Category Archives: Islamophobia

Nathan Lean, the Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims (Book Review)

Book review

Nathan Lean, the Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims, Pluto Press (2012)

by Elias Davidsson, 12 October 2016

The book represents genuine efforts by the author to expose the racist nature of Islamophobia, particularly as it affects the United States, and the main promoters of such racist propaganda. He focuses on what could be termed the lunatic fringe of US Islamophobia, i.e. on individuals and outfits whose main agenda is to incite the population against Muslims and Islam. His book provides very useful, und largely unknown, details about this coterie, including on the nexus between this lunatic fringe and mainstream media and politics. Largely due to this focus, the author ignores institutional and less blatant efforts that induce popular  distrust towards Muslims and Islam.  In his study of Islamophobia, the author hardly mentions the decades-long demonization of Arabs by Hollywood.

The author describes in some detail FBI-led stings in Muslim communities, which understandably created a lack of trust among Muslims towards law-enforcement authorities. Unfortunately, the author erroneously designates these FBI efforts as efforts to merely “monitor” these communities.  In fact, most FBI stings consist of actively nurturing extremism and inducing terrorist plots by vulnerable Muslims. Trevor Aaronson’s book, The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism, presents conclusive details about such FBI policy. Ignoring such important evidence about FBI efforts to manufacture terrorism does not speak favorably about the author’s scholarship.

The author downplays the public impact of the official Global War on Terror, which is largely understood and presented as an “Islamic terrorist threat”.  When governments and mainstream media harp on a particular threat, their message has far greater impact on public opinion than hysterical rantings by Zionist zealots.  By focusing on the lunatic fringe, the author unwittingly paints a distorted reality.

Apart from a number of minor errors that do not affect the author’s tenor but tar his scholarly rigor (see below), his book suffers from two major factual errors, that lead the author to false conclusions about the purpose of Islamophobia:

First, the author claims that Muslim terrorists carried out the mass-murders of 9/11, and in Madrid and London (pp. 3, 17-18, 38-39, 41, 63). Such claims are baseless. There is no evidence whatsoever that these mass-murders were carried out by Muslims. Available evidence supports far better the presumption that the US government, or more specifically, the Pentagon, planned and carried out 9/11 and that the events in Madrid and London were similarly covert state operations. The present book review does not permit even a short substantiation of this argument. Those who are interested in reviewing the arguments are invited to consult my study “Hijacking America’s Mind on 9/11”, also available on Amazon. It contains all necessary facts – richly annotated – that allow the definite dismissal of the official legend on 9/11.

Second, the author claims that Osama bin Laden was “the villainous mastermind of 9/11” (p. 9). There is no evidence either for this claim, notwithstanding his reference to a statement allegedly made by bin Laden, in which he allegedly claimed responsibility. In any case,  the FBI was not convinced by such statements, as it refrained from accusing Bin Laden for 9/11 (see FBI’s own poster on Osama bin Laden on FBI’s website). Asked why the FBI has not accused Bin Laden for 9/11, FBI’s spokesperson Rex Tomb said in June 2006, that the FBI has no hard evidence to link him to the mass-murder. Anyone interested in that issue, can simply google these names and terms and verify what I am writing.

Relying on a flawed factual base, it is not surprising that the author wrote: “[I]t must have felt quite natural and right after September 11, 2001 to ask uncomfortable questions about Islam.” Natural? The preoccupation with Islam was not at all natural: It was not prompted by personal experience but induced by unverified media accounts. Far more surprising is, that no journalist asked the following uncomfortable questions: “Why has no one been allowed to see the authentic passenger lists of the four aircraft that were allegedly hijacked on 9/11?  Who saw the alleged hijackers board these planes?  Why did the FBI refuse to forensically identify the wreckage of the allegedly crashed planes? Why did the White House oppose a public investigation of 9/11?  Why has no person, including those interned in Guantánamo, been charged and prosecuted for planning, financing, coordinating or participating in 9/11?

These blind spots undermine the implicit thesis of the author, namely that Islamophobia is essentially the work of a fringe cabal of Zionist Islam-haters. The truth is that Islamophobia is part and parcel of the institutional Global War On Terror needed to keep the military-industrial complex churning profits, to justify wars of aggression and the military occupation of African countries, and to establish a national security state within the United States. Islamophobia in today’s world serves a similar purpose as antisemitism was by the Nazi regime: To serve the interests of the ruling wealthy elite and pit ordinary people against each other.

I recommend this book for those who wish to know more about the professional Islam-bashers of the United States (although the coverage of this scene is by far not comprehensive). For those who wish to understand the political agenda of Islamophobia, its strategical role for US imperialism and to the role played by government-manufactured “Islamic terrorism”, the book will be of little value.

