The Transatlantic Right

Monitoring anti-Muslim hate in addition to developments in the Middle East and wider Islamic World

Cutting edge scholarship at Jihad Watch

Robert Spencer included the following on his blog:

Algeria closes 900 mosques and Muslim prayer halls because jihad terrorists used them for meetings

Here Spencer demonstrates his intellectual shallowness and I think it’s worth examining a little.

Robert Spencer has no knowledge of Algeria or its politics.  If he did, he would know that the Algerian government is a dictatorship that runs a torture state.  Levels of corruption in Algeria are so high that this wealthy country languishes in nearly society-wide poverty while the elite enriches itself.

If these mosques were indeed closed, it stands to reason that they were being used not by ‘Jihad terrorists’ (Spencer forgets to use the word ‘alleged’) but by agitators for reform and democracy.

The article that Spencer links to provides no evidence whatsoever as to the activities of what Spencer terms ‘jihad terrorists’.  As a matter of fact, the article itself does not use this term.  It says

The Algerian government last week closed around 900 mosques and prayer halls throughout the country because it says they were used for meetings by suspected Islamic terrorists, Algerian newspaper El-Khabar reported on Monday.

One would wonder why an American like Robert Spencer would place so much trust in the words of a dictatorship that is in no meaningful sense better than that of the late Col. Gaddafi.

I raised these points in an email I wrote to Mr Spencer – champion of freedom of speech and debate – and enquired on what basis he places such high value on the claims of the Algerian torture state.

I’m not holding my breath for a response since Spencer is a coward who will not answer for the claims he makes on his blog.

Below is the email I sent.  Readers may like to paste it into an email of their own and send it to him using the following address:

Perhaps he will answer if enough people ask the right questions?


Dear Mr Spencer

On your blog today you include an article from a news website under the title “Algeria closes 900 mosques and Muslim prayer halls because jihad terrorists used them for meetings”.  You then go on to speculate as to why, if the Algerian government can do such a thing, the American government does not pursue similar policies.

Did it not occur to you that Algeria is a blood-soaked dictatorship that runs a torture state?  Did it not occur to you that the Algerian government could be lying?  What if, for example, people in these mosques and prayer halls were discussing the massive and staggering levels of corruption in the Algerian government that plunge the people into poverty and spiraling unemployment?

If you had any knowledge of the basics of Algerian politics and opposition movements, you would know that corruption and oppression are at the top of the agenda for anti-government movements in Algeria.

On what basis do you so uncritically believe the announcements of a corrupt dictator like Bouteflika?

Does this represent the ‘cutting edge scholarship’ which you claim characterises your blog?

Kind regards

Omar Shtewi BA, MSc


Gaddafi’s Death

The dictator is dead.  The Libyan people have endured 42 years of degradation at the hands of a monster.  Torture.  Disappearances.  The theft if billions of dollars of the national wealth to fund the extravagant lifestyle of the Gaddafi family.

No doubt, Tripoli and Benghazi will ring loud with celebration well into the night.  But in the morning, the Libyan people will have much to consider.

We had him. Then we lost him.

Was it right to kill Gaddafi?  In so doing, have the Libyan people, in effect, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory?  Many will argue that Gaddafi’s bloody demise is just.  But where is the justice for the thousands of victims of his decades-long rule?  The mothers yet to know where their long-dead sons are buried?  Fathers, brothers, sisters lost in the literal oblivion of secret mass-graves who may never be found?

Gaddafi can be seen here alive and on his feet. Who killed him and why? Who gave that person - or persons - the right to deprive the Libyan people of the truth?

No doubt many powerful people around the world will breathe a sigh of relief that the butcher is dead.  His patrons in the US, Britain and other countries will sleep easy knowing that Gaddafi will take their secrets to his grave.  Along with the numbered accounts where he has stashed the wealth of the Libyan people.

Libya should hope for an investigation into what can only justly be described as an extra-judicial killing.  They should hope that the Gaddafi era will be pored over by lawyers and accountants for decades to come so that the Libyan people can experience the true catharsis that only the full outing of the truth can provide.

An investigation is needed. Where are our answers?

Until such investigations start, I share an element of relief with my fellow Libyans.  I also look suspiciously to the future and hope that the Libya that emerges from the ashes of the tyrant’s rule will be characterised by immense prosperity, peace, unity and strength and that any vultures circling that fabulously wealthy country will be shot down before they can turn it into Saudi Arabia.

Bye-bye BNP? Nick Griffin’s fraud.

The website of the British National Party is down.  They are hiding.

