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The Jews Down Under~Roundup of Australian Jewish News

July 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Garry Fabian

Compiled by Garry Fabian

Opposition leader speaks on Hizb utTahir

CANBERRA, 21 July –  Australian opposition Leader Tony Abbott has conceded that members of Islamist organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir hold concerning views, but as long as they do not incite terrorism, the group has a place in Australian society.

Speaking to radio shock jock Alan Jones last week, Abbott said if reports that the group was
agitating to establish an Islamic caliphate were correct, it would be “abominable, absolutely abominable”.

But he continued: “The general principle in this country is that we don’t punish bad thoughts, we don’t even punish bad words, as long as those words don’t amount to incitement to break the law.”

Hizb ut-Tahrir ­ an international Islamist group that has a small branch in Australia ­ is banned
in some countries, mostly in the Middle East. It has come under fire on a variety of fronts, not
least because of its anti-Semitic rants. and calls for the eradication of the Jewish State.
The Bangladesh arm of the group released a statement earlier this year calling on Muslims to
“teach the Jews a lesson” and “march forth to  fight them, eradicate their entity and purify the earth of their filth”.

In 2007, then attorney-general Philip Ruddock oversaw an investigation into possible terrorist
links with the local branch, but eventually decided not to proscribe the group.

Abbott said the group has very limited support in  this country at the moment, and argued the
mainstream Muslim community is not behind it. “My  hope, my expectation, my confidence is that this  is a minority view among Australian Muslims, but I’ve got to say anything that looks like an incentive, an incitement to break the law, is something [that] should certainly attract the very closest interest from the law enforcement agencies.”

Hizb ut-Tahrir has come back into focus after hosting a conference in Sydney earlier this month.

A spokesperson for Attorney-General Robert McClelland said it would be inappropriate to
confirm or deny whether the group is under investigation by Australia’s intelligence agencies.

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Union for Progressive Judaism condemns Israeli Convdersion Bill

MELBOURNE, 22 July – The local Union for  Progressive Judaism (UPJ) has added its voice to global Reform and Conservative condemnation of attempts to push a conversion Bill through the Knesset.

Sponsored by Yisrael Beitenu MK David Rotem, the Bill would delegate the authority to municipal rabbis to carry out conversions to, in an attempt to streamline the conversion process for non-Jewish Israelis.

The Bill’s opponents complain that the same clause effectively provides legal backing for the
authority of the Orthodox rabbinate over all conversions, and threatens the status of those
who converted overseas through non-Orthodox rabbis.

In a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, signed by UPJ president David Robinson and other senior officials, Progressive Judaism’s Asia-Pacific roof body expressed “great disappointment and shock” at news that Rotem had taken action to drive the Bill through the Knesset without coordination with representatives of all streams of Judaism.

Rotem’s action also drew the condemnation of Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, who had been working to bridge Diaspora and Israeli concerns over the Bill since it was proposed earlier in the year.  While American Jewish organisations have been most vocal in speaking out against the Bill, the UPJ rejected Rotem’s view that some concerns about the proposed legislation are solely American, writing “We believe that it is important for you to know that the grave concerns expressed about this legislation extend far beyond the United States .

“We join the leadership of the World Union for Progressive Judaism in viewing this Bill in its
current form as an affront to all Progressive and Conservative Jews.”

The Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) also weighed into the debate. ZFA president Philip
Chester wrote a letter to Netanyahu, warning that the passage of such legislation “would do
incalulable harm to the unity of the Jewish people”.

Anat Hoffman, executive director of the Israel Religious Action Centre, the advocacy arm of the Progressive movement in Israel, told The AJN during a recent visit to Australia that those
parts of the Bill “bring us back from our tremendous achievement [in Israel’s Supreme Court] of six years ago that allReform and Conservative conversions all around the world are recognised in Israel for purposes of aliyah.”

Rotem, defending the Bill on Monday, told The Jerusalem Post that he was unwilling to delay
resolving a problem that affects thousands of immigrants.

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Controversy or birthright

SYDNEY,  23 July – Australian Birthright program organisers have rejected reports in the
international media claiming a recent group visit to Hebron was “unprecedented”.

An article, first published in the New York Jewish Week last week, reported that the trip
made by the Australian Chabad Campus Birthright  group earlier this month also “raised questions about whether the program has shifted policy on visits to the West Bank”.

But Rabbi Yehudah deVries, who is responsible for the Australian Chavaya Taglit-Birthright Israel trips for Chabad Campus students, said that those undertaking the extended program for longer than the 10-day free trip have always visited Hebron, with the exception being the past two years.

Rabbi deVries explained he was approached by Birthright’s official trip organiser, Israel
Experience, to arrange the visit to the Cave of the Patriarchs, or Ma’arat HaMachpela, the site
where ­ according to the Torah ­ Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sara, Rebecca and Leah are buried.

“The entire 10-day program was submitted for Taglit’s approval, as always, and was, as always, approved.

“This includes security approval,” he explained.

“The trip went ahead and was run according to exact security requirements,”

Rabbi deVries said security would not have been approved if the army, police and education
department had deemed the visit to be a potential risk.

“If we can visit Kibbutz Misgav Am, which is in the firing range of Hezbollah on the Lebanese
border; we stand on a Golan Heights border lookout at Mizpe Gadot and look into Syria, then why make a point ofHebron being either dangerous or political?” Rabbi deVries questioned.

And as for the politics of the visit?

