Overcoming Discrimination, Developing Insight, #Freedom, #Justice, #Dignity: Learning Not to be Selfish and the Legacy of Killing the Prophet’s Grandson Husain RA!

“Learning Not to be Selfish and the Legacy of Killing the Prophet’s Grandson” | FRIDAY KHUTBAHS (SERMONS)  | The Institute for Advanced Usuli Studies | 11 Feb 2022

It is human nature; it is embedded in our intellectual and moral, and even spiritual, code as human beings that we can recognize harm. At a very minimum, we respond to what is pleasant and unpleasant; and the nature of our learning is experiential. So much of what we know or the way we know it is because we have experienced failure, displeasure, harm, or things we have done have had unpleasant consequences. From that, we then come to a conclusion that a particular act, a particular option, a particular choice is not good because of its unpleasant consequences. In fact, the vast majority of what defines us is precisely this. Although we like to believe that we mold and engineer ourselves according to principles, it requires a considerable amount of work to mold ourselves beyond the experiential.

To mold oneself through means of learning, other than simply what we perceive to be pleasant or unpleasant consequences, requires that you do not give priority to your own personalized experiences of harm or pleasure, and live up to a principle where you say, “Even if what I experienced is different, or even if this is beyond my realm of experiences, I will still believe and pursue a particular course of action because reason and principles tell me to do so; some deliberative process of thinking, persuading the self, and then living up to what the self had been persuaded of.”

The reality, though, is that the vast majority of time, for the vast majority of people, we philosophize the experiential. We do not experience the philosophical. For the vast majority of people for the vast majority of time, it is whatever we experience in terms of pleasure and displeasure, and we then project that onto society, onto the world, onto everything. They project it so that they philosophize it. Very few people want to admit that really they do not know anything other than what they have experienced in life, and what they have experienced in life is extremely limited. The vast majority of people for the vast majority of time do not want to admit that the way they know lofty concepts such as justice, love, truth is through the extremely limited prism of their pleasures and displeasures. In other words, they only know them experientially.


This is precisely why the vast majority of people, for the vast majority of time, can read the Qur’an and it demands that they live testifying for truth, even if it be against themselves. They can read the Qur’an demanding that they sacrifice their lives, their time and their money for God, for cause. They can read the Qur’an and see how the Qur’an speaks about the Prophet Muhammad and the very first generation of Muslims with the Prophet Muhammad. They can read the Qur’an and read about the sacrifices of generations of prophets. But when all is said and done, with the way that the Qur’an is distilled and the entire universe of the Qur’an with all its lofty principles, unless a human being learns to go beyond the self to assign value according to rational, deliberate processes of thinking, and to set that value as a goal, and then to organize one’s life in service of this value; unless one is extremely deliberate, conscientious and careful about it, what ends up happening is that the abstract always retreats to the far background before the experiential.

In other words, whatever abstract concepts you are reading in the Qur’an, whatever abstractions about taking care of the poor, the orphan, or the wayfarer, living your lives bearing witness to God, living your life in a state of jihad, sacrificing for the sake of God, all of that retreats to some vague notions of correctness and what comes to the forefront, what becomes the living reality for the vast majority of people the vast majority of time is that, logic of, “abstraction makes me uncomfortable.” Abstraction requires sacrifice and very hard work, so whatever I read in the Qur’an, I will assign a gloss to these principles and the actual embodiment of what I have read will be my experiential knowledge. In other words, I will put the Qur’anic concepts on the shelf and simply live according to a convenient myth that we all embrace.

We are essentially good. We are essentially okay. Although God, in speaking to the Prophet and his companions, teaches a very basic, fundamental lesson: “Do not commend yourself, do not assume the best of yourself.” In other words, do not blindly believe that you are okay. The vast majority of time for the vast majority of people, this is precisely what they do. “We are fine. I am fine as a Muslim. I am fine as a human being. I do not live selfishly, I am not a selfish person. If anything, I am a very giving, caring person. If anything, I think of others.” But for the vast majority of people the vast majority of time, it is an absolute delusion. 

This is why hypocrisy is part and parcel of the hearts of the vast majority of Muslims for the vast majority of time. In fact, the very plight of Muslims right now is such that for hundreds of years, since the crumbling of the Islamic civilization, every civilization has a small percentage of people that get beyond the self and live in service of an idea or set of ideas. Not all of England became worldwide explorers, but there was a small percentage among the English people that dedicated their lives to exploring the world and traveling to remote lands where they put their lives and well-being at risk. 

Not all of the Christian world committed to spreading the gospel, but a small percentage of British, French and Dutch dedicated and sacrificed their lives to living in extremely remote lands in extremely uncomfortable conditions to spread the gospel of Jesus; of what they believe is the truth, and as a result, Taiwan today is Christian. South Korea is Christian. Japan is Christian. More than half of Africa is Christian. Those people got beyond the experiential and understood quite simply that to live their principle necessarily means forcing the self to the background and bringing to the forefront the principle itself.

Whatever historical mistakes were committed in the trajectory of Islamic history, whatever failures there were, there was always enough of a percentage that was capable of assigning the self to the background and living life according to a principle that is not experienced. There was always enough Ibn Battuta’s to travel the world. There were always enough Ibn Sina’s or Al Farrabi’s to imagine the truth. There were always enough Al Ghazali’s or Ibn Rushd’s to think about justice and beauty and haqq (truth), and to pursue them beyond the experiential to cover over the historical mistakes.

Let me put it more simply. Shortly after the death of the Prophet, the Muslim Ummah experienced a truly demonic moment that in and of itself would have been enough to destroy Islam forever. That demonic moment was the murder of Al-Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet, by the political authorities of the day. The first Muslim dynasty commenced its legacy, and it was a truly atrocious, blasphemous act. They murdered the grandson of the Prophet.

Even if you did not do anything but this, it would be enough to curse you until the end of time. But why was the grandson of the Prophet, Al-Hussein, murdered? Yes, the vast majority of people at that time often put themselves first. Not the principle, not the Prophet, not the family of the Prophet, not the grandson of the Prophet, not justice, not truth, not beauty. The vast majority of people knew very well that Al-Hussein was the just party, and that they had an obligation to support Al-Hussein. But instead, they betrayed him, betrayed principles, and engaged in the utmost act of selfishness. And because of this betrayal, the first dynasty to rule Islam was an incredibly corrupting force. The Umayyad dynasty, as did the Abbasid Dynasty, did everything within its power to corrupt the ethical revolution that Islam is. 

God very explicitly tells us that we have an obligation, not just to sacrifice, but in fact to go to war. Not because of your experiential knowledge, not because of your own selfish goals, but to empower the disempowered. The Islam of the Prophet and of Al-Hussein was an Islam of sacrifice. An Islam of the constant belief that you are on this earth to sacrifice. You are on this earth to put yourself in the service of a higher cause. You have no grounds for selfish entitlements. 

But the Umayyad dynasty that murdered the grandson of the Prophet understood very well that this is a dangerous Islam, and so they got to work. They invented an enormous amount of hadiths about how you owe an obligation of obedience to your ruler, even if the ruler is cruel and unjust. Children must obey their parents even if their parents are unjust, wives should obey their husbands even if the husbands are unjust, slaves should obey their masters even if the masters are unjust. People just simply need to say the Shahada, and they are Muslim. People just need to do their worship, and they are taken care of. People do not have to think about what the Prophet Muhammad himself did, and that is sacrifice his best interests day in and day out. He did it. The stellar companions did it. Ali Ibn Abi Talib, Al-Hussein did it and Al Hassan did it. The Ahl al Bayt, generation after generation, did it.

Instead, Umayyad Islam said, “You do not have to follow what Muhammad did, you can still be Muslim. After all, your body has a right, your wife has a right, your children have rights. By the time you get done with giving yourself its right, what is left?” You may kid yourself and say, “I can give myself my rights, I can give my family their rights, and then I can give the principles the right.” By the time they get to principles, very little is left because the self is extremely selfish. If you focus on giving the self what it desires, what it demands, very little is left.

Umayyad Islam invented and put into service generation upon generation of corrupt scholars who are themselves hypocrites. They invented hadiths, they narrated hadiths, they collected hadiths, all to silence the Qur’an. But what upheld the Islamic civilization is that there were always a sufficient percentage of people, not a majority, but a sufficient percentage of people that still committed their lives to studying principles, comprehending principles, and implementing principles; and that percentage is what constructed the entire glory of the Islamic civilization. The Islamic civilization crumbled because historical mistakes eventually caught up with us, like racism caught up with the Roman Empire and eventually brought it down, and as racism will eventually catch up with the American civilization. Mark my words, centuries from now, if life still exists, racism will bring it down. The historical mistake eventually caught up with us.

To learn not to be selfish is not as easy as one would think, especially that all of us grow up weaned under Islam of the State, of the Islam that murdered the grandson of the Prophet. That is the Islam we are weaned on. Can you imagine the Islam that we grow up learning, believing in, is the Islam that murdered the grandson of the Prophet? And that Islam teaches you that all you have to do is pay Zakat (charity), 2.5% of whatever you save for over a year, and you are fine. That Islam teaches you as long as you pray, you fast, and you take care of yourself and your family, you are fine. That Islam teaches you that as long as you take care of your feelings, your emotions and your body, you are okay. That Islam does not get you to marvel at the fact that the greatest creation God has given to the universes is the intellect.

That Islam does not teach you how often God emphasized the role of the intellect, the role of moral conscience, the role of justice, the place of justice. That Islam does not teach you that if you live your life in the service of yourself, then you are not truly a Muslim. You are like the hypocrites of Medina. That if you do not come to the aid of the disempowered and the disinherited, then you are like the hypocrites of Medina.

This is the thing. Even at the level of experiential knowledge, as Muslims, the experience is undeniable, that is that we keep going from one misery, one tragedy to the next. Since colonialism, Muslims keep going from one tragedy to the next. They are like a people who keep putting their finger in an electric socket and keep getting electrocuted. For centuries now, they keep doing the same thing over and over. Experience at the most primitive level, forget lofty ideas and principles, for centuries now Muslims keep experiencing one tragedy over the next. At what point do they say, “Enough is enough?” We need to do a deep dive into our whole historical, moral, intellectual framework. At what point do you say, “Obviously, the way we are is not working. Obviously, something is really, really wrong.” How insane is it that we keep going from one disaster to the other? And yet, you do not see any massive change in the collective psychology and intellectual dispositions of Muslims.

Yes, Muslims keep going from one tragedy to the next, so much so that it is clear that the vast majority of people for the vast majority of time insist on not waking up. You can simply tell yourself, “I speak because God told me to speak, but I will speak in the wilderness so that creation itself can be saturated with the words.” 

Yet another book has come out, “Worse Than Death, Reflections on the Uyghur Genocide,” which is an extremely painful book written by a witness to the genocide. Another book has come out, written by a scholar called Sean Roberts, the book is titled “The War on the Uyghurs.” In the book, Sean Roberts documents how President Trump met with the Chairman of China and gave him the green light to build the internment camps. Trump met with the President of China and told him, “We will condemn you in public, but go ahead. Start your holocaust against Muslims. It is not of concern to the United States.”

Is this going to wake up the conscience of all the Muslims? Muslims that you love, respect and support, Muslims that supported, defended and apologized for the Trump administration? Muslims who say, “No, Trump is not really an Islamophobe. He is just playing politics.” Is the fact that yet another extremely painful testimonial has come out going to make any difference? Is it going to wake up Muslims? Moral vigilance is a habit. If you become accustomed to putting your own comfort first, of telling yourself, “Oh, well, I do not ask for that much, am I not entitled to just this little bit?” Well, believe it or not, that is precisely what led us to the holocaust against the Uyghurs.

Another article has come out yet again in a series of articles about how Bosnia is terrified that the genocide against Muslims is going to be reignited. This is an issue that is extremely worrisome because Serbian nationalism, Islamophobia among Serbs and talk of finishing what we started in 1996, like the raping, enslaving and murdering of Muslims, is at an all-time high. The vast majority of Muslims for the vast majority of time will say, “Oh, we are good people. We do what we can.”

Another article details a ban on hijab in India. School after school is now banning hijabs in India. Raping, sexually assaulting Muslim women in India has become a pastime of Hindu nationalists. Is that going to wake up Muslims? Is that going to convince Muslims that they are not entitled to the comforts that they demand for themselves?

Listen to this new disaster, which I have been living with now for the past few days. All of us know that the vast majority of weapons manufactured in the United States, England or France, when they are used, are used in Muslim lands. American missiles, American bombs, British missiles, British bombs, French missiles, French bombs. Where are they used? They are used against Muslims in Muslim lands. All of us know that as a result, there is a huge displacement of Muslims everywhere. There are Syrian refugees, there are Iraqi refugees, there are Afghan refugees, there are Yemeni refugees, there are Somali refugees, there are Libyan refugees, there are Uyghur refugees, there are Bengali refugees, as well as the Rohingyas and Burmese. Muslims refugees everywhere.



The vast majority of these refugees, only God knows what happens to them. The vast majority are living in unbelievably substandard camps, fighting the elements, suffering in silence, dying in silence. Those in camps are the lucky ones. The vast majority of these refugees, although they are refugees, because of Western weapons and Western-backed governments, they find themselves fighting for resources largely in Muslim lands that have grown up weaned on selfishness. The Egyptians often say, “Egypt is for Egyptians. Lock out the Palestinians. Lock out everyone else, let them die.” The Saudis say the same. The Emiratis say the same. Everyone says the same. So for the vast majority of these refugees, only God knows what happens to them.