I mention it because this evening, the BBC aired a Panorama exposé of Nick Griffin’s disgraceful management of the BNP and its financial disarray.  In fact, ‘disarray’ may be putting it mildly.  This is a case of full-blown corruption by the ridiculous BNP chairman and yet another very gratifying symptom of the terrible malaise that currently afflicts his absurd and racist party.

The scandalous revelations follow the publication and distribution to BNP members many months ago of a short pamphlet written by concerned members of the racist outfit.

‘Party Overview: A Report on the Mismanagement of the BNP’ filled Nick Griffin with terror when it originally made the rounds among the party’s knuckle-dragging members.  He made some shabby efforts to deny its accusations of mismanagement, but the pamphlet came at the perfect time.

The Party, despite some gains in local elections, has slid back and support for it has waned.  Indeed, the mendacity of the party and even those who oppose Nick Griffin is laid bare in the introduction to the exposé:

“The time has never been more ripe for our party.  We are in a recession, immigration is at an all-time high and people are sick to the back teeth of political correctness.”

Translation:  we are perfectly placed to feed off the fears and anxieties of the British people in these times of great uncertainty yet Nick Griffin’s leadership is so inadequate that even in these ideal circumstances, he cannot raise the profile of the party.

It goes on

“All over Europe, Nationalist [sic] parties are on the rise” but “[T]ellingly most of the European Nationalist [sic] parties… won’t even sit with us in the European Parliament as we have become an embarrassment to other Nationalists [sic]”.

In addition to the humiliation heaped upon the party by the buffoon Nick Griffin, he has also left the party in a terrible financial mess.  The Panorama exposé goes into this in more detail, along with interviews with party insiders who were privy to the fraud committed by Griffin and other members of the party’s senior staff.  The leaflet distributed to members made the following claims:

  • Nepotism:  Griffin employs his daughter, Jennifer, and his son-in-law, paying them a combined £50,000 along with ‘unlimited expenses’.
  • Jennifer is in charge of BNP bank accounts and what the pamphlet describes as ‘slush funds’.
  • Griffin has lied about the extent of the BNP’s debts, stating that they stand at only £100,000.  Panorama stated though thatGriffinhas put the debts at £50,000.  The pamphlet presents an array of BNP creditors that are yet to receive payment
  • Griffin has cost the party £240,000 in legal costs related to his own outrageous behaviour

It goes on.

My fear though, is that the party will learn from this dreadful mismanagement of its public profile and respond accordingly.  The success of the Transatlantic Right in Europe and the United States is based on the fact that it cleverly conceals its racism.  It does not mention race.  It focuses obsessively on Muslims as a religious minority and courts the Jewish community such that Jewish support for right-wing movements is enormous.  In this way, the Transatlantic Right can deny that it is racist and present itself merely as a defender of Israel and Western civilisation.

When the BNP learns to imitate this method, used to such devestating effect in Europe and the US, Britain and its minorities (except the Jews) will be in big trouble.

Long may Nick Griffin remain in the driver’s seat of BNP.

The lies of the Israeli right

The Jerusalem Post is a bastion of the Israeli right.

Today, it includes an article by one Benjamin Weinthal entitled “Top Dutch MP slams Turkey’s ‘belligerence’ against Israel“.

We are regaled with the wonderful story of a ‘Middle East expert’ and ‘top’ politician Wim Kotenoeven who has stood up for Israel against the wicked lies of all Muslims everywhere.  With no hint of embarrassment, Weinthal proclaims that

Middle East expert Kortenoeven accuses Turkey of “sliding into an abyss of Islamic extremism,”

Middle East expert?  As we know already, for the Euro-American Transatlantic Right – of which Israel is a firm part – it takes nothing to be a Middle East expert.  All one needs is to hate Arabs and all other Muslims everywhere, read a poorly researched book or two (if you’re Robert Spencer) or no books at all (if you’re Pamela Geller) and boom!  You’re a Middle East expert, with books coming out of your… ears, and articles lauding your efforts in the gutter post of the Israeli right.

But who is Wim Kortenoeven?  He is a member of Geert Wilders’ ‘Freedom Party’.  That’s right.  Geert Wilders, who wants to ban the Koran (in the name of freedom).  The same Geert Wilders who is a known supporter of Robert Spencer (scholar of nothing and frequent contributor to the US’s Fox News and Canada’s Sun TV among others where he spews his unearned expertise) and Pamela Geller, the prolific liar and writer of the bizarre Atlas Shrugs blog.

