The Mosque and Hotel Project in the Almería harbour will be canceled

El País, August 17, 2010

The city of Almeria holds one of the harbours that witness each year the movement of migrants that cross the Mediterranean to visit their home countries during the Summer season – this is called “Operación Paso del Estrecho”. In the rehabilitation project of the harbour there was a parcel dedicated to the construction of a 5.600 square meters mosque, a hotel and improvements in the parking areas and road accesses. These were now taken out of the project. The City Mayor claims that the reality has changed and that migrants no longer stay for several days in Almeria as they may have done 10 years ago. On the other hand, the imam of Almeria claims the importance of maintaining the projected rehabilitation (that has been on hold for six years) and suggests that one of the reasons for the shortening of the stay in the city is the absence of these services.

Gaddafi calls for jihad against Switzerland

During a speech in Benghazi on Thursday, Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi characterized Switzerland as a country of “unbelievers” and “apostates.” Playing off of the recent referendum that banned minarets, he claimed that Islamic houses of worship were being destroyed in Switzerland, and before a crowd of thousands called for “a Jihad using all means.” He continued by stating that Jihad against Switzerland, Zionism, and foreign aggression was not terrorism, and that any Muslim who did business with Switzerland was an unbeliever and was taking sides against Islam.

According to Islam expert Hasni Abidi, not only is Gaddafi not qualified to pronounce on the issue of Jihad, but his words carry no weight in the Arab world. The speech was linked to the current bilateral crisis between Switzerland and Libya, which began when Gaddafi’s son Hannibal was briefly arrested in June 2008 on charges of having mistreated staff at a hotel in Geneva. Moreover, Abidi says that this call carries no danger of being echoed by Islamist groups – especially given that Libya has sided with the USA in the fight against groups like Al-Qaida. For Reinhard Schultz, the director of Islamic studies at Bern University, more than anything Gaddafi sees this issue as a question of family honor; thus his insatisfaction with Swiss responses, which so far have been at the diplomatic and political levels.

Pakistan seeking information on Americans seeking to train for jihad; no plans to deport

Police raided a hotel where the five American would-be jihadists stayed upon arrival in Pakistan. They recovered a mobile phone and five bags, but no major clues were discovered.

There has been speculation about Pakistan deporting the men, but no plans to send them back the US are currently in place. They cannot be handed over to the FBI without permission of the Lahore High Court.

The Americans attempted to contact a jihad group in Pakistan through the internet, and traveled to the country to train for jihad. They have not been charged.

French Diplomat Evades His Somali Captors

French security agent kidnapped by insurgents in Somalia last month said he escaped while his captors slept, then walked five hours through one of the most dangerous cities in the world to safety at the country’s presidential palace.

Marc Aubriere, who was seized along with another agent in July 14, denied reports that he killed any of his captors during his escape. Mr. Aubriere and another agent were kidnapped from a hotel in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, then split up between the rebel groups al-Shabab and its ally Hizbul-Islam. The second hostage was still being held.

Protesters Gather Outside Islamic Conference Near Chicago

Roughly 500 members of Hizb ut-Tahrir — a global Sunni network with reported ties to confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Al Qaeda in Iraq’s onetime leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — met inside a Hilton hotel in Oak Lawn, Ill., to host “The Fall of Capitalism and the Rise of Islam.”

Hizb ut-Tahrir insists that it does not engage in terrorism. The organization is not recognized by the State Department as a known terror group. Its supporters, however, blasted capitalism while calling for a rise of Islam during Sunday’s conference. “Free market, organization, capitalization — all has failed and brought disaster to America,” said one of the group’s speakers.

Dozens of protesters outside the hotel — many of whom held American flags — shouted as attendees left the conference late Sunday. No arrests had been made.

Fear Emerges in Fate of French Hostages in Somalia

Hope that talks with Islamist rebels in Somalia might lead to the rapid release of two French agents has receded amid conflicting reports over the status of negotiations. The pair, French defence officials on a mission to support Somalia’s transition government, were seized from a Mogadishu hotel room and are believed to be in the hands of the rebel militia. A senior member of the Shebab proclaimed that the French pair would be charged with spying and tried under Islamic law in a Sharia court. Some locals have suggested the hostage-taking is in retaliation to a recent trial against Somali piracy in Paris.

Al-Qaeda Group Holds French Hostages in Somalia

Two French nationals kidnapped after gunmen stormed into a hotel in Mogadishu are now being held by a Somali al-Qaeda-linked group, according to reports. The two French security advisers will be tried under Sharia law, claims an official from their captors, the Islamic al-Shabab militia. The unnamed spokesperson said they would be tried for spying and “conspiracy against Islam”.

Reuters, citing rebel sources, said the hostages were initially given to Hizbul Islam, one of the Islamist groups fighting the Somali government. They had handed one hostage over to al Shabaab earlier in the week, and the other on Thursday night. The men were abducted at the Sahafi Hotel in the capital while on a mission to train the Somali government forces that are fighting Islamist forces. Al Shabaab — which is on the United States’ terror list — wants to overthrow Somalia’s transitional government and implement a more radical version of sharia.

al-Qaeda group demands release of Abu Qatada or British hostage will be killed

al-Qaeda’s North African wing has threatened to kill a British tourist taken hostage in the Sahara unless the radical cleric and terrorism suspect Abu Qatada is released within 20 days. The kidnapped man was among four European tourists seized in January after their convoy was ambushed near the border of Niger and Mali, where they had been after attending a Tuareg festival.

Abu Qatada, once described by a Spanish judge as “Osama bin Laden’s righthand man in Europe”, is being held in Britain pending deportation to his native Jordan, where in 1999 he was convicted in his absence of conspiracy to cause explosions and sentenced to life imprisonment. The charges related to bombings at the American school and the Jerusalem hotel in Jordan. He was convicted a second time in 2000 over a plot to bomb tourists. Abu Qatada is one of the highest profile terror suspects held in Britain today, and when Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, signed his deportation order on 18 February she said: “I am keen to deport this dangerous individual as soon as I can.”

“We demand that Britain release Sheikh Abu Qatada, who is unjustly [held], for the release of its British citizen. We give it 20 days as of the issuance of this statement,” the group al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said in a posting on an Islamist website yesterday. “When this period expires, the Mujahideen will kill the British hostage.”

The issue highlights the difficulty how to deal with dangerous Islamist prisoners and with al-Qaeda threats from outside Europe, while maintaining security in the UK and without endangering any hostages.

‘Terror Acts Belong to Daily Life in India’

On Friday, residents in Mumbai, India were still dealing with the aftermath of the terror attacks that left 143 dead. In Germany, commentators were wondering whether the incident puts India’s rising economy in jeopardy — and whether it was a harbinger of more violence to come. On Friday, the battle to regain control of the city of Mumbai was continuing as special forces regained control of one of the luxury hotels attacked by militants on Wednesday. Commando units stormed a Jewish center and are soldiers are deployed at another hotel, where at least one militant is still holed up. While most of the 143 killed in the coordinated attacks were Indians, there are some Europeans among the dead. On Friday France sent a special flight to Mumbai to bring back up to 150 Europeans caught up in the terror attacks. Ties between Europe and India have been increasingly close in recent years — a fact underscored by the presence of seven EU members of parliament who were in Mumbai on a trade delegation at the time of the attacks. On Friday some German commentators wonder whether this relationship needs to be reevaluated in the light of this week’s events. Some editorialists suggest treating India with more caution in the near future.

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