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."
Mangal Bagh

Long War Journal, A Profile of Mangal Bagh, 11 Nov 08 "Mangal Bagh is one of the more enigmatic Islamic warlords to emerge from the Wild West frontier of Pakistan’s tribal belts adjoining Afghanistan." Leads to profile of Bagh, by Manzar Zaid.
No Phone

Khaleej Times, Technical Glitch Throws Phone Network Out of Gear in Dubai, 11 Nov 08 "Etisalat and du mobile and fixed phone users faced network disruptions in Dubai for a large part of the day on Monday. It was not clear how many users were affected by the disruption, which was blamed on “technical issues”." No doubt there were significant downtime issues/stresses.
eSpace, eSpace Integrating Yamli Transliteration Technology In Popular Online Text Editors, 9 Nov 08 "The company is currently taking another step to try to promote and simplify the use of the Arabic language on the internet, and that is by integrating Yamli’s award-winning transliteration technology, that enables users to type Arabic using Latin characters by converting their words in real time into Arabic text, as a rich text formatting option in a number of the most prominent and popular online text editors, such as FCKeditor, TinyMice editor, as well as in popular forum software like VBulletin and PHPBB."

Details: eSpace
Indonesia, Radicals vent their anger on websites, 11/7 Nov 08 "Radical websites in Indonesia are abuzz with chatter on the imminent execution of the three Bali bombers, with hardliners venting their anger at a government deemed anti-Islamic."

Sarah Ghias , Islam Online, Islamic TV: Just a Click Away, n.d. "An alternative to mainstream TV that has recently become available is IslamBox. IslamBox uses a set-top box and your broadband internet connection to view Islamic TV channels and listen to Islamic radio stations from around the world directly on your TV set. Unlike satellite dishes and cable TV, IslamBox is the only subscription service in the world that exclusively broadcasts Islamic programming.

"Khurram Mujtaba, CEO and co-founder of IslamBox, told that the criteria IslamBox uses to select content to broadcast, "is very simple; it can be any channel as long as their broadcast strictly follows the boundaries set out in Islamic teachings and secondly, that it is not promoting something which goes against the basic teachings of Islam."

"In the near future IslamBox will be available locally in France, South Africa, Japan, and in the Scandinavian countries.

"Saim Qidwai, a subscriber of IslamBox related that he no longer has to worry about his children or even himself viewing and being influenced by inappropriate material. He went on to say that "restricting my viewing to Islamic compliant programming has not only benefited me but also my children. Instead of being exposed to negative influences through the TV, they are learning and becoming more passionate about their religion.""

Details: IslamBox There is also an online facility, to view the channels via your computer (donations/payments via PayPal). I haven't tried this product yet.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Jakarta Post, Good Riddance, 11 Nov 08, "The Amrozi Circus has left town. The three terrorists most responsible for the carnage in Bali in October 2002 have finally been executed after months of uncertainty that turned the waiting into a public spectacle that only upset and infuriated relatives of the victims and prolonged their pain.

"Imam Samudra and brothers Amrozi Nurhasyim and Ali Ghufron were executed by a firing squad not far from their Nusakambangan Island high security prison in Central Java. Even until their last moments, they never publicly expressed remorse for planning and executing the bomb attacks on two discos in Bali that left more than 200 people dead, mostly foreign tourists, more than six years ago."

The Australian, '1001 jihadis to take place of Bali bombers', 11 Nov 08 "THE delighted family and spiritual adviser of executed Bali bombers Amrozi and Mukhlas have hailed their martyrdom, claiming the brothers died with smiles on their faces and that there will be 1001 jihadis to take their place."

BBC News, Mixed press response to executions, 9 Nov 08

This is London, Islamic radicals make mockery of hate laws, 10 Nov 08 "JUST days after Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced tough new measures to name and shame foreign-based extremists and prevent them coming from abroad to stir up hatred in the UK, firebrand preacher Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad cocked a snook at her new initiative, the Evening Standard can reveal.

