This week’s Corridors of Power reports that al-Qaida is targeting a medical and humanitarian aid organization:
The inevitable next step was that a Web site close to al-Qaida urged jihadists to attack the order’s embassy in Cairo. With headquarters in Rome, the order maintains diplomatic relations with a number of countries, and has observer status in the United Nations.
The militant Web site even linked the organization to security firms in Iraq, such as Blackwater. The Order issued a statement calling the allegations “entirely unfounded.” The order’s current 12,500 knights help finance an institution that — the statement said — “works every day to help the elderly, the handicapped, refugees, children, the homeless, those with terminal illness and leprosy in the five continents of the world, without distinction of race or religion.”
The reference to Rhodes and Malta in the order’s name reflects the two successive locations where the order settled following the final withdrawal of the Crusades from the Holy Land in the early 16th century. Its knights governed Malta for nearly 250 years. The Order was originally religious as well as military, with its members taking a vow of chastity. A handful of the present knights, including the present grand master, Andrew Bertie, a prominent English Catholic, still adhere to the chastity rule.