Saturday, October 28, 2006

BLOG FOR A SATURDAY MORN

FROM NORTHEASTERN INTELLIGENCE NETWORK:

US Infrastructure : Power grid maintenance trucks, $100,000 of equipment stolen in Arizona
Posted by admin on 2006/10/26 2:48:37 ( )

*26 October 2006: Three-(3) specially-outfitted and equipped power line maintenance trucks and more than $100,000 in tools were stolen from the Gila Substation Maintenance facility in Yuma county, Arizona sometime between 5:00 p.m. Friday, October 20 through 3:00 p.m. Saturday, October 21, 2006. The substation is owned by the U.S. Department of Energy's Western Area Power Administration, and the stolen equipment is specifically used to maintain the region’s high voltage power grid. One of the stolen vehicles, a white Ford F-550, was found in a remote desert area near the Colorado and Gila rivers, reportedly stripped of its equipment and burned over the weekend.
FBI spokesperson Deb McCarley publicly stressed that there is nothing to suggest that the theft has any nexus to terrorism or poses any risk to the nation’s infrastructure, and noted that “young people are known to ‘hang out’ in the area.” On Tuesday, the FBI and the Yuma County Sheriff’s office posted a $10,000 reward leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible. Meanwhile, one law enforcement agent privately expressed concern about the motive for the theft.

A commissioned law enforcement source in Yuma County, interviewed yesterday by Northeast Intelligence Network director Doug Hagmann on the condition of keeping his name private, described the theft as “planned” and not one of opportunity. This is not a case where someone ‘hanging out in the area decide to take a truck for a joyride. I am inclined to believe that whoever did this knew what they were taking.” This source declined to provide any specific details of the theft, but added that it certainly did not appear to be a random case of vehicle theft. He also stated that patrols are being stepped up near electrical stations, substations and other “areas of concern.”
Missing:
* A bright red 2005 Chevy 3500, U.S. government license plate # G63-1300B.
* A gray 2006 Chevy 2500, U.S. government license plate # G63-2847B.
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FROM COUNTERTERRORISMBLOG.ORG

I FEEL BAD NEWS A RISIN'


Radical Australian Cleric Al-Hilali's Sermon in the Context of a Growing Fringe of Home-Grown Militants
By Zachary Abuza


[Author’s note: I do not like to comment on issues/events outside of Southeast Asia, but I would like to post this brief piece on the comments of Sheikh Taj Din al-Hilali of Australia, that are getting significant attention in the international media. They must be seen in the context of a growing threat of home grown Islamist militancy Down Under, that has not been addressed to the degree it should have been on the Counterterrorism Blog.]


This week a Ramadan sermon by the controversial Supreme Muslim Cleric, Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali aired in the national media has created a furor across Australia. The comments, in which the sheik blames women for rape, are only the latest in a string of incidences by radical Muslims who refuse to integrate and abide by Australia’s liberal-democratic and multi-ethnic core values. While the radicals comprise only a small number of Australia’s 300,000 Muslims (who come from some 20 countries), their vociferous and intolerant discourse is disturbing. It also adds increasing light to the problem of home-grown Islamist militancy in Australia.

Last year, the firebrand imam, Abdul Nacer Benbrika, originally from Algeria but who eventually became an Australian citizen, went on national television and stated unequivocally that he could not tolerate any religion but Islam: "According to my religion, here, I don't accept all other religion except the religion of Islam… I am telling you that my religion doesn't tolerate other religion. It doesn't tolerate. The only one law which needs to spread, it can be here or anywhere else, has to be Islam."

Benbrika, who described Osama bin Laden as “great man,” also caused a stir by inciting Australian Muslims to go to Iraq and fight coalition – including Australian – troops; stating that it was a religious obligation for Muslims to do so.

Benbrika was arrested last November for being the ringleader of a terrorist plot. According to police officials from the State of Victoria, though the plot was in its "developmental stages,” Benbrika and his followers (two cells, one in Sydney, the other in Melbourne), were clearly inspired by the terrorist attacks in Madrid and London and were planning a major attack. In a telephone conversation intercepted by the police, Abdulla Merhi, said he "could wait months but not years" to carry out jihad. "You shouldn't kill just one, two or three," Mr Benbrika allegedly responded. "Do a big thing." "Like Madrid?" Mr Merhi allegedly inquired, to which Mr Benbrika was said to have replied: "That's it." He continued, "If you kill, we kill here 1000, because if you get large numbers here, the government will listen." Members of the Melbourne cell were allegedly filming the Australian Stock Exchange and Flinders Street Station, the main commuter rail terminus in Melbourne.

