Islamists exploit Digital Gap

ATCA Briefings

ATCA: The Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance is a philanthropic initiative founded in 2001 by mi2g to understand and to address complex global challenges. ATCA conducts collective dialogue on opportunities and threats arising from climate chaos, radical poverty, organised crime, extremism, informatics, nanotechnology, robotics, genetics, artificial intelligence and financial systems. Present membership of ATCA is by invitation only and includes members from the House of Lords, House of Commons, European Parliament, US Congress & Senate, G10's Senior Government officials and over 500 CEOs from banking, insurance, computing and defence. Please do not use ATCA material without permission and full attribution.

London, UK - 26 February 2006, 16:40 GMT - ATCA: "Islamists exploit Digital Gap" Doyle; Harrison; Ben-Dak; Batra; Guptara; McDonald; Preatoni; Bjergstrom; Howell; Pickering; Bogni; Eilstrup-Sangiovanni; Sheshabalaya; Ormerod; Clothier

Dear ATCA Colleagues

We are grateful to Neil Doyle for submitting the article "Islamists exploit Digital Gap" based on his presentation to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) for Defence and Security Studies in Whitehall, London, at their recent annual terrorism and politics conference.

Neil Doyle is one of world's top investigative journalists, as well as an acclaimed author and a leading expert on terrorism. As an expert in terrorism and the Internet, he's been a consultant to numerous organisations, including NBC News, the BBC's Panorama programme, and Channel Four's Dispatches. He has also briefed the staff of the US Senate judiciary committee. Neil's work on the prospect of nuclear terrorism was cited by the Rand Corporation in a report to the US President and Congress. He has also been cited in reports by the CATO Institute, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

Neil Doyle's first book, Terror Tracker, predicted the possibility of the "7/7" 2005 type suicide bomb attacks in London. Terror Tracker was the subject of a special two-part series broadcast on CBS Evening News, which was watched by around 25 million people. Terror Base UK, Neil's second book, has been recently published by Mainstream Publishing in the UK in January 2006. It is a chronicle of the epic struggle between Al-Qaeda and the West. It culminates by revealing details of the sting operation that led to the arrest of the notorious terrorist suspect Abu Hamza Al-Masri. Neil has been covering the activities of terrorist groups for nearly 15 years and Al-Qaeda in particular since 1993. He has been and is widely quoted in the media at home and abroad. He has been interviewed on ITV, BBC, NBC, CBS, Fox, PBS, CNBC, France One and Germany's DW-TV. He writes:

Dear DK and Colleagues

Re: Islamists exploit Digital Gap

This article is about how Islamist militants in the UK use the Internet for recruitment and disseminating propaganda. It also addresses the wider question of the "digital gap" between the extremists and those chasing them, as recently referred to by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. It is more like a canyon.

The most recent, high-profile example of how extremists use the Internet is the worldwide campaign of protests against the publication in Denmark of cartoons of the prophet Mohammad. One of the main reasons that the protests have been so vociferous and widespread is because official boycott of Danish goods was accompanied by a simultaneous online campaign launched by Al-Qaeda supporters.

All the main Al-Qaeda-supporting websites were, and still are, full of articles and banner ads urging their users to take to the streets, as well as boycotting goods. Islamist hackers also set out to destroy the website of the newspaper that first published the cartoons, as well as other prominent Danish sites, as noted on ATCA. A video is circulating in which death threats have been made against the editors. Any visitor to those websites would be able to recognise them and potentially harm or kill them on sight. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be any distinction between the official boycott and the Al-Qaeda-inspired campaign.

The same thing happened last year when a report of abuse of the Koran at Guantanamo Bay sparked a very similar wave of outrage – even though Newsweek retracted the story. Both examples tell us that Islamist extremists can now use the Internet to stoke-up international civil unrest at will. It was never going to matter if the cartoons were not published in the UK. Militants based here rose to the challenge as well.

Another recent example is the case of the jailed extremist Abu Hamza. It was a website that was instrumental in his downfall. As I tell in my first book, Terror Tracker, a member of the public, called Glen Jenvey, accidentally stumbled upon Hamza’s website in 2000. He was alarmed at what he saw there and decided to find out more about him. Glen, and a colleague, decided to discover just how dangerous he was by setting-up a fake jihad website. In short, he then contacted Hamza to propose that he and his fake extremist group should be co-operating in pulling in new recruits. Hamza liked the idea and sent Glen half a dozen recruitment videos and a couple of dozen audio recordings of his sermons.

Hamza’s fate was sealed at that point, though Glen tried to hand the evidence over to the police, but they weren’t interested. He was told by Scotland Yard to take them to his local police station, if he thought they might be important. Frustrated and annoyed by this, he looked to the US. The video tapes eventually made their way into the hands of the FBI.

An associate of Hamza, called James Ujaama, was on trial in Seattle, accused of aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan. He’d pleaded not guilty, but the prosecution then played a clip from one of Glen’s tapes. It showed Ujaama and Hamza speaking at a meeting of militants in the UK, probably inside Finsbury Park mosque. On one of the tapes, Ujaama tells the audience that he’s been to Afghanistan and has met with the Taliban. Hamza then gives a lecture on the best way to use rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

After that clip was played in court, Ujaama sought a plea bargain agreement. He changed his plea to guilty and agreed to give evidence against Hamza. It was this incident that eventually led to Hamza’s prosecution in the UK. Later, I made sure the audiotape sermons Glen received did not get ignored, by working with a daily newspaper on a story based on them.

Hamza was clearly inciting murder on them and I got a call from SO13 on the day the story came out, in April 2004, under the headline "Hamza’s call for suicide bombs in Britain". The police soon arrested him, when the US charges were announced, and I was put on standby to be a witness. However, the evidence presented in court consisted of tapes gathered during the American-inspired raid on his house. The prosecution decided to use that material, rather than the tapes that they’d already got. That made for a nice clean case, of course, but it also had the advantage of glossing over all the disinterest and inaction over the years. It now looks like Hamza may have enjoyed a degree of protection from the authorities, on the basis that he’d promised not to organise attacks in the UK. Hamza’s word was worth more than ours, it seems, and now, looking back, it was as if we were living in a parallel universe.

We were the bad guys while Hamza was the good guy and getting away with murder, in every sense of the word. He is linked to the deaths of thousands of people and he should have been stopped. Glen has yet to receive the recognition which should be his, as the man who hooked Hamza.

Hopefully, times are changing, but Hamza’s mission has been accomplished. He will continue to haunt us for years to come. Not least because video and audio recordings of his sermons have started circulating on Al-Qaeda web forums – and there’s a vast library of them. He will now become a digital recruiting sergeant for future suicide bombers and could, potentially, keep on preaching for eternity. And Lord Carlisle estimates that there are 20 more Hamzas in the UK alone.

Extremist activity on the Net come in many guises, from the "storefront" propaganda sites, through to online bomb-making classes on Web discussion forums and the actual planning operations on covert websites. The 9/11 hijackers co-ordinated with Al-Qaeda central in Afghanistan by exchanging cryptic messages in a website guest book, for example. That site was set up in the name of a known Al-Qaeda leader, Abu Zubaydah, using one of his known aliases, so it should have been traced and investigated. Again lives could have been saved but, until recently, the notion of terrorists using the Internet was considered to be something of a joke.

The reality is that Islamic militants were making full use the Internet right from the start of the world wide web, ie, for more than a decade. I seemed to be one of the few who was expecting a guerrilla war in Iraq after the US invasion, because I was watching websites where that was being planned and where weapons and bomb-making guides were being exchanged. The penny dropped when I downloaded a version of the infamous Encyclopaedia of the Afghan Jihad – the document Abu Hamza has been convicted of possessing – except it had been updated to include a map of Iraq. There are success stories, certainly. Key media operators have been taken out of action in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland – and, of course, the UK. Forthcoming court cases here should make that starkly apparent.

Officialdom has been slow to get to grips with this new phenomenon – no doubt about that – and, to be fair, there are plausible excuses. Al-Qaeda is an early adopter of emerging communications technology, for one, which ensures they stay at the cutting edge. They are motivated because they have to keep a step or two ahead – or face grave consequences. The jihadis are well versed in operational security and know that they need to mask their true geographical locations. This is a simple matter and usually achieved by the use of what are known as publicly accessible "proxy servers". Using proxy servers, you can make it look like you’re connecting to the Internet from a different country.

I often get suspicious when I see people connecting to my own website from unlikely places like Peru and Tahiti. The best operators know that a mistake means that they can be traced and identified – but they do make the occasional error. They can also be tempted into making unforced errors. Using proxy servers can be slow, so someone uploading a video, for example, might be tempted to use their default connection, for the sake of speed, and therefore voluntarily "de-cloak".

A friend on mine actually offers the use of one of his web servers as a "Honey Pot" to extremist groups so they can share files with each other. It is a fine service and very popular. Everyone likes getting something for free, and jihadis are no exception. The downside for them is that he has access to the server’s log files. Consequently, it’s an easy matter to trace who uploaded what and from where.

He was able to tell me that a video distributed on 7 July last year, which celebrated the London bombings, appeared to have been uploaded by someone using an account in Tunisia. There are probably a dozen main Al-Qaeda "hub" sites, where large volumes of propaganda and "how-to" advice emanates from. They are usually password-protected or access by invitation only. Real extremists hang out there and that can be easy for some to forget, or difficult to appreciate, but it is a fact. It is brought home sometimes when I see a message along the lines of "I’m off on my operation tomorrow. I’ll see you in paradise".

One of the largest of this kind of site has been operated from North-West London for years and, even today, continues as it always has done. Beyond that, you see the smaller sites that will re-publish information from the main hubs. These should not be overlooked, as these could be the key to identifying local networks. The operators are likely to be involved with the militant groups of the type we saw with those placards on the streets of London a couple of weeks ago. They too have websites, and the material tends to revolve around pushing religious justifications for murder and martyrdom. More sensitive material, instructions for making more sophisticated weapons, maybe, are distributed via the modern day version of the dead letter drop.

These are websites set-up in an obscure part or cyberspace, or ones registered with obviously false details, to serve a singular purpose. All the recipient needs to know is the link to the site where the document is located. The people doing this are likely to be the top operators in the elite hacker league who know how important it is not to be caught. Some are so confident, they even indulge in a little show-boating. The domain name of one recently-discovered covert site consisted of 56 zeros and ones, dot com, and was registered to an entirely innocent lady in East Anglia.

There is also a wide array of methods for more covert communications. Some of them are ridiculously simple. One method simply involves the Google search box. Others include groups sharing web-based email accounts, but not actually sending emails. A recent variant has been the use of shared peer-to-peer email accounts. Peer-to-peer means that individual users can directly link their machines with one another to create a network that doesn’t depend on Web servers. It offers obvious advantages in terms of security and one radical Imam, Omar Bakri Mohammad, uses this technology to continue preaching to his followers, even though he is banned from re-entering the UK. It seems that this technology is going to further proliferate and soon we will have, not just the Internet, but also a myriad of private internets.

Best wishes


Neil Doyle


-----Original Message-----
From: Intelligence Unit
Sent: 19 February 2006 00:12
To: ATCA Members
Subject: ATCA: Cartoons Controversy Update; Harrison; Ben-Dak; Batra; Guptara; McDonald; Preatoni; Bjergstrom; Howell; Pickering; Bogni; Eilstrup-Sangiovanni; Sheshabalaya; Ormerod; Clothier

Dear ATCA Colleagues

The cartoons controversy is, regretfully, continuing to spread. The general anger over the cartoons has been stoked by several newspapers reprinting them and an Italian minister -- Roberto Calderoli -- wearing and distributing T-shirts displaying one of the cartoons:

. In Nigeria, 16 people have been killed in Maiduguri and 11 churches have been burned on Saturday as part of the continuing and widespread violence;

. In Libya, at least 11 people have been killed and 40 wounded in the bloodiest protest so far and the Italian consulate in the port city of Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city, has been torched. The Libyan deaths took place after about 1,000 people gathered to protest outside the Italian consulate. Libya's top legislative and executive body has sacked the interior minister and police chiefs in Benghazi;

. In Pakistan, five related deaths have been reported this week and the Government has arrested leaders of the country's religious six-party alliance and some 200 other members of the right-wing Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA). The MMA had planned to march on the capital, Islamabad, on Sunday to protest the cartoon, but the Pakistani government is sealing off the city to buses and vans as a precaution. Denmark has temporarily closed its embassy in Pakistan because of the security situation. Pakistan has recalled its ambassador in Denmark for consultations;

. In Italy, Reforms Minister Roberto Calderoli stepped down from his post Saturday under mounting pressure, including from Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who asked him to resign. Calderoli recently flaunted a T-shirt displaying one of the controversial cartoons on Italian state TV this week. Gianfranco Fini, the Italian foreign minister, quickly scheduled a visit to Rome's main mosque saying he wanted "to reaffirm that we respect every religion, and we expect identical respect";

. In Britain, an angry but peaceful protest in London drew more than 10,000 people to Trafalgar Square. They prayed before marching through Hyde Park. Many carried placards;


-----Original Message-----
From: Intelligence Unit
Sent: 14 February 2006 18:09
To: ATCA Members
Subject: ATCA: Diplomatic enclave stormed; Harrison; Ben-Dak;Batra; Guptara; McDonald; Preatoni; Bjergstrom; Howell; Pickering; Bogni; Eilstrup-Sangiovanni; Rockefeller; Sheshabalaya; Ormerod; Clothier

Dear ATCA Colleagues

It is with regret we note that the Cartoons Controversy is showing no signs of abating and violent protests continue to flare against Western businesses and Embassies in various parts of the Islamic world. Today, in Pakistan -- the second-most populous Muslim nation -- thousands of protesters have rampaged through two cities, storming into the diplomatic district and torching Western businesses and briefly setting a part of the provincial assembly on fire, in that country's worst violence against the cartoons to date. At least two people have been killed and 11 injured. A security guard has shot and killed two protesters trying to force their way into a bank and paramilitary forces have been deployed to restore order.

The unrest began today in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, about 180 miles northwest of Lahore, when between 1,000 and 1,500 people, mostly students, marched into a fenced-off diplomatic enclave through the main gate, as about a dozen police looked on. US and British Embassy officials were confined to their compounds until police dispersed the protesters, some of whom chanted, "Death to x", x alternated between America, Britain, Denmark, Norway etc.