A good percentage of these refugees are picked up by human traffickers, put into forced labor or sexual slavery. Meanwhile, you are entitled to your comforts and to just the little bit that you want for yourself. Europe, the advanced world, the industrialized world, the world of human rights, in order to save face gets together under the auspices of the United Nations and say, “We could not have bombed the lands of these people. We could not have massacred these people. We could not have supported whatever goal we have in the countries of these people without a certain percentage of the local population helping us. So that not all these people think of us as imperial colonial powers, we will agree to take a percentage of the refugees. A small percentage of these refugees will get to come to the promised land, whether that be the United States, England, or another European country.”

The problem, though, is that at the same time that you take a percentage of these refugees, what do you do with the experiential self of the racist, colonial, imperial, white man? The white man who has colonized the world through the power of racism and is now agreeing to take a small percentage of a people that the white man fundamentally does not respect. After all, these people make me rich and comfortable by buying my weapons and killing each other, so you can bet that these refugees are going to experience all types of racial discrimination in their new countries where they are supposed to resettle.


One form of discrimination that has kept me up awake now feeling ill for days, is this new phenomenon that, if it would have happened to any other people, the entire world would be on fire. What is this discrimination? Well, in come the Syrian refugees, the Moroccan refugees, the Algerian, Somali and Iraqi refugees, and especially in Sweden, something incredible has happened. There is an intelligence agency that is supposed to focus on national security, known as SACO. SACO has been carefully monitoring and spying on Muslims, and SACO, according to public records, has logged in with social services in Sweden something close to 300,000 complaints. The overwhelming majority, if not all, of these complaints are directed at Muslim refugee parents.

What are the complaints? If you have a fight with your wife and you yell at her, in comes social services. If you do not allow your son or your daughter to date, in comes social services. If you object to your daughter wearing a bikini and swimming at school, in comes social services. And what have they been doing? In article after article, it is shown that, for thousands of Muslim families, they take the children away. They take the children of Syrian families, of Somali families, of Moroccan families away.

Apparently this is big business, because it is not just racism, but the families that agree to act as foster families get handsomely paid by the State. So these families not only have a financial incentive, but according to a recent book published in Sweden, when it comes to the children of refugees, social services in Sweden are not particularly discerning. So many of these foster families have turned out to be sexual abusers, or they serve the children alcohol and drugs. The percentage of these children end up being sexually abused and assaulted is outrageous. Although social services tells you that we are taking away your children and the judge is going to decide, even the United Nations has expressed concern, the judges do not believe Muslim parents and do not even honor the desire of Muslim children.

I watched a video of a 13-year-old crying and begging to be reunited with his mother. I watched a video of another 13-year-old who was taken from his parents and when he tried to run away, the police not only arrested him but also stepped with their boots on his head, and the poor child was yelling the Shahada. A Moroccan mother named Sanjualina had her child forcibly taken away. Sanjualina goes on Facebook to record herself tearfully telling this story, but  later Sanjualina suffers a nervous breakdown and kills herself. On YouTube is a video of her son shoveling dirt on her grave. Yasmin was a girl who was separated from her family, a 13-year-old who, again, begged and pleaded to be allowed to return to her family, and then she killed herself. A 13-year-old committed suicide.

Social services in Sweden now acts like a gestapo, nabbing the children of Muslims, punishing Muslim families for being Muslim. If you tell your children, “You ought to remain a virgin,” that is cause for removal. If you tell your children that they cannot date, that is cause for removal. If you tell them they cannot attend parties, that is cause for removal. If you tell them you want them to pray five times a day, that is cause for removal. If you tell them that they have to fast during Ramadan, that is cause for removal. Leave alone if you tell them that they should wear the hijab, that of course is cause for removal. Endemic, widespread, unrestrained racism. Muslim families have lost their children in Italy, in France, in Germany and in Britain, but nothing of the scale of what is taking place in Sweden.

But what do you do with a people that look at what is going on in China and go on with their lives? They look at what is bubbling in Bosnia, what is going on in India and the widespread, unchecked racism against Muslims all over the West, and they still talk about what they are entitled to, what they want, what is comfortable for them. It is still a part of their frame of reference. It is still a part of their psychology.

To me, an act of selfishness brings down the curse of the unjust murder of Al Hussein. God has forced us to live under the shadow of this high act of immorality. It is as if God has said, “There is an event that happened in history that should alert you to the price of egocentrism and selfishness. If you do notrealize, if you do not reflect, if you do not comprehend, I will unleash the curse of this event upon you and your entire lifetime. But if you reflect and understand, then you may be of that minority that actually avoids hypocrisy in living as a Muslim on this earth.” Right now, what a small minority it is. What a small minority it is.

I do not think I need to say, but I will, and I will close with this. The answer obviously is not for some idiot to go commit an act of violence, because that only makes things worse, not better. The answer, if you are incapable of doing anything, if you are incapable of giving money, or volunteering for legal representation, or of influencing politics, the answer, if nothing else, is to get beyond yourself, to teach yourself not to be selfish. At a minimum, you can tell God, “God, you know I could not do anything about these children being taken away from their parents in Sweden. But the pain that I felt pushed me to become a better Muslim. A Muslim like the Prophet, like Al Hussein. To live and die by a principle, not in service of the self.”

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Geopolitical Own-Goal? Failed assassination of ousted PM #ImranKhan may push #Pakistan’s #US-backed coup regime to tipping point!

Failed assassination of Imran Khan may push Pakistan’s US-backed coup regime to tipping point | Junaid S. Ahmad | MULTIPOLARISTA | 8 Nov 2022

First Washington supported a soft coup against Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan. Then the unelected regime banned his speeches, charged him with “terrorism,” and banned him from politics. Now a failed assassination attempt may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Imran Khan addresses a rally in Pakistan in October 2022

Pakistanis have been out on the streets protesting in the millions over the past few months. Even though the country has been afflicted by the horrific floods, the political momentum for radical change has not abated.

An assassination attempt on former Prime Minister Imran Khan this November has brought matters to a tipping point. Today, Khan’s popularity as a political leader and public figure is at its peak – a fact even his detractors will concede.

And this is precisely what has got him into trouble.

Khan was ousted in a regime-change operation at the beginning of April. We can now conclusively say that the group responsible for the ouster included virtually the entire corrupt feudal-dynastic political class, the chief of army staff and some of his cohorts in the military high command, and of course the godfather overseeing it all: the United States.

It was a classic case of a “color revolution,” which unfolded within just a few weeks. Elite sections of civil society, including the ostensibly more “progressive” ones, as well as the entire mainstream media, set the stage for the powerful to do their dirty work through lawfare.

With political support from Washington, they organized a bogus vote of no confidence, with the help of huge sums of money coming from both inside and outside Pakistan to buy off members of Khan’s own party, the Movement for Justice (PTI).

What has followed has been nothing less than historic. Pakistan has seen many civilian politicians deposed unceremoniously, but the bulk of ordinary people have been fairly indifferent to such elite intrigues.

Imran Khan address a rally in Lahore, Pakistan in October

Imran Khan’s PTI broke the two-party dictatorship

The curse of the country has been that sometimes the civilian politicians in power, and their blatant plundering of the country, have actually made military rule seem better – or at least no different.

The ouster of Imran Khan engendered sadness and anger among large segments of the population, who believed that the “Khan experiment” was now dead.

But the former prime minister demonstrated an indefatigable resolve to fight back, which is frankly miraculous in a country where wealth and power are so obscenely monopolized by civilian and military elites who despise Khan.

From one city to the next, all across the country, Khan has held major rallies. His speeches have aroused a population that otherwise thought they would just have to live in despair, with the ancien régime coming back to power.

Over the past few months, in the scorching heat of the summer and through the devastating floods, Khan has not budged an inch on his simple core demand: elections to determine who should be governing the country.

But what seems like a fairly banal demand is anathema to the traditional mainstream political parties, especially the two which have played musical chairs in impoverishing the country, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

PML-N in particular, with its current unelected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, has gone into panic mode, because it has always been accustomed to dominating the most powerful and populous province of the country, Punjab.

The most fascinating and encouraging aspect of Khan’s PTI is that it is perhaps the first national political party that has constituencies and support in all of Pakistan’s provinces.

This is no small feat for a young political party that has broken the stranglehold of the two-party duopoly that has dominated Pakistani political life for the past three decades.

Surely, it seems to strongly indicate that Pakistanis desperately wanted political change – and a lot of it.

A rally in support of Imran Khan in Lahore, Pakistan in October

Pakistan’s military is internally divided

While Imran Khan was giving speeches at massive demonstrations throughout the country for the simple demand of elections to take place, it seemed like the new PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) regime was just interested in concocting ridiculous tricks to indict Khan.

The unelected government has tried pretty much everything: It sought to outlaw voting by overseas Pakistanis (who it knows overwhelmingly support Khan). It hit Khan with absurd “terrorism” charges. And it used its Electoral Commission to disqualify Khan from contesting elections.

Rather than addressing the gargantuan social and economic problems that Pakistan is confronting at the moment, it was obvious to any person that the regime is fixated on destroying Khan and quashing his overwhelming support among the population.

But of course the current government is not alone in this saga, nor is it perhaps the principal player. There are two national security states, one deep and another even deeper, involved in the attempts to crush Khan.

For the first time in the history of Pakistan, the majority of the armed forces, the middle and junior ranks of the officers, and especially the soldiers, support and believe in Khan much more than their chief of army staff and other sections of the top brass.

This is unprecedented. And this is why a heavily militarized national security state like Pakistan’s has been so reluctant to repress these popular mobilizations. Top General Qamar Javed Bajwa knows fully well that if he did implement such orders, the officers’ and soldiers’ guns may turn the other way – and a potential rebellion within the military could take place.

These are the same armed forces that for the past 20 years have been forced to sacrifice and die for America’s “War on Terror.” It seems fairly obvious that, by this point, they are more attracted to Khan’s pledge that he will be a friend with America in peace but not in war than they are to any new orders the military high command comes up with in connivance with Washington.

Khan knows this sentiment among the armed forces very well. In fact, a barrage of retired soldiers and officers, in addition to ordinary Pakistanis, are volunteering full-time as Khan’s security detail. The government “protection” that former prime ministers receive is more a threat to Khan than managing his welfare and safety.

Washington’s hand behind the scenes

It is in this context that Chief of Army Staff Bajwa has gone in full panic mode. Both he and the United States can see that the buffoons in charge of Pakistan have completely ruined their plans of eliminating Khan from the political scene.

Their regime change, in short, has blatantly backfired.

To relieve his stress and receive some “wise counsel,” General Bajwa made a trip to Washington for meetings with high-ranking US officials. This was highly unusual, as the chief of army staff (COAS) was expected to retire in just a few weeks.

Bajwa met with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and the second-in-command of the State Department, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.

According to media reports and statements by multiple officials, including Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, four principal issues were underscored in those meetings:

  1. The next COAS, to be determined by the end of November, should be pro-Washington and restart security cooperation, approving drone attacks and American military bases in Pakistan.
  2. Pakistan must start distancing itself from its age-old ally, Beijing, by reducing CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) initiatives, especially in the port of Gwadar; and it should not interfere with terrorist actions undertaken by the extremist ETIM (East Turkestan Islamic Movement) from Afghanistan or Pakistan.
  3. Islamabad should “normalize” relations with the Israeli apartheid regime, manufacturing consent with a massive psyops media campaign.
  4. No elections should be held until Khan’s popularity decreases in some way or the other.

Perhaps feeling emboldened and empowered by his meeting with the mafia don in Washington, General Bajwa granted some authority to the military-intelligence apparatus to openly speak against Khan. That was a fatal mistake.

In a very foolish and infantile press conference by the Director-General (DG) of the ISI (Pakistan’s military intelligence, perhaps second only to the COAS himself in terms of power in the country), the DG went wild and loose with criticisms of Khan.

General Bajwa has maintained all along that the military is completely “neutral” in the country’s political process. This press conference demolished that myth.

Then, in another unprecedented move, Khan hit right back at the DG of the ISI, scathingly shaming him.

Messing with the DG of the ISI is just not done. Yet Khan did it.

Most importantly, and extraordinarily, this has led to widespread condemnation of the top echelons of the military-intelligence apparatus by ordinary Pakistanis.

This is despite the fact that the regime threatened people who criticize the military on social media with seven years in prison.

The genuine fear that Pakistanis have of their national security state seemed to have vanished overnight.

Meanwhile, the political parties in government, which in the past showcased themselves as being at the forefront in the struggle against the military establishment, are not only silent but complicit in what that establishment is doing to critics.

Illegal detentions, torture, and murders are happening on this government’s watch. High-profile journalist Arshad Sharif, who had exposed corruption in the regime, was murdered in strange circumstances after he fled to Kenya.

But the PDM government, the so-called “anti-establishment” forces, are simply watching this all happen.

The only positive outcome of this is that these political groups have been thoroughly exposed for their hypocrisy, lies, and opportunism.

China makes rare criticism of Pakistan

After General Bajwa made his trip to reassure Washington that its demands would be met, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visited China in a period of unusual friction between the two countries.

Though soundbites of being “all-weather friends” were regurgitated, President Xi Jinping, in a highly unusual fashion, stated that Pakistan needs to do more to protect Chinese workers.

“President Xi expressed his great concern about the safety of Chinese nationals in Pakistan, and conveyed his hope that Pakistan will provide a reliable and safe environment for Chinese institutions and personnel working on cooperation projects there,” Beijing’s Foreign Ministry reported.

This kind of public criticism had never been done before. It seems to indicate that Beijing knows very well how Islamabad is concerning itself with improving ties with Washington, rather than retaining the deep ties it has held over decades with China.

