Archive for April, 2008

Steve Coll talks about his new book with Michael “Anonymous” Scheuer

April 23, 2008

Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars, has a new book out entitled The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century.  I am reading the book now myself and hope to do a longer post about it when I’m done.  In the meantime, I really encourage anyone interested in Saudi Arabia or in issues of Islam, modernity, terrorism, the U.S.-Sa’udi relationship,  etc. to watch this CSPAN BookTV interview of Steve Coll by Michael Scheuer, the former CIA head of the Bin Laden unit, who has authored several books post 9/11.

Steve Coll has done a ton of research for this book, and Mr. Scheuer is (to me at least) quite an interesting character with an interesting perspective himself.

The CSPAN interview can be watched here.


Nir Rosen shocks Senate with Reality that U.S. is an “imperialist power.”

April 7, 2008

I caught the link to this video from Think Progress over at Angry Arab.

Nir Rosen’s reporting is essential for anyone who cares about Iraq, you can find links to his articles here.

Here is the transcript of Nir Rosen telling the truth to a smug Senator Biden.

(I actually don’t think that anyone is surprised that the U.S. is an imperialist power.  These guys know that better than anyone.  There also not really surprised that someone would say it, they know what is many in academia and even in some parts of the public think.  But, believe me, they are surprised that someone shatters the illusion and fakery of their little political show by stating it to their face.  This, to me, was the real heart of the Jeremiah Wright brouhaha.  It is about people in power making sure that uncomfortable truths are not brought into mainstream polite discourse.  That is the realm exclusively reserved for bs  (and that includes Obama).)

“In Senate hearing on Wednesday about the future of Iraq, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) asked Nir Rosen of the NYU Center on Law and Security what advice he would have for the U.S. going forward in Iraq, given Rosen’s extensive first-hand experience in the country. Rosen declined to respond, saying he felt “uncomfortable” giving advice to an “imperialist power”:

BIDEN: Based on what you’ve said, there’s really no hope — we really should get the hell out of there right now. I mean, there’s nothing to do. Nothing.

ROSEN: As a journalist, I’m uncomfortable advising an imperialist power about how to be a more efficient imperialist power. And I don’t think that we’re there for the interest of the Iraqi people. I don’t think that’s ever been a motivation. […]

BIDEN: [If we withdraw], the good news is we wouldn’t be imperialists in Iraq, from your perspective.

ROSEN: Only elsewhere in the region. (laughter). … There’s no positive scenario in Iraq these days. Not every situation has a solution.”

The Siege of Mecca by Yaroslav Trofimov

April 4, 2008


The Siege of Mecca: The Forgotten Uprising in Islam’s Holiest Shrine and the Birth of Al-Qaeda

Shaykh Yasir Qadhi begins his set of cd lectures on the concept of the Mahdi in Islam by transporting the listener to the taking over of the Grand Mosque in Mecca by the Saudi Juhayman al-‘Utaybi and his followers in 1979 (1400 on the Islamic Hijri Calendar). This is because al-‘Utaybi claimed that his brother in law Muhammad Abdullah al-Qahtani was the Mahdi. From reading Trofimov’s book it seems that at the least al-‘Utaybi was able to convince Muhammad Abdullah himself and at the least scores of his followers that this was the truth.

al-utaybi.jpgJuhayman al-‘Utaybi

mahdi-yasir-qadhi.jpgThe Mahdi — Shaykh Yasir Qadhi

The purpose of this post is not to discuss the concept of the Mahdi in Islam, however, but to discuss Trofimov’s book. The book centers itself around the action in the Sacred Mosque in Mecca over several days beginning on November 20, 1979 which was the beginning of the year 1400 After the Hijrah of the Prophet (saw) on the Islamic calender. It is written as a thriller, fast paced with short chapters. The narrative is driven by accounts of the battle that took place in the mosque and its surroundings but the scene shifts to centers of power and decision making in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, at an Arab summit in Tunis, in Washington, D.C. and Tehran, and to scenes of violence that broke out in wake of the takeover of the mosque. This included anti-U.S. demonstrations and violence in places like Libya, Turkey, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. There was also an uprising against the Saudi royal family among the discriminated against Shi’a population of the Eastern Province. After detailing the events involved, Trofimov attempts to tie these events into much that would follow including the escalation of the conflict in Afghanistan, the assasination of Sadat, the conditions for the fallout between Osama bin Laden and the Saudi government and the resulting Al-Qaeda movement. (more…)

