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Dec 01 - 15 , 2011
Issue No. 33
Judge: FBI must pay penalty to Calif. Muslims
Witness says Mass. men discussed mall shooting BOSTON (AP) — A former friend of a Massachusetts man accused of conspiring to help alQaida testified Monday that they traveled overseas with a third friend to try to get into a terrorist training camp. Kareem Abu-zahra, testifying in the trial of Tarek Mehanna (TEH›-rek meh-HAH›nah), said the men also discussed shooting people at a shopping mall, attacking an Air Force base and shooting prominent U.S. officials. Prosecutors allege that after Mehanna tried unsuccessfully to get terrorist training in Yemen, he began translating and distributing materials over the Internet promoting violent jihad. Mehanna, 29, of Sudbury, has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to support a terrorist organization, conspiracy to kill in a foreign country and lying to the FBI. Abu-zahra, testifying under a grant of immunity from prosecution, said he, Mehanna and another friend, Ahmad Abousamra,
made a trip overseas in 2004. «We went there for the purpose of finding a terrorist training camp,» he said. Abu-zahra was not asked Monday about what happened on the trip to Yemen, but during earlier testimony in the trial, a witness said Abu-zahra returned to the United States after a stop in the United Arab Emirates when he received a call saying his father was ill. Prosecutors have said that Mehanna and Abousamra went to Yemen looking for a camp, but were unable to find one. Authorities have said the men wanted to get training so they could go to Iraq to fight against U.S. soldiers. «Eventually, the goal was to get into Iraq,» Abu-zahra testified. Abousamra was also charged, but he fled to Syria and remains a fugitive. Abu-zahra said he, Mehanna and Abousamra, along with another friend, Hassan Masood, would get together and have religious discussions.
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — The FBI must pay the legal fees of Muslim activist groups that sued the federal agency for access to its files, according to a U.S. District Court ruling filed Thursday. Judge Cormac Carney made clear that the financial sanction was not based on the merits of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California›s Freedom of Information Act case, but it was to punish a government that chose to lie to its own judicial system. «The Court must impose monetary sanctions to deter the Government from deceiving the Court again,» Carney wrote. He gave the Islamic Shura Council 14 days to provide an affidavit detailing its costs. After a nearly five-year court battle, Carney ruled in April that the council could not review additional records of FBI inquiries into its activities, but he berated the government for misleading the court about the existence of the files. «Parties cannot choose when to tell the Court the truth. They must be truthful with the Court at all stages of the proceedings if judicial review is to have any real meaning,» Carney wrote. FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller declined to comment on the ruling, noting that the agency does not comment on litigation and has not commented on this case. The ruling refutes the FBI›s claim that admitting the files existed would have compromised national security, noting the privacy of sensitive filings can be protected by the courts. «And the Court rejects the Government›s suggestion that it initially had to deceive the Court to protect national security. The Government could have availed itself of routine court procedures without compromising national security,» Carney wrote. The Islamic Shura Council is composed of six Muslim-American community organizations and five community leaders. The group had requested access to all records created since January 2001, including surveillance, monitoring and other investigations of the council.
Mich. Arab-American center head mistakenly jailed
DETROIT (AP) — Police in suburban Detroit mistakenly arrested the head of a popular Arab-American cultural center and held him overnight in jail, believing he was a man charged in a conspiracy to funnel money to Hezbollah from the sale of stolen and counterfeit goods. Dearborn police claiming to be investigating a break-in asked Ali Hammoud for identification and arrested him outside his home Friday night, attorney Majed Moughni said. «They said they had a warrant for his arrest. He was coming back from a dinner, a family gathering,» Moughni said. But police had the wrong Hammoud. A man with the same name was indicted with 18 people in Detroit in 2003 in a conspiracy involving the sale of illegal cigarettes, counterfeit Viagra and stolen goods to support Hezbollah, which the U.S. considers a terrorist group. That man has not been found. An FBI agent went to the Dearborn police station Saturday and told Hammoud he was not the man wanted by authorities, Moughni said. Hammoud is president of Bint Jebail Cultural Center in Dearborn, a Detroit suburb that is home to one of the largest Muslim populations in the country. The center has hosted ceremonies for new U.S. citizens and speeches by prominent government officials, including CIA Director Leon Panetta, in 2009. Dearborn police had no immediate comment. FBI spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold said police arrested a man who fit a description on a federal warrant, but the FBI was not directly involved in the arrest. Moughni said Hammoud did not want to comment about the incident. «He›s very well respected and liked. People are angry,» the lawyer said. «If this can happen to a pillar of the community, it can happen to anyone.» Osama Siblani, publisher of The Arab American News in Dearborn, said he called the Dearborn police chief and the FBI to let them know Hammoud was the wrong man. «This is not the end of the world but it›s no small thing,» Siblani said. «The charges are unbelievable. He has raised three doctors, a very down-to-earth guy. For me to even imagine he would do something like this is beyond my imagination.»
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Entertainment & Sports Disney’s musical of ‘Newsies’ to land on Broadway MARK KENNEDY,AP Drama Writer NEW YORK (AP) — Start spreading the news: The musical based on the film “Newsies” is striking a path to Broadway. Disney Theatrical Productions said Tuesday that the show will begin a limited run at the Nederlander Theatre beginning in March. It had a critically acclaimed debut in September at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, N.J. “It just plays like a great, classic musical with this wonderful choreography,” said Thomas Schumacher, president of Disney Theatrical Productions, the theatrical production arm of The Walt Disney Co. “It’s fun.” The new musical is based on the 1899 true story of child newspaper sellers in turn-of-the-century New York who go on strike. The 1992 film, starring Christian Bale, Bill Pullman, Robert Duvall and Ann-Margret, did poorly at the box office but has become something of a cult hit. Alan Menken and lyricist Jack Feldman, who were responsible for the film score, teamed up again to transform “Newsies” into a musical for the stage, reworking the songs and collaborating with the new story writer, Harvey Fierstein, known for his work in “Hairspray,” ‘’La Cage aux folles” and “Torch Song Trilogy.” The new musical retains the memorable songs “Santa Fe,” ‘’The World Will Know,” ‘’Carrying the
Jokes The little boy wasn’t getting good marks in school. One day he made the teacher quite surprised. He tapped her on the shoulder and said ...”I don’t want to scare you, but my daddy says if I don’t get better grades, somebody is going to get a spanking.” * In the first year of marriage, the man speaks and the woman listens. * In the second year, the woman speaks and the man listens. * In the third year, they both speak and the neighbors listen. The doctor to the patient: ‘You are very sick’ The patient to the doctor: ‘Can I get a second opinion?’ The doctor again: ‘Yes, you are very ugly too...’
Banner,” ‘’Seize the Day” and “King of New York,” but adds a young female reporter to the story. The musical will play its first Broadway preview on March 15 and the final performance is scheduled for June 10. That translates into exactly 101 performances, something Disney has some familiarity with. “It’s a convenient number but it has nothing to do with dogs or spots,” said Schumacher. “It gives us a long enough run where we can put our stake in the ground. pealing: For years, schools and theater complicense’s value.
Uproar at Tunisian trial on Persepolis showing
TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — The trial in Tunisia over the broadcasting the animated Iranian film
“Persepolis” was cut short Thursday after an uproar in the courtroom. Lawyers for the two sides shouted at each other and exchanged insults inside the courtroom, prompting the judge to adjourn the trial until Jan. 23. The controversy over the film illustrates how Tunisia, the country that started the wave of uprisings that have swept through the Arab world this year, is struggling to work out the role of Islam in society after years of officially enforced secularism. The privately owned Nessma television station provoked an angry reaction last month when it broadcast a dubbed version of Iranian director Marjane Satrapi’s award-winning adaptation of her graphic novels about growing up during Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. The film, which won the jury prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, contains a scene showing a character representing God.
Man: I could go to the end of the world for you. Woman: Yes, but would you stay there? Man: I offer you myself. Woman: I am sorry I never accept cheap gifts. Man: I want to share everything with you. Woman: Let’s start from your bank account. Man said to professor --- Why did God make women so beautiful? Professor said to man --- So that you will love them. Man said to Professor --- But did he make them so dumb? Professorsaid to man --- So that they will love you.
Shadowy spy world exposed in ‘Blood and Gifts’
NEW YORK (AP) — The opening scene of J.T. Rogers’ ambitious and thoroughly captivating spy thriller “Blood and Gifts” instantly reflects the daunting complexity of the play’s subject — the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan and the covert, proxy warfare that surrounded it.The dreamlike prologue, set in a bustling terminal of Islamabad’s international airport, also exhibits a uniquely unfettered approach to storytelling that allows Rogers and director Bartlett Sher to successfully hone the decade-long war, with all its world-changing, geopolitical implications, into a succinct and elegant narrative.A conspicuously American traveler stands suitcase-in-hand in an arrivals area, surrounded on all sides by a widely diverse collection of men. The men watch him from benches along the outskirts of a square stage.