China Pakistan Xi Jinping Shehbaz Sharif

A series of terror attacks have killed and wounded Chinese citizens in Pakistan, especially targeting geostrategic infrastructure projects that are part of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Beijing has asked for permission to send its own security detail to protect their citizens, but Islamabad has apparently taken Washington’s orders to reject this request.

Pakistan is arguably China’s most powerful ally, but we are seeing tensions emerge now that were never witnessed in the past.

Despite Prime Minsiter Sharif’s reassurances, Beijing knows very well that the real power lies in the hands of General Bajwa and the military high command. And the latter’s renewed love affair is with Washington, not Beijing.

Failed assassination of Imran Khan backfires

A gunman tried to murder Iman Khan on November 3 as he marched through Wazirabad in a protest.

The would-be assassin fired several shots; one hit Khan in his shin; one killed a PTI official; and several others were injured.

Khan himself claimed he had information from supporters inside the intelligence agencies that showed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his allies ordered the assassination attempt.

At this point, one can only speculate about the thinking behind this atrocity. Many Pakistanis believe that, if a trained shooter from the intelligence agencies wanted to kill Khan, then he could have.

But General Bajwa is due to retire in just a few weeks, and is not too keen about the possibility of setting off a civil war, or at least significant social unrest.

Many observers believe the shooting was a warning to Khan and his supporters.

But this explanation seems weak because, by now, the whole world knows that Khan is as hard as a rock, and virtually nothing has deterred him from openly confronting the powers that be – be they in Islamabad or Washington.

This assassination attempt may, once again, backfire badly.

The grotesque action took place in the midst of the “long march” called by Khan, starting in Lahore and ending in Islamabad.

It is important to note that not only has Khan forcefully emphasized that his rallies and marches must remain peaceful, but that indeed these tens of millions of Pakistanis who have come out have been incredibly disciplined and peaceful in their protests.

This fact should silence Western orientalists who propagate the idea that large “Mozlem” crowds engage in frenzied violence when let loose.

The myth that Imran Khan was the military’s puppet

The routine mantra that has been repeated ad nauseum is that Imran Khan had previously been a darling of the military establishment, but that he later had a falling out with the high command at the end of 2021, and that is what led General Bajwa and his colleagues to dump Khan and punish him.

This line of thinking stems from the very useful term of propaganda employed to describe Khan’s ascent to power: the so-called “hybrid regime.”

Though it is virtually impossible to find a consistent definition of what this term actually meant, we can surmise that it was a liberal smear implicating Khan as a puppet of the military, who would obediently follow its script.

While it is undoubtedly true that the Pakistani military wanted to punish the other two political parties by reminding them who is really in charge of national security policy in the country, it is simultaneously true that Imran Khan was the most popular politician in the country – and by a long shot.

It is completely erroneous to claim that the army’s top brass felt like it was getting its puppet into power. In fact, the military needed Khan more than Khan needed it, given that Khan and his political party were the only ones popular enough for the army to retake power.

The important detail is that the military high command knew it was a gamble to empower a fiercely independent Imran Khan – but it was a risk they felt they had no choice but to take.

At the very least, the military top brass knew that Khan would not engage in conspiratorial plots with the Americans to undermine the military, as the other parties had done.

A rally in support of Imran Khan in Lahore, Pakistan

The fact that both Khan and the military had similar views on ending the war in Afghanistan hardly qualified Khan to be called a puppet.

In fact, well before the tussle between Khan and General Bajwa over who should be the next director general of the ISI at the end of 2021, the military and their friends in the Persian Gulf were irritated by Khan’s constant reference to the Chinese way of eliminating poverty and the need for a welfare state, as he spoke to crowds of rich Arabs in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

On top of this, Khan’s unflinching and vocal support for the Palestinians and his consistent condemnation of apartheid Israel led the establishment to consider him a “loose cannon” who could not be controlled, a civilian politician who would not simply take orders on issues of national security.

If the term “hybrid regime” simply meant civilian politicians unwilling to defy the military-intelligence apparatus of their states – or deep states – then virtually every US administration can be described as a hybrid regime.

The one American leader who did try to defy the consensus of the national security state during the Cold War was John F. Kennedy – and we know the price he paid for it.

Thus, this entire narrative was farcical. If anything, so-called hybrid regimes existed all throughout the 1990s and afterward in Pakistan.

The “progressive” government of the late Benazir Bhutto, for instance, was plundering the country along with her husband at home, while allowing the military establishment to fully support the rise to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan. That sounds like a hybrid regime more than anything under Khan.

Pakistan’s role in the US new cold war

It is difficult to write about these political developments that are unparalleled in the history Pakistan.

The sheer audacity of Imran Khan and the tens of millions of protestors who detest the current regime and sections of the top brass of the military is rather extraordinary.

Nevertheless, we must not lose sight of the larger geopolitical power plays at work here.

We have seen how Washington has been humiliated by its own former puppets, like Saudi Arabia and India, which have refused to go along with this “new cold war” that the US is waging against China and Russia.

In such conditions, it seems that Washington wants to resuscitate its old Cold War relationship with the formidable Pakistani military.

In its crusade to halt the progress of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, to prevent the expansion of BRICS, and in general to impede Eurasian integration, Washington wants the new Pakistani chief of army staff to play old Cold War games of subversion, terrorism, and hybrid warfare.

Khan is no revolutionary socialist. But one doesn’t need to be a revolutionary socialist to believe your country has the right to have its own independent foreign policy.

And because Khan is committed to that, be it in defense of his relationship with China and Russia and especially his robust defense of Kashmiris and Palestinians, he will remain an impediment for the godfather in Washington.

The outcome of this chaotic situation in Pakistan is deeply uncertain. But there is one thing that is crystal clear: the political battle is between Khan and the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis on the one side; and the powerful and wealthy civilian and military Pakistani elites and their sponsor, Washington, on the other.

Despite legitimate criticisms of how Khan governed when in power, progressives clearly ought to be able to figure out where they stand now.

In this article:
ChinaImran KhanPakistanPML-NPPPPTIQamar Javed BajwaShehbaz Sharif

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#JUSTICE: Can A Liberated Palestine Coexist with #US #Imperialism? #Israel #ZioColony #EthnicCleansing #LandThievery #CollectivePunishment #PALESTINE #BDS #InternationalLaw #AntiImperialism

Can A Liberated Palestine Coexist with US Imperialism? | English | Jisr Collective | 2022-3-3

“Our real enemy is not Israel and Zionism only, it is American Imperialism, who is backing Israel because Israel is a bodyguard for American imperialist interests.”
– George Habash,
founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)

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Why Anti-Imperialism is Crucial to Realizing Palestinian Liberation

American propaganda will have people believe that the US is number one in all things with the exception of destabilizing the rest of the world. Almost all American news outlets are owned by 6 companies. The Corporate media mass produces content painting Russia, China, Iran and even Venezuela as threats to world “peace,” while omitting the immense economic, institutional, and military efforts that the US leads in pursuit of global economic and political domination at all costs. This is not to say that other governments around the world do not engage in the oppression and exploitation of their own peoples.

However, the sheer amount of resources that the American government and its ruling class have looted from working people and the land and in turn, re-invested into war, destruction and instability in the name of corporate profit is unmatched in our current world order. As such, the US government and its ruling class should be understood as the primary source of imperialism and purveyor of violence on working and oppressed people of the world today, including in Palestine.

Understanding Imperialism Beyond Military Invasions

“Imperialism is an octopus which colonizes and exploits, spreading itself over the world through western monopolistic enterprises.”

In a tribute to Ghassan Kanafani’s body of work as an anti-imperialist, revolutionary, Palestinian author, S.Marwan defined imperialism as, “an octopus which colonizes and exploits, spreading itself over the world through western monopolistic enterprises.”

Mainstream narratives of imperialism are often limited to war and militarism. While these are aspects of how imperialism is maintained, imperialism itself refers to the highest stage of capitalist economic development.

Within the context of the U.S., Republicans and Democrats are two sides of the same imperialist coin. All elected “representatives” from every U.S. President to liberal darlings like AOC and the rest of the squad, work to serve and expand the interests of U.S. imperialism.

Imperialism is a multi-faceted topic, however, there are a number of attributes that distinguish it from previous stages of capitalism:

  1. The domination of every major industry by a handful of privately owned monopolies. For example, three US corporations control 80% of mobile telecoms. Three have 95% of credit cards. Four have 70% of airline flights within the US. Google alone handles 60% of search, etc.
  2. The merging of banking and industrial capital which allows for the creation of new financial instruments like “Finance Capital.” This often goes hand in hand with the full privatization of the banking sector, public utilities, and natural resources. In the United States, this is represented by entities like Wall Street.
  3. There are few “profitable” investment opportunities remaining in the imperialist country forcing the capitalist class to look for opportunities of exploitation in the nations of the global south that are still struggling with the legacy of colonialism.
  4. The export of “capital” as opposed to the export of goods. Imperialist nations don’t need to trade actual goods to obtain valuable natural resources like oil or gas from subordinate nations. They can simply print money, export it as capital, and expect to receive tangible resources.

The US is the leading imperialist force in the world today. As will be shown, the US expends considerable amounts of capital and violence in order to maintain this position.

Primary Methods the US Implements to Maintain Imperialism

Finance Capital

“Western tentacles are at play in every Arab country.”

In practice, finance capital is what allows the ruling class of the US to “offer” predatory and exploitative loans to countries that they have already looted through colonialism.

These loans sometimes promise to build and enhance infrastructure and generate stability in a country’s economy. In reality any infrastructure built is used to integrate these countries into the global capitalist market that only benefits western monopolistic enterprises and the comprador bourgeoisie of said countries.

Without fail, embedded into these loans are conditions that promote austerity policies, political repression, and further privatization of national resources.

Finance capital serves to drive the working and agricultural classes into further poverty while lining the pockets of the ruling class. With over 22 countries in the MENA (Middle East North Africa) region, the ability to integrate respective economies for local trade and resource sharing has been strategically rooted out by the US and fellow imperialist allies, who have worked ruthlessly to squash economic and political self-determination in the region for decades.

As Joseph Massad puts it, “Western tentacles are at play in every Arab country.”

Dollar Hegemony

Then there is US dollar hegemony. Nearly all major commodities are bought and traded with the US dollar. When other countries trade amongst themselves, they do the majority of their trade in US dollars due to dollar hegemony.

Oil and gas which are the lifeblood of any national economy are exclusively traded in US currency.

Dollar hegemony is what allows the US to successfully impose crushing economic sanctions on over 20 different countries around the world.

Soft Power

The “soft” arm of US imperialism includes American propaganda by way of Hollywood, corporate media, academia, education, NGOs, cultural exchange programs, Big tech, and diplomacy. These measures act to normalize/reinforce American liberal values (e.g. individualism, private property) that form the ideological foundation of capitalist exploitation.

US propaganda is so effective, that it has convinced many Americans that countries resisting US imperialism are somehow a greater threat to the world than the US itself.

This isn’t by accident either, the CIA maintains offices in major Hollywood studios, in order to “encourage” film makers to portray the US military and even the CIA itself in a favorable light. At the same time, US intelligence agencies actively recruit academics, influence and create NGOs, and even play a huge role in seemingly apolitical realms like art and music.

US propaganda is so effective, that it has convinced many Americans that countries resisting US imperialism are somehow a greater threat to the world than the US itself.

Social Media

A pervasive strategy in the transition from traditional cable and satellite media outlets is the active and ongoing destruction of civil society groups on the ground in the region. These actual grassroots organizations are then replaced with well-funded US and European based NGOs.

Large social media accounts with hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of followers are often linked to these NGO efforts.

These social media accounts which are fronts for imperialist propaganda first misrepresent themselves as grassroots activists, present misinformation, and/or raise current events in a vacuum that is devoid of context. More often than not, they fail to mention or highlight that the US has created the infrastructure of chaos and corruption that they claim to be fighting against.

One notorious example of this strategy is the Lebanese social media outlet Megaphone which claims to be an independent online media platform but is entirely funded with grants from foundations and programmes outside Lebanon.

Many of its major funders include the European Endowment for Democracy, Canal France International, and Denmark-based International Media Support, all of which are NGOs that work hand in hand to promote U.S. imperialist policies.

Full Spectrum Military Dominance

The US military’s strategic role is to enforce economic domination when other governments do not go along willingly with US interests. When the offer of “loans” and “diplomacy” do not peak the interest of colonized states, in comes the brute force and intimidation of the US military.

According to the US Department of Defense base structure report in 2015, “the United States operates a global network of military installations and is by far the largest operator of military bases abroad, with locations in dozens of countries on every continent.”

Although the report lists over 800 bases, it also states that due to security concerns, a comprehensive list is not available to the public and that some bases operate namelessly and/or with the support of “allies.”

In addition to having hundreds more military bases than all other countries in the world combined, the US also outspends the top 10 military spenders by over half a trillion US dollars annually.

Even more telling, if the US police budget was taken into account, it would be the third largest military in the world and be nearly half the military budget of China, a country of over 1.3 billion people.

It is clear to see from the statistics above that the US is currently unrivaled in resources financially, socially, politically and economically to wage imperialist destruction around the world – both on people and the environment.

How US Imperialism Impacts the Region as a Whole

Israeli Normalization via Finance Capital

The occupation of Palestinian land does not happen in isolation. US imperialism directly undermines liberation and self-determination for the entire region. U.S imperialism also creates incentives for other MENA countries to betray the Palestinian liberation struggle through normalization with the illegal Zionist Entity.

US imperialism also creates incentives in the region for neighboring countries to betray the Palestinian liberation struggle through normalization with the illegal Zionist Entity.

US imperialism has ravaged the region for decades. Prior to US domination in the region, European colonial powers set in motion the carving up of the region while inserting artificial borders for the benefit of imperialist wealth.

