“Taliban may be descended from Jews” (& Iran finds a friend in Italy)

January 17, 2010

* “British universities offer the most conducive environment an Islamic extremist could inhabit outside Waziristan”
* Shortly after he tried to bring down flight 253 to Detroit on Christmas Day, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab became the fourth former head of a British university Islamic Society to have been charged with a serious terrorism offense

* “Italian companies – with Rome’s backing – have equipped Iran’s military and contributed to the regime’s satellite and possibly nuclear programs”
* Next month, Silvio Berlusconi, who claims to be a great friend of the Jewish state, will speak in the Israeli parliament. I wonder what he will have to say about economic sanctions against Iran?

 

CONTENTS

1. The Iranian regime finds a friend in Italy
2. China snubs Obama, sends junior diplomat to today’s Iran nuclear talks
3. British universities in denial about Muslim radicals on campus
4. Invited as guest of honor to address students in London, targeted by a U.S. drone in Yemen
5. 60% of members of British universities’ Islamic societies believe killing nonbelievers is ok
6. Taliban may be descended from Jews
7. “The Rome-Tehran Axis” (By Giulio Meotti, Wall Street Journal Europe, Jan. 14, 2010)
8. “British radicalization studies” (By Douglas Murray, Wall Street Journal Europe, Jan. 8, 2010)


[All notes below by Tom Gross]

THE IRANIAN REGIME FINDS A FRIEND IN ITALY

(This first item was originally published on the websites of The National Review (in America) and The National Post (in Canada) on January 15, 2010.)

Italian double speak on Iran
By Tom Gross
National Review / National Post

There is an eye-popping story in this morning’s Wall Street Journal Europe. Italian companies – with Rome’s backing – have equipped Iran’s military, including the Revolutionary Guards, and contributed to the regime’s satellite and possibly nuclear programs.

As its author Giulio Meotti, a journalist with Il Foglio, writes: “When it comes to appeasing the Islamic Republic, no other Western nation has stooped lower than Italy.”

So much for the Italian government’s claim to be a strong supporter of the United States and of Israel, a country which the Iranian regime has threatened to destroy.

Despite international sanctions against Iran, Italian exports to the Islamic regime rose 17% in 2008 to 2.17 billion euros, according to the Italian statistical office. For the past three years, Italy has been Iran’s No. 1 European trading partner.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini also said that the West should “avoid those [sanctions against Iran] that are connected with Iranian national pride.”

The responses by some of the over 1000 Italian companies that do business with Ahmadinejad’s Iran are just incredible, and the website of the Italian-Iranian Chamber of Commerce states: “Iran and Italy were rivals and two great powerhouses in ancient times, but in the contemporary world they are great partners.”

Next month, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who claims to be a great friend of the Jewish state, will speak in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset. I wonder what he will have to say about economic sanctions against Iran?

(Meotti’s full article is further down this dispatch.)

 

CHINA SNUBS OBAMA, SENDS JUNIOR DIPLOMAT TO TODAY’S IRAN NUCLEAR TALKS

After successfully delaying for some time a meeting of the six-power talks, China announced on the eve of today’s scheduled session that it will send only a junior diplomat, while the U.S., Britain, France, Germany and Russia will all be represented by senior officials.

Western powers say the aim of the talks is to find a formula, likely to include sanctions, which will persuade Iran to suspend its nuclear program.

China’s move is a clear snub to U.S. President Barack Obama. Obama had agreed to postpone the deadline for the talks, most recently set for the end of 2009, so that China’s deputy foreign minister He Yafei could attend.

China (and possibly Russia) seem intent on allowing Iran to pursue its nuclear program.

 

BRITISH UNIVERSITIES IN DENIAL

British universities have been so busy arranging for academics to deliver propaganda-like sermons against Israel, and attempting to arrange boycotts of the Jewish state, that they seem not to have noticed that some of their Muslim students have become so radical that they sympathize with terrorists, or even commit acts of terror themselves.

It was a graduate of the London School of Economics who kidnapped and beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. It was two undergraduates from Kings College London (part of London university) who carried out a suicide bombing in Mike’s Place bar in Tel Aviv the following year that killed and injured a number of Israeli and French Jews.

