Friday, February 1, 2008

Al-Qaeda 'fighters' use mentally challenged suicide bombers

The thing to remember about evil people, is that they are really evil, and their depravity knows no limits whatever. AP reports:

Remote-controlled explosives strapped to two mentally retarded women detonated in a coordinated attack on Baghdad pet bazaars Friday, Iraqi officials said, killing at least 73 people in the deadliest day since the U.S. sent 30,000 extra troops to the capital last spring.

The chief Iraqi military spokesman in Baghdad, Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, said the female bombers had Down syndrome and that the explosives were detonated by remote control indicating they may not having been willing attackers in what could be a new method by suspected Sunni insurgents to subvert stepped up security measures

The so-called "suicide bombers" in the latest attacks in Iraq were not suicide bombers - they were mentally challenged women who were detonated by remote control. Downs' syndrome victims are often trusting, docile and anxious to cooperate. We can understand how this happened.
Does the word "compassion" have any meaning in this context? Are any of the anti-War protestors going to get in the least bit perturbed about this?
On the other hand, these poor women did not commit a crime. They were just abused. What can we say about the mental acuity and reasoning of so-called "normal" suicide bombers? How about the intelligence of the people who support the Iraqi "resistance?"  
Ami Isseroff

Black Humor in Iranian Statecraft

Consider the following quote, from a leader of one the most vicious and intolerant regimes of state terrorism in the world:
Also on Thursday, Iran's former President Mohammad Khatami said Iran is the most democratic state in the Middle East.

Addressing the 38th World Economic Forum in Davos, Khatami said, "Obviously, opposition against Iran is politically motivated. Extremists in any religion always consider everything in black and white and have no tool but violence."

Noting that love is at the core of Islam and Christianity, he said, "Extremists in both the religions want to turn love into hatred."
Note that Judaism was not included as a religion with a core of love.  Iran's "tolerance" for Bahai, homosexuals and other minorities is surely famous around the world. They love them to death  (see Iran's human rights record).
Some recent news from the "most democratic state in the Middle East" is below.
Ami Isseroff

Thousands of Iran election candidates face ban
Mon Jan 21, 2008 4:11pm ET147
International News
TEHRAN (Reuters) - About 40 percent of the 7,200 people who have registered to run in Iran's March parliament election "have a record" with the authorities, a senior official said Monday, an indication they would not be allowed to run.
Alireza Afshar, head of election headquarters, did not elaborate on what kind of record they had, but hopefuls in past votes in a similar position were barred.
A pro-reform politician said having a record meant being blocked from standing.

Iran has sentenced three members of the Bahai faith to four years in jail for security offences and 51 others to suspended prison terms.

They were convicted for propaganda against the system in the southern city of Shiraz, a judiciary spokesman said, without giving details.

Bahaism is a branch of Islam viewed as heresy by Iran's religious authorities.

The spokesman said the 51 suspended sentences were conditional on attending courses by state propaganda officials.

 Iranian government intensifies crackdown on left-wing opposition

SEP and ISSE demand immediate release of arrested students

By Joe Kay
28 January 2008

On January 15, as part of a brutal crackdown on domestic opposition, the Iranian government arrested another 10 members of the Students for Freedom and Equality in Iran (also known as the Radical Left). Two more students were arrested on January 24. More than 40 members of the group are now behind bars at Iran's notorious Evin prison or have been released on bail

On December 4, Iranian police forces arrested 33 students who were participating in demonstrations marking "Students Day." The day commemorates the deaths of three students who were killed by the government of the US-supported Shah of Iran on December 7, 1953, while they protested the visit of then-US Vice President Richard Nixon.


Ahwaz Human Rights Organization is appealing for international action to save the lives of three Ahwazi-Arab detainees after the execution of a fellow detainee today.

Below is an appeal by Ahwaz Human Rights Organization:

To: World Leaders, International Human Rights Organizations and Media

Despite our appeal of 1/14/2008 and the appeals of the international community and a large number of international human rights organizations, this morning at 4 AM, the Iranian regime executed  Mr. Zamel Bawi, , 29 years old, married with one child, resident of Ahwaz, a small business owner and the son  of Ahwazi Arab tribal leader Hajj Salem Bawi. This execution took place in Karoon prison in Ahwaz (Zamel's 4 brothers remain in jail).  This has come after the execution of four other Ahwazis on 12/30/2007: Ahmad Marmazi, Abdolhussein Harabii, Hussein Asakereh, and Mehdi Haidari.

In the 12 months, at least 19 Ahwazi-Arab activists have been publicly hanged (three were executed just days after UN Human Rights Commissioner, Ms. Arbour, visited Tehran in September 2007).

