Ahmadinejad doesn’t want a nuclear bomb? Just like there are no gays in Iran?

December 06, 2007

* “British nurses ordered to stop all medical work five times every day to turn Muslims’ beds to face Mecca”
* Teddy bear fiasco: “The delight and mutual congratulations between the Sudanese dictator and the British authorities – a nauseating picture”
* Steyn: “She wasn’t so foolish as to name the teddy Mohammed herself. But, in an ill-advised Sudanese foray into democracy, she’d let her grade-school students vote on what name they wanted to give the classroom teddy, and being good Muslims they voted for their favorite name: Mohammed. Big mistake. There’s apparently a whole section in the Koran about how if you name cuddly toys after the Prophet you have to be decapitated”



1. Ahmadinejad doesn’t want a nuclear bomb? Just like there are no gays in Iran?
2. “British nurses told to turn Muslims’ beds to face Mecca”
3. Libera-Ted
4. No Picnic
5. Britain’s most popular paper urges readers to “put a teddy in their window to show support for Gillian”
6. 5,600 websites now spreading al-Qaeda’s ideology worldwide, says Saudi expert
7. Bin Laden considered targeting Japanese economy
8. Has the Palestinian Authority given up its aim of wiping out Israel?


[Note by Tom Gross]

Below are some of the items I have written for the National Review’s Media Blog in recent days.

Because I am giving an intensive round of lectures, media workshops and interviews this month, there will be fewer dispatches than normal.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007


I don’t think we can rely too much on the National Intelligence Estimate report yesterday if we want to avoid nuclear war in future. The chances that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is telling the truth about not wanting a nuclear bomb – or at least a dirty bomb he can give to one of his client militias like Hizbullah or Hamas – are about the same as the chances that he is telling the truth when he says there are no homosexuals in Iran.

Ahmadinejad, however, was thrilled by the American intelligence report’s contents and the timing of its release. He told cheering crowds this afternoon that it was “Iran’s biggest victory in 100 years”.

Here are a few more realistic comments on it. Even the left-leaning mainstream media are not dismissing the incredibly serious Iranian nuclear threat too readily:

* “The Thin Line Between Civilian and Military Nuclear Programs” is the headline of William J. Broad’s piece in The New York Times:

When is a nuclear program a nuclear weapons program? The open secret of the nuclear age is that the line between civilian and military programs is extraordinarily thin…

One threshold is enriched uranium. Enriched to low levels, uranium can fuel a reactor that produces electrical power – which is what Tehran says it wants to do. But if uranium is purified in spinning centrifuges long enough, and becomes highly enriched, it can fuel an atom bomb…

* “Relax? Don’t. Iran Can Still Build Its Bomb” writes Bronwen Maddox, foreign editor of The Times of London:

The newly published U.S. intelligence report supports fears that Iran could soon have nuclear weapons. It argues that Iran has been deterred from pursuing them mainly by the fear of U.S. military action, a fear that has now faded. … The report makes clear the seriousness of the threat, not the opposite…

* And here are extracts from The Washington Post editorial:

… But there is bad news, too, which seems likely to be overlooked by those who have been resisting sanctions and other pressure on the mullahs all along, such as Russia, China and some members of the European Union. While U.S. intelligence agencies have “high confidence” that covert work on a bomb was suspended “for at least several years” after 2003, there is only “moderate confidence” that Tehran has not restarted the military program. Iran’s massive overt investment in uranium enrichment meanwhile proceeds in defiance of binding U.N. resolutions, even though Tehran has no legitimate use for enriched uranium. The U.S. estimate of when Iran might produce enough enriched uranium for a bomb – sometime between late 2009 and the middle of the next decade – hasn’t changed.

“Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons,” says the summary’s second sentence. Yet within hours of the report’s release, European diplomats and some U.S officials were saying that it could kill an arduous American effort to win support for a third U.N. Security Council resolution sanctioning Iran for failing to suspend uranium enrichment. It could also hinder separate U.S.-French efforts to create a new sanctions coalition outside the United Nations. In other words, the new report may have the effect of neutering the very strategy of pressure that it says might be effective if “intensified.”

So why was such a startling National Intelligence Estimate report released yesterday?

* “Was Bush Behind the Iran Report?” asks Robert Baer (who is a former CIA field officer) in TIME magazine:

Bombing Iran, it seems, is now off the table. There’s no other reasonable take on the latest National Intelligence Estimate that concludes Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003. But there is also no doubt that the Bush White House was behind this NIE and that a 180-degree turn on Iran like this one was greenlighted by the president.