Another protest in Islamabad drew about 4,000 people. Hard-line cleric Hafiz Hussain Ahmad, senior leader of an opposition coalition of six religious parties, said, "We have come to the doors of the embassies to take our voice to the ambassadors. There is anger in the Islamic world. If they do not listen, their problems will increase."

In the Eastern city of Lahore, protesters burned down four buildings housing a hotel, two banks, a KFC restaurant and the office of the Norwegian cell phone company, Telenor. Rioters have also damaged more than 200 cars, dozens of shops and a large portrait of President Musharraf. Vandals broke the windows of Holiday Inn, Pizza Hut and McDonald's as well as a branch of the British bank Standard Chartered. Two movie theatres were set alight, and clouds of tear gas and black smoke from burning vehicles drifted through streets in the city centre. The protest was organized by a little-known religious group supported by local trade associations and one of the main Islamic schools in the city. Intelligence officials, however, suspected that members of outlawed Islamic radical groups may have incited the violence.


-----Original Message-----
From: Intelligence Unit
Sent: 13 February 2006 20:36
To: ATCA Members
Subject: Cartoon Controversy;Harrison;Ben-Dak;Batra;Guptara;McDonald;Preatoni;Ben-Dak; Bjergstrom; Howell; Pickering; Bogni; EilstrupSangiovanni; Rockefeller; Sheshabalaya; Guptara;Ormerod;Clothier

Dear ATCA Colleagues

We are grateful to Michael Harrison from London, who has just returned from Egypt; Prof Joseph Ben-Dak from New York; and Prof Ravi Batra from Dallas, Texas; for their kind submissions in regard to the deeper issues of the "Danish cartoons".

Michael Harrison is the Chairman of the UK's Protecting Critical Information Initiative and Harrison Smith Associates (HSA), based in London. He established HSA in 1991, which he still Chairs, following a successful career in senior management and marketing positions. Among the companies for which he has worked at the highest level are: Hawker Siddeley Dynamics as director; Eurocom Data Holdings (part of NatWest) as group director; BT Mobile Communications as director; Data Logic (part of Raytheon) as director and president; Telub Inforum Services (part of FFV Group of Sweden) as President; and L-3 Communications Network Security as President. During his career Michael has gained experience of working with US and European companies, has carried out business in some 29 countries, and spent over a year in Tokyo establishing a new company for Raytheon. He writes:

DEAR DK and Colleagues

There have been many profound comments from our many correspondents on the subject of the "Danish Cartoons" - my contribution is deliberately at a far more prosaic level, but one that seeks a little more attention from those who may be taking extreme positions.

When the recent publishing occurred I was in Egypt directing and speaking at a conference - total time in Egypt was seven days starting 1st February. I therefore was on the spot in a very moderate and modern predominantly Muslim country as the news unfolded and can report eye witness reactions.

No-one I met could possibly be described as "extremist" - they were almost without exception charming and helpful senior people whose main aim was to make the conference (which was held to celebrate 25 years of the Egyptian-British Chamber of Commerce) as successful and as business-positive as could be. Including top Businessmen and top Government Ministers.

HOWEVER, when the "Danish" row erupted, there were two amusing (but significant) effects.

1. No mention of "Danish Pastries" was allowed - the same things were served, but the name was taken off the menus.
2. Every butter container was "Lurpak" - but on the day after the furore started someone had carefully removed all of the packaging (i.e. peeled off the lids) so that the obvious "Danishness" was not on show. Not necessarily good hygiene, but necessary for the continuation of service in the hotel.

I challenged several of the very senior Egyptians who were all Muslim - and they were unanimous in their expressions of anger at the Danes. They were not, of course, suggesting force should be used - but they were very seriously annoyed, and wanted to avoid all contact with Danish products.

Naturally I pointed out that the Danish farmers were not to blame - and they agreed BUT the Danish Prime Minister's attitude had been the last straw, and they had expected an apology even if the "freedom of speech" answer was true. The lack of perceived understanding of their feelings made them deeply angry - and we cannot afford to ignore this.

The point to my story?

Simply that it is all very well for the learned experts to claim that Islam allows pictures of the Prophet - but the highly educated moderates that I was with over several days do not believe that. That is FACT.

It is all very well to pontificate about the respective moral attitudes of different religions, and draw negative conclusions about what has been stirred up in various Muslim countries for the "political" ends of their leaders, but on the ground there are sane, intelligent, caring people who have become very angry indeed at what they see as a total lack of understanding of what they regard as sacred and sacrosanct.

There are two sayings that I would like to repeat:

"Don't confuse me with facts, my mind is made up".


"Forget the reality, Perception is everything".

These are Management and Marketing sayings - and what we have done is to lose the communications battle, to forget that we need to work ever harder at showing that we are not "the enemy of (Moderate) Islam". I show (Moderate) because genuine Islam is moderate, and the fanatics are being created because both true Islam and the rest of us are allowing them to control the messages - something that in our businesses we would and should never allow.

I will - I hope - not forget an Egyptian who has lived in the UK for many years and who is both moderate and modern, expressing her (repeat her) anger and frustration at Denmark and non-Muslims in general for giving the fanatics yet another weapon. The Muslims are as concerned and horrified as we are about the violence and threats of violence - and they cannot understand how naively we respond to items that can cause such friction.

I am nominally a Christian. Do I object to cartoons about God or Jesus - no. But the Prophet is neither of these, and - rightly or wrongly - the BELIEF is that no [mocking] image of His should be made, and certainly not one that shows Him in poor light.

Do we force people to eat Pork if it is against their religion - no. In fact we don't serve it at all if we have prior knowledge that it is unacceptable to anyone present. Why can't we simply accept that drawing and publishing cartoons about the Prophet is perceived to be totally wrong by a large number of people, and STOP? Why can't the Danes say a simple "sorry" - what and whom does it hurt? (The answer is the militants of course - they don't want this to go away).

What macho-battle are we waging, and in whose name?

Kind regards



Professor Joseph Ben-Dak is Chairman of Knowledge Planning Corporation in New York, a strategic Think Tank and coordinating enterprise advising banks, insurance houses, corporations and governments. Prof Ben-Dak has formerly served as the Principal Advisor to the United Nations Secretary General for Science & Technology and Public Management. As Founder and Chief of the United Nations Global Technology Group, Prof Ben-Dak initiated and established successful technology and science businesses in numerous countries. He has recently completed work as Chairman of an international task force evaluating several areas of "critical" technology in countering terror and cognate cooperation infrastructure in several Mediterranean countries. Prof Ben-Dak has also served as the Academic Director of Israel's Air Force School for Senior Officers. He has held senior academic appointments in several countries including the University of Haifa, Israel; the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil; Papua New Guinea's Institute for National Planning; and Seoul National University, South Korea. He was instrumental in the development of Korea's KAIST/KIST, the centre of public and private industrial planning and the introduction of the formative evaluation regime and concern for sustainable environment to Japan's METI. He writes:

Dear DK and Colleagues,

People caring about their fellow men not only insist that others can speak their mind, they ought to help elicit conditions so that moderates have less of a game of chance with life doing just that.

I am wholeheartedly in agreement with Prof Prabhu Guptara for his valuable elucidation of 'Islamic rage' being manufactured to fulfil another agenda. It is entirely clear that quite a few cynical political players in Islam -- and in the past weeks waves of more opportunistic leaders in Islam and elsewhere -- are taking advantage of the cartoons and "counter cartoons" campaigns in order to develop the lowest common denominators to consolidate their rank and file as well as induct new arrivals.

As I have stated before to my colleagues at ATCA, theirs is not a desire for respect and acceptance as equals -- which Islamic culture can easily achieve in these days of honest "caring dialogue" and open communications. They are emphatically committed for their spiritual truisms to still be considered superior to anything un-Islamic, just like it was or was supposed to be, during their reign of power. The worse to come is predicated on crowd behaviour. It is so well manipulated by the extremists that they cannot entertain or become aware of the possibility of accepting the moderators in, or modern interpretation of, Islam, as they have evolved in Judaism and Christianity (for the past few hundred years). Worst yet, is the punitive and effective harnessing of moderates and punishing applied to moderation attempts. Precisely because the cartoons bring about Islamo-fascists death fight with the moderates, Islamic society will have to evolve to meet the challenges of imperative modernization. These challenges will be met at a higher cost, later rather than earlier.

Moderate expressions can be soon silenced completely if we do not realize that:

First, moderate Islam does not have sufficient financial support, media, textbooks, organs of expression, personal safety of those who speak out and organizational dexterity and, for these reasons, it has been pursued only very passively for the most parts with few country exceptions. UNRWA, the Palestinian Authority, even the educational ministries in most countries that aim at a measure of moderation, ie, being kinder and much more concerned as compared with, say, the rather twisted mixture of hostile/neutral Saudi brand of Wahhabi education [eg educational systems in Malaysia, Indonesia, Morocco, who purport to produce a modern version of Islam] - all still support basic education in the madrassa that mostly feeds uninhibited hatred to the infidels. These include the largest demographic cohorts in all of Islam, ie, of men and women under 22.

Second, some of the conduciveness for theological dialogue with others suffer from "situationally instrumental" - intended omissions in Islam that still reside paramount within the so called moderate Muslim schools of thought. These include the rarely brought up wealth of exegesis and original thinking about Tawhid as a classical Islamic principle of accepting others; the god given primacy of all human race unity occupying so much of the early Hadith stories that should help modern day interpretation; the relevance of the value and concern for human life and essential affinity, all but forgotten, of "people of the book".

Third, myth exists nearly in all religions but in Islamic society the worse myopias in terms of inter-faith relations never get to be highlighted for their false origination. Unlearning lies and glossing over wrongful continuities is yet to be pursued by moderate Muslims as well as concerned non-Muslims. As a side note and illustration: The Jerusalem Mosque has no authentic religious significance for Muslims. Literally, Muhammad never went there. Yazid III, who lived 200 years after the death of Muhammad, was the ruler of Jerusalem and did not possess wealth since Jerusalem was not at all a tourist/religious centre like Mekkah (Mecca). He asked his very wise prime minister to initiate a "cure" to his regime's want. The PM suggested building the most beautiful/amazing mosque in a good Jerusalem location and "tell everybody that Al Aqsa (far away) Mosque mentioned in the Qur'an was there" [referring, of course, to the rock from which Muhammad had ascended to Heavens]. It was a manifest, clear fabrication, but after a few years apparently many came to believe in it. And, Jerusalem did become another religious/tourist spot, as the ruler Yazid III fared very well in terms of his regime's prestige and treasury.

The facts, as recorded in detail in surviving traditional narratives from the earlier period, are distinctly informative. The Prophet Muhammad had a little personal Mosque (a cave) outside of Mekkah. He used to go there to get away from it all and meditate. It was from that rock that he supposedly ascended to heavens. That was the Al Agha (far away) Mosque, since it took Muhammad a couple of hours on camel back to get to it. The records for this al-Aqsa location are among the oldest verified in Islamic historiography. The significance of this, now marginalized, legacy for a positive positioning of Islam vis-a-vis Jerusalem and Judaeo-Christian values, is apparently too obvious to bring out in a hateful environment.

Fourth, many Islamic websites' "action" and particularly last Friday's Shia sermons were indicative of the 12th prophet Al-Mahdi's coming. This scenario of upheavals and temptations and civil disorder is preached to be spread by believers where infidels reside. It is less than the best facilitation for near future moderation of present radical Islam's mood and is best for newly recreated manifold bases for continued anger and rage. The Sunday Times undercover operation in Beeston found that radical views had not subsided in the months after the London bombings. Many Muslims, particularly younger men, expressed admiration for the bombers' "martyrdom". For moderate Muslims this context is not easy to operate in, especially as any expression of dialoguing and co-operation with non-Muslims makes moderates appear as sell outs who may have to face their own prompt Day of Judgment, in a company that is only too eager to apply it, lest more will open up to reorient their community.

Fifth, one sees less than firm hand handling radical Muslims that create these crimes against humanity. British and Danish systems of justice are getting now to differentiate better between moderates that are true to their word in their Arabic or Persian as well as in English [or Danish] and those who may play moderate but are not. These are the most dangerous ones, not only to non-Muslims but to moderates as well. Confronted by The Sunday Times last week, Imam Hamid Ali denied praising the London bombers, which he is on record doing in "close chambers" of his fellow militants and in front of open crowds. When asked whether he believed that their actions were good, he said: "I don't know what they died for, that's what I said... According to our faith, everything depends on what their intention is. I don't know what their intention is..." Poor soul, desiring knowledge.

The Copenhagen based Palestinian Imam; Ahmed Abdel Rahman Abu Laban is another case in point. He actually played the grand role in starting the cartoon campaign and the recent circulation of Jamah Islamiya's hatred messaging among crowds in so many countries; he has not stopped for one week creating new pools of venom by his reciting an Arabic message of calling to punish "carefree" Western tourists in Islamic countries. This call appeared in the Jamah Scandinavian published journal, Al-Murabitun. Last week I saw him on Al-Jazeera hailing in Arabic the Muslim world outrage at his country of residence. Invited often to speak on Danish television he condemned, that very same week, the boycott of Danish goods. He, like Arafat before, learnt that he can send different messages without the slightest guilt, without sense of contradiction or sense of obligation to his adopting country. He never was brought to justice by the Danes before this cartoon era and it seems even more justified and unlikely now. The difficulty here is that for us to identify who is who in moderation requires certain effort and consistency in detailed follow up on people that function in both their milieu and ours.

The moderate tone of all of our commentaries on ATCA reminds Ambassador McDonald, quite justifiably, that our colleagues are all students of and partisan to the values and closely held tenets of Western democratic civilization. What appears to me now perhaps even more urgent is for us to fast realize that many silent thinkers and religious leaders in Islam are similarly concerned but fear stoned by the above described burdens.

Just like in 1998, when intellectual and political Egypt opened its mind to the Lurie cartoons [see my previous post to ATCA in this series], it would behoove us to respond: assisting more exposition of alternative thinking, picking for thoughtful support those that help progressive interaction, depicting positive objectives within latitudes of evolving dialogues and mutual wishes of coexistence that support valid moderation and reliable moderators in Islam. These are not easy challenges, but need be faced soonest.



