Saturday, July 30, 2011

Another Bad Day For Capitalism

John Ransom - Obama Kills Another 500,000 Non-Union Jobs

Obama just destroyed another 500,000 jobs for Americans- at least ones who aren’t unionized. .

Flanked by flunkies from the government-dependent auto makers, the world’s largest shareholder in the American auto industry, Brarack Obama, imposed increased fuel standards on companies making cars in the United States. By 2025 auto makers will have to meet fuel efficiency standards that brings “new cars to 54.5 miles a gallon by 2025, roughly double the current level, in a bid to reduce U.S. oil consumption,” says the Wall Street Journal.

According to the Journal effort by the administration to raise the current fuel standard just to “the 35.5 mpg target by 2016 will cost the industry more than $50 billion.” The administration didn’t provide the Journal with costs for the 2025 standard but expect it to cost a ton, jobs-wise and financially.

$50 billion is about 100,000 American jobs- that’s non-union jobs.

That, in short is where all the jobs have gone under the Obama administration.

Makes one wonder if the only reason why the president doesn’t ban cars altogether is because of the union jobs.

Non-union jobs just aren’t that big of a deal.

As the foreign auto makers point out the rules are written to favor the Detroit, union-controlled, domestic auto makers.

“Not all auto makers support Mr. Obama's plan,” says the Journal.

“German auto makers Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG both declined to send representatives to Mr. Obama's announcement. Representatives for both companies, whose sales in the U.S. are dominated by passenger cars, said the deal would put their companies at a disadvantage, by setting relatively modest requirements for large pickups like the kind that Detroit auto makers like GM, Ford and Chrysler have long produced.”

Coincidentally, the United Auto Workers have targeted German automaker Volkswagen AG’s Tennessee plant as “a focal point in union efforts to gain a foothold among foreign auto makers' U.S. manufacturing operations,’ reports the Journal in a separate story.

On Thursday I wrote about how the SEIU is facing racketing charges related to possibly using federal regulatory pressure against private companies in order to facilitate union organizing in non-union shops.

While thus far there have been no allegations regarding the UAW, there certainly is the consequent regulatory pressure.

As The Journal notes: “The union has run into particularly stiff opposition at foreign-owned plants in Tennessee and other Southern states, where cultural sentiment against unions runs deep and right-to-work laws allow workers to opt out of unions where they exist. Nissan workers in Tennessee rejected UAW representation by 2-1 ratios in 2001 and 1989.”

Ah, but it’s nothing a little regulatory pressure can’t get around.

Cheating Atlanta Public Schools Teachers On Paid Leave Cost $1M Per Month

ATLANTA -- The superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools says the school system is in a state of crisis.

The school board held an emergency meeting Friday morning where Superintendent Errol Davis described the school system’s financial crunch amid a scandal involving test cheating. Channel 2’s Tom Regan attended the meeting.

“It’s a crisis in the sense that we didn’t plan for it, but it’s certainly one that we’re going to solve and work through,” Davis said.

With the first day of school fast approaching, the school system is still working on hiring 109 new teachers. So far, 55 contracts have been signed, Davis said. More than 100 teachers and principals are accused in a state investigation of falsifying results to improve CRCT standardized test scores.

While the accused educators appeal their terminations, Davis said, it will cost the school system $1 million per month to support those on administrative leave. Davis said he wasn’t sure how long that would last. In addition, the school system is already facing an $8 million deficit for the 2011-2012 school year.

The board is considering layoffs in the system’s central office, at least two furlough days for teachers and the freezing of construction and vendor contracts. Student to teacher ratios in some classes could go up as well.

Following the board meeting, Regan asked the superintendent about his recent discussions with Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard.

"Did he say whether he was going to seek indictments against any employees?" Regan asked.

"He did not, but he is in the process of collecting information from the special investigator as well as from us," Davis answered.

Davis also told Regan the district attorney promised to provide him with the names of accused educators that he rules out for prosecution as soon as possible.

The school system will then take steps to terminate the employees following administrative proceedings. Davis also expects the $1 million the district is playing to employees on leave will slowly shrink.

"As more people accept remedies from the Professional Standards Commission, as they lose their licenses, we will be able to terminate immediately so that number will go down,” Davis said.

Despite setbacks, Davis vowed to have classrooms filled with teachers by Aug. 8, the first day of school.

“There will be teachers in the classroom and based on our projections, there will be the right teachers in the classroom,” he said.

Copyright 2011 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Obama Welcomes African War Criminals and Thieves to White House

President Barack Obama meets with (from left) Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou, Benin President Boni Yayi, Guinea President Alpha Conde, and Cote d'Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara. AP Photo Close

President Obama welcomed four freely-elected African leaders to the White House Friday, saying democracy was “vital to a stable and prosperous Africa.”

“Africa does not need strongmen; African needs strong institutions,” said the president, who met the leaders of Niger, Benin, Guinea and Cote D’Ivoire for talks on issues including trade, development, famine and ongoing partnerships with the U.S. , according to pool reports.

The leaders -- Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, Boni Yayi of Benin, Alpha Condé of Guinea and Alassane Ouattara of Cote D’Ivoire – were hailed by Obama as “effective models for the continent.”

The leaders were chosen to visit the White House for winning democratically held elections, an administration official said. Corruption is rife in many African countries’ political and electoral systems.

The president said discussions were “very productive” adding: “I emphasized that the U.S. has been and will continue to be a stalwart partner.” The president was “engaged” during the talks on human rights abuses, a readout said.

Obama encouraged both U.S.-African trade but also inter-African trade, saying the nations can partner together, and with the U.S., “to divert the looming humanitarian crisis in East Africa.”

The elections in Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, and Guinea over the last eight months have replaced authoritarian regimes with new democratically elected governments, the official said, adding that the reelection of Benin’s president stands as a “model of a well-rooted democratic tradition.”

“The meeting is an opportunity to underscore the importance of moving from holding free elections to developing strong democratic institutions and checks and balances, promoting economic growth and development and leaving a positive legacy for their successors,” they added.

Obama Wins the Budget Battle


Sheila Jackson-Lee might be the dumbest person in congress. She might even be the dumbest person outside congress. If there were ever a global championship for idiots, the country could send her there. And leave her there; because unlike Lassie, she wouldn’t be able find her way back on her own.

When Enron wanted someone to use as a puppet, they picked Sheila Jackson-Lee. They wanted a woman who didn’t have a mind of her own. Enron executives described her as “agreeable”, which was a polite way of saying, “dumber than a bunch of rocks caught in the hubcaps of a slow bus going the wrong way on a one way street in the middle of a flood.”

That's from my Front Page Magazine article, Sheila Jackson Lee: Racist and Moron. That was the polite title. Unfortunately congressional Republicans aren't exactly outscoring her right now.

The amount of friendly fire by a circular firing squad is what you would expect after losing an election. And the blogs that specialize in shouting, "Fight, Fight" and then standing by and racking up hit counts by pushing more fights aren't exactly helping.

After spending two months kicking around Newt Gingrich, the GOP 2011 has mishandled the budget standoff while learning no lessons from his tenure. Obama's goals were fairly simple and so far he's achieved most of them.

1. Pin the blame for the impasse on Republicans

2. Divide the Republican leadership from the grass roots

3. Force through a "compromise" budget that gives him everything he wants and leaves the other side with nothing of substance that he can't bypass.

The media covered the first part, with the aid of a GOP in communication breakdown mode. The GOP is now deep in circular firing squad mode which covers the second part. And the third is likely still to come.

A budget battle against a media entrenched Oval Office occupant, with only the House, but not the Senate was always a dicey proposition. It would take a strong negotiator with a powerful public presence to hold up the GOP side.

The goal on the Democratic side isn't to pass a budget, but to create a crisis, pin the blame on the GOP, and particularly the Tea Party, wait for the opposition to fracture, and collect the winnings of a frantic compromise budget. And here we are.

Obama's plan was to leave the mess in the House, have the Senate veto anything sent up, and give regular press conferences warning of imminent disaster. And it's worked out fairly well. It's irresponsible and there are Democrats in the know who are disgusted by it. But the same holds true for his entire tenure. It looks increasingly like he was able to bluff the Republican party, then divide and conquer.

This won't destroy the Tea Party or give Obama a second term. But it sets a dangerous precedent in an election year. If the Republican party can be outmaneuvered on this, how good does the election really look?

Boehner is not the problem, but he is "a" problem. He seems to have been chosen for his inoffensive qualities. No one wanted a repeat of Gingrich vs Clinton. Fair enough. But there were better choices. The Republican party has no public face, and while that avoids the danger of being Gingriched, it lets the media put its own face on the party. With no real response.

The GOP does need a public face. A great communicator who's telegenic and articulate, charming and able to be on every news program at the same time. Those aren't impossible requirements. But in a party that puts forward the likes of Boehner, Pawlenty, Paul Ryan and wonders why they won't connect, that is a challenge. More of one than it should be.

The larger problem though is strategic. Going into the budget fight, the only ammunition on the GOP side was an expectation that the Democrats would want to work toward a deal. And that was a mistaken assumption. The Dems had nothing to gain from a deal, and everything to lose.

The Democratic party lost badly in 2010. Obama's polling is equally disastrous. Even if the left wing gang that controls the party now was interested in being good citizens, their only shot is to sabotage the GOP. And that's what they're doing. They're not prepared to take real damage to do it, but they were betting that the Republican party wouldn't either. Because the GOP is rising, and when you're rising, then you have more to lose.

The challenge here wasn't impossible, but it wasn't easy either. And the Republican party blew it. But losing a battle is also valuable. It's a wake up call before losing the war.


I've written extensively about an unhinged Norwegian who went on a shooting spree, and I'll write about it some more in the coming week, but I think it's important to note that unlike a Norwegian killing people, Muslim violence remains the norm. Not an aberration.

A Norwegian killing spree is still man bites dog. A Muslim killing spree is dog bites man.

Stop by Religion of Peace or Jihad Watch and look at the latest tolls. Or Fort Hood II, yet another terrorist plot by Muslims in the military, just now.

What is really devastating about Breivik is that despite his video game derived posturing and his grandiose plans to seize power-- he was fairly competent. His journal records multiple setbacks, failed bomb making attempts and a ridiculous trip to Prague to try and buy weapons, but his act of terror succeeded. Those of Muslims tend to fail.

The difference here is First World vs Third World. If even half the Muslim Breiviks successfully pulled off their planned operations, America and Europe would be terror zones. Even 9/11 might have failed a dozen different ways because of the sloppiness of those involved. But they got lucky and 3,000 people died.

But that's the real lesson. The Islamic side only needs to get lucky once to kill a few people or a few thousand. Stack enough terror plots together and they add up to a body count.

While the media is still pursuing their Islamophobia bugaboo, the violence goes on. And it's not Norwegian violence-- it's Muslim violence.

In my defense of Robert Spencer at FPM, I asked a simple question

As Robert Spencer commented, “What exactly is ‘hate speech’ about quoting Qur’an verses and then showing Muslim preachers using those verses to exhort people to commit acts of violence, as well as violent acts committed by Muslims inspired by those verses and others?”

Tellingly, this citation is absent from the New York Times piece and other articles. While Spencer and other researchers have painstakingly shown the connection between incitement to violence and violence — no similar effort has been made by those attacking him.

There's no response, because there can't be a response.

Pointing out that Islam is violent, bigoted and misogynistic is not an act of violence. It is not a call for violence. It is a call for sanity.


Let's compare two cases side by side for a moment to understand that the real danger here is not as simple as a subway bombing. It is the implementation of a theocracy which considers non-Muslims to be subhuman.

In England, a 63 year old British man, is being kept on jail for putting pork products outside a mosque.

In Indonesia, the ringleaders of a Muslim mob who lynched three members of a minority sect got three months in jail.