Madonna settles NYC neighbor’s suit over noise NEW YORK (AP) — Madonna has made peace with a neighbor who said the superstar made a racket by using her apartment as a rehearsal studio, lawyers involved in the matter said Wednesday. Court records showed Karen George’s lawsuit against the singer and their Manhattan building was settled as of Wednesday. Lawyers for Madonna and the building’s co-op board would say only that the matter was resolved. George’s attorney didn’t immediately return a call. Madonna and the board had said the noise never topped legal levels. The singer also said this March she’d built a studio elsewhere and wasn’t using the apartment for musical moves anymore. George, whose apartment is upstairs from Madonna’s in a building overlooking Central Park, had said the dance and exercise routines subjected neighbors to
“blaring music, stomping and shaking walls” for up to three hours a day. George was driven from her apartment at times by the “unbearable” noise and vibrations, according to her lawsuit, filed in 2009. It sought unspecified damages. Madonna took steps to dampen the sound in 2009, but George said they didn’t work, according to an August court ruling that nixed the singer’s bid to dismiss the lawsuit. George had said the building board acknowledged her complaints but ultimately didn’t crack down because it didn’t want trouble with Madonna. Madonna moved into the building after she was rejected in 1985 by the board at another ritzy Manhattan co-op, the San Remo, where U2 frontman Bono has an apartment.
Cooking & Recipes Winter vegetable tagine recipe
Ingredients: 1 tbs olive oil -2 onions, thinly sliced 2 large carrots, peeled, cut into 8cm lengths -1 large parsnip, peeled, cut into 8cm lengths -300g kumara, peeled, cut into 2cm pieces - 300g butternut pumpkin, peeled, cut into 2cm pieces 2 tbs tomato paste - 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper . 1/2 tsp ground saffron (see Notes) 1 tsp each ground ginger and turmeric 2 cinnamon quills - Vegetable stock or water, to cover -400g canned chickpeas, drained, rinsed 2/3 cup (100g) dried apricots. 8 soft, pitted dates 2 tbs honey 2 tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley or coriander 1/2 cup (40g) flaked almonds, toasted Harissa and couscous, Basbousa Ingredients: Sugar Syrup :1 cup sugar - 1 cup water -1 tablespoon clarified butter - 2 talbespoons lemon juice - Sugar - Syrup Preparation: Put ingredients for sugar syrup - into a pot and bring to a boil. add 1 tablespoon clarified butter. Simmer for about 15 minutes and cool. Basbousa Ingredients: 2 cups semolina flour - 1 cup sugar 1 cup coconut flakes 1 cup clarified butter 1 cup milk - 1/2 talbespoon plain yogurt 1/2 cup slivered almonds, or 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
Directions : Heat oil in a large flameproof casserole over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened. Add carrot, parsnip, kumara, pumpkin, tomato paste, cayenne, saffron, ginger, turmeric and cinnamon quills. Pour in enough vegetable stock or water to just cover and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook gently for 45 minutes. Add the chickpeas, apricots, dates, and honey. Season, then simmer for a further 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender and the mixture is thick and soupy. Scatter with herbs and almonds. Serve with harissa and couscous, if desired. Notes: Ground saffron is from selected supermarkets. Harissa is a Tunisian chilli paste from gourmet shops and delis. Directions Mix the sugar, coconut and semolina flour. Put the milk and butter in a pot and bring to a boil. Add the semolina mixture to the milk and butter, plus remaining ingredients and mix well. Coat a baking tray with butter. Pour into a baking tray 1/2 inch high and distribute evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes until goldenyellow. Remove from the oven and distribute slivered almonds or chopped hazelnuts over the top of the backed Basbousa. Press the nuts gently with your finger. Leave the Basbousa to cool for 1 hour. Soak with the cold sugar syrup. Bake at 200 degrees for 5 minutes until golden-yellow. Cut into pieces and serve warm or cold.
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Articles A Street Challenge at Churches that Support Zionism Entrenched power groups are conniving to control the explosion of peaceful demonstrations for peace and justice. The Tea Party was started in the streets, demonstrating against Congress, but sadly, it has now been commandeered by the mainline Republican Party. And “Arab Spring” has brought a start and a hope for needed change where all else has failed. In Libya the revolution has been bought with weapons by nations, including our own, seeking its oil. “Occupy Wall Street” is turning the spotlight on the injustice of government’s egregious support of Fortune 500 businesses and their lackey news media, who ignore the abuse caused by unlimited money printing to save bankers world wide from the consequence of their own greed. Themes like “End the Federal Reserve” are finally being discussed by ordinary working people in the street. But power groups have natural designs to capture and use every one of these movements. Their effort to subvert good causes attests to the import of grass roots demonstrations in the quest for
peace. Sadly, powerful interests for war have also captured a large slice of Christianity known as “evangelicalism” or “Christian Zionism.” This author is a cofounder of Project Strait Gate, before Iraq or Afghanistan. It may be the first demonstration group to target certain American churches for their role in imprisoning the Palestinian people and supporting wars. These churches are captives for war on demand... demand by our government or demand by Israel’s leaders. But the people in the churches can change. In several cities, including Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Denver, Muslims have courageously joined and aided in our movement. Pastor George Morrison, founder of mega-church, Faith Bible Chapel of Arvada, Colorado, and a member of the Board of Directors of John Hagee’s Christians United For Israel (CUFI) received a letter from us two weeks before his church is to be picketed, part of which follows: Dear Pastor George Morrison. Project Strait Gate has organized peace vigils on public right-of-ways outside many churches around the country. Picketers visited Faith Chapel several years ago, and we are again planning to visit your church on October 16, 2011, for your Annual Israel Awareness Day, where John Hagee is your announced guest speaker. Our prayer is that you will examine your own position and make a Christ-like commitment in regard to the continued American slaughter in the Middle East, and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. We trust that you are concerned about the destruction of human life, but your guest for this program, John Hagee, is not.
