Quilliam and other analysts are downplaying Saudi-funded Salafists’ role in US Ambassador’s murder in Libya

Related post: How should Muslims respond to the hateful movie “Innocence of Muslims”? – by Mahdi Baloch

Imagine if that had happened in Syria, or with a visiting US diplomat to Iran, Pentagon-based revenge already would be in effect

Several think tanks and analysts e.g., Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Quilliam Foundation, are busy in misinterpreting the tragic murder of the US ambassador to Libya and other diplomats by Takfiri Salafists in Benghazi.  The global community must realize that the Arab Spring was a sham.  The result of this so-called Spring was that the Muslim Brotherhood and related organizations like Al Qaeda have succeeded in capturing various States.  It is high time that everyone realized that financial, logistical and weapons support to Al Qaeda in Libya and now Syria will backfire and has already claimed the lives of the US ambassador in Libya.

In general, they are ignoring or hiding the following:

1. The institutional support by government and NGOs of Saudi Arabia and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to Salafist movements across the globe including but not limited to Libya, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Mali, Chechenya and many Western countries;

2. The joint sponsorship and recruitment of Takfiri Salafists by the United States and Saudi Arabia in an opportunistic manner with little regard for war crimes and human rights, e.g., in Afghan Jihad against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, recruitment of Salafist Jihadis to liberate Syria from Bashar Al-Assad regime, removal and murder of Gaddafi from Libya etc.

3. Both Quilliam and Carnegie downplay the Salafist threat to international peace by hiding its increasing momentum and influence, thanks to generous support from Saudi Arabia and GCC countries while the US conveniently looks the other way as long as Saudi Arabia remains a lucrative financial partner and politically subservient state.

4. They hide the fact that Takfiri Salafis who killed US diplomats in Benghazi are the same lot who demolished Sufi shrines in Libya, committed Shia genocide in Pakistan, slaughtered postal workers and other government employees in Syria etc. They also hide that the USA and other Western countries are making similar investments in Syria, as they did in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Read Quilliam Foundation’s press release on the Libya attack and laugh. Do they really deserve wide publicity and financial support which they currently enjoy probably due to their connections with Western intelligence agencies?

Unlike Pakistan’s de-politisized chattering elites, LUBP has been wary of the Arab spring.

We condemn the murder of Ambassador JC Stevens in Libya and urge Obama Administration to cut all ties with evil Saudi Salafi Kingdom and take urgent steps to install a democratic regime in Saudi Arabia.

Lessons For US from Libya, Egypt and AfPak: Think again before sponsoring Takfiri militants.

US diplomats are being killed/attacked in Libya, Egypt, Pakistan, Somalia etc. Common element: Takfiri Salafis sponsored by Saudi Arabia.

Obama Administration must realize they are fighting symptoms in Afghanistan while the root cause thrives in Saudi Arabia. More importantly, Obama should tell us when will he stop sponsoring Saudis, the key sponsors of Salafi Takfiri ideology.

Takfiri ideology came to Pakistan thanks to Arab Salafists. Takfir was institutionalized when Deobandi seminaries in Pakistan were misappropriated by Saudi-CIA-ISI trio during Afghan Jihad. Senator Kerry said that Wahabism creates terrorists but KSA remains their ally due to Saudi-lobby’s influence in White House. Saudi lobby remains a major financier of various think tanks and lobbyists.

Benazir Bhutto’s was the most powerful voice against Takfiri terrorists in Pakistan. They killed her and then water-hosed evidence.

Excerpts from Quilliam press release:

“We hope that NATO and the US, will continue their excellent work in Libya which began with the overthrow of dictator Gaddafi.”

“there were just a few peaceful protesters present at the event”

“we have reason to believe that the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi came to avenge the death of Abu Yaya al-Libi”

“These are acts committed by uncontrollable jihadist groups.” [Epic! It’s the Takfiri brand of Salafists, and the KSA is the main sponsor of it.]

“We hope Libya will seize this opportunity to revive its policy of Disarmament, Demobilisation and Re-integration (DDR)”



The military assault against the US Consulate in Benghazi should not be seen as part of a protest against a low budget film which was insulting Islam – there were just a few peaceful protesters present at the event. Indeed, there have been no other demonstrations regarding this film in Libya.

We at Quilliam believe the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi was a well planned terrorist attack that would have occurred regardless of the demonstration, to serve another purpose. According to information obtained by Quilliam – from foreign sources and from within Benghazi – we have reason to believe that the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi came to avenge the death of Abu Yaya al-Libi, al-Qaeda’s second in command killed a few months ago.

The reasons for this are as follows:

24 hours before this attack, none other than the leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, released a video on Jihadist forums to mark the anniversary of 9/11. In this video, Zawahiri acknowledged the death of his second in command Abu Yahya and urged Libyans to avenge his killing.
According to our sources, the attack was the work of roughly 20 militants, prepared for a military assault – it is rare that an RPG7 is present at a peaceful protest.
According to our sources, the attack against the Consulate had two waves. The first attack led to US officials being evacuated from the consulate by Libyan security forces, only for the second wave to be launched against US officials after they were kept in a secure location.
The weak security environment in Libya including in Benghazi and the failure of the government to project its power outside of the capital have been used as a cover for the attack.

The failure to rebuild the defence and security sector, in an accountable, professional and responsible manner will only further the likelihood of such attacks in the future. Attacks in Benghazi are not new – the Red Cross has been attacked multiple times in previous months, as have the US consulate and also the UK Ambassador, and such security lapses encourage attacks. The International Community must take the challenge of not allowing extremist elements to hijack the Arab Uprisings very seriously, by renewing their focus on civic and governance responses to check the efforts of Islamist extremists attempting to exploit the inevitable security vacuum.

Noman Benotman, President of Quilliam says:

“These are acts committed by uncontrollable jihadist groups. We hope Libya will seize this opportunity to revive its policy of Disarmament, Demobilisation and Re-integration (DDR) in order to facilitate an end to the spread of such attacks, with the help of the International Community. We hope that the International Community, including NATO member states and especially the US, will continue their excellent work in Libya which began with the overthrow of the dictator Gaddafi after 42 years in power.


Did you notice what was missing in Quilliam’s report on the Benghazi attack? It de-contextualized the increasing Salafist role in Libya!

It wiped out that Sufi Sunnis and their shrines are being systematically attacked by Takfiri Salafis in Libya and other Arab countries.

It also wiped out the increasing cooperation between the US and Saudi Arabia in sponsoring Takfir Salafist militants.

Did you notice how slavishly it appreciates the NATO and the US, asking them to continue their excellent work in Libya?

Will Quilliam Foundation be transparent about its “sources” in Libya, Syria and other countries?

Will it publish sources of its funding and also nature of contact with Saudi and Western intelligence agencies?

Will it also explain why it continues to misrepresent Shia genocide at the hands of Salafi-Deobandi Takfiris in Pakistan as Sunni-Shia sectarian violence?

There is not much difference in two ex-Jihadis: Saleem Safi of Pakistan and Majid Nawaz of Quilliam UK. Both grossly misinterpret and understate Takfiri Salafist threat.

It’s important to realize that Saudi Salafists (Takfiri Deobandis in Pakistan) and commercially driven think tanks are misleading USA and other Western countries to hell.

Video: U.S. Envoy’s message to Libyan people


Video: U.S. Envoy to Libya Christopher Stevens Killed in Attack – Libya 9/11

The Body of Ambassador Chris Stevens in a Benghazi Morgue

US ambassador Stephens app killed in Benghazi was US envoy with rebels b4 i.e. he was instrumental to Q overthrow. Nice way to say thanks (via Gert Van Langendonck)

We condemn murder of Ambassador JC Stevens in Libya and urge Obama Administration to cut all ties with evil Saudi Salafi Kingdom and take urgent steps to install a democratic regime in Saudi Arabia.

Lessons For US from Libya, Egypt and AfPak: Think again before sponsoring Takfiri militants.

US diplomats are being killed/attacked in Libya, Egypt, Pakistan, Somalia etc. Common element: Takfiri Salafis sponsored by Saudi Arabia.

Obama Administration must realize they are fighting symptoms in Afghanistan while the root cause thrives in Saudi Arabia. More importantly, Obama should tell us when will he stop sponsoring Saudis, the key sponsors of Salafi Takfiri ideology.

Takfiri ideology came to Pakistan thanks to Arab Salafists. Takfir was institutionalized when Deobandi seminaries in Pakistan were misappropriated by Saudi-CIA-ISI trio during Afghan Jihad. Senator Kerry said that Wahabism creates terrorists but KSA remains their ally due to Saudi-lobby’s influence in White House. Saudi lobby remains a major financier of various think tanks and lobbyists.

Benazir Bhutto’s was the most powerful voice against Takfiri terrorists in Pakistan. They killed her and then water-hosed evidence.

Example of Takfiri Salafist Deobandis of Pakistan:


Pakistan: Shia genocide by Salafist Deobandis


Syria: Video exclusive: Inside Syria’s Farouk brigade: Salafists sponsored/financed by Saudi Arabia, GCC, USA


Pictures of Salafist protesters in Cairo


Back in 1998, The world looked the other way when 9 Iranian diplomats were slaughtered by Saudi-backed Salafi Taliban in Afghanistan. http://www.nytimes.com/1998/09/11/world/iran-holds-taliban-responsible-for-9-diplomats-deaths.html

We cannot afford to show selective morality on attacks on diplomats. It serves no country, no religion.

What is happening in Libya, Egypt, Pakistan, Somalia has its roots in evil Takfiri Salafist ideology.

Dig a bit further, the Slafists attackers in Benghazi might have been trained at an FSA base in Turkey under the watchful eyes of CIA.

“He was, he said, a “moderate Salafist”, but in the Turkish refugee camps had met a Libyan sheikh…”


The above link (article by Robert Fisk) shows how CIA might have imported Takfiri Salafists from Libya to do the legwork in Syria via Turkey. Myopic strategies always backfire.

What happened in Libya is a friendly fire from Salafi Jihadists used in Syria, Libya and elsewhere. However, I have not read, so far, a single piece which seriously questions the joint US-Saudi sponsorship of Salafis.

Quilliam and other similar dubious organizations and individuals continue to obfuscate due to financial or political reasons.

It is important to realize that Jews, Shias and Sufi Sunnis face common enemy: Takfiri Salafis-Deobandis. The following two videos are an evidence:



Appendix: Some relevant articles/excerpts that highlight the Takfiri Salafist network

If Muammar Gaddafi were still alive, he might give a bitter laugh at the news that the US ambassador to Libya has been killed in Benghazi. Hosni Mubarak, in his prison hospital, would growl a wry “I told you so” after the attack on the fortress-like American embassy in Cairo. Two onslaughts in two of the cities that witnessed the historic drama of the Arab spring last year do not an Islamist winter make. But both underline the glowering and dangerous presence of the sort of radical Muslim Salafist fundamentalists whom the old regimes kept at bay and are now free to pursue their agendas. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/12/us-consulate-attack-libya-gaddafi?CMP=twt_gu

The US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed when local militia ass
aulted Washington’s consulate in Benghazi. Reports from various sources paint an unclear picture of the circumstances surrounding Ambassador John Christopher Steven’s death. A group of Takfiri Salafist militia members stormed Benghazi’s US consulate on Tuesday night. Stevens may not have been killed in the Tuesday night assault, however, but rather when a second mob attacked his motorcade as it was leaving Benghazi Wednesday morning, the Guardian said. Libyan officials alleged that Islamist militants fired rockets at Steven’s car, killing him and three other embassy staffers. Witnesses cited by local media claimed that members of the hardline Salafist group Ansar Al-Sharia were among the ranks of the attackers. Tunisian Salafis are now calling for an attack on their country’s US embassy, Tunisian media outlets said. Salafis militants had previously attempted to attack the embassy, but were repelled by security forces. Many in the region believe another attack is imminent.http://rt.com/news/us-ambassador-libya-killed-946/

THE murder of Christopher Stevens, the American ambassador to Libya, along with three of his colleagues at his consulate in Benghazi, Libya’s second city, was not an isolated instance of violence directed against Westerners since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime nearly a year ago. In the past few months the British ambassador’s convoy on a visit to Benghazi has been attacked. So have the offices of the Red Cross and the UN in that city, the cradle of the Libyan revolution. The perpetrators of all those crimes were thought to be Salafists espousing an extreme fundamentalist version of Islam that harks back to the days of the Prophet Muhammad.

In the past few weeks Salafists have also attacked shrines in Tripoli, the capital, and elsewhere in Libya that have been venerated for centuries by Sufis, who practise a mystical form of Islam that many puritans consider idolatrous. One such shrine, honouring al-Shaab al-Dahmani, was in full view of the Radisson Blu Hotel, a favourite venue for visiting foreign bigwigs and prominent Libyans. What astonished them was that the destroyers of the shrine were allowed, over a period of 48 hours, to pillage and bulldoze the site without the ministry of interior or its police apparently lifting a finger to stop them.

This suggests either that the extreme Islamists typified by the Salafists have friends in high places protecting them… http://www.economist.com/blogs/newsbook/2012/09/libya

“One of the major features of the Arab uprisings is the emergence of ultraconservative Salafi groups,” says Fawaz Gerges, a Middle East specialist at the London School of Economics, contacted in Paris. “They are extremely hyper, extremely anti-American, extremely blinded by the sunshine of the open political atmosphere. The Salafis now are the wild card in Arab and Muslim politics, in Libya, in Egypt, in Tunisia, in Jordan, in Saudi Arabia. In Syria, they are … becoming a major factor in the [antiregime] equation.” Still, the attack confirms the trend building over the past 1-1/2 years, the “rise of Salafi extremists who operate outside the legal and political arena, and they have their own rules,” says Hamid. “It’s been a problem in Tunisia, in Libya, and increasingly in Egypt as well, that with greater political freedoms Salafis have come out of the woodwork and have asserted themselves.” http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2012/0912/Libya-attack-graphically-marks-rise-of-fundamentalist-Muslims

Libya – like other Arab countries grappling with instability – has seen radicalised Salafi and jihadi elements gain traction. They had a strong showing in recent elections, and some have managed to form militias capable of posing a threat to domestic foes or, in this case, a foreign embassy.
The security threat posed by such radicalised militias comes as no surprise to Libyans, It is important to note that Salafi Islamists represent a minority in the Arab world. Many have joined the transition process, either as rebels or as participants in electoral – and ultimately democratic – politics. Incidents like the reaction to the film whose anti-Muslim sentiments may have sparked the attack on the US Embassy in Benghazi -reminiscent of the Danish cartoon controversy in 2005 – enable these radicalised elements of Arab society to project power and influence far beyond their numbers. And they will likely use this incident to characterise the rising Islamist parties in the Arab world – from both the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist groups – as dangerous potential enemies of the United States. http://www.carnegieendowment.org/2012/09/13/us-arab-relations-will-be-defined-by-reaction-to-attack/dtan

More recently, Salafist groups have destroyed Sufi shrines throughout the country, sparking outrage and dismay but no forceful government reaction and leading some skeptical Libyans to think that elements of the Libyan government were in cahoots with Salafists or at least sympathetic to them.

In the early days of the revolution in Libya, there were questions about whether al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), an al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist group, would take advantage of the lawlessness in Libya. At the time, I argued that it was unlikely that AQIM would decamp from northwestern Mali to Libya, but instead it was likely that new radical Salafi groups would emerge in Libya. It now appears that there are at least two radical Salafi groups, if not more, that are either avowed allies of al-Qaeda or at least share al-Qaeda’s salafi jihadi ideology. The first, which carried out the attack on the US consulate in June, was called the Brigade for the Release of the Imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdulrahman, named after the alleged mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombings. The second group is Ansar al-Sharia, the Victors of Sharia. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/geoff-d-porter/libya-salafi-violence_b_1877462.html

Violent extremists have formed a number of small organizations under the umbrella of Salafism. One of those groups, called Ansar al-Sharia, is a likely suspect in the fatal attack on Tuesday. For Libya, the crux of this problem is not religious extremism so much as weak national security. These small groups of militants have infiltrated police networks and gained access to Libya’s admittedly abundant weaponry with disturbing ease.

And Tuesday was not an isolated incident; Salafists have carried out many attacks targeting both Libyans and foreigners in recent months. Sufi shrines have become frequent targets, as Salafists consider that branch of Islam to be idolatrous.http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/383649/20120912/benghazi-consulate-attack-salafist-libya-stevens.htm

Also worrisome is the link between Salafists (whose posters disturbingly appear in Cairo neighborhoods near Heliopolis populated by members of the military) and the more violently takfiri wing, which believes it’s permissible to kill apostate Muslims, and has links with al Qaeda. The takfiris hate the ruling Muslim Brotherhood, if that’s any consolation. The delicate political balance in Egypt and Libya makes the blunderbuss campaign rhetoric of Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, especially unfortunate. His comments make this crisis more “about America” than it needs to be.
Let’s return to the main trigger for these events: It’s the success of the tolerably non-extremist (I won’t say “moderate”) governments in Egypt and Libya in consolidating power, and the anger of the more radical Salafists at this success. Morsi, for example, has just won pledges of billions in financial support from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Any number of other Libyan armed groups might have had a hand in the killings. But in truth, responsibility may also be traced back, directly or indirectly, to those in London, Paris, Brussels and Washington who launched last year’s Nato intervention in Libya with insouciant disregard for the consequences. It was clear then, or should have been, that toppling Muammar Gaddafi was the easy bit. Preventing an Iraq-style implosion, or some form of Afghan anarchy, would be much harder. Research published in June by the Small Arms Survey suggested that the emergence and influence of armed groups challenging national government and army was accelerating rapidly. The survey identified four distinct types including experienced revolutionary brigades accounting for up to 85% of all weapons not controlled by the state and myriad militias – loosely defined as armed gangs, criminal networks and religious extremists bent on exploiting post-revolution weakness. A power struggle is now under way between the Libyan army and these various groups, and while some play a constructive role, others threaten the future of the Libyan state, the survey said. In Misrata, for example, in addition to about 30,000 small arms, revolutionary brigades “control more than 820 tanks, dozens of heavy artillery pieces, and more than 2,300 vehicles equipped with machine-guns and anti-aircraft weapons.” Misrata, scene of some of the worst fighting last year, has become a state within a state.

In its weakened condition, politically and economically, Libya appears especially vulnerable to extremist ideology and foreign influence. In an echo of Taliban depredations, the Salafists who besieged the Benghazi consulate have also been involved in a wave of attacks on historic Sufi mosques and libraries and attempts to intimidate female university students who eschew the hijab.

