Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hossein Derakhshan

AFP, Canada seeks access to detained Iranian-Canadian blogger, 30 Dec 08 "Canada has not been granted consular access to detained prominent Iranian-Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan in Iran, a foreign affairs spokesman said in Ottawa.

""Consular officials have been in contact with Iranian authorities, including by diplomatic note, to obtain confirmation of Mr. Derakhshan's arrest and to seek consular access," Canadian foreign ministry spokesman Rodney Moore told AFP."

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


PDIP's Dispatches from the Imagination Age, Dozens Gather in Second Life to Protest Gaza Attacks, 29 Dec 08

"Dozens of people have been gathering since Saturday in Second Life at a protest of the recent attacks in the Gaza Strip. The Egypt and Qatar-based news site,, has built a Palestine Holocaust Memorial Museum with scores of pictures of the attacks and people wounded in the attacks drawn news sources around the world. The museum was previously named the Gaza Holocaust Museum, about which we blogged in March 2008. Those who identified themselves who attended the gathering were mostly in Egypt, but also included people in Morocco, Italy, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, France and the United States."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


IslamOnline, Parenting Counselor, My 9-Year Old Struggles with Islam, 24 Dec 08"The environment is a huge influence on a young person’s lifestyle and they will in most cases reflect their environment in their own behavior and lifestyle. These are issues that all of us parents have to deal with, so know that you are not alone. This is all the more reason to search for and find, other Muslim parents out there; even if it’s over the Internet – for support and ideas."
Iran Human Rights Centre

Iran Press Service, Intolerant Ayatollahs Shut Down Office of Iran Human Rights Centre, 23 Dec 09 "The international community has severely condemned the Iranian Government over the brutal closure of the Centre of Human Rights Defenders, the sole such organization in the Islamic Republic of Iran, on 21 December by the Police, special security guards and plainclothes agents, acting on orders from the Tehran and Islamic Revolution Tribunal Prosecutor."

Monday, December 22, 2008

Lost Connection

Guardian, Repair crew battles to fix undersea internet link, 22 Dec 08 "The Middle East yesterday spent its first workday coping with slow and erratic internet access as a French repair crew began fixing key undersea communication cables that were damaged near Sicily on Friday. Telecommunication providers from Cairo to Dubai were scrambling to reroute voice and data traffic through potentially costly detours in Asia and North America. The cause of the damage is not yet known."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Habib Ahmed, Habib's 'get-rich quick schemes', 19 Dec 08 "Books entitled Islamic Military Resurgence and Defence of the Muslim Lands were found and two computers recovered showed numerous terror-related internet searches on addresses of chemical companies, the components of bombs and how grenades worked."
al-Zaidi update +

Informed Comment (Juan Cole), 18 Dead, Dozens Wounded in Baghdad Bombings; Coup Plot Foiled; US Fires on Fallujah Shoe-Throwers, 18 Dec 08

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Scotsman, Terror has seldom seemed so ordinary, 17 Dec 08 "Like teenagers planning a night out, Abdulla and Ahmed planned their own terrorist atrocity, using instant messaging. In Bangalore, Ahmed wore a thick, traditional Muslim beard, and mocked worshippers at the Jamia Hazrat Tippu Masjid mosque, opposite his parents' home, for allowing coloured lights to be hung up outside. While Ahmed told friends not to watch television and to save electricity, he used the internet to plan his martyrdom and a massacre."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Effective Measure system

The National, New measurement system will help online businesses bring in revenue, 16 Dec 08 "A new system to measure the popularity of websites will help Middle Eastern online businesses bring in revenue, advertisers and industry watchers say.

"Launched today in Dubai, the Effective Measure system will give advertisers a clearer picture of who is visiting a given website rather than other services, its backers say.

“This is a democratic system for websites, and everyone can be included and considered,” said Dan Healy, the managing director of Real Opinions, a research company that is launching the service in the Middle East. “No matter how small your audience is, if you are in a niche and reaching the right type of visitor, you will be considered by media buyers."

BBC News, Doctor guilty of car bomb attacks, 16 Dec 08 "A jury at Woolwich Crown Court found Bilal Abdulla guilty of plotting the home-made bomb attacks in 2007."
Hossein Derakhshan

Reuters, Nobel laureate urges Iran to release "Blogfather", 15 Dec 08 "Iranian Nobel peace prize winner Shirin Ebadi called on Monday for the release of a pioneering Iranian blogger, who is reported to have been arrested on suspicion of spying for Israel.

"Hossein Derakhshan, nicknamed "the Blogfather," is credited with launching a blogging revolution in Iran with his Internet diaries, in both English and Farsi, which have in the past been critical of the Tehran government."

CSM, Ideological clash of two jihadi titans shakes Al Qaeda, 15 Dec 08 " A bitter, year-long feud that has shaken Al Qaeda's ideological pillars grew even sharper last month. A former associate of Ayman al-Zawahiri accused him of working for Sudanese intelligence, wearing "women's garments" to flee Afghanistan, and spreading an incorrect Islamic theory of jihad."

asharq alawsat, Across Mideast, Arabs hail shoe-hurling journalist, 16 Dec 08

"Many users of the popular Internet networking site Facebook posted the video to their profile pages, showing al-Zeidi leap from his chair as Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki were about to shake hands Sunday and hurl his shoes at the president, who was about 20 feet away. Bush ducked the airborne footwear and was not injured in the incident.

""This is a farewell kiss, you dog," al-Zeidi yelled in Arabic as he threw his shoes. "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq."""
Yamli, Yamli Launches New Smart Arabic Search Engine Features, 16 Dec 08 "Yamli, the startup based in Cambridge, MA, that is funded by ex-Googlers, and that specializes in smart transliteration technologies for the Arabic Web, just unveiled its new search engine that allows users to easily search Arabic content in all its forms.

"Various studies show that transliterated Arabic content is ubiquitous due to a large portion of Arabic internet users choosing to write Arabic phonetically using Latin characters in an ad-hoc and informal fashion. Yamli automatically expands Arabic keyword searches to include all of their transliterated variations and returns results for both Arabic and transliterated content. This feature is a breakthrough for Arabic Internet users who are frustrated with having to repeatedly search different variations of their query when searching for music, news or videos."

Try yamli for yourself, it's an effective tool.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Ian Black, Guardian, From Voyeur's Corner to My First Time: new magazine attempts to lift veil on Arab taboos, 13 Dec 08 "

Article discussing the impact of the controversial magazine Jasad (cover left, logo right):

"In a region where the majority are Muslims, Arabic is revered as the language of the Qur'an and the trend is for bodies to be covered up rather than exposed - let alone in all their intimacy - this daring experiment has triggered both anger and excitement.

"Officials of Hizbullah, the powerful Lebanese Shia movement, tried to close Jasad's stand at this week's Beirut book fair. One outraged visitor ripped down a poster, complaining that the subject matter was "haram" - forbidden. Visitors to the website of the popular al-Arabiya TV have attacked it. "Stop promoting this blatant vulgarity and obscenity," was one furious comment. But another said: "Amazing magazine! Oh Lord, please let it be distributed in Jordan!" A Saudi man pledged to buy 50,000 copies and distribute them free "to open people's minds"."

The Jasad magazine's website is here I haven't read this magazine yet, so cannot comment on its content.

Robert Tait, Guardian, Hollywood film accused of insulting Iran, 13 Dec 08 "The new target in Iran's long-running grievance about its negative portrayal in popular western cinema is, The Wrestler, a film directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Mickey Rourke, due for release in the US on December 17.

"Newspapers and websites have alerted readers to the "anti-Iranian film" by highlighting a scene in which Rourke's character, Randy "the Ram" Robinson, violently breaks a pole bearing an Iranian flag across his knee, after his opponent tries to use it to put him in a stranglehold."

Refers to Farda website.

Sky News, Banned Cleric Preaching To Brits, 13 Dec 08 "Omar Bakri Mohammed has been delivering sermons on the internet chat room PalTalk from his home in Lebanon, where he is exiled.