Reflections By An ARAB JEW

Reflections By An ARAB JEW

by Ella Habiba Shohat

Irvi Nasawi: Sephardic & Middle Eastern Cultures

Ella Habiba Shohat is Professor of Cultural Studies and Women’s Studies at CUNY. A writer, orator and activist, she is the author of Israeli Cinema: East/West and the Politics of Representation (Univ. of Texas Press, 1989) and the co-author (with Robert Stam) of Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media (Routledge 1994). Shohat co-edited Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation and Postcolonial Reflections (University of Minnesota Press, 1997) and is the editor of Talking Visions: Multicultural Feminism in a Transnational Age, (MIT Press/The New Museum, 2000). She writes often for such journals as Social Text and the Journal for Palestine Studies.
When issues of racial and colonial discourse are discussed in the U.S., people of Middle Eastern and North African origin are often excluded. This piece is written with the intent of opening up the multicultural debate, going beyond the U.S. census’s simplistic categorization of Middle Eastern peoples as “whites.”

It’s also written with the intent of multiculturalizing American notions of Jewishness. My personal narrative questions the Eurocentric opposition of Arab and Jew, particularly the denial of Arab Jewish (Sephardic) voices both in the Middle Eastern and American contexts.

I am an Arab Jew. Or, more specifically, an Iraqi Israeli woman living, writing and teaching in the U.S. Most members of my family were born and raised in Baghdad, and now live in Iraq, Israel, the U.S., England, and Holland. When my grandmother first encountered Israeli society in the ’50s, she was convinced that the people who looked, spoke and ate so differently–the European Jews–were actually European Christians. Jewishness for her generation was inextricably associated with Middle Easterness. My grandmother, who still lives in Israel and still communicates largely in Arabic, had to be taught to speak of “us” as Jews and “them” as Arabs. For Middle Easterners, the operating distinction had always been “Muslim,” “Jew,” and “Christian,” not Arab versus Jew. The assumption was that “Arabness” referred to a common shared culture and language, albeit with religious differences.

Americans are often amazed to discover the existentially nauseating or charmingly exotic possibilities of such a syncretic identity. I recall a well-established colleague who despite my elaborate lessons on the history of Arab Jews, still had trouble understanding that I was not a tragic anomaly–for instance, the daughter of an Arab (Palestinian) and an Israeli (European Jew). Living in North America makes it even more difficult to communicate that we are Jews and yet entitled to our Middle Eastern difference. And that we are Arabs and yet entitled to our religious difference, like Arab Christians and Arab Muslims.

It was precisely the policing of cultural borders in Israel that led some of us to escape into the metropolises of syncretic identities. Yet, in an American context, we face again a hegemony that allows us to narrate a single Jewish memory, i.e., a European one. For those of us who don’t hide our Middle Easterness under one Jewish “we,” it becomes tougher and tougher to exist in an American context hostile to the very notion of Easterness.

As an Arab Jew, I am often obliged to explain the “mysteries” of this oxymoronic entity. That we have spoken Arabic, not Yiddish; that for millennia our cultural creativity, secular and religious, had been largely articulated in Arabic (Maimonides being one of the few intellectuals to “make it” into the consciousness of the West); and that even the most religious of our communities in the Middle East and North Africa never expressed themselves in Yiddish-accented Hebrew prayers, nor did they practice liturgical-gestural norms and sartorial codes favoring the dark colors of centuries-ago Poland. Middle Eastern women similarly never wore wigs; their hair covers, if worn, consisted of different variations on regional clothing (and in the wake of British and French imperialism, many wore Western-style clothes). If you go to our synagogues, even in New York, Montreal, Paris or London, you’ll be amazed to hear the winding quarter tones of our music which the uninitiated might imagine to be coming from a mosque.

Now that the three cultural topographies that compose my ruptured and dislocated history–Iraq, Israel and the U.S.–have been involved in a war, it is crucial to say that we exist. Some of us refuse to dissolve so as to facilitate “neat” national and ethnic divisions. My anxiety and pain during the Scud attacks on Israel, where some of my family lives, did not cancel out my fear and anguish for the victims of the bombardment of Iraq, where I also have relatives.

War, however, is the friend of binarisms, leaving little place for complex identities. The Gulf War, for example, intensified a pressure already familiar to the Arab Jewish diaspora in the wake of the Israeli-Arab conflict: a pressure to choose between being a Jew and being an Arab. For our families, who have lived in Mesopotamia since at least the Babylonian exile, who have been Arabized for millennia, and who were abruptly dislodged to Israel 45 years ago, to be suddenly forced to assume a homogenous European Jewish identity based on experiences in Russia, Poland and Germany, was an exercise in self devastation. To be a European or American Jew has hardly been perceived as a contradiction, but to be an Arab Jew has been seen as a kind of logical paradox, even an ontological subversion. This binarism has led many Oriental Jews (our name in Israel referring to our common Asian and African countries of origin is Mizrahi or Mizrachi) to a profound and visceral schizophrenia, since for the first time in our history Arabness and Jewishness have been imposed as antonyms.

