Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly says Robert Bergdahl ‘looks like a Muslim’

June 6, 2014

This week Bill O’Reilly has repeatedly asserted that Bowe Bergdahl‘s father looks Muslim, and has not backed down from that assertion. And on MSNBC last night, Chris Hayes joined in the mockery of O’Reilly’s “blatant Islamophobia.”

O’Reilly contended that it’s wildly inappropriate for Bergdahl’s father to look Muslim, with the beard he’s sporting, and speaking in Pashto while he was at the White House. Hayes played clips of O’Reilly’s musings (as well as Sean Hannity‘s) and said, “The blatant Islamophobia here is eclipsed only by the sheer ridiculousness of the argument.”

Hayes proceeded to mock O’Reilly by wondering if he considers the Duck Dynasty guys, ZZ Top, or The Dude to be similarly Muslim-looking. And he ended with a sharp dig at O’Reilly, the author of a number of historical books.

On his eponymous show, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly said that if he had been president, he “would not have made the deal” to exchange Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. “These are top Taliban leaders — enemies who bring death and destruction to thousands,” said O’Reilly.

The Fox News commentator, however, took a detour from the sweeping issues of national security to address the case of Robert Bergdahl, Bowe’s father. O’Reilly: “But it is Robert Bergdahl, the father, who is also engendering some controversy. He has learned to speak Pashto, the language of the Taliban, and looks like a Muslim. He is also somewhat sympathetic to Islam, actually thanking Allah right in front of the president.”

Debate stirs over US-Taliban captive swap

June 2, 2014

WASHINGTON — Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl can expect a buoyant homecoming after five years in Taliban hands, but those in the government who worked for his release face mounting questions over the prisoner swap that won his freedom.

Even in the first hours of Bergdahl’s handoff to U.S. special forces in eastern Afghanistan, it was clear this would not be an uncomplicated yellow-ribbon celebration. Five terrorist suspects also walked free, stirring a debate in Washington over whether the exchange will heighten the risk of other Americans being snatched as bargaining chips and whether the released detainees — several senior Taliban figures among them — would find their way back to the fight.

U.S. officials said Sunday that Bergdahl’s health and safety appeared in jeopardy, prompting rapid action to secure his release. “Had we waited and lost him,” said national security adviser Susan Rice, “I don’t think anybody would have forgiven the United States government.”

And in Kabul Monday, the Afghan Foreign Ministry called the swap “against the norms of international law” if it came against the five imprisoned Taliban detainees’ will. The ministry said: “No state can transfer another country’s citizen to a third country and put restriction on their freedom.”

Tireless campaigners for their son’s freedom, Bob and Jani Bergdahl thanked all who were behind the effort to retrieve him. “You were not left behind,” Bob Bergdahl told reporters, as if speaking to his son. “We are so proud of the way this was carried out.” He spoke in Boise, Idaho, wearing a long bushy beard he’d grown to honor his son, as residents in the sergeant’s hometown of Hailey prepared for a homecoming celebration.

In weighing the swap, U.S. officials decided that it could help the effort to reach reconciliation with the Taliban, which the U.S. sees as key to more security in Afghanistan. But they acknowledged the risk that the deal would embolden insurgents.

Republicans pressed that point. “Have we just put a price on other U.S. soldiers?” asked Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. “What does this tell terrorists, that if you capture a U.S. soldier, you can trade that soldier for five terrorists?”

9/11 Islamist from Hamburg

February 28, 2014

 

In December 2001, German security service supported the CIA to kidnap the Islamist Mohammed Haydar Zammar,52. He had lived in Hamburg for many years and was suspected to be a key figure within the 9/11 Hamburg terror cell of Muhammad Atta. He was brought to Syria and stayed in jail for the last twelve years. According to an Arab news portal, the Islamist militia “Ahrar ash-Sham” released Zammar during an operation in autumn 2013 from the prison in Aleppo. The militia has offered him and five further „political prisoners“ for exchange.

 

German security authorities seek to locate Zammar, who went to hiding but contacted relatives in Hamburg and Aleppo. Zammar cannot be arrested again, as the statue of all charges against him is barred after ten years.

 

In 1971, Zammar moved from Aleppo to Hamburg. In 1982, he became a German citizen and moved to Afghanistan to join the Mujaheddin. In 1991, Zammar travelled again to Afghanistan and Bosnia to show other activists how to work with explosives. He became a radical preacher in Hamburg and was in touch with the pilots of September 11th, Muhammad Atta und Zuad Jarrah. Despite of his close relationship to the Islamists terrorists, Zammar denied any involvement or to be informed about the terror plot.

