Islamic regime’s new pin-up girl: Maureen Dowd (& 52% in U.S. support military strike against Iran)

November 01, 2007


1. Islamic regime’s new pin-up girl: Maureen Dowd
2. 52% of Americans support military strike against Iran
3. France strongly rejects El Baradei’s claims on CNN about Iran
4. Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander cites 13-year-old suicide bomber as model for troops
5. Egypt: Rumor-mongers “must be flogged”
6. Saudi King accuses the West of not doing enough to fight terrorism
7. Independent experts say satellite imagery shows Syrian nuclear site targeted by Israel
8. “Pakistan was preparing to use nuclear missiles against India during Kargil war”
9. Follow-up: Iran’s police take aim at popular “book-cafes”

[Note by Tom Gross]

Below are some of the items I have written for the National Review’s Media Blog in recent days. These are the ones relating to Iran, Pakistan, Syria and Egypt. By separate dispatch, I am sending items I wrote connected to the media itself, to Arab views of the Holocaust, and to politics and society in general.


Thursday, October 25, 2007


This is how it works.

First Maureen Dowd writes a piece of agit-prop against the American government, and it is published in The New York Times yesterday under the title Madness as Method.

Then today, the Islamic Republic News Agency – one of the propaganda arms of the Iranian regime, and an outlet that has helped Ahmadinejad deny the Holocaust – repeats much of Dowd’s column almost verbatim (although without Dowd’s byline) here: Madness as Method, Oct. 24, IRNA.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007


It seems that most Americans are coming round to the view that the world cannot afford to allow the Islamic Republic of Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.

Messianic Iran is not the Soviet Union. If the Islamic fundamentalists of Iran get nuclear weapons, they may very well use them – either directly or by giving a dirty bomb to one of the terror groups they sponsor, such as Hizbullah or Hamas.

This report is from one of Japan’s leading papers:

52% of Americans support military strike against Iran
By Takeo Miyazaki, Yomiuri Shimbun
October 31, 2007

More than half of likely voters in the United States would support a U.S. military strike against Iran to prevent it from building a nuclear weapon, according to a poll released Monday.

The poll found 53 percent of Americans believe it is likely the United States will be involved in a military strike against Iran before the November 2008 presidential election.

The nationwide telephone survey, conducted by polling firm Zogby International*, found 52 percent of U.S. adults interviewed would support such a strike.

In the months leading up to the United States’ imposition of fresh sanctions against Iran on Oct. 25, top officials of the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush such as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney, have issued a series of harsh remarks. Cheney said last week Iran will face “serious consequences,” if “it stays on its present course.”


Tom Gross adds: Zogby, for those who don’t know, is one of America’s most trusted polling organizations.

This is a relatively high figure considering that the “experts” on CNN, The New York Times and elsewhere, repeatedly tell us that Americans would strongly oppose any action against Iran, given the reported unpopularity of the Iraq War.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times (of London) reports:

“The [British] Foreign Office has cleared dozens of Iranians to enter British universities to study advanced nuclear physics and other subjects with the potential to be applied to weapons of mass destruction.

“In the past nine months about 60 Iranians have been admitted to study postgraduate courses deemed ‘proliferation-sensitive’ by the security services. The disciplines range from nuclear physics to some areas of electrical and chemical engineering and microbiology.

“Additionally, figures obtained by David Willetts, the shadow secretary for innovation, universities and skills, show that in 2005-6, 30 Iranians were doing postgraduate degrees in subjects covering nuclear physics and nuclear engineering.”

So while the British government claims to be concerned about the Iranian nuclear threat, are they actually going to do anything to stop it?


Monday, October 29, 2007


Agence France Presse’s Abu Dhabi bureau reports this morning:

French Defence Minister Herve Morin on Monday dismissed comments by the head of the UN atomic watchdog that there was no evidence Iran is building nuclear weapons, saying Paris has evidence to the contrary.

“Our information, matching those of other countries, gives us the opposite feeling,” Morin told a news conference in Abu Dhabi at the end of a short visit to the United Arab Emirates.

Mohamed El Baradei, head of the UN atomic watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in an interview with CNN on Sunday that he had no evidence that Iran is building nuclear weapons and accused US leaders of adding “fuel to the fire” with their bellicose rhetoric.