"Between 30 and 50 users log on every morning and evening to listen to what is usually a 30 minute speech.

"He then opens the discussion board up for questions, which he answers directly."

This has been happening for sometime. See the related report here:


BBC News, Iran's bloggers thrive despite blocks, 15 Dec 08 including Parasto Dokoohaki audio interview. "The real attraction for bloggers, in this claustrophobic political climate, is that someone is listening.

"That is the view of Seyed Vahid Aqili, assistant professor of mass communications as Islamic Azad University in Tehran."

No mention of Hossein Derekshan in this piece. There's a chapter on blogging in my next book.

Friday, December 12, 2008


RSF, Authorities step up Internet surveillance, cyber-dissident sentenced to five years in prison, 11 Dec 08

"Esmail Jafari, a blogger and journalist based in the southwestern city of Bushehr, was meanwhile sentenced to five months in prison on 6 December on charges of “anti-government publicity” and “disseminating information abroad.” He is still free pending the outcome of an appeal ...

" ... The two online journalists currently detained in Iran are theologian Mojtaba Lotfi, who is imprisoned in the religious city of Qom, and Shahnaz Gholami, editor of the Azar Zan blog ( and member of the Association of Women Journalists (ARZ), who has been imprisoned in the northwestern city of Tabriz since 9 November.

Guardian, 14 al-Qaida suspects held as Europe's leaders gather in Brussels, 12 Dec 08 "Belgian police detained 14 people alleged to have links to al-Qaida in Brussels yesterday as the EU summit got under way. One of those held had made a "martyrdom video", including a farewell message, according to Belgian authorities."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Reporters Without Borders Protest

RSF, Protests outside Vietnamese and Syrian embassies against “prisons behind facades”, 10 Dec 08

"Nine journalists and cyber-dissidents are currently imprisoned in Syria. They include independent journalist Michel Kilo and cyber-dissident Habib Saleh. There are more journalists in prison in Syria right now than at any time since Bashar el-Assad became president in July 2000."

Guardian, Dating site 'prostitution', says Iran, 11 Dec 08 "A popular Iranian internet dating website that claimed to be helping people find a spouse and start families has been banned for "promoting prostitution", on the advice of leading Islamic clerics.

", which boasts of having chalked up more than 1.6m page visits, was also fined and ordered to pay back money collected from clients, after a judge consulted senior ayatollahs - known as "sources of emulation" - following a complaint from Tehran's public prosecutor."

The site is still live (at present).

The Long War Journal, Pakistan detains Lashkar-e-Taiba communications expert, 10 Dec 08 "Zarar Shah was one of an estimated 10 to 20 Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives detained during raids on the terror group's offices in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and other locations in Pakistan.

"Shah is a communications expert who set up the network that allowed the Mumbai attackers communicate with Lashkar-e-Taiba commanders in Pakistan, according to Indian intelligence officials. He also serves as a key liaison between the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence agency."

Chicago Tribune, Which Muslim capital will Barack Obama choose?, 10 Dec 08 "President-elect Barack Obama says he plans to deliver a major speech in an Islamic capital aimed at improving America's image in the Muslim world.

"But choosing the capital will be tricky. The Muslim world is vast and far-flung, governed in many instances by autocratic dictators and riddled with potential political pitfalls for a new president hailed not only at home but around the globe as an agent of change."

PR Web, Jihad on the Internet: SSI Trains Kings County, Washington on January 28th and 29th with Jihad 2.0, 11 Dec 08 "In this exciting and novel presentation, Security Solutions International (SSI ®) shows qualified intelligence, law enforcement and professionals how the Jihad works on the Internet. Through actual materials, taken from Jihadi websites, participants will understand how the Internet is used by Islamic terror groups."

AFP, Jihadist calls for 'Facebook invasion', SITE, 11 Dec 08: "A member of an Islamic jihadist forum who urged supporters last week to wage a "YouTube invasion" by uploading propaganda videos has called for a similar attack on popular social network Facebook.

"The SITE Intelligence Group, a US-based monitoring service, reported on Wednesday that the appeal for a "Facebook invasion" was made on Tuesday on al-Faloja, a password-protected jihadist forum."

See SITE for more on this.
Fatah al-Islam Lebanon

Daily Star, Fatah al-Islam says leader was killed or captured in Syria, 11 Dec 08 "Fatah al-Islam leader Shaker al-Abssi was "probably" killed in a raid by Syrian security forces and fellow fugitive Abed Awad has replaced him, according to an internet statement apparently posted by the group. The unverified information was posted on a website used by Islamic extremists. It said that Abssi and two of his associates were either captured or killed in an ambush by anti-terrorism officers in the Syrian town of Jermana while on their way to meet militants linked with the insurgency in Iraq."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Google Earth

Times, Indian court asked to ban Google Earth, 10 Dec 08 "The demand from Amit Karkhanis, an Indian lawyer, came as a new school of “tech-savvy jihadis” make use of data freely available online and other web-based services to plot and execute their strikes, a phenomenon dubbed “the Google threat” by military commanders. The case filed at the Mumbai High Court alleges that Google Earth and similar services, “aid terrorists in plotting attacks” by supplying detailed bird’s-eye images that are used to acquaint militants with their targets."

Telegraph, Muslim lawyer Anjem Choudary brands Christmas 'evil': Muslim preacher Anjem Choudary has branded Christmas "evil" in a sermon posted on the internet, 10 Dec 08 "In the sermon posted on an Islamic website, he said: "In the world today many Muslims, especially those residing in western countries, are exposed to the evil celebration Christmas.

""Many take part in the festival celebrations by having Christmas turkey dinners."

Telegraph boosts circulation of Choudary's 'sermon'.

Arab News, Driving the news from Mina, 10 Dec 08 "With 30 years of experience, Abdul Mughni, 48, has been organizing the SRMG Haj team since 1991. He says technology has changed a little bit since then. "In those days we had to write our stories and then go from Mina to Makkah to fax them back to our offices in Jeddah," Abdul Mughni said during a rare break. "Those were not the days of the Internet and mobile phones. Now we can just e-mail the stories and pictures in a matter of seconds.""

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


BBC News, Virtual world for Muslims debuts, 9 Dec 08

"A trial version of the first virtual world aimed at the Muslim community has been launched.

"Called Muxlim Pal, it allows Muslims to look after a cartoon avatar that inhabits the virtual world."

Monday, December 08, 2008

Eid Mubarak!, Jamal Elshayyal, Hajj Diary: A hard day's work, 7 Dec 08

Asharq Alawsat, Muslims celebrate Eid Al Adha, 8 Dec 08, "Muslims all over the world began celebrating the first day of Eid Al Adha, Monday. In Saudi Arabia, Muslims performed the Eid Al Adha Prayer marking the beginning of Islamic festivities and rituals to be conducted over the next three days."

AP, Muslim hajj pilgrimage culminates on Mt. Arafat, 7 Dec 08 "But while most spent the day praying and reading Islam's holy book, the Quran, thousands — mostly Iranians, Lebanese, Iraqis and Bahrainis — held a rally inside their tents to denounce the United States and Israel.

"Called the "disavowal of pagans ceremony," the Iranian-sponsored, anti-U.S. protest is held annually at the hajj, bringing a whiff of politics into what is otherwise an entirely religious event."

PressTV (Iran), Leader sends message to Hajj pilgrims, 7 Dec 08 "The Leader of the Islamic Revolution has honored the advent of the Hajj in a message to millions of devout Muslims gathering in Mecca to perform the rituals." [full text of Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei's message to pilgrims]

Live feed: Saudi TV

YouTube/, Hajj Prayers 2008
Abdulkarim Soroush

Mohammad Ayatollahi Tabaa, New York Times, Who Wrote the Koran?, 5 Dec 08

"Soroush’s latest views have not endeared him to the powerful conservative wing of Iran’s establishment. Some have accused him of heresy, which is punishable by death. There have been demonstrations by clerics in Qom, the religious capital of Iran, against his recent work. But Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, unexpectedly warned against feeding the controversy. He said those who are employing 'philosophy or pseudo-philosophy' to 'pervert the nation’s mind' should not be dealt with 'by declaring apostasy and anger' but rather countered with the 'religious truths' that will falsify their arguments."

