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And now, Sharm El Sheik

 
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 11:55 am    Post subject: And now, Sharm El Sheik Reply with quote

A place for vacationing and relaxation where Christians, Moslems, Jews, White, Arab, Blacks, can enjoy the sun and have fun together. The Islamist extremists couldn't leave that alone, could they?

July 24, 2005
Death Toll Rises in Egypt After Bombings at Resort
By GREG MYRE
and MONA EL-NAGGAR

SHARM EL SHEIK, Egypt, July 23 - The death toll from a series of three bombs at this Red Sea resort rose sharply on Saturday, and the Egyptian authorities said that between 85 and 95 people had been killed in an attack strikingly similar in design to one that struck resorts up the coast at Taba nine months ago.

The latest terror attack, the worst ever in Egypt, tore through a luxury hotel and local market beginning about 1 a.m. Several hours later an extremist group, an organization linked to Al Qaeda, claimed responsibility on an Islamic Web site.

The claim could not be verified. Egypt's interior minister, Habib el-Adli, who visited the blast sites, said that those behind the explosions here "could be linked" to a similar series of bombings at the resort town of Taba in October. President Hosni Mubarak visited the scene and vowed to track down whoever was responsible, and world leaders quickly condemned the carnage.

The dead included significant numbers of foreigners as well as Egyptians, with more than 222 people wounded, said Essam Sharif, head of emergency medicine at Sharm el Sheik hospital. Many were tourists, including Spaniards, British, Dutch, French, Italians, as well as Egyptians, Qataris and Kuwaitis.

The bombings were all the more devastating as they provided a gruesome coda to a week in which suicide bombers had threatened cities from Iraq to Britain to Egypt, lending to the impression of a rising tide of terror spilling from the conflicts of the region.

Iraqi cities have seen a surge in bombings in recent weeks, including a devastating attack by a suicide bomber who set off his explosives under an oil tanker last weekend in a small town south of Baghdad, killing at least 71 people. Londoners had barely been relieved of the shock of the first suicide bombings in Europe on July 7, when four more suspects apparently failed in trying to set off a new series of bombs on the city's transportation system on Thursday.

Even as the London police released videotaped images of those suspects, the bombs in Egypt opened yet another front.

Witnesses and the authorities said the first of the three explosions here went off between the town's old market and a new shopping center, killing several people on the street.

The second and worst of the bombings took place along the main strip of beachfront hotels when a bomber drove a small truck through a plate glass window and into the lobby of the Ghazala Gardens Hotel. The entire entrance of the two-story building was destroyed.

Muhammad Mansour, 28, who was visiting from a neighboring hotel, said a guard was chasing the truck into the lobby and shouting, "This is a terrorist, call the police."

The truck stopped in the middle of the lobby, and after freezing for several seconds, Mr. Mansour said he raced out the front of the hotel. Seconds later he felt the powerful blast, and then "blood started coming out from my head and legs."

"But I kept running."

He was being treated at the Sharm el Sheik International Hospital.

The third and least damaging of the bombs exploded in a parking lot. Each exploded about five minutes apart.

A top Egyptian official said there were some indications the latest bombings were linked to last fall's Taba explosions. "We have some clues, especially about the car that was exploded in the Old Market, and investigators are pursuing," said Mr. Adli, the interior minister. He called it "an ugly act of terrorism."

The bombings come about nine months after 34 people were killed and more than 130 people wounded in three bombings in the Sinai resorts of Taba and Nuweiba, farther to the north of Sharm. The bombs then were aimed at vacationing Israelis and Egypt allowed Israeli ambulances and military units to cross at Taba to help with the rescue and forensic efforts.

Afterwards, Mr. Mubarak's government made sweeping arrests throughout the area, blaming local Bedouin militants.

There have been recent indications of the possibility of pending attacks. In June, Mr. Mubarak told the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot that his security forces had broken a militant cell that was planning to attack Israeli vacationers in the Sinai.

The resort, a focal point of Egypt's crucial tourist industry, has more than 100 hotels with more than 20,000 rooms - some for backpackers, some for Persian Gulf royalty. Most of the big hotel chains are represented there, including Hyatt, Ritz Carlton, Hilton and Marriott.

The White House issued a statement saying that "the United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the barbaric terrorist attacks in Sharm el Sheikh Egypt that killed and injured scores of innocent civilians from many nations and religious faiths."