JD Ben-Dak

Dr Ravi Batra, Professor of economics at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, is the author of five international best sellers. His latest work is Greenspan's Fraud -- How two decades of his policies have undermined the global economy. He was the chairperson of his department from 1977 to 1980. In October 1978, because of dozens of publications in the likes of American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, Econometrica, Journal of Economic Theory, Review of Economic Studies, among others, Batra was ranked third in a group of "superstar economists," selected from all the American and Canadian universities by an article in the learned journal, Economic Enquiry. In 1990, the Italian Prime Minister awarded him a Medal of the Italian Senate for writing a book that correctly predicted the downfall of Soviet communism, fifteen years before it happened. Dr Batra has been written up in major newspapers and magazines, such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, etc, and has appeared on CBS, NBC, CNN, ABC, CNBC, among many other networks. He writes:

Dear DK and Colleagues

I have read with great concern some of the comments that have recently appeared under the auspices of ATCA on the cartoon controversy and the growing clash between Western Europe and Moslems around the world. In this context, it may be of interest to you that in Chapter 11 of my book, Greenspan’s Fraud, I noted some of the forecasts I have made in the past. One of the forecasts was as follows:

"It is now the turn of India [Asia] and Islam to cause an upheaval in the Western world and Russia. It is the orient that is now poised to determine the future of the occident."

I wrote this in my 1980 book, Muslim Civilization and the Crisis in Iran. Stated another way, I predicted that the oil and internal turmoil of some Muslim nations, along with Asian [China and India] ideas, would cause an upheaval in the Soviet Union and the capitalist system. My time frame for this forecast was from 2000 to 2010. The Islamic world, by way of the Soviet-Afghanistan conflict, has already caused the downfall of communism, and continues to churn through Russia in the guise of Chechen rebels. On the other side, Al-Qaeda’s September 11 massacre in New York and Washington, DC, in 2001 affirms how Islam is now convulsing the United States and the Western world.

The growing controversy resulting from 12 cartons of Prophet Muhammad published recently in Europe’s newspapers only adds to the hostility between Islam and the West. How all this clash will unfold in the near future can be predicted with the help of historical cycles, which is what I am now busy doing in terms of a forthcoming book.

Hope you find this of interest.



Ravi Batra


-----Original Message-----
From: Intelligence Unit
Sent: 12 February 2006 09:34
To: ATCA Members
Subject: ATCA: Is 'Islamic rage' fulfilling another agenda? Guptara;McDonald;Preatoni; Ben-Dak;Bjergstrom;Howell;Pickering;Bogni;Eilstrup-Sangiovanni;Rockefeller;Sheshabalaya;Guptara;Ormerod;Clothier

Dear ATCA Colleagues

We are grateful to Prof Prabhu Guptara from Wolfsberg, Switzerland, for his valuable input -- "Is 'Islamic rage' being manufactured to fulfil another agenda?" on The Danish Cartoons row as it continues to simmer. First, the update:

. Three chief editors of Yemeni papers are to stand trial on charges of offending Islam for publishing the Danish cartoons of Islam's Prophet. Earlier this month, two Jordanian editors were put on trial for reprinting the Danish caricatures;

. Iran's hard-line President on Saturday accused the United States and Europe of being "hostages of Zionism" and said they should pay a heavy price for the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that have triggered worldwide protests;

. Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik said on behalf of the European Union that Ahmadinejad's remarks should not be silently accepted. "These remarks stand in complete contradiction to the efforts of numerous political and religious leaders who, after the events of the past few days, are campaigning for a dialogue between cultures that is marked by mutual respect," Plassnik said.

. Saudi Arabia's top cleric said in a Friday sermon that those responsible for the drawings should be put on trial and punished;

. Denmark has called on its citizens to leave Indonesia, warning it has credible information that Danes are at risk. The warning came hours after the ministry said it has withdrawn Danish staff from Indonesia, Iran and Syria.

. Muslims in several European and Asian countries have kept up their protests with thousands taking to the streets in London's biggest demonstration over the issue so far. Noisy but largely peaceful rallies were also held in Turkey, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland and elsewhere, although the Middle East was largely calm.

Professor Prabhu Guptara is Executive Director, Organisational Development, at the Switzerland based Wolfsberg -- The platform for Business and Executive Development, a subsidiary of UBS, one of the largest banks in the world -- where he organises and chairs the famed Wolfsberg Think Tanks and the Distinguished Speaker series of events. Prof Guptara has professional experience with a range of organisations around the world, including Barclays Bank, BP, Deutsche Bank, Kraft Jacob Suchard, Nokia, the Singapore Institute of Management and Groupe Bull. A jury member of numerous literary competitions in Britain and the Commonwealth, he has been a guest contributor to all the principal newspapers, radio and TV channels in the UK, as well as media in other parts of the world. Professor Guptara supervises PhD work at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland and is Visiting Professor at various other international universities and business schools. He is a Freeman of the City of London and of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists; and Fellow of the Institute of Directors. He writes:

Dear DK and colleagues

Re: Is 'Islamic rage' being manufactured to fulfil another agenda?

My last post on this subject ended by challenging the Muslim world to make up its mind regarding whether it belongs in the modern world or whether it wants to continue to belong to the pre-modern parts of the world. On reflection, however, I am now convinced that the reaction to the Danish cartoons is being framed the wrong way around the world.

The matter has little to do with the issue of freedom of speech or the freedom of the press, whether in the West, or internationally. The rules for that are more or less well settled in each Western country, as well as in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights –- even if those documents are not followed in many countries who are members of the UN, such as China and most so-called Islamic countries.

As we should all know by now, unlike Judaism and Christianity, the Koran does NOT forbid representations of the Prophet (PBUH), though some schools of thought among Muslims do so. There is a rich tradition of scoffing at God and mocking the Prophet. There are images of the Prophet in a pulpit in Medina itself, in the Topkapi in Istanbul, and in museums in Bokhara, Samarkand, Isfahan and so on. Most European museums have miniatures and book illuminations depicting Muhammad. There have even been statues of Muhammad, and several Iranian and Arab contemporary sculptors have produced busts of the prophet. One statue of Muhammad can be seen at the US Supreme Court, where the prophet is honoured as one of the great "lawgivers" of mankind. The Janissaries -- the elite of the Ottoman army – used to carry into battle a medallion stamped with the Prophet's head (Sabz Qaba). As for images of other Muslim prophets, they run into millions. Two years ago, the Islamic Republic of Iran honoured the painter Kamal-ul-Mulk, who is famous for having painted a portrait of the Prophet showing him holding the Koran in one hand while the index finger of the other hand points to the Oneness of God. The rulers of Islam probably did this only because Kamal-ul-Mulk had been exiled by King Reza Shah in 1940!

Therefore, logically, the Muslims who claim to be so upset about the Danish representations should not burn the Danish flag first, but the Iranian, Syrian, Iraqi, and Saudi Arabian flags as those are the flags of countries that claim to believe in Islam while violating, perhaps, the subsequently "prescribed" Muslims strictures of what constitutes Islam!

In any case, the matter has little to do with asking people around the world to be "sensitive" to the religious concerns of their Muslim neighbours – or, for that matter, other religious neighbours: some people are sensitive, and so much the better for them; some are insensitive and so much the worse for them. The matter has to do primarily with the need for Muslim fundamentalists to "mobilise and motivate" the Muslim masses in relation to their cause. And if they don't find Danish cartoons and European newspapers to use for this purpose, it is clear that they will find something else to do so.

Witness the fact that "in retaliation" for the Danish ones, some Muslim leaders have come up with anti-Jewish cartoons, not anti-Christian cartoons or anti-modern or anti-liberal cartoons! As if Jyllands Posten, the Danish newspaper which published the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, or its editor or the people or government of Denmark had anything particular or special to do with Zionism! In any case, Zionism (as Muslims understand it today) was a bogey inherited from Hitler's fascists and their campaign to take over power in Germany and has little to do with the real issues facing a resolution of the problems in the Middle East today.

Understanding the Danish cartoons as a "Zionist plot" is a remarkable bit of self-delusion on the part of the individuals concerned such as President Ahmadinejad of Iran. However, for the key instigators of the protests - the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb al-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Liberation Party) and the Movement of the Exiles (Ghuraba) – it is merely cynical manipulation of any fact or incident or idea that might somehow be possibly twisted to suit their purposes.

The modern world should expect such tactics from such organisations. What is worrying is when entire States get in on the act, such as in Iran's cessation of trade relations with Denmark. Why would any country ever want to do so, when it should be clear at least to the rulers of such countries that there is a completely different political and cultural context in the West, where political parties do not (for the most part) control the Press and Media either formally or informally and nor are they strictly allowed to do so.

Well the answer to that question is simple. The ruling elite in Iran too needs to use religious hysteria to continue to keep its people in thrall, at a time when the people are becoming restive, as they see through the religious masks used by their rulers to conceal their greed and corruption.

Increasing recognition of the true nature of their rulers is spreading in the Muslim world, along with a recognition of the material and civilisational benefits of the modern world, so the rulers need to find ways of distracting the populace with "threats" in order to "justify" putting in place ever more draconian measures to keep the population under their control.

If the leaders of the Muslim world really believed, for example, in the Palestinian cause, they would not have stopped funding the Palestinians simply because their then-leader Yasser Arafat supported Saddam Hussein's attack on Kuwait. The claim of Muslim leaders to genuinely support the Palestinian people would have been easier to accept if they had created ways of continuing to support the Palestinian people while trying to change Yasser Arafat's position.

Instead, for years and years after the incident ended in 1991, the ONLY people around the world supporting the Palestinians financially were the European Union!!! So it should be clear, at least to the Palestinian people, who their true friends are and who are simply using their cause for their own nefarious purposes.

Similarly, it should be clear to Muslims who their true friends are in the current debates and clashes and who are simply manufacturing "Islamic rage" for their own purposes.


-----Original Message-----
From: Intelligence Unit
Sent: 08 February 2006 08:53
To: ATCA Members
Subject: Response: The Honourable Al McDonald; The Digital Ummah - Preatoni; Ben-Dak; Bjergstrom; Howell; Pickering; Bogni;
Eilstrup-Sangiovanni; Rockefeller; Sheshabalaya; Guptara; Ormerod; Clothier

Dear ATCA Colleagues

We are grateful to The Honourable Alonzo McDonald from Michigan, USA, for his personal views in regard to the ongoing Danish cartoons row. The independent views expressed are the personal views of the author and not necessarily those of ATCA.

The Honourable Alonzo McDonald is a former: US Ambassador, Chief US trade negotiator, acting member of Cabinet, Assistant to the US President and White House Staff Director. Alonzo McDonald has enjoyed a distinguished career in business, government, and academia including being the Chief Executive of McKinsey and Company worldwide. He is the Founding Chairman of The Trinity Forum. Mr McDonald joined the faculty of the Harvard Business School in 1981, and from 1983 until 1987 he served as a Senior Counsellor to the Dean, developing and co-moderating their quarterly seminar for CEOs. He is also the First Becton Fellow of The Yale School of Management. He is presently the Chairman and CEO of Avenir Group, which is involved in development banking, investing and acting as counsellors. Former directorships include The American Stock Exchange; Bendix Corporation (Vice Chairman); CAE (Canada); Chicago Pacific Corporation; Dannon Company (US); Diamond Bathurst; General Biscuits Company; Group Danone (France) International Advisory Board; IBJ Schroder Bank and Trust Company; Lafarge Corporation; McKinsey & Company (Chairman - Worldwide); and Scientific Atlanta. He writes:

Dear DK

This is to commend you and the Intelligence Unit for the superb forum you have created that permitted this extensive exchange of views on the impact of the Danish cartoons published some five months ago and the current widespread violent and destructive actions of organized mobs in multiple Moslem nations. The commentaries by our ATCA Colleagues and your group’s factual and research inputs have been more enlightening than anything I have encountered in the media world. Since so many valid points have been covered, I was reluctant to write but the continuation and even spread of violence and extremist statements prompts me to believe that this is a highly complex subject for which there is no near-term resolution. Instead, in its broader context it will be one that will haunt Western civilization and moderate, thoughtful individuals of all stripes possibly for decades if not generations to come.

The moderate tone of all of our commentaries on ATCA reminds me that our colleagues are all students of and partisan to the values and closely held tenets of Western democratic civilization. Even the differences of opinion expressed are apparently more varied in tone and emphasis than true substantive disagreements. Our immediate tendency is to reduce the difficulty to a conflict between freedom of expression (including the press) and violence as an expression of opposition. This is an important issue but is probably only symptomatic of several larger problems.

We should be aware that these cartoons were only one other provocation by the West in what is a fundamental and highly sensitive struggle inside Islam that has been underway now for decades if not for centuries. The extremists, whom we often now refer to as Islamo-fascists, are in a death fight with the moderates over how Islam will evolve to meet the challenges of modernization which they must do. The Danish incident reminds me somewhat of the plight of a well-meaning policeman who tries to break up a family fight and finds he is now being attacked by both the husband and the wife.

The ultimate outcome of this internal battle will not be decided by the West. It must be resolved within Islam itself by determining the kind of society it will allow and promote for its adherents. We see and hear too little from what is generally assumed to be a silent majority of Islamic moderates seeking reform and progress, leaving the public impression that the extremists are winning since they get the sensational headlines and media attention. Let us fervently hope this superficial impression is false.

The present violence appears, in various Islamic countries, appears to be government and extremist organized and promoted. The media shows pictures that could mislead one to believe these outbreaks are spontaneous but clearly they are effectively organized with specific not general targets in view. Although they may continue for some days and perhaps longer, such events are very hard to sustain since even mobs soon become weary after venting much of their initial venom and finding little satisfaction and even less personal benefit arising from the ruins. We should appreciate that the Moslem extremists need very much such events to keep their movements vital. Such conflicts help them to recruit additional followers, generate fear in their publics and cower moderates to take cover, leaving their opponents to appear weak with their soft calls for peaceful expressions of resentment and opposition.

My gratitude to Professor Guptara for helping us to recall some relevant historical perspectives. These are highly important for us to analyze and appreciate the present situation and prospects. Professor Guptara credits correctly much of our advancement, politically and economically, to the classical theory of the dynamism of the Protestant ethic as advanced by Max Weber at the beginning of the twentieth century. As a Protestant, I have always adhered to that position but have now seen a broader view in a new book by Professor Rodney Stark entitled “The Victory of Reason”. He concludes these principles really predated the Reformation. Stark contends that Christianity itself, whether Catholic or Protestant or whether for true believers or not, was open to and often encouraged continued interpretation and individual inquiry that led to free societies, capitalism and scientific advancements. Although it has many facets, this basic sense of openness and evolving interpretation is not characteristic of Islam.

