Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Saudi Online Consultation

Asharq Alawsat, Saudi: Female Majority Seeking Online Legal Advice, 27 May 08 "Saudi legal personnel have revealed that the majority of clients seeking legal consultations on the internet are women; approximately 80 percent. This is attributed to a number of reasons, including social and psychological circumstances; the most important of which is the reservation that comes with sharing personal information, in addition to the need to find out legal information anonymously and with utmost discretion."

Guardian, Muslim TV channel to stage interfaith game show, 27 May 08 "Faith Off, the working title of a series on the Islam Channel, will attempt to promote good relations and mutual respect between Britain's religious communities. Two teams of four will go head to head in each episode, answering quick-fire and general knowledge questions in the eight-part series hosted by the Muslim comedian Jeff Mirza." An interesting idea. See (no direct links on site yet, it seems)
Academic Issues

Guardian, Concern over threat to our colleague, 28 May 08 "As members of the University of Nottingham faculty we are very concerned about the recent arrests of a postgraduate student and administrator." For the full story, see: Guardian, Student researching al-Qaida tactics held for six days, 23 May 08 "A masters student researching terrorist tactics who was arrested and detained for six days after his university informed police about al-Qaida-related material he downloaded has spoken of the "psychological torture" he endured in custody.

"Despite his Nottingham University supervisors insisting the materials were directly relevant to his research, Rizwaan Sabir, 22, was held for nearly a week under the Terrorism Act, accused of downloading the materials for illegal use. The student had obtained a copy of the al-Qaida training manual from a US government website for his research into terrorist tactics."
Iran, Iranian Bloggers Angry over New Web Restrictions, 27 May 08 "Iran’s recent move to block access to certain Web sites on women’s issues and human rights has bloggers and activists decrying censorship."
Exeter Nail Bomber

This is London, Nail bomb suspect released from hospital as police raid home of Kurdish men 'linked' to plot, 28 May 08 "It has emerged Reilly was set up with an internet girlfriend by his Kurdish friends and said he would do anything for her."

NYT, Al Qaeda Warrior Uses Internet to Rally Women, 28 May 08 "Ms. El Aroud has not only made a name for herself among devotees of radical forums where she broadcasts her message of hatred toward the West. She also is well known to intelligence officials throughout Europe as simply 'Malika' — an Islamist who is at the forefront of the movement by women to take a larger role in the male-dominated global jihad."

NYT, Misreading the Arab Media, 25 May 08 " ... in the last year we surveyed 601 journalists in 13 Arab countries in North Africa, the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula. The results, to be published in The International Journal of Press/Politics in July, shatter many of the myths upon which American public diplomacy strategy has been based."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Egypt Food Crisis

Guardian, Egypt: bread shortages, hunger and unrest, 27 May 08 "The protests were in part organised through emails, text messaging and the internet. Three days after the May 4 strike, Ahmed Maher Ibrahim, a 27-year-old civil engineer who used his Facebook site to promote the protest, was snatched from the street by the interior ministry's state security investigations department. He was blindfolded, taken to a police station, stripped naked and beaten for 12 hours. He was released without charge but warned not to cause more trouble."

Reuters, New al Qaeda video to urge WMDs against West -FBI, 27 May 08 "Groups that monitor Islamic Web sites say al Qaeda will post a new video in the next 24 hours urging jihadists to use biological, chemical and nuclear weapons to attack the West, the FBI said on Tuesday."

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Globe & Mail, 'None of it matches my life, my whole life', 22 May 08 "Years ago, a shadowy Internet figure who often went by the name Abu Banan gained notoriety as the Canadian-based godfather of an Internet outfit known for disseminating jihadist propaganda. The Globe and Mail has learned of a murky probe that spanned several years, saw a Canadian Islamic preacher — with the same Arab name 'Abu Banan' — questioned frequently by agents from CSIS and ended in criminal charges that nobody, including the father of three, seems to have anticipated."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Swiss Convictions Upheld

AP/IHT, Swiss high court upholds conviction of two Muslims for terror Web sites, 21 May 08
"In its decision handed down Wednesday the Federal Tribunal said it had no doubt that the two had made their Internet forums available to various terrorist groups operating in the al-Qaida network and thus supported criminal organizations.