But of course, Mr Weinthal fails to mention Geert Wilders even once, despite the fact that Wilders is the founder and head of the Freedom Party.

Wienthal crows

According to a transcript and audio tape of Kortenoeven’s remarks, he stated: “Turkey, a member state of NATO, is also increasingly belligerent towards the Jewish State of Israel. Threats and baseless accusations are issued against Israel ever more frequently. And provocations are rampant. Israeli freighters are harassed by Turkish warships.”

Turkey is increasingly belligerent towards of the Jewish State of Israel?  Kortenoeven and his cheerleader Weinthal may like to elaborate on that.  I wonder, for example:  when was the last time that the Turkish military boarded an Israeli vessel in international waters and slaughtered nine Israeli civilians?  That’s right!  It was the ISRAELI military that boarded a TURKISH vessel in international waters and murdered NINE TURKISH CIVILIANS.  If Turkey limits its response to a little harassment of Israeli freighters, I would suggest that this is indicative of how civilised that bastion of the Islamic world is.

It is presumably Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s failure to prostrate himself to the Jewish State in the manner of Kortenoeven that has rendered him ‘belligerent’ towards poor Israel.  Never mind Israel’s point blank refusal to apologise for the massacre or to pay compensation.  Clearly any Muslim who objects to the slaughter of innocent people in the name of God’s Chosen People (or should that be race?) is an Islamist terrorist and threat to the free world.

The Arab Spring: When will Morocco catch up?

The Arab Spring happened for the following reasons:

  • Arab people are tortured by their governments when they oppose them.  See Syria and the rest
  • Arab countries are rich but the people live in absolute poverty, existing at the bottom of every human development indicator
  • Arab dictators live in a style that would embarrass Louis XIV
  • Arab dictators do this with the support of foreign governments – See Saudi Arabia and the rest
  • Arab dictators funnel money from the public purse to foreign corporations, creating jobs and opportunities for foreign countries thus ensuring that Arab people remain poor so that no viable middle class develops.  Democracy is sustained by a viable middle class

Nowhere is this clearer than in the horrifying country of Morocco.  It is a country that I know well.  I lived there.  I know that Moroccan people subsist day-to-day on the bare minimum of money.  I know that every young Moroccan man and woman is fully aware that they will amount to nothing.  They know that they will never earn a dignified living, regardless of their education.

Moroccan people know that this is because the King of Morocco, Muhammad VI, owns the entire country.  That is to say that there is no entrepreneurial activity in Morocco at any meaningful level without bribes being paid directly to the palace.

The king of Morocco owns the tourism industry.  He facilitates a massive sex tourism industry where local boys and young men are sexually abused by foreign men – mostly from France, Germany and the Netherlands.  The site of handsome young men walking the streets arm-in-arm with elderly white men is very common is cities like Marrakesh.  It certainly isn’t true love.  There are barely any prosecutions in Morocco for paedophilia.  It is discreetly encouraged by the government.  The government also facilitates the transfer of Moroccan women abroad where they work as prostitutes servicing Europeans (who take all the jobs) in cities like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Jeddah.

The king of Morocco monopolises ALL industries that have any value whatsoever.  He owns the entire dairy industry.  He owns the tobacco industry and, of course, he owns ALL the natural resources of Morocco, ensuring that they are exploited by foreigners and that all proceeds are shipped abroad.  Moroccans live like dogs.

His wife is the vindictive and wicked scorpion Lalla Salma (Lalla means lady in Moroccan Arabic, though I think that’s an abuse of the Arabic language too far).

Lalla Salma, in what I can only guess was a calculated insult to the Moroccan people, recently gifted an obscenely expensive item of jewelry (presumably worth more than any Moroccan earns in a lifetime) to the Arab-killer of Israel Tzipora ‘Tzipi’ Livni during an official visit by her.  It should be noted that the Moroccan monarchy is an enthusiastic supporter of Israel and is silent when the Jewish State engages in its frequent mass-slaughters of Arabs and other Muslims.

I mention all of this because I think it provides important background to the following story being reported today on Al Arabiya.

The most important element of the Moroccan monarchy’s survival is the support that it gains from the French government.  Morocco was a French colony and French corporations, in collusion with the king, extract all wealth from the country to this very day, rendering Morocco’s ‘independence’ nothing more than a sick joke.

It has been announced that a French corporation will build a high-speed rail network in Morocco linking three squalid Moroccan cities:

The two countries signed an agreement four years ago to build a high-speed train network to link Casablanca, Morocco’s economic capital, with Rabat and Tangiers at a cost of 33 billion Moroccan dirhams ($4 billion).