It said that President Bush spoke with President Mubarak on Saturday and offered his personal condolences and the support of the American people.

Egypt and Mr. Mubarak are despised by Al Qaeda and its adherents for supporting American policy and involvement in the Middle East, as well as for its peace treaty with Israel. Egypt has also tried to crush Islamic political movements like the Muslim Brotherhood.

The No. 2 man in Al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is an Egyptian who was chief of Al Jihad, which helped produce a wave of violence in Egypt from 1991 to 1997, including the Luxor attacks.

Egyptian officials, however, suggested that local Bedouin were probably responsible for these attacks, too, and were connected to the trials of those accused of being involved in the October bombings.

The attacks last fall in Taba ended a long period of quiet by Egyptian militants. The last major attack had been in 1997, when Islamic militants killed 58 foreign tourists and 4 Egyptians at the Pharaonic Temple of Hatshepsut outside Luxor in southern Egypt.

An Israeli government spokesman, Avi Pazner, said Israel was monitoring the situation in Egypt closely but saw no reason now to call on the 10,000 or so Israelis now vacationing in the Sinai to return home.

Yuval Steinitz, a Likud legislator and a sharp critic of Egypt, called the bombings a major failure by Egyptian intelligence. Mr. Steinitz is the chairman of the Israeli Parliament's foreign affairs and defense committee and has good access to intelligence.

"At first sight, it looks like a failure on the intelligence and security front of the first degree," Mr. Steinitz told Israel radio. "There was a terrible attack less than a year ago in similar circumstances and all the red lights should have been flashing. The population of the entire southern Sinai is only in the thousands. In such a small population, in contrast to London, you should be able to control the intelligence situation. That's why what has happened is astonishing and the Egyptians have some serious questions to answer."

One of the Europeans killed in the attack was Sebastiano Conti, a 34-year-old Italian. He was in the last days of a long-planned vacation with his wife, his brother, and his brother's girlfriend, Corrierre della Sera reported. The others were injured.

Mr. Conti worked at a shopping center in Riposto; his wife is a cashier there. His father is a retired fisherman. The Italian newspaper quoted a friend of the Contis as saying that they usually vacationed in Spain, "but this year they chose Egypt because it cost less."

Mr. Conti leaves behind two young children, who had remained in Italy with their grandparents.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 12:00 pm    Post subject: Hatemongering Reply with quote

This piece was written about the London bombings, but it also applies to Sharm El Sheik, Bali, Madrid, NYC, etc. Friedman is one hundred percent right. It's the hatemongers we have to fight, be they Islamists, Front National, Neo-Nazis or Jewish extremists - in a word, extremists and racists of all colors and ilks.

Giving the Hatemongers No Place to Hide
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

I wasn't surprised to read that British police officers in white protective suits and blue gloves were combing through the Iqra Learning Center bookstore in Leeds for clues to the 7/7 London bombings. Some of the 7/7 bombers hung out at the bookstore. And I won't be surprised if today's bombers also sampled the literature there.

Iqra not only sold hatemongering Islamist literature, but, according to The Wall Street Journal, was "the sole distributor of Islamgames, a U.S.-based company that makes video games. The video games feature apocalyptic battles between defenders of Islam and opponents. One game, Ummah Defense I, has the world 'finally united under the Banner of Islam' in 2114, until a revolt by disbelievers. The player's goal is to seek out and destroy the disbelievers."

Guess what: words matter. Bookstores matter. Video games matter. But here is our challenge: If the primary terrorism problem we face today can effectively be addressed only by a war of ideas within Islam - a war between life-affirming Muslims against those who want to turn one of the world's great religions into a death cult - what can the rest of us do?

More than just put up walls. We need to shine a spotlight on hate speech wherever it appears. The State Department produces an annual human rights report. Henceforth, it should also produce a quarterly War of Ideas Report, which would focus on those religious leaders and writers who are inciting violence against others.

I would compile it in a nondiscriminatory way. I want the names of the Jewish settler extremists who wrote "Muhammad Is a Pig" on buildings in Gaza right up there with Sheik Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sudayyis, a Saudi who is imam of Islam's holy mosque in Mecca. According to the Memri translation service, the imam was barred from Canada following "a report about his sermons by Memri that included Al-Sudayyis calling Jews 'the scum of the earth' and 'monkeys and pigs' who should be 'annihilated.' Other enemies of Islam were referred to by Sheik Al-Sudayyis as 'worshipers of the cross' and 'idol-worshiping Hindus' who must be fought."

