Archive for the ‘ homegrown terror ’ Category

Media Ignore The Fact That Man Who Alerted Police To Failed Times Square Bombing Is A Muslim Immigrant

By Zaid Jilani for ThinkProgress.org

The chief suspect in the case of the failed Times Square car bombing is Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, who has confessed to the plot. Much of the media has latched onto Shahzad’s Muslim faith and his Pakistani identity, making inflammatory remarks and suggestions about Muslims and Pakistanis:

– CNN contributor and Redstate.com blogger Erick Erickson complained that the words “muslim” and “Islam” are “not mentioned” enough in stories about Shahzad. He wrote, “It really is pathetic that you’re more likely to see the words “racist” and “Republican” together in the newspaper these days than “terrorism” and “Islam.” [5/4/2010]

– Hate radio host Neal Boortz tweeted, “OMG! The Times Square Bomber is a Muslim! Shocker! Who would have believed it?” [5/4/2010]

– The cover of today’s Washington Post-published Express features a black-and-white photo of Shahzad with the sensationalist headline “MADE IN PAKISTAN” [5/5/2010]

Yet one fact being ignored in the American media’s sensationalist narrative about the failed bombing is that the man who was responsible for police finding the bomb was Muslim. The UK’s Times Online reports that Aliou Niasse, a Senagalese Muslim immigrant who works as a photograph vendor on Times Square, was the first to bring the smoking car to the police’s attention:

Aliou Niasse, a street vendor selling framed photographs of New York, said that he was the first to spot the car containing the bomb, which pulled up right in front of his cart on the corner of 45th street and Broadway next to the Marriott hotel.

“I didn’t see the car pull up or notice the driver because I was busy with customers. But when I looked up I saw that smoke appeared to be coming from the car. This would have been around 6.30pm.”

“I thought I should call 911, but my English is not very good and I had no credit left on my phone, so I walked over to Lance, who has the T-shirt stall next to mine, and told him. He said we shouldn’t call 911. Immediately he alerted a police officer near by,” said Mr Niasse, who is originally from Senegal and who has been a vendor in Times Square for about eight years.

As the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights notes, “South Asian, and Muslim communities may yield useful information to those fighting terrorism. Arabs and Arab Americans also offer the government an important source of Arabic speakers and translators. The singling out of Arabs, South Asians, Muslims, and Sikhs for investigation regardless of whether any credible evidence links them to terrorism will simply alienate these individuals and compromise the anti-terrorism effort.”

Reflecting on Niasse’s good samaritanism Muslim-American author Sumbul Ali-Karamali writes, “It’s somewhat consoling to know that the man who first noticed the smoking Nissan Pathfinder and sought help is also Muslim, a Senegalese immigrant. … I grew up Muslim in this country, with Muslim friends and non-Muslim friends, and there was very little difference between the two groups. We were all American.”

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Pakistan and India- The Love-Hate Relationship of Two Brothers

By Manzer Munir for Pakistanis for Peace

Since the bitter partition that resulted in the creation of Pakistan and India in 1947, and three subsequent wars with each other, not to mention countless near incidents, the two neighbors have not had an easy relationship, to say the least.

However, mixed in with fear and hatred towards each other is a fascination and affinity to the arch rival on the other side of the Line of Control. In fact, one could say that the two have a love-hate relationship with each other. The recent wedding of Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik to Indian tennis sensation Sania Mirza is an indication to the amount of interest and hype given to the couple in media from both sides of the border, making them instantly one of the hottest and most talked about young couples in this Bollywood and glamour obsessed culture.

In Pakistani schools, children are taught very little if anything at all about Pakistan’s pre-Islamic history. Instead the children are told of the glories of the Muslim Caliphate from the time of the prophet Mohammed and then the grand rule of the Moguls of India with the construction of immortal buildings like the Taj Mahal in Agra, or the Badshahi Masjid and the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore, all three built on the Islamic style of architecture. Not very much emphasis is given to the great contributions that the people of present day Pakistan made as Hindus for centuries prior to the arrival of Islam in the subcontinent.

