Mamma Mia! It’s “Tony Blair: The Musical!” (& Syria blocks hotmail)

July 10, 2007

* “Al-Qaeda infiltrate UK police”
* “Alan Johnston personally thanks Khaled Meshal”
* Israeli government launches Persian-language website
* Is jogging right-wing?



1. Mamma Mia! It’s “Tony Blair: The Musical!”
2. Jihadi humor at its sickest
3. Al-Qaeda have infiltrated the British police, says UK press
4. Syria intensifies Internet crackdown, and also blocks hotmail
5. Israeli government launches Persian-language website to counteract Iranian lies
6. Is jogging right-wing?
7. Michael Moore invited to show “Sicko” in Teheran
8. Oliver Stone to make a film on Ahmadinejad?
9. “Alan Johnston called Hamas supreme leader Khaled Meshal in Damascus to thank him in person”

[All notes below by Tom Gross]

I attach some of the items written by myself for the National Review website in recent days. Not all are about the Middle East.



(July 8, 2007)

He’s only been out of office for a week and already we are expecting “Tony Blair: The Musical!” later this month.

It debuts July 18 at the York Theatre Royal.

Will it win any Tonys?



(July 8, 2007)

Kafeel Ahmed, the young Indian Muslim who burnt most of his skin off last weekend while trying to murder passengers at Glasgow International Airport, had told his family:

“I am involved in a large-scale confidential project. It is about global warming. I cannot reveal the details.”



(July 7, 2007)

While investigations are still under way about the British doctor’s plot – as many as 45 Muslim doctors and medical staff are involved according to the Daily Telegraph – al-Qaeda supporting extremists have infiltrated the U.K. police too, according to a report in today’s Daily Mail.

The paper says it has seen a secret dossier drawn up by MI5 which has so far identified eight police officers and civilian police staff suspected of links to extremist groups including al-Qaeda. Some are believed to have attended terror training camps in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

The Mail adds: “Astonishingly, many of the alleged jihadists have not been sacked because – it is claimed – police do not have the ‘legal power’ to dismiss them: We can also reveal that one suspected jihadist officer working in the South East has been allowed to keep his job despite being caught circulating Internet images of beheadings and roadside bombings in Iraq. He is said to have argued that he was trying to ‘enhance’ debate about the war.”

Meanwhile, I wonder whether the British National Health Service, employer of most of the medical terror suspects, now regrets these kind of ads they put up on the NHS website:

“There are numerous careers in over 70 professions within the NHS – this means there is something for everyone. The NHS is also anxious to reflect the local population it serves. To this end, it actively encourages applicants from a range of backgrounds, regardless of gender, age, religion or race, to apply for jobs. Applications are particularly welcome from professionally qualified Healthcare staff from outside the UK.”

It seems like al Qaeda have been reading the NHS website.



(July 9, 2007)

Syria has stepped up its muzzling of the Internet, blocking access to websites critical of the Assad regime, including some run by the more moderate Arab dailies, a human-rights group said yesterday.

The National Organization for Human Rights in Syria said that sites blocked by firewalls within Syria include the Saudi-owned, pan-Arab daily Asharq Al Awsat (The Middle East), and the Beirut newspaper Al Mustaqbal (The Future), owned by the family of the murdered former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Popular e-mail provider Hotmail has also been blocked, the group said.

The crackdown comes ahead of possible conflict feared in Lebanon following next week’s U.N. Security Council decision on whether to station international monitors on the Lebanese-Syrian border to crack down on the transport of arms by Syria and Iran to Hizbullah, and a UN discussion on the inquiry into the assassination of Hariri.



(July 9, 2007)

The Iranian government’s English language propaganda website IRIB today carries another interview with a leading Holocaust revisionist*, this time the despicable Mark Weber. (* Link removed because we don’t want to publicize this dangerous “article”.)

Meanwhile as part of its effort to bring the truth to the Iranian public, the Israeli Foreign Ministry today launched a Persian-language website. The site went live at noon local time. Named Hamdami – which in Persian means “camaraderie” – it is located at:

The Israeli government said it is an attempt to counteract the “hateful, distorted and deceptive information by the Iranian regime.”



