The Terror Journal

A Journal on Terrorism and Genocide

Hello America, I’m a British Muslim

Question markWhen British businessman Imran Ahmad was made redundant in January, instead of hitting the Job Centre he decided to arrange a one-man speaking tour of the United States to spread his message of peace and Muslim moderateness.

“Do you think the American drone raids in Afghanistan, in which women and children are killed, are actually obstructing the movement for an Islamic reformation?”

“What can be done about the alienation of young Muslim men in the UK?”

“Did you learn English in England?”

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Sunni fighters say Iraq didn’t keep job promises

IraqThe American military marked another milestone the other day in the initiative perhaps most responsible for taming the violence in Iraq: All but 10,000 of the 94,000 Sunni militiamen — many of them former insurgents who agreed, for cash, to stop killing American soldiers — had been turned over to the control of the Iraqi military.

The same day, one group of the fighters north of Baghdad announced they were resigning from their Awakening Council, the Iraqi name for what the Americans call the Sons of Iraq. And in the town of Salman Pak, councils in southern Baghdad and its suburbs, an area once called “the ring of death,” met to denounce Iraqi efforts to integrate them.

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Bin laden accuses Arab leaders of plotting against muslims

Osama bin ladenAl Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden accused conservative Arab leaders of plotting with the West against Muslims and urged his followers to prepare for jihad (holy war), in a recording posted on Islamist websites.

“The hearts of our rulers are like those of the enemies. Whether in Najd (Saudi Arabia) or in Egypt, they never soften, Pharaohs who have returned to humiliate Arabs,” he said, reciting a poem honoring Gaza resistance to Israel’s offensive.

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Iraqis still can’t go home

IraqWhen Sheikh Jamal Sadoun, a prominent Sunni accused of working with the US, returned to his once sprawling eight-bedroom farmhouse late last year, a pile of rubble and charred furniture was all that remained.

Members of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the home-grown Sunni insurgent group, bombed it after he and his family fled from this small farming town in Diyala Province in the middle of 2007. At the time, sectarian warfare was raging across Iraq and anyone who didn’t support the insurgents’ aims could find themselves in their cross hairs. “They didn’t even steal anything. They just blew it all up,” says Sheikh Sadoun.

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Afghanistan’s Soviet remnants

Afghanistan flagIt took a call to an Afghan military commander, a chat with a police chief, a nod to a governor, and tea with a spook but we were finally given permission to pass through the gates to the Friendship Bridge linking northern Afghanistan to the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan.

On the plain white bridge spanning the Amu Darya river, only a lone car rolled by every few minutes or so.

And then, a freight train came thundering down the rails, shattering an eerie quiet, allowing us to imagine a time centuries ago when mighty armies invaded across this border.

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Exiles keeping Tibetan identity alive

Ever since the Dalai Lama fled into India in 1959, Tibetans have been making the same perilous journey by foot over the Himalayas into exile.

Today there is a large Tibetan community in India, many of whom have clear memories of their homeland before the Chinese took control.

One such is Kesang Takla, now minister of information and international relations for the Tibetan Government in Exile (GOE), based in Dharamsala.

“I suppose you could say I was born on the roof of the world – in a small town called Puri, high on the Tibetan plateau,” she said.

“I remember annual picnics, festivals and visits to the monasteries, horse-riding; it was very close to nature.”

Mrs Takla’s father had a shop in Lhasa and he frequently travelled to India for trade. In early 1959, as things became increasingly difficult in Tibet, he brought her and her brother to India where they made the transition to an entirely different life.

“As small children I remember the journey. We were on horseback, it was like a palanquin [litter],” she said.

“Once we arrived in India suddenly everything changed. We travelled by car from Sikkim and I didn’t like the smell of the petrol but it was also strangely exciting.”

Soon after the three arrived in India they received a telegram giving them news of the uprising against Chinese troops in Lhasa.

Some of the family were still in Tibet and for months they were left waiting for news. Gradually they realised that they would never be able to go back.

“I’ve been trying for a long time to get a picture of the old home but I think it is unrecognisable now. As an exile I suppose in a way I have never felt I have a home anywhere,” she said.

Today there are over 120,000 displaced Tibetans living all over the world. Many of the refugees are young people who left Tibet without saying goodbye to their families.

Some came into exile after serving prison sentences for protesting against the Chinese government.

