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There was a moment several months ago when my good friend, John and I became embroiled in a heated debate focusing on Israel’s attack of and drive into Lebanon during July of 2006. Now Dubbed the July War or commonly known in Israel as The Second Lebanon War, I expressed my belief that, whether one believes Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is an effective leader or not, due to the circumstances involving the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers, Olmert had to act or face the perception from those who support violent aggression against Israel that Olmert would have no will to defend and fight for the country and for the Israeli people. Despite the eventual outcome of that month-long conflict, and the subsequent loss of Israeli confidence in their newly appointed ad hoc leader, there was left little doubt that Olmert would commit to protecting the nation.

As tends to occur, my friend who passionately supports the Palestinian cause, began intensely referencing particular actions and specific examples of Israeli crimes against Palestinians, most notably the Phalangist massacre of 1982 which still evidences doubt as to categorical, direct involvement of the IDF (Maronite Christian forces committed the massacre; whether Israeli forces knew or didn’t know what was taking place within the Palestinian refugee camps is still unclear. Regardless, the IDF’s perimeter around the refugee camps prohibited Palestinians any escape from the marauding Maronite militias. This does not diminish the fact that Israel is one of the leading human rights adherents on the face of the planet, not to mention the only democracy in the Middle-east with a judiciary that is near second to none.)

As I’ve said, John is passionate and intense, and I do become easily flustered in verbal arguments especially when he and I come face to face. Needless to say, we don’t participate in too many political debates, but one thing I did learn from that experience is how little I knew about the Israel/Palestinian conflict specifically and the Middle-east in general. In essence, the respect I have for my friend inspired me because of my ignorance, regardless of our differences.

Since last summer I have set out on a personal crusade, or more appropriately a jihad in order to educate myself in such matters. Through books, magazines, and websites, I have learned more than I have ever known about the Middle-east and the geopolitical/religiopolitical enfilade that encompasses the region.

Inevitably, and in order to better understand the motivations of the inhabitants in that part of the world, I was compelled to ascertain more information about the majority belief systems in the Middle-east–Islam. My general studies did not lead me to others who would formulate my opinion for me. Rather, I came to conclusions that centered around the idea that Islam is a repressive, intolerant, and expansionist faith based around the idea of capitulation to Allah, subjugation, or death. After that, after I had worked out my own conceptions and conclusions, then I came across such websites as Jihadwatch.com and The Gates of Vienna–websites with writers and scholars whose ideas matched my perceptions of Islamic ideology.

From Jihad Watch, below is another fantastic piece by Hugh Fitzgerald about the rise of those (namely infidels) who wish to learn more about Islam who also end up being faced with the concept of global jihad. My recent experiences and discoveries stemmed from an argument with a friend as well as the continued fallout from 9/11 and the subsequent and unjustified war in Iraq. There may be many paths to Allah, but there are also many paths to discovering the truth about Islam.

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Fitzgerald: Cat’s out of the bag

Those at the Emory Wheel are reduced to this transparent nonsense of Taqiyya and Tu Quoque. How else can they proceed? They know what is in the texts. They know what states, societies, families suffused with Islam are taught. They know the tenets. They know the attitudes. They are well used to the atmospherics. They just don’t know how to handle those Infidels who also know those texts, those teachings, those attitudes, those atmospherics.

And there is nothing they can do to stop more and more Infidels, as they pick up their newspapers or turn on the evening news, from realizing how much of it is about this or that local manifestation of the worldwide and permanent Jihad — which can only get worse, and examples of which will only proliferate. Those Infidels will find out, slowly and then more rapidly, in greater and greater numbers, about Islam. There is nothing Islamic apologists can do about this, try as they will to lie, or to hide, or to distract with irrelevancies, or by appeals to Western “guilt” and false claims of victimization. Islam itself, as the vehicle for Arab imperialism, is the most successful imperialist project in history, the force which caused whole peoples to jettison and ignore, or despise, their own histories, pre-Islamic or non-Islamic. In light of that, the raising of idiotic claims of “racism” will not forever prevent Infidels, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and all others, everywhere and not just here in this country, from finding out about Islam.

It’s too late. Cat’s out of the bag. The Qur’an is just a click away (www.quranbrowser.com). And so are the Hadith. And so is the Sira — or you can read the texts about Muhammad, the Muslim texts, the texts of Qur’an and Hadith and Muslim Sira, and Muslim commentators and historians, with connective tissue and organizing principle supplied by Robert Spencer.

There is nothing these people can do about all that, except what they have been doing all along: “three Abrahamic faiths,” “one of world’s great religions,” “hijacked” or “perverted” by “extremists,” or adducing in support of this preposterousness a handful of Qur’anic phrases: “there is no compulsion in religion” (which does not mean what an Infidel who reads only those words would naturally take it to mean), and 5.32 but not 5.33 (Bush does it, Blair does it, even semi-educated fleas do it). Or if not the Qur’an, then one of the inauthentic Hadiths from one of the unauthoritative collections: Karen Armstrong loves the one about Muhammad returning from the “Lesser Jihad” of war to the “Greater Jihad” of domestic life, without recognizing that the hadith in question is not widely accepted as authentic. Why, I can write the Mosque-Outreach script for Infidels myself, and so can you, dear reader, and so can any man.

Here’s a case study, based on the posts of a Muslim who dropped by Jihad Watch a few days ago. He asked:

My questions to you are: Do you personally know any Muslims? Do you have any Muslim friends? Do you know about the Muslim experience in the post 9/11 America? Have you ever visited a Mosque? Have you ever been to an inter-faith event (e.g. poetry recital)? Have you ever read the Holy Qur’an or any of the other Islamic spiritual texts such as the works of Jalaluddin Rumi or al-Ghazali, Rabia al-Adawiyyah, Muhammad Iqbal, etc.?

The questions are misplaced. Many of the readers at this site have visited those Mosque Outreach exercises in Taqiyya-and-Tu-Quoque. Many have read the Qur’an, and have read and reread it, keeping in mind several things:

1) About 20% of it makes no sense, even to Muslims who know classical Arabic. See Christoph Luxenberg for one attempt to solve that matter of philology.

2) The internal contradictions in the Qur’an are resolved through the doctrine of “naskh” or “abrogation,” so that, as in the systems of common law, where the doctrine of stare decisis ordinarily holds but later decisions, when different, cancel the effect of earlier ones (e.g., Plessy v. Ferguson is not valid after Brown v. Bd. of Education).

3) The doctrine of “naskh” allows the so-called Meccan suras, the softer ones, which were presumably the product of a time when Muhammad still felt the need for support and had not yet become as harsh toward Infidels as he became once he had taken control in Medina (Yathrib), to be cancelled or overruled or overturned by the much harsher so-called “Medinan” suras.

4) While there are more than 150 Jihad verses in the Qur’an — though only 27 appearances of the word “qitaal” or combat, the most dangerous ones, such as those contained within Sura 9, are among the very last “revealed,” and hence possess great authority.

5) In English or French, as Western scholars of Islam familiar with the original texts have noted, the Qur’an’s verses are far less harsh than they are in the Arabic. Many of the words involving the treatment to be meted out to Unbelievers, that is Infidels or non-Muslims, are of this kind.

6) The official Muslim groups tend to distribute the translations that are much milder than the real thing. Even those used by Muslims, such as that of Yusuf Ali, do not always adequately convey the real meaning. But that can be found usually in the notes, and it is important for Infidels to read those Muslim annotations.

7) The Qur’an by itself does not yield up its full meaning, and the Sunnah, that is the customs and practice of Muslims of the time, of Muhammad and the Companions, is the true interpretive aid, the essential means by which obscure meanings are teased out. That is why Muslims so often refer to “Qur’an and Sunnah.”

8 ) Islam is a collectivist faith that does not admit of free exercise of conscience. That is, it will not permit — often on pain of death — individuals from deciding for themselves that they wish to leave Islam, sometimes for another faith, sometimes for no faith at all. That Islam does this makes it akin to other totalitarian belief-systems that do not tolerate anyone leaving that closed system. In a sense, a Muslim who leaves Islam is treated as a deserter from the army of Islam, just as someone who is persuaded to become a Muslim, even without any real understanding and with very incomplete (often deliberately withheld) knowledge, merely by reciting the single verse of the Shehada, is regarded as a recruit to the army of Islam, someone who has been signed up, rather than someone who has been carefully taught in order to save his individual soul.

