The Patrimony

In politics, everything is relatives

Tag: husbands

Certain interactions repeat themselves

by fpman

Here is a very interesting piece in the NY Post (“My ISIS boyfriend”), looking at the story of a French woman who delved real deep into some research on radicalisation in France and the ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) phenomenon. As the lady reveals through her own fascinating experience:

“This is why girls go there,” said Erelle. “It’s the dream of a good life. They are persuaded that it’s a paradise and that they don’t have any future in Britain or France and they won’t find good husbands and can never be good Muslims surrounded by infidels. Bilel told Melodie she could have a beautiful life, a big apartment and lots of children.”

These considerations are important to understand. It is equally important to understand that this is nothing new.

Take this book as an example: “The Convert,” by Deborah Baker.

It is the story of Margaret Marcus, a Jewish-American girl from New York who suffered from some major vulnerabilities for some time in her life and eventually chose to convert, seeking a solution to all her troubles, and went to Pakistan. She was invited there by Abul A’la Maududi (1903-1979), an Islamist scholar-politician who was the founder there of the Jamaat-e-Islami party. One of the most influential Islamist thinkers in the early development of modern political Islam.

Margaret went to Pakistan in 1961. Maududi, happy that in distant America someone chose Islam (it was more of a big deal at the time), accepted her into his house, and attempted to find a husband for her.

The story is in fact quite complicated from hereon and I would not like to shoot it down with a cheap summary — let me point out that Margaret Marcus went on to live as Maryam Jameelah in her new life. The story of her conversion (a version of it) is widely known in the Islamic world.

Now guess what… one of the arguments that tempted Margaret-Maryam to foreign land was that as a Muslim convert she would not find decent existence (in both a spiritual and a material sense) and a good husband if she stayed in non-Muslim land.

Given that these interactions, which apparently show a durable pattern, nowadays gain strategic significance in the context of the Islamic State, perhaps it is time to pay more attention to the excellent book mentioned above.


The NSA, gender, and some second thoughts

by fpman

“NSA analysts spied on spouses, girlfriends: documents,” says this headline from NY Daily News.

And then, below it, you eventually find the following excerpt from a document recently released by the National Security Agency upon a request from the American Civil Liberties Union:


Quote: “she had searched her spouse’s personal telephone directory without his knowledge” (highlighting in red by me)

In the case referenced there, the analyst in question was clearly a woman, not a man.

The headline, with its reference to “girlfriends” (in the plural), displays a very gendered view of espionage and life in general. Spying, serious work with data and even excesses in the process are seen as having a manly quality, whereas being the victim is a feminine thing. But there you have it. Life (i.e. empirical reality) is just more complicated than that.

Having said that, beyond the insensitivity (at least in the title) to details like that, another way in which the whole affair is somewhat misrepresented is by suggesting this is all about the abuse of a tool in the state’s repertoire for purely private purposes. Consider the following example, of another case cited in the article (by the way the only case involving a girlfriend as opposed to the reference to girlfriends in the plural in the title):

“An NSA intern reported his colleague for allegedly spying on his foreign girlfriend.”

There should be no question that spying on someone in this way is an abuse. But the reasons may be more complex. A foreign girlfriend, or even a foreign boyfriend for that matter, may always be interesting in the world of espionage. Not only from the purely private perspective of whether they are a loyal partner to the intelligence officer in question but also from the point of view of whether someone else may be using them to gain access to sensitive information (which is one of the reasons why no intelligence officer should try to deal with this in private).

Life is just complicated. In espionage, surely even more so.


by fpman

Spain’s internal politics these days are characterised by deep turmoil. Here’s an enumeration of the top ten corruption cases that have recently shaken public life in the country. At the risk of stating the obvious: When you have a top ten of corruption cases you have a problem.