Self-control Some students, when asked why we should fast, answer that it is “so that we will feel what the poor feel.” This is indeed a most laudable reason. I then ask the students, “if this were the only reason, then, if one is poor and often hungry, then one would not need to fast, right? In other words, fasting is only for the rich.” The logic is obvious. I do not intend to launch onto a theological discussion. But I love studying the commandments that Allah SWT gives us because, interestingly, they contain a lot of principles about education. Let’s look at the two most obvious pillars that we all perform daily and annually: praying and fasting. What is the common denominator here? Self-control. No matter how sleepy in the morning, how busy in the day or how tired in the evening, one must interrupt whatever one is doing to put time and energy aside and perform that short ritual. Telling a child to stop watching a favorite program, stop playing a computer game, or stop romping around with friends, and go pray is indeed a great test of self-control. This is harder for us living in non-Muslim countries since the world and all its attractions do not grind to a stop when prayer time comes. Still, most prayers have quite a long range of time in which they can be performed on time, and so the amount of will power needed is not so great as for fasting. When I was in Jordan during my teen years, I once was in the midst of a discussion among other teenage girls, who all had a problem maintaining their weight. To my great surprise, most of them had
no problem at all following various diets, something which is always a matter of struggle among teenage girls in other countries. The reason? Muslim girls find it pretty easy to eat only certain foods and avoid others because during Ramadan, they have to abstain from all foods and all liquids despite hunger and thirst. Now, we all know this already, so what is the connotation with education? This is where I find that we as parents and educators have missed the message that our Creator has sent us. If self-control is part of a command that every single adult must achieve, then why is it that we as parents do not teach it to our children to prepare them for adulthood? What could be the starting point of such a “self-control” education program? We know that the Qur’an tells us not to even say “oof!” to our parents (mother in particular). This means that the first thing we need to control is our attitude. How many teenagers today say more than just “oof!” to their parents when disagreeing on something? How did they reach that stage? Had they been taught not to frown, or sigh, or pout from early childhood onward, how could they become a teenager that retorts or shouts at his/her parents? Not surprisingly, if you train your young toddler that a disrespectful attitude and a total loss of self-control are bad things, they will later be well-behaved and easily disciplined. How early should you start? I don’t think it’s ever too early. As a mother, I found that if you miss the 2nd birthday window, well, you have a handful of work coming up. Here in the West, that period of time is known as the “terrible twos”. I did the “self-control boot camp” at around 18 months for all my 7 children. If you take care of that at that time, you pretty much have a smooth sailing afterwards. Here’s how to go about it. Identify a “time out” place in your home. This place should be safe, but the child should not be able to leave it on its own. The first one I used was my sitting-room, in our then small apartment. That room had a slid-
on solid footing. The confidence numbers follow other encouraging signs: Every month for the past year except one, spending by Americans has grown 2 percent or more from a year earlier, according to government data. Americans spent $52.4 billion over the four-day Thanksgiving Day weekend, the highest total ever recorded during the traditional start to the holiday shopping season, according to the National Retail Federation. The average shopper spent a record $398.62, up from $365.34 a year ago, the NRF said. And sales on Cyber Monday, the first online shopping day after the Thanksgiving weekend, rose 22 percent from a year ago to $1.25 billion, the biggest online sales day in history, the research firm comScore Inc. reported. Retailers count on the holiday shopping season for as much as 40 percent of their annual sales. According to the consumer index, Americans’ anxiety regarding short-term business conditions, jobs and income prospects eased considerably after six months of declines. Americans expecting more jobs in the months ahead rose to 12.9 percent from 10.8 percent, for instance, while those expecting fewer jobs declined to 24.1 percent from
Survey: Home prices down in most major US cities WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices are falling again in most major cities after posting small gains over the summer and spring, the latest evidence that the troubled housing market won’t recover any time soon. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index released Tuesday showed prices dropped in September from August in 17 of the 20 cities tracked. That was the first decline after five straight months where at least half of the cities in the survey showed monthly gains. A separate index for the July-September quarter shows prices were unchanged from the previous quarter. Atlanta, San Francisco and Tampa posted the biggest monthly price declines. Prices in Atlanta, Las Vegas and Phoenix fell to their lowest home point since the housing crisis began four years
Charles E. Carlson Israel’s abuse of human life, both to its own unborn, and its neighbors’ lives, the Palestinians, is no secret. Anti-war demonstrations have turned to demonstrations for independence all over the world. Evangelical churches like yours and your members should be, but are not, the most peaceseeking persons on the globe. They can not be peacemakers because of your support for Israel, a nation at war with its neighbors for all of its existence, and the only country in the world that is openly imprisoning an entire population at gun point. If you deny this fact you have not visited Gaza, as has this writer. A nationwide movement, Project Strait Gate, has initiated silent vigils at American churches with a message of peace and brotherly love, as taught by Jesus in a similar time of occupation and violence. Jesus calls the leaders of His church to be “peacemakers.” Churches like yours can not be a peacemaker church if you support the occupation of the Palestinian people, and wars that kill civilians in other countries. We have learned that Christian Zionism is a distorted departure from Christianity. Your association with self-proclaimed Zionist John Hagee labels Faith Bible Chapel as infected with Christian Zionism. This is why we have chosen your church for our Sunday, October 16 vigil. Literally thousands of churches need to receive this message and be picketed for peace. Project Strait Gate helps others set up groups to challenge the Zionist Christian Church in their neighborhoods. A report on this vigil and those who join it, will follow. whtt.org
Dr. Fawzia Tung
Americans’ confidence in the economy surges NEW YORK (AP) — Americans are beginning to feel more confident about the U.S. economy just as the all-important Christmas shopping season begins. But their optimism may be short-lived. Consumer confidence surged in November to its highest level since July, a sign that Americans may be more willing to spend, the Conference Board reported Tuesday. “Consumers appear to be entering the holiday season in better spirits,” Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said in a statement. But confidence is still painfully below what is typically seen during a healthy economy. And Americans could start to feel more skittish if the debt crisis in Europe deepens and stokes fears of another recession in the U.S. “I think this will be a good holiday shopping season,” said Mark Vitner, senior U.S. economist at Wells Fargo. “But the question is what will happen after that?” The Conference Board, a private research firm, said its Consumer Confidence Index climbed 15 points in November to 56.0. That is the highest it has been since the 59.2 reading over the summer. That is still well below the level of 90 that indicates an economy
ago. Prices rose in New York, Portland and Washington. Many Americans are reluctant to purchase a home more than two years after the recession officially ended. High unemployment and weak job growth has deterred many would-be buyers. Even the lowest mortgage rates in history haven’t been enough to lift sales. Some people can’t qualify for loans or meet higher down payment requirements. Many with good credit and stable jobs are holding off because they fear that home prices will keep falling. Sales of previously occupied home sales are on pace to match last year’s dismal figures — the worst in 13 years. Sales of new homes are shaping up to be the worst since the government began keeping records a half century ago. The Case Shiller index covers half of all U.S.
ing door that was forever stuck, so one had to physically lift it up and put down the entire door panel with its frosted glass and all. A child cannot hurt himself on armchairs and carpet. My first son started getting tantrums around one year of age. Soon these started getting out of hand. So one day, my husband took the matter into his own hands. He physically carried our son into the sitting-room, put him on the carpet, closed the door so the frayed mom (me) would not interfere, and proceeded to go to sleep on the couch. My son bawled and screamed for around 45 minutes. Finally he stopped out of sheer exhaustion. The lesson learned was: a) no one will respond to you if you do not behave yourself; and b) this is not an acceptable behavior. The next time it happened, it took about 10 minutes for him to stop crying. The third time, he stopped crying the minute he crossed into the sitting room. Thereafter, I only had to say: “Enough! Stop it.” And he would. Eventually, I only had to glare at him, lift a finger and point slowly at him for him to stop howling. It is very important to train the first-born well. Because he becomes the living example for all subsequent siblings. The “time out” place changed with the years, according to our circumstances. But as long as the basic principle is there, anything will work. For my first daughter, I used a large flower pot I had purchased for an indoor tree, but never planted the tree. It was so large that I could put her in there and only her head and shoulders would show. She would peer out over the edge holding onto the rim with her little hands. I could continue doing my work and make sure she was safe while pointedly ignoring her cries until she quietened down. Today, family members joke about the “trash can”, but I must straighten the records and state formally that it never was a trash can. It was a ceramic flower pot.
ANNE D’INNOCENZIO 27.6 percent the previous month. And the proportion of consumers anticipating an increase in their income climbed to 14.9 percent from 11.1 percent. Consumers have some reason to be more optimistic. Earlier this month, the Labor Department reported that unemployment nudged down to 9 percent in October from 9.1 percent in September. And the nation added 80,000 jobs in October for the 13th straight month of gains. Still, other economic prospects are not as good. Home prices are falling again in most major U.S. cities after posting small gains over the summer and spring, according to a report issued Tuesday. And prices for food, travel and other things have risen steadily this year, according to government data. They went up 3.5 percent in October from the same month a year ago. Adding to that, the European debt crisis threatens to undermine the U.S. economy. “People are pulling out all the stops to spend this holiday,” said Vitner, the Wells Fargo economist. “But it’s going to be hard to sustain that.”
DEREK KRAVITZ homes. It measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The September data is the latest available. Prices are certain to fall again once banks resume millions of foreclosures. They have been delayed because of a yearlong government investigation into mortgage lending practices. Home prices had stabilized in coastal cities over the past six months, helped by a rush of spring buyers and investors. But this year, home prices in many cities, including Cleveland, Detroit, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tampa, have reached their lowest points since the housing bust more than four years ago. Foreclosures and short sales — when a lender accepts less for a home than what is owed on a mortgage — are selling at an average discount of 20 percent.
