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Tashfeen Malik is pictured in this undated handout photo provided by the FBI, December 4, 2015. FBI/Handout via Reuters

Tashfeen Malik ‘wild card’ in San Bernardino shooting: U.S. lawmaker

Tashfeen Malik is pictured in this undated handout photo provided by the FBI, December 4, 2015. FBI/Handout via Reuters

Tashfeen Malik is pictured in this undated handout photo provided by the FBI, December 4, 2015. FBI/Handout via Reuters

By Diane Bartz

Reuters

WASHINGTON – Tashfeen Malik, the Pakistani woman involved in the California mass shooting last week, may have influenced her American husband toward violence, said Representative Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, on Sunday.

Malik’s relatives in Pakistan have said she appeared to have abandoned the family’s moderate Islam and become more radicalized during years they spent in Saudi Arabia.

Malik, 29, and her U.S.-born husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, stormed a gathering of civil servants in San Bernardino, California, on Wednesday, opening fire with assault rifles and killing 14 people.

The pair were killed two hours later in a shootout with police SWAT team members.

“There’s a serious investigation ongoing into what she was doing in Pakistan and in Saudi,” McCaul said on Fox News Sunday. “We think that she had a lot to do with the radicalization process and perhaps with Mr. Farook’s radicalization from within in the United States.”

“The wild card here is the wife Malik,” said McCaul, who said that investigators were also investigating where they got the money to acquire the guns.

Asked what ties the couple had with the Islamic State, which has said the pair were “followers”, McCaul said that was unclear, and was a part of the investigation that was underway.

At a minimum, he said, Islamic State “inspired” the attack since Malik pledged allegiance to the group in a Facebook posting.

“We have the computers. We have the devices. We are currently going through the forensics,” he said. “The investigation is ongoing to find out what is precisely the connection between ISIS, say, in Raqqa and in the United States, and what was going on.”

U.S. officials have acknowledged that they had no information about the couple before the killing other than a routine request by Farook to grant Malik a visa so she could join him in the United States so they could marry.

McCaul also noted that Farook had a large arsenal of semi-automatic guns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and pipe bombs.

“We are looking at the terrorist financing aspect to this case. I believe on his salary, he was not able to buy this on his own,” said McCaul.

Islam teaches patience in the face of bigotry

By Hesham Hassaballa

I had no idea that this gathering about drawing the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) even existed. That is, until news of the shootings surfaced. Now, authorities have identified the gunmen, Elton Simpson and his roommate Nadir Soofi. These “holy warriors” were killed by police as soon as they opened fire as the event was ending.

What continues to boggle the mind about the criminals who undertake such actions to “defend the Prophet (pbuh)” is how brazenly they neglect the Qur’an. This is not the first – and most certainly will not be the last – time that the Prophet (pbuh) has been insulted. In fact, because of an act such as this shooting, it will guarantee that other such events mocking the Prophet (pbuh) will be held in the future.

But, again, what does the Qur’an say about facing the mockery of the Prophet (pbuh)? Plenty, actually:

“And, indeed, He has enjoined upon you in this divine writ that whenever you hear people deny the truth of God’s messages and mock at them, you shall avoid their company until they begin to talk of other things – or else, verily, you will become like them. Behold, together with those who deny the truth God will gather in hell the hypocrites.” (4:140)

“Now, whenever thou meet such as indulge in [blasphemous] talk about Our messages, turn thy back upon them until they begin to talk of other things and if Satan should ever cause thee to forget [thyself], remain not, after recollection, in the company of such evildoing folk.” (6:68)

Two revelations, revealed years apart, saying the same thing: walk away from those who mock the signs of God. Nowhere does it say that these people should be attacked, harmed, or killed.

People will mock the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), just like other Prophets were mocked before. The Qur’an says so, in fact, multiple times:

“Mocked were (many) apostles before thee; but their scoffers were hemmed in by the thing that they mocked.” (6:10)

“Mocked were (many) apostles before thee: but I granted respite to the unbelievers, and finally I punished them: Then how (terrible) was my requital!” (13:32)

“Mocked were (many) apostle before thee; But their scoffers were hemmed in by the thing that they mocked.” (21:41)

Again, God said that He took care of those who mocked His Messengers, and no where does it say attack and kill those that mock. This is a satanic delusion of some criminals who are Muslim and think they are doing “good.” They are not doing good, but a tremendous evil.

