Wednesday, April 30, 2008

aQIM, Tunisia warned about al Qaeda's 'spectacular' hits, 29 Apr 08 "In various messages, some on the Internet, al Qaeda has warned of the "approaching punishment" for Tunisian President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, "whose regime obeys orders of the West and combats the Islamic veil." Tunisia has banned women's head scarves in public buildings, considering them to be a political statement."
Bank of Israel Hacked

Globes online, Fischer incensed at website security breakdown, 30 Apr 08 "Radical Islamic hackers using an Algerian server broke into the Bank of Israel's website for the public on the night of last Thursday-Friday. The website only came back on line on Monday. However, the hackers launched a new attack immediately afterwards, forcing the website back off the air for a few minutes. Although operating, the Bank of Israel's website is now less user-friendly than before."

Deutsche Welle, German Islamist Issues Call for Jihad in Internet Video, 30 Apr 08, "The video, posted on the "Time for Martyrdom" Web site, shows 20-year-old Eric B. from the western state of Saarland wearing an ammunitions belt and holding a machine gun. The mountainous backdrop has led some to believe it was filmed in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Facebook > Egypt

Diana Mukkaled, Asharq Alawsat, Egypt's Facebook Girl, 28 Apr 08 "To this day, the Egyptians still cannot fathom how this girl through a group invitation on Facebook managed to draw approximately 70,000 members who joined the group on the world's most famous interactive website.

"Esraa's Facebook group succeeding in doing what Egyptian political groups failed to achieve, and it would be hard to believe that she could have been aware of the magnitude of the response she got for setting up the group."

To get up to speed on this, see:, MB chief denounces arrest of Facebook activist; mother appeals to President Mubarak, 21 Apr 08 and,, Facebook activist released Wednesday, says she was well treated, 24 Apr 08. "Facebook activist Esraa Abdel Fattah was released from Al-Qanater women’s prison on Wednesday night after Minister of Interior Habib El-Adly issued a special release order."

Also see: Facebook, Free Esraa and her Companions! أفرجوا عن إسراء ورفاقه "Esraa has been released on the evening of the 23rd of April, after having suffered from physical illness secondary to ill-treatment as she was kept with ordinary criminals. She has been ordered by the authorities to avoid going back to her facebook activities and prohibited from participating in a planned strike on the 4th of May."

The protest blog relating to 6 Apr 08 can be found here.

A related story comes from the Ikhwan's European website:, Blogger Mamdouh Al-Moniyar Referred to Forensic Medicine After Torture, 27 Apr 08 "Mahalla"s Prosecution has ordered Blogger Mamdouh al-Moniyar referred to forensic medicine department to examine his gross physical injuries as a result of torture at the hands of state security officers in Mahalla."
RFE/RL Attacked

AFP, US radio websites in Eastern Europe hit by cyberattack: bosses, 28 Apr 08 ""Within hours, eight RFE/RL websites (Belarus, Kosovo, Azerbaijan, Tatar-Bashkir, Radio Farda, South Slavic, Russian, and Tajik) were knocked out or otherwise affected," it added."

IANS/, Terror groups in Pakistan focus on Britain, 28 Apr 08 "The Al Qaeda and pro-Taliban elements in Pakistan and Afghanistan are one of the main drivers of Islamic extremism and terrorism in the European Union, according to a report of European police. The Europol annual report on the terrorism situation and trend said terrorist plots linked to groups in Pakistan were focussed on Britain. It comes after the disclosure last week that 15 plots to attack the UK were foiled in three years since the London bombings."

There's a related report at Europol, EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report TE-SAT 2008 (PDF), although this doesn't seeem to be the Annual Report (the latest one on the website is 2006)

I happened to see this exhibition (while attending a recent BRISMES conference). It is well worth visiting, if you are in London: Brunei Gallery (SOAS), Retracing Heinrich Barth (to 21st June 2008)

"19th century German explorer Heinrich Barth was one of the first Europeans to recognise the significance and richness of African history and culture. Travelling under the Arabic name Abd el Kerim, he crossed the Sahara desert and over the Aïr mountains into Central Africa, recording his journey in the five volume Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa 1849-1855."

It has some great photos and related multimedia (some examples are on the website).

There is also an exhibit on Cairo (which I didn't get to see) Cairo 1975: A photographic exhibition by Ted Gorton

Beliefnet, Finding Common Ground Between Muslims & Jews, 28 Apr-9 May Online discussion between Akbar Ahmed and Judea Pearl: "This discussion grew out of Professors Ahmed and Pearl's shared concern about the deterioration of relationships between Muslim and Jewish communities. They have founded the Daniel Pearl dialogue for Muslim-Jewish understanding with the conviction that reconciliation between the faiths can be achieved through frank and respectful dialogue." This includes opportunities to place questions on the site.

