The London Bombs and al-qal3ah.com

From the London Evening Standard:

A previously unknown group claimed responsibility in the name of al Qaeda for a series of blasts in London, the Italian news agency ANSA said.

The “Secret Group of al Qaeda’s Jihad in Europe” claimed the attack in a Web site posting and warned Italy and Denmark to withdraw their troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The claim could not be verified and did not appear on any of the Web sites normally used by al Qaeda…ANSA quoted the message as saying on a site it named as “el qal3ah.com”.

Jeremy Reynalds, whose efforts at tracking down Islamist websites have been noted before on this blog, wrote last month that:

…there’s http://al-qal3ah.com/, http://www.qal3ah.net/ and there’s a number of associated domain names such as http://www.qal3ati.biz/ and others.

…These names are of concern, as they are believed to be associated with terrorist Saad Rashed Mohammed Al-Fagih [or “Saad Rashed Mohammad al-Faqih”].

According to the Society for Internet Research, or SOFIR, (www.sofir.org/sarchives/004190.php#004190) “Al-Fagih has been associated with Al Qaida and the global jihad since the mid-1990’s. On 21 December, 2004, Al-Fagih was named a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the United States. Al-Fagih’s associates have included Osama bin Laden, Khaled al Fawwaz, Mustafa Setmariam Naser, Lewis Attiyatullah, Mohammed al-Massari and Ziyad Khalil.

“Al-Fagih provided logistical support for the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa[8]. In addition, and in particular since Sept. 11, 2001, Al-Fagih has been at the forefront of efforts to promote the global jihad by maintaining online communities of Islamic extremists and facilitating communications among Islamic extremists around the globe. He does this both under the cover of his MIRA organization, aka Al-Islah, and through a separate online entity known commonly as ‘The Castle’ or Al-Qal3ah.”

SOFIR is run by Aaron Weisburd, who makes the connection on Haganah, another of his (very pro-Israel) sites today. He also links to this US Treasury report, which gives further details of the allegations:

Following the 1998 East African embassy bombings, [Khaled] al Fawwaz [Bin Laden’s “de facto representative in the U.K.”] was arrested in the United Kingdom under an extradition request from the United States. At the U.S. trial of the East African embassy bombers, prosecutors provided evidence that al-Faqih paid for a satellite phone that al Fawwaz passed on to UBL [Bin Laden], who allegedly used it to help carry out the attacks.

…Al-Faqih is head of the non-governmental organization Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia (MIRA). Extremists utilize a website controlled by al-Faqih and MIRA to post al Qaida-related statements and images. While MIRA has issued disclaimers warning users to not attribute postings on MIRA message boards to al Qaida, information available to the U.S. and UK Governments shows that the messages are intended to provide ideological and financial support to al-Qaida affiliated networks and potential recruits. AQ-affiliated author, Lewis Attiyatullah, whose statements have been published on MIRA’s website, has been directly associated with Al-Faqih for several years.

UPDATE: The Guardian has more:

[The message] was posted on an Arabic website, al-qal3ah.com, which is registered by Qalaah Qalaah in Abu Dhabi and hosted by a server in Houston, Texas.

But two Israeli groups devoted to exposing the network of jihadist sites claim that it is connected to the London-based Saudi dissident Saad al-Faqih. Mr Faqih, who is based in Willesden, north-west London, and runs the Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia (Mira), was designated by the US treasury last December as a supporter of al-Qaida. The UK Treasury followed suit by freezing Mr Faqih’s assets.

…Mr Faqih has always vigorously denied being involved with terrorism. Yesterday he was indignant about being linked to the website.

“It does not belong to me at all,” he told the Guardian. “It is a Zionist smear.”

He had seen the message on Thursday morning and doubted its authenticity. “It was only there for a few minutes, and they misquoted the Qur’an.” He also said the website – or more accurately a bulletin board – could be used by anyone.

Mystic Water and Katherine Harris

The Orlando Sentinel carries a report about Katherine Harris’s 2000 involvement in a curious scheme to eradicate citrus canker, when a product called “Celestial Drops” was brought to her attention:

Researchers worked with a rabbi and a cardiologist to test “Celestial Drops,” promoted as a canker inhibitor because of its “improved fractal design,” “infinite levels of order” and “high energy and low entropy.”

…”The presentation of Celestial Drops as a citrus canker treatment was . . . largely unintelligible,” according to a memo written more than a year earlier by one of the state’s chief plant pathologists. “In general, the proposal comes across as unscientific and not worth pursuing.”

So why did Florida spend months discussing and developing test protocols for Celestial Drops?

The initial push came from Harris, now a U.S. House representative and candidate for U.S. Senate. Harris, the granddaughter of legendary citrus baron Ben Hill Griffin Jr., said she was introduced to one of the product’s promoters, New York Rabbi Abe Hardoon, in 2000.