Internet thread to this story about Abdulkarim Soroush (a.k.a. Hosein Haj Faraj Dabbagh), and the reactions to his thoughts and opinions on the origins of the Qur'an. Soroush's website is here, and the Soroush wikipedia entry is here
Social Networking

Middle East Online, New Internet ‘diplomacy’ or hypocrisy proposed? "Go on the Internet to make friends -- and world peace.

"That was the message Thursday from a New York conference on the potential power of Internet social networking tools like Facebook to counter terrorism and repressive governments."
Financial Meltdown

Habib Trabelsi, Middle East Online, Saudis seek 'Sharia bail out' to financial crisis, Saudi clerics promote Islamic finance as healthy alternative to current troubled market economy, 6 Dec 08 "The shock wave from the financial catastrophe has not spared the imams of most mosques in Saudi Arabia. They used the crisis to spread in endless praise Islamic finance which is based on the ban of interest (riba), speculation, and sharing the risk and profit between contractors."

Sudarsan Raghavan,, Iraqi Women, Fighting for a Voice, Activists Confront Dual Powers of Religion, Tribalism, 7 Dec 2008

"Hawjin Hama Rashid, a feisty journalist in bluejeans and a frilly blouse, had come to the morgue in this Kurdish city to research tribal killings of women. "A week doesn't pass without at least 10," the morgue director said, showing Rashid pictures of corpses on his computer screen."

Musa Khan Jalalzai, The Post (Pakistan), The UK jihadi network, 8 Dec 08

"[The] Daily Telegraph, in its November 28th, 2008 report claimed that some of the terrorists who attacked Mumbai were British. This report diverted the government attention on the UK extremist groups who receive terrorist training at the camps of the terrorist groups of both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"These extremist groups recruit people by isolating them from their communities. Radicalization towards active support for violent extremism is most likely to occur where extremists can act uncontested, away from mainstream voices and competing ideas. This can apply both to physical places – prisons, universities, mosques – and to spaces on the internet."

Jalalzai is Executive Editor of Daily Outlook Afghanistan

Sydney Morning Herald, Bringing brains to the terrorism struggle, 6 Dec 08 "More and more young Australian Muslims turn to the internet for information on Islam. Given the constraints faced by Islamists in the open, the significance of the internet as a virtual recruitment place will grow.

LA Times, Pakistan militant group builds web of Western recruits, 8 Dec 08 "Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamic militant group blamed in the Mumbai attacks, has actively recruited U.S.- and British-born contacts who have gone on to execute attacks for Al Qaeda."

Friday, December 05, 2008


NY Times, Gene Test Shows Spain’s Jewish and Muslim Mix, 4 Dec 08

"The genetic signatures of people in Spain and Portugal provide new and explicit evidence of the mass conversions of Sephardic Jews and Muslims to Catholicism in the 15th and 16th centuries after Christian armies wrested Spain back from Muslim control, a team of geneticists reports."

Arab News, Forum calls for strategic plan to reach out to non-Muslims, 4 Dec 08

"An international conference organized by the Muslim World League has called for a strategic plan to introduce Islam as a solution to major problems facing humanity and as a religion that promotes peace, freedom and tolerance.

"The three-day conference, titled “Introducing Islam to non-Islamic countries: Reality and aspirations,” stressed that non-Muslims living in Islamic countries should enjoy all of the rights enjoyed by Muslims. ...

"The conferees stressed the need to produce Islamic TV programs in major world languages to introduce Islam to non-Muslims. They also urged Muslims to behave righteously with non-Muslims and understand their culture. "We should come up with innovative ideas to propagate the message of Islam, using the Internet and satellite channels," it said."

CNN, Israeli Web site advises using wisdom of Quran, 5 Dec 08 "A new Web site launched by an Israeli university professor and his Bedouin students aims to address life's everyday quandaries from the perspective of an ancient sacred text: the Quran.

" Organizers of the site,, say they hope it will serve as a "bridge between Islam and the West" by applying the wisdom of Islam's holiest book to modern-day problems.

""We try to transform the Quran into a modern and useful tool, so that every person can find a Quranic answer to modern psychological and educational queries," said Ofer Grosbard, professor at the Academic Arab College for Education, affiliated with Haifa University."

Details: Quranet I haven't read any of the content of this yet. There seem to be some interesting juxtapositions going on here. The advisors include:

* Sheikh Musa Admani
* Sheikh Muhammed Omari
* Prof. Yuli Tamir
* Sheikh Abdullah Nimer Darwis
* Dr. Khwaja Iftikhar Ahmed

Their biodata is included in the site
'aQ' figures

Metro, Fury at Osama bin Laden Lego-style toys, 4 Dec 08 "A range of LEGO-style fighting figures - including Osama bin Laden - has sparked outrage among Muslims.

"The tiny figures - decked out as a follower of 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden - have a removeable mask and are kitted out with a rocket launcher."

They are produced by BrickArms not Lego. Brickarms' website is presently overwhelmed by orders, and the 'Mr White' model (which I think is what the focus is on) is on backorder. I couldn't locate a specific 'bin Laden' model. The photo is from the Brickarms' site.

From the Jamestown Foundation: Abdul Hameed Bakier, Iraq’s Islamic Mujahideen Profiled by Jihadi Websites: Part Two, Terrorism Focus, Volume: 5 Issue: 41, December 3, 2008 "In the last issue of Terrorism Focus, we examined the profiles of three Iraqi jihadi groups based on information compiled by al-Haq, an Islamic news website and later distributed through a number of jihadi internet forums ( August 7, 2008). This issue will cover four remaining major insurgent groups mentioned in al-Haq’s research." Also available as a PDF
Europe's Muslim Women

Sara Silvestri, Europe's Muslim women: potential, aspirations and challenges, Qualitative study based on interviews with Muslim women in Brussels, London and Turin (King Baudouin Foundation: 2008) "This report presents the key findings of a qualitative study about Europe’s Muslim women, conducted by Dr Sara Silvestri (London’s City University and Cambridge University, United Kingdom), on behalf of the King Baudouin Foundation.

"It aims to obtain a general sense of the extent to which the religion of Islam plays a role in defining the experiences of Europe’s Muslim women and to charter the main issues of concern, and trends of thinking and of mobilisation among them. The study has the ambition to bring forth the voice, daily life, problems, and aspirations of these women. It was conducted in Belgium, Great Britain and Italy, primarily in three cities with large concentrations of Muslim populations: Brussels, London, and Turin. It involved questionnaires and structured and unstructured interviews with 49 Muslim women."

The link to the free PDF (1MB) is here. Other formats and purchase details via the link above. I haven't read this report yet, but it looks interesting.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Hajj Information

Khaleej Times, Haj-related Agencies Told to Extend Best Services to Pilgrims, 3 Dec 08 "The ministry has mobilised 24 hospitals, with a capacity of around 4,000 beds and 133 primary health care centres and around 10,000 health care personnel to serve the pilgrims in the holy cities of Makkah, Madinah and the holy sites of Mina and Arafat."

Ministry of Hajj, Tracking Hajj Shuttle Buses using RFID Technology "Passive Radio Frequency Identifier RFID) tags have been fixed on the windshield of each shuttle-bus that operates in Al-Nafrah phase of Hajj. This amounts to about 4000 tags. These tags are used mainly to automatically keep track of the identity of buses leaving and entering the parking area. About 45 RFID readers have been installed all over the shuttle-bus system paths in the holy sites of Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina.

"This is very useful to organisers since shuttle buses participating in Al-Nafrah come from 13 different transportation companies. Moreover, shuttle-bus drivers are seasonal drivers who are paid based on the number of shuttle rounds made. Therefore, tedious and lengthy paper-based bookkeeping can be avoided if buses’ tags can be remotely and collectively read at the parking-area gates and fed into a database application that keeps track of the live entry-exit information.