The Monarchy is not spared of the implications of this. The sister of Spanish King Felipe VI, Princess Cristina de Bourbon (of the House of Bourbon; her name is Cristina de Borbón in Spanish) and her husband, Iñaki Urdangarín, the Duke of Palma de Mallorca both stood accused until recently of tax fraud, influence-peddling, the embezzlement of public money, and money laundering (through a family-owned non-profit linked up with a family-owned company). After a court decision today, the difference is that only tax fraud remains as a charge in Cristina’s case while in her husband’s case that and all the other accusations continue to stand.

In Cristina’s case even the tax fraud charges may be dropped eventually. As the Daily Mail writes:

“It is not guaranteed that she will face trial over the tax fraud claims, as Spanish law says the alleged victim – in this case Spain’s government – must support the charges.”

To other matters now, seemingly unconnected to this…

Given the backdrop of economic difficulties and what seems by now rampant, even systematic corruption in Spain, it was interesting to come across this article about Francísco Nicolás Gómez Iglesias, a business school student turned “conman” who, mingling with pretty much the VIPs of Spanish society, successfully “fooled” everyone into thinking he knows everyone…


Ponder the meaning of this. Our friends in the media do not always appreciate the meaning of words, and run into problems of interpretation as a result. It is our scholarly duty to indicate when we encounter an example of that.

So… if somebody communicates with everyone, then by definition that person cannot fool everyone into believing that he/she communicates with everyone. The guy did actually get to know a lot of people in high society. He may have started out as a nobody but he got beyond that stage quite successfully. Photo illustration: young Gómez (on the right) sitting at a table with José María Aznar, a former Prime Minister of Spain (on the left).


In spite of his young age (he is just 20!) Gómez seems to have become Mr. Fix It for some in the Spanish elite. Quoting from this article:

“Cruising around night-time Madrid complete with a bodyguard and a fleet of Audi A-8 cars, he promised businessmen favours, arranging paperwork issues for club owners and the like through his contacts. He also claimed to have access to Spain’s CNI secret service and traded alleged information from this source. He charged up to 50,000 for each deal and moved into a mansion in Madrid’s exclusive El Viso district.”

That’s no longer a colourful and hilarious little story, right? It’s a colourful and at the same time quite significant, and consequently big story…

And here comes a part where apparently it even has a connection to the case of Cristina de Bourbon:

“Claiming to be representing Spain’s deputy prime minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, Gómez met with Miguel Bernad, who is part of the prosecution against Princess Cristina, and asked him to withdraw his accusations. He even promised Bernad’s companion at the lunch, a Catalan businessman, a nine-million-euro loan from BNP Paribas bank “on fabulous terms”.”

Wowoweewow. Were nine million euros really offered to a businessman with reference to Princess Cristina’s case, in the presence of someone from the prosecution’s side working on her case?

Well, if that’s any indication, that is what the words written there mean, actually.

Amal Alamuddin’s wedding

by fpman

Even though I can very much appreciate George Clooney’s work as an actor, I just can’t help but sympathize with the way The Business Woman’s Amanda Rose accounts of his getting married. Namely that the news for her, unlike for a major part of the world’s media, is not that he married someone but that British-Lebanese lawyer Amal Alamuddin – the newly-wed wife in the story – married someone.

Here are some pictures of the event, from Venice.

And here you can watch Amal Alamuddin in action earlier this year, as the lawyer who had once represented Yulia Timoshenko of Ukraine in a trial (many would say it was a political trial) that saw Timoshenko jailed – to be freed once former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich was swept out of power in Ukraine, in February. In the video, Amal is talking to the BBC discussing Timoshenko’s release.

AmalAlamuddinAmal Alamuddin in action somewhere (pic from Wikipedia)

Rose concludes her piece on Amal’s wedding by saying

“We only hope he doesn’t hold her back from conquering the world.”

Given that both are involved in some ambitious international, or rather global, humanitarian initiatives, our prognosis is that there is likely to be a fair amount of synergy in their efforts.