Protecting against dirty bombs; questions over Hillary; colorful Islamic fashion

December 21, 2008

* Wealthy West Bank Palestinian offers bride and $30,000 to Iraqi shoe-throwing journalist
* President Bush did not seem disturbed by the flying shoes, noting they were a size ten, and that under Saddam, the journalist would never have been seen again
* Huge Saudi donations loom over Hillary appointment
* Women’s rights activist beheaded in Iraq

(This dispatch concerns global matters. A separate dispatch on the Arab-Israeli conflict, titled ‘Tis the season for anti-Israel tunes (& “Jews for Christmas”), will be posted before Christmas.)



1. Radioactive bomb-detection system installed in Haifa port
2. Foreign donors to Clinton charity could prompt Hillary debate
3. Women’s rights activist beheaded in Iraq
4. Iranian to be blinded with acid for doing the same to woman
5. Pakistani Taliban releases video of beheaded “spies”
6. Last Jews of Yemen to be relocated in wake of deadly attack
7. 14 alleged al Qaeda-linked extremists detained in Belgium
8. “Over 60 percent of Britain’s Muslim schools have extremist links”
9. Wanted terror suspect “found working for Scotland Yard”
10. British doctor is convicted of 2007 car bomb plot
11. Darfur civilians “seized as slaves by Sudan military”
12. Wealthy Palestinian offers bride to Iraqi shoe-throwing journalist
13. Qatar, Bahrain to launch work on “longest bridge”
14. Photo of the day: more colorful Islamic fashion

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


A newly-invented device designed to detect radioactive material has been installed at Israel’s main port, Haifa. The device will scan all 1.5 million containers that arrive in Haifa port each year for signs of radiation. The aim is to prevent the transport of a “dirty bomb” into Israel.

A radioactive bomb detection system is also in the final stages of preparation for use at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport.

During recent years, several attempts have been made to smuggle radioactive materials thought to originate from the former Soviet bloc. Some terrorism experts believe that countries like Iran, Pakistan or Yemen, which have access to world-wide shipping companies, may be behind the smuggling attempts.

American satellites are already monitoring suspicious vessels and containers arriving at European, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern ports.



The revelation that the Saudi government was by far the largest donor to Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation may complicate his wife’s confirmation process as the next U.S. secretary of state. Saudi Arabia gave a total of $41 million to the William J. Clinton Foundation.

The donor list, released on Thursday, reveals that other prominent donors include Saudi businessman Nasser Al-Rashid, who gave $5 million, Ethiopian-Saudi business tycoon Sheikh Mohammed H. Al-Amoudi (who is No. 97 on the Forbes billionaire list), Issam Fares (the former deputy prime minister of Lebanon) and two prominent Arab organizations, The Friends of Saudi Arabia and The Dubai Foundation.

Other Middle Eastern government donors include Kuwait, Qatar, Brunei and Oman, each of which gave between $1 million and $5 million.

Also on the list are influential Indian politicians and businessmen who critics say would damage the perception of Bill Clinton’s wife as an impartial arbiter between India and Pakistan.

Nevertheless, in spite of potential conflicts of interest which Hillary Clinton may face when she sits down to negotiate with heads of state of foreign countries, this website welcomes the choice of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state as a significant improvement on the other names included by Barack Obama on his shortlist.



Gunmen broke into the house of a women’s rights activist in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Thursday and beheaded her, police said. The victim was identified as Nahla Hussain, the leader of the women’s league of the Kurdish Communist Party. She was alone in the house at the time of her murder.

CNN was among the news services that reported this. Mainstream liberal-leaning outlets such as CNN are finally beginning to report the carrying-out of such crimes against non-fundamentalist Muslims.

Last week, even the BBC finally mentioned in passing the acid attack that blinded young Afghan girls as a punishment for going to school. (That attack was reported a month earlier on this website. See Afghan schoolgirls blinded with acid for not wearing a full burqua (& other items) (Nov. 18, 2008).



An Iranian court has sentenced a jilted stalker who blinded a woman by throwing acid in her face, to himself be blinded with acid under an Islamic law that demands an eye for an eye. The blinded woman, Ameneh Bahrami, expressed satisfaction with the verdict handed down by the Tehran Provincial Court.