“Politics should not be brought to the groups. Taglit-Birthright Israel is most young people’s
first experience of the land of Israel. Let them see as much as possible . and let them make
informed decisions based on their own intellect and experience,” he said.

The Zionist Federation’s Israel Programs coordinator Brendan Bensky said the visit formed
part of the Chabad Campus group’s Jewish historical aspect and was approved by Birthright.
This trip was the first time an Australian group undertook the Birthright program mid-year.

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Israel a point of difference in Australian election campaign

CANBERRA, 23 July – Just two days into the election campaign, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott touted his party’s “unshakable commitment” to Israel.

Speaking at an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce lunch in Melbourne on Monday, Abbott took the opportunity to criticise the Rudd-Gillard Government’s record towards Israel.

“I have to say that it’s a little disappointing, given the deep affinity between the Australian
people and the Israeli people that the current Australian Government has somewhat weakened our longstanding bipartisanship on Israel,” Abbott said before the crowd of more than 1000
businesspeople and Liberal Party faithful.

“I want to reiterate here today, the Coalition’s unshakable commitment to Israel’s security and I want to assure you that a Coalition government would never support a one-sided United Nations resolution against Israel to curry favour with an anti-Israel majority in the General Assembly,” he said.

He continued: “And we would never overreact to any international incident, because we appreciate that Israel is under existential threat in a way that almost no other country in the world is.”

He told guests, including dozens of the nation’s finest journalists, who were following Abbott’s
campaign trail, that Australia needs to appreciate that “a diminished Israel diminishes the West”.

The Opposition Leader also used the opportunity to pay tribute to the achievements of the local Jewish community. He commented that Australia is the only country in the world, apart from Israel, where Jewish people have occupied the highest offices, including as the governor-general.

Among guests at the Crown Casino lunch were Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey, Shadow Minister for Finance Andrew Robb, Victorian Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu and former treasurer Peter Costello.

Costello, who travelled with Julia Gillard to Israel last year for the Australia-Israel
Leadership Forum, delivered the vote of thanks, endorsing his former cabinet colleague’s tilt at the top job.

“Tony Abbott is a man of commitment and a man of drive,” Costello said. “I know he was party of a very successful government, I don’t know that about Julia Gillard.”

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Canadian MP Calls on Australia to charge Iran with conspiracy to commit genocide

MELBOURNE, 22 July-  Australia should be the first country to refer Iran to the United Nation Security Council, a senior Canadian politician said this week.

Irwin Cotler delivered keynote addresses and met politicians from both sides this week during a whirlwind tour of Australia supported by the Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC).

The human rights law professor and former Canadian attorney-general said Australia, as a
signatory to the United Nations genocide convention, needs to “exercise leadership” and
refer Iran to the UN Security Council for conspiracy to commit genocide.

When probed as to why his country, which for many years has been outspoken on preventing genocide, would not do that itself, Cotler said “political leaders live in an insular bubble where issues of the day overwhelm these issues”.

“The country that does it first will be applauded by history,” he told the audience

He added that if Australia did refer Iran for investigation, Canada would certainly support the move.

Cotler, who chairs the Responsibility to Prevent Coalition, which recently completed a report on “The danger of a nuclear, genocidal and rights-violating Iran, said the evidence is
available to indict Iran over conspiracy to commit genocide.

The report states: “Repeated calls for the destruction of Israel and ‘prophecies’ of its
demise all work to normalise the idea of genocide in the minds of the Iranian people. Articulated in the context of demonising rhetoric implying a clash of civilisations, calls for the
annihilation of the Jewish State begin appearing not only moral and justifiable, but natural as well.”

Asked why, if the evidence is clear, Iran has managed to escape scrutiny, Cotler replied: “It
certainly does make a mockery of international law and it sustains a culture of impunity”.

“The Iranian regime can intensify incitement, knowing they won’t be held to account,” he said.

Cotler added that it is not just through incitement to genocide that the Iranian regime
threatens global stability. He said suspected nuclear weapons development, Iran’s sponsorship
of terrorist organisations and violations of the rights of the Iranian people were four distinct
threats posed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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Ashley Brown selected for Australia Under 19 Football training squad

Ashley Brown joined North Caulfield Maccabi Junior Football club in 2010 and is a part of the
successful U18 Youth Development Programme, and plays in the Boys U16 and Under 18 competition.

Ashley will hopefully be selected later this year to once again compete in the Asian Qualifiers. She has just returned from the FFA Nationals in Coffs Harbour where she competed in the Victorian U17 girls team and was selected in the All Stars team (representing the best players of the tournament). Ashley has a long and impressive  record of achievement on the football filed.

In 2006, Ashley aged 11 made the Victorian Primary Schools State soccer team, and was
included in the National Training Centre in Victoria for advanced players. At the time she
was the youngest player ever to be included in that squad.

In 2007, aged 12 and in 2008 aged 13, she was part of the Victorian State u15 team. In 2008 she was selected in the U17 Australian Team and travelled to Malaysia to compete in the Asian
Qualifiers. She was in the starting lining up playing against Thailand and Myanmar and the team finished top of their group. In 2009 Ashley won the Maccabi Victoria Deloitte’s Rising Star Award and in 2009, she was selected again in the Australian U 17 squad for the Asian Qualifiers (but unfortunately had to withdraw three days before due to injury). In
January 2009 Ashley represented Victoria in the National Futsal Championships.

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Tragic end to World Cup trip

MELBOURNE, 23 July–A local teenager critically injured in a diving accident in Malaysia died in Melbourne on Thursday.