"Moreover, by installing an RFID reader on each side of the road at the entrance of the Arafat, Muzadalifah and Mina areas, it is possible to record when each shuttle-bus entered any of the three areas. A sophisticated computer application has been developed based on the requirements of the shuttle-bus system operators and managers to analyze RFID reader raw data and extract and generate a multitude of collective statistical reports on the shuttle-bus traffic performance indicators that may be useful to both operational and strategic Hajj managers and officials."

The Ministry have a comprehensive site this year, including an RSS Feed of updated news and an online questionnaire. The Hajj day-by-day flash presentation is useful for students. For pilgrims, there is a safety film in various formats. There is also an animated trip through the precincts of the Ka'ba (this looks like it has been taken from Finally, links to Saudi TV feeds can be found through the Ministry's site.

Vanguard/, Nigeria: Fighting Cybercrimes - the Executive, Legislative & Judiciary Collaboration Approach, 3 Dec 08 "The President of the Appeal Court, Justice Umaru Abdulahi recently expressed worries over the high occurrence of cyber crimes in Nigeria and the need for the Judiciary to brace up for the challenges posed by this nagging and fast spreading form of crime."

I was catching up with my reading, and saw this: Rachel Cooke, Observer Magazine, Daughters of the desert, 30 Nov 08 "By the time I get to what remains of AA's house, its destruction is old news, both in the village of Al-Zarnouk, where the single-storey building had stood for more than 20 years, and far beyond: thanks to mobile telephones and the internet, hundreds of people have already seen images of its demolition by the Israeli Defense Forces on the morning of 30 October." Also see: Oxfam, The women of Al Zarnouk, 18 Aug 08 (which predates the events discussed above).

Guardian, Study challenges claims of Islamic extremism among students, 3 Dec 08 "British universities are not hotbeds of Islamic radicalism, despite fears about the rise of "campus extremism", a new study argues.

"The University of Cambridge research, based partly on in-depth interviews with 26 students at UK universities, found that most young British Muslims are opposed to political Islam and are more likely to join Amnesty International than al-Qaida."


Guardian, Anthony Glees, Are British universities hotbeds of Islamic radicalism?, 3 Dec 08

And from the report's author: Guardian, June Edmunds, Look elsewhere for the enemy within

I haven't been able to track down the report yet.

AFP, US to use Web 2.0 to win "war of ideas": US image-maker, 2 Dec 08 "The United States is embracing social networks and other Web 2.0 tools to win the "war of ideas" with Islamic militants and other extremist groups, a top US policy-maker said Monday.

""In the war of ideas our core task in 2008 is to create an environment hostile to violent extremism," said James Glassman, the US undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs."
Ayman al-Zawahiri

AFP/, Qaeda deputy lauds dead Bali bombers, slams Saudis "Al-Qaeda number two Ayman Zawahiri paid tribute to three Indonesian Islamists executed last month for the deadly Bali bombings in 2002, in an Internet audio message released on Monday."
Mumbai update

Times of India, Terror mail routed through Pakistan's Lahore, 2 Dec 08 "Indian agencies tracing the source of the email sent by an outfit calling itself Deccan Mujahideen to a TV channel claiming responsibility for the terror attacks on Mumbai have found that the text was routed through Lahore in Pakistan before travelling to different locations through anonymous "remailer" service."

Also see Times of India, Deccan Mujahideen's e-mail traced to Pak [video]

Reuters ASfrica, Two terrorism suspects arrested in Italy, 2 Dec 08

"Ilhami and Ghafir, who had been living in Italy for around 10 years, downloaded information about bomb-building from the Internet. They also discussed potential targets in conversations monitored by police with eavesdropping devices."

Reuters, Islamic extremists being coaxed toward YouTube, 2 Dec 08 " Islamic extremists are being instructed on how to use the popular video-sharing site YouTube as a way to disseminate propaganda videos, a U.S.-based terrorism monitor said on Tuesday.

"Militants are being encouraged to use the online site through postings on other Islamic forums on the Internet, according to the SITE Intelligence Group."

Monday, December 01, 2008

Mumbai II

Couriermail/Sunday Mail, Terrorists turn technology into weapon of war in Mumbai, 30 Nov 08 "THEIR battle fatigues are jeans, T-shirts and trainers. They are the new breed of terrorist – using everyday technology as a weapon of war.

"Among their arsenal of weapons are bags of almonds and BlackBerry mobile phones – almonds to keep their energy up, and the mobile internet connections to stay one step ahead of police and the military."
Mumbai I

Times of India, Muslims speak out against terror online, 30 Nov 08 "Muslims protesting online against violence and fundamentalism find themselves cornered by radical elements in their community. Posts by on online communities like express fear of retaliation against Muslims after the Mumbai terror attack."

Friday, November 28, 2008

Ayman al-Zawahri

AP, Al-Qaida No. 2 to US: Overcome meltdown with Islam, 28 Nov 08, "Al-Qaida's No. 2 leader appeared in a new video posted Friday calling on Americans to embrace Islam to overcome the financial meltdown, which he said was a consequence of the Sept. 11 attacks and militant strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Ayman al-Zawahri, whose 80-minute recording touched on a number of subjects, also lashed out at Afghanistan's government and said any U.S. gains in Iraq will be temporary."

Arabic Network for Human Rights Information/, Egypt: Blogger Arrested, Detained in Unknown Location, 27 Nov 08, "The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) has condemned the security forces' arrest of blogger Mohamed Adel, who runs Meit blog ( Adel has been kidnapped and held in an unknown place since 20 November 2008."

Two related links: Facebook: The Freedom To Mohamed Adel الحرية للمدون محمد عادل "العميد ميت" and
Saudi Arabia

Saudi Gazette, Research needed into causes of terrorism – Naif , 28 Nov 08, Report on Prince Naif Bin Abdul Aziz, Minister of Interior, who gave a speech at the Islamic University in Madina: "The Prince also commented on the use of the Internet which is widely believed to be used to recruit youth and attract them toward deviant thought by saying that the Internet can be used in both meaningful and harmful ways, and while there is no international law limiting freedom of speech we have to be able to distinguish between the good and the bad."
Mumbai - updates

Times of India comprehensive coverage, including live feeds of

Reuters, Blogs feed information frenzy on Mumbai attacks, 27 Nov 08 "Twitter came in for some criticism as well in the blogosphere for divulging too many details that could prove helpful to the gunmen holed up in the hotels with their hostages and who may have been monitoring blog sites."

Telegraph, Mumbai attacks: Twitter and Flickr used to break news, 27 Nov 08 "Mere moments after the first shots were fired, Twitter users in India, and especially in Mumbai, were providing instant eyewitness accounts of the unfolding drama."

Links to Mumbai Metblogs, GoogleMaps: Mumbai Attacks, Twitter: #Mumbai, and flickr: Vinu's photostream [these have been cited elsewhere]

Guardian, Twitter comes of age with fast reports from the ground, 28 Nov 08 "In many cases, Twitter updated developments faster than many TV networks or newspaper websites. The site's contributors also questioned the veracity of some news reports, pointing out contradictions and errors. When Indian reporters announced that the siege at the Taj hotel was over, for example, Twitter contended that gunfights were continuing. "Locals say gunfire still happening at TAJ," said one feed, hours after fighting was said to have finished. "Twitter comes of age - Mumbai coverage way ahead of traditional media," added another contributor."

Scotsman, Mumbai attacks: Was computer expert aged 36 the mastermind?, 28 Nov 08 "Alex Neill, head of the Royal United Services Institute's Asia security programme, believes the attacks were probably carried out by local jihadists linked to the radical Students Islamic Movement of India (Simi), a banned Islamic fundamentalist organisation which advocates the "liberation of India" by converting it to an Islamic state.

"One possible mastermind and Simi member is Abdul Subhan Qureshi, a 36-year-old computer engineer suspected of being behind multiple bombings in Delhi, Jaipur, Bangalore and Ahmedabad earlier this year."