(July 6, 2007)

Apparently so, according to the French (though trying telling that to Presidents Carter, Clinton and others).

In Paris, what has come to be known as “Le jogging du Président” is getting “Speedy Sarko” in trouble.

The Times of London reports:

“President Sarkozy has fallen foul of intellectuals and critics who see his passion for jogging as un-French, right-wing and even a ploy to brainwash his citizens. Attacks on Mr Sarkozy’s pastime, which he has made a symbol of his presidency, began on the internet as soon as he bounded up the steps of the Elysée Palace in shorts when he took office in May. The grumbling has now moved to television and the press.

‘Is jogging right wing?’ wondered Libération, the left-wing newspaper. Alain Finkelkraut, a celebrated philosopher, begged Mr Sarkozy on France 2, the main state television channel, to abandon his ‘undignified’ pursuit. He should take up walking, like Socrates, Arthur Rimbaud, the poet, and other great men, said Mr Finkelkraut.

‘Western civilisation, in its best sense, was born with the promenade. Walking is a sensitive, spiritual act. Jogging is management of the body. The jogger says I am in control. It has nothing to do with meditation.’”

What really irks Sarko’s critics though is that he wore his favorite NYPD T-shirt when out jogging at recent European summits in Belgium and Germany and he says he is looking forward to doing so again at a bonding jog with José Socrates, the Prime Minister of Portugal, which took over the European Union presidency this week.

[UPDATE: The Washington Post and several other papers followed this lead in the days after the above item was posted in the National Review media blog, and ran similar stories.]



(July 5, 2007)

The Iranian Mehr News Agency reported on July 2 that Michael Moore has been invited to Iran for a screening of his new film Sicko at the Teheran documentary film festival. The festival is set to take place from October 15-19. Mehr’s story was in Persian, but can also be read in English here.

If Moore is lucky he might get to meet the biggest sicko of them all, President Ahmadinejad.



(July 5, 2007)

While Michael Moore may soon get to meet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it seems that Oliver Stone is trying to make a docudrama about him.

The Iranian Mehr news agency reports that Ahmadinejad has refused a request by Stone to cooperate. Mehdi Kalhor, the Iranian President’s media advisor, stated that Stone is “part of the Great Satan.”

Stone may go ahead in any case. But he has already made a film called Natural Born Killers, so he will have to think of another title.



(July 5, 2007)

My contacts in Gaza have directed me to a report today on the influential Hamas website, Palestine-info, stating that freed BBC reporter Alan Johnston called Hamas supreme leader Khaled Meshal in Damascus to thank him in person. The call was made yesterday evening when Johnston was at the British consulate in east Jerusalem, according to the report.

Hamas is credited with freeing Johnston, though Fatah claims the whole thing was staged by Hamas and Johnston’s Islamist kidnappers to fool gullible western diplomats. (Hamas has long collaborated with the Army of Islam, the “institutional” name taken on by the bandit Dughmush clan who were holding Johnston. For example, Hamas used the Dughmush gunmen as contract killers against Fatah when murdering Mousa Arafat and others.)

Hamas received many accolades yesterday from the British government and others, only two weeks after the Islamic terror group was throwing fellow Palestinians to their deaths from Gaza rooftops.

Even though by British law, the publicly-funded BBC has an obligation to be objective, Johnston, like many others at the BBC, is known for his pro-Palestinian views.

In his almost hour-long press conference at the British consulate in east Jerusalem yesterday, Johnston went out of his way to thank almost everyone – he named Hamas, Fatah, the Palestinian people, the BBC, the UK Foreign Office, international journalists, the European Union and the UN, among others – but noticeably avoided thanking the government of Israel, who had been aiding the British in all kinds of ways behind the scenes to secure his release.

He also brushed aside questions about the young Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit who is still being held by Hamas in Gaza. By contrast others, such as German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, specifically called for Shalit to be let go when welcoming Johnston’s release.

This afternoon, Johnston paid a courtesy visit to Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.