Tom Gross adds: El Baradei made the remarks to Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s “Late Edition” yesterday. Blitzer took what El Baradei said at face value and failed to challenge him.

Separately this morning, an Israeli government minister blasted El Baradei for his CNN interview. “Mohamed El Baradei is, simply, instead of fighting against Iran’s nuclear program, looking for all the reasons to whitewash and justify it,” Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel radio.

Lieberman said El Baradei had now started covering up for the Iranian regime “for ideological reasons, for a commitment to the Islamic world.”

“Why does Iran need ballistic missiles?” Lieberman asked. “The proof El Baradei is looking for is probably that nuclear mushroom everyone will be able to see in the sky. Before that, no proof would satisfy him.”

He went on to accuse the IAEA chief of obstructing US-led efforts to pass a new round of sanctions against Iran in the UN Security Council. There is no doubt that the role El Baradei and the IAEA are playing today is a very, very negative role in the process that is currently under way in the Security Council,” Lieberman said.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007


This just in from Iran’s Fars News Agency:

Commander Stresses IRGC Readiness to Combat Enemy Troops in PG

TEHRAN (Fars News Agency) – An Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander underlined preparedness of his troops to fight enemy forces in the Persian Gulf, saying that Iran can stun enemies due to its geographical advantages in the strait of Hormoz.

“Even small operations can produce huge effects in the strategic strait of Hormoz and the Persian Gulf,” lieutenant commander of the IRGC’s naval force said on Monday.

General Ali Fadavi… declined to provide any further details on the specific role of the Basiji troops in possible engagement with enemy forces in the Persian Gulf, but said that each of them can play the role of martyr Fahmideh.

Hossein Fahmideh was a 13-year-old volunteer who blew up an enemy tank during a martyrdom-seeking operation in the midst of the Iraqi imposed war on Iran (1980-1988)…


Friday, October 26, 2007


In a dispatch earlier this month I mentioned that the editors of four Egyptian newspapers have been sentenced to one-year prison terms for “defaming” President Hosni Mubarak after they mentioned that he had been in ill health.

Now in the latest move to stem the rumors about the president’s continuing poor condition, today’s Gulf News reports that “rumor-mongers [in Egypt] will be flogged 80 times in compliance with Sharia law”:

Rumor-mongers “must be flogged”
By Ramadan Al Sherbini
Gulf News, October 26, 2007

Cairo: A top cleric has drawn fire from journalists for demanding that rumor-mongers be flogged 80 times in compliance with the Sharia. Mohammad Saeed Tantawi, Grand Shaikh of Al Azhar, made the suggestion during a recent function attended by President Hosni Mubarak.

Tantawi’s fatwa would have passed unnoticed had it not been made a few weeks after journalists were prosecuted on charges of publishing “false reports” about Mubarak’s health.

… “I did not have journalists on my mind when I talked about flogging people who spread false rumors,” Tantawi said in a statement. He added that he had based his fatwa on a verse from the Quran that says those who accuse women of adultery without proof should receive 80 lashes.

… Some 11 Egyptian journalists, including five chief editors, have recently been sentenced to jail, guilty of slandering senior officials in the ruling National Democratic Party.


Monday, October 29, 2007


The Saudi Arabian dictator, King Abdullah, has accused the British and other western nations of not doing enough to fight terrorism.

In an interview with the BBC in advance of his first state visit to the United Kingdom, which begins later today, Abdullah charged that had Britain acted on information the Saudis supplied, the July 7, 2005 London bombings could have been averted.

He told his BBC: “We sent information to Great Britain before the terrorist attacks in Britain, but, unfortunately, no action was taken. And it may have been able to maybe avert the tragedy.”

The 83-year-old Abdullah is the fifth of the 37 sons of Saudi Arabia’s founder, King Abdulaziz, to rule the kingdom.

Lets hope that Abdullah’s harsh criticism won’t intimidate the British government into not properly raising Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights record – or the fact that the Saudi regime is doing next to nothing to prevent Saudi suicide bombers crossing into Iraq to murder Iraqis.

* For more on this, see Saudi gang-rape victim gets 90 lashes for International Women’s Day
* and Time to face up to Mecca: Why wasn’t Saudi Arabia on Bush’s Axis of Evil?


Wednesday, October 24, 2007


The Washington Post’s story this morning is being picked up in the Middle East.