In England, a judge called leaving pork products outside a mosque, "very disturbing offenses". Not because there is anything bad about pork-- but because anything that offends Muslims, whether it is pork, the state of Israel or a cartoon has become a "very disturbing offense".

Meanwhile in Indonesia, a Muslim lynch mob will probably end up serving less time in jail than John White, a 63 year old Englishman, did for littering.

This isn't what's coming. This is already here.

In Jamie Glazov's United in Hate, he draws the connections between the totalitarianism of Islam and that the totalitarianism of the left. The gap between Cap and Trade and Sharia is not great at all. The system to apply Sharia law is already in place. A public ready to consent to the deprivation of their freedoms is also already here.

The left has paved the way for Islam. It has destroyed reason, demolished justice and torn down civil rights. The next logical step after Marx is Mohammed. Destroy the economy and the republic, and replace it with a bigoted medieval theocracy.


Egypt is descending into Islamism. So is Algeria. Probably the only thing keeping the Islamists from taking Libya is that Cameron has dismantled the RAF and Obama doesn't understand how wars work.

Meanwhile in Turkey, the army is finished, whatever Erdogan recreates out of the ruins will look more like Iran, and be personally loyal to the AKP. Which means that whatever Turkish democracy ever existed is done. And it all happened under the approving eye of the EU.

J.E. Dyer's take

More than 40 military officers are currently being held on charges of being involved in the conspiracy. It’s hard to pinpoint what the generals’ intentions are with their mass resignation. They are too old and experienced to believe that they would be currying popular support by perpetrating a dramatic action. They can’t expect their resignation to put popular pressure on Erdogan, who just won reelection with a healthy majority of the seats in Turkey’s parliament.

The alternative possibilities are that they have simply given up, and decided to spend their golden years doing something else (perhaps outside of Turkey), or that they are organizing to confront Erdogan.

The likeliest possibility is that they are giving up, or rather getting out of the way.

Erdogan has the backing of everyone from the EU and the US to Iran and Saudi Arabia. Not to mention the bigoted and racist Turkish public. He has shown himself to be a strong leader. And he is throwing in enough neo-Ottomanism to sweeten the pot.

The adamant secularism that seemed to mean so much is over. The idea that you can't be a powerful Muslim state has been drowned in gallons of oil money and Western terror appeasement. The process took longer than it did in Egypt, where Islamic mores dominated long before Tahrir Square got around to toppling the last military officers and secularism was a distant memory outside of the circles of the rich. But it's still done.

Ataturk is dead. Turkish Islamists will remember Erdogan as the Islamic Ataturk, who did for Turkish Islamism what Ataturk did for Turkish secularism.

The real threat on the horizon for the Islamists isn't the military, which exists only as a punching bag and a scapegoat for European Turkish experts. It's Kurdish nationalism, which is still the ticking time bomb.

Tensions in Syria and Iraq are feeding Kurdish nationalistic dreams. And while the US and EU continue to look away from Erdogan's racist brutalization of the Kurds, the dismantling of the Turkish military makes a civil war more likely. Not less.

The loss of the upper ranks of the Turkish military and their replacement by Islamist cronies, combined with the growing shift away from the United States, means a weaker and less competent military. A military that's sufficient to murder a few Kurdish teenage girls, but might not fare as well against a full uprising. Or a full scale invasion of Kurdistan.


What happens to a Lebanese belly dancer who appears on stage with Israelis? Permanent exile.

Breivik's attack already promoting fears of a bigoted backlash among Norwegian Muslims Jews.

What if America had national health care just like the UK? Death panels would delay until patients pay for their own treatment or die.

Ted Belman at Israpundit is fundraising to keep the site going. So is Right Side News which is short of their total.

Zilla is holding Operation United Front in support of counterjihadi writers libeled by terrorism apologists over the Oslo massacres.

Utoya camp hit by terrorist attack... hosted terrorists. Has Norway's left learned a lesson from this about rejecting terrorism? Doubtful. See Debbie Schlussel.

Elder of Ziyon takes down Jeffrey Goldberg on Twitter

What could possibly make auto union members vote Republican? Efficiency standards.

Women are the biggest Islamophobes. Just ask the New York Times.

The Consequences of High Unemployment Continue

Teen mayhem hits Philly's streets again

A mob of unruly teens last night once again wreaked havoc on Center City, assaulting and robbing random pedestrians.

About 9:15 p.m., police began to receive 9-1-1 calls about a group of 20 to 40 teens assaulting people. Police found a man on the ground bleeding badly from the head at Walnut and Juniper streets. He was taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

Brian Mishico, who was working the door at Good Dog Bar and Restaurant on 15th Street near Locust, said a crowd of about 30 kids, some who looked as young as 12, split into two groups as they walked down 15th Street.

On one side of the street, the marauding youths knocked over a planter at the Aria condominium building. "They just knocked over everything on the street," he said.

On the other side of 15th Street, kids started randomly fighting pedestrians on the sidewalk in front of the Max Brenner restaurant, Mishico said.

"It's crazy, I've never seen anything like it," Mishico said. "It seems totally random."

A patron at Fado, at 15th and Locust, said the group then turned left on Locust heading toward Broad and came upon two men and a woman. They started assaulting the men, then someone grabbed the woman's hair and punched her in the head.

At least five people were arrested.

- Daily News staff report

Texas Gun Store Foils Terrorist Plot

For those DC prostiticians who claim that American gun stores are the main gun suppliers to the Mexican drug cartels, here’s a dose of reality. Gun store owners in Texas just stopped a terrorist attack in progress.

Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, an AWOL soldier from Fort Campbell in Kentucky, was arrested by the Killeen, Texas, Police Department near Fort Hood and remains in custody at the Killeen jail.

When arrested, Abdo possessed “weapons, explosives and jihadist materials.” His bomb making setup came “straight out of Inspire (a terrorist magazine) and an Al Qaeda explosives course manual.”

Abdo went into Guns Galore to buy smokeless powder and ammunition, but Guns Galore thought he acted suspiciously, so they called Killeen Police Department. (Guns Galore was where Nidal Hasan went before committing mass murder at Fort Hood.)

On July 4, Abdo went AWOL from Fort Campbell in Kentucky, after receiving conscientious objector status from the Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Army review board.

Authorities believe he was targeting a restaurant near Fort Hood that is popular with base personnel.

He wasn’t so non-violent after all.

Deliberate smear--Media Matters story on ATF gun smuggling

(Think "discrediting of the messenger")

Deliberate smear--Media Matters story on ATF gun smuggling
Anthony Martin, Conservative Examiner

As reported yesterday, the ultra-Leftwing, George Soros-funded 'Media Matters' confronted the reporter who first broke the ATF gun smuggling scandal as he sat outside the committee hearings on the subject in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday. Shoving a cell phone camera in his face, the Media Matters propagandist demanded to know why Mike Vanderboegh had 'lied' about the Tampa field office of the ATF smuggling guns into Honduras.

Media Matters posted their story yesterday, in which they accused Fox News of reporting Vanderboegh's assertions without doing an adequate fact-check.

It goes without saying that Media Matters, the pompous pimps of progressive propaganda, has but one goal in making such assertions--to create doubt on the part of readers concerning the veracity of the facts disclosed thus far concerning Project Gunwalker, or 'Operation Fast and Furious,' the ATF-DOJ-Obama Administration scheme to deliberately place U.S. guns into the hands of dangerous criminals in Mexico and Honduras for the purpose of bolstering statistics that would then erroneously show that the vast majority of weapons used by drug cartels came from the U.S.

Such phony statistics would then be used to push for massive new gun control measures throughout the U.S.

However, the facts that have been disclosed by whistleblowers, informants, and investigative reporters have all turned out to be true. Not one single assertion made by Mike Vanderboegh, David Codrea, or this writer, has been proved to be false.

And those facts are numerous and significant. Vanderboegh recounts them:

Let's review stories that we broke that have been confirmed so far:

Phoenix gunwalking? Check.

National scope? Check.

Lanny Breuer? Check.

White House involvement? Check.

As it happens, I confirmed with "responsible authorities" while in Mordor-on-the-Potomac that the Tampa allegations are being taken seriously and are being investigated. "Yeah, it happened," I was told. I stand by my stories, and I communicated to Congressman Bilirakis' office that the allegations were solid. I reiterated my caution that we have no evidence at this time that the case was called "Castaway" although agents and supervisors involved in Castaway were also involved in the gunwalking to Honduras. In fact, it may not have had an operational name assigned to it at all.

Add to that evidence the fact that once it was reported that the Tampa office was also involved in the gun smuggling scheme, a frantic effort was mounted by the local field division head in Tampa to cover her tracks and those of others who are involved. One confidante stated that the shredding machines were kicking into overdrive.

If none of the allegations concerning the ATF Tampa-to-Hondruas gun smuggling scheme are correct, then why would the Tampa field office suddenly catapult itself into a frenzied fracas in an attempt to destroy evidence?

The Media Matters story is a classic example of the common progressive practice of diverting attention from the facts through nitpicking a story to death over minor details, such as syntax, imprecise wording, and such, as if these things do not happen on a daily basis in the mainstream media. Not only do CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, WaPo, the NYT, Time Magazine, and Newsweek engage on a regular basis in providing broad, imprecise verbiage, but they go as far as to deliberately twist stories to favor the progressive agenda--and to portray conservatives in a damaging light.

And as for doing thorough fact-checks? When was the last time a serious story was published in any of the above-cited 'news' sources that proved allegations against Sarah Palin before a story ran? And when did any of them go back and correct inaccuracies they had printing on the front page that were blatant defamations of character?

This is not to mention the wild, baseless allegations that the Tea Party is a movement made up of racists, homegrown terrorists, and country-bumpkin hayseeds with 3 teeth who bitterly cling to their guns and religion.

Media Matters has only further damaged its already tarnished reputation by excoriating Fox News and Mike Vanderboegh. As one observer put it yesterday, 'Media Matters' is not media. Nor does it matter.

Sen Reid: Democrats want debt hike to March 2013

(Reuters) - Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said on Friday his budget legislation would increase the nation's borrowing authority until March, 2013 and reiterated that he would not accept a short-term debt limit increase as Republicans are insisting.

Earlier in the day, Reid called on Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to sit down with him to work out a compromise for cutting federal spending and raising the debt limit by the August 2 deadline.

McConnell has thus far thrown his support behind a House of Representatives Republican bill that has been refined and could be voted upon later in the day. Reid has vowed to defeat that bill, which would extend the debt limit for only a few months.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan and Andy Sullivan; editing by Todd Eastham)

Another Radical Enviro at Interior

Bob Beauprez - Another Radical Enviro at Interior

Believe it or not, something other than the debt ceiling debate is going on in Washington.

Yesterday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a confirmation hearing for Rebecca Wodder, the Obama nominee to be Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks for the Department of the Interior.

While the title may sound small-potatoes, the office is the second most powerful at Interior. Wodder would replace Tom Strickland who resigned in January. As the Assistant Secretary, Wodder would oversee "an empire."

Wodder has a well established record as an environmental left-wing ideologue. According to the Washington Examiner, she is a "former Wilderness Society official and current chief executive officer of Big Green's dam-killing, water grabbing, natural gas enemy, American Rivers Inc."

During the hearing, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski gave Wodder the opportunity to retract her previous statement that hydraulic fracturing (fracing) "has a nasty track record of creating a toxic chemical soup that pollutes groundwater and streams…"

But, Wodder refused.

Inhofe Calls On Obama To Withdraw Nominee
">VIDEO: Obama Nominee Wodder Refuses to Retract Statement on Hydraulic Fracturing

Even EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, an aggressive environmental activist herself, recently testified that there is no confirmed case of fracing contaminating groundwater.

Multiple other EPA officials have confirmed to Congress that there is no evidence to support Wodder's contention that has become the latest mythical attack strategy adopted by the left.

But, facts are of no concern to the radical left.

