Saturday, February 27, 2010

The BDR Mutiny and Massacre – Some Unanswered Questions

A year has passed since the sad tragedy of 2/25 at Peel Khana happened. People are still without satisfactory answers to fully understand who were behind the cold-blooded killings of 57 Army officers that were on deputation to the BDR and why. The government preliminary inquiry reports were slow in coming and not too satisfactory to quench their thirst. Many folks can’t accept the inquiry report suggesting that the crime was “pre-planned” and yet without involvement of any political party, and that only two politicians - Awami League leader Torab Ali and BNP leader Nasiruddin Ahmed Pintu – had known about the deadly conspiracy. They allege a massive government “cover-up” with the inquiry report. Not surprisingly, conspiracy theories are not short in supply.

Many readers would accuse the NFB editor of displaying gross partisanship, which in this case is anti-Awami League bias, for posting two articles lately - one by 23 anonymous writers, which I would call paper A, and the other by a retired Brigadier General, which I would call paper B - on a matter of enormous curiosity and national importance. Many would even consider these two papers A & B as two such additions to the “conspiracy” basket. (A closer examination suggests that the author of paper B was also a co-author of paper A; bulk of the material was same, almost a carbon copy.)

In a highly polarized environment that we live in, many would even discover ulterior motives of the unknown authors, who stated that the piece was written for only those who are genuinely neutral and unbiased. When it comes to politics, I consider myself neutral and unbiased. I am not apolitical though, and, as such, have never shied away from saying what I felt in my heart whether or not such views were politically correct. Consequently, many a time during the past BNP-rule I was called a BNP sympathizer or partisan by some die-hard Awami Leaguers and neoconservative touts. And these days, I am called an AL supporter or sympathizer, and even a RAW sympathizer for expressing my unbiased views that are at odds with those of the opposing camp! I am above such brandings. I don’t idolize any human being either, not even Prophet Muhammad (S), whom I consider the best of humanity. However, I am one of those who like to believe in inherent goodness of human beings, unless proven otherwise. And I am aware that there are many evil people in our world who are worst than beasts! In my human perception, I can tolerate larger beta errors at the expense of small alpha errors.

I was in Chittagong on my way to meet Mr. Bonoj Kumar, DC-North, Chittagong, when 2/25 unfolded. After the scheduled meeting with Mr. Kumar was cut short I returned home and sat in front of the TV, watching various channels to understand what had went wrong that day. It was a very painful experience for me and my family members since many of our juniors from cadet colleges were killed in that sad event. One such victim was Col. Enshad Amin, my brother Shameem's junior at the FCC. His parents were good friends to our parents and they also lived close to us. I remember visiting the family when Enshad’s father died a few years ago. From our close cadet college circle, we lost over 20 brilliant officers that tragic day.

A few days earlier, I had met with the ACC Chairman Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury discussing corruption, and the IGP Nur Mohammad sharing concerns that many of our expatriate community had regarding deteriorating law and order situation within the country, and why his police forces must deliver on the public responsibility to bring down crime and fight against land-grabbers that often victimize our family members. I admired both those individuals for their personal honesty. I remember praying in earnest that the IGP’s son-in-law was not another victim of the BDR carnage. But my prayer was not granted. He too was murdered. It felt like losing a loved one!

Like most Bangladeshis, I am, therefore, all for truth and justice, and want to see the true culprits and conspirators, whoever they are, brought to justice and punished for their heinous crimes. No compromise there! Such crimes can never be allowed to repeat.

I must admit that these papers were fascinating, and appeared almost incredibly mind-boggling, which many would dump as part of a ‘conspiracy’ theory. At best, they appeared to be based on hearsays; at worst, concocted to harm the current government’s image. No credible evidence or reference is provided to substantiate much of the accusations. However, if the information contained therein is true, it portrays a very damning, and almost an evil and sinister, image of a government that plotted to destroy its own forces. And worse still, it succeeded in killing 57 brilliant officers. In that plot, even the prime minister and her son, the Home Ministry, several MPs of the ruling party, few army officers and the BDR mutineers conspired with the (Indian) RAW to bring about the BDR carnage where some co-conspirators were even used as liabilities, sacrificial lambs or pawns, willingly or unwillingly! Simply inexcusable and gravest of the crimes imaginable for any government to commit! To most readers, therefore, the plot would sound as eerie and sinister as 9/11 when Bush Jr. is accused of planning it. Simply stupefying!

After reading both the papers, I remain skeptical since I hate to believe the worst in a democratic government that had won election in a land-slide victory. Why would it conspire against a segment of its own armed forces to kill many of its brilliant officers? The claim sounds rather bizarre when one is reminded by the authors of the paper A that the election win of the AL in the last election itself was stage-managed by the CAS Gen. Moeen U. Ahmed and the DGFI. With those high-ranking generals on its side, was it that difficult for the new government to purge the so-called Islamists from the Army, or the BDR? The answer has to be an emphatic: no. Such conspiracy scenarios can happen with a fascist regime, but not in a democracy – even in an imperfect one - an illiberal democracy like Bangladesh.

Having personally met Sk. Hasina in an informal gathering in NY City when she was the leader of the Opposition (and behaved sister-like), I have difficulty believing that “PM herself gave the final nod for eliminating DG, his wife and Colonel Mujib before one week of the deadly mutiny.” How credible is this piece of allegation? It is difficult to imagine the daughter of a slain president who lost dozens of her loved ones on August 15, 1975 to approve such an evil plot. Only a monster, devoid of any human goodness, can approve such a sinister plan! Is Sheikh Hasina that kind of a cold-blooded murderer? I can’t imagine. And Allah knows the best!

We are told by the authors that this extermination plan was part of Plan B, the covert plan with RAW’s involvement, which was known to PM, her cousin and Taposh’s uncle Sheikh Selim MP and Abdul Jalil MP, besides Nanak, Taposh, Sohel Taj, Mirza Azam, Haji Selim, Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir and a few other members of the PM’s inner circle. We are also told, “Key BDR ringleaders, including DADs Towhid, Jalil and Habib, also knew about the Plan-B.”

We are further told that PM’s son Sajeeb Wazed (Joy) was the architect of the conspiracy who had previously accused the armed forces of “recruiting thousands of Muslim fundamentalist terrorists.” What Joy actually wrote is: “By 2006, at the end of the BNP’s reign, madrassas supplied nearly 35 percent of the Army recruits. In a country that has seen four military coup d’etats in its short 37 year history, the astronomical growth of Islamists in the military is troubling to say the least.” (Stemming the Rise of Islamic Extremism in Bangladesh by Sajeeb Wazed and Carl Ciovacco, HIR) While he could be blamed for exaggerating those recruitment numbers within the Army, it is silly to believe that this paper had seeded the conspiracy plan. Let’s review this accusation against what he truly wrote.

In his HIR paper, Joy stated: “As the country was founded on a secular system of governance, the entire political system is now vulnerable.” He asks, “Can the Awami League stop the growing tide of Islamism in a country that has seen the sale of burkas rise nearly 500 percent in the last five years? The answer is yes if it implements the following secular renewal plan.” To elaborate this renewal of the secular plan, he suggested: “First, it (government) must modernize the curriculum of the madrasses. Second, it must build proper, secular elementary schools and hospitals. Third, it should increase the recruitment of secular-minded students into the military from secular cadet academies. Fourth, it must attempt to rehabilitate known extremist clerics. Lastly, and perhaps the most abstract solution, it must push to vanquish Bangladeshi poverty and illiteracy that consistently ranks among the worst in the world. This plan would make the country less hospitable to a growing Islamist movement and help return Bangladesh to its secular roots.”

As can be seen from the above citation, this HIR paper, a flawed one in the estimate of some, could not have become either the justification or the blueprint for the BDR carnage. [Soon after its publication, I wrote a critique of the HIR paper, which was posted in the Weekly Holiday in Bangladesh (February 6, 2009) and the Internet. ] Those slain officers had no connection with the so-called Islamist terrorists. As a matter of fact some of them were at the forefront of capturing such criminals. Surely killing those officers was not the way of ‘revamping’ the Armed Forces “in order to rescue the nation,” as being alleged by the authors.

The retired Brigadier claims, “In his article, Joy, who is married to a Zionist woman, reaffirmed his personal commitment to the Indo-Israeli cause by asserting that he envisaged a Hindu PM leading the secularised Bangladesh within the next 20 years.” Having read the HIR article a few times, I have failed to connect the charges to the article. I am also not aware that he married a Zionist lady.

It is true that in his many TV appearances the quick-tongued Minister Faruq Khan tried to blame the so-called Islamists, probably parroting Joy’s line, as being the culprits. However, subsequent police inquiries have shown the utter hollowness of such claims. If the government, as alleged, was that bent on purging the so-called Islamists within the Armed Forces why the same government failed to pinpoint the blame on the so-called Islamist groups like the Jamat, JMB, etc. in its report? The Government Report instead showed that there was no connection with those suspected elements. As we can see, there was no witch-hunting with the “Islamists”! Moreover, according to the rules governing the Army, it’s not difficult to force retire any officer, if the government had decided to do so. Why kill them, if they were suspected of promoting so-called Islamism, when better and safer alternatives were available?

Joy is blamed by the authors of these two papers for saying to the world press that corruption of some Army officers within the BDR had contributed to the mutiny. But those papers substantiate that statement by stating that Maj. Gen. Shaqil and his wife were corrupt who had amassed at least Tk. 6 Crore. However, such accusations, true or false, could not have become the basis for killing so many Army officers on deputation to the BDR. There was no evidence of corruption or fund embezzlement against any of the other slain officers. Thus, the dal-bhat program alone could not have become the justification behind the massacre of all those officers. One can imagine that the Jawans who had hitherto enriched them as a result of cross-border smuggling were upset with those officers who did not tolerate such harmful activities. They were also not fond of demeaning attitude (tui tukari) shown to them by the superiors. But still such grievances could not have been the main justifications for killing those officers.

To answer this puzzle we are told that the BDR-carnage was a RAW-inspired crime with some foreign and local players and sponsors in which “RAW pumped in about Rs 60 crore for the entire operation,” and “about 15 foreign gunmen were hired for the execution of the army officers.” The major goal was to deprive Bangladesh of its patriotic Army officers who were not afraid to stand up against a hegemonic power like India. Thus, one clear objective of the plan was to teach a lesson to our brave Army officers that events like Roumari (April 2001) where 150 BSF personnel were killed for raiding a BDR camp inside Bangladesh territory would not be tolerated by India. We are also told that the motivation for some local conspirators, which included Mirza Azam, Haji Salim, Jahangir Kabir Nanak, Fazle Noor Taposh and Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, was pure revenge (presumably they hated the Army). How credible are such claims?

The paper A claims: “Tk 15-17 crore was distributed in Peelkhana between early and late February. Tk 4 lac was fixed per officer's head and the total money was redistributed. The killer group of BDR, who were fixed before, had a much larger payment. The distribution of money for Plan A participants was mainly through the connections of Fazle Noor Taposh, and the payment for the DADs and the main killer group was handled by Nanak. Payment for the hired killers was arranged by Sohel Taj and Joy, some advance made in Hotel Bab-Al-Shams in Dubai earlier.” We are further told, “And as the mutilated bodies of martyred officers were being removed from the mass grave, Mr Joy was handing over payment to a few foreign and a few BDR killers in Dubai.” These are no small charges, esp. against both Sohel and Joy! Unfortunately, the reader is left without any credible reference to check the veracity of such serious charges. The reader is at a loss to understand why the conspirators needed outside players if the DAD Towhid and many of his rank and file were on board with the conspiracy to kill those Army officers. For the right kind of money, those rogue elements within the BDR were enough to kill those unfortunate souls.

