Recent News from ACT! for America

Last Updated:10:14 PM, October 22, 2011

Posted:7:12 PM, October 22, 2011

Not that there were any corrections, retractions or apologies, but six months ago, the national news media, in what seemed to be a don’t-want-to-be-the-last exercise, began to report the most hopeful, fantastic and impossible story:

The street demonstrations in Cairo were spreading throughout the Islamic-Arab Middle East, a surge toward Western-style Democracy was overflowing throughout the Arab world! Rejoice! Rejoice!

Of course, aside from a few women seen celebrating in Western-style clothing -- women who would soon disappear, replaced by men and women in fundamental Islamic garb -- there was no real evidence of a pro-democracy revolution.

Still, this fantastic story continued to be reported, from CNN to NBC, ABC to CBS, and the BBC to FNC.

That the mere concept of democracy had escaped the Arab-Muslim world for centuries -- as late as World Wars I and II, the region’s rulers made deals with the forces of Fascism -- and that all previous uprisings had led to one totalitarian regime replaced with another, just didn’t seem to matter.

Not even the fact that CBS’s “60 Minutes” correspondent Lara Logan was sexually assaulted by a gang during one of those “pro-democracy” demonstrations in Cairo -- according to Logan, someone in the mob shouted, “Jew!” and the attack was on -- prevented national TV networks from holding tightly to their original story: The Arabic Middle East is in enlightened revolt, as if the statesmanship of Ben Franklin, the writings of Thomas Paine, the leadership of George Washington and the wisdom of Abe Lincoln had grabbed on, and was holding on. The premise of the Logan assault was ignored, as if it were an aberration; the Jihadists are on the run!

Six months later, these same reporters, analysts and thought-shapers have awakened to what was always clear and present, to what was never going to happen no matter their wishful thinking and stubborn resolve to find something that didn’t exist. Throughout the Muslim Middle East, foreign embassies of democratic countries are being attacked and trashed. The Christian minorities in the region, mostly Coptic Egyptians, are at an even greater risk of being eliminated and annihilated, as is Israel, a country that has the audacity to believe that it can continue to survive and even thrive in the region, not so much as a Jewish state, but as a non-Muslim state.

The “pro-democracy revolution” in Egypt has only thrown the country from idle into reverse. Political and social issues are now a matter for parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood to decide. And to be a non-devout Muslim, or to advocate mere tolerance for those who are not, is to brand yourself an “infidel,” punishable by death, perhaps by stoning.

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the greatest threat to the despotic powers of President and nuclear nut loaf Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not from pro-democracy activists, but from Islamic fundamentalists, anti-democracy hate-mongers convinced that Ahmadinejad is too soft to meet with Allah’s approval. They fought Ahmadinejad’s order to release those young American hikers, imprisoned as spies.

But, gee, it sure was a good story while it lasted. And it lasted for six months. Stay tuned for the next pro-democracy upheaval in the Middle East. It’ll be the first one.

Read more:
The North Carolina men are found guilty in what prosecutors have called a case of 'homegrown terrorism.' They are convicted of plotting an attack on a Marine base in Quantico, Va., among other things.

By David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times

4:45 PM PDT, October 13, 2011

Reporting from New Bern, N.C.


A federal jury has convicted three Muslim men from North Carolina of plotting to attack unspecified targets overseas, as well as the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va., in what prosecutors called a case of "homegrown terrorism."

After two days of deliberations, Omar Aly Hassan, 22, Ziyad Yaghi, 21, and Hysen Sherifi, 24, were convicted Thursday of providing material support for terrorists. Yaghi and Sherifi were also convicted of conspiring to kill, kidnap or maim unspecified people overseas; Hassan was acquitted on the conspiracy charge.

Prosecutors in the three-week trial said the men traveled overseas, raised money and trained with weapons to support a jihadist plot to kill perceived enemies of Islam. Defense lawyers said audio and video recordings played in court did not show the defendants discussing or agreeing to any specific attack.

At issue in the case was the extent to which someone in the U.S. can discuss violent jihad and spread radical propaganda in the post-Sept. 11 era, even while committing no violent acts.

Like many other federal terrorism cases since 2001, the prosecution was preemptive. The suspects were arrested as the terrorist plot unfolded — but before they could commit violence.

The government amassed 750 hours of audio and video that included conversations between the defendants and three paid FBI informants; in those conversations, the defendants discussed jihad and their hatred for non-Muslims.

Friends and family members who attended parts of the trial complained of selective prosecution of Muslims. Hassan's father, Aly Hassan, said after the verdict that the trial had been "a long nightmare."

"Every single witness came out and said they never conspired with my son," Hassan said. "Conspiracy is a very elastic word."

Outside the courtroom, Sherifi's mother shouted, "Racist vultures!"

Mauri Saalakhan, director of an Islamic organization called the Peace Thru Justice Foundation in Silver Spring, Md., who attended parts of the trial, said the convicted men were victims of guilt by association. He called the undercover informants "provocateurs" who entrapped them.

Eight men were indicted in the case in 2009. The accused ringleader, U.S.-born Daniel Boyd, a Muslim convert, testified for the government in a plea deal. So did his sons, Daniel Boyd, 24, and Zakariya Boyd, 21. They are to be sentenced later.