Hardoon did not want to discuss Celestial Drops when contacted by the Orlando Sentinel.

Hardoon has become adept at keeping a low profile lately: just last month he was “unavailable for comment” over claims that his Kabbalah Learning Centre in Boca was facing legal action from five contractors over non-payment of bills. However, in former times Hardoon had plenty so say, dispensing mysticism from Showroom Seven in New York City. Josh Simon reported in 1998:

Rabbi Abraham Hardoon, Sarah’s husband and a handsome former jet pilot in his late thirties, takes his place by a small blackboard. He opens his Zohar text. It is all about us: The enslavement and liberation of the Jews in ancient Egypt, for example, describes how we-the people sitting here today-are enslaved by our selfish desires. If we can share energy rather than hoard it, we can free ourselves from the cycle of reincarnation. Rabbi Hardoon tells us that priests of old were healers and could withstand the energy of death. That our hair works like an antenna, drawing in energy. (Married women’s hair draws more energy than single women’s, thus they should cover their heads.) That Satan enters a cup of water left uncovered. That seeing a camel in a dream means death.

…Before Passover, Rabbi Hardoon delivers a lecture on the significance of the Seder plate. He tells us that the five items on it are not religious symbols, as I have always been taught. Rather, “They are metaphysical energy instruments. Each item works on the center of your consciousness that will help you create order for the next year. He picks up the matzo. “It has the energy of restricted bread, which makes us want to transform our receiving nature into a sharing nature.” The burned lamb shank “gives us control over our reactive behavior.” As for the horseradish, “Chew it slowly,” he pleads, “and convert death energy into Light.”

He begins to sell the KLC’s holiday Seder by insulting the Seders held by our families, calling them “a waste of time.” Rabbi Hardoon insists that sentiment is not part of the game plan. “Did we come to this world to be nice?” he taunts. “We don’t need tradition, we need energy. We need to separate ourselves from family.”

Douglas Rushkoff adds his own experience:

At the Showroom Seven class I attended, a friendly, and yarmulke-capped 40-something teacher from the Kabbalah Center named Abe Hardoon sat amidst racks of pink sheath dresses, speaking in what I could only assume was an at-least-partially affected Yiddish accent. He held up the Science section of the *New York Times* with the headline “Immortality of a Sort Beckons to Biologists” and then proceeded to use the report on genetic engineering as a springboard to a tale about how The Rav once considered resurrecting a young man who had been killed in an accent (we didn’t find out if he succeeded), and from there to a discussion about how achieve immortality in this lifetime.

Harris said Hardoon told her he was working with Israeli scientists who had developed a compound that made plants resistant to canker. Harris acted as intermediary and urged state agriculture officials to work with Hardoon and his associates.

“I met with those [Israeli] scientists,” Harris said Friday. “They were confident they had a cure for canker.”

Harris said she then stepped back and allowed Hardoon and the state to work out the details. Agriculture Department officials insist she applied no political pressure.

…She was repeatedly sent copies of the letters and memos bouncing between Florida canker officials and Hardoon. In August 2001, Harris herself jotted a note to Hardoon.

“I would love to see this work,” it says.

…In the past 10 years, Florida has been swamped by companies claiming to have a cure for canker…But though the state told other companies it could not test their products, it made an exception for Celestial Drops. After months of correspondence, researchers took the unusual step of testing the product for Hardoon and his partner, New York cardiologist Artur Spokojny.

According to the Sentinel, Hardoon refuses to confirm that the “Celestial Drops” are the same as the famous Kabbalah water drunk by Madonna:

Asked whether the canker project was related at all to Kabbalah, he said, “It is, and it isn’t.”

So is that why clicking on www.celestialdrops.com leads directly to the Kabbalah Centre’s website? And Spokojny appears as an advocate of Kabbalah water in this 2001 report:

The science for the water’s power was highlighted by a report that supposedly showed special before-and-after photographs of water molecules treated with Kabbalistic blessings. It showed the water before the blessing as a random pattern, but after the blessing, the water molecules appeared to take a more crystalline, ordered arrangement, resembling a leaf. “We have reversed entropy and reversed the second law of thermodynamics,” contended Dr. Artur Spokojny, a cardiologist who oversaw the independent lab tests.

Microbiologist Katherine Baker is reported as disputing Spokojny’s claims; there is no reference to where exactly Spolkojny published his alleged scientific breakthrough (as it happens, Pharyngula has just posted on the topic of the water).

Back in Florida, department officials say that their testing of the “Celestial Drops” had nothing to do with Harris’s links with Hardoon. Harris meanwhile denies knowledge of the Kabbalah connection, while Hardoon blames state scientists for failing to demonstrate the “Celestial Drops'” effectiveness. But just who were those mysterious “Israeli scientists” who so impressed Harris?

(Story tip from Jesus’ General and Crooks and Liars)