(WJC)–The European Jewish Congress (EJC) has called on the European Union and European governments to immediately ban the Turkish group IHH, which led one of the six Gaza Flotilla ships, and similar groups. “Organizations affiliated with and used as a front for terrorist groups like Hamas and al-Qaeda have to be outlawed with immediate effect,” said EJC President Moshe Kantor in a statement.
According to a report issued in 2006 by the Danish Institute for International Studies, the IHH maintained links with al-Qaida and a number of “global jihad networks.” The report also said that the Turkish government had launched an investigation into the IHH which began in December 1997 after receiving intelligence that the IHH had bought automatic weapons from Islamist terrorists. Following the revelation, the Turkish government launched a raid on the organization’s Istanbul offices, where they found weapons, explosives, and instructions for bomb-making. The report added that an examination of documents found at the IHH office indicated that the group was planning to take part in terrorist activities in Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Bosnia.
According to the study, a French intelligence report found that in the mid-1990s IHH leader Bülent Yildirim recruited soldiers for jihad [Muslim Holy War] activities in a number of Islamic countries, and that the IHH transferred money, firearms, and explosives to jihadists in said countries. “It is evident that the IHH has been an organization long associated with terror and global Jihad” Kantor continued. “Such organizations need to be immediately exposed so Europeans will not be deceived into believing that they are a legitimate humanitarian organization.”
It had become clear that this flotilla did not have a humanitarian goal when its organizers rejected repeated calls to pass their aid through Egypt or Israel, the EJC said in a statement.
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.
By Jeanette Friedman
PHILADELPHIA–They came in early spring, like migrating birds from every corner of the world—more than 200 professors and clergymen, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and even atheists and agnostics—to discuss and study the Holocaust and to celebrate and honor the work of the late Rev. Franklin Littell at St. Joseph’s College in Philadelphia. They came from as far away as Russia, Bosnia, Israel, France, England, and from across America—California, New York, New Hampshire and Florida. Sponsored by St. Joseph’s, Stockton State College in New Jersey and Temple University, the Conference was founded 40 years ago by Rev. Littell and Dr. Hubert G. Locke, who have been at the leading edge in presenting the latest research in Holocaust and Genocide Studies to the rest of us.
Among the presenters were Dr. Michael Berenbaum, founding director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; theologian Dr. Richard L. Rubenstein, University of Bridgeport; premier Holocaust educator Samuel Totten, the Chambon Foundation’s Pierre Sauvage, and Holocaust studies pioneers Father John Pawlikowski and Rabbi Irving Greenberg, all of whom paid tribute to Rev. Littell, who died on May 30, 2009. This was the first conference to take place without him.
The conference was founded in 1970 to create an academic forum for the exchange of information and ideas about the Holocaust between scholars, researchers and educational pioneers; to promote an interfaith, international, interdisciplinary, rigorous intellectual tradition; to encourage continued research on church responses to the Holocaust and the destruction of European Jewry while encouraging and deepening interfaith discussions; to use the Holocaust to determine early warning signs of genocide and to get the information to others through review, editing and publication.
The opening evening was a memorial to Rev. Littell. A poignant 28-minute documentary about Littell was produced and presented by Dr. Sauvage, and earned unanimous acclaim. It was clear from the film, which consisted of clips from the Reverend’s own presentations and one-on-one interviews, that his philosophy of church responsibility in response to the Holocaust, his views of the need for Holocaust education, his passion and his teachings have had a deep impact on the way the Holocaust is taught today in middle schools and high schools. He has also influenced how research and Holocaust and Genocide studies are pursued on the university level.
The opening plenary session was devoted to the “Unfinished Agenda,” outlining the work that must still be done. Breakout sessions covered the lack of safe haven for Jews who attempted to leave Europe; contemporary theology; issues in teaching the Holocaust in primary schools; ethics after Auschwitz; uses of the law; contemporary antisemitism; the use of memoirs; the arts; Peter Bergson; the healing professions during the Holocaust; resistance; the churches’ response to the Holocaust; other genocides; and most interestingly, a Jewish-Christian-Muslim trialogue with participants Leonard Grob of Fairleigh Dickinson University, Henry F. Knight of Keene College, Rochelle L. Millen of Wittenberg University and Khaleel Mohammed of San Diego State University.
As noted by Dr. Marcia Littell, in addition to academicians, participants included survivors, descendants of survivors, community leaders, interfaith clergy and undergraduate and graduate students. In a parallel session, The Teachers’ Institute presented a seminar for high school teachers on Integrating Themes of Rescue and Resistance into the Teaching of the Holocaust and other Genocides.