"Ms. Wodder's testimony today has only confirmed my initial concerns about her nomination," Senator Inhofe said. "During the hearing, Senator Murkowski provided an opportunity for Ms. Wodder to retract her previous statement that hydraulic fracturing 'has a nasty track record of creating a toxic chemical soup that pollutes groundwater and streams...' Yet, she refused, proving herself to be beholden to an extremist environmental agenda. Ms. Wodder's statement, of course, counters the testimony of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and several Obama administration officials who have repeatedly said before Congress that there has not been a single confirmed case of groundwater contamination due to the hydraulic fracturing process.

If confirmed, Wodder would join Interior Secretary Ken Salazar who has already established the "most anti-oil and gas record in U.S. history."

U.S. Poised to Join China, Spain in Double-A Club

By Sue Chang, MarketWatch

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — With political gridlock increasing the likelihood the U.S. will lose its coveted, triple-A credit rating, it is poised to join the ranks of sovereign borrowers sporting a double-A stamp, which includes China and Spain.

The double-A club is a diverse group that includes countries wrestling with their own debt crises, or in China’s case, flush with cash. And it’s one that some countries have successfully left.

Double-A is categorized as “high quality” and includes the number two and three economies of the world, China and Japan — both of which rely heavily on U.S. consumers to buy their products.

It’s worth noting that Japan has never missed a debt payment, and China is the U.S.’s is biggest foreign creditor.

Other double-A borrowers include Belgium and Spain, the latter struggling with surging borrowing costs, and the oil-rich states of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Israel and Taiwan, nations that rely heavily on the U.S.’s geopolitical muscle for their security, are also on the list.

If the U.S. loses the triple-A rating, there are reasons to be optimistic — five, to be exact.

Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden all have, at one time or another, lost their topnotch ratings before working their way back into triple- A.

The threat of a downgrade is pressuring politicians to act on two fronts — lifting the debt ceiling and slashing the U.S.’s long-term borrowing plans.

Republicans and Democrats are attempting to reach a compromise on a bill that would raise the debt ceiling from $14.3 trillion and cut the deficit by Tuesday. After that day, the Treasury has warned the U.S. will have trouble paying its bills. Read latest news on debt ceiling vote

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services and Moody’s both put the U.S. on notice earlier this month, warning of a downgrade if its debt limit is not raised in time.

Even if the debt ceiling is lifted, a downgrade by one or more agencies seems likely.

“We see at least a one-in-two likelihood that we could lower the long-term rating by one or more notches on the U.S. within the next three months and potentially as soon as early August — into the ‘AA’ category — if we conclude that Washington hasn’t reached what we consider to be a credible agreement to address future budget deficits,” said S&P in a report released earlier this month.

The likelihood of a downgrade has the markets on edge.

A rating downgrade is likely to weaken the U.S. dollar DXY
-0.54% by “at least
another 2 to 5%,” according to Kathy Lien, a director of global research and analysis at GFT.

The greenback has been sinking against several major counterparts, most notably the Japanese yen USDJPY
+0.0875% and the Swiss franc

Interest rates are also expected to rise by about 50 basis points on short-term rates and double that on the long end, S&P said.

Defying conventional wisdom, Treasury yields have slid in recent days with the 10-year note 10_YEAR
-5.12% yields tumbling to the lowest in more than two weeks on a
lack of alternatives given Treasurys’s traditional role as safe-haven investment vehicle.

Yields on the 10-year securities, which move inversely to prices, fell 11 basis points to 2.84% Friday. Read MarketWatch’s bond report

Sue Chang is a MarketWatch reporter in San Francisco.

Big Labor: The Real Hostage Takers

Brett McMahon - Big Labor: The Real Hostage Takers

It took an amazing amount of gall, guile, or both for a former Ted Kennedy political staffer to decry supposed Tea Party “terrorist tactics” in seeking to rein in the debt drowning our nation.

“It has become commonplace to call the tea party faction in the House ‘hostage takers,’” William Yeomans wrote. “But they have now become full-blown terrorists.”

Forget, for a moment, the lack of violence—verbal or physical—coming from Tea Partiers, which would constitute terrorism. Forget, also, that grassroots pressure on politicians to control profligate spending (sure to be followed by tax hikes) is neither an act of hostage takers or terrorists.

Instead, consider for now the actions of President Obama and his key backers from Big Labor. As John Mariotti described this week, the “president’s job killers” include a host of minions enacting harmful regulation and:

It should be no surprise to anyone reading it why the US has a jobs problem. It is governed by an anti-business president, and no matter how many nice speeches he makes about jobs for Americans, his minions are behind the scenes doing the dirty work, killing American jobs and companies everyday—and no one seems to be able to stop them.

For its part, Big Labor—the sine qua non of the Obama administration—has held up vital trade deals that would give a boost to domestic manufacturers, small and large. It continues to demand job-killing card check, first by legislation and now by regulation. Big Labor was, as many will remember, the cornerstone of power for Yeomans’ former employer, Kennedy—making his terrorist allegations all the more shocking.

Perhaps most strange of all is that an anti-business agenda, propelled in part by the various and sundry anti-corporate Left—but primarily by organized labor—represents such a small portion of actual working Americans.

Most are familiar with labor’s decline and that it now represents only about 7 percent of private sector workers. What many haven’t recognized is that only 1.3 percent—a rounding error (or economic error)—of private sector workers in Right To Work states are members of a union. Yet it is organized labor’s lobbyists that relentlessly pressure senators from those states to bend to the will of a small special interest.

It is time to recognize that if there is a supposed “hostage taker” or “terrorist” in American politics it is the constituency of Big Labor bosses. And it is time to remember that America does not negotiate with terrorists.

Obama: Failing to Reach Debt Agreement Would Be 'Inexcusable'

U.S. President Barack Obama is urging Republicans and Democrats in Congress to agree on a plan to raise the country's debt limit, as the nation edges closer to the threat of a default next week.

In his weekly address Saturday, President Obama said the two sides must reach a compromise by the Tuesday deadline so the U.S. will have the ability to pay its bills on time. He said the parties are not that far apart on the issues involved, and said the results of failing to come to an agreement would be "inexcusable."


On Friday, the Democratic-controlled Senate blocked a Republican plan to raise the country's $14.3 trillion borrowing limit. The House of Representatives had approved the bill, put forth by House Speaker John Boehner, hours before.

President Obama says the Boehner plan would hold the economy captive to Washington politics once again by forcing the nation to relive the debt crisis in just a few months.

The proposal calls for an immediate $900 billion increase of the U.S. debt ceiling in exchange for more than $900 billion in spending cuts over the next 10 years. It offers to raise the debt limit again early next year if Washington can work out more spending cuts.

In the weekly Republican address Saturday, Senator Jon Kyl said Republicans have been united in the belief that raising the debt ceiling without making significant spending cuts would be "irresponsible."


Democratic leaders in the Senate have urged Republican lawmakers to support Senate Majority leader Harry Reid's plan to cut government spending by $2.5 trillion and raise the legal limit on borrowing enough to fund the government through the end of 2012.

Reid said Friday that unless there is a compromise or Republicans accept his bill, the nation is headed for "economic disaster."

Lawmakers in the Senate are set for a vote on Reid's plan early Sunday.

The U.S. will run out of money to pay its bills if the country's debt limit is not raised by August 2.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

Bill gives upstanding folks a second chance

As reported in The Dispatch (“Bill can expunge gun-crime record,” June 17), the legislature recently gave a small and specific group of people the opportunity to clear their records of particular concealed-carry firearm violations. This is part of Senate Bill 17, which clarifies where and how Ohio’s concealed-carry permit holders can carry a licensed firearm.

The majority of states allow permit holders to carry concealed firearms in vehicles. Unlike most other states, Ohio’s concealed-carry law had a number of additional complex rules regarding how a weapon must be carried in a car. As a result, some law-abiding citizens unintentionally violated the law.

Senate Bill 17 represents an effort to repeal these unnecessary and complex requirements. Unfortunately, a simple repeal does little for those people who ended up with an offense on their record. For that reason, I sponsored an amendment that would allow those people to apply for expungement for certain car-carry violations.

To be clear, expungement is not automatic. The bill gives a judge the discretion to grant an expungement if, after consulting with the prosecutor and considering the specific facts of a case, the judge determines that it is warranted. If an applicant was engaged in other unlawful behavior at the time of the conviction, a judge can — and presumably would — deny the application. Furthermore, the provision is narrowly tailored to apply only to those convicted of violating the specific car-carry sections repealed by the bill.

This amendment received unanimous and bipartisan support in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. It was adopted by the committee by a vote of 9-0, and two of those votes were from senators who voted against the bill as a whole. Even though they opposed the underlying policies of Senate Bill 17, they recognized the importance of giving a second chance to people who never intended to violate the law.


22nd District


America abandons Obama

GOP chief believes Tea Party and conservatives key to defeating Barack

So much for hope and change. With the economy growing worse and worse (see nearby editorial), the grand promises of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign have faded as the reality of malaise takes hold.

Mr. Obama has vowed to spend $1 billion in advertising dollars to counteract the effect his policies have had on the nation. The GOP’s campaign chief met with The Washington Times on Friday to discuss why that’s not going to work. “I think this [election] is a referendum on Barack Obama,” said Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus. “The people in this country are going to ask themselves a question: ‘Am I better off than I was three or four years ago?’ And the answer is clearly no.”

Candidate Obama’s pledge to go “line by line” through the budget to get the deficit under control has become little more than an inside-the-Beltway joke as his spending levels rival those of an Egyptian pharaoh. Even liberals feel betrayed on a number of pet causes like torture and Guantanamo Bay, and they’re jumping ship. The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press released a survey July 22 that found Republicans were making huge gains among white voters. In 2008, 46 percent of this demographic group sided with the GOP while 44 percent preferred Democrats. Today, the Republican advantage has grown to 13 points, with the biggest gains found among those under the age of 30.

In other words, the young voters who once identified with the youthful, relatively unknown senator from Illinois are having a severe case of buyer’s remorse. The survey showed Republicans also made a small 2 percent gain among black voters, but larger inroads ought to be possible given the astonishing figure that 16.2 percent of blacks can’t find a job in Mr. Obama’s economy - double the figure for whites. “People are hurting,” said Mr. Priebus. “The problem that Obama has is that he has had results of his presidency, and these results are awful and people know it.”

High unemployment, low growth and reckless spending sparked a Tea Party movement demanding real change. Some establishment types in Washington and New York have seen this as a threat. They’ve even taken to deriding Tea Party members as “Hobbits.” When he was leader of the Wisconsin GOP, Mr. Priebus attended and spoke at Tea Party rallies. “I don’t believe the Republican Party or the RNC is in competition with the conservative movement in America,” he explained. “We’re part of the conservative movement in this country.”

As long as the focus remains on the Obama administration’s fiscal policies, conservatives are going to win the spending showdown. Our freedoms, in fact, depend on that victory. “We’re at an almost standstill in Washington debating about what we need to do to increase the credit card yet again because we need to pay our bondholders in China and we can’t possibly default,” Mr. Priebus explained. “This is a little glimpse of what it’s like when you have to surrender a little bit of your sovereignty… because we can’t get spending under control.”

Mr. Obama should be nervous. There’s a focused leader at the helm of the RNC who’s committed to making sure “The One” is a one-termer.

© Copyright 2011 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Accused Ft. Hood Gunman Is Still Getting Paycheck From the Government

Major Nidal Hasan, accused of the 2009 mass shooting rampage at Fort Hood that left 13 dead, has retained his military rank and continues to get paychecks from the government, the base commander said Wednesday.

Lieutenant General Donald Campbell, Jr., the commander of Fort Hood, said Hasan’s confinement and medical expenses are also being paid for by the military, KXXV-TV reported. He receives weekly medical treatment and is occasionally transported to meet with his defense team.