The idea, incidentally, that Casablanca is ‘Morocco’s economic capital’ is an outright lie.  There is no economic capital of Morocco.  There is, in fact, no economy at all.  The entire country is a cash-cow for France and the Moroccan king who functions more like a viceroy representing a colonial metropole.

So that we’re clear about who will derive benefit from the lucrative contracts and jobs from this obscene project – which the peasants of Morocco are forced, cruelly, to witness while they worry about where their next loaf of bread is coming from – we are reminded that:

 The 2007 agreement allows French firms, including power and transport engineering group Alstom SA , to design, build, operate and maintain the high-speed rail link, known as TGV in France

So.  Even when the project is finished and the fee – charged to the Moroccan people – is safely in Paris bank accounts, the maintenance work, which will no doubt go on forever, will be done by French companies.  That is to say that the Moroccan people will be paying for this grotesque project for generations.

My favourite part is this, which is scarcely worse than the Sarkozy literally spitting in the face of every Moroccan man, woman and child:

 “The French should know that the Moroccan TGV is work for the French. It is worth thousands of hours of work,” said Sarkozy.


As a side note, it is highly doubtful that any Moroccan will actually be able to afford a ticket for this fabulous train.  It is, in all likelihood, a massive project designed to make the lives of foreigners in the country easier.

Morocco is essentially a country under foreign occupation: wealthy Europeans retire there and buy homes, driving up the prices so that no Moroccan will ever own a house.  While there, taking in the scenery of Marrakesh and Fez, they enjoy an unlimited supply of young boys and girls.  The train will make their trips between cities easier.

The day that Morocco rises against its monarchy, burns its palaces to the ground and nationalises this railway will be the happiest day of my life.

May the country burn from north to south.

The breathtaking arrogance of America’s adventurers…

Much has been made of the return from detention in Iran of two American ‘hitchhikers’.

Briefly, if you can believe it:  These whiter-than-white young men – Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer – were caught, along with a woman, hitchhiking along the Iraq-Iran border.

In common with most Westerners of the persuasion that the Middle East is their private property, they felt that they could, in all seriousness, go hiking along the border.

Why were they in Iraq?  God only knows, though I would suggest that they were gleefully taking in the broad horrors unleashed by their country’s horrific invasion.

In any case, these young people were apprehended by the Iranian authorities for passing into Iranian territory.

How dare the dastardly Iranians?!  Clearly in the minds of these members of the American Master Race, the Middle East belongs to them and they can go wherever they damn well please.  The idea that Islamic countries in particular have sovereignty is something that many Americans are yet to internalise.

Unsurprisingly, the Iranian government accused them of espionage.  And why not?  Here we have three Americans, citizens of a country that has conquered and largely obliterated two countries with which Iran shares borders – Iraq and Afghanistan – while they happily murder civilians in another – Pakistan – through drone attacks on a daily basis.  This is in addition to Washington’s fanatical support of Israel which threatens to decimate Iran on a regular basis.

I would suggest that the Iranian government would be crazy not to take these people into custody.  I would suggest as well that the decision to let these people – who may or may not be spies – go free, is a highly generous diplomatic gesture of the sort that one could not expect from the regimes of the US or Israel both of which practice torture.  The United States is also known to keep thousands of human beings in secret prisons around the world.  Gaddafi would be proud.

And now we have the following from the otherwise admirable Democracy Now.  Amy Goodman and her colleagues there do outstanding work.   In this case, though, her judgement is poor.  It turns out that one of the men who were parading across the Iran-Iraq border like khaki-clad colonialists of the 19th Century, has worked as a freelance journalist who has, in the past, done work for Ms Goodman.  This perhaps explains why she feels the need to include the video below on Democracy Now.

I would suggest that you watch it if only to taste the absolutely breathtaking arrogance exuded in particular by Mr Fattal.  I include a transcript below which you can also find at Democracy Now.

Note his disgust that the Iranians dare to police their border and to harm citizens of the great United States.  Shameful.  Perhaps the Iranians should have organised a special reception at Tehran’s main mosque to show their appreciation for the White Man’s visit.

AMY GOODMAN: The U.S. hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer arrived in New York this weekend after being held for more than two years in an Iranian prison. The hikers were released last week, then taken to Oman, where they were joyfully reunited with their families. Last night was their first night to sleep in the United States.

In July of 2009, Bauer and Fattal were arrested, along with Sarah Shourd, while hiking near the Iran-Iraq border. Bauer is a freelance journalist who has contributed to Democracy Now! and other media outlets. Fattal is an environmental activist. Sarah Shourd was released last year.