In this they are reportedly encouraged by a Saudi-based scholar, Sheik Mohamed Al-Madkhalee, who issued a fatwa praising the desecration of Sufi graves and urging Libyan Salafists to do more to clear the country of the taint of Sufi worship. According to author Jamie Dettmer writing in the Daily Beast, the Libyan government has complained to Riyadh about al-Madkhalee, but to no avail.http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/12/libyan-attack-fire-cannot-extinguish

Another Libyan official told CNN at the same time that five radical Islamist militant commanders were operating in the Derna area, with 200 to 300 men under their command in camps in the area. Ironically, Christopher Stevens — the U.S. ambassador killed in Tuesday’s attack — had written extensively about the rise of Salafist factions in and around Derna in a 2008 diplomatic cable. factions in and around Derna in a 2008 diplomatic cable.
As CNN has previously reported, one of militant commanders, according to several sources, is Abdulbasit Azuz, a long-time associate of al-Zawahiri. Azuz was dispatched by al-Zawahiri to Libya from Pakistan’s tribal areas in the spring of 2011 to create a foothold for al Qaeda in Libya, the sources say.

Azuz is a veteran jihadist who fought the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan in the early 1990s, according to several sources. He later moved to the United Kingdom, where he increasingly came on the radar screen of British security services for his radical recruitment efforts in Manchester.

In the period after the July 2005 London bombings, he was detained in the Belmarsh high-security prison and placed under a control order, according to the sources. He left the United Kingdom in 2009 and traveled to the tribal areas of Pakistan, according to the sources. According to one source, Azuz has dispatched men as far west as Ajdabiya and Brega in his attempt to build up al Qaeda operations in eastern Libya. According to Libyan security sources, within the militant ranks in Derna there are 20 to 30 hardcore jihadist fighters who are cause for most concern. One source said a number of Egyptian jihadists are also present in the Derna area, as well as fighters belonging to al Qaeda’s North African affiliate, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Another militant whose activities have caused concern in eastern Libya is Sufian bin Qumu, a released Guantanamo detainee who is believed to be operating a camp in a remote area outside Derna. His detainee assessment at the prison camp described him as having a “long-term association with Islamist extremist Jihad and members of Al-Qaida and other extremist groups.” Collectively, some of the Salafist and jihadist elements in eastern Libya began to become known as Ansar al Sharia, or “Partisans of Sharia.” According to reports, eyewitnesses have claimed Ansar al Sharia was responsible for organizing the demonstration outside the U.S. Consulate.

But Benotman (of Quilliam Foundation UK) told CNN Ansar al Sharia is not really a grouping at all but rather a term applied to an amorphous coalition of Islamist and Salafist groups in eastern Libya with no leadership structure. Despite concerns over the growing audacity of Salafist-jihadist groups, the victory of secular parties in elections in July had created a measure of optimism about Libya’s future. Benotman tells CNN the reality is that a large majority of Libyans, including the majority of Islamists, are opposed to al Qaeda’s ideology of global jihad. He predicts a backlash against the perpetrators of the attack. “People will curse them for this,” he told CNN. http://edition.cnn.com/2012/09/12/world/africa/libya-attack-jihadists/index.html

Unesco urges end to attacks on Libyan Sufi mosques, graves
Aug 30, 2012

PARIS: The United Nations cultural agency Unesco has urged Libyan authorities to protect Sufi mosques and shrines under repeated attack by hardline Islamists who consider the traditional mystical school of Islam heretical. Unesco director-general Irina Bokova said late on Tuesday the attacks, which have wrecked mosques in at least three cities and desecrated many graves of revered Sufi scholars, “must be halted if Libyan society is to complete its transition to democracy”.

Libya’s interior minister said on Tuesday he would not risk a clash with the armed men carrying out the sectarian assaults, in an unusually candid admission of the scale of the security challenge facing the country.

The League of Libyan Ulema, a group of more than 200 Muslim scholars, on Tuesday evening blamed the attacks on Libyan Salafi militants inspired by radical Saudi preachers. “This group has repeatedly attempted to undermine the stability of our country,” it said. Niger, where Saadi Gaddafi took refuge after his father was overthrown, has refused to extradite him despite requests from Tripoli. Sufi theologian Aref Ali Nayed said Libya had not seen such attacks for centuries. “Even Mussolini’s fascists did not treat our spiritual heritage with such contempt,” he said, referring to Italy’s occupation of Libya from 1911 until World War II.

After destroying shrines in Zlitan, Tripoli and Misrata at the weekend, crews of armed men desecrated graves at a mosque and madrasa in the capital’s old city on Monday and Tuesday. Militant Salafis, kept in check under the dictators overthrown in the Arab Spring, have campaigned over the past year to stamp out what they see as idolatry in traditional Sufi mosques and shrines in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt.

The destruction in Libya mirrors the 2001 dynamiting of two giant Buddha statues by the Taliban in Afghanistan and the sacking of Sufi tombs in Timbuktu in July after the hardline Ansar Dine group seized power in northern Mali.

Unesco’s Bokova said the Paris-based organisation “stands ready to provide assistance to protect and rehabilitate” the Libyan sites destroyed or now under threat. “Destroying places of religious and cultural significance cannot be tolerated,” she said in a statement. Many of the Ottoman-era Sufi shrines and lodges in Libya have a room or yard with graves of revered saints, scholars or benefactors. Attackers usually dig up these graves and dump the bodies elsewhere, infuriating the shocked Sufis.

The League of Libyan Ulema (Muslim scholars) urged Tripoli “to pressure the government of Saudi Arabia to restrain its clerics who meddle in our affairs” by training young Libyans in Salafism and spreading the ideology through books and tapes. It also urged Libyans to protect Sufi sites by force. Nayed, who lectures at the old Uthman Pasha madrasa that was desecrated on Tuesday evening, said the attackers were “Wahhabi hooligans (and) all sorts of pseudo-Salafi elements” while government security officials were “complacent and impotent”. “Libya has to make a clear choice – either a Taliban/Shabaab-style religious fanaticism or a true Muslim moral and spiritual civility,” he told Reuters. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-08-30/middle-east/33498070_1_muslim-scholars-libyan-sites-misrata

The attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt exposed how rising hard-line Islamist movements have cowed and frustrated security forces in the nascent democracies of the so-called Arab Spring.

An ultraconservative Salafi Islamist group is a target of U.S. and Libyan inquiries into the deadly strike on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Salafis, once hidden, have stormed onto the political scenes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya—three North African countries that sparked the wave of pro-democracy protests that have upended the Arab world.

The U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, was killed when suspected Libyan religious extremists stormed the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi late Tuesday night, according to Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagour.

Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney issues a statement on the attack of the American Embassy in Libya, saying that America must strive to ensure the ‘Arab Spring’ doesn’t become the ‘Arab Winter.’

While many have run for office and joined the political mainstream, ragtag groups of unaffiliated Salafis have taken to the streets to intimidate, and in some cases attack, people they regard as sinful.

Most worrying for liberals in all three countries is that the Salafis appear to them to be acting with impunity. Secular-minded activists complain that when it comes to policing religious extremists, police consistently arrive late, hold few perpetrators to account and avoid direct confrontation. Police reluctance comes as Islamist forces are gaining political power, the activists say

At the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on Tuesday night, hundreds of police in riot gear were unable to block a handful of protesters from breaching the embassy walls. After Salafi leaders convinced the demonstrators to leave the compound, security forces sat by as protesters waved Islamist banners from atop the embassy’s security wall. Prosecutors on Wednesday released the four people who were detained during the demonstration, saying investigations would continue.

In Libya, a mob of hundreds of men, some of whom identified themselves as members of a Salafi fighting group called Ansar al Sharia, overwhelmed the handful of Libyan security guards outside the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on Tuesday night.

Libyan and U.S. security officials exchanged fire with the armed mob, but none of the attackers were detained, though Libyan forces helped evacuate civilians in the area and, later, the U.S. Consulate personnel.

“This shows the erosion of state authority,” said Amna Guellali, a researcher on Tunisia for the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch. “It’s quite systematic in all these incidents: The state reaction is either late or doesn’t come at all.”

Ms. Guellali and other analysts blame the inaction on a toxic mix of weakness, fear and complicity.

The chaotic aftermaths of the pro-democracy revolutions nearly broke the security forces in all three countries. But police officers’ tendency to give way to Islamist groups may point to a lingering fear of blowback.

“This is an apparatus, both here and Libya, that were at war with the Islamists,” said Omar Ashour, an expert on political Islam and the director of the Middle East program at Exeter University in the U.K. “Now the ones who were victimized by the police are either in power or about to be in power. Therefore the police are quite hesitant to do brutal crackdowns.”

In Egypt and Tunisia, police have used tear gas, truncheons and bullets to subdue demonstrations by left-wing protesters and secular activists. Five people were injured last week when police deployed tear gas to keep activists from invading the Syrian Embassy to hoist the Free Syrian Army flag.

“This follows a pattern formed under [Hosni] Mubarak, that force can be used on stigmatize-able groups: Youth, Coptic Christians—the cast of characters we’ve seen clamped down on,” said Michael Hanna, an Egypt expert at the New York-based Century Foundation. “But demonstrating Islamists have free rein.”

Though Egypt’s security personnel were historically vetted and purged to exclude Islamists, some security chiefs and rank-and-file personnel may be siding with Islamist protesters, said Mohamed Ali Bilal, a former Egyptian general and a security expert. “Undoubtedly, there was sympathy,” Mr. Bilal said.The police “knew these protesters were right.”

Egypt’s new Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, has yet to condemn the invasion of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. Gehad al-Haddad, an adviser to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, said he was in touch with the president’s office throughout Tuesday, and that every care was taken to protect U.S. Embassy staff. The executive office ordered police reinforcements and later, a small military deployment, Mr. Haddad said.

Whereas the Brotherhood is seen as a more practical, moderate group whose members adhere to an institutional hierarchy, Salafis conform to conservative styles of dress, believing that mimicking the life of the Prophet Muhammad and his contemporaries will lead them to salvation. Aiming to achieve the earthly moral paradise promised in the Quran, Salafis take an uncompromising view toward enforcing their view of good behavior in others.

Tunisia and Libya in particular have seen an abrupt increase in the Salafis’ sanctimonious torment, though it has rarely reached the level of violence seen Tuesday night in Cairo and Benghazi, where four U.S. diplomats were killed.

Over the past month, Salafi groups have smashed, burned and destroyed several of Libya’s historic shrines that they believed to be blasphemous, and demolished the graves of revered Islamic holy men whose beliefs contravened Salafi strictures. Libyan officials denounced the destruction, but no one has been arrested for the vandalism.

In Tunisia, police have done little to stop groups of Salafi youth armed with truncheons from policing beaches, art galleries and theaters to stop what they consider philanderers and inappropriate media.

In Egypt, many observers blame Salafis for an uptick in tension between Muslims and Christians. Salafi leaders and television preachers have stoked violence by accusing Egypt’s Coptic Christians of kidnapping Christian women to prevent them from converting to Islam.

In Syria, too, Salafi groups are among the wide-ranging elements of rebel fighters and have sometimes have had tensions with other groups.

In several incidents over the past year, local Salafi leaders and well-known television preachers have stoked violence by accusing members of Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority of kidnapping Christian women to prevent them from converting to Islam.

Though dozens of people have died in attacks on Christian homes and churches, Christians note that almost no perpetrators have been held to account. Police normally try to resolve the tensions through a kind of extrajudicial community mediation that rarely leads to punishment.http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443696604577647753055958144.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

The crowds in both Cairo and Benghazi included not only radical Islamists, but also groups such as Egypt’s Ultras, the soccer fan club that played an important role in the 2011 revolution. The media has concentrated on the presence of bearded men and black flags to paint these protests as the work of Salafis, and to point the finger at Ansar al-Shariah and other fringe groups. The black flag (the banner of the eagle) does not, of course, belong solely to al-Qaeda or even to Islamic radicalism. It has become a commonplace symbol used by those who want a more robust Islamic presence in the public sphere as well as by those who want to live under an Islamic theocracy. Both claim the flag, so its presence is not conclusive about the currents that took part in this, and other such events. It will take time to fully understand the roots of such violent acts, after careful forensic reporting on those who came to the protests. Nevertheless, some preliminary observations can be made regarding the ongoing social convulsions, at least in the Libyan case.

This is not the first such protest in Benghazi, the eastern city of Libya. Over the course of this year, tumult has been the order of the day. In January, a crowd stormed the headquarters of the National Transitional Council. In April, a bomb was thrown at a convoy that included the head of the UN Mission to Libya, and another bomb exploded at a courthouse. In May, a rocket was fired at the Red Cross office. A convoy carrying the head of the British consulate was attacked in June, and since then the consulate has been abandoned. In August, a pipe bomb exploded in front of the US consulate building.http://www.eurasiareview.com/13092012-humiliation-and-rage-in-libya-oped/

The Salafi Moment
As the death of a U.S. ambassador in Libya demonstrates, the ultraconservative Salafi movement is pushing to the forefront in the politics of the Middle East. The West should be careful how it reacts.

By now you’ve probably heard. Just a few hours after an angry mob of ultraconservative Muslimsstormed the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, the U.S. ambassador to Libya was killed during a protest in the city of Benghazi. Both riots were provoked by the news that an anti-Muslim group in the United States has released a film that insults the Prophet Mohammed. In Egypt, the protestors hauled down the U.S. flag and replaced it with the same black banner sometimes used by Al Qaeda. Shades of Iran, 1979. Scary stuff.

Both attacks are utterly outrageous. But perhaps the United States shouldn’t have been caught completely off guard. The rioters in both cases come from the region’s burgeoning Salafi movement, and the Salafis have been in the headlines a lot lately. In Libya, over the past few months, they’ve been challenging the recently elected government by demolishing ancient Sufi shrines, which they deem to be insufficiently Islamic. In Tunisia, they’ve been attacking businesses that sell alcohol and instigating nasty social media campaigns about the country’s female competitors in the Olympics. In Syria’s civil war, there are increasingreports that the opposition’s wealthy Gulf financiers have been channeling cash to Salafi groups, whose strict interpretation of Islam is considered close to the puritanical Wahhabism of the Saudis and others. Lately Salafi groups have been gaining fresh prominence in parts of the Islamic world — from Mali to Lebanon, from Kashmir to Russia’s North Caucasus.

Some — like journalist Robin Wright, who recently wrote a New York Times op-ed on the subject — say that this means we should be really, really worried. Painting a picture of a new “Salafi crescent” ranging from the Persian Gulf to North Africa, she worries that this bodes ill for newly won freedoms after the revolutions of 2011. Calling the rise of the new Salafi groups “one of the most underappreciated and disturbing byproducts of the Arab revolts,” Wright says that they’re now “moving into the political space once occupied by jihadi militants, who are now less in vogue.” “[S]ome Islamists are more hazardous to Western interests and values than others,” she writes. “The Salafis are most averse to minority and women’s rights.”[[LATEST]]

” The only thing that unites them, he argues, is their interest in returning to the beliefs and practices of the original Islamic community founded by the Prophet Mohammed — a desire that, in itself, is shared by quite a few mainstream Muslims. (The Arabic word salaf, meaning “predecessors” or “ancestors,” refers to the original companions of the Prophet.)

If the first death of a U.S. ambassador in two decades is any indication, it’s probably time that the world starts paying attention to this debate. I think there are several points worth mentioning.

First of all, however we define them, these new “populist puritans” (as Wright aptly refers to them) are enjoying an extraordinary boom. Though solid numbers are hard to come by, they’re routinely described as the fastest-growing movement in modern-day Islam. Unlike the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s Salafis barely figured in the political landscape during the Mubarak years — then stormed onto the scene to capture a quarter of the vote in the country’s first democratic election last year. Their share of the vote could well increase, given that the new Brotherhood-led government is likely to have problems making good on the ambitious promises it’s made to Egyptian voters over the past year. Their rapid rise in Tunisia is especially startling, given that country’s relatively relaxed atmosphere toward religion.

The Salafi notion of returning to the purity of 7th-century Islam can have the same kind of draw for some Muslims exasperated by everyday corruption and abusive rule. Syria offers a good example. If you’re going up against Bashar al-Assad’s helicopter gunships armed with an antique rifle and a few rusty bullets, you’ll probably prefer to go into battle with a simple slogan on your lips. “Power sharing for all ethnic groups in a liberal parliamentary democracy” might not cut it — especially if you happen to be a Sunni who’s seen your relatives cut down by Assad’s murderous militias. This isn’t to say that the opposition is now dominated by Salafis; far from it. But it’s safe to assume that the longer the war goes on, the more pronounced the extremes will become.

At the same time, the Sunni Salafis are a major factor in the growing global polarization of the Islamic community between Shiites and Sunnis. (The French scholar of Islam Olivier Roy arguesthat the intra-Muslim rivalry between the two groups has now become even more important than the presumed confrontation between Islam and the West.) The fact that many Salafis in various parts of the world get their financing from similarly conservative elements in Saudi Arabia doesn’t help. Perversely enough, Iranian propaganda is already trying to portray the West as backers of Salafi extremism in order to destabilize Tehran and its allies. We’ll be seeing a lot more of this sort of thing in the future, I’m afraid.

In short, no one should count on the Salafis to go away any time soon. Don’t allow radicals to dictate the rules for everyone else. This is why the outcome of the current political conflicts in Tunisia and Libya are extremely important for the region as a whole. In both countries, voters have now had the opportunity to declare their political preferences in free elections, and they have delivered pretty clear messages. Libyans voted overwhelmingly for secular politicians, while Tunisians chose a mix of moderate Islamists and secularists. But the Salafis in both places don’t seem content to leave it at that, and are trying to foment instability by instigating a culture war. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/09/12/the_salafi_moment?page=0,2

Ambassador Steven’s death is a collateral damage in the US-Saudi joint project to spread Salafism in the world. The project will go on as long as there is enough oil in the KSA. The collateral damage is regretted.

38 responses to “Quilliam and other analysts are downplaying Saudi-funded Salafists’ role in US Ambassador’s murder in Libya”

  1. Absolutely brilliant read. This ought to be a mandatory read for those (in the West) plagued by myopia when it comes to policy making. There were several elements that I’d either overlooked or were not cognizant about that I read in this article.

    Simply too good. Thumbs up!

  2. Nothing surprising here. Quilliam is rumoured to be supported by both Saudi, Pakistan and UK intelligence agencies.

    In Pakistan they remain silent, completely silent on Shia genocide. In fact they distort it as Sunni Shia violence because that is the script given to them by the Saudi Crown Prince.

  3. Capitol Hill needs to purge itself of Saudi-financed lobbyists and think tanks. UK too should follow the suit.

  4. 15 of the 19 hijackers were citizens of Saudi Arabia. Still Saudi Arabia is our best friend?

    This compilation is a must read for all Americans and all those who want to understand what exactly is at play in the name of Arab Spring and War on Terror.

  5. While the establishment media has engaged in a concerted effort to bury the fact that today’s attack on a U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was carried out by the same extremists the U.S. armed during the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi, Libya’s Ambassador to Washington Ali Aujali launched his own lame attempt to shift the blame, ludicrously pointing the finger at Gaddafi loyalists.


    “We know that Qaddafi’s associates are in Libya. Of course, they took this chance to infiltrate among the people,” Aujali said in today in an interview.

    “His claim contradicts most reports, which place the blame on radical Islamist groups that claimed to be reacting to an obscure American film they viewed as insulting to Islam. Aujali said that the Libyan government has intelligence that unspecified Qaddafi forces were involved,” reports Foreign Policy.