Dec 01 - 15 , 2011
In New York, ambivalence over Muslim surveillance
Mass. man “Rezwan Ferdaus “ accused in terror plot seeks bail
WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — A man accused of plotting to fly remote-controlled model planes packed with explosives into the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol is a “ticking time bomb” who is committed to attacking the United States, a prosecutor said Monday while urging a judge to keep him locked up while he awaits trial.But attorneys for 26-year-old Rezwan Ferdaus argued for his release from jail, saying he is a mentally troubled man who had a “completely unrealistic fantasy” that had no chance of succeeding. Ferdaus, of Ashland, was arrested in September after undercover FBI employees posing as members of al-Qaida delivered what they say he believed was 25 pounds of C-4 plastic explosives. Prosecutors say he asked the undercover agents to get him the explosives, AK-47 assault rifles and grenades so he could carry out the attacks. Authorities say he also showed them cellphones he had fashioned into detonators. Ferdaus, who has a physics degree from Boston’s Northeastern University, faces six charges, including attempting to provide material support to terrorists and attempting to damage and destroy national defense premises. His lawyers are asking that he be released on bail and placed in the custody of his father until trial.Prosecutors argued during a detention hearing Monday in U.S. District Court that he is dangerous and should remain behind bars. There was no immediate ruling from U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy Hillman. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Siegmann said Ferdaus began plotting an attack on the United States in 2010, before the FBI sent an informant and later undercover employees to meet with him and record their conversations. FBI agent Bradley Davis testified that agents interviewed Ferdaus in October 2010 after he went into a gun shop, asked about purchasing weapons, acted suspiciously and took a photograph. The gun shop’s owner took down Ferdaus’ license plate, and Ferdaus later was questioned
by the FBI. During the interview, Ferdaus, a Muslim, described America as “a racist nation against Muslims” and questioned the FBI’s authority to interview him, Davis said. “He was very defensive and fairly uncooperative,” Davis said. Ferdaus also was questioned by Ashland police after he was seen in the woods near the town’s train station. “He said, ‘I know this looks very suspicious, but I was just trying to get a good look at the train station,’” Davis said. Siegmann, the prosecutor, said Ferdaus provided the men posing as al-Qaida members with two detailed plans — one with a 14-page narrative — describing attacks on the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol building. She said the men posing as al-Qaida members told him more than 30 times that he did not have to go through with the plan but he repeatedly said he wanted to do it. Siegmann said Ferdaus told the undercovers, “I just can’t stop. There is no other choice for me.” But Ferdaus’ attorneys challenged the credibility of an FBI informant who was the first to make contact with Ferdaus at his mosque in Worcester, about 40 miles west of Boston, in December 2010. Under questioning from attorney Miriam Conrad, FBI special agent John Woudenberg acknowledged that the informant, known as Khalil, had been a gang member, had a drug problem and had multiple criminal convictions. “We were aware that he had issues; he was a difficult to handle informant,” he said. Woudenberg said the FBI decided to use him with Ferdaus because he was knowledgeable about Islam. Ferdaus’ lawyers also questioned whether the plan prosecutors say was concocted by Ferdaus was feasible. Davis testified earlier this month that FBI bomb technicians analyzed a cellphone Ferdaus had fashioned into a detonator and “came to the conclusion that it could actually be used” to detonate explosives. Under questioning from defense attorney Catherine Byrne on Monday, Davis said the plan was feasible “with modifications.”
FBI says wanted Calif. activist may be in Mass
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — An animal rights activist wanted in the 2003 bombings at two corporate offices in northern California might be in western Massachusetts, the FBI said Wednesday. The FBI said it had a tip from the television show “America’s Most Wanted” that 33-year-old Daniel Andreas San Diego may be in the Northampton area. San Diego is one of 31 people on the agency’s Most Wanted Terrorists list, and there is a $250,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. The agents said they are seeking the public’s help at the request of the FBI in San Francisco. The computer specialist from Berkeley, Calif., is accused in bombings at biotechnology firm Chiron Corp. in Emeryville, and nutrition and cosmetics company Shaklee Corp. in Pleasanton. No one was injured. Two pipe bomb explosions struck an hour apart at Chiron on Aug. 28, 2003. A bomb strapped with nails exploded at Shaklee on Sept. 26, 2003. The blasts caused only minor damage, including some shattered windows. A group calling itself “Revolutionary Cells” took responsibility, saying the companies were targeted for their ties to a research company that experimented on animals. Richard DesLauriers, a special agent in charge of the Boston FBI office, said Wednesday that the recent tip to “America’s Most Wanted” was “credible and viable,” but he declined to discuss details. He said agents are pursuing it aggressively as they investigate San Diego’s whereabouts. “He could possibly be out here in the western Massachusetts area and we’re seeking the western Massachusetts public’s assistance,” DesLauriers said. In 2009, San Diego became the first domestic terror suspect
named to Most Wanted Terrorists list. He’s currently the only person on the list without an Arabic name. The search for him has spanned the globe. FBI officials have said they’ve talked with authorities in Germany, the United Kingdom, Costa Rica, France, Spain, Denmark, Austria, Italy, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Argentina, the Philippines and Chile. Two years ago, the FBI said he may be living in Costa Rica. In 2005, reports circulated that San Diego had been seen in southwest Virginia, but authorities said there no evidence that he had been there. San Diego has ties to animal rights extremist groups and is a vegan who doesn’t eat food containing animal products, according to the FBI. He also has unusual tattoos, the FBI says, including a round image of burning hillsides on his chest with the words “It only takes a spark” written below, and images of burning and collapsing buildings on the sides of his abdomen and back. He has worked as a computer network specialist and with the Linux operating system, and is skilled at sailing, the FBI says. He’s also known to carry a handgun, officials said. ere pulled from the US Airways plane and questioned about the purpose of their trip and whether they had military training. They now want an apology. A spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration said the US Airways pilot requested Charlotte airport police assist in removing individuals from the plane because of a perceived security concern. TSA and airport police responded and later determined the individuals did not pose any security threat. A spokeswoman for US Airways declined to comment about the nature or origin of the security concern.
NEW YORK (AP) — Vicki Grouzis shook her head in disbelief. Police are watching Arabs and Muslims in New York City? Often with no evidence of wrongdoing? She frowned and dismissively waved a hand in the air. “It’s a free country. This is not supposed to happen in America,” said Grouzis, who came here from Greece 35 years ago. And yet . “I say yes, and I say no. It’s good for the United States, but not good for everybody.” There is an ambivalence among many New Yorkers in the wake of an Associated Press investigation showing that after 9/11, police began spying on Muslim and Arab neighborhoods, often based only on ethnicity. The competing impulses of civic welcome and civic safety are evident throughout the boroughs. Suspicion has long been part of the New York immigrant experience. From Italians accused of pledging allegiance to the pope to Germans feared to be signaling submarines outside the harbor, many newcomers have struggled to prove themselves truly American — especially in times of conflict. Grouzis knows this history. She also knows that today, New York is filled with ethnic groups who overcame obstacles to carve out influential spaces in city life — Italians, Jews, Irish, blacks, Asians, Puerto Ricans and more. “The people make this city great,” Grouzis said from behind the counter of a dry cleaning and tailor shop in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens. Outside the front window was a busy Steinway Street, lined with businesses including numerous Arab shops and cafes; Brazilian markets; a tae kwon do studio; a Mexican hookah cafe; Italian coffee shops; a Domino’s and Dunkin’ Donuts;
Chinese and French restaurants; and Sissy McGinty’s Irish bar. any New Yorkers, remembering the immigrant story of struggle followed by success, speak of the NYPD surveillance almost like a rite of passage — even as they decry it as unjust. “It takes awhile for any new nationality to assimilate,” said Nancy Cogen, who for 39 years has owned The Melting Pot, a batik clothing store near downtown Brooklyn. “It used to be the Irish, Germans, Puerto Ricans. Now I guess it’s the Arab world’s turn.” Like most people interviewed for this story, Cogen did not think the current surveillance should be legal: “I don’t want to live in a police state, and I don’t think any religion or nationality should have to.” But she said that since 9/11, she has become more willing to tolerate intrusions for safety’s sake. “We have no privacy anymore,” she said. One place with less privacy is the section of Steinway Street with a heavy Arab and Muslim presence. It was targeted by NYPD surveillance and many photographs were taken there, according to documents obtained by the AP. Inside the Kabab Café on Steinway, Ali A El Sayed pointed to an “Ethnic Map of Manhattan” on the wall of the narrow restaurant he has owned for 25 years. Dated 1919, the map delineated color-coded neighborhoods for groups such as Germans, Russian Jews, Austro-Hungarians, Negroes, and one called “Syrians, Turks, Armenians and Greeks.” “Everything colored in on that map was bad,” said Sayed, who came here from his native Egypt 35 years ago. He was not surprised that police were watching his neighborhood — it’s common knowledge among Muslimsthat they
are under surveillance. But he was angered and saddened by what he saw as a failure to respect the American ideal of freedom. “In 2011, all this commotion about a black president, and we still have police stopping a guy because of his race,” Sayed said. “It’s time to correct our vision,” he said. “In this country, Middle Eastern guys are mostly small guys, small businesses, trying to make a living for their families.” Many of the surveillance operations were built with help from the CIA, which is prohibited from spying on Americans but helped transform NYPD intelligence after 9/11. The program sent undercover officers into Muslim and Arab neighborhoods. Informants infiltrated mosques and student groups. People who changed their Muslim names to ones that sound more traditionally American — a timeless method of assimilating into this country — were placed on secret lists. Molly Seitz, who moved to New York 17 years ago, said her Irish great-grandfather couldn’t get hired on the docks of Boston, so he changed his name. “This (suspicion) has been happening since the beginning of time,” Seitz said as she ate lunch near downtown Brooklyn with a friend. The two women did not want police to single out suspects based only on religion or ethnicity. But “we just need a way to strike a balance. You can’t deny there’s danger,” Seitz said. Some had no problem with what police are doing, calling it justified to protect against the danger of another terrorist attack. “It’s sad to pick them out. I don’t feel just because they’re Muslim they’re bad,” said Joe Giallo, a New York native and owner of a Brooklyn antique store. “But if the police feel
any Muslim has to be pulled out, they should,” he said. “I still think it’s safer that way. It’s better to be sure than not sure.” Lynn Villafane, a waitress who lives in Manhattan, said innocent people should have nothing to hide. “I see it both ways,” she said. “It’s the protection of the country, but it’s kind of invading their privacy. But in the long run, as long as we’re safe, they’re doing it for good reasons.” “If (an attack) happens again, they’ll blame the government, the police, and say ‘why weren’t you watching?’” Villafane said. Other minorities have complaints about New York police; blacks and Hispanics say they are subject to unwarranted police intrusions, including a “stopand-frisk” policy targeting anyone deemed suspicious. Police defend those strategies as necessary to combat crime, while the surveillance operations, they say, are important to secure a city that was the target of terrorists. Evan Milligan, an Alabama native now in law school at New York University, visited the city often in the mid-1990s, living for weeks at a time with his brother. Today, “I can tell 9/11 affected the psyche of the city. I can feel the difference.” Yet he still feels that newcomers are welcome here, from Alabama and beyond. The soul of this city to me is its working people that built some of the most fascinating subways, bridges, tunnels, graffiti, culture, types of music, creative works,” Milligan said. “The people that work and build things across all walks of life, there’s that soul, like, we can do it. That soul is always welcoming people to New York.”
