16 Dead and 4 Injured in Road Accident.
Egypt still suffers from high incidence of fatal traffic accidents.Sixteen Egyptians died in a collision between a bus and a minibus on a road south of Cairo on Saturday, a security source said. Four other people were injured in the crash on the road between Cairo and the town of Fayoum, south of the Egyptian capital. Drivers of both vehicles were among the dead, the source said.
Pakistani Christian Children Sold As Slaves to Fund Islamic Militants.
Gul Khan, a leading member of a militant Islamic organisation based in Pakistan, is funding its activities through the sale of Christian children into slavery. The children, aged between 6 and 12, are abducted from their homes in remote Christian villages in the Punjab and incarcerated in appalling conditions, until being sold for approximately $1,700 each into the sex trade or a life of domestic servitude. While they are held they are beaten savagely, only fed once a day and ordered not to talk, play or pray. The trade was exposed by two Christian missionaries (one Pakistani, the other American), who had seen photographs of boys for sale on the black market in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province. The missionaries constructed an elaborate and hazardous rescue plan, with the Pakistani posing as a Lahore businessman who wanted to buy boys to beg for him. Not only did they manage to buy back twenty boys and return them to their homes, but also they secretly filmed Khan accepting money for seventeen boys. Khan is a senior member of Jamaat ul-Daawa (JUD), an organisation linked to Al-Qaeda. The US State Department has declared JUD to be a front for a terrorist group Lashkar-i-Toiba which is banned in both Pakistan and the UK. Yet JUD is popular in Pakistan for providing free medical care and education for the poor. At its base near Lahore JUD claims to have created a “pure Islamic environment” that is superior to western “depravity”. The base was funded by Osama bin Laden in the late 1990s.JUD and Al-Qaeda jointly attempted to assassinate the Pakistani President, Pervez Musharraf, in 2003. JUD''s leader, Hafez Muhamed Sayeed, was accused of inciting riots in Pakistan earlier this year in response to the publication of the Danish cartoons of the Islamic prophet Muhammed. Although the evidence against Khan is overwhelming the police have indicated that the power of groups such as JUD is too great for them to tackle. So far no investigation has taken place. “The revelation of this horrifying trade in Christian boys to fund Islamic terrorism is an extreme manifestation of the discrimination and oppression of Christians in Pakistan,” said Dr Patrick Sookhdeo the International Director of Barnabas Fund. “The classical teachings of Islam on the second class status of non-Muslims (called dhimmi) create an attitude of contempt towards Pakistan’s Christian minority which is seen in a whole raft of daily discrimination, injustice and humiliation. The situation is exacerbated by issues of caste and poverty. It is in this context that such horrors can take place. I am encouraged that the police did make some efforts in this case, but, as so often happens, they appear now to be intimidated themselves by the weight of the whole Islamist movement in Pakistan. I pray that the exposure of this slave trade to the international community will help bring an end to it.”
Jordan Info Helped Lead U.S. to Al-Zarqawi.
Jordan provided the U.S. military with information that helped in tracking down and killing al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian official said.Some of the information came from Jordan's sources inside Iraq and led the U.S. military to the area of Baqouba, the region northeast of Baghdad where Iraq's prime minister said al-Zarqawi was killed in an airstrike Wednesday night, said the official, who has knowledge of the operation.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was addressing intelligence issues, would not elaborate, but Jordan is known to have intelligence agents operating in Iraq to hunt down Islamic militants.Jordan also analyzed a video issued by the Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi in April and helped pinpoint where it was filmed, the official said. The video showed images of al-Zarqawi standing in a desert landscape, firing a machine gun.The official did not give details about how discovering the location led the military to al-Zarqawi or whether the video was filmed in the same location where al-Zarqawi was killed. When the video came out, observers said the flat desert setting resembled parts of Iraq's Anbar province, to the west of Diyala province, where Baqouba is located.
Islamic Radicals In Somalia.
