How to Deal with Anti-Semitism on Campus

Anti-Semitism is gaining traction on many college campuses across America.  Instead of an atmosphere where ideas are exchanged and intellectual curiosity is encouraged, there is bigotry, discrimination, and offensive commentary against the Jewish population.  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a major contributing factor, considering the divestment and the anti-Israeli campaigns.  There is a culture of targeting Israel that in turn targets Jewish students.  As in general society, the perpetrators appear to be one particular group: the Islamic extremists and their supporters. 

Ariela Keysar, who wrote a detailed “Anti-Semitism Report” with Barry A. Ksomin, found that more than half of American Jewish college students personally experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism last year.  Two glaring statistics stand out:  college students are five times more likely to have encountered anti-Semitism in the U.S. than other age groups, and 54% of Jewish students in the sample survey reported having been subject to or witnessed anti-Semitism on campus.

UCLA was recently in the news with the overtly anti-Semitic actions on campus.  Rachel Beyda, a Jewish student, was going to be confirmed by the student council as an appointed justice to the Judicial Board.  During the process, she was asked, “Given that you are a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community… how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view?”  This interrogation coincided with UCLA’s annual Israel Apartheid Week.  It was reported that after Rachel left the room, the discussion consisted of “forty minutes of unequivocal anti-Semitism.” Even though all thought her amply qualified, half of the council did not want to confirm her because of “Rachel’s Jewish identity.”

In response to this and other actions, David Horowitz of the David Horowitz Freedom Center has initiated JewHatredonCampus.org.  His organization placed posters at UCLA linking the group “Supporters for Justice in Palestine” with terrorist activities.  For example, one poster depicted the body of a lifeless Palestinian civilian being dragged through the streets of Gaza by Hamas operatives while tethered to a motorcycle, with the bottom caption “#JewHaters.”  Interestingly, UCLA’s chancellor, Gene D. Block, came out strongly against what he calls intolerance and bias on the campus.  But the point to be made is that he wrote his condemnation only after the poster depiction of the Palestinians, which occurred days after the Rachel Beyda incident.  He needed a tit-for-tat before he publicly spoke.

American Thinker interviewed David Horowitz and two UCLA Jewish student leaders regarding anti-Semitism at UCLA.  The Jewish students wonder if Horowitz is an extremist who is just adding fuel to the fire, while David Horowitz questions if some Jewish groups on campus are appeasers.  Although they differ in the tactics to be used to battle anti-Semitism, all are in agreement that a contributing factor is the “liberal” atmosphere at UCLA.

Horowitz told American Thinker, “The Muslim Student Association and Students for Justice In Palestine are hate groups whose only purpose is to demonize the State of Israel.  They receive campus funding and campus support.  There is this hypocrisy and double standard.  Think about it: if they said these things against blacks, would there still be the same reaction?  With the campaign ‘Jew Hatred On Campus,’ we are attempting to shift the conversation from the ludicrous, whether Israel is an apartheid state, to whether these groups are hate groups.  We want to put forward the truth and present the propaganda of lies.”

Rebecca is a UCLA junior who writes for UCLA’s Jewish news magazine, Ha’Am.  She decided to engage the students who put up the Israel Apartheid Wall Installation on campus.  It is painted with different misfacts about the conflict.  Her feeling is that this wall is an attempt to recruit support from the black and Hispanic communities on campus, associating their experiences with Palestinian issues.  According to Rebecca, the discourse was respectful, with a give-and-take, until the Muslim representative saw her necklace that identified Rebecca as Jewish.  From that moment she never looked her in the eye and refused to continue the conversation.  Rebecca said, “I was really bothered, since she refused to talk to me only because I was Jewish.  She utterly disrespected me.  It became obvious it was not OK to have a dialogue with people who want to challenge the facts.  They do not want any dialogue.”

Tammy, a senior and a past president of Hillel, believes that being anti-Israel, anti-Jewish state, is the “new manifestation of anti-Semitism.  Yet we are fighting an uphill battle every time we try to stop the Israel Apartheid rhetoric, because we are accused of limiting freedom of speech.  Yet they wanted to limit our freedoms, as evidenced with the Rachel Beyda incident.  After it, many of us had breakfast with the chancellor and told him how disappointed we were that he waited to write his letter about Rachel Beyda.  He apologized.”

It became obvious in speaking to both sides that they are divergently apart in how to handle the growing issue of anti-Semitism.  Horowitz believes that the posters and other actions are needed, because “groups like Bruins for Israel and Hillel are buying into the mythology of the Muslim groups.  Instead of apologizing for our posters, they should stand up and confront the prejudices now, or it will be too late.  People calling for the destruction of Israel on college campuses are waging a genocidal campaign against Jews.”

Rebecca and Tammy want to marginalize these groups, and the way to do it is by ignoring them so they do not gain publicity.  They both believe that a necessary step is to break down the barriers through forming interpersonal relationships with other groups, such as the blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and Armenians.  Tammy summarized the feelings of many Jewish UCLA students: “If we can make people understand who we are as Jews, we can talk about what Israel stands for.  For example, both the Armenians and the Jewish students have experienced genocide.  We could have a mutual event about this issue.  Non-Jews looked at the posters put up by Horowitz’s group as offensive, because other groups don’t understand the meaning behind the Jewish state, its importance to the Jewish culture, and the demographics. We need to educate different cultures through our similarities, which is where I am invested.”