"The two were convicted by a lower court in June 2007 of running Web sites that supported terrorists and gave details of how to make bombs and carry out attacks."

AFP, Iran launches fresh crackdown on websites: report, 20 May 2008 "The move follows a new directive sent out by a committee tasked with identifying illegal websites to Internet service providers, the reformist Etemad Melli newspaper said without giving a source.

""There seems to be a tougher approach this time as some sites and weblogs belonging to women's rights and human rights campaigners, writers critical of the government and well-known journalists" have been singled out, it said." Useful update

BBC News, Is Bin Laden moving on from Iraq?, 21 May 08 op-ed by Paul Reynolds

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hizbullah Telecoms Mapped(?), Exclusif : la carte du réseau télécom du Hezbollah, 16 May 08 well, maybe. Diolch: Abu Muqawama
Syrian cyberspace

The National, Syrians defy web blockade, 20 May 2008 "Syrians continue to surf banned web pages, defying an internet purge that has seen hundreds of online sites blacklisted."

NYT, Project Digitizes Works From the Golden Age of Timbuktu, 20 May 08 "From Timbuktu to here, to reverse the expression, the written words of the legendary African oasis are being delivered by electronic caravan. A lode of books and manuscripts, some only recently rescued from decay, is being digitized for the Internet and distributed to scholars worldwide."

Update on a previously blogged story.

There is some fascinating material here, and it will be great to read scholarly commentaries in due course. Also see the excellent Aluka database, especially Aluka, The Manuscripts of Timbuktu, which notes: "The digitisation and preservation of Timbuktu’s fragile manuscripts involves serious challenges: ubiquitous dust and sand, termites and other insects, lack of moisture and humidity in the air, intense heat during the day and dramatic variations in temperature between day and night, inconsistent and insufficient power supply, a lack of Internet infrastructure, and, most important, the fragile and precarious condition of the manuscripts themselves. SAVAMA-DCI and Aluka are working together to preserve and make these manuscripts available to a broad community of scholars, students, and researchers. By making some of these manuscripts available in digital form, SAVAMA-DCI and its member libraries in Timbuktu are revolutionising how students and scholars around the world may access this literature for research and study."

Forbes/, Virtual Jihad, 20 May 08, "The private sector must proactively address the insider threat by creating a smaller informed management of secure individuals, improving employee screening for new employees, updating screening for existing employees and educating top management of potential threats. The owners of critical infrastructure and key resources have a duty to confront homegrown terrorism and the insider threat." The related, Where The Web Is Weak, 14 May 08 is also interesting (nice graphics).
Lieberman on YouTube

ABC, Lieberman Wants Terrorist Content Yanked From YouTube, 19 May 2008 "In a letter to Google chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt, Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., said, "A great majority of these videos document horrific attacks on American soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan.""

Nakba Cartoons

Sabbah's Blog, Cartoons Commemorating Nakba @ 60 "How did the cartoonists in the Arab media Commemorate the 60th anniversary of Nakba?

"I’ve been monitoring most of the Arab media, especially newspapers, during the last 5 days to read what they have to say on this event. To tell you the truth, you haven’t missed much. On the air, Aljazeera made a big difference this year by dedicating a full day (May 15th) to covering al-Nakba @ 60. Honestly, I think they did a great job. In fact if a person who is ignorant about al-Nakba (and you can expect millions in the Arab World to be) watched any part of Aljazeera that day, s/he would have learned a lot about history and what the Nakba means."