Below are just a few, recent examples of US manipulations in the region through finance capital to undermine Palestinian liberation across the region, while continuing to make infrastructure development dependent on the US and it’s institutions (IMF, World Bank, etc).

Egypt 🇪🇬 – has long been incentivized to normalize economic relationships with the Zionist Entity. One example is the Qualifying Industrial Zone agreement, under which the United States waives duties on imports from Egypt “if the value includes 10.5% Israeli content; this program promotes stronger ties between the region’s peace partners” (US Dept of State).

Iraq 🇮🇶 – Post the illegal US invasion of Iraq nearly all utilities (water, healthcare, education, transportation, telecommunications, etc) once public assets have all been privatized by American and European corporations and then sold back to the Iraqi people at astronomical prices. Much of this was done through the US imposed “transitional government” – the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA).

In true imperialist fashion, the CPA vested itself with executive, legislative, and judicial authority from 2003 – 2004. In only one year, the CPA opened up the country to private foreign banking, privatized public resources/infrastructure and created new laws to promote a “free market economy.” These are only a few measures of finance capital that essentially swindled Iraqi wealth from their own country.

In addition to these atrocities, the US has spent the last decade funding the development of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq as a pro-western imperialist stronghold in the region. The current Prime Minister of the KRG, Masrour Barzani has stated on several occasions support for and a desire for the KRG to establish diplomatic ties with the Zionist Entity. In September of 2021, a Zionist, New York based nonprofit called Center for Peace Communications held an illegal normalization conference in Arbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Jordan 🇯🇴 – “The United States is Jordan’s single largest provider of bilateral assistance, providing more than $1.5 billion in 2020…” (US Dept of State). At the end of 2021, Jordan also signed onto a Water-for-Energy Deal with Israel facilitated by the UAE and a climate envoy represented by John Kerry. Thousands came out into the streets of Amman to decry this normalization agreement.

Morocco 🇲🇦 – In exchange for participating in normalization with the Zionist Entity in 2020, the Trump regime offered land expansion to the Moroccan government in the form of recognizing the Moroccan government’s “sovereignty” over the Western Sahara. The Biden regime supports this stance and has proposed $1 billion in arms to continue to violently repress the Sahrawi liberation struggle as well as $3 billion in private sector investment in Morocco in exchange for continued normalization with the Zionist Entity.

Oman 🇴🇲 – In 2009, Oman signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US. Oman facilitates 30% of the world’s oil shipments and shares a borders with Yemen which is under life crushing US sanctions and continued US, Saudi and UAE led bombings. Part of the Yemeni people’s struggle includes armed resistance to the Zionist Entity and US imperialism. Oman has made public statements in word and action that it stands with the Saudi-led coalition.

Sudan 🇸🇩 – In 2021 the US Treasury under the Biden regime pardoned $1.2 billion in World Bank debt while also providing a $1.15 billion infrastructure loan to Sudan. This was done shortly after the Sudanese government made a US brokered “peace deal” with Israel under the Trump regime.

Militarism in the Region

US wars in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq have cost nearly $8 trillion dollars, which is nearly half the total GDP of the United States in 2021.

One can safely assume that minimally there are over 70 internationally recognized US military bases across the region. How many foreign military bases are allowed on US soil?

While 70 are documented, there are likely more, due to the prevalence of concealed bases that the Pentagon refers to as “lily pads.”

It should also be kept in mind that many of these bases, for example in Iraq and Syria, were established through illegal military invasions as opposed to collaboration with US imperialism, as seen in Gulf Arab countries. Gulf countries also happen to host some of the largest US military bases in the world.

US bases littering the region means that US military personnel and their arsenals are ready to mobilize at any moment to squash resistance in the region and did so directly in Bahrain in 2011. In addition to mobilization, these bases serve as training grounds for governments that collaborate with US imperialism.

The CIA has reported that operations in Syria (from 2011-Present) are some of the agency’s most costly “operations” in history, accounting for 1 in 15 dollars spent by the agency.

Again, the occupation of Palestinian land does not happen in isolation. US financial and military expenditure in the region has been tremendous since 2001 alone. In fact the CIA has reported that operations in Syria (from 2011-Present) are some of the agency’s most costly “operations” in history, accounting for 1 in 15 dollars spent by the agency.

The US invasion of Iraq is estimated to have cost over $2 trillion dollars, which is approximately 10% of total US GDP in 2021.

US wars in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq have cost nearly $8 trillion dollars, which is nearly half the total GDP of the United States in 2021. The 2011 military invasion of Libya cost US taxpayers $2 billion a day – all while American politicians consistently hold the line that canceling student debt and providing healthcare to Americans simply can’t be afforded.

The Zionist Entity

“Israel is the largest American aircraft carrier in the world that cannot be sunk.”

– Former US Secretary of State Alexander Haig

None of these figures even take into account direct US funding for the Zionist Entity. Although the US only has one official military base in Israel, it is easily argued that with $3.8 billion a year in military “aid” (not including government contracts and tax write offs – yes you can get a tax break for contributing to an illegal settlement), The Zionist Entity itself is one giant American military base.

The Zionist Entity not only serves as a base for US force projection in the region but also as a massive signals intelligence and cyber security hub. In fact, former Secretary of State Alexander Haig even went so far as to describe the Zionist Entity as the “largest American aircraft carrier in the world that cannot be sunk.”

Sanctions and Trade

In addition to bases, invasions, coups, assassinations, sanctions and trade and labor “agreements”, the US has effectively inserted itself in the region to the point that the US government and ruling class arbitrate every relationship between each state (and stateless nations of people) in the region.

For example, the US threatens sanctions on any Arab country that attempts to reinstate Syria into the Arab League, and recently began offering “permission slips” to allow neighboring countries to conduct simple trade with one another.

If a country doesn’t even have the autonomy to choose whom to trade or not trade with, how can they practice any meaningful self-determination? Entire displaced Palestinian populations and people in solidarity with Palestine in the region cannot even support the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) due to their governments falling in line with US imperialism. The US government and ruling class shamelessly manipulate the levers of imperialism for the benefit of the ruling class of the US, while ordinary people pay with their lives.

US imperialism is so deeply entrenched that it incapacitates not just Palestinian resistance but any level of resistance that confronts US interests and control in the region. As such, the entire region must be liberated from US imperialism to create the conditions for Palestinian liberation.

Can A Liberated Palestine Exist Under US Imperialism?

With the understanding that US imperialism creates the most material barriers to Palestinian liberation, one may ask, what would a “free” Palestine look like under this current world order? Can Palestinian liberation and U.S. imperialism co-exist?

If Palestine were “free” tomorrow, it would be on the terms of the US ruling class. Under US-stamped “freedom” there will certainly be no right of return for Palestinian refugees.

In all conversations of Palestinian nationhood brokered by the US, there is never a mention of Palestinians having sovereignty over their own economic system much less their own currency.

Even something as foundational as the right to border sovereignty would not be guaranteed under US imperialism due to settlement partitioning of Palestinian land and the creation of a network of non-contiguous “territories.”

Under the current Palestinian Authority misleadership, which is recognized and upheld by the US as the legitimate government of the Palestinian people, Palestinian workers are refused their wages, Palestinian organizers are murdered, women organizers are blackmailed and children of Palestinian freedom fighters are imprisoned.

It has recently been exposed that the Palestinian Authority collaborates with the Zionist Entity in surveilling and torturing Palestinian university students. The Palestinian Authority has no semblence of democracy and of course continues to benefit from class division via hoarding of wealth and economic exploitation, while the average Palestinan workers and farmers go without.

Recent history has shown that national independence under the snare of US imperialism has only offered a facade of liberation for other countries. “Liberation” under US imperialism always leads to the enriching of a small elite while deepening poverty and oppression for the working and agricultural classes. To dismiss this reality, is to betray the struggle for Palestinian national liberation.

Palestinian revolutionary, anti-imperialist forces have consistenly held the line that for Palestine to truly be liberated, US imperialism must be defeated.

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Who are the Lions’ Den armed group in the occupied West Bank? #LionsDen #FreePalestine #BDS #NoJusticeNoPeace #RespectExistenceOrExpectResistance

Who are the Lions’ Den armed group in the occupied West Bank? | AL JAZEERA | 26 Oct 2022

The newly-emerged group has claimed several attacks against Israelis and says it aims to unite Palestinians.

A member of The Lions' Den group escort injured men into a hospital after clashes with Israeli forces in Nablus, in the occupied West Bank, early on October 25
A member of the Lions’ Den group escorts injured men into a hospital after Israeli forces raided Nablus, in the occupied West Bank, early on October 25, 2022 [Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP]

An armed group has emerged out of Nablus, in the northern occupied West Bank, in the past few months, and appears to be changing the face of Palestinian resistance.

The Lions’ Den has gained notoriety for attacks against Israeli checkpoints, soldiers and settlements.

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Israel has attempted to crush the group, as well as others, in an operation code-named “Break the Wave”, leading to near-daily raids and dozens of Palestinians killed.

But so far, the group has remained active, with few signs that the occupied Palestinian territory will be pacified any time soon.

Who are the members of the Lions’ Den?

  • The members of the group are primarily young men in their early 20s who have individual ties to the four main traditional Palestinian political parties: Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
  • However, the fighting group is cross-factional; members have said in statements that they do not belong or take orders from any party, have turned their backs on factional disputes, and are instead focused on fighting the Israeli occupation.
  • Several members have been in Palestinian Authority (PA) prisons before, mostly for possessing arms. The PA has recently arrested one of the group’s leading members, Musab Shtayyeh of Hamas, a move that led to an escalation of tensions on the streets of Nablus.

When was the group’s first official appearance?

  • The Lions’ Den’s first official appearance was on September 2 during a memorial held in Nablus for two of its fighters – Mohammed al-Azizi, the founder of the group, and Abd al-Rahman Sobh – who were killed by Israeli forces 40 days earlier.
  • The group’s charter and resistance programme was announced on the same day. It said the group would continue to target Israeli forces and settlers.
  • The statement blamed what it called Israeli “arrogance” and the killing of Palestinians for the uptick in violence.
  • The Lions’ Den also addressed members of the PA’s security forces to emphasise the fight was directed at the Israeli occupation only.

Who are the group’s prominent members?

  • On February 8, Israeli special forces shot three Palestinian men dead in their vehicle. The men – Ashraf Mubaslat, Mohammad Dakhil, and Adham Mabrouka – were members of the Lions’ Den.
  • On August 9, 19-year-old Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, known as the Lion of Nablus, was also killed by Israel after soldiers surrounded an old house he was hiding in and fired missiles at it. Fellow fighter Islam Sabbath was also killed in the operation.
    Ibrahim al-Nabulsi
    Ibrahim al-Nabulsi [Screengrab/Al Jazeera]
  • Nabulsi enjoyed popular support from Palestinians as he had evaded Israeli capture for several months, and reappeared briefly – and defiantly – at the funerals of other members of the Lions’ Den. Generally, the fighters appear to be respected by many Palestinians.
  • Recently, Tamer al-Kilani, a top fighter of the group, was killed after an explosive device placed on a motorcycle in the Old City of Nablus was detonated as he was passing by. The Lions’ Den blamed Israel, which has not commented on the incident.
  • On Tuesday, three other senior members – Hamdi Qayyem, Wadee al-Hawah, and Mish’al Baghdadi, 27 – were killed after Israeli forces raided Nablus.

What is next for the Lions’ Den?

  • Tensions in the West Bank have reached a boiling point with daily Israel arrests, raids, and killings of Palestinians as a direct result of the growing organisation of small armed resistance groups in Nablus and Jenin.
  • During the past month alone, three Israeli soldiers have been killed in separate attacks.
  • The Lions’ Den has since taken the responsibility for several shootings, including the one on October 11 in which one Israeli soldier was killed near the settlement of Shavei Shomron, northwest of Nablus. The city has been under Israeli siege since then, with heavy restrictions on the movement of about 420,000 Palestinians.
    People gather outside the house of Palestinian group Lions' Den member Wadee Al-HouhPeople gather outside the house of Lions’ Den member Wadee al-Hawah, which was targeted during a raid by Israeli forces, in Nablus in the West Bank, October 25, 2022 [Raneen Sawafta/Reuters]
  • But with Israel carrying out targeted assassinations on the group’s members, some analysts believe that the Lions’ Den is a movement that will not be able to last, while others see the phenomenon repeating itself in other areas.
  • Sources told Al Jazeera that the core 15-20 members wanted by Israel have refused to turn themselves in, even to the PA.

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“The Lions’ Den” Shakes IsraelElijah J Magnier |  

Syria has accepted the return of the “Hamas” movement after more than ten years of a boycott due to the Palestinian group’s support of the regime change in Damascus and the membership of many militants of the Takfiri groups. However, the return of Hamas to one of the most important members of the “Axis of Resistance” indicates its will to put behind it all differences and work for the unification of the Palestinian groups in their legitimate struggle to have their own state. The Syria-Hamas unification was possible only following an Iranian mediation and the personnel role of Hezbollah’s Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, who met with President Bashar al-Assad for this purpose and other issues of concern to both sides. But that was not the only attempt to unify the Palestinians: Algeria held a meeting for all Palestinian groups and reached an agreement to put their internal differences behind them and prepare for a new election in a year. 

These unification steps have also coincided with the uprising of a new movement in Palestine. “Areen al Usud” (the Lion’s Den) paced the foundation for a new Palestinian young generation that is teaching the old generation a good lesson about how the freedom and unity of Palestinians come before all personal or organisational objectives. The new developments in Palestine, Algeria and Syria, are naturally a source of worry to the Gulf countries who normalised with Israel. The Arabs are receiving a direct message from Palestine that the Palestinians have the right to live with dignity and determine their future. The armed struggle will take over the 1990’s Oslo agreement, even though it is already buried.

