The pending release of Abdelbasset el-Megrahi, CNBC [Opens in new tab]


UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown commented on the controversial move to release Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, Tuesday. Geoff D. Porter from Eurasia Group considers the move.

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Why the Muslim World Can't Hear Obama?, The New York Times [Opens in new tab]


President Obama is clearly trying to reach out to the Muslim world. I watched his Inaugural Address on television, and was most struck by the line: “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers.” He gave his first televised interview from the White House to Al Arabiya, an Arabic-language television channel.

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Guts and technology, The New York Times [Opens in new tab]


The Spanish authorities recently intercepted a canoe off the West African coast with 92 passengers. The canoe had set off from Senegal in early October, bound for the Canary Islands, more than 900 miles across the Atlantic Ocean. The boat's motor quit and as it drifted on the high seas for three weeks, 48 people died. The surviving passengers threw the bodies overboard.

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Splits Revealed Inside Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Jamestown Terrorism Monitor [Opens in new tab]


During an August 14 news conference organized by Algerian authorities for a select group of Algerian reporters, Benmessaoud Abdelkader, a former Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC) regional commander, confirmed that there was deep disagreement within the former GSPC over national commander Abdelmalek Droudkel's decisions first to merge with al-Qaeda in September 2006 and then later to rename the group the Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in January 2007 (Liberté, August 21).

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Islamist Terrorism and Energy Sector Security in Algeria, Jamestown Terrorism Monitor [Opens in new tab]


Despite the fact that its oil production is leveling off and serious questions surround projected increases in gas production, exogenous developments and domestic efforts are serving to make Algeria an increasingly important oil and gas supplier to European and U.S. markets. Simultaneously, the risks posed by Islamist terrorism seem to be escalating and reversing the diminishing trend that characterized the last four years. Nevertheless, since the beginning of the resurgence in terrorist activity during the last six months and the growing significance of the Algerian energy sector, there have only been three attacks on the energy sector itself—two on employees of foreign firms and one on a domestic gas pipeline. Considering the thousands of kilometers of pipelines and more than a dozen foreign oil and gas firms operating in the country, it is surprising that Islamist terrorists have not targeted Algeria's energy sector more aggressively.

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God Is in the Rules, The New York Times [Opens in new tab]


Fatwas, the legal opinions proclaimed by Islamic scholars, have proliferated in the Muslim world since the 1980's, driven by rising literacy rates and the Internet. The growth in fatwas - some of them contradictory - has led to a debate over who can legitimately issue them and has alarmed governments in the Middle East, since the decrees sometimes challenge state-sanctioned interpretations of Islam.

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Lost in Translation at the F.B.I., The New York Times [Opens in new tab]


In announcing his restructuring of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert S. Mueller III, its director, stressed the importance of upgrading the F.B.I.'s intelligence capabilities by recruiting ''the right people with the right experience.'' If my own experience with the agency is any guide, that should include an urgent recruiting drive for people with the right Arabic language skills.

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