On Tuesday, an air ambulance carried 14-year-old Reagan Milstein and his mother Tamara home from Singapore, where he had spent 18 days in hospital in a critical condition.

Upon arrival, he was taken straight to Melbourne’s Monash Medical Centre, where he remained in intensive care.

His mother Tamara said on Tuesday that while the family were very relieved to have their son
safely home, they now “embark upon the next stage of this sad journey where the road ahead will be very difficult and filled with uncertainty”.

“The family would like to express their immense gratitude to friends, family and the wider
community who have provided so much comfort and  support and helped them all cope during this tragic time,” she said.

Tributes flooded in to the Facebook group ‘Regan’s Recovery’. Family, friends and other
members of the community had been posting their wishes and prayers on the Facebook page since the accident.

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Australian Education Minister stand on Holocaust Studies

CANBERRA, 26 July – Despite lobbying from the Jewish community, Education Minister Simon Crean failed last weekend to commit to compulsory Holocaust education in Australian schools.

Speaking to a standing-room only audience at the opening of the Jewish Holocaust Centre’s
refurbished main exhibition on Sunday, Crean praised the efforts of curator Jayne Josem.

“What struck me coming in was the joy, the happiness and the pride when I came in, but
you’re quickly brought back to perspective when you’re taken through the museum,” said the minister, whose full portfolio takes in education, employment, workplace relations and social inclusion.

Moving on to political matters, Crean discussed the draft national curriculum, which is open for public consultation until July 30. He outlined the option of year 10 students undertaking a
study of the Holocaust as part of their history classes.

“It is vital that our children are aware of the past and that they learn from the past,” he said.

But despite lobbying from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry for Holocaust studies to be made compulsory, the Member for Hotham did not give any indication this would be happening.

“All students in year 10 will undertake a depth study of war and peace in the 20th century, this
includes the impact of World War II on the modern world and will give students the chance to study the history of the Holocaust,” the former opposition leader said.

He added that the curriculum authority was also charged with building lessons of tolerance and respect into the curriculum, which is set to be unveiled later this year.

“Good education does help deliver a good citizen [and] the Jewish Holocaust Centre does a great job in fostering that understanding and that belief in tolerance and acceptance and that belief in diversity,” he said.

Speaking immediately before Crean, Josem said that since its opening in 1984, more than a
quarter of a million students have been guided around the centre by a survivor guide. But she
spoke of the challenge with today’s students – who come to the centre with piercings, low-slung shorts, iPods and mobile phones.

“Our job here is to penetrate through their digital armoury and get them to think about why they’ve come.”

The museum’s new interactive story pods and modern presentation, which were developed with the input of survivors, will go some of the way to achieving that.

“They arrive indifferent . but they leave different,” she said.

More than 500 people braved the rain to attend Sunday’s opening, which was held in a marquee alongside the museum, with overflow crowds watching on screens inside the centre. As deputy prime minister, Julia Gillard had accepted an invitation to open the refurbished exhibition, but she sent Crean in her place because of a timing clash/

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Fabian is Australia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World

 

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Canadian anti-Semite charged with promoting genocide

July 12, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–In Canada, a Bangladeshi immigrant who had called for “the slaughter of Jews” in postings on the internet has become the first person to be charged with promoting genocide. Salman Hossain, 25, who reportedly left Canada two months ago, was charged with five counts of promoting hatred and advocating or promoting genocide over postings on his website and blog, as well as on a third-party website, Ontario’s Provincial Police said in a statement, adding that Hossain had “willfully promoted hatred and advocated genocide of the Jewish community.”

Until now, Canada has only prosecuted suspects accused of mass atrocities abroad, in countries such as Rwanda. The Canadian government has also deported war crimes suspects to be tried in foreign courts.  Hossain, who immigrated to Canada as a child, openly called for “violent regime change in Western nations in order to remove the presence of Jews” and “the slaughter of Jews,” according to reports.  He also advocated terrorist attacks in Canada, cheered the killing of Canadian troops in Afghanistan, and urged fellow Muslims to overthrow the “Jewish-run Canadian government.” 

In recent online postings, Hossain said he left Canada in May, and is now reportedly in South Asia where he continues to advocate racist violence on his website and blog. “We know that he’s out of the country,” police spokesman Pierre Chamberland told the news agency AFP. “We are working with various government departments to have him brought before justice.” 

In 2007, Hossain wrote: “We must never cease in our efforts to eliminate the Jewish people from the face of the earth. Their permanent liquidation and destruction is the only solution.” He added: “A genocide should be perpetrated against the Jewish populations of North America and Europe. Our prime targets will be any major cities with Jews residing in them.”

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

Roll call on Gaza flotilla portrays the values of international community

June 4, 2010 Leave a comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Israel was victimized twice this week, first by terrorists hiding yet again among the civilian population (one Turkish-sponsored jihadi boat traveling with five more-or-less civilian boats) and second by a world all too ready to blame Israel for the violence engendered by those who sought a bloody death for themselves and any Jews they could take along. By the end of the week, things began to look more normal-those who are already against remained against; those who try to split the difference split it (consider the “abstain” list below); and a few stood honorably above the rest.   

1) Italy, Netherlands and the United States voted against resolution A/HRC/14/L.1, “Grave Attacks by Israeli Forces against the Humanitarian Boat Convoy” in the UN “Human Rights” Council. It is of note that the major Italian newspapers supported Israel editorially as well. In the United States, public opinion ran strongly in Israel’s favor, as usual. 
 