And then there was the Detroit Christmas Day plane bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was chairman of the Islamic Students Society of University College London (also a part of London university).

Often, such terrorists (contrary to the misinformation regularly printed in liberal media about being motivated by poverty) come from very rich families, such as Dhiren Barot, formerly one of al Qaeda’s main operatives in Britain, who was the son of a banker, and a convert from Hinduism.

Even if not wealthy, they tend to be highly educated, such as Mohammed Sidique Khan, the leader of the gang behind the 7/7 London transport suicide bombs, who was a teacher.

Others are converts to Islam such as Jermaine Lindsey, another of the 7/7 suicide bombers, Brian Young, one of the 2005 liquid explosives airplane plotters, and Nicky Reilly, who tried to blow up a restaurant in Exeter in South-West England.

And yet many in the British establishment and media, instead of looking inward, are still busy attacking Israel over false reports that the Jewish state committed war crimes.

 

INVITED AS GUEST OF HONOR TO ADDRESS STUDENTS IN LONDON, TARGETED BY AN AMERICAN DRONE IN YEMEN

In an article for The Wall Street Journal, Douglas Murray, a leading expert on radical Islamists in the U.K. (and a long-time subscriber to this email list), writes that:

“Shortly after he tried to bring down flight 253 to Detroit on Christmas Day, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab became the fourth former head of a British university Islamic Society to have been charged with a serious terrorism offense. This is only the tip of the problem. Shaming as it is, during his time studying at University College London, Abdulmutallab was in the most conducive environment an Islamic extremist could inhabit outside Waziristan. It is a situation that has come about despite repeated warnings.”

Murray describes the situation as “surreal”. “Just before Christmas, the al Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaki was the subject of an airstrike on his Yemen home that killed many al Qaeda operatives. Only last April my organization was trying to explain to London’s City University why he was not a suitable person to address, by video-link, their Islamic Society. Despite already having been known to be spiritual mentor to two of the 9/11 hijackers, he has been advertised as the ‘distinguished guest’ speaker at the U.K.’s Federation of Student Islamic Societies’ annual dinner in 2003, and at Westminster University [another university in London] in 2006. Awlaki is now thought to be the connection between Abdumutallab and the people who gave him the bomb with which he intended to bring down the Detroit flight.”

 

60% OF MEMBERS OF BRITISH UNIVERSITIES’ ISLAMIC SOCIETIES BELIEVE KILLING NONBELIEVERS IS OK

Murray also points to a major survey of Muslim student opinion in the U.K (carried out by the leading polling company YouGov).

“The results were deeply disturbing,” he says. “The poll showed that one in three Muslim students believed that killing in the name of their religion could be justified. That figure almost doubled to 60% among respondents who were active members of their universities’ Islamic Societies. Other results included the discovery that 40% of Muslim students polled supported the introduction of sharia law into British law, and that 58% of students active in their Student Islamic Societies supported the idea of the introduction of a worldwide Caliphate.

“These horrifying opinions rightly shocked the public. But the response from government and the university authorities was not to tackle the problem, but rather to attack the messengers.”

While Murray himself was prevented from speaking on behalf of Israel during a debate at the London School of Economics last year, he writes that “every month in Britain extremist Islamic speakers preach a message of intolerance and hatred at the invitation of Islamic societies. It is one of the reasons people like Abdulmutallab are so often created and nurtured here in Britain.”

“Only last month I wrote to the president of Abdulmutallab’s former university at the University College of London, asking why he had, for the second time in a year, allowed a speaking invitation to go out to Abu Usama adh Dhahabee. Dhahabee’s views include that women are mentally deficient, and that apostates from Islam, as well as homosexuals, should be killed.”

(Douglas Murray’s full article is below.)

***

A reader writes:

Murray says: “The U.K.’s universities offer the most conducive environment an Islamic extremist could inhabit outside Waziristan.” This is untrue. There are no Predators loitering over London waiting for actionable intel to launch strikes. London is a far safer place for Islamists than Waziristan.

