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FTR #543 Hell and High Water: Cartoongate and the Dubai Ports Controversy

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Intro­duc­tion: This pro­gram ana­lyzes the con­tro­ver­sies sur­round­ing the acqui­si­tion of an impor­tant sea­port-man­age­ment com­pa­ny by a Dubai firm and the pub­li­ca­tion by a Dan­ish news­pa­per of car­toons por­tray­ing the Prophet Mohammed. (In Islam, it is sac­ri­le­gious to craft an image of the prophet Mohammed.) Both issues have focused atten­tion on the ques­tion of real or alleged dis­crim­i­na­tion against Mus­lims. In fact, there is much more to the issues than has been pop­u­lar­ly rep­re­sent­ed. Dubai (and the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates of which it is a part) have been pro­found­ly asso­ci­at­ed with Osama bin Laden and his milieu, in addi­tion to being the pri­ma­ry port of tran­sit for the A.Q. Khan nuclear smug­gling net­work. The fun­da­men­tal issue in the Dubai Ports World con­tro­ver­sy is one of nation­al secu­ri­ty ver­sus the dic­tates of eco­nom­ic glob­al­iza­tion. As was the case with the Axis pow­ers of World War II, the very real malev­o­lence of the Islam­o­fas­cists toward the Unit­ed States is viewed by the US cor­po­rate elite as sec­ondary in impor­tance to the eco­nom­ic ties between the Arab oil-pro­duc­ing nations and the Amer­i­can firms that ben­e­fit from con­tracts in this coun­try and the Mid­dle East.

The core issue in the Dubai ports con­tro­ver­sy is sim­i­lar to that in the Ptech inves­ti­ga­tion. The hunger on the part of the heav­i­ly-indebt­ed US pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors for invest­ment by the petrodol­lar-gorged Arab economies has led to the for­ma­tion of dead­ly rela­tion­ships. Ptech is a soft­ware firm that devel­oped the threat-assess­ment soft­ware archi­tec­ture for the Air Force and Depart­ment of Defense. Ptech is a com­pa­ny that, for all intents and pur­pos­es is run by the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, al Qae­da and the peo­ple and insti­tu­tions at the core of the Islamist financ­ing appa­ra­tus. The anom­alous per­for­mance of air-defense units on 9/11/2001 is almost cer­tain­ly due to Ptech’s efforts. Nonethe­less, because of the eco­nom­ic rela­tion­ships between rich Arab oil pro­duc­ers and cap­i­tal-hun­gry insti­tu­tions in the U.S., the Ptech case and Oper­a­tion Green Quest inves­ti­ga­tions have lan­guished. The “Car­toon­gate” imbroglio has also been mis­rep­re­sent­ed. The avail­able evi­dence sug­gests that ele­ments asso­ci­at­ed with the Islam­o­fas­cist Mus­lim Broth­er­hood delib­er­ate­ly dis­tort­ed the issue in order to inflame Mus­lim pub­lic opin­ion. An impor­tant ques­tion is whether, per­haps, the inci­dent was designed to fur­ther the Islam­o­fas­cist agen­da endorsed by the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood as out­lined in FTR#537.) It is note­wor­thy that Euro­pean neo-fas­cist ele­ments that exploit­ed the Car­toon­gate con­tro­ver­sy in order to exac­er­bate anti-Mus­lim xeno­pho­bia in Europe have main­tained pro­fes­sion­al asso­ci­a­tions with the Islam­o­fas­cist Mus­lim Broth­er­hood ele­ments that have fanned the flames of opin­ion on the oth­er side of the issue.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: The extra­or­di­nary secre­cy sur­round­ing the Dubai Ports World deal; Dubai’s sup­port for the Tal­iban while they were shel­ter­ing Osama bin Laden; the UAE’s role in laun­der­ing mon­ey for the 9/11 attacks; Dubai’s cen­tral posi­tion in the smug­gling of nuclear tech­nol­o­gy; con­nec­tions between the lead­ers of the UAE and Osama bin Laden; the issue of the effect of the Dubai port con­tro­ver­sy on glob­al cap­i­tal flows; Dan­ish Mus­lim leader Abu-Laban’s prob­a­ble mem­ber­ship in the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood; Abu-Laban’s dis­tri­b­u­tion of delib­er­ate lies about Den­mark; Abu-Laban’s dis­tri­b­u­tion of provoca­tive car­toons of Muham­mad that were not pub­lished in the Dan­ish news­pa­per; the neo-Nazi Repub­li­can party’s exploita­tion of the Car­toon­gate con­tro­ver­sy; the asso­ci­a­tion between Repub­li­can par­ty leader (and SS offi­cer) Franz Schon­hu­ber and Bank Al Taqwa direc­tor Achmed Huber; the links between Huber and Holo­caust denier David Irv­ing; neo-fas­cist and Islam­o­fas­cist pro­mo­tion of the “Father­land” con­cept; an Iran­ian paper’s Holo­caust denial car­toon con­test.