After a nasty and public denunciation of Israel by President Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Kouchner, France abstained, probably reminded that in 1985 French commandos sunk a Greenpeace ship in what was called Opération Satanique. (You know what a threat those satanic environmentalists pose to Paris.) France was joined by Belgium, Burkina Faso, Hungary, Japan, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Ukraine and UK.
 
Voting in favor of the commission whose conclusion is in its title were Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovenia, South Africa, and Uruguay. 
 
Surprised?
 
2) President Obama: He almost got it right in a TV interview, but missed the essential point. “You’ve got a situation in which Israel has legitimate security concerns when they’ve got missiles raining down on cities along the Israel-Gaza border. I’ve been to those towns and seen the holes that were made by missiles coming through people’s bedrooms. Israel has a legitimate concern there.  On the other hand, you’ve got a blockage up that is preventing people in Palestinian Gaza from having job opportunities and being able to create businesses and engage in trade and have opportunity for the future.”
 
The President doesn’t know, or didn’t say, that Hamas is responsible both for the attacks on Israel and for the misery of the Palestinians in Gaza. Instead, he wanted to “work with all parties concerned-the Palestinian Authority, the Israelis, the Egyptians and others-and I think Turkey can have a positive voice in this whole process once we’ve worked through this tragedy. And bring everybody together…”
 
Aside from the fact that Turkey is fully complicit in the incident and thus should forfeit any seat at any future table, the Palestinian Authority has not represented Gaza Palestinians since Hamas evicted it in a bloody putsch in 2007. Instead of hoping to “bring everybody together…” the President should be working to evict Hamas from Gaza, for the sake of the Palestinians as much as anyone else.
 
3) The Czech Republic: Small countries that know what it means to disappear when others find them inconvenient stick together and we are grateful that they do. The President of the Czech Senate, Dr. Přemysl Sobotka, told Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, “As a doctor, I certainly regret any loss of life, but there is no doubt that this was a planned provocation designed to drag Israel into a trap… Many in the European community feel as I do, but they are afraid to speak out publicly… I support the position that views Hamas as a terrorist organization… It is too bad that European countries present an unbalanced position on this matter. Unfortunately, the positions of the international community are not always to my taste, particularly in Europe.”
 
We are reminded that 18 months ago, the Czech foreign minister issued this statement: “I consider it unacceptable that villages in which civilians live have been shelled. Therefore, Israel has an inalienable right to defend itself against such attacks. The shelling from the Hamas side makes it impossible to consider this organization as a partner for negotiations and to lead any political dialogue with it.”
 
And finally…
 
4) Mesheberach: During the Jewish Sabbath service, there is a prayer is for those who are ill or injured.   The “Mesheberach” includes the name of the person for whom the prayer is offered and, in an unusual practice, the name of the person’s mother rather than his or her father. Whether in the synagogue or not, we hope readers will remember the six soldiers injured while protecting the people of Israel:

Dean Ben (son of) Svetlana
Roee Ben (son of) Shulamit
Daniel Lazar Ben (son of) Tina Leah
Yotam Ben (son of) Dorit
Ido Ben (son of) Ilana
Boris Ben (son of) Eelaina

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Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.

The Jews Down Under

March 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Compiled by Garry Fabian

A new slant on Dubai killing.

MELBOURNE,10 March – The article below was written by Paul Howes, National Secretary of the Australian Workers Union, who has always been a strong supporter of Israel.

It’s fascinating how one word can change so dramatically the meaning of one sentence.

Since the allegations emerged surrounding the use  of Australian passports in the assassination of  Hamas arms smuggler Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai
it’s interesting to read how different Australian  journalists have referred to the man.

Some journalists and commentators have taken to  referring to al-Mabhouh as a “Palestinian  militant” implying therefore, that he, and indeed Hamas, as a whole are some kind of national liberation movement – not unlike Fretilin in East
Timor or the American revolutionaries of 1776.

It’s unfortunate that so few of them seem to have  sat down and read Hamas’ own weird, extreme conspiracy theory, fascist racist charter.

Amongst other things, the charter repeatedly  names the Freemasons, Lions and Rotary clubs as Zionist fronts, saying that all are actually spying outfits using Jewish money to take control of the world and make movies and create other PR
events to, amongst other things, undermine the  morality of the good Muslim woman!

So categorising al-Mabhouh and Hamas as  “militants” or “national liberation fighters” is not just plain wrong, it provides a cover for  Hamas to hide the reality of this ugly  Islamo-fascist terrorist organisation under the cloak of international law.

Let’s be clear: the death of al-Mabhouh is a  positive outcome for those who believe in peace and justice.

Yes, I accept that a liberal conscience will  worry about the compelling moral arguments against extrajudicial killings.

But we’re talking about a man who has turned  Palestinian children into human bombs to murder  and terrorise Israeli civilians, not to mention  the terror Hamas has waged against Palestinians  who are deeply worried about Hamas’ fundamentalism being imposed by authoritarian diktat.

Al-Mahbouh and his Damascus military faction are  said to be responsible for undermining the  negotiations between Israel and Hamas to release
the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

The question of the use of Australian passports  in the operation in Dubai raises many issues for the Australian Government.

Traditionally, Australia has been a loyal friend  of Israel, no matter which party is in
government. This is something that should make us all proud.

Some have argued that if Israel has illegally  used Australian passports, this is not the action of a friend. Maybe.

