Niqabs and Burqas as Security Threats (part: 5) The most interesting.....
170 crimes in Jordan in 2 years: The situation in Jordan appears to be worse by an order of magnitude than anywhere else – or is it just that the reporting is better? From an article by Suha Philip Ma'ayeh, "Crime wave by men wearing the khimar" (khimar is a head covering for Muslim women that reaches about the waist; it may or may not be combined with a partial or full face covering):
In the past two years, police have dealt with 170 crimes committed by 50 people who wore concealing Islamic clothing to hide their identities, according to police officials.
Police are still looking for two men who were wearing the niqab when they opened fire on policemen in a western Amman neighbourhood in July and escaped. It was not clear if they were militants or robbers. Last year, two niqab-wearing men were arrested after robbing Société Générale Bank in Amman at gunpoint and taking US$37,000 (Dh1360,000).
" … it is evident that the number of criminal cases where the niqab is used has increased," Jamal Bdour, the director of the Criminal Investigations Department at the Public Security Department, told a press conference in July. Public cautions by the police regarding the niqaband khimar have triggered a debate in the country over how to tackle the use of the garments in crimes, with some calling for them to be restricted or even banned.
Mohannad Mubaydeen, a columnist with the daily Al-Ghad, angered religious pundits in a column last month titled "Corruption under the niqab." "The issue is not the philosophy of theniqab nor its legitimacy, but it lies with how it has become invested in malpractices that lead to disastrous results," he wrote. "Has it become a safety tool to conceal any act that is above the law and public morality?"
Imad Hajjaj, the country's leading cartoonist, joined in, publishing a controversial cartoon inAl-Ghad depicting Abu Mahjoob, a famous Jordanian cartoon character, and his big-bellied friend, Abu Mohammed. Both were disguised in niqabs, making a list of the things they can evade, from police and money lenders to swine flu and social kisses from men.
Comment: How interesting were Jordanian authorities to ban the niqab ahead of governments in Western states. (August 3. 2009)
Frenchman flees Dubai in niqab: I am pleased to report, finally, a benign case of a man dressing up in niqab. It concerns Herve Jaubert, a French businessman with a clandestine background who used the headgear to escape what appears to be undeserved punishment in Dubai. His project, to build leisure submarines for the wealthy, crashed with the economic downturn and left him accused of embezzling $3.8 million.
Andrew Higgins of the Washington Post tells the story:
Fired from Exomos, the submarine company, and unable to get his passport back, Jaubert hatched an elaborate escape plan. He sent his wife and their two boys to Florida. He had diving equipment shipped out from France—broken down into small bits to avoid arousing suspicion. Then, using a phony name, he bought a Zodiac dinghy and sailboat. Using Google Earth, he surveyed the UAE coastline for an escape route. He found an isolated beach and arranged for a friend to take the sailboat out into international waters.
Herve Jaubert dressed in niqab.
On the eve of his escape, the former spy checked into a hotel near the beach, put on his diving equipment and donned a long abaya, the body-covering cloak worn by strictly observant Muslim women. He said he then went down the beach and swam underwater to a nearby harbor, where the only patrol boat in the vicinity was moored. He clambered aboard and sabotaged the fuel line to make sure the craft could not give chase, he said.
Jaubert then set out to sea in the dinghy to the boat his friend had positioned just outside the UAE's territorial waters, and they sailed toward India. After eight days at sea, the pair arrived in Mumbai—an account corroborated by his traveling companion. With a new passport issued by the French consulate, Jaubert flew to join his wife in Florida, where he is writing a book he has titled "Escape From Dubai."
(August 10, 2009)
A rash of armed robberies in the UK: The Daily Mail reports on three recent robberies involving men in burqas:
On July 7, a man in black burqa entered First Choice Travel in Broadwalk, Dunstable, threatened two female workers with a knife, stole cash, and escaped through the back door.
On August 16, a man in black burqa entered the Thomson travel agency on George Street in Luton, threatened female staff with a knife, and stole a large amount of cash.