Upon arriving in New York, Josh and Shane addressed reporters at a news conference at a Midtown hotel. These are their first extended comments since being released.

JOSH FATTAL: Good afternoon and thank you for coming here today. My name is Josh Fattal.

After 781 days in prison, Shane and I are now free men.

Last Wednesday, we had just finished our brief daily exercise in the open-air room at Evin Prison, where something totally unexpected happened. On any other day, we would have been blindfolded and led down the hallway back to our eight-foot-by-13-foot cell. But on that day, the guards took us downstairs, they fingerprinted us, and they gave us street clothes. They didn’t tell us where we were going. Instead, they took us to another part of the prison, where we saw Dr. Salem Al Ismaily, the envoy of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos of Oman. And the first thing Salem said when we got to him is he looked at us and he said, “Let’s go home.”

What followed was the most incredible experience of our lives. We were held in captivity in almost complete isolation for more than two years. But for the past few precious days, we’ve been experiencing free life anew with our families in Muscat.

In all the time we spent in detention, we had a total of 15 minutes of telephone calls with our families and one short visit from our mother—our mothers. We had to go on hunger strike repeatedly just to receive letters from our loved ones. Many times, too many times, we heard the screams of other prisoners being beaten, and there was nothing we could do to help them. Solitary confinement was the worst experience of all of our lives. It was a nightmare that Sarah had to endure for 14 months. Sarah’s strength during the one-hour meetings that we were allowed with her lifted our spirits daily. One year ago, when Sarah was released, our world shrank.

In prison, we lived in a world of lies and false hope. The investigators lied that Ambassador Leu from the Swiss embassy in Tehran did not want to see us. They told us, again falsely, that we would be given due process and access to our lawyer, the courageous and persistent Mr. Masoud Shafii. But most infuriating—most infuriatingly, they even told us that our families stopped writing us letters.

Releasing us is a good gesture, and no positive step should go unnoticed. We applaud the Iranian authorities for finally making the right decision regarding our case. But we want to be clear: they do not deserve undue credit for ending what they had no right and no justification to start in the first place. From the very start, the only reason we have been—from the very start, the only reason we have been held hostage is because we are American. Sarah was held for 410 days. The two of us were held for 781 days. That’s far too long, and it’s far longer than the American hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979. It was clear to us from the very beginning that we were hostages. “Hostage” is the most accurate term, because, despite certain knowledge of our innocence, the Iranian government has tied our case to its political disputes with the U.S. Thank you.

I would like to hand now over to Shane. He helped me through the worst days of my life, and I cannot imagine how I would have made it through these two years without him.

SHANE BAUER: Thank you, Josh, and thank you, everyone, for being here.

We will always regret the grief and anxiety that our fateful hiking trip led to, above all for our families. But we would like to be very clear: this was never about crossing the unmarked border between Iran and Iraq. We were held because of our nationality. Indeed, there are many other cases of unauthorized entry to Iran in which people were simply fined or deported after a short time. We do not know if we crossed the border. We will probably never know. But even if we did enter Iran, that has never been the reason why the Iranian authorities kept us in prison for so long.

The only explanation for our prolonged detention is the 32 years of mutual hostility between America and Iran. The irony is that Sarah, Josh and I oppose U.S. policies towards Iran which perpetuate this hostility. We were convicted of espionage because we are American. It’s that simple. No evidence was ever presented against us. That is because there is no evidence and because we are completely innocent. The two court sessions we attended were a total sham. They were made up of ridiculous lies that depicted us as being involved in an elaborate American-Israeli conspiracy to undermine Iran.

Sarah, Josh and I have experienced a taste of the Iranian regime’s brutality. We have been held in almost total isolation from the world and everything we love, stripped of our rights and freedom. You may ask us, “Now that you are free, can you forgive the Iranian government for what it has done to you?”

Our answer is this. How can we forgive the Iranian government when it continues to imprison so many other innocent people and prisoners of conscience? It is the Iranian people who bear the brunt of this government’s cruelty and disregard for human rights. There are people in Iran who are imprisoned for years simply for attending a protest, for writing a pro-democracy blog or for worshiping an unpopular faith. Journalists remain behind bars, and innocent people have been executed. If the Iranian government wants to change its image in the world and ease international pressure, it should release all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience immediately. They deserve their freedom just as much as we do.

