Showing posts with label Israel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Israel. Show all posts

Thursday, October 6, 2011

De-Racializing the “Dark” Oriental - Revisiting an Israeli Propaganda Film from the 50s

Recently discovered in the cellars of the Israeli army archives, a propaganda film from the 1950’s which reveals the depths of racism applied to Oriental Jewish children who came to Israel – and how it was justified by militarism and the need for disciplined soldiers. Channel 2 brings those in the film or people close to them back, in 2011, to revisit the scenes and comment on how they were treated. Dimi Reider over @ 927 magazine writes:
To me, the most poignant moment is Sa’adia’s friend  - now in his late 60’s – insists he is not remotely offended at being presented as a fly-covered wildling, sprayed with chemicals, and drilled into “civilisation”, because this is how him and his kids, later soldiers, won the Six Day War. In other words, the de-Arabising was good because it let us beat the Arabs (and, by implication, prove we were worthy and even essentially needed Israeli Jews).
It is an interesting look at how racist delegitimization of the oriental culture seemed perfectly natural back then. There were also claims made in 2010 against Israel, this time having to do with contraceptives given to the Jewish Ethiopian population.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Guinea: Israel Defense Forces' First Guinean Officer

The IDF site put up a profile Avi (Ibrahima) Bari, their first officer from Guinea as well as the “the first illegal immigrant to become an officer of the Israeli Defense Forces.” The IDF profile focuses on the travails of his crossing from Guinea and illegally into Israel, his mastering of Hebrew and his integration into Israeli society.

The Jeune Afrique profile (Google translation) goes into more detail and also adds that he is:
"...a black Muslim and proudly displaying his origins... 'I am African and I will never forget where I come from. My past resurfaces every morning on waking, when I think back to the stages of my life. This gives me my ambition,' he says."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Africa/ Israel: African Hebrew Israelites

Part 1 of 4 of South African film director Tarryn Crossman's 3 Days in Dimona. A look at the African-Americans who traced their roots back to the original Hebrews and have since settled in 'the Holy Land' as an African Hebrew community - Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

Cue to 4:26 for their interesting take on polygamy.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Libya: The Spin Wars - No-Fly Zone, Cont'd

Al Jazeera's Nazanin Sadri reports on Free Libya, a new satellite television channel just launched in in Qatar and which recruited staff by putting ads on facebook.

And earlier in March, the picture below showed up on the facebook page of Al Manara, a popular Libyan expat news service based in the UK. Whoever posted the picture assumed the symbol on these 81 mm illumination shells was the "star of David" and therefore captioned it, "Israeli industry against the Libyan people." The assumption even showed up on Al Jazeera Arabic.

NPR's Andy Carvin retraces on storify the crowd sourced investigation, using twitter and social media's hive mind, it took to find out who made the weapon and what those symbols really stand for.

Still on the information wars being waged by all sides in Libya, Amnesty International posted this video of a detained Syrian journalist being grilled on Libyan television:

This Al Jazeera Listening Post episode from earlier in March looked at war over information, spin, rhetoric and semantics being waged over Libya:

H/T: Boing, allAfrica

Monday, February 28, 2011

Libya: Want to Rant Like Gaddafi (The Remix)?

We've seen the app, but now it seems like Arabs and Israelis have something in common - making fun of Gadaffi:

NYT's Isabel Kershner writes on how Israeli journalist Noy Alooshe's Gadaffi's “Zenga-Zenga" Youtube video, a remix of American rapper Pitbull and T-Pain's "Hey Baby," has gone viral in the Arab world.

Within the context of communication and relationships, everything serves as content/information... In that regard, the internet in bizarre ways continues to be the flood of content people use, sample and remix to broker relationships between one another, between nations, between races, cultures, regions, enemies... strangers.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Iran/ Egypt/ Israel: "Provocation" and Thoughts on Qaddafi