9) Yes, not only have many of those posting here visited mosques during those phony Outreach Programs, but we have made it a point to attend those utterly phony presentations of Islam, in which none of the real questions — about how Islam divides the world uncompromisingly between Believer and Infidel, and territorially between Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb — ever come up. And of course there is never a discussion of Muhammad, that is of the killings of Abu Afak and Asma bint Marwan, the decapitation of the bound prisoners of the Banu Qurayza, the attack on the inoffensive Jewish farmers of the Khaybar Oasis, the tale of little Aisha, and so much else.

It makes no sense whatsoever, given the smooth taqiyya-and-kitman-and-tu-quoque so well-practiced and presented, for Infidels to attend any Muslim event without having thoroughly prepared themselves by learning about Islam, by reading the immutable texts of Islam, by talking to those who have grown up in Islam and left it, or those who, as Infidels, grew up in lands dominated by Islam — such as Hindus from Bali or Bangladesh, Christians from Egypt or Iraq or Pakistan, Jews from Yemen or Egypt or Syria, Zoroastrians, what few are left, who have escaped from Iran, and so on. One can expect only apologetics from Muslims — that is what our experience, individual and collective, demonstrates again and again. One can only take so much nonsense and lies, before even the most naive start to have things begin to make sense. They figure the whole thing out.

You offer, instead of honesty, a list of all kinds of irrelevancies. Jihad Watch is a pedagogic site. It is a site devoted to presenting all kinds of material about Islamic behavior and Islamic doctrine, and showing their connection. And it is also devoted to revealing the ways in which Infidels, in and out of the West, do or do not exhibit the traditional behavior of dhimmis — that is, the non-Muslims under Islam who were allowed to stay alive, and even to practice, within severe limits, their non-Muslim religions, but who were subject to a host of economic, political, legal, and social disabilities that together amounted to a permanent condition of humiliation, degradation, and physical insecurity.

In conclusion, a few questions, in turn, for you.

Have you ever compared the treatment, meted out over the past 1350 years, in all the lands conquered by Islam, toward the indigenous non-Muslims, with the way in which Muslims have been received and allowed to settle deep behind what they themselves are taught to regard as enemy lines?

Have you ever given the slightest thought to the possibility that the belief-system of Islam, with its Total Regulation of Life and Complete Explanation of the Universe, was essentially akin to a totalitarian doctrine?

Have you ever wondered about, or gone to hear, or read the books of, the many brilliant and articulate apostates from Islam, including but not limited to, Ibn Warraq (Why I Am Not a Muslim), Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ali Sina (whose site http://www.faithfreedom.org relentlessly offers arguments against Islam from those who finally left it, and in so doing found intellectual and moral peace), Anwar Shaikh (who has described Islam as a vehicle for Arab supremacism in “Islam the Arab National Religion”), and many others, the most impressive people born into Islam, thoughtful, articulate, coherent — and being joined by other thoughtful, articulate, sensible people who through no fault of their own were born into Islam.

Eventually some Pakistanis and Bangladeshis and Indian Muslims may be able to slough off Islam as an ideology through a re-embrace of what could be seen as an original identity: that they were merely the descendants of Hindus, or in some cases Buddhists, who were forcibly converted to avoid either death or the onerousness of the dhimmi condition. Similarly, in the case of some North African “Arabs,” they may recognize themselves as the descendants of the indigenous Berbers — so many of whom, under the cultural and linguistic imperialism of the Arabs, were so arabised as to become “Arabs” themselves. And they not only became “Arabs,” but in turn to oppress the rights of those Berbers who still, steadfastly, have managed to resist the very arabisation that the ancestors of the “Arabs-from-Berbers” did not. Similarly, given how educated and intelligent Iranians are, including some who once worked to overthrow the Shah, they will come to see the use to which Islam is naturally put, the damage it has brought to Iran. This can be made to frame the incipient anti-Islam sentiments of many Iranians in national terms, see the primitive desert Arabs as having brought the “false gift” of Islam to the superior civilization of Persia. Discussion of what misery the Arab “gift” of Islam has brought to Iran, and a recognition by Iranian Muslims that they are the descendants of Zoroastrians whose last adherents are now so oppressed in Iran, might be one point of purchase to undo or at least limit the appeal of Islam. Have you given that Arab supremacism for which Islam is a vehicle any thought yourself?

And you ask, who has read the Qur’an? You should have asked: Who has read the Qur’an, the Hadith, and the Sira, should you not? In turn, one might ask: Have you read the Bible? Have you gone to a church merely to observe Christian worship? What do you know about the field of comparative religion? And would you allow other Muslims, your siblings or your children, to freely visit churches and synagogues and Hindu temples, and to read the holy scriptures of other faiths, and even to study those faiths formally, as many non-Muslims study Islam and the history of Islam? Would that be something you think should be encouraged for Muslims, both in Dar al-Islam, and in the Lands of the Infidels?

Tell us all about it.

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Condoleezza Rice.jpg

While I’m obviously not a fan of Bush and his underlings (I’d go so far as to say they’re the worst and most despicable administration to have polluted the hallowed halls of the White House in over a century), I do not have a problem taking a part from the whole, occasionally admiring the diamond in the rough who is Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.

My perception of Rice is sort of akin to Michael Corleone in the first Godfather film–an intelligent, well-meaning, good natured, fairly honest human being who simply and unfortunately, and with skewed fore-knowledge, managed to get caught up in the underworld of his fathers’ crime syndicate even though he was timidly reluctant to do so. Right or wrong, he became swept up in the nefarious turmoil of his family business because of a sincere desire to protect his father from harm. Michael is an unapologetic character, but that does not make him unsympathetic. On the contrary, his initial inclination to remain outside of the Corleone clans’ chosen vocation makes him an entirely sympathetic individual of quality who willingly made sacrifices that would haunt him for the rest of his days.

Similarly and unfortunately Condoleezza Rice was simply drawn into the wrong crowd–the bad kids on the block. The respect I might have had for her had she not been a major participant in the Bush administration would be, I’m sure, much higher than it is today–you’re judged by the quality of your friends.

Still, I couldn’t help feeling a bit sad for her while she sat in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, understandably receiving a deserved pummeling on Iraqi policy and the President’s scheme to deploy 20,000 additional troops into the midst of the Sunni / Shi’a civil war (totally discounting our own state senator, the ridiculously out-of-touch simpleton, Barbara Boxer who managed to place the entirety of her leg in her mouth when addressing Rice by making the comment, “Now the issue is, who pays the price? Who pays the price? I’m not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old and my grandchild is too young. You’re not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with an immediate family. So, who pays the price? The American military and their families. And I just want to bring us back to that fact.” Wow, Boxer! Way to retrogress the feminist movement to the dark ages.)

Condoleezza Rice is an exceptionally intelligent and talented person. She’s a classically trained pianist, having played with the likes of famed Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and violinist Mustafa Fuzer Nawi. Fluent in Russian, she also speaks German, French, and Spanish. She received her Ph.D in political science from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University Of Denver, Colorado.

From Wikipedia…

Rice was hired for her first academic position by Stanford University as an Assistant Professor in Political Science (1981–1987). She was granted tenure and promoted, first to Associate Professor (1987–1993), and then (she was off-campus from 1989–1991) to Provost, the chief budget and academic officer of the university (1993–2000), and full Professor (1993–present). In addition to being the first female and first minority to hold the position of Provost at Stanford, Rice was the youngest Provost in Stanford’s history. She was also named a Senior Fellow of the Institute for International Studies, and a Senior Fellow (by courtesy) of the Hoover Institution. She was a specialist on the former Soviet Union and gave lectures on the subject for the Berkeley-Stanford joint program led by UC Berkeley Professor George Breslauer in the mid-1980s.

To say Rice is a highly educated, intelligent person would be an understatement. But a high degree of intelligence is not all-pervasive. The Secretary of State, along with Bush and his minions as well as much of the general populace of the United States and the world, simply have very little understanding of Islam, the Qur’an, Muslims, and the Middle-east. Of course, I’m not an expert on the subject either, but I understand what she does not–the continued rift and subsequent and inevitable violence between Sunnis and Shi’ites benefits non-Muslims throughout the world by fueling divisive chaos and disorganization between two separate and dangerous religiopolitical theocratic sects bent on brutal imperialistic expansionism.

Of course, my understanding pales in comparison to Islamic scholar and regular Jihadwatch.org contributor, Hugh Fitzgerald who writes an impassioned and reasoned response to Rice’s comment.

My understanding of Islam is in it’s infancy. Fitzgerald’s is not.

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Fitzgerald: Rice and worse than Rice

The Secretary of State recently stated that the Middle East will have to “overcome” the tendency to see things in Sunni-Shi’a terms. There are two things wrong with the statement of Condoleeza Rice.