1. In the con­tro­ver­sy sur­round­ing the Dubai Ports World acqui­si­tion of port man­ag­ing com­pa­ny P&O, many have over­looked the fact that P&O is in charge of the con­tain­ers that pass into the Unit­ed States. Those con­tain­ers would make an ide­al ship­ping vehi­cle for the entry into the U.S. of a weapon of mass destruc­tion. Although oth­er aspects of sea­port secu­ri­ty would con­tin­ue to be han­dled by U.S. insti­tu­tions, only a very small per­cent­age of con­tain­ers enter­ing into the Unit­ed States are inspect­ed. With the expe­ri­ence of Ptech behind us (see above), allow­ing a Dubai com­pa­ny to han­dle such a sen­si­tive role is very unwise. As will be seen below, Dubai has been a less than reli­able ally with regard to ter­ror­ism and relat­ed mat­ters.

“ . . . P&O’s role is to man­age dock­side ter­mi­nals, usu­al­ly along­side rival oper­a­tors such as Maer­sk. This gives the com­pa­ny con­trol over the con­tain­ers that pass through its facil­i­ties but all car­go is sub­ject to secu­ri­ty checks by the U.S. Coast Guard and Cus­toms. . . .”

(“Calmer Voic­es Drowned Out by Rhetoric on Secu­ri­ty Threat” by Andrew Ward, Stephanie Kirch­gaess­ner and Edward Alden; The Finan­cial Times; 2/13/2006; p.4.)

2. Exem­pli­fy­ing the con­flict between the dic­tates of eco­nom­ic glob­al­iza­tion and the need for secu­ri­ty, the deal with Dubai Ports World would afford that com­pa­ny an extra­or­di­nary degree of secre­cy and free­dom from scruti­ny by Amer­i­can offi­cials.

“With the Bush admin­is­tra­tion, it’s impor­tant to have in mind the old car­ni­val con­game. Keep your eye on the shell with the pea under it. Among the many curi­ous aspects of the administration’s approval of the Dubai Ports World takeover of oper­a­tions at six major ports (and as many as 21) is this exemp­tion from nor­mal­ly rou­tine restric­tions. The agree­ment does not require DP World to keep copies of its busi­ness records on U.S. soil, which would place them with­in the juris­dic­tion of Amer­i­can courts. Nor does it require the com­pa­ny to des­ig­nate an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen to accom­mo­date requests by the gov­ern­ment. [Empha­sis added.] So what’s that about? . . . .”

(“A Flood of Busi­ness Exemp­tions” by Mol­ly Ivins: San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle; 3/2/2006; p. B9.)

3. In addi­tion to the extra­or­di­nary degree of secre­cy afford­ed Dubai Ports World in the agree­ment, the actu­al nego­ti­at­ing process itself was con­duct­ed large­ly in secret. Again, the fun­da­men­tal con­flict between the need for nation­al secu­ri­ty and the dic­tates of eco­nom­ic glob­al­iza­tion are at the core of the debate about Dubai Ports World.

“ . . . Most Amer­i­cans had no idea that our government’s process of approv­ing for­eign takeovers of Amer­i­can com­pa­nies through the Com­mit­tee on For­eign Invest­ment in the Unit­ed States was entire­ly secret. When Rep. John Sweeney, R‑N.Y., asked Home­land Secu­ri­ty Sec­re­tary Michael Chertoff about the Dubai Ports deal at a hear­ing on Feb. 15, Chertoff declined to answer because the committee’s work was ‘clas­si­fied.’ Trea­sury Sec­re­tary John Snow told anoth­er con­gres­sion­al com­mit­tee that he was not per­mit­ted to dis­cuss spe­cif­ic trans­ac­tions con­sid­ered by the for­eign invest­ment pan­el. . . .”

(“Sea Change in Bush Cred­i­bil­i­ty” by E.J. Dionne, Jr.; San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle; 2/24/2006; p. B11.)

4. Among the details that emerged in the con­tro­ver­sy was the fact that the U.S. Coast Guard had pro­found reser­va­tions about the wis­dom of the deal. There is abun­dant rea­son for that, as will be seen below.