A trial for the seventh defendant, Anes Subasic, has not been scheduled. The eighth defendant, Jude Kenan Mohammad, is a fugitive.

Prosecutors named no targeted victims. Nor did they specify places, times or dates of attacks, except for a potential attack on the Marine base in Quantico. The elder Daniel Boyd had visited the base, and he and Sherifi had discussed its vulnerability to an attack on Marines and their families.

Sherifi was also convicted of conspiring to kill members of the U.S. military and weapons violations.

In court, prosecutors displayed a stockpile of nearly two dozen guns and 27,000 rounds of ammunition seized from a bunker under Daniel Boyd's home; they also played tapes of the defendants praising jihadist publications.

Defense lawyers said the defendants were foolish young men who made "stupid'' and offensive comments but committed no crimes.

Hassan and Yaghi are U.S. citizens. Sherifi, a Kosovo native, is a legal permanent U.S. resident. All lived in the Raleigh, N.C., area.

Sentencing is scheduled to take place in 90 days.

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BRUSSELS (AP) — Terrorist groups have expressed interest in obtaining some of the thousands of shoulder-launched missiles that have gone missing in Libya and the issue has become a priority for the Obama administration, a senior U.S.official said Friday.

Andrew J. Shapiro, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, said Friday the missiles "could pose a threat to civil aviation."

"We know that terrorist groups have expressed interest in obtaining these weapons," he said, adding that the issue issue of securing the weapons was a priority for President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Libya was believed to have about 20,000 such missiles in its arsenals before civil war began in March, Shapiro said. Although many were destroyed by NATO air strikes, thousands are missing.

"The possibility that these weapons may cross borders is an area of considerable concern," Shapiro said. "That's why U.S. has been working with countries bordering Libya to prevent (proliferation)."

Reports that thousands of the portable, short-range missiles were missing first surfaced at the end of September, when NATO's top military officer, Adm. Giampaolo Di Paola, was cited as telling German lawmakers that the alliance had lost track of at least 10,000 surface-to-air missiles from Libyan military depots.

The State Department had sent 15 specialists to Libya to track down the weapons and plans to increase the number to 50 soon, Shapiro said, adding the U.S. has allocated $30 million to the effort.

He said vast majority of the missing missiles were Soviet-made SA-7 Strela (Arrow) with infrared homing.

The United States and other Western nations have been trying for decades to reduce the global stock of portable missiles, fearing they could fall into the hands of terrorists. The small, easily concealable SAM-7s are considered obsolete by modern military standards but could pose a threat to civilian airliners or helicopters.

Weighing just 14 kilograms (31 pounds) and only 1.40-meters (4-feet) long, the 1960s-era missile can reach an altitude of over 3,000 meters (10,000 feet).

Thousands have been used in wars in the Middle East, Latin America, Central Asia and former Yugoslavia. Civilian aircraft as well as U.S. and allied warplanes and helicopters have been damaged or downed by the missiles in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Libya was largest non-producing country holding MANPADS," he said, referring to the weapons by their official designation of Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems.

Also on Friday, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that although the missing weapons were a matter of concern, "it's not a part of NATO's mandate to deal with that."

He said that according to a U.N. Security Council resolution it was the responsibility of the new authorities in Libya to make sure the stockpiles of weapons are monitored and controlled effectively.

"But I know that individual NATO allies are also engaging with the new authorities to help them fulfill that task." Fogh Rasmussen said in an AP interview.

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The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON —As the Pentagon looks to cut $450 billion over the next decade, the largest savings will come from forgoing projects to modernize Pentagon weapons, U.S, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday.

Mr. Panetta promised "targeted changes" to modernization efforts, but he also repeated his past warnings against steps that would "hollow out" the military.

In an address at the Woodrow Wilson Center think tank billed as his first major policy speech, Mr. Panetta said the department would save $60 billion in the next five years from general budget efficiencies, on top of the $150 billion already slated for cost cutting by his predecessor, Robert Gates.

But the budget efficiencies alone will not be enough to ease the financial pressures, requiring the department to turn to proposals to eliminate some weapons modernization, Mr. Panetta said.

Mr. Panetta did not name any specific weapons programs as targets. Defense secretaries usually try to keep secret proposals for program cuts, to prevent opposition from building in Congress.

Anticipating that any specific proposal for cuts would encounter controversy in Congress, Mr. Panetta called on lawmakers to support "a strong defense strategy that may not always include their favorite base or weapons system."

"Every program, every contract and every facility will be scrutinized for savings that won't reduce readiness or our ability to perform essential missions," he said.

Mr. Panetta said he also expects the size of the military to shrink. "A smaller, highly capable and ready force is preferable to a larger, hollow force," he said. The National Guard and military reserves will be ready to respond in a crisis, making up for some gaps created by a smaller active-duty force, he added.

In a question-and-answer session, Mr. Panetta said the coming force cuts was one reason it was necessary to continue to require teenagers to register for the draft, and why he opposed dropping that practice.

Mr. Panetta said while looking for benefits cuts, he hoped to allow current members of the military to keep their existing retirement plans. Reduced benefits only would apply to future members of the military.

"We must recognize that if the growth in personnel costs is not addressed, we won't be able to afford the training and equipment our troops need to succeed on the battlefield," Mr. Panetta said.



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