Archive for the ‘Terrorism’ Category

“Losing My Jihadism”

Someone pointed me to this article in the washington post by a writer (and apparently former imam) who tried salafism and decided the violence wasnt for him. He advocates Islam’s need for a reformation. Needless to say, he’s rather unliked.

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More on the eavesdropping legislation.

However, the law’s wording — underscored by conversations with administration officials — shows the rules governing when and how Americans’ calls and e-mails will be monitored have changed significantly.

Communications that can get caught up in intelligence collection require a spectrum of approvals, depending on the circumstances. Generally, such calls, e-mails, text messages and other electronic exchanges fall into three categories:

• Purely foreign overseas communications. The NSA can monitor these calls and e-mails without any signoff from a judge or a senior government official.

• Domestic conversations between two Americans. The Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure requires that the government get approval from a court before eavesdropping on these exchanges.

• Communications between an American and a foreigner, a more complex, gray area. If the American is the target of the investigation, then a court must approve the surveillance, the White House says. However, if the foreigner is the target, no court approval is necessary under the new law. Instead, Gonzales and McConnell will decide together whether to go ahead with the work.

It’s this area — when an American is talking to a foreign suspect — where the Bush administration has acquired powers it didn’t have before.

Like I said, poor Americans, letting what most of the world yearns for slip away.

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I pointed to the recent legislation on warrantless wiretapping. Here‘s more on the executive order issued by bush in 2001. Apparently the “Terrorist Surveillance Program” (ie warrantless wiretapping of communication overseas) to which Bush admitted in Dec 2005 wasnt the only thing authorized by the order. And it’s all dressed up in good ol’ american partisan crony politics.

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.. of communications between foreigners routed through equipment in the US [bbc]. Poor America continues to concede rights and compromise its principles.

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Apparently the US and EU have just signed a treaty, replacing temporary provisions, to force airlines to send a host of personal information about all passengers traveling to the States within 15 minutes of take-off. Apparently, “most of the treaty relies on the US to follow the rules and notify Europe later.” And, according to the article, “Skeptics say the European negotiators should have pushed for more concessions, especially given the US track record on data protection.” Ouch. But, true. Although i’d have to go back and look at the exact provisions, the USA PATRIOT Act does some serious harm to the protection of private data, both in terms of granting non-court-approved access to private data as well as (and this is probably what’s being references by the critics) reducing (ie removing) restrictions on the transfer of such data between intelligence agencies.

I think it’s great to see the US and Europe are finally waking up to what arab leaders have known all along.

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Inherited Jihadism

Just caught this article by ICG SE Asia director titled “Inherited Jihadism: Like Father Like Son”. She’s essentially saying that, in Indonesia at least (and i would say it’s more or less applicable across the board) there has already been at least one generation of islamists by inheritance and that mechanisms to draw them away from the tightly-knit community are necessary. I would tend to agree.

But i dont think it is nearly enough. Not every living terrorist’s father is an afghan veteran. For every son-of-a-terrorist terrorist there must be at least several “first-generation” violent islamists. I’m not well-versed in SE Asian socio-economic environmental factors that lead indonesians down this line. But i think for Egypt and much of the arab world at least, the only way to effectively put a dent in terrorism (and islamism, more broadly) is to target these factors. And as anyone who’s invested the least bit of somewhat objective research into the matter can tell you, they are primarily economic, social and political.

And, no, it’s not just the poverty. The impoverished are just that: the impoverished. They have no hopes or aspirations. They live out their miserable lives, milking what little they can out of it, barely making ends meet. On the contrary, the vast majority of people that have gone down that line have been (see Saadeldin Ibrahim and the Ibn Khaldun Center’s research in the 70s and 80s) and continue to be often middle class, well performing professional students/youth that have been shafted by the system, or lack thereof. They’re the engineers and schoolteachers and writers that didnt have access to that crucial put-in word or didnt have the family-financed capital to start their own businesses or the second language that would land them a private-sector job. It is no wonder that the MB have such a strong presence in the Doctors’, Engineers’, Lawyers’ and Journalists’ Syndicates.

I think i’ll cut the ramble off here. I’m sure to revisit.

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Just caught an article in the March Harper’s by Ken Silverstein. It’s one of the most measured looks at “Islamist” movements/parties in the region and the West’s (particularly, the US) approach to dealing (or, rather, decidedly not) with them.

Naturally, he touches on the oxymoronic so-called “Bush Doctrine”:

Notwithstanding President Bush’s new “forward strategy of freedom,” the United States has marshaled nothing more than a few hollow demurrals against the antidemocratic abuses by its allies, and it maintains close partnerships with all of America’s old authoritarian friends in the region. When reaching out to opposition figures, it has chosen pro-Western elites such as Nour in Egypt or Ahmed Chalabi in Iraq, both of whom are more admired in Washington and London than they are at home.

And the US’s refusal to even listen to Islamist of any color:

Today, there are dozens of active Islamic political parties, both Shiite and Sunni, with diverse political and ideological agendas. Their leaders are certainly not liberal democrats, and some, like Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon, maintain armed wings. But it is not entirely accurate to describe them, as is frequently done in the United States, as fundamentalist or backward or even necessarily conservative.

The new Islamic movements are popularly based and endorse free elections, the rotation of power, freedom of speech, and other concepts that are scorned by the regimes that currently hold power. Islamist groups have peacefully accepted electoral defeat, even when it was obvious that their governments had engaged in gross fraud to assure their hold on power. In parliaments, Islamists have not focused on implementing theocracy or imposing shari‘ah but have instead fought for political and social reforms, including government accountability.

The article goes into the Egyptian MB and Hezbollah in some detail and then returns to the matter of policy and engagement.

Those favoring some sort of engagement, or at least accommodation, with political Islam argue that political exclusion breeds radicalism whereas participation requires negotiation, compromise, and moderation. Hence, the West should encourage political participation by Islamist movements—in the same manner that other groups from recent history, for years rejected as “terrorists,” in fact eventually became mainstream political forces, among them the Palestine Liberation Organization, the African National Congress, and the Irish Republican Army.

I would argue further that if one bothers to look closely enough at these groups, it becomes obvious that these changes are already taking place and have been for decades. One need only look at the evolution of the MB in Egypt from the violence of the 40s and 60s to the electioneering of the 80s onwards. Or at Hizbullah whose rhetoric and actions have become more nuanced since joining the cabinet. Or even Hamas for a brief moment in time.

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