“The U.S. Coast Guard, in charge of review­ing secu­ri­ty at ports oper­at­ed by a Dubai mar­itime com­pa­ny, warned the Bush admin­is­tra­tion it could not rule out that the company’s assets could be used for ter­ror­ist oper­a­tions, accord­ing to a doc­u­ment released Mon­day by a Sen­ate com­mit­tee. Dubai Ports World plans to com­plete its takeover of Lon­don-based Penin­su­lar and Ori­en­tal Steam Nav­i­ga­tion Co. (P&O) on Thurs­day, assum­ing own­er­ship of oper­a­tions at six major U.S. ports even as it pledges to hold off on assert­ing con­trol while the Bush admin­is­tra­tion reviews the nation­al secu­ri­ty impli­ca­tions of the deal. The White House has strong­ly argued that a pre­lim­i­nary review showed that the sale would pose no threat to nation­al secu­ri­ty.” House has strong­ly argued that a pre­lim­i­nary review showed that the sale would pose no threat to nation­al secu­ri­ty.”

(“Coast Guard Issued Warn­ing on Dubai Firm” by Jonathan Weis­man [Wash­ing­ton Post]; San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle; 2/28/2006; p. A3.)

5. The “gaps” the Coast Guard feared are note­wor­thy, in light of the Islamist rela­tion­ship to ele­ments of the Dubai pow­er elite and the ship­ping secre­cy with which Dubai prides itself.

“ . . . But in a Dec. 13 intel­li­gence assess­ment of the com­pa­ny and its own­ers in the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates, the Coast Guard warned: ‘There are many intel­li­gence gaps, con­cern­ing the poten­tial for DPW or P&O assets to sup­port ter­ror­ist oper­a­tions, that pre­clude’ the com­ple­tion of a thor­ough threat assess­ment of the merg­er. ‘The breadth of the intel­li­gence gaps also infer poten­tial unknown threats against a large num­ber of poten­tial vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties,’ says the doc­u­ment, released by the Sen­ate Home­land Secu­ri­ty and Gov­ern­men­tal Affairs Com­mit­tee. . . .”


6. Next, the pro­gram sets forth the numer­ous rea­sons why the Dubai Ports World deal was a real­ly, real­ly BAD idea—a bad idea sup­port­ed enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly by George Bush. We should not fail to take note of the fact that Bush has numer­ous and pro­found con­nec­tions to the world of big Arab cap­i­tal. Dubai backed the Tal­iban while they were shel­ter­ing Osama bin Laden.

“ . . . Yeah, I know, to be the least bit queasy about turn­ing over our ports to guys who sup­port­ed the Tal­iban when that bunch of reli­gious mani­acs were har­bor­ing bin Laden is, as the Bush apol­o­gists tell us, just xeno­pho­bic. Dubai was not alone, Sau­di Ara­bia and Pak­istan, did the same, and they are now trust­ed allies. These are crazy times, and there are some unnerv­ing odd­i­ties in Bush’s for­eign pol­i­cy, but don’t wor­ry. As soon as Hus­sein is tried and hanged, democ­ra­cy will flower in the Arab world and the war on ter­ror­ism will be over. . . .”

(“Dubi­ous Dubai Deal” by Robert Scheer; San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle; 3/1/2006; p. B11.)

7. Dubai was also a major trans­ship­ment point for Al Qae­da hero­in ship­ments leav­ing Afghanistan. As we will see below, the stun­ning­ly loose reg­u­la­tions on the des­ti­na­tions of car­go going through Dubai ports facil­i­tat­ed this kind of illic­it traf­fic.

“ . . . Car­go planes fly twice a week between the south­ern Afghan city of Kan­da­har and Dubai, one of the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates (UAE). Accord­ing to the Boston Globe, 3/26/2001; these planes fly south with drugs. The Finan­cial Times, 3/24/2001; report­ed a claim ‘that, at least up until six months ago, two flights a week were trav­el­ing from Dubai to Kan­da­har, Mr. bin Laden’s Afghan base, with box­es of dol­lar bills. . . .”

(“Al-Qae­da, the Tal­iban, the North­ern Alliance, and Drug-Traf­fick­ing” by Peter Dale Scott)

8. In addi­tion to the fact that UAE lead­ers were asso­ci­at­ing with bin Laden as recent­ly as 1999, that asso­ci­a­tion appears to have played a role in frus­trat­ing a cruise mis­sile strike against bin Laden.

“The Unit­ed States raised con­cerns with the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates sev­en years ago about pos­si­ble ties between offi­cials in that coun­try and Osama bin Laden, accord­ing to a sec­tion of the Sept. 11 commission’s report that details a pos­si­ble missed oppor­tu­ni­ty to kill the al Qae­da leader. The commission’s report released last year also raised con­cerns UAE offi­cials were direct­ly asso­ci­at­ing with bin Laden as recent­ly as 1999. The report states U.S. intel­li­gence believed that bin Laden was vis­it­ing an area in the Afghan desert in Feb­ru­ary 1999 near a hunt­ing camp used by UAE offi­cials, and that the U.S. mil­i­tary planned a mis­sile strike. Intel­li­gence from local trib­al sources indi­cat­ed that ‘bin Laden reg­u­lar­ly went from his adja­cent camp to the larg­er camp where he vis­it­ed the Emi­ratis,’ the report said.”