Intellectual discourse in the West highlights a Judeo-Christian tradition, yet rarely acknowledges the Judeo-Muslim culture of the Middle East, of North Africa, or of pre-Expulsion Spain (1492) and of the European parts of the Ottoman Empire. The Jewish experience in the Muslim world has often been portrayed as an unending nightmare of oppression and humiliation.

Although I in no way want to idealize that experience–there were occasional tensions, discriminations, even violence–on the whole, we lived quite comfortably within Muslim societies.

Our history simply cannot be discussed in European Jewish terminology. As Iraqi Jews, while retaining a communal identity, we were generally well integrated and indigenous to the country, forming an inseparable part of its social and cultural life. Thoroughly Arabized, we used Arabic even in hymns and religious ceremonies. The liberal and secular trends of the 20th century engendered an even stronger association of Iraqi Jews and Arab culture, which brought Jews into an extremely active arena in public and cultural life. Prominent Jewish writers, poets and scholars played a vital role in Arab culture, distinguishing themselves in Arabic speaking theater, in music, as singers, composers, and players of traditional instruments.

In Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Tunisia, Jews became members of legislatures, of municipal councils, of the judiciary, and even occupied high economic positions. (The finance minister of Iraq in the ’40s was Ishak Sasson, and in Egypt, Jamas Sanua–higher positions, ironically, than those our community had generally achieved within the Jewish state until the 1990s!)

The same historical process that dispossessed Palestinians of their property, lands and national-political rights, was linked to the dispossession of Middle Eastern and North African Jews of their property, lands, and rootedness in Muslim countries. As refugees, or mass immigrants (depending on one’s political perspective), we were forced to leave everything behind and give up our Iraqi passports. The same process also affected our uprootedness or ambiguous positioning within Israel itself, where we have been systematically discriminated against by institutions that deployed their energies and material to the consistent advantage of European Jews and to the consistent disadvantage of Oriental Jews. Even our physiognomies betray us, leading to internalized colonialism or physical misperception. Sephardic Oriental women often dye their dark hair blond, while the men have more than once been arrested or beaten when mistaken for Palestinians. What for Ashkenazi immigrants from Russian and Poland was a social aliya (literally “ascent”) was for Oriental Sephardic Jews a yerida (“descent”).

Stripped of our history, we have been forced by our no-exit situation to repress our collective nostalgia, at least within the public sphere. The pervasive notion of “one people” reunited in their ancient homeland actively disauthorizes any affectionate memory of life before Israel. We have never been allowed to mourn a trauma that the images of Iraq’s destruction only intensified and crystallized for some of us. Our cultural creativity in Arabic, Hebrew and Aramaic is hardly studied in Israeli schools, and it is becoming difficult to convince our children that we actually did exist there, and that some of us are still there in Iraq, Morocco, Yemen and Iran.

Western media much prefer the spectacle of the triumphant progress of Western technology to the survival of the peoples and cultures of the Middle East. The case of Arab Jews is just one of many elisions. From the outside, there is little sense of our community, and even less sense of the diversity of our political perspectives. Oriental-Sephardic peace movements, from the Black Panthers of the ’70s to the new Keshet (a “Rainbow” coalition of Mizrahi groups in Israel) not only call for a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians, but also for the cultural, political, and economic integration of Israel/Palestine into the Middle East. And thus an end to the binarisms of war, an end to a simplistic charting of Middle Eastern identities.

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80% of Anti-Muslim Attacks in France Against Women

80% of Anti-Muslim Attacks in France Against Women, Says Report

By Lucy Draper, Newsweek, February 17, 2015
80% of the anti-Muslim acts which occur in France are carried out against women a new report published today by Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe commissioner for human rights, has revealed.

The commissioner, who produced the report after visiting France in September last year, warned of increasing attacks directed at homosexuals, Jews and Muslims and said that there should be more efforts to integrate and care for immigrants and asylum seekers.

Muižnieks recommends a national plan to promote and protect human rights as well as ratifying Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights on the general prohibition of discrimination in order to “further strengthen the legal framework.”

Attacks on Muslims have been on the rise in France since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January. Earlier this month the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) published data that showed that between the Charlie Hebdo attacks on 7th January and the end of that month there were 147 ‘acts’ carried out against Muslims.

In the week following the attacks the CFCM reported that 26 separate mosques had been attacked across the country. In some cases the buildings were firebombed and in other grenades were thrown.

