(CBS News) JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will address the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, but the visions they will present to the world body are worlds apart.
Abbas wants to put the Palestinian issue back on the international agenda and will appeal to the U.N. to recognize the dispossessed Palestinian people as an independent state.
But the man who holds most of the cards with regard to granting the Palestinians statehood, Netanyahu, is playing an entirely different hand. In spite of the persistent threat of terrorism from Palestinian militant groups, Netanyahu has put the issue on a back burner.Continue »
(CBS News) BENGHAZI, Libya - "It will never work," the Libyan militia commander told us. "It's like suddenly asking the inmates of Guantanamo to cooperate with their guards."
He was talking about the Libyan government's efforts to get Libyan militia units in Benghazi to work with army commanders.
On Monday, an official announcement said two of the most powerful militias - the February the 17th Brigade and the Rafaala al-S'hati Brigade - had been assigned new bosses, officers from the Ministry of Defense.
The idea is to bring the militias under more direct state control, but it's unlikely to work.Continue »
(CBS News) ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's government sought to distance itself Monday from a government minister who offered $100,000 of his own money to anyone who would kill the maker of a vitriolic anti-Islam video, produced in the U.S., which has sparked violent protests across the Muslim world.
The remarks on Saturday by Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, the nation's minister of railways, put President Asif Ali Zardari in an awkward position and have been disavowed by government leaders, but they were welcomed by many Islamic hardliners in Pakistan, highlighting the deep divide in the south Asian country.
Just hours after Zardari landed in New York to represent Pakistan at the annual United Nations General Assembly, a statement by the foreign ministry in Islamabad made it clear the bounty offer reflected Bilour's "personal view and had nothing to do with the official policy of the government of Pakistan."
Embarrassed government officials said Bilour's remarks isolated him from other politicians in his Awami National Party (ANP) - a nationalist group with a long history of pursuing secular causes.
"The minister's statement wasn't a well thought out policy statement. It was made in a state of rage," Naveed Chaudhary, an aide to President Zardari, told CBS News.
On Saturday Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, Pakistan's Minister for Railways, announced he would personally pay $100,000 to anyone who kills the film's director.
Shortly after announcing the bounty, however, a spokesman for Pakistan's foreign minister tried to distance the government from it. The spokesperson said that it was "representative of Mr. Bilour's personal views and had nothing to do with the official policy of the Government of Pakistan."
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a 55-year-old California-based Coptic Christian, is the man federal authorities have said is behind the film, though he has only acknowledged publicly that he was involved in management and logistics. He has a criminal record that includes drug and check fraud convictions, and he has been in hiding since leaving his suburban Los Angeles home last weekend.
Bilour referred to Nakoula as a "blasphemer" and "sinner" who has "spoken nonsense" about Mohammad.
"I invite the Taliban brothers and the al Qaeda brothers that they should join me in this sacred mission.
(CBS News) On a deadly day of violent protests in Pakistan, when thousands rampaged in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar, burned American flags. and condemned the anti-Muslim film, Pakistani U.N. Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon told CBS News' Pamela Falk that if the U.S. wants to stop the attacks against American embassies, "just lay off our Prophet, just lay off our Prophet. Is that too much to ask?"
Friday was declared an official holiday, a "Day of Love for the Prophet" and although officials urged non-violence in protests, some analysts in Pakistan and around the world, criticized the government for a day of killing and mob action that may have been, by design or by accident, seen as government support for the anger.Continue »
According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public life, in its most recent poll, there were 1.6 billion Muslims in the world in 2010, and 2.18 billion Christians.
It should be noted, though, there have been probably fewer than 50,000 Muslims demonstrating around the world against the United States since a 14 minute trailer for the film, the "Innocence of Muslims," was uploaded onto YouTube on July 1.Continue »
(CBS News) ISLAMABAD - Pakistani authorities blocked cell phone service in at least 15 cities Friday as protests continued in the south Asian nation against a vitriolic anti-Islam video that has offended Muslims worldwide.
The move was made, according to Pakistani officials, to prevent terrorists from using cell phones to detonate bombs remotely, but there are indications the government is actually trying to quell the violent protests by blocking communications between the conservative Muslim organizers of the rallies.
Protesters took to the streets again on Friday, meanwhile, and a Pakistani television reporter covering the unrest said his driver had been shot and killed by police firing to try to disperse the crowd, according to The Associated Press. No further information was immediately available.Continue »
(CBS News) KABUL - On the morning of Sept. 8, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside NATO's main base in the Afghan capital. Six children died in the attack. They were street kids, all well-known to the soldiers and contractors who come and go from the base every day, who often bought small trinkets from them.
These senseless killings shocked the Kabul community - Afghan and international - but it hit the staff of a popular children's skateboarding charity particularly hard. Four of the youngsters killed were students at "Skateistan".
"Stakeistan lost amazing friends, colleagues and students," says Duncan Buck, a spokesman for the charity. "It was a tragic occurrence."