The paper A claims, “The final meeting of the hired killers was held at hotel Bab-Al-Shams in Dubai sometime on or near 19th of February. The meeting was attended by a Russian don Lazar Shybazan and a host of other Indians. The main focus of the meeting was to finalize the action and payment plan for Peelkhana massacre."

We are told that of the hired foreign gunmen “a few of them entered through the Benapole border on 21st February." The paper A further claims, “Sohel Taj was given the responsibility to ensure safe return of the killers to Middle-east, London and USA. It was decided that BG flight 049 would be used, if require it will be delayed to ensure safe exit of the foreign killers." Question is: if the killers came from the Benapole border on the eve of February 21, why do they need to be sent outside India, to places like Middle East, UK and USA? After all, it is easier to send them back to India than to far away places.

During the BDR carnage, all media reports said that Sohel Taj was outside the country. These two papers contradict such information. Paper A says: "But we are confirm that Taj didn't go to USA, rather he first visited India. As known by the entire nation, Taj was in USA during 25th-26th February. This is a blunt lie and bluff. He was at Dhaka at that time. On 28th February he was flown to Sylhet by an Army Aviation Helicopter in the evening and the same night he left for abroad by plane from Osmani Airport.” I remember having had to wait until mid-March to get an appointment with Sohel Taj in his office. He had returned only a few days earlier from the USA. He appeared genuine, sincere, smart and intelligent. Again, I have difficulty placing the son of (late) Tajuddin Ahmed as a calculating cold-blooded murderer. And Allah knows the best!

The paper A also claims that in 1975, prior to Bangabandhu’s killing, “Sheikh Kamal picked up the wife of Major Dalim and molested her.” My inquiry into the matter in the past 35 years has led me to believe that the accusation is absolutely false.

To most readers, those two almost identical papers would be viewed, rightly or wrongly, as parts of a malicious campaign to smear the Hasina administration. To some, they would be treated as dirty, hard facts. Flawed as these two papers are with some exaggerations, false information, innuendos and unsubstantiated claims and allegations, not all the charges against the alleged conspirators can be swept away though. However, the burden of proof lies with the accusers and not defendants, which is missing in these two papers. These papers provide plenty of ammunitions in the hands of anyone who is opposed to the current government. They will remain skeptical about the government side of the explanation for one of the most gruesome massacres in Bangladesh’s history. Surely, the distressing situation inside Bangladesh galvanizes their mistrust of the government.

In the post-2/25 period, it is disheartening to see some of the most patriotic Army officers either sidelined or retired. Of particular mention is the removal of the exceptionally brilliant Lt. Gen. Aminul Karim whom I had known since the cadet college days. I remember when I went to the NDC for a seminar he had arranged for me to give a talk in the third week of March he was by then put aside by the PM’s military adviser Tareq Siddiqui without citing any reason. As is well known today, he almost single-handedly restrained the young officers from taking matters into their hands which could have inevitably brought in the Indian forces into the soil of Bangladesh. We are told that a contingent plan of the conspirators was to facilitate such an event. It is sad to see how the genuine patriots are treated inside Bangladesh!

The situation around the border with almost daily killings of Bangladeshi civilians has not improved an iota. India, perceived by most Bangladeshis as a hegemonic power, is seen as an advisor today on how our BDR – the frontline defense force - should be organized, thus compromising our very national security. Such an arrangement is unacceptable and the Hasina administration is seen as a puppet of India. The recently concluded treaty between Sk. Hasina and Manmohan Singh is viewed by many as having benefited India more than Bangladesh. At least, these are unkind perceptions. Since perception often makes to formulate our reality, unless, the current government pays heed to correct such perceptions, right or wrong, it will lose the popular support it needs to remain in power.

We are told that the government investigation on the BDR carnage is at its final stage with some 7,974 persons, including BDR men, their relatives, Ministers, MPs, victims and their family members, police, RAB, army, newsmen and local residents, interrogated. Nearly 2,205 persons, mostly BDR jawans, have been arrested. Of them, 523 BDR men gave their confessional statements to the Magistrates under Section 164 of CrPC. Some 900 people will be charge sheeted. One can only pray and hope that the truth will come out of this investigation process, thus putting a lid to any conspiracy theory.

A special inquiry may be a good idea to probe the allegations brought against some of the politicians mentioned in these two papers, failing which, no matter how innocent they may be, suspicion against their involvement will always hang over their heads. They need it for their own sake.

People’s expectations are that the culprits will be found and punished while the innocents will be spared. Is Hasina government capable of delivering a clean and transparent judicial process where nothing but the truth will come out, no matter how unpleasant such may be? We hope to find out. After all, a Prophetic hadith says: as you are so will have your leaders. That is, if we are good, we shall have excellent leaders; and if we are bad, we shall have bad rulers to overlord over us. May Allah protect us from the latter kind!

References:
http://www.newsfrombangladesh.net/view.php?hidRecord=306551;
http://www.newsfrombangladesh.net/view.php?hidRecord=306815
http://hir.harvard.edu/index.php?page=article&id=1784
http://hir.harvard.edu/index.php?page=article&id=1784
In my Weekly Holiday paper, challenging Joy’s prescription of secularism as the cure-all system, I concluded: “Whether we like to admit or not, oddly, secularism has not always been the necessary protection or answer to stem religious extremism. In this age of ours, religious extremism is not a local phenomenon and is fast becoming a global phenomenon requiring cooperation between governments and NGOs to arrest this tide. What happens in next-door India cannot simply be hidden under the carpet. We need a comprehensive approach to understand why and how it evolves, and then find solutions that are meaningful.” http://www.weeklyholiday.net/2009/060209/edit.html
http://www.newsfrombangladesh.net/view.php?hidRecord=306815
http://www.ittefaq.com/issues/2009/03/09/news0717.htm

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Comments on MBI Munshi's moronic and absurd accusations

My attention was drawn today to comments made by MBI Munshi in the NFB: http://www.newsfrombangladesh.net/view.php?hidRecord=306201

Munshi's allegations and hunches about me are absolutely wrong. Coming as it does from someone like Munshi who in the past has been accused of being on the (Pakistani) ISI payroll, I had a good laugh reading the piece. Obviously, he and I don't see eye to eye on some contentious issues of our time, e.g., those connected with Bangladesh. He reminds me of a drooling hound-dog that is fixated on a scent: other crucial signs may all be around him, but his eyes and nose are locked onto finding the target. A false flag, in my case!

With such silly and false allegations Munshi is only showing his paranoid self and giving a bad name to the very profession he serves. He gives new meanings to alpha errors. He ought to be ashamed of making such libelous claims. Or, better still, he needs psychiatric help to cure him of his mental sickness!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Open letter to PA- senators and congressman to oppose military aid to Israel

Dear Senators and Congressmen,
I urge you to oppose President Obama's FY2011 budget request for $3 billion in military aid to Israel. Israel misuses U.S. weapons to commit human rights abuses against Palestinians through its illegal 42-year military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.

Instead of supporting Israel's human rights abuses, I want my tax dollars to be used for needed domestic programs such as early reading education, green jobs training, affordable housing, and primary health care access for the uninsured.
Thanking you in anticipation,
Habib

Friday, February 19, 2010

Comments on Dr. Hasan Zillur Rahim's bdnews24.com "The Noblest Revenge"

Ref: http://opinion.bdnews24.com/2010/02/18/the-noblest-revenge/

A few minutes ago, my attention was drawn to the above link which contained an article by Dr. Hasan Z. Rahim. It is an excellent article that reminds us all that forgiveness is better than mere revenge. However, as he also noted only a strong person can exercise such forgiveness when wronged, as our prophet Muhammad (S) was able to do against his former foes after the conquest of Makkah. I have another side of this debate which I like to share below.

Some revenge is justifiable in the sense that it helps to arrest the tide of injustice when there is a propensity of that happening. We should not forget that only a victim can forgive, and not a judge, and that is my understanding from the Qur'an. I am not aware of any family member of the victims of 1975 (Bangabandhu Murder case) who has forgiven those killers.

In my opinion, what happened in August 15, 1975 was the most brutal and savage form of atrocity that the Bangladeshis have ever seen. If those assassins/killers had problem with Sk. Mujib, they simply could have dealt with him. But what they did is simply unacceptable. They killed everyone that they could press their triggers into. What made those ruthless killers kill Sultana, Parveen, Russel and many others who simply were in the wrong place at the wrong time? What was the crime of nine-year old Russel who begged his killers to spare his life? What's the justification to kill pregnant women? Those killers were unrepentant of their horrendous crime and even boasted of their crimes years before they were tried in the second half of the 1990s.

Nor should we forget that at the state level, things are often treated differently than at the individual level. The example of Mandela is an inappropriate one that Dr. Rahim cited, since Mandela was not killed. A better example is the Truth & Reconciliation Commission in South Africa which tried to heal the wounds of former victims by bringing the two sides of the Apartheid issue to reconcile. Mind that the apartheid rule allowed hunting down anyone deemed a threat to the state. That is, according to state law and constitution, those white racist officers were just practicing their constitutional rights, no matter how morally wrong they were. And what the South African majority Blacks and colored people did to protest was morally sound, but constitutionally wrong. It is more like our 1971 War of Liberation in which Pakistan Army had every right per constitution to preserve the unity of Pakistan, and we, the Bangladeshis, had the moral right to fight them for our rights.

I am, therefore, against trying every soldier of Pakistan who was stationed in the then East Pakistan, unless he committed war crimes. Nor do I support trying Jamat-e Islami for its opposition to the creation of Bangladesh. However, if any individual, civilian or otherwise, had committed war crimes then, IMHO, Bangladesh has the moral obligations to try them for such. As such, I am personally for trying criminals like Saqa who personally killed an unarmed person in early days of Pakistani military crackdown in Chittagong. And anyone who had raped or killed any individual, including Bangladeshis against the Biharis, should be tried for their crimes, unless the victims forgive their tormentors. Justice has to be fair and equitable, and not partial. If we are partial and ignore the plight of the opposing side, we do the greatest crime to our moral standing.

When Ali (R) was stabbed by the kharajite assassin, he told his son Hassan (RA) that if he survived the wound he would deal with the assailant and may even forgive him, however, if he died from the blow, then he should be dealt equally per the dictates of the Qur'an, which was life for life. And when Ali (RA) did not survive from ibn Muljim's poisonous sword blows, the latter was killed. No forgiveness was shown to him.

Therefore, what has happened with the five executed killers recently for their atrocious crimes of 1975, I think it was a delayed justice but a desirable one for the victims and for the entire nation. This I say, because when such crimes are tolerated at the highest level and even rewarded, it is the greatest injustice done not only to the very victims of their crimes but also all those who were affected by the murder. It is worth recalling that under the BNP administration that followed none of the murderers of Zia was spared soon after his killing (although the process was a highly faulty one which smelled of conspiracy to hide the real culprits, if any). Worse yet, even some innocent people were killed who had nothing to tie them with Zia-murder. They were summarily executed per verdict in a non-transparent military court. My own cadet college adjutant (in the post-liberation period) Capt. Rashid (I don't recall his rank when he was killed) was one such unfortunate victim. So, by avoiding execution or even trial of the Mujib murderers (under the pretext of the Indemnity Clause in the constitution) what the BNP government did was wrong and unacceptable under any count. It was sure opportunism since they were ultimate beneficiaries of the murder. I may add here that the Bangabandhu murder case was openly tried in a civil court, and it was as transparent as it could have been, something that even Barrister Mowdud of the opposition BNP confirmed.