    For Aujiali to claim that the attack, which took place in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, was the work of Gaddafi loyalists, is a plainly absurd trick to manipulate the narrative behind the incident in a desperate bid to save face.

    As Tony Cartalucci points out, the media’s failure to admit that the terrorists behind the attack are the same gangs of thugs armed and empowered by NATO represents “an attempt by the West to reestablish the perception that the US and Israel are at war with sectarian extremists, not partnered with them.”

    Every indication points to the fact that the attack was carried out by Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists whom NATO supported during last year’s bombardment of Libya, the same bands of Salafists who have destroyed mosques and shrines across Libya and whose goal is to impose sharia law.
    http://www.infowars.com/consulate-attack-lame-attempt-to-shift-blame-away-fro… by Paul Joseph Watson

  6. Ghaffar Hussain, The Quilliam’s group’s Head of Training and Outreach, said, ‘It is deeply disappointing – but also entirely predictable – that these two extremist groups have announced plans to disrupt the Royal Wedding.

    “The Royal Wedding celebrations now risk being hijacked by a few publicity-hungry fanatics whose only aim is to divide our society and to sow suspicions and hatred between Britain’s different peoples.

    “We urge the media to ensure that these groups are portrayed, if at all, as the fringe elements they are.’ ‘These protests show the urgent need for government strategy to move-ahead on tackling systematically all forms of extremism across society – and to recognise that Islamist extremism is currently fuelling right-wing extremism and vice-versa. For too long such extremism has been left to fester in Britain unchecked.’


  7. Even think tanks that have been set up in the UK in order to ‘combat extremism’ have some dubious provenance. The Quilliam Foundation, described as “Britain’s first counter-extremism thinktank” established by Ed Husain and Maajid Nawaz, ex-members of Hizb ut-Tahrir – a group which had been proscribed abroad but not in the UK despite the government’s claimed commitment to do so.

    Husain is another reformed ‘Islamist’ who has promulgated his particular brand of insider knowledge via the media and a self-penned book which despite its rather superficial account of his ‘radicalisation’ and involvement with the group was greeted enthusiastically by government officials and journalists. A spokesman for Hizb ut-Tahrir denied that Husain was ever a member.

    The Quilliam Foundation is, ironically, named after a strong critic of Western Imperialist policies, the kind of criticism that would have him labelled a ‘radical’ these days – and indeed Quilliam was accused of treason for his continued opposition to the British war in Sudan. The think tank itself has drawn its own criticism from those who feel that the Foundation’s conservative views – which include attacking multiculturalism, immigration policy and suggesting Muslims should “be more British” – are not representative of the majority of Muslims in the UK. In January 2009 the Quilliam Foundation was awarded £1million of government funding, which is interesting because self-confessed liar, Hassan Butt, claimed his plans for “deradicalising” extremists drew an offer of financial support from the Home Office. Are the motivations of such groups and individuals under the media spotlight as straightforward as they claim to be? Or are they serving a more sinister purpose in allowing certain memes to remove responsibility from the government for their oppressive actions?

  8. Quilliam Foundation Threaten Webhosts To Close Down This Blog
    by craig on November 16, 2009 11:39 am in Sleaze
    Having failed to intimidate me, the Quilliam foundation have now written to my webhost in the Netherlands, threatening to sue them in England (English law claims effective universal jurisdiction on libel). They are demanding that my webhost pays damages to the Directors of the Quilliam Foundation.

    You will recall that Alisher Usmanov got this website temporarily closed down by threatening my then webhosts. I hope Quilliam will find my current webhosts made of sterner stuff, but repetition or mirroring of the Quilliam Foundation posts would be helpful at this stage. Here they are:






    Plus this one. of course.

    I do not libel. All the money spent by the likes of Alisher Usmanov and Tim Spicer on lawyers’ letters to threaten me, my publishers and my webhosts has never resulted in anybody going to court against me, despite the fact I have always maintained the truth of what I have written and never bowed to threats to remove it. It is all still on here because it is all true.

    I have written this to my webhosts:

    There are loads of posts on my blog about this, and all my correspondence with them.

    Key points:

    At the time I pubklished my blog post, they had NOT filed their accounts

    They filed their accounts six days AFTER I blogged that they had not filed them

    At the time I blogged, their accounts were overdue and they did not have an extension ?” they applied for the extension THE DAY AFTER my blog that they had not filed their accounts ?” six days later they filed accounts

    I have not at any stage accused the directors of stealing money. I have said that too much money goes into rewarding the Directors. Perfectly fair comment on a taxpayer funded organization ?” and a comment made by hundreds of others, repeatedly (google the Quilliam Foundation)

    This is legal bullying. Having failed to intimidate me, they are trying to intimidate you

    My own view is that, unless bloggers are prepared to stand up to this kind of intimidation, the internet is in deep trouble. The bad news is that English law claims the right to prosecute anyone anywhere in the world for posting to the internet as it can be read in England. This is a disgrace, and several US states have passed or are passing laws to protect their citizens from it. It is not impossible they would get your arse into an English court if they really wanted to make themselves infamous.

    I am refusing to back down because I am quite confident that they are bluffing, and if they did go to court they would lose. I have in my five years of blogging received about sixty letters like the one you just got, and nobody has ever taken me to court, let alone won. It is called “chilling” ?” people are so terrified of UK libel law they usually back down when they get such a letter.

    I cannot pretend it is one hundred per cent risk free to call their bluff. But if we give in the first time a wealthy institution pays a lawyer 500 dollars to write a letter, what is the purpose of our internet activity?


    There is an interesting article in today’s Independent by Johann Hari about former “Islamic extremists.” Hari too notes the extraordinarily wealthy lifestyle of the Quilliam directors.

    The most famous former Islamist fanatic in Britain is Maajid Nawaz ?” a high-cheekboned 31-year-old who walks with a self-confident strut. I make an appointment with him through his personal assistant, and he strides into the hotel lobby where we have arranged to meet in an immaculate and expensive suit. He seems to blend perfectly into the multi-ethnic overclass who use expensive hotels like this as their base…

    We are served tea by the kind of effusive waitress who works in high-end London hotels. Maajid does not acknowledge her.


    I get the impression Johann didn’t like Nawaz very much.


  9. Murray To Quilliam: Put Up Or Shut Up
    by craig on November 13, 2009 9:47 pm in Sleaze
    Another libel lawyer’s letter arrived late this afternoon from Clarke Willmott for the Quilliam Foundation, funded by your taxes (if you are a UK taxpayer). As with their first one and their email, I give it in full so you can see their side of the story:

    Download file

    They now acknowledge that they only filed their accounts six days after I blogged that they had not filed them – a fact they left out of their first letter. They do say that they had an extension to file late from Companies House. That seems their one good point. The rest is easily refuted. I have replied thus:

    Dear Michael Clarke,

    I refute your points entirely. My blog posts are part of a wider political debate surrounding the Quilliam Foundation Ltd. The view that Mr Husain has swung from one extremist view to the opposite has been very widely reported and deplored in blogs and on newspapers. Anyone who one year supports Islamic terrorism, and the next year supports the invasion of Iraq and the occupation of Afghanistan, cannot be fairly described as stable. Indeed the one thing both viewpoints have in common is a support for killing people for political ends.

    The view that the Quilliam Foundation is counterproductive in achieving its aims and thus a waste of taxpayers’ money, and that its Directors are over-remunerated, is also so widely expressed as to be the received wisdom about the organization. Indeed in paying a social parasite like a libel lawyer, it seems only to confirm that Quilliam has more taxpayers’ money than sense.

    I am very sorry that you wish to waste more taxpayers’ money in trying to defend Quilliam’s non-existent good name. Of course you will profit personally: why should you not get on the taxpayer funded gravy train too? If you wish to claim this particular action is financed by other donations, I refer you to the concept of fungibility.

    I view your proposed action as an appallingly illiberal attempt by a government funded organization to silence an outlet for political dissent in the UK.

    I also insist that you tell me whether you had advance knowledge of the plan for Mr Ed Jagger to telephone me falsely pretending to wish to be able to make a donation, apparently in order to attempt to elicit financial information. If you do not refute in simple terms any involvement, I shall report you to your professional body. Please tell me if that is the Law Society or the Bar Council. I expect you have an obligation when asked to give information on where to direct a professional complaint.

    If you wish to serve papers on me, you will find me for the next three weeks at C878/3, North Ridge, Accra. After that I shall be at home at 30 Whitehall Gardens, Acton, London, W3 9RD. My wife is now there alone with our young baby, and any action by you or your clients which upsets or harasses her before my return is something which I will take very, very seriously indeed and I would take every possible and imaginative action within the law to ensure that you would greatly regret.

    Thank you for recommending me to get a solicitor. Sadly unlike your clients I am not rolling in taxpayers’ cash and I have no money for a solicitor. As Mr Jagger telephoned me to offer a donation, perhaps you might ask him if he could fund a solicitor for me? That would be kind.

    I have nothing more to say to you and will enter no further correspondence with you, nor read any further correspondence by you. Please stop this pathetic and futile attempt at bullying and go to court. I have no doubt that Jack Straw (who you will be aware sacked me as British Ambassador precisely for not holding the views your clients are so well paid to propagandise) will make sure you get allocated a judge entirely on your side.


    The only sad thing about this episode for me (other than the waste of time and energy and a certain distress to my family) is that the general opinion of Quilliam is so low, this appalling behaviour can’t make them much worse thought of.


  10. Quilliam on Prevent: the wrong diagnosis
    We don’t need to spy on law-abiding Muslims to tackle extremism. There are more effective, and less illiberal ways
    Share 20

    Jonathan Githens-Mazer and Robert Lambert
    guardian.co.uk, Monday 19 October 2009 10.38 BST
    Jump to comments (…)
    Ed Husain of the Quilliam Foundation argues that the government’s Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) strategy, also known as Prevent, should target Muslims he describes as Islamists whether or not they are suspected of terrorism or violent extremism because, he says, they are extremists and “provide the mood music” for the 7/7 bombers and others who threaten the British public with violence.

    Although there is no credible evidence to support this view it is one that Husain shares with influential thinktanks including Policy Exchange and the Centre for Social Cohesion in the UK and Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum in the US. On this account, regular Cif bloggers Inayat Bunglawala and Anas Altikriti are described as “extremists” and “subversives” who should be targeted and stigmatised in the same way as terrorists inspired or directed by al-Qaida.

    Charles Moore and Dean Godson of Policy Exchange, have explained that this is a re-make of a 1980s Thatcherite counter-subversion strategy in which Husain is cast in the role of Frank Chapple the “moderate” trade union leader who was, they suggest, used to discredit and undermine the “extremist” miner’s trade union leader Arthur Scargill. Husain, they argue, can help defeat Altikriti, Bungalwala and their colleagues in the same way.

    If well known political activists like Altikriti and Bunglawala are treated as subversives then thousands of lesser known politically active Muslims will suffer the same fate. By funding Husain’s Quillian Foundation the government has moved PVE from counter-terrorism into counter-subversion. Not only does this risk stigmatising innocent Muslims, it is also counter-productive in terms of countering a significant terrorist threat posed to UK residents, especially those who live or work in big cities.

    To fund the Quilliam Foundation is also to undermine excellent Muslim community projects, both PVE funded and unfunded, that have achieved success against al-Qaida influence in the UK without spying on communities and without stigmatising politically active or minority Muslim groups. It is no coincidence that successful community partners in many of these ventures are the very same Muslims Husain describes as extremist and subversive.

    There is a proven model for effectiveness and legitimacy in this dangerous and demanding arena and it was first highlighted in a report Demos presented to Home Office and CLG officials in 2006. The Demos report offered an alternative model for PVE in which mainstream Islamists are seen as civic partners not as enemies or subversives, and certainly not as informants or spies on their communities.

    Instead, on the Demos account, successful partnership projects between police and minority communities that steer young people away from gun crime, knife crime and street crime generally are extended to the field of violent extremism. In these partnerships it is explicit that community youth workers do not spy on communities but respect client confidentiality and discharge their normal civic duty to report criminal activity to police if the occasion arises. As Arun Kundnani explains, “it is right that channels should be made available for youth workers and teachers to provide information to the police if there are reasons to believe an individual is involved in criminality”.

    More recently the Demos approach has been endorsed by researchers at the University of Birmingham (pdf). Here again many of Husain’s subversives are shown to be pro-active and effective civic partners.

    This was the partnership principle adopted by the Metropolitan police’s Muslim Contact Unit when it worked successfully with Altikriti and his colleagues to rid the Finsbury Park mosque of violent extremists in February 2005. The success in that case pre-dates PVE and highlights another flaw in Husain’s argument. Abu Hamza and other violent extremists associated with the Finsbury Park mosque have been convicted in British courts of violent, extremist hate crimes, including incitement to murder. Rather than providing the “mood music” for these violent extremists, Altikriti and his colleagues publicly and consistently challenged their violent propaganda face to face and toe to toe. As a result of their bravery and civic mindedness a once notorious centre of violent extremism is now a model mosque.

    Both our community research and practitioner experience confirms that this success by the Finsbury Park mosque trustees against the violent extremism of Abu Hamza and his close associates was achieved without spying on or alienating local communities. On the contrary it was achieved with their co-operation and the full support of local MP, Jeremy Corbyn, a respected champion of the rights of minority communities.

    When Rachel Briggs launched the Demos report in 2006 she was flanked on the platform by Rob Beckley, a senior police officer, and prominent Muslims including Tariq Ramadan and Salma Yacoob who all supported the recommendations of the Demos report. Like Altikriti and Bunglawala, Ramadan and Yacoob are the positive Muslim role models the Quilliam Foundation and its influential backers now re-cast as subversives and extremists.

    The government will need to reject the Quilliam Foundation’s counter-subversion approach and return to the Demos model of genuine community partnerships if it wants Muslims to help tackle al-Qaida influence in the UK without creating and targeting suspect Muslim communities. By doing so the government will also distance itself from an influential strand of conservative thinking evidenced in Michael Gove’s book Celsius 7/7 that is solidly wedded to Moore and Godson’s counter-subversion strategy.

    It is not too late to get this right and re-build trust in Muslim communities in the way Demos recommended in 2006. Not only is it morally reprehensible to treat responsible and law-abiding Muslim citizens as a subversive threat, it is also hugely counter-productive. If ministers continue to follow Ed Husain’s advice they will begin to jeopardise social cohesion as well as effective and legitimate counter-terrorism in the UK.


  11. Now in Yemen. USA’s alliance with Saudi Arabia (key sponsor of Salafism) has completely backfired:

    SANAA, Yemen (AP) – Chanting “death to America,” hundreds of protesters angered by an anti-Islam film stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Yemen’s capital and burned the American flag on Thursday, the latest in a series of attacks on American diplomatic missions in the Middle East.

    The protesters breached the usually tight security around the embassy and reached the compound grounds but did not enter the main building housing the offices. Once inside the compound, they brought down the U.S. flag, burned it and replaced it with a black banner bearing Islam’s declaration of faith – “There is no God but Allah.”

    Before storming the grounds, demonstrators removed the embassy’s sign on the outer wall, set tires ablaze and pelted the compound with rocks.

    It was similar to an attack on the U.S. Embassy in the Egyptian capital of Cairo on Tuesday night. A mob of Libyans also attacked the U.S. consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi on Tuesday, killing American Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.


  12. Press TV has conducted an interview with Sabri Malek, a spokesperson for the Libyan Democratic Party, from London, to further discuss the issue.

    Press TV: Good question there that [previous guest speaker] Stephen Lendman is asking; can you answer it? What about the millions that have been killed from some of these wars that the US has been at the forefront?

    Malek: Well, let’s put this very clearly at the outset. The film in America was extremely provocative. It was designed to provoke a violent reaction in the Muslim world.

    We condemn it. This is not the way for better relations between the West and the Muslim world.

    However, the violent reaction in Libya, the destruction of the consulate in Benghazi, the killing of the ambassador and the colleagues is an act of murder. It’s not justified by the film in any way.

    We Muslims mustn’t behave in this way. We must respect international law. Indeed, we must respect Islam itself.

    Mr. Christopher Stephens was the ambassador who was killed, was a friend of the Arab world. He was a friend of Islam. Indeed, he was a Muslim himself. He followed the spiritual Islam. He was a Sufi. He was a spokesman for democracy in the Arab world in the US State Department. We really have lost a great friend of ours.

    What happened in Benghazi yesterday must be condemned by the whole world. We Muslims condemn it. We in the Democratic Party condemn it.

    Press TV: I’d like to examine and get your views on the circumstances behind this film which was made by this person, Mr. Bacile, who is an American Jew.

    Don’t you find it ironic that this has come out on 9/11? Don’t you find it ironic that this is a movie that is two hours in length? Aside from that, knowing that it’s going to insult Muslims to the deepest, almost, level, the reaction that came from Hillary Clinton and from the US President Barack Obama, they’re going to tighten security for American embassies around the world. Neither of them mentioned anything using the words “Islam” or “Muslim” or even to blame this anti-Islam movie for the cause of what happened in Libya and, of course, then relating this to 9/11 and saying it’s further proof that the US needs to pursue their so-called war on terror.

    Give us your analysis on that and tell us, does that tie in with what is going on in the Middle East in terms of how the US and its Western allies have talked about redrawing the map, etcetera and, of course, we’re seeing what’s happening there?

    Malek: Libya, unlike Tunisia and Egypt, is becoming a democracy. This is upsetting the Saudis and the Qataris, badly.

    We all know that the Wahhabi movement in the Arab world and indeed in the Islamic world — the Salafi movement — is controlled by Saudi intelligence both ideologically and financially.

    Now, the Wahhabis are the people who attacked the American consulate yesterday and killed the ambassador and his colleagues. These people do not want to see a democratic Libya.

    They get their support from the Saudis and they get their support from the Qataris. The Saudis and Qataris want to ensure that the Arab Spring revolutions will not spread to the Arab peninsula.

    There is another element to this conspiracy and that is Gaddafi’s son, Saadi, who is now in Niger, he is a Salafi himself and he’s colluding with Saudi intelligence.

    I would like to say that there is no way of defeating Wahhabism and Salafism in the Muslim world without cutting off the head of the snake which is there in Riyadh. The Saudi regime must go otherwise, we will never have peace in the Middle East and we will never have democracy.

    It’s about time that the Americans have a word with the Qataris and the Saudis and make them stop financing terrorism in the Arab world.

    In Libya, we want democracy. We don’t want to go the fundamentalist way.


  13. Separated at birth: Salafi extremists and Pastor Terry Jones
    Posted on September 13, 2012 by Russ Wellen under War & Security [ Comments: none ]
    The cold, dead hand of Salafi extremism was once again on display in Benghazi.

    According to Robert Worth of the New York Times, “the attack on the American Embassy in Cairo — unlike the one that killed [Ambassador to Libya Christopher] Stevens — appears to have been spontaneous, led by Egyptians genuinely angered by news of the film clip, distributed on YouTube, which portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a confused, bloodthirsty pedophile of uncertain parentage.”