Monday, April 28, 2008


BBC News, Facebook to track Darfur suspects, 25 Apr 08 "A group hunting war crime suspects has turned to the social networking site Facebook to try to find two Sudanese men sought for crimes in Darfur."

Article includes links to several related sites, including Facebook, War Crimes Wanted List, Wanted for War Crimes, and the associated GoogleMaps, Wanted for War Crimes page.

Some interesting posts on;

GreenDeen - Islam and the environment, 27 Apr 08 notes the emergence of the Green Deen blog:

"Green Deen is a proactive effort of young Muslim activists from Southern California who have come together for the sake of Allah (swt) to raise awareness and change the current environmental conditions by promoting a healthier, greener and more environmentally conscious lifestyle."

Islamcrunch also mentions its Twitter List
Saudi Blogger Fouad al-Farhan Freed

The Independent, Pro-reform Saudi blogger freed without charge, 28 Apr 08 "His release was revealed by a fellow blogger Ahmed al-Omran, 23,on his website Saudi Jeans. "Fouad has been released and he is back home with his family now," he said. "Just spoke with Fouad and he sounds fine.""

also see Fouad al-Farhan and Saudi Jeans, Fouad Released, 26 Apr 08

The Australian Higher Education, Uni chief lifted text from Wikipedia, April 26, 2008 "Griffith University vice-chancellor Ian O'Connor has admitted lifting information straight from online encyclopedia Wikipedia and confusing strands of Islam as he struggled to defend his institution's decision to ask the repressive Saudi Arabian Government for funding."
Cartoons Protest

AFP, Pakistani Islamic women protest 'anti-Islam' film, cartoons, 27 Apr 08 "Police said up to 4,000 women, mostly from an Islamic party, took part in the noisy demonstration, venting anger against the Internet release of a 15-minute film last month by far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders and publication of the Prophet caricatures."

Independent, Barbaric 'honour killings' become the weapon to subjugate women in Iraq, 28 Apr 08 refers to the cases of Rand Abdel-Qader, Shawbo Ali Rauf, and Du'a Khalil Aswad. Tech links to some of these cases.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Response to 'Fitna'

npr, Saudi Produces Video Response to Anti-Islam Film, 25 Apr 08 "Raed al-Saeed, a young businessman from Saudi Arabia, is the creator of Schism, a six-minute video response to Fitna — a short film released last month that portrays Islam as a violent, fascist-like ideology. "Fitna" provoked anger in many parts of the Muslim world." Includes audio report. You'll find Schism on YouTube, together with related films (including 'Fitna')
Yvonne Ridley

Guardian, Ridley wins payout from Islam Channel, 21 Apr 08 "Her case, which was part-funded by the NUJ, was held in London in February and heard evidence from a number of figures in support of her claims including the Respect MP George Galloway.

"Ridley, who resigned from the channel in April last year, complained that she had effectively been dismissed after relations between her and the channel's chief executive, Mohammed Ali broke, down."
Israeli Report, Israel report terms Mideast 'hate industry', 25 Apr 08,
a strategic threat, "An Israeli government report warned of growing hatred of Jews by Muslim governments and organizations. The report by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center said the trend could endanger Israel and the Jewish people." To see the report, go to, Contemporary Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism, its Significance and Implications, 14 Apr 08 (available as a PDF and HTML version). I haven't read this report yet. The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center is part of the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center (IICC).
aQ, Terror, without the terrorists, 25 Apr 08 refers to Marc Sageman's book Leaderless Jihad

IHT, 9 people detained as Germans raid Islamic centers, 23 Apr 08, "The police said the individuals detained Wednesday would be charged with belonging to a criminal group whose aims were to encourage radicalism among Muslims, particularly Germans who had converted to Islam. They said the suspects had used the Internet, as well as audio and video materials, for anti-constitutional pursuits. They are also suspected of sedition."
Quilliam Foundation and the British Muslims for Secular Democracy

Guardian, It is ludicrous to dismiss us as neocon former extremists, 25 Apr 08 "The Quilliam Foundation was not, as Sardar claims, established by two former members of Hizb ut-Tahrir - a group he rightly identifies as a cult. There are many people involved. Ed Husain and myself were the public face for the launch at the British Museum on Tuesday, but we had more than 20 former members of different Islamist groups attending in support, joining over 400 well-wishers from across British society."