Iraq: Bush wants no further troop reductions

The "success" in Iraq is a matter of opinion. Today, about 64 people were killed in two suicide attacks. Still, the number of deaths from such attacks has decreased from about 800 in November to "only" about 500 in January.
Removing troops will not, of course, reduce the number of deaths. Quite the contrary. But they will not be AMERICAN deaths, and that is important to American voters.
Ami Isseroff
Bush Signals Troop Level May Stay Stable

By Michael Abramowitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 1, 2008; Page A05
LAS VEGAS, Jan. 31 -- President Bush asserted Thursday that he would not be pressured into making further troop cuts in Iraq beyond the five combat brigades already scheduled to come home by the middle of the summer.
"We have come too far in this important theater, in this war on terror, not to make sure that we succeed," Bush told a friendly audience at an event sponsored by a conservative think tank. "I will be making decisions based upon success in Iraq. The temptation, of course, is for people to, you know, say, 'Well, make sure you do the politically right thing.' That's not my nature. That's not exactly what we're going to do."
The comments were the latest indication from the administration that it may keep the number of troops in Iraq at roughly the same level they were before last year's buildup of U.S. forces, possibly through the end of Bush's presidency. Under existing plans, the levels are gradually falling about 5,000 troops a month, from roughly 160,000 to 130,000 by July -- or approximately where they stood before Bush sent reinforcements to Iraq seeking to curtail spiraling sectarian violence.
Last fall, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates suggested that troop levels could continue falling, reaching 100,000 by 2009. But U.S. commanders in Iraq have suggested they would like to see a pause to determine whether recent security gains have taken root, and in recent statements -- such as his comments here -- Bush has indicated that he looks favorably upon such an approach.
The continuing signs that there will be a sizable U.S. troop presence in Iraq beyond the Bush presidency is becoming an increasing source of consternation for Capitol Hill Democrats, who have complained of recent steps from the White House to forge a long-term U.S. plan for Iraq.
"Presidents in the past such as Dwight Eisenhower knew that success meant creating a proper diplomatic environment in order to end a nation's military involvement," Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) said Thursday in response to the president's comments. "We are emphatically not seeing that kind of leadership from George W. Bush."
Democrats have criticized White House plans to forge a long-term security accord with the Iraq government, saying Bush wants to tie the hands of the next president -- a characterization the White House sharply disputes.
Democratic lawmakers have also complained about the "signing statement" Bush issued Monday in signing the defense authorization bill, in which the president suggested he might ignore language that bars funding for permanent U.S. bases in Iraq as well as U.S. control over Iraqi oil resources.
White House officials said their primary concern was that the bill's language regarding oil revenue could theoretically inhibit them from protecting Iraqi oil fields should that become necessary. "The bottom line is this: We do not need and we will not seek permanent bases in Iraq," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino. "This is our policy and has always been our policy."
In statements this week, lawmakers castigated Bush for his latest signing statement. "The suggestion that he may disregard a law overwhelmingly approved by Congress, coupled with the president's intent to sign a long-term agreement obligating the United States to defend the Iraqi government from internal and external threats, only reaffirms to Americans that there is no end in sight to the war in Iraq," said Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Bush was in Las Vegas to continue three days of fundraising for the Republican Party and to highlight his recent State of the Union message. He also addressed the criticism that improvements in Iraqi security over the past year have not produced a corresponding political reconciliation, noting the recent passage of a law allowing former Baathists to return to government service, Iraqi work on developing a budget and the sharing of oil revenue throughout the country.
"You're watching a democracy evolve," Bush said.
"And it's important that we help them."

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Warning - Egyptian-Iranian Rapprochement

Rapprochement is not always good. It depends who is making up to whom. Americans have to be asking why their number 2 aid client in the Middle East - Egypt - has been moving closer and closer to Iran, while the US is seeking to isolate the terrorist regime of the Iranian Mullahs. Egyptians should be asking the same questions, since the aim of the Iranian government is to install an Islamist government in Cairo, as well as everywhere else.
Ami Isseroff

Iranian speaker hails historic meeting with Egyptian president as 'very good'
By Agence France Presse (AFP)
Thursday, January 31, 2008
CAIRO: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak held talks with Iranian Parliament Speaker Gholam Ali Hadad Adel on Wednesday, the first such high-level meeting since the two nations froze ties almost 30 years ago. Adel hailed his meeting with Mubarak as "very good." Mubarak, he said, had insisted on rejecting any pressure from the US aimed at stopping the resumption of diplomatic ties.
"The fact that I'm here is proof of the improvement in relations between the Islamic Republic and Egypt," Adel told journalists. "Maybe some people think the US is putting pressure to stop the return of relations between Egypt and Iran but President Mubarak has said he does not accept any pressure from the United States."
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Monday that Tehran was on the threshold of restoring diplomatic ties with Cairo but was awaiting a signal from Egypt.
Diplomatic ties were broken in 1980, a year after Iran's Islamic Revolution, in protest at Egypt's recognition of Israel, its hosting of the deposed shah and its support for Iraq during its 1980-1988 war with Iran.

In a rare visit to Egypt earlier this month, Iran's former nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani met, Egyptian officials and said relations between the two countries were improving.
Adel said during their meeting Mubarak "talked about his positive point of view on increasing cooperation and we also gave him our positive point of view and told him that the Iranian position is in favor of reinforcing the economic ties."
Asked when diplomatic ties might be resumed, Adel said that "the situation just needs time and this is the only obstacle. At the present time, despite the fact there are no diplomatic ties there are bilateral links on all levels," he said. - AFP

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Winograd report is a bigger failure than the Second Lebanon War

This is my take on the Winograd report at ZioNation Web log.
Ami Isseroff

The long awaited Winograd report on the Second Lebanon War (see text of press conference on Winograd findings) has finally arrived. The suspense, if there was any, has ended, not with a bang, but a whimper. The public part of the report noted strategic failures at the military and political levels, but the report is so vaguely worded that everyone can make any claim they wish.