A few years ago, in a private meeting, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei stressed that “the West Bank must be armed, and weapons must be delivered to it, and expertise must be shared and transferred by all available methods.” Sayyed Khamenei’s words are law in Iran, mainly to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps – Quds Brigade, responsible for supporting all oppressed people, particularly the Palestinians.

Earlier this year, Israel bombed Iranian command and control sites at Syria’s T4 military airport, killing three Iranian officers who controlled the advanced drones. According to private sources, the Iranian drones regularly transported military equipment to Palestine. They repeatedly landed in several areas until Israel was able to discover their trips and decided to attack the launch source in Syria.

Israel’s bet, as well as many Arab countries, is that new Palestinian generations will forget about their ancestors’ territory and not claim back the land. Israel has continued to deprive the Palestinian people of their most basic human rights- with the support of the western community. This has enormously contributed to the birth of the new organisation from the West Bank, Nablus, and Jenin called “The Lions’ Den”, which has become an essential group in the resistance equation.

The “Lions’ Den” recruits volunteers to attack the occupying Israeli soldiers and settlers. It appeared as organised, self-managed and endowed with advanced armaments. It enjoys comprehensive popular support, glorifying all resistance groups and their leaders without discrimination. The “Lions’ Den” praised Yasser Arafat, Ahmed Yassin, Abu Ali Mustafa, Fathi al-Shaqaqi and all the martyr leaders of the Palestinian cause against the occupiers. This indicates the common ground of all leaders from different walks of life to free Palestine, which fits with the “Lions’ Den” objective it is advertising.

The most significant step taken by the “Lions’ Den” was to invite the Palestinian security services in the West Bank to either join its ranks and cause or to cease any cooperation with Israel in security matters. The many years of the Israeli-Palestinian Authority years of collaboration have led to the arrest of dozens of resistance fighters or revealed their exposure to Israeli intelligence. A recent clash occurred between the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas and the “Lions’ Den” following the arrest of resistance fighters wanted by Israel, such as Musab Shtayyeh and members of the Al-Qassam Brigades (Hamas). This is why it is essential for all Palestinian resistance groups to ensure the end of any form of collaboration with Israel.

The “Lions’ Den” militants are dressed in black and carry a red material covering the gun barrel, indicating that bullets will not be fired in vain except to kill the occupiers. Their slogan is to support a collective revolution to restore rights, fight and eliminate the racist apartheid regime and end oppression and occupation, supporting the desire of all Palestinian peoples without exception.

The group enjoys comprehensive popular support, as demonstrated by the attendance of thousands at the memorial service for one of the elements who was martyred while fighting against the Israelis.

The “Lions’ Den” established a spiritual and moral unity that had not been seen for a long time in the Palestinian territories, divided for years. This new phenomenon emerged following Hams’ battle of the “Sword of Jerusalem” and the battle of “Unity of all fronts” led by the “Islamic Jihad”. The Palestinians are convinced more than ever before that it is possible to challenge Israel, notwithstanding its substantial military apparatus: the security of the Israelis can be put in jeopardy all over Palestine.

“The Lions’ Den” presented its program: to ”follow in the footsteps of the martyrs, not give up the armed struggle, crush the agents of Israel, not waste bullets by firing in the air during any ceremony but direct the guns towards the Israelis. All Palestinians are brothers, including the members of the security services.”

The Israeli security services seem incapable of confronting this group, which is presenting a new concept, does not operate under a specific banner, belongs to a young generation that is ready to fight, and does not beg for money or political gain. The group said it is fighting “an enemy who only understands the language of force and deterrence and who excels in deception.” The group considers that Israel has evaded all previous accords and negotiations with the Palestinians and really wants to expel all Palestinians from the country.

Israel is trying to eliminate all the founders and members of “The Lions’ Den” for fear of the spread of this phenomenon and its transformation into a model to be emulated in other cities. For Israel, the most critical situation is the spread of the resistance fighters in the West Bank, which represents the most dangerous security challenge since the 2005 Intifada,” said the former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot.

Private sources said that “Israel has withdrawn six battalions from the border with Lebanon due to the critical situation in the West Bank and its concern that the situation could get out of control.”

There is undoubtedly a new movement rising in Palestine and inspiring Palestinians all over the world. Indeed, the hashtag “We are all the Lion’s Den” has dominated social networks, proving that the group has won the hearts and minds of the people. It seems to represent the driving force of the rising Palestinian youth, which terrifies the most powerful military in the Middle East and threatens it through its ideology of rejecting all forms of occupation. The real message of the “Lions’ Den” is simple: there is no return from the armed struggle, no backing down. Israel is facing an unusual new era.

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Innocent Pawn of Dirty Geopolitics: Dr. Aafia Siddiqui: A Case of Lies and Inconsistencies: REPORT pdf – #FreeAafiaSiddiqui

Aafia Siddiqui: A case of lies and inconsistencies report | CAGE

The case of Aafia Siddiqui has brought with it a wave of emotion from all corners of the world. The detention of this woman, and allegedly her children, has evoked condemnation from politicians, lawyers and activists all over the world. In an environment where the abuses in the ‘War on Terror’ are becoming increasingly known, the case of Siddiqui stands as an anomaly within the new era of openness under the Obama administration.

From the day of her initial detention, no information regarding Aafia Siddiqui seems consistent, especially in relation to information released by the US administration. Her various alleged persona can give the impression of an extremely high level Al Qaeda operative. However, at the same time, the statements of lawyers, family and friends render her incapable of any acts of terrorism.

The purpose of this piece is to try and separate the facts of Siddiqui’s life from the fiction, and as a result, show that the lies that have been told about her are completely inconsistent with her treatment.


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AAFIA SIDDIQUI
A CASE OF LIES AND INCONSISTENCIES

Table of contents

INTRODUCTION ………………………………………………………………………………….……………………. 4
BACKGROUND ………………………………………………………………………………….……………………. 5
Allegation 1 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 6
Allegation 2 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 6

Allegation 3 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 7
DETENTION ………………………………………………………………………………….…….……………… 8

Allegation 4 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 9
Allegation 5 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 9
Allegation 6 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 10
RE-EMERGENCE ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 11
Allegation 7 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 12
Allegation 8 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 13
Allegation 9 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 14
A CASE OF LIES AND INCONSISTENCIES ………………………………………………………………………………………………………..……. 15

Introduction

The ‘War on Terror’ has claimed the lives and dignity of hundreds of thousands of Muslims
since its inception after the 9/11 attacks. Cases of torture and ill-treatment have spanned the entire globe as Muslim communities have become subject to the wide-sweeping policies of detention without charge.

The ‘War on Terror’ has not discriminated at all against the young, old, rich, poor, educated or illiterate. The primary ingredient for suspicion is being Muslim and in the sight of security services pursuing policies of illegal rendition and torture or, other more unscrupulous agencies seeking lucrative cash rewards. Aafia Siddiqui and her family fit both categories, and from there a story was developed within the US administration to deem her education and background a threat. That internal narrative led to the complete destruction of her and her family’s lives.

The case of Aafia Siddiqui has brought with it a wave of emotion from all corners of the world. The detention of this woman, and allegedly her children, has evoked condemnation from politicians, lawyers and activists all over the world. In an environment where the abuses in the ‘War on Terror’ are becoming increasingly known, the case of Siddiqui stands as an anomaly within the new era of openness under the Obama administration.

From the day of her initial detention, no information regarding Aafia Siddiqui seems consis-
tent, especially in relation to information released by the US administration. Her various alleged persona can give the impression of an extremely high level Al Qaeda operative. However, at the same time, the statements of lawyers, family and friends render her incapable of any acts of terrorism.

The purpose of this piece is to try and separate the facts of Siddiqui’s life from the fiction, and as a result, show that the lies that have been told about her are completely inconsistent
with her treatment.

Exposing the truth in the case of Aafia Siddiqui is of the utmost importance to all those who believe in the value of due process and the rule of law. For six years, this mother of three has been placed through some of the most unimaginable forms of detention, all due to her religious convictions. It is now time for her to be released without charge and to be reunited with her children and repatriated back to Pakistan.

[Asim Qureshi – Senior Researcher]

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Background

Completing her early education in Pakistan, Siddiqui moved to live near her brother in
Texas in 1990 and attend the University of Houston. Excelling in her academic achieve-
ments, she managed to gain a transfer to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to
study Biology. She stayed in the university’s all female dormitory, McCormick Hall, where fellow students described her as being a studious woman who was devout in her religious beliefs but, was by no means an extremist.

During her time at MIT, Siddiqui joined the on campus Muslim Student Association (MSA).
Her activity within the association was geared towards the teaching of Islam to non-Muslims
in order to better their understanding of the faith and invite them to join. Her emphasis in
her life on bettering the conditions of Muslims even pervaded her academic achievements.
During her sophomore year at MIT, she won a grant of $5,000 to study the effects of Islam on women living in Pakistan.

After graduation, Siddiqui’s parents began the search to find her a husband. A suitable match was soon found in Mohammed Amjad Khan, a medical student and the son of a wealthy family. Like Siddiqui, Khan was looking to make a life for himself in the US and did not feel threatened by Siddiqui’s aspirations to further her career.

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Allegation 1:
Aafia Siddiqui is Al Qaeda’s microbiologist/biochemical expert.


On 7th April 2004, MSNBC’s Newsweek identified Aafia Siddiqui as a microbiologist and, according to her lawyer, Elaine Whitfield Sharp, references were being made to her being involved in biochemical warfare.


After her completion of her biology degree at MIT, Siddiqui went on to do a doctorate in cog-
nitive neuroscience at Brandeis University while her husband finished his medical stud-
ies. Media reporting painted Siddiqui as a microbiologist, geneticist or neurologist, fields which were very far from what she was actually doing.

In reality, Siddiqui’s PhD was based on the concept of human beings learning by imitation.

When questioning Professor DiZio, one of her supervisors, regarding her research and how it could be used by Al Qaeda, he clearly stated that it was highly unlikely that she would have the technical knowledge to be involved with such things. Her PhD focused on the use of computers to understand human behaviour and had nothing to do with biochemical weapons.

Allegation 2:
Aafia Siddiqui funded banned organisations in the 90s


According to Newsweek, Siddiqui was found to have funded Benevolence International and the Al Kifah Refugee Center – both of which have been banned by the UN. Although the allegations against her seem plausible, the environment under which Siddiqui raised the money should be understood.

During the conflict in Bosnia, the aid efforts for the Bosnian people were strongly encour-
aged and even the ability of Westerners to fight in the conflict. Countries such as the US
and UK did not hinder those who wished to assist the beleaguered people in the Balkans.
Siddiqui’s involvement was only a small part of the wider efforts taking place.

Emails sent from her account, which have now been made public, showed very clearly that her efforts particularly concentrated on the plight of orphans in Bosnia and that her attempts to aid such victims were quite sincere. There is no record of any of her emails being in relation to raising funds for violence but rather focused on the humanitarian disaster in the country.

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Allegation 3:
Aafia Siddiqui was moving conflict diamonds out of Liberia to fund Al Qaeda operations

According to various new outlets and a UN investigation, in the middle of June 2001, Siddiqui landed in Liberia having flown from Quetta, Pakistan. An hour long drive to the airport in the intense heat did not seem to faze her despite wearing her headscarf. The
driver of the car, who was to later become the chief informant in the UN-led investigation, described a woman in a headscarf who kept to herself. She went straight to her designated point, the Hotel Boulevard in the capital Monrovia, where men were waiting to tend to her needs. They knew that a high profile Al Qaeda operative was arriving, and Siddiqui was that person. These claims were to be raised after a ‘Seeking Information’ poster was is-
sued relating to Siddiqui which was recognised by the taxi driver in Monrovia.


The allegations that Aafia Siddiqui could have been running conflict diamonds out of Liberia in the summer of 2001 holds no basis in fact. Her lawyers have already proven that she wasin Boston that entire summer running playgroups for children and yet this lie was circulated as a matter of fact without any corroboration.

Within days of the 9/11 attacks, the FBI launched the PENTTBOM investigation – thousands of foreign Muslims were detained and placed through vigorous checks and, in many
cases, detained for long periods without charge. The wide net of suspicion was cast and
it soon became difficult for many Muslims to live in the US due to harassment they faced by the FBI and other authorities. As a result, Siddiqui and her husband returned to Pakistan.

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Detention

On the morning of 1st March 2003, Pakistani authorities arrested Khalid Sheikh Moham-
med, the alleged mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks. His arrest led to the disappearance of
Aafia Siddiqui. Authorities say that it was Khalid Sheikh who gave her name up to the
Pakistani authorities.

Due to the secretive nature of the interrogation that took place by the US and Pakistani authorities, it is impossible to corroborate whether or not he actually gave Siddiqui’s
name and in what capacity he knew her.

Siddiqui’s mother claims that it was only a matter of days after her daughter’s disappearance that a man arrived at the family home on a motorcycle. He told her that if she ever wanted to see her daughter and grandchildren again, she should keep quiet about the whole affair.


The last Siddiqui’s mother saw of her was when her daughter was getting into a taxi with
her three children – the youngest only six months – bound for Karachi airport on 30th
March 2003. For the next five years, no one was to see or hear of them except for those detainees who testified to her presence in Bagram.

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Allegation 4:
Aafia Siddiqui disappeared on 30th March 2003 on her own accord.


According to Pakistani officials who commented on the case of Siddiqui’s disappearance for the government, they had no knowledge of her whereabouts and were officially still looking for her. A senior Pakistani security officer explained to the Associated Press that they were attempting to locate herbut that she had gone underground.

