Did Iran Murder Argentina’s Crusading Prosecutor Nisman?

A special prosecutor who had accused Argentine President Cristina Fernandez (Kirchner) of shielding Iranian suspects in the South American country’s worst terrorist attack was found dead with a gunshot wound on Sunday, authorities said. Christopher Dickey, foreign editor at the Daily Beast tells François Picard more about Nisman's death suspicious circumstances.

Read more here.

France, Jewish Community, Anti-Semitic Attacks Doubled

From ANSAmed:
Picture shows the burned doors at the entrance of a Jewish synagogue in Lyon

The number of anti-Semitic attacks has almost doubled between 2013 and 2014, according to the annual report by the Protection Service of the Jewish Community of France (SPCJ), which points to +92% increase. The report indicated that anti-Semitic attacks grew from 423 to 851 representing 51% of the number of racist aggressions in France. SPCJ pointed out that the Jewish community represents less than 1% of French population. The report stressed that the 30% spike of racist attacks in France was solely provoked by the growth of anti-Semitic aggressions. In fact, the total number of racist attacks has actually gone down 5% in contrast to the rise of anti-Semitic ones.

French president François Hollande announced that the French government will unveil "a global plan against anti-Semitism and racism by the end of February" during an address at the Holocaust Memorial in Paris.

''France is your country,'' he said in a speech to mark 70 years of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, adding that an uptick in anti-Semitic attacks in the country is a ''intolerable plague''.

A recent report released by the Israeli government named France as being the most dangerous country in the world for Jews. (ANSAmed).

Saudi Arabia: Columbus Sailed To America To Fight Muslims, Says Imam

From the International Business Times:
Saudi Arabia's Imam Issa Assiri has made a bizarre claim that Muslims were already present in what is now known as America, before Christopher Columbus ever sailed there.

Assiri while speaking at the Sa'eed bin Jubair Mosque in Jedda in Saudi Arabia said: "The truth is that Columbus knew about the 'new world' even before he set sail. He also knew that there were Muslims there," The Blaze reports.

Not only this, the preacher further said that the Columbus' motive of visiting America was waging a war against Islam.

"He received a personal commission to sail to America from a Crusader queen [Isabella] who hated Islam and the Muslims," Assiri said, as per the translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute. "That was before this hateful crusader turned to the American continent, in order to fight the Muslims there. The Muslims were there before Columbus and all the others."

The Imam had said during one of his sermons, after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris earlier this month, that Christians and Jews only understood violence. "This is the only language they understand. [After the attacks in France] they changed their policy."

He said that anyone who curses or mocks the Prophet Muhammad, even in a humorous tone, "must be killed, even if he repents."

With this he has become the second public figure to make such a claim about the discovery of America ...

Islamist Panel Displays Misguided View On Islamic Terror

By Steven Emerson for Algemeiner:
A panel discussion last Thursday hosted by the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) promised to plumb the “the root causes of radicalization” in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks at the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices and a kosher market.

It turns out that the problem is not Islamic theology or radical Muslim ideology. It’s all the things the West does wrong. Fix those problems, panelists said, and things will get better.

During the 90-minute program at the National Press Club, no speaker discussed the Quranic verses invoked by terrorists in the Islamic State or al-Qaeda to justify their actions. Instead, speakers emphasized a host of grievances that they say lead young Muslims to believe that peace and democracy will not lead to the changes they desire.

Muslim immigrants must be treated with more dignity and equality, said CSID founder Radwan Masmoudi. “Basically you must end all forms of racism, discrimination and hatred directed against Europeans of Arab descent or of the Islamic faith.” The West also must end the war in Syria and denounce the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood regime by Egypt’s military in July 2013.

Dalia Mogahed, a pollster and former White House adviser, took issue with the public reaction to the attacks. Defending the right to offend people as part of free expression plays into the terrorists’ agenda, she said. There is such a right, but society normally allows “incredibly offensive depiction(s)” of minorities. She wasn’t offended by the Charlie Hebdo cartoons as a Muslim, but she was “disgusted” by them as an American.

“The correct question isn’t, ‘can we?’” she said, “the correct question is ‘should we?’”

This ignores the magazine’s history of satirizing all faiths, generating no violence from Christians or Jews. Last week, 10 people were killed in Niger when protesters angry at the latest Charlie Hebdo cover torched churches.

Mogahed called the attack on Charlie Hebdo “a very strange event” because it came at a time in which there were no protests. “The shooting literally came out of nowhere. It was a calculated act of provocation on the part of terrorist organizations. This was not an organic, or even fanatical, response of just rage and anger against cartoons.”