Rebecca agrees and feels that it is important to have cultural awareness with these other groups.  She wants to celebrate “our Jewish identity instead of constantly defending it.  If we are constantly put on the defensive, we are letting the other side win.  We should be showing other groups how proud we are to be Jewish – to create a meaningful Jewish experience, a home for the Jewish community that makes them feel welcome through the celebration of Jewish traditions and holidays.  We should be sharing these cultural and religious aspects with other groups.”

Both students point to the resolution recently passed by the Undergraduate Students Association Council as proof of making strides.  They realize that this could either be a starting point or just a piece of paper that means nothing.  However, they feel that it is a step in the right direction, since it calls for an active fight against anti-Semitism.  The provisions include respecting the rights of the organized Jewish communities at UCLA; allowing those communities to define, within the guidelines of the national definition, what is and is not anti-Semitic, just as other communities are granted that right; and including in any proposed diversity requirements classes about Jewish history and current events.

There is a definite difference of opinion on how to combat anti-Semitism at UCLA.  Horowitz wants to draw attention to the Islamic atrocities and attitudes against women, gays, freedom of religion, and civil liberties.  Both students interviewed feel that the best way to deal with it is to ignore it.  They want the outside community and people like David Horowitz to understand they do not know better than the students on campus.  They want to work with the external Jewish community but emphasize that there is a need to work “with us, not independent of us.  After all, we are fighting the same fight.”  Both sides need to speak to one another with a willingness to listen to each other’s view, because this divisiveness is not a healthy way to handle college anti-Semitism.

The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews and author interviews and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.

Article source: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2015/03/how_to_deal_with_antisemitism_on_campus.html

Anti-Muslim ads featuring Hitler to run on SEPTA buses

NAZI LEADER Adolf Hitler could be featured on the next bus you ride in the Philadelphia area, after SEPTA decided not to appeal a recent federal court ruling that said it could not restrict ads that the transit authority previously called “disparaging” and anti-Islamic.

American Freedom Defense Initiative co-founder Pamela Geller called the decision a “victory for truth and free speech” and said the ads will “increase public awareness” of her group’s cause.

Abby Stamelman Hocky, executive director of the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia, yesterday said her organization was prepared “to mitigate whatever harm may be done” by the ads being seen in the community.

She said she hopes the ads, which SEPTA officials said will run on 84 buses for four weeks, can provide “a teachable moment” and her group is mulling a “Dare to Understand” campaign to counteract the ads’ messages.

Article source: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20150327_Anti-Muslim_ads_featuring_Hitler_to_run_on_SEPTA_buses.html

Some rare good news in the Middle East

These days you take good news in the Middle East where you can find it. And here’s some good news from Egypt: It presents an opportunity that may not be fully squandered before the Obama administration leaves office.

This news derives from a visit this month to Cairo to meet with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, several generals and two remarkable clerics: The Coptic Christian leader Pope Tawadros II and Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al Azhar University, the chief seat of authority in Sunni Islam.

In June 2013, 30 million Egyptians — a third of the country — took to the streets to protest the Muslim Brotherhood rule of President Mohammed Morsi.

It was the largest peaceful demonstration in world history. Then-Gen. Sisi, as defense minister, led a coalition of military, religious, judicial and political leaders to force out Morsi, who’d been freely and fairly elected a year before, because the constitution had no provision for impeachment.

What brought the people into the streets and Sisi to the fore was the Muslim Brotherhood’s gradual but relentless tightening of its hold on power and its Islamification of daily life, with the restriction of women, near-collapse of the economy and persecution of religious minorities, notably Copts — ills that have marked Islamist rule elsewhere, notably in Turkey.

Some even feared the Muslim Brotherhood planned to suspend the constitution and install an Iran-style theocracy.

Turkey presents clear lessons for Egypt.

After World War I, career military officer Mustafa Kemal Ataturk established the Turkish republic — a progressive, secular state preserved by the military, sometimes via direct rule, for eight decades — until Recep Tayyip Erdogan won election in 2003.

Erdogan has gradually purged the military and dismantled secular Kemalist reforms while strengthening the country’s Islamist character.

So it’s hardly unheard of that a military figure is trying to bring a measure of modernity to a Muslim country.

Moreover, both President Sisi and the generals who backed him hunger for a close relationship with the United States.

They need US military help to counter the growing ISIS presence to the east in the Sinai (where Egypt cooperates closely with the Israelis) and to the west, in the virtually failed state of Libya.

Yet Washington has withheld or delayed assistance — overdue Apache helicopters arrived without the systems or spare parts needed to fly them — largely thanks to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

“Leahy’s Law,” passed in 2008, bars US military aid to countries that curtail civil liberties. To the Obama team, Egypt’s restrictions on the Muslim Brotherhood (which Egypt deems a terrorist organization) and its sympathizers is enough to trigger that ban.