The first is the o’erweening, history-ignoring idea that Sunni-Shi’a rivalries and hostilities can “be overcome.” The Sunni-Shi’a split long ago transcended the initial quarrel over succession. Now there are differences in the organization of the Shi’a and Sunni variants of Islam: in organization (the power of the Shi’a ayatollahs and other Shi’a clergy has nothing similar in Sunni Islam); in ritual (the Shi’a Ashoura, with its emphasis on self-flagellation); and practice (the Shi’a shrines and visits to those shrines, so offensive to austere Sunnis, especially to the most austere of all, the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia).

The belief that somehow deeply-held beliefs and attitudes can be “overcome” seems to approach all this as if it were a question of civil rights in the South. One of the silliest and most harmful aspects of American governments is the belief that many things are susceptible of change, or of change that will come quickly. “Let’s have self-determination now” or “Let’s end poverty the way Jeffery Sachs says we can” or “Let’s just get right in there and reform Islam.” A blend of naivete, ignorance, and arrogance, which yields a most unappetizing brew.

The second thing wrong with Rice’s statement is that apparently she cannot conceive of why this Sunni-Shi’a split is a good thing for Infidels. She cannot conceive of why chaos and confusion and endless hostility between the two main branches or sects of Islam is something to be exploited, not to be deplored. It appears that American governments want always to take the side of this or that plausible group of Muslims. First, it was the Shi’a in exile who managed to woo and win so many in the American government with their tales of WMD (Chalabi and his group), and others who confidently predicted that once the Americans “liberated” Iraq they would be greeted, those Americans, with an outpouring of joy and presumably permanent gratitude that “would make the liberation of Kabul look like a funeral procession.” It would cost, according to Wolfowitz and others, nothing like what it cost to maintain those sanctions — possibly a few tens of billions of dollars. And then it would be over. A “cakewalk,” wrote Kenneth Adelman (sometime purveyor of Shakespeare to corporations so that the tycoons and tycoonettes can apply “Shakespeare to the business world).

Many have in this farce, on all sides, in the government, and in the press, been weighted and found wanting.

Meanwhile, there’s something just over here, freshly scribbled on this wall, that I’d like to show our rulers and our pundits:

“Mene, mene, tekel upharsin.”

Do you think they’ll be able to make it out?

Yet Rice is not the worst. She is far superior to others who preceded her. If she invites comparison with two former and still nattering-away National Security Advisers, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, Condoleeza Rice only gains by the comparison. But that should not be the point of comparison. She, and all others in the government, should be spending their days and nights studying Islam, studying not only the texts — Qur’an, Hadith, Sira — but how those texts are naturally received by, not all, but almost all, Muslims, and figure out on what side the textual authority lies. They should learn about taqiyya. They should learn about the history of Islamic conquest and about the subjugation of non-Muslims — which is not only a matter of history, but can be seen today in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iraq, Sudan, Saudi Arabia (where the non-Muslims are to found only among the expatriate wage-slaves). They must learn what is so misleading about the phrase “moderate Muslim” — misleading and unhelpful. They must learn to detect the plausible from the true, to discover the smyler with the knyf under his cloke, as Chaucer emblemized the figure of Treachery he found in Boccaccio, well in advance.

They must learn to understand it all, and to understand not only the texts and the history, but the other attitudes that naturally arise in Islam: aggression, violence, inability to compromise, susceptibility to the most primitive conspiracy theories, blaming of non-Muslims for all the ills that should rightly be attributed to Islam but of course cannot be, and so on.

These are the things she, and so many others, including all of the would-be Presidents now eagerly seeking our support, must learn. Now, not in five or ten years. Now.

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The real star of this particular entry is not the USNews and World Report “Culture Clash in Denmark” story, but rather the preceding post by Hugh Fitzgerald, one of the writers who assists in maintaining the Dhimmi Watch blog site (the other writer being controversial Islam scholar, Robert Spencer.)

It is interesting to see how many “officials” in the upper echelons of our government (or most people in America) continue to view the United States as a perspicacious entity detached from the rest of the world–“officials” filled with so much hubris (or stupidity) that we need not overly concern ourselves with something so exotic and incongruous because we tend to view it from our own fixed macrocosm as something manageable (Iraq anyone?) Silvestre Reyes proved that one need not even possess any semblance of intelligence, let alone the needed expertise, on subjects that lie directly in the road of one’s own perceived specialty. Of course, public perception of expertise is often more important than verified proficiency. Why? Because most people either don’t want to know, or they only want to know the viewpoint that coincides with their blindly accepted political belief system.

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Fitzgerald: What they learn — and don’t learn

“There’s kind of an unspoken assumption that they’re not really Dutch, not really Danes, and so forth,” reasons one senior U.S. official who follows the phenomenon. “Europeans are uncomfortable with Islam, and they see it as an alien body in their midst. … Europe’s got a huge problem, and they’re just getting their minds around it now.” — from this article

The tone of this “senior U.S. offical who follows the phenomenon” is troubling. He appears to think the problem is that of the Europeans, who are “uncomfortable with Islam” — as opposed, perhaps, to Americans, who have such a much more extensive experience with Islam than do the people of Europe? When he says of the Europeans that “they see it as an alien body in their midst,” does he think that is wrong? Does he think it is the fault of those bad old Europeans, or does he think they made a terrible, a colossal, a life-threatening error in their heedlessness about Islam, when they let Muslims in in such numbers?

And does he think that there is a lesson here for the United States? And does he think that perhaps the doctrines of Islam itself might be worth looking into? After all, they uncompromisingly divide the world between Believer and Infidel, and between Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb, and preach the doctrine of endless war — not necessarily by open combat, for the money weapon also comes into play, as well as “pen, speech” and Da’wa, and now demographic conquest (discussed endlessly at Muslim sites and in the Muslim media, for everyone is keenly aware of this instrument of conquest in the Camp of Islam, even as they are amazingly unaware of it in the Camp of the Infidels). They view Europe as a land to be taken over, won for Islam, not a place where Muslims are to embrace, in the slightest, the doctrines or beliefs or legal and political and social institutions of permanently inferior Infidels. Does this “senior U.S. official” understand that?

The distant, almost unsympathetic tone, suggests that he does not. And if that is true, he needs a short but intense course in Islam and in the history of Islamic conquest — and not from John Esposito, and not from Karen Armstrong, and not from anyone certified as a “Muslim Sensitivity Trainer” by CAIR.

But the course he would most likely take, or has already taken, would probably be like the one now being given in a Virginia public school. That one is taught by one more useful idiot with the usual nonsense about “finding out about Islam” — and then limiting that finding out to the most obvious and the most innocuous: the rituals of worship that tell non-Muslims nothing about the effect on Muslims of the texts of Islam. Students will get the Shehada (and possibly be asked to recite it), the five daily prayers, the zakat or charity (but only toward fellow Muslims), Ramadan and other dietary rituals. What fun not to eat this, not to eat that! What fun, and how completely worthless as a guide to what Islam is all about, unless the students are told that in Islam everything is regulated, not merely food: including hairdos, wiping yourself, and of course how to speak to Infidels. They’ll also learn about the hajj, with pictures of a million pilgrims as they walk widdershins round the Magic Wonderstone, but no discussion of the Stoning of the Devil and what that is all about.

There will be no real study of the Qur’an, no look at 9.5 or 9.29 or 5.82 or a hundred other key verses. No discussion of why the date of Sura 9 matters (it was either the last or the second to last to be composed). No discussion of “naskh” or abrogation. No discussion of the hadith — why, I’ll bet the poor students in Virginia never find out what the Hadith are, much less will be given a website or two where, to their increasing horror, they can read a few hundred of the most important. Nor will they learn the real details of Muhammad’s life, or his significance as the Main Actor in Islam, far more real to Muslims than distant and whimsical Allah, and a guide, a Perfect Man, uswa hasana, al-insan al-kamil. None of that.

It will be a guide to nothing and nowhere. Possibly the students will come out radiant that they have “learned all about Islam.” Possibly some self-satisfied parents or some ACLU group or some school committee panjandrums will offer self-congratulations all around for this exercise in “dispelling myths” and “ending stereotypes.”

And a good time, an idiotically good time, will be had by all.

And nothing will have been learned. Nothing.

It will be a worthless course by an ill-informed naif. It should be condemned by everyone. Instead, it is very likely just the kind of thing this “senior U.S. official” has attended.