Broad range of cartoons from the press - well worth seeing. The example comes from Abdulla Darqawi at Addustour Newspaper, Jordan

Monday, May 19, 2008

Jimmy Wales

AFP/Yahoo News, 'Ordinary' Arabs to retake Internet: Wikipedia founder, 18 May 2008 ""Too often when people around the world reflect on the situation in the Middle East they focus on extremism and the different problems," [Jimmy] Wales told journalists at the World Economic Forum for the Middle East."
Saudi Cell Phones

NYT, Young Saudis, Vexed and Entranced by Love’s Rules, 12 May 2008 "If there is one accessory that allows a bit of self-expression for Saudi men, it is their cellphones. Nader’s is filled with pictures of pretty women taken from the Internet, tight face shots of singers and actresses. His ring tone is a love song in Arabic (one of the most popular ring tones among his cousins is the theme song to “Titanic”)." A shorter version of this appeared in the Observer last weekend., Web Site Sympathetic to Terrorists Blasts FOX News for Profile, 18 May 2008, "An English-language Web site that unabashedly promotes the work of Islamic terrorists has responded to a profile of the site by assailing "the Kuffaar behind FOX News." Kuffaar, roughly translated, means "unbelievers."

"After quoting FOX's Friday story and citing verses from the Koran, the blog affirms the belief that jihad is "an Islaamic obligation" rooted in Muslim texts."
Gaza (web) Block, Hamas ministry to censor Internet sites in Gaza, 18 May 2008, "The Hamas-run telecommunications Ministry will start blocking websites deemed unfit according to Islamic rules, an official said Sunday."
Bin Laden Recording

Al Jazeera, Bin Laden urges end to Gaza closure, 18 May 2008 "Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, has purportedly called on Muslims to help end Israel's closure of the Gaza Strip, according to a new audio tape.

"In the tape posted on the internet on Sunday, a voice alleged to be bin Laden's said it was the religious duty of every Muslim to fight Israel's "oppressive closure" of Gaza."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds

Dispatches from the Imagination Age, Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds, 7 May 08
"Dancing Ink Productions is on a global quest to explore how virtual worlds might provide insight and a cultural bridge into one of the most misunderstood communities in the world: Islam. In the past five months we've spoken on this topic at places ranging from the Global Knowledge Summit in Kuala Lumpur to the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar.

"Today we are delighted to announce that the Richard Lounsbery Foundation has funded a collaboration between the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and Dancing Ink Productions (DIP) to launch the “Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds,” project. Rita J. King, DIP's CEO and Creative Director, and me (Joshua S. Fouts), Chief Global Strategist, are both Carnegie Council Senior Fellows." [via Wired]

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sura Al-Dhariyat سورة الذاريات Video

I picked this up from Muxlim TV, The best recitation of sura At-Dhariyat - I've ever heard! English.

Interesting in its use of Hilali and Khan's translation of the Qur'an (other translations are available). The video montage is effective. The recitation is by Ahmed bin Ali Al-Ajamy.

Asharq Alawsat, Qaeda says Key Member Killed in Afghanistan: Web, 11 May 2008 "A prominent member of al Qaeda was killed in fighting with U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, the group said in a statement posted on an Islamist website on Sunday.

"Abu Suleiman al-Otaibi, formerly one of the group's leaders in Iraq, was killed in a "fierce battle with the worshipers of the cross" in Paktia, it said without giving the date of the battle."
Obama Rumours Update, Obama targeted by ugly -- and untrue -- Internet rumors, 9 May 08 "In the ugly new world of online political rumor-mongering, aggressive Googling and e-mailing allow anyone to join the cacophonous misinformation campaign against a politician – in this case, Obama."

Strategy Page, It's Hip To Be Dead, 11 May 08 "The one thing al Qaeda has to offer is media recognition. Any terrorist action associated with al Qaeda gets more coverage. Since terrorism lives and dies according to how much media attention it gets, this is a persuasive pitch. Still, the Berber radicals have not shown any inclination become another al Qaeda franchise."
'Violent Islamist Extremism, The Internet, and the Homegrown Terrorist Threat' Report, Violent Islamist Extremism, The Internet, and the Homegrown Terrorist Threat, May 8, 2008 "This staff report concerns the last of these subjects - how violent Islamist terrorist groups like al-Qaeda are using the Internet to enlist followers into the global violent Islamist terrorist movement and to increase support for the movement, ranging from ideological support, to fundraising, and ultimately to planning and executing terrorist attacks."