(“Sep­tem­ber 11 Report Ties Bin Laden to U.A.E.” by Eliz­a­beth White [AP]; USA Today; 2/24/2006.)

9. “The mis­sile attack was nev­er launched, and bin Laden moved on, the report said. A month lat­er, top White House coun­tert­er­ror­ism offi­cial Richard Clarke ‘called a UAE offi­cial to express his con­cerns about pos­si­ble asso­ci­a­tions between Emi­rati offi­cials and bin Laden,’ the report said. At a hear­ing of the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee on Thurs­day, Sen. Carl Levin, the rank­ing Demo­c­rat, asked Deputy Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Robert Kim­mitt if he was aware of the 9/11 commission’s asser­tion that the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates rep­re­sents ‘a per­sis­tent coun­tert­er­ror­ism prob­lem for the Unit­ed States.’ Kim­mitt replied that admin­is­tra­tion fig­ures involved in the deci­sion to approve the deal ‘looked very care­ful­ly’ at infor­ma­tion from the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty. ‘Just raise your hand if any­body talked to the 9/11 com­mis­sion,’ Levin told the admin­is­tra­tion rep­re­sen­ta­tives at the wit­ness table. Nobody raised a hand.”


10. Not only did some of the mon­ey laun­dered to finance the 9/11 attacks pass through Dubai, but that coun­try was the con­duit for much of the nuclear tech­nol­o­gy that was traf­ficked by the A.Q. Khan net­work.

“ . . . What kind of empire are we if we have to out­source our coast­line to a group of sheiks who don’t rec­og­nize Israel, in a coun­try where mon­ey was laun­dered for the 9/11 attacks? And that let A.Q. Khan, the Pak­istani nuclear sci­en­tist, smug­gle nuclear com­po­nents through its port to Libya, North Korea and Iran? It’s mind-bog­gling that Pres­i­dent Bush ever agreed to let an alliance of sev­en emirs be in charge of six of our ports. Although, as usu­al, Incu­ri­ous George didn’t even know about it until after the fact. (Nei­ther did Rum­my, even though he heads one of the agen­cies that green-light­ed the deal.) . . . .”

(“G.O.P. to W.: You’re Nuts!” by Mau­reen Dowd; The New York Times; 2/22/2006; p. A23.)

11. The lax­i­ty of the Dubai reg­u­la­tions on ship­ping and export­ing are stun­ning! Bear in mind that the mate­r­i­al shipped in this case was nuclear con­tra­band!! (For more about the A.Q. Khan net­work, see—among oth­er programs—FTR#395, 450, 524.)

“. . . Why ship through Dubai? Because it may be the eas­i­est place in the world to mask the real des­ti­na­tion of car­go. Con­sid­er how the Malaysian gov­ern­ment is mak­ing the case for the inno­cence of its man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­ny. ‘No doc­u­ment was traced that proved’ the com­pa­ny ‘deliv­ered or export­ed the said com­po­nents to Libya,’ accord­ing to the country’s inspec­tor gen­er­al of police. The real des­ti­na­tion, he said, ‘was out­side the knowl­edge’ of the pro­duc­er. One can be cer­tain that if the Khan ring’s Euro­pean sup­pli­ers are ever tracked down, they will offer a sim­i­lar expla­na­tion. Dubai pro­vides com­pa­nies and gov­ern­ments a vital asset: auto­mat­ic deni­a­bil­i­ty. Its cus­toms agency even brags that its pol­i­cy on re-export­ing ‘enables traders to tran­sit their ship­ments through Dubai with­out any has­sles.’ Next to Dubai’s main port is the Jebel Ali free trade zone, a haven for free­wheel­ing inter­na­tion­al com­pa­nies. . . .”

(“Nukes ‘R’ Us” by Gary Mil­hollin and Kel­ly Motz; The New York Times; 3/4/2004; p. 2.)

12. Address­ing the core con­sid­er­a­tion with regard to the Dubai Ports World deal, Trea­sury Sec­re­tary John Snow not­ed the fact that the deal might very well hurt the US econ­o­my by slow­ing or inter­dict­ing the flow of recy­cled petrodol­lars back into the [oth­er­wise bank­rupt] US econ­o­my. As not­ed above, this crit­i­cal aspect of eco­nom­ic glob­al­iza­tion places the US between a rock and a hard place—between ter­ror and eco­nom­ic destruc­tion.