Hasan was shot during the attack and is reportedly paralyzed from the waist down.

Campbell said the actions are to ensure Hasan gets a fair trial.

“The bottom line is when you cut through everything we are as an army, we have to be fair to him regardless of what we saw or we think we saw or whatever the case may be,” Campbell said. “It’s imperative we maintain the integrity of the court martial so he gets as fair a shot as possible defending himself with his team.”

Hasan is awaiting a court martial set for March 5, 2012. He is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. If convicted, he faces the death penalty.

The trial is set to be held at Fort Hood.

“It’s a delicate balance,” Campbell acknowledged. “We believe [Fort Hood] is a location where we can have a fair court martial. We want it to stay here not for any ulterior reason, but that we have the capacity to have it here.”

Michelle's $4.5 Bil Law Focuses On Childhood Obesity As Kids Starve

While Michelle Obama’s $4.5 billion measure to control the American diet focuses on tackling childhood obesity by replacing French fries with salad bars, doctors across the nation report a growing epidemic of “dangerously thin” kids.

It makes for an astounding irony considering the First Lady got Congress to pass her much-ballyhooed law, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, to end childhood hunger in low-income neighborhoods. The campaign however, has focused more on the “healthy” part that aims to combat childhood obesity, which Michelle Obama claims is most prevalent among the poor and ethnic minorities.

That’s why her initiative has been largely dedicated to revolutionizing the inner city diet by providing fresh produce and grilled lean meats as alternatives to greasy, fried foods that tend to be more popular in poor neighborhoods. The primary targets are “at-risk” children who will get free nutritious meals from U.S. taxpayers, with the government deciding what exactly constitutes healthy cuisine.

A few months ago taxpayers financed a dubious $2 million project in which a high-tech device tracked what minority public school children ate for lunch in one Texas district. The idea was to calculate how many lunchtime calories poor and minority kids consumed at five elementary schools targeted by the First Lady’s childhood obesity revolution. The goal was to inspire parents to change their children’s eating habits at home.

While Michelle Obama’s campaign wastes money on this sort of nonsense, doctors in hospitals across the nation report a disturbing trend of severely malnourished kids whose families have fallen on hard times. Emergency room physicians say they are seeing the highest number of hungry and dangerously thin young children in a decade. The resulting chronic hunger could leave countless infants and toddlers with serious developmental problems, according to doctors quoted in a Massachusetts newspaper report.

The article focused on a major Boston hospital where physicians reveal that the number of underweight youngsters has significantly increased in the last few years with the figure expected to rise. Pediatricians at hospitals in other cities—including Baltimore and Philadelphia—also reported big increases in the number of malnourished and hungry children they have seen in the last few years.

This certainly questions the priorities surrounding the multibillion-dollar law Michelle Obama’s is credited with passing. When her husband signed it in 2010 it was celebrated as a way to “raise a healthier generation of kids.” Cabinet officials assured it would allow the administration to be “much more effective and aggressive” in responding to hunger challenges for America’s kids and that it would provide them with “healthier and more nutritious food.”

U.S. Follows Another Foreign Govt. Order Regarding Illegal Alien

In what could be a dangerous trend, the Obama Administration has for the second time in a few weeks followed the orders of a Latin American nation demanding intervention on behalf of an illegal immigrant living in the United States.

Earlier this month President Obama asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the execution of an illegal alien convicted of bludgeoning, raping and murdering a Texas girl after receiving a written mandate from Mexico. The Mexican directive requested the administration’s “full-fledged support” to obtain a stay of execution and specifically asked for a Supreme Court appeal on behalf of the murderer. Texas blew off the request and executed him anyways.

This week Argentina’s government asked that an illegal immigrant in south Florida be spared deportation and the administration obliged, according to news reports. The case involves a 23-year-old man brought to the U.S. as a teenager. As a student at a Miami college, the illegal alien (Miyen Spinelli) got arrested near the Canadian border for not having proper identification while traveling to a youth soccer championship and was earmarked for removal.

Argentine diplomats in Miami intervened this week, urging U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) not to deport Spinelli, who is described as a model student and athlete. Argentina’s Consul General actually requested that the illegal alien from his country be granted permanent U.S. residency, although the consul claims to be “respectful of American regulations.” It didn’t hurt that the South American official held a press conference to make the appeal.

A day later, ICE caved into the Argentine demand by suspending Spinelli’s imminent deportation. “ICE has reviewed the case and will be extending the previously issued stay of removal for an additional year,” ICE said in a statement that was published by local newspapers. “ICE will review the case and circumstances again prior to the expiration of this stay to determine the benefits of an additional stay of removal.”

More good news from the Obama depression: study finds massive, permanent job loss from de facto drilling moratorium

More good news from the Obama depression: study finds massive, permanent job loss from de facto drilling moratorium

Maybe the hapless, lying sack of weasel dung (which is the phrase he prefers, I hear) named Timothy Geithner can pin the blame for this story on, say, Dwight D. Eisenhower or Barry Manilow.

A new report redoubles calls by oil and gas interests for the federal government to speed up permitting of offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

The report, issued Thursday by IHS Global Insight and sister energy research firm IHS CERA, says that oil and gas companies are ready to invest, and that faster approvals by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement could create 230,000 jobs nationwide in 2012. The report also warns that continued slow permitting will reduce domestic oil and gas production and could drive energy companies to shift their investments to other countries, permanently shrinking the American oil industry.

Environmentalists question whether the economic gains of faster permitting outweigh potential ecological and economic harm of additional oil spills. And the report may miss progress that has been made since spring. The study ended April 10, and federal officials have since approved a number of permits.

...A new report projects that the offshore oil and gas industry could create 230,000 jobs in 2012 if permitting is speeded up. Here's a look at jobs projected to be created in the top 11 states:

1. Texas 73,944
2. Louisiana 68,319
3. California 14,292
4. New York 8,809
5. Florida 7,497
6. Illinois 6,069
7. Mississippi 5,440
8. Pennsylvania 5,214
9. Ohio 4,539
10. Georgia 3,975
11. Alabama 3,353
Source: IHS Global Insight and IHS CERA

The report says 3,400 jobs could be created in Alabama, 11th-most among the states, and 5,400 jobs could be created in Mississippi, seventh-most. About 60 percent of jobs would flow to Louisiana and Texas, where the offshore drilling industry is concentrated. However, the authors emphasized that employment benefits would spread nationwide.

Well, geez, things are going so swell right now that we don't even need any more damn jobs!

Cause we've got green jobs for everyone and free Obamacare! We've got peas in every pot and a Chevy Volt in every carport!

Don't we?

TSA Abuses Cancer Survivor For Second Time

And, they apparently knew who they were patting down

Thomas Sawyer, a 62-year-old bladder cancer survivor who made headlines last November after a pat-down left him covered in his own urine, has filed a new complaint with the Transportation Security Administration.

Sawyer, who wears a urostomy bag that collects his urine through an opening in his abdomen, said he was traveling through Detroit Metro Airport on July 14 on his way to Orlando when he was singled out for a pat-down.

“Before I could even get (out) the words, ‘I want this done privately,’ the TSO agent began patting me down in public,” said Sawyer. “I said ‘Whoa! I have a medical condition.’ He said, ‘I know,’ and continued the pat-down.”

TSA policy states that travelers “should be offered a private screening before the beginning of a pat-down inspection if the pat-down will require the lifting of clothing and/or display of a covered medical device.”

Sawyer, of Houghton Lake, Mich., believes the policy was violated and filed a formal complaint with the TSA on July 20, after he returned from his trip.

Hey, Congress, isn’t it high time you reformed the TSA so that situations like this stop happening? We should be able to fly without being subjected to what would be considered assault in the private sector. How many times have people been subjected to these indignities and not have their story told in the news? I’ve mentioned before that I was subjected to these enhanced procedures at LAX in June 2010. Sheesh, they knew where they metal was: the hand wand only went off on my lower right leg, which has a stainless steel rod implanted in the bone. At least the TSA agent looked embarrassed and chagrined to have to do the search.

And let’s not forget all the theft that the TSA has been involved in.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove.

AWOL Campbell pfc. arrested near Hood with bomb

An AWOL soldier from Fort Campbell, Ky., was arrested Wednesday near Fort Hood, Texas, while in possession of a bomb, guns and a "large quantity" of ammunition, officials said, possibly averting another large-scale Read More
attack at the Texas post.

State Department spending millions of U.S. tax dollars to save mosques overseas

As Nice Deb points out, as Barack Hussein Obama threatens to withhold Social Security checks for our own senior citizens and veterans, his State Dept is funding the refurbishing of Mosques in Muslim countries through USAID, while their Islamic extremists laugh their asses off at us:

WSBTV reports:
A Channel 2 Action News investigation found that the State Department is sending millions of dollars to save mosques overseas. This investment has received criticism as the United States makes an effort to slash nearly $4 trillion in government spending.Plenty of outrage following the announcement made Thursday afternoon by a government commission that suggested huge cuts to the budget, including eliminating the interest education for home mortgage. This juxtaposed with United States investing millions to refurbish mosques as a good-will effort in Muslim countries has upset many taxpayer groups.


Meanwhile, officials estimate that rebuilding the World Trade Center site that Muslims from Muslim countries destroyed on 9/11will cost roughly $10 billion from the same taxpayers whose dollars are being sent overseas for mosques to ferment more terrorists.

Go figure. Guess it somehow makes sense to Barry Hussein.

Hamas's Gaza – Four Years Later (Series)

Hamas's Gaza – Four Years Later; Chapter 6: Hamas's Relations with Islamic Jihad and Salafi-Jihadis
By: C. Jacob


Although Islamic Jihad, like Hamas, is a religious organization and has been Hamas's partner in carrying out attacks against Israel, Hamas occasionally finds itself on a collision course with it. Hamas has also clashed with the Salafi-jihadi groups in Gaza. At first it turned a blind eye to their activity, but when it realized they were destabilizing its rule, it did not hesitate to massacre their activists, who accuse it of abandoning the path of jihad and of failing to implement shari'a.

I. Hamas's Relations with Islamic Jihad

The tension between Hamas and Islamic Jihad usually emanates from the latter's refusal to completely halt its operations against Israel. A senior official of Islamic Jihad's military wing, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, condemned the Hamas government's internal security apparatus for its arrest of a group of Islamic Jihad operatives as they prepared for a mission against Israeli special forces; he claimed that the detainees had been treated dishonorably. He added: "There is no tahdiah [calm] between the resistance and Israel, because Israel enters Gaza territory night and day, and harms all elements of life within it."[1]

Some claimed that Islamic Jihad was coordinating with Hamas and honoring the tahdiah with Israel. Islamic Jihad deputy secretary-general Ziad Nakhala denied this, but noted that "[Islamic] Jihad made its own decision not to escalate the situation, so as not to launch a new war, and also in light of the economic crisis in the Strip. The restraint was self-imposed, and has nothing to do with any external factor."[2]

In a Friday sermon, Islamic Jihad official 'Abdallah Shami attacked the Hamas leaders for glorifying the resistance on the satellite channels while persecuting resistance fighters on the ground, and cruelly torturing them: "Hamas, which waved the slogan of reform and change, did nothing to actualize this slogan. Nothing interests it but posts and seats. When the Palestinian Authority called the missiles useless, Hamas raised a stink. Today, Hamas doesn't call the missiles useless, but [actually calls them] traitorous."[3]

On the other hand, Hamas and Islamic Jihad sometimes quarrel over the right to claim responsibility for attacks on Israeli forces – which is another factor in the tension between them. For example, in late March 2010, two IDF soldiers were killed in a clash with Gazan resistance forces. Hamas took responsibility for the attack, but later on an argument broke out between Hamas and Islamic Jihad over who had participated in the operation, with spokesmen from each side claiming responsibility for it. The argument developed into a brawl when Islamic Jihad operatives distributed sweets to celebrate the attack, which Hamas took as a provocation. Later, operatives from both organizations fired into the air in celebration of the operation's success.[4]

A further focus of tension between the two movements is the mosques in Gaza. wrote that following the Hamas takeover of Gaza mosques, some Islamic factions, including Islamic Jihad, had to establish alternative mosques. An Islamic Jihad leader, Sheikh Khader Habib, said: "We were forced to establish mosques and run them ourselves, though we do not keep any Muslim out, because some parties [a reference to Hamas] have monopolized the mosques, keeping us out of them and preventing us from continuing our Islamic preaching activity... The mosques that we built with our own hands were attacked by Hamas... which keeps everyone who disagrees with it from operating out of [these mosques]."[5] In August 2010, relations between the two organizations deteriorated even further, following clashes between their members that devolved into exchanges of fire.[6]

Only after the signing of the reconciliation agreement in May 2011 was there improvement in Hamas-Islamic Jihad relations, and it was reported that Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shalah helped resolve the disagreement between 'Abbas and Mash'al over matters of protocol at the reconciliation ceremony – including where each of the two leaders would sit and how lengthy their respective speeches would be.