Sunlight is more important than you think. Those who spread hate do not like to be exposed, noted Yigal Carmon, the founder of Memri, which monitors the Arab-Muslim media. The hate spreaders assume that they are talking only to their own, in their own language, and can get away with murder. When their words are spotlighted, they often feel pressure to retract, defend or explain them.

"Whenever they are exposed, they react the next day," Mr. Carmon said. "No one wants to be exposed in the West as a preacher of hate."

We also need to spotlight the "excuse makers," the former State Department spokesman James Rubin said. After every major terrorist incident, the excuse makers come out to tell us why imperialism, Zionism, colonialism or Iraq explains why the terrorists acted. These excuse makers are just one notch less despicable than the terrorists and also deserve to be exposed. When you live in an open society like London, where anyone with a grievance can publish an article, run for office or start a political movement, the notion that blowing up a busload of innocent civilians in response to Iraq is somehow "understandable" is outrageous. "It erases the distinction between legitimate dissent and terrorism," Mr. Rubin said, "and an open society needs to maintain a clear wall between them."

There is no political justification for 9/11, 7/7 or 7/21. As the Middle East expert Stephen P. Cohen put it: "These terrorists are what they do." And what they do is murder.

Finally, we also need to shine a bright light on the "truth tellers." Every week some courageous Arab or Muslim intellectual, cleric or columnist publishes an essay in his or her media calling on fellow Muslims to deal with the cancer in their midst. The truth tellers' words also need to be disseminated globally. "The rulers in these countries have no interest in amplifying the voices of moderates because the moderates often disagree with the rulers as much as they disagree with the extremists," said Husain Haqqani, author of the new book "Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military." "You have to deal us moderates into the game by helping to amplify our voices and exposing the extremists and their amen corner."

Every quarter, the State Department should identify the Top 10 hatemongers, excuse makers and truth tellers in the world. It wouldn't be a cure-all. But it would be a message to the extremists: you are free to say what you want, but we are free to listen, to let the whole world know what you are saying and to protect every free society from hate spreaders like you. Words matter.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 12:31 pm    Post subject: Iraq is only a pretext for terrorists Reply with quote

Why Do They Hate Us? Not Because of Iraq
By OLIVIER ROY
Paris

WHILE yesterday's explosions on London's subway and bus lines were thankfully far less serious than those of two weeks ago, they will lead many to raise a troubling question: has Britain (and Spain as well) been "punished" by Al Qaeda for participating in the American-led military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan? While this is a reasonable line of thinking, it presupposes the answer to a broader and more pertinent question: Are the roots of Islamic terrorism in the Middle Eastern conflicts?

If the answer is yes, the solution is simple to formulate, although not to achieve: leave Afghanistan and Iraq, solve the Israel-Palestine conflict. But if the answer is no, as I suspect it is, we should look deeper into the radicalization of young, Westernized Muslims.

Conflicts in the Middle East have a tremendous impact on Muslim public opinion worldwide. In justifying its terrorist attacks by referring to Iraq, Al Qaeda is looking for popularity or at least legitimacy among Muslims. But many of the terrorist group's statements, actions and non-actions indicate that this is largely propaganda, and that Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine are hardly the motivating factors behind its global jihad.

First, let's consider the chronology. The Americans went to Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11, not before. Mohamed Atta and the other pilots were not driven by Iraq or Afghanistan. Were they then driven by the plight of the Palestinians? It seems unlikely. After all, the attack was plotted well before the second intifada began in September 2000, at a time of relative optimism in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Another motivating factor, we are told, was the presence of "infidel" troops in Islam's holy lands. Yes, Osama Bin Laden was reported to be upset when the Saudi royal family allowed Western troops into the kingdom before the Persian Gulf war. But Mr. bin Laden was by that time a veteran fighter committed to global jihad.

He and the other members of the first generation of Al Qaeda left the Middle East to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980's. Except for the smallish Egyptian faction led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, now Mr. bin Laden's chief deputy, these militants were not involved in Middle Eastern politics. Abdullah Azzam, Mr. bin Laden's mentor, gave up supporting the Palestinian Liberation Organization long before his death in 1989 because he felt that to fight for a localized political cause was to forsake the real jihad, which he felt should be international and religious in character.

From the beginning, Al Qaeda's fighters were global jihadists, and their favored battlegrounds have been outside the Middle East: Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya and Kashmir. For them, every conflict is simply a part of the Western encroachment on the Muslim ummah, the worldwide community of believers.