    As for the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, it

    … might have less to do with any intrinsic Muslim intolerance than with the ideological chaos that reigns in the Arab world, where extremists routinely exploit popular anger and invoke Islam to draw attention to fundamentally political and even internecine goals. … Bernard Haykel, a professor of Middle East studies at Princeton University, said, “It’s true that there are sanctions against insulting the Prophet, but this is really about political or symbolic opportunists, who use religious symbols to advance their own power or prestige against other groups.”

    In other words, Salafi extremists exploit Middle-Eastern anger against the United States just like Pastor Terry Jones, thanks to whom the offending film went viral, exploits American anger against Islam.

    Meanwhile, from the Department of Silver Linings

    … there were outpourings of rage across Libya on Wednesday against the killers and against the Salafis more generally. In addition to demonstrations in Tripoli and Benghazi, Twitter was inundated with pro-American messages by young Libyans; several of them pleaded for the United States Marines to come and crush the Salafis.

    Likewise, it behooves Americans to remember that Salafism, especially at its most extreme, such as al Qaeda, does not define Islam.

    Cross-posted from the Foreign Policy in Focus blog Focal Points.


  14. Salafist group denies it attacked US mission in Libya
    September 13, 2012 share


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    A radical Salafist organization based in eastern Libya on Thursday denied responsibility for a deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.

    Katibat Ansar al-Sharia (Brigade of the Supporters of Sharia), in a statement, condemned “the accusations without any verification or investigation” which have emerged in the Libyan media.

    Such accusations were part of “a pre-arranged plan to sully the image [of the group] and arouse hostility towards it,” the statement said.

    “Katibat Ansar al-Sharia is a component of a proud people who are pushing for sharia [Islamic law] to be applied as its first and last concern,” said the group on its Facebook page which has almost 5,000 members.

    Libya on Thursday launched a probe into Tuesday’s attack on the US consulate in which the American ambassador and three other US nationals died, amid speculation that Al-Qaeda rather than a frenzied mob carried out the assault.

    The announcement of the inquiry came as protests against a low-budget, privately produced film denigrating the Prophet Mohammed – the spark of Tuesday’s attack on the Benghazi mission – spread across the Arab world.

    The Benghazi attack was initially believed to have been motivated by outrage over the Internet film made in America that insulted Islam, but US officials later said it might have been planned by Al-Qaeda affiliates or sympathizers.

    Katibat Ansar al-Sharia, which was formed by former rebels after last year’s uprising which toppled Libyan leader Moammer Qaddafi, underlined its own repugnance at the movie.

    “Any insult against our Prophet… is an insult against all Muslims who believe in God,” it said. “How can anyone remain silent in the face of insults against our Prophet?”



  15. US-Backed Terrorists Murder US’ Own Ambassador in Libya
    Murdered US Ambassador exposes Libya “progress” propaganda – provides a warning against US meddling in Syria.

    Tony Cartalucci, Contributor
    Activist Post

    Note: With Russia openly accusing the West of using Al Qaeda as their direct, militant proxies in Syria and beyond, this latest attempt to purposefully provoke and incite Muslims across the Arab World is an attempt by the West to reestablish the perception that the US and Israel are at war with sectarian extremists, not partnered with them. The film allegedly at the center of the violence, most likely came from the Neo-Con “Clarion Fund” or a project of similar origin.

    “I have met with these brave fighters, and they are not Al-Qaeda. To the contrary: They are Libyan patriots who want to liberate their nation. We should help them do it.” – Senator John McCain in Benghazi, Libya April 22, 2011.

    Image: Senator John McCain in the terrorist rat nest of Benghazi after marshaling cash, weapons, and political support for militants tied directly to Al Qaeda. McCain’s insistence that the terrorists he helped arm and install into power were “not Al Qaeda” runs contra to the US Army’s own reports which state that Benghazi’s terror brigades officially merged with Al Qaeda in 2007. McCain’s “Libyan patriots” have now killed US Ambassador Stevens with RPG’s most likely procured with cash and logistic networks set up by NATO last year, part of a supranational terror campaign that includes violently subverting Syria – a campaign McCain also supports.

    McCain’s “Libyan patriots” have now murdered US Ambassador John Christopher Stevens in the very city where McCain spoke these words. An assault on the American consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi, the epicenter of not only last year’s violent subversion and destruction of sovereign Libya, but a decades-old epicenter of global terrorism, left Ambassador Stevens dead along with two of his aides.

    The violence, Western media claims, stems from an anti-Islamic film produced in the United States. In reality, the coordinated nature of the attacks on both the US Embassy in Libya, as well as its embassy in Cairo, Egypt, on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, are most likely using the Neo-Conservative Clarion Fund-esque propaganda film as a false pretense for violence long-planned. The Clarion Fund regularly produces anti-Muslim propaganda, like “Iranium,” specifically to maintain a strategy of tension using fear and anger to drive a wedge between Western civilization and Islam to promote perpetual global wars of profit.

    NATO Knowingly Handed Libya to Al Qaeda

    Indeed, the US Army’s West Point Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) noted that Benghazi and the neighboring city of Darnah served a disproportionately high role in supplying foreign fighters to wage terror against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan – foot soldiers brought in to fuel a destructive and divisive sectarian war that undermined a united Sunni-Shi’ia resistance to Western troops who had invaded.

    Image: In Benghazi, in front of the very courthouse McCain and other representatives of the West’s corporate-financier driven foreign policy voiced support for Libya’s terror brigades, sectarian extremists took the streets waving the flag of Al Qaeda, even hoisting it atop the Benghazi courthouse itself. Despite a concerted effort by Western media houses to portray Libya as in the hands of progressive democratic secularists, the country was intentionally handed over to extremists to serve as a base of militancy to destabilize and destroy targets of Western interest around the word.

    The men McCain was defending were Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) militants, terrorists linked directly with Al Qaeda according to West Point reports (.pdf), and listed to this day by the US State Department, the UK Home Office (.pdf), and the UN as a “foreign terrorist organization.” McCain was not only rhetorically supporting listed terrorists, but calling for material support including weapons, funds, training, and air support in direct violation of USC § 2339A & 2339B, “providing material support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations.”

    These same terrorists are now not only the defacto rulers of much of Libya, but are leading death squads in Syria and arming militants in Mali, an exponential expansion made possible by a non-partisan effort including Republicans and Democrats, as well as Bush-era Neo-Conservatives who concurrently lead both anti-Islam propaganda while leading calls to arm the most radical sectarian extremist groups, including groups directly affiliated with Al Qaeda.

    Syria is Next

    Not only has US policy been exposed as not “promoting democracy” but purposefully spreading destabilization, violence, and terrorism, but the exact same militants behind the death of the US’ own ambassador are literally leading US efforts to visit the same violence, destabilization, and chaos upon Syria.

    Reuters, in their article, “Libyan fighters join Syrian revolt,” reported, that Mahdi al-Harati, “a powerful militia chief from Libya’s western mountains,” who is actually a militant of the US, British, and UN listed terrorist organization Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), “now leads a unit in Syria, made up mainly of Syrians but also including some foreign fighters, including 20 senior members of his own Libyan rebel unit.” Reuters would go on to explain, “the Libyans aiding the Syrian rebels include specialists in communications, logistics, humanitarian issues and heavy weapons,” and that they “operate training bases, teaching fitness and battlefield tactics.”

    Image: Libyan Mahdi al-Harati of the US State Department, United Nations, and the UK Home Office (page 5, .pdf)-listed terrorist organization, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), addressing fellow terrorists in Syria. Harati is now commanding a Libyan brigade operating inside of Syria attempting to destroy the Syrian government and subjugate the Syrian population. Traditionally, this is known as “foreign invasion.”

    Reuters concedes that the ongoing battle has nothing to do with democracy, but instead is purely a sectarian campaign aimed at “pushing out” Syria’s minorities, perceived to be “oppressing” “Sunni Muslims.”

    Reuters’ propaganda piece is rounded off with a Libyan terrorist allegedly threatening that “the militancy would spread across the region as long as the West does not do more to hasten the downfall of Assad,” a talking point plucked straight from the halls of America’s corporate-financier funded think-tanks. In fact, just such a think-tank, the Foreign Policy Initiative, recently published a statement signed by Bush-era Neo-Conservatives stating:
    America’s national security interests are intertwined with the fate of the Syrian people and the wider region. Indeed, Syria’s escalating conflict now threatens to directly affect the country’s neighbors, including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Israel, and could provide an opening for terrorist groups like al Qaeda to exploit.
    Along with “War on Terror” proponent John McCain, Al Qaeda’s LIFG and America’s Neo-Con establishment are now operating in tandem, as well as in direct contradiction to a decade of “War on Terror” propaganda. It should be remembered that those who signed this statement, including Elliott Abrams, Max Boot, Ellen Bork, William Kristol, Paul Bremer, Paula Dobriansk, Douglas Feith, Robert Kagan, Clifford D. May, Stephen Rademaker, Michael Weiss, Radwan Ziadeh, were among the very engineers of the fraudulent “War on Terror” that McCain himself is such a fervent supporter of. Radwan Ziadeh, last on the list, is in fact a “Syrian National Council” member – one of several proxies the US State Department is hoping to slip into power in Syria.

    Russia, China, Iran, and Others Oppose Terrorism in Syria for a Reason

    With Libya’s “democratic progress” exposed as only tenuously covering up NATO’s creation of a nation-wide safe haven for Al Qaeda terrorists to subsequently be deployed against the West’s political enemies across he Arab World and beyond, it will be even more difficult, if not impossible to continue promoting this same “change” in Syria. Libya, through direct action of NATO, has been overrun by terrorists. Syria’s government is desperately trying to prevent its people from being likewise overrun.

    And even as the US buries its own ambassador, killed by terror brigades it itself armed and thrust into power through covert and direct military intervention, in a nation now wrecked by sectarian and tribal infighting, it insists on replicating its “success” in Syria.

    Russia, China, Iran, and a growing number of nations have been opposing this campaign of supranational terrorism – with the death of Ambassador Stevens laying bare the true nature of America’s proxy “freedom fighters,” the list of global opposition will only grow, leaving only the most shameless and deeply invested to defend America’s invasive and bloody foreign policy.

    Tony Cartalucci’s articles have appeared on many alternative media websites, including his own at Land Destroyer Report. Read other contributed articles by Tony Cartalucci here.


  16. Mr. Husain Haqqani’s column in Wall Street Journal almost completely wipes out the fact that the US remains a key ally of Saudi-funded Salafists (Islamists)

    The article does not explain that USA remain a key guarantor of murderous Salafist regimes in KSA, Bahrain and other Gulf countries.

    Partial truth is no better than full lie. One must not hide that USA’s own Saudi-Salafist allies killed its ambassador in Libya.

    Blaming Islamists (Takfiri Salafists to be specific) while ignoring their Saudi-US sponsors serves neither West nor Muslims.


    Husain Haqqani: Manipulated Outrage and Misplaced Fury
    Islamists stoke resentment of the West—and anger over the long decline of Muslim influence—to serve their own violent ends.

    The attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions this week—beginning in Egypt and Libya, and moving to Yemen and other Muslim countries—came under cover of riots against an obscure online video insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. But the mob violence and assaults should be seen for what they really are: an effort by Islamists to garner support and mobilize their base by exacerbating anti-Western sentiments.

    Related Video

    Editorial board member Matt Kaminski on who’s behind the protests in Egypt and Yemen. Photo: Getty Images

    When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to calm Muslims Thursday by denouncing the video, she was unwittingly playing along with the ruse the radicals set up. The United States would have been better off focusing on the only outrage that was of legitimate interest to the American government: the lack of respect—shown by a complaisant Egyptian government and other Islamists—for U.S. diplomatic missions.

    Protests orchestrated on the pretext of slights and offenses against Islam have been part of Islamist strategy for decades. Iran’s ayatollahs built an entire revolution around anti-Americanism. While the Iranian revolution was underway in 1979, Pakistan’s Islamists whipped up crowds by spreading rumors that the Americans had forcibly occupied Islam’s most sacred site, the Ka’aba or the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Pakistani protesters burned the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.

    Violent demonstrations in many parts of the Muslim world after the 1989 fatwa—or religious condemnation—of a novel by Salman Rushdie, or after the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005, also did not represent spontaneous outrage. In each case, the insult to Islam or its prophet was first publicized by Islamists themselves so they could use it as justification for planned violence.

    Once mourning over the death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and others subsides, we will hear familiar arguments in the West. Some will rightly say that Islamist sensibilities cannot and should not lead to self-censorship here. Others will point out that freedom of expression should not be equated with a freedom to offend. They will say: Just as a non-Jew, out of respect for other religious beliefs, does not exercise his freedom to desecrate a Torah scroll, similar respect should be extended to Muslims and what they deem sacred.

    Enlarge Image

    Associated Press
    A street protester near the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Sept. 13.

    But this debate, as thoughtful as it may be, is a distraction from what is really going on. It ignores the political intent of Islamists for whom every perceived affront to Islam is an opportunity to exploit a wedge issue for their own empowerment.

    As for affronts, the Western mainstream is, by and large, quite respectful toward Muslims, millions of whom have adopted Europe and North America as their home and enjoy all the freedoms the West has to offer, including the freedom to worship. Insignificant or unnoticed videos and publications would have no impact on anyone, anywhere, if the Islamists did not choose to publicize them for radical effect.

    And insults, real or hyped, are not the problem. At the heart of Muslim street violence is the frustration of the world’s Muslims over their steady decline for three centuries, a decline that has coincided with the rise and spread of the West’s military, economic and intellectual prowess.

    During the 800 years of Muslim ascendancy beginning in the eighth century—in Southern Europe, North Africa and much of Western Asia—Muslims did not riot to protest non-Muslim insults against Islam or its prophet. There is no historic record of random attacks against non-Muslim targets in retaliation for a non-Muslim insulting Prophet Muhammad, though there are many books derogatory toward Islam’s prophet that were written in the era of Islam’s great empires. Muslims under Turkey’s Ottomans, for example, did not attack non-Muslim envoys (the medieval equivalent of today’s embassies) or churches upon hearing of real or rumored European sacrilege against their religion.

    Clearly, then, violent responses to perceived injury are not integral to Islam. A religion is what its followers make it, and Muslims opting for violence have chosen to paint their faith as one that is prone to anger. Frustration with their inability to succeed in the competition between nations also has led some Muslims to seek symbolic victories.

    Yet the momentary triumph of burning another country’s flag or setting on fire a Western business or embassy building is a poor but widespread substitute for global success that eludes the modern world’s 1.5 billion Muslims. Violent protest represents the lower rung of the ladder of rage; terrorism is its higher form.

    Islamists almost by definition have a vested interest in continuously fanning the flames of Muslim victimhood. For Islamists, wrath against the West is the basis for their claim to the support of Muslim masses, taking attention away from societal political and economic failures. For example, the 57 member states of the Organization of Islamic Conference account for one-fifth of the world’s population but their combined gross domestic product is less than 7% of global output—a harsh reality for which Islamists offer no solution.

    Even after recent developments that were labeled the Arab Spring, few Muslim-majority countries either fulfill—or look likely to—the criteria for freedom set by the independent group Freedom House. Mainstream discourse among Muslims blames everyone but themselves for this situation. The image of an ascendant West belittling Islam with the view to eliminate it serves as a convenient explanation for Muslim weakness.

    Once the Muslim world embraces freedom of expression, it will be able to recognize the value of that freedom even for those who offend Muslim sensibilities. More important: Only in a free democratic environment will the world’s Muslims be able to debate the causes of their powerlessness, which stirs in them greater anger than any specific action on the part of Islam’s Western detractors.

    Until then, the U.S. would do well to remember Osama bin Laden’s comment not long after the Sept. 11 attacks: “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse.” America should do nothing that enables Islamists to portray the nation as the weak horse.

    Mr. Haqqani is professor of international relations at Boston University and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. He served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S. in 2008-11.

    A version of this article appeared September 14, 2012, on page A13 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Manipulated Outrage and Misplaced Fury.


  17. Salafism+CIA: The winning formula to destabilize Russia, the Middle East

    by F. William Engdahl
    The assassination of the most respected Sufi religious leader in Dagestan, Russia’s volatile Caucasus, comes as Salafist jihadists in Libya murder a US Ambassador who was actually a key player in ousting Gaddafi and bringing the Salafist Muslim Brotherhood and Jihadists into power. Throughout the entire Islamic world today, a wave of hate is being unleashed in the name of Islamic fundamentalism that could bring a new world war. This is the consequence of the Greater Middle East Project put in play in 2010 and earlier by the Washington-London-Tel Aviv axis. Manipulating religious fervor is an explosive cocktail as F. William Engdahl shows here.


    The terrorist act that killed 74-year old Sheikh Said Afandi in Dagestan occurred after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statement on unity and stopping violence.
    Part I: Syria comes to the Russian Caucasus

    On August 28 Sheikh Said Afandi, acknowledged spiritual leader of the Autonomous Russian Republic of Dagestan, was assassinated. A jihadist female suicide bomber managed to enter his house and detonate an explosive device.

    The murder target had been carefully selected. Sheikh Afandi, a seventy-five-year old Sufi Muslim leader, had played the critical role in attempting to bring about reconciliation in Dagestan between jihadist Salafi Sunni Muslims and other factions, many of whom in Dagestan see themselves as followers of Sufi. With no replacement of his moral stature and respect visible, authorities fear possible outbreak of religious war in the tiny Russian autonomous republic. [1]

    The police reported that the assassin was an ethnic Russian woman who had converted to Islam and was linked to an Islamic fundamentalist or Salafist insurgency against Russia and regional governments loyal to Moscow in the autonomous republics and across the volatile Muslim-populated North Caucasus region.

    Ethnic Muslim populations in this region of Russia and of the former Soviet Union, including Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan and into China’s Xinjiang Province, have been the target of various US and NATO intelligence operations since the Cold War era ended in 1990. Washington sees manipulation of Muslim groups as the vehicle to bring uncontrollable chaos to Russia and Central Asia. It’s being carried out by some of the same organizations engaged in creating chaos and destruction inside Syria against the government of Bashar Al-Assad. In a real sense, as Russian security services clearly understand, if they don’t succeed in stopping the Jihadists insurgency in Syria, it will come home to them via the Caucasus.

    Syrian Jihadists Affiliated with Al Qaeda & Muslim Brotherhood
    The latest Salafist murders of Sufi and other moderate Muslim leaders in the Caucasus are apparently part of what is becoming ever clearer as perhaps the most dangerous US intelligence operation ever—playing globally with Muslim fundamentalism.

    Previously US and allied intelligence services had played fast and loose with religious organizations or beliefs in one or another country. What makes the present situation particularly dangerous—notably since the decision in Washington to unleash the misnamed Arab Spring upheavals that began in Tunisia late 2010, spreading like a brushfire across the entire Islamic world from Afghanistan across Central Asia to Morocco—is the incalculable wave upon wave of killing, hatreds, destruction of entire cultures that Washington has unleashed in the name of that elusive dream named “democracy.” They do this using alleged Al-Qaeda groups, Saudi Salafists or Wahhabites, or using disciples of Turkey’s Fethullah Gülen Movement to ignite fires of religious hatred within Islam and against other faiths that could take decades to extinguish. It could easily spill over into a new World War.