We should put the failure of the
Second Lebanon war in context and understand its significance. Failures of individual operations are nothing new and plague every army. IDF has never been immune from such failures, from the Israel War of Independence and throughout each campaign, successful or otherwise.The political decisions made after every war have always likewise not been uniformly optimal, and the decision to go to war has sometimes been questionable. However, never before has Israel seen such a combination of failures at every level, inflated expectations, incompetent military strategy, failure to protect civilians, low morale, failure of national purpose, decisions that disregarded the value of the lives of soldiers and diplomatic and public relations bungling. The Israel government tried to match the most powerful army in the Middle East against an enemy whose main weapon is his mouth, and the mouth won.

The report itself is a continuation of the failures of the Lebanon war and the political reaction to the report is a further continuation of those failures. The report was obviously tailored to serve political interests and protect those in power, at least in the public version. The politicians are each interpreting the report in terms of their own interests. Hassan Nasrallah of the Hezbollah joined forces with Likud and other Israeli opposition leaders in claiming that the report indicates Olmert is a failure and has lost all credibility. Kadima party members insist that the report exonerates Ehud Olmert.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

BESA: A Code of Honor - Muslim Albanians Who Rescued Jews During the Holocaust

In 1934, Herman Bernstein, the United States Ambassador to Albania, wrote:

"There is no trace of any discrimination against Jews in Albania, because Albania happens to be one of the rare lands in Europe today where religious prejudice and hate do not exist, even though Albanians themselves are divided into three faiths."

Snti-terorist investigator assasinated in Lebanon - what it means

Free World: Rescue Lebanon before it is too late
By: Elias Bejjani

A Lebanese top anti-terrorism investigator was murdered along with his escort and three other civilians in a powerful car bombing that ripped  through a neighborhood of Beirut on Friday January  25/08. Maj. Wissam Eid and Aspirant Officer Ousama Mireeb, of the Internal Security Forces (ISF), were killed along with three civilians, and forty two other people were wounded. Eid was a key member of  the ISF and was involved in many investigations related to terrorist bombings in Lebanon in recent years. He was involved in sensitive probes and this is a major loss for Lebanon. Eid was on his way back from a meeting of the UN commission investigating the 2005 assassination of former premier Rafiq Hariri when he was killed. Those who decided to murder Eid obviously feared that he had information linking them to one, if not all nine, other assassinations of members of the anti-Syrian movement. Eid had already provided the international enquiry into Hariri's murder with valuable information and this was not the first attempt on his life; two years ago a grenade was thrown at his house.

From The Lebanese Canadian Coordination Council (LCCC), we extend our warmest heartfelt condolences to the victims' families and friends who lost their
beloved ones in Lebanon on Friday, January 25/08, in  the "Chevrolet heinous crime" that led to the death  of Maj. Wissam Eid and Aspirant Officer Ousama Mireeb and three innocent civilians pedestrians:  Joe Sarkis, Elie Fares and Alan Sandouk. 

We ask Almighty God to grant all those bereaved families the needed faith, patience and solace.
We pray that the souls of all the new innocent victims rest in peace in  heaven alongside with the saints and the righteous.
The identity of the perpetrators who executed this new crime against the Lebanese people, (the "Axis of Evil") is well known, as well as their destructive goals. Syrian and Iranian officials alongside with their Lebanese mercenaries, fundamentalists,  militias, and Mafiosi rudely announce their venomous intentions and threats on a daily basis. Meanwhile the role of the local Lebanese tools spearheaded by "Hezbollah" in targeting Lebanese pro freedom leaders and supporters of the "Cedars Revolution", ministers, members of Parliament, clergymen, journalists and intellectuals, is exposed and extremely prominent.

Eid was targeted by the "Axis of Evil", because he played major roles in analyzing mobile telephone and e-mail contacts related to the assassinations of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri in 2005, the twin bus bombings of Ein Alaq in 2007, and the assassination of Gen. Francois Hajj, the army's chief of military operations, on Jan. 12, 2007. His work, according to ranking security officials, also managed to detect "established links" between Fatah al-Islam terrorists and Syria's intelligence apparatus. Such evidences compiled by the late Eid could help implicate Syria in the serial killings that have targeted Lebanon since Oct. 1, 2004, when Minister of Communications Marwan Hamadeh suffered serious wounds in a car bomb assassination attempt.

