Evidently, some Palestinian prisoners don’t evoke Harriet Sherwood’s sympathy

Sympathetic portrayals of Palestinian terrorists serving sentences in Israeli jails are something of a specialty for the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood, and her Nov. 18 report about suspected al-Qaeda terrorist Samir al-Baraq (Palestinian held without trial takes case to Supreme Court) continues in this tradition.


Samir al-Baraq

Sherwood begins:

Israel‘s supreme court is set to rule on the continued detention of a Palestinian man accused of being an al-Qaida member who has been held in an Israeli jail without charge or trial for more than three years.

Samir al-Baraq has demanded to be released from “administrative detention”, the system by which Israel keeps security suspects locked up without going through a normal judicial process. The Israeli authorities are seeking a further six-month extension to the detention order.

Israel says Baraq, a Palestinian born in Kuwait, is a biological weapons expert who was planning attacks against Israeli targets when he was arrested in July 2010 while attempting to enter the country from Jordan.

According to court documents, Baraq studied microbiology in Pakistan, underwent military training in Afghanistan and was recruited in 2001 to al-Qaida by Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is the group’s leader today. In 2003, he spent three months in Guantánamo Bay, the US high-security jail in Cuba, and later spent five years in prison in Jordan.

Later in her report, she quotes Baraq’s lawyer:

Baraq’s lawyer, Mahmid Saleh, told Army Radio: “If he is such a senior terrorist, then why hasn’t he been prosecuted? There is no evidence against him.”

However, in addition to the fact that administrative detention is a widely used judicial method for dealing with suspected terrorists in other democratic countries, Ynet published a more detailed report about the case on the same day that Sherwood’s piece ran, and there seems to be little doubt about Baraq’s desire to engage in violent jihad.

In 1998, Samir Abed Latif al-Baraq was a BA student in biology in Pakistan when he decided to become an ‘a-aa’dar’ and start planning for a jihad that he believed would soon begin. He went to an Islamist militants’ camp in Afghanistan and tried to convince some of his friends to go with him. It was the first of many training camps in which he would spend time in upcoming years, training to become a terrorist.

The records [interrogation transcripts from the defense establishment which Ynet obtained], shed light on the path that he chose, and how he managed to make use of his academic education to become a member of al-Qaeda’s mysterious “biological project,” and not just a regular terrorist.

When he got to the camp in Afghanistan, he and his friends quickly learned how to operate weapons and how to make and use poisons, such as cyanide. In the summer of 1998, on his way back to Pakistan, he started talking about an attack on Israel for the first time.

When the interrogators asked him about this, he responded: “Yes, this is true

Baraq also reportedly told his interrogators quite explicitly in how he planned to kill Jews.

Beyond the specifics of the case, such ubiquitous stories at the Guardian about Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prison stand in stark contrast to the dearth of stories about Palestinians prisoners in Arab countries.  Moreover, whilst Palestinian prisoners in Israel are treated as heroes by the Palestinian Authority, the PA (per a recent story by Khaled Abu Toameh) has “long been ignoring the fact that thousands of Palestinians are languishing in prisons in several Arab countries,” including in Kuwait, the country of birth for Sherwood’s Palestinian protagonist.

Toameh’s report includes the following:

The families of the prisoners held by Israel at least know where their sons are and most visit them on a regular basis.  But in the Arab world the story is completely different.  The daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi recently revealed that dozens of Palestinians have been held in Kuwaiti prisons since 1991. The families of these prisoners do not know anything about their conditions.

Kuwait expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians after U.S.-led coalition forces liberated the tiny oil-rich emirate in 1991. The move came in retaliation for the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s [PLO] support for Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait a year earlier

After liberation, the Kuwaitis also arrested many Palestinians on suspicion of collaboration with the Iraqi occupation army.

Recently, the Kuwaitis finally allowed the Palestinian Authority to reopen the Palestinian embassy in the emirate. The move came after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas apologized for the PLO’s support of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

But the Palestinian Authority leadership is apparently too afraid to ask the Kuwaiti authorities about the Palestinians who went missing in the emirate during the past two decades. Abbas does not want to alienate the Kuwaitis; he is apparently hoping that they will resume financial aid to the Palestinians.

Hundreds of Palestinians are held in various prisons in Syria, some for more than two decades. In the past year, at least two prisoners were reported to have died in Syrian and Egyptian prisons.

Again, the Palestinian Authority leadership has not even demanded an inquiry into the deaths or the continued incarceration of Palestinians in the Arab world.

A prominent Palestinian writer who spent three weeks in jail in Syria described the prisons there as “human slaughterhouses.” Salameh Kaileh [a Palestinian intellectual] was arrested in April last year on suspicion of printing leaflets calling for the overthrow of Bashar Assad.

“It was hell on earth,” Kaileh told Associated Press. “I felt I was going to die under the brutal, savage and continuous beating of the interrogators, who tied me to ropes hung from the ceiling.”

Salameh Kaileh

Salameh Kaileh

Toameh concluded thus:

For the Palestinian Authority, the plight of Palestinians in Arab prisons does not seem to be an important issue. As far as the Palestinian Authority leadership is concerned, the only “heroes” are those prisoners who are held in Israel. For the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinians who are being tortured and killed in Arab prisons are not worth even a statement.