In prison, every time we complained about our conditions, the guards would immediately remind us of comparable conditions at Guantánamo Bay. They would remind of us of CIA prisons in other parts of the world and the conditions that Iranians and others experience in prisons in the U.S. We do not believe that such human rights violations on the part of our government justify what has been done to us. Not for a moment. However, we do believe that these actions on the part of the U.S.—however, we do believe that these actions on the part of the U.S. provide an excuse for other governments, including the government of Iran, to act in kind. Thank you.

Josh and I now want to express our thanks to everyone who helped make today happen.

JOSH FATTAL: When our mothers were allowed to visit us in May of 2010, they told us about the campaign, the campaign to win our freedom. We owe a lifelong debt of gratitude to so many people. Their efforts mean we are free, and we will never be able to thank them enough.

Our thanks go, first and foremost, to our wonderful families, who have done more for us than we can ever repay. This has been their ordeal as much as it has been our ordeal, and they have sacrificed so much for us to be here today. That includes Sarah, who had joined them as soon as she was free in their tireless work to achieve our freedom. We owe all of them a great debt, and our love for you is unqualified and eternal.

They include all our friends, here at home and overseas. Like our families, many of our friends put their own lives on hold to fight for our freedom. Like our families, they did so while coping with their own pain about our detention. You are our true friends, and you always will be.

And they include tens of thousands of people in America and all over the world, including Iran. They have expressed their support for us, donated to Free the Hikers campaign. They’ve prayed for us, each in his and in her own way. We will never know most of these people, but we want them to know that we love them, and we always will. We thank you for all the energy—we thank you for all the energy and comfort you sent to us while we were dealing with our darkest hours.

Our lawyer, Mr. Masoud Shafii, took on our case at the end of 2009, and he has been a determined and brave advocate ever since. He was never allowed to represent us properly, but he never gave up. We will always stand by him, as he stood by us for so long.

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos of Oman and his envoy, Dr. Salem Al Ismaily, worked ceaselessly to bring us home. We are humbled by their humanity and their unswerving commitment to justice. We are eternally grateful for their kindness and hospitality that they and the people of Oman showed us—showed to us and to our families.

The Swiss ambassador to Iran, Livia Leu Agosti, and her colleagues never stopped trying to get consular access and also to try to resolve our case. We were denied—we were denied our rights to visit—to their visit, but we know that Livia and her colleagues would show up time and again, time and again, at Evin Prison to try to see us. Thank you for your unstinting dedication.

SHANE BAUER: We also want to express our great thanks to the many world leaders and individuals who championed our cause. They include the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President Jalal Talabani of Iraq and Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and the governments of Turkey and Brazil. They were certain of our innocence, and their certainty made a difference. They include the actor Sean Penn, the great Muhammad Ali, Noam Chomsky, the singer Yusuf Islam, Cindy Sheehan, and Nobel Laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mairead Maguire. We will always remember that you stood by us.

There were also U.S. government officials who worked for our release, and some of them found creative ways to try and lessen the tension between the U.S. and Iran. Consular officials at the State Department supported our families throughout. Our members of Congress spoke up for us, publicly and privately. Ambassador Richard Schmierer, his wife Sandy and the staff of the U.S. embassy in Oman were most gracious with their time and hospitality, twice now. They have our gratitude for their support and kindness.

The sympathy and support of many Muslim and other religious leaders in America, the Iranian people and elements within the Iranian government that worked for our freedom were also all invaluable. Thank you.

Finally, we want to thank the media, in the United States and around the world, for keeping our case in the public eye. It means a lot to us. And now that we are home, we know you will give us the time we need to reconnect with our families and rebuild our lives.

When Sarah was about to walk out of Evin Prison last year, we vowed to each other that none of us would be free entirely until all of us were free. That moment has now thankfully come. Sarah, Josh and I can now finally leave prison behind us. We want more than anything to begin our lives anew and with a new appreciation for the sweet taste of freedom.

Thank you, everyone.

AMY GOODMAN: Freed American hikers, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, addressing a news conference in New York hours after they arrived in the United States. They had been imprisoned by the Iranian government for more than two years. When we come back, an excerpt of the news conference with some of their family members and the third American hiker, Sarah Shourd. Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: We return to this momentous news conference on Sunday held by the American hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal hours after they arrived in the United States at a Midtown New York hotel. They were flanked by their families. They had just been released from an Iranian prison after two years. Shane and Josh did not take questions after their extended comments, but some of their family members did. During the news conference, I had a chance to question Shane Bauer’s mother, Cindy Hickey, and Josh Fattal’s mother, Laura, along with Sarah Shourd, the third American hiker who was in prison for more than a year and released last year.