According to the Pakistani Urdu press, the family had been seen being picked up by the Pakistani authorities and taken into custody. A spokesman for the Pakistani interior ministry and two unnamed US officials confirmed these reports in the press. However, within the same week, both had retracted their statements saying that Siddiqui had fled. Chicago’s NBC later claimed that Siddiqui was being interrogated by American intelligence officials.

On 8th August 2008, the Daily Times newspaper in Pakistan made reference to documents that existed which confirmed that the Military Intelligence of Pakistan had detained Aafia Sid-
diqui and her three children on 30th March 2003 and, that they had been handed over to
the FBI.

Allegation 5:
Aafia Siddiqui is armed and dangerous.


Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller III on 26th May 2004 made a public appeal to the American people in helping the law enforcement agencies to find six men and one woman with ties to terrorism. The one woman that was shown in the pictures was Aafia Siddiqui.

Ashcroft specifically commented that, “credible intelligence from multiple sources indicate that al Qaeda plans to attempt an attack on the United States in the next few months.” He further added that the seven, including Siddiqui, “…should all be considered armed and dangerous.”


The mention of Aafia Siddiqui’s whereabouts by the FBI stands in stark contrast to the information that has now been revealed since her re-emergence in US custody. The inclusion of Siddiqui on the list of seven suspected terrorists was either used in order to heighten the sense of fear amongst the American public about the threat of terrorism or, that different departments were dealing with her and there was no communication between them.

What is becoming clear however, is that Siddiqui was already in US custody at the time the announcement was made.

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Allegation 6:
Aafia Siddiqui was never detained by the US prior to 2008.

Questions asked by journalist Yvonne Ridley and Cageprisoners to the US administration have resulted in a complete denial that Aafia Siddiqui was ever in US custody. With efforts from UK House of Lords Peer, Nazir Ahmed, the US administration decided to disclose for the first time that a female detainee had been kept at Bagram but that it was not Siddiqui and refused to disclose the nationality of the individual.

The US authorities continue to allege that Siddiqui was never detained at Bagram except for a brief period after 18th July 2008 to treat her for a gunshot wound.

Cageprisoners first considered that Aafia Siddiqui may be detained in Bagram, in 2006, when the video testimonies from the Bagram escapees emerged, affirming the presence of a female prisoner of Pakistani origin, with the prisoner ID ‘650’. After his release from Guantanamo Bay,

Moazzam Begg related that he had heard the screams of a woman in Bagram, which continued to haunt him and the other prisoners. He managed to obtain confirmation by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), that indeed a woman had been detained at Bagram.

Any likelihood that Aafia Siddiqui was the woman Begg heard screaming however was eliminated due to the fact that her kidnapping in Pakistan occurred after his transfer from Bagram to Guantanamo. Despite official insistence by the US that Aafia Siddiqui was not detained at Bagram, the most recent evidence – other than the statement of Siddiqui herself in 2008 – came in 2009 with the release of former Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed.

In an interview with Cageprisoners he states that he saw a female detainee who was Pakistani in origin, around the age of Siddiqui and also had been educated in the US.

The last piece of information was given to him by the US guards. On being shown the picture of Aafia Siddiqui, Mohamed declared that the woman he saw in Bagram was one and the same. Once again her location was placed in Bagram and her time detained there consistent with the detention of Binyam Mohamed.

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Re-emergence

For five years there was no trace of Aafia Siddiqui and her three children. In the most bizarre set of events, the family went from fading into obscurity to becoming international news. Siddiqui‘s re-emergence came at a time when her case was being raised publicly and pressure was being applied on the Pakistani government from all quarters.

On 7th July 2008, Cageprisoners patron Yvonne Ridley and then Director Saghir Hussain held a press conference in Pakistan regarding Aafia’s case which resulted in mass international coverage and a renewed interest from Pakistani media and political figures. At this time, the former President of Pakistan, Pervaiz Musharraf, was still in power and was coming under much criticism for his role in the disappearance of Pakistani nationals and the removal of the judiciary.

Within three weeks of the international press storm whipped up by press conference, an FBI agent visited the Texan home of Siddiqui’s brother and informed him that she was arrested and being detained in Afghanistan.

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Allegation 7:
Aafia Siddiqui was detained by the Afghan Police on 17th July 2008


[Taken from official US indictment]
On or about the evening of July 7, 2008, officers of the Ghazni Province Afghanistan National Police (“ANP”) discovered a Pakistani woman, later identified as SIDDIQUI, along with a teenage boy, outside the Ghazni governor’s compound. ANP officers questioned SIDDIQUI in the local dialects of Dari and Pashtu. SIDDIQUI did not respond and appeared to speak only Urdu, indicating that she was a foreigner.


Regarding SIDDIQUI as suspicious, ANP officers searched her handbag and found numerous documents describing the creation of explosives, chemical weapons, and other weapons involving biological material and radiological agents. SIDDIQUI’s papers
included descriptions of various landmarks in the United States, including in New York City. In addition, among SIDDIQUI’s personal effects were documents detailing United States military assets, excerpts from the Anarchists Arsenal, and one gigabyte (1 gb) digital media storage device (thumb drive).

SIDDIQUI was also in possession of numerous chemical substances in gel and liquid form that were sealed in bottles and glass jars.

The narrative of her arrest given by the US differs starkly from the account given by the Afghan authorities. In their version, Siddiqui is supposed to have had pieces of paper which clearly marked targets in Ghazni and particularly the governor’s compound. The suspicion that they claim was that Siddiqui was about to carry out a suicide bombing mission against
the governor of Ghazni along with her son.

The US version raises one very obvious question:
If she was about to carry out a suicide mission in Afghanistan,
why would she be carrying the details of targets in the US?

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Allegation 8:
Aafia Siddiqui attempted to kill US officials on 18th July 2008


Taken from official US indictment]

On or about July 18, 2008, a party of United States personnel, including two FBI special agents, a United States Army Warrant Officer (the “Warrant Officer”), a United States Army Captain (the “Captain”), and United States military interpreters, arrived at the Afghan facility where AAFIA SIDDIQUI, the defendant, was being held.

The personnel entered a second floor meeting room. A yellow curtain was stretched across the length of that room, concealing a portion of it from sight. None of the United States personnel were aware that SIDDIQUI was being held, unsecured, behind the curtain.
The Warrant Officer took a seat with a solid wall behind him and the curtain to his right. The Warrant Officer placed his United States Army M-4 rifle on the floor to his right next to the curtain, near his right foot. The weapon was loaded, but was on safe.

Shortly after the meeting began, the Captain heard a woman’s voice yell from the vicinity of the curtain. The Captain turned to the noise and saw SIDDIQUI in the portion of the room behind the curtain, which was now drawn slightly back. SIDDIQUI was holding the Warrant Officer’s rifle and pointing it directly at the Captain. The Captain heard SIDDIQUI say in English, “May the blood of [unintelligible] be directly on your [unintelligible, possibly head or hands].” The Captain saw an interpreter (“interpreter 1”), who was seated closest to SIDDIQUI lunge at SIDDIQUI and push the rifle away as SIDDIQUI pulled the trigger.
The Warrant Officer saw and heard SIDDIQUI fire at least two shots as Interpreter 1 tried to wrestle the gun from her. No one was hit. The Warrant Officer heard SIDDIQUI exclaim, “Allahu Akbar!” Another interpreter (“Interpreter 2”) heard SIDDIQUI yell in English, “Get the fuck out of here”, as she fired the rifle.

The Warrant Officer returned fire with a 9mm service pistol and fired approximately two rounds at SIDDIQUI’s torso, hitting her at least once. The above testimony given by FBI Special Agent Mehtab Syed explains how Aafia Siddiqui ended up with a gunshot wound to her torso while in Afghan detention. The entire story was signed off as part of the indictment
against Aafia Siddiqui on 31st July 2008.

For the less than discerning reader, the story seems quite unlikely – this becomes accentuated however when the text of the statement is read more closely with an understanding of the reality. Aafia Siddiqui is a woman of 5’2’’ and very petite. To suggest that she would have the ability to jump undetected from behind a curtain, pick up a heavy M-4 rifle, and then still have time to fire off two shots borders on the implausible.

Indeed the entire situation presented by the FBI agent seems fabricated. It is also noteworthy that if Siddiqui did manage to obtain this weapon and fire the rounds as alleged, it is the first case of its kind, especially since thousands of men have been detained by US personnel since the invasion of Afghanistan.


Scepticism about the US version of events is heightened even more when a simple chronology of events is examined. On 19th July 2008, the Associated Press released an article about a conflict between US and Afghan forces over the jurisdiction of a female detainee. In that report, it is related that the female detainee was shot in the course of arguments relating to jurisdiction. The report by the AP was issued one day after the incident and two weeks before there was any official recognition that Siddiqui had even been detained.

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Allegation 9:
Aafia Siddiqui is guilty of two counts of criminal acts


According to the US indictment, Aafia Siddiqui was extradited to the US from Afghanistan for allegedly, “unlawfully, willingly, and knowingly…[prepared to]use a deadly and dangerous weapon and…forcibly assault, resist, oppose, impede, intimidate, and interfere.” Also she is alleged to have attempted to kill officers and employees of the United States.


The above two counts of criminality serve to act as one of the most confounding conun-
drums of the eight years of the War on Terror.

Siddiqui was allegedly found in Afghanistan, attempting to attack an Afghani compound (at least according to the Afghanis) – thus, she should be tried for committing a war crime in the arena of conflict, or she should be tried for attempting to commit an act of terrorism, or even for having a child soldier with her. The internationally serious crimes of terrorism and war crimes were completely ignored by the US in their indictment of Siddiqui. They have indicted her for two far lesser offences and, in a jurisdiction which is outside of the country where the incident took place.


Further, this is the first time that a non-US citizen has not been designated an ‘enemy combatant’ and detained at one of the many bases around the world.

Why was Aafia Siddiqui sent to the US mainland when no foreign detainee before her was treated in such a way?

Why was Siddiqui not sent to Guantanamo Bay?

Considering the list of allegations that have been levied against Siddiqui over the last five
years, there was not a single reference to her involvement in international terrorism during
her indictment. Questions must be raised as to why such seemingly important points have been completely ignored for the sake of indicting on lesser offences?

It is indeed these last points that are so troublesome for those who have studied this case in detail. They do not correspond at all with the history of the case.

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A CASE OF LIES AND INCONSISTENCIES

This document was produced in order to highlight just a few of the allegations that have been made about Aafia Siddiqui over the last five years of her ordeal. The responses to the
allegations show that there are many worrying aspects to the case in the way that she has
been portrayed and treated.


It is understandable that the US administration would rather that Siddiqui was indicted for some crime than no crime at all – her freedom would be potentially embarrassing for the country, especially after all the hate that was built up around her persona.


This is a case however, where the facts very much speak for themselves. Once the layers of lies and inconsistencies are peeled back, the essence of the case against her remains largely defunct. Yes, she may have at some point given money to an organisation which is now unpalatable to the US – which previously was not – however, that does not make her a terrorist, nor does it make her an attempted murderer.

This case is not just about Siddiqui though, it is also about her three children. One of them returned safely to Siddiqui family in Karachi, the others however remain missing. This family has already been forced to endure years of separation and detention; it is time that they were freed and reunited with one another. In order to do this, the truth of the case must be exposed and the reality brought to the world’s attention.

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Hindutva and Neocon Fascists Unite Part 1 – Downplaying the Hindutva Role, Manufacturing the “Islamist” Threat

“The Hindutva trigger has been extensively whitewashed through extensive spin and distortion by Hindutva activists in the UK and their narrative-allies in the Henry Jackson Society. Instead, they have sought to strenuously, yet tenuously, manufacture Muslims as the problem through the “Islamist” bogeyman.”

CoolnessofHind

The “Battle of Cable Street” is often cited as a watershed moment in the fight against fascists. In 1936, Jews, Irish and left-wing activists in their hundreds of thousands gathered in East London to prevent a fascist march through a Jewish neighbourhood. They used weapons for their purpose: sticks, rocks, and chair legs were used whilst marbles were deployed to destabilise police horses. In a fierce battle, Oswald Moseley and his Blackshirts were forced to retreat.

As one Times of Israelarticle noted, despite scores of police officers injured, this incident was a cause célèbre in left wing and Jewish papers such as the Jewish Chronicle. It is held up today as a model response by anti-fascist groups and prominent politicians alike.


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#UK: Creeping Authoritaniarism – the next threat to our Civil Liberties! #Dissent #IMPUNITY: Usurping Emergency Powers!

CREEPING AUTHORITARIANISM – THE NEXT THREAT TO OUR CIVIL LIBERTIES | RICHARD NORTON-TAYLOR | DECLASSIFIED UK | 2 SEP 2022

While the mainstream media has been preoccupied by the Conservative Party’s infighting over who will be Britain’s new prime minister, sinister but barely noticed plans are being drawn up with profound threats to our civil liberties.

Boris Johnson on a police raid in London this week. (Photo: Simon Dawson / No 10)

It is creeping authoritarianism in a very British way – the government is steadily but quietly eroding democratic accountability, including the right to challenge arbitrary executive diktats.

As Boris Johnson’s premiership draws to a close, the Conservative government has set in motion four Bills before Parliament to limit the role of the independent judiciary, increase secret courts, repeal the Human Rights Act, and restrict the freedom of the press.

The Bills contain dangerously loose and deliberately ambiguous language – what for instance, is “legal but harmful” online content? Some cabinet members would even like to extract the UK from the European Human Rights Convention, an international treaty that is enshrined in Northern Ireland’s Good Friday Agreement.