Those who spoke most movingly during tributes to Rev. Franklin Littell were his devoted widow, Dr. Marcia Sachs Littell; Rabbi Irving Greenberg, one of the first leaders in the Jewish community to begin the movement to remember with his organization, Zachor, and Dr. Elisabeth Maxwell of Remembering for the Future, who is currently working on a searchable survivor testimony database—a central on-line directory of all the testimonies in existing collections.
The Conference’s executive director is Dr. Marcia Sachs Littell of Stockton State College’s Department of Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Dr. Hubert G. Locke is the conference chairman. Honorary Chairman is Prof. Elie Wiesel and the major benefactor is Holocaust survivor Felix Zandman, who, with his wife, Ruta, was presented with the Eternal Flame Award.
Friedman is bureau chief in the greater New York City area for San Diego Jewish World.
STRASBOURG, France (WJC)–The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has ruled that the constitution of Bosnia-Herzegovina discriminates against the Jewish and Roma minorities in the Balkan country and must be changed.
The court ruled on Tuesday in favor of the two plaintiffs, the president of the Jewish Community, Jakob Finci, and Roma leader Dervo Sejdic. Both men complained that their bids to run for the presidency and the upper house of Parliament had been rejected because they were not members of the ethnic groups defined in the constitution: Muslims, Croats or Serbs.
The court’s decision obliges Bosnia to reform its constitution, which was part of the 1995 Dayton peace accord that ended the ethnic war among the three groups in the early 1990s. The basic law was aimed at ensuring sharing among what it calls Bosnia’s constituent peoples.
Finci said he was “delighted that the European Court has recognized the wrong that was done in the Constitution 14 years ago.” He urged politicians “to right the wrongs in the Constitution quickly.”
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress
ATLANTA, Georgia (Press Release)– Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, 23, of Roswell, Ga., and Syed Haris Ahmed, 25, of Atlanta, were sentenced Monday in federal court following their convictions earlier this year in separate but related criminal trials, the Justice Department announced.
“With their words and their actions, these defendants supported the wrongheaded but very dangerous idea that armed violence aimed at American interests will force our Government and our people to change our policies. That is terrorism, and it will not succeed,” said Sally Quillian Yates, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. “The risk posed by men such as these defendants continues, both here and abroad. Hopefully, meaningful sentences such as these will make our citizens and our soldiers safer around the world as the message is sent that we will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who would ally themselves with terrorists.”
In Washington, D.C., David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division, said, “This case serves as another reminder of the global nature of the terrorism threat and the importance of international and domestic cooperation in addressing it. These defendants, who conducted surveillance of potential terror targets at home and pursued terrorist training overseas, were part of an online network that connected extremists in North America, Europe and South Asia. I commend all those who were involved in this prosecution and the related investigations around the world.”
FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Greg Jones said, “The radicalization of U.S. citizens by jihadist recruiters abroad is a very real and growing concern that the FBI and the U.S. Government as a whole must deal with. The FBI is charged with preventing terrorist attacks before they occur and we are committed to this task. Individuals engaged in such activities as these two individuals cannot successfully argue that such activities are constitutionally protected.”
U.S. District Court Judge William S. Duffey, Jr., sentenced Sadequee to a term of 17 years in prison, to be followed by 30 years of supervised release. Judge Duffey sentenced Ahmed to 13 years in prison, also to be followed by 30 years of supervised release.
According to Acting U.S. Attorney Yates and the evidence presented during the trial: Sadequee was born in Fairfax, Va., in 1986. He attended school in the United States, Canada and Bangladesh. In December 2001, while living in Bangladesh, he sought to join the Taliban, to help them in their fight against U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Ahmed, a naturalized citizen born in Pakistan in 1984, came to the United States in the mid-1990s. He attended high school in Roswell and Dawsonville, Ga., followed by college studies at North Georgia College and Georgia Tech.
Sadequee and Ahmed began discussing their obligation to support jihad in late 2004. By this time, both Sadequee and Ahmed had become active on several web forums known to support the cause of violent jihad. These discussions quickly grew into an active conspiracy with others to provide material support to terrorists engaged in violent jihad. The evidence indicated that the material support consisted of (1) Sadequee, Ahmed, and other individuals who intended to provide themselves as personnel to engage in violent jihad, and (2) property, namely, video clips of symbolic and infrastructure targets for potential terrorist attacks in the Washington, D.C., area, including the U.S. Capitol, the World Bank headquarters, the Masonic Temple, and a fuel tank farm — all of which were taken by Sadequee and Ahmed to be sent to “the jihadi brothers” abroad.