II. Hamas's Relations with the Salafi-Jihadis

On the Salafi-Jihadi Groups

A large number of Salafi-jihadi groups are active in Gaza, some fairly large and well-known, others small and less known. Most of the groups bear names of religious significance. Some of them maintain an active presence online, while others can only rarely be found online; it is possible that some of the latter do not actually exist.

The following is a list of the groups, with some details about each:

The Main Groups

Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad

This organization was the first Gazan group to be officially recognized by 'Issam Barqawi, known as Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, regarded as the most prominent ideologue of the Salafi-jihadi movement and currently imprisoned in Jordan. The group is headed by Hisham Al-Sa'idani, also known as Abu Al-Walid Al-Maqdisi, who is a member of the shari'a council of the leading Salafi website Minbar Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad.[7] In March 2011, he was arrested by Hamas after being wanted by the movement for several years. [8]

The organization's first communiqué was issued in August 2009, following the severe clash between Hamas and the Salafi group Jund Ansar Allah at the Ibn Taymiyya mosque in Rafah. Hamas regards Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad as one of the most dangerous Salafi groups, and in October 2010, it arrested many of its members, including its No. 2 man, Sheikh Fares Jodeh. The detainees revealed that the group had warehouses full of ammunition and missiles.[9] In April 2011, the arrest of its leader prompted the group to kidnap and murder Italian human rights activist Vittorio Arrigoni (see details below).

Jund Ansar Allah

This group emerged in 2007. One of its activists, Mahmoud 'Abd Al-Ghani, was killed in 2008 in an Israeli strike, several days before the end of the tahdiah was announced.[10] The group made headlines in 2009 when it attempted an attack on Israeli forces using horses laden with explosives.[11] Its members accused Hamas of being responsible for the operation's failure. In August 2009, the group's leader, 'Abd Al-Latif Moussa, also known as Nour Al-Maqdisi, announced the establishment of an Islamic emirate in Gaza, thereby triggering the worst clash to date between Hamas and the Salafis: Hamas stormed the group's Ibn Taymiyya mosque in Rafah, killing dozens of the group's members, including Nour Al-Maqdisi himself and another senior operative, Khaled Banat, aka Abu 'Abdallah Al-Muhajir Al-Souri.[12]

Jaysh Al-Ummah

The organization first emerged in 2008, when its spokesman announced that its goal was to assassinate then-U.S. president George Bush; according to its members, it was founded several years previously. Its leader is Isma'il Hmeid, also known as Abu Hafs Al-Masri, and its spokesman is 'Abdallah Al-Ghazi. The former has been arrested by Hamas several times for holding training activities in the presence of Reuters photographers, for accusing Hamas of not implementing shari'a, and for smuggling an individual into the strip via the tunnels.[13]

The group emerged in 2006 when it announced its involvement in the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Its leader is Mumtaz Dughmush, also known as Abu Muhammad Al-Ansari, and another senior member is Abu 'Omar Al-Ansari. The group is also known for the 2007 kidnapping of British journalist Alan Johnston.[14] Dughmush, who was mentioned as a possible suspect in the assassination of PA General Moussa Arafat, was formerly a member of the Popular Resistance Committees, but left this organization as part of internal conflicts among its activists. Before joining the Committees, he was a member of the PA security apparatus in Gaza.[15]

In 2008, 11 members of Jaysh Al-Islam were killed, including Dughmush's brother, in intense clashes that broke out between this organization and Hamas, due to excessive independence on the part of Jaysh Al-Islam and its opposition to the arrest of a member of the Dughmush clan.[16]

In November 2010, four members of the organization, including Dughmush's aide, Muhammad Namnam, were killed by Israel for carrying out operations against Israelis in recent years and for planning attacks on Israelis in Sinai.[17]

The group's activities have apparently spread to Egypt. In January 2011, former Egyptian interior minister Habib Al-'Adli said that there was solid evidence that Jaysh Al-Islam had been behind the January 1, 2011 bombing of the Coptic church in Alexandria. The group responded by praising the bombing but denying any involvement in it.[18]

The Jaljalat

The Jaljalat groups were mostly founded by former members of Hamas's military wing, the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades. The word jaljalat means "thundered" or "roared" in Arabic. Some think it is a reference to an Islamic poem by this name that urges the Muslims to wage jihad. A prominent member is Mahmoud Taleb, also known as Abu Mu'tasam Al-Maqdisi, formerly of the Al-Qassam special units, who was arrested by Hamas but escaped.[19] According to Islam researcher Adnan Abu 'Amer, "'Jaljalat' is a collective name in Gaza for groups of young religious people who declare that they belong to Salafi-jihadism, [sometimes under the name] Salafi-jihadism, sometimes Ansar Al-Sunna, and sometimes Ansar Jund Allah."[20] Mahmoud Taleb, on the other hand, said: "There is no such thing as Jaljalat. Some people called us by that name when we first became active, after they saw our communiqué on the martyred ['Izz Al-Qassam fighter] Hamdi Shubeir, which began with the poem 'Jaljalat' that calls for jihad and mobilization... Our comrades in the [group's] leadership have not yet chosen any special name for us. They are waiting for [us to carry out] a large-scale operation, [after which we will] swear loyalty to Sheikh Osama bin Laden and the [other prominent] sheikhs abroad, and only then will our name be announced."[21]

Ansar Al-Sunna

One of Ansar Al-Sunna's prominent members is Abu Hamza Al-Maqdisi, who accused Hamas of sabotaging the Salafis' attempt to unify their ranks. The group has taken responsibility for rifle attacks on Israeli forces and for small arms attacks against Israeli settlements, including an attack on a kibbutz near the Gaza border in which a foreign worker was killed.[22] One of the group's members, Jihad Hajila, was killed while attempting to bomb an Internet café in Gaza.[23]

Jama'at Suyouf Al-Haqq Al-Islamiyya

This group, headed by Abu Sahib Al-Maqdisi, emerged in 2006. Many believe it is connected to Jaysh Al-Islam.[24] It has staged many attacks on what it regards as symbols of permissiveness and licentiousness in Gaza, such as Internet cafés, stores selling music tapes, and women who flout the Islamic modesty code. The group threatened to behead women anchors on Palestinian TV who appeared on camera without a hijab, and also threatened the management of the Dunya Al-Watan website for "supporting the collaborators, sons of infidel secularists."[25]

Other Groups

There are additional groups that appear on the Internet, but only sporadically. There may be different names for the same group:

Kataib Suyouf Al-Haqq

Appeared after the Hamas attack on the Ibn Taymiyya mosque in 2009, and threatened to attack Hamas in retaliation.[26]

Suyouf Al-Haqq fi Ard Al-Ribat

In January 2007, this group claimed responsibility for bombing the offices of Al-Arabiya TV in Gaza, but later retracted the claim. In May 2007 it announced its intention to "purge" Gaza of Internet cafés, stores selling music tapes, and promiscuous women.[27]

Suyouf Al-Islam

In 2006, this group threatened to bomb Gaza churches in retaliation for the publication in Denmark of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. At a later date, it issued a communiqué condemning immodest women and calling on all Palestinian women to observe the Islamic dress code. The organization also claimed responsibility for attacking a young Gaza woman with acid, and for bombing an Internet café, a pool hall, a pharmacy and a store selling mobile phones.[28]

Jaysh Al-Muminin – Al-Qaeda in Palestine

Claimed responsibility for a 2007 attack on an American school in Gaza.

Qaedat Al-Jihad fi Filastin

Claimed responsibility for an attack on the Israeli settlement of Neve Dekalim. It also claimed responsibility for a May 2006 assassination attempt against Palestinian General Intelligence Chief Tarek Abu Rajab.

Qaedat Al-Jihad Ard Al-Ribat

In January 2011, this group warned Hamas not to execute one of its members who had been sentenced to death for the murder of a Christian. The group also threatened to harm other Christians in Gaza.

Alwiyat Al-Jihad Al-Muqaddas

Claimed responsibility for the August 2006 kidnapping of two Fox News reporters, who were later released.

Fath Al-Islam

In 2007, 'Abbas's advisor Ahmad 'Abd Al-Rahman said that this Lebanese organization was present in Gaza, and accused Hamas of letting its members infiltrate the Strip.[29]

The Rise of the Salafi-Jihadis in Gaza

The 9/11 attacks in the U.S. and subsequent terror attacks in European capitals, and the advent of global jihad, created an opportune breeding ground for the emergence of extremist religious organizations in Gaza as well. The chaos that prevailed in Gaza in the last decade, which reached its height prior to the Hamas coup in Gaza in June 2007, allowed extremist Salafi elements – the most prominent of which was Jaysh Al-Islam – to begin operating openly. [30]

Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, and Hamas's entry into the political arena, in the 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council elections, were a catalyst for the activity of the Salafi groups. A commander of the Jund Ansar Allah organization, Sheikh Abu Hareth, said that "Hamas's participation in the elections and its entrance into a parliament of unbelievers was the spark that ignited the flame of the Salafi-jihadi idea, which began to emerge gradually and spread among many of the youth."[31]

Hamas's electoral win and its rise to power encouraged the Salafis to try to force an Islamic lifestyle on the people of Gaza, assuming that Hamas would not interfere, and might even cooperate. They began to carry out attacks on Gaza targets that they perceived to be symbols of the West, of permissiveness and of harming morality and modesty.

When Hamas arrived at an unofficial tahdiah with Israel following the Gaza war, and began to act to prevent the firing of rockets and mortars at Israel, the Salafi groups began increasingly to fill the vacuum in the armed struggle that Hamas had left, and to try to carry out attacks against Israel.

The Characteristics and Activities of the Salafi Groups

The Salafi groups are not a monolithic bloc. Most of their activists are Palestinian, but some are from other countries. Some groups are notable for their clan-based composition. For example, the Dughmush family is prominent in Jaysh Al-Islam. Other groups are dominated by former Hamas members (especially former members of Hamas's military wing, the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades), or by former members of other organizations.

One non-Palestinian activist is Abu 'Abdallah Al-Muhajir Al-Souri, a Syrian sabotage and explosives expert who came to Gaza in 2007 to train activists from Hamas's Al-Qassam Brigades. Disagreements with the Hamas leadership, primarily over the issue of the tahdiah, prompted him, and other Al-Qassam members, to leave this organization and to join the Salafi-jihadis.[32]

PA Religious Affairs Minister Mahmoud Al-Habbash stated that the PA had ample information about non-Palestinian elements entering the Gaza Strip.[33]

Abu Hareth, a commander of Jund Ansar Allah, stated that "most Jaljalat members come from the Islamic organizations: Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al-Ansar Brigades [the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees]. Seventy percent of them were previously [members of] the Al-Qassam Brigades and Hamas." He said that they were well trained and had excellent fighting skills, and that only a few of them had come from the secular movements.