But in my view, friends stand by each other in  the good times and the bad, and a friend is  someone who lends a hand when the going gets tough.

That’s why I’m proud that our nation has played a small, and accidental role, in the removal of the terrorist al-Mabhouh from our planet.

Many may say that’s to be expected of a  pro-Israeli. But it should be clear that
al-Mabhouh’s death is quietly welcomed by the  vast majority of the moderate Arab world.

Al-Mabhouh will be mourned only in the capitals  of the despotic Middle East regimes such as Iran and Syria.

Many anti-Israel activists around the world, and  in Australia, have seized on the passport issue  to develop a new front to push their anti-Israeli  propaganda. That, too, is to be expected.

But Australians shouldn’t fall for the giant lie  they are pushing. Israelis are actually allied  with a clear majority of the Arab world fighting a war against the forces of anti-democratic Islamo-fascism.

The world defeated Nazism. Now the world must  support those countries fighting Islamo-fascism.

It is a war that is being fought on the streets of Tehran, where democratic forces battle that Islamic dictatorship; it’s being fought on the streets of Gaza, after Hamas launched their coup there; it’s being fought in Lebanon against  Hezbollah and in the mountains of Afghanistan against the remains of al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

The fighters had a small victory in a Dubai hotel.

The Australian Government has a responsibility to protect Australian interests abroad and while some may say the possible illegal use of  Australian passports in the Dubai operation is against our national interests, I say they are wrong.

It is in our nation’s interest and the interests  of the world as a whole, to ensure democracy, liberty and freedom thrives.

It is in our interest to ensure that a free, secular and healthy democratic Palestinian state is created.

It is in our interest to ensure that when private citizens leave their homes and go to work or school that they don’t have to fear suicide bombers will kill them.

This is not an easy war to fight, or to win. It has to be fought in many different theatres.

But it is in our interest to ensure that all human beings regardless of their sex, race,
religion, sexual orientation and political belief can live their lives free from persecution or harassment.

Hamas and al-Mabhouh stand against all these values – values we hold dear.

Therefore, it is in our nation’s interest to do whatever we can to remove these vile people from power – by any means necessary.

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Paul Howes is national secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union

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Fourth Australian identity in Dubai assassinationMELBOURNE, 9 March – Interpol yesterday named the  27th suspect in the case – Joshua Aaron Krycer – as they issued arrest warrants over the January murder.

An arrest warrant for the person pretending to be  Joshua Krycer was issued – he was the only “new” person added to the 26 suspects already named by Dubai police.

The real Joshua Krycer lives in Israel, having  moved from Melbourne three years ago.

He works at one of Jerusalem’s largest hospitals,  the Shaare Zedeck Medical Centre, where he is a certified speech therapist.

The hospital’s website says Mr Krycer is an  expert in speech therapy and swallowing difficulties and offers diagnosis, treatment, follow-up and recommendation for continued care after discharge from the hospital.

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Tackling the injustice of agonot

MELBOURNE, 10 March – Orthodox rabbis have met  with Jewish women’s rights advocates to discuss  the anomaly of agunot– ­women whose husbands will
not grant them a Jewish divorce.

The meeting was held in Melbourne last week  between the Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV) and the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (NCJWA) – and the person who brought them together was Israeli lawyer Sharon Shenhav,
an advocate for women’s justice within Jewish law.

Following the meeting, Shenhav  said she was pleased that local rabbis are taking the plight of agunot seriously through the recent introduction of pre-nuptial agreements.

“Agunot are absolutely still relevant and a problem,” she said of the phenomenon, which has lasted for centuries.

She heard from the rabbis, who represented Chabad, Mizrachi and modern Orthodox congregations, that the pre-nuptial agreements ­ which must be strongly recommended to all couples married by an Orthodox rabbi in Victoria ­ have
been issued more than 600 times already, with only one couple expressing disagreement with the document.

During her trip to Australia as NCJWA scholar-in residence, Shenhav met with people who are or who know an agunah, including one woman whose husband disappeared 57 years ago.

Shanhav said pre-nuptials are an important step forward, but that Australia is behind the times in bringing them in. Israel has had them for more than two decades, mainstream Orthodox American couples have been signing them for 20 years and they have been in place in Britain for at least a decade.

“It’s nothing new, but I am delighted Australian rabbis have taken to it.”

At last year’s RCV AGM, former president Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant advocated for pre-nuptial agreements to become compulsory. He was defeated though, largely by some of the older rabbis.

However Shanhav was unwilling to blame the older generation for dragging their feet on agunot.

“It [the meeting] crossed all age groups and all showed genuine concern about the problem.”

Current RCV head Rabbi Yaakov Glasman spoke compassionately of women who find themselves unable to break free of a troublesome marriage.

“It is our sincere hope that the women who are suffering as a result of this issue will be freed without further delay, and the RCV is working hard to pre-empt such cases occurring in the future,” he said.

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Cycle club gets star recruit

MELBOURNE, 11 March – Matt Sherwin is in the top handful of club cyclists in Victoria. He hasconsistently been at the peak of the A-grade competition in recent years, and is a walk-up start at any club in the state.

So his choice to saddle up for the fledgling Maccabi Cycling Club (MCC) is remarkable.

His decision wasn’t based on the standard of cyclists at the Maccabi club — there are few riders that can go with him — nor was it a choice based on prestige or resources.