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Others come to pursue their studies in India, which ironically is the only place they can officially receive teaching in their own language, study traditional arts and learn about their history.

Oser, a monk, left his nomadic family behind in the Kham part of Tibet to travel to India.

“My parents knew about Tibet before 1959, of course, but they could not talk about that. Only one time do I remember my father talking about life before the Chinese occupation,” he said.

“In my house we kept His Holiness [the Dalai Lama’s] picture secretly behind a shutter.”

Oser was a shepherd, but like most Tibetans he dreamt of meeting the Dalai Lama. At the age of 17 he spent one month crossing the mountains, dodging military patrols, to Nepal.

“The Tibetan newcomers’ journey is very difficult; not only for me but for all refugees,” he said.

“We walked by night, we had no food for five days, and some of the people got sick on the way so we had to leave them behind on the mountain.”

When he arrived in India he studied philosophy and two years ago he graduated from his monastery. He has not seen his family for 12 years and believes he would be imprisoned were he to return.

Path closed

The close exile community retains a strong sense of responsibility to their families back home.

There is a dilemma; these are modern people but their roots are firmly planted in their homeland and their ancestors’ beliefs and traditions.

As newly-arrived refugees testify, Tibet is changing forever and to what extent Tibetan identity evolves is very much a concern for the new generation.

The Tibetan Children’s Village is a school in Dharamsala which houses children coming from Tibet, often without their parents.

Tashi left Tibet with her sister when she was eight years old.

“When I was in school in Tibet our school principle was Tibetan but she could only speak Chinese. That is one reason why our parents sent us to India; in this school we are learning about our history and also Tibetan language,” she said.

“And now I am in India I am also learning Chinese. I think going back to Tibet will be very difficult but if I can go back in the future I think I should know Chinese.”

Tashi is pragmatic about her studies but she also holds a shared hope for Tibet’s future.

“I want to see Tibet as an independent country and all the Tibetans can welcome His Holiness inside the Potala [Dalai Lama’s palace in Lhasa] with a great joy. Most of the time that is what I dream about,” she said.

Historically 2,000-3,000 refugees have left Tibet each year to find sanctuary in India, but since last year’s unrest this number has been reduced to a few hundred.

“India never stopped any refugees from entering into India, but the only way is through Nepal,” explained GOE Prime Minister Professor Samdhong Rinpoche.

“In the last 12 months not only have there been increased restrictions in Tibet but there have been increased restrictions on the border. And therefore there is no way for them to escape,” he said.

As nomadic existence is outlawed, transport links are forged and Han Chinese migration into Tibet increases, the Tibetan culture and way of life is increasingly endangered.

If the only route into exile is also endangered there is a real fear that there will be no options left to Tibetans in their fight to preserve their identity and Buddhist traditions.

Source: BBC News

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For God’s sake, please stop this terrorism in Pakistan

Pakistan ExplosionHis job was to drive the bus. But Meher Mohammad Khalil is now being hailed as a lifesaver.

When gunmen jumped out of bushes and began spraying bullets at the bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team Tuesday, Khalil quickly sized up his options and got everyone to safety.

“First I thought there were some firecrackers going off. Then, when I saw the elite force cars in front of me taking fire, I immediately lost my voice,” Khalil told CNN on Wednesday.

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The U.S. soldiers who can no longer fight

US forces in AfghanistanHundreds of US armed forces personnel have applied for conscientious objector status since the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 – and military rights’ campaigners say the number is growing.

A report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) showed that 425 servicemen and women made applications for CO (conscientious objector) status between 2002 and 2006.

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We were ordered to kill all the women – Sudanese deserter

DarfurThe International Criminal Court is set to announce whether or not it is to issue a warrant for the arrest of the President of Sudan President al-Bashir, for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

The Sudanese government has always said the accusations are political but now one of the country’s former soldiers, who served in Darfur, has been telling his story to the BBC’s Mike Thomson.

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Islam and Honor killing of women

IslamIt has been my privilege to know and to work with Dorchen Leithold who is a fearless, tireless, driven, and heroic champion of womens’ rights. I remember Dorchen back in the days when we were both anti-pornography activists. She then became an anti-trafficking activist which she still is. We have participated in many important demonstrations, conferences, and memorial services over the last forty-plus years. Dorchen went on to become a lawyer. She is now the director of legal services for battered women in New York City (Sanctuary for Families) and has, Sojourner Truth style, literally rescued and saved the lives of many a woman.

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