According to Abu Hareth, "joining these groups is not easy, and their operatives undergo several types of training, both da'wa and military. They focus on aspects of da'wa and religion, because they are [already] well-trained militarily."[34]

With regard to the number of Salafi groups' activists and supporters, they can be estimated at several thousand. Abu Hareth said: "Eleven thousand members operate under the flag of the Salafi-jihadi groups."[35] Jaysh Al-Islam commander Abu Al-Baraa likewise said, in an interview with Al-Masri Al-Yawm, that the four groups which endorse Al-Qaeda's ideology (Jaysh Al-Islam, Jund Allah, Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad and Ansar Al-Sunna) have 11,000 members altogether.[36] Mahmoud Taleb stated that the number of members in his organization was about 7,000."[37]

The jihadi groups are not operating within a single framework. Jaljalat member Mahmoud Taleb stated: "We have connections with parties, movements, and small Islamic groups, and there has been an effort to unite them into a single group, particularly since Salafi-jihadi ideologue Sheikh Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi called on the groups in Palestine and in Gaza to unite."[38] Abu Hamza Al-Maqdisi, of Ansar Al-Sunna, stated: "There have been attempts to unite the groups under the organization Jund Ansar Allah fi Aknaf Beit Al-Maqdis. In practice, this unification was not carried out; on the contrary, members of the Dughmush clan turned over Jund Ansar Allah members who were fleeing Hamas [persecution]."[39]

The Salafi-jihadis' activity focuses on both da'wa – propagating Islamic ideas in the mosques and in centers for recruiting supporters – and on violent operations, in order to impose their beliefs and worldview. Some of the groups took responsibility for attacks on targets that they claimed corrupt youth – such as Internet cafés, beauty shops and shops selling videos – as well as on Christian targets. Other activity by these groups includes attempts at operations against Israeli targets: firing missiles and kidnapping soldiers. The independent Palestinian news agency Maan stated that the first bombing of an Internet café, in 2006, was carried out by the group Suyouf Al-Haqq Al-Islamiyya. Political science lecturer Naji Shurab wrote, "The Salafis want to impose increasingly extremist norms on society, to the point where it approaches the Taliban model."[40]

Salafi Ideology Vs Hamas Ideology; Salafi Ties with Al-Qaeda

The Salafi-jihadis are part of the global jihad movement, and espouse Al-Qaeda's ideology.

One common denominator of the Salafis and Hamas is that both advocate armed resistance in order to liberate Palestine; however, Hamas does not reject the possibility of a tahdiah, which it regards as a chance for resting and regrouping, whereas the Salafi-jihadis, like Al-Qaeda, advocate unrelenting jihad.

Hamas and the Salafis also differ in their views on political activity. The Salafis are against engaging in politics (i.e. forming parties, participating in elections, and entering the parliament and government), whereas Hamas sees politics as a legitimate means to achieve its goals, and in fact rose to power through elections.

While both sides aim to establish a society based on Islamic principles, Hamas aims to achieve this goal gradually, while avoiding coercion that would alienate the public. The Salafi-jihadis, on the other hand, openly declare their goal of imposing shari'a law, immediately and fully.

Another difference is that Hamas's aspirations focus on Palestine, rather than on global jihad to spread Islam across the world. Like its mother organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas sees the restoration of the global Islamic Caliphate as a vision that will be realized at some unspecified time in the distant future, not as a realistic aspiration that will materialize in the foreseeable future. In contrast, the Salafi-jihadis view the goals of restoring the Caliphate and of subjecting the world to Islamic rule as the most urgent priority, to be achieved through military means. In fact, it holds that all military means – including WMDs – should be employed in order to topple the Arab regimes and to revive the historic Islamic Caliphate, which will then serve as a springboard for a military campaign to bring the entire world under Islamic rule.

The Salafi-jihadi groups do not reject harming Westerners, and some openly declare them to be legitimate targets. Hamas, on the other hand, avoids harming foreigners and Western representatives.

As for takfir (accusing other Muslims of heresy), the Salafis regard any Muslim who does not follow what they see as the right path as an apostate, and therefore as a legitimate target; Hamas, like the Muslim Brotherhood, is against harming Muslims, since it believes that only Allah can judge the quality of Muslims' faith. However, Hamas members have been criticized for accusing Fatah members of heresy.

Though the Salafi-jihadis espouse Al-Qaeda's ideology, most of their spokesmen have denied any actual ties to this organization. Jaysh Al-Islam commander Abu Al-Baraa claimed that there were no organizational ties between Al-Qaeda and the Salafi groups, only ideological ties.[41] Abu Hamza Al-Maqdisi, from Ansar Al-Sunna, said: "To this day, we have not sworn loyalty to any figure outside of Palestine, Islamic or otherwise... We currently have no connection to Al-Qaeda, but we may in the future."[42] In contrast, as mentioned above, Mahmoud Taleb said in 2009 that there was an intention to swear loyalty to Osama bin Laden.[43] Abu Hareth stated, "The jihadi groups have no real connection to Al-Qaeda, but their members have been influenced by the global organization's ideology, and by the jihad operations it carried out – most importantly, the Twin Towers [attack]." He considered Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman Al-Zawahiri "scholars of the ummah," but did not deny that "some groups also have local sheikhs and scholars, whose advice and guidelines they heed, in addition to sheikhs abroad such as Abu Mahmoud Al-Maqdisi. Likewise, they rely on fatwas by [prominent 14th-century scholar] Ibn Taymiyya and his disciple Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya, as well as of other, contemporary, scholars."[44]

Abu 'Abdallah Al-Ghazi, a spokesman for Jaysh Al-Ummah in Gaza, denied that his group had any organizational connection with Al-Qaeda, except for "minimal communications on a very few matters... Jaysh Al-Ummah aspires to establish an Islamic state, to arouse the [Islamic] ummah, to liberate Jerusalem and to adhere to the Sunna of the Prophet and to the guidelines of the imams and scholars, such as Ibn Taymiyya [and his disciple] Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya. [Abu Mus'ab] Al-Zarqawi's book The Second Generation of Al-Qaeda represents the vision of Jaysh Al-Ummah."[45] Outlining the group's main beliefs, Abu Hafs said that, even if Palestine is liberated, jihad will continue until secular democracy is replaced by shari'a rule, and that the Palestinian fighters form the spearhead of the battle for liberating the entire Muslim nation.[46]

On the Salafis' attitude towards the Jews and Israel, a Jaysh Al-Islam commander, Abu 'Omar Al-Ansari, said: "Anyone who signs a hudna [temporary ceasefire] with the Jews prior to the liberation of the [Muslim] holy places, the end of the occupation and the release of the prisoners – is a protector of the Jews and an ally of the Jews and the Christians... He is a traitor, hostile to the Muslims, and is acting to spread filth and licentiousness, unbelief, and the imbibing of alcohol."[47]

Abu Hareth stated: "The attitude of the Salafi-jihadi groups to foreigners in Gaza is not uniform. Some ban harming them, and even help them, as long as they do not harm the Muslims; others, such as Jaysh Al-Islam and Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad, think that "the foreigners must be fought no matter what they are called, because they are the enemies of the faith and are working against the interests of the ummah. This explains the attempt by one group to attack the motorcade of former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and of former British prime minister Tony Blair when they visited Gaza."[48]

Hamas's Attitude Towards the Salafis

Hamas Shifts From Ignoring the Salafis to Actively Fighting Them

Initially, Hamas ignored the emergence of Salafi groups. Perhaps it was pleased to let others achieve its goals both on the religious level (the Islamization of Gaza) and on the political/military level (the continued resistance activity against Israel). Moreover, at first it did not feel threatened by the Salafis, and even denied their existence. When PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas claimed that Al-Qaeda elements had infiltrated the Gaza Strip,[49] Hamas firmly denied this. In response to a report in the Israeli media on this issue, Hamas's prime minister in Gaza, Isma'il Haniya, stated, "There are no extremist organizations or groups on Gaza soil."[50]

Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan 'Abdallah Shalah, who resides in Damascus, warned against Salafis infiltrating the PA territories: "We have no problem with Salafism, as long as it adheres to the path of the correct Salafism. The problem is with the takfiri Salafis [i.e. those who accuse other Muslims of apostasy], and with the groups that seek to shift the battle into the heart of the ummah."[51]

As soon as it became evident that the Salafi groups were not cooperating with or obeying Hamas, and were carrying out operations that damaged Hamas's image worldwide, the latter did not hesitate to use violence against them. When Jaysh Al-Islam kidnapped British journalist Alan Johnston, Hamas forced it to release him.[52] Later, in September 2008, Hamas arrested Jaysh Al-Ummah leader Abu Hafs, demonstrating that it would not let any group, even an Islamic one, undermine the stability of its rule. Following an attempt by Jund Ansar Allah's in June 2009 to perpetrate a large-scale attack against Israel using horses laden with explosives, as mentioned above – at a time when Hamas was striving towards a tahdiah after the Gaza war – Hamas began arresting the group's members.

The Violent Clash at the Ibn Taymiyya Mosque in Rafah

The change finally came when, on August 14, 2009, Jund Ansar Allah leader 'Abd Al-Latif Moussa proclaimed the establishment of an Islamic emirate. The announcement – made at the Ibn Taymiyya mosque in Rafah in the presence of armed guards in explosive vests (see image above) – came several days after Salafis announced their intent to declare the emirate, and after the collapse of attempts to mediate a reconciliation between Jund Ansar Allah and Hamas. One mediator, Al-Qassam Brigades activist Muhammad Shimali, was shot by the Salafis, leading Hamas to retaliate against Jund Ansar Allah members by staging the massacre at the Ibn Taymiyya mosque and damaging the mosque and Jund Ansar Allah leader Moussa's home. Twenty-nine people, most from the Salafi organization, including Moussa himself, were killed, along with several Hamas members.[53]

(Source: Al-Quds, Jerusalem, August 15, 2009)

Columnists on a Hamas-affiliated website tried to justify the movement's actions. Ibrahim Al-Madhoun wrote: "What the Palestinians have been paying every day in blood and [loss of] lives cannot compare to the scope of the death and destruction [that await them in the future] if the chaos continues. The killing will affect everyone; the tribes will squabble; the death squads will grow and the attacks on celebrations and coffee shops will proliferate."[54] Another columnist, Muhammad Al-Rifi, defended Hamas, stating that the massacre at the Ibn Taymiyya mosque had actually been instigated by Jund Ansar Allah founder Khaled Banat, the explosives expert also known as Abu 'Abdallah Al-Muhajir Al-Souri: "Khaled Banat, whom Hamas brought from Syria to Gaza to train its members, took advantage of the opportunity to spread his distorted [Salafi] ideology among the Al-Qassam Brigades, to establish the Jund Ansar Allah group, to train armed units in the Gaza Strip and to equip them with weapons stores and hundreds of explosive belts... When he saw that conditions were ripe to spark civil war, he planned the regrettable Rafah events [i.e. the events leading to the massacre at the Ibn Taymiyya mosque]."[55]

Salafi Criticism of Hamas's Heavy-Handedness

Hamas was harshly criticized by many elements (the PA, the Salafis and editors of London Arabic dailies) for its handling of the crisis with the Salafis, for the bloodshed, and for damaging a holy site, that is, the Ibn Taymiyya mosque.