    Fundamentalism comes to Caucasus

    Following the dissolution of the USSR, radical Afghanistani Mujahadeen, Islamists from Saudi Arabia, from Turkey, Pakistan and other Islamic countries flooded into the Muslim regions of the former USSR. One of the best-organized of these was the Gülen Movement of Fethullah Gülen, leader of a global network of Islamic schools and reported to be the major policy influence on Turkey’s Erdogan AKP party.

    Gülen was quick to establish The International Dahgestani-Turkish College in Dagestan. During the chaotic days after the Soviet collapse, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation officially registered and permitted unfettered activity for a variety of Islamic foundations and organizations. These included the League of the Islamic World, the World Muslim Youth Assembly, the reportedly Al-Qaeda friendly Saudi foundation ‘Ibrahim ben Abd al-Aziz al-Ibrahim.’ The blacklist also included Al-Haramein a Saudi foundation reported tied to Al-Qaeda, and IHH, [2] a Turkish organization banned in Germany, that allegedly raised funds for jihadi fighters in Bosnia, Chechnya, and Afghanistan, and was charged by French intelligence of ties to Al Qaeda. [3] Many of these charities were covers for fundamentalist Salafists with their own special agenda.

    As many of the foreign Islamists in Chechnya and Dagestan were found involved in fomenting the regional unrest and civil war, Russian authorities withdrew permission of most to run schools and institutions. Throughout the North Caucasus at the time of the Chechyn war in the late 1990’s, there were more than two dozen Islamic institutes, some 200 madrassas and numerous maktabas (Koranic study schools) present at almost all mosques.

    The International Dagestani-Turkish College was one that was forced to close its doors in Dagestan. The College was run by the Fethullah Gülen organization. [4]

    At the point of the Russian crackdown on the spread of Salafist teaching inside Russia at the end of the 1990’s, there was an exodus of hundreds of young Dagestani and Chechyn Muslim students to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other places in the Middle East, reportedly to receive training with the Gülen movement and various Saudi-financed organizations, including Salafists. [5] It is believed in Russia that the students trained by Gülen supporters or Saudi and other Salafist fundamentalist centers then were sent back to Dagestan and the North Caucasus to spread their radical strain of Islam.

    By 2005 the situation in the Caucasus was so influenced by this Salafist intervention that the Chechen Salafist, Doku Umarov, cited by the UN Security Council for links to Al-Qaeda, [6] unilaterally declared creation of what he called the Caucasus Emirate, announcing he planned to establish an Islamic state under Sharia law encompassing the entire North Caucasus region including Dagestan. He modestly proclaimed himself Emir of the Caucasus Emirate. [7]

    Part II: Salafism at war with Sufi tradition

    Salafism, known in Saudi Arabia as Wahhabism, is a fundamentalist strain of Islam which drew world attention and became notorious in March 2001 just weeks before the attacks of September 11. That was when the Salafist Taliban government in Afghanistan willfully dynamited and destroyed the historic gigantic Buddhas of Bamiyan on the ancient Silk Road, religious statues dating from the 6th Century. The Taliban Salafist leaders also banned as “un-islamic” all forms of imagery, music and sports, including television, in accordance with what they considered a strict interpretation of Sharia.

    Afghani sources reported that the order to destroy the Buddhas was made by Saudi-born jihadist Wahhabite, Osama bin Laden, who ultimately convinced Mullah Omar, Taliban supreme leader at the time to execute the act. [8]

    The taller of the two Buddhas in 1963 and in 2008 after destruction by the Salafist Taliban
    While Sufis incorporate the worship of saints and theatrical ceremonial prayers into their practice, Salafis condemn as idolatry any non-traditional forms of worship. They also call for the establishment of Islamic political rule and strict Sharia law. Sufism is home to the great spiritual and musical heritage of Islam, said by Islamic scholars to be the inner, mystical, or psycho-spiritual dimension of Islam, going back centuries.

    As one Sufi scholar described the core of Sufism, “While all Muslims believe that they are on the pathway to God and will become close to God in Paradise—after death and the ‘Final Judgment’— Sufis believe as well that it is possible to become close to God and to experience this closeness—while one is alive. Furthermore, the attainment of the knowledge that comes with such intimacy with God, Sufis assert, is the very purpose of the creation. Here they mention the hadith qudsi in which God states, ‘I was a hidden treasure and I loved that I be known, so I created the creation in order to be known.’ Hence for the Sufis there is already a momentum, a continuous attraction on their hearts exerted by God, pulling them, in love, towards God.” [9]

    The mystical Islamic current of Sufism and its striving to become close to or one with God is in stark contrast to the Jihadist Salafi or Wahhabi current that is armed with deadly weapons, preaches a false doctrine of jihad, and a perverse sense of martyrdom, committing countless acts of violence. Little wonder that the victims of Salafist Jihads are mostly other pacific forms of Islam including most especially Sufis.

    The respected seventy-five year old Afandi had publicly denounced Salafist Islamic fundamentalism. His murder followed a July 19 coordinated attack on two high-ranking muftis in the Russian Volga Republic of Tatarstan. Both victims were state-approved religious leaders who had attacked radical Islam. This latest round of murders opens a new front in the Salafist war against Russia, namely attacks on moderate Sufi Muslim leaders.

    Whether or not Dagestan now descends into internal religious civil war that then spreads across the geopolitically sensitive Russian Caucasus is not yet certain. What is almost certain is that the same circles who have been feeding violence and terror inside Syria against the regime of Alawite President Bashar al-Assad are behind the killing of Sheikh Afandi as well as sparking related acts of terror or unrest across Russia’s Muslim-populated Caucasus. In a very real sense it represents Russia’s nightmare scenario of “Syria coming to Russia.” It demonstrates dramatically why Putin has made such a determined effort to stop a descent into a murderous hell in Syria.

    Salafism and the CIA

    The existence of the so-called jihadist Salafi brand of Islam in Dagestan is quite recent. It has also been deliberately imported. Salafism is sometimes also called the name of the older Saudi-centered Wahhabism. Wahhabism is a minority originally-Bedouin form of the faith originating within Islam, dominant in Saudi Arabia since the 1700’s.

    Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz of the Centre for Islamic Pluralism give the following description of Saudi conditions under the rigid Wahhabi brand of Islam:

    Saudi woman clad in the ayaba
    “Women living under Saudi rule must wear the abaya, or total body cloak, and niqab, the face veil; they have limited opportunities for schooling and careers; they are prohibited from driving vehicles; are banned from social contact with men not relatives, and all personal activity must be supervised including opening bank accounts, by a male family member or “guardian.” These Wahhabi rules are enforced by a mutawiyin, or morals militia, also known as “the religious police,” officially designated the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) who patrol Saudi cities, armed with leather-covered sticks which they freely used against those they considered wayward. They raid homes looking for alcohol and drugs, and harassed non-Wahhabi Muslims as well as believers in other faiths.” [10]

    It’s widely reported that the obscenely opulent and morally-perhaps-not-entirely-of- the-highest-standards Saudi Royal Family made a Faustian deal with Wahhabite leaders. The deal supposedly, was that the Wahhabists are free to export their fanatical brand of Islam around to the Islamic populations of the world in return for agreeing to leave the Saudi Royals alone. [11] There are, however, other dark and dirty spoons stirring the Wahhabite-Salafist Saudi stew.

    Little known is the fact that the present form of aggressive Saudi Wahhabism, in reality a kind of fusion between imported jihadi Salafists from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the fundamentalist Saudi Wahhabites. Leading Salafist members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood were introduced into the Saudi Kingdom in the 1950’s by the CIA in a complex series of events, when Nasser cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood following an assassination attempt. By the 1960’s an influx of Egyptian members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Saudi Arabia fleeing Nasserite repression, had filled many of the leading teaching posts in Saudi religious schools. One student there was a young well-to-do Saudi, Osama bin Laden. [12]

    During the Third Reich, Hitler Germany had supported the Muslim Brotherhood as a weapon against the British in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. Marc Erikson describes the Nazi roots of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood thus:

    …as Italian and German fascism sought greater stakes in the Middle East in the 1930s and ’40s to counter British and French controlling power, close collaboration between fascist agents and Islamist leaders ensued. During the 1936-39 Arab Revolt, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of German military intelligence, sent agents and money to support the Palestine uprising against the British, as did Muslim Brotherhood founder and “supreme guide” Hassan al-Banna. A key individual in the fascist-Islamist nexus and go-between for the Nazis and al-Banna became the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini. [13]

    After the defeat of Germany, British Intelligence moved in to take over control of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ultimately, for financial and other reasons, the British decided to hand their assets within the Muslim Brotherhood over to their CIA colleagues in the 1950s. [14]

    According to former US Justice Department Nazi researcher John Loftus, “during the 1950s, the CIA evacuated the Nazis of the Muslim Brotherhood to Saudi Arabia. Now, when they arrived in Saudi Arabia, some of the leading lights of the Muslim Brotherhood, like Dr Abdullah Azzam, became the teachers in the madrassas, the religious schools. And there they combined the doctrines of Nazism with this weird Islamic cult, Wahhabism.” [15]

    “Everyone thinks that Islam is this fanatical religion, but it is not,” Loftus continues. “They think that Islam—the Saudi version of Islam—is typical, but it’s not. The Wahhabi cult has been condemned as a heresy more than 60 times by the Muslim nations. But when the Saudis got wealthy, they bought a lot of silence. This is a very harsh cult. Wahhabism was only practised by the Taliban and in Saudi Arabia—that’s how extreme it is. It really has nothing to do with Islam. Islam is a very peaceful and tolerant religion. It always had good relationships with the Jews for the first thousand years of its existence.” [16]

    Loftus identified the significance of what today is emerging from the shadows to take over Egypt under Muslim Brotherhood President Morsi, and the so-called Syrian National Council, dominated in reality by the Muslim Brotherhood and publicly led by the more “politically correct” or presentable likes of Bassma Kodmani. Kodmani, foreign affairs spokesman for the SNC was twice an invited guest at the Bilderberg elite gathering, latest in Chantilly, Virginia earlier this year. [17]

    The most bizarre and alarming feature of the US-financed regime changes set into motion in 2010, which have led to the destruction of the secular Arab regime of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Muhammar Qaddafi in Libya, and the secular regime of President Ben Ali in Tunisia, and which have wreaked savage destruction across the Middle East, especially in the past eighteen months in Syria, is the pattern of emerging power grabs by representatives of the murky Salafist Muslim Brotherhood.

    By informed accounts, a Saudi-financed Sunni Islamic Muslim Brotherhood dominates the members of the exile Syrian National Council that is backed by the US State Department’s Secretary Clinton and by Hollande’s France. The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood is tied, not surprisingly to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood of President Mohammed Morsi who recently in a meeting of the Non-Aligned in Iran called openly for the removal of Syria’s Assad, a logical step if his Muslim Brothers in the present Syrian National Council are to take the reins of power. The Saudis are also rumored to have financed the ascent to power in Tunisia of the governing Islamist Ennahda Party, [18] and are documented to be financing the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Syrian National Council against President Bashar al-Assad. [19]

    Part III: Morsi’s Reign of Salafi Terror

    Indicative of the true agenda of this Muslim Brotherhood and related jihadists today is the fact that once they have power, they drop the veil of moderation and reconciliation and reveal their violently intolerant roots. This is visible in Egypt today under Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi.

    Unreported in mainstream Western media to date are alarming direct reports from Christian missionary organizations in Egypt that Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood has already begun to drop the veil of “moderation and conciliation” and show its brutal totalitarian Salafist colors, much as Khomeini’s radical Sharia forces did in Iran after taking control in 1979-81.

    In a letter distributed by the Christian Aid Mission (CAM), a Christian Egyptian missionary wrote that Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood “announced they would destroy the country if Morsi didn’t win, but they also said they will take revenge from all those who voted for [his opponent Ahmed] Shafiq, especially the Christians as they are sure we did vote for Shafiq. Yesterday they began by killing two believers in el Sharqiya because of this,” the missionary added, speaking on condition of anonymity. [20]

    This report came only weeks after Egyptian State TV (under Morsi’s control) showed ghastly video footage of a convert from Islam to Christianity being murdered by Muslims. The footage showed a young man being held down by masked men with a knife to his throat. As one man was heard chanting Muslim prayers in Arabic, mostly condemning Christianity, another man holding the knife to the Christian convert’s throat began to cut, slowly severing the head amid cries of “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is great”), according to transcripts. In the letter, the Egyptian missionary leader added that, “soon after Morsi won, Christians in upper Egypt were forcibly prevented from going to churches.” Many Muslims, the letter claimed, “also began to speak to women in the streets that they had to wear Islamic clothing including the head covering. They act as if they got the country for their own, it’s theirs now.” [21]

    Already in 2011 Morsi’s Salafist followers began attacking and destroying Sufi mosques across Egypt. According to the authoritative newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm (Today’s Egyptian), 16 historic mosques in Alexandria belonging to Sufi orders have been marked for destruction by so-called ’Salafis’. Alexandria has 40 mosques associated with Sufis, and is the headquarters for 36 Sufi groups. Half a million Sufis live in the city, out of a municipal total of four million people. Aggression against the Sufis in Egypt has included a raid on Alexandria’s most distinguished mosque, named for, and housing, the tomb of the 13th century Sufi Al-Mursi Abu’l Abbas. [22]

    Notably, the so-called “democratically elected” regime in Libya following the toppling of Mohamar Qaddafi by NATO bombs in 2011, has also been zealous in destroying Sufi mosques and places of worhip. In August this year, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova expressed “grave concern” at the destruction by Islamic Jihadists of Sufi sites in Zliten, Misrata and Tripoli and urged perpetrators to “cease the destruction immediately.” [23] Under behind-the-scenes machinations the Libyan government is dominated by Jihadists and by followers of the Muslim Brotherhood, as in Tunisia and Egypt. [24]

    The US being haunted now by the same Demons they have awoken! On the left, US Ambassador Chris Stevens is looking at the lifeless body of Libyan leader Muamar Gaddafi ; on the right, he is seen after the attack against the US Consulate in Benghazi that took his life.
    The explosive cocktail of violence inherent in allowing the rise to power of Salafist Islamists across the Middle East was clear to see, symbolically enough on the night of September 11th when a mob of angry supporters of the fanatical Salafist group, Ansar Al-Sharia, murdered the US Ambassador to Libya and three US diplomats, burning the US Consulate in Bengazi to the ground in protest over a YouTube release of a film by an American filmmaker showing the Prophet Mohammed indulging in multiple sex affairs and casting doubt on his role as God’s messenger. Ironically that US Ambassador had played a key role in toppling Qaddafi and opening the door to the Salafist takeover in Libya. At the same time angry mobs of thousands of Salafists surrounded the US Embassy in Cairo in protest to the US film. [25]

    Ansar Al-Sharia (“Partisans of Islamic law” in Arabic) reportedly is a spinoff of Al-Qaeda and claims organizations across the Middle East from Yemen to Tunisia to Iraq, Egypt and Libya. Ansar al-Sharia says it is reproducing the model of Sharia or strict Islamic law espoused by the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Islamic State of Iraq, a militant umbrella group that includes al-Qaeda in Iraq. The core of the group are jihadists who came out of an “Islamic state”, either in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s, or among jihadists in Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003. [26]

    The deliberate detonation now of a new round of Salafist fundamentalist Jihad terror inside Muslim regions of the Russian Caucasus is exquisitely timed politically to put maximum pressure at home on the government of Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

    Putin and the Russian Government are the strongest and most essential backers of the current Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, and for Russia as well the maintenance of Russia’s only Mediterranean naval base at Syria’s Tartus port is vital strategically. At the same time, Obama’s sly message to Medvedev to wait until Obama’s re-election to evaluate US intent towards Russia and Putin’s cryptic recent comment that a compromise with a re-elected President Obama might be possible, but not with a President Romney, [27] indicate that the Washington “stick-and-carrot” or hard cop-soft cop tactics with Moscow might tempt Russia to sacrifice major geopolitical alliances, perhaps even that special close and recent geopolitical alliance with China. [28] Were that to happen, the World might witness a “reset” in US-Russian relations with catastrophic consequences for world peace.

    F. William Engdahl

    [1] Dan Peleschuk, “Sheikh Murdered Over Religious Split Say Analysts,” RIA Novosti, August 30, 2012.

    [2] Mairbek Vatchagaev, “The Kremlin’s War on Islamic Education in the North Caucasus=3334],” North Caucasus Analysis Volume: 7 Issue: 34.

    [3] Iason Athanasiadis, “Targeted by Israeli raid: Who is the IHH?,” The Christian Science Monitor, June 1, 2010.

    [4] Ibid.

    [5] Mairbek Vatchagaev, op. cit.

    [6] UN Security Council, QI.U.290.11. DOKU KHAMATOVICH UMAROV, 10 March 2011. The UN statement reads: “Doku Khamatovich Umarov was listed on 10 March 2011 pursuant to paragraph 2 of resolution 1904 (2009) as being associated with Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden or the Taliban for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf of, or in support of”, “recruiting for”, “supplying, selling or transferring arms and related materiel to” and “otherwise supporting acts or activities of” the Islamic Jihad Group (QE.I.119.05), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (QE.I.10.01), Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs (RSRSBCM) (QE.R.100.03) and Emarat Kavkaz (QE.E.131.11).”

    [7] Tom Jones, “Czech NGO rejects Russian reports of link to alleged Islamist terrorists al-Qaeda,” May 10, 2011.

    [8] The Times of India, “Laden ordered Bamyan Buddha destruction,” March 28, 2006.

    [9] Dr. Alan Godlas, “Sufism — Sufis — Sufi Orders.”

    [10] Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz, “Wahhabi Internal Contradictions as Saudi Arabia Seeks Wider Gulf Leadership,” Center for Islamic Pluralism, May 21, 2012.

    [11] Ibid.

    [12] Robert Duncan, “Islamic Terrorisms Links to Nazi Fascism,” AINA, July 5, 2007.

    [13] Marc Erikson, “Islamism, fascism and terrorism (Part 2),” AsiaTimes.Online, November 8, 2002.

    [14] Ibid.

    [15] John Loftus, “The Muslim Brotherhood, Nazis and Al-Qaeda,” Jewish Community News, October 11, 2006.

    [16] Ibid.

    [17] Charlie Skelton, “The Syrian opposition: who’s doing the talking?: The media have been too passive when it comes to Syrian opposition sources, without scrutinising their backgrounds and their political connections. Time for a closer look …,” The Guardian, UK, 12 July 2012.

    [18] Aidan Lewis, “Profile: Tunisia’s Ennahda Party,” BBC News, 25 October 2011.

    [19] Hassan Hassan, “Syrians are torn between a despotic regime and a stagnant opposition: The Muslim Brotherhood’s perceived monopoly over the Syrian National Council has created an opposition stalemate,” The Guardian, UK, 23 August, 2012.

    [20] Stefan J. Bos, “Egypt Christians Killed After Election of Morsi,” Bosnewslife, June 30, 2012.

    [21] Ibid.

    [22] Irfan Al-Alawi, “Egyptian Muslim Fundamentalists Attack Sufis,” Guardian Online [London], April 11, 2011.