The assertion is puzzling because, as a pollster, Mogahed has monitored attitudes in the Muslim world for years. As such, she is well aware that the Paris attacks did not happen in a vacuum. In 2004, Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered on an Amsterdam street by a radical Muslim angered by van Gogh’s film, Submission, which focused on Islam’s treatment of women. In 2010, Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard survived a home invasion attack by an ax-wielding Somali with ties to the Islamist terrorist group Al-Shabaab.

American Colleen LaRose, known as “Jihad Jane,” is serving a 10-year prison sentence in part due to her plotting to travel to Sweden to kill another cartoonist, Lars Vilks. That murder, she wrote in an email obtained by Federal investigators, would be “my goal till i achieve it or die trying.”

There are numerous other examples of plots and attacks targeting people for their depictions of Islam’s prophet.

But the intent behind the attacks, Mogahed said, “was for Europe to respond essentially exactly as it did – to assert the right to offend by reprinting the cartoons.”

That certainly is a point of view. Another is that the terrorists hoped to intimidate others from showing images of Muhammad under any circumstance. Given that major American news outlets, including the New York Times, CNN, Fox and others have refused to show the Charlie Hebdo images, the attacks succeeded.

The focus on radical Islam and defense of free speech that resulted from the Paris attacks gave the terrorists “the rhetorical victory they desired,” she said. A better response would have been “to reassert the place of French citizens of Muslim faith in the republic.”

Mogahed and others repeatedly expressed resentment that the terrorists’ beliefs were being conflated with the beliefs held by 1.7 billion Muslims worldwide. They provided no examples to show this is what people mean when they talk about Islamic extremism.

Whatever the merits of Mogahed’s argument, it seems to have little connection to the causes of radicalization, which is what the panel was supposed to discuss.

In a podcast Wednesday, atheist writer Sam Harris slammed an emphasis on the West’s flaws in analyzing the Paris terrorist attacks as “completely insane.” After slaughtering the Charlie Hebdo staffers, Harris notes, Cherif and Said Kouachi yelled, “We have avenged the prophet.” They did not lament racism, disenfranchisement or any other grievance.

“That’s what causes someone to grab an AK 47 and murder 12 cartoonists and then scream ‘Allahu Akhbar’ in the streets,” Harris said facetiously. “It is a completely insane analysis. Even if you grant everything that’s wrong with capitalism and the history of colonialism, you should not be able to deny that these religious maniacs are motivated by concerns about blasphemy and the depiction of the prophet Muhammad, and consider their behavior entirely ethical in light of specific religious doctrines. And it’s a kind of masochism and moral cowardice and lack of intelligence, frankly, at this point, that is allowing people to deny this fact.”

Harris argued that the Charlie Hebdo cartoons were not racist. But even if they were, emphasizing the offensive nature of the images shows someone “has completely lost the plot here.”

“[P]rotecting this speech becomes important when you have one group of people – ‘radical Muslims’ – who are responding to this offense with credible threats of murder in every country on earth. We can’t give in to this.”

“People have been murdered over cartoons,” he added. “End of moral analysis.”

Not for Nihad Awad, co-founder and executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). His prepared remarks at the radicalization forum focused on the frustration he said Muslim American youth feel for constantly having to condemn the actions of others and for drawing disproportionate law enforcement attention.

“Islam has been blamed for the recent events, not the terrorists themselves,” Awad said. The media’s focus on the religious motivation inspiring terrorists and references to a war of ideas within Islam “is very offensive to me, to implicate the entire Islamic faith and the 1.7 billion people into accusing them of being inherently violent and warring among themselves. I believe this is dishonest discourse.”

Awad’s assertion is contradicted by other Muslims who believe the only way to stem radicalization is by modernizing and reforming Islam, steering away from strict, literalist interpretations. In addition, those most offended by cartoons or commentaries need to learn more peaceful ways to express their frustration.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal on January 11, Muslim reformist Maajid Nawaz called for “an open discussion about interpretations of blasphemy codes within Islam. Islam is an idea: Like all other ideas, it is open to scrutiny and satire. This is how we progress.”

“…We must oppose the notion that Islam, or any narrow interpretation of the faith, is above criticism. If we learn to challenge the ideology of those who have hijacked our faith, we will build the resilience that will allow us to prosper in a modern society. Furthermore, to accuse this view of being Islamophobic takes advantage of those in Western society who are desperate not to be considered offensive. It allows extremists to prosper without the checks and balances of critical thinking, returning us to the Dark Ages.”

