This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Full Circle

"The burial was done in the way of his religion, of Islam: they prayed for him with prayers for the deceased, then laid him to rest. Michael is a good person on the inside, and he's kind and affectionate."
"It does not justify his attack toward the head of government, and doesn't make it right to kill a soul. Because in our religion, we believe that if someone kills one person, it's as if they killed all of humanity."
"As for the public opinion in Libya, there are some here who call him a hero, there are some who consider it a big crime, and some who don't care about the situation. I think that this is very normal in any country, because not all people know the whole truth about the story."
"The Canadian government is primarily responsible for all of this. Of course [Zehaf-Bibeau] thought that Canada was thinking to attack a Muslim country, Iraq, and he didn't know the reality of ISIL. He thought ISIL was the Islamic country he wanted; that it was what every real Muslim, or any lover of peace, wanted."
"But he was cheated by ISIL. Even us Muslims don't want ISIL because it does not represent peace. Even I was cheated by their Islamic symbols -- but when I saw the killings, I knew they were not Muslims."
"Canadian media is twisting the story and I have seen many journalists lie and relate the issue to religion when there are no ties to religion. They ruined the image of Islam and ruined the image of Abdullah [Zehaf-Bibeau] with their narratives."
"We want you to know that all Muslims aren't evil; some are good and some are not good."
Ashraf Zehaf, cousin of Michael [Abdullah] Zehaf-Bibeau
Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was buried in Libya, a cousin says.
Michael, aka Abdullah Zehaf-Bibeau, 32 years old, a Canadian citizen whose mother is Canadian and father Libyan, shot to death Cpl. Nathan Cirillo on October 22, as the reserve soldier stood guard at the National War Memorial. That accomplished, the armed man rushed to the nearby Parliament Buildings, to enter the great hall, and search out others to kill, presumably the Prime Minister and any other officials he might come across. He was killed by Parliamentary security guards.

Now, he has returned in death to Libya, although he was born in Canada. It is where his father, Bulgasem Zehaf, took his son's body for a traditional Muslim burial, after release by the Canadian coroner's office, with the permission of the Ottawa-based Libyan mission, according to consular official Khalifa Alghuwel.

In 2011, Canada took part in UN- and NATO-sponsored aerial bombing of the military forces of Moammar Ghaddafi when a civil war broke out that succeeded eventually in removing the Libyan tyrant from his seat of power. The result was not as the West had envisioned; the freeing of a people from the talons of a totalitarian government, leaving them the capacity and the will to install another government modelled on democratic principles.

Libya was and is too beset by tribal, clan, sectarian animosities, too ingrained by centuries of hate and conflict, with each element jostling the other through violent clashes while persecuting the minorities among them. The weapons caches abandoned by Ghaddafi's military to the marauding Islamists taking advantage of the country's upheaval have substantially benefited the Islamist jihadists across North Africa and the Middle East.

Little did Canada visualize that their part in the effort to bring peace and security to a far distant country would result in one of their own nationals of Libyan heritage attacking the very seat of government in their own country. Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, who had been flagged by Canadian intelligence as a possible threat, had been refused a passport to enable him to travel out of Canada and into Libya. His vengeance for that denial was the killing he perpetrated. That, according to his cousin's narrative.

"As for Abdullah -- or 'Michael Zehaf-Bibeau' -- his family has accepted the (fact of what happened October 22) and they believe that Abdullah carried out this act as a result of his own narrow-mindedness, and that it was wrong", said his cousin. And in the same breath held Canadian authorities responsible, by denying the man the passport he wanted, for the calamity which unfolded when he rampaged in Ottawa, killing a soldier and threatening Parliament.

ISIL is now well established in Libya, even in the city where the cousin lives, Zawiya. Ashraf Zehaf, glad to see the last of Gadhaffi, holds countries like Canada responsible for the chaotic patchwork of armed thugs in his country roaming about, destroying and killing. Even so, he speaks for Libyans claiming that the ISIL video of the slaughter of 21 Egyptian Copts was an invention.

"Libyans mostly believe that the ISIL video was fabricated, and (we're) not convinced by it because as you know, there are two parties in Libya conflicting for power. Since Islamic terrorism became a scapegoat for governments around the world, (ISIL) became something that the government can control. The government describes it as terrorism in order to allow it to remove those groups by force, although what qualifies as terrorism is still determined by -- who knows -- Ms. America?"