This is in response to Zia Sardar's article in the Guardian,To lionise former extremists feeds anti-Muslim prejudice, 24 Apr 08, in which Sardar states "When one sinner repents, says the biblical adage, there is much joy in heaven. So the angels, along with the government, must be rejoicing at the launch of the Quilliam Foundation. The thinktank has been established by not one but two repentant sinners: Ed Husain and Maajid Nawaz, ex-members of the extremist Islamic cult Hizb ut-Tahrir."

Check the website for information on the Quilliam Foundation, which also contains links to related articles and publications.

On a related issue, see the Evening Standard column by Yasmin Alibai-Brown, What I now have in common with Jemima, 24 Apr 08, which mentions the Foundation, and also the British Muslims for Secular Democracy.

LA Times, Gap opens between Al Qaeda and allies, 24 Apr 08
"U.S. officials cite a variety of evidence, including intelligence, Internet traffic, statements from Al Qaeda leaders, polling data and even songs by popular Pakistani and Indonesian musicians.

"Prominent Saudi cleric Salman Awdah sent an open letter to Bin Laden in September in which he condemned violence against innocents and said Al Qaeda was hurting Muslim charities by its purported ties to them."
Canada, A home-grown 'Champion of Islam', 24 Apr 08, "In his online postings, Mr. Khan calls Tarek Fatah, Irshad Manji and other moderates "apostates" and says that under Islamic law the punishment for apostasy is death. The same goes for those who insult Islam.

""Behead her!!! And make a nice video and post it on YouTube," he writes about one so-called "Islam basher." As for "Jews who support Zionism and Israel...since they are killing Palestinians...killing them is not bad...they deserve to die.""

Also see:, , A Q & A with Naeem Muhammad Khan
Tunisian case, Tunisian family sues over girl's "phone rape", 25 April 2008 "A Tunisian court is looking into an unprecedented rape case filed by a Tunisian family against a man who allegedly "raped" their daughter over the phone during an erotic call, press reports said on Thursday."

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Reuters, COLUMN-Polishing al Qaeda's brand image: Bernd Debusmann, 23 Apr 08 "Al Qaeda is nearing the 20th anniversary of its foundation, next August, and there are signs that the movement is having an increasingly hard time maintaining the lustre of what has become a globally recognised brand.

"By the U.S. Army's count, there are around 6,500 web sites that propagate jihadist violence. They form, in the words of Major General Anthony Cuculo, chief of Army Public Affairs, a "virtual caliphate" which uses the Internet as a safe haven."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ayman al-Zawahiri

AFP, Al Qaeda chief slams Muslims for lack of support, 22 Apr 08 "Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri criticised Muslims for failing to support Islamist insurgencies in Iraq and elsewhere in a new audiotape posted Tuesday on the Internet.

"Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant also blasted Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas over their reported readiness to consider a peace deal with Israel."

Also see: AP/USA Today, Al-Qaeda deputy: Group still targeting West, 22 Apr 08 "Osama bin Laden's chief deputy in an audiotape Tuesday denied a conspiracy theory that Israel carried out the Sept. 11 attacks and blamed Iran and Shiite Hezbollah for spreading the idea in order to discredit the Sunni al-Qaeda's achievement of striking the United States."

Monday, April 21, 2008

Iran + Persepolis, The Mullahs' Achilles heel: Iran's youth, 19 Apr 08 "The reality is that 70% of Iranians are less than 30 years of age, many are Internet-savvy, glued to satellite television and have very little toleration for the Islamic utopia promised by their leaders when the evidence of national decline is apparent everywhere."

Not entirely unconnected to this story is the forthcoming film, Persepolis, based on Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel. The book in its own right is highly recommended. If the trailers and websites (such as imdb) are anything to go by, the film has stayed true to the style of the original. 'The Eye of the Tiger' will never be the same again. Iggy Pop is in the English language version - alas, probably the first and last time Iggy features on this blog.

A few YouTube Persepolis clips:

UAE, UAE climbs rankings in global internet security threat report, 20 Apr 08 "The UAE has climbed the rankings in Symantec's global Internet Security Threat Report Volume XIII as a source and target of malicious activity, up two places from June 2007, to 38 in the world and second in the Middle East."

Details:, Internet Security Threat Report ( Symantec Global Internet Security Threat Report Volume XIII: April, 2008) (leads to executive summary and full report) [both pdfs].

BBC News, Key Indonesian militants jailed, 21 Apr 08 "Two senior leaders of Indonesia's most notorious militant group, Jemaah Islamiah (JI), have received 15 year jail terms for terror-related offences."
Ayman al-Zawahiri

Asharq Alawsat, Al Zawahiri: Available Upon Request, 20 Apr 08

Editorial by Tariq Alhomayed:

"Ayman al Zawahiri, Al Qaeda's second-in-command has recently made himself available to the media upon request.