Guardian, Mumbai terror attacks: Who could be behind them?, 27 Nov 08 "Security experts however remained sceptical about the existence of the Deccan Mujahideen. Such emails have been issued in the past by other jihadi outfits that have attacked Indian cities. What was unusual this time was the fact that the message was written in Hindi, and not, as on all previous occasions, in English.

"An Indian TV news channel also reported that the internet connection used to send the email had been traced to Russia. "There are no 'indicators of authenticity' in this email," intelligence expert B Raman told NewsX channel. By adopting the name Deccan Mujahideen, analysts felt, the organisation behind the attack appeared to be trying to make it seem like the gunmen were from the Deccan plateau region in southern India, one of whose premier cities, Hyderabad, has a politically vocal Muslim population."

Thursday, November 27, 2008


hotklix, Email by Deccan Mujahideen, 27 Nov 08 "An organization calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for attacks in Mumbai India that have killed at least 80 people and wounded over 250. The group sent an email to news organizations claiming responsibility." [also see, Deccan Mujahideen claims responsibility for Mumbai attacks, 27 Nov 08

Metro, Bloggers Twitter about terror attacks, 27 Nov 08, "Bloggers across Mumbai fed live updates of the action after the terror attacks broke out, highlighting the emergence of citizen journalism."

Times of India (rolling coverage)

AP, 101 killed as gunmen rampage in India city, 27 Nov 08

BBC News, Indian PM vows action on attacks, 27 Nov 08 "A group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for the attacks but little is known of it.

"The men were of South Asian appearance and reportedly spoke Hindi, indicating they originated in India."

Guardian, Indian commandos storm Mumbai hotels, 27 Nov 08 (video)
al-Jazeera, Al Jazeera Launches Citizen Journalism Platform ‘Sharek’, 26 Nov 08 "Sharek enables users to upload video material that they’ve recorded using their webcams, video cams or mobile phones; reporting the news that is happening around them.

"Other than uploading content through the website, user media content can also be sent via email or directly from their mobiles."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


AFP/, Two Germans Arrested Over Alleged Al-Qaida Propaganda, 25 Nov 08 ""The accused are strongly suspected of running several German-language websites with the label 'Global Islamic Media Front' and thus providing support for foreign terrorist groups including al-Qaida, al-Qaida in Iraq and Ansar Al-Islam, as well as seeking to recruit members or supporters," the prosecutor's office said in a statement."

Reuters, Germany arrests Internet terror suspects, 25 Nov 08 "Federal police (BKA) officers arrested two suspects on Tuesday -- identified by the prosecutors office as Daniel P., 26, from Biberach and Harun Can A., 23, of Schlangen. A third man, Irfan P., 19, was already in detention for other offences."


LA Times, An inside look at Islamic militants, 25 Nov 08 Interview with Farhad Khosrokhavar (whose research is well worth consulting): "The Iranian French professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes de Sciences Sociales here has explored the underworld of Islamic extremism through rare access to impeccable sources: the militants themselves. He has conducted in-depth interviews in French prisons with 15 inmates convicted of terrorism-related offenses such as the assassination by Al Qaeda agents of an anti-Taliban leader in Afghanistan and a plot to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Paris."

Krosrokhavar has a new book out, which I look forward to reading: Inside Jihadism: Understanding Jihadi Movements Worldwide, (The Yale Cultural Sociology Series, Paradigm Publishing)
Malaysia Yoga Fatwa, Malay fatwa on yoga triggers controversy, 25 Nov 08 "The National Fatwa Council last week issued the edict, deeming as ‘haram’ (prohibited) the practice of the ancient Indian fitness regime that aims at mental and physical well-being. The council said that yoga contained chanting and worshipping also. However, several people have objected to it, adding to the ongoing debate whether Muslims should be asked to eschew yoga on the ground that it diluted Islamic values. The Sultan of Selangor state said the fatwa could not be implemented in his state as it had not been presented to the state fatwa committee."

The Star Online, Consider fatwa very carefully, says Nazrin, 26 Nov 08 "Kelantan PAS secretary Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said he believed the exercise routine was permissible but not the elements of chanting.

"He said the Chinese ancient fitness regiment of tai chi was practised widely by some Muslims here because it was just an exercise and did not have elements tied to any religion.

""I tend to disagree if the exercise component of yoga is banned but our religious clerics will decide on this," he said."

Spiegel Online, Fatwa Issued Against Italian Politician, 24 Nov 08, "He likes to express controversial opinions, like the notion that police should "ethnically cleanse" homosexuals or that immigrants in public parks should be "dressed up like rabbits" and used for target practice. But now Giancarlo Gentilini, the deputy mayor of the northeastern Italian city of Treviso, has reportedly had a fatwa declared against him."
Belgium/Netherlands, Belgian Broadcasters receive video terror threat "In total three DVDs were sent to the editors of broadcasters VRT and VTM and to the alternative news site Indymedia. The DVDs show three masked men against a background of a sheet with Muslim writing." Includes transcript.
Dr. Fadl

Asharq Al-Awsat, Profile: Controversial Jihad Theoretician Dr. Fadl, 25 Nov 08

"Though many Islamic Group leaders announced their initiative for stopping violence in 1997 during their stay in jails, these reviews were no more than local and partial ones and there were deep doubts about them, unlike Fadl's reviews which were seen as a new jurisprudent vision contrary to the former stand on jihadist operation. The document, which gained much credence among the jihadist circles, stressed in some parts that "all the jihadist movements in the world should rationalize their operations according to the Shariaa rules, especially after the appearance of updated versions of killing in the name of jihad which involved breaches of the Shariaa. For a Muslim to set out for himself a target, though originally a legitimate one, but which is beyond his capability and does not suit his conditions and then use any means to achieve his aim without being restricted by the Shariaa rules has nothing to do with Islam. Do not cancel your intellect and do not follow the internet heroes who are flying the statements inciting the youths.""

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Qantara, Rapping for the Holy War?, Nov 08 "Islamists in the United Kingdom are using rap music videos as a call to arms to recruit young people for the holy war. Are young people being radicalised as a result or simply adopting Islam as a posture? Matthias Becker investigates." I have also written about this, for a forthcoming publication. Some interesting internet related material is on's blog.
A Common Word

Reuters India, Christian-Muslim dialogue spreading like the Internet, 24 Nov 08 "Aref Ali Nayed of the Common Word dialogue drive launched by 138 Islamic scholars said the Internet was making contacts among experts quicker and easier while serving as a paradigm for the decentralised dialogue that suits the information age."


The Official Website of a Common Word

Jeffrey Fleishman, LA Times, Where the prayer caller sounds a timeless note, 24 Nov 08 "Twenty years have brought many changes to this Egyptian neighborhood, but the same voice still floats from the minaret." non-tech (nice article!)

Hamid Tehrani, Global Voices Advocacy, Iran: Cyber Writers Jailed and Threatened and Millions of Sites Filtered, 23 Nov 08 "Iranian cyber writers are facing a very difficult time. We can summarize Iran’s current situation in three words: Jail, Filtering and Threats.", fReligious online matchmaking sites boom in Germany - Feature, 24 Nov 08 "Germany's first Islamic marriage institute was created in 2005 by Munich-based Samer Fahed, who is of German-Palestinian descent. He claims his online site has attracted thousands of clients, including in some cases, recent women converts to Islam.

"The institute specializes in matching people belonging to the country's near 3.5 million-strong Muslim community. But when non- Muslim men eager to marry Muslim women show interest they are politely told Muslim women aren't permitted to marry non-Muslim men unless they convert to Islam, explains Fahed.

"The helps "match" those who are genuinely interested in starting a family, he says. Occasionally their profiles reveal whether they read the Koran on a regular basis, or have ever made a pilgrimage to Mecca."

Holy Land Foundation

AP, Holy Land retrial ends in sweeping guilty verdicts, 25 Nov 08 "After 15 years and two trials, the government has finally brought down the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, once the largest Muslim charity in the U.S."