… The real story behind this NIE is that the Bush Administration has finally concluded Iran is a bridge too far. With Iranian-backed Shi’a groups behaving themselves, things are looking up in Iraq.

… Then there are the Gulf Arabs. For the last year and a half, ever since the Bush Administration started to hint that it might hit Iran, they have been sending emissaries to Tehran to assure the Iranians they’re not going to help the U.S. But in private, the Gulf Arabs have been reminding Washington that Iran is a rabid dog: Don’t even think about kicking it, the Arabs tell us. If you have to do something, shoot it dead. Which is something the U.S. can’t do. So how far is Iran from a nuke? The truth is that Iran is a black hole, and it’s entirely conceivable Iran could build a bomb and we wouldn’t know until they tested it…

* [Tom Gross adds:]

And Baer might have added: Then there is Israel, whose own intelligence services differ sharply with the NIE findings, believing that the Iranian nuclear threat is as grave as ever.

So perhaps the message coming out of the Bush White House is: Israel, you are on your own. And just like when you removed Saddam’s nuclear threat in 1981, don’t expect the American government to publicly back you up when you remove Iran’s.

The only problem here is that it is very unclear whether tiny Israel can successfully remove the Iranian nuclear threat by itself. So does Bush want to go down in history as the president who stood by while Iran moved at full steam ahead to build a nuclear bomb? Does Bush want to be remembered by historians as a Churchill, or as a Chamberlain?


Tuesday, December 4, 2007


This is the latest challenge facing Britain’s National Health Service (the rundown institution much beloved by Michael Moore), according to today’s Daily Express, a mid-market British newspaper. Let’s hope the nurses don’t develop back problems from all that bed turning.

Nurses told to turn Muslims’ beds to Mecca
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
The Daily Express

Overworked nurses have been ordered to stop all medical work five times every day to move Muslim patients’ beds so they face towards Mecca.

The lengthy procedure, which also includes providing fresh bathing water, is creating turmoil among overstretched staff on bustling NHS wards.

But despite the havoc, Mid-Yorkshire NHS Trust says the rule must be instigated whenever possible to ensure Muslim patients have “a more comfortable stay in hospital”.

And a taxpayer-funded training programme for several hundred hospital staff has begun to ensure that all are familiar with the workings of the Muslim faith.

The scheme is initially being run at Dewsbury and District Hospital, West Yorkshire, but is set to be introduced at other hospitals in the new year.

It comes on the back of the introduction in some NHS hospitals last year of Burka-style gowns for Muslim patients who did not wish medical staff to see their face while operating or caring for them.

Last night critics slammed the procedure and claimed the NHS would be better off investing its resources in tackling killer superbugs such as C.diff and MRSA.

One experienced nurse working at Dewsbury said: “It would be easier to create Muslim-only wards with every bed facing Mecca than have to deal with this.

“Some people might think it is not that big a deal, but we have a huge Muslim population in Dewsbury and if we are having to turn dozens of beds to face Mecca five times a day, plus provide running water for them to wash before and after prayers, it is bound to impact on the essential medical service we are supposed to be providing.

“Although the beds are designed to be moved, the bays are not really suitable for having loads of beds moved around to face a different direction, and despite our best efforts it does cause disruption for non-Muslim patients.”

… Last night Conservative MP David Davies said: “Hospitals should be concentrating on stopping the spread of infections than kow-towing to the politically correct brigade.”


Tuesday, December 4, 2007


The flight carrying Gillian Gibbons, the British teacher jailed in Sudan for letting her class of 7-year-olds name a teddy bear Mohammed, arrived at London’s Heathrow Airport a short time ago.

Gibbons, who was greeted by her two children, told waiting reporters that she was in “total shock” at what had happened. “I’m just an ordinary middle-aged primary school teacher,” she said.

Asked about the predicament in which she had found herself, she admitted that the word “terrifying” was an understatement.

She said she was held in two jails before the Sudanese Ministry of the Interior sent her a bed – “probably the best present I’ve ever had”.

The British government thanked Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for her “early” release. Al-Bashir is an Islamic hard-liner who has been encouraging genocide by Sudan’s Arab tribes of the indigenous non-Arab African population of the country's Darfur region.