Criticisms abound by Muslims that in India, Muslim contributions to modern India are down played or not explored in the manner they are deserved. However, In Pakistan it is well documented those Pakistani textbooks not only do not teach about Hindu history and achievements, they actually teach hatred against India and Hindus. There is an underlying culture of hate and inequality based on religious grounds that permeates in the society despite Islam teaching respect for all religions and faiths. It’s as if thinking of someone as a polytheist makes them less equal as a human.

The mindset becomes that these non believers are infidels and this somehow makes it easy to dehumanize them or in some way think them to be inferior to you as a human being. Even the current terrorism situation in Pakistan has its roots in this culture of hate and to some level a dehumanization of people of other faiths, especially non-Abrahamic like Hinduism or Buddhism. To not recognize that ancient Indian/Hindu history is also the history of Pakistan does a great injustice to the shared history of one of the most ancient of cultures.

The natural history of this region shows that the origins of the Indian/Pakistani civilization go back to the end of the last Ice Age, more than 10,000 years ago, making this one of the oldest civilizations of the ancient world. This area of the world is a place which gave the world not only Hinduism, but also Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, and other religions and has been a source of spiritual inspiration since the earliest of times. But maybe even more important than the contributions in the field of religion are the ancient civilization’s gifts to science and medicine.

Albert Einstein once said “We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made.” Indeed, Indian civilization is credited with the creation of the decimal number system, the binary numbering system, negative number, the origins of algebra, and even the all important concept mathematically of zero came from ancient Indian mathematicians.

Archaeologically, India has the most extensive and continuous record of all ancient civilizations, much more than Egypt, Sumeria or Mesopotamia of the same time periods. The ruins in Mohenjo-Daro and Taxila in modern day Pakistan point to the fact that there was a very advanced civilization present here and even the beginnings of one of the early urban settlements of the ancient world as they were remarkably constructed, considering its antiquity. Taxila is also the site of what is believed to be the first university or school of higher learning in the ancient world.

Also the ancient Vedic literature is the largest in the ancient world and contains thousands upon thousands of pages dwarfing what little has been successfully preserved by the rest of the world. This literature contains profound spiritual concepts, skills in mathematics, astronomy and medicine. Sanskrit is the mother of all European languages and Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to man.

Indian culture not only gave the world the game of chess, but was also was a place where some of the earliest innovations in the fields of surgery and advanced dentistry were developed as there is evidence of complex dental procedures being performed in the Indus valley some 8,000 years ago!

The celebrated American author Mark Twain once famously said of India that “India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most constructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.” And not so long ago, in a statement made by China’s former ambassador to the US, Hu Shih stated that “India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border.” This is further validated by the fact that the Indian civilization is considered unique in that it never invaded any country in the last 10,000 years of its history!

By denying its centuries old Hindu/Indian ancestry and history, modern day Pakistan is willfully abandoning its participation and hand in some of the greatest contributions made by one civilization to mankind. Not teaching children the importance of the pre-Islamic history and beginnings of what is now Pakistan is actually a disservice to its people. Also, since the ancestors of all Pakistanis were at some point or another Indian Hindus, disrespecting Hinduism and pre-Islamic Indian culture in essence disrespects one’s own ancestors!

Pakistan can learn a great deal from its ancient brother in the fields of democracy, constitutional freedoms, economic empowerment and technological advancements. A culture of hate has only bred more hate that has now begun to consume internally a nation that has for too long wearily looked outside to its larger neighbor as its chief enemy, instead of as a brother.

Pakistani court suspends deportation as another case of homegrown terror troubles US authorities

Karachi, Pakistan- Pakistani police on Monday seized a luggage and a cell phone from a hotel where three of the five Americans who were arrested on suspicion of terrorism planning and militant links stayed. A court has ruled that the men cannot be deported to the United States until the judges review their case.  Pakistani police has alleged that the five young Americans intended to join militant and extremist groups in the northwest tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. This case is troubling as it would appear that Americans and Western raised men are traveling to Pakistan to link up with Al-Qaeda and other militant groups like the Taliban.