Islamic radicals seized control of the Somali capital.The success of Islamic extremists fighting for control of Somalia's capital could prove an important setback in the U.S. war on terrorism, with the defeat of a counterterrorism alliance providing hope for militants elsewhere in the region.Somalia's location in the Horn of Africa and its role as a cultural bridge with the Middle East has always given the country strategic importance, so much so that the United States has posted troops in neighboring Djibouti to try to prevent terror groups from taking hold in the Horn of Africa.But U.S. efforts to influence chaotic, clan-riven Somalia have consistently fallen flat, sometimes with deadly results. The United States has not carried out any direct action in Somalia since the deaths of 18 servicemen there on a humanitarian mission in a 1993 battle in Mogadishu depicted in the film "Black Hawk Down."Islamic radicals seized control of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on Monday, defeating U.S.-backed warlords in weeks of fighting that left more than 330 people dead.Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, U.S. officials have expressed concerns that Somalia could become a haven for terrorists, a concern U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack repeated on Monday. "We do have real concerns about the presence of foreign terrorists in Somalia, and that informs an important aspect of our policy with regard to Somalia," McCormack said in Washington.On Tuesday he rejected suggestions that the extremists' success in Mogadishu is a severe setback for U.S. policy. The situation in Mogadishu is "very fluid" and has been for years, McCormack said.A U.S. official told The Associated Press recently that Islamic leaders in Mogadishu are sheltering three al-Qaida leaders indicted in the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. The same al-Qaida cell is believed responsible for the 2002 suicide bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in Kenya, which killed 15 people, and a simultaneous attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner over Kenya.Now men willing to shelter al-Qaida suspects have established their authority, if limited to Mogadishu. The U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, confirmed that the U.S. was cooperating with the secular warlords to capture the men. But the warlords took that small goal and turned it into a bid to defeat the Islamic leaders who had within two years developed the most powerful militia in Somalia.
Time to Challenge Muslim Extremists.
There is no section of Canada's multicultural mosaic under more stress today than this country's 750,000 Muslims. Many in this community are reeling, struggling to absorb the shocking news that 17 of their members have been arrested in connection with a bomb plot allegedly targeting public buildings in Toronto and southern Ontario. Adding to the horror conveyed by such charges is growing fear of a backlash against the entire community. Vandals have already struck, shattering the windows of a Rexdale mosque.
But with 12 men and five youths now charged with committing terror-related offences, there is a new urgency to understand why some individuals opt to attack the very country in which they were raised and educated. It is a question that has been asked in England, where native-born Muslims bombed London subways, and in Madrid, where homegrown Muslim terrorists attacked public transit with deadly results.
Regrettably, it is now a question that may need answering here. The vast majority of Canada's Muslims are strictly law-abiding. And, to their credit, many Muslim leaders have denounced violence unequivocally, noting that it is the responsibility of the Muslim community itself to act to stop the incitement of hatred by some members of its own families, educational and religious institutions. As Tarek Fatah, of the Muslim Canadian Congress, says: "We can't just go on behaving as if everything is normal," adding there are "fascist cult believers and they need to be combatted within the Muslim community."
Clearly, there are simple truths arising from the weekend events, most notably that all 17 of the people arrested are Muslims. Our important efforts at cultural understanding cannot disguise that fact.
Around the world, Muslim extremists have launched numerous terror acts. Many invoke Islam as a justification for their violence. And they have often hit Western targets on the grounds that our society and our way of life are an affront to Islam as they perceive it. In England, a few radical Islamic religious leaders have even openly called for acts of violence. But there are fundamental values expressed in our Charter of Rights that are not negotiable, that represent who we are as a society. As Harper rightly said yesterday in the House of Commons, "terrorists and the people they represent stand for nothing but hatred."In the coming days, Canadians must strive to avoid a possible backlash to the arrests. To do that, the onus will be on all of us. But the key will be the Muslim community itself. Individuals must accept responsibility for developments and alienation in parts of the diverse Muslim community.
To prevent a backlash on a scale that has occurred in parts of Europe, parents and friends, and community and educational and religious leaders within the Muslim community — as well as the greater Canadian society — must be ready to challenge the extremists in their midst.
If we are to move forward as a nation against terror attacks, all Canadians — Muslim and non-Muslim — must realize we are in this together.
Darfur Muslims Seek a Haven in Israel.