"More than 200 Muslims at a packed public meeting in Tower Hamlets were told by organiser Anjem Choudary: "We have a special surprise, a special treat for you. Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad will be joining us on a live feed from Lebanon." He added: "As Muslims, we will not submit to any man-made law, any government, or any prime minister - Bush or Brown - or [to] Jacqui Smith. We submit to Allah.""

Sunday Telegraph, Report identifies UK terrorist enclaves, 9 Nov 08 "Secret enclaves of al-Qaeda extremists based in London, Birmingham and Luton are planning mass-casualty attacks in Britain, according to a leaked Government intelligence report."

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Omar Bakri Muhammad

Mail Online, My dad's not a monster and I'm not a pole-dancer, says firebrand preacher Omar Bakri's daughter, 8 Nov 08 "When the daughter of firebrand Muslim cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed was revealed to be a topless pole dancer, the conflict between their two lifestyles could hardly have been more stark.

"Bakri, exiled from Britain in 2005 for inciting hatred, is infamous for his radical interpretation of Islam, which includes denouncing Western 'depravity' and claiming the British people brought the 7/7 outrages on themselves."

Friday, November 07, 2008


BBC News, Malaysia blogger's joy at release, 7 Nov 08 "Mr Raja Petra, 58, editor of the website Malaysia Today, has been held without trial for eight weeks under a draconian security law, the ISA." also see Malaysia Today
Al Jazeera

Lawrence Pintak, Arab Media & Society, Al Jazeera English election coverage: Another missed opportunity "Where CNN was – quite literally – beaming holographs of their correspondents onto a set worthy of the bridge on the Starship Enterprise, AJE anchors Ghida Fakhry and David Foster sat huddled in their coats on a rooftop overlooking the White House, looking like they wished someone would bring them a hot chocolate."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Barack Obama

Reuters, American Muslims quick to congratulate Obama, 5 Nov 08 "The largest U.S. Islamic civil rights group was among the first to congratulate President-Elect Democrat Barack Obama, a man who some opponents tried to portray as a Muslim because of the childhood years he spent in Indonesia.

"“President-elect Obama’s victory sends the unmistakable message that America is a nation that offers equal opportunity to people of all backgrounds,” the Council on American Islamic Relations said in a statement just minutes after Obama’s victory speech in Chicago."

AFP, Obama surfs the Web to the White House, 5 Nov 08

AlJazeera, Obama sweeps to US presidency, 5 Nov 08

Plenty of other coverage online, for example:

Islam Online, Obama Wins US Presidential Vote

أوباما: التغيير أتى إلى أمريكا [al-Quds al-Arabi]


تحقق الحلم.. الرئيس الأسود في البيت الأبيض [alsharq alawsat]

باراك أوباما يفوز بانتخابات الرئاسة الامريكية [alarabonline]
Vatican talks

AKI, Vatican: Historic talks between Catholics and Muslims begin, 4 Nov 08 "Muslim scholars began landmark talks with Catholic officials at the Vatican in Rome on Tuesday in a bid to resolve ongoing tensions between Islam and Christianity and strengthen interfaith dialogue. It is the first seminar organised by the Catholic-Muslim Forum established by the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue and Muslim officials."
Surfing Dangers

Reuters, Surfing violent websites linked to violent behavior, 5 Nov 08, "Young people exposed to violent media are more likely to lash out violently themselves, new research published in Pediatrics shows.

""Our findings add to the growing evidence that violence in the media is related to aggressive behavior, including seriously violent behavior among youths," Dr. Michele L. Ybarra of Internet Solutions for Kids in Santa Ana, California and her colleagues report. "Reduction in youths' exposure to violent media should be viewed as an important aspect of violence prevention."
Mrrha, Mrrha, A New Arabic File Mirroring Service, 5 Nov 08, "Mrrha is a new simple Arabic service that was just launched a few minutes ago from Egypt, and that aims to make the process of uploading files to the internet for sharing purposes and mirroring them on the most famous file uploading services a lot easier and faster."