Photograph by Joachim Ladefoged VII for USN&WR

Friday prayer at the mosque run by Imam Ahmed Abu Laban, who helped spur anti-Denmark protests

Culture Clash in Denmark

The close-knit Danes find their liberal ideals tested by a growing, alienated Muslim population

By Thomas Omestad

Posted Sunday, December 31, 2006

COPENHAGEN–This, a recent study concluded, is the happiest country on Earth. With Denmark’s cradle-to-grave social welfare, highly regarded healthcare and education, prosperity, and small-country ethnic cohesion, the land that gave us Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales also excels at producing a good life in reality.

And yet, over the past year or so, the contented Danes have been forced to face both their greatest international crisis since World War II and the rise here of separate Muslim communities where many are unable or unwilling to enter the Danish mainstream. The international uproar over publication of 12 prophet Muhammad cartoons in a Danish newspaper triggered violence that left at least 139 people dead, Danish diplomatic outposts torched in Lebanon and Syria, and Danish goods boycotted. Suddenly, Denmark felt dangerously exposed–a country of just 5.4 million people facing the wrath of an Islamic world exceeding a billion people.

The violence outside Denmark ultimately quieted down, though the country’s security-threat level remains elevated. At home, the bitter disputes over the cartoons have highlighted an unhealed–and potentially hazardous–rift between the dominant Danes and the Muslim immigrants living in what are being called “parallel societies.” Ask Danes and Muslim immigrants alike, and many will say there is something a bit rotten in the Kingdom of Denmark.

The legacy of the cartoon uproar is not all bad. Private efforts at building bridges between Muslims and non-Muslim Danes have accelerated. Secular Danish Muslims condemned the violence overseas and appealed for dialogue. That, say Danes, has encouraged a greater appreciation of the differences–political and otherwise-among Muslims here.

“Time bomb.” Still, the cartoon crisis itself did not prompt any basic rethinking of how to integrate Muslims more deeply into Danish society. And the country is now preoccupied with things Muslim. Attention is riveted on any controversy linked to its Muslim residents–so-called honor killings of female relatives, street crime, terrorism probes, unemployment, forced marriages, use of veils, and so on. Denmark is pondering the specter of ever more young Muslims–unemployed and undereducated–finding their identities not as coolly secularized Danes but as fervent or even radical Muslims. “We are sitting on a time bomb,” warns Eva Smith, a law professor and racism expert at the University of Copenhagen.

The ferment in Denmark is especially striking because of its progressive traditions, but it also reflects the broader tremors rattling western Europe, where tangled issues of national identity, culture, religion, and security arising from Muslim immigration have bolted to the fore. Old, ethnically grounded societies are being roiled by the presence of Muslim newcomers–or at least by the reaction to them. “There’s kind of an unspoken assumption that they’re not really Dutch, not really Danes, and so forth,” reasons one senior U.S. official who follows the phenomenon. “Europeans are uncomfortable with Islam, and they see it as an alien body in their midst. … Europe’s got a huge problem, and they’re just getting their minds around it now.”

The cartoon controversy, along with frustration over the slow pace of Muslim integration, is leading some Danes to question their prized image as an open and tolerant nation. This, after all, is a people who under Nazi occupation spirited nearly all of their 7,000-some Jews to safety in Sweden. In the 1960s and 1970s, Denmark sought to offer one of Europe’s most liberal immigration policies. Many came as guest workers and were later joined by family members and asylum seekers. Even so, Denmark remained remarkably mono-ethnic; only about 4 percent of the population is Muslim. Coming mostly from Arab states, Iran, and Pakistan, the immigrants have clustered in a few neighborhoods in Copenhagen and other cities.

Yet as the preoccupation with Muslims has deepened in recent years, Denmark has swung in the opposite direction, erecting perhaps Europe’s most restrictive set of rules. A rightist, anti-immigration party sits not in government but at its side; the ruling coalition relies on its votes to govern. The mood toward immigrants has, with exceptions, soured. The share of Danes who view Islam as incompatible with democracy has shot up. And Muslims are often portrayed as troublemakers who sup at the table of Danish generosity–all the while rejecting what makes Denmark special. “They create ghettos. … There are a lot of criminals,” says Henrik Pedersen, a Dane who runs a Copenhagen trucking business. “Muslim people should be in a Muslim country.”

More sophisticated immigration skeptics worry that “Danish values” are under threat by politicized Muslims who resist assimilation. These values include democracy, far-reaching personal freedoms, equality between the sexes, and the trust born of unusually strong social bonds. One government minister frankly called the Danes a “tribe” in describing their group identity. “The whole quality of Danish life stands or falls with this community of values,” adds Ralf Pittelkow, a newspaper columnist and coauthor of a bestselling book on the Islamist challenge. “Danes need to feel reassured that the main features of Danish society remain unchanged. … We are at a crunch point.”

Some Danes argue that evading the impact of immigration is impossible. “Some people want to keep Denmark as a kind of museum,” says Helle Stenum, the chairwoman of MixEurope, a pro-integration group. “We are a rich, safe society that is scared.” Adds Copenhagen schoolteacher Maia Lisa Petersen as she rushes to a subway station, “These other cultures, other values force us to wake up. … We can’t hide anymore in this nice, perfect little Scandinavian world.”

Nor can the Muslim immigrants easily hide in enclaves that insulate them from the culture that surrounds them. They say that the political and media atmosphere has turned against them–particularly since the cartoon crisis. “It totally changed my view of Danish society,” says Mustafa Kucukyild, 26, who came from Turkey as a 1-year-old boy. “The spotlight is on Muslims. I’m much more cautious about what I say.” As the kebab and pizza restaurant where he works fills up with blond-haired college students, he is talking about his estrangement from the Danes. Kucukyild is asked if, having spent nearly all his life here, he feels Danish. “Definitely, no,” he replies. “No matter how much you want to be, you always have this black hair,” he says, grabbing at a lock of his own. “I will always be a foreigner.”

The alienation is pervasive, and it goes well beyond the discomfort some Muslims feel toward Denmark’s permissive atmosphere. “Danish people are very hard people, very cold,” claims Hassan, a middle-aged, Iraqi-born businessman in the Copenhagen district of Norrebro, where Danes often mix with immigrants. Hassan says that his children are adapting better than he is, though his 15-year-old daughter has faced problems in class–a teacher has chided her about her head scarf. Other immigrants report occasional hassles of other sorts: snide comments or being bumped on buses, being barred from nightclubs or followed by department store security officers–or the “what are you doing here?” stares in coffee shops. (Some Danes counter that Muslims are being overly sensitive, playing up an image of victimhood.)

more…

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Photo

“Politicians are dumb everywhere. There are very few smart, well-meaning politicians.”
– Hecubus

That is a quote from little old me from this story concerning Chicago’s ban on The Nativity Story advertising. As much as I believe that statement, little did I predict that a politician would emerge this quickly and demonstrate so thoroughly his lack of knowledge in matters he had better well have a near-expert understanding. Please meet your new Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Silvestre Reyes, Democrat from Texas, a man who possesses an obvious flair for the obtuse.

Below is an interview conducted by Jeff Stein for the Congressional Quarterly. In his time with the incoming HIC Chairman, Stein asked some fairly basic, and fairly simple questions concerning Islam, Iraq, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda. Reyes’ mental acuity is shocking–not in what he knows, but in what he doesn’t (but certainly should) know.

[Of course, Republicans prooved just as moronic in a previous interview under similar circumstances, but they don’t head the House Intelligence Committee either. ]

Now you may say to yourself, “Well, I don’t know all the answers,” or “those are some pretty tough questions.” That’s fine. But your job doesn’t likely require you to know all of the answers to the questions posed by Stein. It’s disturbing that the soon to be leader of the House Intelligence Committee, whose job it is to be intimately familiar with subjects and issues such as Islam, Iraq, Shiites vs. Sunnis, and al-Qaeda, has barely a clue as to what those concepts and entities entail. Reyes doesn’t even do a passable job stumbling his way through the interview with the typical politicized pat answers that all politicians practice religiously when standing in front of a mirror.

But in all honesty, the questions in the interview are not difficult to anyone who keeps up with current world events, and I found myself becoming very angry with Reyes and the intellectual vacuum in which he resides . This man has no clue, and he has no right to sit as Chairman for a committee whose expertise lies in the areas in which he was queried.

Oh well, Nancy Pelosi picks another winner to lead the nation. She would have been much better off choosing Reps. Jane Harman (Calif.), who does have the understanding and expertise necessary for the Chairman post, but Pelosi’s personal issues with Harman prevented her from making the right choice. Way to go, Pelosi.

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Democrats’ New Intelligence Chairman Needs a Crash Course on al Qaeda

Forty years ago, Sgt.
Silvestre Reyes was a helicopter crew chief flying dangerous combat missions in South Vietnam from the top of a soaring rocky outcrop near the sea called Marble Mountain.