Fiyaz Mughal, the director of UK-based interfaith thinktank Faith Matters says that the term ‘acts’ covers a huge range of hostile actions. He says they have received complaints from Muslim women which include: “Spitting, general abuse, pulling and tearing at the niqab and the hijab, plus dog faeces being thrown at women, as well as bottles from passing cars and people shouting things like ‘Muslim whore’ ‘Muslim bitch’ or ‘Muzzie’.”

On why he believes Muslim women might face more abuse than their male counterparts, Mughal says: “All our data… shows that visible women are the ones that are targeted at a street level. This means that women who wear the hijab are the ones that are sometimes targeted for abuse and those who wear the niqab suffer more anti-Muslim hate incidents and more aggressive assaults.”

He also believes that there is a gender imbalance in terms of anti-Muslim hate at a street level, saying that victim data shows that perpetrators are usually male and aged between 15-35, while their victims are mostly women and aged between 15-45.

Sahar Aziz, a professor who teaches about Middle East law at the Texas A&M University School of Law wrote an article for American news site CNN in which she condemned the lack of response to these increased attacks from French feminists who had celebrated the 2011 ban on full face veils. “As Muslim women face threats to their safety in the anti-Muslim backlash, one cannot help but notice the deafening silence of French feminists,” Aziz writes.  

Muižnieks’s report addresses a wide-range of problems in France including racism and discrimination against a variety of people including Roma, migrants and those with disabilities.

Although the commissioner commended France for combating the issues he raised in their courts and institutions, he went on to suggest that the country “include the fight against discrimination in a national plan to promote and protect human rights”.

“It is essential to put an end to such acts, including on the internet, and to punish those responsible,” he wrote.

Freedom of Speech Facing ‘Major Threat’ in France
‘France Wants Assimilation Not Integration’: The Problem with French Secularism

Book review: “Fragile Frontiers – The Secret History of Mumbai Terror Attacks”

Fragile Frontiers: The Secret History of Mumbai Terror Attacks
by Saroj Kumar Rath (Routledge, 2014)

BOOK REVIEW by Elias Davidsson, 27 January 2015

Shoddy piece of propaganda

Under “Acknowledgements”, the author informs readers that his book was “commissioned” but does not reveal by whom.  Although the book presents the outward appearance of scholarship (several pages of acknowledgments and thanks, maps, hundreds of end notes, a substantial bibliography, a list of abbreviations, a glossary and an index), any person who has studied the 26/11 dossier needs only a couple of hours to determine that the book is basically a presumptuous piece of propaganda devoid of scholarly value.

While the author does not hide his animosity towards Pakistan, this by itself does not exclude the book’s value.  Scholarship can be attained despite an author’s bias.  Good scholars are able to set their personal feelings aside.

The subtitle of the book is: “The Secret History of Mumbai Terror Attacks.”  The author, however, dedicates only a single chapter – Chapter 4 – to the actual attacks of 26/11. In the light of the subtitle, this is surprising. Reading through that chapter one faces a new surprise. While this chapter contains literally hundreds of factual statements or allegations, these are supported by only 18 references.  Other chapters, however, are accompanied by far more references:
Chapter 1 (India’s Fragile Frontiers through the Prism of History):  179 notes
Chapter 2 (LeT: From Regional to Global): 161 notes
Chapter 3 (Prelude to Mumbai):140 notes
Chapter 4 (Mumbai outraged):18 notes
Chapter 5 (The After Effect): 55 notes
Chapter 6 (The Motives behind Mumbai): 143 notes
Chapter 7 (The Prosecution): 123 notes
Chapter 8 (The Afghan Conflict, Pakistan Conundrum and India’s Future Security):  27 notes

A good scholar attempts to establish as rigorously as possible the empirical basis of his theoretical observations. The events in Mumbai constitute the empirical basis for the author’s book. Of the 18 sources devoted to the Mumbai attacks, three refer to the author’s interviews with unidentified witnesses, two refer to Vinita Kamte’s book, four cite the Charge Sheet, six cite news media articles appearing between December 3, 2008 to November 26, 2009). Not cited are Kasab’s Judgment, the Supreme Court’s Judgment, testimonies of named witnesses, news reports issued during and shortly after the events and the critical research regarding 26/11 conducted by S.M. Mushrif.  The author does not even mention Mushrif’s seminal book “Who killed Karkare” in his long bibliography.  

Shoddy books of propaganda regarding the Mumbai attacks have been published before. They do not deserve a review.  This book deserves a critical review because the author engages in a double deception: First by suppressing crucial facts regarding the central tenet of his book and secondly by pretending to have written a scholarly work.  

Who profits from killing Charlie?

Who profits from killing Charlie?
By Pepe Escobar

Putin did it. Sorry, he didn’t. In the end, it was not Russia “aggression” that attacked the heart of Europe. It was a pro-style jihadi commando. Cui bono?