Many Lebanese citizens and dignitaries believe that Hezbollah is playing a major role in executing most of the assassination crimes. The Sunni Muslim Mufti of
Mount Lebanon, Sheikh Mohammed Ali Jouzou, on Saturday January 26/08, blamed the Hezbollah-led opposition for "every drop of blood that has been shed." in Lebanon.  Jouzou said in a statement: "The opposition is considered responsible for every drop of blood shed on the land of Lebanon. The opposition is responsible for the victims of serial assassinations. The opposition is responsible for bombing crimes here and there." Since March 8 (2005) and the declaration of loyalty to the Syrian regime, the opposition indirectly said it approves the  assassination of martyr ex-premier Rafik Hariri," Jouzou added. He noted that "March 14 leaders have been targeted, one after the other, and the threats were made from here and there by spokesmen for Hezbollah and the opposition, only to be followed by implementation, implementation of the death sentence by blowing off March 14 men. "Jouzou said attacks targeting the Army and Internal Security Forces are "sort of terror that accompanies efforts to foil all  international, Arab and Lebanese initiatives and the opposition is considered responsible for them."  Should we charge the opposition with high treason?"  he asked. Addressing the opposition, Jouzou said: "You are conspiring against the homeland under the slogan of partnership, consensus and dialogue. You  don't want partnership, you do not want consensus, you do not want dialogue." He added: "You want to kill Lebanon and you want to destroy Lebanon … for the sake of the Syrian Regime." (Naharnet/January 25/08)

The irony in Lebanon lies in the sad fact and in the bizarre status quo: Hezbollah has its mini-state and cantons inside the state of Lebanon, with its own army
which has thirty thousand missiles, its finances, jails, institutions, etc. Syria is still in control of three military bases under the Palestinian disguise, one near the capital Beirut and two others in the Bekaa Valley, adjacent to its border with Lebanon. In addition, there are 13 Palestinian refugee camps scattered all over Lebanon. These are 13 cantons and mini-states over which the Lebanese authorities have no control.

Below are two verbatim quotes from the testimony of ex Prime Minister General Michel Aoun before the US House Subcommittee on International Relations/September 18/2003. They describe exactly the ongoing Syrian destructive, criminal and terrorist role in Lebanon.

1-"Following a Syrian withdrawal (from Lebanon), it is quite conceivable that the Syrian regime will leave behind many of its instruments of terror and destruction as well as its paramilitary/intelligence apparatus. Therefore, it is imperative that a Syrian withdrawal be accompanied by a complete disarmament of all armed elements. Only the legitimate armed forces of Lebanon can be entrusted with providing security to the Lebanese people. They are certainly capable of doing so when provided with a strong political leadership duly elected by the Lebanese themselves, rather than appointed by an occupying power as is the case today. Equally important, Lebanon will need certified tribunals to investigate and bring to justice all criminals who committed war atrocities and crimes against humanity."

2-Under Syrian occupation the human rights of the Lebanese people have been systematically violated. An exhaustive description of the crimes committed by the
Syrian Regime and its goons in Lebanon would take thousands of pages and dozens of hearings. Two Lebanese presidents - both of whom can be accurately
described as unwilling to take their orders from the Syrian intimidators - were assassinated immediately upon their elections. Ambassadors, elite journalists, and political and religious figures from all denominations who dared to oppose Syria were kidnapped, tortured, imprisoned, and/or assassinated. And this is in addition to the tens of thousands of Lebanese who perished in countless massacres, in months upon months of random Syrian artillery shelling of civilian areas, and in countless booby-trapped and bombed cars.
N.B: It so sad to learn that Aoun, who is now an MP and after his return to Lebanon from exile in 2005, has negated all his patriotic and pro Lebanese stances, and joined the Syrian-Iranian, Hezbollah axis of  Evil.

Who stands behind all the crimes that Lebanon has been encountering for the last three years? With no shred of doubt, and without any kind of hesitation, one can freely say:  Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and their Lebanese-Palestinian local armed tools-instruments are fully accountable for each and  every assassination crime that took place in Lebanon since 2005.

We strongly believe that the Lebanese Government, Lebanon's security bodies, judicial authorities and all its other institutions are currently unable to either deter or abort the Axis of Evil's serial organized and systematic killings of Lebanese patriotic leaders, nor to put an end to its destructive scheme targeting the country's
institutions, freedoms, democracy, stability and peace.

The government's failure lies in the fact that Hezbollah and the other Lebanese-Palestinian armed mercenaries of Iran and Syria are hindering all local, regional and international peaceful initiatives, endeavors and civilized plans.

In the face of this organized and intentional evil deadlock that Lebanon and its people are facing alone, we call on the Free World democratic countries, the moderate Arab countries, the United Nations and the Arab League to step in militarily under a UN Security Council Chapter Seven mandate and  take over Lebanon for a rehabilitation interval as was the situation in Afghanistan, East Timor, Kosovo and some African countries. It will be even more effective and deterrent if NATO forces can assume this mission and not the UN.

Meanwhile an international probe and court needs to be set as soon as possible to put on trial all countries, especially Syria and Iran, as well as Lebanese individuals and groups that are hindering through crime and murder the Lebanese government and the Lebanese people from reclaiming their peace, independence, security and sovereignty.

The whole world ought to be cautioned that letting Lebanon be an easy prey for the "Axis of Evil" and its armed tools to devour, simply means an astounding
defeat for all principles of freedom, democracy, human rights, peace and stability, not only in the Middle East, but all over the globe. We call on the
Free World to step in and rescue Lebanon and the Lebanese before it is too late.

Americanism vs. Islamism: A Personal Perspective

If you think "Islamist Fascism" is an empty slogan of "racist islamophobic Zionist neocons, think again." This article by a Muslim was posted at Arab Electronic Mail Journal. Please note that this is not the work of a Zionist neocon or a "Christian Zionist."
The article explains how Jihadist radicals abuse "freedom of religion" to spread the blight of hate and violence. The author writes:
Until Muslims understand that their faith is not threatened by the Enlightenment and respect for the individual, we cannot win this war.