Also see, Holy Land investigation dates back to 1993, 24 Nov 08

BBC News, Mauritanians jailed over al-Qaeda, 24 Nov 08

"An internet message purported to be from the North African wing of al-Qaeda in August urged Mauritanians to take up arms against General Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz and the other military officers who toppled the country's first democratically-elected president."

Monday, November 24, 2008


Telegraph, White Muslim convert who bombed restaurant blamed Britain's 'war on Islam', 22 Nov 08 strong internet link to this case of convert Nick Reilly (Mohamad Abdulaziz Rashid Saeed-Alim)

El Khabar, Droukdel’s AIM likely to lose internet propaganda war, 23 Nov 08 "Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AIM) face significant difficulties in terms of promoting its terror acts, following the suspension of several websites and forums that used to be used for such purpose. However, AIM has been forced to find a new promotion solution, like engraving CDs bearing its armed activities, and distributing them on citizens in bogus checkpoints."

alJazeera, Iran executes 'Mossad spy', 22 Nov 08 "An Iranian electronics salesman accused of passing information about the country's atomic energy programme to the Israelis has been hanged, a spokesman for the judiciary has said."

Press TV Iran, Iran executes Mossad spy, 22 Nov 08 "Ashtari confessed that Mossad had paid him $50,000 to buy internet cables and satellite phones and then sell them on to 'special customers' in the hope of enabling Israel to spy on their communications.

"Israeli 'handlers,' whom Ashtari met in Thailand, Turkey and Switzerland, wanted him "to sell these terminals in Iran to special customers so they could hack into this equipment," he said."

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Iran VNC, RSF condemns arrest of two Internet journalists in Iran, 21 Nov 08

"The press freedom watchdog, Reporters without Borders [RSF], today condemned the arrest of online journalist, Shahrnaz Gholamni, saying Iran’s authorities detained her "without any official reason being given."

"Gholami, the editor of the Azar Zan weblog, was arrested at her residence in Tehran on 9 November. She had been sentenced on 20 September to six months in prison by the Revolution Court of the northwestern city of Tabriz for propaganda against the Islamic Republic system, but remained free pending the outcome an appeal, the report adds."

Friday, November 21, 2008


AFP, Iran blocks access to over five million websites: report, 20 Nov 08 "In its latest edition, Sobh-e Sadegh, the publication of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, said, "The Internet, satellite (channels) and text messages played an important role in colour revolutions in Serbia, Ukraine and Georgia."

"The weekly said Internet search engines Yahoo and Google, BBC and CNN televisions and even international news agencies including "Reuters, Associated Press, UPI, AFP and DPA" operated as "tools of diplomacy conducted through media."

"The magazine accused the European Union of seeking to "develop anti-Iranian cyber space" by supporting dissident bloggers."

Also see The Media Line, YouTube, Facebook Banned in Iran, 20 Nov 08 "Iran has decided to block some five million websites, whose content is mostly perceived as immoral and anti-social, a local judiciary official was quoted as saying by various news wires.

"Hugely popular sites such as YouTube and Facebook were among the ones that were blocked."
Hossein Derakhshan

Times Online, Iranian 'Blogfather' Hossein Derakhshan is arrested on charge of spying for Israel, 20 Nov 08 "A prominent Iranian blogger, nicknamed the Blogfather for spawning Iran’s spectacular blogging revolution, has been arrested in Tehran and accused of spying for Israel.

"Hossein Derakhshan, who was last based in London after spending several years in Canada, returned to live in his homeland a few weeks ago."

Also see

Guardian, Iranian blogger arrested 'as Israeli spy', 19 Nov 08

CTV, Iran's pioneer blogger arrested in Tehran: report, 19 Nov 08

Ha'aretz, Iranian blogger who visited Israel arrested for spying, 18 Nov 08 "Hossein Derakhshan, the Iranian blogger who visited Israel in 2007, was recently arrested in Teheran upon his return from Canada. The Iranian blogger, who also holds Canadian citizenship, admitted to being involved in espionage for Israel, the Iranian news Website Jahan News reported Monday."

Derakhshan's blog has been referred to several times in my work, including the next book, and has also been cited in this blog. The blog can be found here: Editor:Myself and (in its Persian version) here: سردبير: خودم

Mind, Body, Soul, New Website 'heads-up' on + comment

Ahmed Benchemsi,, One of Our Own: The purpose of Al Qaeda's latest video message is to get Muslims to hate Barack Obama. It didn't work. 20 Nov 08 "The video message from Al Qaeda's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in which he called Barack Obama a "house Negro," demonstrates, if anything, that the terrorists are always damn good in PR. You feel disgusted? Horrified? That's exactly their aim. In this regard, Zawahiri's diabolical comparison of Obama and Malcolm X ("an honorable American who converted to Islam," as Zawahiri put it) is an even bolder move: not only do they insult the American president-elect, but they rub it into one of America's deepest wounds—the racial divisions and the profound antagonisms generated by Malcolm X's radical claims. In terms of "hatred arts," this is just brilliant. Those who are shocked by Zawahiri's words have merely to remember: spreading hate is the terrorists' job. Hating you is not enough; they also need you to hate them, so the struggle goes on unchallenged."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


AP, Al-Qaida No. 2 insults Obama in new audio message, 19 Nov 08, "Al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri insulted Barack Obama in the terror group's first reaction to his election, calling him a demeaning racial term implying that the president-elect is a black American who does the bidding of whites."

I'm presently watching this video, which includes archive clips of Malcolm X. The commentary is subtitled in Arabic (and English for the Malcolm X clips), although some of the meaning is slightly shifted (see AP report). Full transcripts can be found online, with copies of the video.
Photo Research

Google Blog, LIFE Photo Archive available on Google Image Search, 18 Nov 2008 "We're excited to announce the availability of never-before-seen images from the LIFE photo archive. This effort to bring offline images online was inspired by our mission to organize all the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. This collection of newly-digitized images includes photos and etchings produced and owned by LIFE dating all the way back to the 1750s."

Interesting, in the context of this blog, because there are some important archive images relating to Islam, Muslims, and Muslim cultures/societies/history available in this archive. I did a few basic key word searches, and some were more successful than others:


Clearly, the more refined the better(!), but this will become more relevant as more of the archive becomes available.
Social Networking 1: Muxlim Pal

Muxlim blog, 50,000+ Google Results for Muxlim Pal, 18 Nov 08 "Our upcoming virtual world Muxlim Pal, which is due to launch in a few weeks has generated a massive amount of attention. The term 'Muxlim Pal' on Google generates over 50,000 search results."
Social Networking 2:, Releases More Features And New Design, 17 Nov 08 ", the Muslim community portal, that also integrates a social networking and user generated content platform, has just rolled out a new look, unveiling a new logo and a re-design for their whole website." Details:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


The National, Sun not to set on Middle Eastern operations, 17 Nov 08, "Sun, one of the world’s largest computer systems companies, revealed last week that it would aggressively cut jobs and streamline operations to remain profitable in a deteriorating economic environment. But the company’s Middle East managing director said yesterday that it was 'business as usual' for the region."
New Publication

The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion, edited by Peter B. Clarke (Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology) has recently been published. It's an extremely comprehensive volume, with a wide-range of subject matter, including a chapter by myself on 'Religion and the Internet'.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fatwa call centre, Fatwa call centre sets minds at rest, 17 Nov 08 "Is it against the teachings of Islam to use Viagra? Is it dishonest to "piggyback" on your neighbour's wireless internet connection? Can you use diet patches while fasting during Ramadan?

"These are just three of the thousands of questions posed to the United Arab Emirates' official fatwa call centre, which was officially inaugurated in August to provide definitive religious rulings to believers."

AFP, European Islamic media network in the works, 15 Nov 08

""We hope to create a better understanding of the Muslim faith and provide information on Islam at a European level," the director of French Muslim news and networking site SaphirNews, Mohammed Colin, told reporters.