Careful planning and preparation; Kalashnikovs; rocket-propelled grenade launcher; balaclavas; sand-colored ammunition vest stuffed with spare magazines; army boots; piece of cake escape in a black Citroen. And the icing on the lethal cake; faultless Paris-based logistical support to pull that off. A former top French military commander, Frederic Gallois, has stressed the perfect application of “urban guerrilla technique” (where are those notorious Western counter-terrorism “experts” when one needs them?)

They might have spoken perfect French; others said it was broken

French. Anyway, what matters is that they uttered the magic word; “We’re al-Qaeda.” Better yet; they told a man in the street, “Tell the media that this is al-Qaeda in Yemen”, which means, in American terror terminology, al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP), which had Charlie Hebdo’s editor/cartoonist Stephane Charbonnier (“Charb”) on a hit list duly promoted by AQAP’s glossy magazine Inspire. Accusation: “Insulting the Prophet Mohammed.”

And just to make sure everyone had the perpetrators implanted on their brain, the killers also said, “Allahu Akbar”; “We have killed Charlie Hebdo”; and “We have avenged the Prophet.”

Case closed? Well, it took only a few hours for French police to identify the (usual?) suspects; French-Algerian brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi. The third man – the driver of the black Citroen, 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad – then turned himself in with an ironclad alibi. So the third man remains a cipher.

They all wore balaclavas. The Kouachi brothers have not been captured. But the police seem to know very well who they are. Because they found an abandoned ID in the black Citroen (oh, the troubles of being a command in a rush …) How come they didn’t know anything before the carnage?

Right on cue, Cherif Kouachi’s bio was splattered all over. He was on a global watch list. Along with six others, he was sentenced in May 2008 to 3 years in prison for “terrorism”; in fact unloading a dozen young Frenchmen via madrassas in Egypt and Syria to none other than Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the killed-by-an-American-missile former head of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and the spiritual father of Daesh/ISIS/ISIL.

Also right on clue, a full narrative was ready for mass consumption. The key point; French police privileges the hypothesis of “Islamic terrorism”. According to their “experts”, this could be an attack “ordered from abroad and executed by jihadis coming back from Syria that have escaped us”, or it could be “suburban idiots that radicalized themselves and concocted this military attack in the name of al-Qaeda.”

Scrap option two, please; this was a pro job. And staying with option one, this points right at – what else – blowback. Yes, they could be Daesh/ISIS/ISIL mercenaries trained by NATO (crucially, France included) in Turkey and/or Jordan. But it might get even false-flag nastier. They could also be former or current French special forces.

Blast Islam, will travel
Predictably, Islamofascism peddlers are already having a field day/week/month/year. For simpletons/trolls/hordes exhibiting an IQ worthy of sub-zoology, when in doubt, demonize Islam. It’s so convenient to forget that untold millions from Pakistan’s tribal areas to street markets across Iraq continue to feel pain devastating their hearts and lives as they are expendable victims of the jihadi mindset – or “Kalashnikov culture”, as it is known in Pakistan – profiting the “West”, directly or indirectly, for decades now. Think ritual droning of Pakistani, Yemeni, Syrian, Iraqi or Libyan civilians. Think Sadr City witnessing carnages over 10 times worse than Paris.

What French President Francois Hollande defined as “an act of exceptional barbarism” – and it is – does not apply when the “West”, France in the front line, from King Sarko to General Hollande himself, weaponizes, trains and remote-controls assorted mercenaries/beheaders from Libya to Syria. Oh yeah; killing civilians in Tripoli or Aleppo is perfectly all right. But don’t do that in Paris.

So this, in the heart of Europe, is what blowback feels like. This is what people feel in the Waziristans when a wedding party is incinerated by a Hellfire missile. In parallel, it’s absolutely impossible that the oh so sophisticated Western intel network had not seen blowback coming – and was impotent to prevent it (how come the scapegoats du jour, the Kouachi brothers, were not in the gallows?)

Of course the ultra-elaborate Western counter-terrorism expert network – so proficient at strip-teasing us all at every airport – saw it coming; but in shadow warland, portmanteau “al-Qaeda” and its myriad declinations, including “renegade” Daesh/ISIS/ISIL, are used as much as a mercenary army as a convenient domestic threat “against our freedoms”.

Who profits?
US Think Tankland, also predictably, is busy spinning the drama of an “intra-Muslim” split which provides jihadis a lot of geopolitical space to exploit – all this sucking the Western world into a Muslim civil war. This is absolutely ridiculous. The Empire of Chaos, already during the 70s, was busy cultivating jihadi/Kalashnikov culture to fight anything from the USSR to nationalist movements all across the Global South. Divide and Rule has always been used to fan the flames “intra-Islam”, from the Clinton administration getting cozy with the Taliban to the Cheney regime – helped by Persian Gulf vassals – advancing the sectarian Sunni/Shi’ite schism.