Gibbons had been held at a secret location in Sudan since thousands of protesters marched on Friday carrying weapons and demanding she be killed. (See the posting below this one.)

Meanwhile, now that Gibbons has landed back home safely, British press reaction online has been quick to condemn Sudan.

* Britain’s most popular newspaper, The Sun, has a banner heading on its website with the word “LIBERATED,” with the “TED” in big red letters.

The paper writes: “Good-natured Gillian Gibbons would cross a busy street to avoid giving offence. She left a safe and comfortable home to help some of Africa’s most tragically deprived children… But she was jailed for a crime she did not commit. The trumped-up charges put her life at risk from sabre-wielding mobs.”

* Under the heading “Cruel state is laid bear” The Daily Mirror says: “We must hear those thousands of innocent Sudanese victims of intolerance who have nobody to speak out for them – because they aren’t British.”

* The Daily Telegraph, echoing the feelings of many about the weak British government reaction to the incident, writes:

“[Britain’s] foreign secretary David Miliband expressed gratitude for the intervention of Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir in the process of freeing her. The president had, he said, “brought common sense” into what had been a case of “innocent misunderstanding”.

But common sense and innocence are concepts that seem rather bizarrely inappropriate in any discussion of President Bashir’s murderous regime.

The delight and mutual congratulations that have characterised the agreement between the Sudanese dictator and the British authorities on the release of a blameless schoolteacher presents a nauseating picture.

… For Sudan to be able defiantly to humiliate a major democratic nation from which it receives large amounts of aid by holding one of its citizens to ransom speaks of the impunity with which it believes it can operate in the world.

… Bashir, who has been responsible for some of the worst atrocities in post-war history, has successfully blocked the deployment of peacekeeping forces that would protect Darfur civilians.

It is that failure of international resolve which encourages him to believe that he can flout moral and diplomatic conventions. As we argued last week, we should recall our ambassador and consider sanctions against the regime.

* And leading syndicated columnist Mark Steyn has this to say on the matter:

Last week, Gillian Gibbons, a British schoolteacher working in Khartoum, one of the crummiest basket-case dumps on the planet – whoops, I mean one of the most lively and vibrant strands in the rich tapestry of our multicultural world – anyway, Mrs. Gibbons was sentenced last week to 15 days in jail because she was guilty of, er, allowing a teddy bear to be named “Mohammed”. She wasn’t so foolish as to name the teddy Mohammed herself. But, in an ill-advised Sudanese foray into democracy, she’d let her grade-school students vote on what name they wanted to give the classroom teddy, and being good Muslims they voted for their favorite name: Mohammed.

Big mistake. There’s apparently a whole section in the Koran about how if you name cuddly toys after the Prophet you have to be decapitated.


Friday, November 30, 2007


Following up my earlier post (below) on this subject: Just to be clear, the thousands of Islamists calling for poor innocent Ms. Gibbons to be executed today are not carrying small pocket knives, as one can see from the photo here. (See also here, from The Daily Mail.)

Every other media report I have read on this (even The Guardian) has cited 10,000 or so people shouting “kill her, kill her” in Sudan today, but The New York Times (reporting not from Sudan but from Kenya) lowers the number to “hundreds” to downplay the true magnitude of the Islamist threat. It is not untypical of The New York Times, the publication that wrongly calls itself “the paper of record,” to change the facts to suit its politics in this way.


Calls in Sudan for Execution of British Teacher
The New York Times
Published: December 1, 2007

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov. 30 — Hundreds of demonstrators in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, poured into the streets on Friday demanding the execution of a British teacher who was convicted of insulting Islam because her class of 7-year-olds named a teddy bear Muhammad…


Protesters demand execution of teddy row teacher
The Guardian
Friday November 30, 2007, 4.30 pm version

Thousands of knife-wielding protesters took to the streets of Khartoum today to demand the execution of the British primary school teacher who let children in her class name a teddy bear Muhammad

AP reported about 10,000 attended the protest outside the presidential palace in Khartoum’s Martyr’s Square, demanding the Liverpudlian be killed by firing squad. The rally was held after Friday prayers.

Pick-up trucks carrying Sudanese demonstrators drove around the capital blaring out messages to Gillian Gibbons.