Detroit prayer event puts Muslim community on edge
DETROIT (AP) — A group that counts Islam among the ills facing the nation began a 24-hour prayer rally Friday evening in an area with one of the largest Muslim communities in the United States. The gathering at Ford Field, the stadium where the Detroit Lions play, is designed to tackle issues such as the economy, racial strife, samesex relationships and abortion. But the decade-old organization known as TheCall has said Detroit is a “microcosm of our national crisis” in all areas, including “the rising tide of the Islamic movement.” Leaders of TheCall believe a satanic spirit is shaping all parts of U.S. society, and it must be challenged through intensive Christian prayer and fasting. Such a demonic spirit has taken hold of specific areas, Detroit among them, organizers say. In the months ahead of their rallies, teams of local organizers often travel their communities performing a ritual called “divorcing Baal,” the name of a demon spirit, to drive out the devil from each location. “Our concern is that we are literally being demonized by the organizers of this group,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of Council
on American-Islamic Relations’ Michigan chapter, which last week urged local mosques and Islamic schools to increase security. “And given the recent history of other groups that have come into Michigan ... we’re concerned about this prayer vigil stoking up the flames of divisiveness in the community.” heCall is the latest and largest of several groups or individuals to come to the Detroit area with a message that stirred up many of its estimated 150,000 to 200,000 Muslims. Recent visitors have included Florida pastor Terry Jones; members of the Westboro Baptist Church; and the Acts 17 Apologetics, missionaries who were arrested for disorderly conduct last year at Dearborn’s Arab International Festival but were later acquitted. As with many other Christian groups, TheCall and its adherents believe Jesus is the only path to salvation. While they consider all other religions false, they have a specific focus on Islam, largely in response to the Sept. 11 attacks, terrorism overseas and fear that Islam, which is also a proselytizing faith, will spread faster than Christianity. TheCall is modeled partly on
the Promise Keepers, the men’s stadium prayer movement that was led in the 1990s by former University of Colorado football coach Bill McCartney. TheCall’s first major rally was in September 2000 on the national Mall in Washington, drawing tens of thousands of young people to pray for a Christian revival in America. Co-founder Lou Engle has organized similar rallies in several cities, including a 2008 event at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium two days before Election Day to generate support for Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California. Theologically, Engle is part of a stream of Pentecostalism that is independent of any denomination and is intensely focused on the end times. Within these churches, some leaders are elevated to the position of apostle, or hearing directly from God. uslims weren’t the only ones concerned about Friday’s event. A coalition of Detroit clergy led a march of about 150 people from a city park to the football stadium Friday evening, around the time the rally inside was scheduled to start. “We chanted ‘Stop the hate, spread the love. Stop the hate, spread the jobs,’” the Rev. David Bullock told The Associated Press after their hourlong march and prayer rally. He described the outdoor prayer rally as “very non-violent, very peaceful,” and said there was no trouble with anyone entering Ford Field for TheCall.Bullock said he and other Detroit area clergy have received calls this week asking about TheCall. He said he has told them to research Engle. “They didn’t know. People are really shocked by the rhetoric in his sermons. We are going to send a different message that the God we serve loves everyone.” Engle declined interview requests from the AP, and one
of his representatives referred calls to Apostle Ellis Smith of Detroit’s Jubilee City Church. Smith, who appeared with Engle and other Detroit-area clergy in promotional videos filmed at Ford Field, considers himself a point-person for TheCall in Detroit. Smith told the AP that fears of the event taking on an anti-Muslim tone are overblown. He said attendees won’t be “praying against Muslims,” but rather “against terrorism that has its roots in Islam.” “We’re dealing with extremism,” he said. “We’re against extremism when it comes to Christians.” Still, in a pre-event sermon he delivered Oct. 9 at a suburban church, Smith called Islam a “false,” ‘’lame” and “perverse” religion. He said it was allowed to take root in Detroit because of the city’s strong religious base. That’s why TheCall event is “pivotal,” he said. That’s why I believe it’s by divine appointment: Detroit is the most religious city in America,” Smith said in the sermon, adding later, “What I’m saying to you is Detroit had to happen because we have to break these barriers that have hindered in so many ways.” The sermon was archived on the online sermon library Sermon.net. Smith on Thursday said he was offering his personal perspective that Islam is “a false religion, as many others are.” He said the main focus of Friday’s gathering is “loving God, loving God’s people.” Dawn Bethany, 43, said she is attending with about 70 others from Lansing’s Epicenter of Worship, where she is the church’s administrator. Bethany said she believes the event will be a “monumental spiritual experience,” and “the negativity is a distraction from seeing who God is.” God, she said, “is love.”
Dec 01 - 15 , 2011
National Tarek case update! Witness: suspect wanted to ﬁght Americans in Iraq BOSTON (AP) — An American in prison for training at a terrorist camp in Somalia testified Thursday that a fellow American accused of plotting to help al-Qaida told him that he would fight U.S. soldiers in Iraq, if given the chance. Daniel Maldonado took the witness stand Thursday in the trial of Tarek Mehanna, a Sudbury, Mass., man charged with plotting to provide material support to al-Qaida and unsuccessfully attempting to get training at a terrorist camp in Yemen. Mehanna then allegedly began helping al-Qaida by translating and distributing online texts and videos promoting violent jihad. Mehanna, 29, also is charged with lying to the FBI in December 2006 when asked about the whereabouts of Maldonado, a Pelham, N.H., native. Mehanna’s lawyers say he went to Yemen for religious study, not to receive terrorist training. They say his translation of Arabic texts and online activities are protected by the First Amendment right to free speech and expression. Maldonado testified against Mehanna as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors that he said spared him a life sentence. He pleaded
guilty to receiving military-style training from a terrorist organization, al-Qaida, and is serving a 10-year sentence. On Thursday, Maldonado pointed and smiled at Mehanna when asked to identify him. He said the two men became “best friends” after they met in 2002 or 2003 and often watched what he called “inspirational” jihadist videos at Mehanna’s home. Mehanna reacted “with an air of pleasure” while watching the videos, and they often talked about their hope to participate in jihad, Maldonado said. Maldonado said Mehanna also said the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States were “justified” because the same thing has happened to Muslims around the world. He said Mehanna also said of the Sept. 11 attacks: “The benefit outweighed the loss, then therefore it was permissible.” Authorities said Wednesday that Mehanna and his conspirators had contacted Maldonado about getting automatic weapons for planned mall attacks, but he told them he could only get handguns. Maldonado was expected to continue testifying on Friday.
