OF U.S. WAR ON TERROR POLICIES

Civil Liberties Defense Initiative (student-led initiative at UCLA School of Law)

LOS ANGELES – In a gross miscarriage of justice, a leader in Southern California’s Iranian American community faces denaturalization and up to 9 years in prison. On April 24, 2008, Seyed Mousavi — father of two UCLA students — was convicted of filing false tax returns, omitting group membership on naturalization forms, and violating the U.S.’s economic embargo against Iran.

His sentencing hearing is on Monday, October 6. Substantial evidence has been uncovered supporting a motion for retrial.

To that end, at Monday’s sentencing hearing Mousavi will present evidence of his innocence. From community members to concerned law students, there has been an outpouring of community support for Mousavi in what has become an extremely politicized trial.

For the last 20 years, Mousavi has been a major contributor to the well-being of the Muslim community in Southern California.

He is the founder of Al-Nabi Mosque in West Covina and a non-profit organization that has built bridges across religious divides. Under Mousavi’s leadership, Al-Nabi Mosque has been groundbreaking in developing English curriculum for recent immigrants, recognizing the unique issues facing American-Muslim youth, and preaching the virtue of inclusion and acceptance.

In addition to teaching in the school, Mousavi serves as a mentor for youth. More than 100 community members have written letters in Mousavi’s defense. Those who have known him as a friend, colleague, and mentor describe him as having changed their lives.

Though not charged with or convicted of acts of terrorism, the prosecution has painted Mousavi with the broad brush of “terrorist.” The government claims that Mousavi broke the embargo with Iran, and is demanding a sentence of up to 9 years primarily because of this charge.

Mousavi is alleged to have engaged in a consulting contract with a Kuwaiti company to bring cellular telephone networks to Iran. However, the sentence recommended by the government far exceeds what they have uniformly agreed to even for corporations which provided overtly military related products.

As a result, this is a case of selective prosecution. The U.S. government invoked unsubstantiated assertions, xenophobia and “secret evidence” of terrorism early-on in the case. The government also claims Mousavi was a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, though both the government of Iran and several experts deny this.

full article: www.insight-info.com

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