Tuesday, January 17, 2006
From the left, the right, the in-between: we include the political,
the social, the cultural and the undefinable.
Featured Blog I: Cairo Catcalls
A Woman Traveling Alone
MICHAEL TOTTEN'S MIDDLE EAST JOURNAL/JANUARY 14
[An Oregonian wandering the Middle East for the last several months, Michael Totten is a writer, journalist, photographer and ethnographer all in one. This is only his latest post. His archives are a trove waiting for hardbacks.]
CAIRO – Egypt doesn’t do many things better than Lebanon, but it does do the Internet better. Free wi-fi is both fast and ubiquitous.So I went to a cozy restaurant and pub, ordered a four-cheese pasta from the waiter, flipped open my laptop, and poked around the Web for contact information for the Muslim Brotherhood. A twenty-something Western woman sat alone at the next table reading an English-language newspaper. We smiled hello to each other. “Are you a student here?” she asked in an Australian accent. Everyone thinks I’m a student when they see my notebook and laptop. “No,” I said. “I’m a writer. You?” “Just traveling,” she said. “By yourself?” I said.
“I’ve been traveling alone for four months. I started in India and I’m working my way to Spain.” Read the rest at Totten's Journal...
Featured Blogger II: Ready for Prime Time
Jihadist Propaganda's Chat Show Slicks Up A Slice
NIBRAS KAZIMI/TALISMAN GATE, January 2, 2006
Remember the days when a bunch of ragtag hoodlums in ski-masks and training suits would hover over a hapless victim to read their jihadist manifesto? Remember those same thugs brandishing Kalashnikovs and RPG-7s under crackling fluorescent lighting, with a tattered banner advertising their group’s name and slogan as a backdrop? Well, times have changed if the latest video installment from the “Media Division of the Jaish Ansar Al-Sunna” is any measure to go by. In this 30 minute video, we see two individuals, Abu Munther Al-Ansari, and Abu Ahmad Al-Baghdadi, comfortably sitting in a studio modeled along a talk-show format. Yes, they are SITTING IN A STUDIO! And I’m not talking about two stools and a desk; this is a modern studio with ample lighting, three camera angles and nice woodwork. They’ve even got the name of their organization, Jaish Ansar Al-Sunna (‘JAS,’ the no. 2 organization on the terrorist charts after Al-Qaeda in Iraq), engraved up at the front. [Sorry, I was unable to get any stills from the RealAudio file.] Abu Munther sits sporting a black blazer and a white turtleneck, even though the ski-mask is still a mandatory part of the wardrobe, and he’s performing the role of the host of this setting. Today’s guest is Abu Ahmed from the Military Council of JAS, who is underdressed for the occasion because “I didn’t know that this was going to happen,” as he apologetically explains towards the end. This professional production is supposed to “counter the agencies of the Crusaders’ propaganda.” Abu Munther promises to conduct field visits to areas—‘liberated areas’ in his jargon—where the insurgents hold sway and “there are no Americans or Iraqi National Guards.” He keeps jabbing a pen in the air to emphasize key points. And he delivers the goods: the screen cuts away to insurgents—no more that 20 or 25—riding in sedans, and taking over a section of Baghdad’s southern Dora neighborhood amid a hail of bullets.Read the complete episode at Talisman Gate...