The group was self-financed. Members of the Melbourne cell each donated $100 a month while several others were involved petty crime, credit-card fraud and selling stolen mobile phones to finance the plot. The Sydney cell members had amassed a number of firearms and a small cache of chemicals needed to produce TATP, the explosive used in the London bombings, lab equipment, over 150 detonators, over 130 digital timers, and al-Qaeda literature and bomb-making manuals. Cell members attended simple training sessions in remote areas in 2005, and allegedly Benbrika was given a demonstration of the explosives. Two of the 17 people arrested in November 2005 and March 2006 had received explosives training in Afghanistan. Currently there are 13 people standing trial in this case.

While Australia has done a superb job at assisting the governments of Southeast Asia investigate and break up Jemaah Islamiyah, Australian officials are now bracing for a rise in home grown militancy. Australian security officials from both Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) have recently commented that there are roughly 12 terrorist cells with some 60 members that are being investigated. The threat of home-grown militancy has never been greater in Australia.

And for that reason, al-Hilali's sermon, published in today’s The Australian http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20653032-601,00.html, deserves another look because it is exclusionary, inciting and is a direct challenge to Australian tolerence:

"But when it comes to adultery, it's 90 per cent the women's responsibility. Why? Because a woman possesses the weapon of seduction. It is she who takes off her clothes, shortens them, flirts, puts on make-up and powder and takes to the streets, God protect us, dallying. It's she who shortens, raises and lowers. Then it's a look, then a smile, then a conversation, a greeting, then a conversation, then a date, then a meeting, then a crime, then Long Bay jail.

"But when it comes to this disaster, who started it? In his literature, scholar al-Rafihi says: 'If I came across a rape crime – kidnap and violation of honour – I would discipline the man and order that the woman be arrested and jailed for life.' Why would you do this, Rafihi? He says because if she had not left the meat uncovered, the cat wouldn't have snatched it."

"If you take a kilo of meat, and you don't put it in the fridge or in the pot or in the kitchen but you leave it on a plate in the backyard, and then you have a fight with the neighbour because his cats eat the meat, you're crazy. Isn't this true?

"If you take uncovered meat and put it on the street, on the pavement, in a garden, in a park or in the backyard, without a cover and the cats eat it, is it the fault of the cat or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem.

"If the meat was covered, the cats wouldn't roam around it. If the meat is inside the fridge, they won't get it.

"If the meat was in the fridge and it (the cat) smelled it, it can bang its head as much as it wants, but it's no use.

"If the woman is in her boudoir, in her house and if she's wearing the veil and if she shows modesty, disasters don't happen.

"That's why he said she owns the weapon of seduction.

"The woman was behind Satan playing a role when she disobeyed God and went out all dolled up and unveiled and made of herself palatable food that rakes and perverts would race for. She was the reason behind this sin taking place.

Al-Hilali has been in the news before. He was nearly deported several times before gaining citizenship owing to his radical preaching and tirades. He called the 9/11 attacks "God's work against oppressors" and continues to astound people with his virulent anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. These statements got him expelled from the Prime Minister's Muslim Advisory Board.

Another radical cleric, Sheikh Mohammed Omran, a spiritual leader of Ahl as-Sunnah wal Jama’ah, a Salafi organization, has led the media campaign denying Muslim links to either the London or Madrid bombings, as well as to the 9/11 attacks. "I don’t believe that even 11 September… I don’t believe that it was done by any Muslim at all… I dispute any evil action linked to bin Laden," he said on national TV. Instead, he explained, they were "inside job" of the United States. Omran has encouraged followers to wage jihad against the west, glorified suicide bombers, and encouraged Madrid and London-style attacks in Australia.

Public pressure, in particular from Australia's moderate Muslim community (I.E. The Islamic Council of New South Wales called his comments “un-Islamic, un-Australian and unacceptable”), forced al-Halali to apologize for his remarks, and he has agreed to a 2-3 month suspension from preaching though the Lakemba Mosque refused to dismiss him. Yet, he refused to resign until “After we clean the world of the White House first.”

Australia, which has troops in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and whose government is closely allied with the Bush Administration, will continue to be vilified by Islamic militants, named in Al Qaeda and JI statements, will also see a rise in home grown militants, inspired by radical clerics such as Benbrika, al-Hilali, and Omran.

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