The government defends its plans with truly Orwellian arguments. Suella Braveman, the attorney general, asserted last month in a speech to the right-of-centre Policy Exchange think tank that there is a “serious risk that the fight for rights undermines democracy”. 

With sinister echoes of 1984, she tried to turn Orwell on his head, blaming “fringe campaign groups…often with vastly inflated salaries and armed with a Newspeak dictionary”. Braverman says they have “created mighty citadels of grievance across the public sector and made huge inroads into the private sector”.

To fight this supposed threat, the government plans to restrict judicial reviews, which are court hearings that allow citizens to challenge the legality of decisions taken by the executive.

“Judicial review is what protects us, the individual, from the overbearing might of the state. It exists to ensure that, however venal, corrupt or malign the politicians who govern us, we are treated equally and according to the law”, said the best-selling author known only as The Secret Barrister.

They warned: “The government’s claims to be restoring trust in democracy by rolling back these checks and balances mask an audacious power grab, allowing them to govern unlawfully and without accountability”. Ministers want to cherry pick decisions by the courts they do not like, including those by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, which covers the activities of the security and intelligence agencies.

The Judicial Review and Courts Bill reflects growing intolerance among ministers of individuals and what they call “lefty lawyers” questioning the way the government has taken decisions and the way judges have responded. One notable case was the ruling by the Supreme Court ruling that Boris Johnson’s decision in 2019 to prorogue – suspend – Parliament was unlawful.

The proposed “bedroom tax”, the “VIP lane” for suppliers of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) during the Covid pandemic, and police operations using facial recognition technology, are among many decisions declared unlawful as result of judicial reviews.

Abolishing human rights

Home secretary Priti Patel was furious at court challenges to her proposal to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda. It catalysed long-harboured plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights.

This will make it more difficult for individuals and groups to challenge ministers’ decisions in the courts by claiming breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Human Rights Act has enabled bereaved families to demand full inquests, for example into the deaths of army recruits at Deepcut barracks, and independent inquiries into the abuse – and in one case, death – of Iraqis detained by British forces.

Martha Spurrier, director of the civil rights group, Liberty, has described the Bill of Rights as a “power grab” by the government. She says: “The Human Rights Act protects everyone from injustice and abuse of power, and allows us to stand up to the government and institutions like the police or local councils when they get it wrong”.

Spurrier adds: “From the families of Hillsborough victims to military veterans, people use the Human Rights Act every day to stand up for their rights and get justice. But under the Government’s plans, it will become much harder for people – including disabled people and survivors of violence against women and girls – to access justice.”

 “The Human Rights Act protects everyone from injustice and abuse of power”

To limit human rights-based claims in the courts, the government is proposing to add a “permission stage” before they can be heard, erecting a new barrier to justice. Before a case can get off the ground, individuals would have to show they had faced a “significant disadvantage” caused by the violation of their rights.

National security and online safety

The National Security Bill – some of whose dangers Declassified has already highlighted – further increases the government’s ability to shield its activities from independent and democratic scrutiny. Sections 5 and 6 of the Bill refers to “prohibited places”, described as the country’s “most sensitive places”.

“Unauthorised entry” into such places for whatever purpose, “prejudicial” or not, could be a criminal offence as would photographing and “inspecting” them on the internet. Such measures could include photographing demonstrations outside military bases or locations deemed “sensitive”, as well as military convoys. The list of “prohibited” sites could be expanded without alerting parliament while prosecutions could be heard in secret.

Then there’s the government’s Online Safety Bill, which on the face of it should be a welcome measure to protect children from abuse and sexual predators.

However it includes hidden dangers, giving too much power to large tech companies and their commercial interests, not least in allowing them, rather than the courts, to determine what is “harmful” yet “legal” and encouraging a culture of self-censorship with a chilling effect on freedom of expression.

After initially suggesting that criminal prosecutions could be triggered if content of material would have a “real and substantive risk” of causing harm to a “likely audience”, it now says material would be considered harmful if it presents “a material risk of significant harm to an appreciable number of children/adults”.

The Bill refers to “psychological” harm and harms resulting from an individual doing or saying something to another that increases the likelihood of harm to that individual. It even sets up an “advisory committee on disinformation and misinformation”.

In a further threat to civil liberties and freedom of expression it gives a role to potentially arbitrary algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) – what is described in the Bill as “moderation technology”.

The measure is a minefield, an invitation to large tech companies like Google and Facebook and government agencies to impose their subjective and commercially-driven priorities on personal communications.

One senior Conservative MP and former cabinet minister has said the Bill’s “well-intentioned attempts” to address very real risks “threatens being the biggest accidental curtailment of free speech in modern history.” The measure has also been sharply attacked by a former supreme court judge.

Brexit

Meanwhile, Statewatch, the long-established monitor of the governments’ unaccountable agencies, has warned about a little-noticed “new EU-UK security architecture”.

Earlier this year the campaign group highlighted that the “UK government’s domestic programme seeks to crack down on dissent and to abolish or severely limit ways for the public to hold the state to account…those ambitions also play a role in the post-Brexit agreement with the EU”.

The Brexit treaty makes it possible for the UK to opt into intrusive EU surveillance schemes with no explicit need for parliamentary scrutiny or debate, and establishes a number of new joint institutions without robust transparency and accountability measures.

“Those in favour of Brexit argued that the UK needed to ‘take back control’ from Brussels,” Statewatch said. “However, when it comes to policing and security matters, the only people who have taken back control are the government and state officials. Close and critical scrutiny of the new arrangements is required to protect civil liberties and democratic standards.”

Encouraged perhaps by the ease with which it imposed authoritarian measures during the initial Covid crisis, the government is quietly introducing a series of measures undermining basic civil liberties. Maybe they hope that few will notice, as most are preoccupied by the more obvious cost-of-living threats to their material well being.


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Admiration for the Unvaccinated

The Most Revolutionary Act

By Vaccines The Outliers (facebook.com/groups/marcosoutliers)

Even if I were pollinated and fully vaccinated, I would admire the unvaccinated for withstanding the greatest pressure I have ever seen, even from partners, parents, children, friends, colleagues and doctors.

People who were capable of such personality, courage and critical ability are undoubtedly the best of humanity. They are everywhere, in all ages, levels of education, states and ideas. They are of a special kind; they are the soldiers that every army of light wants to have in its ranks. They are the parents that every child wants to have and the children that every parent dreams of having. They are beings above the average of their societies, they are the essence of the people who have built all cultures and conquered horizons. They are there, next to you, they look normal, but they are superheroes.

They did what others could not, they were…

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#AncientEGYPT Engineering the Pyramids: Poured CONCRETE: The Surprising Truth About How the Great Pyramids Were Built!

The Surprising Truth About How the Great Pyramids Were Built | Sheila Berninger Dorilona Rose | livescience.com | originally published May 18, 2007

This Behind the Scenes article was provided to LiveScience in partnership with the National Science Foundation.

“This is not my day job,” begins Michel Barsoum as he recounts his foray into the mysteries of the Great Pyramids of Egypt. As a well respected researcher in the field of ceramics, Barsoum never expected his career to take him down a path of history, archaeology, and “political” science, with materials research mixed in.

As a distinguished professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Drexel University, his daily routine consists mainly of teaching students about ceramics, or performing research on a new class of materials, the so-called MAX Phases, that he and his colleagues discovered in the 1990s. These modern ceramics are machinable, thermal-shock resistant, and are better conductors of heat and electricity than many metals — making them potential candidates for use in nuclear power plants, the automotive industry, jet engines, and a range of other high-demand systems.

Professor Michel Barsoum stands before one of the Egyptian pyramids for which he has found evidence suggesting some of the stone blocks were cast, not quarried. (Image credit: Michel Barsoum, Drexel University)

Then Barsoum received an unexpected phone call from Michael Carrell, a friend of a retired colleague of Barsoum, who called to chat with the Egyptian-born Barsoum about how much he knew of the mysteries surrounding the building of the Great Pyramids of Giza, the only remaining of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

The widely accepted theory — that the pyramids were crafted of carved-out giant limestone blocks that workers carried up ramps — had not only not been embraced by everyone, but as important had quite a number of holes.

Burst out laughing

According to the caller, the mysteries had actually been solved by Joseph Davidovits, Director of the Geopolymer Institute in St. Quentin, France, more than two decades ago.

Davidovits claimed that the stones of the pyramids were actually made of a very early form of concrete created using a mixture of limestone, clay, lime, and water.

“It was at this point in the conversation that I burst out laughing,” Barsoum said. If the pyramids were indeed cast, he said, someone should have proven it beyond a doubt by now, in this day and age, with just a few hours of electron microscopy.

It turned out that nobody had completely proven the theory … yet.

“What started as a two-hour project turned into a five-year odyssey that I undertook with one of my graduate students, Adrish Ganguly, and a colleague in France, Gilles Hug,” Barsoum said.

A year and a half later, after extensive scanning electron microscope observations and other testing, Barsoum and his research group finally began to draw some conclusions about the pyramids. They found that the tiniest structures within the inner and outer casing stones were indeed consistent with a reconstituted limestone. The cement binding the limestone aggregate was either silicon dioxide (the building block of quartz) or a calcium and magnesium-rich silicate mineral.

The stones also had a high water content — unusual for the normally dry, natural limestone found on the Giza plateau — and the cementing phases, in both the inner and outer casing stones, were amorphous, in other words, their atoms were not arranged in a regular and periodic array. Sedimentary rocks such as limestone are seldom, if ever, amorphous.

The sample chemistries the researchers found do not exist anywhere in nature. “Therefore,” Barsoum said, “it’s very improbable that the outer and inner casing stones that we examined were chiseled from a natural limestone block.”

More startlingly, Barsoum and another of his graduate students, Aaron Sakulich, recently discovered the presence of silicon dioxide nanoscale spheres (with diameters only billionths of a meter across) in one of the samples. This discovery further confirms that these blocks are not natural limestone.

Generations misled

At the end of their most recent paper reporting these findings, the researchers reflect that it is “ironic, sublime and truly humbling” that this 4,500-year-old limestone is so true to the original that it has misled generations of Egyptologists and geologists and, “because the ancient Egyptians were the original — albeit unknowing — nanotechnologists.”

As if the scientific evidence isn’t enough, Barsoum has pointed out a number of common sense reasons why the pyramids were not likely constructed entirely of chiseled limestone blocks.

Egyptologists are consistently confronted by unanswered questions:

How is it possible that some of the blocks are so perfectly matched that not even a human hair can be inserted between them?

Why, despite the existence of millions of tons of stone, carved presumably with copper chisels, has not one copper chisel ever been found on the Giza Plateau?

Although Barsoum’s research has not answered all of these questions, his work provides insight into some of the key questions. For example, it is now more likely than not that the tops of the pyramids are cast, as it would have been increasingly difficult to drag the stones to the summit.

Also, casting would explain why some of the stones fit so closely together. Still, as with all great mysteries, not every aspect of the pyramids can be explained. How the Egyptians hoisted 70-ton granite slabs halfway up the great pyramid remains as mysterious as ever.

Why do the results of Barsoum’s research matter most today?
Two words:
earth cements.

“How energy intensive and/or complicated can a 4,500 year old technology really be? The answer to both questions is not very,” Barsoum explains. “The basic raw materials used for this early form of concrete — limestone, lime, and diatomaceous earth — can be found virtually anywhere in the world,” he adds. “Replicating this method of construction would be cost effective, long lasting, and much more environmentally friendly than the current building material of choice: Portland cement that alone pumps roughly 6 billion tons of CO2 annually into the atmosphere when it’s manufactured.”

“Ironically,” Barsoum said, “this study of 4,500 year old rocks is not about the past, but about the future.”

More to Explore

Editor’s Note: This research was supported by the National Science Foundation, the federal agency charged with funding basic research and education across all fields of science and engineering.

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ALSO SEE:

ENGINEERING THE PYRAMIDS SPECIAL PROJECT | Drexel University

Professor Michel Barsoum and colleagues have found scientific evidence that parts of the Great Pyramids of Giza were built using an early form of concrete, debunking an age old myth that they were built using only cut limestone blocks.

SEM Micrographs and Elemental Maps from Bulk Pyramid Sample

Pyramids
Scanning electron microscopy micrographs and elemental maps of bulk of Lauer sample showing (a) secondary and (b) backscattered images; the rest of the images represent elemental maps of Ca, Na, Si, and S. Note that the size of the calcite aggregates is 50–500 mm.

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Microstructural Evidence of Reconstituted Limestone Blocks in the Great Pyramids of EgyptM. W. Barsoum, A. Ganguly, G. Hug – First published: 30 November 2006 https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1551-2916.2006.01308.x

Abstract

How the Great Pyramids of Giza were built has remained an enduring mystery. In the mid-1980s, Davidovits proposed that the pyramids were cast in situ using granular limestone aggregate and an alkali alumino-silicate-based binder. Hard evidence for this idea, however, remained elusive. Using primarily scanning and transmission electron microscopy, we compared a number of pyramid limestone samples with six different limestone samples from their vicinity. The pyramid samples contained microconstituents (μc’s) with appreciable amounts of Si in combination with elements, such as Ca and Mg, in ratios that do not exist in any of the potential limestone sources. The intimate proximity of the μc’s suggests that at some time these elements had been together in a solution. Furthermore, between the natural limestone aggregates, the μc’s with chemistries reminiscent of calcite and dolomite—not known to hydrate in nature—were hydrated. The ubiquity of Si and the presence of submicron silica-based spheres in some of the micrographs strongly suggest that the solution was basic. Transmission electron microscope confirmed that some of these Si-containing μc’s were either amorphous or nanocrystalline, which is consistent with a relatively rapid precipitation reaction. The sophistication and endurance of this ancient concrete technology is simply astounding.

