Morning Report: October 9, 2007

A quick roundup for a Tuesday morning, with news on SITE, comments on women's studies and the media, and analysis on Pakistan and al-Qaeda.

Women's studies programs ignore Islamic oppression. Sara Dogan at FrontPage: 'Despite their vigilance in behalf of women’s rights in America and other Western nations, Women’s Studies Departments across the nation have been strangely passive in the face of the barbaric treatment of women in Islamic regimes. Numerous hours are spent in the classroom, dissecting the reasons for the ‘wage gap’ in America, violence against women and the ‘privileges’ accorded Caucasian males. But courses on the plight of women in Islamic regimes are strangely absent. Where there are a few courses that touch on Islamic women in Women’s Studies programs, the focus is often cultural and literary, while the abuses go unmentioned.' Via Gay Patriot and Lesbian Neocon.

Random Jottings on Kurtz/Wright/Starr interview. Random Jottings: 'It would be hopeless to try to argue with such people. We can only be thankful that the Internet routes around them.'

Michael Goldfarb on SITE incident. Michael Goldfarb at The Standard:
The Washington Post reported today:

A small private intelligence company [SITE] that monitors Islamic terrorist groups obtained a new Osama bin Laden video ahead of its official release last month, and around 10 a.m. on Sept. 7, it notified the Bush administration of its secret acquisition. It gave two senior officials access on the condition that the officials not reveal they had it until the al-Qaeda release.

Within 20 minutes, a range of intelligence agencies had begun downloading it from the company's Web site. By midafternoon that day, the video and a transcript of its audio track had been leaked from within the Bush administration to cable television news and broadcast worldwide.

The founder of the company, the SITE Intelligence Group, says this premature disclosure tipped al-Qaeda to a security breach and destroyed a years-long surveillance operation that the company has used to intercept and pass along secret messages, videos and advance warnings of suicide bombings from the terrorist group's communications network.

As a result, "al-Qaeda supporters, now alerted to the intrusion into their secret network, put up new obstacles that prevented SITE from gaining the kind of access it had obtained in the past."

Goldfarb continues: 'Bloggers are all over this story. On the surface, it's fishy--if not a serious security breach. Liberal bloggers are running with it, claiming that the Bush administration is responsible for the leak and leaked it for political gain prior to General Petraeus's testimony. ... Right-wing bloggers are more circumspect.' Read the full post at the link.

CTB on Khawaarij and Jihad. Counterterrorism Blog:
Over the past six months, there has been a remarkable twist in the larger war on terrorism that has received only middling public attention. For arguably the first time since the contemporary "war on terrorism" began in 2001, the tension between and among various armed jihadist factions and their supporters has begun to erupt into ugly public disputes, awkward confrontations--and even murder. The tendency towards quarreling has reached the most senior levels of Al-Qaida, with Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri himself firing off blistering public accusations against the Palestinian Hamas movement, charging it with cowardly abandoning the cause. But of all places, and against all odds, it is the conflict in Iraq which has resulted in the most serious clashes between opposing ranks of mujahideen. Unlike Dr. al-Zawahiri's dressing-down of Hamas, the infighting in Iraq has not merely been limited to fractures between the Muslim Brotherhood and the more extreme Salafi-jihadists of Al-Qaida. Indeed, native Iraqi Salafists (i.e. the Islamic Army of Iraq, IAI) with a long history of brutality, and who remain vocal supporters of Usama Bin Laden, were among the first of their kind to publicly accuse Al-Qaida's network in Iraq of serious transgressions that were harming the greater cause of jihad.

To better understand the present situation in Iraq, it is helpful to turn to a rather unusual source: an English-language book written by former Finsbury Park Mosque cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri titled "Khawaarij and Jihad." Though the book is divided into various sections, it is largely focused on explaining the reasons behind the disastrous collapse of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) in Algeria during the mid-1990s, as understood through the Islamic concept of "Khawaarij." This term literally refers to those who issue extreme religious verdicts declaring other Sunni Muslims to be "infidels" because they have allegedly committed "major sins" against Islam--and who further consider it legitimate and desirable to shed their blood. According to Abu Hamza, “If we look carefully at the general characteristics [of the Khawaarij], we are able to notice a pattern that occurs with all groups like this one. In the beginning, those involved mean well, but in the process the objective becomes blurred, and as disillusionment sets in, incongruent ideas with Islam become common place… the Khawaarij exaggerate matters in the religion and obligations.” As a result of these over-indulgences, “mistrust” is created “between the simple hearted mujaahid and the arrogant leaders of some groups.”

In the case of the GIA in Algeria, the turn towards becoming Khawaarij began when a new, more junior set of commanders took over the organization in the mid-1990s. ...

ThreatsWatch on Musharraf. Steve Schippert at ThreatsWatch:
Amid significant protest, Musharraf won Parliamentary re-election on October 6 to a new 5-year term as Pakistan’s president. Only 252 votes were cast among the National Parliament and the four provincial assemblies in the provinces of Punjab (Lahore), Balochistan (Quetta), Sindh (Kirachi), and the North West Frontier Province (Peshawar). Most of the missing votes were due to opposition mass resignations. These resignations were symbolic, as they would not have had enough votes to defeat a Musharraf candidacy. Also missing were the votes from former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistani Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) after they abstained from voting rather than resign along with other opposition parties. ...

Regardless of unforeseen events unfolding between now and January, Musharraf’s decision to disengage his most professional forces from increasingly more dangerous and capable al-Qaeda and Taliban within their FATA havens looks to accelerate direct US action against them in one form or another - be it via airstrikes, covert actions including the use of potential proxies, or (not at all likely in the near to mid-term) overt US military ground operations.

In a nutshell, even with Musharraf remaining Pakistan’s president, the al-Qaeda problem inside Pakistan grows and must be dealt with one way or the other. One of the only things that remains clear is that the defeat of al-Qaeda inside Pakistan will not come at the hands of the Pakistani military. It certainly will not come at the hands of paramilitary Interior Ministry forces who are out-manned, out-gunned and out-classed by a fighting force of terrorists who maintain superior motivation.

Briefly noted. Big Pharaoh reports that 'After years of being tarnished, justice is being done to King Farouk. A splendid television series that started to air at the beginning of Ramadan almost accurately portrays the life of Egypt’s last monarch with its positives and its downfalls. The series has received very positive feedback especially the performance of the Syrian actor Taym Hasan who plays Farouk.'

Commentary. I'll keep an eye on the SITE story and post more when I can.