There are 220 Sudanese refugees being held in Israeli prison cells, army bases and remote kibbutzes.IN 2000 Sanka, a 30-year-old Sudanese Muslim, fled his village in Darfur after the infamous Janjawid — Arabs loyal to the Khartoum Government — arrived on horseback with machineguns, killing his father and stealing camels and cattle. Sanka rode on a tobacco lorry to the town of Niala, where he waited in vain for his family. He then headed east, looking for work, but was rounded up and beaten by the Sudanese police. He scraped together the money for a one-way airfare to Egypt, and he spent the next four years drifting around Cairo and Aswan, until he was arrested in late 2004. Facing expulsion to Sudan, he bribed his way out of custody and took a bus to the Sinai Desert bordering Israel. He wandered lost for 24 hours, un- til he stumbled across the blue-and-white flag of an Israeli military border post. “I expected to get shot in the head. If that had happened I would have said to them, ‘God bless you’. Everything was so hopeless for me,”. Sanka was not shot. The Israelis patched him up and held him for a month before attempting to send him back to Egypt. The Egyptians refused to take him. He spent a year in an Israeli prison before being sent to a kibbutz, while his fate was decided. “Sudan is the enemy of Israel. You are a citizen of that country, so we can’t release you,” a judge told him. Sanka — not his real name — is not alone in his extraordinary five-year odyssey from an Arab state to a Jewish one, and from a country in the grip of one genocide to a nation built on the ashes of another.
He was merely a pioneer, and ever more Sudanese — Muslims and Christians — have followed in his footsteps, desperate to escape the conflicts in Darfur and southern Sudan that have cost more than two million lives. There are 220 Sudanese refugees being held in Israeli prison cells, army bases and remote kibbutzes. The Israeli Government believes that many more may have entered the country undetected, using Beduin smugglers to take them across the unfenced border. The influx has accelerated sharply since December.
Trafficking in People.
Iran and Syria were added to a US blacklist of countries trafficking in people, a State Department report said, while raising concerns over an influx of sex workers to Germany for the World Cup soccer tournament.
Zimbabwe, Uzbekistan, Laos and Belize were also on the blacklist for the State Department's annual "Trafficking in Persons Report" which analyzed efforts in about 150 countries to combat trafficking for forced labor, prostitution, military service and other purposes.
The six countries join Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Sudan, Cuba and Myanmar among the "Tier 3" worst offenders of human trafficking who could face sanctions if they do not take immediate measures within 90 days.
"By calling to account any nation, friend or foe, that can and should do more to confront human trafficking, we are pressing countries into action," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in the presentation of the 290-page report.
"The harsh reality of human trafficking stuns even the hardest of hearts," she said.
The United States estimates that up to 800,000 people -- primarily women and children -- fall victims each year to trafficking, Rice said.
Iran and Syria, both of which have been accused by Washington of backing international terrorism, were cited in the report for being a "source, transit and destination country" for women and girls trafficked for sexual exploitation.
The United States is currently in the forefront of international efforts to slap UN Security Council sanctions on Iran if it does not suspend uranium enrichment activities, which could lead to the manufacture of nuclear bombs.
"Iran is downgraded to Tier 3 after persistent, credible reports of Iranian authorities punishing victims of trafficking with beatings, imprisonment and execution," the State Department said.
A key criteria of US law, which is used as a basis for the rankings, is protection of human trafficking victims.
"The law specifically says victims should not be punished for acts they commit after they've been trafficked, whether it's prostitution or anything else," said John Miller, a State Department advisor on efforts to stem the problem.
"We hope this situation will change in the next year," he said.
Canadian Terror Probe Expands to 7 Nations.
Sermons were "filled with hate" against Canada.
Police said Monday more arrests are likely in an alleged plot to bomb buildings in Canada, while intelligence officers sought ties between the 17 suspects and Islamic terror cells in the United States and five other nations.
A court said authorities had charged all 12 adults arrested over the weekend with participating in a terrorist group. Other charges included importing weapons and planning a bombing. The charges against five minors were not made public.
The Parliament of Canada, in Ottawa, is believed to be among targets the group discussed. Toronto Mayor David Miller said CN Tower, a downtown landmark, and the city's subway were not targets as had been the speculated in local media, but declined to identify sites that were.
A Muslim prayer leader who knew the oldest suspect, 43-year-old Qayyum Abdul Jamal, told The Associated Press on Monday that Jamal's sermons at a storefront mosque were "filled with hate" against Canada.