Incomprehensibly to Sisi and the generals, the State Department has met in Washington with Egyptian members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Note the double standard: Washington provided all manner of military aid to Morsi’s Brotherhood government, even as Coptic churches were burned and their worshipers killed in Brotherhood-led riots, while a sharia-based constitution crimped the freedoms of all non-Muslims.

When Sisi’s forces bombed ISIS units in Libya after the mass beheading of Egyptian Christians, Washington slammed him for violating Libyan sovereignty. His consternation at such slights from the administration is palpable.

In our meeting with Sisi, one of our group noted that he has visited Russia but hasn’t even been invited to the United States by the White House, and asked him to speculate on why.

A long silence; a sigh; then Sisi noted that members of Congress had invited him to Washington, and he still hoped to get there.

The generals detailed their need for military hardware to fight terrorists; their frustration with America was apparent. Yet it was the clerics who provided real basis for hope.

Pope Tawadros noted that Sisi, a devout Muslim, had visited his Coptic church on Christmas to offer greetings and support — unprecedented for any Muslim ruler anywhere.

And on New Year’s Day, Sisi stood before the Muslim clerics at Al Azhar and called for religious reform — an answer to the radical Islam preached by the Muslim Brotherhood and others.

He said he found it “inconceivable that the ideology we sanctify should make [Muslims] a source of concern, danger, killing and destruction all over the world.”

He added, “We need to revolutionize our religion,” and, speaking straight to the grand imam, said: “You bear responsibility before Allah.

“The world in its entirety awaits your words, because the Islamic nation is being torn apart, destroyed, and is heading to perdition. We ourselves are bringing it to perdition.”

Sisi was likely painting a target on his own back. Indeed, Brotherhood operatives in Turkey soon called for his assassination. But el Tayeb met Sisi’s challenge by delivering the same message to Sunni clerics in Mecca soon afterward.

The grand imam’s history, like Sisi’s, is not unblemished; he has delivered more than one anti-Semitic sermon. But he, Pope Tawadros and Sisi are now emphatically on the same page — even as each seems to realize that US help isn’t coming soon.

As Washington has rebuffed Cairo, the Russians have swooped in, eager to sign arms and even nuclear deals. But if a new US president restores the US-Egyptian relationship come January 2017, Egypt is poised to present a strong barrier to the rising tide of Islamism throughout the region.

Michael Mukasey served as US attorney general, 2007-2009, and as a US district judge, 1988-2006.

Article source: http://nypost.com/2015/03/26/some-rare-good-news-in-the-middle-east/

Obama’s Mideast ‘free fall’

Barack Obama faces a slew of Middle East crises that some call the worst in a generation, as new chaos from Yemen to Iraq — along with deteriorating U.S.-Israeli relations — is confounding the president’s efforts to stabilize the region and strike a nuclear deal with Iran.

The meltdown has Obama officials defending their management of a region that some call impossible to control, even as critics say U.S. policies there are partly to blame for the spreading anarchy.

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“If there’s one lesson this administration has learned, from President Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech through the Arab Spring, it’s that when it comes to this region, nothing happens in a linear way — and precious little is actually about us, which is a hard reality to accept,” said a senior State Department official.

Not everyone is so forgiving. “We’re in a goddamn free fall here,” said James Jeffrey, who served as Obama’s ambassador to Iraq and was a top national security aide in the George W. Bush White House.

For years, members of the Obama team has grappled with the chaotic aftermath of the Arab Spring. But of late they have been repeatedly caught off-guard, raising new questions about America’s ability to manage the dangerous region.

Obama officials were surprised earlier this month, for instance, when the Iraqi government joined with Iranian-backed militias to mount a sudden offensive aimed at freeing the city of Tikrit from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Nor did they foresee the swift rise of the Iranian-backed rebels who toppled Yemen’s U.S.-friendly government and disrupted a crucial U.S. counterterrorism mission against Al Qaeda there.

Both situations took dramatic new turns this week. The U.S. announced its support for a Saudi-led coalition of 10 Sunni Arab nations that began bombing the Houthis, while Egypt threatened to send ground troops — a move that could initiate the worst intra-Arab war in decades.

Meanwhile, the U.S. launched airstrikes against ISIL in Tikrit after originally insisting it would sit out that offensive. U.S. officials had hoped to avoid coordination with Shiite militias under the direct control of Iranian commanders in the country.

Now the U.S. is in the strange position of fighting ISIL alongside Iran at the same time it backs the Sunni campaign against Iran’s allies in Yemen — even as Secretary of State John Kerry hopes to seal a nuclear deal with Iran in Switzerland within days.

On Thursday, Iran’s foreign minister, who has been meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry in Switzerland to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, demanded an immediate halt to the Yemen incursion.

At the same time, civil war rages on in Syria. On Thursday, Robert Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, sent Obama a letter urging him to respond to charges that the regime of Bashar Assad — a close ally of Tehran — has used chlorine gas against civilians. In late 2013, Obama threatened to punish Assad with airstrikes after his forces deployed nerve gas.

Also in chaos is Libya, home to two dueling governments — and another target of cross-border Arab military action when Egypt and the United Arab Emirates conducted airstrikes against alleged Islamic extremists there in August. That action also reportedly surprised U.S. officials.