AMY GOODMAN: I’d like to hear from Laura and Cindy about the release of their sons, but first, Sarah, if you could just comment on one statement, since you said these statements are all three of yours, talking about Guantánamo and C.I.A. prisons being used to justify how you were treated, but that you felt—you were critical of these, as well.

SARAH SHOURD: Yes. Shane and Josh and I have a long record of opposing policies of the U.S. government that are—that we don’t believe are right or just. And it was very ironic, then, when I was in Evin Prison, every time I would complain about being alone, every time I would lose—completely almost lose my ability to go on from the solitude and the fear and the intimidation and the complete uncertainty about our futures, the guards would bring up what—Guantánamo, what prisoners were experiencing there. And we would say, “We know. We understand. But two wrongs don’t make a right.” That said, we oppose vehemently that prisoners around the world are experiencing abuse similar to ours and worse.

LAURA FATTAL: Hi, Amy. Thank you for the question. Well, needless to say, it was a very, very exciting moment watching the boys come down the stairs. You know, they only knew, as Josh described, minutes before they were going to be released, and we only got that phone call on Wednesday and then went to the airport in Muscat later that night. So it was a very quick—from the time they found out they were going to be released to coming home. So, yes, yes, we were enormously elated to see them.

I must say, Cindy and I both agree, they’re a little thinner than we left them. OK. Their hair is nicely cut. They had slight gray under their eyes, because they haven’t had much sunshine at all, quite—nothing on vitamin D. But I just want to say, they had organized their day in such a way that—I’ll just, if everyone will bear with me—they were very, very organized. They had a reading hour. They had—they tested each other on SAT and—not SAT, GREquestions. They read books and had questions for each other in jail about different readings they had. Hannah Arendt was one of their favorite writers.

But one of the things that Josh has told me was that he had—they were very serious about their exercise, and they used water bottles as weights in their cell to build muscles. And you see they’re both very fit now. But also, the guards gave blindfolds. When the boys had to walk in the halls, they had blindfolds, so they couldn’t communicate with any other prisoners. And so, Josh and Shane cut one of the blindfolds so they could make laces for their sneakers, because when they used to have to go in the outside area to exercise, they had like equal to kind of sandals, so they wanted to be able to run a lot and to exercise a lot, so they could make—so they made laces from that strips of blindfold so they could have laces on their sneakers, just showing ingenuity. But I’m sure Cindy has more to say, as well.

CINDY HICKEY: The question of how it felt to see Shane come down the runway, it was an unbelievable time for me. We have worked very hard, and I want to—I want to applaud everyone in our families for the work that we’ve done together and the fact that we’re still together and we’re a strong force. The moment that I saw Shane come down the runway was waited for for a long time. The joy for me was to see him put his arms around his two sisters, who have been waiting and waiting for their brother, who they’re very close to, to come home, and their father. And of course I couldn’t wait to get my arms around him myself. I want to be a support to Shane. I want to be there for him. And I can’t wait to see Shane move forward in his work. I’m very proud of my son and his work, and I always have been, and I know his work will even be stronger. And I know the work in the world that he’s done in the past, he’ll continue to do with greater force. Our lives are starting. We’re all free—not only Shane, Sarah and Josh, but their families. And I look forward to the doors that are open, and I plan on moving forward after a break, after a little bit of rest, back into this world also with strong force.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Shane Bauer’s mother, Cindy Hickey, and Laura Fattal, mother of Josh Fattal, the two U.S. hikers released on Wednesday after 781 days in a 104-square-foot Iranian prison cell. Upon landing in Oman after their release last Wednesday, and before coming to New York, the hikers briefly addressed reporters at the Oman airport. This is an excerpt of what Shane Bauer said.

SHANE BAUER: Two years in prison is too long, and we sincerely hope for the freedom of other political prisoners and other unjustly imprisoned people in America and Iran.

AMY GOODMAN: After the news conference on Sunday here in New York, I read that former Reagan-Bush adviser Elliot Abrams had criticized Shane Bauer for his comments in Oman. Abrams pled guilty to withholding information from Congress in the Iran-Contra affair, by the way. But I asked Shane Bauer’s fiancée, Sarah Shourd, after the news conference to respond to Elliot Abrams, but first I asked her about those first moments of freedom in Iran.

AMY GOODMAN: What were your first words when they came to you in Oman?