Protesters shouted: “No tolerance: execution” and “Kill her, kill her by firing squad”…


Friday, November 30, 2007


Many in the British press are aghast at the almost complete lack of reaction by the British Foreign Office over the outrageous jailing of British schoolteacher Gillian Gibbons in Sudan on the charge of insulting religion and inciting hatred, after her class of 7-year-olds named their teddy bear “Mohammed.”

Gibbons, a teacher with an impeccable record who went to Sudan to help local children, is now being held in a crowded cell with 20 hardened criminals in Khartoum’s notorious mosquito-infested Omdurman prison.

The jail was originally designed for 50 people, but now houses up to 1,400.

Yet the British Foreign Office said, “We are treating the issue as a consular matter. This issue should not be seen as part of a diplomatic or political dispute.”

Some commentators, noting that the inaction over the teddy bear incident follows similar inaction after Iran kidnapped 15 British sailors several months ago, said “great” should now be dropped from the name Great Britain.

“Winston Churchill or Margaret Thatcher would never have put up with this nonsense. The SAS would already have been dispatched to free Gillian Gibbons,” noted one commentator. “The British today are doing precisely nothing.”

Meanwhile, Britain’s most popular newspaper, The Sun, notes on its website at the present time that “ten thousand people, some carrying knives and sticks, have marched on the capital of Sudan calling for the teacher jailed for naming a teddy bear Mohammed to be shot.”

The Sun is also urging people to “put a teddy in their window to show their support for Gillian.”

In America, at least one moderate Islamic group, the American Islamic Congress, called on Gibbons to be released and launched an online letter-writing campaign at www.FreeGillian.org.

But the double standards of other Islamists knows few bounds. The SimplyIslam website, for example, is selling a teddy bear named Adam.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007


And those numbers don’t include all the American and European publications and blogs which are apologetic, and in some cases even sympathetic, to al-Qaeda’s “grievances” and goals.

Note that the Saudi expert quoted by Reuters below says that “for al-Qaeda, media coverage is more important than the actual operations.”

Al Qaeda-linked Web sites number 5,600: researcher
Dec. 4, 2007
By Ibtihal Hassan

RIYADH (Reuters) - There are now about 5,600 Web sites spreading al-Qaeda’s ideology worldwide, and 900 more are appearing each year, a Saudi researcher told a national security conference on Tuesday.

… “Research shows there are more than 5,600 sites on the Internet promoting the ideology of al-Qaeda,” Khaled al-Faram told the Information Technology and National Security conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

“There are some 900 news sites appearing every year, and despite the retreat of some media outlets specifically run by al-Qaeda, extremist Web sites are constantly on the rise.”

He said it was difficult to track most of the sites, though hardcore al-Qaeda sites often change addresses to avoid detection or start up again elsewhere once infiltrated.

… “The real battle with al-Qaeda is no longer on the ground, but rather a media battle, and it is a real threat to national security,” Faram told Reuters. “For al-Qaeda media coverage is more important than the actual operations,” he said.

The Islamist network al-Qaeda is headed by Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, but analysts say al-Qaeda has transformed from a close-knit militant group to a brand that disseminates radical ideas for sympathizers to act on independently.

“The Internet, chat lines, text messages – these are the new warriors,” said Alessandro Zanasi, an expert on Internet monitoring known as “text mining.”


Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Some commentators wrongly think that al-Qaeda is only interested in attacking Jews, Christians and Hindus. But as this piece from China’s largest news agency reminds us, others have been on Bin Laden’s target list too.

Bin Laden considered hitting Japanese economy
Xinhua news agency
Dec. 4, 2007

Tokyo – Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden considered doing some harm to Japan’s economy by attacking tankers heading to the country, Kyodo News reported Tuesday, quoting a former member of the terrorist group.

The former member a Saudi Arabian citizen who was one of bin Laden’s guards in Tora Bora mountains, told Kyodo’s correspondent in Egypt that bin Laden expressed the idea in late 2001 due to frustration with Japan’s decision to support the US-led war on terror.

“Japan can’t stand any attack against its interests. We could destroy Japan’s economy. We could attack tankers headed to Japan,” the al-Qaeda leader was quoted by the former member as telling a close aide when they were hiding in Tora Bora mountains of eastern Afghanistan.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Yesterday, in front of President Bush and representatives of over 40 other governments, Palestinian Authority President and PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas publicly committed his government to peace with Israel.

Today the official Palestinian Authority TV, which is under his control, broadcast a map of “Palestine” in which all of Israel is erased.

Which is it, Mr. Abbas?

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