After the war, it turned out that the communist Viet Cong had tunneled into the hill and built a combat hospital right beneath the skids of Reyes’ UH-1 Huey gunship.

Now the five-term Texas Democrat, 62, is facing similar unpleasant surprises about the enemy, this time as the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

That’s because, like a number of his colleagues and top counterterrorism officials that I’ve interviewed over the past several months, Reyes can’t answer some fundamental questions about the powerful forces arrayed against us in the Middle East.

It begs the question, of course: How can the Intelligence Committee do effective oversight of U.S. spy agencies when its leaders don’t know basics about the battlefield?

To his credit, Reyes, a kindly, thoughtful man who also sits on the Armed Service Committee, does see the undertows drawing the region into chaos.

For example, he knows that the 1,400- year-old split in Islam between Sunnis and Shiites not only fuels the militias and death squads in Iraq, it drives the competition for supremacy across the Middle East between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.

That’s more than two key Republicans on the Intelligence Committee knew when I interviewed them last summer. Rep.
Jo Ann Davis, R-Va., and
Terry Everett, R-Ala., both back for another term, were flummoxed by such basic questions, as were several top counterterrorism officials at the FBI.

I thought it only right now to pose the same questions to a Democrat, especially one who will take charge of the Intelligence panel come January. The former border patrol agent also sits on the Armed Services Committee.

Reyes stumbled when I asked him a simple question about al Qaeda at the end of a 40-minute interview in his office last week. Members of the Intelligence Committee, mind you, are paid $165,200 a year to know more than basic facts about our foes in the Middle East.

We warmed up with a long discussion about intelligence issues and Iraq. And then we veered into terrorism’s major players.

To me, it’s like asking about Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland: Who’s on what side?

The dialogue went like this:

Al Qaeda is what, I asked, Sunni or Shia?

“Al Qaeda, they have both,” Reyes said. “You’re talking about predominately?”

“Sure,” I said, not knowing what else to say.

“Predominantly — probably Shiite,” he ventured.

He couldn’t have been more wrong.

Al Qaeda is profoundly Sunni. If a Shiite showed up at an al Qaeda club house, they’d slice off his head and use it for a soccer ball.

That’s because the extremist Sunnis who make up a l Qaeda consider all Shiites to be heretics.

Al Qaeda’s Sunni roots account for its very existence. Osama bin Laden and his followers believe the Saudi Royal family besmirched the true faith through their corruption and alliance with the United States, particularly allowing U.S. troops on Saudi soil.

It’s been five years since these Muslim extremists flew hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center.

Is it too much to ask that our intelligence overseers know who they are?

Civil War

And Hezbollah? I asked him. What are they?

“Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah…”

He laughed again, shifting in his seat.

“Why do you ask me these questions at five o’clock? Can I answer in Spanish? Do you speak Spanish?”

“Poquito,” I said—a little.

“Poquito?! “ He laughed again.

“Go ahead,” I said, talk to me about Sunnis and Shia in Spanish.

Reyes: “Well, I, uh….”

I apologized for putting him “on the spot a little.” But I reminded him that the people who have killed thousands of Americans on U.S. soil and in the Middle East have been front page news for a long time now.

It’s been 23 years since a Hezbollah suicide bomber killed over 200 U.S. military personnel in Beirut, mostly Marines.

Hezbollah, a creature of Iran, is close to taking over in Lebanon. Reports say they are helping train Iraqi Shiites to kill Sunnis in the spiralling civil war.

“Yeah,” Reyes said, rightly observing, “but . . . it’s not like the Hatfields and the McCoys. It’s a heck of a lot more complex.

“And I agree with you — we ought to expend some effort into understanding them. But speaking only for myself, it’s hard to keep things in perspective and in the categories.”

Reyes is not alone.

The best argument for needing to understand who’s what in the Middle East is probably the mistaken invasion itself, despite the preponderance of expert opinion that it was a terrible idea — including that of Bush’s father and his advisers. On the day in 2003 when Iraqi mobs toppled the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, Bush was said to be unaware of the possibility that a Sunni-Shia civil war could fill the power vacuum, according to a reliable source with good White House connections.

If President Bush and some of his closest associates, not to mention top counterterrorism officials, have demonstrated their own ignorance about who the players are in the Middle East, why should we expect the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee to get it right?
Trent Lott, the veteran Republican senator from Mississippi, said only last September that “It’s hard for Americans, all of us, including me, to understand what’s wrong with these people.”

“Why do they kill people of other religions because of religion?” wondered Lott, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, after a meeting with Bush.

“Why do they hate the Israelis and despise their right to exist? Why do they hate each other? Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do they tell the difference?

“They all look the same to me,” Lott said.

Haunting

The administration’s disinterest in the Arab world has rattled down the chain of command.

Only six people in the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad are fluent in Arabic, according to last week’s report of the Iraq Study Group. Only about two dozen of the embassy’s thousand employees have some familiarity with the language, the report said.

The Iraq Study Group was amazed to find that, despite spending $2 billion on Iraq in 2006, more wasn’t being done to try “to understand the people who fabricate, plant and explode roadside bombs.”

Rare is the military unit with an American soldier who can read a captured document or interrogate a prisoner, my own sources tell me.

It was that way in Vietnam, too, Reyes says, which “haunts us.”

“If you substitute Arabization for Vietnamization, if you substitute . . . our guys going in and taking over a place then leaving it and the bad guys come back in. . . .”

He trails off, despairing.

“I could draw many more analogies.”

Yet Reyes says he favors sending more troops there.

“If it’s going to target the militias and eliminate them, I think that’s a worthwhile investment,” he said.

It’s hard to find anybody in Iraq who thinks the U.S. can do that.

On “a temporary basis, I’m willing to ramp them up by twenty or thirty thousand . . . for, I don’t know, two months, four months, six months — but certainly that would be an exception,” Reyes said.

Meanwhile, the killing is going on below decks, too, within Sunni and Shiite groups and factions.

Anybody who pays serious attention to Iraq knows that.

Reyes says his first hearings come January will focus on how U.S. intelligence can do a better job helping the troops in Iraq.

It may be way too late for that.

“Stop giving me tests!” Reyes exclaimed, half kidding.

“I’m not going to talk to you any more!”

Queries Vex New Chair of Intelligence

Reuters
Tuesday, December 12, 2006; Page A07

The incoming Democratic chairman of the House intelligence committee could not describe Hezbollah and incorrectly described al-Qaeda‘s Islamic roots in a recent interview.

Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.), whom incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) named earlier this month to chair the panel, formally known as the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, was asked by a reporter from Congressional Quarterly whether al-Qaeda was Sunni or Shiite. “Predominantly — probably Shiite,” Reyes replied.

From Osama bin Laden down, al-Qaeda’s leadership is comprehensively Sunni and subscribes to a form of Sunni Islam known for not tolerating theological deviation.

In fact, U.S. officials blame al-Qaeda’s late leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, for the surge in sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites.

Asked to describe the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, according to a story published online Friday, Reyes responded “Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah” and then said, “Why do you ask me these questions at 5 o’clock?”

The Texas congressman later added: “Speaking only for myself, it’s hard to keep things in perspective and in the categories.”

Reyes, a former Border Patrol agent and an opponent of the Iraq war, was chosen for the intelligence committee post over the panel’s two top-ranking Democrats, Reps. Jane Harman (Calif.) and Alcee L. Hastings (Fla.).

Reyes’s office issued a statement yesterday noting that the interview covered a wide range of topics.

“As a member of the intelligence committee since before 9/11, I’m acutely aware of al-Qaeda’s desire to harm Americans. The intelligence committee will keep its eye on the ball and focus on the pressing security and intelligence issues facing us,” Reyes said in the statement.

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“Missed opportunity” doesn’t even begin to describe the debacle that the Islamic world has yet again perpetrated in the name of their prophet Muhammad.

Provided to the Muslim faithful, courtesy of the major representation of Christian faith embodied in Catholicism and specifically the Pope, is the perfect occasion to demonstrate to the rest of the planet and particularly the west, how they can truly represent themselves in a civilized manner by taking this opportunity to protest peacefully their chagrin at the perceived slight by Benedict XVI.

Instead, they riot. Muslims throughout the Mideast and southeast Asia have taken to the streets, committed violence against others–particularly Christians. A jihad has already become inevitable according to many radical Islamists, including Al Qaeda.

