Should Malaysian Christians call God “Allah”?

Muslims say “no.” Aren’t they right? Not that they need to riot about it. From the Associated Press:

Eight churches have been attacked over three days amid a dispute over the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims, sparking fresh political instability that is denting Malaysia’s image as a moderate and stable Muslim-majority nation.

Many Muslims are angry about a Dec. 31 High Court decision overturning a government ban on Roman Catholics’ using “Allah” to refer to their God in the Malay-language edition of their main newspaper, the Herald.

The ruling also applies to the ban’s broader applications such as Malay-language Bibles, 10,000 copies of which were recently seized by authorities because they translated God as Allah. The government has appealed the verdict.

Joe Carter asks, but why would Christians want to call the Triune God “Allah”? Yes, it’s the Arabic word for “God,” but he argues that since the term is used for a name, and the deities that Christians and Muslims worship are so different, the same name should not be used for both. The Malaysians do have a more generic term they could use. Read Joe’s argument at A God By Any Other Name . . . » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.

Of course, Malaysians should be free to call their deity whatever they want without government sanctions or mob persecutions. But still, isn’t Joe right?


The fate of Christians in Iraq

A Catholic mission organization reports that since 2003, the year Saddam Hussein was overthrown, 1,960 Christians have been killed in Iraq and nearly half have fled their homes, either to safer regions of Iraq such as Kurdistan or have left the country entirely.

Incoherent terrorism policy

Charles Krauthammer says that President Obama and his administration are confused and inconsistent when it comes to dealing with terrorism:

The reason the country is uneasy about the Obama administration's response to this attack is a distinct sense of not just incompetence but incomprehension. From the very beginning, President Obama has relentlessly tried to play down and deny the nature of the terrorist threat we continue to face. Napolitano renames terrorism "man-caused disasters." Obama goes abroad and pledges to cleanse America of its post-9/11 counterterrorist sins. Hence, Guantanamo will close, CIA interrogators will face a special prosecutor, and Khalid Sheik Mohammed will bask in a civilian trial in New York — a trifecta of political correctness and image management.

And just to make sure even the dimmest understand, Obama banishes the term "war on terror." It's over — that is, if it ever existed.

Obama may have declared the war over. Unfortunately, al-Qaeda has not. Which gives new meaning to the term "asymmetric warfare."

And produces linguistic — and logical — oddities that littered Obama's public pronouncements following the Christmas Day attack. In his first statement, Obama referred to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as "an isolated extremist." This is the same president who, after the Fort Hood, Tex., shooting, warned us "against jumping to conclusions" — code for daring to associate the mass murder there with Nidal Hasan's Islamist ideology. Yet, with Abdulmutallab, Obama jumped immediately to the conclusion, against all existing evidence, that the would-be bomber acted alone.

More jarring still were Obama's references to the terrorist as a "suspect" who "allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device." You can hear the echo of FDR: "Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — Japanese naval and air force suspects allegedly bombed Pearl Harbor."

Obama reassured the nation that this "suspect" had been charged. Reassurance? The president should be saying: We have captured an enemy combatant — an illegal combatant under the laws of war: no uniform, direct attack on civilians — and now to prevent future attacks, he is being interrogated regarding information he may have about al-Qaeda in Yemen.

Instead, Abdulmutallab is dispatched to some Detroit-area jail and immediately lawyered up. At which point — surprise! — he stops talking.

This absurdity renders hollow Obama's declaration that "we will not rest until we find all who were involved." Once we've given Abdulmutallab the right to remain silent, we have gratuitously forfeited our right to find out from him precisely who else was involved, namely those who trained, instructed, armed and sent him.

This is all quite mad even in Obama's terms. He sends 30,000 troops to fight terror overseas, yet if any terrorists come to attack us here, they are magically transformed from enemy into defendant.

The logic is perverse. If we find Abdulmutallab in an al-Qaeda training camp in Yemen, where he is merely preparing for a terror attack, we snuff him out with a Predator — no judge, no jury, no qualms. But if we catch him in the United States in the very act of mass murder, he instantly acquires protection not just from execution by drone but even from interrogation.