It all amounts to a far cry from Obama’s optimistic vision when he came to office suggesting that by withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq and focusing on Israeli-Palestinian peace he could stabilize, if not completely calm, the long-troubled area.

Instead, Obama looks poised to leave an even more dangerous and unpredictable region than the one he inherited in 2009.

“The mood here is that we really are at a crisis point that is unprecedented in recent memory,” said Suzanne Maloney, a senior fellow in the Middle East policy center at the Brookings Institution, who spoke from the Qatari capital of Doha. “This feels more intense and more complicated” than past moments of turmoil, Maloney added.

Even the one constant in the region for the U.S. — its relationship with Israel — is as strained as it’s been in almost 25 years.

Some American officials pointed to bright spots, noting that Israel faces few day-to-day security threats at the moment and that important security and intelligence cooperation with countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia remains strong.

One official called the Arab coalition against Yemen’s Houthis a positive development. Kerry has supported discussions in the region about standing up a multination Arab counter-terrorism force that could root out radical groups like ISIL and Al Qaeda. That would relieve pressure on the U.S. to fight radicalism directly.

On Thursday the UAE’s foreign minister, Dr. Anwar Gargash, tweeted that the intervention in Yemen “has brought about a new page of Arab cooperation for security in the region.”

But the idea of an Arab force has met with skepticism from a White House doubtful that oft-squabbling Arab nations can pull it off. (One supporter of the idea says it could work if limited to a handful of closely aligned members, such as Jordan, Egypt, and the UAE.)

U.S. officials also point to progress in the fight against ISIL, which began in August. On Thursday, retired Gen. John Allen, Obama’s envoy to the coalition fighting ISIL, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the U.S.-led campaign is “clearly degrading” the group.

That effort also faces new uncertainty. After the U.S. began striking at militants in Tikrit, three Shiite militias with ties to Iran abandoned the fight there, protesting the American role.

Ultimately, senior Obama officials say, there are limits to what the U.S. can accomplish in the region. They argue that the chaos is fueled by ethnic and religious forces largely beyond America’s control.

And they warn against overreacting to the roller coaster of daily news headlines in an area that rarely knows calm.

“There’s a sense that the only view worth having on the Middle East is the long view,” said the State Department official. “We’ve painfully seen that good can turn to bad and bad can turn to good in an instant, which might be a sobriety worth holding on to at moments like this.”

The official offered a hopeful note, adding that a nuclear deal with Iran — which some reports say could come as soon as Sunday — could be a turning point for the region.

“The truth is, you can dwell on Yemen, or you can recognize that we’re one agreement away from a game-changing, legacy-setting nuclear accord on Iran that tackles what every one agrees is the biggest threat to the region,” the official said.

Article source: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/barack-obama-yemen-isil-middle-east-116440.html

Feds: Guardsman, cousin plotted to attack Illinois military base, fight for ISIS

Aurora cousins Hasan and Jonas Edmonds had been aspiring terrorists for months when they arrived at the Joliet Armory on Tuesday to scout out a brazen attack, federal authorities say.

In the car, Hasan Edmonds, a specialist with the Illinois National Guard who had trained at the facility since 2011, talked with his cousin and an accomplice about where the soldiers might be stationed inside, which rooms to avoid and the firepower that would be required, according to prosecutors.

Hasan then went into the low brick building to pick up a military training schedule for his cousin, who was going to carry out the attack later wearing his cousin’s uniform and carrying AK-47s and grenades, prosecutors said. If all went according to plan, the body count could reach 150.

Illinois National Guard, FBI knew of Aurora man's plot against military

What the cousins didn’t know was that the accomplice was an undercover FBI informant. In fact, federal agents had been tracking them since late last year when Hasan exchanged Facebook messages with an agent posing as a militant about his desire to travel to the Middle East to join the militant group Islamic State.

The plot unraveled Wednesday evening as FBI agents arrested Hasan Edmonds, 22, at Midway Airport as he prepared to board a flight to Detroit and on to Cairo to join terrorist fighters overseas, prosecutors said. Two hours later, Jonas Edmonds, 29, was arrested at his modest two-flat building in an Aurora subdivision. Both cousins were charged with conspiring to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization, a charge carrying up to 15 years in prison on conviction.

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At their initial appearance Thursday afternoon at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse, the cousins were brought into U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheila Finnegan’s courtroom shackled at the ankles and handcuffed. During the hearing, Jonas Edmonds was animated, yawning loudly, swiveling in a chair and tugging at his thick beard as his court-appointed attorney told the judge he would not ask for a bail hearing.

His cousin, who has a shaved head and wears glasses, was more subdued. Asked by the judge if he understood the charge, he first nodded his head silently. Told that he had to answer aloud, he said, “Yes,” in a voice that was barely audible. A bond hearing for Hasan was set for Monday.

Meanwhile, news of the charges shocked neighbors and left some acquaintances scratching their heads. A onetime stepmother to Hasan Edwards told the Tribune she was stunned to hear the allegations against the man whom she had raised. She described him as a good person who was drawn to the unity of the Islamic faith.