Hold some litmus tests and standards for the Muslims you engage with organizationally. They need to recognize Israel as a state, to stand against radical Islamist groups by name, not by theory, tactic, or condemning terrorism, but by name—Hamas, Al Qaeda and other groups. If they don't have the moral courage to name the Saudis, the Syrian government, as an oppressive dictatorship, then you have to wonder where their allegiances are. These types of litmus tests are not being done enough even by our own government and the people they attach themselves to.

We need help in what I would call a counter-jihad that is still in its earliest, mitotic cell divisions. There are so many factors affecting the ability of Muslims to really contribute and get involved. One is because of fear—moderates are actually the first to be attacked; because of tribalism, because of the lack of knowledge. There are probably more people in this room who understand sharia than in most of the Muslim groups I've spoken to. That's sad. It's because the reins of understanding intellectual theology in Islam are just given up by most Muslims.

Moderate Muslims need help in their counter-Jihad. Freedom of religion doesn't include imposing your religion on others. Jihadism is NOT a "progressive cause." Freedom of religion must not be confused with freedom to terrorize, educate fanatics and spread terror.
Please spread the word.
Ami Isseroff

By Zuhdi Jasser  /  US Foreign Policy Research Institute/ January 2008

Dr. Jasser is founder and board chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD). A former U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander, he served in the U.S. Navy as a medical officer from 1988–99. He finished his military service as a Lieutenant Commander with an Honorable Discharge in 1999 and is now in the private practice of internal medicine and nuclear cardiology in Phoenix, Arizona. This enote is based on his September 26 talk as the 12th Annual Templeton Lecture on Religion and World Affairs.

My venturing into public discussions on the intersection between religion and politics is not something that I chose, but rather something I felt obliged to do after 9/11. Prior to then, I'd been dealing with many of the pathologies within the Muslim community, but as I began to see who was emerging as "spokespersons" for my faith after 9/11, I had to do something; hence the formation of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.

More than six years after 9/11, we're starting to figure out that terrorism is just a tactic. The tactic has a goal, a mission, and a dream. Terrorism is simply a means to an end. The only way to defeat a tactic is either to defeat the source completely or to take away the dreams of the enablers. Those dreams, when they are wedded to religion, become the biggest liability for those of us who are embarrassed even talking about religion and politics. What greater incendiary mechanism could there be to manipulate Western society than to cover a fascistic dream in a faith that is a spiritual path for over a billion people? And what better way to insulate itself from criticism than to cover itself in a spiritual guise?

Non-Muslim and Muslim alike, Americans, guided by the Constitution and First Amendment, have always been protective of our faith. One of my heroes growing up was Thomas Jefferson. The Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, engrained in our society a respect for the free practice of religion. Jefferson said, "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." This idea that a person's relationship with God is his or her own and not the role of government to impose upon citizens is one of the main quarrels that the Islamists and those who ideologically feed the terrorists have with the West.

Unfortunately, many Americans have forgotten that America was founded by people who were escaping religious persecution. America is not just a flag, it's not just our media, MTV, rock and roll, or blue jeans. It's an idea of religious and political freedom and the freedom to be and achieve what you want, with equal access to everyone. That access is not dictated by wealth, religion, or any other immutable characteristic. That is what the Islamists fear the most.

"Islamist" does not necessarily mean only terrorists, and the simple condemnation of terror does not make someone necessarily compatible with American and Western ideals. Condemning terror—the targeting of women, children, noncombatants and non-uniformed people for the achievement of political ends—simply brings one to the table of humanity.

The root cause of terrorism is the dreams of the political Islamic state, and we need to understand what that state is. It can be either the fascistic state that believes in the totalitarian or authoritarian imposition of Islamic law throughout society or the democratic Islamic state, which believes in parliaments, elections, and discourse and debate. These two different types of government share the identification of being an Islamic state because the source of law is the same: the Quran and the tradition, or sunnah, of the Prophet.

The sunnah guide my personal life—my last will and testament, my marriage, our marital contract. But that's something we chose in our own home. To transfer that into government gives clerics exclusive access to law, legislation, and public and legal discourse. If non-clerics want to gain access, they have to become schooled in sharia law. As important as the West's initiative to democratize the Middle East is, we're missing the boat if we think we're going to solve the problems in the Middle East by simply getting those countries to have elections and parliaments. We need to bring forth the ideas of freedom, liberty, and respect for individuals, sometimes over the community. That last principle is one that came in the West's Enlightenment.

Until Muslims understand that their faith is not threatened by the Enlightenment and respect for the individual, we cannot win this war.

Sometimes when we present these ideas, we present them behind the American flag. But being patriotic doesn't necessarily mean that someone is looking out for the best interests of freedom and liberty in America. Islamic organizations that purport to represent Muslims may have a vision for America that simply takes our flag and adds a little crescent, turning it into an Islamic state. Some in the Muslim community may call this fear-mongering or exaggeration, but that Islamist community should not be allowed to circle the wagons and rally themselves behind victimization. Rather, they should be engaged on these ideas of the role of religious law in public life. For while the vast majority of Muslims have assimilated and reformed their own practices, by virtue of the way that they live in America, ideologically they have often been given the freedom but not the means, the task, and the challenge to understand what it is that they are living day to day.