    [23] Yafiah Katherine Randall, “UNESCO urges Libya to stop destruction of Sufi sites,” Sufi News and Sufism World Report, August 31, 2012.

    [24] Jamie Dettmer, Libya elections: Muslim Brotherhood set to lead government, The Telegraph, London, 5 July, 2012.

    [25] Luke Harding, Chris Stephen, Chris Stevens, “US ambassador to Libya, killed in Benghazi attack: Ambassador and three other American embassy staff killed after Islamist militants fired rockets at their car, say Libyan officials,” The Guardian (London), 12 September 2012.

    [26] Murad Batal al-Shishani, “Profile: Ansar al-Sharia in Yemen,” BBC, 8 March 2012.

    [27] David M. Herszenhorn, Putin Says Missile Deal Is More Likely With Obama, The New York Times, September 6, 2012. According to an interview Putin gave on Moscow’s state-owned RT TV, Herszenhorn reports, “Mr. Putin said he believed that if Mr. Obama is re-elected in November, a compromise could be reached on the contentious issue of American plans for a missile defense system in Europe, which Russia has strongly opposed. On the other hand, Mr. Putin said, if Mr. Romney becomes president, Moscow’s fears about the missile system — that it is, despite American assurances, actually directed against Russia — would almost certainly prove true.
    “Is it possible to find a solution to the problem, if current President Obama is re-elected for a second term? Theoretically, yes,” Mr. Putin said, according to the official transcript posted on the Kremlin’s Web site. “But this isn’t just about President Obama. “For all I know, his desire to work out a solution is quite sincere,” Mr. Putin continued. “I met him recently on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, where we had a chance to talk. And though we talked mostly about Syria, I could still take stock of my counterpart. My feeling is that he is a very honest man, and that he sincerely wants to make many good changes. But can he do it? Will they let him do it?”

    [28] M.K. Bhadrakumar, “Calling the China-Russia split isn’t heresy,” Asia Times, September 5, 2012.


  18. The maelstrom of anti-western violence in the Arab world has little to do with an anti-Islam propaganda film released on YouTube.

    It has more to do with decades of perceived western imperialism – and the organisational skills of the Salafis, known for their no-compromise, literal interpretation of the faith.

    Such rightwing Islamists were wrongfooted by the Arab spring. For years, the jihadis and Salafis thought they had a monopoly on revolution and were the only viable opposition to the Arab dictators.

    When the regimes were threatened by popular uprisings, the Salafis took weeks and months to respond. In Libya they initially called for the demonstrators to support the ruler of the land, Muammar Gaddafi. As it became clear that the revolutions would not instantly deliver the brighter future people had marched for, the Salafis began to use that discontent to their advantage.

    They are brilliant at agitating on the streets – working on the unemployed, the frustrated, people who feel life should be better. In Tunis, the Salafi agitation began months before the propaganda film – the Innocence of Muslims – surfaced. They attacked cinemas, secularists and artists. In Bahrain and Syria they worked along sectarian lines, and in Egypt they launched vicious confrontations with the Coptic Christians.

    In Libya, the Salafis have been systematically burning Sufi shrines and trashing Christian cemeteries,


  19. Excellent article Abdul Bhai !!
    You have covered every aspect of this and everyone should read this in the United States.

  20. A slap on Quilliam! “A spokesman for Prez Obama said no evidence the attack that killed US amb. Libya was pre-planned” http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/09/14/usa-libya-plot-idINL1E8KEFIF20120914http://t.co/GGuTUWVU

    Question is: Why did Quilliam and other Western/Saudi funded think tanks and media analysts tried to mislead & distort the Salafists’ attack

    The answer lies in two facts: (1) existence of powerful Saudi propaganda lobby in Western media, think tanks & politicians.

    (2) The ongoing cooperation between USA/UK and Saudi Arabia to use Salafist militants to weaken & remove hostile regimes.

    Conclusion: Not unlike Pakistani media & analysts, Western media & analysts too can’t be trusted. Some are plain dishonest, others naive.

  21. Glen Greenwald made similar points about the role of US funding, although with far less detail:


    Even in Libya, where it’s certainly true that many Libyans are happy about the Nato intervention, this bafflement is misplaced. It’s always the case that some portion of the populace of an invaded nation will be happy about even the most unjustified invasions: that the Kurds are thrilled by the Iraq war is a fact still cited by Iraq war advocates as proof of the war’s justness and wisdom.

    But it’s also the case that such invasions produce extreme anger, as well: among the families of those killed by the invading forces, or who suffer from the resulting lawlessness and instability. Combine that with the fact that it was repeatedly noted that US involvement in Libya meant that anti-US extremists, including al-Qaida, were being armed and empowered by the US, it is far from mystifying, as Secretary Clinton insisted, that some people in Libya are deeply hostile to the US and want to do it harm.

    In the same report, Engel also spent several moments explaining that the primary reason these Muslims have such animosity toward the US is because their heads have been filled for years with crazy conspiracy theories about how the US and Israel are responsible for their woes. These conspiracies, he said, were fed to them by their dictators to distract attention from their own corruption.

    Let’s leave aside the irony of the American media decrying crazy “conspiracy theories” in other countries, when it is the US that attacked another country based on nonexistent weapons and fabricated secret alliances with al-Qaida. One should acknowledge that there is some truth to Engel’s claim that the region’s tyrants fueled citizen rage toward the US and Israel as a means of distracting from their own failings and corruption.

    But to act as though Muslim anger toward the US and Israel is primarily the by-product of crazy conspiracy theories is itself a crazy conspiracy theory. It’s in the world of reality, not conspiracy, where the US and Israel have continuously brought extreme amounts of violence to the Muslim world, routinely killing their innocent men, women and children. Listening to Engel, one would never know about tiny little matters like the bombing of Gaza and Lebanon, the almost five-decade long oppression of Palestinians, the widely hated, child-killing drone campaign, or the attack on Iraq.

    And it’s in the world of reality, not conspiracy, where the US really has continuously interfered in their countries’ governance by propping up and supporting their dictators. Intense Muslim animosity toward the US, including in Egypt, long pre-dates this film, and the reasons aren’t hard to discern. That’s precisely why the US supported tyranny in these countries for so long: to ensure that the citizens’ views, so contrary to US policy, would be suppressed and rendered irrelevant.

    It doesn’t take a propagandized populace to be angry at the US for such actions. It takes a propagandized populace to be shocked at that anger and to view it with bafflement and resentment on the ground that they should, instead, be grateful because we “freed” them.

    But to see why exactly such a propagandized populace exists in the US and has been led to believe such myth and conspiracies, simply read that USA Today article or watch the NBC News report on these protests as they convince Americans that gratitude, rather than resentment, should be the sentiment people in that region feel toward the US.

  22. LUBP was the first one to write on this angle. We are glad that at least a few other scholars support this narrative.

    The latest is Robert who says hello to Quilliam & Majid Nawaz: “The US media has already invented a new story in which America supported the Arab Spring” (Remember Quilliam’s press release thanking NATO and USA for their excellent work in Libya?)

    Fisk supports LUBP narrative on US ambassador’s in Libya. ‘If you feed a scorpion, it will bite you’.” US was attacked by its own allies!

    Quilliam & other sycophants who are hiding US’s support to Salafis in Libya, Syria, Egypt are doing a major disservice to both US & Muslims.


    Robert Fisk: Al-Qa’ida cashes in as the scorpion gets in among the good guys

    A Damascus friend of mine called this weekend and was pretty chipper. “You know, we’re all sorry about Christopher Stevens. This kind of thing is terrible and he was a good friend to Syria – he understood the Arabs.” I let him get away with this, though I knew what was coming. “But we have an expression in Syria: ‘If you feed a scorpion, it will bite you’.” His message couldn’t have been clearer.
    The United States supported the opposition against Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi, helped Saudi Arabia and Qatar pour cash and weapons to the militias and had now reaped the whirlwind. America’s Libyan “friends” had turned against them, murdered US ambassador Stevens and his colleagues in Benghazi and started an al-Qa’ida-led anti-American protest movement that had consumed the Muslim world.

    The US had fed the al-Qa’ida scorpion and now it had bitten America. And so Washington now supports the opposition against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, was helping Saudi Arabia and Qatar pour cash and weapons to the militias (including Salafists and al-Qa’ida) and would, inevitably, be bitten by the same “scorpion” if Assad was overthrown.

    My friend’s sermon was not quite in line with Syrian government policy. Assad’s argument is that Syria is not Libya, and that Syrians, with their history, culture, love of Arabism, etc, did not want a revolution. But the Arab fury at Hollywood’s obscene little anti-prophet video has occasioned almost as much rewriting of history in the West.

    The US media has already invented a new story in which America supported the Arab Spring saved the city of Benghazi when its people were about to be destroyed by Gaddafi’s monstrous thugs – and has now been stabbed in the back by those treacherous Arabs in the very city rescued by the US.

    The real narrative, however, is different. Washington propped up and armed Arab dictatorships for decades, Saddam being one of our favourites. We loved Mubarak of Egypt, we adored Ben Ali of Tunisia, we are still passionately in love with the autocratic Gulf states, the gas stations now bankrolling the revolutions we choose to support – and we did, for at least two decades, smile upon Hafez al-Assad; even, briefly, his son Bashar.

    So we saved Benghazi with our air power and expected the Arab world to love us. We ignored the composition of the Libyan militias we supported – just as Clinton and Hague don’t dwell on the make-up of the Free Syrian Army today. We pay no attention to Assad’s warnings of “foreign fighters”, just as we largely ignored the Salafists who were moving among the brave men who fought Gaddafi.

    Go back further, and we did pretty much the same in Afghanistan after 1980. We backed the mujahedin against the Soviets without paying attention to their theology and we used Pakistan to funnel weapons to these men. And when some of them transmogrified into the Taliban and nurtured Osama bin Laden and the scorpion bit on 9/11, we cried “terrorism” and wondered why the Afghans “betrayed” us. Same story yesterday, when four US Special Forces were murdered by their ungrateful Afghan police “trainees”.

    The tragedy of this pathetic cycle of events is that the Assad regime is horrible and its secret police thugs have tortured and murdered thousands of innocents, its personnel have committed war crimes and Syria’s civil war is consuming a generation who should be building a nation rather than destroying it. And Turkey has now taken on Pakistan’s role as an arms funnel and rest-and-recreation centre for Syria’s mujahedin. Will Turkey turn out to be the Pakistan of the Middle East?

    Syria’s war is now taking on the carapace of Lebanon’s 1975-90 conflict: sympathise with Palestinians and you were anti-Christian – express Christian fears and you were pro-Israeli. In Syria, the government’s brutal snipers are killers of children. On the other side of the front line, the Free Syrian Army sniper is romantic; he gets married to a frontline nurse, only too sorry the family can’t attend their nuptials. The mere suggestion that the opposition might be committing the occasional atrocity, and a reporter is asked – as I was – how much he is being paid by the Syrian mukhabarat intelligence service.

    So over to the Department of Home Truths. When he was murdered, Osama bin Laden was a has-been. No Arab revolutionary carried his picture. But this wretched organisation has now decided to cash in. Hence this weekend’s al-Qa’ida call to Egyptians to continue their protests against the anti-Muslim video. Hence Benghazi. The scorpion has got in among the good guys. All you need then is a Hollywood crackpot. And a bit of hypocrisy. For Washington reluctantly says it can’t ban the video since this would endanger free speech – the same free speech which America’s dictators forbad their Arab people for so many decades.


  23. The dangerous U.S. double standard on Islamic extremism

    By Justin Gengler

    Monday, September 17, 2012 – 12:48 PM

    The death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other U.S. officials in Libya last Wednesday should serve to draw much-needed attention to an increasingly untenable contradiction in U.S. policy toward the Middle East. Even while it seeks to recover from this latest attack by Islamic radicals, the United States continues to support or tolerate the mobilization of adherents of that very same ideology elsewhere in the region, most clearly in Syria and in Bahrain. There, U.S. policymakers should expect equally frightening results.

    The attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was carried out by suspected members of Ansar al-Sharia, or Partisans of Islamic Law, a group adhering to the same Salafi (or Wahhabi) religious interpretation more commonly associated with Saudi Arabia. And while the popular anti-American protests that have continued to spread across the region cannot be painted with a single brushstroke, and doubtless have roots in local political grievances, still one feature they share is the conspicuous presence — and organizational power — of Sunni Islamists.

    When demonstrators in Cairo and Sanaa succeeded in gaining entry into their respective U.S. embassies, in each case they replaced the U.S. flag with a black pennant bearing in white the Muslim profession of faith: “There is no God but God, and Muhammad is the Prophet of God.” The banners, which U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland downplayed disingenuously as a “plain, black flag,” should by now be familiar enough to administration officials. It is the same one adopted by other Salafi extremists, including those belonging to al Qaeda and its regional affiliates, from Mali to Yemen. Not coincidentally, it has made an appearance in each of the mass protests witnessed thus far — in Benghazi, in Tunis, in Khartoum, and even in Doha.

    That the Obama administration would fail to acknowledge the flag’s overt symbolism is indicative of an uncomfortable yet enduring truth about U.S. policy in the Middle East: that the United States’ enemies in one country are its allies of convenience in another. Even as it reels from the first death of a sitting ambassador in more than two decades, the United States continues to supply logistical and other “command-and-control” support to rebels in Syria, while Gulf allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar pour in money and arms. Of little or insufficient concern, apparently, is the nature of those being empowered, or the broader ideological forces underlying their struggle.

    While the Free Syrian Army is famously far from homogeneous, prominent among its factions are armed Salafi groups not unlike Libya’s Ansar al-Sharia. Indeed, local newspapers in Yemen have reported that members of the country’s own militant organization of the same name have recently left Yemen to join in the fight in Syria. In early August four members, including the deputy head, of Bahrain’s Salafi parliamentary bloc, al-Asalah, traveled to Syria to break bread with their counterparts in the Free Syrian Army, boasting on Twitter of their support — ideological and monetary — for “the falcons of al-Sham [the Levant or Damascus]” in their fight against “the hated Safavids,” i.e., Allawi Shiites. Upon their return to Bahrain, the members of parliament (MPs) took up a new cause, leading the charge against a planned new Catholic church, which one al-Asalah legislator insisted, “cannot be built in the Arabian peninsula … [which is] the domain of Muslims.”

    Notwithstanding the willingness of such groups to coordinate with the United States temporarily in Syria, therefore, one should harbor no illusions about their political and religious orientations, and what these mean for U.S. interests in places where this dubious alliance does and will not operate. As seen in the sectarian language quoted above, one common feature of the Salafi current is a distinct lack of religious tolerance, especially for Shiite Muslims viewed as both religious and, on account of their presumed allegiance to Iran, political heretics. More than doctrine per se, such an understanding reflects the self-serving interpretation of Salafism’s ideational and monetary patron Saudi Arabia, locked in its own competition for regional dominance with the Islamic Republic. With the help of Saudi-sponsored media, religious institutions, and training for a new generation of clerics, anti-Shiite sentiment and violence has appeared with alarming frequency across the Muslim world, from the Arabian Peninsula and the Levant to less likely places such as Kashmir, Pakistan, and Indonesia.

    Importantly, this sectarian religious-cum-political agenda has proved useful in mobilizing Sunni citizens not only against their Shiite co-nationals, but against any individual or government seen as complicit in their ostensible quest for societal domination. Nowhere has this been on greater display than in Saudi Arabia’s tiny Shiite-majority neighbor, Bahrain. To counter the force of its popular uprising begun in February 2011 by Shiite and secular opponents, the government of Bahrain has exploited — even cultivated — the fears and suspicions of other citizens, in particular those of its traditional Sunni support base. Afraid of what the state has successfully portrayed as an Iranian-backed conspiracy to install a Shiite theocracy in Bahrain, many Sunnis have organized not only in opposition to Shiite activists as imagined fifth column, but in opposition to anyone who would dare suggest political compromise with them and their longstanding demands for constitutional reform, whether the U.S. State Department or the Bahraini king.

    Orchestrated by security-oriented members of Bahrain’s ruling Al Khalifa family with the backing of like-minded leaders in Saudi Arabia, the mobilization of Bahraini Sunnis has emerged as the most effective weapon in their campaign to prevent a negotiated political settlement of the country’s now 18 month-old crisis. One consistent element of this effort has been the demonization of Western, and particularly U.S., “interference” in Bahrain’s internal affairs, despite the countries’ long history of politico-military cooperation and Bahrain’s hosting of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

    At the height of mass demonstrations in March 2011, pro-government Salafis singled out a political affairs officer at the U.S. embassy in Manama for his supposed links to, and sympathies for, opposition activists. (He was also, they reported, Jewish.) His photo, address, and other personal details, along with those of his family, were distributed online and via mass text messages. After several days under tight diplomatic security, the officer was quietly sent home to Washington for a “routine” service rotation.

    Throughout the spring and early summer, as U.S. diplomats were pressing for a resumption of substantive government-opposition negotiations, Al Khalifa conservatives continued their media campaign against purported U.S. subterfuge in Bahrain. The vitriol culminated in a two week-long series of articles titled “Ayatollah Obama and Bahrain” published in a hard-line newspaper sponsored by the Royal Court. The author, who has since been made editor-in-chief of the publication, portrayed a U.S. president acting against Bahrain not merely out of his country’s strategic interests, but due to personal ideological sympathies for Shiites. The articles stopped only after official complaint by the U.S. embassy.

    Later in July, Bahrain’s defense minister (and, not incidentally, brother of the royal court minister) gave an interview to Egypt’s Al-Ahram, in which he accused the United States of no less than conspiring to organize, along with Iran, the entire February uprising. He repeated these claims in February 2012, telling a local Bahraini daily that the “coup attempt” was supported by 22 different non-governmental organizations (NGOs) “managed and funded by the U.S. and a[n unnamed] Gulf state.” Not long after, the official Bahrain News Agency reported a meeting between the defense minister and U.S. Ambassador Thomas Krajeski, presumably to discuss the former’s interesting interpretation of events.

    Yet the anti-Western and anti-American onslaught has intensified rather than subsided. Only two months ago, Salafi and Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated lawmakers agitated for the replacement of Krajeski along with the declaration of U.S. Assistant Sectary of State Michael Posner, who has been dispatched frequently to Bahrain in the wake of the uprising, as persona non grata. Krajeski, according to one Salafi MP who is among those who would later travel to Syria:

    is demanding the empowerment of [the opposition] under the guise of democracy and human rights. … The ambassador has since his appointment been particularly active in putting pressure on Bahrain and on threatening and blackmailing the country. His meetings with the opposition do not stop and the U.S. interference in our affairs has reached unprecedented levels.

    Nonetheless, the United States remains seemingly unwilling to ruffle feathers either in Manama or Riyadh by demanding an end to this state-sponsored mobilization of ordinary Sunnis. And in the absence of effective pressure to do otherwise, both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have now doubled down on their shared sectarian political strategy, relying on near-hysterical fear of foreign-aided Shiite empowerment to preclude the emergence of larger, cross-cutting, and ultimately much more dangerous oppositions organized around grievances shared by all segments of society: problems such as corruption, unequal development, and the lack of political accountability. The result is a social and political climate that not only features unprecedented polarization, but that presents a grave threat to U.S. interests — both political and physical — in the region.