“Something like this is hard to grasp,” Felisha Allen said by phone from Louisiana. “Is it a dream? I don’t even know what to believe.”

2 Aurora men arrested after plotting to attack Illinois military base, fight with ISIS

2 Aurora men arrested after plotting to attack Illinois military base, fight with ISIS 2 Aurora men were arrested today after authorities discovered they were planning to attack an Illinois military base and fight with ISIS. 2 Aurora men were arrested today after authorities discovered they were planning to attack an Illinois military base and fight with ISIS. See more videos –>

Manchinique Bates, 23, who identified herself as Hasan’s sister, said by phone Thursday that the FBI showed up Wednesday night at the family home in Aurora armed with a search warrant and removed computers. Bates repeatedly denied the allegations, saying her brother and cousin never spoke of any extreme beliefs.

“To be honest, we didn’t know anything about my brother trying to travel across seas nor did we know about the supposed attacks my cousin was supposedly doing,” Bates said. “… They don’t go out seeking trouble. … Neither one of them come off as terrorists. They aren’t terrorists.”

The cousins attended West Aurora High School, according to district spokesman Tony Martinez. Hasan Edmonds graduated in 2011. while Jonas Edmonds left school as a senior in 2004.

That same year, Jonas Edmonds and two others were charged in suburban Atlanta in the armed robbery of a McDonald’s restaurant, court records show. He pleaded guilty in 2005 and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Records show he was released in June 2010.

Court records show Hasan Edmonds’ father, Lieukennye Edmonds, 46, is serving a prison sentence for failing to register as a sex offender stemming from a 1990s conviction for the attempted sexual assault of an Aurora woman.

Hasan Edmonds, meanwhile, did not have a criminal record. Friends say he was a quiet student who ran track and excelled in physical education classes.

A high school classmate said Edmonds had said he wanted to be on active duty. He said it “blew me out of the water” when he found out about Edmonds’ arrest.

“He never said anything about crazy, radical ideas or anything like that,” he said. “He was just a normal kid. He was never a troublemaker.”

Terrorist suspects stepmother: Is it a dream? I dont know what to believe

Terrorist suspect’s stepmother: ‘Is it a dream? I don’t know what to believe’ Geoff Ziezulewicz and Erika Wurst A onetime stepmother to Hasan Edmonds said she was stunned to hear the terrorist allegations against the man she had raised. A onetime stepmother to Hasan Edmonds said she was stunned to hear the terrorist allegations against the man she had raised. ( Geoff Ziezulewicz and Erika Wurst ) –>

Lt. Col. Brad Leighton, a spokesman for the Illinois National Guard, said Edmonds joined the guard in August 2011 and was a supply specialist — responsible for ordering uniforms and other equipment — with the Joliet-based 634th Brigade Support Battalion. He last drilled with the guard for a weekend this month, Leighton said.

According to Leighton, federal authorities recently informed the guard that Edmonds was under investigation, leading them to take “discrete but concrete steps” to ensure he didn’t have access to equipment or computers. Edmonds also was given different duties, he said.

According to the 33-page criminal complaint, the FBI began investigating Hasan Edmonds late last year when agents discovered that he and Jonas Edmonds allegedly had devised a plan for Hasan to travel overseas and use his military training to fight for Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

In several online exchanges, Hasan Edmonds said that if he was unable to get to Syria he would stay in the U.S. and “fight and die here in the name of Allah,” according to the charges. In a message Jan. 30, he told the undercover agent that the best way to beat the U.S. and its Army was to “break their will,” according to the complaint.

“With the U.S., no matter how many you kill they will keep coming unless the soldiers and the American public no longer have the will to fight,” Edmonds wrote, according to the complaint. “If we can break their spirits we will win.”

On Feb. 2, Hasan Edmonds contacted the undercover agent again and said his cousin was willing to carry out the attack on U.S. soil.

“Honestly we would love to do something like the brother in Paris did,” Hasan Edmonds allegedly wrote in a reference to the January terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine’s headquarters in France in which 16 people were slain.

Last month, Jonas Edmonds began communicating online with another undercover operative who was posing as someone who could help the cousins in their quest to join Islamic State, according to the charges. The cousins met with that purported accomplice Monday to discuss the planned attack on the Joliet military facility, authorities said.

Article source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/aurora-beacon-news/news/ct-national-guard-terrorism-arrest-met-20150326-story.html

Impact of Muslim Americans topic of talk

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – March 26, 2015) A religious scholar will discuss how American Muslims have transformed the country at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, at California Lutheran University.

Amir Hussain, a professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, will present “Islam and the Building of America” in Ullman Commons 100/101.

For 15 years, Hussain examined how American Muslims have lived out their religion as a minority community in a modern society with issues such as same-sex marriage while dealing with internal differences in observance, sectarian and political affiliation, and socio-economic status. In essence, his research focused on how America has transformed the practices of American Muslims. Currently, Hussain is working on a book project that turns that research question around to ask how American Muslims have transformed America.

At LMU, a Jesuit university, Hussain teaches courses on Islam, world religions and comparative theology. Students voted him Professor of the Year in 2008 and 2009. From 1997 to 2005, he taught at California State University, Northridge, where he received several awards for his teaching and research. He also taught religion courses at several universities in Canada.