Muslims know terrorism when they see it, and they don't see it in Islamic State, nor evidently do they recognize it in the 'good person on the inside' ... 'kind and affectionate', who killed a Canadian soldier at the country's national memorial to the tragedy that is war.

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The Boiling Cauldron

Even if Israel were to be offered a perfect deal with the Palestinians, it would represent a surface illusion. With whom would Israel sign that peace agreement? The Palestinian Authority which, as a democratic force in an undemocratic neighbourhood has seen its mandate come and go, and two years after a general election was to have been called, Mahmoud Abbas is still President, his cabinet and himself long past their agreed-upon election mandate.

Signing a peace agreement with the West Bank, is at best a wholly notional arrangement, one that the European Union strenuously calls for, blaming Israel for not agreeing to 'peace' with the Palestinians. What peace could there possibly be, when one-third of the Palestinians, governed by the terrorist group Hamas, which has attempted repeatedly to assassinate Arafat, and is pledged to Israel's destruction, refuses the very existence of Israel.

In these circumstances, Mahmoud Abbas, representing the 'reasonable', and 'moderate' factions with Fatah and the PLO still agitating against the 'oppression' of the 'apartheid state' that struggles to restrain their cadres from violent attacks against Israeli citizens, has been given protection by the Israeli Defence Forces because his administration, despite its inciting West Bank Palestinians to 'resist' the 'occupation'; code for violence; is the only game in town.

Which is to say no game at all. Which hasn't stopped Mahmoud Abbas from blustering and hammering that Israel represses Palestinians' future. Leading him to make his ingress to United Nations' recognition. What Israel does is attempt to protect its population and its state from the depredations of Fatah/Palestinian Authority and the onslaught of Hamas, ever willing to sacrifice Gazans as fodder for the public relations war against Israel, lapped up by the European community.

Israel is a veritable ocean of calm in a storm-beset Middle East. A country which, though threatened with annihilation from its enemies, from Hamas to Hezbollah; the Muslim Brotherhood, to Syria; Iran to Qatar, manages to comport itself in a measured response to its existential angst over those very real threats. Whereas it poses no threat to the wider Middle East, it is that wider Middle East that is imploding under the weight of its own ingrained and traditional tribal and sectarian hatreds.

Where the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has serious concerns about what might occur should ISIS move toward the Jordanian border, even while its sizeable Muslim Brotherhood contingent incessantly plots for the Kingdom's overthrow. Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon and now on the Golan heights present another formidable challenge, not only to Israel, but to Syria, armed with their stock of advanced rockets courtesy of Iran.

Claims that the Israeli-Palestinian unsettled adversarial condition is responsible for all the unrest in the Middle East, and if that trenchant problem were to be solved, then all would be peacefulness and light, have been exploded by the results of the Arab spring. Iran's stealthy, violent and successful spread of Shi'ite power, from its borders into Iraq, stretching into Syria, Lebanon and now Yemen have given it the 'authority' it seeks as the premier conquering caliphate with its distinct Shiite reflection.

The Islamic State's rise in response to the Shiite-led expansion with its own caliphate and its surge in horrific atrocities far more public than those equally dreadful performed through state sanctioned public executions where beheadings are the common parlance of Islamic-state punishment, has appalled the world. But it is the entire tinder box of fundamentalist Islamism that has smouldered in the firebox to become a raging conflagration still spreading its toxic fumes.

And within that landscape sits the United States' determination to swivel from Sunni to Shiite, making common cause with Iran/Qatar against the Islamic State to aid Iraq and Syria from being wholly consumed, and the spread of Sunni empowerment with its Wahhabist Salafist tenure made permanent. In supporting Qatar and Iran in their conflict with Islamic State and by extension Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Barack Obama has chosen 'sides'.

His 'side' now surrenders his country's traditional allies to the desperate position of fending for themselves in a lop-sided situation of choices; which aggressor is the most egregiously inimical to the future aspirations of the United States? Religious fanaticism has overtaken nationalist totalitarianism, and the powerful mentorship of America has made its choice.

