Burka Avenger: the Pakistani cartoon challenging the Taliban on girls’ education – video trailer

Watch a trailer for Burka Avenger, the first animated series to be produced in Pakistan. The cartoon was created by local pop star Haroon and stars a burka-clad female superhero who takes on her enemies using a martial art called Takht Kabaddi, which uses books and pens as weapons. The series is intended to provide a positive role model for girls in the face of the Taliban’s opposition to female education.


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.

Young Muslims and being a student: Criticism without appeal “The things he did do not have anything to do with Islam. In doing so it causes us enormous damage”

June 14, 2013

 

No one comes to mind more quickly in the cause of Islam: for both institutional and foreign students in Brescia than the case of Anas El Abboubi (a recently discovered extremist living outside of Milan)

 

Yet, the word “Islam,” today in Brescia’s city of Vobarno, as well as in Niardo a few months ago jumped out. If for no other reason than to understand what moves a twenty year old to take the lead in extremist ideas.
And, in an attempt to give an answer, the word “discomfort”, yesterday, was the most invoked. A discomfort caused by a lack of integration seen in the classroom, where Anas was showered with insults and curses by his companions. A discomfort that he would find an outlet in Islamic radicalism and jihadism, as understood by Roberto Tottoli.

“Mah .. Even I, when I worked at the factory, I was always called Taliban or Saddam Hussein: I was certainly displeased, but I never thought to kill anyone. It occurs to me that the boy has been manipulated” says Sajad Shah of the Islamic Association Muhammadiah.

“These are isolated cases, it is true, but it should give us pause. The violence must be condemned and prosecuted, but at the same time, we must take action to prevent it: It is important that Italian institutions understand that mosques are important, because it is there that young people are educated to peaceful coexistence with civil society and to channel their energies towards true and noble ideals.” Said Meghras, the former president of the Federation of Islamic Lombardy.

Man who threatened to kill Prince Harry ‘radicalised in prison’

Ashraf Islam walked into a police station in Hounslow and made threats to kill the third in line to the throne a day after the murder of 25-year-old soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich in London. Islam is thought to have changed his name from Mark Townley and converted to Islam while in jail in Northern Ireland. Islam had different aliases and a string of fraud convictions. After he admitted the threats to kill Prince Harry police found evidence on his laptop that he had visited terrorist and weapons websites. The 30-year-old pleaded guilty to making threats to kill at a hearing in Uxbridge and is in custody awaiting sentence. There are fears Prince Harry could be a target for the Taliban after he completed two tours of Afghanistan, and his security had already been stepped up following the murder of Drummer Rigby.

 

How to tackle the EDL

Those wondering how to respond to English Defence League marches this weekend can look to the example of tea and non-confrontation we set at York mosque

 

When we first heard about the English Defence League protest that was to take place outside our local mosque in York last Sunday, my colleagues and I sat down and thought about how we should behave. We are non-violent people and the EDL say they are too, so any notion of aggressive confrontation was ruled out immediately. We came up with a different approach. Now I hear that 50 more EDL protests are being planned across the country this weekend and I thought it timely to consider why the York response worked.

 

It was up to us to provide an atmosphere that was representative of our culture. When I say “our culture”, I mean all of us, including the EDL and the members of the mosque. We all think of sitting down with a cup of tea as something quintessentially English, so we thought that offering a cup of good old-fashioned Yorkshire tea and hospitality would be a start.

 

When we listened, we realised the EDL may have thought that we supported extremist behaviour and the Taliban. We pointed out that we condemned both in the strongest terms. Assumptions are dangerous, untested assumptions can be lethal. They were surprised, and they understood. The day ended in a game of football.

 

This weekend, we should try to put assumptions aside. Elements of the far-right are planning demonstrations across the country, including Birmingham, Luton and Leeds, in what has been described as a “day of hate”. But we should be careful about using such labels and consider instead sitting down with these groups to try to understand what has driven them to organise such events.

 

Debating the Legal Basis for the War on Terror

A top Pentagon official said Thursday that the evolving war against Al Qaeda was likely to continue “at least 10 to 20 years” and urged Congress not to modify the statute that provides its legal basis.

 

“As of right now, it suits us very well,” Michael A. Sheehan, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations, said, referring to the “authorization to use military force,” often referred to as the A.U.M.F., enacted by Congress in 2001.

 

The statute authorized war against the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and those who harbored them — that is, Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

 

Lawmakers are considering enacting a new authorization, because the original Qaeda network has been largely decimated, while the current threat is increasingly seen as arising from terrorist groups in places like Yemen that share Al Qaeda’s ideology but have no connection to the 2001 attacks.

 

In 2011, Congress enacted a statute declaring that the 2001 authorization allowed the indefinite detention of members and supporters of Al Qaeda, the Taliban or associated forces, even if not linked to the Sept. 11 attacks. But a judge has blocked the statute, questioning whether mere supporters and associated forces are covered by it. The Obama administration has appealed the ruling.

Gov’t doesn’t fight order letting American Taliban fighter Lindh pray daily with other inmates

INDIANAPOLIS — A federal prison in Indiana on Wednesday was expected to begin allowing American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh and other Muslim inmates housed in his tightly controlled unit to start holding daily ritual group prayers.

The government had until Tuesday to appeal U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson’s Jan. 11 ruling allowing the daily group prayers, but it didn’t. Magnus-Stinson found that a prison policy preventing Lindh and the other Muslims in his unit from praying together daily when not locked in their cells violated a 1993 law banning the government from curtailing religious speech without showing a compelling interest.