 

However, the case is peculiar for German security authorities and former government officials. The Office of the German Chancellor was informed about all plans related to the kidnapping of Zammar, a German citizen, to Syria. Zammar claims to be tortured under Syrian custody and questioned by German authorities.

 

(Süddeutsche Zeitung)

http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/hamburger-islamist-zammar-verschleppt-verhaftet-ausgetauscht-1.1901694

 

Atheist Afghan man granted asylum in UK to protect him from ‘religious’ persecution

January 13, 2014

 

An Afghan man is understood to have become the first atheist ever to secure asylum in Britain on religious grounds. His case was accepted by the Home Office on the basis there was a risk he could face persecution in Afghanistan for having rejected Islam.

Although he was brought up a Muslim, since living in the UK he has gradually turned away from it and is now an atheist. The young man – who does not want to be identified for fear of being rejected by the Afghan community in Britain – fled to the UK from a conflict involving his family in Afghanistan.

He first claimed asylum in 2007 when he was just 16. The claim was rejected but he was granted discretionary leave to remain until 2013 under rules to protect unaccompanied children.

The case was taken up by Kent Law Clinic, a pro bono service provided by students and supervised by practising lawyers from the University of Kent’s Law School, alongside local solicitors and barristers. A submission to the Home Office argued that the man’s return to Afghanistan could result in a death sentence under Sharia law as an “apostate” – someone who has abandoned their religious faith – unless he remained silent about his atheist beliefs.

Sheona York, who supervised the case, said: “The decision represents an important recognition that a lack of religious belief is in itself a thoughtful and seriously-held philosophical position.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “We do not routinely comment on individual cases. The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need it and we consider every application on a case by case basis.”

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/afghan-atheist-to-get-asylum-in-britain-on-religious-grounds-9057286.html

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/10569748/Atheist-Afghan-man-granted-asylum-in-UK-to-protect-him-from-religious-persecution.html

 

 

Former government adviser believes warnings of extremist attacks were ignored

A former government adviser has hit out at the security agencies and the way they assessed potential extremist threats on British soil in the months and years before the killing of Lee Rigby.

Days after the conviction of Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale for the murder of the Fusilier Lee Rigby, Jahan Mahmood, a former adviser to the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT) in the Home Office, has decided to speak out over warnings of potential extremist attacks on British soldiers in the UK that he believes went unheeded.

Mr Mahmood, a historian and former lecturer at the University of Birmingham, specialising in the martial traditions of Afghan and Pakistani diaspora communities, had contact with the OSCT between 2009 and 2010 on a volunteer basis. He remembered one particular meeting on 27 January 2010 at a mosque in Birmingham, which involved five young Muslim men as well as the director of the OSCT, Charles Farr, and what Mr Mahmood called “another OSCT civil servant”.

Mr Mahmood said: “One of the young men responded by saying he was angered by the death of women and children in Afghanistan and, if given half a chance, he would go abroad to fight British soldiers in Afghanistan. Another member of the group intervened and said: ‘Why do you want to go abroad when you can kill them here?'”

While there is no evidence to suggest that any of the five men were involved in terror activities of any kind, the exchange remained lodged in Mr Mahmood’s memory.

Mr Mahmood’s motivation for setting up the meeting was to explore the link between gang and jihadi culture. He said that some of the men were drug users. He said he set up the meeting after one of the young men, called Sabeel, and expressed concerns about the vulnerability of his peers and particularly the attraction of jihadist materials.

After the Government come into power in 2010, there was a change in the Prevent strategy that began under Labour and was modified in 2011 to tackle radical ideology first and foremost, rather than what Mr Mahmood described as the more important problem of grievances within the Muslim community.

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/former-government-adviser-believes-warnings-of-extremist-attacks-were-ignored-9020222.html

Killer Marine told he ‘increased risk of revenge attacks’ and sentenced to minimum 10 years

December 6, 2013

 

A Royal Marine who murdered a badly wounded Taliban insurgent must serve at least 10 years in prison for a cold blooded killing that tarnished the reputation of the Armed Forces, a judge has said. Sgt Alexander Blackman was dismissed in disgrace and told his crime had betrayed the Marines and potentially increased the risk of revenge attacks on British troops.

Blackman was given a life sentence at court martial for the battlefield execution of a badly wounded Taliban fighter during a patrol in Helmand province in September 2011. Jeff Blackett, Judge Advocate General, said Blackman’s behaviour during the murder, inadvertently captured on helmet camera, had been “chilling”. The video showed Blackman shoot the insurgent in the chest, telling him to “shuffle off this mortal coil, you c***. It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us.” He then told the rest of his patrol to keep quiet because he had broken the Geneva Convention.