To read the report in full, see The U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (Chairman Joe Lieberman and Ranking Member Susan Collins), Violent Islamist Extremism, The Internet, and the Homegrown Terrorist Threat, 8 May 2008 (pdf)

This theme is discussed in detail in my forthcoming book (details to follow)
Shaikh Isa National Library

Gulf Daily News, A new chapter!, 11 May 08 Strong emphasis on IT in the new Shaikh Isa National Library, in Juffair, Bahrain. Details:, Shaikh Isa National Library
Hassan Butt arrested

Daily Mail, Anti-terror police arrest Muslim author and former al-Qaida recruiter as he boards flight to Pakistan, 10 May 08 "Mr Butt has renounced a past in which he admitted raising tens of thousands of pounds for terror networks. He has also spoken of his determination to work against extremism."

Friday, May 09, 2008

Phone Figures, GTI study reveals the ‘SMART’ Middle East Mobile phone customer, 8 May 08 "Some patterns clearly emerged from the survey. When it comes to mobile ownership, while most mobile users in the UAE have new mobile phones, many of the women are gifted their phones, as compared to men who buy their own phones. The consumers in Middle East are willing to spend 29% more on their next mobile handset purchase."
New blog initiative from NYT/Al Bawaba

The Lede, A Place to Read, and Comment on, Times Articles in Arabic, 8 May 08 "As part of Generation Faithful, our ongoing series examining the lives of young people across the Muslim world at a time of religious revival, The New York Times has established an Arabic-language blog. It’s hosted through the news and blogging site Al Bawaba, and will allow readers in the Middle East to read and comment on articles in our series in Arabic." It will be interesting to see reactions to this.
Hizbullah, Al Mustaqbal "...Hezbollah telephone network linked to network of Syrian army", 7 May 08 "On May 6, the pro-government Hariri-owned Al-Mustaqbal daily carried the following report by Fares Khashan: “A month ago, Lebanese officials tried to contain the issue of the telephone communication network that was established by Hezbollah throughout Lebanon with direct funding from the Iranian Islamic Republic. However, the party refused to cooperate with this official effort and warned the figures assigned to follow up on the issue against addressing the topic “because we will consider anyone who harms this network as though he had harmed the arms of the resistance and will therefore deal with him as we deal with the Zionist enemy”."

Following on from that story:

BBC News, Hezbollah takes over west Beirut, 9 May 08 "The BBC's Jim Muir in the city says it all amounts to a humiliating blow to the government.

"It appears to have badly overplayed its hand in moving to close Hezbollah's telecoms network on Tuesday, he says."
Medical Ethics

Dawn, Transplant of human organs not violative of Islam: Ulema, 9 May 08 "Ulema from different schools of thought unanimously announced here on Wednesday that transplantation of human organs did not violate the Islamic principles.

"The sole objective of transplantation of human organs is to save the humanity; however, its trade is not allowed and the government should eliminate the role of the “middleman”, they said." I wrote about this issue in my PhD some time ago. It is also a theme of Lampeter's MA Islamic Studies
Abu Qatada, Disappointment as 'Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe' granted bail Friday, 9 May 2008 "Qatada is currently being held in a specialist unit at Long Lartin in Worcestershire but could be released within weeks, once details of the conditions of his bail are agreed."

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


The Star Malaysia, No plans to clamp down on bloggers, says DPM, 7 May 08, "The Government has always been liberal towards bloggers and has no plans to clamp down on them.

"However Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak reminded bloggers and Internet users that there were laws pertaining to sedition, defamation and libel.

""Just because you operate in cyberspace does not mean that you are absolved from having to comply with the nation’s laws," he said Wednesday, when asked to comment on the recent case involving Raja Petra Raja Kamarudin."