What’s more, the Qur’an comforted the Prophet (pbuh) with regards to the mockery he faced:

“And well do We know that thy bosom is constricted by the [blasphemous] things that they say.” (15:97)

And what does the next verse say to do? Kill them? Attack them? Absolutely not:

“But extol thou thy Sustainer’s limitless glory and praise Him, and be of those who prostrate themselves [before Him] in adoration, and worship thy Lord till death comes to thee.” (15:98-99)

The Qur’an is clear: leave those who mock and malign, and God will take care of them, just like He has in the past.

That is why it is quite clear that people such as Simpson and Soofi have absolutely no knowledge of Islam and the Qur’an. If they did, they would have known better not to engage in acts of criminality that will only do harm to Islam, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), and the larger Muslim community, which will certainly face an unjust and unjustifiable backlash.

Criminals such as Simpson and Soofi, like the criminals behind the attach on Charlie Hebdo, do not represent Islam, and they do not defend the Prophet in the way he should be defended, no matter how much those who hate Islam may say so.

Thank God that Simpson and Soofi were stopped before they could commit worse crimes, and may God protect us all from criminal deviants such as these from ever striking again.

Editor’s Note: Hesham A. Hassaballa is a Chicago doctor and writer. He has written extensively on a freelance basis, being published in newspapers across the country and around the world. His articles have been distributed worldwide by Agence Global, and Dr. Hassaballa has appeared as a guest on WTTW (Channel 11) in Chicago, CNN, Fox News, BBC, and National Public Radio. The views expressed here are his own.

CAIR Attack Condemnation

CAIR’s Press Release:

“On behalf of the American Muslim community, we condemn the attack in Times Square and thank all those who reported their suspicions, disarmed the bomb or are participating in the current investigation. We welcome the arrest of a suspect and hope that anyone involved in the attack will be apprehended and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

“American Muslims repudiate all acts of terrorism and will continue to work with local, state and federal law enforcement authorities to keep our nation safe and secure. We ask anyone who has information about this attack to contact local police and the FBI. Any person who is afraid to contact the authorities directly should contact CAIR. We will then assist these individuals in contacting relevant authorities.

“In no way, shape or form does this attack represent American Muslims or what they stand for as a faith community. We must also, as a civil rights group, remind everyone that we are a nation of laws and that in our system of justice, every suspect is innocent until proven guilty.

“We urge that our fellow citizens and our nation’s leaders reject the inevitable exploitation of this incident by those individuals and groups devoted to demonizing Islam, marginalizing American Muslims and feeding the unfortunately growing Islamophobic sentiment in our society.”

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France Welcomes Second Former Guantanamo Inmate

Paris – A 39-year-old Algerian who was imprisoned for seven years in the US detention centre at Guantanamo on suspicion of terrorism arrived Tuesday in France, the French foreign ministry said.

`In deciding to accept a second ex-inmate on our soil, France is contributing … to implement the decision by US President (Barack) Obama to shut the Guantanamo detention centre,’ the ministry said in a statement.

Saber Lahmar was cleared by courts in several countries, including the United States, of all charges regarding his alleged participation in acts of terrorism.

In the autumn of 2001, Lahmar was arrested in Bosnia with five other Algerians on suspicion of planning an attack on the US embassy in Sarajevo. He was among the first terror suspects to be incarcerated in the controversial prison in Cuba.

Four of the other suspects in the case were released earlier this year. One of them was also sent to France.

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An Open Letter–From Pakistan–To President Obama

By Imran Khan

The U.S. and NATO should withdraw from Afghanistan.

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Picture:  Imran Khan (right) Greets AQ Khan upon the latter’s release from house arrest.  Reuters

 

Dear President Obama,

Your extraordinary ascent to the U.S. Presidency is, to a large part, a reflection of your remarkable ability to mobilize society, particularly the youth, with the message of “change.” Indeed, change is what the world is yearning for after eight long and almost endless years of carnage let loose by a group of neo-cons that occupied the White House.

Understandably, your overarching policy focus would be the security and welfare of all U.S. citizens and so it should be. Similarly, our first and foremost concern is the protection of Pakistani lives and the prosperity of our society. We may have different social and cultural values, but we share the fundamental values of peace, harmony, justice and equality before law.

No people desire change more than the people of Pakistan, as we have suffered the most since 9/11, despite the fact that none of the perpetrators of the acts of terrorism unleashed on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, were Pakistani. Our entire social, political and economic fabric is in a state of meltdown. Our sovereignty, dignity and self-respect have been trampled upon. The previous U.S. administration invested in dictators and corrupt politicians by providing them power crutches in return for total compliance to pursue its misconceived war on terror.