Dr. Rahim mentions about Lincoln's historic speech, but forgets to note that he was gunned down by an actor who considered him a traitor. The killer's life was not spared though after the assassination of Lincoln either. (Read my article on Political Assassination - posted yesterday.)

Having said that I must say that revenge for the sake of revenge leaves a deep wound and is undesirable and should be avoided, if possible. However, when it is done as part of righting a wrong, it has a positive effect on the society, and helps curb similar crimes of the future from happening. That is my understanding in the light of Qur'an and Sunnah. (Interested readers may like to view two of my articles posted in my blog on this subject of political assassination to see my side of the explanation on a very controversial subject of our time.)

What I blame the Mahajote government for is that after coming to power, it seems that it is suffering from selective amnesia forgetting the promises it made to the people, and lost focus with its priorities. People did not put them into power for the execution of those killers of Bangabandhu, but to fix the country, away from almost never-ending vicious cycle of lawlessness, crime and corruption, to lower prices of essential commodities and to bring safety and security, let alone prosperity to our people. The trial and execution should be a natural appendix to their other activities and not the prime duty or the achievement.

Unfortunately what we see is rather very disheartening. Look at the crimes of the hoodlums of Chatra League! They give a bad name to education or being a student. What has the government done to stop such professional students who are actually extortionists, hoodlums, mastans and tender-grabbers? Nothing. The law and order situation is worsening; the traffic condition is so bad that I don't see any quick solution in the horizon to make things better.

On a personal level, my family is tormented by the same land-grabbing syndicate that troubled us during the BNP rule. It seems now they found some AL patrons to grab our family properties in Chittagong. Where is relief for innocent victims? Nowhere! What is happening to Bangladesh is really disgusting and totally unacceptable.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Reflections on Past Assassination Attempts on Bangladesh Prime Minister

Last Wednesday my attention was drawn to an article -- The plan to assassinate Bangladesh Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina Wajed: How LTTE deal was blocked, suicide bombers failed to explode – published in a Sri Lankan virtual library (http://www.lankalibrary.com/pol/hasina.html). It provided an interesting reading on a subject of immense interest to anyone who grew up in Bangladesh. This concerns assassination attempts in 1996-2000 on Sheikh Hasina, the leader of the Awami League and daughter of Bangabandhu, and the current Prime Minister of Bangladesh. The plotters included the killers that had killed her father, and are reportedly aided by the Pakistani intelligence agency - ISI. The news report is from Sri Lanka, a country that has defeated the independence seeking Tamil Tigers only recently. I don’t know how authentic the information is; it doesn’t name the author; but I won’t be surprised learning about possible manipulations from intelligence groups like the Indian RAW to twist and exaggerate facts, at the expense of the ISI, to appear as the good guys here. The reporter seems to have quoted an unnamed RAW officer profusely, which substantiates my observation here. Lest we forget many of the reporters in South Asia are on the payroll of foreign intelligence agencies, including the Israeli Mossad and the Indian RAW.

After reading the piece, it seems Bangladesh has become a major arena for activities of foreign intelligence groups like the RAW, ISI and Mossad. The report alleges ISI-involvement in failed attempt to kill Sk. Hasina during her first premiership. While I could rationalize the ISI’s indirect role, if any, to kill Bangabandhu Sk. Mujib in 1975 (after all, by then Bhutto’s Pakistan had not recognized the new nation), I am at a loss to understand its motives to go after Sk. Hasina. A likely explanation may be that Sk. Hasina is viewed more pro-Indian, and as such detrimental to Sino-Pakistani interest for the region. But the plot looked so weak and given all the publicity from the Indian government as to how efficient the ISI has been in carrying out its deadly plans inside India, as a neutral and objective observer, I have problem placing the ISI with such a stupid plot in the post-1996 Bangladesh. However, as we know, sometimes most stupid things making the least sense do happen in our world.

The report said, “In 1997, the Mujib killers tried to get their accomplices, Lt. Col. Syed Farook Rahman and Maj. Bazlul Huda, freed by hijacking a Bangladesh Biman aircraft, with ISI support. But India’s RAW got to know about the plan after they tapped a conversation between an ISI operative and Lt. Col. (dismissed) Khondakar Abdur Rashid. RAW sent an emergency note to the Bangladesh aviation ministry and the Bangladesh Biman chief in Kolkata after they found out that the plotters were planning a hijack from Kolkata. In early 1998, 11 Arabs were arrested from the Kolkata airport on their way to Bangladesh. These Arabs were suspected to be accomplices of the Mujib killers, but were later found to be operatives of the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, which was trying to infiltrate Bangladesh fundamentalist groups lending support to their counterparts in Palestine and West Asia. This alerted the plotters and they dropped their hijack plan.”

This is an interesting revelation, which confirms previous allegations that Mossad often recruits Arabs to do its dirty works and to even penetrate violent groups (something that we knew from some suicide-bombing acts inside the Occupied Territories). The report suggests that those Arabs were recruited by the Mossad to work with fundamentalist groups inside Bangladesh. For quite some time many analysts have suggested that the terrorist organization HuJi (Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami) was funded by the Mossad, while the JMB, another banned terrorist outfit, a RAW creation. This report, if authentic, does suggest that Mossad may be using some of these extremists as patsies. The published reports in the Internet have shown that some Zionist activists like Richard Benkin have been keeping in touch with a fundamentalist political group like the Islamic Democratic Party (IDP) of Bangladesh, which now includes rank and file of the HuJi. It is worth noting here that in early November of last year Sheikh Abdus Salam, head of the IDP and founder and former chief of the banned HuJi, which has been accused of carrying out the deadly grenade attack in the capital that wounded Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2004, and left more than 20 people dead including the wife of current Bangladesh President Zillur Rahman, was detained by police and remanded in custody for questioning over the grenade attack. For quite some time, Benkin has been also promoting the cause of pro-Israeli journalist Salauddin S. Chowdhury of the Weekly Blitz in the western world while fomenting an anti-Bangladesh image in the West. (Interestingly, Benkin was retained as a consultant by the BNP administration. Probably, the ex-State Home Minister Babor can explain the reason!)

If we are to put the pieces of the puzzle together, a very disturbing image emerges: Israel and Mossad’s plan remains dangerous and destabilizing the government of Bangladesh with support from its patsies within Bangladesh. One may recall that Chowdhury, accused of writing under the pseudonym of Sunita Paul, was exploiting the BDR tragedy with conspiracy theories that suggested that many within the ruling Awami League, including Sajeeb Wajed Joy – Prime Minster’s son, Sohel Taj – ex-State Minister for Home Affairs, Barrister Taposh (late Sk. Moni’s son), MPs Nanak and Azam, were part of the criminal nexus that conspired to kill Army officers on deputation to the BDR. Were these -- yellow journalism and the carnage itself -- all part of a sinister plan to start a civil war inside Bangladesh, bringing about the demise of the new regime?

The report mentions the involvement of (Retd.) Col. Munirul Islam Chowdhury Munna, ex-son-in-law of Tajuddin Ahmed as a co-conspirator to assassinate Sk. Hasina. He has been living in the USA for nearly three decades. While I never met (Retd.) Col. Munir, who is actually divorced from his wife Sharmeen Ahmed (not mentioned in the report) -- an honorable Bangladeshi expatriate living in the greater DC area, I remember seeing his interview on global politics on an American TV channel in the 1980s. He appeared very well informed, articulate and was a smart individual. I was also told that he came close to President Ershad during his rule. I am shocked to read in the report that, accompanied by killer Rashid, he “went to Europe and got in touch with a French contract killer, Alain Deloin, who demanded $5 million for the job.” The report says that he was also involved with a second plan to kill Sk. Hasina in 1999, which included payment of $10 million to LTTE terrorists: “The payment to the LTTE was routed by a former military officer, Col. Munirul Islam Chowdhury “Munna”, who now runs a software company in North Virginia in the US. The deal was simple: Munna would ‘buy’ software from the Kolkata-based computer major and pay in dollars. The owner of the Indian firm would be paid well in excess of the value of the purchase with clear instructions to pass on $10 million to the LTTE contacts through another ‘over-invoicing deal.’” If true, I don’t know if these revelations had anything to do with Mr. Munir’s divorce from Sharmeen, who remains a strong supporter of the Awami League government and its leadership.

The report claims that the money from Mr. Munir never reached the desired computer company since its owner died mysteriously in a road accident. Are we to assume here that since RAW had kept a vigilant eye on the said person, they were the ones that caused that road accident? The report says that when the “money” did not reach LTTE, they backed off from the operation to kill Sk. Hasina. However, as a backup plan, the report says, the ISI had engaged the Harkat-ul-Jehad, which planted 76 kg of RDX only 100 yards from a dais from which Sheikh Hasina was supposed to address a public meeting at Kotalipara in Gopalgunj district in August of 2000. But the bomb was discovered by the public an hour and a half before the meeting. The rest is history! Sk. Hasina miraculously also survived the 2004 grenade attack that killed many of her party leaders and workers.

As we can see political assassination attempts in Bangladesh since Bangabandhu’s murder seem connected with foreign spy agencies. Outside the old players – the CIA, SIS/MI6 and FSB (former KGB), one way or another, three new players – the RAW, ISI and Mossad seem highly engaged in Bangladesh. Of these, the role of Mossad remains rather sinister, especially given the fact that Israel is not part of South Asia. On January 19, just a month ago, its agents, using British, Irish, German and French identities, assassinated a Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in his hotel room in Dubai.

Mossad has been accused of infiltrating and funding Muslim extremist religious groups in many parts of our world. Many of the sensational early executions inside Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hossein bore their marks. Some of the foreign fighters, recruited by the CIA, that fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan are believed to have become - either knowingly or unknowingly - Mossad patsies, which have been playing destabilizing roles in the countries where they settled. The report above and other collaborative information on HuJi/IDP activities inside Bangladesh once again give credence to such theories. We may never know if last year’s BDR carnage had anything to do with another failed attempt against Sk. Hasina, but it is high time for Bangladesh government to closely monitor the activities of foreign agents, foreign embassies and NGOs to avoid a repeat of such tragedies.

We should never allow political assassinations to succeed. Such crimes should never be condoned, let alone rewarded. As such, by executing the killers of Bangabandhu, Bangladesh government has taken the right step to curb future crimes of this nature from happening. It was a delayed justice but a sweet one to the families of the victims. As the Mahajote government tries to book the criminals that were responsible for the 1975 November Jail killings and the plotters and assassins that tried to kill Sk. Hasina in 2000 and 2004, due care must be taken so that the trial process is a transparent, fair, just and judicious one, failing which it may plant the very seeds of future assassination attempts.