Attacking women and girls by throwing acid in their faces is common in some Muslim countries such as Bangladesh and Pakistan, but Iran and Saudi Arabia are the only countries (according to Human Rights Watch) where the governments consider eye-gouging to be a legitimate judicial punishment.



Pakistani Taliban have issued a video of five beheaded persons, who were accused of spying on a key al-Qaeda leader, Abu Laith al-Libi, who was killed along with 11 other al-Qaeda figures in a U.S. missile strike earlier this year. Al-Libi had served as an al-Qaeda spokesman and had appeared in several videos sent to al-Jazeera and other TV networks.

The BBC Urdu service reported that it has received the video tape. Five people are shown in the 45-minute video tape; each give their names and confess how they traced the hideouts of the “Arab leaders” who were killed in the U.S. missile strike.

The video plays a Pashto song in the background as the men scream as they are decapitated one-by-one.



President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen is planning to relocate Yemen’s last 400 Jews from their two remaining communities (in Amran and in the city of Raidah) to the capital, Sana, where he said police will protect them.

Yemeni Rabbi Yehi Yaish told the independent News Yemen website that the president had ordered his security officials to monitor implementation of the Jews’ relocation.

At least one Yemini Jew has been murdered in recent days and others have had their homes petrol bombed.

Yemen is rare among Arab governments in agreeing to protect its Jewish community. In the past, Yemen was home to about 50,000 Jews. Most moved to Israel decades ago.

The recent attacks on Yemen’s remaining Jews are believed to have been carried out by the Iran-supported Shiite tribes in the north who are also challenging the central government.

You can read more about this developing story on the News Yemen and Point of no return websites.



Fourteen suspected Al Qaeda-linked extremists have been arrested in police raids in Brussels and eastern Belgium. Police claimed at least one was plotting a suicide attack, possibly at the opening of a European Union summit due to bring together the heads of 27 countries in Brussels. Federal prosecutor Johan Delmulle told reporters that the suspect in question had recorded what looked like a martyrdom video, including a farewell message.

Nearly 250 police officers raided 16 locations, confiscating computers, data storage equipment and weapons. Most of those arrested were Belgians of Moroccan and Tunisian origin.



According to the (London) Daily Telegraph, a new draft report reveals that 60 percent of Britain’s Muslim schools have links to potentially dangerous Islamic fundamentalists.

An early version of the report, titled “When Worlds Collide,” alleges that of the 133 Muslim primary and secondary schools it surveyed, 82 (61.6 per cent) have connections or direct affiliations to fundamentalists. The 133 schools are in the private sector but are subject to UK government inspection.

The report also claims that some of the schools teach “repugnant beliefs about the wickedness of Western society and Jews.”

The report adds that bright Muslim British girls are being forced out of education. “Lively intellects are being destroyed and brilliant careers cut off before they can begin,” it says.

“Every year, an incalculable number of Muslim teenagers and young women are lost to the wider world that informs their citizenship.”

“There are now an estimated 700 part-time madrassas for intense religious instruction in Britain… Many recreate in the UK the style and content of schooling that can be found in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India,” the report says.



The Times of London reports that a man wanted by Interpol for terror offences in Tunisia is working as an adviser at Scotland Yard (London’s police headquarters) on Muslim extremism. Mohamed Ali Harrath is a key advisor to the Metropolitan Police, Britain’s biggest force, on countering Islamic extremism, says The Times. And yet Tunisian-born Harrath, 45, is listed as wanted on the website of Interpol, the world’s largest international police organization.

Harrath is also the chief executive of the London-based broadcaster the Islam Channel.



A British-based Iraqi doctor has been found guilty of attempted car bomb attacks last year in London and Glasgow. Bilal Abdulla, 29, who practiced medicine in Britain, drove a Mercedes sedan packed with gas cylinders and nails into central London in June 2007 with the intent of killing hundreds, the prosecution said. After the car bomb he had parked outside a crowded nightclub failed to detonate, he joined an attempted suicide attack the next day targeting Glasgow’s airport.

The involvement of medical professionals, who are supposedly sworn to save lives, in murderous terrorist activities has caused widespread shock and disquiet in Britain.