These Christian attitudes led to favourable conditions in several Medieval Italian city states that offered considerable personal liberty. When then matched with low taxes, few government restraints or fees and weak guilds, the early days of capitalism began with widespread rises in standards of living for the populace at large. In turn these conditions led to competitive innovations and the beginning of what we call today the scientific approach. Making this desirable end result possible were three essentials for widespread economic advancement. These were relatively free markets, capital and labour. These conditions were emulated soon in Northern Europe and England and then advanced dramatically in relatively free societies following the Reformation.

As a result of these movements Western civilization bolted ahead of other areas of the world subject to closed political and religious environments and were naturally transported with great success to North America. When despotism returned to Italy in the 1500s with the reign of Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire in collaboration with oppressive popes, the early Italian prosperity and budding capitalism was choked off, essentially ending the initial financial control across Europe even in the 1200s by extensive branch operations of Italian merchants and banks.

If Stark’s conclusions are correct, our Islamic brothers face a formidable challenge in seeking reform and moderation. As our colleagues have noted, one cannot really divorce the collective impact of religion, politics and economics. The major elements of reasonable individual freedom of thought and expression matched with a higher degree of free markets, free capital and free labour, are only dreams in most of the affected Moslem nations. It is therefore not surprising that the combined GDP of the 22 Arab states only equals that of Spain alone [depending on the price of oil]. At some point an opening of their political systems to greater individual liberty is not only a politically attractive alternative for individuals and nations but an essential foundation step toward greater economic prosperity.

The Chinese example currently is also highly instructive in this regard. Although holding to tight, overall political control by a single party, China has been surprisingly open to individual initiatives and directly encouraged entrepreneurship. China has moved rapidly toward freer markets (with foreign companies entering in droves), freer capital (with foreign capital welcome and now massive) and freer labour (with again amazing mobility of personnel from the hinterlands to rapidly developing regions in contrast to earlier prohibition of worker migrations under Mao).

Also intriguing is the rapid growth of Christianity in China, particularly among intellectuals. From only about one million (widely viewed as only “rice” Christians for the doles handed out rather than true believers) at the time missionaries were expelled, the estimated Christian population has now exploded to some 200 million and growing (see David Aikman’s book “Jesus in Beijing, How Christianity Is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power”). One leading Chinese scholar paraphrased Stark’s view cited earlier. He was quoted by Aikman, “In the past 20 years we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity. That is why the West is so powerful. The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and the successful transition to democratic politics. We don’t have any doubt about this.” Perhaps we in our increasingly secular West might give this idea more thought.

Although much of the world opposes President Bush’s blunt approach and tactics, the ideals advocated by the President for the spread of democracy may be near the mark and more critical for today’s world than generally conceded. Although having served a Democratic President in the White House, I admire Bush’s continued commitment and pressure to advocate democracy in hitherto despotic regimes. Since his aims are idealistic and will achieve only modest realization even in the long term, they are demeaned as always by the so-called pragmatists valuing only immediate results as well as naturally by his political opponents. Importantly, I believe the President is pushing for greater expressions of individual freedom even if the early forms it takes may not qualify for our precise Western definitions of democracy. His appeals are not falling on deaf ears in today’s age of expanding communications over satellites and internet even in media-controlled nations. Such movements are stirring, and although tentative and feeble still, they may well be gaining a slow momentum. Our future as a peace-loving group of moderates committed to the values of Western civilization may well depend heavily on how well they take root over time and how committed our Western political leaders remain to the Bush "democracy" ideals.

As a final comment on this complex question, we must recognize that the Islamo-fascists might in fact win out in the Moslem world. In that case we will truly face a violent and explosive future. Negotiations will be impossible since their commitment will be one of worldwide conquest and subjugation of the West as well as their own people. That will mean a time of continuing war that will make the current war on terror seem like child’s play. Events like those experienced in recent years in Madrid, London, Amsterdam and now Copenhagen could become daily threats unless the West is heavily on the offensive.

One is reminded with this conclusion of the brilliant work of Professor William Ker Muir, Jr, (of Berkeley, CA) entitled “An Understanding of Democracy.” In his chapter on tyranny, Professor Muir concludes, “To halt anarchy, it is essential to check abusive coercion with counter coercion. The only effective way to break through the vicious cycle of intimidation and revenge is to intimidate the intimidators until they mend their ways.” He leaves us with this further unpleasant thought that will not be welcome to most of our European friends and many Americans as well, “The key to a just peace – real peace, not the peace of the graveyard – is to create a stand-off of coercive power.”

These views are counter to the repeated appeasement efforts by the US since the 1980 Iranian hostage crisis that have prevailed prior to the 9/11 tragedy. Some extremists concluded from those weak responses that the West was a passive, apathetic responder who would crumble and not fight if continually attacked. Much to the concern of many, the Bush Administration has changed that posture dramatically. Although opposition to Bush’s position is rampant at home and abroad, Muir’s theory would demand that the West stay firm, strong and defend our values and way of life with force on the offensive rather than on the momentarily attractive defensive, or else we may face the tragic fate of following the slow but sure road to tyranny.

That should give us enough to think and pray about for the moment as we continue to witness the irrational violence that seems to be exploding in too many parts of this wonderful but troubled world.


Al McDonald


-----Original Message-----
From: Intelligence Unit
Sent: 07 February 2006 17:12
To: ATCA Members

Dear ATCA Colleagues

. In North-western Afghanistan, more than 200 people protesting against the Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammad have attacked a camp manned by Norwegian and Finnish soldiers in Maymana. The soldiers are part of the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force;

. Iran's best-selling newspaper -- Hamshari -- has launched a competition to find the best cartoon about the Holocaust in retaliation for the publication in many European countries of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad. The Brussels-based Conference of European Rabbis (CER) denounced the idea and urged the Muslim world to do likewise;

. In Iran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, in a speech to members of the military, said that the publication of the controversial drawings and the angry reaction from Muslims around the world that it has triggered are all parts of "a conspiracy planned by the Zionists to provoke a confrontation between Muslims and Christians;

. Denmark protested to Iran about a second day of attacks on its Tehran embassy on Tuesday and demanded protection for its diplomats. Danes fear the row has heightened the risk of a terrorist attack in Denmark, which has 530 troops in Iraq. Iran's commerce minister announced that all trade with Denmark has been immediately suspended in retaliation for the
publication there of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed; and

. The Indian police lobbed teargas shells and used water cannon to disperse students, mostly from the Jamia Millia Islamia, who on Monday tried to force their way towards the Danish Embassy in New Delhi to protest against the publication of cartoons of Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper.

We are grateful to Roberto Preatoni from Italy for his submission to ATCA in regard to the Digital Fallout of the Cartoons.

Roberto Preatoni (39) is Chief Executive of an international group of security companies: Domina Privacy & Security AS - Estonia and Russia, PITconsulting SPA - Italy & Securitylab SA - Switzerland. He is the author of a book on digital asymmetric warfare "Asymmetric Shadows" (Ombre Asimmetriche); and international Lecturer in IT security, property protection and digital warfare conferences. He also teaches in regard to "Internet Abuses" at the Applied Computer Science faculty of the University of Urbino, Italy. He is the founder of the independent cybercrime observatory of server side attacks "Zone-H" and key teacher in Zone-H worldwide security classes. He provides consultancy to several governments and institutions in matters related to Cyber-crime. He lives between Italy, Estonia, Russia and Japan. He writes:

Dear DK

Re: The Digital Ummah

The latest events relating to the worldwide Islamic protest for the publication of the satirical cartoons portraying prophet Mohammed, have reached the "digital ground". Islamic cyber-protesters have addressed attacks toward a wide selection of Danish web-servers -- nearly 600 -- as well as Israeli web-servers and more generally Western servers, totalling nearly 1,000 such attacks.

The concept of Ummah (Islamic nation) has never been digitally so clear as it is shaping up today; it in fact represents a trans-national Islamic union historically borderless and far from governmental ties. Such a "Moslem brotherhood" has been expressed in several circumstances in the recent past in somewhat related areas such as the Palestine-Israel issue, the Kashmir territories dispute, Afghanistan, Iraq invasion and several other episodes similarly connected to the recent political on-goings.

Zone-H, the cybercrime independent observatory of Internet server side intrusions has attentively observed, in recent days, the activity of the Islamic hacker communities and tried to profile their involvement in online activities linked to the Prophet Mohammed/Denmark issue. We have procured reports directly from the enraged community in regard to their intrusions.

What came out from the survey is what we very much expected: the use of the Internet as an instrument to spread out cyber protests correlates with what happens in the worldwide context. Several hacker groups from different Muslim nations united their forces in order to produce the much-larger-than-normal amount of damage to Danish and Western web-servers. During the attacks they promoted both moderate and extremist manifestos through the defacement of the homepages, also promoting a boycott campaign throughout the digital Ummah against Danish products.

For example, in one of the highlighted attacks the hacker going by the handle DarkblooD clearly incited the Ummah community to avoid Danish products by quoting the website www.no4denmark.com. But Zone-H noted many other, and more threatening examples: warning for suicide bombing attacks were posted on Danish forums by the "IIB - Internet Islamic Brigades", and threats for a coming Jihad have been used to crack many other web-servers from all over the western and non-western world.

In regard to the moderate comments posted on defaced web pages, Zone-H noted the one by the same DarkblooD, a cracker who quit defacing activity a year ago and resumed it just on this occasion by quoting a message to the Danish Prime Minister:

“HIS (Sic) EXCELLENCY, Dr. Per Stig Møller the minister of the foreign affairs of the Denmark Peace be upon those who follow the true guidance: I have reviewed what some of the news agencies dealt with concerning the Danish news agency Jyllands-Posten had published, which I believe it to be a heinous mistake and dreadful deviation from the path of justice, reverence and equality. The said agency published 12 cartoon caricatures on the 30th of September, 2005, ridiculing Mohammed, the messenger of Islam. One of these cartoons pictures Allah's Messenger PBUH, wearing a turban that resembles a bomb wrapped around his head. What a pathetic projection! I was extremely saddened to read such news. I personally visited the site of the agency on the net. I examined the size of the blundering scandal it was. On Sept 29th, 2005 issue of, Jyllands-Posten, I saw and read dreadful news and cartoons. The news and the cartoons were horrifying and extremely disturbing to me. I believe al (sic) Muslims who read, viewed or learned about this news were equally saddened, disappointed and disturbed. All criticized such work and felt awful and dismayed about it. Similarly, I do believe that all sane and wise people, I believe, would feel the same about it.”

Once more the digital environment has been used in support of political/religious campaigns, a growing trend that was well profiled by Zone-H digital attacks archive and shows how the Internet can also be used in an asymmetric warfare environment.

While writing this report Zone-H is still receiving news of digital attacks of Islamic connotation.


Roberto Preatoni


-----Original Message-----
From: Intelligence Unit
Sent: 06 February 2006 23:56
To: ATCA Members
Subject: Response: Prof Ben-Dak; Downing Street; Dr Niels Bjergstrom; Scandinavian Embassies burn; Howell; Pickering; Bogni;
Eilstrup-Sangiovanni; Rockefeller; Sheshabalaya; Guptara; Ormerod; Clothier

Dear ATCA Colleagues

We are grateful to Prof Joseph Ben-Dak from New York, USA, for his thought provoking response to the Danish cartoon issue. It is interesting to note that there was a different mood seen in ATCA contributions prior to the burning of the Scandinavian embassies in Syria and then Lebanon. Post those unwelcome events, the mood is more sanguine.

Professor Joseph Ben-Dak is Chairman of Knowledge Planning Corporation in New York, a strategic Think Tank and coordinating enterprise advising banks, insurance houses, corporations and governments. Prof Ben-Dak has formerly served as the Principal Advisor to the United Nations Secretary General for Science & Technology and Public Management. As Founder and Chief of the United Nations Global Technology Group, Prof Ben-Dak initiated and established successful technology and science businesses in numerous countries. He has recently completed work as Chairman of an international task force evaluating several areas of "critical" technology in countering terror and cognate cooperation infrastructure in several Mediterranean countries. Prof Ben-Dak has also served as the Academic Director of Israel's Air Force School for Senior Officers. He has held senior academic appointments in several countries including the University of Haifa, Israel; the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil; Papua New Guinea's Institute for National Planning; and Seoul National University, South Korea. He was instrumental in the development of Korea's KAIST/KIST, the centre of public and private industrial planning and the introduction of the formative evaluation regime and concern for sustainable environment to Japan's METI. He writes:

Dear DK

I was quite fascinated by the extensive responses by ATCA colleagues to the series of events following the Jyllands Posten publishing the series of cartoons. The fact that most of the cartoons in that series were not equally offensive is of course very significant as well. It shows that the paper wanted to bring out in September 2005, different views of the Prophet Muhammad, not a single defaming one, a choice which is the essence of democratic, open expression. Avenging the paper and anything Danish started in Islamic countries long before the reprinting of the particular cartoons in question elsewhere. To me, the call to equate cartoon publishing with the violent reaction to anything Western, like inhibiting purchases of Danish butter, is to miss the importance of Cartoons and cartoonists in the evolution of man's communication of political ideas. The debate is not between those who want free expression and those who want to have major religious values of others to be beyond approach. The actual debate is about the special value that Muslim radicals put on their values as being superior and humanly incomparable to anyone else's beliefs and principles.

For years, I have been following a most refreshing self-examination through cartoons in the Arab and Asian-Muslim media. The seminal work of Adil Hamda in the oldest Egyptian mass circulation weekly Roz Al-Yusuf [eg August 19, 1992] when he most sarcastically elucidated issues of women's roles vis-a-vis men's in Muslim society as well as class hypocrisies, or Al-Ithnayn's lengthy [eg August 6, 1934 - July 9, 1945] fighting through cartoons with wrong doing by higher ups in Egyptian society highlighting objectionable war time correlations of misbehaviour, especially corpulent profiteering that was consistently and boldly attacked. Imaging pertinent to our subject in these and other Arab magazines often included carnivalesque digs at religious and patriarchal authorities, right down to depicting a ridiculously robed and turbaned sheikh striding on the beach amid throngs of teenagers in revealing swimsuits. In fact, a growing number of cartoons showing unorthodox positioning of religious figures and norms had been appearing in Islam up to circa 1997. In the words of Oxford's Walter Armbrust, who studied popular culture in the Middle East, "The recognition of such continuities protects analyses of new media from anachronism".

