Malaysia a transit point for terrorists or a terrorist recruitment centre?

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is a transit point for terrorists, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

However, he stressed that the country is not a recruitment ground or a target for international terrorists groups.

“I want to assure Malaysians that the country is not a target at the moment,” Hishammuddin said after chairing a crime prevention meeting in Parliament yesterday.

He also dismissed fears that the country had become a recruitment ground for terrorists.

“I can confirm that this is not the case,” he said, adding that the two Malaysians detained in Beirut for alleged links to al-Qeada were not part of a terrorist cell here.

“The threat of global terrorism is a real threat and is not unique and limited to Malaysia and the arrest of the Malaysians clearly shows this,” he added.

Malaysians Muhamad Razin Sharhan Mustafa Kamal, 21, and Razif Mohd Ariff, 30, are being charged in a military court for allegedly being involved in terrorist activities.

Meanwhile, the Higher Education Ministry acknowledged that students are vulnerable to being recruited by terrorists.

“In this age of openness and visibility of information, students are also exposed to all this,” said Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin.

“I hope our students are mature and are not be swayed by these things,” he said after the launch of the Ready4Work online portal.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said the arrests of Muhamad Razin and Razif would not change the good perception tourists have of Malaysia.

“The world knows Malaysia is not a centre of terrorism. There has never been a single terrorist incident in our country,” said Dr Ng after opening an anti-crime against women seminar in Raub yesterday.

However, she said all Malaysians should not let their guard down and continue to remain vigilant.

– The Star/Asia News Network

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Al-Qaeda makes US Debt Downgrade?

What al-Qaeda Has to Do With Debt Downgrade

By Gary Weiss

BOSTON  — With every day of market decline and economic pain, we need to face a terribly unpalatable question, and it’s not whether Standard & Poor’s is credible or if the downgrades will send the economy into a tailspin (or, perhaps, if we are already in a tailspin).

Sure, the downgrade of U.S. long-term debt by Standard & Poor’s appears to be a cynical ploy by this tarnished credit-rating agency, perhaps trying to burnish its reputation at a time when parent McGraw-Hill is in play. But there’s no question that the content of its downgrade report is correct, even if its initial arithmetic was off. The fact is that our political processes are a mess. We don’t deserve a top credit rating.

But there is, I think, a deeper reason for the misery we’re experiencing. I’ll put it in the form of a question: Is al-Qaeda winning the economic struggle?

US propaganda leaflet used in Afghanistan.

I know, bin Laden’s dead, al-Qaeda is on the run, etc. etc. And I don’t mean that al-Qaeda has won militarily, though even that is debatable — can anyone say with confidence what will happen to Afghanistan and, of course, Iraq after a U.S. withdrawal? But I think that a strong case can be made that al-Qaeda has gone a long way toward achieving one of its primary war aims, which was to sabotage the U.S. economy. Bin Laden may be fish food, but his strategy seems to have worked. We are being bled white, thanks in large part by the war that he forced us to fight — and we have our representatives in Washington, and their ideologically driven refusal to increase taxes, to blame for this mess.

First, let’s go back to the bin Laden “we’ll bleed you” tape. This is not an urban legend, but was widely publicized at the time. In October 2004, al-Qaeda distributed a bin Laden video that contained a departure from his usual invective. Instead of inveighing against U.S. Imperialists, Jews and so on, he spent nearly 20 minutes talking not like a terrorist chieftain in a cave but the former corporate executive that he used to be, analyzing with satisfaction an objective that al-Qaeda was clearly achieving.

For every dollar al-Qaeda spent, he said, the U.S. was coughing up $1 million in war spending and economic misery. “As for the size of the economic deficit, it has reached record astronomical numbers” — over $1 trillion, bin Laden said. Actually bin Laden’s math was off — the deficit in 2004 was just over $400 billion, but his general point was correct. The deficit had reached astronomical numbers, and much of that was because of the war that he started and Congress’ stubborn refusal to pay for it by asking for sacrifice from the nation’s fat cats.

We had to fight the war in Afghanistan, but we didn’t have to mismanage the way it was financed.

Since October 2001, the war in Afghanistan has cost more than $443 billion. This year, taxpayers will pour another $118 billion into that quagmire, which is continuing to sap far too many U.S. lives, and with far too little assistance from our NATO allies. Factoring in the cost of the unnecessary war in Iraq, and the price tag of these two wars, paid for by the federal equivalent of a line of credit, has exceeded $1 trillion since 2001.

It was easy for bin Laden to ruin our economy. All he had to do was to exploit the natural tendency of the Bush administration to be incompetent. His primary Fifth Columnists are red-state congressional representatives, rock-ribbed Republicans who believe that you can fight two wars without paying for them.

Rather than raise taxes on the rich and cut loopholes to finance the war, the Bush administration let its 2001 tax cuts remain unchanged. The total cost of the tax cuts roughly approximates the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and by some estimates is even higher — as much as $1.3 trillion.

If that estimate is correct, then simply repealing those tax cuts would have paid for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and we might even have had a few billion left over.

The war to destroy the economy has continued, with impressive results. Now there’s talk of cutting long-established social programs, the so-called “entitlements,” because President Obama acquiesced to a deficit-reduction program without revenue increases — and because he refused to invoke the 14th Amendment, which holds that the national debt is not to be questioned.