“A rejec­tion by law­mak­ers of Dubai Ports World’s agreed acqui­si­tion of US con­tain­er ter­mi­nals would send a sig­nal that for­eign invest­ments ‘from cer­tain parts of the world aren’t wel­come,’ John Snow, the Trea­sury sec­re­tary yes­ter­day. . . .Wash­ing­ton insid­ers were left to guess yes­ter­day whether the White House or some of the most promi­nent law­mak­ers in Con­gress, includ­ing top Repub­li­cans in the House and Sen­ate, would be the first to com­pro­mise on the issue after Pres­i­dent George W. Bush warned on Tues­day that he would veto any leg­isla­tive effort to block the deal. In the mean­time, DP World has been buy­ing shares in P&O heav­i­ly this week as a show of con­fi­dence that the deal will not be derailed despite prob­lems in Wash­ing­ton and the strong like­li­hood that the deal will face a series of local bat­tles with port author­i­ties. An agree­ment to com­plete the trans­ac­tion is due to be approved by a Lon­don court on Mon­day. . . .”

(“Dubai Back­lash ‘Will Deter For­eign Investors” by Stephanie Kirch­gaess­ner, Hol­ly Yea­ger and Robin Wright; The Finan­cial Times; 2/23/2006; p. 4.)

13. Arabs have been rat­tling eco­nom­ic sabers over the rejec­tion of the Dubai Ports World deal. In addi­tion to the threat of reduc­ing the rein­vest­ment of petrodol­lars into the US econ­o­my, the Arabs have sug­gest­ed that US busi­ness inter­ests might not get con­tracts for the bur­geon­ing infra­struc­ture expan­sion being dri­ven by the rise in oil prices.

“ . . . David Hamod, NUSACC’s pres­i­dent, said the DP World saga had inter­vened just as Arab inter­est in the US mar­ket was pick­ing up again and stu­dents and busi­ness­men, deterred by visa restric­tions against Arab nation­als after the 2001 attacks on Wash­ing­ton and New York, had begun return­ing in greater num­bers. US com­pa­nies in the region are also wor­ried they may be penal­ized at a time that Arab states, flush with petrodol­lars, have ini­ti­at­ed huge infra­struc­ture projects. A group of US busi­ness­es from the Gulf took out an adver­tise­ment in the Capi­tol Hill news­pa­per Roll Call this week express­ing sol­i­dar­i­ty with DP World. ‘My con­cern is that US com­pa­nies may not be invit­ed to bid or if they are invit­ed they will be dealt with more skep­ti­cal­ly than in the past,’ with Mr. Hamod. That con­cern seems to have some foun­da­tion, with gov­ern­ment offi­cials in the region indig­nant that DP World has been sin­gled out for scruti­ny because of its Arab ori­gins. One senior offi­cial in Qatar, which like the UAE is a strong ally of the US, said the back­lash in Congress’had raised a lot of ques­tions.’ These include the pos­si­bil­i­ty that Amer­i­can com­pa­nies invest­ing in the region might race the same kind of scruti­ny as DP World in the US. Naguib Sawiris, chair­man of Egypt’s tele­coms multi­na­tion­al Oras­com, said ‘This could hin­der US firms who want to do acqui­si­tions in the Mid­dle East. You know, if you don’t allow us, we won’t allow you.’”

(“Ports Back­lash Makes Arab Investors Wary” by William Wal­lis; The Finan­cial Times; 3/2/2006; p. 6.)

14. One of the more dis­gust­ing­ly pre­dictable deriv­a­tives of the Ports World scan­dal is the litany com­ing out of cer­tain Arab cir­cles that the rejec­tion of the deal rep­re­sents big­otry against Arabs. Not want­i­ng to be killed does not rep­re­sent big­otry! Those who resort to this shal­low rhetor­i­cal gam­bit are over­look­ing the dis­turb­ing evi­dence about the Dubai/Islamist ter­ror con­nec­tion dis­cussed above.

“The polit­i­cal furor over the Bush administration’s plan to have an Arab com­pa­ny take over oper­a­tions in sev­er­al U.S. ports has frus­trat­ed Arab and Mus­lim Amer­i­cans, who fear the oppo­si­tion is fueled by racism and big­otry. ‘We’re very con­cerned about the lev­el of rhetoric and the way that there seems to be the assump­tion that because a com­pa­ny is Arab it can’t be trust­ed with our secu­ri­ty,’ said Kather­ine Abba­di, head of the Amer­i­can-Arab Anti-Dis­crim­i­na­tion Com­mit­tee of New York. . . .”

(“Arabs, Mus­lims Sense Big­otry in Port Dis­pute” by Deep­ti Hajela [AP]; San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle; 2/24/2006; p. A5.)