The range of critical views about hypocrisy within these depictions had not received particular attention by radical Muslims as long as it was relatively mild and confined to print. However, these days, in the Internet age when images can reach millions in much less than a day, the reaction of orthodox religious fundamentalists to unorthodox depictions of Islam in cartoons is much more stultifying and instantly picked up by Islamic radicals and their crowds, who are always on the lookout for a good reason to galvanize the masses, spread militancy, and reinforce hatred wherever an embryonic chance to do so surfaces anywhere in the world. However, our most significant concern should be that many of these radicals simply consider every non-Muslim to be less than human, "an ape or monkey", which follows from their unenlightened reading of certain Qur'anic scriptures. In their view of the world, no range of ideas or opinions, other than their own extreme (and from our perspective misguided) view of Islamic fundamentalism, is allowed, let alone accepted as legitimate, especially when such expressions come from non-Muslims. This brings us to the real context within which we should view the present furore over the Danish cartoons. Every protest in Syria, Iran, etc during the past week has been orchestrated by governments, for their own political purposes. In some cases, like Lebanon, the radicals utilize this grave situation to topple the newly elected and moderate government, with similar campaigns already underway in Pakistan, Jordan and Egypt. Every militant Internet network publishes calls to revenge, including outright calls for the killing of all cartoonists involved in any of the cartoon reprinting in Europe as well as Denmark. With only a cursory search of the internet this afternoon, I have found at least ten such calls for murder already, and the cartoons are destined to be perpetuated and recalled long after the present furore has subsided.

When Rudi Bogni, amongst other ATCA contributors, encourages editors to leave the Prophets in Peace for a while, he inadvertently, in essence, allows radicals control of our intellectual world, which is only a tiny step from giving them control of our physical world as well. Does such an attitude contribute "to better understanding between billions of people"? I think not. The very example that Dr Mette Eilstrup-Sangiovanni cited, illustrates the possible limitation of a possible affirmation of such an attitude. I am referring to the quickly dispatched Danish Imams' mission, sent by the Muslim Faith Society to the Middle East to instigate a boycott against Denmark. For radical Islam to be talking about the need for reconciliation requires a bit of humility in these times of increasing cultural conflict. However, none exists. Within the democracies of the world, the very necessity for a certain minimal norm of tolerance of difference of opinion or belief is taken for granted, and seen to be needed universally. Such tolerance presently is missing in most of Islam, and the prospects for finding it in the very near future there are growing increasingly dim. However, tolerance is a necessary precondition for communication and any hope of cooperation in this day and age of intertwined cultural and political complexity and disagreement. If the free speech expression of opinion is to be tolerated only within our own Western societies, the lack of it in other parts of the world, most notably in Islamic ones, will become increasingly costly to us -- and we will feel the stinging impact of these costs sooner than some of our ATCA commentators suppose. The lack of a global effort to define free expression as a necessity will only result in more of the same disasters we have seen in the recent Dutch, Danish and French situations, where intense violence has erupted in Europe because of the de-facto interconnectedness of societies where we allow norms of intolerance to flourish among ignorant and uncivil populations in what seem to be distant countries. In fact they have a terror / militant extension in our midst in each Western country. Cartoons do matter and their quick messaging can influence reorientation either way.

When you compare political cartoons in Iran, Syria, Egypt, Libya etc to the types published in Europe you cannot but appreciate how rich and cleverly polemical so many of them are. Thinking, educating, and probing the Middle East and Islamic Asia between 1945 and 2006, leads to several realizations concerning the importance of cartoons. Given that in strict Islamic early traditions, any graphic depicting of humans, let alone the prophet Muhammad, was actually forbidden, it must sooner or later come to mind that many major changes have already taken place in Islam which indicate magnificent progress toward free expression. For example, these days you can see a number of very large images of the Prophet Muhammad in virtually any Pakistani and Iranian city. In Iraq and in Iran, historical path setters of the Shi'a faith have often been depicted in rich, colourful, and artistically creative ways, allowing quite a bit of individual taste.

However, unflattering representations of hated stereotyped enemies, including all other religions, churches, and religious personalities outside Islam has also grown, and such images are regularly propagated by both published cartoons and in the electronic media that are now very effective in reaching the less educated masses.

When you consider Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's, recurrent speeches against UK, USA and Europe, let alone Israel, we should not be amazed at the bumper crop of venomous propaganda cartoons that are being produced in Iran and reproduced in other parts of the non-Shi'a Islamic world. His calls for Israel to be wiped off the map; his claims that the Holocaust never happened; his view that the six million Jews exterminated by the Nazis is a fabrication; his position that USA is controlled by Jews; his political program based on the view that Israel has no place in the heart of the Islamic world [and by implication that there is no place in the Islamic world for non-Muslims], and his proposal that Jews should be moved to a place of their own in Alaska or Europe, at the expense of the USA, who he claims actually fabricated the Jewish Holocaust -- have all been themes of numerous cartoons depicting and perpetuating stereotypes of Jews, the roots of which go back a long time. While, most people in the West, and hardly any in Middle Eastern Islamic countries have ever taken the time or trouble to check the true origins of these horrific stereotypical images of Jews, or to debunk the foundation of lies on which they are based, each and every one of these depictions is a fact to this radical Moslem politician, as it has been to people far more educated, such as Dr Muhammad Mahatir, a former head of state in Malaysia, and as it is still believed to be true by many of the world's Moslems, a portion of the poor and uneducated people in the USA, Europe, South America, Africa, and millions of people who have never seen a Jew or read a book by a Jewish author and who have never even heard of the good Jewish people may have brought to the world [eg that nearly one fifth of the Nobel Laureates in all fields have been Jewish persons]. Each of these cartoons, so easily found on almost any wall and in newspapers and books, and on web sites in Iran and elsewhere in the Moslem world, is not only the communication of a lie, it is also very insulting, and easily invalidated by anybody wanting to know the truth. The expression of these lies in cartoons should remind thinking and informed observers about the uses found for cartoons in the propaganda machine that developed in the pre-Nazi era. Then, the prevalent position in the USA and in most of Europe was to dismiss such Nazi propaganda cartoons against the Jews, until WW-II happened. Other "misfits" or destructive elements, who did not fit the "right profile" according to Arian theories, were similarly depicted, castigated, and eventually rounded up and sent to the death camps along with the Jews. Also on the list of undesirable "bad influences" was music such as Jazz, "inferior" culture, and morality which supported open debate, polemical writings that raised any questions about the increasingly repressive policies and tactics of the Nazis, and any efforts to accept those who were different from the selected faith or race -- all of these similar policies exist, prevail, and flourish today in radical Islam.

What I find most disturbing in the pictorial history of these cartoons is that too many outside "impartial" commentators and politicians still dismiss the impact of this venom as only a Jewish/Zionist-Islamic problem of polemics. They assume, at best, that it is well known that the aforementioned venomous statements and stereotypical images are an obvious bluff or simply untrue. The recklessness and stupidity of this assumption cannot be ignored by anybody in 2006 who has ever talked to a street gang in Los Angeles, USA; to an Islamic gathering in Chicago's or London's Hyde Park; to a group of rioting youth in Marseilles, France; to an average barber in Belgium; to a leading Indonesian University President; to a beloved world leader of the South African ANC or to American convicts either in prisons or after their incarceration, Moslem or not. When you hear, read or look at video footage of interviews of any of these people, and note they are not only in Islamic countries, the image of the evil Jews is taken as an established fact. Contrary opinion or rejection of these dogmatic images is not to be confused with facts as far as these groups or individuals are concerned. Any attempt to refute the stereotyping or to point out the injustice done to Jewish people is taken to be nothing but a prescribed manipulation.

When people can stick to this type of stereotyping about Western people as a scapegoat, and as a way for them to rationalize and escape from truly viewing the roots of their grim circumstances and their material and intellectual poverty, they are being consumed by envy and hatred for the West. And, they can be consumed by hatred and envy towards anybody else that is different or expresses different views. We need to realize that all different or weak people, particularly minorities are next in line or are already in line, for gross misunderstanding -- to put it mildly – and for denial of their rights, including the right to exist. This very fact makes them extremely receptive to the message of those who would mobilize this envy to provoke hatred and manipulate these people to achieve their own ends.

But, we still find the worst examples of hatred in the consistently anti-Semitic and anti-Western cartoons and movies produced by radical Islamic "creators of art". These works have only recently begun to enter Europe and the USA in a massive way. They are usually directed toward every stratum of audience, and particularly a campus audience. While they are relatively new to the USA, they have been perpetuating European and Middle Eastern ignorance for the past 70 years. The venom contained in such works as the fabricated "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" was initially created by the Russian Tsarist police circa 1900 and perpetuated by the Nazis. This piece of fiction, wearing the clothes of fact, first entered public awareness in the Middle East and Islamic world in Egypt and in Syria, where it was reported as fact by both press and electronic media. Its message catapulted to the "top of the charts" and captured a record number of TV viewers in Egypt in 2004-2005. It has tainted any and all factual review of Israel and Zionism in the Arab and Islamic world. Its Iranian version is celebrated in that country and has been a foundation piece in the indoctrination and "value" education of "Madrassa" elementary schooling in Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Africa. Iranian TV programming in 2005 for children includes "classical" images of anti-Semite and anti-Western stereotypes as a pivotal aspect of "learning about evil". The cumulative effect and impact of this constant stream of disinformation and hatred by the Islamic World media's reproduction of venomous images and negative depiction of non-Muslims should be very difficult to reconcile with the demand that Muslims make about the right of Islam not to be offended by images printed in Europe and the USA, but of course fair play and an equal application of the rules is not the way the game is played in the world of radical Islam.

We may want to adopt a few principles:

First, in the West it is individuals who exercise their free speech and what they say under the exercise of their right to free speech is not necessarily a government position or an established church preference; the opposite situation is almost always the case in most of Islam. Individuals seldom make public statements that are not approved by the government. If they do, it is usually at their peril.

Second, the right to respond to defamation and blasphemy does obviously exist in democracies like India or the West and is exercised in each of the locations where the Muhammad cartoon was republished; but such a right does not exist in Islam.

Third, the few people who stand up to the medieval value systems promoted by radical Islam's unchanging doctrines stand in risk of being punished swiftly and severely by radical Islam's guardians of the "true faith". And, as it is becoming obvious by the Theo van Gogh case in the Netherlands and many French incidents in Europe, prior to Denmark as well -- punishing territoriality is not confined to the Islamic World. A simple review of Islamic demographics in Europe should suggest the acuteness of this trend, and the devastating results that are likely if not checked.

Fourth, "Muhammad" cartooning, while insulting to any Muslim and any open minded person caring for the beliefs and symbols of faith of others cannot be dismissed merely as a simplistic form of defamation. In fact, it is a message provoked by and highlighting homicide and militancy backed by radical Islam that hurts the Muslim world while it destroy others. The message is that militant murderers are ignoring the Prophet's message of compassion and love. This message should have meaning for moderate Muslims. It should be a call for them to be more vocal and get organized or face the consequences of the reality toward which their world is racing at an increasingly accelerating pace and those consequences are likely to be dire indeed. It is also a message to humanity at large that we better take this not as a polite, intellectual situation that requires us only to share polite and well reasoned and measured views and advice. In fact, the "Muhammad cartoon" and the Moslem reaction to it should be a wake up call to all of us that history, and here I refer to the history of the Nazis, can and is repeating itself in today's world, where the technological capacity for destruction on a global scale can mean the end of us all.

What we need to face collectively is that part of the Islamic world is populated not by the type of devout Muslim who gently steered Rudi Bogni towards non-alcoholic restaurants in Syria and could accept a difference of opinion. However, it is not yet too late. We should be encouraged by the Tamil Nadu state example reported to ATCA by Ashutosh Sheshabalaya, except it need not be treated as an India only Islamic incident.

There is much good will in Islam today. Many want radical perverts to be checked and believe this can be done. I am reminded by the March 1997 cognate critical episode in the history of Middle Eastern if not universal cartooning. Then, Ranan Lurie, the distinguished American-Israeli political cartoonist was invited to publish his daily creative work in Egypt's main paper, Al-Ahram, as part of the editorial page. This lasted a month or so before Roz Al-Yusuf published a photograph of Ranan on the cover of the magazine with a semi naked belly dancer and printed a full page cartoon showing Ranan, as an Israeli major, descending with his parachute and submachine gun on the pyramids, presumably beating them to dust. Local cartoonists and hot head Islamists pushed for the demise of this great experiment, and it lasted only briefly. Alas, the case was made for listening to a very different voice of others within that Moslem country. Still, many Egyptian thinkers and artists have confided to me, and also in a few published interviews, how refreshing this episode of cross-cultural exposure had been. We may need to move from experimental episodes like this to more encompassing and survivable human interfaces, and such links between the West and Islam through cartoons and other media should be no exception. It is something that was also tried in the Communist-West interface during the cold war. "From here we begin," as Muhammad Abdu, a most profound reform thinker in Egypt entitled his personal journey. There are many more ways to start in the mental space of reconciliation, but we cannot just preach being polite and civilized in order to cope with a constraining urgent reality.

Warm Regards


J D Ben-Dak


-----Original Message-----
From: Intelligence Unit
Sent: 06 February 2006 15:55
To: ATCA Members
Subject: Response: Downing Street; Dr Niels Bjergstrom; Scandinavian Embassies burn; Howell; Pickering; Bogni; Eilstrup-Sangiovanni; Rockefeller; Sheshabalaya; Guptara; Ormerod; Clothier

Dear ATCA Colleagues

10 Downing Street today condemned the behaviour of some Muslim demonstrators in London over the weekend in regard to the Danish cartoons of Prophet Muhammad as "completely unacceptable". Here is the full text of the statement released on behalf of the British Prime Minister Tony Blair: "We understand the offence caused by the cartoons depicting the Prophet and of course regret that this has happened. Such things help no one. It is always sensible for freedom of expression to be exercised with respect for religious belief. But nothing can justify the violence aimed at European embassies or at the country of Denmark. We and our EU partners stand in full solidarity with them in resisting this violence and believe the Danish Government has done everything it reasonably can to handle a very difficult situation. The attacks on the citizens of Denmark and the people of other European countries are completely unacceptable as is the behaviour of some of the demonstrators in London over the last few days. The police should have our full support in any actions they may wish to take in respect of any breaches of the law, though again we understand the difficult situation they had to manage. We also strongly welcome the statements of Muslim leaders here who are themselves tackling the extremists who abuse their community's good name."