"Recently he has emerged commenting on the cartoon crisis and its insult to the Islamic religion, the latest developments of the Palestinian issue and the siege in Gaza, as well as Iraq. Al Zawahiri has also tackled the region's inflation crisis.

"However, the most dangerous thing that al Zawahiri said in his last internet conference, and what I consider to be adding fuel to the fire was his statement that Iran's objectives being clear, and they are "the annexation of southern Iraq and the east of the Arabian Peninsula" as well as strengthening ties to its followers in southern Lebanon"."
Global image positioning and Islamic values, Myriad challenges of global image positioning, 20 Apr 08 "As hundreds of products and services based on Islamic values, from halal foods to Islamic banking, grow at a phenomenal rate, the perception of their image positioning becomes an even more complex global challenge.

"Historically, successful mega revolutions always relied on the incubation of very simple ideas, creating mass appeal and the hassle-free propagation of the master concepts leading to worldwide acceptance. But today, with the occurrence of global image shifts headed toward Asia, even the best of ideas become trapped."

CSM, Afghan lawmakers push cultural bans of Taliban era, 21 Apr 08 "The Taliban may not be returning anytime soon, but if some Afghan lawmakers have their way, Taliban-era laws will once again reign over the country. Last week, a group of members of parliament (MPs) put forth draft legislation that would ban T-shirts, loud music, women and men mingling in public, billiards, video games, playing with pigeons, and more – all regulations from the notorious Taliban era."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

London Elections, Suicide bomb backer runs Ken's campaign, 16 Apr 08 "It includes a campaign of vilification aimed at his Conservative rival, Boris Johnson. It is being waged by Muslims 4 Ken, led by 39-year-old lecturer Anas Altikriti and Palestinian-born Azzam Tamimi, a supporter of Hamas, the militant group dedicated to the creation of an Islamic state of Palestine." Commentary/opinion on politics in London. The net has been central to this campaigning. More at Muslims 4 Ken. Other parties are available, etc. There is a Qaradawi link to this story.
Iran Rap, Rebels of rap reign in Iran, 16 Apr 08
" Many of these rappers post their music on such Web sites as and Some also have posted their songs on YouTube.

Mohammad Dashtgoli, an official from the Culture Ministry, which is responsible for vetting music "in accordance with Islam," recently said he wanted to find a solution to counter the proliferation of Iranian rap music on the Internet.

""There is nothing wrong with this type of music in itself," he recently told the Iranian media. "But due to the use of obscene words, rap has been categorized as illegal.""

Article focuses on Felakat. The net is crucial for distribution of this music.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Reaction to Berlusconi

AKI, Terrorism: 'May Allah curse Berlusconi' urges Qaeda linked site, 15 Apr 08, "A jihadist message posted to an al-Qaeda linked website urges Allah to "curse" Italy's prime minister-elect, billionaire media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi, and also Pope Benedict XVI."

AFP, CENSORED: Lebanon may be liberal, but..., 15 Apr 2008 "Lebanon is a liberal Middle East country with unfettered Internet access, but state censorship is also rife on any topics that touch upon Israel or sensitive issues such as religion."

AP/IHT, Al-Qaida leader in Iraq urges Sunni fighters who joined Americans to come back in new audio, 15 Apr 08
"In the recording, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, who allegedly heads the Islamic State of Iraq, called on Sunni unity and urged Sunnis in the Iraqi army, police and the so-called "Awakening Councils" to abandon fighting the mujahideen, and instead turn their guns toward the "Crusader" enemy — shorthand for U.S. troops in Iraq.

"The 30-minute audio was posted on Islamic Web sites known as clearing houses for militant messaging. Its authenticity could not be independently confirmed. Washington-based SITE Institute which monitors militant Internet messaging, also intercepted the recording."

Jerusalem Post, Muslim social site fast growing, 14 Apr 08 "As Islam continues to expand globally, surpassing Roman Catholicism as the world's fastest-growing religion, a social media Web site for Muslims - - is hoping to compete with the popular online networking sites Myspace and Facebook."

Commentary/opinion piece on muxlim. The JPost article came with an advert for the matrimonial site attached!

Monday, April 14, 2008


There's a great deal of English language Islamic content being generated through Channel Islam International, based in South Africa. It includes streaming audio content (online and via satellite), with regular news bulletins. There are also a number of sections on aspects of Islam. It sounds very slick, with jingles and other idents. It has picked up corporate advertising on the website, and Islam-related advertising during programmes (travel, finance, hajj, etc.). The corporate profile gives greater detail.