Cui bono, then, with killing Charlie? Only those whose agenda is to demonize Islam. Not even a bunch of brainwashed fanatics would pull off the Charlie carnage to show people who accuse them of being barbarians that they are, in fact, barbarians. French intel at least has concluded that this is no underwear bomber stunt. This is a pro job. That happens to take place just a few days after France recognizes Palestinian statehood. And just a few days after General Hollande demanded the lifting of sanctions against the Russian “threat”.

The Masters of the Universe who pull the real levers of the Empire of Chaos are freaking out with the systemic chaos in the racket they so far had the illusion of controlling. Make no mistake – the Empire of Chaos will do what it can to exploit the post-Charlie environment – be it blowback or false flag.

The Obama administration is already mobilizing the UN Security Council. The FBI is “helping” with the French investigation. And as an Italian analyst memorably put it, jihadis don’t attack a vulture hedge fund; they attack a satirical rag. This is not religion; this is hardcore geopolitics. Reminds me of David Bowie: “This is not rock’n roll. This is suicide.”

The Obama administration is already mobilized to offer “protection” – Mob-style – to a Western Europe that is just, only just, starting to be diffident of the pre-fabricated Russian “threat”. And just as it happens, when the Empire of Chaos mostly needs it, evil “terra” once again rears its ugly head.

And yes, I am Charlie. Not only because they made us laugh; but because they were sacrificial lambs in a much nastier, gruesome, never-ending shadowplay.

Pepe Escobar’s latest book is Empire of Chaos. Follow him on Facebook. He may be reached at

Book review of Jason Burke’s Al Qaeda – The True Story of Radical Islam

Jason Burke: Al Qaeda – The True Story of Radical Islam (Penguin Books, 2004)

Book Review by Elias Davidsson, October 19, 2014

Pretentious and disingenious

Burke’s book appears at first sight as a serious, scholarly, contribution to the study of Al Qaeda. It is heavily annotated, contains a glossary and a useful index, a map of Afghanistan and is well structured. Yet, as I will attempt to show, the book is essentially a slick fraud. The purpose of my review is to warn potential readers, nothing more and nothing less.

A substantial part of the book is devoted to the history of the so-called jihadist movement. Due to the nature of the subject matter, we may surmise that most sources used to compile such a history cannot be verified by readers, because of the inaccessibility of witnesses and the difficulty to authenticate documents allegedly issued by Islamic militants. There are, however, other means to gauge the credibility and integrity of the author, particularly in cases where sources are not only accessible to the wide public, but should have been cited by the author, had he been faithful to the truth.

Let us first consider how the author covered the role of one Ali A. Mohamed, a mysterious but crucial figure  to whom author Peter Lance devoted an entire book (“Triple Cross”). Author Burke mentions Mohamed at two locations in his book (p. 104 and 147). He presents Mohamed casually as a “former American special forces supply sergeant” who trained Islamic militants in Peshawar and cased the US embassy in Nairobi (Kenya) for bin Laden. In an extended endnote on p. 311, the author provides  slightly more information for those particularly interested. Yet, the author completely obfuscates Mohamed’s intimate cooperation with the FBI and the CIA and the fact that he also trained Islamists in the New York and New Jersey area with the knowledge of the FBI. In short, the author obfuscates the fact that Mohamed worked for the U.S. government while helping Al Qaeda. Given that the book was published in 2004, the author also obfuscated the fact that Mohamed, arrested and charged in the U.S. in connection with the bombings of the US embassies in East Africa, was spared a sentence and placed into the witness protection system, as is typical with US agents.  The author could hardly have been oblivious to the above facts. If he was, it would represent gross incompetence on his part.

On p. 102 the author claims that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (widely known as KSM), reportedly incarcerated in Guantánamo, “was one of the key planners of the 11 September attacks.”  The author does not bother to substantiate this claim.  It is true that this claim was published in the mainstream press but its basis is merely an unauthenticated transcript issued by the Department of Defense that purports to represent a confession by said person.  That piece of paper contains also the claim by the alleged confessor to have planned the murder of the Pope and the destruction of a bank in Washington State that did not exist at the time of that person’s arrest. If this is the type of evidence on which the author relies, how can readers trust those sources that they cannot even access?

On. p. 59 the author debunks the straw-man claim that bin Laden was funded by the CIA. Actually no serious person has made that claim. But he conceals from his readers evidence of a relationship between the CIA and Bin Laden, sustained until 9/11. This relationship was revealed by the  French daily Le Figaro and Radio-France International in October 2001. According to these fairly reliable sources, CIA agent Larry Mitchell visited bin Laden at the American Hospital in Dubai on July 12, 2001, during bin Laden’s treatment there.  Although both the CIA and bin Laden denied to have met each other at this opportunity, author Richard Labévière cites in his book “Les coulisses de la terreur” further sources confirming this meeting.  Even if one would consider such sources as controversial, concealing these reports from readers does not inspire confidence in the author’s integrity.