MCC is a club on the move. It is one of the fastest-growing Maccabi clubs and while it has been developing exponentially since its inception late last year — thanks to an explosion in the sport’s popularity among Melbourne Jews — it is
still very much in its infancy.

In fact, Sherwin’s motivation for choosing Maccabi isn’t really based on competition at all.

“Cycling offers so much more than a competitive element,” Sherwin said.

“It offers a lot of social interaction andcamaraderie. Then there’s the fitness element .there’s so many benefits for such a wide range of people. Cycling’s not confined to the racing element.”

Time and again, Jewish athletes have abandoned the Maccabi movement as they approach the elite level, but as a proud member of Melbourne’s Jewish community, this was not a consideration for Sherwin, who is dedicated to growing the sport at the grassroots level.

Prior to joining Maccabi, Sherwin was racing for the Carnegie Caulfield Cycling Club, the biggestclub of its kind in Australia and one of the biggest in the world. In 2007, he spent a year in the US, racing for professional team Sakonnet Technology.

“It was a bit of a decision to move across, but supporting the community was a big motivator,” Sherwin said during a recent interview

“I wanted to help promote the club because it’s a very tough market out there. I wanted to give abit of exposure to the club to help get it off the ground.”

Maccabi Cycling was launched in August last yearand caters to all riders. It will launch a juniordevelopment team later this year and already has around 80 members. Late last month, the club rodefor a charity event through Marysville to help raise money for victims of the Black Saturday bushfires.

In Maccabi colours, Sherwin is a near-permanent fixture in the top five and, in January, wasasked to compete in the Jayco Bay Criterium Series – one of the fastest criterium races in the world – as part of a team comprising riders from Canberra and Victoria.

Sherwin has now turned his attention to making the jump from club level to open level, and plans to compete overseas again.

“I’m probably at a level in between the professionals we have in Australia and the restof the world and club level. The next step is very difficult because you’re racing against professional riders a lot, but it’s a step I’m in the process of taking at the moment,” Sherwin said.

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New Settlement plan not Helpful – Australian Foreign Minister

CANBERRA, 11 March –  Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has criticised Israel’s decision to allowthe building of more homes in Ramat Shlomo, an
ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood of Jerusalem.

Speaking to Sky News on Thursday, Smith called the decision, made on Tuesday, a “bad” one.

“I share the view that this is a bad decision at the wrong time,” he said. “It’s not a helpful contribution to the peace process. It’s not a helpful contribution to the very hard work that’sbeen going on behind-the-scenes, including from the United States, to try and get Israel and thePalestinian Authority together for so-called proximity talks.”

Approval for 1600 additional houses in the burgeoning area –  where media reports put the average household at seven or eight people – was given by Israel’s Interior Ministry. It iscontroversial because the building would be beyond the Green Line, but the Netanyahu Government said it never agreed to halt construction in Jerusalem.

The approval followed closely on the heals of United States Vice President Joe Biden’s express support for new, indirect peace talks during a visit to Israel this week. That support is basedon the cessation of settlement building in the Palestinian territories.

Smith said Australia continues to support a freeze on Israeli buildings beyond the Green Line, including East Jerusalem.

“Issues of settlement and East Jerusalem andJerusalem can be part of a final agreement,” Smith said.

“What we are very, very desperate to achieve inthe Middle East is a long term enduring peace where Israel has the right to exist as a state in
a context of peace and security, and thePalestinian people have their own state as well,also existing in a context of peace and security.”

He said the announcement was “not helpful” in promoting the peace process.

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Jewish radio to hit the airwaves

MELBOURNE, 12 March – The local  Jewish community is set to have its very own radio station after a temporary licence was granted to Melbourne Jewish Radio.

But it has been no easy feat for the station, named Lion FM, with the founding committee having engaged in a long and arduous application process
with the Australian Communication Media Authority (ACMA).

“The application process was extremely difficultand many times people probably counted us out. I have a belief that nothing worthwhile in life comes easily and sometimes you need to dig in and fight for something,” Melbourne Jewish Radio secretary Stephen Fennell said.

“Some 18 months after we began this process, herewe are about to begin our maiden broadcast. Thisis such a great achievement for the community.”

Expected to be broadcasting full time within the next six weeks, Lion FM will cater to differentlistening groups. It will include a mix of news and current affairs, light entertainment, music and special interest programs.

As with the nature of the programming, the Lion FM team is also a mix of people from different sectors of the community.

“People from all walks of life have joined us  over the journey and many more come on board every day. We have established subcommittees to implement the requirements for the station, which is all voluntary at this point,” Fennell said.

Among the volunteers is lawyer and Glen Eira councillor Michael Lipshutz, who holds the position of station president.

Lipshutz believes the station will play an important role in bringing more Jewish news andinformation to Jews and non-Jews alike.

“Jewish audiences want more media. Particularly with Israel always on the back foot and the Jewish community on the back foot because of anti-Semitism, we need to reach out to the general public as well as the Jewish community,” he said, adding that it is particularly pertinent for younger generations who are becoming “less
associated with the Jewish community”.

To be transmitted on 96.1 FM, the station must construct its own antenna to carry the signal,and will test broadcast for a few weeks as per its ACMA requirements. Once official broadcasting begins, Melbourne Jewish Radio must prove to the
ACMA that it is able to successfully run the station before a permanent licence is granted.

Lipshutz said the group is seeking community support to raise $300,000 to ensure the success of the station.
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Anti-Semitism unlikely to go away

SYDNEY, 10 March – A final peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians would not eliminatethe rising levels of western anti-Semitism, according to pre-eminent Holocaust scholar Professor Yehuda Bauer.

