Innocent-looking US Charities that help Fund Terrorism

One example worth investigating is the Gaza-based Unlimited Friends Association for Social Development (UFA). At least eight prominent U.S. charities and, apparently, the taxpayer-funded United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are supporting this Palestinian group. A close examination of UFA shows that it is closely aligned with senior Hamas leaders, provides cash to the families of so-called martyrs in the Gaza strip, and promotes virulent anti-Semitic rhetoric.

UFA claims to “provide relief, emergency and developmental services to marginalized areas and people in need.” And it probably does. Its social-media pages show happy children playing in the sun, buildings constructed, and food packs distributed. But UFA operates with the political support of senior Hamas figures. And the support of Hamas means the support of a genocidal terror group that has pledged to eradicate Jews across the globe, that throws its political opponents off rooftops, oppresses women and homosexuals, fires rockets at Israeli schools and homes, and uses Palestinian children as human shields to advance its murderous cause.

UFA regularly collaborates with Hamas officials. In 2014, envisioning the “right of return” for Palestinians, it organized a ceremony at which the guest of honor was Mustafa Sawwaf, a prominent Hamas minister. Sawwaf had argued in the Hamas newspaper Al-Risala that “Israel’s disappearance is a necessity [according to] the Koran — that is a truth that we have learned and that we have been teaching since the first intifada, which was the Palestinian people’s first step toward ending the usurpation of Palestine by the Jewish gangs.”

via How American Charities Fund Terrorism :: Middle East Forum

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Yes, the Saudi government helped the 9/11 terrorists

Though much is still redacted, they also show the Saudi government’s ties to the hijackers and other al Qaeda suspects were so extensive that the FBI’s Washington field office created a special squad to investigate the Saudi angle.

But this special focus on Saudi Arabia occurred belatedly, only after the 9/11 attacks, “due to Saudi Arabia’s status as an American ‘ally.’ ” Astoundingly, investigative resources were not dedicated to Saudi involvement in financing and supporting terrorism prior to 9/11.

The explosive information was locked up in a top-secret, highly secured room in the basement of the US Capitol for the past 15 years, ostensibly to protect the Kingdom from embarrassment. (The Post helped get the declassification ball rolling with the December 2013 piece, “Inside the Saudi 9/11 coverup.”)

That means for 15 years, 9/11 victims and their families have been denied by their own government critical evidence they’ve sought to sue the Saudi government for responsibility in the death of their loved ones.

It also means Washington has misled the American people about foreign sponsorship of 9/11. For 15 years, we’ve been told that al Qaeda acted alone, with no state sponsors. We were led to believe that 15 Saudi nationals who barely spoke English received no help while in America; that they operated in isolation, like visitors from outer space.

It was all a monstrous lie.

FBI files show Saudi agent Omar al-Bayoumi provided “substantial assistance” to Saudi hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi after they arrived in San Diego in February 2000. Hazmi was the leader of the cell that attacked the Pentagon, while Mihdhar was one of that cell’s muscle hijackers. The two even stayed at Bayoumi’s apartment, working out in his gym.

At the same time he was aiding the hijackers, Bayoumi was getting large salary increases from a Saudi defense front company tied to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, where he worked as a ghost employee. Another alleged Saudi intelligence officer who handled the hijackers, Osama Bassnan, worked closely with Bayoumi.

via Yes, the Saudi government helped the 9/11 terrorists | New York Post

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The Saudi connection linking the Boston Marathon to September 11 – World – Haaretz.com