Nurse says he was ﬁred over treating Muslim women DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — A male registered nurse and Vietnam war Army medic has sued the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, saying he was fired for disobeying a Muslim supervisor’s order not to treat women wearing conservative Islamic dress. John Benitez Jr. filed a sex discrimination suit Wednesday in Detroit U.S. District Court after getting the go-ahead from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a “right to
sue” letter Oct. 19. The Associated Press left phone and email messages during the Thanksgiving holiday seeking comment from Dearborn officials. The Detroit News said a Dearborn spokeswoman declined comment. In a complaint filed on his behalf, his lawyer, Deborah L. Gordon, said Benitez joined Dearborn’s Health Department in September 2010. The 63-year-old Madison Heights resident has a threedecade nursing career. Dear-
an apology. A spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration said the US Airways pilot requested Charlotte airport police assist in removing individuals from the plane because of a perceived security concern. TSA and airport police responded and later determined the individuals did not pose any security threat. A spokeswoman for US Airways declined to comment about the nature or origin of the security concern.
Att’y: NYC terror case informant has own legal woe NEW YORK (AP) — A confidential informant who helped build a terror case against a man charged with crafting homemade bombs to attack post offices and police stations has legal trouble of his own, the terror suspect’s new lawyer said Tuesday. A person familiar with the matter said it was a minor marijuana charge. Attorney Lori Cohen said she’d been appointed to represent terror suspect Jose Pimentel, an American who authorities have described as an al-Qaida sympathizer arrested as he pieced together a pipe bomb in the informant’s apartment. Pimentel initially was represented by a Legal Aid Society lawyer, but Cohen said she was told Legal Aid had represented the informant in an unspecified other case, creating a conflict of interest. The informant’s case is “a low-level marijuana arrest,” a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the information hadn’t been made public. Pimentel and the informant smoked marijuana together during the investigation, according to two other people briefed on the probe. They also spoke Tuesday on the condition of anonymity to discuss matters not made public. The change of lawyers came after Pimentel expressed reservations about his representation. Pimentel said he didn’t want to be represented by his Legal Aid lawyer, Joseph Zablocki, the attorney told a judge at Pimentel’s arraignment Sunday. Zablocki said he wasn’t comfortable disclosing why because it “could prejudice the jury pool.” A Legal Aid spokeswoman didn’t immediately return a telephone message seeking comment Tuesday. The Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to comment. Pimentel, 27, is being held without bail on charges including weapons possession and conspiracy as terror crimes. Zablocki had said Pimentel wasn’t a clandestine operator planning a true threat, noting that authorities say Pimentel had a website detailing his belief in holy war, or jihad, and advo-
cacy of violence against U.S. army installations, police stations and other locales in the United States. Pimentel also posted an article, from an online al-Qaida magazine, with instructions on how to make a bomb, according to a criminal complaint. The Dominican-born Pimentel has spent most of his life in the U.S. and is a naturalized citizen, authorities said. Raised Roman Catholic, he converted to Islam in 2004 and went by the name Muhammad Yusuf, authorities said. The informant had been helping police watch Pimentel for the past year, authorities said. Pimentel told the informant he was interested in building small bombs and targeting banks, government buildings and soldiers returning home from abroad, the criminal complaint says. The informant accompanied Pimentel as he bought pipes, Christmas lights and other supplies for bomb-making, and the informant’s apartment served as a laboratory for it, the complaint says. Prosecutors have said they have “countless hours” of audio and video recordings in the case, some showing Pimentel scraping the heads from matches and drilling holes in the pipes. After seeing him drill the holes, police moved in, the complaint says. Pimentel told police he was about an hour from finishing his bomb, according to the complaint. The investigation has produced one of relatively few terror cases brought by New York state authorities, rather than federal ones. Some law enforcement officials have said police sought to get the FBI involved but the federal investigators felt Pimentel didn’t have the inclination or ability to act without the informant’s involvement. New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly has said the NYPD kept federal authorities in the loop all along before circumstances forced investigators to take swift measures using state charges. Pimentel is due in court Friday to learn whether he has been indicted, though the date could be extended.
born has a large Muslim community and one of the largest Arab immigrant communities in the U.S. Soon after starting work, Gordon said a Muslim supervisor told Benitez to refer patients wearing hijab to her, rather than treating them himself. The complaint said Benitez complied until Nov. 17, 2010, when a doctor saw what he was doing and questioned him “about the cumbersome and unusual practice of taking women wearing a head
scarf to the nursing supervisor for care,” rather than going ahead and treating them. The complaint said Benitez then began complying with the new instruction that he treat women wearing hijab. On Dec. 1, 2010, Gordon said Benitez was fired. She said he was told it was “not because of any performance problem, but was instead carried out because the clinic’s conservative male Muslim clientele did not want a male treating female patients.”
US-Egyptian writer “Mona Eltahawy” alleges sexual abuse by police
Arab Students say they were questioned before NC ﬂight
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Students from the United Arab Emirates were taken off a Thanksgiving Day flight from Charlotte to Washington and rescreened by security, causing the flight to be delayed for more than four hours. Three of the students told WJLATV in Washington they were pulled from the US Airways plane and questioned about the purpose of their trip and whether they had military training. They now want
CAIRO (AP) — A prominent Egyptian-born U.S. columnist said local police sexually assaulted, beat and blindfolded her after she was detained Thursday near Tahrir Square during clashes, leaving her left arm and right hand broken and in casts. Mona Eltahawy, 44, lives in New York and is a prominent women’s rights defender, a lecturer on the role of social media in the Arab world and a former Reuters journalist. Eltahawy describes herself as a liberal Muslimwho has spoken publicly in the U.S and other countries against violent Islamic groups, particularly in the wake of 9/11. She is known as a scathing critic of the former Egyptian regime. Eltahawy arrived in Egypt Wednesday evening and went straight to Tahrir Square, getting close to the front lines of clashes between protesters and the police at the nearby Interior Ministry. She was detained outside the ministry in the early morning hours of Thursday and released about 12 hours later. “They hit me with their sticks on the arms and head. They sexually assaulted me, groping my
breasts and putting their hands between my legs,” she told The Associated Press. “For a moment I said ‘this is it. No one is around. I am finished.’” As she struggled, shouting: “No! No,” her attackers dragged her by her hair from the street to the Interior Ministry, cursing her. “What I experienced is just the tip of the iceberg of the brutality Egyptians experience everyday,” she said, considering herself lucky because her dual nationality might have played a role in sparing her further abuse. “This is just the type of brutality that our revolution came about to fight.” Eltahawy is a vocal supporter of the Egyptian revolution and has visited the country at least twice since the January uprising. Known for her harsh criticism of the regime of the ousted President Hosni Mubarak, Eltahawy continued to denounce the new military rulers in post-Mubarak Egypt. She warned in public speeches that one Mubarak has been replaced with “1,800” others, in reference to the military council. “I am not worried about the Egyptian revolution because the Egyptians who
have been fighting for it are determined to make it succeed,” Eltahawy said. “I am worried that the military doesn’t know what it is doing with the police and that police brutality has not changed one iota.” Anger over police brutality, particularly by members of the notorious state security agency, was a big impetus behind the first Egyptian uprising. Human rights groups have said it was systematic during Mubarak’s time, perpetuated by impunity — something many complained has not yet changed.Another prominent U.S.-Egyptian filmmaker, Jehan Noujaim, was also detained near Tahrir Wednesday. She was released Thursday after being charged with throwing firebombs and rocks at the Interior Ministry, destroying public property, said her lawyer, Mohammed Abdel-Aziz. The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Egyptian authorities to investigate the arrest and beating of Eltahawy and condemned the detention of Noujaim. “The military and the police must stop using physical violence and detention to silence or intimidate journalists,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. The group said it documented 17 attacks on journalists on Sunday and Monday, at the height of the clashes near the square. Eltahawy said she was standing with a group of protesters snapping photos of the clashes and the crowd ducked when shots were fire. The group fled but she was cornered by a half a dozen security officers in riot gear.
She was held initially by uniformed regular riot police who she said beat her and sexually abused her. She said they broke her left arm and right hand by beating her with batons and she posted pictures on Twitter of both her arms in casts. “My arms are broken, but my spirits are high,” she said. Eltahawy said the police kept her in an Interior Ministry office for hours before they transferred her to the military intelligence in a military van . On her Twitter account, Eltahawy said she was blindfolded for two hours by military police before she was released. The military police offered an apology and promised an investigation. She did not accuse the military police of any violence or sexual abuse. She insisted that a military officer record her testimony. Many women have said sexual harassment by ordinary Egyptian men is rife in the square, a disappointing departure from the 18-day uprising earlier this year. On the final day of that uprising, U.S. correspondent for CBS television Lara Logan was sexually assaulted by a frenzied mob in the square, probably by Mubarak supporters. Eltahawy said she had to fight off many men who harassed in the square before she was arrested. She said Egyptian public space is not safe for women, and women must speak out even more on sexual violence. “It is outrageous,” she said. “If we want our political revolution to succeed , we have to have a social and culture revolution.”