In response 2 the historic event above, Jerusalem Post reports Israel's President, Shimon Peres, telling a gathering of close to 400 editors, diplomats and opinion makers at a morning briefing in Madrid on Wednesday... :
[He]characterized the crossing of the Suez Canal by Iranian warships as "cheap provocation"....World leaders who allow themselves to be photographed with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should be ashamed," Peres declared, adding that every effort should be made to prevent the Iranian president from ever again striding across the red carpet of the United Nations... As for regional upheaval, Peres said that Israel supports any effort to strengthen peace and democracy in the Middle East. Young people are seeking freedom, equality and the opportunity to live in dignity, he said. Recent events, he added, have provided a great opportunity for Israelis and Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. The differences are not as great as they appear, and can be overcome, he said.
On Libya and Qaddafi
...The president also commented on the situation in Libya, saying Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi invests more in his clothing than in his people, reported Israel Radio. Peres asked "who needs Gaddafi and what is he good for?" adding that the Libyan leader only incites acts of terrorism.
Meanwhile, commenting on Libya and Gadaffi, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose security forces crushed protests against him in 2009, seems to have suddenly developed a rare sort of selective amnesia. He said abt Qaddafi today:
(3.59pm) How can a leader subject his own people to a shower of machine-guns, tanks and bombs? How can a leader bomb his own people, and afterwards say 'I will kill anyone who says anything?'

Monday, January 31, 2011

Egypt: A Luta Continua - #Jan 25 (Day 6-7)

Mohamed El Baradei moves to become the face of the opposition, calling for a "mega protest" today. Al Jazeera reports from yesterday indicate his Tahrir speech went "meh," and apart from the fact that protesters, first, want Mubarak gone rather than the revolution represented and that representative possibly co-opted by Mubarak (and the U.S), NYT's Mona El-Naggar (below) looks at ElBaradei other problem (going back to his return to Egypt in Feb. 2010 - blogged here) - his legitimacy as opposition. And why a lot more Egyptians aren't feeling the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency...

... which is precisely his problem: he is former head of the IAEA and his claim to fame isn't domestic but stems from his opposition to the Iraq war on grounds that Saddam had zero weapons of mass destruction. Perhaps that's why NYT's Lede spotted this video making the rounds, perhaps in an effort to try to remind people who he is and what he did.


As Egyptians show Americans they are being shot with tear gas canisters "made in the USA", Reiham Salam over at National Review makes an intellectual case for two Americas - the people and its government:
... I came across the following observation: @CineversityTV: Egyptian protester says American gov’t gives our dictators tear gas and guns, but American friends gave us proxies #jan25....In the contemporary United States, the entire population does not feel as though the national security apparatus speaks for them. This was always true, of course. But now the dissenting minority can actually exercise “soft power” of its own, through the deployment of philanthropic resources, knowledge capital, etc. Americans aren’t just embedded in diaspora-based “brain circulation” networks. They are embedded in free software “brain circulation” networks, the WikiLeaks movement, social enterprise networks, increasingly cosmopolitan evangelical religious networks, and many other networks that are based on shared affinities, ideologies, etc., and not on shared ethnolinguistic background or nationalist loyalties.