Arab News, Move Under Way to Digitize Muslims’ Scientific Heritage, 14 Apr 08 "The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the US Library of Congress started a joint project to digitize the records of Arab and Muslim scientific heritage with the aim of documenting them in the World Digital Library, according to a KAUST statement quoted by the Saudi Press Agency." Also see KAUST and World Digital Library (although I couldn't fine anything specific in a quick search). Similar initiatives are taking place elsewhere (let's hope they will be co-ordinated).
UAE Networked

Despite the blocking of numerous sites (see below), it hasn't stopped UAE's networking profile from rising high:, UAE tops region in 'most networked' economy list, 13 Apr 08, "UAE is the 29th "most networked" economy in the world for the second consecutive year, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Information Technology Report 2007-2008."

Here's the report link:, The Global Information Technology Report 2007-2008 For those not wishing to splash out on the print report (or lacking the time to worth their way through it), there's an interactive report, executive summary (pdf), and related documents. Happy reading.
Qaradawi Fatwa on Alcohol

Last week's Al-Arab contained Qaradawi's fatwa on alcohol, which was slightly misunderstood by some parties, and widely circulated on the net:, Qaradawi’s alcohol fatwa sparks controversy, 14 Apr 08 "According to Al-Qaradawi, "beverages that include 0.5 percent alcohol are not prohibited in Islam because it is a very small percentage, especially if the alcohol was produced through natural fermentation over time and not added deliberately.""

This generated some excited newspaper comment, and blogs also started working out the implications, such as this one:, Shakir Lakhani, Fatwa on alcohol by Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, 12 Apr 08 (which includes a discussion on cough syrup consumption in Saudi Arabia). See AFP, Muslim cleric sparks controversy by sanctioning some alcohol, 11 Apr 08 for further background.

Some clarification was required: Islam Online, Qaradawi Denies Allowing Intoxicant, 13 Apr 08 "The fatwa had sparked controversy and criticism from some newspapers in Qatar, where Sheikh Qaradawi is based.

"The fatwa will open the door to those who want to consume drinks containing small proportions of alcohol under the pretext that neither the Qur'an nor the Sunnah (Prophet Muhammad's deeds) defined the proportion," wrote Abdullatif al-Mahmud, editor of the Ash-Sharq daily.

"But the statement issued by the office of Sheikh Qaradawi insisted that the fear of being misunderstood by some can not be a pretext for asking scholars to clarify Islamic rulings."

Book Review

The Independent, Books, Oliver Poole, 'Muqtada Al-Sadr and the Fall of Iraq', By Patrick Cockburn (Faber, 2008) Cockburn's columns are always worth reading, so I'm looking forward to getting hold of his book in due course. Not sure if there is any reference to the use of the net by Al-Sadr (some reference in my next book).
UAE Blocked Sites

AKI, UAE: Access to thousands of websites blocked, 14 Apr 08 "Thousands of websites in the United Arab Emirates were blocked on Monday, according to an email statement sent by DU, one of the country's major Internet service providers, to all its users.

"The list of websites that have been blocked does not only include anti-Islam sites or those that are deemed morally inappropriate, but also various information sites such as the Arab Times."

Naturally, a number of websites and blogs give sustained advice on how to get around these restrictions. DU have their own take on this situation:, Du CEO plays down net censorship, 14 Apr 08 ""We are only blocking things for moral, social and cultural reasons. Skype comes under the TRA’s VoIP (voice over internet protocol) regulation which is a different story ... ""

All this blocking has raised concerns regarding they types of restrictions in place:, Internet blocked, 14 Apr 08 "Tens of thousands of people living and working in large areas of Dubai will have their internet access restricted from today. Internet provider du says it will be blocking web sites, which go against the moral, social and cultural values of the UAE. A spokeswoman for du said the emphasis would be on blocking pornographic web sites but some users have contacted 7DAYS with concerns that sites such as Facebook may become inaccessible."

I'll be monitoring this with interest.
YouTube Unblocked, Indonesian censorship news: YouTube allowed again!, 14 Apr 08

Also see:

Reuters, Indonesia restores access to YouTube Web site, 11 Apr 08, "Isnawan, vice chairman of the Indonesian Internet Providers Association, said service providers would only block access to pages carrying the film by Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch anti-immigration Freedom Party, which alternates images of the September 11, 2001 attacks and other Islamist bombings with quotations from the Koran."
Jail Mail

Mail on Sunday, Jailed terrorists are using the internet to contact supporters, 13 Apr 08 "The serious security breach was revealed last week after The Mail on Sunday was alerted to messages on a "private" website linked to militant Islamic movement Al-Muhajiroun, which has been banned under anti-terror laws.