Speaking at Sydney’s Mandelbaum House last Thursday, he told the audience, including University of Sydney chancellor and NSW Governor Marie Bashir, that a multi-pronged approach is required to battle anti-Semitism, including the
use of mass communication channels to present the “facts on the ground”.

“Analyses show reasonably clearly that what is being attacked is Israel as a Jewish state, not just as another state, and that the current conflict serves as a trigger that releases people from a politically correct attitude of opposing anti-Semitism,” the academic said in Sydney last week.

The reason for this, he said, is because anti-Semitism is not only a prejudice, but also a “historically ingrained cultural phenomenon” in the Christian-Muslim world that exists latently and can be aroused by a conflict such as the current one in the Middle East.

Prof Bauer, a past winner of the prestigious Israel Prize and professor emeritus of Holocaust studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is currently touring Australia. He will be the keynote speaker at Monash University’s upcoming
Holocaust Aftermath Conference on March 14 and 15.

An elaborate mix of ideological campaigns is also called for, he said, to battle anti-Semitism in the Muslim world, where radical Islam is growing and outspokenly anti-Semitic messages are increasingly gaining acceptance with the mainstream.

“This is very clear in Pakistan, for instance, where there is not a single Jew,” he said.
There are competing, non-radical interpretations of Islam, he stressed, and it’s up to a “non-patronising western stance” to support those voices “willing to enter the fray”.

“Anti-Semitism is a global scourge, and it’s directed against all civilised societies. That ishow it should be seen,” Prof Bauer said.

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Kosher label review “cautiously welcomed

MELBOURNE 12 March – Kosher authorities have “cautiously welcomed” a federal
government-sponsored review of kosher labelling.

Currently being conducted by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), the review is part of a sweeping evaluation of food labelling laws sparked by consumer concerns over inaccurate and inconsistent food labels.

A recently released issues paper by the COAG committee stated that there is “consumer desire for clarification of the terms”, including “kosher”.

Starting this week, the committee will kick off its consultation process, inviting submissions and conducting public meetings in capital cities across Australia and New Zealand until May 7. A final report is expected by early December.

Kashrut authorities were this week tentatively optimistic about the review.

NSW Kashrut Authority’s (KA) rabbinic coordinator, Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, stated that, in principle, government assistance in defining what is labelled kosher could help stamp out, what he called, kosher fraud.

“It’s a good thing, but we need to work out how it’s going to happen,” Rabbi Gutnick said.

“Of course, the government is not qualified to determine what is kosher – this must be determined by the rabbinic kashrut bodies of the various states,” he stressed.

“Perhaps ‘kosher’ for the purposes of legislation would mean something supervised as such by an independent rabbinic body, not the manufacturer themselves.”

Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant, the kashrut committee chair of the Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia (ORA), said he could also see “significant benefits” coming from such a review in regards to fraudulent advertising, but he also remained cautious.

“The matter does need careful consideration, and I do question the driving force behind this particular initiative,” he said. “I think the kashrut authorities will share a measure of concern about it.”

Regarding plans to make a formal submission to the review panel, he added: “It’s certainly something ORA should be considering, and I’ll bring it up with the committee and see what their responses are.”

Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Robert Goot also said he would be liaising with kashrut authorities and ORA on how to proceed with a submission “consistent with Jewish religious practice”.

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Shabbat in Antarctica

A “Real Cool Story from the ends of the earth” – In a small chapel overlooking a frozen sea inlet, Dick Heyman leads a tiny congregation in a Shabbat-evening service. “Blessed are you, endless one, who makes the evenings fall,” he
says, opening the Ma’ariv service with an English rendition of the prayer Asher Bidvaro.

“Oh, wait,” Heyman says, pausing. “We can’t say that here.”

Heyman is right. This January Shabbat service — the first ever in Antarctica to the knowledge of anyone present — is taking place in a dimly lit chapel. But it’s bright as day outside, and it has been that way for nearly six months.

Here, on the McMurdo Sound near the Antarctic coast, the last sunrise was in August, and the sun won’t dip below the horizon again until the end of February. Few things are black or white, but Antarctica is one of them. Save for a brief
transition in March, the continent enjoys either 24-hour darkness or 24-hour light.

The stubborn sun presents some secular challenges to the scientists and staff here: sunglasses are a must, even at midnight. But the odd solar schedule may also have implications for Shabbat, the timing of which is determined by the coming and going of the sun and stars.

“Part of lighting Shabbat candles is to have light in the darkness,” Heyman explains to his congregants, “but we don’t have darkness until February”.

In this multipurpose chapel, a small hodgepodge of staff members – Jewish and non-Jewish, the committed and the idly curious, including two Christian chaplains – listen respectfully to Heyman. At McMurdo Station, a research outpost
with the largest community in Antarctica – around 1100 summertime residents – he is effectively the chacham, or knowledgeable communal leader.

Heyman, a child of German Holocaust refugees, grew up a Reform Jew in the Forest Hills section of Queens in the US. In Antarctica, he works 50-hour weeks as a network engineer, connecting the remote base to the rest of the world. He has
been in information technology for 25 years, but this is his first season on the ice. His four-month stint is the longest he has been away from his family of four in Fort Collins, Colorado. So, though he describes himself as “not especially religious” and recalls that he had his bar mitzvah in a Presbyterian church, Heyman
decided to hold a Shabbat service to remind him of home.