At trial, the government presented evidence that Sadequee, Ahmed, and their co-conspirators used the Internet to develop relationships and maintain contact with each other and with other supporters of violent jihad in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Pakistan and elsewhere. In support of the conspiracy, in March 2005 Sadequee and Ahmed traveled to Toronto to meet with other co-conspirators, including Fahim Ahmad, one of the “Toronto 18″ suspects awaiting a terrorism trial in Canada. While in Canada, Sadequee, Ahmed, and their co-conspirators discussed their plans to travel to Pakistan in an effort to attend a paramilitary training camp operated by a terrorist organization, as well as potential targets for terrorist attacks in the United States.
In April 2005, Sadequee and Ahmed drove to the Washington, D.C., area to take the casing videos, which the government’s evidence showed they made to establish their credentials with other violent jihad supporters as well as for use in violent jihad propaganda and planning. Sadequee later sent several of the video clips to Younis Tsouli, aka “Irhabi007″ (Arabic for “Terrorist 007″), a propagandist and recruiter for the terrorist organization Al Qaeda in Iraq, and to Aabid Hussein Khan, aka “Abu Umar,” a facilitator for the Pakistan-based terrorist organizations “Lashkar-e-Tayyiba” and “Jaish-e-Mohammed.” Both Tsouli and Khan have since been convicted of terrorism-related offenses in the United Kingdom and are imprisoned there.
The government’s evidence additionally showed that Sadequee and Aabid Hussein Khan, the convicted U.K.-based terrorist, using a members-only violent jihadist web forum known as “At-Tibyan Publications,” recruited at least two individuals to participate in violent jihad. One, a self-identified 17-year-old American convert, was praised by Sadequee for his “capacity of fulfilling [his] largest obligations in [his] native land.”
The government also presented evidence at trial that in July 2005, Ahmed traveled from Atlanta to Pakistan in an unsuccessful attempt to enter a paramilitary terrorist training camp and ultimately engage in violent jihad. While in Pakistan, Ahmed met with Aabid Hussein Khan, and the two discussed Ahmed’s intention of joining a camp. The day before Ahmed returned to Atlanta, Sadequee departed Atlanta for Bangladesh, carrying with him, hidden in the lining of his suitcase, an encrypted CD; a map of Washington, D.C., that covered all of the areas he and Ahmed had cased; and a scrap of paper with Aabid Hussein Khan’s mobile phone number in Pakistan.
Once in Bangladesh, Sadequee began to conspire more closely with Younis Tsouli and Mirsad Bektasevic, a Swedish national of Serbian origins. Specifically, Tsouli, Bektasevic, Sadequee and others formed a violent jihadist organization known as “Al Qaeda in Northern Europe.” The group was to be based in Sweden. The evidence at trial showed that in October 2005, Sadequee sought a visa that would allow him to relocate from Bangladesh to Sweden. Bektasevic was arrested in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on Oct. 19, 2005. He and a co-conspirator were found in possession of over 20 pounds of plastic explosives, a suicide belt with detonator, a firearm with a silencer and a video recorded by Bektasevic demonstrating how to make detonators; showing an arsenal of semi-automatic weapons, grenades, explosives and other arms; and depicting Bektasevic and others placing a grenade booby-trap in a forest near Sarajevo. Sadequee had been in electronic and telephonic contact with Bektasevic as recently as three days before Bektasevic’s arrest, discussing the silencer and explosives Bektasevic had acquired for the group. Bektasevic has since been convicted of terrorism offenses in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Meanwhile, after returning to Atlanta to resume his studies at Georgia Tech in August 2005, Ahmed remained in contact with Sadequee, expressed regret at his failure to join violent jihadists, conducted internet research on topics such as high explosives and defeating Special Operations troops, and discussed his intent to make another attempt to enter a violent jihad training camp. In March 2006, Ahmed was approached by FBI agents and agreed to a series of voluntary, non-custodial interviews over the course of eight days. Amid efforts to deny his illegal activities and mislead the agents, Ahmed made increasingly incriminating statements. Efforts by the FBI to obtain Ahmed’s cooperation in the ongoing international terrorism investigation ended after the FBI discovered that Ahmed was surreptitiously contacting Sadequee, who was still in Bangladesh, to advise him of the FBI investigation and to warn him not to return to the United States.
Ahmed was arrested on March 23, 2006, in Atlanta, on material support of terrorism charges. He has been in custody ever since.
Sadequee was arrested on April 20, 2006, in Bangladesh, on charges arising out of false statements he made in an August 2005 interview with the FBI in the Eastern District of New York (EDNY). Sadequee was indicted in the Northern District of Georgia on July 19, 2006, and transferred to Atlanta in August of that year, after the charges in EDNY were dismissed at the Government’s request.
This case was investigated by agents and officers of the Atlanta Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), which is led by the FBI, Atlanta Division.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert McBurney, Alexis Collins and Christopher Bly prosecuted the case.
Preceding provided by the U.S. Justice Department