"Colin co-hosted the meeting of about 30 representatives of Muslim media and community groups from across Europe to discuss the creation of the network together with the director of Spanish Muslim site Webislamica, Yusuf Fernandez."
Germany, Muslim Scholar at German University Voices Doubts About Prophet, 16 Nov 08 "A Muslim scholar at a German university was told to stop teaching secondary-school instructors about Islam after he publicly voiced doubts about whether the Prophet Muhammad really existed." Plenty of online discussion about this case (including comments on this article).

Friday, November 14, 2008

Jihad Unspun: Khadija Abdul Qahaar, Abducted B.C. journalist was working for Al Jazeera, 14 Nov 08 "Beverly Giesbrecht, a West Vancouver woman who converted to Islam in 2002 and adopted the name Khadija Abdul Qahaar, was on a freelance assignment for the Al Jazeera network when she was abducted in northern Pakistan this week.

"Ms. Giesbrecht, a former magazine publisher in British Columbia who runs a website that is critical of the U.S.-led war on terror and the mainstream media's coverage of it, had ventured into the highly dangerous North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, when she was taken at gunpoint out of a taxi, along with her translator.

"A few weeks before she was seized on Tuesday, Ms. Giesbrecht, whom friends described as "tough and fearless," appealed through her website, Jihad Unspun (, for financial help to get out of the country."

See: Jihad Unspun, An Urgent Request From Khadija Abdul Qahaar.

There's also a video report on CTV, Kidnapped journalist warned of 'close calls', 13 Nov 08

I have previously written about Jihad Unspun in my books.

Asian News, Trip of a lifetime for newlyweds, 13 Nov 08 "A newly married Muslim couple are about to embark of a trip of a lifetime thanks to a dating website."
Saudi Arabia

Human Rights Watch/, UN: World Leaders Should Press Saudis on Intolerance, 11 Nov 08 "On September 22, 2008, Human Rights Watch detailed the systematic discrimination by Saudi authorities against its own Muslim Ismaili Shia minority in a report, "The Ismailis of Najran: Second-Class Saudi Citizens." The group, the Ismailis of Najran, in southwestern Saudi Arabia, is discriminated against in government employment. High officials publicly disparage their faith and prohibit them from teaching their religion or building new mosques. Ismailis are discriminated against under the religious law that is applied in all aspects of the justice system. Wahhabi judges have banned Ismaili lawyers from courtrooms and forcibly divorced an Ismaili man from his Sunni wife, deeming the man religiously "inadequate.""

The PDF of the Human Rights Watch report The Ismailis of Najran: Second-Class Saudi Citizens is here in English and Arabic. Relevant for this blog, as there are references to the use of the internet in the report.
Related Research

Three significant articles have appeared in Arab Media & Society, covering useful elements associated with net research and with relevance to this blog:

Firstly, the following piece explores the blogosphere's development in Egypt: Courtney C. Radsch, Core to Commonplace: The evolution of Egypt’s blogosphere, "Over the past five years there have been three identifiable stages in the development of the Egyptian blogosphere, each shaped by key episodes of contention. These episodes, which pitted political movements against the state, reveal the mechanisms by which virtual media power is transformed into moments of political struggle through activism, newsmaking, and online interaction."

The next article discusses (among other things) the impact of Facebook in Egypt: David Faris, Revolutions Without Revolutionaries? Network Theory, Facebook, and the Egyptian Blogosphere "On the morning of April 6th, 2008, a small group of Egyptian bloggers and activists made their way from one internet cafe to another, updating web sites and Twitter feeds dedicated to the day’s tumultuous events in Cairo and other cities. They generously allowed me to spend the day with them, to see what they were up to and how they were using the tools of Web 2.0 to facilitate political protest and social action in Egypt."

The influence of blogging is discussed in this overview of the 'Imad al-Kabir incident: Tom Isherwood, A new direction or more of the same? "The original incident for which the two police officers were ultimately convicted occurred in January 2006 when 21-year-old ‘Imad al-Kabir, a Cairo minibus driver, intervened in a fight between his cousin and two plainclothes police officers. ‘Imad was taken back to the police station where he was beaten and sodomized with a stick. The whole ordeal was recorded on one of the officers’ cell phones in order to send the clip to local minibus drivers to further humiliate ‘Imad.

"The video did not circulate widely until November 2006 when it was sent to the blogger with the penname Demagh MAK. He posted it on his Arabic-language blog[ii] and soon it was picked up by other bloggers, including perhaps Egypt’s most influential political blogger, Wael Abbas, who writes a blog entitled al-Wa‘i al-Masri (Egyptian Awareness).[iii] It was then picked up by the newspapers al-Fagr[iv] and al-Masry al-Youm[v], after which ‘Imad was identified and persuaded to name his tormentors and pursue the case. This was not all without cost to ‘Imad, who was sentenced to three months in prison for “resisting authorities” in connection with the same incident. During the trial of the police officers, the cell phone video spread by bloggers was a critical piece of evidence and, to the surprise of many observers, the trial found the two police officers guilty."

All three articles are well worth reading. I found them via Abu Aardvark - the AMS RSS was broken.
aQ 2.0, Law & Disorder, Julian Sanchez, Al Qaeda 2.0, 11 Nov 08 "George Washington University polisci prof Marc Lynch blogs a few of the core points from a recent talk on how trends in tech were likely to affect the Al Qaeda terror network.

"Lynch—perhaps better known in the blogosphere as "Abu Aardvark"—splits the Al Qaeda mission into outreach and operations. About the latter phase, he doesn't have much to say, though he suggests in passing that developments in the tech that's relevant to executing terror attacks may be working in Osama bin Laden's favor."

This refer's to "Marc Lynch's article in Abu Aardvark, AQ and IT, which notes: "One way to think about how AQ will adapt to new information technologies is to look at how they adapted to past innovations. Over the last decade, Arabic satellite television was a key vehicle for the first stage. Al-Jazeera and its counterparts helped bring al-Qaeda's ideas and discourse to a broad public, and to mainstream their ideas of a clash of civilizations. AQ adapted extremely well to the new Arabic TV environment in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Bin Laden was able to reach a mass audience previously unavailable to such ideologues, and at times to dominate the news agenda."

I discuss some of these issues in my next book (details in side bar).

Wired, Search Engine With Roots in Genomics Unlocks Deep Web, 11 Nov 08

"DeepDyve is designed to search the 99 percent (they say, citing a study from UC Berkeley) of hits not picked up by other search engines, which return pages based largely on interpretations of popularity and work only if a page is findable. Content hidden behind paywalls or that is not linked to enough sites to gain page rank remains obscure, but often contains the source material required for serious research."

Requires password and log-in; the system isn't issuing these straight away due to popular demand etc, so I can't comment on its relevance in this subject sphere. Hope to find out more next week.


Middle East Online, CIA chief: Bin Laden is isolated, 14 Nov 08 "Osama bin Laden, deeply isolated and likely near the rugged Afghanistan-Pakistan border, has been forced to devote much of his energy to his own security while his Al-Qaeda terror network remains resilient, CIA Director Michael Hayden said Thursday."
Jordan, Queen Rania of Jordan gets YouTube award, 13 Nov 08, "Jordan's Queen Rania will accept an award from Internet video-sharing website YouTube for her efforts to help prevent Muslims and Arabs from being stereotyped, her office said on Thursday."

Spiegel Online, German Parliament Passes Anti-Terror Law, 13 Nov 08

"For months, a large number of Germans have fretted over whether federal lawmakers would grant federal police aggressive evidence-gathering abilities to combat terrorism. They feared they could be similar to the highly developed -- and criticized -- ones enjoyed by the FBI or those portrayed in "The Lives of Others," the Oscar-winning film about an eavesdropper working for the Stasi, the secret police of the former East Germany.

"On Wednesday, a partial answer finally came, when the lower house of the German parliament, the Bundestag, approved anti-terrorism legislation that will vastly expand the cyber-spying powers of the federal police to gather information from the computers, telephone lines and homes of suspected terrorists."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Journey of the Soul

Birmingham Mail, Spiritual lessons curb extremism, 13 Nov 08 "Young Muslims in Birmingham are being given lessons in “spiritual well-being” using a £2.4 million Government fund to fight violent extremism.