See, for example, this report from the website of Gulf News (which is an English-language paper published in the UAE):

Israeli targeted reactor in Syria: experts
October 24, 2007
Gulf News

Independent experts have satellite imagery of what they believe to be a Syrian nuclear site targeted in an Israeli air strike last month, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said the photographs taken before the Israeli attack show buildings under construction similar in design to a North Korean reactor, the newspaper reported.

They also show what could have been a pumping station used to supply cooling water for a reactor, the Post said, citing experts David Albright and Paul Brannan of ISIS, a research group that tracks nuclear weapons and stockpiles.

Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector, said the size of the structures suggested that Syria might have been building a gas-graphite reactor similar to the one North Korea built at Yongbyon, the paper reported.

For more background stories on this issue, see here.


Sunday, October 28, 2007


The following is a report from The Times of India this morning. Whether it is true or not, it serves as a useful reminder that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons remain a source of concern, especially as Islamic militancy is growing stronger in the country, and many radical groups would like to seize power.

“Pak was preparing to use nuke missiles during Kargil war”
The Times of India
October 28, 2007

Pakistan was preparing to use nuclear missiles against India during the Kargil war, a new book has claimed, citing a conversation between US President Bill Clinton and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif eight years back.

“When President Clinton met Sharif at Blair House (in July 1999), Clinton asked Sharif if he knew how advanced the threat of nuclear war really was? Did he know, for example that his military was preparing to use nuclear missiles?” the book “Deception: Pakistan, the United States and the Global Nuclear Weapons Conspiracy” says.

Answering Clinton’s query, Sharif shook his head implying he was unaware of his military’s moves, investigative journalists Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark have claimed in their 586-page book.

Warning Sharif, the President said he had a statement ready for release that would pin all the blame for Kargil on Pakistan if the Prime Minister refused to pull his forces back.

Clinton further questioned Sharif on whether the Pakistani leader could be trusted on anything.

The US President reminded Sharif that despite his promise to help bring Osama bin Laden to justice, the ISI had continued to work with bin Laden and the Taliban to foment terrorism and the Americans knew that.

The Americans were unsure as to who was really in control in Islamabad, the authors said, as confusion prevailed over whether Sharif was in reality pushed into a war by General Pervez Musharraf, or he attempted to diminish his role in the crisis.



In the dispatch on October 24, I revealed that “In an effort to stop intellectuals gathering, Iran announced today that all Teheran bookstores with coffee shops attached are to be closed in 48 hours.”

This week the mainstream media began reporting this news too. The first to do so was the French news agency Agence France Presse on October 29 (article below). Other western media followed later.

Iran’s police take aim at popular “book-cafes”
Monday, 29 October 2007

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iranian police have ordered shut and sealed several Tehran bookshops which also provide coffee and snacks to their customers, because of what one officer termed “a clash of professions.”

“Based on the [bookseller’s] union law, owners of one type of business are not allowed to practice two different professions at the same time,” head of Tehran police information, Colonel Mehdi Ahmadi, said Saturday.

According to the state IRNA news agency, six book-cafes have been sealed.

“It is not possible that they open a cafe-restaurant and give such services beyond their union’s job description,” Ahmadi said, referring to what have become known as “book-cafes” where people borrow books, relax with a coffee and read.

But Farid Moradi, of the publisher Saales, said that many other businesses in Iran had coffee shops besides their primary profession.

“Many other places such as cinemas, swimming pools and sports clubs have a space for people to hang out and drink coffee ... it seems that [the police] are adopting a different approach” for bookshops, Moradi said.

“We received a notice to close our book-cafe and we did so within the given deadline,” said Moradi, adding that they reported the closure to the union on Wednesday but that police still sealed the shop on Thursday.

He said the four-year-old publishing company was now trying to have the seal removed.

Alireza Elmi, director of the publisher Badragheh Javidan, said that after they shut down their coffee operation they were able to reopen, but the process took two weeks.

“The person who had come to seal the bookshop responded to my objection by saying ‘all the corruption in the country comes out of these book-cafes,’” he was quoted as saying in the Sarmayeh newspaper.

Besides offering a pleasant atmosphere for book lovers, the book-cafes in Tehran also hosted cultural events.

Since April, Iran has been pressing ahead with one of its toughest crackdowns in years, warning women about dressing immodestly, targeting “immoral” cafes and seizing illegal satellite dishes.

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