Archive for January 1st, 2016

Does Najib really believe that all Malaysians wake up this morning fully relieved that the twin mega scandals have disappeared into thin air?

If Malaysians wake up this morning with the feeling, hey presto, the 1MDB scandal has disappeared into thin air, then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak would be fully vindicated with his upbeat 2016 New Year Message that he had delivered what he had promised in June last year that all the problems facing 1MDB will be resolved by the end of 2015.

If a poll is conducted among Malaysians, I dare say that there is not a single person who in the past year had been haunted and hounded by the 1MDB issue would feel on waking up this morning of being fully relieved of the pressures of the accountability, transparency, good governance and integrity dimensions and implications of the scandal.

In fact, the reverse is the case.

Najib’s twin RM2.6 billion “donation” and RM55 billion 1MDB mega scandals have by the end of the year become even bigger and more overwhelming than at any time of last year, as both mega scandals have achieved the virtually impossible feat of accumulating like a snowball even more questions than answers with each passing month! Read the rest of this entry »


West Grapples for a Response to Islamic State

by Yaroslav Trofimov
Wall Street Journal
Dec. 31, 2015

Finding a strategy to defeat Islamic State will be the focus of political debate in the West

Feeling the pressure on its home turf in Syria and Iraq, Islamic State has taken the war to its enemies’ homes by launching terrorist attacks overseas—and promised more such carnage in 2016.

How to respond to the threat is becoming the focus of political debate on both sides of the Atlantic — with consequences that shape the future of the Middle East and the West.

In the main goal of terrorism — to terrorize — Islamic State has already succeeded. Security has become the main issue for the presidential campaign in the U.S., where a recent poll found that more people fear an imminent terrorist attack now than either right after Sept. 11, 2001 or any time since. France has lived in a state of emergency since Islamic State killed 130 people in November in Paris. In Egypt, the struggling tourism industry collapsed after the October downing of a Russian airliner.

This anxiety feeds, to a large extent, on a sense of impotence. A year and a half since the U.S. began military action against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, leading a coalition of 65 nations, the extremist group has managed to retain the bulk of its territory while spawning new affiliates around the world.

The entrance of Russia and France into the campaign against Islamic State in Syria in recent months has, so far, produced only limited results. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ramadi residents describe their nightmare escape from Islamic State

By Mustafa Salim
Washington Post
December 31 2015

HABBANIYAH, Iraq — Residents of the Iraqi city of Ramadi who escaped the recent battle there are describing the horrors of life under the Islamic State and their relief at being rescued by the Iraqi army when it recaptured most of the city earlier this week.

Many of the families had made a brave dash for safety across the front lines to escape attempts by retreating Islamic State fighters to take them as human shields.

But the men who got away have now been detained by Iraqi security forces for investigation, in a reminder of the deep suspicion with which those who have been living under Islamic State rule are regarded by the Iraqi government. Read the rest of this entry »

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What Twitter really means for Islamic State supporters

Amanath Amarasingam
War on the Rocks
December 30, 2015

Abu Ahmad, one of Islamic State’s most active supporters online says he has had over 90 Twitter accounts suspended, but is not planning to slow down. He is a trusted member of what has come to be called the Baqiya family, a loose network of Islamic State supporters from around the world who share news, develop close friendships, and help each other when members get arrested or come under law enforcement surveillance. Abu Ahmad, as with all Baqiya members, agreed to talk to me on the condition that his real name and location not be published.

While Islamic State social media accounts used to flourish, Twitter has now been suspending the accounts of fighters and supporters alike. Scholars and analysts continue to debate whether this is effective and worthwhile.

For over two years now, I have co-directed a study of Western foreign fighters based at the University of Waterloo and have been interviewing — on Skype and various text messaging platforms — several dozen fighters and members of this Baqiya family. A few things are clear: First, while Twitter suspensions certainly disrupt their ability to seamlessly spread information, they have developed innovative and effective ways of coming back online. Second, these youth receive an enormous amount of emotional and social benefits from participating in their online “family.” Read the rest of this entry »

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