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Entries in Al Qa'eda (99)


Terrorism and UK Academia: Police Give £20,000 and Apology to Wrongly-Arrested Student

University of NottinghamFor more than three years, EA and its predecessor, Libertas, have followed the case of two men punished by the University of Nottingham and British authorities. The "crime"? Downloading a publicly-available Al Qa'eda training manual, as part of a postgraduate student's research on terrorism, onto a computer.

Hicham Yezza, an administrator at the university, and Rizwaan Sabir were arrested in May 2008. Sabir was released after seven days and eventually completed his Master's degree. He then moved to the University of Strathclyde in Scotland for his Ph.D. research. Yezza was not brought to trial but was held for months in a detention centre under threat of deportation before he was finally freed.

Sam Jones of The Guardian brings the latest development in the case. Readers might note that, in contrast to the compensation given by the police to Sabir, the University of Nottingham, which continued to secretly film Islamic students on campus, has never offered a word of apology to the student or to Yezza.

A student who was arrested and held for seven days after downloading the al-Qaida training manual as part of his university research into terrorist tactics has received £20,000 in compensation and an apology from the police for being stopped and searched.

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Reflecting on 9-11: A US Response More Costly than the Attacks (Stiglitz)

Even if Bush could be forgiven for taking the United States, and much of the rest of the world, to war on false pretenses, and for misrepresenting the cost of the venture, there is no excuse for how he chose to finance it. His was the first war in history paid for entirely on credit. As the US went into battle, with deficits already soaring from his 2001 tax cut, Bush decided to plunge ahead with yet another round of tax “relief” for the wealthy.

Today, the US is focused on unemployment and the deficit. Both threats to America’s future can, in no small measure, be traced to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Increased defense spending, together with the Bush tax cuts, is a key reason why the US went from a fiscal surplus of 2 per cent of GDP when Bush was elected to its parlous deficit and debt position today. Direct government spending on those wars so far amounts to roughly $2tn - $17,000 for every US household - with bills yet to be received increasing this amount by more than 50 per cent.

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Reflecting on 9-11: Why It Was Not a Turning Point for the World

There has already been a cascade of commentary for the 10th anniversary of 9-11, much of it centred on what it has meant for the US. 

EA will have a few selected pieces to prompt discussion --- the first, by David Dunn, has just been posted. I did not intend to write anything for the occasion; however, I was asked to send a few paragraphs to news services on what I thought was the lasting significance of 9-11 for the US. Amending this to "the US and the world", I offered the following:

For me, the most significant lesson of 9/11 is where it was NOT a turning point for people across the world. 

I should be clear. 9/11 was a tragedy, with the loss of thousands of lives. And it led to other tragedies --- a war within Afghanistan that continues to this day, a US-led intervention in Iraq that killed many more thousands of people, the misguided belief that force, torture, and rendition could win a "War on Terror". The response to 9/11 helped undermine the American economy, with consequences for the economies of other nations, and it tried to remove the notion of a fundamental 'civil liberty' that should not be sacrificed in the name of 'security'.

See also Reflecting on 9-11: What the War on Terror Has Cost the US...and Us (Dunn)

But, in the end, 9/11 has not been the catalyst for the most significant changes in our world a decade later. Al Qa'eda --- if it ever had any appeal --- is a spent force. The dream of some Americans, notably within the Bush Administration, for an era of "unipolar" US super-power is dispelled. In that sense, if you want to talk about a significant turning point in the last decade, it was not 11 September 2001, but the long, drawn-out failure of the Bush Administration in its invasion of Iraq.

The quest for freedom and democracy would not be embodied in that misguided adventure. Instead, the quest for freedom, democracy, and rights is embodied in movements which --- while drawing lessons from the response to 9/11 --- have been devoted to dealing with their local conditions, concerns, and aspirations. From Iran to the "Arab Spring" to Latin America to Asia, we are witnessing political, economic, and social change which does not depend upon Washington or its enemies for its motivation, hopes, and objectives.