A burqa'ed man and two accomplices witih covered faces, armed with a handgun and an axe, burst into Michael Jones Jewellers on the High Street in Banbury, Oxfordshire, at about 2:20 p.m. yesterday, threatened four members of staff, and stole Rolex, Cartier and Breitling watches worth about £150,000. A fourth accomplice drove them off in a black Audi.
Police have released CCTV footage of the first two, similar incidents, but the height and build of the burqa'ed thieves appear to be different. (August 26, 2009)
"Niqabs and Burqas –The Veiled Threat Continues": I wrote up new developments over the past two years in this column today. (September 2, 2009)
Attempted mega-terrorism in Pakistan: The Pakistani police prevented an attack by three gunmen wearing burqas on an oil storage facility in Karachi. The trio attempted to enter the high-security facility late on Sept. 14; when stopped by security guards, they opened fire, killing one guard, then escaped, leaving behind their burqas, purses and hand grenades. "We suspect they wanted to carry out a big terrorist attack which our prompt police action thwarted," said Police Chief Waseem Ahmed. On Tuesday, the police arrested four male suspects, thought connected to the Taliban, and found more burqas, purses, and weapons. (September 15, 2009)
Attempted post office robber in England: Two slim, Asian male robbers dressed in burqas attacled apost office in Bradford, England, pistol-whipped the manager and struck him on the head with the butt of a handgun when he could not open a safe, then fled empty-handed when a customer looked through a window. Detective Inspector Steve Snow called the attack planned and called the thieves "determined individuals who were prepared to use violence in order to steal from innocent members of the public." (November 28, 2009)
Hotel bombing in Somalia: A male suicide bomber managed to gain access to the Shamu Hotel in Mogadishu that was hosting a graduation ceremony for Banadir University attended by government officials by dressed as a woman in full abaya and veil, killing at least 19, including three Somali cabinet ministers and two journalists. (December 3, 2009)
Bank robbery in France: The staff of a post office in Athis Mons, just south of Paris permitted two burqa'ed men into the banking section of the office. They threw off the coverings, one of them pulled out a handgun concealed beneath the Islamic garb, and they took about €4,500 from staff and customers.
Comment: This robbery comes at a delicate moment, when the French government seeks to ban the burqa in public spaces, and could help tip the balance in favor of such a prohibition. (February 7, 2010)
"Arab envoy finds wife-to-be bearded behind veil": For a humorous touch comes this testimony (from Dubai's Gulf News) to the niqab as disguise for physical unattractiveness. It concerns an unnamed Arab ambassador who
called off his wedding after discovering his wife-to-be, who had worn a face-covering veil whenever they met, was bearded and cross-eyed. … The envoy had only met the woman a few times, during which she had hidden her face behind a niqab, or face-covering veil, the paper said. After the marriage contract was signed, the ambassador attempted to kiss his bride-to-be, upon which he discovered she had facial hair and was cross-eyed, it said. The ambassador told an Islamic Sharia court in the United Arab Emirates that he was tricked into the marriage as the woman's mother had shown his own mother pictures of her sister instead of her, the report said. He sued for the contract to be annulled and also demanded the woman pay him 500,000 dirhams (136,000 dollars) for clothes, jewelry and other gifts he had bought for her. The court annulled the contract but rejected the ambassador's demand for compensation.
(February 10, 2010)
Strangled in go-kart accident: A 24-year-old young Muslim woman died when part of her burqa got caught in the wheels of a go-kart she was driving at Bob's Farm near the town of Port Stephens, north of Sydney, strangling her and causing the vehicle to crash. (April 8, 2010) Apr. 13, 2010 update: In the Netherlands, a woman wearing a hijab also got it entangled in a go-kart in 2007 and was partially suffocated. She, however, survived – and went on to sue the Linnaeushof playground in Bennebroek for €11,000 on the grounds that it had insufficient safety measures and supervision.
Accessory to a street robbery: The Australian Associated Press reports on a two-step robbery in the Miranda section of Sydney, Australia: It began when a 35-year-old man working as a distributor of cash to jewellery businesses withdrew a large amount of cash at a shopping center.