Volume89, Issue12

December 2006

Pages 3788-3796

Recommended

#AncientEGYPT #NabtaPlaya: The world’s first astronomical site was built in #Africa and is 2k years older than #Stonehenge!

Nabta Playa: The world’s first astronomical site was built in Africa and is older than StonehengeEric Betz  | astronomy.com | originally published June 20, 2020

This 7,000-year-old stone circle tracked the summer solstice and the arrival of the annual monsoon season. It’s also the oldest known astronomical site on Earth.

For thousands of years, ancient societies all around the world erected massive stone circles, aligning them with the Sun and stars to mark the seasons. These early calendars foretold the coming of spring, summer, fall, and winter, helping civilizations track when to plant and harvest crops. They also served as ceremonial sites, both for celebration and sacrifice.

These megaliths — large, prehistoric monuments made of stone — may seem mysterious in our modern era, when many people lack a connection with, or even view of, the stars. Some even hold them up as supernatural, or divined by aliens. But many ancient societies kept time by tracking which constellations rose at sunset, like reading a giant, celestial clock. And others pinpointed the Sun’s location in the sky on the summer and winter solstice, the longest and shortest days of the year, or the spring and fall equinox. 

Europe alone holds some 35,000 megaliths, including many astronomically-aligned stone circles, as well as tombs (or cromlechs) and other standing stones. These structures were mostly built between 6,500 and 4,500 years ago, largely along the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts. 

The most famous of these sites is Stonehenge, a monument in England that’s thought to be around 5,000 years old. Though still old, at that age, Stonehenge may have been one of the youngest such stone structures to be built in Europe.

The chronology and extreme similarities between these widespread European sites leads some researchers to think the regional tradition of constructing megaliths first emerged along the coast of France. It was then passed across the region, eventually reaching Great Britain.

But even these primitive sites are at least centuries younger than the world’s oldest known stone circle: Nabta Playa.

NabtaPlayastonecircle
The stone circle of Nabta Playa marks the summer solstice, a time that coincided with the arrival of monsoon rains in the Sahara Desert thousands of years ago.
Wikimedia Commons

Located in Africa, Nabta Playa stands some 700 miles south of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. It was built more than 7,000 years ago, making Nabta Playa the oldest stone circle in the world — and possibly Earth’s oldest astronomical observatory. It was constructed by a cattle worshiping cult of nomadic people to mark the summer solstice and the arrival of the monsoons.

“Here is human beings’ first attempt to make some serious connection with the heavens,” J. McKim Malville, a professor emeritus at the University of Colorado and archaeoastronomy expert, tells Astronomy.

“This was the dawn of observational astronomy,” he adds. “What in the world did they think about it? Did they imagine these stars were gods? And what kinds of connections did they have with the stars and the stones?”

Statueoframsesthegreat
The statue of Ramses the Great at the Great Temple of Abu Simbel is moved during the construction of the Aswan Dam.
Wikimedia Commons

The Discovery of Nabta Playa

In the 1960s, Egypt was planning a major dam project along the Nile River that was going to flood important ancient archaeological sites. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), stepped in with funding to help relocate famous structures, as well as scour the area for new sites before they were lost forever.

But a prominent American archaeologist named Fred Wendorf saw another opportunity. He wanted to search for the ancient origins of Pharaonic Egypt, away from the Nile River. 

By luck, in 1973, a Bedouin — or nomadic Arab — guide named Eide Mariff came across a group of what looked like large, stone megaliths while crossing the Sahara. Mariff took Wendorf, who he had worked with since the 1960s, out to the site, which sits some 60 miles away from the Nile. However, Romuald Schild, Wendorf’s longtime friend and collaborator, remembers the discovery story differently. He says the entire team was driving across this stretch of desert in 1973 when they stopped for a bathroom break. It was then that they spotted evidence of the megalithic remains. 

At first Wendorf thought they were natural formations. But he soon realized that the site was once a large lakebed that would have destroyed any such rocks. He would return many times over the course of decades. Then, during excavations in the early 1990s, Wendorf and a team of excavators, including Polish archaeologist Romuald Schild, uncovered a circle of stones that seemed to be aligned with the stars in some mysterious way.

nabtaplayamap
The approximate location of Nabta Playa.
Wikimedia Commons

The first astronomers

After seven years without being able to crack their mystery, Wendorf called in Malville, an expert on archaeoastronomy of the American Southwest. 

Malville says he too was puzzled when he first looked at maps of the ancient site. He knew he had to travel there in person to get a sense of the place, as well as its creators and celestial significance. 

They drove across the flat, sandy landscape until …

“I discovered that these stones were part of an alignment that radiated out from a major tumulus [burial mound],” Malville says. “A pile of these megaliths formed the covering of a tomb, and it turned out that every one of the megaliths that we found buried in sediment formed a line, like spokes in a wheel radiating out.”

The team had already performed radiocarbon dating on the site by taking samples from fire hearths and tamarisk roofing material found inside the stone circle.

“It was like a zen experience to see how this fit together,” he says. “Knowing the dates, I could calculate when these stones would have been in alignment with the brightest stars of the northern sky.” 

Nabta25Feb2010excavation_
Eide Mariff, a Bedouin guide and excavator who worked with archaeologists for decades in southern Egypt, works with a crew from his tribe to remove megalithic stones at Nabta Playa.
J. McKim Malville

He discovered that the stone circle once aligned to Arcturus, Sirius and Alpha Centauri. There were also stones that seemed to correspond to the constellation Orion. By tracing back Arcturus’ movements across the night sky, they proposed that the star would have matched up with Nabta Playa’s stone circle around 4800 B.C.

“That makes it the oldest astronomical site we’ve ever discovered,” Malville says. Their analysis was published in the journal Nature in 1998, drawing global headlines about a “Stonehenge in the Sahara.”

In the decades since then, archaeologists have continued to unravel the mystery of the ancient people of Nabta Playa, who used their summer home to observe the stars.

Cattle cult

More than 10,000 years ago, Northern Africa shifted away from a cold, dry Ice Age climate that had persisted for tens of thousands of years. With the shift, African monsoons migrated north relatively quickly, filling up seasonal lakes, or playa, that provided short-lived oases for life.

Reconstruction of the calendar circle at Nabta Playa.
Malville et al., 2007

For the nomadic people who lived in the area, these summer rains were likely sacred. During this era before agriculture had spread across the globe, these nomads survived primarily off of wild resources. But somewhere around the same time in the same region, people began domesticating goats, as well as an ancient kind of cattle called aurochs.

Cattle were a central part of Nabta Playa’s culture. When Wendorf’s team excavated the site’s central tomb, they hoped to find human remains. Instead, they dug up cattle bones and an enormous rock seemingly carved into the shape of a cow.

The people of Nabta Playa would travel across the often-featureless Sahara from seasonal lake to seasonal lake, bringing their livestock along to graze and drink.

nabtaplayacowstatue
An archaeological excavation found this cow-shaped megalithic rock sculpture buried at Nabta Playa in the Sahara Desert near the border of Egypt and Sudan. Scientists think the people who lived here worshiped a cow diety, a trend that appears later in Pharaonic Egypt.
J. McKim Malville

“Their experience was rather similar to Polynesian navigators who had to sail from one place to another,” Malville says he suspects. “They used the stars to travel across the desert to locate small watering holes like Nabta Playa, which had water about four months of the year, probably, starting with the summer monsoon.”

There was no north star at the time, so the people navigated using bright stars and the circular motion of the heavens. 

Wendorf himself had a powerful experience that cemented his belief in this idea. One day, while working at Nabta Playa, the team had lost track of time and had to drive back across the sand at night. Mariff, the Bedouin man who initially discovered Nabta Playa, took the wheel, navigating across the Sahara by sticking his head … ancient nomadic people. The stones feet would have been covered by seasonal water, and would have been visible from the western lakeshore.

“You would watch the reflection of the stars off the dark waters of the lake, and you could see the stones partly submerged in the water, lining up with the reflection of the stars on the horizon,” he says.

sorghumgrains
A man holds up sorghum grains.
Abby Wendle/Wikimedia Commons

Ancient breadbasket

Practically speaking, the megaliths would have also helped the people of Nabta Playa time the rainy season, which only became more important as the society developed over thousands of years. The summer solstice would have coincided with the arrival of the annual monsoons. So tracking the Sun’s location could have tipped them off to the coming wet season.

The first strong evidence for people at Nabta Playa appears around the year 9000 BC. At the time, the Sahara was a wetter, more pleasant place to live. Eventually, there was enough water that people could even dig wells and build homes around them. One site excavated at Nabta Playa revealed rows of huts with hearths, storage pits, and wells that were spread out over several thousand square feet. The team of archaeologists called it a “well-organized village.” 

But between 5000 B.C. and 3000 B.C., thousands of years after the stone circle was built at Nabta Playa, the region dried out again. Some researchers think this environmental stress could have forced the people of Nabta Playa to develop a complex society, which most scholars thought depended on the development of agriculture.

The ancient society studied the constellations and understood the movements of the night sky. They made sacrifices and worshiped gods. They made jewelry out of cow bones. They ground up pigments for body painting. Researchers even discovered fish carvings at the site that suggest the nomads traded as far away as the Red Sea. Finally, the stone slabs at the site — some of which stand nine feet tall — had to be dragged from more than a mile away.

However, this complex culture seems to have fallen somewhere in between nomadic and agrarian. In addition to the oldest astronomical site, Nabta Playa is also home to the oldest known remains of sorghum, a crop first domesticated in Africa that’s now one of the world’s most important foods, especially in the tropics.

Hundreds of sorghum seeds were found at Nabta Playa, and they appear to be more closely related to domestic sorghum than wild varieties. Millet, another crop critical to the global agricultural history, was also domesticated in the region. And excavations at Nabta Playa also turned up storage pits for grass seeds, tubers, legumes and fruits. 

The nomadic people likely ate wild foods, but also planted some semi-domesticated crops along lakeshores at the beginning of each wet season. They then moved on after the harvest, Malville says. 

The African sorghum and millet seeds domesticated in this area would eventually spread along a trade route stretching through the Red Sea and into India — where they arrived some 4,000 years ago and went on to play an important role in the development of numerous civilizations.

“Black genesis”

By that time, the people who first grew the seeds were gone. Some 1,500 years earlier, the region had dried out, becoming what is now Earth’s hottest desert, the Sahara. Here, many areas don’t see rain for years.

That changing local climate forced the people of Nabta Playa to disperse. Some archaeologists think these people likely traveled south into Nubia, or modern day Sudan, as well as north into Egypt. And their migration would have taken place in the years just before the first pharaohs rose to power.  

This timing had led some scholars to suggest the event sparked a “black genesis” for the cultural development in Egypt. However, the idea is controversial. Human remains at Nabta Playa seemed to be from people of both Central African and Mediterranean descent. However, some consider an ancient Egyptian cow goddess named Hathor, a goddess of fertility, to be the smoking gun for this origin story. 

If these cattle-raising nomads did help establish the Nile Valley’s first civilization, Wendorf once told Discover, “it could explain the religious significance that Egyptians attached to the cow and cattle in the Old Kingdom.”

This idea has legitimate proponents, including Malville, who says that many Egypt scholars he’s talked to also like the idea of the Egyptian culture emerging out of Africa, rather than from the so-called “Fertile Crescent,” as others suggest. However, some conspiracy theorists have also run with the idea, adding a strange new layer. One theory — which has been debunked — suggested that the arms of Nabta Playa’s stone circle describe the distances to the stars they aligned with, and that the rock slab beneath the megalith is a map of our Milky Way galaxy. 

For Malville, and Wendorf as well, who died in 2015, there’s no need to invent such stories for Nabta Playa to be fascinating. In many years spent exploring the Sahara, Wendorf and other archaeologists found a number of other stone circles, but they never again found anything remotely like Nabta Playa. 

And now that there’s detailed photography of Earth’s entire surface, Malville says its only growing less likely that older or more complex astronomical sites are still hiding.

stonehengemegaliths
Stonehenge’s enormous size and prominent modern location help make it the most famous of humanity’s many stone circles.
Wikimedia Commons

New looks at the Neolithic 

So why have so few people heard of Nabta Playa?

Gail Higginbottom, an archaeologist at University of Adelaide and expert on stone circles, says that Stonehenge still reigns supreme in the minds of Western Civilization. After all, its stones are so big that they were never buried, and it’s long been easily accessible. That means Europeans have known of nearby Stonehenge for much of its 5,000 year history. But one leading megalith researcher contacted for this story said they weren’t even familiar with Nabta Playa.

Malville agrees with Higginbottom. He says Nabta Playa might not get as much attention as Stonehenge because it is significantly smaller, and up until a few decades ago, it was buried in sand in a remote region of Africa.

Trends in research also come and go. Egyptian archaeology was en vogue throughout the 19th and the 20th centuries.

“People used to be obsessed with pyramids and the historic cultures in North Africa,” Higginbottom tells Astronomy. But that fascination has waned over time. “However,” she adds, “I think this has had a big turn around in the last couple of decades with the Neolithic and earlier periods becoming more researched.”

Unfortunately, most of the popular coverage of Egyptian archaeology now fixates on pseudoscience and ancient aliens. And according to Malville, the extra attention Nabta Playa has gotten over the years hasn’t been good for the site, either.

After their study was published in 1998, tourists located the stone circle by plucking the latitude and longitude from the research paper. Soon, visitors were defacing the megaliths and standing up nearby stones that changed the site’s alignment.

“They ended up messing up the area, which had been pristine for 5,000 years,” Malville says.

In response, the government eventually moved all the stones — including the cow sculpture — to a museum in the region, where they’re remain on display for tourists to safely view.

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