Authorities said more arrests were expected, possibly this week, as police pursue leads about a group that they say was inspired by the violent ideology of the al-Qaida terror network.
"We've by no means finished this investigation," Mike McDonell, deputy commissioner for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, told AP. "In fact, you might look at it that, really, we're just starting with the arrests. We have a responsibility to follow every lead."
Although both Canadian and U.S. officials said over the weekend there was no indication the purported terror group had targets outside Ontario, McDonell told AP on Monday that there are "foreign connections," but he would not elaborate.
A U.S. law enforcement official said investigators were looking for connections between those detained in Canada and suspected Islamic militants held in the United States, Britain, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Denmark and Sweden.
American authorities have established that two men from Georgia who were charged this year in a terrorism case had been in contact with some of the Canadian suspects via computer, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing.
Prosecutors have said the Georgia men, Ehsanul Islam Sadequee and Syed Haris Ahmed, traveled to Washington to shoot "casing videos" of the Capitol and other potential targets.
Sadequee, 19, a U.S. citizen who grew up near Atlanta, is accused of lying to federal authorities during an FBI terrorism investigation. Ahmed, 21, a Georgia Tech student, faces a charge he provided material support and resources for terrorism.
In Atlanta, Ahmed's lawyer, Jack Martin, told AP there may have been some connection between his client and the suspects, but he insisted it wasn't part of any terrorism plot.
"Other than having the possibility that they may have met at some point, I know of no indication that anyone believes my client had anything to do with what these guys were up to," Martin said.
A U.S. counterterrorism official said the 17 suspects in Canada are an example of a type of group that authorities have been concerned about for some time: self-organized, ad hoc cells of homegrown extremists, a development first seen in Britain.
The official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said Canada's government rightfully considered the 17 a serious threat because there was evidence the group was far along in planning attacks.
Egypt Ferry Sinking Inquiry Opens.
An inquiry has opened in Egypt into the sinking of a ferry last February in which more than 1,000 people died.
The man the authorities have accused of being chiefly responsible for the disaster - the owner of the al-Salam ferry, Mamduh Ismail - was not present.
He left Egypt for the UK after the sinking and Cairo has issued a summons against him through Interpol.
In April, a parliamentary investigation criticised the ship's owners, maritime authorities and the government.
The investigation found that there had been "wicked collaboration" between the company that owned the Egyptian ferry and the maritime authorities.
It said the ferry failed to meet minimum safety standards and that the agency responsible for maritime safety allowed it to sail despite being aware of its state.
The ferry apparently did not have enough lifeboats or fire-fighting equipment.
The parliamentary investigation also criticised the Egyptian government for its handling of the crisis.
Mr Ismail has denied responsibility for the disaster and accused the ship's captain, who went down with his ship, of overestimating the crew's ability to fight a fire that broke out on board.
Only 388 people survived after the al-Salam Boccaccio 98 sank in the Red Sea on 3 February.
The ferry was crossing from the port of Duba in Saudi Arabia to Safaga in Egypt, where the inquiry is taking place.
The passengers were mostly Egyptian workers.
Egyptians were shocked at the huge death toll and there was more outrage when it emerged that Mr Ismail, a well-connected businessman, was allowed to leave the country before investigations were completed.
“Tourism Benefits Everyone”
The Ministry of Tourism kicks off a public awareness campaign.IT’S A PRETTY SLICK commercial: An uplifting Arabian tune plays as happy taxi drivers polish their gleaming vehicles, bus drivers straighten their ties, hotel staff arrange flowers on restaurant tables — even the hagga baking flatbread kneads the dough with a smile.
But when the slogan “Tourism Benefits Everyone” flashes across the TV at the end of the three-minute spot, you have to wonder if this isn’t the most self-evident music video in Egyptian history.
The Ministry of Tourism doesn’t think so. Yes, millions of tourists visit Egypt every year, but in studies the ministry commissioned in recent years, visitors reported negative impressions about their interactions with Egyptians, resulting in a low rate of repeat visits.
Left unaddressed, this image problem could have serious repercussions for the country’s tourism industry.
“A single negative experience can affect a visitor’s decision to return to a destination. Word of mouth is so powerful; it can overshadow even the best promotional efforts,” says Randa Mustafa, an internal communications and public-awareness consultant for the Ministry of Tourism. “Moreover, as competition becomes more fierce in the global tourism arena, it is perhaps quality in service delivery, rather than the diversity or allure of the destination itself, which will determine who will be able to draw visitors back.”