Hussain is the author of the 2006 book “Oil Water: Two Faiths, One God,” which confronts the perception of Islam as a threat to the values of the Christian West. He is the co-editor of the fourth editions of the textbooks “World Religions: Western Traditions” and “World Religions: Eastern Traditions” published in 2014 by Oxford University Press.

He is the first Muslim editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, the premier scholarly journal for the study of religion, and has written more than 50 book chapters and articles. He is on the editorial boards of Contemporary Islam: Dynamics of Muslim Life, the Ethiopian Journal of Religious Studies, Comparative Islamic Studies and the Journal of Religion, Conflict and Peace.

Raised in Canada, Hussain earned a master’s degree and doctorate in religion from the University of Toronto. He also earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto and received the university’s highest award for alumni service.

Cal Lutheran’s Religion Department, History Department and Campus Diversity Initiative are sponsoring the free event.

Ullman Commons is located at 101 Memorial Parkway. For more information, contact Rose Aslan at raslan@callutheran.edu or 805-493-3236.

Article source: http://www.callutheran.edu/news/news_detail.php?story_id=11423

Impact of Muslim Americans topic of talk

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – March 26, 2015) A religious scholar will discuss how American Muslims have transformed the country at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, at California Lutheran University.

Amir Hussain, a professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, will present “Islam and the Building of America” in Ullman Commons 100/101.

For 15 years, Hussain examined how American Muslims have lived out their religion as a minority community in a modern society with issues such as same-sex marriage while dealing with internal differences in observance, sectarian and political affiliation, and socio-economic status. In essence, his research focused on how America has transformed the practices of American Muslims. Currently, Hussain is working on a book project that turns that research question around to ask how American Muslims have transformed America.

At LMU, a Jesuit university, Hussain teaches courses on Islam, world religions and comparative theology. Students voted him Professor of the Year in 2008 and 2009. From 1997 to 2005, he taught at California State University, Northridge, where he received several awards for his teaching and research. He also taught religion courses at several universities in Canada.

Hussain is the author of the 2006 book “Oil Water: Two Faiths, One God,” which confronts the perception of Islam as a threat to the values of the Christian West. He is the co-editor of the fourth editions of the textbooks “World Religions: Western Traditions” and “World Religions: Eastern Traditions” published in 2014 by Oxford University Press.

He is the first Muslim editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, the premier scholarly journal for the study of religion, and has written more than 50 book chapters and articles. He is on the editorial boards of Contemporary Islam: Dynamics of Muslim Life, the Ethiopian Journal of Religious Studies, Comparative Islamic Studies and the Journal of Religion, Conflict and Peace.

Raised in Canada, Hussain earned a master’s degree and doctorate in religion from the University of Toronto. He also earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto and received the university’s highest award for alumni service.

Cal Lutheran’s Religion Department, History Department and Campus Diversity Initiative are sponsoring the free event.

Ullman Commons is located at 101 Memorial Parkway. For more information, contact Rose Aslan at raslan@callutheran.edu or 805-493-3236.

Article source: http://www.callutheran.edu/news/news_detail.php?story_id=11423

Iranian-led Shiite militias withdraw from Tikrit fighting as US joins battle

— Iraqi Shiite Muslim militias, angry that the government of Prime Minister Haider al Abadi has asked for American help in ejecting Islamic State fighters from the central Iraqi city of Tikrit, began Thursday withdrawing their forces from the battle, the first major break between the Iranian-trained militias and Iraq’s military establishment since the Islamic State advance last year.

Whether the militias, which have formed the backbone of the Iraqi response to the Islamic State since Iraq’s army collapsed last summer, would continue to participate in the fighting was undecided. Militia members told McClatchy that their commanders were meeting to decide the issue.

But the withdrawal of the militias with their Iranian advisers would be a victory of sorts for U.S. officials, who’ve warned repeatedly that the Iraqi government’s dependency on sectarian organizations fed support for the Islamic State among Iraq’s disaffected Sunni Muslim population.

One Iraqi security official said three major Shiite groups – the League of Righteousness, the Kateb Hezbollah and the Badr Organization, already had withdrawn their forces. The official, who asked not to be identified discussing sensitive military matters, said he had been told that the militia commanders were meeting late Thursday to decide whether to remain or return to Baghdad, where many had mustered last summer in response to the Islamic State advance.

“Militia leaders have assured us that all militias will be represented” at the meeting, the official said. “Participants will decide either to participate or withdraw.”

One militia officer, who also spoke anonymously because of the sensitivity of the matter, said that many militia remained arrayed outside Tikrit with their Iranian advisers. He said both the militias and their advisers opposed American participation in the offensive. “They object as much as we do to the participation of the Americans in this noble operation to liberate Iraqi land from Daash,” he said, using an Arabic term for the Islamic State.

The withdrawal of the militias from the battle for Tikrit would be a dramatic reversal of Iraqi tactics to stem the Islamic State’s advance. In the first months after the Islamic State captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, last June, then raced across northern and central Iraq, Shiite militias were credited with preventing the capture of some crucial cities, including Samarra.