Back in the early 1990s, Chechnya and neighboring Dagestan became a stronghold in the Caucasus region for the radical stream of Sunni Islam, Wahhabism. Mosques and madrasas were opened; training camps for young combatants were established to prepare them for the “jihad against the infidels.” Until this day, the teachings of Said Buryatsky, a charismatic, Wahhabist radical, are among the most downloaded files in Chechnya.
This radical Islamist movement was founded in the Arabian Peninsula and adopted by tribes that founded a kingdom in the 18th century that later became Saudi Arabia. This puritan, aggressive movement is considered by orthodox Muslims as heretic. Many approached it with suspicion and rejected it, but the situation changed once the “black gold” began to flow from Saudi Arabia’s soil. Thus the Wahhabists gained their much-wanted recognition, and began to send money to religious institutions around the world, including in Chechnya and Dagestan.
In addition to the money that began to emanate from Saudi Arabia in the late 1980s, “preachers” began to travel the world as well. Scholars, religious figures, and jihadist combatants trained in battles against the Soviets began to spread. One of them was Ibn al-Khattab, the well-known military commander of Saudi-Jordanian descent, who was killed by Russian forces in March 2002.
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via The Saudi connection linking the Boston Marathon to September 11 – World – Haaretz.com

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Isis fighters complaining of ‘Saudi nepotism’ on group’s waiting list for suicide bombers | The Independent

“Those Saudis have got things sewn up, they won’t let anyone in, they are letting their relatives go to the front of the line using blat (connections),” he reportedly told Chatayev.

British militants who reportedly died in suicide missions in Iraq appear to have had no such problems.

via Isis fighters complaining of ‘Saudi nepotism’ on group’s waiting list for suicide bombers | The Independent

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Saudi Arabia to impose new rules on preachers | GulfNews.com

Don’t believe that the Wahhabis and the Saudi government are two different entities. The Saudi government has been supporting local hate preachers all along:

Actions against imams who do not comply with the instructions of the ministry will start with a warning if the violation is not severe, to be followed by an official blame.
Imams could also have their financial perks reduced and, in some cases, they could be dismissed.
However, no action will be taken against any imam without giving him the opportunity to explain his attitude or action.
According to Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz Al Shaikh, an imam should address social issues and help correct misconceptions while promoting positive values.

via Saudi Arabia to impose new rules on preachers | GulfNews.com

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What It Was Like to Work With Einstein, Feynman, Oppenheimer, Pauli, and Bohr?

You also knew Robert Oppenheimer, who came to Princeton shortly after his work at Los Alamos. I’ve heard he was a truly gifted leader, at least while he was running the Manhattan Project, and probably a better administrator than scientist. Was that true?

I don’t know whether that’s true. He did one really important thing in science, which was the theory of black holes. He really discovered black holes, which turned out to be extremely important. That was done in 1939 with his student [Hartland Snyder]. They developed this theory of why black holes exist, how they are formed, and he got everything right. Essentially, he was the originator of black holes as a concept and it was a prediction that turned out to be true.

The sad thing was that this paper was published on the first of September, 1939—actually the day that Hitler walked into Poland. So the whole world was looking at Poland and not at Oppenheimer. That piece of work somehow got forgotten and Oppenheimer himself lost interest in it and he never went back to it later. It went out of his life and that was a shame. He could have done a lot more with it, so it all had to be redone 20 years later. He was a big scientist. The strange thing is, the really great thing that he did was not what he wanted to do. He wanted to do particle physics and wasn’t interested in astronomy. Anyway, that’s the way the ball bounces. You never know what you end up being famous for.

via What It Was Like to Work With Einstein, Feynman, Oppenheimer, Pauli, and Bohr?

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Five Bully-boy Tactics to Win Elections and Influence People

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Dissent author Nick Robinson describes how leaders of the new “Authoritarian Democracies” keep and hold power.

1. Politicizing the prosecution of political opponents. In countries like India, it is not uncommon for politicians in power, or their allies, to bring cases against opposition politicians. Even if a court ultimately dismisses these charges, these prosecutions drain the resources of one’s opponents and cast them under a veil of suspicion. Trump’s declared intent to appoint a special prosecutor to pursue a criminal investigation against Hillary Clinton and “lock her up” over her email server fits this pattern. It is not a stretch to imagine that Trump will use politicized investigations or prosecutions against political opponents in the future.