The result was a deal to cut spending in the middle of a looming recession and two wars. It’s nothing short of crazy. Nobody could have done a better job of mismanaging the economy — not even bin Laden himself if he had been the leader of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus, holding America hostage on behalf of an extremist ideology. Sen. John Kerry has correctly described the S&P downgrade as a product of the Tea Party movement and its allies in Congress. Do you really think that S&P would have piled on with its downgrade if Washington hadn’t gone haywire? I have a lot of respect for S&P’s integrity — I worked for another McGraw Hill subsidiary for 18 years — but I doubt it very much.

One can question the appropriateness of a credit-rating agency — any credit-rating agency — having the gall to take an action so disruptive to the markets, when one considers their squalid role in the subprime scandals. But there is no question that the U.S. government deserved the downgrade. Our legislative branch just isn’t working, that affects the creditworthiness of the nation, much as private companies run with weak corporate governance would be hard-pressed to win an AAA rating.

The events of the past few weeks have demonstrated what we’ve known for decades: that you don’t negotiate with terrorists, whether they are al-Qaeda thugs or extremist Congressmen who utilized the phony, artificial, unconstitutional “debt limit” to force their ideological agenda on an unwilling American people.

It’s sad, but true: The terrorists are winning.

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Al-Qaeda names Zawahiri to succeed Osama

Egyptian surgeon Ayman al-Zawahiri has been named by al-Qaeda to succeed slain leader Osama bin Laden and vowed no let-up in its deadly “jihad” against arch-foes the United States and Israel.

“The general command of al-Qaeda announces, after consultations, the appointment of Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri as head of the group,” the jihadist network said in a statement posted on an Islamist website on Thursday.

Zawahiri, the group’s long-time number two, succeeds bin Laden who was killed by US commandos in a May 2 raid in Pakistan.

The statement said that under Zawahiri’s leadership al-Qaeda would relentlessly pursue its “jihad” (holy war) against the United States and Israel.”We seek with the aid of God to call for the religion of truth and incite our nation to fight … by carrying out jihad against the apostate invaders … with their head being crusader America and its servant Israel, and whoever supports them,” said the statement.

The fight would continue “until all invading armies leave the land of Islam.”

The extremist network affirmed that it would not “recognise any legitimacy of the so-called state of Israel.”

“We will not accept or adhere to any agreement or accord that recognises it (Israel) or that robs a mile from Palestine, whether it is the United Nations controlled by top criminals or any other organisation.”

Al-Qaeda also voiced its “support (to) the uprisings of our oppressed Muslim people against the corrupt and tyrant leaders who have made our nation suffer in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya Yemen, Syria and Morocco.”

A wave of revolts that have rocked the Middle East and North Africa since December have succeeded in toppling autocrats in Egypt and Tunisia while others, such as Libya’s Moamar Gaddafi and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad are still battling uprisings in their countries.

Al-Qaeda urged those involved in the uprisings to continue their “struggle until the fall of all corrupt regimes that the West has forced onto our countries.”

The extremist Sunni group made no mention of the Shi’ite-led uprising in the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, crushed in mid-March by the ruling Western-allied Sunni minority which was backed by joint Gulf Arab forces.

In the last part of the statement however, the network reminds that “our religion has forbidden oppression, against Muslims and non-Muslims, against friend and foe.”

“Therefore, we assure every oppressed human in this world – most of whom are the victims of Western and American crimes – that our religion is that of justice and equality,” it said.

Like his slain Saudi-born co-conspirator, the 59-year-old Zawahiri has been in hiding since the United States declared its war on terror after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Zawahiri, now Washington’s most wanted man, was jailed for three years in Egypt for militancy and was implicated in the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in 1981, and a 1997 massacre of tourists in Luxor.

Facing a death sentence, he left Egypt in the mid-1980s initially for Saudi Arabia, but soon headed for Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar where the resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was based, and then to Afghanistan, where he joined forces with bin Laden.

Zawahiri, gifted with brains but bereft of bin Laden’s potent charisma, has long been seen as the mastermind behind the global terror franchise.

From hiding, he has issued video missives calling for war on the West. The most recent was a filmed eulogy to bin Laden, vowing to pursue jihad in a tape reported by the SITE Intelligence Group on June 8.

It was a message of loyalty to bin Laden, whom analysts believe alone had the charisma capable of uniting an increasingly disparate group divided between Egyptians and non-Egyptian Arabs.

The eulogy came nearly a month after a Saudi newspaper reported on May 5 that as the struggle for power simmered within the network, Zawahiri led US troops to bin Laden through his courier.

Al-Watan newspaper, quoting an unnamed “regional source,” had said the top two al-Qaeda men had differences and that the courier was a Pakistani national who knew he was being followed by the US military but disguised the fact.

With the return of an Egyptian figure in al-Qaeda, Saif al-Adel, last autumn from Iran, the Egyptian faction had hatched a plan to dispose of Saudi-born bin Laden, according to Al-Watan.

It said Zawahiri’s faction had persuaded bin Laden to leave tribal areas along the Afghan-Pakistan border and take shelter instead in Abbottabad near Islamabad where he was finally unearthed and shot dead by elite US Navy SEALs.

US-Pakistani relations have soured following the raid amid mounting allegations that bin Laden evaded capture for years thanks to the complicity or incompetence of Pakistan’s authorities.

But Pakistan’s civilian government has angrily dismissed the allegations and its powerful military has warned of unspecified reprisals if another unilateral US raid were to occur.

© 2011 AFP

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