While making the withdrawal, he noticed two men who appeared to be following him around the shopping centre. He returned to his vehicle in the car park when one of the men approached him and told him his tyre was going flat. The man became suspicious and drove away to change his tyre in a nearby street before driving to a shopping centre in Hurstville. There, he was approached by a man wearing a full black burqa, [threatened with a pistol], … and sunglasses and told to hand over the cash, police said today in a statement.
The Sydney Morning Herald ran a poll along with this story, asking "Where do you stand on the wearing of the burqa in public in Australia?" The final tally showed 19 percent in favor of allowing the burqa in public and 81 percent for prohibiting it, with 10,140 votes counted – a decisive margin that would probably be replicated throughout the West. (May 6, 2010)
Another jewelery store robbery: In the second male burqa'ed robbery of the day, a man turned up under cover at Capri Jewellers in Bury, England, north of Manchester. The Manchester Evening News tells what happened:
Security staff thought the raider was a woman who had come to browse on her own and pressed a security button to allow him into the store. But moments after the door was opened three other masked men, one of them carrying a shotgun, barged their way inside. Police said the gang stole a large amount of jewellery, including bangles, rings and lockets, before they escaped towards Alfred Street in a waiting car, believed to be a silver Toyota Yaris. … The gang of four men, all described as Asian, left behind two canvass holdalls branded "Wei Bao." Det Sgt Chris Jameson, of Bury CID [Criminal Investigation Department], said: "The store has very tight security so the ruse used to gain entry shows a level of detailed planning."
For further details, see the Bury Times account. (May 6, 2010)
A third robbery of a travel agency in the Dunstable region: For the third time in less than a year, a burqa'ed knifeman attacked a travel agency, this time the Thomson Travel in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, on May 8. The attaacker, believed to be of mixed race, carried a square black bag with a long shoulder strap and wore black plimsolls; his burqa was described as black with a silver or grey floral design pattern. He threatened two female members of the staff and forced one of them to fill his bag with a large amount of money from an office and the cash register before escaping through the front entrance.
For more on the similar robberies last summer, see the August 26, 2009, entry. Detectives are unsure if the three incidents are related. "The pattern the offenders have followed is strikingly similar. They walk in, dressed in a burka, approach members of staff quite calmly by knifepoint. They leave the shop very calmly and walk off." That said, the robbers appear to be of different sizes. (May 12, 2010)
Two males, one German, arrested in Pakistan wearing burqa: It's not clear what trouble the trio was intending, but they were caught at a security checkpost on the border between North Waziristan and Bannu city being driven in car. man, A German, said to be in his mid-20s, was with two tribesmen, one of whom also wore a burqa, and a girl – the idea being to pretend they made up a family. A senior police officer in Bannu thought the German might have links with terrorists. (June 22, 2010)
Man wearing burqa robs Maryland bank: The Associated Press reports from Silver Spring, a suburb of Washington, D.C., that
Montgomery County police said a man wearing a burqa robbed a bank in Silver Spring. Police said the man who robbed a TD Bank branch on Briggs Chaney Road about 4:20 p.m. Tuesday was wearing a "long black burqa over his face." He also wore jeans and tan boots. Authorities said the man showed a gun and demanded money. He took an undetermined amount of money and fled. Police said the man spoke with what they described as "a Middle Eastern accent." They say a silver car, possibly a Chevrolet, was seen leaving the scene.
(August 11, 2010)
Man in burqa peeps in ladies room of Saudi mosque: What better way for a male to see women in various stages of undress than to put on a burqa and linger in a public toilet – and in a country where all the women are covered? Here's a news item from today's Arab News, "Drunk freak in drag horrifies women," datelined Taif, Saudi Arabia:
A drunken weirdo was caught in Saudi drag trying to sneak a peak of women in a ladies bathroom of a mosque… during Ramadan at that! According to a report in Saturday's Shamsnewspaper, the man dressed in a woman's full abayya wasn't even suspected of being a lecherous peeping tom; he was so intoxicated that he lifted the veil himself, revealing to horrified ladies a full mustache above a drunken grin. Amid the chaos that ensued, the high freak attempted to flee, but perhaps his motor skills weren't up to par: he was tackled by some nearby heroes and handed over to police.
(September 5, 2010)
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