Muslims to NYPD: ‘Respect us, we will respect you’ NEW YORK (AP) — Hundreds of Muslims prayed in a lower Manhattan park and marched to New York Police headquarters Friday to protest a decade of police infiltrating mosques and spying on Muslim neighborhoods. Bundled in winter clothes, men and women knelt as the call to prayer echoed off the cold stone of government buildings. “Being Muslim does not negate our nationality,” Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid told the crowd of about 500 gathered in Foley Square, not far from City Hall and local courthouses. “We are unapologetically Muslim and uncompromisingly American.” The demonstration was smaller and more subdued than the Occupy Wall Street protests that led to clashes with police and made headlines worldwide. Police wore windbreakers, not riot gear, and protesters called for improved relations with police. “We want for you to respect us,” Abdur-Rashid said, “and we will respect you.” It was the first organized opposition to the NYPD’s intelligence tactics since an Associated Press investigation revealed widespread spying programs that documented every aspect of Muslim life in New York. Police infiltrated mosques
and student groups. Plainclothes officers catalogued Middle Eastern restaurants and their clientele. Analysts built databases on Arab cab drivers and monitored Muslims who changed their names. “Had this been happening to any other religious group, all of America would be outraged,” said Daoud Ibraheem, 73, a retired graphic artist from Brooklyn. Following the prayer service, the Muslims — joined by about 50 Occupy Wall Street demonstrators — crowded the sidewalk for the short walk to the large police headquarters building known as One Police Plaza. They stayed only briefly, chanting for Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s ouster, before returning to Foley Square. Protesters carried signs that said “NYPD Watches Us. Who Watches NYPD?” A dozen or so uniformed police officers monitored the demonstration and followed the march, but there were no clashes between protesters and police At an unrelated news conference Friday, Kelly told reporters that he “categorically” denied the idea that the NYPD was spying. Kelly and his intelligence chief, David Cohen, have transformed the NYPD into one of the nation’s most aggressive domestic
intelligence agencies. It operates far outside the city borders and its manpower and budget give it capabilities that even the federal government does not have. NYPD analysts were among the first to study the thorny question of how people are radicalized. Kelly said his officers only follow leads and do not simply trawl neighborhoods. “We do what we believe necessary to protect this city, pursuant to the law,” Kelly said. “We have a battery of very experienced, well-trained lawyers that advise us on all of our tactics and operations.” Outside the department, however, there is little oversight of the Intelligence Division and it’s roughly $60 million budget. The City Council is not told about all the department’s secret operations and city auditors have not scrutinized the unit since it was transformed after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Some of its tactics, such as monitoring name changes, would not be allowed by the FBI because of civil liberties concerns. Many of the NYPD programs were built with the help of the CIA as part of an unusually close collaboration that is now the subject of an internal CIA investigation. “America is supposed to be a country
that protects your freedoms,” said Yusuf Ali Muhammed, a protester from the Bronx who wore an embroidered skullcap and a white Middle Eastern robe. “But America has become a hypocritical government, a government that thinks it can do anything it wants with nobody objecting.”Abdur-Rashid, of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem, said it was no secret that police have been watching mosques for years. But monitoring everything from Islamic schools to restaurants, as shown in NYPD documents, was unacceptable, he said. “We’re peaceful people,” said Dalia Nazzal, 18, a freshman at the City University of New York, a target of police infiltration. “We don’t deserve to be under surveillance.” Mohamed Mahmoud, 40, the owner of a Brooklyn printing shop, said he knew several people who had been approached by NYPD officers trying to recruit them as informants. Documents obtained by the AP also show that police monitored even those Muslims who decried terrorism and partnered with the government to prevent violence. “They think that all Muslims are criminals, and it’s not right,” Mahmoud said.
Dec 01 - 15 , 2011
International & Business
Tunisia ex-strongman’s nephew gets 18 years prison
TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — A Tunis court has convicted a nephew of the wife of Tunisia’s former president for writing more than €300 million ($399 million) in bad checks and sentenced him to 18 years in prison. The official TAP news agency said that Imed Trabelsi was convicted Friday and immediately sentenced. He is already serving a 15-year sentence for similar offenses and
a four-year term for using drugs. Trabelsi is viewed as the favorite nephew of former first lady Leila Trabelsi — who fled into exile with former strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on Jan. 14. The regime change after a month of nationwide protests triggered the Arab Spring. Imed Trabelsi has been on a hunger strike since Nov. 8 to protest what he claims are unfair trials.
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A state security court in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday sentenced five activists who have campaigned for political freedoms in the oil-rich Gulf federation to prison terms of up to three years. The UAE has faced an outcry from rights groups over the trials, which were held in the country’s highest court that normally tries terrorism suspects and has no recourse for appeal. The UAE has not been hit by the Arab Spring unrest that has spread across much of the rest of the Middle East, including neighboring Bahrain. But the activists’ trial appears to reflect Abu Dhabi’s strategy of snuffing out any sign of dissent that could pose a challenge to the tight political controls in country. The three-judge panel sentenced one prominent blogger, Ahmed Mansour, to three years in prison. The others received two-year jail terms, including Nasser bin Gaith, an economist who has lectured at the Abu Dhabi branch of Paris’ Sorbonne university. Bin Gaith also served as a legal adviser to the UAE’s armed forces until April, when he was taken into custody from his Dubai home by federal security agents. “I am disappointed,” said defense lawyer Mohammed al-Roken. “The fact
there is no appeal is very worrying since it does not meet all standards of fair trial.” The five were arrested in April after signing an online petition demanding political reforms, including a parliament selected by open elections. The charges included insulting the country’s top leadership, endangering national security, inciting people to protest and urging them to boycott elections. Political activity is severely restricted in the UAE, an alliance of seven semiautonomous states, each ruled by a hereditary sheik. There are no official opposition groups in the country and political parties are banned. In an unprecedented move for the politically quiescent country, 130 people in March signed a petition demanding constitutional and parliamentary changes, free elections and a more equitable distribution of the country’s oil wealth. The five defendants have reportedly been on hunger strike for two weeks. They did not attend the sentencing Sunday. Since the trial began in June, the defendants only attended the first, closed-door hearing where they all pleaded not guilty. They’ve boycotted the proceedings since because the presiding judge had refused to consider their request to be released on bail.