Sudan’s army and government-backed Arab militia have abducted thousands of non-Arab civilians from Darfur, including children, to be used as sex slaves or for forced labor, according to an authoritative new report.

The report claims non-Arab Darfuris were kidnapped by mounted gunmen from the feared Janjaweed Arab militia and were then marched to military camps where they were repeatedly raped, forced to prepare food, clean fighters’ homes or work in their fields.

The report also alleges that other non-Arab Darfuris were flown across the country to regions remote from their homes, where women were sold into forced marriages with soldiers and children were made to carry out domestic duties with no chance of escape.

The report is issued by the Darfur Consortium, a coalition of 50 African and international charities. It argues that the situation mirrors the forced enslavement of 14,000 people from Sudan’s south during its 1983 to 2005 war with Khartoum.


All those recently kidnapped were from the Fur, Marsalit and Zargahwa tribes.

Just to be clear, before the attacks started in 2003, Darfur was home to seven million people, mainly from three non-Arab African tribes, the Fur, Marsalit and Zargahwa. Darfur literally means “Land of the Fur.” Some 2.5 million have now been forced to flee after attacks by Arab militia backed by Sudanese troops and warplanes. At least 200,000 non-Arabs have been killed and countless women and young girls raped.

The 22-member-state Arab League has done its best at the UN and other international bodies to ensure nothing is done to stop these crimes.

Where are the demonstrations by the so-called Western human-rights groups outside the offices of the Arab League?

I have previously noted several times on this website how this silence has been aided and abetted by Western media like the BBC. Even when the they do report on Darfur they deliberately neglect to mention that this is a specific case of Arabs ethnically targeting non-Arabs.

For example, I wrote almost five years ago:

The BBC efforts not to “offend” Arabs extremists even extend to their reports on ethnic cleansing and genocide. On both the occasions in the last week when I heard BBC World Service Radio refer to the ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing in Sudan, the BBC took scrupulous care to avoid saying who the perpetrators were (they are Arab militias) and who the victims are (hundreds of thousands of Black Sudanese Africans – Moslems, Christians and Animists). The BBC didn’t make any mention whatever of the long history of mass slavery in Sudan, carried out by Arabs with non-Arabs as their victims; nor of the scorched earth policies, and systematic rape being carried out there by Arabs.

I don’t think I have ever heard the BBC refer to settlers in the West Bank without mentioning their ethnicity or religion – which is, of course, relevant to the story.


Among previous dispatches on Darfur:
* Sudan genocide 1: Israel to blame, says Sudanese foreign minister (Aug. 9, 2004)
* Sudan genocide 2: Where’s Sean Penn when you need him? Where’s the ISM? Where are the Rachel Corrie types? (Aug. 9, 2004)



The head of a large West Bank family has offered to reward the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at U.S. President George Bush last week by sending him a bride.

Ahmad Salim Judeh says he is willing to send one of his daughters to Iraq along with a dowry of $30,000.



Qatar and Bahrain will start work next month on a 28-mile Friendship Bridge that will connect the Gulf states. The causeway is expected to be open to vehicles in 2013. When completed it will be the longest man-made crossing of water in the world. The construction of the bridge will be led by a consortium from France, Germany and Texas.

Incidentally, in a previous item I mentioned that Dubai has begun construction of an 80-story building that moves. Called “The Dynamic Tower,” the building will have 80 apartments, each of which spins independently of the one above or below it. The moving floors will be powered by 79 giant wind turbines located between each story. The building, I wrote, is being designed by Italian architect David Fisher.

In fact Fisher, though now based in Italy, is an Israeli.



Iran is taking new step to promote more colorful Islamic costume design and fashion, reports The Tehran Times. (Enhanced photo here.)


In a dispatch in January 2007, I noted that an Australian Muslim designer had created the world’s first two-piece Islamic swimsuit, the burkini. This lightweight, head-to-ankle costume is the first to be streamlined into a two-piece suit which incorporates a head covering.

Aheda Zanetti designed the suit because “A lot of girls were missing out, a lot of women were missing out, on a lot of sporting activities, including swimming.” Australia has a strong beach culture that devout Muslims felt they were unable to participate in.

Zanetti’s company Ahiida, which is based in Sydney, has as its motto: “Modesty is number one.”

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