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 Adventure Travel to Turkey

"If he had spoken to me of such a thing, I would have wanted to execute him myself, sir. I would never have accepted it."
"I brought up my sons saying 'You are a Quebecer, you are Canadian. We don't spit on the country that welcomes us.' My son was well-raised, a model (citizen), until he disappeared."
"I work from morning to night. I can't sleep beside his bed to watch whether he is connected to the Internet."
Father of Bilel Zouaidia, Algerian immigrant to Canada

What Mr. Zouaidia did do when he became aware that something seemed not quite right with his son, 18, after he had taken lessons in Arabic and the Qu'ran, at a local college, was to take his son's passport into his own possession. Without that passport his son, he reasoned, even if he felt he had a compelling reason to leave Canada and embark on a trip abroad, would not be able to.

And what Bilel Zouaidia then did was report that his papers had been stolen. And he then, as the law permits him to do, under such circumstances, applied for a new passport. Since then, College de Maisonneuve said through its spokesperson that it was taking immediate steps to cancel a three-year rental agreement with Adil Charkaoui, under the auspices of the Centre communautaire islamique de l'Est de Montreal.

This is the same Adil Charkaoui who had been under a cloud of suspicious activities tied in to Islamist terrorism who denied all charges against him, and through a lack of evidence had been declared officially innocent of those charges. And well he may be, but this new turn of events does cast suspicions somewhere.
"Before he left, he was more dedicated to practising Islam than he was to school. And he was a brilliant student."
At a news conference, Brigette Desjardins, speaking for College de Maisonneuve explained that the contract's cancellation resulted from the impression that the instructions received by students seeking information about the Qu'ran and learning to speak Arabic contravened the school's "values". If they did any such thing, then they must by extension also be contravening the values of Canadian society as an entirety.

The fact that recently released information is that no fewer than four men and two women were reported to have disappeared since January 16, when they are said to have boarded a fight to Turkey for the obvious enough goal of crossing from Turkey into Syria, to take up their new lives as jihadi fighters with Islamic State, certainly supports that impression.
"They took my son. I hate them. We are miserable. They put a hole in his head and brainwashed him."

That six that were mentioned do not, evidently describe the entire story, since authorities in the province believe that other young Montrealers whose numbers were unspecified, have also gone missing, with the understanding that they too have joined the Islamic State whose missionary zeal in impressing young Muslims with their sacred obligation to jihad has been picked up by impressionable and restless 'youth'.

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Gatestone Institute

Even if many Muslims came to Europe seeking economic opportunity, they are often defined as victims of racism and oppression. So, the thinking goes, if you are a victim of racism and oppression, how can you be racist yourself?
The Palestinians repeat almost daily that they would like to kill the Israelis, while the Israelis say they would like peace. What follows are usually bitter, politically-motivated denunciations of Israel by Europe, masquerading as human rights.
Despite the increasingly savage state of the world and an openly genocidal Iran -- soon to be nuclear, if it is not already -- Israeli leaders remain the ones Europeans love to accuse, hate and demonize.
The terrorist attacks are denounced by journalists and political leaders, but their denunciations always sound sanctimonious and thin, condemning the "anti-Semitism" they themselves have been encouraging.
In Europe today, slandering Israel is widely conveyed by European Muslims, and if a political leader or journalist does not agree with what they say, he must be a racist.
There are now 44 million Muslims in Europe.
In Europe, evoking the memory of Auschwitz has become difficult; tomorrow, it may be impossible.

The ceremony marking the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp was held on January 27 -- and will likely be the last commemoration of its kind. The Nazis wanted a Europe without Jews. They killed six million, but in their ultimate goal, they failed.

Three hundred survivors were invited; all were more than eighty years old. Although filmed testimonies will remain, there may be no more direct witnesses.

While European political leaders speak of Auschwitz with the solemn formula of "never again," it increasingly seems meaningless. Surveys show that in most European countries, including Germany, a growing number of people want to turn the page, and say they want forget about the Holocaust in a way they do not say they want to forget about, for instance, the Crucifixion.

When articles on the Holocaust are published in major European magazines, an increasing number of people leave comments to point out that the Holocaust was just one genocide among others, and there is no reason to insist on this one in particular.