We are grateful to Dr Niels Bjergstrom, originally from Denmark, for his personal views in regard to the evolving situation across the world post the publication of the Danish cartoons. The independent views expressed are the personal views of the author and not necessarily those of ATCA.

Dr Niels Bjergstrom is a Danish physicist with a PhD in mathematical modelling of solid state phenomena. He has been involved professionally in computing since 1964 and in information security since 1987. He has been resident in the UK since 1990. He is a prolific writer with hundreds of articles as well as textbooks in the fields of mathematics, applied science and engineering to his credit. He founded Information Security Bulletin in 1996 and is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal, which has readers in more than 90 countries. Previously, he has worked in The Hague for four years as an information security advisor and consultant to Dutch ministries and large Dutch corporates. He is the organiser of, and a speaker at, a number of international conferences. He writes:

Dear DK and Colleagues,

The ongoing ATCA debate about current events ostensibly triggered by the publication of 12 illustrations in a Danish newspaper seems to be getting somewhat confusing. Some participants mention freedom of expression, others civility, politeness and restraint. There area calls for action as well as for passive observation and patience.

I would like to try to analyse the situation and see if some sense can be made out of the chaos and the debate channelled into constructive paths.

Perhaps I should briefly give you some background information about myself, so that you can see where I come from. I was thrilled by existential problems from an early age, in particular by religious people, saved people, who could sing and give testimony with bright eyes and certainty. An old aunt of mine, who was a devout Christian, told me there was nothing to it - no need to do anything. Belief was enough. Hence I set about chasing belief when I was around ten.

This quest led me to a long-term serious study of human belief systems and philosophy. When I was around 14 or 15 I trained myself to need only four hours of sleep every day (inspired by Aristotle I think it was, who had done the same a few years earlier), so I had 20 hours to study, meditate and play music. A consequence was that at times I followed up to three different university studies in parallel, for twenty years I read on average a book every day, so I have had the opportunity to read and study the Vedic scriptures, the Bhagavad-Gita, Buddhist and Taoist scriptures, the Koran, the Bible and many other texts used in religious contexts, as well as philosophers from Confucius over Epictetus to Rousseau, Engels, Nietzsche, Russell and Henri-Bernard Lévy.

Alas, I never did manage to take that elusive ultimate leap of self-delusion. Accursed intelligence! Sancta simplicitas - being but a sheep in the righteous flock of a mother church, wouldn't it be bliss? I'm afraid that I'd rather not have an answer to a question than not questioning an answer, so science became my lot.

One of the confusing factors in the current debate is the word 'Islam' itself. If you look at it you see a whole basket of different fruits: apples, pears, oranges, not a few of them rotten. So, when you measure against 'Islam', what is it you measure and compare? 'Islam' is not a well defined concept, and it needs to be broken down into component parts in order for it to be useful. The same is true for other beliefs of course.

First there is the text of the Koran and surrounding scriptures. This collection of literature forms the body of a religious philosophy or theory. Like the Old Testament it contains great beauty and practical moral rules commensurate with the social conditions a couple of thousand years ago. It also contains ideas of lasting relevance. When trying to put such teachings into practice it is vital to be able to distinguish between what should be taken metaphorically and what literally.

This leads to the discussion of religious practice. Religious practices result from different interpretations of the fundamental literature, often helped along by political expediency over the centuries, and can result in churches, faiths and other more or less political movements. These can be based on different interpretations ranging from fairly holistic and modern representations to very literary and limited interpretations of the original material, often intermingled with other influences. In the Western world, think of the differences between Catholics, Northern Protestants, Mormons, Baptists, Anglicans and Scientologists (though the latter probably don't call themselves Christians).

Islam, like Christianity, contains a myriad of different sects and subgroups, ranging from large, tolerant, thinking, mainstream Muslims, to groupings of mindless thugs controlled by fascist regimes and belligerent movements. Hence, it is important to specify what and who we mean when we say 'Islam' or 'Muslim'. More than that, it is important that this distinction is communicated throughout populations everywhere. This voice must be strong for two reasons: (1) to stem general, and largely unjustified, anti-Muslim sentiments, and (2) to entice, and make it safe for, moderate Muslims to come out in support of European governments and show solidarity in opposition to the dangerous fascist forces that are invading our societies.

This leads to a different issue, an old one at that, but more pertinent than ever: when is a faith a religious/philosophical movement, and when is it a political movement? This issue needs to be re-examined urgently. Of course churches will oppose this, and with good reason, because the fact is that churches or faiths have no justifiable political role in a democracy. In a true parliamentary democracy there can be nothing above, and nothing next to, Parliament. It can be argued that earlier, faiths had a role to play in balancing out more totalitarian types of regimes. This argument no longer holds. The unspeakable atrocities that can results from church and state amalgamating have been amply demonstrated both in Christianity earlier, and in Islam today.

Now to the Danish illustrations. Throughout history there have been many depictions of Mohammed, both reverential and satirical, many of them in the Muslim world. These have rarely caused any uproar. So, it is safe to conclude that it is not the illustrations per se that have caused this current havoc. They are just tools in the hands of those who are promoting war against the West - if it hadn't been the Danish illustrations it would have been something else. It took four months between the publication of the illustrations and the commotion to take off. I put it to you that this latency was caused by the need for time to organise the reaction and the violence. Denmark has been a major financial contributor to the Palestinians for many years - something I warned against 25 or 30 years ago, though considering the extent of US backing of Israel it was hard to see an alternative - and there is a considerable Palestinian presence in the country, so people from Hamas and other similar movements will have known about the illustrations from their date of publication. The fact that it took about four months for the protests to reach boiling point can only be explained by it having taken some time for the extremists to realise what a fantastic tool had been served them on a silver platter, and then to organise the exploitation. The demonstrations and violence is of course for 'internal' Islamic consumption. Those behind the violence need an external 'prügelknabe' to whip up a sentiment and recruit more thugs - a technique identical to that used by the Nazis in the 1930s. Don't forget that 'fifth column' Nazi movements existed in all the countries occupied by the Nazis before they went in militarily!

When we look for the backers of this new fascist movement using Islam as its mantel the fingers point clearly at Iran and Syria and their lackeys in other areas. The Syrian regime seems to be weakening and needs external enemies for interior political purposes. The idea that demonstrators can burn off an embassy in Damascus without government complicity is absurd. The Syrian regime has plenty of soldiers and have shown no compunction before when it comes to using them. The current Iranian regime under Mr Ahmedinejab (or 'Mr Armydinnerjacket' as we call him locally) is obviously sociopathic and extremely dangerous.

This leads to the discussion about freedom of expression, self-censorship, sensitivity, etc. This part of the discussion has to a large extent been derailed, something which cannot be allowed to happen. Please think back to September 1938, when after landing at Heston Airport, the then UK prime minister, Neville Chamberlain said: "My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time."

Back then the world was facing a potent fascist movement and failed to realise it. Hitler was duly elected in a democratic process, and nobody dared face up to him until it was too late. The world is again facing a serious fascist threat - this time we must face up to it rather than politely letting it develop in our countries, mostly paid for by our own money. The best way to do this is through free and liberal debate. There cannot be holy cows in a democracy. A prerequisite for democracy is a free debate enabling an informed population to consider and cast their votes. Anything else plays into the hands of the anti-democratic forces so ripe in our midst. If the social structure is not capable of surviving inquisitive and brutal debate it is not worth conserving and deserves to be toppled. Hence: no limit to the freedom of expression beyond civil measures defined by slander and libel legislation! No kowtowing to fascism in the guise of religious sensitivity or politeness. That is not the right way to dampen the flames. As pointed out by Rowan Atkinson and others, being prevented from poking fun at religion is too high a price to pay for accommodation!

Finally, a word about how the Danes see this: although I haven't visited Denmark for several years I grew up in the country and think I understand the bemusement with which this whole affair was initially received in the country. You see, most Danes regard religious people as being a bit off their rockers (and the events of the last few days have certainly done nothing to change that perception). Deep down they see no reason to respect or protect superstition or dogmatic non-democratic political movements. If anything, Danes pity religious folk a little and offer them education and tolerance - rarely true acceptance. So, I'm sure the Danish cartoonists and Jyllands-Posten meant no offence. That their innocent pictures could be used this way was simply beyond their imagination.

Best Regards




-----Original Message-----
From: Intelligence Unit
Sent: 05 February 2006 00:33
To: ATCA Members
Subject: ATCA: Scandinavian Embassies burn in cartoon protest; Response: Lord Howell; Pickering; Shesh.; Bogni; Eilstrup-Sangiovanni; Rockefeller; Sheshabalaya; Guptara; Ormerod; Clothier

Dear ATCA Colleagues

In the most violent day so far of the escalating row, The Norwegian and Danish embassies in Damascus, Syria, have been set on fire by thousands of Syrians on Saturday to protest at the publication of newspaper cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Thick, black smoke rose from one of the buildings as fire-fighters struggled to put out the flames. After setting fire to the Scandinavian embassies, thousands of angry Syrians also tried to make their way towards the French embassy but were stopped by barricades. Hundreds of riot police are standing guard outside the US Embassy in Syria. But so far, protesters haven't tried to approach it.

Usually when protesters burn an embassy, the host government has given its blessing. When it happens in a brutal police state like Syria, there may be little room for doubt. Devout followers of any religion generally take offence at the ridiculing of their religion. However, while the publication of the cartoons in question reflected an insensitivity to followers of Islam in Denmark, the reaction of Arab governments and violent protesters, has been either an over-reaction or may be deemed opportunistic. The publications have prompted diplomatic sanctions, boycotts and death threats from Islamic nations in the Middle East and Asia.

In other developments:

. The Danish and Norwegian governments have called on their nationals to leave Syria at once whilst other Western embassies in that country remain on high alert;
. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who has criticised European media for reprinting the caricatures, said there was no justification for the violence in Damascus;
. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said she understands Muslims are hurt, but she said it doesn't justify violence;
. Iranian President Ahmadinejad has instructed his trade minister to look into the possibility of annulling contracts signed with European countries that published the cartoons;
. Top Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar has said they should have killed all those who defiled the Prophet Muhammad, but instead they were protesting in peace;
. Iraqis rallied by the hundreds to demand an apology from the European Union;
. The leaders of Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan have denounced the publication of the caricatures;
. Pakistan has summoned envoys from nine Western countries in protest;
. The Jordanian editor sacked after publishing the cartoons has been arrested; and
. The Vatican says the right to freedom of expression does not imply the right to offend religious beliefs.

Cartoon Row Timeline

03 Feb: Danish PM makes a new bid to calm anger, by explaining his position over the publication to Muslim ambassadors
01 Feb: Papers in France, Germany, Italy and Spain reprint cartoons
31 Jan: Danish paper Jyllands-Posten apologises
30 Jan: Gunmen raid EU's Gaza office demanding apology
26 Jan: Saudi Arabia recalls its ambassador
10 Jan: Norwegian publication reprints cartoons
20 Oct: Muslim ambassadors complain to Danish PM
30 Sep: Danish paper publishes cartoons

We are grateful to The Lord Howell for his submission prior to the burning of the Scandinavian Embassies in Syria.

The Right Honourable Lord (David) Howell of Guildford, President of the British Institute of Energy Economics, is a former Secretary of State for Energy and for Transport in the UK Government and an economist and journalist. Lord Howell is Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords and Conservative Spokesman on Foreign Affairs. Until 2002 he was Chairman of the UK-Japan 21st Century Group, (the high level bilateral forum between leading UK and Japanese politicians, industrialists and academics), which was first set up by Margaret Thatcher and Yasuhiro Nakasone in 1984. In addition he writes a fortnightly column for The JAPAN TIMES in Tokyo, and has done so since 1985. David Howell was the Chairman of the House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, 1987-97. He was Chairman of the House of Lords European Sub-Committee on Common Foreign and Security Policy from 1999-2000. In 2001 he was awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure (Japan). He writes:

Dear DK

Could I add to Mr Pickering’s very wise words two more things to keep in mind – courtesy and good manners. There are a great many things in life which may or may not be true, may or may not be fundamental matters of principle, may or may not be justified by the behaviour of others. But they are nevertheless best unsaid out of civilised good manners. And we are supposed to be civilised, are we not?


David Howell


-----Original Message-----
From: Intelligence Unit
Sent: 04 February 2006 00:28
To: ATCA Members
Subject: Response: Pickering; Sheshabalaya; Bogni; Dr
Eilstrup-Sangiovanni; JD Rockefeller,Jr; Sheshabalaya; Prof Guptara; Ormerod; Clothier; Threats for cartoons of Prophet Muhammad

Dear ATCA Colleagues

We are grateful to John Pickering and Ashutosh Sheshabalaya for their personal views in regard to "Danish embassy and newspaper receive bomb threats for cartoons of Prophet Muhammad".

John Pickering is the Vice-Chairman of the Labour Finance and Industry Group (LFIG) as well as being an industrialist. LFIG is a UK Labour loyal think tank that draws on the experience of senior managers, providing a practical filter for legislation. He is a graduate of Cambridge University in physics and engineering, Cranfield Business School as well a being a Fellow of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. He has gained worldwide experience in general management in the power field and spent a number of years managing power construction projects in Nigeria, Sudan and Iran financed by the World Bank. Since then he has been in telecommunications joining BT plc at privatisation to become their first head of commercial management. In more recent times he has been a director investor in a number of global enterprises. He writes:

Dear DK

It is good to see Prof Guptara doing a bit of church history by reminding us that religion always has been an important but recently much neglected element in statecraft. Why have interfaith relations been omitted from the diplomatic picture for so long? Having said that I have just returned from a ceremony in which the retiring head of the UK Diplomatic Corps was presented with a medal for his interfaith work by the Bishop of London!

The choice between one world or no world seems to be before us, at least partly because of that neglect. But what are the ground rules for developing our interfaith or indeed any other dialogue - surely not, surely not, just guns and bombs whenever we get upset by our often ill informed neighbour.

The West complains that Muslims reply to criticism - including cartoons - with guns and bombs and whilst at the same time Muslims make much the same complaint about the West. I have two immediate suggestions to make to all serious minded people.

1. To non-Muslims - Kindly buy yourself a copy of and read the Koran. The Penguin Classics English version is very readable. One cannot but be impressed by the Muslims' sense of the unseen world, the holiness of God and the Prophet Muhammad. These features should never be ridiculed.