15. Mak­ing a tran­si­tion to dis­cus­sion of the con­tro­ver­sy sur­round­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of car­toons of the prophet Muham­mad by a Dan­ish news­pa­per, the broad­cast cites a Lon­don Times edi­to­r­i­al not­ing the politi­ciza­tion of Islam.

“It looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and flies like a duck. And yet it insists that it is not a duck. This is the image that comes to mind when watch­ing those anti-car­toon march­es in west­ern cap­i­tals, includ­ing Lon­don, in the name of Islam. Isn’t Islam sup­posed to be a reli­gion? Shouldn’t it be con­cerned with the broad­er issues of human exis­tence rather than with a set of car­toons, a Dutch tele­vi­sion doc­u­men­tary, the head-cov­ers of French school­girls or a nov­el by a British-Indi­an author? Today the vis­i­ble Islam, the loud­est Islam, is a polit­i­cal move­ment mas­querad­ing as a reli­gion. Many mosques in this coun­try have been trans­formed into polit­i­cal clubs where Kash­mir, Iraq and Pales­tine and ‘the mis­deeds of Anglo-Sax­on impe­ri­al­ism’ have replaced issues of reli­gious faith as the prin­ci­pal theme. . . .”

(“Focus: ‘We Don’t Do God, We Do Pales­tine and Iraq’” Amir Taheri; Lon­don Times; 2/12/2006.)

16. A Wall Street Jour­nal arti­cle sets forth the fun­da­men­tals of the “Car­toon­gate” scan­dal.

“ . . . The car­toon uproar has fed on wider racial and eco­nom­ic ten­sion in Europe between Mus­lim immi­grants and native cit­i­zens. Also at play is America’s pol­i­cy of pro­mot­ing democ­ra­cy, which has helped unleash a strug­gle with­in the Arab world between large­ly sec­u­lar regimes and increas­ing­ly pow­er­ful Islamist groups. In this volatile envi­ron­ment, a group of Dan­ish Islam­ic cler­ics angered by the car­toons suc­ceed­ed in enlist­ing help from Egypt’s sec­u­lar gov­ern­ment, which has been strug­gling to con­tain a potent Islamist oppo­si­tion. Sec­u­lar forces in the Arab world, eager to bur­nish their image as defend­ers of Islam, pro­vid­ed an impor­tant ini­tial impe­tus for the protests, but now are scram­bling to con­trol the fury. From his office at the Islam­ic Faith Soci­ety in Copen­hagen, Ahmed Abu-Laban, a fun­da­men­tal­ist Pales­tin­ian cler­ic, has been at the fore­front of a cam­paign to force an apol­o­gy from the paper. ‘This was the last drop in a cup of resent­ment, dis­ap­point­ment and exploita­tion,’ he says.”

(“How Mus­lim Cler­ics Stirred Arab World Against Den­mark” by Andrew Hig­gins; The Wall Street Jour­nal; 2/7/2006; p. A1.)

17. “Jyl­lands-Posten, a cen­ter-right news­pa­per, first wad­ed into these treach­er­ous waters last fall. Mr. Rose, alarmed by what he con­sid­ered a rise in self-cen­sor­ship relat­ing to Islam­ic issues, invit­ed Dan­ish car­toon­ists to ‘draw Muham­mad the way that they see him.’ Twelve sub­mit­ted draw­ings. One mocked a far-right Dan­ish leader, putting her in a police line-up with a tur­ban, and anoth­er ridiculed Mr. Rose and his news­pa­per, label­ing it a ‘reac­tionary provo­ca­teur.’ Oth­ers, though, poked fun at Islam. One depict­ed Muham­mad in a tur­ban shaped like a bomb. Anoth­er showed a tur­baned fig­ure in heav­en telling ascend­ing sui­cide bombers to stop because ‘we’ve run out of vir­gins,’ a ref­er­ence to a reward said to await Islam­ic mar­tyrs. The car­toons were pub­lished Sept. 30, which Mr. Rose and his col­leagues were unaware coin­cid­ed with the start of the Mus­lim holy month of Ramadan. Soon after the angry news­pa­per ven­dor called, a sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion immi­grant phoned the paper to make threats against the car­toon­ists. The caller, who was quick­ly found by police, turned out to be men­tal­ly ill. After a few days, Mr. Rose though the worst was over. Then cler­ics in Copen­hagen and else­where used their ser­mons to denounce the paper. Ambas­sadors from Egypt, Sau­di Ara­bia and nine oth­er Islam­ic coun­tries request­ed a meet­ing with Denmark’s cen­ter-right prime min­is­ter, Anders Fogh Ras­mussen. Mr. Ras­mussen declined, say­ing the state had no right to inter­fere with the country’s free press. Angry local Mus­lim lead­ers orga­nized ral­lies demand­ing an apol­o­gy. The paper refused. . . .”