 

TALIBAN MAY BE DESCENDED FROM JEWS

The ethnic group at the heart of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan may be descended from their Jewish enemy, according to researchers in India.

Experts at Mumbai’s National Institute of Immunohaematology believe Pashtuns could be one of the ten “Lost Tribes of Israel”.

An Indian geneticist has taken blood samples from the Pashtun Afridi tribe in Lucknow, Northern India, to Israel where she will spend the next 12 months at Israel’s Technion Institute comparing DNA with samples with those of Israeli Jews.

The samples were taken in Lucknow’s Malihabad province because it was regarded as the only place safe enough to conduct such a controversial project for Muslims.

There are an estimated 40 million Pashtuns around the world including more than 14 million in Afghanistan and 28 million in Pakistan. There have long been rumors they are of Jewish origin. It is believed they may be descended from the tribe of Ephraim which was driven out of Israel by the Assyrian invasion in around 700BC.

Evidence of ancient Jewish settlement has been found in Herat, close to Afghanistan’s border with Iran, where a graveyard contains tombs inscribed in Hebrew.

Navras Aafreedi, a leading researcher on the Lost Tribes of Israel, said the DNA investigation could have major political repercussions: “If scientific validation is given to the traditional belief about the Israelite origin of Pashtuns, it would have interesting ramifications for Muslim-Jewish relations in particular and the world at large.”

***

I attach two articles below -- Tom Gross


FULL ARTICLES

ITALY’S CONCERN FOR “IRAN’S NATIONAL PRIDE”

The Rome-Tehran Axis
By Giulio Meotti
The Wall Street Journal Europe
January 14, 2010

Rome -- When it comes to appeasing the Islamic Republic, no other Western nation has stooped lower than Italy. Amid the international outrage over the Iranian regime’s brutalization of its own people, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini warned Europe “must not burn every bridge because Iran is a key figure” in the region. While rejecting any military action to stop Tehran’s nuclear weapons program, Mr. Frattini urged the West to “avoid those [sanctions] that are connected with Iranian national pride.” What may sound like a naïve appeal for more failed diplomacy may just as easily be thought of as a bid to secure lucrative business interests.

To understand Mr. Frattini’s concerns for “Iranian national pride,” one has to know that next to Germany – where such bogus arguments against economic sanctions are also very popular – Italy is Iran’s most important European trade partner. The list of about 1,000 Italian companies active in Iran includes such household names as Eni – the energy giant is Iran’s biggest business partner in Europe according to the Italian-Iranian Chamber of Commerce – as well as Fiat, Ansaldo, Maire Tecnimont, Danieli and Duferco. Italian companies are not just busy in the civilian and energy sectors – Maire Tecnimont just signed a €200 million gas deal with Iran – but have equipped the regime’s military and contributed to Iran’s satellite and possibly even nuclear weapons program.

Take the case of Carlo Gavazzi Space. The Italian technology company helped Iran with its Mesbah communications satellite program. “Communications satellites” can of course be easily diverted for military purposes and used, for example, as spy satellites and, more ominously, to help pinpoint nuclear strikes. Despite these risks, the Mesbah project enjoyed Rome’s political backing, as La Stampa reported at the time. Italy’s ambassador to Tehran back then, Riccardo Sessa, was even present at the 2003 signing ceremony of the deal, according to Italian news agency ANSA.

Under the terms of the agreement, Carlo Gavazzi Space did not just sell a finished product but also transferred technology and know-how. In a 2005 presentation of the Mesbah project posted on the Internet, L. Zucconi, managing director at Carlo Gavazzi Space, explained that his company “has worked in close cooperation with ITRC (Iran Telecommunication Research Center) / IROST (Iranian Research Organization for Science and Technology) in the design, development and manufacturing of the MESBAH system. . . The Flight Model has been manufactured partly in Italy and partly in Iran, with the work sharing scheme defined together with ITRC / IROST. . . The MESBAH satellite will be controlled from one Ground Station located at Teheran and operated by ITRC / IROST personnel. . . The 1000 (user) terminals to be used for the service will be produced by Iranian Industries.”