"The Journey of the Soul is one of 10 city council projects paid for from a three-year grant under the Home Office’s Pathfinder initiative." non-tech

AFP, Pentagon launches TroopTube, its own YouTube, 12 Nov 08

"In May 2007, the Pentagon banned US servicemen using Department of Defense computer systems from using YouTube, MySpace and 10 other social-networking websites.

"It said the ban was intended to prevent military Internet connections from being clogged with uploads or downloads of data-rich files such as video clips."

TroopTube is here
Human Rights Issues

Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)/, Egypt: Blogger's Health Deteriorates in Prison - Another Blogger Marks Second Anniversary in Prison, 12 Nov 08 "On 8 November 2008, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) released a statement expressing its deep concern about the harassment suffered by Kareem Amir in the Borg Al Arab prison in the Alexandria desert, and also about the sharp deterioration in the health of prisoner-of-conscience Mosaad Abu Fajr, who was unable to stand during a visit by ANHRI lawyers to the prison on 6 November."
Internet TV, Biz Report Middle East, First Corporate Internet TV Channel In The Middle East, 11 Nov 08 "Biz Report Middle East (BRME) was recently launched as the Middle East’s first dedicated corporate web television channel. This Middle East channel will be the first of a series of similar channels to be launched around the world over the next 6 - 12 months. Future channels will include Biz Report North America, Biz Report Europe, Biz Report Sub Continent, and Biz Report Far East & Pacific."
Fake NY Times

BBC News,
Pranksters print spoof NY Times, 12 Nov 08
"A fake edition of the New York Times announcing the end of the Iraq war has been handed out to commuters in the US.

"More than one million free copies of the 14-page "special edition" newspaper were distributed, mainly in the cities of New York and Los Angeles."

Here's the link. Unfortunately, the PDF is not available, and it is not possible to go further into the fake paper. Apparently, they are for sale on e-Bay(!), according to the coverage in Some of the 'stories' could relate to this blog.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Guardian, Migration roots, 12 Nov 08 "The first mosque to open in the UK was not in Birmingham or Bradford, or even London. It was in Glyn Rhondda Street in Cardiff. And those who set it up were not Pakistani but Yemeni - or, to be more specific, they were sailors who came to Welsh and English ports on coal-burning ships from British-colonised Aden in the later part of the 19th century." Review/photos of a book Coal, Frankincense and Myrrh: Photographs of Yemen and British Yemenis, by Tim Smith, (Dewi Lewis) Also see MuseumSheffiled, Coal, Frankincense and Myrrh. Non-tech, but great photos
Canada - allegations, Mosque fights for human rights as it smears West, Jews online, 12 Nov 08 "A mosque asking that Canadian workplaces respect a strict Muslim dress code is at the same time disseminating slurs against Jews and Western societies, and warning members against social integration.

"The Khalid Bin Al-Walid Mosque near Kipling Ave. and Rexdale Blvd. serves as the religious authority for eight Somali women complaining to the Canadian Human Rights Commission that UPS Canada Ltd. violated their religious rights at a sorting plant. The mosque, founded in 1990 and serving upwards of 10,000 people, preaches strict adherence to sharia, or Islamic law, and no compromise with the West.

"Teachings on the mosque's website,, refer to non-Muslim Westerners as "wicked," "corrupt" and "our clear enemies."" is still online, although I haven't looked at it closely.
Gulf PC sales up, Gulf's PC shipments soar 78% in third quarter, 12 Nov 08 "According to International Data Corporation (IDC), Qatar was the fastest-growing market with a year-on-year growth of 103.38 per cent followed by the UAE with 88 per cent, Saudi Arabia with 76.14 per cent, Oman with 56.88 per cent, Bahrain with 50.85 per cent and Kuwait with 43.33 per cent."

Asharq Alawsat, Saudi Internet Users Prefer Google, 11 Nov 08 "According to Google Trends, an online services that charts how often a particular search term is entered relative the total search volume across various regions of the world, and in various languages, Saudi Arabia is the leading Arab nation when it comes to online searches dealing with the stock market, market trends and real-estate within the last ten month period.

"Despite the fact the unemployment in the kingdom dropped by 1.4 percent this year, Saudis also ranked first in their online searches for unemployment and job recruitment websites, particularly in Mecca which came first in terms of the number of navigators searching unemployment-related websites."

AFP/, Al-Qaeda in Iraq weakened but not vanquished: analysts "The jihadists of Al-Qaeda in Iraq are weakened but may regain influence, especially if integration of the anti-Qaeda Sahwa forces into Iraq's security structure is unsuccessful, analysts say.

"The recently-begun process of transferring supervision of the Sahwa (Awakening) groups from the United States military to the Iraqi government is the key issue, according to Mohammed al-Masri, of the University of Jordan Centre for Strategic Studies."

The Age, Five would-be terrorists prepared for violent jihad - court, Nov 11, 2008 "Five extreme Muslims believed Australia's military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq was an act of aggression against Muslims that warranted a violent jihad, a Sydney jury has been told."

Associated Press, Taliban urges Obama to end Bush's foreign policies, 12 Nov 08 "The message posted on a Web site used by the Taliban claimed Obama's victory "reveals the collective willingness of American people not to continue the current despicable and anti-human wars in Afghanistan and Iraq," SITE Intelligence Group said.

"The authors claimed that Obama had promised to end Bush's policies pledging to "recover the dwindling American economy and find a niche in the comity of nations.""
Farrakhan on Obama, Farrakhan finally speaks on Obama, 10 Nov 08 "During his 90-minute address, which was simultaneously broadcast on the Internet, Farrakhan also talked extensively about the country's economic problems and his fear of the collapse of the U.S. financial system.

"As exciting as Obama's win may be, Farrakhan cautioned that the crowd of about 2,500 people should not only be rejoicing. "There's nothing funny about what this young man has to face," Farrakhan said.

"He urged the audience to protect Obama and to become personally responsible for helping the country improve.

""Don't do this young man harm," Farrakhan said. "This man not only needs our protection and divine protection, he needs all of us . . . to ask, 'What can I do to make him a successful president?'""

Also see: The Nation of Islam Online Ministry, Sunday November 9, 2008 - Mosque Maryam, Chicago, IL

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Journalist Kidnapped

AKI, Afghanistan: American journalist kidnapped by Taliban, 11 Nov 08 "David Rohde, a journalist working for the US daily The New York Times, was abducted along with his driver and interpreter by a Taliban group known as Siraj Haqqani and has been taken to eastern Afghanistan, sources told Adnkronos International (AKI)."
Pakistan Legislation

Noah Shachtman, Wired, Pakistan Declares Death Penalty for 'Cyber Terror', 7 Nov 08 "American officials can have some pretty over-the-top reactions to hackers and so-called cyber terrorists. Once, I saw a briefing comparing our own Kevin Poulsen to Osama bin Laden and Pablo Escobar -- seriously. But the U.S. has nothing on Pakistan, when it comes to cyber terror paranoia. Yesterday, Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari signed a law making cyber terror a crime "punishable with death."

"Executions will only be allowed if the hack attack "causes [the] death of any person," the Prevention of Electronic Crimes law states."

Also see: Telecom Grid Pakistan, 'Cyber terrorists' to get death penalty thread.

Dawn, Cyber crime & punishment, 10 Nov 08 Cache copy (the original has disappeared): "We support the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in its criticism of the death penalty for cyber crimes. Who gets to define what a ‘cyber terrorist’ really is? Should we put to death a person who mouths off in the heat of the moment only to regret it in the cold light of day? Should we execute impressionable teenagers who may have been misguided by the hate-mongers among us? And do we really have enough confidence in the investigation procedures of the police in this country to put to death a person who may have confessed to a crime under duress? Torture is routine in Pakistan, everyone knows that. Yet there are people who believe in an eye for an eye, even when they are unsure if the accused is really guilty. The prime minister has said on a number of occasions that the death penalty should be abolished. He should live up to his word. Besides saving lives, the move will only improve Pakistan’s battered image in the comity of nations."