SARAH SHOURD: Well, I was speechless for a very long time. I just—I said to them, “It’s real. You’re never going to have to go back there.” And we—you know, the rest was really just tears and smiles and—

AMY GOODMAN: I don’t know if you’ve heard what Elliot Abrams, the Reagan-Bush administration official, has just written for CNN in a piece called “Shane Bauer’s Ingratitude,” in which he criticizes Shane for calling on the U.S., not just Iran, to release political prisoners and those who are unjustly detained. Your response, since you’re saying that Shane and Josh were speaking for all three of you?

SARAH SHOURD: Well, no one can spend over a year, let alone over two years, of their lives unjustly detained, imprisoned and cut off from the world, without feeling connected to other prisoners around the world. Shane and Josh and I were hostages. We were held for political reasons. We are completely innocent. And, of course, we will never, ever be able to forget that other people are still sitting in the position that we were in. Shane and Josh, just a few days ago, and even though for me it was a year ago, it’s just as real to me as it was the minute that I stepped off that plane.

AMY GOODMAN: You have said that you heard—you have said that you heard people screaming in the Iranian prison?

SARAH SHOURD: Yes, that’s correct. It didn’t happen very often, but it didn’t have to happen often to leave really an indelible mark on me and on Shane and Josh and I. It will inform the work that we do for a more just world in the future.

AMY GOODMAN: Sarah Shourd, one of the three American hikers detained by the Iranian government. Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were detained for more than two years, Sarah Shourd for more than one year. She is engaged to Shane Bauer.

Of Nicolai Sennels and seeming stupid

Robert Spencer – he of no qualifications in Islamic studies and no academic publications to his name –informed us some time ago that he had included, among others, an extreme right-wing self-proclaimed psychologist named Nicolai Sennels as part of the Jihad Watch team.

Spencer stated, without irony or shame, that this was part of the ‘cutting-edge scholarship’ of his blog.

Sennels is unable, it appears, to write anything true.  This is why, presumably, his services have been retained by Spencer at Jihad Watch.  It appears that all one needs to do to contribute to the blog is

  • Hate Muslims
  • Know nothing about Muslims or Islam
  • Claim to be something that you are not – a scholar, a historian, a psychologist, anything really.

I wrote here about an example of Sennels’ cutting-edge scholarship.  Briefly, there has been a spate of arson attacks in Berlin.  There is no evidence and, indeed, no suggestion by the Berlin authorities, that these attacks have been carried out by Turks or any other sort of largely-brown Muslim.  Sennels, though, suggested that they are are.

I wrote the following email to Sennels, enquiring about his odd attitude to facts.

Dear Mr Sennels

Some time ago, at Jihad Watch, you posted this.  In it, you claim that those guilty for this spate vandalism are Turks (Muslims).  

On what basis did you make this claim?  Are you able to provide any proof?  Are you privy to any information in this matter to which theBerlinpolice are not?  If not, why did you claim that Muslims are guilty of these attacks?

You have also posted a video on Jihad Watch of a young man behaving in a rude, abusive and intimidating manner on a train inDenmark.  What indications are there in the video that suggest that the man is a Muslim?  Did you, at the time of posting, have any information that indicated that the man was a Muslim?  If not, why did you make the claim?

I wrote about your post regarding the car vandalism in Berlin here.  If you feel that I have been in any way unfair, please let me know.

True to the cutting-edge scholarship that characterises Jihad Watch, its fearless leader Bob Spencer and his underlings, I received the following from Nicolai Sennels, Man of Letters:

Hi Omar

The words “Turk” and “Muslim” are not in that article. You seem stupid.


My point exactly.  The words ‘Turk’ and ‘Muslim’ appear nowhere in article that he provides as evidence that Turks (which is to say Muslims) are responsible for the attacks.

I would suggest, therefore, that it is not I who seems stupid.

I wrote the following in response to Mr Sennels, but I am yet to hear back.  Like Spencer and Geller before him, there is no effort to answer for his bold claims.

Mr Sennels

Perhaps my email was not clear:

In the post – which you can find via this link – you say that:

Berlin is the third largest Turkish city after Istanbul and Ankara, and a prime example of failed multiculturism. Citizens are starting to discuss vigilantism and whether or not they should establish armed patrols. Christians “have long called for a special auxiliary police made up of volunteers who would have uniforms, batons and handcuffs.”

But the article you provide does not mention Turks or Muslims.  That is true.  But you are obviously trying to make the link, are you not? 

Many thanks

Omar M Shtewi


In response to the above email, I received the following from Nicolai Sennels.  I would suggest that it goes some way to explain why he is a highly appropriate candidate to contribute to Jihad Watch.

It looks like you are that missing link.