Vanity Fair: The Green Light

April 4, 2008

There is an important article in Vanity Fair which details how the Bush administration with the urging and justification of its top lawyers embarked on a concerted plan to engage in torture of Muslim prisoners.  The article focuses especially on enemies of God and humanity such as George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Douglas Feith, David Addington, and Alberto Gonzales.  May Allaah (swt) forgive all of us for allowing it to happen in our name and not being able to do anything to stop it.  May Allaah (swt) grant his aid, support, and assistance to the victims of torture all over the world.  As none of the major architects of this specific plan have ever told the truth about what they did nor ever expressed any remorse for what they did but instead of continously lied about it…May Allaah (swt) give them what they deserve.  I do not pray for their forgiveness. 

Here is the article describing what was done to Mohammed al-Qahtani (Detainee 063):

“We talked about the methods of interrogation. “In terms of their effects,” she said, “I suspect that the individual techniques are less important than the fact that they were used over an extended period of time, and that several appear to be used together: in other words, the cumulative effect.” Detainee 063 was subjected to systematic sleep deprivation. He was shackled and cuffed; at times, head restraints were used. He was compelled to listen to threats to his family. The interrogation leveraged his sensitivities as a Muslim: he was shown pictures of scantily clad models, was touched by a female interrogator, was made to stand naked, and was forcibly shaved. He was denied the right to pray. A psychiatrist who witnessed the interrogation of Detainee 063 reported the use of dogs, intended to intimidate “by getting the dogs close to him and then having the dogs bark or act aggressively on command.” The temperature was changed, and 063 was subjected to extreme cold. Intravenous tubes were forced into his body, to provide nourishment when he would not eat or drink.

We went through the marked-up document slowly, pausing at each blue mark. Detainee 063’s reactions were recorded with regularity. I’ll string some of them together to convey the impression:

Detainee began to cry. Visibly shaken. Very emotional. Detainee cried. Disturbed. Detainee began to cry. Detainee bit the IV tube completely in two. Started moaning. Uncomfortable. Moaning. Began crying hard spontaneously. Crying and praying. Very agitated. Yelled. Agitated and violent. Detainee spat. Detainee proclaimed his innocence. Whining. Dizzy. Forgetting things. Angry. Upset. Yelled for Allah.

The blue highlights went on and on.

Urinated on himself. Began to cry. Asked God for forgiveness. Cried. Cried. Became violent. Began to cry. Broke down and cried. Began to pray and openly cried. Cried out to Allah several times. Trembled uncontrollably.”

Read the whole article here.

New Book: “The Bin Ladens” by Steve Coll

April 4, 2008
‘The Bin Ladens’
Published: March 31, 2008
“They exchanged business cards. His name was Salem Bin Laden. He had a house just west of Orlando, he told her, not far from Disney World, and he happened to be entertaining some visitors from his native Saudi Arabia who were members of that oil-endowed country’s royal family.”

You can read an excerpt here.

You can listen to a podcast of Mr. Coll discussing his book here.

Iraq Muslims Shield Christians

April 4, 2008

 From, an important and moving story about how some Muslims are protecting and embracing their Christian neighbors during the current war, during which many Christians have unfortunately faced persecution and many (like many Muslims in Iraq) have been forced to flee from their homes and/or their country.

Iraq Muslims Shield Christians

By  Afif Sarhan, IOL Correspondent

BAGHDAD — When Bashar Paulo and his family received threats from extremists to leave their home, the Iraqi Christian immediately turned to his longtime friend.

“Mohammad’s family has been behaving like angles with us,” Paulo told

“When he first asked me to live with them, I was surprised as everyone here was afraid to be near Christians, scared to be targeted by insurgents,” he added.

“But they were different and gave us all support possible in this world.”

When Paulo phoned his neighbor for more than 15 years asking for help, Azir, a Baghdad clinician, did not hesitate for a second.

“I told him to pack and go away from there as fast as he could and come to my home where we were going to wait for him with love and care,” Azir told IOL.

Christians have lived side-by-side with Muslims and other religious groups in Iraq for centuries.