“Having initiated the MESBAH project, the I.R. (Islamic Republic) of Iran has acquired a space infrastructure and space capacity,” making Iran “a new player in the space community prepared to face new challenging projects.” Carlo Gavazzi Space “look[s] forward for future cooperation.”

Two months ago, Gen. Mahdi Farahi, director of Iran’s Aerospace Industries, said Carlo Gavazzi Space would also help launch into space the successor model, the Mesbah-2. The Italian company denies this.

Asked about their Iranian business, Carlo Gavazzi Space’s general director, Roberto Aceti, told me Wednesday that his company trusts the “Iranian information about the ultimate use of our satellite,” rejecting any possible military use of their hardware as “unrealistic.”

***

Another example is Fiat’s subsidiary Iveco. The truck maker has since the early 1990s delivered thousands of vehicles to Iran and boasts on its Web site about its joint-venture assembly line in Iran. The problem is that some of these trucks, as shown on the nearby photograph, can also be used to transport Iranian missiles.

Iranian Opposition members say these trucks also serve another sinister purpose: the public hangings of homosexuals and dissidents. I have seen a photograph showing these executions on Iveco trucks at an October 2007 exhibition in Rome organized by Italy’s largest organization against the death penalty, “Nessuno tocchi Caino.”

Maurizio Pignata, director of Iveco’s press office, assured me Wednesday that their “vehicles, like the ones in the photograph with missiles in Tehran, are always sold for civilian purposes.” He added however that the company “can’t know the ulterior exploit of our vehicles. The photograph of the truck with Iranian rockets shows normal Iveco vehicles converted for different goals. In China they used our vehicles for public executions of prisoners. So we can’t know if our trucks are used in Iran for military or repressive purposes.”

***

Even the Revolutionary Guard – whose role is to protect the regime and train terrorists – benefits from Italian engineering. The paramilitary security forces purchased frame and design plans of the patrol boat “Levriero” from the Italian company FB Design in 1998. When Italian media reported this and other business deals the company has made with the Iranians, FB Design’s founder and owner, Fabio Buzzi, was surprisingly frank. “It’s true, it’s not a mystery, I sold boats and technology to the Iranians,” he told ANSA in 2008. “We regularly sold design and technology to the Iranian secret services,” he admitted. Mr. Buzzi said in the same interview that he stopped his Iran business only after U.S. officials questioned him in 2005 about his supplies to the Revolutionary Guard.

Citing Pentagon sources, Emanuele Ottolenghi writes in his 2009 book “Under a Mushroom Cloud – Europe, Iran and the Bomb,” that Iranian-made copies of the FB Design Levriero were part of the Revolutionary Guard speedboats that seemed bent on provoking a confrontation with three U.S. warships two years ago. In January 2008, in the Strait of Hormuz, these boats sailed too close to the American vessels and made threats over the radio.

Italians may have also – even if unknowingly – helped to protect Iran’s nuclear program. A spokesman for Seli told me last week that the construction equipment firm was working on several Iranian tunnel projects worth more than €220 million, including for the Tehran metro and water tunnels in Nosud and Kerman. The company’s Web site says that one of the contracts it just recently finished involved the sale of equipment and technical assistance to the Iranian company Ghaem – a Revolutionary Guard firm, according to the U.S. Treasury.

The technical know-how and machinery to build tunnels is of course crucial for the regime’s efforts to hide its nuclear installations. “Intelligence reports have repeatedly suggested that much of Iran’s clandestine nuclear program is being built deep underground, in bunkers that are accessible through tunnels – tunnels that only technology such as the one provided by [German company] Wirth and Seli can build,” a 2008 report by the Israeli Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies concluded.

When asked about his Iran business, the president of Seli, Remo Grandori, told me Wednesday that “Our machines and expertise are not used for military purposes, or we couldn’t have received the authorization of Italian Foreign Ministry.” When I pressed harder, he acknowledged that Seli “tunnels are like large mines. Iran can certainly use these tunnels to hide weapons, but I don’t know anything about it.”