AP/, Indonesian terror suspect paraded in front of cameras as sign of war on terrorism success, 5 May 08, "Aslam, 27, who reportedly used several aliases, said he met several times with one of Southeast Asia's most wanted terror suspects, Noordin Mohammad Top, who asked him to translate militant tracts from Arabic into Indonesian and to post them on the Internet."
Wadi-a-Hussain graveyard, Pak company virtually brings graveyard online for expats, 5 May 08

"Shabbir Hussain Zaidi, who is a leading Shia scholar believes the on-line graveyard is a viable solution as in Shariah (Islamic law) it is allowed to recite fateha (prayers) through the Internet.

""The website not only allows you to view the grave of your loved one but also plays a recitation of surah-e-fatiha. Among the features are video clips from funerals...For those unable to attend the ritual itself," Mohammad Zaidi said."

I'm writing about this in my next book.

Details at

U.S. State Department Country Report, Where terrorists hide, 2 May 08 "The just released Country Report on Terrorism 2007 by the U.S. State Department outlines a number of areas that serve as safe havens for terrorists. But first it would be useful to delineate what qualifies as a safe haven." Refers to net.
Tones Banned, Islamic Militants Ban Mobile Phone Ringtones, 7 May 08 "Islamic militants in Pakistan's tribal areas, which border Afghanistan have issued a decree banning music from mobile phone ringtones and vehicles in tribal areas of the country. A spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Maulana Faqir Mohammed said, the they would not allow commuters to play music in their cars or use musical ringtones on mobile phones."

Friday, May 02, 2008


AP, Somali fighters threaten revenge against US after airstrike, 2 May 08 ""This will not deter us from prosecuting our holy war against Allah's enemy," Sheik Muqtar Robow, a spokesman for the al-Shabab militia that Ayro led, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "If Ayro is dead those he trained are still in place and ready to avenge against the enemy of Allah."
ISIM Review

ISIM Review 21, Spring 2008 (pdf) I am still working my way through the latest edition, which has several articles containing Islam and the net associated content. Here are some which caught my attention (links go through to individual articles, alternatively the entire Review can be downloaded above).

Madawi Al-Rasheed's article is taken from her book Contesting the Saudi State: Islamic Voices from a New Generation, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), and includes a discussion on Lewis Atiyat Allah. The book is well-worth reading in full. Professor Al-Rasheed now has a blog.

The other articles incude ongoing research. They show variations in the 'salafi' concept, both in terms of the content of the articles and the distinctions made by actors between different approaches to 'salafi', and in the outlooks of the writers.

For different reasons, I found these ones useful too:


Wired, Cyberwarfare: Darpa's New 'Space Race', 1 May 08 "The Defense Advance Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, was created 50 years ago, in response to the Soviets' launch of Sputnik. In less than a year, Darpa put together the infrastructure that guided the American space effort for decades to come. Now, Darpa has been given new marching orders: to help America fight and win battles online."
Al-Haj Released

AP/, Al Jazeera cameraman freed from Guantanamo: On hunger strike for about 16 months, U.S. military force fed him with tube, 2 May 08, ""This is wonderful news, and long overdue. The U.S. administration has never had any reason for holding Mr. Al-Haj, and has, instead, spent six years shamelessly attempting to turn him against his employers at Al-Jazeera," said Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve's Director who has represented al-Haj since 2005."

The Prisoner345 website played an important role in this protracted campaign: Also see Reprieve's pages

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Language, "Jihad" is out in the "War on Terrorism", 1 May 08 "U.S. officials may be "unintentionally portraying terrorists, who lack moral and religious legitimacy, as brave fighters, legitimate soldiers or spokesmen for ordinary Muslims," says a Homeland Security report. It's entitled "Terminology to Define the Terrorists: Recommendations from American Muslims."

""Regarding 'jihad,' even if it is accurate to reference the term, it may not be strategic because it glamorizes terrorism, imbues terrorists with religious authority they do not have and damages relations with Muslims around the world," the report says."

Reuters, Airstrike Kills Somali Qaeda Chief, 1 May 08, "U.S. war planes killed an Islamist rebel said to be al Qaeda's leader in Somalia and at least a dozen other people on Thursday in Washington's biggest success in efforts to contain an insurgency raging since 2007."