As a result, most of the texts on Islamic bookshelves are pre-14th century. Most of the Islamic texts on law, penal codes, civil codes, etc., are based on 14th century law at best—it could be 11th or 12th century. Hence the corporal punishment, the severing of hands for theft, the stoning of women for violation of marital laws, that is still part of Saudi law. This to Westerners is barbaric, but the religious law hasn't been reformed or advanced to bring it into the 21st century.

One of the primary problems with Islamic reformation issues is the clerical leadership and the imams. Most Muslim families would be dismayed if their son or daughter wanted to study to become a cleric or imam, which is not of the same value to a family as studying medicine, law, or engineering. So the hold upon religious, theological discussion of jurisprudence in faith has been given over to less than the intellectuals in society.

My own family escaped Syria to come to America for ideological, not economic, reasons. After the French pulled out in 1946, my grandfather had tried to be part of the democratization of Syria, which did have democracy for a few years. Then unfortunately, as we saw in many Middle Eastern countries, coup after coup occurred from the early 1950s until finally the last military coup led by the Baathists which ultimately brought Hafez al-Assad to power around 1970. The secular dictatorships are deeply wedded to radical Islam and the Islamist threat in the world. They may seem to be diametrically opposed entities, but the evolution and history of radical Islamist or theocratic movements has been an equal and opposite reaction to the dictatorships in the Middle East—- whether they are the monarchy in Saudi Arabia and the Wahhabis who came out of them, or the dictatorships in Egypt and Syria, for the Muslim Brotherhood, which also fed Hamas in Israel. This is what happened in Iran, with the Shah initially in power, which empowered the radical Islamist movement. All of this is very symmetrical, and that's why we will not be able to bring Islam into modernity without the removal of many of these governments.

We do not have to do this militarily. We changed Eastern Europe without invading any of those countries and defeated communism without invading Russia. But we need to turn our attention to the dissidents, to those who believe in freedom and liberty, not only democracy. If we align ourselves only with democratic movements, we may end up ushering in parliaments based on Quranic law and facilitating the establishment of Islamic states that may in the short term be more peaceful to us from a strategic standpoint, but in the long term could end up dividing the world into a triangular fashion of China, Islamic states, and the secular Western states.

The conflict is over the correct source of law—Is it the Constitution and natural law or sharia; the lay individual or the clerics, or the individual vs. tribalism or Muslim collectivism?

I've tried to go to prayer every Friday, I attend the Ramadan holiday prayers and have probably 70-80 percent of the time found mosques that were not solely about spirituality or about teaching children morality and character, integrity, service, and humility, but rather about politics—domestic and foreign policy, issues that I believe have nothing to do with my relationship with God but rather concern things on this earth. My response in many of the debates I've tried to no avail to have with imams is to tell them that if God wanted us to discuss these things, the Quran would have been filled with injunctions about how to run government. But there's nothing in the Quran about how we should run government. Yet they will take passages that do talk about war, for example, and transpose them out of context, which I believe is about history far more than it is about religion.

Back to my story. Once in the early 1990s, on leave from the military, I went to an Islamic medical association meeting. One of the only other Muslim medical officers was the head of endocrinology at Bethesda. He and I were going to present a paper on hormonal regulation and some endocrine issues at the Islamic Medical Association, which was being held in conjunction with the Islamic Society of North America annual conference. I had never been to a meeting of ISNA, the largest Muslim organization in America. Its annual meetings are attended by 15,000-30,000 Muslim activists. The keynote address was given by Siraj Wahhaj, Imam of Al-Taqwa Mosque in Brooklyn, New York, who was originally with the Nation of Islam and then converted to Sunni Islam. I was pulled into listening to this magnetic speaker, until he began talking about the constitution. He picked up the Quran and said "You know, I was on an airplane and imagine, a Jewish passenger sitting next to me asked me about the Quran I was reading—if Muslims became a majority in America, would we replace the U.S. constitution with the Quran." He laughed and said, "Can you imagine someone wondering if a document made by humans would be superior to a document made by God?"

I got lightheaded, I sat down, and after he was done I went to the Q-and-A microphone and said, "I'm not sure if you understand American law, but you have just violated the Sedition Act as I understand it. You're free to disagree with foreign and domestic policy, but you cannot talk about the overthrow of the U.S. constitution and its replacement by another document." I encouraged other military personnel in the audience to leave, because they were violating their oath to this country. It was in some ways traumatic for me. I had just joined the Navy. But yet they felt that I was overreacting. I feel that it is not overreaction. There are certain things we have to know as a community and as a nation that take priority over other things.

A German judge recently gave a man the right to beat his wife because the husband maintained that it was out of his religious law that he is allowed to practice domestic abuse on his wife. That's not the Islam I was taught, but if we become a society where once someone raises the flag of religion we stop critiquing it and stop holding him accountable to values that we share as a community, that is the day we begin down the slope of defeat.

As much as some Muslims could say I am mischaracterizing Islam or am too harsh, I think it is important to have the debate. Five years after the ISNA meeting, I met my wife and her family in Cleveland and told them that story. They said "We were there! We heard you say that." Yet nobody did anything. Nobody stood up and agreed with me, nobody said "We may have a problem." That same imam then became an alleged unindicted coconspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and later, in 1995, testified in defense of Omar Abdel-Rahman.