And, neither is their plight deemed worth a story, or evidently even viewed sympathetically, by Harriet Sherwood.

Journalists on board Gaza-bound flotilla will be active participants in illegal act

This is cross posted by Simon Plosker, the Managing Editor of Honest Reporting. The essay originally appeared in Ynet

Israeli soldiers being beaten with metal rods by "activists" on Mavi Marmara in 2010

“We are in a battle, and more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media.” So said Al-Qaeda’s new leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in November 2005. But what happens when the media attempts to define the physical battlefield by becoming active participants in the story?

We should all be extremely concerned by the announcement that among those sailing on the imminent flotilla to Gaza are journalists representing mainstream media, including the New York Times and camera crews from CNN and CBS.

This is a clear example of the symbiotic relationship between the media and anti-Israel agitators such as those behind the flotilla. After all, it wasn’t the violent actions of the passengers on board the Mavi Marmara that caused Israel so much damage – it was the diplomatic and public relations fallout from an incident that occupied the international press for days after the event.

The “martyrdom” of nine Turkish passengers constituted a PR success for the IHH organization and its cohorts. Clearly then the only reason the mainstream media would jump on board the next flotilla would be the prospect of capturing a repeat performance. Likewise, the flotilla’s organizers are counting on the media to publish a story whose narrative has already been written – namely that of some plucky “peace activists” attempting to break a brutish and illegal naval blockade of the poor Palestinians in their open-air prison.

Imagine that the Israeli Navy boards the flotilla’s ships one by one, forcing the vessels to dock without incident for inspection in an Israeli port. This would be the ultimate failure on the part of the organizers to create a major incident as well as for the media on board who hope to be on the scene reporting on the biggest news story of the day.

‘Useful idiots’  

Having established that both the flotilla participants and the accompanying media need each other, can we honestly count on the New York Times, CNN and CBS as well as other “embedded” journalists to report on the situation with objectivity even if the story doesn’t turn out to be as dramatic as they would hope?

Or will the mere presence of the media act as an invitation for confrontation and potential violence as so-called “activists” play for the cameras? And what of the journalists themselves? While over the years, some reporters have been inadvertently killed or injured by the IDF, we cannot expect soldiers entering a potential warzone, as the Mavi Marmara became, to run the added gauntlet of avoiding media personnel who have purposely positioned themselves in the crossfire. It not only risks the lives of the journalists but also those of Israel’s soldiers.

The Israeli government closed off access to the Gaza Strip for journalists during Operation Cast Lead, ostensibly for their own protection and to spare IDF troops from yet another factor outside of their control on the battlefield. There was a valid argument that this worked against Israel’s interests. The media, camped on a hilltop overlooking Gaza, was antagonized and vengeful while the images from Gaza itself were dominated by al-Jazeera and other less than objective sources.

This time, Israel would do well to remind those journalists on board the flotilla that they will be active participants in an illegal attempt to break what is a legal naval blockade under international law.

We can only hope that the mainstream media will not be influenced by the ideologues and “useful idiots” that make up the disparate groups on board, whose dominant zeitgeist is a hatred of Israel rather than a love of universal human rights. We will have to rely on the professionalism of the journalists to capture the reality of what occurs free from the prejudice that colors so much of the reporting on Israel.

Based on previous experience, however, we shouldn’t have high expectations. This ship has sailed. Will Israel be left clinging on to flotation devices, drowning in a sea of negative publicity or will this be a fishing expedition in calm waters?

The flotilla is sailing. It’s time to baton down the hatches once again.

The Guardian’s Brotherhood

Muslim Brotherhood

Jack Shenker and Brian Whitaker are rolled out by the Guardian to teach its readership about the Muslim Brotherhood as they become prominent in the Egyptian revolt to oust Mubarak.

In an “exclusive” interview granted by the Brothers to the Guardian we are treated to the same old platitudes and shades of dark grey learning less about who the Brotherhood is but more about the Guardian – shown once more as the central place to whitewash Islamism, bigotry and hate.

Yes it is mentioned that the Brotherhood is not supportive of gay rights. Wow. I suppose many readers may have thought the Brotherhood is some grander version of “Queers for Palestine” before being educated by Whitaker.

However there is zero mention of the fascist roots of this movement. The Guardian, expectedly omits the direct Nazi links and Nazi inspiration both in the article and the accompanying picture album showing the “turbulent” history of the Brotherhood.

That turbulence, according to the Guardian, stems from the anti-colonial nature and roots of the movement, opposing British industry and Arab dictators from Nasser to Mubarak.

Here’s another example of how Guardian writers express their lost novelist side when educating their readers on aspects of Islamist fanaticism:

“But placating foreign powers was not what Hassan al-Banna founded the movement for in 1928. It was Britain’s presence in Egypt that led to the brotherhood’s creation. Six Egyptian workers employed in the military camps of Ismailiyya in the Suez Canal Zone visited Banna, a young teacher who they had heard preaching in mosques and cafes on the need for “Islamic renewal”.