Both Awad and Mogahed cited the example of Anders Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer who killed 77 people in a bombing and shooting attack in 2011, as an example of the public’s double standard. Breivik’s manifesto made clear he acted out of a concern about the spread of Islam and multi-culturalism, declaring he was “a supporter of a monocultural Christian Europe.”

Christian leaders weren’t put on the spot with demands to condemn Breivik’s slaughter, Awad and Mogahed said. Instead, he was dismissed as a lone kook.

In making the argument, the two failed to mention the Kouachi brothers’ apparent connections to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or the video by Amedy Coulibaly, who attacked a kosher supermarket shortly after the Charlie Hebdo attack killing a policewoman and four Jews, in which he expressed allegiance to the Islamic State.

The Paris attacks and the slaughter being carried out by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have nothing to do with Islam, the panelists agreed. Mogahed did say young Muslims “need better religious literacy” to counteract extremist messages they may see on the Internet.

But Awad ended the program with a defense of the word jihad. It’s wrong, he said, to use it to describe terrorists acting in the name of Islam. It is a legitimate concept in the faith and should not apply to wars of aggression. “So to label terrorists as jihadists is no less than doing the public relations work for them. And the media unwittingly, or unintentionally, they have been helping ISIS. Politicians, when they refer to these people as jihadists, they are helping recruit people to ISIS.”

Contrast the defensive rhetoric and general lack of any discussion about a theological role in radicalization with a recent full page newspaper ad signed by a group of Muslim reformists. They don’t blame historic injustices or other grievances. Rather, they look at today’s reality and ask how to make things better:
If Islam is a religion that stands for justice and peaceful coexistence, then the quest for an Islamic state cannot be justified as sanctioned by a just and merciful Creator.

Neither jihadism nor Islamism permit the equality of all humans irrespective of their race or religion and should therefore be rejected. Our denial and our relative silence must stop!

It is the duty of us Muslims to actively and vigorously affirm and promote universal human rights, including gender equality and freedom of conscience.

As our Holy Qu’ran states (4:135):

“Believers! Conduct yourselves with justice, bearing true witness before God, even if it be against yourselves, your parents, or your kin.”

We must engage in and promote reforms where necessary, including an honest and critical reinterpretation of scripture and shariah law used by Islamists to justify violence and oppression.

We must also recognize and loudly proclaim that the quest for any and all “Islamic State(s)” has no place in modern times. Theocracy, particularly, Islamism, is a proven failure. The path to justice and reform is through liberty.
Nothing close to this sentiment was expressed at Thursday’s CSID forum. Masmoudi, the center’s director, instead said the debate needs to focus on the line between free expression and offending religion.

“Every freedom must be respected, but every freedom also has limits,” he said. “You don’t have the right to transgress on others. That’s why we need laws. Laws are to put clear limits on where your freedom ends and where the freedom of other people begins. In terms of freedom of speech I think we are all in favor. But there is a big debate on whether that includes the right to insult others, or the right to insult other religions in particular.”

Just the message to quell radicals, isn’t it?

Abbas Decrees Life Imprisonment For Selling Land To Israelis

Pakistan: Students Protesting Charlie Hebdo Storm Into Christian School, Demand Its Closure

From Dawn:
Hundreds of students protesting against a French magazine for publishing blasphemous cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) stormed a Christian boys' school demanding its closure, officials and police said Tuesday.

Four students were slightly hurt in the incident in the town of Bannu on Monday, which happened as students from local colleges and schools demonstrated against the cartoons printed in French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

“A group of some 200 to 300 protesting students entered Panel High School after jumping its outer walls and forcibly opened the gates,” school principal Fredrick Farhan Das said.

He said the students who wanted the school to be shut damaged the property and smashed windows.

“This caused kind of a stampede, which slightly injured four students,” Das said.

He said the school remained closed on Tuesday in protest against the incident and will re-open on Wednesday.

District police officer Abdul Rashid Khan confirmed the incident but said it was not thought to be an anti-Christian attack.

Two gunmen stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo earlier this month, killing 12 people.

The magazine then published a “survivors” issue with another cover, triggering a wave of angry condemnation and protest in Muslim-majority countries across the world.

At least three people were injured on January 16 when protesters and police clashed at an anti-Charlie Hebdo demonstration outside the French consulate in Karachi.

Picture of the Week: Death For Alleged Crime Of Adultery

From The Religion Of Peace:
Business as usual in the caliphate, where a woman is shot to death for adultery. The prophet of Islam never shot consenting adults (he just had them stoned).