Details: Mrrha. English service to follow.
Muxlim, Muxlim Pal To Be First Online Muslim Virtual World, 3 Nov 08

ANTARA, Prince Charles visits Islamic boarding school in Yogyakarta, 4 Nov 08, "The school`s secretary, Khoirul Fuad, said he had not made special preparations for the visit because the Prince wanted to see the school as it is.

""He wants to see how students are learning computer and language and reciting verses as well as using an internet service," he said.

"By seeing all that he said Prince Charles would know that the students were very open and knew about internet service.

"This shows that Islamic boarding schools are not so traditional as some quarters have been perceiving so far," he said."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Ali Kordan

Ya Libnan, Iran's Parliament fires minister for forging oxford degree, 4 Nov 08

Ian Black, Guardian, Faked degree could devalue Iranian president, 4 Nov 08 "The Kordan saga began in August when parliament, which vets ministerial appointments, voted on his confirmation. When MPs questioned his eligibility he produced a certificate purporting to be an "honorary doctorate of law" from Oxford University and was approved by a slim margin.

"Within days Iranian journalists were following up claims that the degree was bogus. Kordan released a copy of the document to quell speculation. But Alef, a website associated with one of Ahmadinejad's critics, pointed to typing errors, garbled English and misspellings, purportedly signed by three Oxford professors.

"The certificate commended Kordan for "preparing educational materials" and for "research in the domain of comparative law that has opened a new chapter not only in our university but, to our knowledge, this country". Alef passed the certificate to Oxford, which disavowed it. The Iranian government then blocked Alef's website from the internet."

Oxford University, Statement: Mr Ali Kordan, 15 Aug 08

Alastair Leithead, BBC Panorama, Three Bloody Summers "The BBC's Afghanistan correspondent, Alastair Leithead, was in Helmand when the British mission started and in Panorama: Three Bloody Summers we see him return for his third and final summer."

SMH/, Muslim Massacre online game causes outrage, 4 Nov 08 "The Australian Muslim community has accused the Federal Government and police of double standards over their treatment of a free online game in which the aim is to kill as many Muslims as possible."

CSM, In Lebanon, pragmatism tempers jihadist aims, 4 Nov 08, "Militants patrol narrow passageways that connect cement and cinder-block dwellings overfilled with poor families. For months now they have coped with a violent feud between rival groups that has threatened to spill into an all-out battle similar to last year's conflict in Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon.

"But the groups – secular, leftist, Islamist, nationalist, jihadist – are attempting to forge a rare pact to bring about a much-needed reprieve to tensions in Ein el-Hilweh, which has caused even the more radical, Al Qaeda-inspired elements to publicly moderate their views. The pact could see the formation of a joint security force to police the camp." non-tech

AP/msnbc, Al-Qaida filmmaker at Gitmo gets life in prison, 3 Nov 08

"A video maker for Osama bin Laden who vowed that al-Qaida will never stop fighting America was sentenced to life in prison Monday for encouraging terrorist attacks."

India, The Indian jihadi net, 3 Nov 08

"In the face of the inaction by the government, the Indian Mujahideen is growing, like the Internet, organically -- with nobody knowing where is the beginning of this Jihadi Net, where is its end, how the various jihadi cells are connected with each other and who is facilitating their connectivity. It is a frightening scenario."
Bali bombers, Execution looms for Bali bombers, 1 Nov 08

"New letters penned by the bombers are circulating on the internet, calling for revenge attacks against those responsible for their executions."

Ibrahim El Houdaiby, Guardian, Egypt fails on free speech, 3 Nov 08 "The crackdown on freedom of speech is mounting in Egypt as the failed social and economic policies of the regime cause the state security apparatus to gain more power. A few days ago I sent out an email to my distribution list, with a link to a piece I've written for, the Muslim Brotherhood's official Arabic website. A few minutes later, a friend of mine who works for Al-Ahram, Egypt's largest public-owned newspaper, responded by email telling me she could not read the article as the access to the website is restricted." Opinion piece