Their performance since has been mixed. An Iranian-led militia effort to retake the critical oil refinery town of Baiji took weeks, then ultimately failed when the Islamic State returned days later.

The presence of the Shiite militias also raised important human rights questions amid widespread allegations that they had exacted revenge on Sunni civilians in the areas where they operated. ABC News compiled a string of videos showing alleged abuses earlier this month and presented them to U.S. and Iraqi authorities. A statement from Human Rights Watch earlier this month said it had documented atrocities by government forces and militias in areas of Diyala province north of Baghdad, where they had recaptured territory from the Islamic State.

American officials in testimony before Congress shortly after the Tikrit offensive began said the U.S. was watching closely for human rights violations as the campaign unfolded.

Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, the head of U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in Iraq, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that the United States had insisted that the militias and their Iranian advisers, including top Iranian commander Gen. Qassem Suleimani, withdraw from the battle before the U.S. would agree to launch airstrikes. Suleimani, a once shadowy figure who’d become an increasingly public presence in Iraq, left the Tikrit area over the weekend and may have returned to Iran.

U.S. and Iraqi officials gave dramatic accounts of the opening of the U.S. aerial campaign, which included eight straight hours of bombardment on Tikrit, an onslaught that involved at least 17 U.S. aircraft and more than 100 bombs, and which lasted from 10 p.m. Wednesday to 6:30 a.m. Thursday.

That was followed by five waves of Iraqi air force planes during daylight Thursday in what one Iraqi commander, Lt. Col. Abdul Amir, described as a tag-team arrangement, with U.S. aircraft, with the more advanced targeting systems, flying at night and Iraqi aircraft undertaking missions during the day.

Amir, who spoke from the scene by phone, said the airstrikes hit Islamic State supply depots, bunker positions and fortifications inside the so-called Presidential Compound in Tikrit. He said at least 75 Islamic State fighters had been killed.

The U.S. air campaign was followed by a resumption of Iraqi army operations to clear out what is believed to be a few hundred Islamic State fighters holed up in central Tikrit.

There was no early word on whether that push was succeeding. The Iraqi effort to eject the Islamic State from Tikrit initially involved an estimated 30,000 men, of which at least 20,000 were Shiite militia. The operation stalled after about two weeks as their casualties rose – an estimated 1,000 militiamen were killed – and the Iraqi military establishment clashed with the Iranian-advised militias over asking for American help.

The loss of a substantial portion of the 20,000-strong militia force would be a serious test for the ability of U.S. airstrikes to do what sheer manpower could not.

Prothero, a McClatchy special correspondent, reported from Istanbul, and another McClatchy special correspondent reported from Irbil. The second correspondent is not being identified for security reasons. Email: mprothero@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @mitchprothero

Article source: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/03/26/261127/iranian-led-shiite-militias-withdraw.html

Iranian-led Shiite militias withdraw from Tikrit fighting as US joins battle

— Iraqi Shiite Muslim militias, angry that the government of Prime Minister Haider al Abadi has asked for American help in ejecting Islamic State fighters from the central Iraqi city of Tikrit, began Thursday withdrawing their forces from the battle, the first major break between the Iranian-trained militias and Iraq’s military establishment since the Islamic State advance last year.

Whether the militias, which have formed the backbone of the Iraqi response to the Islamic State since Iraq’s army collapsed last summer, would continue to participate in the fighting was undecided. Militia members told McClatchy that their commanders were meeting to decide the issue.

But the withdrawal of the militias with their Iranian advisers would be a victory of sorts for U.S. officials, who’ve warned repeatedly that the Iraqi government’s dependency on sectarian organizations fed support for the Islamic State among Iraq’s disaffected Sunni Muslim population.

One Iraqi security official said three major Shiite groups – the League of Righteousness, the Kateb Hezbollah and the Badr Organization, already had withdrawn their forces. The official, who asked not to be identified discussing sensitive military matters, said he had been told that the militia commanders were meeting late Thursday to decide whether to remain or return to Baghdad, where many had mustered last summer in response to the Islamic State advance.

“Militia leaders have assured us that all militias will be represented” at the meeting, the official said. “Participants will decide either to participate or withdraw.”

One militia officer, who also spoke anonymously because of the sensitivity of the matter, said that many militia remained arrayed outside Tikrit with their Iranian advisers. He said both the militias and their advisers opposed American participation in the offensive. “They object as much as we do to the participation of the Americans in this noble operation to liberate Iraqi land from Daash,” he said, using an Arabic term for the Islamic State.

The withdrawal of the militias from the battle for Tikrit would be a dramatic reversal of Iraqi tactics to stem the Islamic State’s advance. In the first months after the Islamic State captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, last June, then raced across northern and central Iraq, Shiite militias were credited with preventing the capture of some crucial cities, including Samarra.

Their performance since has been mixed. An Iranian-led militia effort to retake the critical oil refinery town of Baiji took weeks, then ultimately failed when the Islamic State returned days later.

The presence of the Shiite militias also raised important human rights questions amid widespread allegations that they had exacted revenge on Sunni civilians in the areas where they operated. ABC News compiled a string of videos showing alleged abuses earlier this month and presented them to U.S. and Iraqi authorities. A statement from Human Rights Watch earlier this month said it had documented atrocities by government forces and militias in areas of Diyala province north of Baghdad, where they had recaptured territory from the Islamic State.

