New private Islamic school to open in France

A private highschool called “Éducative” will open soon at Villeneuve-Saint-Georges (Val-de-Marne). The tuition is estimated at 4500 Euros per year. The school belongs to a network set up by Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish thinker sometimes accused of promoting Islamicization.

There are two thousand similar schools already present around the world.

Disputes around Austrian women’s minister’s demand for burka ban

Social Democrat Women’s Minister Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek has stirred emotions with her demand to ban the burka in Austria. In various interviews on December 23, Heinisch-Hosek said: “I consider the burka a sign of the submission of women. It greatly hinders women from finding jobs in the labor market. If more women wearing burkas appear in Austria, I will test a ban on them and enact administrative fines for women wearing them in public buildings.”

Now a banned Islamist organisation, Hizb ut-Tahrir, sent a threatening letter to the minister, in which it condemned the minister’s remarks last week and threatened her using the sentence from the Koran: “And know that Allah is strong in punishment.” The Federal Crime Office (BK) took over the investigation, which is said to be the first serious case of Islamic fundamentalism in Austria.

Terror plot highlights problem of radicalism in UK

Charles Allen, a retired CIA officer and Bush intelligence chief at the Department of Homeland Security says “The British have an immense problem. There are more challenges in Muslim immigrants integrating into British society than there is in America, a lack of assimilation, a great deal of alienation.”

He feels al-Qaida has worked much harder “to get Westerners, people who live in the West, who may be citizens of the West” for training in tribal strongholds.

Pakistan, Afghanistan, and now Yemen

Before Abdulmutallab’s attempted attack, the Obama Administration had increased military aid to $70 million in Yemen to thwart growing al-Qaida terrorism operations: al-Qaida units that were dismantled after 9/11 have returned, along with new fighters from Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Saudi Arabia. Prisoners released from Guantanamo Bay are also involved.

But Yemen’s problems will require a broader approach that encompasses its political, social, and economic issues if the US is to contend with al-Qaida. Its government, repressive and failing, is reluctant to go after al-Qaida. A separatist movement is taking shape in the south, and an armed insurgency poses a threat from the north. Its unemployment rate is 40 percent, and it is running out of water and its economic mainstay, oil. Its central location and ethnic hospitability add to its attractiveness for al-Qaida: Middle Eastern operatives can move in and blend in easier there than South Asia or Africa.

The Obama Administration is working with the World Bank, Saudi Arabia, and Europe on a plan for Yemen and will meet to develop a framework in six weeks. Stabilizing Yemen is key in destabilizing al-Qaida. But a senior Yemeni official points out seeing any counterterrorism efforts materialize into results will take months, if not years.

More full body scanners will be installed at airports this year, privacy debate ensues

After Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s attempt to blow up a jetliner en route to the US on Christmas Day, American airports plan to triple the number of full body scanners from 40 to 150. The machines have led a debate on where the line should be drawn on security measures to preserve the privacy of citizens.

Analysts call the scans virtual strip searches, as they can see through passenger clothing, creating naked images of passengers. ACLU Washington Legislative Office policy counsel Michael German says they will not detect explosives hidden in body cavities, making them both ineffective, inconvenient, and personally invasive.

Naked images could be shared through the internet, but measures are being taken to prevent this.

They are also expensive. At a cost of $150,000 each, aviation and business experts say there will be a rise in air travel costs in order to pay for the machines. Increasing costs concern not only passengers but also airlines, who have struggled to stay in business.

Radicalism in Yemen, al-Qaida, and Abdulmutallab

Attempted Nigerian terrorist Abdulmutallab told authorities he was the first of many al-Qaida linked terrorists in training in Yemen. The group al-Qaida in the Arabian Penninsula, comprised of Yemeni and Saudi operatives, claims the attack and cites recent US-backed airstrikes on Yemen as their motivation.

A closer look into Yemen reveals a recent increase in US military aid, as well a significant increases in refugees, extremists, and Saudi Arabian al-Qaida operatives, the result of President Ali Abdulaah Saleh’s inability to prevent members from training and organizing.

Major Hasan, perpetrator of this year’s earlier shooting at Fort Hood, TX, also had contact with a Yemeni cleric.

Woman in burqa denied entrance to Utrecht clinic

A Muslim woman was denied entrance to the examination room at a Utrecht first aid clinic because she was wearing a burqa.

The 23-year old woman visited the clinic with her three month old baby on Christmas day. Reports indicated that the doctor was willing to treat the baby with the father but would not allow the mother to be present in the examining room.

The clinic has announced that it regrets the incident and is investigating what happened.

Who is Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab?

23-year old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to bomb a Northwest Airlines Flight en route from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day.

Abdulmutallab was educated at an international British school in Lagos as a youth, and received a degree in engineering and business finance from University College London from 2005-08. His father was a banker and government official in Nigeria.

Abdulmutallab’s father reported him to authorities after he showed interest in radical Islam, cut ties with his family and disappeared. His recent past includes two trips to Yemen and moves to both Egypt and Dubai.

His 2005 posts to the Islamic Forum (http://www.gawaher.com) reveal a lonely young man desperate for a better social life, love life, success on standardized tests, someone to “consult” with, and respite from depression. “I have no one to speak to. No one to support me, no one to consult, and I feel depressed and lonely. I do not know what to do. And then I think this loneliness leads me to other problems.” He was also conflicted about eating meat not slaughtered by Muslims with his parents, and experienced difficulty in finding a balance between working to understand the Koran, and relaxing without becoming too listless.

He also wrote about a 2005 trip to Yemen to study Arabic, where he seemed to be having a happy experience. He described how many American and British people were in Sanaa, and excitement over the availability of Pizza Hut and KFC.

Abdulmutallab had 287 Facebook friends; pictures posted to his profile show him smiling with friends.

A fellow student of his at University College London said he showed no signs of radicalization, but described him as quiet and reserved, and frequently prayed.

Remaining six of “Toronto 18” face trials in 2010

The case of Canada’s notorious homegrown terror plot enters a significant phase in 2010 with the trials upcoming for the final six alleged members, accused of attending a training camp and plotting to bomb various targets. The Crown has alleged some of the men held a terrorism training camp north of Toronto and that others were involved in the bomb plot.

One of the remaining men is expected to have his trial by judge in January, while the other five men’s case is expected to be put in front of a jury starting in March.

The guilty pleas and the outcome of the first man’s trial will have absolutely no bearing on the last five men’s case, said lawyer William Naylor, who represents the man who will stand trial in January. The fact that those five men have elected trial by jury is breaking new ground. This is the first time an Anti-Terrorism Act case will be tried by a jury. All of the six men awaiting trial have been in custody since their arrests in June 2006, except for one, who was granted bail in August.

Cancelling a woman’s face doesn’t correspond to the real Islam

Sumaya Abdel Qader, an Italian writer and activist of Palestinian origins, defines the cancellation from a video of the face of an Italian woman (Philomene Kabouree) kidnapped in Mauritania by members of al-Qaida, a radical political act whose aim is to roil the West.
Referring to the fact, she condemns the obligation for women to wear the niqab but also to take off the veil.

With her activism, she encourages Muslim women to integrate into the Italian society and to promote their own emancipation. The Quran, in her perspective, doesn’t preach women’s submission or the covering of their face: rather, it recognizes their equality and full rights.