"The threatening emails were apparently sent from inside Belmarsh high-security prison in South-East London, which houses some of Britain's most feared terror suspects."

Mobile phones are the likely tool for this communication.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Islam UK

Guardian, Officials think UK's Muslim population has risen to 2m, 8 Apr 08 "The Muslim population in the United Kingdom may now number as many as 2 million, the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, disclosed yesterday during an official visit to Pakistan."
Egyptian bloggers

AFP, Egypt bloggers prepare second strike on regime, 7 Apr 08
"Galvanised by their call for a general strike on Sunday, Egypt's cyber dissidents have set a new date for anti-regime action on May 4 as an 80th birthday present for President Hosni Mubarak.

""We succeeded on April 6, so let's do it again on May 4," read a message on the Facebook social networking site where 64,000 people joined the group calling for action on Sunday."

Also see Guardian, Muslim Brotherhood to boycott election, 8 Apr 08, "Today's elections follow Sunday's opposition attempt to organise a general strike, which saw many employees stay at home but little trouble on the streets because of massive pre-emptive action by the security forces. The one exception was the Nile Delta industrial city of Mahalla, where trouble continued for a second day yesterday, with striking workers clashing with police, who fired tear gas to disperse crowds. Activists had used text messages and Facebook to coordinate protests."
Medical Fatwa

Khaleej Times, Fatwa over printing of holy names on bottles, 8 Apr 08
, "A fatwa has been issued by Dubai Islamic Affairs Department (DIAD) to ban printing of names that include the 99 names of Almighty God such as Abdul Rahman, Abdullah, Abdul Salam as well as names of prophets and saints on the labels of sample bottles provided by hospitals and laboratories to the patients." non-tech

Jakarta Post, E-learning on tolerant Islam launched, 8 Apr 08 "Jointly launched Monday by the International Center for Islam and Pluralism (ICIP) and the Ford Foundation, it is also aimed at expanding access to education for pesantren and surrounding communities.

"Under the program, pesantren students and community members will be able to access educational lessons through the website and computer-based media." ICIP is here

AP/IHT, After deadline, al-Qaida in North Africa says it not responsible for kidnapped Austrians' fate, 8 Apr 08 ""We have absolved ourselves and exerted our utmost, but it seems that Austria has not been serious in preserving the lives of its citizens," read the statement, posted on militant Internet sites that typically carry al-Qaida messages."
YouTube/MySpace blocked in Indonesia

AP, Indonesia Blocks Web Access Over Film, 8 Apr 08 "Indonesian Internet companies blocked access to YouTube and MySpace on Tuesday, heeding a government order aimed at stopping people from watching an anti-Islam film by a Dutch lawmaker."

Monday, April 07, 2008

Iranian Blogging

NYT, Iranian Blogosphere Tests Government’s Limits, 6 Apr 08, "Troll through the Iranian blogosphere and you can find all manner of unexpectedly harsh critiques denouncing the government of the Islamic Republic, from reformists who revile it as well as conservatives who support it."

Discussion based on Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, John Kelly, Bruce Etling, Internet and Democracy, Mapping Iran’s Online Public: Politics and Culture in the Persian Blogosphere, April 05, 2008 [pdf]

There is also a related map of the Iranian blogosphere, showing various clusters of interests.

Summary: "This case study is part of a series produced by the Internet and Democracy project. The initial studies include three of the most frequently cited examples of the Internet’s influence on democracy. The first case looks at the user-generated news site, OhmyNews, and its impact on the 2002 Presidential elections in South Korea. The second documents nontraditional media and the use of cell phone technologies for information sharing and organization of protesters during Ukraine’s Orange Revolution. This third case analyzes the composition of the Iranian blogosphere and its possible impact on political and democratic processes. The objectives of these studies are to write a narrative description of the events and the technology used in each case, to draw initial conclusions about the actual impact of technology on democratic events and processes, and to identify questions for further research."

I haven't read this yet. It will be interesting to read this contribution to studies about blogging in Iran, especially in conjunction with Annabelle Sreberny and Gholam Khiabany, Becoming Intellectual: The Blogestan and Public Political Space in the Islamic Republic, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Volume 34 Issue 3 2007, 267 – 286. I understand that Sreberny and Khiabany also have a book scheduled for 2009, Blogistan: The Internet and Politics in Iran, IB Tauris (details via

Blogging in Iranian contexts is also discussed in my next book, currently in an advanced stage of editing (check this blog for updates on that).

