RADICAL TALK: In doing interviews in London for her story on Muslim radicals (page 1) correspondent Danna Harman was amazed by the boldness of their statements. "I thought of the Muslim radicals I had spoken with in the past in Yemen, for example, or among Palestinians and none had come straight out with such militant, anti-American, anti-West rhetoric as these in Britain "
One reason for such honesty is that Britain's democracy and freedom of speech allow it. "I asked Sheikh Abu Bakri Mohammad, the founder of the youth group al Muhajiroun, if he didn't see the hypocrisy of condemning Britain's secular, free society and then benefitting from those very freedoms to express himself as he does," Danna recalls. "He was disarmingly honest in acknowledging my observation and told me that they are happy to use democracy in order to fight it."
In talking with other group members, Danna learned more about their concept of free speech. "One young al Muhajiroun recruit told me that he was not allowed to talk to non-Muslims, and that the only only reason any of them would do so is if we stuck to the topic of Islam and their mission."
ON EDGE: Correspondent Scott Baldauf says there were jittery moments along the way to a disarmament ceremony in Afghanistan (page 7). "At the Interior Ministry building in Kabul, where our caravan was preparing to leave, a security guard dropped his AK-47 on the ground." Scott recalls. "That gave everybody a start, and the soldier's commander was particularly irked. 'Do you know how many ministers are here?' the commander shouted. 'Do you want to start a massacre?' "
"On the dusty, winding dirt road, the caravan of trucks and sports utility vehicles quickly turned into a scene from 'Mad Max' with drivers cutting each other off in a bid to be first in line," Scott says. "But even though there were at least two fender-benders between carloads of armed men, no gun battles broke out."