According to Mustafa, the Ministry of Tourism does not have an estimate of the percent of repeat visitors.
To meet this challenge, the Nazif government launched a five-year National Tourism Awareness Project (NTAP) in late April to promote attitudes and behaviors that foster a more welcoming environment for tourists.
“The findings of the research showed that negative ratings were attached to several points of contact with tourists, ranging from the reception at the airport to taxis, and unfavorable experiences at various tourist sites,” says Mustafa.
Egyptian Tourism Authority Chairman Ahmed El-Khadem elaborates: “By analyzing these complaints, we found that most of the negative attitudes generally came from contact with the less educated, the less socially conscious.”
Both El-Khadem and Mustafa agree that many Egyptians don’t draw causal links between tourism, the economy and, in turn, their own livelihoods.
In 2005, Egypt received a record-high 8.6 million tourists who spent a total of 85.2 million tourist nights, accounting for $6.8 billion in revenues. The need for the average citizen to understand the significance of these numbers is the essence of the awareness program, which includes a multimedia campaign, a research component and a training program.
The three-part media campaign has already hit the airwaves. The first phase focuses on how many jobs tourism creates and how it factors into our daily lives.
“Tourism is the number-one provider of jobs worldwide,” Mustafa says. “In fact, every 1 million additional tourists Egypt receives create 200,000 new direct and indirect jobs. Tourism also holds forward and backward linkages to 70 different industries.”
While Europe Slept.
How Radical Islam is Destroying the West From Within. A Book By Bruce Bawer.This stunner of a book about Continental Islam has two main themes. The first is that Europe has a Muslim immigration and reproduction problem. This radically new and explosive demographic, according to the author, is not being converted to Western liberalism or adopting Western life-styles.
While Europe Slept argues that while Europe is currently only about ten percent Islamic -- vs. two percent for America -- if present trends continue it will only take a generation or two for Muslims to become the majority. The once-noble Continent will become what Bat Ye'or in 2005 called "Eurabia." The shocking claim by Gary Bawer is that well before 2050, most of Europe is likely to become an outpost of Islamdom governed by Sharia.
The second theme is that Europe today is a hellhole of leftist multiculturalism, far worse than anything in America, and even far worse than almost anyone in America suspects. American expatriate Bawer -- who has lived the past ten years in various European countries, mostly Holland and Norway -- is almost uniformly horrified by every country he resides in or visits. According to him, political correctness and multiculturalism are "a habit of thought that in America is an annoyance but in Europe is a veritable religion."
Bawer excoriates his European friends for their propensity to display phony "respect" and "understanding" of the various foreigners in their midst, especially Muslims. He blasts their cult-like belief in the mantra of multiculturalism and their unlimited "belief in peace and reconciliation through dialog," even with Islamists who emphatically reject peace, reconciliation, and dialog as methodologies or ideals.
While Europe Slept also makes the interesting observation that there is virtually no American-style "religious right" to oppose growing Muslim power. Virtually the whole Continent is atheist or de facto atheist.
This leads to some odd political terminology and alliances. Bruce Bawer consistently champions what he calls "the liberal resistance," but he doesn't seem to know where to find it or even how to describe it. What he does describe, in sickening detail, is how much the multicultural left utterly protects the Islamism. These two have formed an evil alliance in the heart of Western Civilization which seems all but unstoppable.
Israeli PM Heads for Egypt Talks.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is travelling to the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh for talks with the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Mr Olmert has just been to Washington for talks with President George W Bush and is expected to head to Europe soon.
But in the Middle East his choice is rather more limited since Israel has made peace with only Egypt and Jordan.
Hamas, which now runs the Palestinian Authority, will be a key issue in the talks with President Mubarak.
Mr Mubarak is expected to encourage Mr Olmert to hold talks with the moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is not a member of Hamas.
For his part, Mr Olmert may take the chance to talk about his plan to establish Israel's borders for good with or without the Palestinians and there may be a certain awkwardness to the meeting.
The meeting comes only two days after the Israeli army killed two armed men in Egyptian uniform on the Israeli-Egyptian border - a frontier which is normally very quiet