A report by human rights organizations on the Rafah events showed that the Hamas forces had perpetrated human rights abuses and murdered some of the wounded who were being taken away in ambulances. According to the report, Hamas arrested hundreds of members and supporters of Jund Ansar Allah, whose subsequent conditions of detention and state of health remained unknown. It was also reported that Hamas had fired on people indiscriminately, including with RPGs.[56]

'Abd Al-Bari 'Atwan, the editor of the London daily Al-Quds Al-'Arabi, stated: "Hamas may have succeeded in dealing a heavy blow to the Jund Ansar Allah organization and in killing its leader, 'Abd Al-Latif Moussa, after storming [Moussa's] southern Rafah mosque. But the price for this success was very dear, in terms of [Hamas's] image in the eyes of certain Islamic circles, in the Palestinian territories and outside them... Hamas has brainwashed thousands of Palestinian residents of Gaza and the West Bank with the culture of martyrdom and the commandments of the Koran concerning it. It has established a gigantic army of martyrs, who vie with each other to be first in line to blow themselves up with explosive vests among Israelis... [Therefore,] it is natural that some of them are frustrated by the current hudna [temporary ceasefire] and seek out other jihad groups... to fulfill their wish for martyrdom."[57]

In response to a claim by Hamas that the PA was behind the Rafah events, PA Religious Affairs Minister Mahmoud Al-Habbash said: "These statements are ridiculous, idiotic... Everyone in Gaza knows that the extremism was sown by Hamas's coup – when it bore arms and killed Palestinian [civilians], security service personnel and opposition members. Hamas killed dozens of people in cold blood in the Al-Shaja'iyya, Al-Zeitoun, and Sabra neighborhoods of Rafah."[58]

The PLO also responded to the Rafah events: "Hamas is repeating the Somali and Afghan experiment in Gaza, enabling mosques to become political centers for spreading propaganda, extremism, enmity and incitement against anyone who thinks differently than it – including calls for murder. The PLO Executive Committee condemns the murder and destruction by Hamas and by undesirable gangs of foreigners... that Hamas established and [brought into Gaza, by] opening the gates and tunnels so that they could infiltrate the Strip."[59]

Journalist Mustafa Ibrahim wrote: "The people in the Gaza Strip are still in shock, wondering why the dispute [between Hamas and Jund Ansar Allah] was resolved in this manner. [They wonder] why Hamas kept silent for all this time [instead of] trying to negotiate with that group, and kept saying that groups of this kind were under control – which ultimately turned out to be untrue. Hamas is responsible, because in the past, it arrested several [members of these groups] for carrying out bombings, but released them without pressing charges. [Furthermore,] to date, Hamas has not decided whether it is an Islamic government and whether it will implement shari'a [or not]."[60]

Hamas Unsuccessful at Hiding Its Fear of the Salafi Threat

Several months after the Rafah events, Hamas tried to give the impression of business as usual. Interior Minister Fathi Hammad delivered a reassuring message: "We do not in any way feel threatened by the Salafi stream... There are no fears about the Salafi-jihadis in Gaza. Hamas security elements have eliminated all chaotic phenomena, and are in control of the situation."[61]

However, Hamas's concern over the Salafi problem had not abated. It sent Egypt a message via senior Hamas official in Gaza Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, saying that "Hamas fears the spread of groups that adopt the ideology of Al-Qaeda in the Gaza strip, and is keeping track of their movements."[62] At the same time, Hamas established a committee of mental health professionals to examine the extent of the Jaljalat influence on its members. Also, Hamas's investigations director for northern Gaza, Mustafa Al-Rozina, was arrested, as were others who Hamas claimed "planned to expand Jaljalat recruitment among the Hamas militias."[63]

Hamas's fear of the Salafis was revealed in a document sent by Hamas members in Gaza to Hamas political bureau head Khaled Mash'al in Damascus, demanding that "Salafi-jihadism be uprooted from Gaza, because the activity to contain them via reconciliation has failed." The document continued, "Because of the danger they pose, an extensive plan must be instituted that will lead to their elimination, even at a high cost in blood. Restraint will lead to much greater [bloodshed]."[64]

The Salafis' Stand on Hamas

The Salafi groups complained about Hamas's persecution and torture of their members in Gaza, but their spokesmen clarified that they would not break, but would continue on their path. Some of the groups used threatening language, promising to avenge their members' death.

The Jaysh Al-Ummah group criticized Hamas: "Hamas is not an Islamic movement, because it has linked arms with the Zoroastrians [a reference to Hamas's connections to Iran], in order to wage all-out war against those who are fighting in the name of Allah. It should change its name from 'the Islamic Resistance Movement' to 'the Movement of Resistance to Islam'... We will not remain silent in the face of these deeds. We will not [agree to] a ceasefire with the unbelievers who murder innocent Muslims."[65]

An announcement released by the group stated: "We warn the unbeliever Hamas leadership and the apparatuses of darkness against continuing to persecute our members. On the assumption that the murderer [always] returns to the scene of the crime, we warn them, particularly [Prime Minister] Isma'il Haniya, to stay away from the Ibn Taymiyya mosque."[66]

Members of the Kataib Al-Tawhid group also used threatening language: "We will not stop targeting prominent Hamas figures who have deviated from the righteous path and have taken crooked paths."[67]

Abu Hamza Al-Maqdisi, of Ansar Al-Sunnah, stated that Hamas's accusation that the Salafis were collaborating with the PA was groundless: "These accusations... are aimed at [inciting] public opinion [against the Salafis] via the Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood media, and at sullying the image and the good name of the fighters who are not neglecting [the duty] of striking at the occupation everywhere, while Hamas is seeking a tahdiah [ceasefire]... How is it possible to support governments that maintain friendly relations with the Jews and Christians and welcome them on Palestinian soil?"[68]

Mahmoud Taleb, of Ansar Al-Sunna, accused Hamas of arresting Salafis and seizing their weapons when they returned from jihad missions.[69]

Jund Ansar Allah commander Abu Hareth clarified that the Salafi groups had taken harsh blows: "The Hamas security apparatuses are taking intensive action against the [Salafi] groups, persecuting them and arresting them for fear that they will spread the Salafi idea among the youth – particularly the [young people] of Hamas. The Salafi idea exists and continues, despite the persecution."[70]

Referring to an incident in which Ansar Al-Sunna planted a bomb near the home of Hamas official Marwan Abu Ras, Mahmoud Taleb wrote: "The incident occurred at a time of serious conflicts between us and the [Hamas] internal security apparatus... We wanted to convey a message that they should stop accusing us of collaborating [with the Israeli Mossad]... We weren't trying to assassinate [Abu Ras], as was first claimed..."[71]

The Salafis Renew Their Activities

Indeed, after a short hiatus, during which the Salafis disappeared from view, they again resumed operations. On February 9, 2010, Hamas security apparatuses apprehended Ansar Al-Sunna member Mahmoud Taleb on suspicion of being behind several bombings in Gaza, in coffee shops and public places.[72]

In March 2010, it was reported that fundamentalists had set off three bombs in the Shati refugee camp, near the guarded home of Prime Minister Isma'il Haniya. Sources said that the bombs were aimed at sending a message to Haniya so that he would order a halt to the arrests of Salafis.[73] Gaza Interior Minister Ihab Al-Ghasin downplayed the importance of the incidents, saying, "The bombs were primitive, and security forces arrested the individual who made them; he is not connected to any group."[74]

In May 2010, dozens of anonymous masked individuals set fire to an UNRWA summer camp, leaving behind a letter protesting against the mixed-gender activity there. It is not certain that Salafis were behind the arson, but it may have been their doing, as was an attempt to break up a party at an UNRWA school.[75]

(Source: Al-Quds, Jerusalem, May 24, 2010)

Salafi leader Abu Al-Bara Al-Masri said that Hamas had arrested activists from his organization for firing rockets at Israeli settlements, tortured them brutally, and warned that if the organization continued to fire rockets and harm the occupation, the detainees would not be released and would also be fined NIS 8,000.[76]

Concurrently with their activity inside Gaza, members of the Salafi groups fired rockets into Israel. In January 2011, a member of the Shumoukh Al-Islam jihadi forum reported that according to an internal document of the Hamas government in Gaza's security forces, Hamas had established a special 400-man force aimed at preventing the firing of rockets at Israel. He said that the force had received orders to search homes suspected of storing rockets for Salafi organizations, and to act with determination against anyone who endangered the calm with Israel.[77]

The Murder of Italian Activist Vittorio Arrigoni

One of the most serious incidents involving the Salafis was the abduction and murder of Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni in April 2011. Following his abduction, a Salafi group calling itself "The
Sahabi Al-Humam Muhammad bin Muslima Brigades" admitted it was holding him, and threatened to kill him unless Hamas released all the Salafi-jihadi prisoners within 30 hours, starting with Hisham Sa'idani (aka Abu Al-Walid Al-Maqdisi, head of the Salafi organization Jama'at Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad). Apparently, Hamas's capture of some of the abductors caused the group to execute Arrigoni even before the ultimatum expired. The murder sparked intense criticism in Palestinian society, on both moral and practical grounds, because Arrigoni had been a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause and a critic of Israel, and his murder did grave damage to the Palestinian image worldwide.

Salafi groups, including Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad, hastened to distance themselves from the murder. Jaysh Al-Islam member Abu Al-Baraa claimed that members of Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad had carried out the operation without the knowledge of their superiors.[78] Prominent Salafi-jihadi leader Abu Hamza Al-Muhajir offered a similar opinion, saying that the murderers were individuals close to Sheikh Abu Al-Walid Al-Maqdisi, but were not operating on behalf of any group: "This operation was carried out by individuals, and no group is responsible for it."[79]

Hamas carried out sweeping arrests among the Salafi-jihadi groups, and detained two of those who were involved in the abduction, hinting that they had collaborated with Israel. A website affiliated with Hamas reported, citing security sources, that "the instructions for the murder had reached one of the suspects via the Internet."[80]

Hamas also reported that three additional individuals were wanted for interrogation in this case, one of them a Jordanian national. Hamas shut down the tunnels to prevent the Jordanian from escaping, and, three days later, it surrounded the house where the three were staying. Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad leader Abu Al-Walid Al-Maqdisi, as well as the suspects' family members, were brought over to try to persuade the three – 'Abd Al-Rahman Barizat,[81] Bilal Al-'Umri, and Muhammad Al-Sulfiti – to surrender, but without success. According to Hamas, Barizat threw a hand grenade at his two comrades, killing Al-'Umri and wounding Sulfiti, and then shot himself.[82] According to the PA news agency WAFA, and according to eyewitness reports, Barizat and Al-'Umri were killed by the Hamas forces that surrounded the building.[83] Barizat's father accused Hamas of killing his son, saying that as a devout Muslim, 'Abd Al-Rahman would never commit suicide.[84]

a) PA Officials Blame Israel, Hamas, Salafi-Jihadis

Some PA spokesmen blamed Israel for the murder. Former PA ambassador to Yemen Yahya Rabbah, who writes for Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, also pointed an accusing finger at Israel, saying that since the Palestinians had no reason to kill Arrigoni, the murderer must be someone else, who is "an enemy of the Palestinian national enterprise."[85]

Another Al-Hayat Al-Jadida columnist, 'Adel 'Abd Al-Rahman, suggested that Israel had Arrigoni killed in order to tarnish the Palestinians' image in the world and thus sabotage their efforts to gain international recognition for an independent state. The murder, he said, "was perpetrated by a hired agent serving the occupation state and the Israeli aggression." [86]

Other PA officials and columnists focused their blame on the Salafi-jihadi groups, but also blamed Hamas for allowing them to thrive in Gaza. Former PA minister Ziyad Abu Ziyad said, before the identity of the killers became known, that the murder was either the work of extremist Islamic groups striving to establish an Islamic emirate in Gaza, or else the work of Israel. Referring to the latter possibility, he said: "The murders of Juliano Mer[87] and Arrigoni are part of a conspiracy to tarnish the image of our fighting people and to depict [us] as violating the code of human, civilized and moral behavior, or as people who do not have the minimal ability to be part of human society. That is the essence of the Zionist propaganda against us."[88]