Perhaps the Pope should have used a little more discernment before reciting the ancient text where from he drew words denouncing Islam and particularly the prophet Muhammad as “evil,” because as expected, the Muslim world has grossly over reacted to an intent that may or may not have even been there in the first place. Even more, a little spiritual discernment probably would have benefited the Pope far more than intellectual discernment. I’m reaching wildly here, but if the Pope would have consulted his boss first, if he would have really thought about the torment that could be caused as a result of his actions, I think he might have approached the subject differently. Did he not recall the anarchy that ensued after political cartoons depicting Muhammad appeared in European newspapers?

Regardless, Muslims have yet again proven their readiness to embrace violence as a means to denounce those who give them slight. It benefits them little, while continuing to alienate their faith and ideals even further to the western world. It makes me sad for them.

https://i2.wp.com/somebodyhelpme.info/cartoons/anti-Semitic/threat05-massacre.jpg

Pope’s apology fails to quell Muslim anger

Mon Sep 18, 1:01 PM ET

Pope Benedict XVI’s apology for remarks seen as critical of Islam, have failed to quell anger in the Muslim world as Iraqis burned him in effigy and Al-Qaeda in Iraq vowed to “smash the cross.”

Despite appeals for calm from Islamic and Western leaders, protests were held from Indonesia to Iraq over the pope’s citing of a medieval text last week that criticised some teachings of the Prophet Mohammed as “evil and inhuman.”

The leader of the world’s 1.1 billion Roman Catholics said he was “deeply sorry” Sunday for the offense caused by his remarks and the Vatican launched a diplomatic offensive to explain to Muslim countries his position on Islam.

A handful of Muslim groups welcomed the 79-year-old pope’s apology but it failed to stem the tide of anger in many Muslim nations.

Mohammed Habib of Egypt’s opposition Muslim Brotherhood said they considered the apology a retraction of the pope’s statement, but some Egyptian lawmakers demanded diplomatic ties with the Vatican be suspended.

The powerful All India Muslim Personal Law Board based in the northern city of Lucknow called for an end to protests against the Vatican but demonstrations were held elsewhere.

In Jakarta, some 100 hardliners rallied outside the Holy See’s mission in the Indonesian capital, waving a banner depicting the Vatican as an “axis of Satan.”

Some 150 protestors from a youth party marched through the Pakistani Kashmiri capital Muzaffarabad chanting “Death to Pope” and burned him in effigy.

The pope was also burned in effigy in this southern Iraqi port city where hundreds of Iraqis staged a demonstration on Monday and called for an apology.

The 500 protestors, followers of Ayatollah Mahmud al-Hassani, a mystical Shiite Muslim cleric, also burned German and American flags and called for the pope to be tried in an international court.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq warned in an Internet statement Monday it would wage jihad, or holy war, until the West is defeated.

“We say to the servant of the cross (the pope): wait for defeat… We say to infidels and tyrants: wait for what will afflict you. We continue our jihad,” said the statement attributed to the Mujahedeen consultative council.

“We will smash the cross,” it added, and “conquer Rome.”

Another armed group linked to Al-Qaeda, Ansar al-Sunna (Partisans of the Precepts of the Prophet), denounced the pope as “Satan’s hellhound.”

In Tehran, Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei compared the pope’s remarks to caricatures published in a Danish newspaper last year deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammed. The cartoons set off deadly protests in the Muslim world.

“The issue of insulting cartoons and remarks of some politicians about Islam are different links in the conspiracy of the crusaders and the pope’s remarks are the latest links in this,” Khamenei said.

In Jordan, a government spokesman said the pope’s apology was a “positive step in the right direction” but “we expect more steps.”

Morroco’s King Mohammed VI, who recalled his ambassador to the Vatican, called on the pontiff to demonstrate his respect for Muslim beliefs. “I’m speaking to you as head of the Catholic Church to ask you to have the same respect for Islam that you vow to other beliefs,” he said.

In the Gulf, newspapers continued to slam the pope with Saudi Arabia’s Al-Yom saying his comments were more than “an ordinary blunder requiring an apology.”

The Vatican sought meanwhile to reach out to Muslims.

Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone told the Corriere della Sera that Vatican ambassadors had been asked to explain to political and religious authorities in Muslim countries the full text of the pope’s speech, which they said had been taken out of context and “heavily manipulated.”

Other appeals for calm came from the European Commission, which condemned “disproportionate” reaction to the pope’s remarks, and French President Jacques Chirac, who warned against “anything that increases tensions between peoples or religions.”

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Epilogue • Family reunion

Lessons learned for Jill and the Monitor about her campaign for freedom. What’s happened to Alan’s family?

| Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

On April 2, 2006, a white Lufthansa 747 with the designation “Hamburg” written on its side taxied up to a gate at Boston’s Logan Airport. At 12:22 p.m., Jill Carroll stepped off the plane and onto US soil.

As she passed through customs, agents and other officials on duty crowded around for a chance to see her. Whisked into a waiting car, she was driven to the Monitor’s headquarters in Boston’s Back Bay, a police escort around her and news helicopters overhead.

Jill was traveling light. She’d left a big yellow bag of clothes and toiletries from her captivity in the Green Zone in Baghdad. She’d decompressed there for a day, talking to members of the US Embassy’s Hostage Working Group, before traveling on an aircraft carrying American casualties to Ramstein Air Force Base in Landstuhl, Germany.

(Photograph)
ZIPPY! Jill’s family shouted her nickname out of the window as she pulled up in front of a Boston apartment on April 2, moments before they were finally reunited.
MELANIE STETSON FREEMAN – STAFF
Photos: Homecoming photos

In Boston, her car went straight into the underground garage of the Christian Science church headquarters. In a preplanned bit of evasion, she was led through basement corridors under the complex to a loading dock on a nearby side street. She then jumped into a blue van – easily missing the media horde camped outside the Monitor building.

The van went only a few blocks, to a nearby church-owned townhouse. There, Jim, Mary Beth, and Katie crowded around an open window, yelling her nickname, “Zippy!”

Jill met them coming down the hallway in a whole-family embrace. She wept and said, “I’m sorry.” She was home.

(Photograph)
SISTERS REUNITED: Katie and Jill Carroll hug in Boston on April 2 upon Jill’s return from Iraq. Their parents, Jim and Mary Beth Carroll, look on.
MELANIE STETSON FREEMAN – STAFF
Photos: Homecoming photos

Nearly five months on, what’s to be learned from Jill Carroll’s kidnapping and release?

Monitor editors and correspondents were heartened by the global condemnation of the kidnapping, especially from Muslim religious leaders and even militant groups, such as Hamas. They remain proud of the media campaign they helped mount, from the solicitation of statements on Jill’s behalf to the public service announcements that ran in the Iraqi media. They believe it was targeted to the right audience – the Middle East – and well placed. They know the kidnappers saw some of it.

It’s presumptuous to say it led directly to her release, but “I do think that changed the mental climate,” says Richard Bergenheim, editor of the Monitor.

Another obvious conclusion is that Iraq has become a very dangerous place for the news media. More than 100 journalists, including interpreters and assistants, have died there since March 2003.

Since Jill’s kidnapping, the Monitor has upgraded its security measures in Baghdad – both because of what had happened to her and because of the worsening situation on the ground. Editors won’t detail those measures, so as not to undermine their effectiveness. The paper has kept a British security firm on retainer for consultation.

As for Jill herself, she says that her experience taught her about priorities. Throughout her 82-day ordeal, she missed her family and her friends. Work and success didn’t seem so important anymore. “I never once wished I’d filed one more story,” she says.

But she doesn’t regret going to Iraq in the first place. She was doing what she had always wanted to do – foreign reporting. Since her release, she has returned to Egypt, and is glad of it. She experienced again the distinctive culture of the Islamic world in a peaceful context.

“What happened to me is not the whole Middle East,” she says.

Jill is no longer a freelancer. To provide financial support in anticipation of her eventual release, the Monitor quietly made Jill a full-time employee a week after she was abducted. This fall, she’s been accepted into a journalism fellowship program at a major university. After that, she plans to return to writing from overseas.

Why was she released? Probably no one really knows except for her kidnappers. Maybe the public pressure worked. Maybe private whispers via Western and Middle Eastern intelligence convinced influential Sunnis that harming Jill wasn’t in their best interest.

Maybe as the political situation changed, so did the priorities of her kidnappers. Maybe the kidnappers just got what they wanted – publicity or the release of women from Abu Ghraib prison. Or maybe Jill herself – the smart, young American who spoke Arabic – helped alter her captors’ plans.

“One of the most effective weapons against terrorism is the truth. The truth was that Jill Carroll was not the enemy of her captors. Her father spoke that truth, and the rest of the world repeated it,” says Christopher Voss, special agent with the FBI’s Crisis Negotiation Unit in Quantico, Va.