Pakistani police had searched their hotel, aptly named Saddam Hotel in the southern city of Karachi.  The detainees have been accused of using the internet and such sites as Facebook and Youtube to reach out and connect to extremist groups and have been said to have been in contacts with a Taliban recruiter also.  The Pakistani court actions are intended to prevent the deportation of the accused to the United States until the courts in Pakistan can ascertain the facts and review the case.

The men, who are from the Washington DC area were picked up last week by Pakistani authorities after their worried families in the US contacted the FBI about their missing sons and enlisted their help in tracking the men down. The authorities were given a farewell video found by one of the family members that showed scenes of war and called for Muslims to be defended. FBI agents, who have had some access to the men, are trying to see if there is enough evidence to charge the men with conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist group.

A US government official was satisfied with the Pakistani government’s assistance stating that “We’ve had excellent cooperation with the Pakistani authorities, both on the diplomatic side and on the law enforcement side,” said State Department spokesman Ian Kelly, “And the Pakistani authorities granted us access to the individuals within 24 hours of our request, which is a very speedy response.”

The threat posed by homegrown terrorists in the United States and in European countries is a growing concern for the FBI and US agencies. The incidents such as the Fort Hood shooting where Major Nidal Hasan allegedly shot and killed 13 fellow soldiers at the Texas base last month do nothing but further raise those concerns. Then there’s David Headley, an American born Muslim to mixed ancestry who is indicted in the Mumbai blasts of November 2008. And now comes the story of the five Muslim American men arrested in Pakistan who were interested in waging  jihad against the US.

It is too early to call it a growing trend, but the incidents and their frequency does suggest that there is certainly a minority segment of very young Muslim males who somehow are being radicalized not in strict Afghanistan or Pakistan or somewhere in Iran. Rather, in the streets of Virginia, New York, Chicago and other cities, certain young Muslim males are becoming radicalized and becoming extremists. This phenomenon can be best described as a catch 22. You see, these radicalized and misguided men feel that because the United States is waging wars in Muslin countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan, it is being an oppressor. To these men, defending Muslim lands from an outsider and an oppressor is an obligation and a duty and is a call for every Muslim. On the other side, there is the American policy of engagement of the enemy on its turf, as is seen in the Bush doctrine. “Take the war to the terrorists” as President Bush so famously put it in 2001.  These wars that were initiated to be pre-emptive in the case of Iraq and retribution in the case of Afghanistan, have inadvertently become the cause célèbre of these jihadists and young extremists.

In essence, there is a vicious cycle of violence at work here. We have American troops in Afghanistan who are there to defeat the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan so that the US is safe from a terrorist attack hatched overseas. Yet, the next threat may actually be coming from an American born Muslim who is being alienated and radicalized due to the “unjust” war against his “brothers” constant 24 hour cable news coverage, satellite TV and foreign news channels, the internet websites and other sources.

As instances of homegrown Muslim radicalization grow or come into the limelight, it is imperative that the vast majority of peaceful, law abiding and patriotic American Muslims keep vigilant and mindful of the few in their midst who may be becoming radicalized in front of their eyes. It is vital that the Muslim community speak up as the parents of these young men did and alerted the authorities when they became concerned that they may have some sinister designs after discovering their farewell video. It is together with our cooperation with the authorities that we can sniff out these lost individuals before they do any harm to anyone or to an entire religion. The mosques and Islamic centers must do more to ensure that there is no radicalization or fiery sermons. There needs to be a conscientious effort on the part of the American Muslim community of progressives and moderates to speak up and chastise those that are becoming extremists within their midst in order to prevent the next Fort Hood massacare or the next Mumbai.

 Reported by Manzer Munir for www.PakistanisforPeace.com

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