There are many threats confronting our society today, including the threat of extremism. In a society where the majority is without fundamental rights, without education, without economic opportunities, without health care, the use of sheer force and loss of innocent lives continues to expand the extremist fringe and contract the space for the moderate majority.

Without peace and internal security, the notion of investing in development in the war zones is a pipe dream, as the anticipated benefits would never reach the people. So the first and foremost policy objective should be to restore the peace. This can only be achieved through a serious and sustained dialogue with the militants and mitigation of their genuine grievances under the ambit of our constitution and law. Since Pakistan’s founding leader signed a treaty in 1948 with the people of the country’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas and withdrew Pakistani troops, they had remained the most peaceful and trouble-free part of Pakistan up until the post-9/11 situation, when we were asked to deploy our troops in FATA.

Even a cursory knowledge of Pushtun history shows that for reasons of religious, cultural and social affinity, the Pushtuns on both sides of the Durand Line (which marks the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan) cannot remain indifferent to the suffering of their brethren on either side. The Pushtuns are proud of their history of resisting every invader from Alexander onwards, to the Persians, Moghuls, British and the Russians (all superpowers of their times) who were all bogged down in the Pushtun quagmire. So, no government, Pakistani or foreign, will ever be able to stop Pushtuns crossing over the 1,500-kilometer border to support their brethren in distress on either side, even if it means fighting the modern-day superpower in Afghanistan. Recent history shows how the mighty Soviet Union had to retreat from Afghanistan with its army defeated even though it had killed over a million Afghans.

To an average Pushtun, notwithstanding the U.N. Security Council sanction, the U.S. is an occupying power in Afghanistan that must be resisted. It is as simple as that. Therefore, the greatest challenge confronting U.S. policy in Afghanistan is how to change its status from an occupier to a partner. The new U.S. administration should have no doubt that there is no military solution in Afghanistan. As more innocent Pushtuns are killed, more space is created for new Taliban and even Al-Qaida recruits–revenge being an integral part of the Pushtun character. So, as with Iraq, the U.S. should give a time table for withdrawal from Afghanistan and replace NATO and U.S. forces with U.N. troops during the interim period.

The Pushtuns then should be involved in a dialogue process where they should be given a stake in the peace. As the majority’s stake in peace grows, proportionately the breeding ground for extremists shrinks.

The crucial lesson the U.S. needs to learn–and learn quickly–is that you can only win against terrorists if the majority in a community considers them terrorists. Once they become freedom fighters and heroes amongst their people, history tells us that the battle is lost.

Terrorism worldwide is an age-old phenomenon and cannot be eliminated by rampaging armies, no matter how powerful. It can only be contained by a strategy of building democratic societies and addressing the root causes of political conflicts. The democratization part of this strategy demands a strategic partnership between the West and the people of the Islamic world, who are basically demanding dignity, self-respect and the same fundamental rights as the ordinary citizen in the West enjoys. However, this partnership can only be forged if the U.S. and its close Western allies are prepared to accept and coexist with credible democratic governments in the Islamic world that may not support all U.S. policies as wholeheartedly as dictators and discredited politicians do in order to remain in power.

The roots of terror and violence lie in politics–and so does the solution. We urge the new administration to conduct a major strategic review of the U.S.-led war on terror, including the nature and kind of support that should realistically be expected of Pakistan keeping in mind its internal security interests. Linking economic assistance to sealing of its western frontier will only force the hand of a shaky and unstable government in Pakistan to use more indiscriminate force in FATA, a perfect recipe for disaster.

The stability of the region hinges on a stable Pakistan. Any assistance to improve governance and social indicators must not be conditional. For the simple reason that any improvement in the overall quality of life of ordinary citizens and more effective writ of the state would only make mainstream society less susceptible to extremism. However, if the new U.S. administration continues the Bush administration’s mantra of “do more,” to which our inept leadership is likely to respond to by using more force, Pakistan could become even more accessible to forces of extremism leading to further instability that would spread across the region, especially into India, which already faces problems of extremism and secessionist movements. Such a scenario would benefit no one–certainly not Pakistan and certainly not the U.S. That is why your message of meaningful change, Mr. President, must guide your policies in this region also.

Imran Khan is chairman and founder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (Movement for Justice), and served as an elected member of Pakistan’s parliament from 2002-08. The captain of the Pakistan team that won the cricket World Cup in 1992, he founded the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Center, the biggest charitable institution in Pakistan. He is chancellor of the University of Bradford, in the U.K.

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