“Lawyered up.” Good word. The point is, we need to decide whether to treat terrorists as unlawful (because they are not fighting under a lawful chain of command as soldiers of a nation do) enemy combatants or as criminals. If the former, they can be interrogated (which does NOT have to include torture) and indefinitely detained. If the latter, they have the right to remain silent! Nor may they or their camps be searched or their communications tapped without a warrant. Nor should they be subject to use of force when they are not in the process of committing a crime, as in having Hellfire missiles from a drone strike their camps. Instead, they would need to face extradition. We are trying to have it both ways at different times.

UPDATE: The administration has confirmed that it will try the Underwear Bomber in federal court. The president’s chief counterterrorism advisor John Brennan said that although he is now exercising his right to remain silent, we can still extract information from him by plea bargaining. Which means that the more he talks, the more he gets off!

Underwear bomber planners were Gitmo alums

ABC reports that al Qaeda Leaders Behind Terror Plot Were Released by U.S.:

Two of the four leaders allegedly behind the al Qaeda plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet over Detroit were released by the U.S. from the Guantanamo prison in November, 2007, according to American officials and Department of Defense documents. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the Northwest bombing in a Monday statement that vowed more attacks on Americans.

American officials agreed to send the two terrorists from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia where they entered into an "art therapy rehabilitation program" and were set free, according to U.S. and Saudi officials.

Guantanamo prisoner #333, Muhamad Attik al-Harbi, and prisoner #372, Said Ali Shari, were sent to Saudi Arabia on Nov. 9, 2007, according to the Defense Department log of detainees who were released from American custody. Al-Harbi has since changed his name to Muhamad al-Awfi.

Both Saudi nationals have since emerged in leadership roles in Yemen, according to U.S. officials and the men's own statements on al Qaeda propaganda tapes.

Combating terrorism with art therapy classes! We had these guys in custody! We are planning to let more of them out! The terrorists seem to be so much smarter than we are.

War in Yemen?

It seems that Al Qaeda’s base of operations is now Yemen, not Afghanistan. That country on the
Arabian peninsula is where the Nigerian bomber got his training and where new threats are coming from. President Obama has said that our quarrel is not with Islamic radicals in general, just Al Qaeda. So should we now invade Yemen?

Just before Christmas, American forces participated with those of the Yemeni government in an air strike said to have killed 30 al Qaeda operatives. (One of them was thought to be the guru of the Ft. Hood shooter, but he apparently is still alive and may have played a role in the Underwear Bombing.) So President Obama, who must have approved the strike, may be thinking in these terms.

How about if we forget about nation building and long-term occupations? Instead, we just attack the terrorists where we find them, and then leave? And if they re-assemble, attack them again. And then leave.

The Underwear Bomber

We have had the Shoe Bomber. Now we have the Underwear Bomber. The jihadist from Nigeria who was set to take down an airliner flying into Detroit hid the explosives in his underwear. Go here for the pictures if you can handle them. His tactic was to ignite the explosives, which were more than enough to blow a hole in the airplane, by covering up with a blanket and then using a plastic syringe (how did he get that onboard?) to inject acid into the packet. Fortunately, he did it incorrectly, so instead of blowing up, the chemical explosives just caught on fire.

So now will Homeland Security make passengers remove their underwear and put it, along with their shoes and belt, into one of those bins to be X-rayed? I guess they are now pushing for the equivalent, the virtual strip search of the full-body scans. But I wonder if visual detection is even enough. Plastic explosives can be made to look like all kinds of things. Either that or the X-rays could go through them like they do clothing.

The apprehended terrorist says that Yemen is full of others just like him who are also planning to attack us in this way. How can this be defended against? Explosive-sniffing dogs would help, if we had enough of them. Also those chemical-detecting swabs that are currently only used to check random computers. There are those scanners that you go in and get puffed with a blow of air, which detect for chemicals. That’s probably the best and least intrusive–though most expensive–measure.

But isn’t it time to zero in on possible terrorists, rather than applying preventive measures to every passenger? How might we craft a way to target individuals without violating their civil rights?