References:
http://www.defence.pk/forums/world-affairs/14658-mossad-floats-islamist-political-party-bangladesh-raw-aggrieved.html ; http://ibnlive.in.com/news/terror-group-huji-forms-political-party-in-bangladesh/74081-3.html
http://www.asiaone.com/News/Latest+News/Asia/Story/A1Story20091103-177661.html
For citations see, this author’s blog: http://drhabibsiddiqui.blogspot.com/ for the months of March-July 2009; see also: http://www.bangladeshihindu.com/an-india-israel-united-states-alliance-the-last-great-hope-for-humanity/, http://www.idsa.in/idsastrategiccomments/HUJIasaPoliticalParty_AKumar_201008 ; many of Dr. Benkin’s hateful writings against Muslims are archived in the site: http://www.bangladeshihindu.com/author/richard/
http://shafiur.i-edit.net/?p=123
Sunita Paul’s unsubstantiated articles in the American Chronicle were also translated into Bangla in the Daily Amar Desh, that is owned by a BNP stalwart. Its assistant editor was invited in the milad mahfil of IDP: http://islamicdemocraticpartydhakacitybranch.blogspot.com/2009/09/iftar-mahfil-of-islamic-democratic.html
For citations see, this author’s blog: http://drhabibsiddiqui.blogspot.com/ for the months of March-July 2009.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article7029155.ece. Political assassination of Palestinians has been widely practiceed by Mossad since its creation. For a list of Mossad-assassinated individuals, see, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Israeli_assassinations

More on the Israeli Factor vis-a-vis Iran's nuclear program

In recent months, Israel and her drumbeaters for war in the West have been making much noise in the media about how Iran has become a threat to nuclear-armed Israel. Consider, for instance, Jim Phillips who writes in the Heritage Foundation. In a January 15, 2010 article, he writes, "To mitigate the threats posed by Iran to U.S. national security and to protect U.S. interests, the United States must: Recognize Israel's right to take action in self-defence against Iran's growing threat."
Phillips continues, "Given that the United States is likely to be attacked by Iran in the aftermath of an Israeli strike anyway, it may be logical to consider joining Israel in a preventive war against Iran." He concludes, "As bad as the consequences could be if Israel launched a preventive strike against Iran-it would be far worse if the two countries fought a nuclear war, or if the United States were forced to fight a war against a nuclear Iran."

In a recent Newsweek column Richard Haass, the CFR president, called for regime change in Iran. He, too, is convinced, like other Israel-firsters, that Iran is trying to acquire the "capacity" to build a nuclear weapon. One may note his carefully worded phrase, as having the 'capacity' to build a nuke is not the same as actually building one.�But still, all such friends of Israel hate the current stalemate and want to do something about Iran, much like what they did for Iraq. Haass should have known that the Iranian opposition is strongly supportive of Iran's nuclear programme, which means that there is little chance that Iran will abandon its nuclear programme even if there is some sort of regime change, forced from outside.
Such hawkish views heard from the friends of Israel inside the USA and the Western world are not uncommon these days. As expected, the Obama administration is not immune from such pressures. On December 15, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the "Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act of 2009." It is very similar to the Senate bill. The latter extends sanctions to include companies that build oil and gas pipelines in Iran and provide tankers to move Iran's petroleum. It also prohibits the U.S. government from buying goods from foreign companies that work in Iran's energy sector. So, in effect, the Senate bill imposes sanctions on Iran's entire oil and natural gas industry.
While President Obama promised change, when it comes to dealing with Iran, sadly, his administration has not revised the stupid policy of its predecessor. That's a non-starter! Many of Obama's advisers on the Middle East are either Israeli/American dual citizens or promoters of the Israeli interest. To them, the Israeli interest takes a priority over that of the USA. As President Ahmadinejad commented last September during his trip to attend the UN General Assembly, "If Mr. Bush's policies are to be continued with new language, we will not be able to achieve much� If these policies do not change, no real change will happen."
Conveniently forgotten in this crucial debate about Iran's nuclear programme are IAEA's own findings that dispute such untruthful accusations and unsubstantiated claims.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Political Assassination is Unacceptable

Political assassination of rulers is neither justifiable nor desirable. Islam is against assassination of any individual, even an autocratic ruler. And yet, the Muslim history was not spared of this curse. The Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab (R) was assassinated while leading the Morning Prayer (Fajr) in Madinah by a Zoroastrian. Uthman ibn Affan (R), the third Caliph, was killed in his home by rioters who were dissatisfied with his government. Ali ibn Abi Talib (R), the fourth Caliph and the son-in-law of the Prophet (S), was mortally wounded by a member of an extremist group, al-Khawarij, when he stood up for Fajr prayer in the mosque of Kufa (in Iraq). Citing the verse, “No rule but God’s,” the Khawarij believed that Ali (R) had committed a grave sin (kabirah) whence he agreed on the arbitration to settle dispute in the Battle of Siffin and, thus, rejected Ali’s claim as a legitimate caliph. They believed: obedience to the caliph is obligatory as long as he is managing the affairs with justice and consultation, but if he deviates, then it becomes obligatory to confront him, demote him and even murder him.

It goes without saying that many of the Muslim extremists that consider political assassination as a necessary means towards overthrowing an autocratic and/or corrupt regime draw their cues from the kharijite doctrines, which, I may add, have overwhelmingly been rejected by vast majority of Muslims – Sunnis and Shi’as alike. The terrorism of the Hashishyyin sect of the Isma’ili branch of Shi’ism that paralyzed the Muslim world for nearly 166 years (1090-1256 C.E.) with assassination attempts on its leaders is now only a matter of distant memory.

When it comes to political assassination, the record of other religions has not been any better. In modern times, we have plenty of such examples from Abraham Lincoln to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike to Yitzhak Rabin. Nine American Presidents - Andrew Jackson in 1835, Abraham Lincoln in 1865, James Garfield in 1881, William McKinley in 1901 Harry S. Truman in 1950, John F. Kennedy in 1963, Richard Nixon in 1974, Gerald Ford twice in 1975, and Ronald Reagan in 1981 - have been the targets of assassination. In addition, eight governors, seven U.S. Senators, nine U.S. Congressmen, eleven mayors, 17 state legislators, and eleven judges have been violently attacked. No other country with a population of over 50 million has had as high a number of political assassinations or attempted assassinations.

Lincoln has consistently been ranked by scholars as one of the greatest of all U.S. Presidents. However, to the assassin John Wilkes Booth, a well-known actor and a Confederate spy from Maryland, Lincoln was a tyrant. After shooting the President, he shouted “Sic semper tyrannis (Latin for: Thus always to tyrants).” While much of the nation mourned the assassination of Lincoln whom they considered as the savior of the United States, Copperheads – the vocal group of Democrats in the Northern United States who opposed the American Civil War, wanting an immediate peace settlement with the Confederates -- celebrated the death of a man they considered a tyrant.

In his self-prepared defense in the court, Nathuram Godse, a devotional Hindu Brahmin belonging to the extremist Hindu Mahasabha and editor of a Marathi newspaper Hindu Rashtra, who killed M.K. Gandhi said, “I do say that my shots were fired at the person whose policy and action had brought rack and ruin and destruction to millions of Hindus. There was no legal machinery by which such an offender could be brought to book and for this reason I fired those fatal shots.” Godse was unapologetic for his crime.

Talduwe Somarama who shot and killed Bandarnaike, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon), in 1959 was a Sri Lankan Sinhalese Buddhist monk. He was drafted in to the conspiracy by the Venerable Mapitigama Buddharakkitha, the Chief Incumbent of the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara, to assassinate the Prime Minister “for the greater good of his country, race and religion”.

Yigal Amir, a right-wing religious Zionist and an ex-IDF member born to an Orthodox Jewish family, upon hearing that the Israeli Prime Minister Rabin was dead from his semi-automatic pistol shots, told the police that he was “satisfied.” According to CNN, Amir told police that he had “no regrets” and was acting on the “orders of God.” To him and the hard line Likudniks, who provided the necessary backdrop for the assassination plot, Rabin was a traitor who had betrayed Israeli interest by signing the Oslo Peace Accord. Before leaving the stage on the night of the assassination, Rabin had been singing Shir LaShalom (literally Song for Peace), along with Israeli singer Miri Aloni. After he died, a sheet of paper with the lyrics was found in his pocket, stained with blood.

The cold-blooded murderers of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman killed 32 individuals, almost everyone that was close to his family living inside Bangladesh on that fateful day of August 15, 1975. They did not spare the lives of his two pregnant daughters-in-law Sultana and Parveen, and the youngest son, a nine-year old Russell, who had begged not to be killed. The perpetrators of this heinous crime were some disgruntled army officers within the Bangladesh Army, including those who had joined the liberation war towards the last days of the struggle, who were still wedded to the idea of a united Pakistan. They thought that the country was heading in the wrong direction. The killers alleged that Mujib was trying to bring about a dictatorship, subordinate Army to the Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini - the government militia force, and that he was making Bangladesh an Indian colony. As later evidences have sufficiently demonstrated none of these allegations was true. It took another 17 years for Bangladesh to get rid of the curse of the military rule that followed soon after the Mujib-killing when corruption got institutionalized surpassing several fold the records of the Mujib-era, and yet another 18 years to hang five of the convicted killers.

It is, however, true that Bangabandhu’s popularity had suffered somewhat since the (US-engineered) famine of 1974, when the US government punished the Mujib government by diverting food-carrying ships from reaching the ports in Bangladesh, which was a clear case of using food as a weapon of war. He had also tarnished his democratic credential by imposing a one-party system. (Still, on a popularity contest he was by far the most popular politician in Bangladesh.) It is widely believed that some foreign spy agencies were deeply involved in the conspiracy to kill him. As noted by journalist Lawrence Lifschultz in a JSTOR article “Bangladesh: Anatomy of a Coup”, for the United States, “the civil war in East Pakistan was an annoying distraction (an even more minor ‘sideshow’ than Cambodia) when it was engaged, via Pakistan’s good offices, in establishing the first links with China; and the US never forgave Mujibur Rahman for prevailing, with Indian and Soviet help, over US annoyance.” According to him, “Mujib too invited the coup” by failing to “fulfill the expectations he had demagogically raised.”

Sheikh Hasina, the current Prime Minister of Bangladesh and daughter of Bangabandhu, is a survivor who has miraculously survived multiple attempts of assassination on her life. She was in Germany when Bangabandhu was assassinated in 1975. A recently available report from Sri Lanka showed how some of the absconding murderers of Bangabandhu (including Lt Col (dismissed) Khandaker Abdur Rashid) had tried to recruit a French contract killer, Alain Deloin, who demanded $5 million for the job to assassinate Sk. Hasina. When the French deal fell apart, a second plan to kill her was put in place in 1999 which included payment of $10 million to LTTE terrorists. The report says that LTTE backed off from the operation when the “money”, thanks to RAW, did not reach them. As a backup plan, the conspirators were, however, able to engage the Harkat-ul-Jehad (believed to be funded by the Mossad), which planted 76 kg of RDX only 100 yards from a dais from which Sk. Hasina was supposed to address a public meeting at Kotalipara in Gopalgunj district in August of 2000. But the bomb was discovered by the public an hour and a half before the meeting. The rest is history! Sk. Hasina miraculously survived the 2004 attempt also that killed many of her party leaders and workers.

What motivates political assassins? The answer will depend on the culture of the people where they reside. For example, in a country like the USA where firearms are readily available, most assassins were disgruntled or mentally deranged individuals who suffered from a paranoid or schizophrenic style of thinking, and only a small number of assassination attempts have been motivated by ideology; only in two cases the assassination plot was part of an organized conspiracy. Even in these instances, there was no plan to seize control of the government or alter government policies - the traditional goals of a political conspiracy.

However, in countries where firearms are not readily available, bulk of the political assassinations has ideological reasons behind why they happen, and even succeed. Some elements within the society, often a small minority, don’t like the direction in which the state is heading when the organized few within such disgruntled groups conspire to assassinate the very symbol of leadership. Their justification for the crime remains the same, echoed some six decades ago by Nathuram Godse, “There was no legal machinery by which such an offender could be brought to book…”

Have assassinations altered the course of history? When political assassinations are part of a military coup, powerful foreign sponsorship or being carried out by a highly organized armed group within a disgruntled group, they can alter the course of history, at least, for a short term. Bangladesh with her share of political assassinations is a good example here. In the last 39 years of its existence, two presidents were killed, and the current Prime Minister Sk. Hasina had survived multiple attempts on her life, dating back to the 1990s. But Bangladesh is more of an exception than the norm. Rarely has the assassin’s political goal been realized. Sirhan Sirhan – a Palestinian-American Christian - murdered Robert Kennedy to protest the Democrat’s support for Israel, but Richard Nixon who was elected to office was himself a loyal supporter of the Jewish state and provided indispensable aid to Israel to win the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. The assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. failed to derail the civil rights movement.