She said her ruling didn’t prohibit less restrictive security measures in the Communications Management Unit, which houses terrorists and other inmates the government doesn’t want freely communicating with the outside world.

Ken Falk, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which represented Lindh in a lawsuit challenging the prison policy, said Wednesday afternoon he didn’t yet know if the prison had started allowing the prayers. Officials at the prison didn’t return phone calls from The Associated Press seeking that same information.

Lindh is serving a 20-year sentence for aiding the Taliban during the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan. He was captured by U.S. troops that year, and in 2002 pleaded guilty to supplying services and carrying explosives for the now-defunct Taliban government. He is eligible for release in 2019.

Raised Catholic, the California native was 12 when he saw the movie “Malcolm X” and became interested in Islam. He converted at age 16. Walker told Newsweek after his capture that he had entered Afghanistan to help the Taliban build a “pure Islamic state.”

Lindh joined the prayer lawsuit in 2010, three years after being sent to the prison near the border between Indiana and Illinois. The suit was originally filed in 2009 by two Muslim inmates in the unit, but it got far more attention when Lindh joined the case. The other plaintiffs later dropped out as they were released or transferred from the prison.

FBI informant describes 4 years of dangerous undercover work in Florida Taliban case

PLANTATION, Fla. — Standing on a Pakistani mountainside with a suspected Taliban fighter, FBI undercover informant David Mahmood Siddiqui remembers thinking, he could have been sent hurtling off a cliff to his death with just a nudge. In such dangerous situations, Siddiqui said he always tried to hold a Quran tightly in his hands.

“As long as you have a Quran in your hands,” he told The Associated Press in an interview Friday, “they (the Taliban) will not harm you.”

Siddiqui, a 58-year-old Pakistani-American who became a U.S. citizen in 1977, spent four years helping the FBI build its case against Hafiz Muhammad Sher Ali Khan, who was convicted Monday of terrorism support and conspiracy charges. Evidence during his two-month trial showed that Khan, the 77-year-old imam at a Miami mosque, funneled about $50,000 to the Pakistani Taliban, listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S.

Siddiqui wore an FBI wire to record thousands of conversations with Khan. Prosecutors made heavy use of the evidence Siddiqui gathered, playing dozens of those recordings in court.

Wearing the wire to surreptitiously record talks with Khan was dangerous enough. But in September 2010, the FBI sent Siddiqui to Pakistan’s Swat Valley to meet up with some of people who were getting Khan’s money. With Khan’s grandson Alam Zeb as his driver — Zeb is a suspected Taliban fighter also indicted by the U.S. in the Khan case — Siddiqui spent three weeks gathering intelligence.

 

South Florida Imam Found Guilty of Supporting Pakistani Taliban

MIAMI — The imam of a small mosque in a working-class neighborhood here was found guilty in federal court on Monday of providing thousands of dollars of support to the Pakistani Taliban.

Capping a two-month trial, the imam, Hafiz Khan, 77, an American citizen who came to the United States in 1994, was found guilty by a jury of two counts of conspiracy and two counts of providing material support to terrorists. Each count faces a maximum 15-year prison sentence.

Over the course of four days, the frail cleric delivered long speeches to the jury in Pashto, his native language, coming to his own defense. Mr. Khan said that he was “totally against” the Taliban and that he had sent the money to Pakistan to provide for his family and the Muslim school he had founded in the Swat Valley in Pakistan.

But federal prosecutors said Mr. Khan and, to a lesser extent, other relatives, not only embraced the Taliban’s mission but also helped finance it. Mr. Khan, they said, sent an estimated $50,000 to the Pakistani Taliban, which is allied with Al Qaeda and is responsible for attacks against the Pakistani police and military targets.

Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, it has become increasingly common for prosecutors to charge people with supporting the Pakistani Taliban even if they did not carry out operations themselves. Of the 50 top terrorism cases since Sept. 11, about 70 percent have involved financing or other support to terrorist groups, according to the Center on Law and Security at the New York University School of Law.

Witness testifies from Pakistan that Florida imam’s money was not for Taliban terrorists

MIAMI — Testifying via video from Pakistan, a man accused by the U.S. of conspiring with an elderly Miami-based Muslim cleric to funnel thousands of dollars to Taliban terrorists insisted Monday the money was for innocent purposes, including a potato chip factory run by the cleric’s son-in-law.

Ali Rehman was the first of as many as 11 witnesses expected to testify from an Islamabad hotel in defense of 77-year-old Hafiz Khan, who faces four terrorism support and conspiracy counts. Rehman is named in the same indictment and refused to come to the U.S. Other witnesses were unable to get U.S. visas in time.

He spoke in Pashto that was translated into English for the 12-person jury watching him on flat-screen televisions.

Rehman kept a three-page ledger detailing most of the transactions, which jurors were shown. “I was just the middle man to give the money to him.”

Rehman said he and Khan disagreed with the Taliban’s tactics of using violence and force to impose their version of Muslim law. Rehman said he was personally threatened by Taliban fighters who ordered him to remove products containing women’s pictures from a cosmetics store he owns.

If convicted, Khan faces up to 15 years in prison on each of four charges. Two of Khan’s sons were originally accused as well, but prosecutors dropped the charges against one and U.S. District Judge Robert Scola dismissed the case against the other for lack of evidence.