AKI, Terrorism: Last days of suicide bomber revealed by ex-al-Qaeda members, 4 Apr 08 "Former members of the Al-Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb have revealed the details of the last days of a suicide bomber in a report published in the Algerian newspaper Ech-Chourouk." Refers to video production.
.arabia, Domain names for .arabia, 5 Apr 08 "Dubai Internet users in the Middle East may be able to petition to have domains names that end regionally specific, such as .arab, by the end of the year. If things go according to plan, those domain names may even be in Arabic."

There will no doubt be some competition here for key names - it may resemble the recent regional number plates bidding wars (The Indian, Number plate auctioned for $14.2 million in UAE, 17 Feb 08).
Pakistan Protests

AFP, Thousands of Pakistanis protest against anti-Islam film, cartoons, 7 Apr 08, "Party leader Munawar Hussain said tens of thousands participated Sunday to vent their anger against the Internet release of a 15-minute film last month by far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders."

This was a Jamaat-e-Islami organised event, but doesn't seem to have been reported on their website yet (expect update to follow).

Friday, April 04, 2008

Transatlantic bombing plot

BBC News, 'Plotters made martyrdom videos', 4 Apr 08 "Members of a group accused of plotting to blow up passenger planes mid-air as they crossed the Atlantic made Islamic martyrdom videos, a court has heard.

"Six of the eight men recorded videos in which one warns of "martyrdom operations" that would "rain down" on non-believers, jurors were told."

Brief transcripts are here: BBC News, 'Suicide videos': What they said, 4 Apr 08

There are, inevitably, some IT references to the reports, including alleged targetting of ISPs, and use of materials downloaded onto a memory stick. The trial continues.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Jihad Against Drugs

Islam Online, Jihad Against Drugs, 2 Apr 08 "Ever since he declared jihad against drugs last month, Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled's call has been resonating across Arab countries with addicts reaching out for help."

Hussein al-Ahmad

AKI, Terrorism: Ex pop star to feature in new al-Qaeda video, 2 Apr 08
, "A new al-Qaeda video will be released in three months featuring Hussein al-Ahmad, the former Kuwaiti pop singer who left for Afghanistan a few weeks ago in order to join al-Qaeda fighters in the country.

"Al-Ahmad's friend, Miftaf Lughzi confirmed this in an interview with the Arabic satellite television channel Al Jazeera."
Toledo Trial Continues, The Trainer' begins terror trial testimony, U.S. informant describes making contacts, 3 Apr 08 internet thread to this (blogged yesterday)
Ayman al-Zawahiri Q&A

As promised, responses have appeared to the various questions placed online. It took a little longer than anticipated, and further installments are due (given the numerous questions that were sent in):

Malaysia Sun, Top al-Qaeda official answers Internet questions, 2 Apr 2008 "In a lengthy audio response to 900 questions submitted to the movement on extremist Web sites, Zawahri made the response that al-Qaeda had not killed any innocents: “not in Baghdad nor in Morocco, nor in Algeria, nor anywhere else.""

AKI, Terrorism: Al-Zawahiri says al-Qaeda does not kill innocent people, 3 Apr 08 "Reports say some 900 questions were posted to al-Qaeda through the websites linked to the group.

""I would like to thank all of those who responded to the open debate with me by our production arm, Al-Sahab, and in particular those who operate within the media Jihad," al-Zawahiri said in the message.

"The al-Qaeda leader apologised for taking so long to respond to the questions that had been posted to the group by al-Qaeda supporters and those curious about the terror network."

Reuters, Zawahri says bin Laden in good health, 3 Apr 08

"Many of the questions, compiled since December, were sharply critical of al Qaeda and its practices, while others sought advice for joining jihad. Zawahri said he will answer more of the questions in a second statement and noted that the delay in response was partly due to security reasons."

A detailed analysis is provided by Laura Mansfield, together with a transcript (as a PDF): Mansfield Report, Zawahiri answers questions in part one of Town Hall: Zawahiri "Open Meeting" brings more questions than answers, 2 April 2008

Of course, the audio file is available through the usual channels. For those unwilling to venture in that direction, Internet Archive currently has an MP3 copy., First Part of Responses by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri to Open Meeting Coordinated by al-Fajr Center and as-Sahab Related data can also be found at this source.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Trial, Toledo terror trial begins with debate about tapes, 2 Apr 08

"Mohammad Zaki Amawi, 28; Marwan Othman El- Hindi, 45, and Wassim I. Mazloum, 26, are each charged with planning to wage a "holy war" using skills they learned on the Internet. Specifically, the government alleged that the three conspired to kill or injure people in the Middle East — including U.S. troops serving in Iraq — by providing "support and resources." They also are charged with "distributing information regarding explosives.""