There's a tribal mentality; somehow individuals want to create and advance the ideas of the tribal leaders. The Islamic community has reverted back to pre-Islamic Arabia, to a tribalism that has lost its values. Any time you take an idea in which the ends justify the means, it is basically corruption. Alija Izetbegovic, the president of Bosnia-Herzegovina, said that he was never more Muslim than when he was in solitary confinement under Marshal Tito for 15 years. A Muslim can hear that and think "My rights and freedoms in society are not related to my being Muslim. I have more time to sit and talk to God and be closer to God when I have absolutely no rights and I'm sitting in solitary confinement. Therefore my religion and my piety are unrelated to this earth."

Actually, the idea that we should be selling—not on the U.S. station Al Hurrah, which actually gets very low ratings in Iraq, but on Al Jazeera, on Syrian TV—is that the way for individuals to be closest to God is to live in freedom. When you live in an environment where people around you are not fasting in Ramadan, where they are not praying five times a day, where I choose to separate from the group and go pray on my own, not in the middle of a gate at the airport demanding for everyone to see me but actually on my own, that actually is more of a demonstration to the God of Abraham, that I'm choosing to do that of my own free will. Thus, the day of judgment, if you believe in a day of reckoning, has more meaning to God. That is to me the message of our founding fathers. The most pious nations and individuals are those who can freely decide whether to act or to practice their faith without coercion from government.

Muslims will say, this is ridiculous, you don't want religion to inspire what we do? There's this equivalency where they then give me ten other religious lobbies in America that supposedly mix religion and politics. I'll say that there's absolutely no comparison, there's no moral equivalency between religiously inspired political groups and Islamist groups that have a constructive law as a goal— the nucleus of which is completely different from one based on a human document. The key is that we hold Muslims accountable to what they view the concept of law would be if they became a majority. One finds few or no Christian, Buddhist or Hindu groups who want to bring, e.g., canon law or religious jurisprudence into American jurisprudence. Yet they may be inspired and empowered by their faith, which is very different.

I would then remember de Tocqueville, who said that military dictatorships do not need God, but democracies and lands based on freedom do. Because as you know, in the Middle East, and we see this in Iraq, when countries have lost their values after decades of dictatorship and become corrupt, there's such a loss of values that corruption has guided and taken over that society making freedom difficult to take hold.

As a result, you have wanton destruction and lawlessness. The only thing that would control that society is some form of martial law. So you need to transition states from oppression to freedom, but that transition needs to be inculcated with values.

At the end of the day, if we believe that those values they're going to use to drive their ideas are going to be based on morality, that morality has to come from somewhere. If it's not going to come from Islam, then we're going to have to convert over 1 billion people to another faith, and that's not going to work. So that source of values is going to have to be their faith of Islam, which we as Muslims believe is a message from the God of Abraham to Muslims. But that message has to be put in a way that's consistent with modernity and pluralism.

What can we do as a Western society within our community and what can we do, especially for non-Muslims and other organizations, to help this process along and move it along faster than the five hundred years of stagnancy that we've been under?

First, in our own societies, we need to be cautious about permitting parallel societies, parallel courts such as sharia courts where Muslims are given the "freedom" to set up their own legal court system. They would become an incubator for radical Islamism. Canada tried this, and the most vocal voice against sharia courts were Muslim women, even though they were told by the non-Muslims in Canada that "You don't have to, it's voluntary." Once you get swept into this, it's like fighting domestic violence in our own country. We must prevent the establishment of institutions that cater to that and allow the incubation.

Second, we see many examples like the taxicab drivers in Minneapolis who wanted to be separate from the society, not to carry people who were carrying alcohol, to impose their values on the passengers they picked up. Some may say that making a lot out of these issues is an exaggeration—"you need to lighten up." But every opportunity I have to highlight examples, of what in medicine we would call pathegnemonic symptoms, of the pathology of Islamism, I will exploit that. Because they are doing the same thing. They are exploiting victimization issues and politics to use what we have now been calling law-fare to get us distracted, to sue individuals who are the biggest threat to their ideas. So that we're all so busy fighting lawsuits such as the flying imams case (the six imams who filed suit against U.S. Airways in March 2007 for having been removed from a flight in November 2006 after behavior that many have called provocative) to distract us, to continue to divide society between Muslim and non-Muslim and to allow the continued inculcation of this Islamist ideology via Muslim collectivism.

A good example is Carver Elementary School in San Diego, which because of the third of its students who are Muslim wanted to move the lunchtime from 12:30 to 1:30 pm so that they could have their prayers. I wrote a column and on CNN talked about the fact that many of us grew up in public elementary schools praying and doing our own practices of faith without asking for the entire school to change its time schedule. You can step away during a break and practice your faith. Certainly I would not want schools to prevent Muslims from praying, they should be given the space to pray if they need it. Because that's a personal faith practice. But once that personal faith practice crosses the line into society and starts changing the schedule of the general society or changing the cost to general society to the taxpayers, as we saw with the footbath incidents where the University of Michigan was paying $30,000 to install footbaths, that crosses the line of the founding principles of America. I don't have a problem with private funding for that if they need it, fine. But not from the taxpayers. For once it comes from the taxpayers, then they should have allotted $30,000 for every other faith group in that university at the same time.