    The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, brought to the fore uncomfortable questions about the sources of violent Islamic extremism, and about the United States’ unwitting support for the latter through continued patronage of those who help sow the seeds of this mindset. One hopes that these uncomfortable questions will now be revisited, and to greater substantive effect, when on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11 there should occur yet another act of political violence committed by individuals associated with that very same ideology.

    Justin Gengler recently received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan. He now works for the Social and Economic Survey Research Institute in Doha.


    Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?
    by Seymour M. Hersh
    MARCH 5, 2007

    Efforts to curb Iran’s influence have involved the United States in worsening Sunni-Shiite tensions.

    In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The “redirection,” as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.
    To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
    One contradictory aspect of the new strategy is that, in Iraq, most of the insurgent violence directed at the American military has come from Sunni forces, and not from Shiites. But, from the Administration’s perspective, the most profound—and unintended—strategic consequence of the Iraq war is the empowerment of Iran. Its President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has made defiant pronouncements about the destruction of Israel and his country’s right to pursue its nuclear program, and last week its supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on state television that “realities in the region show that the arrogant front, headed by the U.S. and its allies, will be the principal loser in the region.”
    After the revolution of 1979 brought a religious government to power, the United States broke with Iran and cultivated closer relations with the leaders of Sunni Arab states such as Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. That calculation became more complex after the September 11th attacks, especially with regard to the Saudis. Al Qaeda is Sunni, and many of its operatives came from extremist religious circles inside Saudi Arabia. Before the invasion of Iraq, in 2003, Administration officials, influenced by neoconservative ideologues, assumed that a Shiite government there could provide a pro-American balance to Sunni extremists, since Iraq’s Shiite majority had been oppressed under Saddam Hussein. They ignored warnings from the intelligence community about the ties between Iraqi Shiite leaders and Iran, where some had lived in exile for years. Now, to the distress of the White House, Iran has forged a close relationship with the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
    The new American policy, in its broad outlines, has been discussed publicly. In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that there is “a new strategic alignment in the Middle East,” separating “reformers” and “extremists”; she pointed to the Sunni states as centers of moderation, and said that Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah were “on the other side of that divide.” (Syria’s Sunni majority is dominated by the Alawi sect.) Iran and Syria, she said, “have made their choice and their choice is to destabilize.”
    Some of the core tactics of the redirection are not public, however. The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said.
    A senior member of the House Appropriations Committee told me that he had heard about the new strategy, but felt that he and his colleagues had not been adequately briefed. “We haven’t got any of this,” he said. “We ask for anything going on, and they say there’s nothing. And when we ask specific questions they say, ‘We’re going to get back to you.’ It’s so frustrating.”
    The key players behind the redirection are Vice-President Dick Cheney, the deputy national-security adviser Elliott Abrams, the departing Ambassador to Iraq (and nominee for United Nations Ambassador), Zalmay Khalilzad, and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national-security adviser. While Rice has been deeply involved in shaping the public policy, former and current officials said that the clandestine side has been guided by Cheney. (Cheney’s office and the White House declined to comment for this story; the Pentagon did not respond to specific queries but said, “The United States is not planning to go to war with Iran.”)
    The policy shift has brought Saudi Arabia and Israel into a new strategic embrace, largely because both countries see Iran as an existential threat. They have been involved in direct talks, and the Saudis, who believe that greater stability in Israel and Palestine will give Iran less leverage in the region, have become more involved in Arab-Israeli negotiations.
    The new strategy “is a major shift in American policy—it’s a sea change,” a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said. The Sunni states “were petrified of a Shiite resurgence, and there was growing resentment with our gambling on the moderate Shiites in Iraq,” he said. “We cannot reverse the Shiite gain in Iraq, but we can contain it.”
    “It seems there has been a debate inside the government over what’s the biggest danger—Iran or Sunni radicals,” Vali Nasr, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who has written widely on Shiites, Iran, and Iraq, told me. “The Saudis and some in the Administration have been arguing that the biggest threat is Iran and the Sunni radicals are the lesser enemies. This is a victory for the Saudi line.”
    Martin Indyk, a senior State Department official in the Clinton Administration who also served as Ambassador to Israel, said that “the Middle East is heading into a serious Sunni-Shiite Cold War.” Indyk, who is the director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, added that, in his opinion, it was not clear whether the White House was fully aware of the strategic implications of its new policy. “The White House is not just doubling the bet in Iraq,” he said. “It’s doubling the bet across the region. This could get very complicated. Everything is upside down.”
    The Administration’s new policy for containing Iran seems to complicate its strategy for winning the war in Iraq. Patrick Clawson, an expert on Iran and the deputy director for research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, argued, however, that closer ties between the United States and moderate or even radical Sunnis could put “fear” into the government of Prime Minister Maliki and “make him worry that the Sunnis could actually win” the civil war there. Clawson said that this might give Maliki an incentive to coöperate with the United States in suppressing radical Shiite militias, such as Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.
    Even so, for the moment, the U.S. remains dependent on the coöperation of Iraqi Shiite leaders. The Mahdi Army may be openly hostile to American interests, but other Shiite militias are counted as U.S. allies. Both Moqtada al-Sadr and the White House back Maliki. A memorandum written late last year by Stephen Hadley, the national-security adviser, suggested that the Administration try to separate Maliki from his more radical Shiite allies by building his base among moderate Sunnis and Kurds, but so far the trends have been in the opposite direction. As the Iraqi Army continues to founder in its confrontations with insurgents, the power of the Shiite militias has steadily increased.
    Flynt Leverett, a former Bush Administration National Security Council official, told me that “there is nothing coincidental or ironic” about the new strategy with regard to Iraq. “The Administration is trying to make a case that Iran is more dangerous and more provocative than the Sunni insurgents to American interests in Iraq, when—if you look at the actual casualty numbers—the punishment inflicted on America by the Sunnis is greater by an order of magnitude,” Leverett said. “This is all part of the campaign of provocative steps to increase the pressure on Iran. The idea is that at some point the Iranians will respond and then the Administration will have an open door to strike at them.”
    President George W. Bush, in a speech on January 10th, partially spelled out this approach. “These two regimes”—Iran and Syria—“are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq,” Bush said. “Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We’ll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.”
    In the following weeks, there was a wave of allegations from the Administration about Iranian involvement in the Iraq war. On February 11th, reporters were shown sophisticated explosive devices, captured in Iraq, that the Administration claimed had come from Iran. The Administration’s message was, in essence, that the bleak situation in Iraq was the result not of its own failures of planning and execution but of Iran’s interference.
    The U.S. military also has arrested and interrogated hundreds of Iranians in Iraq. “The word went out last August for the military to snatch as many Iranians in Iraq as they can,” a former senior intelligence official said. “They had five hundred locked up at one time. We’re working these guys and getting information from them. The White House goal is to build a case that the Iranians have been fomenting the insurgency and they’ve been doing it all along—that Iran is, in fact, supporting the killing of Americans.” The Pentagon consultant confirmed that hundreds of Iranians have been captured by American forces in recent months. But he told me that that total includes many Iranian humanitarian and aid workers who “get scooped up and released in a short time,” after they have been interrogated.
    “We are not planning for a war with Iran,” Robert Gates, the new Defense Secretary, announced on February 2nd, and yet the atmosphere of confrontation has deepened. According to current and former American intelligence and military officials, secret operations in Lebanon have been accompanied by clandestine operations targeting Iran. American military and special-operations teams have escalated their activities in Iran to gather intelligence and, according to a Pentagon consultant on terrorism and the former senior intelligence official, have also crossed the border in pursuit of Iranian operatives from Iraq.
    At Rice’s Senate appearance in January, Democratic Senator Joseph Biden, of Delaware, pointedly asked her whether the U.S. planned to cross the Iranian or the Syrian border in the course of a pursuit. “Obviously, the President isn’t going to rule anything out to protect our troops, but the plan is to take down these networks in Iraq,” Rice said, adding, “I do think that everyone will understand that—the American people and I assume the Congress expect the President to do what is necessary to protect our forces.”
    The ambiguity of Rice’s reply prompted a response from Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican, who has been critical of the Administration:

    Some of us remember 1970, Madam Secretary. And that was Cambodia. And when our government lied to the American people and said, “We didn’t cross the border going into Cambodia,” in fact we did.
    I happen to know something about that, as do some on this committee. So, Madam Secretary, when you set in motion the kind of policy that the President is talking about here, it’s very, very dangerous.

    The Administration’s concern about Iran’s role in Iraq is coupled with its long-standing alarm over Iran’s nuclear program. On Fox News on January 14th, Cheney warned of the possibility, in a few years, “of a nuclear-armed Iran, astride the world’s supply of oil, able to affect adversely the global economy, prepared to use terrorist organizations and/or their nuclear weapons to threaten their neighbors and others around the world.” He also said, “If you go and talk with the Gulf states or if you talk with the Saudis or if you talk with the Israelis or the Jordanians, the entire region is worried. . . . The threat Iran represents is growing.”
    The Administration is now examining a wave of new intelligence on Iran’s weapons programs. Current and former American officials told me that the intelligence, which came from Israeli agents operating in Iran, includes a claim that Iran has developed a three-stage solid-fuelled intercontinental missile capable of delivering several small warheads—each with limited accuracy—inside Europe. The validity of this human intelligence is still being debated.
    A similar argument about an imminent threat posed by weapons of mass destruction—and questions about the intelligence used to make that case—formed the prelude to the invasion of Iraq. Many in Congress have greeted the claims about Iran with wariness; in the Senate on February 14th, Hillary Clinton said, “We have all learned lessons from the conflict in Iraq, and we have to apply those lessons to any allegations that are being raised about Iran. Because, Mr. President, what we are hearing has too familiar a ring and we must be on guard that we never again make decisions on the basis of intelligence that turns out to be faulty.”
    Still, the Pentagon is continuing intensive planning for a possible bombing attack on Iran, a process that began last year, at the direction of the President. In recent months, the former intelligence official told me, a special planning group has been established in the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, charged with creating a contingency bombing plan for Iran that can be implemented, upon orders from the President, within twenty-four hours.
    In the past month, I was told by an Air Force adviser on targeting and the Pentagon consultant on terrorism, the Iran planning group has been handed a new assignment: to identify targets in Iran that may be involved in supplying or aiding militants in Iraq. Previously, the focus had been on the destruction of Iran’s nuclear facilities and possible regime change.
    Two carrier strike groups—the Eisenhower and the Stennis—are now in the Arabian Sea. One plan is for them to be relieved early in the spring, but there is worry within the military that they may be ordered to stay in the area after the new carriers arrive, according to several sources. (Among other concerns, war games have shown that the carriers could be vulnerable to swarming tactics involving large numbers of small boats, a technique that the Iranians have practiced in the past; carriers have limited maneuverability in the narrow Strait of Hormuz, off Iran’s southern coast.) The former senior intelligence official said that the current contingency plans allow for an attack order this spring. He added, however, that senior officers on the Joint Chiefs were counting on the White House’s not being “foolish enough to do this in the face of Iraq, and the problems it would give the Republicans in 2008.”


    The Administration’s effort to diminish Iranian authority in the Middle East has relied heavily on Saudi Arabia and on Prince Bandar, the Saudi national-security adviser. Bandar served as the Ambassador to the United States for twenty-two years, until 2005, and has maintained a friendship with President Bush and Vice-President Cheney. In his new post, he continues to meet privately with them. Senior White House officials have made several visits to Saudi Arabia recently, some of them not disclosed.
    Last November, Cheney flew to Saudi Arabia for a surprise meeting with King Abdullah and Bandar. The Times reported that the King warned Cheney that Saudi Arabia would back its fellow-Sunnis in Iraq if the United States were to withdraw. A European intelligence official told me that the meeting also focussed on more general Saudi fears about “the rise of the Shiites.” In response, “The Saudis are starting to use their leverage—money.”
    In a royal family rife with competition, Bandar has, over the years, built a power base that relies largely on his close relationship with the U.S., which is crucial to the Saudis. Bandar was succeeded as Ambassador by Prince Turki al-Faisal; Turki resigned after eighteen months and was replaced by Adel A. al-Jubeir, a bureaucrat who has worked with Bandar. A former Saudi diplomat told me that during Turki’s tenure he became aware of private meetings involving Bandar and senior White House officials, including Cheney and Abrams. “I assume Turki was not happy with that,” the Saudi said. But, he added, “I don’t think that Bandar is going off on his own.” Although Turki dislikes Bandar, the Saudi said, he shared his goal of challenging the spread of Shiite power in the Middle East.
    The split between Shiites and Sunnis goes back to a bitter divide, in the seventh century, over who should succeed the Prophet Muhammad. Sunnis dominated the medieval caliphate and the Ottoman Empire, and Shiites, traditionally, have been regarded more as outsiders. Worldwide, ninety per cent of Muslims are Sunni, but Shiites are a majority in Iran, Iraq, and Bahrain, and are the largest Muslim group in Lebanon. Their concentration in a volatile, oil-rich region has led to concern in the West and among Sunnis about the emergence of a “Shiite crescent”—especially given Iran’s increased geopolitical weight.
    “The Saudis still see the world through the days of the Ottoman Empire, when Sunni Muslims ruled the roost and the Shiites were the lowest class,” Frederic Hof, a retired military officer who is an expert on the Middle East, told me. If Bandar was seen as bringing about a shift in U.S. policy in favor of the Sunnis, he added, it would greatly enhance his standing within the royal family.
    The Saudis are driven by their fear that Iran could tilt the balance of power not only in the region but within their own country. Saudi Arabia has a significant Shiite minority in its Eastern Province, a region of major oil fields; sectarian tensions are high in the province. The royal family believes that Iranian operatives, working with local Shiites, have been behind many terrorist attacks inside the kingdom, according to Vali Nasr. “Today, the only army capable of containing Iran”—the Iraqi Army—“has been destroyed by the United States. You’re now dealing with an Iran that could be nuclear-capable and has a standing army of four hundred and fifty thousand soldiers.” (Saudi Arabia has seventy-five thousand troops in its standing army.)
    Nasr went on, “The Saudis have considerable financial means, and have deep relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis”—Sunni extremists who view Shiites as apostates. “The last time Iran was a threat, the Saudis were able to mobilize the worst kinds of Islamic radicals. Once you get them out of the box, you can’t put them back.”
    The Saudi royal family has been, by turns, both a sponsor and a target of Sunni extremists, who object to the corruption and decadence among the family’s myriad princes. The princes are gambling that they will not be overthrown as long as they continue to support religious schools and charities linked to the extremists. The Administration’s new strategy is heavily dependent on this bargain.
    Nasr compared the current situation to the period in which Al Qaeda first emerged. In the nineteen-eighties and the early nineties, the Saudi government offered to subsidize the covert American C.I.A. proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Hundreds of young Saudis were sent into the border areas of Pakistan, where they set up religious schools, training bases, and recruiting facilities. Then, as now, many of the operatives who were paid with Saudi money were Salafis. Among them, of course, were Osama bin Laden and his associates, who founded Al Qaeda, in 1988.
    This time, the U.S. government consultant told me, Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”
    The Saudi said that, in his country’s view, it was taking a political risk by joining the U.S. in challenging Iran: Bandar is already seen in the Arab world as being too close to the Bush Administration. “We have two nightmares,” the former diplomat told me. “For Iran to acquire the bomb and for the United States to attack Iran. I’d rather the Israelis bomb the Iranians, so we can blame them. If America does it, we will be blamed.”
    In the past year, the Saudis, the Israelis, and the Bush Administration have developed a series of informal understandings about their new strategic direction. At least four main elements were involved, the U.S. government consultant told me. First, Israel would be assured that its security was paramount and that Washington and Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states shared its concern about Iran.
    Second, the Saudis would urge Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian party that has received support from Iran, to curtail its anti-Israeli aggression and to begin serious talks about sharing leadership with Fatah, the more secular Palestinian group. (In February, the Saudis brokered a deal at Mecca between the two factions. However, Israel and the U.S. have expressed dissatisfaction with the terms.)
    The third component was that the Bush Administration would work directly with Sunni nations to counteract Shiite ascendance in the region.
    Fourth, the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations. Syria is a major conduit of arms to Hezbollah. The Saudi government is also at odds with the Syrians over the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister, in Beirut in 2005, for which it believes the Assad government was responsible. Hariri, a billionaire Sunni, was closely associated with the Saudi regime and with Prince Bandar. (A U.N. inquiry strongly suggested that the Syrians were involved, but offered no direct evidence; there are plans for another investigation, by an international tribunal.)
    Patrick Clawson, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, depicted the Saudis’ coöperation with the White House as a significant breakthrough. “The Saudis understand that if they want the Administration to make a more generous political offer to the Palestinians they have to persuade the Arab states to make a more generous offer to the Israelis,” Clawson told me. The new diplomatic approach, he added, “shows a real degree of effort and sophistication as well as a deftness of touch not always associated with this Administration. Who’s running the greater risk—we or the Saudis? At a time when America’s standing in the Middle East is extremely low, the Saudis are actually embracing us. We should count our blessings.”
    The Pentagon consultant had a different view. He said that the Administration had turned to Bandar as a “fallback,” because it had realized that the failing war in Iraq could leave the Middle East “up for grabs.”