18. A brief bio­graph­i­cal sketch of Mr. Abu-Laban sug­gests the dis­tinct pos­si­bil­i­ty that he is a mem­ber of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood. Note that he invit­ed Sheikh Rah­man to speak at an event in Den­mark, plac­ing Abu Laban in the Al Qae­da milieu.

“ . . . Mr. Abu-Laban, who grew up in Egypt and was arrest­ed there in the ear­ly 1980’s after being expelled from the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates for his preach­ing, took charge of writ­ing state­ments for the group and com­mu­ni­cat­ing with Mus­lim ambas­sadors. He denies hold­ing extrem­ist views, but acknowl­edges host­ing vis­its to Den­mark by Omar Abdel Rah­man, before his arrest in New York, where the blind sheik now is serv­ing a life sen­tence in con­nec­tion with the 1993 World Trade Cen­ter bomb­ing. [Empha­sis added.]. . .”


19. A crit­i­cal detail of “Car­toon­gate” con­cerns the fact that the car­toons and text cir­cu­lat­ed in the [large­ly illit­er­ate] Mus­lim World were inac­cu­rate. Many of the car­toons of Muham­mad were delib­er­ate­ly insult­ing and provoca­tive and were NOT pub­lished in Mr. Rose’s paper. Some of the car­toons may have been sent by white suprema­cists and neo-Nazis to delib­er­ate­ly inflame ten­sions. As will be seen below, there are oper­a­tional links between ele­ments of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and Euro­pean Nazi and fas­cist ele­ments.

“ . . . From sev­er­al sources, we now know that word of the car­toons was then car­ried sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly through the Mus­lim world—to prin­ci­pal mosques, madras­sahs, and gov­ern­ment offices start­ing in Egypt. This was done by del­e­ga­tions sent by Ahmed Abu-Laban, the Sau­di-sup­port­ed Imam of Copen­hagen. And in addi­tion to the dozen car­toons that had actu­al­ly appeared in that obscure provin­cial newspaper—most fair­ly inno­cent, and one actu­al­ly sat­i­riz­ing oppo­si­tion to Islam—the del­e­ga­tions’ ‘media kits’ includ­ed as many as 30 graph­ics that had nev­er appeared, and by their nature would nev­er appear, in a West­ern main­stream news­pa­per. For instance, a pho­to of a man dressed as a pig, over the cap­tion, ‘This is the real Moham­mad.’ The fake pic­tures not only out­num­bered the real ones, they were much nas­ti­er. Many were in the style of anti-Semit­ic car­toons that appear fre­quent­ly in Arab papers, but turned around to tar­get Mus­lims instead of Jews. And the cov­er­ing let­ter, which I have read in trans­la­tion, was full of out­ra­geous lies about events in Den­mark, and mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions of what had been said by Dan­ish jour­nal­ists and politi­cians. [Empha­sis added.]”

(“Orga­nized Apoplexy” by David War­ren; Ottawa Cit­i­zen; 2/8/2006.)

20. “It is this doc­u­ment, and not any copy of Jyl­lands-Posten from Sept. 30th 2005, that is at the root of the Mus­lim riots, the Sau­di-spon­sored p[an-Arab boy­cott of Dan­ish goods, and var­i­ous fat­was and oth­er acts that put Danes and oth­er Euro­peans, who had nev­er pre­vi­ous­ly hears of Jyl­lands-Posten, in per­il for their lives. . . .”


21. “ . . . For the whole point of this exer­cise is to enhance the pow­er and pres­tige of rad­i­cal Islam, over the great num­ber of Mus­lims who have not been look­ing for trou­ble. Sim­ply by rec­og­niz­ing the least rea­son­able Mus­lim voic­es as the legit­i­mate rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Islam, ter­ri­ble dam­age is done to mod­er­ate inter­ests. It is utter­ly wrong to appease an Abu-Laban. Here is a man who gave an inter­view on Dan­ish tele­vi­sion, pre­tend­ing great dis­tress, and con­demn­ing the excess­es of the inter­na­tion­al cam­paign against Dan­ish per­sons, prop­er­ty, and prod­ucts. But he also gave an inter­view to Al-Jazeera, in Ara­bic, cheer­ful­ly con­grat­u­lat­ing the world’s Mus­lims on putting a scare into the Danes, and gloat­ing over the suc­cess of the boy­cott. Alas for him, the Dan­ish tele­vi­sion net­work, DR, has now shown excerpts from the Al-Jazeera inter­view, trans­lat­ed into Dan­ish. This has to be spelled out very plain­ly to peo­ple in the West who don’t get it, includ­ing igno­rant scribes in the U.S. State Depart­ment, the British For­eign Office, and the Vat­i­can, who have added their offi­cial voic­es in con­dem­na­tion of those irrel­e­vant Dan­ish car­toons. Every time we refuse a rad­i­cal Mus­lim demand, by stick­ing to our sound West­ern prin­ci­ples, we strength­en rea­son­able Mus­lims against the fanat­ics. Every time we relent, we strength­en the fanat­ics.”