Political assassination has almost never solved the problems which often were cited to justify such heinous crimes. It is wrong and must be shun and condemned by all conscientious human beings.


End notes:
See this author’s book: Islamic Wisdom – for hadith citations.
See this author’s article: Understanding Osama bin Laden through the lenses of the past – for a discussion on this subject; http://world.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/29681
See also: http://www.ahavat-israel.com/protest/rabin.php which mentions about political assassination in 1933 of Chaim Arlosoroff who was murdered under interestingly similar circumstances as those of Rabin. Arlosoroff was a top Mapai (Labor) leader, probably the only person that could compete with Ben-Gurion for the leadership of the Labor Zionist movement. At the time of his murder, he was negotiating giving away parts of Eretz Israel to the Arabs.
http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/assassinations.cfm
http://ngodse.tripod.com/defense.htm
A reporter who managed to see Nathuram Godse briefly in a cell at the police station asked him whether he had anything to say. “For the present I only want to say that I am not at all sorry for what I have done”, he replied. “The rest I will explain in court.” http://library.thinkquest.org/26523/mainfiles/nathuram.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solomon_Bandaranaike
http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9511/rabin/amir/index.html
http://www.thefreelibrary.com/MURDER+IN+THE+NAME+OF+GOD:+The+Plot+to+Kill+Yitzhak+Rabin-a053421541
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yitzhak_Rabin
http://muktadhara.net/mujibassassination.htm
The latter events soon after the murder of Sk. Mujib proved this assertion. Like many mis-informed Pakistanis they blamed Sk. Mujib for bringing about the dismemberment of Pakistan. However, as the report in the July 7, 2005 issue of the Dawn suggests Sk. Mujib’s actual intention was not separation from Pakistan but a confederation that allowed provinces certain rights. http://www.dawn.com/2005/07/07/nat3.htm
See the interview of the killers of Sk. Mujib: http://www.thedailystar.net/suppliments/2009/righting_the_grievous_wrong/hatched.html
http://www.country-data.com/cgi-bin/query/r-1106.html
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1941224,00.html
See, e.g., http://www.larouchepub.com/other/1995/2249_kissinger_food.html ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangladesh_famine_of_1974#endnote_Sharma; see also this author’s article: http://drhabibsiddiqui.blogspot.com/2009/11/further-comments-about-mujib-era-1972.html
http://www.sos-arsenic.net/english/intro/mujib-death.html
http://www.jstor.org/pss/4368204
http://www.lankalibrary.com/pol/hasina.html

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

On identity of Dhul Qarnain in the Qur'an

Ref: http://www.iras.ucalgary.ca/~volk/sylvia/GogAndMagog.htm

While trying to search published material in the Internet about Dariel Pass I came across the above reference piece on Gog and Magog, and was pleasantly surprised to see the Muslim citations on the above subject, including the following passage:

"There were also further Islamic versions of the legend. The Muslim Chronicle of Tabari relates that Schahrbaraz, prince of Armenia, sent a man to seek the site of Dulcarnain's Gate; years passed, and then a ragged traveler returned . . . but the prince did not know him until he exhibited a magnificent ruby and named himself as the explorer long thought lost. He had found the Gate, and the ruby was the proof of it; the jewel had been brought to him by an eagle, which dove for it in the moat below the wall.
And another tale tells of the journey of Sallam the Interpreter, 842-844 AD, who set forth to find the Gate. Sallam crossed the Caucasus, probably through the pass of Dariel, and traveled along the northern shores of the Caspian Sea. Here he found towns in ruins, and was told they had been laid waste by the peoples of Gog and Magog. Further on, he reached a village named Yka in which Dhou'l-Karnain had once encamped with his army. Three days beyond Yka lay a wall with an iron gate, which Sallam knew for Dulcarnain's Gate because of the writing upon it. The key to the gate was a cubit and a half long, hanging from a chain eight cubits in length. (Arab historians writing of Sallam's journey explain that the wall was the Great Wall of China.)"

The Qur'an mentions a world emperor by the name of Dhul Qarnain (the King who put on a crown having two horns) in relation to the story of Gog and Magog who built the great wall to close gap between two mountains (Surah al-Kahf). While there has been much controversy as to who this personality was in the Islamic sources, some believing that he was Alexander the Greek, while others considered some other great king from Persia, the right answer about the identity is Emperor of Cyrus of Persia. He was able to combine the territories of Persia and Media for the first time and as a symbol of that unification of states, he wore that crown of two horns, and as such was known as Dhul Qarnain by the Semitic people of his time.

One of the great scholars of Islam, the late Mowlana Abul Kalam Azad, the president of Indian National Congress during the British rule, in his tafsir (explanation of the verses of the Qur'an) provide enough conclusive evidences to suggest that Dhul Qarnain was none other than Emperor Cyrus of Persia. He built a wall in the Caucasus, which today probably goes more by the name of Dariel Pass, to stop the marauding activities of Gog and Magog (a Mongoloid race).

Monday, February 15, 2010

Court cases against Bush's extraordinary renditions

New York Times has a good piece on Bush's detention policy that unjustly victimized many Muslims. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/15/opinion/15mon1.html?th&emc=th
It is sad to see that President Obama, much in contrast to his call for openness and transparency, is not only trying to shut down a civil lawsuit brought by such victims on a flimsy national security claim that has been rendered even flimsier by the British court, but also has refused to support any real investigation of Mr. George W. Bush’s lawless detention policies.

I agree with the editor of NY Times that rather than fight, the Obama administration should offer an apology and a monetary settlement like Canada did three years ago to such victims.

If President Obama truly wants to repair the damages made by his predecessor and try to prevent them from recurring, he must take a real accounting of the Bush administration’s abuses. He cannot afford behaving like an ostrich.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Israeli Factor in the Failed Middle East Diplomacy

Part 1:
Last week, seemingly frustrated with the stalemate around Iran’s proposal for a simultaneous swap of its stockpile for imported enriched fuel rods, President Ahmadinejad announced that his government would produce its own higher-enriched uranium (20 percent), required for its medical use. A confidential document from the U.N. nuclear agency - International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - shared February 12 with The Associated Press, however, said Iran's initial effort at higher enrichment is modest, using only a small amount of feedstock and a fraction of its capacities. The document, relying on onsite reports from the IAEA inspectors, also cited Iranian experts at the country's enrichment plant at Natanz as saying that only about 10 kilograms — 22 pounds — of low enriched uranium had been fed into the cascade for further enrichment.

Nevertheless, while the Obama administration on Thursday (February 11) said it does not believe that Iran can enrich uranium at the level it claims it can, White House officials say work is underway for stronger international sanctions against Iran. One day earlier, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed new sanctions on Iran, freezing the assets in U.S. jurisdiction of a general in Iran's Revolutionary Guard -- Gen. Rostam Qasemi and four subsidiaries of a previously penalized construction firm he runs.

Such actions by the Obama administration are not unexpected given the fact that for the last few years Israel and her drumbeaters for war in the West have been making much noise in the media about how Iran has become an existential threat to nuclear-armed Israel. This, in spite of the clear revelation that Iran’s nuclear capability, prior to latest claim of Ahmadinejad, has been limited to only 3.5 percent uranium enrichment level, far below 90 percent level required for making nuclear bombs. So pervasive is the pressure from the Israel-firsters within and outside his administration, President Obama cannot afford to appear soft on Iran.

Many of Obama’s advisors on the Middle East are either Israeli/American dual citizens or promoters of the Israeli interest. To them, the Israeli interests take precedence over those of the USA. As such, there is very little hope for any improvement of relationship between Iran and the USA. The Obama administration has not revised many of the faulty policies of its predecessor. That’s a non-starter and contrary to Obama’s own statements of bringing a change in the U.S. foreign policy. As President Ahmadinejad commented last September during his trip to attend the UN General Assembly, “If Mr. Bush’s policies are to be continued with new language, we will not be able to achieve much… If these policies do not change, no real change will happen.”

Recently, senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman – both proud members of the “Amen Corner” inside the Senate - also introduced the Iran Human Rights Sanctions Act, which would identify and impose sanctions on human rights abusers in Iran. As I have noted elsewhere, on December 15, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the “Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act of 2009.” It is very similar to the Senate bill. The latter extends sanctions to include companies that build oil and gas pipelines in Iran and provide tankers to move Iran’s petroleum. It also prohibits the U.S. government from buying goods from foreign companies that work in Iran’s energy sector. So, in effect, the Senate bill imposes sanctions on Iran’s entire oil and natural gas industry.

What is so disingenuous in this entire heated debate around Iran’s nuclear program is that America and her allies in Europe have conveniently forgotten IAEA’s own findings that dispute such accusations and unsubstantiated claims about Iran’s capabilities. Never mind that it is Israel with a massive record of war crimes, invasion and nuclear stockpile that poses the greatest threat to peace in the Middle East! The Obama administration is dispatching its envoys to the region to align the state leaders with its latest moves and agenda against Iran. The envoys’ visits to Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have a common purpose: to reassure Iran’s neighbors that the United States will stand firm against Tehran, and to enlist other countries in a global effort to put pressure on the Iranian authorities. Mrs. Clinton will play a central part in the effort. She left Saturday for Qatar and Saudi Arabia, where she will meet with the Saudi leader, King Abdullah. Officials said she was expected to press the Saudis to reassure China that Saudi Arabia would offset any disruption in oil shipments that could occur if Beijing were to back new United Nations sanctions against Iran.

With Mrs. Clinton on his side, Netanyahu truly does not require anyone to parroting Israel’s hard line positions and concerns. Still the Israeli leader has Dennis Ross, Obama’s “point man for Iran,” as a trusted backup. In the early days of the Obama administration, Ross was appointed a special adviser for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia (which includes Iran) to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Since June 25 of 2009, he joined the National Security Council as a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for the "Central Region" with overall responsibility for the region. That region includes the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Pakistan and South Asia. In their 2006 paper The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, John Mearsheimer, political science professor at the University of Chicago, and Stephen Walt, academic dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, named Ross as a member of the "Israeli lobby" in the United States. Ross’s ties to hawkish pro-Israel groups in the U.S. and to Israel itself are, thus, well-known. He parrots the Israeli position to punish Iran. He is the co-founder of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and former chair of the Jerusalem-based Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (a non-profit created by the Israeli government-funded Jewish Agency). He had received $421,775 in speaking fees in 2008 of which more than a half, $220,000, came from Israeli and Jewish political and religious organizations, including $40,000 from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Ross was a noted supporter of the Iraq war and he signed two Project for a New American Century (PNAC) letters in support of the war in March 2003.

James B. Steinberg is expected to be confirmed as a deputy to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Mr. Steinberg was a deputy national security adviser in the Clinton administration. He travels to Israel the week of Feb. 21 to take part in discussions with Israel that are likely to be dominated by Iran. It is worth noting here that Steinberg, along with Daniel Kurtzer and Dennis Ross, were among the principal authors of Barack Obama’s address on the Middle East to AIPAC in June 2008, which was viewed as the Democratic nominee’s most expansive on international affairs. In that speech, Obama was heard saying that "Jerusalem is Israel's capital" and that it should not be divided again. Daniel Kurtzer is a career diplomat who developed Middle East policy under President Bush and his father. He served as the U.S. ambassador to Israel from 2001 to 2005. He was also recently appointed the commissioner of the newly formed Israel Baseball League.