2. To Muslims - Kindly read the Sermon on the Mount in the New Testament. This is perhaps the most wonderful antidote to violence one could ever find. It would make a fine appendix to any holy book.

Then to everyone conducting any dialogue on religion or human rights:

Try to keep a balance between scripture [one's own and others], tradition [one's own and others], reason, and experience - ie dreams, mystical insight, etc. This is an important quadrilateral. It takes a great deal of humility to do so. It is so tempting to focus unduly on anyone of these to the exclusion of the others. Violence is an ever present potential consequence from failing to keep that balance.

It might restrain both those who prefer power to virtue, and those religions who seek secular power to further their religious cause. Lets all put our guns away and get talking.


John Pickering

Ashutosh Sheshabalaya is the author of "Rising Elephant" [Common Courage Press, 2004]. Rising Elephant is a heavily-researched book about India's rise and long-term opportunity and challenge to the West. The book, reprinted shortly afterwards by Macmillan, quickly became a bestseller, and in late 2005 it was still in the Top 10 on Amazon.com's India listings and among the Top 25 books on Globalisation, both at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Described as a "tour de force" by the Director of UBS Bank’s Wolfsberg think-tank and as "provocative" by former Indian Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, Rising Elephant has been reviewed worldwide.

Mr Sheshabalaya is a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars in Europe, India and the US. He continues to write for Yale University’s Center for Globalisation and Washington’s Globalist think-tank. A winner of the all-India National Science Talent Scholarship, he studied at the leading Indian engineering institution, the Birla Institute of Technology and Science. He went on to win the highly competitive Wien International Scholarship. Mr Sheshabalaya is married to a Belgian and is part of both New and Old India. Well before other analysts had set their sights upon this powerful and (to some) disruptive "India Phenomenon" on the world stage, he published a series of Indian market reports in the US, spotting and analysing opportunities. In total, he has led research projects for over 60 studies covering a wide range of industries. Clients include The Japanese Government, The European Commission, and Invest in Sweden Agency as well as Dow Chemical, DuPont, Ericsson, Fujitsu, Reliance Industries, Rhone Poulenc and St Jude Medical. He writes:

Dear DK

It is common sense that there are limits to all freedoms (this evolutionary aspect was what I had discussed previously) [See below]. But as much as freedom is not absolute, neither are the limits, which (as Mr Bogni points out) need to be tested from time to time - but by no means frivolously. Otherwise, they debase the very freedom they seek (or claim) to uphold.

These are explosive times. This is principally because of the rapid and extensive new connectivity between peoples; in other words, the growing impact of unseen, faraway forces is accompanied by the increasingly visible presence of the "Other" in one's everyday life. Meanwhile (largely due to widespread "information" access), there is a relentless destruction of even a small sense of wonder about the "Other".

Karl Kraus would have laughed. This is not about freedom of speech. Such a media exercise skirts the nether edges of David Berreby's tribal behaviour. In other words, very irresponsible, but no more than CNN taking over one day to realize that they mixed up nuclear weapons and nuclear energy in their interpretation of that [in]famous speech by the Iranian President.



Ashutosh Sheshabalaya


-----Original Message-----
From: Intelligence Unit
Sent: 03 February 2006 11:33
To: ATCA Members
Subject: Response: R Bogni; Dr M Eilstrup-Sangiovanni; excerpts JD Rockefeller,Jr; A Sheshabalaya; Prof P Guptara; J Ormerod; S Clothier; Threats for cartoons of Prophet Muhammad

Dear ATCA Colleagues

We are grateful to Rudi Bogni based in London and Basel, Switzerland, for his personal views in regard to "Danish embassy and newspaper receive bomb threats for cartoons of Prophet Muhammad".

Rudi Bogni is the Chairman of Medinvest and lives between London and Basel. He is the former CEO, Private Banking and Member of the Group Executive Board of UBS AG, the largest bank in Switzerland. At present, he is a non-executive director of Old Mutual plc; trustee of the Prince of Liechtenstein Foundation; Accomandataire of Bertarelli & Cie; Director of America Cup Management and Kedge Capital; Chairman of the International Advisory Board of Oxford Analytica; Director of the International Council for Capital Formation and of Prospect Publishing; Member of the Governing Council of the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation; and of the Development Council of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. He writes:

Dear DK

I am a firm believer in the freedom of speech and the need to test liberties from time to time, so that we do not lose them. However, I also believe that sensitivity to other people's sentiments is just as much a part of our modern culture as is the freedom of speech.

So, if I want to joke about Jewish grandmothers, I do it privately with my Jewish friends, and if I want to joke about Ramadan fasting, I do it privately with my Muslim friends, I just do not do it with the first Jew or Muslim that I meet at a dinner and whose sensitivities I do not know.

Particularly at this moment when terrorism and internal problems in the West as well as in the Arab world make everyone self-conscious and defensive the better part of valour ought to be common sense.

I share however the frustration of both the press and the people in Europe: governments increasingly try and dominate what we think and what we say in the pursuit (unfortunately both from the right and from the left) of the ideal nanny state, where everybody is politically correct, does not smoke, does not eat fatty foods and does not criticise incompetent administrations.

So I encourage editors to leave the Prophets in peace for a while. After all they are all long dead. Better if they concentrated on caricatures of some of the politicians who want to run our lives in our own countries. The downside for those editors is that they might not get invited to lunch any more at the Palais de l'Elysee, Downing Street or Palazzo Chigi. A small price to pay however for better understanding between billions of people.

I shall leave you with a story of tolerance. When I toured Syria in 1995, our driver was a devout Muslim. Every time at lunch or dinner he tried to steer us towards a restaurant where no alcohol would be served, but - if we insisted - he would oblige with a smile.

Freedom and tolerance are what make people brothers, freedom and hubris serve only the ego of the few.




-----Original Message-----
From: Intelligence Unit
Sent: 02 February 2006 20:20
To: ATCA Members
Subject: Response: Dr Mette Eilstrup-Sangiovanni; excerpts John D Rockefeller,Jr; Ashutosh Sheshabalaya; Prof Prabhu Guptara; James Ormerod; Stephen Clothier; Threats for cartoons of Prophet Muhammad

Dear ATCA Colleagues

We are grateful to Dr Mette Eilstrup-Sangiovanni, from the Jean Monnet Centre of European Excellence at Cambridge University, and Ashutosh Sheshabalaya from Belgium, for their personal views in regard to "Danish embassy and newspaper receive bomb threats for cartoons of Prophet Muhammad".

The comments of Dr Eilstrup-Sangiovanni are reminiscent of the speech of John D Rockefeller, Jr, (1874-1960) delivered in 1941. The excerpts of the speech are presented to ATCA members because the universal values espoused are worth noting and with which, we as an eclectic global group at ATCA -- comprising over 100 nationalities -- may be able to identify:

"Not long since I sought to formulate in my own mind the things that make life most worth living, without which it would have little meaning. Some of these things have been relegated to bygone days; some are regarded as long since outgrown. Nevertheless I believe they are every one of them fundamental and eternal. They are the principles on which my wife and I have tried to bring up our family; they are the principles in which my father believed and by which he governed his life. They are the principles, many of them, which I learned at my mother's knee. They point the way to usefulness and happiness in life, to courage and peace in death. If they mean to you what they mean to me they may perhaps be helpful also to our sons and daughters for their guidance and inspiration. Let me state them:

. I believe in the supreme worth of the individual and in his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness;
. I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty;
. I believe that the law was made for man and not man for the law; that government is the servant of the people and not their master;
. I believe in the dignity of labour, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living;
. I believe that thrift is essential to well ordered living and that economy is a prime requisite of a sound financial structure, whether in government, business or personal affairs;
. I believe that truth and justice are fundamental to an enduring social order;
. I believe in the sacredness of a promise, that a man’s word should be as good as his bond; that character – not wealth or power or position – is of supreme worth;
. I believe that the rendering of useful service is the common duty of mankind and that only in the purifying fire of sacrifice is the dross of selfishness consumed and the greatness of the human soul set free;
. I believe in an all-wise and all-loving God, named by whatever name, and that the individual's highest fulfilment, greatest happiness and widest usefulness are to be found in living in harmony with His will;
. I believe that love is the greatest thing in the world; that it alone can overcome hate; that right can and will triumph over might.

These are the principles, however formulated, for which all good men and women throughout the world, irrespective of race or creed, education, social position or occupation are standing, and for which many of them are suffering and dying."

Dr Mette Eilstrup-Sangiovanni is the founder and co-director of the Cambridge Jean Monnet Centre of European Excellence and heads a research programme which studies the external relations of the European Union and its member states. She is a Lecturer in International Politics at the Centre of International Studies at the University of Cambridge, England, and a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College. Her work includes publications on European integration, European foreign policy, and transatlantic relations. She writes:

Dear DK

On 30th September last year the Danish newspaper, Jyllands Posten, published a series of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed. The way in which the case has since then been politicized and has led to widespread boycotting of Danish products and breaking off of diplomatic relations with Denmark throughout the Middle East, is a testament to the antagonistic and estranged relations that currently exist between Muslim and non-Muslim communities throughout Europe and shows serious errors of judgment on both sides of the conflict.

There can be no doubt that Jyllands Posten has a 'right' to publish satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in accordance with the principle of freedom of speech and that the Danish government is right to insist that it cannot take responsibility for or act against publication of such cartoons by any Danish-based media outlet. Clearly, demands for apologies from the Danish Government and Queen ring ridiculous in the ears of citizens of a secular liberal country that does not censor its press.

Yet, the case raises some important issues about the practice of the principle of free speech. There is an important distinction to be made between the right to a liberty and the responsible exercise of it. The Danish case is less about the upholding of a principle than it is about a misuse of a liberty. The cartoons published by Jyllands Posten did not aim to inspire debate on the merits. The paper did not invite reasoned reflection on the role of Islam in contemporary Western societies. By violating the Islamic prohibition against depictions of the Prophet, they were unnecessarily provocative and insulting to Muslims. The main aim was to trigger a reaction that would prove that some sections of the Muslim community lack a commitment to freedom of expression. The re-publication of the cartoons by other European news media in an alleged effort to 'defend freedom of expression' shows a similar lack of understanding of what free speech is for.

Freedom of expression is an important foundational right and should be used responsibly to further debate rather than instigate conflict and hatred. Those who champion free speech as a core liberal value would do well to also remember other core values of liberal democracy: tolerance and respect for other people's convictions and faith. At a time when we experience the violent effects of intolerance and fanaticism, the role of the free press should be to invite serious dialogue rather than engage in gimmicks aimed to fuel hostility and anger.

The Danish government on its side has been extremely clumsy in its handling of the issue. It should have realized immediately that this was a highly explosive issue and made a proactive effort to calm sentiments. It should have been quick to stress that freedom of speech is an inviolable principle of Danish democracy but emphasized that the Danish political establishment in no way condones the practice of ridiculing other religions. Efforts at containment should have involved granting the request by several Middle Eastern Ambassadors in Denmark for a meeting with Danish politicians to discuss the issue before the Government was faced with demands for an apology, which clearly it cannot give.

Similarly, the Muslim Faith Society (Det Islamiske Trossamfund) in Denmark seems to have overplayed its hand. By sending a delegation of Imams to the Middle East to instigate a boycott against Denmark and Danish products, the society wanted to demonstrate its political strength and force the Danish government to issue an official apology. Clearly this is not going to happen, and the confrontational stance appears instead to be alienating moderate Muslims in Denmark who feel that the Islamic Faith Society has gone too far in its non-conciliatory stance. The case is a sad example of intolerance and narrow-mindedness being exploited for political gain. At a time of increasing cultural conflict, we ought to remember that political action is not only about the exercise of rights but also about virtue and the exercise of reasoned judgment about the consequences of our actions.


Mette Eilstrup-Sangiovanni
Centre of International Studies, University of Cambridge

Ashutosh Sheshabalaya is the author of "Rising Elephant" [Common Courage Press, 2004]. Rising Elephant is a heavily-researched book about India's rise and long-term opportunity and challenge to the West. The book, reprinted shortly afterwards by Macmillan, quickly became a bestseller, and in late 2005 it was still in the Top 10 on Amazon.com's India listings and among the Top 25 books on Globalisation, both at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Described as a "tour de force" by the Director of UBS Bank’s Wolfsberg think-tank and as "provocative" by former Indian Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, Rising Elephant has been reviewed worldwide.

Mr Sheshabalaya is a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars in Europe, India and the US. He continues to write for Yale University’s Center for Globalisation and Washington’s Globalist think-tank. A winner of the all-India National Science Talent Scholarship, he studied at the leading Indian engineering institution, the Birla Institute of Technology and Science. He went on to win the highly competitive Wien International Scholarship. Mr Sheshabalaya is married to a Belgian and is part of both New and Old India. Well before other analysts had set their sights upon this powerful and (to some) disruptive "India Phenomenon" on the world stage, he published a series of Indian market reports in the US, spotting and analysing opportunities. In total, he has led research projects for over 60 studies covering a wide range of industries. Clients include The Japanese Government, The European Commission, and Invest in Sweden Agency as well as Dow Chemical, DuPont, Ericsson, Fujitsu, Reliance Industries, Rhone Poulenc and St Jude Medical.

Dear DK,

Prof Guptara has provided an illuminating analysis of the relationship between blasphemy and the State. It is also interesting that changes in Western laws on blasphemy have closely reflected relationships between State and society, especially as the latter "modernized". In succession, both social stability and State authority were highlighted in the way the blasphemy law itself evolved (which may be useful in the light of the events in Denmark and their repercussions). It is also important to note the relatively recent abolition of blasphemy from the statute books in the UK.

When blasphemy first moved from being an ecclesiastical to a common law offence in the late 17th century the reason was a perceived need to preserve "social order" and the "bonds of civil society." However, in the next phase (in the late 18th century), blasphemy was conjoined with sedition (State). In the early 20th century, vilification and ridicule joined irreverence as part of the law of blasphemy (oriented again to social stability). Although there was no successful prosecutions for blasphemy from the end of World War I, as recently as 1979, after convictions in the Old Bailey and Court of Appeals, the House of Lords reconfirmed the existence of blasphemous libel - in (Mary) Whitehouse vs. Lemon (of Gay News) - "concerning the Christian religion, namely an obscene poem and illustration vilifying Christ in his life and in his crucifixion". In 1982, the European Commission of Human Rights declared the case inadmissible.