In another article, published one week later, after the identity of the murderers became known, Ziyad Abu Ziyad accused Hamas of letting the Salafis into Gaza and then denying their presence there: "We know that in Zarqa, [Jordan], there are centers of extremist Salafis, which produced [former commander of Al-Qaeda in Iraq] Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi and many others [like him]. Recently, we saw members of these [Salafi] groups attacking Jordanian police officers with cold weapons, and the portraits of some of them appeared on the front pages of our local newspapers. Did Gaza have to import these groups from Zarqa and elsewhere?... Will Gaza become [another] Afghanistan, welcoming jihadis from the four corners of the earth?... Hamas has frequently denied any presence of Al-Qaeda in Gaza, and has reacted with force to [some] Salafi actions, as in the case of the Rafah mosque or the despicable murder of Arrigoni. But Hamas's denials cannot change the fact that Gaza is absorbing these Salafi extremists. There is no need to wage bloody battles against them, but only to close off the route through which they enter Gaza without difficulty."[89]

PA Information Ministry official Hani Al-Masri wrote: "Whether [the murders] were Palestinian acts that served the Palestinians' enemies, or were part of an [Israeli] conspiracy, they are black marks on the record of the Palestinian struggle and cause. They were not legitimate acts, even if their planners and perpetrators cloak themselves in a religious, national or ideological guise in order to justify their cold-blooded murder aimed at achieving political goals... If someone murders in the name of religion, it is not religion that is to blame. Islam is innocent of any crime perpetrated against someone [like Arrigoni], who trusted the Palestinians and was their guest... Those who planted the ideas of extremism, takfir, exclusion and accusations of treason, and mixed religion, politics and state [i.e. Hamas], are partly responsible for what happened."[90]

Dr. Ibrahim Abrash rejected the claim that Israel alone was to blame for the murders, saying: "It is not enough to point an accusing finger at Israel as the party that benefits from Vittorio's assassination, because Gaza has become an environment of extremism and religious isolationism that allows [Salafi-jihadi] groups to murder in the name of religion and to issue fatwas forbidding or permitting whatever they wish."[91]

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida columnist Muwaffaq Matar wrote that the murderers of Arrigoni had violated Palestinian laws, values and norms. He held Hamas partly responsible: "We must not forget that it is Hamas's takeover of Gaza that created the necessary climate for the [development] of this hothouse of terrorism... We must not discount the possibility that [Hamas] is responsible for terrorist cells that infiltrated [Gaza] through the tunnels or popped up like mushrooms in Gaza's jungle of armed [militias]."[92]

Former PA minister for prisoners' affairs Ashraf 'Ajrami said that Hamas's attempt to shrug off responsibility and blame the murder on the Salafis alone was an insult to the public's intelligence, because Hamas sponsored the violent Gazan groups, and some even carried out crimes on Hamas's behalf. He said: "A large number of culture centers, coffee shops, places of entertainment, civil organizations and NGOs have been attacked by Hamas, directly or by means of subcontractors working on its behalf."[93]

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida columnist Dr. Osama Al-Fara wrote: "The religious extremism has never targeted the enemy; rather, its arrows have harmed the spirit and tolerance of Islam. The actions of its proponents are largely responsible for the fact that the West labels as a terrorist anyone who embraces Islam as a faith and a way of life."[94]

b) Hamas: The Salafi-Jihadis Must Be Dealt With; Israel Is to Blame for the Murder

Hamas spokesmen likewise blamed the Salafi-jihadis, describing their actions as "terrorism" and calling for them to be dealt with. A union of Hamas sheikhs and religious scholars in Gaza issued a fatwa forbidding to murder members of other faiths, and called upon Hamas to "strike with an iron fist anyone who disregards [the sanctity of] human life in such a despicable and barbaric fashion."[95]

At the same time, Hamas spokesmen claimed that Israel was involved in Arrigoni's murder. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar said that Israel had arranged the murder in order to sabotage the next freedom flotillas: "It is inconceivable that this crime was committed without reason and without any connection to the occupation's efforts to deal with the processions and flotillas of solidarity with the Palestinian people. The occupation is exploiting the murder in an ugly way."[96]

A columnist on a Hamas-affiliated website, Salah Hamida, wrote that Israel had carried out the murders of Arrigoni and Mer with the help of Palestinian collaborators: "Many [Palestinian] youths fall victim to people who collaborate with the enemy's intelligence [apparatuses], and who convince them to form cells that call themselves Salafi-jihadi [but actually] serve the goals of the [Israeli intelligence] apparatuses, while believing they are serving Islam... These criminals [i.e. the collaborators] must be pursued and deterred, as an example to others. We must take diligent steps to remove them and their deviant ideology from society, without waiting for them to commit more crimes. They have no connection to the real Salafiyya, and they are not jihad fighters. Does a jihad fighter who follows the Salafi teachings murder an ally [like Arrigoni]?"[97]

Another columnist on the same website, Ibrahim Hamami, was even harsher in his criticism of the Salafis. He fiercely denounced the murder of an activist who had come to Gaza to help the Palestinians, saying that the murders "are not human beings and do not have an ounce of human feeling." He added that "it is the same whether [the Salafis] perpetrated this [particular] crime or were framed for it, because their past actions, their deviant ideology, and their warped logic do not leave room for any doubt [as to their true character]. They bring destruction and death upon the Muslims... They are not Salafis but villains."[98]

Yet another columnist close to Hamas, 'Issam Shaour, accused the Salafis of hypocrisy, because they condemned Arrigoni's murder yet continue to incite against Hamas.[99]

Columnist Mustafa Al-Sawwaf, also affiliated with Hamas, wrote: "The crime against Arrigoni was an act of terrorism. Terrorism has no religion and no homeland, and those who killed Arrigoni might also hurt others."[100]

[1] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), April 13, 2010.

[2] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), April 18, 2010.

[3], April 16, 2010.

[4] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), March 28, 2010.

[5], May 16, 2010.

[6] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), August 9, 2010.

[7] Abu Al-Walid Al-Maqdisi was born in 1969 in Cairo to a family of immigrants from Gaza. He became familiar with Salafi-jihadi Islam, and with the movement's theoreticians, at an early age, and after studying shari'a he eventually became one of the movement's ideologues. Following his marriage, he left Egypt for Jordan, where he met Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, considered to be the mentor of former Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi. After expanding his knowledge of Salafi-jihadism, he went to Iraq and joined the ranks of Al-Qaeda, just as the U.S. was beginning its campaign against Al-Qaeda in this country. At some point he apparently returned to Egypt, where he was pursued by the authorities, who suspected him of involvement in attacks on tourist targets in late 2004, and pressured his family to turn him in. In January 2008 he managed to enter Gaza, along with thousands of other Palestinians, when the border was breached at Al-Arish. In Gaza he tried to unite the various Salafi groups, but was unsuccessful and eventually founded his own group, Jama'at Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad. Hamas placed him, like many other Salafis, on its wanted list for undermining security in Gaza., March 15, 2011. See also MEMRI JTTM report:¶m=GJN.

[8], March 4, 2011.

[9], October 23, 2010.

[10] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), December 23, 2010.

[11] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), June 8, 2009.

[12], August 15, 2009.

[13] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), September 2, 5, 2008; Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), September 2, 2008.

[14], July 7, 2006;, May 9, 2007.

[15], September 23, 2007.

[16], September 16, 2008.

[17] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), November 4, 2010.

[18]Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), January 24, 2011.

[19]Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), September 7, 2009.

[20], August 4, 2009.

[21]Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), July 11, 2009.

[22], March 18, 2010.

[23], July 26, 2008.

[24], September 23, 2007.

[25], June 12, 2007.

[26], August 16, 2009.

[27], August 24, 2009.

[28], August 24, 2009.

[29], December 26, 2007.

[30] Salafis are divided over the question of which was the first Salafi-jihadi group. One Ansar Al-Sunna leader, Abu Hamza Al-Maqdisi, stated that the first group was Jaysh Al-Islam, which in 2005 participated in the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit in Operation Fading Illusion. Later, Al-Maqdisi explained, when Hamas ran for election and the closure on Gaza tightened, more groups emerged: Jund Ansar Allah, Ansar Al-Sunna, Jaysh Al-Ummah, and the Tawhid Wal-Jihad group. (Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 20, 2010). In contrast, Abu Hareth, a Salafi group leader, stated: "The real emergence of the Salafis was in 2001, with the first attack by [the group] Jund Allah..." He added: "Some of the groups that began to emerge in central and southern Gaza have multiple names, such as Suyouf Al-Haqq Al-Islamiyya and Jaysh Al-Ummah..." (, April 19, 2009). A Jaysh Al-Islam commander, Abu Al-Baraa, told the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm that the Gazan Salafi groups began their clandestine activity in the 1990s. He said that the first group was Jund Allah, which was followed by Jaysh Al-Islam, Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad, and Ansar Al-Sunna. Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), June 3, 2011.

[31], April 19, 2010. Similar statements were made by Mahmoud Taleb, also known as Abu Mu'tasam Al-Maqdisi, who quit the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades and joined one of the Jaljalat (Salafi organizations). Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), July 11, 2010.

[32], August 20, 2009;, August 17, 2009.

[33], August 15, 2009.

[34], April 19, 2010

[35], April 19, 2010.

[36] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), June 3, 2011.

[37] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), July 11, 2009.

[38] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), July 11, 2009.

[39], August 15, 2009.

[40] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), August 17, 2009.

[41] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), June 3, 2011.

[42] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 20, 2009.

[43] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), September 6, 2009.

[44], April 19, 2010.

[45] Al-Hayat (London), April 11, 2010.

[46], February 16, 2008.

[47], April 19, 2010.

[48], April 19, 2010.

[49], February 27, 2008.

[50] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), August 15, 2009.

[51], March 25, 2010.

[52] BBC journalist Alan Johnston was kidnapped in March 2007 by Jaysh Al-Islam while working in Gaza, and was released in July of that year.

[53] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 16, 2009; Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), August 22, 2009.

[54], August 18, 2009.

[55], August 22, 2009.

[56], August 21, 2009.

[57], August 17, 2009.

[58], August 15, 2009.

[59] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 20, 2009.

[60], August 20, 2009.

[61], March 4, 2010.

[62] Al-Jarida (Kuwait), March 7, 2010.

[63], April 8, 2010.

[64] Al-Jazair News (Algeria), April 6, 2010; Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), April 8, 2010.

[65], August 19, 2009.

[66], August 19, 2009.

[67], February 16, 2010.

[68] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 20, 2009.

[69] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), July 11, 2009.

[70], April 19, 2010.

[71] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), July 11, 2009.

[72], February 20, 2010

[73] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), March 3, 2010.

[74] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), March 3, 2010.

[75] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), May 24, 2010.

[76], February 27, 2010.

[77] Shumoukh Al-Islam, January 20, 2011.

[78] Al-Hayat (London), April 17, 2011.

[79], April 15, 2011.

[80], April 16, 2011.

[81] 'Abd Al-Rahman Barizat's brother, Mu'adh, was convicted in 2006 in Jordan of planning an attack on a U.S. military base, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison with hard labor. Their father said that 'Abd Al-Rahman had gone to Gaza to study Islamic shari'a, and that he had not known his son had joined an extremist group. Al-Quds (Jerusalem), April 20, 2011.

[82] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), April 20, 2011.

[83] WAFA (Palestinian Authority), April 19, 2011.

[84], April 20, 2011.

[85], April 16, 2011.

[86], April 16, 2011.

[87] Actor Juliano Mer-Khamis, the son of an Israeli mother and a Palestinian father, was murdered in Jenin on April 4, 2011.

[88] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), April 17, 2011.

[89] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), April 24, 2011.

[90], April 19, 2011.

[91], April 19, 2011.

[92], April 16, 2011.

[93] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), April 20, 2011.

[94] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), April 16, 2011.

[95], April 17, 2011.

[96], April 15, 2011.

[97], April 16, 2011.

[98], April 16, 2011.

[99], April 18, 2011.

[100], April 19, 2011.