22. A very sage obser­va­tion indeed was made by a Pak­istani man—the father of an op-ed colum­nist in The New York Times. The extrem­ists on both sides of the Muham­mad car­toons issue should not be seen as con­sti­tut­ing the pri­ma­ry ele­ment of their respec­tive social groups. As we will see, the two extremes are work­ing togeth­er!

“ . . . ‘Lis­ten,’ said my father. ‘The most impor­tant thing here is not to con­fuse a group with­in an enti­ty for the enti­ty itself. Euro­peans, Mus­lims, Euro­pean Muslims—most peo­ple just want to live in peace. For us to start believ­ing Europe is rep­re­sent­ed by its right-wing fanat­ics would be as wrong as for them to believe Islam is rep­re­sent­ed by our right-wing fanat­ics.’ . . .”

(“Agent Provo­ca­teur’ by Kami­la Sham­sie; The New York Times; 2/15/2006; p. A23.)

23. The Ger­man Repub­likan­er Partei, head­ed up by SS offi­cer Franz Schon­hu­ber, exploit­ed the Car­toon­gate affair to pro­mote racism and xeno­pho­bia.

“ . . . High­light­ing the risk of esca­la­tion, the Ger­man extreme-right Repub­li­can Par­ty said in a state­ment yes­ter­day that the out­rage marked ‘the begin­ning of open war between cul­tures in Europe,’ adding: ‘the door is now open for black­mail by the Mohammedans.’ . . .”

(“Mus­lim Out­rage Gath­ers Pace” by Bertrand Benoit and FT Reporters; The Finan­cial Times; 2/3/2006.)

24. Next, the pro­gram revis­its a point of infor­ma­tion dis­cussed in—among oth­er programs—FTRs 378, 456. In the spring of 2002, bank Al Taqwa direc­tor (“Report on Islamists, The Far Right, and Al Taqwa” by Kevin Coogan; pp. 14–15.)

25. Inter­est­ing­ly, Huber main­tains close rela­tions with Holo­caust deniers like David Irv­ing, recent­ly con­vict­ed of Holo­caust denial in Europe.

“ . . . In Ger­many, he [Huber] speaks often at events host­ed by the neo-Nazi Nation­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, which pub­licly wel­comed the Sept. 11 ter­ror­ist attacks. Huber also befriend­ed British author David Irv­ing and oth­er Holo­caust deniers while fre­quent­ing ‘Revi­sion­ist’ con­claves. . . .”

(“The Swasti­ka & the Cres­cent” by Mar­tin A. Lee; Intel­li­gence Report; Spring 2002 [#105]; Pub­lished by the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter.)

26. A telling out­growth of the Car­toon­gate affair was an Iran­ian newspaper’s spon­sor­ship of a car­toon con­test lam­poon­ing the Holo­caust. That this would be seen as an appro­pri­ate response to the pub­li­ca­tion of images of Mohammed is sig­nif­i­cant. With the Iran­ian pres­i­dent him­self hav­ing called the Holo­caust a myth, the Iran­ian response is strong­ly sug­ges­tive of the notion that Jews dom­i­nate and secret­ly run West­ern soci­ety. This belief is very wide­spread in the Mus­lim world. In this con­text, one should also note that Huber is very close to the Iran­ian regime.

“An Iran­ian newspaper’s con­test for Holo­caust-relat­ed car­toons has drawn entries from 200 peo­ple, with some draw­ings mock­ing the World War II slaugh­ter: One entry shows Jews going into a gas pipeline. Most con­test entrants are Iran­ian, but six are Amer­i­cans and a few car­toons have been sub­mit­ted from such places as Indone­sia and Brazil, accord­ing to the Hamshahri news­pa­per. A few of the draw­ings have been post­ed online. Hamshahri began the con­test last month as a test of the West’s readi­ness to print car­toons about the Nazi killing of 6 mil­lion Jews in World War II. The con­test, which runs through May 15, comes in response to car­i­ca­tures of the prophet Muham­mad that sparked protests across much of the Mus­lim world. . . .”

(“Holo­caust Car­toon Con­test Draws 200” by Nass­er Kari­mi [AP]; The San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle; 3/14/2006; p. A7.)


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