In other words, my view is that modernity itself is an evolving process, everywhere. There are no guarantees about either its permanence or contextual universality (re: the debate on creationism in school textbooks in the US).

With reference to Islam's own now-urgent internal debate on the subject, it may be interesting to note some developments in India. The reasons for these would be the subject of another comment (related to the fact that Hinduism, of course, does not/cannot have a definition of blasphemy), but ironically(?) the two reports I cite below were from the time the BJP was in power.

In January 2004, BBC News (Storm Over Indian Women's Mosque) described a 3,000-strong movement in Tamil Nadu state seeking to build a mosque for women. A few months previously, the Washington Post (In India, Rulings for Women, by Women) reported an all-women Muslim panel (a 'muftia') - possibly "the first of its kind" in the entire Sunni Muslim world. The panel rules on issues of modernity and religious tradition, replying to queries sent in by writing as well as email, and makes India a proving ground for "female Islamic jurisprudence". "You have to study Indian Muslims quite apart from the rest of the world," Anwar Moazzam, the retired head of the department of Islamic studies at India's Osmania University, told the newspaper.



Ashutosh Sheshabalaya


-----Original Message-----
From: Intelligence Unit
Sent: 02 February 2006 11:54
To: ATCA Members
Subject: Response: Prof Prabhu Guptara; James Ormerod; Stephen Clothier; ATCA: Danish embassy and newspaper receive bomb threats for cartoons of Prophet Muhammad

Dear ATCA Colleagues

We are grateful to Prof Prabhu Guptara from Wolfsberg, Switzerland, James Ormerod from Berkshire, England, and Stephen Clothier from Zurich, Switzerland, for their personal views in regard to "Danish embassy and newspaper receive bomb threats for cartoons of Prophet Muhammad".

Professor Prabhu Guptara is Executive Director, Organisational Development, at the Switzerland based Wolfsberg -- The platform for Business and Executive Development, a subsidiary of UBS, one of the largest banks in the world -- where he organises and chairs the famed Wolfsberg Think Tanks and the Distinguished Speaker series of events. Prof Guptara has professional experience with a range of organisations around the world, including Barclays Bank, BP, Deutsche Bank, Kraft Jacob Suchard, Nokia, the Singapore Institute of Management and Groupe Bull. A jury member of numerous literary competitions in Britain and the Commonwealth, he has been a guest contributor to all the principal newspapers, radio and TV channels in the UK, as well as media in other parts of the world. Professor Guptara supervises PhD work at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland and is Visiting Professor at various other international universities and business schools. He is a Freeman of the City of London and of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists; and Fellow of the Institute of Directors. He writes:

Dear DK

It may be instructive to recollect the history of the relationship between blasphemy (lack of religious "correctness") and state power in the West, something that most Westerners forget, having been secularised for two or three generations.

Representations of God are forbidden in both the Jewish and Christian scriptures. However, the Christian West, from the time of the adoption of Christianity as the state religion by the Emperor Constantine in the 3rd/4th Century, started accepting representations of God and of Jesus, though various reformers tried to get the churches to go back to the original ban, with some success from the time of the Reformation (sixteenth century) onwards. One of the main differences between the Reformed (Protestant) churches and the Roman Catholic and Orthodox ones (with Anglican/Episcopal ones falling somewhere in the middle as they are not "completely Reformed" but only "half-Reformed") is that the Radically Reformed ones do not accept representations of God.

It is necessary to make a distinction between, on the one hand, the Magisterial Reformation of reformers such as Luther, which entered into collaboration with state power and do accept representations of God and, on the other hand, the Radical Reformation which does not accept representations of God, and moreover drew a sharp separation between religion and state eg in the USA.

Since the Catholics, Orthodox and Anglicans were integrally connected to state power, they were more interested in the concept of blasphemy, so that blasphemy laws were put in place more in such countries than in Protestant ones, which pioneered religious liberty, and were therefore more open to discussion of religion from all sorts of perspectives, including attitudes ranging from "merely negative" to that of scoffing and ridicule.

Not only were and are the Protestant areas of the world more economically successful, they were responsible for almost all the developments that broke the mould of the pre-modern world and created the modern world. These developments include, inter alia, universal literacy, freedom to debate and therefore free thought, the birth of modern science and technology, and economic progress and political liberty. It is no exaggeration to say that, in terms of the history of ideas, what we call globalisation is simply Protestant culture without any necessary allegiance to Protestantism (with a still unresolved battle between individualistic greed and communal/global responsibility). That is why the attitude of the Protestantism (lack of interest in the concept of blasphemy) has come to mark the modern world more than the attitude of the Orthodox/ Catholics/Anglicans (and Muslims).

Gradually, the Protestant attitude has come to erode, in this as in other areas, the attitudes of the Orthodox/Catholic/Anglicans, so that such countries have gradually relaxed their blasphemy laws till these are now a dead letter (though the space previously occupied by them is now sought to be filled by laws such as the recent Racial Hatred Bill passed last week in the UK).

India is a special case, where the ruling powers have only rarely (eg under the Emperor Aurangzeb in the 17th century) attempted to use state power to enforce a particular religious line. That is, till recently, when the Hindu fascist parties, such as the BJP and its allies in the Vishwa Hindu Parishad) under the previous government of Mr Vajpayee tried to do so (and will no doubt do so again if they come back into power). A similar story could be told of Buddhist countries, where traditional tolerance has been replaced by militant Buddhism at the same time as the countries concerned have moved to modern tolerance or even indifference regarding such questions.

My own view is that one cannot have a progressive society, characterised by free markets in goods and services, without an equally free marketplace in religious ideas – because it is impossible to distinguish religious ideas from non-religious ones, or to distinguish ideologies from non-ideologies (the connection between "science" and state power has recently been documented by Philip Mirowski, The Effortless Economy of Science? Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004). Capitalism itself is an ideology after all and its religion-like qualities have been documented in a spate of books.

So what bearing does all this have on the matter in hand? Briefly, that in a free world, people have the right to express their opinions, including the right to make cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, of Jesus the Lord, of the Buddha, or of any other leader, religious or secular. Equally, individuals and groups (whether Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu or owing allegiance to any other ideology/religion), have the right to be offended, to withdraw their custom/patronage and to express their outrage in any form – except violence.

Of course whenever one takes that view, one has to be aware that one is taking the view that was pioneered by the Radical Reformation and is what distinguishes the modern world from the Islamic world. Islam has to decide whether it belongs in the modern world pioneered by Protestantism, or whether it will continue to belong to the mental world of the pre-Protestant (that is, pre-modern) parts of the world.

Yours sincerely


Prabhu Guptara

James Ormerod has extensive experience of international marketing and business development with a 15-year track record gained from working at a senior level with high profile organisations in the IT sector including BMC Software, IBM, Versata Inc and recently through the development of Bastyan. With a strong emphasis on developing and implementing brand and integrated go-to-market strategies, James has worked at the forefront of the eBusiness and mobile business evolution responsible for helping large organisations to capitalise on the opportunities afforded by process automation and global communications. James holds a BA Hons in Business Studies from North Staffordshire University and a Masters Degree in Marketing Management from Manchester University. He is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a Fellow of the Institute of Direct Marketing. He speaks fluent Italian and conversational French. He lives in Berkshire, UK with his family and maintains a keen interest in Italian culture and lifestyle and international affairs. Throughout his career, James has been appointed to devise and drive marketing-led business development strategies, frequently involving changes to operational processes, product design and development and the adoption of integrated communication techniques and methodologies. He writes:

Dear DK

I am sure the range of replies to these events will be wide and varied. However the most basic tenet I believe is one that democracy upholds the belief of freedom of speech. If this was an isolated incident against Muslims then the community would have the right to react accordingly as would any faith. It does show how polarised the thoughts and views of many have become apparently driven by Islamic Militants who seem to be eager to re-create a version of the Holy Wars. Some would say that these views are driven by the desires and teachings of people who believe that the Muslim faith should be omnipotent.

I note that the Jacques Lefranc was dismissed by the owner of France Soir, as his paper furthered the row between Muslims and European press. I suspect this was somewhat more to do with the French government asking for his removal in the wake of the recent tensions throughout France. If this is the case you have the Danish government effectively supporting democracy and France suppressing it. There are of course a whole raft of economic issues relating to France and its trade that would perhaps affect them substantially more than Denmark, where it is said their businesses are starting to feel economic repercussions.

The French paper did at least attempt satirically to demonstrate it was not intending to show dis-respect to the Muslim community by identifying that other faiths have for centuries been caricatured, laughed at, blasphemed against and generally derided since the beginning of time.

It is a sad reflection in what should be a prosperous multi-faith and multi-cultural society that we do not have the resilience to rise above these incidents and focus on the real issues that separate us rather than resorting to death threats and sanctions. I continue to believe that these tensions are fostered by the vocal minority not the sensible majority who probably feel more suppressed as a result.

Yours sincerely


James Ormerod

Stephen Clothier is Chief Executive of Accurity and several related Swiss companies in the emerging area of international technology outsourcing and enterprise content management, a position he has held for the past six years. He trained as a space physicist and a naval officer. His experience covers a mixture of international technical consulting and research in a wide variety of areas: from NASA and ESA to airlines, finance and defence. Until recently he was co-Chairman of the Technology Forum of the British Swiss Chamber of Commerce, and is a Chartered Engineer, Member of the British Computer Society and Fellow of the Institute of Analysts and Programmers. He writes:

Dear DK

I would not normally trouble you with my “private” opinion, but at the first read of your report, the pragmatist in me cannot help thinking that “offending so many people is not a clever way to uphold the very right to do so”. I feel it is vital the press uphold their freedom but to achieve this they need to measure their use of it - and save the fireworks for a real bonfire night. Or is there another agenda here?

Best wishes


Stephen Clothier


-----Original Message-----
From: Intelligence Unit
Sent: 02 February 2006 00:04
To: ATCA Members
Subject: ATCA: Danish embassy and newspaper receive bomb threats for cartoons of Prophet Muhammad

Dear ATCA Colleagues

The democratic international community is concerned to note two bomb threats in two days against the Copenhagen-based daily Jyllands-Posten in retaliation for publishing cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. It was reported that a caller speaking English told the paper's switchboard on Tuesday that a bomb would explode in 10 minutes, the first time. Police with dogs searched the newspaper's offices for several hours but found no bomb. Foreign correspondents and journalists working for the Danish news agency Ritzau in the same office block were also evacuated. A similar incident happened on Wednesday. Police also cleared and searched a Jyllands-Posten office in the northern Danish city of Aarhus. Also, the Danish embassy in Damascus was evacuated after a bomb threat which turned out to be a hoax.

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said his government cannot act against the publication of satirical cartoons. Meanwhile, two large Danish companies have reported their sales falling in the Middle East after large scale protests against the cartoons in the Arab world and calls for boycotts. The Danish-Swedish dairy product maker Arla Foods, with annual Middle East sales of almost USD 500 million, said it might have to cut 140 jobs due to the boycott. "We are losing around 10 million Danish Crowns (USD 1.8 million) per day at the moment," a spokesperson said. The world's biggest maker of insulin, Denmark's Novo Nordisk said pharmacies and hospitals in Saudi Arabia had been avoiding its products since Saturday.

Jyllands-Posten said it was flooded with over 80,000 e-mails as hackers tried to shut down its Web site. The paper published 12 cartoons of Muhammad on 30th September 2005 sparking furore in the Muslim world where depictions of the Prophet are forbidden. One drawing showed Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban with a lit fuse.

The cartoons gained increased attention after they were reprinted in the 10th January 2006 edition of Magazinet, a small Christian evangelical weekly based in Norway. Magazinet editor-in-chief Vebjoern Selbekk has said that the newspaper has received some 20 death threats in retaliation for republishing the cartoons.

Danish embassies have faced protests and flag burnings throughout the Middle East. Libya has closed its Copenhagen embassy and Saudi Arabia as well as Syria have recalled their ambassadors from Denmark. Iran and Iraq both formally protested to Denmark over the cartoons.

Some French, Spanish and German newspapers, rallying to defend freedom of expression in secular societies, republished the caricatures on Wednesday sparking fresh anger from Muslims. The French daily France Soir ran a front-page headline "Yes, We Have the Right to Caricature God" and a cartoon of Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim and Christian gods floating on a cloud. Inside, the paper reprinted the Danish drawings.

In Germany, the dailies Die Welt and Berliner Zeitung ran some of the cartoons. Jyllands-Posten originally published the cartoons after asking artists to depict Muhammad to challenge what it said was self-censorship among artists dealing with Islamic issues.

"We deplore the bomb threat against this newspaper and its journalists," said the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Executive Director Ann Cooper. "Jyllands-Posten has the right to publish these cartoons and people who are offended by them have the right to express their anger. But no one has a right to threaten violence."


We look forward to your further thoughts, observations and views. Thank you.

Best wishes

For and on behalf of DK Matai, Chairman, Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance (ATCA)

ATCA: The Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance is a philanthropic initiative founded in 2001 by mi2g to understand and to address complex global challenges. ATCA conducts collective dialogue on opportunities and threats arising from climate chaos, radical poverty, organised crime, extremism, informatics, nanotechnology, robotics, genetics, artificial intelligence and financial systems. Present membership of ATCA is by invitation only and includes members from the House of Lords, House of Commons, European Parliament, US Congress & Senate, G10's Senior Government officials and over 500 CEOs from banking, insurance, computing and defence. Please do not use ATCA material without permission and full attribution.

Intelligence Unit | mi2g | tel +44 (0) 20 7712 1782 fax +44 (0) 20 7712 1501 | internet www.mi2g.net
mi2g: Winner of the Queen's Award for Enterprise in the category of Innovation


mi2g is at the leading edge of building secure on-line banking, broking and trading architectures. The principal applications of its technology are: 1. D2-Banking; 2. Digital Risk Management; and 3. Bespoke Security Architecture. For more information about mi2g, please visit: www.mi2g.net

Renowned worldwide for the ATCA Briefings. Subscribe now.
Home - Profile - Values - People - Careers - Partners - Contact Us
D2 Banking - Bespoke Security Architecture - Digital Risk Management - Tools

Intelligence Briefings - Brochures - Case Studies -
SIPS Methodology FAQ (pdf)
Keynote Speeches - Articles - News Feeds - Glossary (pdf)
Terms and Conditions - Privacy Policy