2. Selective application of the law to the media and civil society. In India, Narendra Modi’s government has audited civil-society organizations critical of his government for their taxes or for not complying with regulations around accepting foreign funding. Such actions keep these organizations on the defensive and undermine their legitimacy in the eyes of the broader public. Similar selective application of the law to shut down critics could also be used in the United States. Indeed, after being angered by the Washington Post’s coverage of his campaign, Trump threatened he would order the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to bring an antitrust action against Amazon in retaliation (both the Post and Amazon are owned by Jeff Bezos).

3. The use of libel laws to attack critics. Even before running for office, Trump was involved in a number of libel actions and he says he will bring litigation against the women who accused him of sexual assault during the campaign. Peter Thiel, who helped fund the lawsuit that ultimately bankrupted Gawker, is one of his primary supporters. Even if Trump ultimately loses the libel cases he brings, the threat of prolonged and expensive litigation can silence both those who wish to speak out about Trump’s less savory behavior and the media outlets that dare to report such stories.

4. Undercutting non-partisan government institutions. After a recent coup attempt earlier this year in Turkey, President Erdoğan replaced thousands of civil servants with loyalists. The Turkish example is dramatic, but leaders can also more gradually undermine the non-partisanship of the state. For instance, in June the Reserve Bank of India’s well-respected leader Raghuram Rajan was forced into resigning by the Modi government after he expressed concern over rising intolerance in the country.
In the United States, there are many non-partisan positions to which Trump might appoint loyalists or attempt to push out those who do not toe the line—this might be in the Department of Justice, FBI, Federal Reserve, or even the judiciary. Trump has already expressed a desire to “fire” the country’s top generals, which he legally could do, thereby turning the military into a partisan entity and reducing its ability to act as a check on Trump’s potentially extreme or dangerous orders.

5. Silence in the face of violence. Perhaps, however, the most powerful discretionary tool of an authoritarian-inclined leader is not any specific action, but rather his or her silence or inaction in the face of violence or intimidation undertaken in their name. In India, Modi has effectively sat on the sidelines when allies in the media like Arnab Goswami of Times Now (think Sean Hannity on steroids) have branded rights advocates and critical journalists as “anti-national,” or when Muslims have been attacked in the name of the Hindutva ideology that aided his rise to power.
In the United States, we have already seen minorities, journalists, and university spaces attacked in the name of “Making America Great Again.” The dramatic rise in hate incidents and crimes since the election has been startling in its breadth. Trump did not order these attacks, but in refusing to clearly condemn them and continuing to scapegoat minorities, he encourages more such crimes. In a constitutional democracy extreme elements of the public can frequently do far more to intimidate and wear down critics than the government itself. Authoritarian-minded leaders know this and use it to their advantage.

The above is not an exhaustive list of strategies. There are many others, including tactics that are illegal, but difficult to detect—such as leaking damaging secrets about political opponents (Trump, after all, will now have access to the most sophisticated intelligence agencies ever created).

Trump is not Modi or Erdoğan, or, as some suggest, Hitler—each of whom themselves sit on a wide spectrum of authoritarianism. Trump’s leadership will have its own pathologies that reflect the man and his context. We should not be surprised, though, to see him use any of the strategies discussed here, and should anticipate their potentially long-term effects: they may not only allow him to stay in power for far longer than four years, but could also do irreparable damage to the country’s political fabric and create an environment in which future American presidents may feel less constrained to use these tactics themselves.

These tactics work because Americans are much more tribal than they used to be. Politics has become identity politics, a Balkanization that destroys the trust a democracy needs to function.

When identity politics rule, racism and polarization thrive. It is no coincidence that we are seeing a resurgence in outright white nationalism — embodied in the so-called alt-right — at the same time that America’s leftist cultural elite are decisively rejecting Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream that Americans be judged by the “content of their character” and not the color of their skin.

If we don’t respect our neighbors because they belong to a different political tribe, we’re not going to respect their vote.

Americans have always hated and mistrusted our politicians. That’s normal. What’s not business-as-usual is for us to trust a politician (or a political party) more than our neighbors and friends. When we do that, we’re not just losing our democracy, we’re losing our essentially American pragmatism, the knowledge that unity is strength.

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