Second, if the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine are at the core of the radicalization, why are there virtually no Afghans, Iraqis or Palestinians among the terrorists? Rather, the bombers are mostly from the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, Egypt and Pakistan - or they are Western-born converts to Islam. Why would a Pakistani or a Spaniard be more angry than an Afghan about American troops in Afghanistan? It is precisely because they do not care about Afghanistan as such, but see the United States involvement there as part of a global phenomenon of cultural domination.

What was true for the first generation of Al Qaeda is also relevant for the present generation: even if these young men are from Middle Eastern or South Asian families, they are for the most part Westernized Muslims living or even born in Europe who turn to radical Islam. Moreover, converts are to be found in almost every Qaeda cell: they did not turn fundamentalist because of Iraq, but because they felt excluded from Western society (this is especially true of the many converts from the Caribbean islands, both in Britain and France). "Born again" or converts, they are rebels looking for a cause. They find it in the dream of a virtual, universal ummah, the same way the ultraleftists of the 1970's (the Baader-Meinhof Gang, the Italian Red Brigades) cast their terrorist actions in the name of the "world proletariat" and "Revolution" without really caring about what would happen after.

It is also interesting to note that none of the Islamic terrorists captured so far had been active in any legitimate antiwar movements or even in organized political support for the people they claim to be fighting for. They don't distribute leaflets or collect money for hospitals and schools. They do not have a rational strategy to push for the interests of the Iraqi or Palestinian people.

Even their calls for the withdrawal of the European troops from Iraq ring false. After all, the Spanish police have foiled terrorist attempts in Madrid even since the government withdrew its forces. Western-based radicals strike where they are living, not where they are instructed to or where it will have the greatest political effect on behalf of their nominal causes.

The Western-based Islamic terrorists are not the militant vanguard of the Muslim community; they are a lost generation, unmoored from traditional societies and cultures, frustrated by a Western society that does not meet their expectations. And their vision of a global ummah is both a mirror of and a form of revenge against the globalization that has made them what they are.

Olivier Roy, a professor at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, is the author of "Globalized Islam."
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 4:09 pm    Post subject: Who are "they" ? Reply with quote

Group tying self to blasts in Spain may not be real.

www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2004/03/13/officials_group_tying_self_to_blasts_may_not_be_real/

WASHINGTON -- A group purporting to be part of Al Qaeda that claimed responsibility for the Madrid train bombings and warned of a looming attack on the United States seems to be a phantom organization, according to US intelligence officials and terrorism specialists.

Who else but the neo-condoms who need it to be Al-Queda so they can advance their agenda?
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Le Saigonnais



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shoo...I was planning a while ago to revisit Egypt and see Tunisia next year...I guess that is not an option anymore with all suicide bombings going on all over the ME. It's really too bad. Cairo is awsome. So are the pyramids.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 3:26 pm    Post subject: Nowhere's safe Reply with quote

Le Saigonnais wrote:
Shoo...I was planning a while ago to revisit Egypt and see Tunisia next year...I guess that is not an option anymore with all suicide bombings going on all over the ME. It's really too bad. Cairo is awsome. So are the pyramids.


Nowhere's safe any more, Little Brother Very Sad

Of course the Pyramids are awesome. So were the Bamyan Buddhas that the Taliban destroyed. The way they're going, there's not going to be any World Heritage monument left for future generations to see if we let them have their way. Such a terrible waste cry me a river
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Seed



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 7:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read Oliver Roy "Globalized Islam." It is really good. Another French writer on the same subject is Gilles Kepel. He wrote "The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and the West." Being Europeans, both writers touchs on a subject that no American writer write on - Muslim living in Europe. Both are concerned about the radicalization of Muslims living in Western Europe.

Many predict that the next phase of The War will be played out in Europe. I wonder how long will the European continue to treat Islamist terrorism as a law enforcement matter.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 12:23 pm    Post subject: Islamists in Europe Reply with quote

Seed wrote:
Many predict that the next phase of The War will be played out in Europe. I wonder how long will the European continue to treat Islamist terrorism as a law enforcement matter.


Yes on the first. There's a huge Muslim population in Europe - and the Brits have been too lenient with those radical imams preaching vioilence.

What do you mean on the second? far as I can see, they also see it as a war. They're also more efficient in countering it.
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