Jacob J. Lew, an orthodox Jew with strong feelings for the Jewish state who headed the Office of Management and Budget (1998-2001) under President Bill Clinton and newly appointed deputy to Secretary Clinton, is expected to leave this weekend for Egypt, Israel and Jordan. The agenda is all around Iran’s nuclear program.
Meanwhile, Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President of Jewish ancestry, is aggressively pushing for new sanctions, especially in the energy sector against Iran in the United Nations Security Council, where France currently presides. The next member to hold the chair is Gabon, an African nation less likely to push hard for a resolution. So much for all the diplomatic activities around Iran’s nuclear program!
---====---

Part 2:
Fourteen years ago in May of 1996, a month after the Qana massacre, journalist Ari Shavit of Ha’aretz wrote, “We killed 170 people in Lebanon, most of whom were refugees, during the month of April, 1996. Many of them were women, old people and children… We killed them because the increasingly wider gap between the sacrosanct character that we attribute to our own lives and the more limited character we give to theirs, allowed us to kill. We believe, in the most absolute manner, with the White House, the Senate, the Pentagon, and the New York Times on our side, that their lives do not have the same weight as ours.”

An impartial analysis leads one to conclude that Israeli influence and her disproportionate use of violence against unarmed Palestinian and Lebanese civilians has not ebbed. Israel continues to act as a pariah state that is above the law, and is untouchable by punitive sanctions and condemnations. She can commit the most gruesome war crimes and yet with a sycophant media behind her side that sees no crime, she has craftily managed to portray her victims of aggression as terrorists.

Just between September 29, 2000 and February 23, 2009 some 6,348 Palestinians were killed of which children were 1,487. During the same period 1,072 Israelis were killed of which 123 were children. In this period the number of Palestinians injured was 39,019 compared to 8,864 on the Israeli side.

Since Israeli occupation of 1967, some twenty thousand Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israel. Peter Hansen, Commissioner General of UNRWA, once said, “Any humanitarian looking at the sheer number of innocent civilians who have lost their homes can only condemn Israel’s house demolition policy as a hugely disproportionate military response by an occupation army... It is a policy that creates only hardship and bitterness, and in the end can only undermine hope for future reconciliation and peace.”

The UNRWA is not alone in condemning Israeli violence. In his book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, President Jimmy Carter cites the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem to state that “on average twelve innocent families lost their homes for every person accused of participation in attacks against Israelis, with almost half of the demolished homes never occupied by anyone suspected of involvement in any violent act against Israel, even throwing stones.” In such demolitions, in fewer than 3% of the cases, advance warning was given by the IDF. B’Tselem concluded, “Israel’s policy of punitive demolitions constitutes a grave breach of international humanitarian law, and therefore a war crime.”

Since the beginning of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories in 1967, over 650,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israel. This is equivalent to one-fifth the total Palestinian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Currently, there are some eleven thousand Palestinian political prisoners in Israel compared to just one Israeli held by the Hamas government.

On 15 May, 2009 the NRG website published testimonies of IDF Col. Itai Virob, commander of Kfir Brigade, and of Lt. Col. Shimon, commander of Shimshon Battalion before a military court. These clearly indicate that their orders included permission for extensive use of violence and injurious, even lethal means, against Palestinians, and harassment. The two explained that sweeping permission was given to forces under their command to use direct physical violence “to extract information,” and as part of what is referred to as “interrogation.” Col. Virob said, “Of all the means of pressure that we use, the vast majority are against persons who are not involved.” Complaints regarding military conduct of this kind have been filed in the past, but are usually denied by the military establishment.

As to Israel’s settlement policies, the least said the better. In a New York Times Op/Ed Roger Cohen recently wrote, "The U.S. objective is a two-state peace. But day by day, square meter by square meter, the physical space for the second state, Palestine, is disappearing. Can the Gaza sardine can and fractured labyrinth of the West Bank now be seen as anything but a grotesque caricature of a putative state? America has allowed this self-defeating process to advance to near irreversibility." The USA government and its friends cannot evade the responsibility behind bankrolling billions to help those settlements and bring Israel to a status where it is self-defeating its much publicized 'opposition' to the settlement activities inside the Occupied Palestine. In so doing, the USA is losing its credibility as an honest broker. Do these people realize that if two state formula is not honored today there will be one state between the river and the sea and very soon there will be more Palestinian Arabs in it than Jews? Then the Zionists would have to answer to their own folks: "What then will become of the Zionist dream?" It’s time for President Obama to ask such tough questions in public and demand of Israel that it work in practice to share the land rather than divide and rule it.

It is a foregone conclusion today that no foreign country and no minority flex as much influence on the USA as the state of Israel and the Jewish population. To understand this influence, just ponder on the fact that the single biggest donor to American politicians is Israeli billionaire and media mogul Haim Saban. In January 2007 it was revealed that he had donated approximately $13 billion to various US political candidates. The New York Times has noted Saban’s ardent devotion to the Jewish state: “He has since emerged as perhaps the most politically connected mogul in Hollywood, throwing his weight and money around Washington, and increasingly, the world, trying to influence all things Israeli. 'I’m a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel,' he said.”

In an interview in 1983, Admiral Thomas Moorer, former Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “I've never seen a President -- I don't care who he is -- stand up to them [the Israelis]. It just boggles the mind. They always get what they want. The Israelis know what is going on all the time. I got to the point where I wasn't writing any¬thing down. If the American people understood what a grip those people have got on our government, they would rise up in arms. Our citizens certainly don't have any idea what goes on.”

It is obvious that the situation has not improved an iota in the last 27 years. In a 2002 article in the Guardian, Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner, candidly stated: “But you know as well as I do that, somehow, the Israeli government is placed on a pedestal [in the US], and to criticize it is to be immediately dubbed anti-Semitic … People are scared in this country, to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful -- very powerful.” In their studies, professors Mearsheimer and Walt once again confirmed such assertions. These powerful Israel lobbies have simply made the elected representatives in the Capitol Hill to behave like parrots of the state of Israel. With the Supreme Court vote lately in favor of corporate election money, there is no doubt that the true spirit of democracy and people’s representation has been nailed a deathblow from which it may never recover.

With so much control over the elected representatives in the USA, it is not difficult to understand how Israel can afford to behave like a rogue nation ignoring world opinion against her. On April 8, 2002, a frustrated Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, was heard saying in Madrid, “The whole world is demanding that Israel withdraw [from occupied Palestinian territories]. I don’t think the whole world... can be wrong.”

A recent report showed that six companies, owned by pro-Israel Jews, control 96% of world media. By permitting Zionists to control the world media, especially in the USA and the western countries, our generation has given them decisive influence on our political system and virtual control of our government. And not only that we have also given them control over our minds and souls. It’s a sad time for any socially conscious human being to live in this new century and see what’s happening to their lives! Israel and her friends in high place must be confronted from making our world a living hell. The sooner the better!

References:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,585461,00.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/10/world/middleeast/10sanctions.html
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gMWnTNi2WvELwNz8MqRXYBYmK9dQD9DPTOKO0 ; http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/middle-east/US-Dismisses-Irans-Nuclear-Claims-84180242.html
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu told European diplomats that Iran was “racing forward to produce a nuclear weapon,” Reuters reported. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/10/world/middleeast/10sanctions.html
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123663806
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/13/world/middleeast/13diplo.html?th&emc=th
Dan Kurtzer (an Orthodox Jew and former U.S. ambassador to Israel), published a think-tank monograph containing anonymous complaints from Arab and American negotiators saying Ross was seen as biased towards Israel and not "an honest broker".
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1823145,00.html?xid=rss-topstories
http://original.antiwar.com/vlahos/2009/05/27/is-dennis-ross/
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/james_b_steinberg/index.html?inline=nyt-per
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121358442119676435.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Kurtzer
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/13/world/middleeast/13diplo.html?th&emc=th
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10041/1034814-82.stm#ixzz0fRMj7Abh
Ari Shavit/Haaretz/New York Times Syndication (Translated from Hebrew in "Liberation" of May 21, 1996); The New York Times, May 27, 1996; http://www.codoh.com/zionweb/zionmythgar.html
http://www.ifamericansonlyknew.org/stats/homes.html#source
Ibid.
Jimmy Carter, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, Simon & Schuster, New York (2006), p. 116.
Ibid. p. 117.
http://jfjfp.com/?p=2892
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/12/opinion/12iht-edcohen.html?th&emc=th
“Israeli Billionaire Saban is Biggest Donor to US Politicians,” Ynet News (Israel), Jan. 23, 2007;
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/1,7340,L-3355786,00.html
A. R. Sorkin, “Schlepping to Moguldom,” The New York Times, Sept. 5, 2004; http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/05/business/yourmoney/05sab.html
Interview with Moorer, Aug. 24, 1983. Quoted in: Paul Findley, They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby (Lawrence Hill, 1984 and 1985), p. 161.
D. Tutu, “Apartheid in the Holy Land,” The Guardian (Britain), April 29, 2002.
Quoted in Forward (New York), April 19, 2002, p. 11.
http://pakalert.wordpress.com/2009/03/16/six-jewish-companies-own-96-of-the-worlds-media/

Friday, February 12, 2010

Israel-Palestine crisis - New York Times Op/Ed by Roger Cohen

A very balanced piece on Israel-Palestine crisis has appeared in the NY Times. It is written by Roger Cohen: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/12/opinion/12iht-edcohen.html?th&emc=th

As the author mentions "The U.S. objective is a two-state peace. But day by day, square meter by square meter, the physical space for the second state, Palestine, is disappearing. Can the Gaza sardine can and fractured labyrinth of the West Bank now be seen as anything but a grotesque caricature of a putative state? America has allowed this self-defeating process to advance to near irreversibility." Yes, the USA government and its friends have been bankrolling billions to help those settlements and bring Israel to a status where it is self-defeating USA government's much publicized 'opposition' to the settlement activities inside the Occupied Palestine. In so doing, the USA is losing its credibility as an honest broker.

I also agree with Cohen's honest analysis that if the two state formula is not honored today there will be one state between the river and the sea and very soon there will be more Palestinian Arabs in it than Jews. Then the Zionists would have to answer to their own folks: "What then will become of the Zionist dream?" It’s time for President Obama to ask such tough questions in public and demand of Israel that it work in practice to share the land rather than divide and rule it. But will the Zionist wisdom see through the light on such soul-searching realizations?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Yet another murder of a Rohingya by the SPDC regime in Myanmar

It is really a shocking news to hear about the murder of a Rohingya man by the Sarapa (military intelligence). My heart bleeds hearing such horrendous crimes that see no slowing down in spite of all the voices of condemnation of the SPDC regime heard from outside, governments and non-governments alike. What the SPDC regime is doing to the Rohingya people of Arakan is a slow but definite genocidal campaign. It is slow enough not to be in the radar screen of most human rights groups and governments but steady enough to make the Rohingya an extinct human group, unless such a crime is stopped once and for all time immediately. Sadly, the victims are not welcome anywhere, not even in the neighboring countries like Bangladesh and Thailand which have taken a push-back strategy to worsen their plight upon return. By implementing push-back strategy, these neighboring states are aiding in war crimes. It is deplorable and criminal to the core. Hypocritical is also the stand of governments of countries like the USA, the UK and France that speak loud about human rights, and always all agog about crying out foul with actions of the Iranian government against demonstrators while they are conveniently silent on this genocidal campaign. It is simply painful to observe such a crime go on for so long.
May Allah help the Rohingya and come to their rescue!

---
Kaladan News

February 5, 2010

Sarapa kills Rohingya man in Maungdaw, Arakan

Maungdaw, Arakan State: Sarapa (Military Intelligence) killed a Rohingya man after torturing him severely on January 4, in Maungdaw Town, Arakan State, after calling him to their office, according to a close relative of the victim on condition of anonymity.