Chapter 15 is devoted to the 11 September attacks, namely to the event that, as it were, crowned the terrorist accomplishments of the global Islamic terrorist movement, that is the subject of the book.  In this case the author did not need to rely on evidence gleaned from dark corners in Afghanistan or on dubious statements made by dubious characters in interrogations. The evidence regarding 9/11 is readily accessible and could be gleaned from U.S. mainstream media, Congressional hearings and other open sources.

The author apparently acknowledges this fact, albeit in a slightly different formulation, writing on p. 235: “The mechanics of the [9/11] plot have been examined in infinitesimal detail.” While many details have been revealed, it is not accurate that the plot had been examined in “infinitesimal detail”, and certainly not by the U.S. authorities. Already on the morning of September 12, 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft warned that the task of the FBI was not to “solve a crime” but to prevent new attacks.  This warning was repeated four weeks later by the Director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, as revealed by the New York Times.  The White House, for its part, fiercely opposed a public inquiry into the events and only grudgingly accepted to establish a Commission of Inquiry 411 days after the events. The terms of reference of this Commission, its budget and its composition were all meant to render its findings stale. Even the chairman and vice-chairmen of the Commission admitted later that the Commission had failed.  Nothing of that is found in Burke’s Chapter 15.

The author blithely claims that Islamic terrorists “armed with simple box cutters,” took control of airliners.  The team that hijacked flight UA175 was allegedly led by Marwan Alshehhi, while that of flight AA11 by Mohamed Atta. (p. 234).  Yet the names of these individuals do no appear on any authenticated passenger list (or flight manifest), no one saw them at the respective airport and their bodies were not identified at the crash site. Actually the names of none of the 19 alleged hijackers appear on any authenticated passenger list, none were seen by airport personnel and the body of none was identified at the crash sites. Incidentally, the official story only mentions “box-cutters” in relation to flight AA77, not because box-cutters were found at the crash site, but because “box-cutters” were mentioned in one phone call allegedly made from that aircraft.

A third “suicide pilot” named by Burke is Hani Hanjour, a diminutive bungler, who allegedly steered a Boeing 757 at more than 400 mph horizontally (20 feet above the ground) into the second floor of the Pentagon, a feat that even professional pilots would hardly be able to accomplish with a passenger airliner. Hani’s flight instructors designated his flight skills “so shoddy…that they questioned whether his pilot’s license was genuine.”  One former employee of the flight school quoted by the New York Times on May 4, 2002, said about Hani “I’m still to this day amazed that he could have flown into the Pentagon. He could not fly at all.” One flight school repeatedly complained to the FAA about Hanjour but apparently the FAA ignored these complaints. Hani clearly enjoyed protection from “higher ups”. These facts, again, are obfuscated by the author, as they would undermine the legend he blithely presents as truth.  The fact that the U.S. authorities never produced evidence in support of their official legend on 9/11 – neither regarding the identities of the alleged hijackers, nor about the identities of the crashed aircraft – is not mentioned by the author.

It is difficult to believe that the author was entirely oblivious to the above facts. The question arises why a perceptive intellectual such as Noam Chomsky was led to write in a blurb to the author: “Based on careful on-the-ground investigation and penetrating inquiry, this fine study, the most illuminating I know, gives remarkable insight into Islamic militancy.”

I call on Burke to explain to his readers his omissions and his unsubstantiated claims, as presented above.

Half of Britain’s mosques have been attacked since 9/11

Half of Britain’s mosques have been attacked since 9/11

There remains ‘a lack of political will’ to tackle Islamophobia, warns Government adviser
Kevin Rawlinson, Kashmira Gander
Friday, 28 June 2013

Around half of mosques and Muslim centres in Britain have been subjected to Islamophobic attacks since 9/11, academics have warned as the far-right English Defence League prepares to march to the south-London scene of Drummer Lee Rigby’s murder.

The figures are highlighted in a report which also found that the number of anti-Islamic attacks increased by as much as tenfold in the days following the Woolwich attack.

Meanwhile, research by The Independent shows Islamophobic attacks spreading across Britain, with mosques being set alight and Muslims targeted at home in the past month.

Despite the warning signs, a senior Government adviser told The Independent that there remains a “lack of political will” to take on the rise of Islamophobic attacks in Britain. The adviser, who did not want to be named, said that attempts to “tackle this issue – even before Woolwich – struggled to attract buy-in,” with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, identified as the primary source of frustration.

