JOURNALIST HAMID MIR WARNS OF AL-QAEDA NUCLEAR PLOT AGAINST THE U.S.
According to an al-Arabiya report from September 11, Hamid Mir, the Pakistani journalist who has interviewed Osama bin Laden numerous times, has warned that the al-Qaeda leader is preparing new attacks in the United States more devastating than those that destroyed the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon. Mir said that his sources indicate that bin Laden assigned al-Qaeda militant Adnan Shukrijumah to execute the operations. According to Mir, Shukrijumah has successfully smuggled explosives and nuclear materials across the U.S.-Mexico border. Shukrijumah, who was raised in Saudi Arabia, previously lived in the United States where he made connections with al-Qaeda operatives at the al-Farouq mosque in New York. In 2000, he left the United States and visited a series of Arab countries before arriving in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The FBI currently has a $5 million reward on information leading directly to the capture of Shukrijumah. In late 2004, U.S. officials confirmed that Shukrijumah had attempted to obtain radioactive material for use as part of a “dirty bomb” to be detonated in the United States (Terrorism Focus, October 15, 2004).
BAHRAIN BEGINS ISLAMIC EDUCATION REFORM PROGRAM
In an effort to reduce Sunni-Shiite tension within the country, Bahrain has begun reforming its educational textbooks to remove content that would foment hostilities between the two main sects of Islam (Asharq al-Awsat, September 10). In addition to removing content that could cause disagreement between Sunnis and Shiites, the reform program will also insert into textbooks information on Shiite religious practices. Approximately 70% of Bahrain’s population is composed of Shiite Muslims, with the rest of the population Sunni. Despite the majority Shiite population, the ruling al-Khalifa family in addition to the majority of government, military and corporate leaders are Sunni. According to Bahrain’s deputy minister of education, Dr. Abdullah al-Muttawa, who recently spoke to Asharq al-Awsat about the changes to the education system, “The ministry’s approach focuses on what unites and not on what separates the people. This is particularly important because the aim is to establish unified spiritual and national approaches away from diverse and marginal issues that are futile from the spiritual and epistemic points of view.”
AL-HAKIM CONTINUES CALLS FOR A SEPARATE SHIITE REGION IN IRAQ
In a recent interview with Asharq al-Awsat, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Iranian-backed Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), reiterated his position calling for the creation of a Shiite region in southern Iraq consisting of eight districts (Asharq al-Awsat, September 11). According to al-Hakim, the Shiite region would be part of a new Iraqi federation that would include other, non-Shiite regions. Al-Hakim, using the example of the Kurds, who control a relatively autonomous region in northern Iraq, argued that “he who accepts the existence of a Kurdistan region should accept the existence of regions in…other parts [of Iraq]” (Asharq al-Awsat, September 11). Sunni groups staunchly oppose the creation of a federation and, in the words of Chairman of the Sunni National Dialogue Front Saleh al-Mutlaq, such a development “would mean a civil war” for the country (Asharq al-Awsat, September 11).