The judge said: “You treated that Afghan man with contempt and murdered him in cold blood.” “By doing so you have betrayed your Corps and all British service personnel who have served in Afghanistan and you have tarnished their reputation.” He continued: “Your actions have put at risk the lives of other British service personnel. You have provided ammunition to the terrorists whose propaganda portrays the British presence in Afghanistan as part of a war on Islam in which civilians are arbitrarily killed.

Judge Blackett said the seven-strong military board, which included three Royal Marine officers, had taken 15 years as the starting point for deliberations on Blackman’s minimum sentence. They had reduced the term because of his record, the strains he was under and the provocation of brutal fighting against the Taliban.

The case is unprecedented in modern times, with no other serviceman having been convicted of murder on a foreign battlefield since at least the Second World War.

A consultant psychiatrist report concluded Blackman had suffered fatigue, poor sleep, grief from the recent death of his father and “the feeling, though unspoken, of paranoia that he was there to be shot at every time he went out.”

Col Richard Kemp, a former commander of British troops in Afghanistan, said he was surprised by the severity of the sentence. A minimum sentence of 10 years is comparable with what some murderers received in Britain and Blackman could not be seen as a common criminal.

Lord West, a former First Sea Lord, said he had concerns about the decision to name Blackman and felt it had put his family at risk from domestic terrorists.

 

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/10500133/Killer-Marine-told-he-increased-risk-of-revenge-attacks-and-sentenced-to-minimum-10-years.html

Dutch Court Blocks US Extradition of Al-Qaeda Suspect

23 July 2013

 

A Dutch court has blocked the extradition of Dutch-Pakistani Al-Qaeda suspect to the US, on the grounds of unanswered questions regarding the US role in his alleged torturer in Pakistan. Without proof that the US was not involved in his alleged torture, extradition is illegal.

The man is accused in the US of planning to commit acts of terror, including a suicide attack in Afghanistan in 2010. The 26 year old says that the US played a role in what he says was his torture in Pakistan following his arrest.

Florida mosque leaders called authorities on arrested teen who talked of violence, jihad

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Shelton Bell stood out at the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville.

Not because he was a strawberry blonde American who converted to Islam. It was more because of the way he dressed — in headgear that resembled garb worn by remote tribes in Afghanistan — and mostly because of what he said.

In mid-2012, a parent was concerned that Bell, who now faces federal terrorism charges, was “in conversation with his son about inciting violence and talking about jihad and talking about weapons,” said Parvez Ahmed, the center’s board secretary.

Mosque leaders called the FBI, setting into motion a case that came to light this week. Bell, now 19, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiring and attempting to provide material support to terrorists. He faces up to 15 years in prison for each of the two charges.

Judge gives prison housing Lindh 30 days to allow Muslims to hold group prayers outside cells

INDIANAPOLIS — A federal judge on Friday gave the government 30 days to start allowing American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh and other Muslim inmates to hold group prayers outside their cells in a high-security prison in Indiana.

In a seven-page order, Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson said the Bureau of Prisons might have misconstrued her ruling seven months ago that granted Lindh’s request to hold group prayers in the Terre Haute federal prison’s Communications Management Unit, so she made her intent clear.

“The warden is to allow group prayer during every Muslim prayer time for which the inmates are not confined to their cells,” she wrote in bold print.

“Put simply, just as inmates are free to assemble, socialize and engage in other group activities in common, recreational areas during times they are released from their cells, so too must they be allowed to engage in group prayer in common, out-of-cell areas,” Magnus-Stinson said.

U.S. troops captured Lindh in Afghanistan in 2001. Lindh, who grew up in California and was raised Catholic, was accused of fighting for the Taliban to help them build a pure Islamic state. In 2002, he pleaded guilty to supplying services to the now-defunct Taliban government and carrying explosives for them. He is eligible for release from prison in 2019.

The group prayer lawsuit originally was filed in 2009 by two Muslim inmates. The case drew far more attention after Lindh joined it in 2010. The other plaintiffs dropped out as they were released from prison or transferred to other units.

Threat Level in Netherlands Remains Set at “Substantial”

July 1 2013

 

The National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism in the Netherlands has announced that the level of threat in the country continues to be “substantial”.

The main international threat with potential consequences for the Netherlands is presently based on the situation in Syria. Other areas of consequence include Mali, Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria and Afghanistan.