Credibility Gap

protest against drones

As has been widely reported, the Defence Ministry announced earlier this week that 2,000 suspected terrorists ahve been killed in drone strikes, and only 67 civilians. The Ministry then went further and stated that no civilians have been killed in drone strikes since January 2012.

While many have questioned these numbers, they do reflect what the military has been saying also. Secret documents released by Wikileaks exposed that COAS Gen Kayani had actually requested the US to increase drone strikes as far back as 2008, and in 2011, General Officer Commanding 7-Division Maj-Gen Ghayur Mehmood briefed reporters that most of those killed in drone attacks were terrorists. Continue reading

Mystery Surrounds Anti-Islam Film

The latest in a long line of vigilante attacks in retaliation for a perceived slight to the Ummah resulted in the deaths of several American diplomats, including the American Ambassador to Libya. The spark that triggered this latest fire is an amateur video linked to the provocative American Christian Minister who gained notoriety when he threatened to burn a copy of Quran. After seeing scenes from the offensive video, rioters in Egypt and Libya stormed the American embassies in their countries. The Afghan Taliban has called on militants to take revenge for the video.

I can’t speak to how offensive the video is since I haven’t seen it. I haven’t seen it because I’m not interested in watching offensive videos, so I don’t go looking for them. So my first question when hearing this news was, how did these rioters know what was in this video? Did the American embassies broadcast it in those countries? Of course, they didn’t. People became enraged after “a scene from the film was also was broadcast on the Egyptian television channel Al-Nas”. Not only that, but it was never even aired in the US.

The New York Times reported that the film excerpt had drawn little attention since being posted in July, but was picked up after a version dubbed into Arabic was put online last week.

Bacile said the film was produced in English and he doesn’t know who dubbed it in Arabic. The full work has been shown once, to a mostly empty cinema in Hollywood earlier this year, he said.

I was stunned when I read this report. If the film was so offensive, why did they dub it in Arabic and broadcast scenes from it? The more I read about the situation, the less makes sense. According to news reports:

For several days, Egyptian media have been reporting on the video, playing some excerpts from it…with ultraconservative clerics going on air to denounce it.

If these ultraconservative clerics were so offended by the video, why did they keep showing it over and over? This also raises some interesting questions, doesn’t it? If attacking an embassy is justified for airing videos that defame the Prophet (PBUH), should the devout and faithful defenders attack the Egyptian embassies? Should they be attacking these clerics for projecting the defamatory videos? Without them, nobody would have had their religious sentiments hurt.

It also raises the question of what these clerics hope to gain from showing this video and inciting anti-American anger. Could it be the case that they are using the video to provoke anti-American sentiments so that their own power is strengthened? How convenient that this Israeli Jewish American businessman has handed them such an offensive video to do it!

Oh, and just who is this Israeli filmmaker? Well, other than a couple of phone calls, there seems to be no trace of this man.

Consider all the contradictions: small ones, true, like in one account he is 52 and in another he is 56. To the AP he is “a California real estate developer who identifies himself as an Israeli Jew” and to the Times of Israel he is “Jewish and familiar with the region.” And what about that bit at the end of the statement to the Times of Israel—that “even Jesus” should be “in front of the judge”? That sounds like someone who is trying to provoke more than just Muslims. A lot of things don’t add up here about the claimed identity of the filmmaker.

UPDATE: A detail I failed to note earlier this morning from the AP story: “Israeli officials said they had not heard of him and there was no record of him being a citizen. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not permitted to share personal information with the media.”

As the mystery unfolded, reporter Laura Rozen checked the California real estate licensing records and found no trace of anyone named ‘Bacile’.

An offensive video appears from nowhere produced by a mysterious man that nobody can find and ends up dubbed in Arabic and shown on Egyptian TV by ultraconservative clerics who use it to stoke anti-American sentiments among the masses. How bloody convenient.

UPDATE: Another journalist trying to locate the mysterious ‘Sam Bacile’ uncovers even more…

As part of my search for more information about Sam Bacile, the alleged producer of the now-infamous anti-Muhammad film trailer “The Innocence of Muslims,” I just called a man named Steve Klein — a self-described militant Christian activist in Riverside, California (whose actual business, he said, is in selling “hard-to-place home insurance”), who has been described in multiple media accounts as a consultant to the film.

He said the man who identified himself as Bacile asked him to help make the anti-Muhammad film. When I asked him to describe Bacile, he said: “I don’t know that much about him. I met him, I spoke to him for an hour. He’s not Israeli, no. I can you tell this for sure, the State of Israel is not involved, Terry Jones (the radical Christian Quran-burning pastor) is not involved. His name is a pseudonym. All these Middle Eastern folks I work with have pseudonyms. I doubt he’s Jewish. I would suspect this is a disinformation campaign.

UPDATE 2: Professional media producer Sarah Abdurrahman found that the audio track was manipulated.