With the help of rabbis from Congregation Har Shalom in Fort Collins, Heyman printed out prayer booklets, planned an oneg – an informal Friday night Shabbat service – and baked a challah for the occasion. The 64-year-old estimates that
there are upward of 20 Jews on the base, but only eight congregants besides himself have shown up to enjoy the festivities, plus myself, a non-participating reporter. Only six participants are Jewish.

The others, including the two Christian chaplains, are among the curious. “I’m from the Judeo-Christian tradition,” says Reverend Philip Gibbs, a 62-year-old New Zealander. “So when something Jewish is going on, I want to see it.”

Even some of the Jews present admit to little inthe way of Jewish background, leading Heyman to punctuate the service with frequent commentary
and explanation as he moves along.

As it turns out, Heyman is not the first to ponder the problem of Shabbat in the face of a non-setting sun. In the 18th century, the Vilna Gaon suggested that ambiguous cases should followthe solar calendar of Jerusalem, a proposal accepted today as law.

But according to Rabbi Michael Paley, scholar-in-residence at the Jewish Resource
Centre of UJA-Federation of New York, the law extends only to land masses contiguous with Israel, making Antarctica something of a halachic no-man’s-land.

When the situation is uncertain, Rabbi Paley explained, the precise timing of Shabbat could become a community decision. Fortunately, Rabbi Paley’s psak, or ruling, is consistent with Heyman’s intuitions.

“There’s never been a Jewish pope,” Heyman says, “so there can be some interpretation”.

The engineer-cum-chazan decides to follow a custom of referring to the sundown of the nearest community – in this case, the ironically named Christchurch, New Zealand. Christchurch is home to the nearest off-continent base of the United
States Antarctic Program, and McMurdo Station – which is located at nearly the same longitude as New Zealand’s Milford Sound but much further
south – runs on Christchurch time, allowing Ma’ariv to begin around dinnertime instead of 10hours later, as it would on Jerusalem time.

But as soon as one problem is solved, another arises. Following the custom of facing towards Jerusalem to pray, Heyman instinctively instructs his congregation to turn east, as do Jews who live in the West.

“Grid east or true east?” Philip Fitzgerald asks.

The 33-year-old carpenter and Jew from Juneau, Alaska, has a point. At McMurdo, a few hundred miles from the geographic South Pole, cardinal directions are skewed. Almost everywhere one turns is geographically north. This has led
navigators to develop an artificial “grid” system for designating directions in Antarctica.

For someone standing at or near the South Pole, “grid north” is defined as facing in the direction that aligns with the prime meridian – the longitudinal line that passes through the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England. “Grid south” aligns with the International Date Line, running through the opposite side of the globe, in the Pacific Ocean.

“Grid east” passes through Bangladesh between India and the Gobi Desert, and bears no relation to Jerusalem. But neither does true east, which simply makes a short lap around the South Pole before looping back to McMurdo.

So where to face? Heyman and his congregation settle on true east, concluding that thinking of Jerusalem is what counts.

Rabbi Paley thinks they could have found Jerusalem on a map and simply faced that way.

“But the world is round,” he said. “Eventually you’ll get there.”

For Heyman, the spirit of his Shabbat service trumps the details: during kiddush, accompanying the challah and wine are some tasty (if untimely) latkes, made from roasted potatoes he had been hoarding from the cafeteria.

For Kenneth Iserson, 60, the sight of the Shabbat candles brings him back to his Conservative Jewish upbringing outside Washington. Now professor emeritus at the University of Arizona, Prof Iserson came to Antarctica to serve as the
lead physician on the research base.

“Those are the first candles I’ve seen lit at McMurdo,” he says.

Heyman adds that he doesn’t know if another Antarctic Shabbat service is on the horizon. But if he does hold the service again, he says he’ll take extra care to scour the base for more congregants.

“I’m happy with the turnout,” Heyman says. “But there have got to be more than six Jews in Antarctica.”

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Fabian is Australia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World

Two Guantanamo detainees transferred to Algeria

January 23, 2010 1 comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)–Two Algerian detainees, Hasan Zemiri and Adil Hadi al Jazairi Bin Hamlili, have been transferred from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the custody and control of the Government of Algeria.

As directed by the President’s Jan. 22, 2009 Executive Order, the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force conducted a comprehensive review of these cases. As a result of that review, which examined a number of factors, including the potential threat posed by each individual and the receiving country’s demonstrated capabilities to mitigate potential threats posed by the individuals in their home country, each detainee was approved for transfer.

The transfers were approved by unanimous consent among all the agencies involved in the review — including the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the Departments of Defense, State, Justice and Homeland Security.

In accordance with Congressionally-mandated reporting requirements, the Administration informed Congress of its intent to transfer these detainees at least 15 days before their transfer. These transfers were carried out under an arrangement between the United States and the Government of Algeria. The United States coordinated with the Government of Algeria to ensure the transfers took place under appropriate security measures.

Since 2002, more than 570 detainees have departed Guantanamo Bay for other destinations, including Albania, Algeria, Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Belgium, Bermuda, Chad, Denmark, Egypt, France, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Palau, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Spain, Sweden, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom and Yemen.

Eight detainees were transferred from Guantanamo Bay to Algeria under the previous Administration. As of Friday, 196 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay.

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Preceding provided by U.S. Justice Department

Terrors conspirators sentenced to federal prison

December 14, 2009 Leave a comment

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.

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Preceding provided by the U.S. Justice Department