So when idiots on the Internet tell me that America is to blame for Hosni Mubarak, I have to ask, which America and which Americans? The America that Egyptian authorities are blaming for sponsoring and protecting a handful of young Egyptian democracy activists who may well be at the center of the disturbance? U.S. think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute that publish books like Reuel Marc Gerecht’s The Islamic Paradox that make the explicit case that (a) democratization in the Arab Middle East will lead to anti-U.S. and anti-Israel governments and that (b) this is nevertheless a crucial first step to more decent, humane societies in the region that the United States government should support?
Or is the slow-moving machinery of diplomacy, which, to preserve a diplomatic triumph of 1979 and fearing the political and security consequences of rapid change, hasn’t been able to respond as nimbly and quickly as civil society? Indeed, it’s the very fact that government is so slow-moving, consensus-oriented, and resistant to change that I think it is so important that we reduce its carbon footprint, mindshare, and power.
Which America? The America that sells the tear gas and turns a blind eye to dictators they need in curbing the Islamists or the America that gave the world facebook and twitter? The truth is one enables the other and vise versa. Anyway, here is Johnathan Wright, former Cairo bureau chief for Reuters, on Mubarak's appointments:
My interpretation of Mubarak's appointments starts from the basis that Mubarak is a stubborn autocrat who cannot give up power willingly. On Friday night, when he dismissed his government, his only concern was to stay in power for another day, another two days, perhaps to the end of the week. He was not thinking about presidential elections in September or the presidential aspirations of his son Gamal, perhaps even of his own 'legacy'. He was thinking that the longer he could cling on, the greater chance he would have of regrouping his forces to fight another day and maybe restoring some credibility. The greatest danger he faced in the last two days was that those around him, especially the army, would tell him he had to go, in order to save the country -- in just the same way that the Tunisian generals and government seem to have told Ben Ali he must leave. His quick fix was to lock Suleiman and Shafik, a former air force commander and Mubarak associate, into the centre of power. They at least have shown their loyalty by accepting the appointments, though one can only guess at the deliberations now underway between the rest of the military leadership. If he survives this week, then he can think again about his long-term plans. Whether this emergency survival plan will work depends, as in Tunisia, on the determination of the people in the street and on the power dynamics within the army command.
The Arabist and the Guardian's Ian Black concur. Meanwhile, Israel, going by this Al Jazeera report today wants Mubarak to stay; the Jerusalem's Post editorial however indicates Israel won't mind Suleiman--i.e. another Mubarak--at the helm:
The mass protest on the streets of Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other Egyptian cities is not an articulate political movement that has clear ideas about what it wants to achieve, other than the ousting of Mubarak. In fact, besides the Muslim Brotherhood or political parties taken over by it, there is not a single significant organized political movement in Egypt that can muster a large enough constituency to present a coherent alternative to the present regime. Progress that would allow the Egyptian people to live a better life, with basic human rights, freedoms and greater economic opportunities, can most likely only be achieved via a transition from Mubarak to someone like Suleiman, who can maintain order while fostering gradual change. It certainly won’t be achieved under yet another radical Islamic regime. An orderly transition would be better not just for Israel, but for the Egyptian people as well.
Meanwhile rumors yesterday about the army being ordered to fire on protesters led to some speculation by Scott Lucas over at EA on the trigger happy Ministry of Interior being railed in and explains, to some extent, the deployment of, yet held in-check, military hardware in form of fighter jets over the crowds at Tahrir yesterday:
Two very different rumours that we are watching....1. The Army has been ordered to fire on protesters tonight. 2. Minister of Interior Habib el Adly, as well as key ruling party figure and tycoon Ahmed Ezz, have been arrested. El Adly exited the Ministry of Interior amidst live fire this morning. We're watching the situation carefully, but here is one interpretation. The story about el Adly was broken by the US Government's channel Al Hurra. That is the first occasion during this crisis that Al Hurra has been out front with news, and no other outlet is carrying this. There were stories yesterday of a serious split between the civilian leadership in the Government and the military over whether to use live fire. And today it is notable that some have said el Adly was the Minister preparing the order to shoot. So one interpretation is that someone high up in the US Government, which has been calling on Cairo to avoid violence, or someone in the Egyptian system close to Washington put out the story that el Adly had been detained. The signal would be that the Obama Administration does not want, in any circumstances, the bloodshed of protesters. This is just speculation, of course, but it is as reliable at this point as the "news" which is circulating.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Africa: "Why Haven't We Seen More Disruptive, Important Tech Companies Coming Out Of the Emerging World?"

Tim Wu (Columbia Law School) thinks these "emerging world" telcom markets aren't really free yet + their AT&Ts or incumbent carriers haven't yet been dismantled like we saw in the U.S' in the 80s, hence leveling the field and freeing up ICT innovation. Sarah Lacy (TechCruch) points the finger at the nature of the Silicon Valley venture capital/funding eco-system.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Egypt/Israel: Marriages Threatening National Security?

Lots of pundits spitting and ink spilling (Above Aljazeera talks with Amb Hassan Issa, Arab Org 4 Human Rights' Alaa Shalaby and civil rights attorney Mohammed Daleh) over the decision of Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court to uphold a lower court ruling to revoke the citizenship of Egyptian men who are married to Israeli women. AP says cites estimates of around 30,000 such marriages.

This must read Al Masry Al Youm editorial bemoans the fact that this decision will now pit Egypt's interior and foreign ministries, which have courageously rejected the ruling, against a judiciary that's chosen to be pro-national security over a "revered [past of] protecting freedoms and civil rights." As Amb Hassan Issa makes clear, Egypt's national security concerns here are apparent, though I think the courts' "quarantine" of Egyptian men so to speak, goes at this problem with sword instead of a scalpel. Al Masry Al Youm however thinks, in challenging Israel, Egypt has really screwed up priorities:
Revoking the nationality of some 5000 citizens, many of whom are married to Israeli Arabs, reflects an ideology on the part of Egyptian elites that harms society at large. One only needs to look at fascist and Nazi regimes, who implemented such policies in the past, as historical precedents...Since the 1978 Camp David Accords, Egypt's real challenge--which it has failed to meet--has been to compete economically with Israel by offering better quality products and services on the international market. We've instead excelled only at slogans, while failing to
confront Israel in any meaningful way. Amidst the jubilation over the court's recent decision, many forget that those 5000 Egyptians went to Israel only after failing to secure a decent living back home. The sad tragedy is that Israel--an occupying power and racist state--did not consider these Egyptians enemies and instead welcomed them, while Egypt, with all its history and multicultural heritage, has failed to incorporate these people into its social and cultural fabric. For the past 30 years, we've been looking at matters only through the lens of national security. We have forgotten how Egypt used to incorporate different ethnic groups into one unified national fabric. more

Thursday, June 3, 2010

South Africa/ Palestine: Is Gaza the Middle East's Soweto?