Afghanistan Opinion: Why The Country is a Dimming "Light in the Distance" (Hamidi)

Casualty in Kabul Attack, 19 August>While the current situation in Afghanistan is not good, there is much that can be done to correct it.  However, if Washington and the regime in Kabul do not  address the serious problems built up rather than resolved over the last decade, President Obama’s “light in the distance” may fade into night forever.

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Egypt Feature: A Guide to the Political Movements (Amr)

I've noticed that most of the foreign media as well as my non-Egyptian friends usually see the political scene in Egypt as a simple bipolar one, Islamists & Liberals, and that's it. That's why I decided to put the Egyptian political spectrum the way I see it.

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Media Feature: Al Jazeera English Makes It to the US...Well, New York City (Stelter)

Every cable news channel has its moment.

CNN had the gulf war. Fox News had the war on terror. And Al Jazeera English had the Arab Spring.

But six months after widespread protests erupted in the Middle East, the Qatar-based Al Jazeera has not gained distribution on any major cable or satellite systems in the United States. The channel’s supporters say they feel it has been blacklisted; the distributors say they have to contend with limited channel space.

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The Latest from Iran (29 July): And Now We Bring You This Diversion....

Atiyah Abd al-Rahman (0615 GMT)1905 GMT: Oil and Politics. Even though he has not been approved as Minister of Oil by Parliament, Rustam Qassemi --- Revolutionary Guards commander and head of its engineering branch, Khatam al-Anbia --- has called a Saturday meeting of the Ministry's staff and experts in the industry.

Why such a hurry? An EA correspondent observes that a Tehran conference has noted that Qatar is taking 450,000 barrels of oil per day from the South Pars field --- and Iran is taking 0.

Our correspondent mischievously follows up, "[Qassemi is] trying to save his assets after yesterday's conference."

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Iran Feature: Taking Apart the US Innuendo on Tehran and Al Qa'eda (Pillar)

Despite the provocative phrase “secret deal", Treasury's announcement says nothing else about any such agreement. The only dealings it describes all seem to have to do with the imprisonment of al-Qa'ida members. Only one of the six designated individuals, named Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, is described as “Iran-based”; the other five all live and operate somewhere else and are included in the announcement because they are part of the same network as Khalil. The one bit of business Khalil is said to have with Tehran is that he “works with the Iranian government to arrange releases of al-Qa'ida personnel from Iranian prisons.” One of the other five is said to have “petitioned Iranian officials on al-Qa'ida's behalf to release operatives detained in Iran”—with no indication whether he succeeded. Any connection between the Iranian regime and the group's other activities involving movement of money and operatives is all a matter of innuendo, at least as far as Treasury's announcement is concerned.

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Norway Analysis: Questions and Lessons from Friday's Attacks in Oslo and Utoeya

Photo: GettyFinally, this case is an example of the dangers of a “rush to judgement” without the full facts. I am as guilty of this as anyone else with my analysis yesterday, potentially linking the attacks to Al Qaeda. Others went even further with media appearances and Twitter messages connecting the attacks to a so-called "jihadist" group that does not appear to exist. In turn, the media were only to happy to lap this up and this groundswell of misjudgements can have real consequences for ordinary people.

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Norway Special: The Oslo Bombing and the Threat from Al Qa'eda

Photo: APThe targeting of Norway should not be a surprise. In 2003, Al Qaeda --- through its current leader, Ayman Al-Zawahiri --- first threatened Norway, possibly because of the involvement of Norwegian special forces in Afghanistan. Since then, the Norwegian role in Afghanistan has expanded, although its troops are to be withdrawn later this year.

In July 2010, the Norwegian police announced the arrests of three suspected Al Qaeda members who may have been planning an attack. Two months later, the suggestion was that the attack they were planning was in retaliation for the publication of the cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad. In December 2010, there was the suicide attack in neighbouring Sweden by a British resident. On 12 July, an Iraqi-born cleric, facing deportation since 2005 as a security risk, was charged with issuing death threats against Norwegian politicians.

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