Mr. Grandori also had interesting insights into Rome’s support for Italian companies seeking Iranian contracts. “The Italian embassy in Tehran brokers deals for us, helps us to meet the large supply gap created by U.S. restrictions. There is inevitably a political role in our big deals.”

***

Despite international sanctions against Iran, Italian exports to the Islamic Republic rose almost 17% in 2008 to €2.17 billion, according to the Italian statistical office. During that same year, overall trade also rose almost 17% to €7 billion, representing more than a quarter of the European Union’s total trade with Iran. For the past three years, Italy has been Iran’s No. 1 European trading partner.

“Iran and Italy were rivals and two great powerhouses in ancient times, but in the contemporary world they are great partners,” the Italian-Iranian Chamber of Commerce proudly proclaims on its Web site.

Created in 1999 following an Italian-Iranian cooperation agreement signed three years earlier under former Prime Minister Romano Prodi, the Italian-Iranian Chamber of Commerce is today the largest such bilateral chamber in Italy. Its board members not only include business leaders but high-ranking government officials from both sides, including Cesare Ragaglini, Italy’s ambassador at the United Nations, Alberto Bradanini, the Italian ambassador to Tehran, Amedeo Teti, director of commercial policies at the Italian ministry for economic development, and Fereidoun Haghbin, Iran’s ambassador in Rome, who serves as the board’s honorary chairman.

The Italian-Iranian political-industrial complex was on full display at a 2008 Tehran military parade, where slogans such as “Israel Must be Wiped off the Map” were written on Shihab-3 missiles that can reach the Jewish state. Unlike other European Union countries who avoid sending emissaries to such hate-filled rallies, Vittorio Maria Boccia, Italy’s military attaché in Tehran, was seated right among the assorted ayatollahs and generals. The other Western diplomat who attended this spectacle was Mr. Boccia’s German colleague. Call it the Rome-Berlin-Tehran Axis.

The sturdy link between Italy and Iran has also irked the Obama administration. When asked about Rome’s dealings with Tehran, David Thorne, U.S. Ambassador to Italy, told reporters after taking office two months ago that “there are certain Italian foreign policy positions which continue to concern us.”

Rome’s policies toward Iran, however, continue to follow the old Roman proverb. “Pecunia non olet” or “Money Doesn’t Smell.” When asked about his business ties to Iran, Eni’s chief executive Paolo Scaroni told Forbes magazine in 2007: “I intend to respect Italian laws, not the American ones. You don’t find oil in Switzerland.”

Italy is like the two-faced Roman god Janus. Rhetorically, Rome is part of the Western front against the Iranian regime. Mr. Berlusconi even called Ahmadinejad “Hitler.” But when it comes to translating this rhetoric into foreign policy, business interests trump everything else.

Next month, Mr. Berlusconi, who claims to be a great friend of the Jewish state, will speak in the Israeli parliament. It would be a good opportunity for him to prove his friendship by finally announcing tough economic sanctions against Iran.

 

LONDONISTAN MEETS WAZIRISTAN

British Radicalization Studies
By Douglas Murray
The Wall Street Journal Europe
January 8, 2010

Shortly after he tried to bring down flight 253 to Detroit on Christmas Day, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab became the fourth former head of a British university Islamic Society (ISOC) to have been charged with a serious terrorism offense. This is only the tip of the problem. Shaming as it is, during his time studying at University College London (UCL), Abdulmutallab was in the most conducive environment an Islamic extremist could inhabit outside Waziristan.

It is a situation that has come about despite repeated warnings. And I should know, because I’ve been one of the people trying to do the warning.

The results are often surreal. Just before Christmas, the al Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaki was the subject of an airstrike on his Yemen home that killed many al Qaeda operatives. Only last April my organization was trying to explain to London’s City University why he was not a suitable person to address, by video-link, their Islamic Society. Despite already having been known to be spiritual mentor to two of the 9/11 hijackers, he has been advertised as the “distinguished guest” speaker at the U.K.’s Federation of Student Islamic Societies’ (FOSIS) annual dinner in 2003, and at Westminster University in 2006. Awlaki is now thought to be the connection between Abdumutallab and the people who gave him the bomb with which he intended to bring down the Detroit flight.