TNR/Manhattan Institute's John McWhorter and Boston University's Glenn Loury resume their series of blogging heads conversations, talking about Israel's recent attack on the blockade bursting, Gaza-bound aid flotilla, that ended with the deaths of 9 civilians - Aljazeera compiles the footage here. Losing some of his affable cool, Loury, clarifying that Zionism isn't Apartheid, goes on to provide a damn good basis for comparing Gaza to Soweto under Apartheid:

Money quote: its time, the 60s, 70s and 80s, the South Western township of Johannesburg came to play a profound, metaphorical, symbolical, moral and political role in global politics. It represented something. And the thing that it represented is a historical force playing itself out at the Southern tip of the continent of Africa came in the fullness of time to be something that was not acceptable to the bulk of mankind.... something has been created, it's called Gaza. In the 21st century it looms in my imagination not unlike the way Soweto loomed in my imagination in the 20th century...
That's one side. Granted Gaza is so outside this blog's purview, yet a cinematic take on ongoing detente between the Israelis and the Palestinians that comes to mind is from Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai's Free Zone (2007). Specifically the scene in which 3 women: a half Jewish American (Natalie Portman), a Palestine-Arab (Hiam Abbass) and an Israeli taxi driver (Hana Laszlo), while driving past a portion of wall or fence or border indicating the separation of people, go on to lose themselves in the music coming from the car radio; lose themselves to some patch of common ground that, for a moment, breaks down the mental version of those walls, fences or borders that have separated them:

But in reality we have to ask ourselves what grievances are reinforcing some of those mental walls and why are they so formidable?  Noah Millman's post today over at the American Scene takes Israel's "horrific" actions out of the Krauthammer-TNR fact-bending blackhole and puts it in some irrationality explaining context:
Overwhelmingly, the sentiment among people I know in Israel was in favor of the Gaza war, in favor of the embargo and blockade, in favor of a policy of collective punishment against the people of Gaza. The reason is simple. From the perspective not only of the Israeli center but of people who consider themselves basically on the left, though not the far left, when Israel unilaterally left Gaza that meant the Gazans “got what they wanted” and left no basis for continued hostilities. The fact that, after the withdrawal, Hamas rained mortars and rockets down on Israeli territory, proved that Hamas had no “legitimate” political goals but was simply interested in destroying Israel and killing Jews. After that, whatever Gaza got, from their perspective, they had coming to them, and there’s nothing more to say. Israel’s policy-making no longer seems to me to be particularly related to concrete policy objectives at all. Neither the Lebanon war nor the Gaza war had actual military goals. Both were essentially wars for domestic consumption. Hezbollah and Hamas were firing rockets at Israel, and Israelis were understandably furious. “Something” had to be done about that, to let the Israeli public know that their leadership felt their fury. So the government did “something.” Outsiders criticized the disproportion of the response, but the point of the response was its disproportion – not because the only thing the enemy understood was force, but because, in the absence of any way to actually solve the problem, the only thing that would convince a domestic audience that the government felt the way they did about the situation was to respond with a fury proportionate to that of the electorate.
Reading Millman's piece I recalled what Gitai said in this Senses of Cinema interview about the Israel's public domestic barometer, and while that barometer is stuck at endless war, what a free zone really means:
Yeah, I think that obviously the Middle East has had very short periods of reasonable thinking or moderation on both sides. Either one side or the other has managed to destabilize their options, consistently. When you had the moderate Israeli government, [Yitzhak] Rabin was shot and there was a series of suicide attacks in the city which moved the public to the right. And when you had openness on the Palestinian side, you had assertive and pretty forceful Israeli attitudes to that, so I think this Free Zone – the real one [a sprawling, tax-free marketplace in eastern Jordan where Jews and Arabs from neighbouring countries like Syria, Israel and Saudi Arabia hawk used cars] and the metaphorical one – are fragile. They are [both] about the day-to-day, about people trying to build relations that are not just warlike. I think the very fact that the two sides will agree to disagree without shooting each other – for me, that’s a beginning.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