American officials in testimony before Congress shortly after the Tikrit offensive began said the U.S. was watching closely for human rights violations as the campaign unfolded.

Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, the head of U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in Iraq, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that the United States had insisted that the militias and their Iranian advisers, including top Iranian commander Gen. Qassem Suleimani, withdraw from the battle before the U.S. would agree to launch airstrikes. Suleimani, a once shadowy figure who’d become an increasingly public presence in Iraq, left the Tikrit area over the weekend and may have returned to Iran.

U.S. and Iraqi officials gave dramatic accounts of the opening of the U.S. aerial campaign, which included eight straight hours of bombardment on Tikrit, an onslaught that involved at least 17 U.S. aircraft and more than 100 bombs, and which lasted from 10 p.m. Wednesday to 6:30 a.m. Thursday.

That was followed by five waves of Iraqi air force planes during daylight Thursday in what one Iraqi commander, Lt. Col. Abdul Amir, described as a tag-team arrangement, with U.S. aircraft, with the more advanced targeting systems, flying at night and Iraqi aircraft undertaking missions during the day.

Amir, who spoke from the scene by phone, said the airstrikes hit Islamic State supply depots, bunker positions and fortifications inside the so-called Presidential Compound in Tikrit. He said at least 75 Islamic State fighters had been killed.

The U.S. air campaign was followed by a resumption of Iraqi army operations to clear out what is believed to be a few hundred Islamic State fighters holed up in central Tikrit.

There was no early word on whether that push was succeeding. The Iraqi effort to eject the Islamic State from Tikrit initially involved an estimated 30,000 men, of which at least 20,000 were Shiite militia. The operation stalled after about two weeks as their casualties rose – an estimated 1,000 militiamen were killed – and the Iraqi military establishment clashed with the Iranian-advised militias over asking for American help.

The loss of a substantial portion of the 20,000-strong militia force would be a serious test for the ability of U.S. airstrikes to do what sheer manpower could not.

Prothero, a McClatchy special correspondent, reported from Istanbul, and another McClatchy special correspondent reported from Irbil. The second correspondent is not being identified for security reasons. Email: mprothero@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @mitchprothero

Article source: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/03/26/261127/iranian-led-shiite-militias-withdraw.html

Acts of Terrorism Very Rare Among US Muslims, Study Finds

After the September 11, 2001, attacks and more recent efforts by militant groups in Muslim countries to radicalize and recruit Muslims living in the West, there have been fears among U.S. authorities and the public of large-scale terrorist strikes on home soil.

Such fears, however, have been largely unfounded, because Muslims in the United States have overwhelmingly ignored the calls to militancy, said Charles Kurzman, a researcher with the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security in North Carolina.

“We have not seen mass radicalization of Muslims in the United States,” he said. “That’s worth taking note of.”

As part of a Triangle Center study, Kurzman, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill who researches Islamic movements, tallied a total of 250 American Muslims who have been arrested for — or who have engaged in — acts that might be called terrorism since 2001. That’s out of an estimated population of 3 million Muslims in the U.S.

Kurzman’s study found that the death toll as a result of all their plots was 50 — over a period of time in which 200,000 people were murdered in the United States.

Although comparisons are tricky, other studies suggest that right-wing violence claimed more lives in the U.S. than terrorism committed in the name of Islam.

There have been serious attacks, of course.  The 2009 shooting at the Fort Hood military base in Texas and the 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon were carried out by Muslim U.S. citizens who claimed to be avenging American military actions overseas.

And there were also failed attempts that came close to causing massive loss of life, but the study shows that these attempts were “rare and unsophisticated.”  In 2010, an SUV with propane and gasoline canisters and fireworks, parked in New York’s Times Square, detonated but did not explode. The driver of the car, Faisal Shahzad, had received bombmaking training in Pakistan’s Waziristan region.

Authorities say large-scale attacks have been prevented because of the extensive security apparatus that was set up nationwide in response to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001.

Kurzman’s findings, however, suggest a “mismatch” between other public safety issues, such as car accidents or the easy availability of firearms on the one hand and the attention given to the possibility of homegrown terrorism on the other.

“We are stuck into this security mindset, where we have a zero-tolerance policy for this kind of violence and a much higher level of tolerance for other threats,” he said.

Kurzman said the numbers of Muslim American terrorism suspects have actually been declining, and over the last couple of years there have been almost no plots aimed at the United States.  Most of those arrested recently on suspicion of terrorism were attempting to travel to Syria or Yemen to join groups that the U.S. government considers terrorist organizations.

David Schanzer, a Duke University expert on homegrown terrorism who directs the Triangle center, said that while federal authorities spend “a disproportionate amount of energy” thinking about domestic terrorism, local police departments across the country have other things on their minds.

“They very much realize that the things that are threats to public safety in their communities are much more things like drugs, gangs, domestic violence,” he said.

Article source: http://www.voanews.com/content/terrorism-rare-american-muslims-study-finds/2695844.html