The victim was identified as Zahir Ahmed (47), son of Boshor from Ward No.2 or Khari Para of Maungdaw Town.

On January 3, at about 8 am, the victim was called by Sergeant Maung Pru of Sarapa to their office in Ward No.1 of Maungdaw Town, while the victim was standing in front of Hamidul Hougue’s betel quid shop at the Khari Para crossroad. (The rest of the news can be read in the Kaladan Press)

Comments on Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer's latest article on "Islam and Modern Age"

Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer has been writing a series of articles, entitled "Islam and Modern Age" for quite some time. In his latest piece, he wrote:

"Politics is all about power games and hence the best role for religion and religious leaders would be to maintain its distance from politics and act as strong critic of political establishment."

Being a keen observer myself on religion and politics for the last three decades, I could not have agreed more with the above statement. When the Iranian revolution swept away the Shah, there was such an excitement in the entire ummah of Muslims, irrespective of Shi'a and Sunni, that they welcomed the marriage of religion and politics. As to the Shi'a it was more so, simply because of their understanding that Allah and His Messenger Muhammad (S) have ordained Ali (R) as the designated Caliph. That is, to them, the matter of khilafah was not left to the polity to decide. Imam Khomeini very successfully explained that concept of Vilayat-e-Faqih in his writings. To them, at least the majority of the Ithna Ashariya, there is no separation between religion and politics. However, the later history has confirmed Asghar Ali Engineer's observation. It was no accident that Ayatullah Montazari, one of Imam Khomeini's famous students, who died a few months ago, had also deviated from the line of his teacher. The Grand Ayatullah Sistani of Iraq, likewise, has also kept himself away from politics.

These historical observations, in the light of several verses in the Qur'an, lead many of us to say that while it is desirable that our government be run to adhere to the rules of God on earth such adaptation of laws may not all that be either easy or feasible, given our human weaknesses of greed, lust, power, ego, etc. As such, it is probably better to separate the two - religion and governance (or politics), the latter always leaving a tainted image on the former. However, I feel rather strongly that it is always better to have a religious person (i.e., pious one) behind the wheel of politics rather than an impious one. A person who does not fear God has no fear of His creation! This does not mean that a God-less person or an atheist could not be a better administrator or governor, or head of state; but chances are that he/she would turn into a tyrant like Stalin or Mao Tse Tung. A person, who on the other hand is mindful of his/her accountability to God, even after death for his/her worldly activities, is forced to be more caring and fulfilling the trust in government than the one who does not have that fear of Akhirah.

Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer's citations from the Sufi saints about the value of love should not however obscure the fact that none of them went outside the realm of Shariah. To them, tariqah without shariah is blasphemy. Their love for fellow creation allowed anyone - an idolater, a fire worshiper and a nominal monotheist - to feel welcome into their tent. That love basically transcended into many such devotees to renounce their taghut (false gods) in favor of one True God.

I also agree with Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer's statement that faith and reason are like two feet upon which human beings should support themselves. One minus the other is deficient. In that sense, probably our aqli school of thought - the Hanafi madhab within Sunni Islam - is closer to fulfilling that desirable balance. And Allah knows the best!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Western Meddling with Iran’s Nuclear Program is Unacceptable

Part 1:
The relationship between the governments of Iran and the USA has been tense and nasty since the fall of the Shah. During the long Iran-Iraq War, the USA and her allies even supported the Iraqi regime when it invaded Iran. On July 3, 1988 the U.S. Navy’s guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655 (IR655) killing all 290 passengers and crew aboard, including 66 children. It was the highest death toll of any aviation incident in the Indian Ocean and the highest death toll of any incident involving an Airbus A300 anywhere in the world. At the time of the attack, Vincennes, fitted with the then-new Aegis combat system, was traversing the Strait of Hormuz inside Iranian territorial waters, and the IR655 was within Iranian airspace. Worse still, after completing their tour, the Vincennes crew was awarded Combat Action Ribbons for having actively participated in ground or surface combat and its captain William C. Rogers III received the Legion of Merit.

Then came 9/11, which Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned. Thousands of ordinary Iranians held candles during vigils in Tehran to mourn the loss of life in the United States. President Mohammad Khatami set the tone for Iran’s reaction with a statement that in Persian rang with deep compassion: “On behalf of the Iranian people and the Islamic Republic, I denounce the terrorist measures, which led to the killing of defenseless people, and I express my deep sorrow and sympathy with the American people.”
Then followed January 29, 2002, when President GW Bush in his state of the Union speech claimed Iran as part of an “axis of evil”. From that moment onward, there was hardly anything positive to build bridges between the two countries. Iraq, the other Middle Eastern country, belonging to Bush’s evil axis, has already been invaded and occupied in 2003 under the pretext of possessing the WMDs, which were never to be found. The Anglo-American invasion was itself declared illegal by no less of a figure than the Secretary General of the UN. Saddam Hussein was subsequently hanged. But who cares or dares to put Bush and Blair in the electric chair for their genocidal campaign in Iraq that killed thousands of Anglo-American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of unarmed Iraqi civilians, and destroyed the entire infrastructure of the country?
Iran remains intact, more than eight years after Bush’s evil declaration, much to the chagrin of Israel and her Amen Corner inside the Capitol Hill of the USA. They want Iran to be disarmed the same way Iraq was seven years ago so that there won’t be anyone left in the already emasculated Middle East to threaten or challenge the existence of the state of Israel. They claim Iran is developing nuclear weapons, which are, as they claim, existential threats to the only nuclear power in the Middle East. How wonderful!
There is no doubt that Iran has a nuclear program. It is actually 51 years old, dating back to 1959 when Iran purchased a research reactor from the USA. Mohammad Reza Shah, a trusted friend of the USA and Israel who was installed into power in a CIA coup that overthrew a democratically elected government, had a grandiose plan to build 23 nuclear power reactors by the 1990s. The USA and the western world had no problem with the Shah’s ambitious project. And yet Iran’s current plans to construct seven nuclear power plants (each of 1000 MW capacity) by 2025 to meet growing energy demand are considered too ambitious and unacceptable by the same countries. They question: why should Iran go nuclear when she has the third largest reservoir of oil and gas? Forgotten in this context are the facts that Iran does not have enough refining capacity to process her own crude oil (forcing her to import refined oil from outside) and that when all the developed countries around the world are going nuclear or making serious efforts to go carbon-free, away from fossil-fuel based technology, why should Iran, a country with enormous talented human resources and a rich history of non-aggression, remain behind in technology evolution? Iran is neither Somalia nor Haiti. Her leaders have repeatedly assured the world that their nuclear program has nothing to do with weapons, which are considered haram by its Islamic clerics. Iran’s President Dr. Ahmadinejad declared, “We believe that the possession of nuclear bombs is immoral.” The Iranian government has for long demanded a nuclear-free world, let alone the Middle East. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors have not found any evidence of weapons program either inside Iran. On September 2, 2009, its outgoing Director General Dr. ElBaradei said that Iran was not going to produce a nuclear weapon in the near future and the threat posed had been exaggerated. Unlike Israel, North Korea, India and Pakistan, Iran is actually a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and submitting itself to the jurisdiction of the IAEA. And yet it seems kosher for the nuclear Brahmin states to disallow Iran’s legitimate aspirations for nuclear power.

Israel and her western patrons are suspicious about Iran’s uranium enrichment program, suspecting that the enriched fuel could be used for the weapons program. However, the enrichment level of 3.5%, achieved thus far by Iranian scientists, remains far below what is necessary (90%) for highly enriched uranium or weapon-grade plutonium. Iran has a reactor in Tehran that produces nuclear medicine (20 different kinds thus far), based on radioactive technologies. She requires 19.75 percent enrichment to foresee her needs for the next two decades. Iran, being far short of producing that target, has been buying this material from other countries. According to President Ahmadinejad, Iran is even willing to purchase this material from the USA.

What is so bizarre in this nuclear debate with Iran is that the USA has no problem rewarding a country like India, which has not signed the NPT. The Obama administration renewed previous Bush commitment and signed a bilateral treaty with India last July for the construction of two U.S. civilian nuclear power reactors in India, which officials estimate could be worth about $10 billion to American companies.

From published reports it seems Israel has already chalked out a plan, under NATO protection, to knock out Iran’s suspected nuclear facilities. As we have already seen with Iraq, Mossad agents are active inside Iran in killing Iranian scientists that are affiliated with the state-run nuclear research facilities. Not to be left behind, some Iranian traitors, affiliated with the terrorist group MKO and the deposed Shah’s son (who lives in the USA), are trying to follow the footsteps of Ahmed Challaby (of Iraq) to manufacture a pre-invasion Iraq-like environment for overthrow of the current Iranian regime, tainted by accusations of fraud in the last presidential election.

As noted by keen observers and area experts, Israel and her Jewish friends outside remain the most vociferous opponents of Iran’s nuclear program. In recent months, Israeli leaders, all war criminals by any definition, are touring the world preaching for nuclear-free Iran. As noted earlier, the Zionist state wants to remain unchallenged in the region while undermining and denying legitimate aspirations of other countries in the region for nuclear energy for peaceful purpose. With the powerful Israel Lobby active inside the USA and Europe, she has little to feel guilty of her criminal actions and illogical demands.

Fortunately, not everyone is fooled by Israel’s devious ploys. Last September while attending the 64th session of the UN General Assembly and following his meeting with his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Iran was entitled to the same rights as any other country in its use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. “I defend for Iran the same rights with respect to nuclear energy that I do for Brazil,” Lula told reporters outside the United Nations General Assembly. “If anyone is ashamed of having relations with Iran, it’s not Brazil,” he added.

In September 2009 the General Conference of the IAEA passed a landmark resolution urging Israel to open its entire nuclear program to IAEA inspection and join the NPT. The IAEA resolution had likewise warned of ‘Israeli nuclear capabilities.’ Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, in a letter to all 15 members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), asked the council to enforce the observation. Aboul Gheit mentioned that Tel Aviv has been refusing to sign the nuclear NPT, adding that “Israel’s nuclear capabilities cannot evade world attention.” Egypt and other members of the Arab League upheld the decision which had been fiercely opposed by the US and its Western allies. Aboul Gheit also urged the UNSC to develop a timeframe for a nuclear-free Middle East.

It is worth nothing here that since 1958, when it began building its Dimona plutonium and uranium processing facility, Israel has reportedly manufactured hundreds of nuclear warheads earning reputation as the sole owner of such hardware in the Middle East. Former US president Jimmy Carter, aerial footage and decades of recurrent reporting have attested to the existence of the armament. However, as is glaringly obvious, the western countries, including the USA, are willing to overlook Israeli nuclear buildups in the region. Such a biased, hypocritical and criminal attitude does not allow any concerned person to hope for an easing of the tension in the Middle East.
==-==



Part 2:
Let’s now review the issues of the last few months following Iran’s rejection of the preliminary agreement that was reached between the two sides on Oct. 1, 2009 in Geneva. Under the deal, Iran was supposed to send 75 percent of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia for conversion into fuel for a research reactor in Tehran. Russia was supposed to enrich Iran’s LEU to 19.75 percent, and France to convert it into fuel rods. Iran also agreed to allow the inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit the newly disclosed uranium-enrichment facility in Qom – called the Fordow facility – within two weeks. Iran delivered on that promise. After the visit by the inspectors, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the IAEA outgoing director-general, declared that the facility was a “big hole in the mountain” and nothing to worry about.