When other genocides are evoked, the fate of the Palestinians also quickly takes center stage, even though the Palestinians repeat almost daily that they would like to kill the Israelis, while the Israelis say they would like peace. The Israelis have never said they would like to kill the Palestinians.

What follows are usually bitter, politically motivated denunciations of Israel by Europe, masquerading as human rights.

Despite the monstrous crimes committed by the Islamic State, Boko Haram or Iran; despite two hundred thousand dead in Syria; and despite the massacres of Christians and Yezidis in Iraq, for European journalists, the Jewish state remains, it seems, the favored prime target.
Where else in the middle east but Israel can a journalist lead a comfortable life, file a story along the only lines his editor will like by noon, go to the beach, and have dinner with his family? Maybe if he bashes Israel enough, his story will even make the front page, and he will receive an award for courage in journalism. So, in the international media, Israeli Jews are often libelously described as criminals who simply are doing to other people what was done to the Jews seventy years ago.

Despite the increasingly savage state of the world, with an openly genocidal Iran -- soon to be a nuclear, if it is not already -- and with the squalid brutality of dictators such as Bashar al-Assad, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Kim Jong Un and Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, Israeli leaders remain the ones many Europeans love to accuse, hate and demonize.

The desire to forget the past, to hurl degrading charges against Israeli Jews, to slander the Jewish state, and to demonize Israeli leadership displays a growing animosity against Jews, in addition to encouraging renewed anti-Jewish violence on European soil.

Often anti-Israeli demonstrations are punctuated with explicit slogans targeting Jews. These demonstrations then lead to riots and physical attacks against synagogues and Jews.

The attacks are denounced by journalists and political leaders, but their denunciations always sound sanctimonious and thin, condemning the "anti-Semitism" they themselves have been encouraging. Most European journalists and political leaders claim to fight anti-Semitism. Most do not.[1] They almost never address the harsh words used about Israel, Israeli Jews or Israel's leaders. They speak and act as if those words had no influence. Their denunciations therefore always sound devious and glossy.

The long, persistent, European hatred of Jews, which led to Auschwitz, was a crime so sickening that, for a few decades, Europeans were crushed with shame. Since then, they seem to have sought unceasingly to alleviate this burden.

One attempt, Holocaust denial, merely sparked outrage and horror for a while. Attempts to trivialize the Holocaust persist. The growing desire in many Europeans to forget about those events could even be making trivializing the Holocaust a success.

Another attempt is to slander Israel. If falsely accusing it of being a criminal state; and Israeli Jews of being unacceptable; and Israeli leaders of having dark plans, then Europeans can see themselves as less criminal and allow themselves to feel less guilt.[2]

Slandering Israel in Europe is also effective because, although it comes from both extremes, it mostly comes from the "left."[3]

The "left" portrays itself as "anti-fascist"; anyone who does not agree with their views must therefore be a fascist.

They describe Palestinian Arabs as victims, which they are – but not because of Israel. No Palestinians are now governed by Israelis, only Arabs. Israel forcibly evacuated all the Jews from Gaza in 2005, so it could be, for the Palestinians, a "Singapore on the Mediterranean."
Israelis left greenhouses in perfect condition for them, so the Palestinians could start out with a solid economy. The Palestinians destroyed the greenhouses within hours. Hamas threw Fatah members off the tops of buildings until Fatah ran away. Hamas now rules Gaza in a unity government with Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority. Support for Abbas's Fatah is support for Hamas.

But many Europeans – even now, faced with the same terror attacks Israel has faced for years -- do not let such facts get in their way. Never mind that the Palestinians had built secret death-tunnels for surprise attacks to kidnap and murder Jewish civilians Never mind that the Palestinians continually call for the death -- not just of Israelis -- but of Jews. Never mind that Palestinians rejected every partition, land or peace offer, granting them 98% of what they asked, since 1947. Many Europeans still describe Israeli Jews as fascist torturers, sometimes comparable to the Nazis.[4]

Slandering Israel is effective in Europe today because there has been a shift in its population. Millions of Muslim migrants have come there. Now they are European citizens. Even if many originally came to Europe seeking economic opportunity, they are often defined by Europeans as victims of racism and oppression. So, the thinking goes, if you are a victim of racism and oppression, how can you be racist yourself?