When I was growing up in the 1970s, I don't remember Muslims asking for any of these things. It has almost become a tool of self-segregation and separating Muslims from non-Muslims so that they can continue this issue of minority politics. It's becoming very potent and we have allowed it to take over the debate. It soaks up the bandwidth of American attention instead of allowing us to fight for freedom.

Islamic organizations today have only come to notoriety because of America's fear of terrorism. If terrorism disappeared tomorrow, nobody would care about footbaths, schedules in schools, etc. Focusing on those issues would be the same as if a patient came into my office with lung cancer and I spent my whole time focusing on their cholesterol, headaches, and every other issue except the cancer. The Muslim community for credibility needs to start focusing most of its resources on the root cause of terrorism as a tactic, which is political Islam.

The methods of reform are manifold. First, engage the Muslim community on these issues, get informed about the difference between sharia law and constitutional law, and start to have discussion panels, not the interfaith, "kumbiyah" discussions that legitimize most Muslim communities' leaders.

I have Frank Gaffney, executive producer of the documentary Islam vs. Islamists, to thank for connecting me with Dr. John Templeton and others. After his film, originally scheduled as part of PBS' "America at a Crossroads," was pulled from that series, it was shown on Fox News a couple of weeks ago. Ahmed Shqeirat, the imam who's one of my main Islamist adversaries in Phoenix, in that documentary alluded to me (though not by name), claiming that I'm a "liberal extremist". He went on to say that "people like me think we can somehow separate religion and politics and don't want to acknowledge that every Muslim wants to live in an Islamic state, under sharia law."

After the showing of the film locally, one interfaith celebration I knew of was cancelled in Phoenix. So people are starting to understand that there is a veneer of moderation from the Islamists. They know how to play the game outside the mosque, but these organizations are lacking on civil rights within their community. It's a corruption that needs to be exposed. Ultimately, these institutions will disappear quickly once they start to be exposed to the regular American community that pays attention to hypocrisy.

So second, the Muslim community needs to be held accountable to its concept of umma. Umma is a word that is very prevalent in the Quran. It means "nation" or "community." When an imam talks about umma, in Arabic and in his sermons, it is a threatening concept, because you then wonder at what point does an American Muslim follow the needs of the Muslim nation vs. the needs of the American nation to which he or she is a citizen. The Muslim community needs to "de-ummatize" itself, to really restrict the mechanism by which the umma is invoked. I would personally limit it to our study of theology and learning about the Quran and scripture; to charity that obviously all of our faiths seek to give; to socialization, obviously marriage within the faith is something all of our faiths try to do; and then last facilitating our hajj, our pilgrimage, and other aspects of practice and spirituality including mosques and community worship.

Third, we need to change the dreams. The dreams of most Muslims today are still wedded, because they have come from oppression and dictatorships, to religion, because the mosque was the last institution where they had a little freedom of speech, as long as they didn't speak against their own government. That's why the Muslim Brotherhood took over the mosques in Syria, and why the Wahhabis were able to spread texts into most of the mosques in the world, at a cost of $80 billion that they spent on spreading the radical word of Wahhabism. They were able to inculcate this literature into a lot of mosques, under the guise of most of these dictatorships.

We need to change those dreams from dreams of the utopian caliphate or Islamic states that bring them supposedly Islamic freedom to dreams of Western, individual freedom, where access to government and society is open to all. Much of the leadership on this must come from Muslim business leaders, who can argue for the kind of education that is needed.

Next, help us establish institutions. The Western enlightenment happened with the establishment of enlightenment institutions, classically liberal institutions that queried the church and government and began to question authority.

Hold some litmus tests and standards for the Muslims you engage with organizationally. They need to recognize Israel as a state, to stand against radical Islamist groups by name, not by theory, tactic, or condemning terrorism, but by name—Hamas, Al Qaeda and other groups. If they don't have the moral courage to name the Saudis, the Syrian government, as an oppressive dictatorship, then you have to wonder where their allegiances are. These types of litmus tests are not being done enough even by our own government and the people they attach themselves to.

We need help in what I would call a counter-jihad that is still in its earliest, mitotic cell divisions. There are so many factors affecting the ability of Muslims to really contribute and get involved. One is because of fear—moderates are actually the first to be attacked; because of tribalism, because of the lack of knowledge. There are probably more people in this room who understand sharia than in most of the Muslim groups I've spoken to. That's sad. It's because the reins of understanding intellectual theology in Islam are just given up by most Muslims.

I will conclude with another Jefferson quotation that talks about the patience with which revolutions happen. "The generation which commences a revolution rarely complete it. Habituated from their infancy to passive submission of body and mind to their kings and priests, they are not qualified when called on to think and provide for themselves; and their inexperience, their ignorance and bigotry make them instruments often in the hands of the Bonapartes and Iturbides to defeat their own rights and purposes." (Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1823)

****Jefferson was talking about our country's founding. He didn't end slavery, but Lincoln, who did decades later, probably said it best: "America is the world's last greatest hope for mankind." We have to remember the ideas America stands for, that there are millions of Muslims who came here because of those ideas, and if we tell them that Islam is the problem, we will not win the war.