Cafes, students and mosques. One might think this was a Middle Eastern version of 1968 Paris by reading this.

In this passage we are led to believe that this movement is a peaceful one and has not been linked to anything nasty since 1954.

“The brotherhood was also implicated in an attempt to assassinate President Gamal Nasser in 1954, but it has long since renounced violence as a political means in Egypt. By the 1980s it was making determined efforts to join the political mainstream, making a series of alliances with the Wafd, the Labour and Liberal parties. In the 2000 election it won 17 parliamentary seats. Five years later, with candidates standing as independents for legal reasons, it won 88 seats – 20% of the total and its best electoral result to date.

Well they were also implicated in the assassination of Anwar Saddat but I guess that fact may not jive well with the phrase “long since renounced violence”

No mention of Quttb’s association with – and ideological affinity for – Adolf Hitler, nor any mention of the central role played by the infamous Mufti of Jerusalem in establishing this movement.

Should we even mention the plan to take over and destroy the West from within?

Probably not, as that would disturb the romanticization of such extremists that the Guardian often succumbs to.

No mention that Al Queda’s number 2, Ayman Al Zawahiri was originally a Muslim Brotherhood activist. (He was supposedly more of the mosque type than the café type.)

It seems that the Guardian must lack access to Google, as even a cursory search would provide a clear outline of the fascist links and roots of the movement – how it was inspired by the emerging Nazi party in Germany (how anti-colonial is that) and influenced by its ideals, and how the brotherhood was the leading purveyor of anti-Semitic propaganda in the Middle East.

The Brotherhood is exactly the opposite of what Whitaker and Shenker would want us believe. They are the ultimate colonizers. They lack the means at present but their plans and ambitions are anti-colonialist only to the extent that they oppose the colonialism of others. They want a Caliphate ruled by Sharia where non-Muslims pay Jiyzia to the Ummah for protection.

From Mein Kampf to the Protocols, the Brotherhood has been influenced by the vilest hate literature – an enmity responsible, in large measure, for the current state of affairs in Muslim-Jewish relations.

The Guardian omits the links to Hamas and other nasty outfits, omits that the Brotherhood is at the root of modern Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism and whitewashes once again a nasty hate based movement as some progressive assembly of well-meaning pious men whose only imperfection is that they do not get on board with rights of sexual minorities.

On “martyrs” and enablers

As a follow-up on our earlier post regarding the recent “martyrdom”(via a NATO airstrike in Afghanistan) of British al Qaeda leader Mahmoud Abu Rideh, note the astonishingly sympathetic piece the Guardian did on him in June 2009 entitled “A Day in the life of a terror suspect.”

Here’s some background:

  • Abu Rideh had been detained by the British government in December 2001 for having links to al Qaeda.  In 2005, after a British high court ruling, Rideh was released from prison but was subject to a “control order” – a house arrest which restricted his movements.
  • Rideh was said to have had close ties to the senior leadership of al Qaeda, including its deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and former leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, along with Abu Hamza, the radical preacher.

The portrayal of Rideh (who was then under house arrest) as a victim of government oppression by the Guardian – and NGOs like Amnesty and Human Rights watch – once again demonstrates that much of the British intelligentsia possess a seemingly unlimited capacity to cast reactionary jihadists as victims, as well as what can only be described as a willful blindness to the threat posed to Western society by radical Islam.

We may never know how many Americans and Brits lost their lives as a result of Mahmoud Abu Rideh’s involvement with al Qaeda, and his wish to become a “martyr.”  But, what we certainly do know is that those who continue to make excuses and even advocate for such jihadists are not innocent in the crimes committed by those whose freedom they assisted in securing.

Amnesty International “Action File” Dies “a Martyr” in Afghanistan

This is cross posted from the blog, Sad Red Earth, by our friend A. Jay Adler.

Back in May I wrote about Gita Saghal and her eventual resignation from Amnesty International because of its unseemly association with Moazzam Begg and his Cage Prisoners organization. You can catch up on that story here, too. Now, Harry’s Place reports on one of the AI and Cage Prisoners poster boys, Abu Rideh, a UK resident who was under a restrictive “control order” from 2005-09, until AI’s “action file” campaign was successful in winning Rideh’s release.

Mahmoud Abu Rideh

According to HP:

CagePrisoners, whose Director Moazzam Begg believes that “securing the release of Muslim prisoners” captured during jihad is “obligatory” on all Muslims, devoted significant campaigning resources towards this case.

A few days ago, The Daily Telegraph reported:

Mahmoud Abu Rideh, 39, was said to have been closely associated with the senior leadership of al-Qaeda, including its deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and former leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, along with Abu Hamza, the radical preacher.

He was allowed to travel to Syria in September last year after promising that he would not return to Britain.

But an Arabic jihadi web forum associated with al-Qaeda reports that he has become a “martyr in Afghanistan” and was with a group of fighters when he died, the Daily Telegraph has learned.

HP gives a full account of what AI had every reason to know about who Rideh was. My May post was entitled “The Future of the Human Rights Movement.”  For a movement as resistant to self-examination and altered behavior as any nation its organizations report on, that future continues to look a sorry one.