North Africa: Arab Schindlers

In Among the Righteous: Lost Stories from the Holocaust in Arab Lands, Historian Robert Satloff sets out to prove that not only did Jews in North Africa suffer many of same elements of persecution as Jews in Europe -- arrests, deportations, confiscations and forced labor -- but that there were also hopeful stories of "righteous" Arabs reaching out to protect them. The doc aired on PBS 2 days ago. Full documentary - here.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Uganda/Israel: The Pushy Israeli Tour Guide/ "Operation Entebbe" Vet

Sacha Baron Cohen totally killed on The Greatest Story Ever D'ohed  Simpsons episode. He voiced the Operation Entebbe veteran/tour guide, who lets us know why Israelis are so pushy. Catch the Hulu clip while it's still up:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Egypt/Sudan: Crossing a Shooting Range into Israel

Al-Masry Al-Youm has a video report on Sudanese immigrants trying to make the perilous crossing from Egypt to Israel (+ English captions).

Friday, February 26, 2010

Ethiopia/Israel: Contraceptives and Accusations Fly

According to Russia Today, a feminist movement has accused the Israeli government of deliberately allowing a controversial contraceptive drug to be given to the country's Ethiopian Jews to bring about a drop in their population. The Israeli government denies. But then the accusers stats are damning...
... Dr. Yee-fat Bitton from the Israeli Anti-Discrimination Legal Center “Tmura”, says it’s not a matter point of view, but of the statistics.“The statistics are, that 60 percent of the women receiving this contraceptive, this controversial one, are Ethiopian Jews,” Bitton told RT. “And you have to understand that Ethiopians in Israel… […] consist of up to only 1 per cent of the population, so the gap here is just impossible to reconcile in any logical manner that would somehow resist the claims of racism.” Professor Zvi Bentwich, an immunologist and human rights activist from Tel-Aviv, doesn’t think there is any ground to suspect a certain negative official policy towards Ethiopian Jews. “I’m not against looking and inquiring into the claim. If there is a claim, one should investigate,” Bentwich told RT. “But when asked about official attitudes, official policy, official medical policy, I am very reluctant that that is indeed a policy of racism on that part.

H/T: Abbay Media

Friday, February 12, 2010

Africa: Iran vs. Israel

Map for the article over at the Economist, explaining Iran's push to outbid Israel and court African leaders'  support for its nuclear ambitions. Of course, Israel pushes back.

Brrrr... not a "cold war" breeze but a cold breeze all the same.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Rwanda: "Abyssnian Jews"

Kigali Memorial Centre, Gisozi/ pic: I, Inisheer

Switching from French to English instruction in schools and joining the British commonwealth were some of the moves Rwanda made to turn the page on what it considers a Franco-colonial genocide past.On visiting Rwanda, Josh Kron writes in the Guardian that even though Rwandans now downplay their Hutu and Tutsi ethnicity, Tutsi, because of the "historical contingency" in Israel's and Rwanda's genocide experiences, are now more inclined to play up their "Jewishness" and also trace their genealogically connection to Israel:
...what caught my attention most were the references to Israel, the references to the Jews. At first it seemed obvious; as historical cousins of genocide Israel and Rwanda had a special bond. Like Israel, Rwanda had escaped genocide to become a shining example in a troublesome part of the world. But the reference and affirmation was much more than historical contingency; it was, according to them, true blood. According to some historians and Tutsi scholars, the group originally came to Rwanda from Ethiopia in the 15th century. Although played down by the current government, the belief persists. To Tutsis, the genealogical lineage to Ethiopia connects them to a greater constellation including ancient Hebrews.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Toxic by Yael Naim. Album: Yael Naim. Label: BMG, 2007.

The de-Brittney-ing of Toxic

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Africa/Europe/Israel: Exchanging Nationalisms for "Europeanism"

A new generation of claustrophobic Israelis, shackled less by their Jewishness and a Holocaust heritage, see no problem leaving behind what they term a "suffocating" Middle East for a future in a vibrant Berlin - or what used to be the heart of Nazism. In addition, David Goessmann, the reporter interviewed in the report, points out something else about the new generation of Germans:
...they think internationally and see themselves as European. It's not so much about nationality anymore.
Meanwhile, France, whose burden of a Vichy past, unlike Germany, doesn't connect to its national identity, feels very nationalistic, clinging to Frenchness and not ready to embrace a mitigating "Europeanism". For example, in response to president Nicolas Sarkozy's pander to the conservatives via the decision to stage a major public debate on France's "national identity," AFP asks Africans in France what it means to be French or--if one reads between the lines--what makes them think they are French:

Ronald Beiner's thoughts from Theorizing Nationalism (p. 9) on the liberalization of immigration and assimilation policies versus national identity:
In pursuing my critique of nationalism as an alternative to liberalism, let me focus on what I see as the decisive problem; if this problem is as intractable as I think it is, then any attempt to synthesize liberalism and nationalism theoretically will be forced to drop either the liberalism or the nationalism when it comes to the crunch (or at least a serious philosophical wedge will be placd between one's liberalism and one's nationalism). The problem, in a nutshell, is how to priviledge the majority cultural identity in defining civic membership without consigning cultural minorities to second-class citizenship
The way I figure, having a growing regional state like Europe seems to provide that alternate cultural identity that provides the wiggle room for the theoretical synthesis of liberalism and nationalism; in other words, a European country priviledging its majority cultural identity will be like serving food to a select few at an all you can eat buffet. Because being European, if a growing Europe economically continues to kick ass, also comes with priviledges and as long as there are incentives to both identities, the borders between being, for example, German and being European remains porous and negotiable.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nigeria: Excuse Me Stewardess! The Gentleman in 19A... His Balls Are On Fire, Cont'd

A news vendor in Ibafo, Nigeria, reads about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s alleged bomb attempt on a US passenger jet/Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images

Story's got legs. Times Online Sean O’Neill and Giles Whittell reveal:
Security sources are concerned that the picture emerging of his undergraduate years suggests that he was recruited by al-Qaeda in London. Security sources said that Islamist radicalisation was rife on university campuses, especially in London, and that college authorities had “a patchy record in facing up to the problem”. Previous anti-terrorist inquiries have uncovered evidence of extremists using political meetings and religious study circles to identify potential recruits.... He is the fourth president of a London student Islamic society to face terrorist charges in three years. One is facing a retrial on charges that he was involved in the 2006 liquid bomb plot to blow up airliners. Two others have been convicted of terrorist offences since 2007.
From Yemen, Ahmed Al-Hadj writes:
Information Minister Hassan al-Lozy suggested the U.S. was partly to blame for Yemen's failure to identify Abdulmutallab as a terror suspect. He told a news conference Washington never shared its suspicions about the man, who was flagged on a watchlist as a possible terrorist. "We didn't get any notice from the Americans to put this man on a list," al-Lozy said. "America should have told Yemen about this man." Al-Lozy said Abdulmutallab received a Yemeni visa to study Arabic after authorities were reassured that he had "several visas from a number of countries that we are co-operating with in the fight against terror."

He noted that Abdulmutallab had a valid visa to the United States, which he had visited in the past. "Our investigations are looking into who were the people or parties that were in touch with Umar here," al-Lozy told the AP. He noted Abdulmutallab frequented a mosque in the old city, but did not say whether there was an al-Qaida link to that mosque. The minister said Yemen was tightening controls on those seeking student visas to come to Yemen in the wake of Abdulmutallab's case. The new revelations came a day after the al-Qaida offshoot in Yemen claimed responsibility for the failed attack, saying it was meant "to avenge the American attacks on al-Qaida in Yemen."
Wasn't there a Houston connection?

(UPDATE) And back home, the Guardian reports the National Security Adviser has asked Nigeria's Gestapo/ Intelligence Agency (NIA) to explain the role it played in the "systemic failure." From the sound of the face saving query, heads will most definitely roll:
"From all indications, it seemed that your Agency had prior knowledge of a report, said to have been made by Alhaji Umar Mutallab about the tendencies of his son, Umar Farouk, towards radicalisation, which was manifested in the incident leading to his arrest in the U.S...
It is really unfortunate and sad that knowledge of such an important intelligence issue could not be brought to the attention of this office, or the weekly Intelligence Community Committee Meeting (ICCM). It was this failure that led to the unfortunate incident we are grappling with now... The report if circulated within the ICC would have alerted the Security Agencies at our Travel Control Points (TCPs) to take appropriate required action, that would have led to his arrest, before boarding the KLM flight from Nigeria, thereby pre-empting the sad incident", it added...
Failure to do so has not only led to this rather unfortunate international embarrassment to the Nigerian nation, but also depicted our country as a haven for terrorists. You are therefore to explain what led to this failure of intelligence, and the persons therein involved. Your explanation, should reach me on or before Tuesday December 29, 2009..."


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