As far as the Monitor and Jill’s family can determine, no ransom changed hands to win her release.

Earlier this month, the US military announced that it had captured four of Jill’s suspected kidnappers, after raiding a total of four locations in Baghdad, Abu Ghraib, and a village west of Fallujah. US sources in Baghdad have told staff writer Scott Peterson that the man Jill knew as “Abu Ahmed” (aka Sheikh Sadoun, say US military sources) was arrested by US Marines on May 19. The others in custody are guards, not the top figures in the group.

Members of murdered translator Alan Enwiya‘s immediate family have left Iraq, where they felt endangered. They are applying for US government permission to join their extended family in the US.

Jill never met the man who shot Alan. She was told that Alan’s killer died a few weeks later during an insurgent military operation.

Driver Adnan Abbas, having survived the abduction, was initially a suspect. He passed a polygraph test, and was cleared by Iraqi police. He, his wife, and four children (including a newborn) have also moved to another country. Their future remains uncertain, but their ambition is to live and work in the US.

The Monitor has established two funds to help these families start new lives. Among the donations received so far: The $800 cash the mujahideen gave Jill just prior to her release. She plans to sell the gold necklace and donate those funds, as well.

How to help
(Photograph)
HOWARD LAFRANCHI/THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

Alan Enwiya is one of nearly 100 journalists and media assistants killed in Iraq since March 2003. Alan (left side of photo) is survived by his wife, Fairuz, his two children, Martin and Mary Ann, and his parents. They have left Iraq and hope to move to the US where they have relatives.

Jill Carroll’s driver, Adnan Abbas, is a witness to Alan’s murder. He, his wife, and their four children (including a newborn) have also fled Iraq for their own safety.

In response to readers, the Monitor has established funds to help each family start a new life. Donations may be sent to:

The Alan Enwiya Fund
c/o The Christian Science Monitor
One Norway Street
Boston, MA 02115

The Adnan Abbas Fund
c/o The Christian Science Monitor
One Norway Street
Boston, MA 02115

Donations can also be made online.

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Part 10 • Freedom

Make another video, Jill is told, and you’ll be let go. But she doesn’t believe it until they give her a gold necklace and eight $100 bills.

| Staff writers of The Christian Science Monitor

(P.G.) The evening of March 29, Katie Carroll went to a party with some of her friends. Earlier that day, she had gone on the Arab satellite television network, Al Arabiya, to plead for her sister’s life.

When she got home that night, Katie imagined – as she had before – how great it would be if the phone would ring, and she would answer it, and it would be Jill, and this would all be over.

Just like that.

• • •

(J.C.) Little Hajar toddled away from the sagging bookcase holding a chapter of the Koran in her hand. She was heading for the foot-pedaled sewing machine, where a shiny candy wrapper had caught her attention.

She grabbed the wrapper, then showed me her treasures. She wasn’t yet 2 years old and was so small that our eyes were at the same level as I sat cross-legged on the floor of the house west of Fallujah. I’d been here almost two weeks and March was almost over.

“What’s that? What’s that? Oooh, wow,” I said, admiringly.

Hajar was great to play with despite the fact that her dress-and-jacket outfits were often smeared with yogurt or other messy food. Sometimes she’d bang on the door of my room to be let in. She was my only friend, the one person in this mujahideen household not responsible for my captivity.

This time, as the candy wrapper sparkled in her hand, the door suddenly opened. I looked up, expecting to see Hajar’s mother or father coming to bring me tea or food as usual.

Instead, I glimpsed Abu Nour‘s visage as he entered. As always, the leader of these mujahideen had come out of nowhere, like an apparition. I cast my eyes to the ground, afraid he’d think I knew too much about his face.

Hajar collapsed into the velveteen of my dishdasha tunic and buried her face in it, afraid of this stranger.

“I know how ya feel, kid,” I thought as I stroked her fine hair and small, motionless back.

What did Ink Eyes want? I hadn’t seen him for three weeks. He’d promised then that he would release me in three days – a promise that had been just as worthless as the many other times he’d vowed I was on the brink of freedom.

I had learned to stop believing the promises, to protect myself from that terrible tease called hope.

I used to cling to every word Abu Nour said, analyzing them for days afterward for any hint of my fate. Now, after almost three months of captivity, I just didn’t have the mental energy to do that anymore.

Instead, all I wanted was to minimize pain and have good days. A few minutes of playing with a child or helping women in the kitchen was an attainable goal. Seeing my family again – that was impossibly far away, a dream.

I stroked Hajar’s hair, only half-listening to Abu Nour drone on. I just wished he would go so Hajar and I could resume our game.

“Well, today is Monday, and tomorrow is Tuesday,” Abu Nour was saying. “So maybe in three days we’ll let you go.”

Twenty-four hours before my release he would return and we could have a final conversation about the mujahideen, he added.

I’d heard all this a million times.

“Oh thank you, sir,” I said, trying to smile as he left.

“Yeah, right,” I thought. “Don’t listen to him. Don’t get your hopes up, Jill. Just don’t do it.”

This was my theory: They were worried about my mental state. Since my bitter blow-ups with the Muj Brothers, Abu Qarrar and Abu Hassan, the mujahideen seemed to think I was fragile. Abu Nour hadn’t seen me in awhile, and he had just come to say hello. Maybe he thought a dose of false hope would keep me from doing something drastic.

It was late March. “Dad’s birthday is May 6,” I thought. “If they let me out before May 6, that will be OK. That’s all I really want.”

Abu Nour had come on Monday. Tuesday was OK: I got to play with Hajar. Then Wednesday came around. I can’t remember why, but I lost it.

I sobbed the whole day. Quietly, so they wouldn’t hear me. I was so tired, so worn out. I’d been fooling myself, thinking some days were happy. It had been three months and I was drifting further and further away from my family, from my life. Enough was enough. “Let me out!” I screamed to myself. “Let me out!”

That night, I was sitting in my room in the dark, all upset. And I heard Abu Nour’s voice.

They brought me into the sitting room after dinner. As always, I smelled his distinctive cologne before I saw him. Abu Nour sat cross-legged on the floor, his head bent toward the ground.

He had told me he was going to come back 24 hours before I was released.

“Tomorrow morning, we’re going to let you go,” he said. “We’re going to drive you to the Iraqi Islamic Party and you will call your newspaper and you will be free.”

I had no reaction. He might as well have said, “Here, have some tea.”

Then came the catch: I needed to make one more video. And I needed to forget much of what he had told me about himself and his group, as well as much of what I had seen.

I had to forget about the Majlis, or council, of mujahideen that he had claimed to lead. I had to say his group was medium-sized, not big, not small.

“You can’t talk about the women and children,” said Ink Eyes. “You have to say you were in one room the whole time and … you were treated very well.”

I was supposed to “interview” him one last time, and he would tell me what I was supposed to say to the world. He handed me a notebook in which I was to write down his words.

(Photograph)
JILLIAN TAMAKI

“Anything outside the notebook is forbidden,” he said.

Abu Nour wanted to make the video that night, but the power went out. So we made it in the morning. I didn’t know then that within a day it would be on the Internet.

After the filming, they put me back in my little room. The night before, they’d told me that they would pay me for my computer, which they would keep, and that they would bring me a gift.

Abu Rasha, the large man who served as the head of the mujahideen cell I spent most of my time with, once had told me that when they let me go, they would give me a gold necklace, just as they had done for Giuliana Sgrena, an Italian journalist who’d been kidnapped in Baghdad in early 2005 and held for a month.

I still wasn’t excited. Money and gold, that was my ticket to freedom. I figured that if they did give me those things, then the end might truly be at hand.

Abu Nour said goodbye. I stammered out some kind of reply. Then I waited, and waited. Finally, the woman of the house rushed in with new clothes for me to wear. There weren’t proper shoes, so she gave me her own black high-heeled patent leather sandals. They fit perfectly.

They rushed me into a car waiting outside. I still didn’t have gold. I still didn’t have money. I began to panic.

Abu Rasha was next to me in the back seat. He leaned over me, or so it felt, as I panted, blind, beneath three black scarves.

“Jill, we asked the Americans for the women prisoners and there were none,” he said. Normally his voice was slow and quiet; now it was loud.

“Oh,” I said, crouched in darkness, blind, hot, and breathless.

“And then we asked the government for money, and they gave us none,” he said.

“Oh yes, I know,” I said.

“Now we’re going to kill you,” he said, agitated and close to my head.

I thought they were going to do it. I imagined the gun. All they’d told me that day had been lies.

