*A Pakistani anti-terrorism court has remanded `Aqil Ahmad Abdul Quddus, the harborer of Khalid Shaikh Muhammad, to jail. A warrant is out for his father, Dr. Abdul Quddus Khan, who had been at a wedding in Lahore and appears to have gone into hiding. Pakistani intellectuals like Najam Sethi have been demanding that the fundamentalist Jamaat-i Islami clarify why the al-Qaeda leader was in one of their safe houses, but so far no answers are forthcoming. The Jamaat appears to be sidestepping such questions by focusing on protests of the looming Iraq war. In the meantime, plans for imposing shariah or a medieval interpretation of Islamic law on the Northwest Frontier Province are proceeding apace. The provincial government, in the hands of Islamists, has relatively little power over such matters, but the MMA intends to push as far as it can.
*An Asharq al-Awsat reporter based in Dubai is reporting that al-Qaeda plans to unleash female terrorists against the US. Usama Bin Laden’s mother is quoted as saying that it is permitted to women to fight alongside men in jihad if the number of men is too few to win otherwise. Since current FBI profiling is based on a conviction that the main terrorist threat comes from young men, this new tactic could be effective.
*Dr. Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, the rector of Cairo’s al-Azhar Seminary (the most important center of religious learning in the Sunni world) has said he agrees that if the US attacks Iraq, it would be legitimate for Muslims to declare jihad against the US troops doing the invading. This view was issued by an al-Azhar research center two days ago. Its report suggested that Iraq was only the first of a number of Arab centers to be targetted by the US. Al-Azhar is usually pretty timid about politics, and its scholars condemned al-Qaeda for 9/11. If its clerics are out front on this issue of using jihad to fight US troops in Iraq, it shows that they are confident everyone already agrees with them. Likewise, they wouldn’t be saying these things unless Hosni Mubarak’s police state was permitting them to. Mubarak has refused to have anything to do with a Western invasion of a brother Arab country, and has been sullen about the powerlessness of Arab countries to stop it. Permitting the normally staid al-Azhar to engage in wild talk must be his minor revenge on W.
*A truly horrifying report of Israeli atrocities around Hebron has just come out. See: http://www.palestinemonitor.org/updates/update_cover.htm. It says in part: “Abdel Hadi Hantash, an expert in settler activities in Hebron and a member
of the Committee for Land Defense said, “These activities – performed in the
name of ‘security’ — are part of an Israeli plan to evacuate the area of
Palestinians, pushing them into isolated cantons, so that they can gain full
control of the area. The problem is that the world is not paying sufficient
attention to what is happening here.” “People keep warning of the ‘threat’ of transfer –
especially in the context of a possible war against Iraq,” said Renad Qubaj, Coordinator
of PNGO (Palestinian Network of NGOs). “But transfer is not a threat; it is a
reality – and currently taking place in pockets all over the West Bank.” “
Let’s leave aside human rights violations and war crimes contravening the Geneva Accords for a moment. What I’d like to know is whether Israeli targetted assassinations and other Draconian measures couldn’t wait until after the Iraq war? Wouldn’t you expect an ally of the US that gets billions of dollars a year from you and me to respect our needs just a little bit and cool it so as to avoid unnecessarily inflaming Arab public opinion at a tense time for us? As far as I am concerned, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is among the biggest dangers to US foreign policy goals in the Middle East. And people say France is ungrateful to the US.