UAE security court sentences 5 political activists
Kuwait’s ruler orders ‘stricter’ security KUWAIT CITY (AP) — Kuwait’s ruler ordered authorities Thursday to tighten security measures in the Gulf nation and conduct possible arrests after parliament was stormed by an anti-government mob angered by high-level corruption allegations. The steps by the emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, underscore the deepening political tensions in the longtime Western ally, which could host thousands more American forces under a Pentagon-drafted plan to boost troop strength in the Gulf after the U.S. withdraws from Iraq. The rifts in oil-rich Kuwait began years before the Arab Spring protests, but opposition factions could be further emboldened by the push for reforms around the region. Critics of Kuwait’s ruling family claim it turns a blind eye to allegations of widespread corruption and uses security forces to crush dissenting voices. Dozens of protesters surged over police barricades Wednesday and briefly entered the parliament chamber amid attempts by opposition lawmakers to bring the prime minister for questioning over claims that government officials transferred state funds to accounts outside the country. Kuwait’s key affairs are run by the ruling family, but it has one of the region’s most politically active parliaments. Government spokesman Ali Fahad al-Rashid, speaking after an emergency government meeting, quoted the emir as denouncing the parliament protest as threatening the country’s “security and stability” and calling for “stricter measures to confront this chaotic behavior.” Al-Rashid said the Interior Ministry and other security forces were ordered to take “all necessary measures to combat any actions that might beset the country’s security.” The steps could include legal action against the protesters who entered parliament and possible crackdowns on opposition media for “any instigation,” according to the official Kuwait News Agency. The Interior
Ministry said five members of the security services were injured during the scuffles in parliament. The ministry did not elaborate, and there was no word on whether protesters were injured or detained. In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner praised Kuwait for its “political freedom and cooperation.” He said it has “a vibrant civil society and an open press environment. So, we would just ask that any peaceful protests be respected.” Opposition parliament members have sought to question Prime Minister Sheik Nasser Al Mohammad Al Sabah over the money transfer allegations. Last month, Kuwait’s foreign minister resigned as the scandal grew. On Wednesday, progovernment lawmakers managed to vote down a request for the questioning, but opposition groups filed another motion to force another debate later this month. Kuwait also has been hit by a wave of strikes that grounded the state airline and threatened to disrupt oil shipments. The tiny Gulf nation has not been hit by major pro-reform demonstrations inspired by Arab uprisings, but Kuwait stands out in the region because of its hardball political atmosphere. Kuwait’s parliament has the most powers of any elected body in the Gulf, and opposition lawmakers openly criticize the ruling family. In January, the emir ordered 1,000 dinar ($3,559) grants and free food coupons for every Kuwaiti. Those handouts have been since dwarfed by other Gulf rulers trying to use their riches to dampen calls for political reform. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has pledged about $93 billion for more government sector jobs and services. In September, Qatar announced pay and benefit hikes of 60 percent for public employees and up to 120 percent for some military officers. Kuwaitis are used to a cradle-to-grave social security system that has increasingly become a burden on the government.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran will target NATO’s missile defense installations in Turkey if the U.S. or Israel attacks the Islamic Republic, a senior commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard said Saturday. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Guards’ aerospace division, said the warning is part of a new defense strategy to counter what he described as an increase in threats from the U.S. and Israel. Tensions have been rising between Iran and the West since the release of a report earlier this month by the International Atomic Energy Agency that said for the first time that Tehran was suspected of conducting secret experiments whose sole purpose was the development of nuclear arms. The U.S. and its Western allies suspect Iran of trying to produce atomic weapons, and Israel, which views Tehran as an existential threat, has warned
of a possible strike on Iran’s nuclear program. Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes. “Should we be threatened, we will target NATO’s missile defense shield in Turkey and then hit the next targets,” the semiofficial Mehr news agency quoted Hajizadeh as saying. Tehran says NATO’s early warning radar station in Turkey is meant to protect Israel against Iranian missile attacks if a war breaks out with the Jewish state. Ankara agreed to host the radar in September as part of NATO’s missile defense system aimed at countering ballistic missile threats from neighboring Iran. A military installation in the Turkish town of Kurecik, some 435 miles (700 kilometers) west of the Iranian border, has been designated as the radar site, according to Turkish government officials. Hajizadeh said the United States also plans to install similar stations in
Iran threatens to hit Turkey if US, Israel attack
Arab states, which has spurred Iran to alter its military defense strategy. “Based on orders from the exalted commander in chief, we will respond to threats with threats,” he was quoted as saying. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, is also commander in chief of Iran’s armed forces. Another senior Guard commander, Yadollah Javani, threatened that Tehran will target Israel’s nuclear facilities should the Jewish state attack Iran. “If Israel fires a missile at our nuclear facilities or vital installations, it should know that Israel’s nuclear centers will be the target of our missiles,” the semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted him as saying. Also Saturday, the chief of Iran’s elite Quds Force said he doesn’t fear assassination and is ready for “martyrdom.” The comments by Quds Force commander
Brig. Gen. Ghassem Soleimani were published in several Iranian newspapers. The Quds Force is the special foreign operations unit of the country’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, and Soleimani is a key figure in Iran’s military establishment but rarely speaks in public. Tensions have increased in recent weeks between Iran and the U.S., with several American neoconservatives urging the Obama administration to use covert action against Iran and kill some of its top officials, including Soleimani. The force has been accused by the Americans of involvement in an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington. Two men, including an alleged member of Iran’s Quds Force, have been charged in New York federal court in the case. Iran has dismissed the American claims as a “foolish plot”, saying U.S. officials have offered no proof.
Saudi ofﬁcials: 4 killed in Shiite protests with the four dead, he said nine were injured, including a woman. The statement said two were killed Thursday during the funeral of one who had died earlier. Circumstances of the death of the fourth were not disclosed. There has been a series of clashes between police and protesters in the country’s Shiite-dominated eastern region, starting in the spring. Though limited, protests in Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia have been swiftly quelled. The monarchy apparently fears they could escalate as have others around the Arab world — particularly in the neighboring island of Bahrain, where
a Shiite majority is ruled by a Sunni king. The Interior Ministry previously blamed what it described as “seditious” residents, saying they attacked security forces with guns and firebombs with the backing of a foreign enemy — an apparent reference to Shiite power Iran. The ministry statement Thursday said the deaths in the new unrest were the result of exchanges of fire since Monday with “unknown criminals,” who it said fired on security checkpoints and vehicles from houses and alleyways. “There was an escalation in the limited rioting. This escalation reached the level of threatening
the lives of citizen and national security,” Al-Turki told reporters. He said investigation into who was behind the violence was under way. There is a long history of discord between the kingdom’s Sunni rulers and the Shiite minority concentrated in the east, Saudi Arabia’s key oil-producing region. Shiites make up 10 percent of the kingdom’s 23 million citizens and complain of discrimination, saying they are barred from key positions in the military and government and are not given a proportionate share of the country’s wealth.
BERLIN (AP) — Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, whose reforms emphasizing change and openness helped lead to the fall of Communism, says he sees today’s protests in Egypt as “well-grounded and of vital importance.” “I am on the protesters’ side,” the 80-yearold Nobel Peace Prize winner told The Associated Press on Tuesday. The comments came during the third straight day of violent clashes in Cairo be
tween protesters and security forces. Demonstrators are calling for a “second revolution” to force out the generals who have failed to stabilize the country, salvage the economy or bring democracy since the ouster of authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak. More broadly, Gorbachev said that leaders across the Arab world are now faced with rising calls for democracy because they have been in power for too long, and have cre-
ated situations where people’s voices have not been not heard. “It’s clear no one provoked them, that this conflict appeared out of the blue,” Gorbachev said of the demonstrators. “Things were building up, and it all means that democracy — the way they had it — did not really work.” He said, however, that there was not any one-sizefits-all solution for the region. “I don’t think there will be a single model for all (the protests) developing in those countries...” he said. “Each country has its own history, culture, experience — you can’t ignore that.” Gorbachev, whose policies of perestroika and glasnost brought the democratic changes that led — against his will — to the 1991 Soviet collapse, was in Berlin to announce that the city would host the 2012 awards that bear his name. The Mikhail Gorbachev Award, which is given to people who bring change to the world, will this year focus on addressing the sustainability of the world’s megacities and be presented in March. He said Russian democracy is now facing a problem with Vladimir
Putin, who served two terms as president before becoming prime minister. He is running again for the presidency in the country’s upcoming March election and seems certain to be returned to office. “No matter how it formally fits the constitution, it essentially discredits democratic principles,” Gorbachev said. He said that Russia is still “very far from becoming a country with a developed, rooted democracy” and what is needed is for leaders who truly represent the people to be elected, versus those who “act based on corporate ideas and interests.” “If a true democracy (emerges) in Russia, people who enjoy respect will come to power,” he said. “People who can play the role of leaders, and who can defend and express the interests of the people.” He cautioned, however, that day may still be some time in coming. “Russia is in the middle of its way to sustainable and effective democracy,” he said. “Churchill was right by saying that democracy is not the best form of government, but the rest of them are even worse.”
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — The U.N. human rights chief urged the Maldives on Thursday to end the “degrading” practice of flogging women found to have had sex outside marriage. “This practice constitutes one of the most inhumane and degrading forms of violence against women, and should have no place in the legal framework of a democratic country,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told Parliament. “I strongly believe
that a public debate is needed in Maldives on this issue of major concern,” she said calling for law reforms against discrimination against women. She told reporters later that she discussed with Maldives officials how to end the practice. “At the very least, pending more permanent changes in the law, it should be possible for the government and the judiciary to engineer a practical moratorium on flogging,” she said. According to the law, 30 lashes are given to women found
to have committed adultery. Court officials would not give numbers on how many women are flogged in the conservative Muslim nation, but the punishment is usually done in public. Pillay also urged authorities to improve poor, exploitative conditions for migrant workers, especially those from Bangladesh. “Migrant workers are often abused, exploited and cheated of their hard-earned income by traffickers and unscrupulous employers in the Maldives,” she said. She added
it was the state’s responsibility to protect workers who are vital to the tourism industry in the South Asian island nation known for picturesque beach resorts. On her three-day visit to Maldives, Pillay has also expressed concern about rising religious intolerance. The country of 300,000 people forbids practicing religions other than Islam. She now heads to Indonesia for meetings on human rights in Southeast Asian countries. Jordan frees 2nd group of militant suspects .
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia’s minority Shiite Muslims have staged protests in an eastern city, and four were shot dead, the Interior Ministry said Thursday. The ministry statement did not say who fired the fatal shots in the city of Qatif, but a top official said security forces were fighting with demonstrators there. Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour AlTurki later told a news conference in Riyadh that authorities had to deal firmly with what he described as “rioters and hired elements” to restore security. He said the “escalation of rioting” was systematic. Along
Gorbachev supports Egypt protests
New Libyan PM was Alabama professor for 20 years