    The focus of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, after Iran, is Lebanon, where the Saudis have been deeply involved in efforts by the Administration to support the Lebanese government. Prime Minister Fouad Siniora is struggling to stay in power against a persistent opposition led by Hezbollah, the Shiite organization, and its leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. Hezbollah has an extensive infrastructure, an estimated two to three thousand active fighters, and thousands of additional members.
    Hezbollah has been on the State Department’s terrorist list since 1997. The organization has been implicated in the 1983 bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut that killed two hundred and forty-one military men. It has also been accused of complicity in the kidnapping of Americans, including the C.I.A. station chief in Lebanon, who died in captivity, and a Marine colonel serving on a U.N. peacekeeping mission, who was killed. (Nasrallah has denied that the group was involved in these incidents.) Nasrallah is seen by many as a staunch terrorist, who has said that he regards Israel as a state that has no right to exist. Many in the Arab world, however, especially Shiites, view him as a resistance leader who withstood Israel in last summer’s thirty-three-day war, and Siniora as a weak politician who relies on America’s support but was unable to persuade President Bush to call for an end to the Israeli bombing of Lebanon. (Photographs of Siniora kissing Condoleezza Rice on the cheek when she visited during the war were prominently displayed during street protests in Beirut.)
    The Bush Administration has publicly pledged the Siniora government a billion dollars in aid since last summer. A donors’ conference in Paris, in January, which the U.S. helped organize, yielded pledges of almost eight billion more, including a promise of more than a billion from the Saudis. The American pledge includes more than two hundred million dollars in military aid, and forty million dollars for internal security.
    The United States has also given clandestine support to the Siniora government, according to the former senior intelligence official and the U.S. government consultant. “We are in a program to enhance the Sunni capability to resist Shiite influence, and we’re spreading the money around as much as we can,” the former senior intelligence official said. The problem was that such money “always gets in more pockets than you think it will,” he said. “In this process, we’re financing a lot of bad guys with some serious potential unintended consequences. We don’t have the ability to determine and get pay vouchers signed by the people we like and avoid the people we don’t like. It’s a very high-risk venture.”
    American, European, and Arab officials I spoke to told me that the Siniora government and its allies had allowed some aid to end up in the hands of emerging Sunni radical groups in northern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, and around Palestinian refugee camps in the south. These groups, though small, are seen as a buffer to Hezbollah; at the same time, their ideological ties are with Al Qaeda.
    During a conversation with me, the former Saudi diplomat accused Nasrallah of attempting “to hijack the state,” but he also objected to the Lebanese and Saudi sponsorship of Sunni jihadists in Lebanon. “Salafis are sick and hateful, and I’m very much against the idea of flirting with them,” he said. “They hate the Shiites, but they hate Americans more. If you try to outsmart them, they will outsmart us. It will be ugly.”
    Alastair Crooke, who spent nearly thirty years in MI6, the British intelligence service, and now works for Conflicts Forum, a think tank in Beirut, told me, “The Lebanese government is opening space for these people to come in. It could be very dangerous.” Crooke said that one Sunni extremist group, Fatah al-Islam, had splintered from its pro-Syrian parent group, Fatah al-Intifada, in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, in northern Lebanon. Its membership at the time was less than two hundred. “I was told that within twenty-four hours they were being offered weapons and money by people presenting themselves as representatives of the Lebanese government’s interests—presumably to take on Hezbollah,” Crooke said.
    The largest of the groups, Asbat al-Ansar, is situated in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp. Asbat al-Ansar has received arms and supplies from Lebanese internal-security forces and militias associated with the Siniora government.
    In 2005, according to a report by the U.S.-based International Crisis Group, Saad Hariri, the Sunni majority leader of the Lebanese parliament and the son of the slain former Prime Minister—Saad inherited more than four billion dollars after his father’s assassination—paid forty-eight thousand dollars in bail for four members of an Islamic militant group from Dinniyeh. The men had been arrested while trying to establish an Islamic mini-state in northern Lebanon. The Crisis Group noted that many of the militants “had trained in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.”
    According to the Crisis Group report, Saad Hariri later used his parliamentary majority to obtain amnesty for twenty-two of the Dinniyeh Islamists, as well as for seven militants suspected of plotting to bomb the Italian and Ukrainian embassies in Beirut, the previous year. (He also arranged a pardon for Samir Geagea, a Maronite Christian militia leader, who had been convicted of four political murders, including the assassination, in 1987, of Prime Minister Rashid Karami.) Hariri described his actions to reporters as humanitarian.
    In an interview in Beirut, a senior official in the Siniora government acknowledged that there were Sunni jihadists operating inside Lebanon. “We have a liberal attitude that allows Al Qaeda types to have a presence here,” he said. He related this to concerns that Iran or Syria might decide to turn Lebanon into a “theatre of conflict.”
    The official said that his government was in a no-win situation. Without a political settlement with Hezbollah, he said, Lebanon could “slide into a conflict,” in which Hezbollah fought openly with Sunni forces, with potentially horrific consequences. But if Hezbollah agreed to a settlement yet still maintained a separate army, allied with Iran and Syria, “Lebanon could become a target. In both cases, we become a target.”
    The Bush Administration has portrayed its support of the Siniora government as an example of the President’s belief in democracy, and his desire to prevent other powers from interfering in Lebanon. When Hezbollah led street demonstrations in Beirut in December, John Bolton, who was then the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., called them “part of the Iran-Syria-inspired coup.”
    Leslie H. Gelb, a past president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said that the Administration’s policy was less pro democracy than “pro American national security. The fact is that it would be terribly dangerous if Hezbollah ran Lebanon.” The fall of the Siniora government would be seen, Gelb said, “as a signal in the Middle East of the decline of the United States and the ascendancy of the terrorism threat. And so any change in the distribution of political power in Lebanon has to be opposed by the United States—and we’re justified in helping any non-Shiite parties resist that change. We should say this publicly, instead of talking about democracy.”
    Martin Indyk, of the Saban Center, said, however, that the United States “does not have enough pull to stop the moderates in Lebanon from dealing with the extremists.” He added, “The President sees the region as divided between moderates and extremists, but our regional friends see it as divided between Sunnis and Shia. The Sunnis that we view as extremists are regarded by our Sunni allies simply as Sunnis.”
    In January, after an outburst of street violence in Beirut involving supporters of both the Siniora government and Hezbollah, Prince Bandar flew to Tehran to discuss the political impasse in Lebanon and to meet with Ali Larijani, the Iranians’ negotiator on nuclear issues. According to a Middle Eastern ambassador, Bandar’s mission—which the ambassador said was endorsed by the White House—also aimed “to create problems between the Iranians and Syria.” There had been tensions between the two countries about Syrian talks with Israel, and the Saudis’ goal was to encourage a breach. However, the ambassador said, “It did not work. Syria and Iran are not going to betray each other. Bandar’s approach is very unlikely to succeed.”
    Walid Jumblatt, who is the leader of the Druze minority in Lebanon and a strong Siniora supporter, has attacked Nasrallah as an agent of Syria, and has repeatedly told foreign journalists that Hezbollah is under the direct control of the religious leadership in Iran. In a conversation with me last December, he depicted Bashir Assad, the Syrian President, as a “serial killer.” Nasrallah, he said, was “morally guilty” of the assassination of Rafik Hariri and the murder, last November, of Pierre Gemayel, a member of the Siniora Cabinet, because of his support for the Syrians.
    Jumblatt then told me that he had met with Vice-President Cheney in Washington last fall to discuss, among other issues, the possibility of undermining Assad. He and his colleagues advised Cheney that, if the United States does try to move against Syria, members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood would be “the ones to talk to,” Jumblatt said.
    The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, a branch of a radical Sunni movement founded in Egypt in 1928, engaged in more than a decade of violent opposition to the regime of Hafez Assad, Bashir’s father. In 1982, the Brotherhood took control of the city of Hama; Assad bombarded the city for a week, killing between six thousand and twenty thousand people. Membership in the Brotherhood is punishable by death in Syria. The Brotherhood is also an avowed enemy of the U.S. and of Israel. Nevertheless, Jumblatt said, “We told Cheney that the basic link between Iran and Lebanon is Syria—and to weaken Iran you need to open the door to effective Syrian opposition.”
    There is evidence that the Administration’s redirection strategy has already benefitted the Brotherhood. The Syrian National Salvation Front is a coalition of opposition groups whose principal members are a faction led by Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian Vice-President who defected in 2005, and the Brotherhood. A former high-ranking C.I.A. officer told me, “The Americans have provided both political and financial support. The Saudis are taking the lead with financial support, but there is American involvement.” He said that Khaddam, who now lives in Paris, was getting money from Saudi Arabia, with the knowledge of the White House. (In 2005, a delegation of the Front’s members met with officials from the National Security Council, according to press reports.) A former White House official told me that the Saudis had provided members of the Front with travel documents.
    Jumblatt said he understood that the issue was a sensitive one for the White House. “I told Cheney that some people in the Arab world, mainly the Egyptians”—whose moderate Sunni leadership has been fighting the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood for decades—“won’t like it if the United States helps the Brotherhood. But if you don’t take on Syria we will be face to face in Lebanon with Hezbollah in a long fight, and one we might not win.”


    On a warm, clear night early last December, in a bombed-out suburb a few miles south of downtown Beirut, I got a preview of how the Administration’s new strategy might play out in Lebanon. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, who has been in hiding, had agreed to an interview. Security arrangements for the meeting were secretive and elaborate. I was driven, in the back seat of a darkened car, to a damaged underground garage somewhere in Beirut, searched with a handheld scanner, placed in a second car to be driven to yet another bomb-scarred underground garage, and transferred again. Last summer, it was reported that Israel was trying to kill Nasrallah, but the extraordinary precautions were not due only to that threat. Nasrallah’s aides told me that they believe he is a prime target of fellow-Arabs, primarily Jordanian intelligence operatives, as well as Sunni jihadists who they believe are affiliated with Al Qaeda. (The government consultant and a retired four-star general said that Jordanian intelligence, with support from the U.S. and Israel, had been trying to infiltrate Shiite groups, to work against Hezbollah. Jordan’s King Abdullah II has warned that a Shiite government in Iraq that was close to Iran would lead to the emergence of a Shiite crescent.) This is something of an ironic turn: Nasrallah’s battle with Israel last summer turned him—a Shiite—into the most popular and influential figure among Sunnis and Shiites throughout the region. In recent months, however, he has increasingly been seen by many Sunnis not as a symbol of Arab unity but as a participant in a sectarian war.
    Nasrallah, dressed, as usual, in religious garb, was waiting for me in an unremarkable apartment. One of his advisers said that he was not likely to remain there overnight; he has been on the move since his decision, last July, to order the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid set off the thirty-three-day war. Nasrallah has since said publicly—and repeated to me—that he misjudged the Israeli response. “We just wanted to capture prisoners for exchange purposes,” he told me. “We never wanted to drag the region into war.”
    Nasrallah accused the Bush Administration of working with Israel to deliberately instigate fitna, an Arabic word that is used to mean “insurrection and fragmentation within Islam.” “In my opinion, there is a huge campaign through the media throughout the world to put each side up against the other,” he said. “I believe that all this is being run by American and Israeli intelligence.” (He did not provide any specific evidence for this.) He said that the U.S. war in Iraq had increased sectarian tensions, but argued that Hezbollah had tried to prevent them from spreading into Lebanon. (Sunni-Shiite confrontations increased, along with violence, in the weeks after we talked.)
    Nasrallah said he believed that President Bush’s goal was “the drawing of a new map for the region. They want the partition of Iraq. Iraq is not on the edge of a civil war—there is a civil war. There is ethnic and sectarian cleansing. The daily killing and displacement which is taking place in Iraq aims at achieving three Iraqi parts, which will be sectarian and ethnically pure as a prelude to the partition of Iraq. Within one or two years at the most, there will be total Sunni areas, total Shiite areas, and total Kurdish areas. Even in Baghdad, there is a fear that it might be divided into two areas, one Sunni and one Shiite.”
    He went on, “I can say that President Bush is lying when he says he does not want Iraq to be partitioned. All the facts occurring now on the ground make you swear he is dragging Iraq to partition. And a day will come when he will say, ‘I cannot do anything, since the Iraqis want the partition of their country and I honor the wishes of the people of Iraq.’ ”
    Nasrallah said he believed that America also wanted to bring about the partition of Lebanon and of Syria. In Syria, he said, the result would be to push the country “into chaos and internal battles like in Iraq.” In Lebanon, “There will be a Sunni state, an Alawi state, a Christian state, and a Druze state.” But, he said, “I do not know if there will be a Shiite state.” Nasrallah told me that he suspected that one aim of the Israeli bombing of Lebanon last summer was “the destruction of Shiite areas and the displacement of Shiites from Lebanon. The idea was to have the Shiites of Lebanon and Syria flee to southern Iraq,” which is dominated by Shiites. “I am not sure, but I smell this,” he told me.
    Partition would leave Israel surrounded by “small tranquil states,” he said. “I can assure you that the Saudi kingdom will also be divided, and the issue will reach to North African states. There will be small ethnic and confessional states,” he said. “In other words, Israel will be the most important and the strongest state in a region that has been partitioned into ethnic and confessional states that are in agreement with each other. This is the new Middle East.”
    In fact, the Bush Administration has adamantly resisted talk of partitioning Iraq, and its public stances suggest that the White House sees a future Lebanon that is intact, with a weak, disarmed Hezbollah playing, at most, a minor political role. There is also no evidence to support Nasrallah’s belief that the Israelis were seeking to drive the Shiites into southern Iraq. Nevertheless, Nasrallah’s vision of a larger sectarian conflict in which the United States is implicated suggests a possible consequence of the White House’s new strategy.
    In the interview, Nasrallah made mollifying gestures and promises that would likely be met with skepticism by his opponents. “If the United States says that discussions with the likes of us can be useful and influential in determining American policy in the region, we have no objection to talks or meetings,” he said. “But, if their aim through this meeting is to impose their policy on us, it will be a waste of time.” He said that the Hezbollah militia, unless attacked, would operate only within the borders of Lebanon, and pledged to disarm it when the Lebanese Army was able to stand up. Nasrallah said that he had no interest in initiating another war with Israel. However, he added that he was anticipating, and preparing for, another Israeli attack, later this year.
    Nasrallah further insisted that the street demonstrations in Beirut would continue until the Siniora government fell or met his coalition’s political demands. “Practically speaking, this government cannot rule,” he told me. “It might issue orders, but the majority of the Lebanese people will not abide and will not recognize the legitimacy of this government. Siniora remains in office because of international support, but this does not mean that Siniora can rule Lebanon.”
    President Bush’s repeated praise of the Siniora government, Nasrallah said, “is the best service to the Lebanese opposition he can give, because it weakens their position vis-à-vis the Lebanese people and the Arab and Islamic populations. They are betting on us getting tired. We did not get tired during the war, so how could we get tired in a demonstration?”
    There is sharp division inside and outside the Bush Administration about how best to deal with Nasrallah, and whether he could, in fact, be a partner in a political settlement. The outgoing director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, in a farewell briefing to the Senate Intelligence Committee, in January, said that Hezbollah “lies at the center of Iran’s terrorist strategy. . . . It could decide to conduct attacks against U.S. interests in the event it feels its survival or that of Iran is threatened. . . . Lebanese Hezbollah sees itself as Tehran’s partner.”
    In 2002, Richard Armitage, then the Deputy Secretary of State, called Hezbollah “the A-team” of terrorists. In a recent interview, however, Armitage acknowledged that the issue has become somewhat more complicated. Nasrallah, Armitage told me, has emerged as “a political force of some note, with a political role to play inside Lebanon if he chooses to do so.” In terms of public relations and political gamesmanship, Armitage said, Nasrallah “is the smartest man in the Middle East.” But, he added, Nasrallah “has got to make it clear that he wants to play an appropriate role as the loyal opposition. For me, there’s still a blood debt to pay”—a reference to the murdered colonel and the Marine barracks bombing.
    Robert Baer, a former longtime C.I.A. agent in Lebanon, has been a severe critic of Hezbollah and has warned of its links to Iranian-sponsored terrorism. But now, he told me, “we’ve got Sunni Arabs preparing for cataclysmic conflict, and we will need somebody to protect the Christians in Lebanon. It used to be the French and the United States who would do it, and now it’s going to be Nasrallah and the Shiites.
    “The most important story in the Middle East is the growth of Nasrallah from a street guy to a leader—from a terrorist to a statesman,” Baer added. “The dog that didn’t bark this summer”—during the war with Israel—“is Shiite terrorism.” Baer was referring to fears that Nasrallah, in addition to firing rockets into Israel and kidnapping its soldiers, might set in motion a wave of terror attacks on Israeli and American targets around the world. “He could have pulled the trigger, but he did not,” Baer said.
    Most members of the intelligence and diplomatic communities acknowledge Hezbollah’s ongoing ties to Iran. But there is disagreement about the extent to which Nasrallah would put aside Hezbollah’s interests in favor of Iran’s. A former C.I.A. officer who also served in Lebanon called Nasrallah “a Lebanese phenomenon,” adding, “Yes, he’s aided by Iran and Syria, but Hezbollah’s gone beyond that.” He told me that there was a period in the late eighties and early nineties when the C.I.A. station in Beirut was able to clandestinely monitor Nasrallah’s conversations. He described Nasrallah as “a gang leader who was able to make deals with the other gangs. He had contacts with everybody.”


    The Bush Administration’s reliance on clandestine operations that have not been reported to Congress and its dealings with intermediaries with questionable agendas have recalled, for some in Washington, an earlier chapter in history. Two decades ago, the Reagan Administration attempted to fund the Nicaraguan contras illegally, with the help of secret arms sales to Iran. Saudi money was involved in what became known as the Iran-Contra scandal, and a few of the players back then—notably Prince Bandar and Elliott Abrams—are involved in today’s dealings.
    Iran-Contra was the subject of an informal “lessons learned” discussion two years ago among veterans of the scandal. Abrams led the discussion. One conclusion was that even though the program was eventually exposed, it had been possible to execute it without telling Congress. As to what the experience taught them, in terms of future covert operations, the participants found: “One, you can’t trust our friends. Two, the C.I.A. has got to be totally out of it. Three, you can’t trust the uniformed military, and four, it’s got to be run out of the Vice-President’s office”—a reference to Cheney’s role, the former senior intelligence official said.
    I was subsequently told by the two government consultants and the former senior intelligence official that the echoes of Iran-Contra were a factor in Negroponte’s decision to resign from the National Intelligence directorship and accept a sub-Cabinet position of Deputy Secretary of State. (Negroponte declined to comment.)
    The former senior intelligence official also told me that Negroponte did not want a repeat of his experience in the Reagan Administration, when he served as Ambassador to Honduras. “Negroponte said, ‘No way. I’m not going down that road again, with the N.S.C. running operations off the books, with no finding.’ ” (In the case of covert C.I.A. operations, the President must issue a written finding and inform Congress.) Negroponte stayed on as Deputy Secretary of State, he added, because “he believes he can influence the government in a positive way.”
    The government consultant said that Negroponte shared the White House’s policy goals but “wanted to do it by the book.” The Pentagon consultant also told me that “there was a sense at the senior-ranks level that he wasn’t fully on board with the more adventurous clandestine initiatives.” It was also true, he said, that Negroponte “had problems with this Rube Goldberg policy contraption for fixing the Middle East.”
    The Pentagon consultant added that one difficulty, in terms of oversight, was accounting for covert funds. “There are many, many pots of black money, scattered in many places and used all over the world on a variety of missions,” he said. The budgetary chaos in Iraq, where billions of dollars are unaccounted for, has made it a vehicle for such transactions, according to the former senior intelligence official and the retired four-star general.
    “This goes back to Iran-Contra,” a former National Security Council aide told me. “And much of what they’re doing is to keep the agency out of it.” He said that Congress was not being briefed on the full extent of the U.S.-Saudi operations. And, he said, “The C.I.A. is asking, ‘What’s going on?’ They’re concerned, because they think it’s amateur hour.”
    The issue of oversight is beginning to get more attention from Congress. Last November, the Congressional Research Service issued a report for Congress on what it depicted as the Administration’s blurring of the line between C.I.A. activities and strictly military ones, which do not have the same reporting requirements. And the Senate Intelligence Committee, headed by Senator Jay Rockefeller, has scheduled a hearing for March 8th on Defense Department intelligence activities.
    Senator Ron Wyden, of Oregon, a Democrat who is a member of the Intelligence Committee, told me, “The Bush Administration has frequently failed to meet its legal obligation to keep the Intelligence Committee fully and currently informed. Time and again, the answer has been ‘Trust us.’ ” Wyden said, “It is hard for me to trust the Administration.” ♦

    Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/03/05/070305fa_fact_hersh?printable=true&currentPage=all#ixzz27cBpfF1A

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