CNSNews, YouTube Warned to Remove Koran Film, 2 Apr 08 "The government of the world's most populous Islamic state says YouTube has two days to take down a Dutch lawmaker's provocative film on the Koran or it will block access to the popular video-sharing Web site."
Jihadi Studies

Thomas Hegghammer, TLS, Jihadi studies, 2 Apr 08 "An astronomical sum of money has been spent on counter-terrorism and homeland security, much of which has gone to private American consultancies with questionable expertise. Then there is the human cost of the search for enemies."
Second Life

Mercury News, Congressional hearing in two worlds, 2 Apr 08 "Rosedale said Linden Lab of San Francisco, the maker of Second Life, has cooperated with law enforcement and seen no evidence of activity by terrorists. He also said he suspected that law enforcement had created its own avatars to check out virtual worlds."

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Reading Matter

A couple of items that I enjoyed reading in the current edition of Saudi Aramco World (Mar/Apr 08):

Tim Mackintosh-Smith's explorations in the footsteps of Ibn Battuta have taken a new twist, with his interesting article on Ibn Battuta Mall: 'Edutaining Dubai'. Shopping, with a museum attached sounds like a frightening concept, but Mackintosh-Smith seems to find a positive angle. The piece has some nice photos. Alas, the Ibn Battuta Mall website is currently a work in progress. However, someone has dropped a video into YouTube of Ibn Battuta Mall, but it doesn't seem to focus on the Ibn Battuta material (only the shops, which look like any mall anywhere!).

Saudi Aramco World has a good piece by Jason Thompson on Edward Lane (and family): 'An Account of the Journeys and Writings of The Indefatigable Mr. Lane'. I have long been interested in Lane and his output. (Thompson has also written a biography of Lane, and other related work). Also see the Wiki: Edward William Lane. [Illustration: E W Lane, Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians via Al-Ahram Weekly]

I was just taking a look at (below), and found the following, which I haven't posted before. It relates to my previous research, and was published a couple of years ago, but is still relevant:

Common Ground News Service, Special Series: Ijtihad: Interpreting Islamic Law - 2006, 28 Mar 2006 This is a six-part series, with the following contributions:

Significantly, there was also a response to this series from Shaykh Ali Gomaa, Questions from America [PDF]. I haven't read all the articles yet, but it appears to be an accessible series.
eTransformation Turkey Project, Itir Akdogan, Emergence of an eTurkey, 25 Mar 08 "In recent years, the eTransformation Turkey Project has become a leading factor in the country's democratisation process. For example, public servants were previously inaccessible and there was an established distance between citizens and the state. But now, five years after the project began, governmental institutions explain their mandates and communicate with the public through the web, and public servants are accessible by email. Turkish citizens, no matter how remote their location, can access information on Ankara."

UPI, Muslim cleric decries Facebook, 31 Mar 08, ""The Web site became the subject of controversy in Saudi Arabia after preacher Ali al-Maliki labeled it a destructive force against Islam.

""Facebook is a door to lust and young women and men are spending more on their mobile phones and the Internet than they are spending on food," he said.""
Iranian Internet Law, Iranian Internet Law, n.d. "These questions will be answered: Is the Internet Legal in Iran?, What Law Governs the Internet in Iran?, What About Opening a Blog & Blogger's Rights?, What Laws or Bodies Govern Internet Crimes in Iran?, and What Punishments are Listed for Breaking the Cyber Crimes Law?" A useful summary.
Queen Rania - YouTube

AP, Jordan's queen turns to YouTube for campaign aimed at breaking down stereotypes of Muslims, 31 Mar 08 "Jordan's media savvy Queen Rania has launched an appeal on YouTube for a global dialogue to dismantle stereotypes of Muslims and the Arab world, the royal palace said Monday.

"Rania vowed to work to break down such preconceptions and wants people to "know the real Arab world ... unedited, unscripted and unfiltered.""

Also see Queen Rania's YouTube page


Guardian, Less Cookson, more Ali: Tyneside town finds hidden Muslim history, 31 Mar 08 "An exhibition at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead will next week explore the community of Yemeni sailors who settled in South Shields in their thousands after a sailor called Ali Said first opened an Arab seamen's boarding house there in 1894." See details and photos at Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art - Last of The Dictionary Men. There is also a film about Muhammad Ali:, The King of South Shields – Experimental Documentary (Digital Video, 2007)