A year and a half ago the think tank I head in London released “Islam on Campus.” The reasons for commissioning the report struck me as obvious: The list of Muslim students from the U.K. who had become active in Islamist terrorism was substantial and growing.

It was a graduate of the London School of Economics who kidnapped and beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. It was two undergraduates from Kings College London who carried out a suicide bombing in a bar in Tel Aviv the following year.

But as the list of British students turning to terrorism grew, so did the denial that there was anything wrong.

Our report, published in the summer of 2008, uncovered routine extremist preaching on U.K. campuses as well as the propagation of extremist texts. In conjunction with the polling company YouGov, we also carried out and published what remains the only major survey to date of Muslim student opinions in the U.K. The results were deeply disturbing.

The poll showed that one in three Muslim students believed that killing in the name of their religion could be justified. That figure almost doubled to 60% among respondents who were active members of their universities’ ISOCs. Other results included the discovery that 40% of Muslim students polled supported the introduction of sharia law into British law, and that 58% of students active in their ISOC supported the idea of the introduction of a worldwide Caliphate.

These horrifying opinions rightly shocked the newspaper-reading public. But the response from government and the university authorities was not to tackle the problem, but rather to attack the messengers.

FOSIS, which had been heavily criticized in the report, “rejected the conclusions utterly.” The National Union of Students followed suit.

Then Higher Education minister, Bill Rammell, entered the debate – and studiously stepped onto the wrong side. Mr. Rammell congratulated FOSIS and the National Union of Students, expressing himself “pleased at the speed with which [they] have dismissed the findings.” I hope those words don’t come back to haunt him.

Mr. Rammell’s reaction epitomizes the problem. University authorities and the government would rather ignore the embarrassment than tackle it. And when they do address it, it is almost always to attack those shouting “fire” rather than those working to start one. Last year during Israel’s operation in Gaza, I was due to chair a debate at the London School of Economics on Islam and democracy. Radical students already holding an “occupation” on campus apparently threatened violence if I – known to be a critic of radical Islam and a friend of Israel – was to appear. The result was that the university authorities asked me to stay away from campus, saying they could not ensure my security or that of the audience.

As I enjoyed a quiet evening in, the irony of the situation was not lost. Every month in Britain extremist Islamic speakers preach a message of intolerance and hatred at the invitation of Islamic societies. It is one of the reasons people like Abdulmutallab are so often created and nurtured here in Britain.

Only last month I wrote to the president of Abdulmutallab’s former university at the University College of London, asking why he had, for the second time in a year, allowed a speaking invitation to go out to Abu Usama adh Dhahabee. Dhahabee’s views include that women are mentally deficient, and that apostates from Islam, as well as homosexuals, should be killed. He also teaches where and when to carry out violent jihad. His invitation to UCL was rescinded only after heavy pressure from campaign groups. Last February my organization stepped in twice to prevent Hamas adviser and advocate Azzam Tamimi addressing UCL students on campus. In an interview with the BBC, Tamimi famously said that if he had the opportunity to become a suicide bomber “for Palestine . . . I would do it.”

Such poison has spread throughout our universities. It means students at a vulnerable stage of their development are routinely subjected to views that most people, including many British Muslims, would find hair-raising. On campus, such views are normalized and excused.

Just weeks before the attempted massacre on Christmas Day, FOSIS spokesman Qasim Rafiq, who succeeded the Detroit bomber as president of the UCL’s ISOC, said “There is no substantial evidence to suggest extremism is prevalent on any U.K. campus.” It is a line that many people would like to hear. But it is also a lie.

That lie has once again been exposed. But it must also be dealt with. That means both dealing with the extremists, and dealing with all those who, through ignorance, malice, or fear, have become the assistant idiots of Islamist terrorism, enabling the radicalization and recruitment of a generation. Even now the president of UCL is trying to divert attention by accusing his critics of “Islamophobia.” It strikes me that our ivory towers, like our Parliament, are more than overdue for a clear-out.


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