The eldest of the Skakeistan victims was Khorshid, 14, a girl who Duncan describes as, "cheeky, caring and inquisitive. Her personality shone within the crowd - she was someone who made you happy as soon as you saw her on the skateboard."Continue »
(CBS News) German satire magazine "Titanic" announced intentions on Thursday to publish a cover depicting an angry Muslim about to stab former German First Lady Bettina Wulff, and the publisher wouldn't say in an interview with a leading German publication whether or not the Muslim is the prophet Mohammad.
The news comes fresh on the heels of a French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, publishing new cartoons of Mohammad amid violent protests in the Muslim world against an anti-Muslim film produced in the U.S. by a Coptic Christian immigrant.
Some conservative Muslim clerics insist any depictions of their prophet - satirical or not - are so blasphemous that the person who publishes or creates them deserves to die. A small portion have acted in retribution for those perceived insults, with sometimes deadly consequences.
That can leave publishers with a weighty decision: If potentially Mohammad-mocking material could further inflame tensions with possibly violent consequences, is it fair to question their calls to publish that material?Continue »
(CBS News) BENGHAZI - Ahmed Boukhatala didn't look like a wanted man, sipping mango juice across the table from me in a Benghazi hotel.
Dressed in a crisp white robe, a long grey beard on his face, Boukhatala was happy to share his fundamentalist Islamic beliefs.
He calmly denied having anything to do with the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate which killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
"But the President himself, Mohammed Magariaf, told us you were one of the prime suspects," I told him.
He just smiled.
"If that's what the President is saying," replied Boukhatala, "Then he should come to my house and arrest me."
But that's something government security forces dare not do.Continue »
(CBS News) LONDON - Moderate Libyan activists have organized a protest Friday in Benghazi, Libya, to demand that the well-armed Islamic militias which virtually run security in much of the country lay down their arms.
Friday is the Muslim holy day, and one of the most powerful militias in Benghazi has called their own protest to coincide with the so-called "Save Benghazi" rally.
Ansar al-Sharia - one of the groups U.S. officials say was likely involved in the attack on the consulate which left U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens dead - announced its own protest, "in defense of our prophet on Friday 21."
The prospect of both Ansar al-Sharia, with its conservative Muslim supporters and its well-stocked arsenal of weaponry, rallying on the same streets on the same day as groups calling for them to be disarmed and replaced by state security forces, presents an obvious risk of tension, and possible clashes.Continue »
(CBS News) UNITED NATIONS - The 67th regular session of the United Nations General Assembly officially opened on Tuesday, and an estimated 123 world leaders are to descend on U.N. Headquarters before the General Debate kicks off on Tuesday.
President Obama will spell out the United States' General Assembly priorities in opening remarks on Tuesday, and an early highlight for the American audience will come in looking at the differences between his remarks and almost-simultaneous remarks by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who will speak at the Clinton Global Initiative, which is also in New York.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the new session with a note of caution: "We are living through a period of unease. These are times of rising unemployment, rising inequality, rising temperatures - and rising intolerance."
Ban failed to mention one of the most daunting issues facing the U.N. - the complete lack of consensus among the five permanent members of the Security Council on some of the most pressing issues. Due to that impasse, much of the real work on these matters will be done on the sidelines of the General Assembly.Continue »
(CBS News) The French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo has been down this road before. In November 2011, its offices in Paris were firebombed following the front page publication of a cartoon of the Muslim prophet Mohammad saying "100 lashes if you are not dying of laughter."
At the time, the paper's then-editor-in-chief, Stephane Charbonnier, told the BBC: "This is the first time we have been physically attacked, but we won't let it get to us."
Perhaps being true to his word, the paper has planned another series of cartoons of Muhammad, including, according to Reuters, "nude caricatures." The paper is due to hit newsstands Wednesday.Continue »
(CBS News) - LONDON - The North African branch of al Qaeda, known as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), has praised the militants who attacked the U.S. Consulate in northern Libya, and called on Muslims across the region to try and kill more American diplomats.
"We incite Muslims to carry on and escalate their protests, and we invite Muslim youths for follow the footsteps of the Lions of Benghazi, by tearing down U.S. flags off their embassies in all our capital cities, torching them, after stamping them with our feet, and killing their ambassadors and diplomats, or expelling them to cleanse our land from their evil," said the group in a three-page statement posted on a jihadi web forum.
The Libyan government and U.S. officials disagree over the nature of the Benghazi attack, with Washington suggesting the incident - which left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens - appears to have been essentially a protest which turned extremely violent when local well-armed militants joined the melee.Continue »
(CBS News) JERUSALEM - Israel's national airline, El Al, plans to stop flying to Cairo because it says planes on that route have been virtually empty. Israelis, and tourists at large, are afraid to travel to Egypt because of street violence and instability, and the route has become unprofitable since the Egypt's Arab Spring uprising began more than a year ago.
Politically, the flights between Cairo and Tel Aviv are a symbol of the two nations' 33-year-old peace treaty. But now, El Al says keeping the route operational simply doesn't make economic sense.
"Operating the flight route to Cairo and maintaining the necessary infrastructure for that requires a large amount of security and operational resources, and heavy economic expenditure which amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars annually," El Al CEO Eliezer Shakedi said in a letter to Israel's Foreign Ministry.Continue »
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