The Muslim community was warned yesterday of the dangers it faces from hate groups in a sermon delivered at 500 mosques. The piece said that high-profile cases of sexual grooming of children by small groups of Muslim men “hitting the headlines in a short space of time and the fallout from the Woolwich case will create a major challenge for the Muslim community”.

The trial date for the two men accused of murdering Drummer Rigby, Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, will begin on 18 November, it was announced yesterday.

Professor Nigel Copsey, of Teesside University, the author of the new report which showed that between 40 and 60 per cent of mosques and other Islamic centres (around 700)  had been targeted since 9/11 – said: “There has undoubtedly been a spike in anti-Muslim incidents since the Woolwich murder. An obvious concern now is whether the number of hate crime incidents return to ‘normal’ levels or whether Woolwich has been a game-changer in terms of increasing the underlying incidence of anti-Muslim hate over the longer term.”

His report is based largely on figures from the Islamophobia watchdog Tell Mama. It shows an increase of attacks to nearly nine per day in the immediate aftermath of the Woolwich killing, but settling back to around two per day over in the following weeks. Prof- essor Copsey added: “What is significant about our analysis is the extent to which the far right is implicated in anti-Muslim hate crime.”

Just this week, swastikas and the letters “EDL”, “KKK” and “NF” were sprayed on the walls of a mosque in Redditch. There were also reports of pigs’ heads being left at Muslim families’ homes and other attacks against individuals. There was also a attack on an Islamic centre in north London.

But Dr Matthew Goodwin, associate fellow at Chatham House and an expert on extremist groups, said that  “the broader picture is more positive than we think. Young people are more at ease accepting Muslims in society.”

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “There is no place for anti-Muslim hatred or any kind of hatred in Britain, and we are committed to tackling this unacceptable scourge.”

This is what has become of America!

Los Angeles Times

Readers’ comments regarding Khaled Sheikh Mohammed’s trial published on L.A. Times site


Alfred Brock, April 6, 2011

(…) The men in Guantanamo should have been hung without fanfair a long time ago.  

Thomas Fredette, April 5, 2011

Does God specify to the terrorists as to whether these “virgins” would be female for certain? The Times also seems to be advocating a little late for “civilized” trials held in American courts. These people were picked up in the field of battle. They have no Country, no uniforms and no rules of conduct in accordance with the Geneva Convention. (…)


forobama12, April 5, 2011

Given the death of 3000 Ameicans King Nobama cares nothing about their families.

He could have taken care of these terrorists 2 years ago – his predecesoor likewise.

its itme to get rid of these guys

We worry more about these bad dudes than we care about law abiding American Families.

Shame on the LA Times.


dewittkai at 9:07 PM April 5, 2011

give him death dont waste the resources to house clothe and feed him.  who cares if he is a martyr i was in iraq from 04 to 05 it cant get much worse than its been already.


You Talkin To Me? at 8:44 PM April 5, 2011

This is just about the only guy we still have in custody. The rest were bailed out thanks to the bleedingheart liberals and went straight back to working for Al Qaeda and killing American soldiers. Can we at least convict the kingpin? After all, 3000 people died.


Jonadab at 7:59 PM April 5, 2011

I think they do not want to give him his wish, as then he will be in heaven with 76 virgins to play with.


chuckd at 7:08 PM April 5, 2011

Let him rot in his puny cell, subsisting off of dog food and neon lights for the rest of his life. He doesn’t deserve the satisfactory nor relief of death. He’s lost his faith in humanity, now make him lose his faith in his god. Only then will he realize his sins. There is no reason to show him mercy.


Bradford Talamon at 7:05 PM April 5, 2011

KSM won’t get the death penalty if the military tribunal is held in California.

If it is held anywhere else, he’s as dead as yesterday’s fish…

…and GOOD RIDDANCE!  There ain’t gonna be no 72 virgins waiting for this animal.


jay626 at 6:59 PM April 5, 2011

He should have to serve life in prison.  I’m sure the Aryan Brotherhood and Black inmates will take good care of him.  He’s gonna get beat up and head busted everyday he’s in prison and and after his beatings he will have his Butt Raped by the other inmates and probably get AIDS and die. Hahahahaha I can’t wait till he has to do real time.


Authorgmkah04 at 6:42 PM April 5, 2011

Just let the man die. Yes he is evil, but plenty of evil people have been executed. He was waterboarded 183 times!? Seems like decent punishment on top of being imprisoned for several years. Give the man death. If you’re a believer, then you realize he will get his punishment in the after-life.


jay626 at 7:02 PM April 5, 2011

No!!!  He’s not worth the gas it takes to execute him.  Make his life a living hell, He deserves prison so he can get beat up daily and Butt Raped by the other inmates.  He knows this will happen to him and wants the easy way out.  I’m pretty sure the backwards Allah doesn’t let homosexuals into his heave