The inclusion of France and Russia in the Geneva Agreement to reprocess uranium was rather precarious given both these countries’ monumental records of cheating and ignoble intentions. Some background information is necessary to understand this. In June 1974 the Shah of Iran and Dr. Akbar Etemad, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, visited Paris and ratified an earlier agreement, according to which France was to supply five 1,000-MW nuclear reactors with enriched uranium and help set up a nuclear research center in Iran. To ensure that Iran would receive the LEU (low-enriched Uranium), the Shah agreed to buy Sweden’s 10 percent share in Eurodif, a consortium that operates a uranium enrichment plant in France. The consortium was founded in 1973 by France, Belgium, Spain, and Sweden. Cogéma, a French-government subsidiary, and Iran established the Sofidif (Société Franco-Iranienne pour l’enrichissement de l’uranium par diffusion gazeuse), with 60 percent owned by France and the rest by Iran. Sofidif then purchased 25 percent of Eurodif, thereby giving Iran its 10 percent share of the latter. Iran paid $1 billion in 1975 and $180 million in 1977 in return for the right to 10 percent of the LEU production of the company. As noted in the Anti-war.com by Professor Muhammad Sahimi, an Iranian expatriate who teaches chemical engineering at the prestigious University of Southern California, Los Angeles, as soon as the Islamic Revolution overthrew the Shah in February 1979, “France has refused to deliver Iran’s share of the LEU or to refund Iran with interest. Thus, there are solid historical reasons for Iran to be suspicious of France.” Given President Sarkozy’s rabid Islamophobia and horrendous records of human rights violations against French Muslims, plus bulldog behavior using threatening language against Iran ever since he was elected, no Iranian trusts him to deliver on promise.

Dr. Sahimi also cites several reasons for Iran’s distrust of Russia, which in the Soviet Era occupied Iran during World War II. He says, “Russia took large parts of Iran’s territory in the Caucasus region in 1813 and 1827 and never relinquished them. Russia also helped the counterrevolutionaries during Iran’s Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1911 and was opposed, through its Iranian proxies, to Iran’s industrialization in the 19th and early 20th centuries… It took advantage of Iran’s weak government and looted Iran’s caviar and fisheries in the Caspian Sea from 1927 until the mid-1950s… The Soviet Union and Iran signed two treaties in 1921 and 1940 that forbade the two nations from taking unilateral actions regarding the natural resources of the Caspian Sea, yet Russia has done exactly that, signing bilateral agreements, over Iran’s strong objections, with the other littoral states, namely, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan.” We have heard much about Iran’s Bushehr facility where Russia is building a 1,000-MW light-water nuclear reactor. This facility was supposed to be operational many years ago. But Russia has not been a trusting partner. As noted by Prof. Sahimi, “And it has become an annual ritual for Russia to announce at the beginning of every year that the … nuclear reactor … will come online by middle of the year. When the middle of the year arrives, it is announced that the reactor will come online by ‘early next year.’”

Thus, the Geneva Agreement was widely unpopular inside Iran. The opposition leader Hossein Mousavi called the agreement “astonishing.” Dr. Etemad, living now in France, said, “This is a bad deal. They want to get Iran’s uranium. There is no trust in Russia or France that if they received Iran’s uranium, they will return it. They have broken their promises in the past.” Dr. Ebrahim Yazdi, Iran’s foreign minister in the first year after the 1979 Revolution, who now leads the Freedom Movement (a reformist party in Iran), also said, “This is a meaningless agreement. Iran has invested billions of dollars for uranium enrichment, but now does this [shipping the LEU to Russia and France]!” In a letter to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has also expressed concerns about the agreement. Finally, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say in the most important issues facing the nation, rejected the proposal.

Iran then made a counterproposal to the P5+1 group (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) in which Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki declared that Iran was open to a simultaneous exchange of fuel rods for its research reactor with Iran’s LEU in Tehran. As per this proposal, Iran would ship its LEU in several batches, rather than all at once, in order to guarantee that once the LEU is converted to fuel rods, it will be returned to Iran. But EU diplomats and the United States and its allies in the P5+1 group quickly rejected this suggestion angrily. This attitude only deepened Iranian suspicion about western ulterior motives. According to Prof. Sahimi, “If the ultimate goal is to transfer Iran’s LEU outside of its reach, what difference does it make where to deliver the fuel and receive the LEU?”

The USA and her allies lobbied the IAEA to pass a resolution on November 27 to censure Iran for the construction of the Fordow enrichment plant. The resolution, drafted by the P5+1 group, demanded that Tehran stop uranium enrichment and immediately freeze the construction of the Fordow nuclear facility. It passed in a 25-3 vote with six abstentions. As expected, Tehran rejected the IAEA resolution, the first one passed against Iran since 2006, as “politically motivated” and “illegal,” aimed at depriving Iran of its basic rights. And Iran is right to say so.

As a signatory to the NPT, Iran has all the rights to pursue its nuclear program for civilian use. By demanding that Iran suspend all its nuclear operations, the IAEA continues to violate its own charter (e.g., Article IV), much like what its BOG (Board of Governors) did back in February 4, 2006 when it illegally referred the matter of so-called non-compliance to the UNSC. Interestingly, the responsibility for identifying non-compliance rests not with the BOG, but with the inspectors and the director-general, none of whom ever reported Iran to be in non-compliance with the NPT (i.e., making nuclear weapons in secret, helping another member state to do so, or transferring nuclear technology to a non-member state). Reviewing the 2006 nuclear dossier on Iran to the UNSC, Prof. Sahimi comments, “The dossier should be referred to the UNSC only if the NPT has been violated by the member state … or if nuclear materials have been diverted to non-peaceful applications (bomb-making) or if a breach has occurred to ‘further any military purpose.’ But the IAEA has certified time and again that none has occurred in Iran’s case. The resolution adopted for sending Iran’s dossier to the UNSC also made illegal demands on Iran beyond the authority of the BOG and the IAEA… There is not a single word in the UN Charter, the NPT, Iran’s Safeguards Agreement, or the IAEA Statute that indicates that the BOG (Board of Governors of the IAEA) or the director-general need to satisfy themselves that a country’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful, or that it even has the authority to make such demands.”

In its latest resolution against Iran, issued on November 27, the IAEA once again made illegal demands by ordering Iran to stop construction of the Fordow facility. As noted by Prof. Sahimi, “To give its demands ‘legal’ cover, the resolution refers to the UNSC resolutions against Iran. But those resolutions too are illegal, because not only were they issued after Iran’s nuclear dossier was sent illegally to the UNSC, but the UNSC also did not follow the correct procedure for filing its resolutions under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.”

An objective analysis leads most neutral observers and analysts to conclude that the western powers, esp. the USA, have been insincere and untrustworthy from day one and have set a trail of double-standards when it comes to resolving the nuclear problem with Iran peacefully and fairly. It is quite obvious that their agenda remains denying Iran the right to exploring nuclear technology for civilian use, under the smokescreen of claiming that Iran would use such for military use – an allegation, much like Iraq’s WMDs, which has been rejected by the UN watchdog group, IAEA. It all goes back to the same rogue mentality of Bush and Cheney when they, aided by disinformation campaign of the Jewish neocons and Israel, were cocksure about the Saddam Hossein’s WMDs. Their savage formula: hang the innocent before he commits a crime. After all, as the Mafia Dons of our world they ought to know better!

In recent days we hear that the United States and France are again threatening more sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, drafting a resolution to present to the UNSC.

Last week U.S. Secretary of State Clinton, an unabashed supporter of Israel, met French President Nicolas Sarkozy. She later said, “France’s leadership is greatly appreciated. The international community is united on Iran.” After a summit meeting with Israel’s Netanyahu last month, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said, “We will work for more sanctions.” Germany, always mindful of erasing its genocidal past in causing the Jewish Holocaust, is one of the six powers that have been working to curb Iran’s nuclear program. Germany is Israel’s third largest trading partner and the most steadfast supporter and benefactor behind the USA.

On December 15, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the “Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act of 2009.” It is very similar to the Senate bill. The latter extends sanctions to include companies that build oil and gas pipelines in Iran and provide tankers to move Iran’s petroleum. It also prohibits the U.S. government from buying goods from foreign companies that work in Iran’s energy sector. So, in effect, the Senate bill imposes sanctions on Iran’s entire oil and natural gas industry.

However, as we have learned from previous experiences, such sanctions are not only criminal they actually would harm ordinary Iranians. This is a view also held by defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi who warned that tightening sanctions would hurt ordinary people and turn them against the United States, not the regime. (Newsweek, Oct. 3, 2009)

Against that backdrop of western threats and blackmails, it is good to notice China’s position which has been calling for a diplomatic solution to the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. On December 27, during a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi of China again made the proposal in Istanbul.

So, how to resolve the tense relationship between Iran and the West, esp. the USA? As noted by many experts, war is not a solution. The cost-benefit ratio is unfavorable to the West. Even if the nuclear facilities are destroyed completely by joint Israel-US air raids, the regime has oil money, and with heightened national support and resolve, it could quickly rebuild most of its facilities. A better option lies in not exaggerating Iran’s nuclear ambition. Much in contrast to the reassurances of her leaders, even if Iran were to produce a nuclear bomb sometime in the future, our world, including the Middle East, will not end, nor will Israel be threatened. As a matter of fact, all the nuclear untouchables in the region are at the mercy of Israel, the rogue nuclear Brahmin, today. At its best, the Iranian bomb can actually be a deterrent to future wars in the region. At its worst, with all the financial aid and support it gets from the guilt-ridden western countries, and the overwhelming power of the Israel Lobby, Israel will continue to remain the most dangerous nation in the region, capable of destroying any country there that foolishly attacks her.

Mending good relationship with Iran would serve the interest of Washington and its European allies better, especially now when people in the West are suffering economically and are tired of lies and distortion of facts coming from Israel and her patrons and allies. They don’t want another war which would definitely lead to the collapse of their free market capitalism. They seek peace and not unnecessary and avoidable war.

However, as we have noted earlier, Washington was never serious about improving relations with Iran. The Bush administration alienated Iran right after Tehran had cooperated with Washington to oust the Taliban and set up the Karzai government in Kabul. And, haughty about its military prowess as the hyper-power of the 21st century, it deliberately ignored all gestures or concessions made by the reformist government of Mohammad Khatami.

Even today, when it comes to dealing with Iran, sadly, the Obama administration has not revised the stupid policy of its predecessor. That’s a non-starter! As President Ahmadinejad commented last September during his trip to attend the UN General Assembly, “If Mr. Bush’s policies are to be continued with new language, we will not be able to achieve much… If these policies do not change, no real change will happen.”

For a genuine dialogue with Iran to succeed, our western leaders need to make a much more active effort to engage the Iranians, listening and responding to their concerns, allaying their suspicions, ending “regime change” policies and offering the real prospect of recognition to the Islamic Republic and normal relations with the United States. The Iranian people do have some legitimate security concerns. They feel surrounded on all sides by governments that are backed either by the USA or Russia, each with problematic past of subjugation and crime committed against the Iranian people. They live in a neighborhood surrounded by nuclear powers—Israel, Russia, China, India, and Pakistan – each capable of becoming an existential threat to Iran. If the West lessen such legitimate fears and concerns, Iranian leaders will be more likely to cooperate on the nuclear front.

Prof. Sahimi believes that only a clean diplomacy without prejudice, double standards, and illegal demands can settle this nuclear tug-of-war with Iran. He believes, “If a solution is reached, it will allow Iran’s democratic movement to advance further. If Iran does become a democracy, the question of its nuclear program should become moot.”

Will the nuclear Brahmins ever have the wisdom of giving diplomacy a chance for a peaceful world?