RAW ISIS Suicide Attack Aftermath At Luxury Tripoli Hotel

A group of gunmen believed to be allied with the terrorist group Islamic State stormed a luxury hotel in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. At least nine people were killed, according to the BBC. Five of them were foreigners.

French Police Arrest Five In Anti-Jihadist Cell Raids

From Jihad Watch:
“Security forces raid a small southern town known as one of the recruiting centres that have sent hundreds of French youths to fight in Syria and Iraq.” Lunel is a town of 30,000 and it has sent hundreds of “French youths” — that is, young Muslims who have no allegiance to France at all — to the jihad in Iraq and Syria. Authorities are “worried that the Al-Baraka mosque in Lunel…might have become a centre for jihadist recruitment.” Nah, that couldn’t be — all this has nothing to do with Islam, remember? And the ever-clueless Telegraph emphasizes that by placing into the sentence the phrase “where the unemployment level of 20 per cent is twice the national average,” as if that explains it — young Muslims are joining the jihad because the local McDonald’s wasn’t hiring.

“French police arrest five in anti-jihadist cell raids,” by Rory Mulholland, the Telegraph, January 27, 2015 (thanks to Angry):
Police arrested five men in dawn raids in a town in southern France on suspicion of belonging to a jihadist cell recruiting people to fight alongside Islamist extremists in Iraq and Syria.

Around 20 people from Lunel, a town of around 30,000 inhabitants near Montpellier, have travelled to the Middle East to fight and at least six of them are known to have been killed there since October.

Masked counter-terrorism officers launched their raids at 6am on Tuesday in a building in the centre of the town in an operation overseen by the anti-terror branch of the Paris prosecutor’s office.

Bernard Cazeneuve, the interior minister, told reporters in Paris that if the suspicions against the five men proved to be correct, “this will be a particularly dangerous and organised cell that has been dismantled”.

Two of the suspects, who were aged between 26 and 44, were thought to have already travelled to Syria, while the others were believed to be planning to embark on jihad abroad, a police source said.

Around 1,400 people living in France have either joined the jihadist cause in the Middle East or are planning to do so, officials say.…

Authorities have said they are worried that the Al-Baraka mosque in Lunel, where the unemployment level of 20 per cent is twice the national average, might have become a centre for jihadist recruitment.

The head of the local Muslim union in December refused to condemn the local residents who left Lunel to join extremists. He said French President François Hollande’s harsh rhetoric against Bashar al-Assad had encouraged young people to go there to fight.

Swedish Soldier Stationed In Afghanistan Points Out Lack Of Help For Returning Soldiers, But Notes Aid To Returning ISIS Terrorists

From The Local (Sweden):
A Swedish soldier's Facebook post from Afghanistan is causing a stir, after he suggested that he was likely to get less help when he came back to Sweden than returning Isis fighters.

Frederick Brandberg's comments originally appeared as his Facebook status on Sunday afternoon before spreading across Swedish media.

Writing in both English and Swedish, he questioned his future situation upon returning to Sweden, including options for work.

"In a few months, I'm back in Sweden after being deployed in Afghanistan, against Talibans and others who have really jeopardizing development in this very sore country," he said.

"There is no permanent job waiting for me when I come home."

The officer, who is currently headquartered in Kabul on his third mission to Afghanistan then compares his situation to that of returning ISIS-fighters from Syria, noting recent calls from several Swedish government representatives who have argued that extremists should be given more help to re-integrate upon returning to Sweden.

The Swedish soldier addresses Mona Sahlin in particular, a former leader of the Social Democrat party who is now Sweden's official coordinator against violent extremism.

"I read that Mona Sahlin together with other Swedish political leaders are anxious to take care of Swedish IS-warriors coming home from being involved in Syria, with specially designed programs for work and other issues that would make them function well in our society."

Brandberg refers to his post as "Utmaningen" or, "The Challenge".

"It would be wonderful if I was met with a comparable program after my homecoming, after which I could feel safe in having a regular job, with monthly income and a social stable situation in the society where I wouldn't need to wonder whether I'm wanted or not," he argued.

There are currently 500 Swedish soldiers in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan.

The Armed Forces told The Local on Monday that what happens to soldiers upon their return from war was not an issue that falls under their mandate.

"We take care of soldiers while they are there on the ground," an armed forces official explained. "Once they're back home, it's no longer our business."

The Swedish defense and foreign ministries were unavailable for comment.