I knew I couldn’t be afraid. I had to make them think they were good people who weren’t capable of killing me.

I forced a laugh.

“No, Abu Rasha, you’re my brother, you wouldn’t do that!” I said, trying to keep the desperation out of my voice.

He laughed, more convincingly than me. “No, we’re not going to kill you,” he said. “We’re going to take you to the Iraqi Islamic Party and drop you off.”

I went limp. Tired, frozen, spent, I didn’t know what was going on anymore. I couldn’t make sense, couldn’t analyze. I had nothing left.

We drove and drove and drove. They kept calling on cellphones to the car ahead, to make sure the way was clear. Finally, Abu Rasha told me to lift my scarves and keep my eyes straight down. He started placing $100 bills in my hand. For my computer, I got $400, and then another $400 for my trouble.

Then he said, “Oh yes, we got you this,” and shoved a box into my narrow field of vision. He opened it and pulled out a gold necklace, with a pendant attached.

The money. The gold. Maybe they were really going to let me go.

We switched cars. I was in the front seat, with Abu Rasha driving. He began a monologue, angrier than anything I had ever heard from him. He spewed venom and expletives in English at the American military and government. He railed against the occupation, the war, and the Abu Ghraib prison.

I assured him that I wouldn’t tell the US military or American government that I was free, and I meant it. I would only call my journalist friends to come get me and have them drive me to the airport.

(Photograph)
View the neighborhood where Jill was dropped off and the Iraqi Islamic Party office where she was taken in our interactive map.

I had spent nearly three months feverishly trying to convince my captors that I wasn’t a CIA agent. If I was dropped off and immediately sought help from US officials, the mujahideen would assume that I really was a spy, I thought.

And I was afraid of what they then might do. The mujahideen had done everything they could to drill this message into my head over the past three months: They were omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. There was no escape from them, even in the Green Zone. Maybe not even in the US.

Abu Nour had once told me they had eyes everywhere, and that they’d be watching me after I was released. I’d long imagined a car bomb crashing into a military Humvee sent to collect me.

Then Abu Rasha pulled the car up to a curb. He handed me a note written in Arabic explaining who I was and told me to get out, lift my scarves, and walk a few hundred meters back.

The car door opened. It was Abu Qarrar, one of my Muj Brothers guards who’d appeared from nowhere. He handed me my gifts and a big bag full of all the clothes I’d accumulated over the last three months.

So my least favorite captor was the last one I saw. I said, “OK, Abu Qarrar, OK, goodbye, goodbye.” Then I hauled away, tottering down the road in an insurgent’s wife’s high-heeled sandals, grappling with my stuff, scarves flapping in my face, an ex-hostage bag lady returning to the world.

I found the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP) office and handed the man behind the desk the note. I was panicky, terrified, starting to shake. I just wanted to use the phone, I mumbled in Arabic.

Instead, the man ran to notify the manager of this IIP branch office. “The same journalist?!” the manager said incredulously after reading the note. Debate over what to do with me followed. I felt weak, lost. All I knew was that I wanted to call my hotel.

Things moved quickly after that. They tried to hustle me into a white car for a drive to IIP headquarters. I resisted; I just wanted the hotel. I asked again to use the office phone, but was told that none of them worked.

A cellphone appeared, with a call for me. It was Tariq al-Hashemi, the IIP leader, later to become the new government’s vice president. I told Mr. Hashemi that I wanted him to call my hotel, and if no one from the Monitor was there, to call the Washington Post office and have them come get me. He said he would also call the US Embassy. I begged him not to, but he insisted.

(Photograph)
TARIQ AL-HASHEMI: The head of the Iraqi Islamic Party gave Jill Carroll a gift of a Koran shortly after her release on March 30.
APTN/AP
Photos: Reactions to Jill’s release

After a few minutes, a convoy of white SUVs and trucks with flashing lights and gunmen roared into the driveway and streets around the office. The IIP officials brought me downstairs and hurried me into a bulletproof luxury vehicle, complete with leather seats. I realized it was Hashemi’s personal security detail. The lights and guns and militarylike atmosphere terrified me.

I wanted to shout, “I don’t want this!” as we zoomed away.

Things were going horribly wrong. The mujahideen were going to see me; they were going to kill us. They would think I lied, that I hadn’t called my colleagues to come get me in a low-profile way. I doubled over in the seat, hiding below the ledge of the tinted windows.

A man sitting next to me laughed and said, “Why are you doing this?”

“I don’t want them to see me,” I said. Didn’t he understand?! I wanted to shout at them to let me out, to stop, to make the cars with the flashing lights go away. We tore down Baghdad’s streets, a giant screaming convoy with guns sticking out everywhere. I was terrified that every ordinary car we passed was a car bomb sent by the mujahideen to kill me for breaking my promise.

“Be careful of car bombs, be careful,” I told the man driving in Arabic. I checked the location of the door lock and handle in case the vehicle went up in flames and I needed to get out in a hurry.

The guards looked bemused, as if I was crazy, and said not to worry.

For me, my release is one of the hardest memories of my captivity. I don’t know why. Suddenly, my structure was gone. There was no one to tell me what to do.

My body was free, but my mind was not. I was conditioned to be whatever anyone around me wanted me to be. I had no opinions, no self-will. I didn’t know how to make decisions.

The IIP headquarters was a blur. They wanted to make a video of me, and they had me write a letter of thanks and make an audio recording. This was strictly to ensure that no one would accuse them of being my kidnappers, they said. The video was then widely broadcast.

Two close friends from the Washington Post, including Ellen Knickmeyer, the Iraq bureau chief, showed up. Someone gave me a phone, and I called my twin sister, Katie.

(Photograph)
KATIE CARROLL: Jill’s twin sister left her home in Washington on March 30 for a reunion in Boston.
CHRIS GARDNER/AP
Photos: Reactions to Jill’s release

(P.G.) At 5:45 A.M. on March 30, Katie was awakened by a ringing phone. She rolled over, looked at the caller ID, and saw that someone in Iraq was trying to reach her. In an instant, she knew.

They say that dreams come true, but seldom in life is it given to any of us to have such a perfect moment.

She grabbed the phone. “Katie, it’s me,” said the voice on the other end of the line. “I’m free.” Jill and Katie both started to cry.

As the Carroll family’s chief communicator, Katie immediately launched into contact mode, calling people on a predetermined list, working from the East Coast toward the West as the sun rose.

She didn’t have to call her parents. Jim and Mary Beth Carroll got their own wake-up calls from Jill.

At the Monitor’s headquarters in Boston, the news spread quickly. Editors began looking through the happiest of their premade plans, “Carroll Release Logistics.”

In Cairo, staff writer Dan Murphy was having lunch with a journalist colleague. He and Scott Peterson had begun rotating in and out of Baghdad every few weeks. A friend from Reuters sent him an instant message: “Congratulations on Jill being free.”

Mr. Murphy didn’t believe it. After all, over the course of the past months he’d had nine or so false reports of Jill’s freedom. He called back and told his friend nothing had happened. “No, man,” his friend insisted, “we’re just snapping it out of the States. ‘The Christian Science Monitor confirms…’ “

• • •

(J.C.) I made the video for the IIP. My state of mind was reflected in the fact that I felt guilty for delaying the start of filming so I could call members of my family.

I learned that Scott Peterson was still in Baghdad. I was sure he would have fled. I called him on Ellen’s cellphone. He was at the CNN offices where he was working on a new set of public service videos about me.

I was still on the phone with Scott when the US military arrived. I was so afraid of the soldiers. “What should I do, Scott?” He told me if they were there, they were the surest way to safety. I hung onto my friend Ellen from the Post as we went downstairs.

We got into an armored vehicle. I still had my big bag of stuff. I figured the mujahideen were watching. They were watching everything.

The hatches closed. We were driving along, and I finally started to relax.

(Photograph)
VIDEO AMBUSH: Moments after being brought to the Iraqi Islamic Party headquarters, Jill Carroll was interviewed by party officials for ‘internal use.’ The video was released to the media within hours.
APTN/AP
Photos: Reactions to Jill’s release

One of the soldiers pulled out a picture of me that he had been carrying with him. “I don’t need this anymore,” he said, and gave it to me.

Another pulled off a flag that was attached with Velcro to his uniform, and gave that to me, too.

A third, sitting to my left, said “We’ve been looking for you for a long time.”

How did these men know who I was? I didn’t understand why they had a picture of me. I had no idea how much coverage my kidnapping had received.

I sat and talked with Ellen. After a few minutes, she said, “You can take off your hijab now.”

“No, no,” I said.

I waited a minute. Then I said, “Well, actually … I guess I can.”

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