If you watch closely, you can see that when the actors are reading parts of the script that do not contain Islam-specific language, the audio from the sound stage is used (the audio that was recorded as the actors were simultaneously being filmed). But anytime the actors are referring to something specific to the religion (the Prophet Muhammed, the Quran, etc.) the audio recorded during filming is replaced with a poorly executed post-production dub. And if you look EVEN closer, you can see that the actors’ mouths are saying something other than what the dub is saying.

UPDATE 3: The phone number used by the person claiming to be ‘Sam Bacile’ was traced to an Egyptian man living in the US named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. The phone number was originally given by another Egyptian man named Morris Sadek.

UPDATE 4: Al Jazeera reports that the film was promoted on Egyptian TV by hardline host Khaled Abdallah on 8th Sept. Posted on YouTube 9th Sept.

The Arabic version of the trailer received heavy media coverage in Egypt last week, including by controversial hardline TV host Khaled Abdallah, who reported on the film on September 8.

A clip of the show was posted to YouTube on September 9, where it has received almost 400,000.

Imran Khan isn’t against America. He’s against the Jews who control America.

Controversy erupted yesterday when BBC Urdu published an interview with US Ambassador Cameron Munter in which the American diplomat said that both Nawaz and Imran Khan had privately assured him that if they were brought to power they would lead pro-American governments.

This obviously upset PTI supporters who began a full scale media campaign to prove that Imran Khan is not pro-American. Jahangir Tareen tweeted that “PTI is fiercely nationalistic” while the party’s Vice Dentist repeatedly denied that Munter ever mentioned Imran Khan (he did).

Imran Khan sidestepped the question until a few hours ago when he told reporters that he was “misquoted”, explaining that PTI is neither “pro nor against the US”, but against American policies. This is a common explanation, but it’s also usually a cop out. In Imran Khan’s case, though, there is more to the story.

Imran Khan is always very clear that he is not against the American people, only the policies of America’s government. Now, some say that you can’t separate the two completely because America is a democracy and the government is elected by the people. But Imran Khan knows that things are not that simple. America only looks like a democracy. In reality, though, it is secretly under the control of Israel. He explained this very clearly earlier this year.

He explained this further while talking to Talat Hussain a few weeks ago.

You see, it’s not America that Imran Khan is against. It’s the policies of the global Jew conspiracy against Pakistan’s and Iran’s nuclear programmes. So please, don’t put words in Imran Khan’s mouth. Just tell what he actually believes.

Sheikh Rashid Detained. Is Imran Khan Next?

Sheikh Rashid is well known for his boisterous personality and his attraction to the media lime light. Even those who do not agree with his politics often find him entertaining. The former minister has gone through a number of political transformations, though lately it seems that he has come full circle – and it appears that international authorities are taking notice.

Last Wednesday, American authorities detained Sheikh Rashid for several hours as he was trying to return to Pakistan from Texas. Rashid was eventually permitted to leave, but only after his phones were confiscated and all data obtained by the American authorities.

A clue as to why he was not permitted to exit the US can be found in the details of the Americans questions while he was detained. Speaking to journalist Azeem Mian, Rashid explained that the American authorities had interrogated him about his involvement with Difa-e-Pakistan Council.

This is not the first time that Sheikh Rashid’s links to militant groups have caused problems for his international travel. In 2005, even as a federal minister Sheikh Rashid was denied visa to India to attend the Indo-Pak cricket series because of his previous support for militant groups in Kashmir.

Gen (R) Mirza Aslam Baig confirmed that same year that Sheikh Rashid used to run a militant camp in Rawalpindi. During his tenure with the Musharraf regime, though, Sheikh Rashid reinvented himself as a supporter of Gen. Musharraf’s “enlightened moderation”.

But it seems that Rashid has abandoned his support for moderation. He has been an active supporter of Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) regularly appearing on stage at its ‘Go America Go’ rallies and joining with Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed and Amir JI Syed Munawar Hassan in warning against reopening NATO supplies through Pakistan.

Ijaz ul Haq Syed Munawar Hasan Abul Khair Zubair Hamid Gul Hafiz Saeed Sheikh Rashid Samiul Haq Difa e Pakistan

Only after Ambassador Sherry Rehman intervened with the American authorities was Sheikh Rashid released from detention – something most Pakistanis will not have the privilege of counting on if they find themselves in similar circumstances.

There is now speculation that PTI supporters could face similar questioning by US authorities, and that Imran Khan was warned by well wishers not to travel to the US for a planned fundraising tour that included a $5,000 per person luncheon. Some are concerned that Imran Khan’s ability to put on a moderate face with American media while supporting militant leaders like Hafiz Saeed and sharing the stage with pro-jihad personalities like Gen. (R) Hamid Gul at anti-American seminars. If American authorities are interested in the data on Sheikh Rashid’s phone, many wonder, are they interested in money being collected also?

So far, Sheikh Rashid’s detention is being down played and treated as a possible misunderstanding. But it could be that this is the first sign of a new policy by American authorities of ‘zero tolerance’ for supporting extremist groups and projecting anti-Americanism. Is Imran Khan next?