Many Muslims have been indoctrinated from childhood to hate Israel, hate the Jews and hate the West.[5] This view is helped along by genocidal Islamic texts; the Palestinian media, both Hamas and Fatah; the international media, who only accept articles that have an anti-Israeli angle, and European-funded, non-governmental organizations which pretend to defend "human rights" but instead are dedicated to the political agenda: trying to dismantle Israel.
European governments and the European Union each year spend hundreds of million of euros– transparency and accountability rigorously kept hidden -- for the political agenda of trying to bring Israel to its knees, diplomatically and economically. This international agenda is spurred on with the encouragement of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [OIC], composed of 56 states plus "Palestine," and which makes up the largest bloc at the deeply corrupt United Nations.

In Europe today, slandering Israel is widely conveyed by European Muslims, and if a political leader or journalist does not agree with what they say, he must be a racist.
Hatred of Israel so permeates the European atmosphere that almost no journalists or political leaders -- with the exception of a courageous few, who are immediately and harshly punished -- seem prepared to confront it in a way that might actually bear results.

A few years ago, attacks against Jews in Europe could be violent, but rarely led to assassinations. But all this started to change in 2006, when a group in Paris kidnapped and tortured a young Jew, Ilan Halimi, for three weeks before finally killing him. In 2012, the man who attacked the Jewish school in Toulouse also wanted to kill Jews, and did. The man who attacked the Brussels Jewish Museum in 2014 wanted to kill Jews, and did. He did. The man who entered kosher supermarket in Paris on January 9 wanted to kill Jews, and did. The man who attacked a synagogue in Copenhagen on February 14 wanted to kill Jews; perhaps to his disappointment, he killed only one.

In response to the attacks, 1,000 extremely praiseworthy Muslims in Norway, in solidarity with the Jews, formed a "ring of peace" around the main synagogue in Oslo. "We do not want individuals to define what Islam is for the rest of us," said one of the demonstration's organizers, Zeeshan Abdullah. But more attacks in Europe will follow.

European populations remain passive and inert. They reacted in Paris on January 11 mostly because famous cartoonists were killed two days earlier than the attack on the kosher store. Had it been only Jews that were killed, there probably would have been no crowd reaction at all. There were no crowds after the Toulouse or Brussels killings. There was also, before the Muslim ring in Copenhagen, a small crowd reaction after the murder there – most likely because the killer had also attacked a meeting on free speech.

World leaders link arms at the Paris anti-terror rally on January 11, 2014. Guy Millière writes that had it been only Jews that were been killed, there probably would have been no rally at all. (Image source: RT video screenshot)

Israeli leaders, deciphering the situation, have for years denounced the rising anti-Israel atmosphere in Europe, and accurately predicted what the violent consequences would be.
Israel's Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has repeated that at least now there is a Jewish state where Jews can live freely.

More than 60,000 Jews have left Europe during the past decade, and thousands are still leaving.

While there were 9.8 million Jews in Europe in 1939, there are now 1.4 million: 0.2% of the population.

There are now 44 million Muslims in Europe. The number of those who are radicalized is on the rise, and the number who hate Israel and Jews is high.

Seventy years after Auschwitz, a Europe without Jews now seems a possibility.

[1] Manfred Gerstenfeld, Demonizing Israel and the Jews, RVP Publishers, 2013.
[2] Gabriel Schoenfeld, The Return of Anti-Semitism, Encounter Books, 2005
[3] Robert Wistrich, From Ambivalence to Betrayal: The Left, the Jews, and Israel, University of Nebraska Press, 2012.
[4] Robert Wistrich, op.cit.
[5] Christopher Caldwell, Reflections on the Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West, Anchor Books, 2010.

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On February 14, the Islamic State ritually beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian laborers in Libya.
The Islamic State sent me a letter this week, in the form of a short film produced by ISIS's Al-Hayat Media centre. This was not addressed to me personally, but to all Christians everywhere. Its title was A Message Signed with BLOOD to the Nation of the Cross.

This was a video of the ritual slaughter of the 21 Egyptian Christians. Their blood flowing in the ocean waves was the 'signature' at the end of the video.

As I write this it is Ash Wednesday. This is the start of forty days of Lent, a period of fasting and contemplation for Christians all over the world. For many centuries it has been a custom of Christians to receive a mark of the cross in ash upon the forehead as a sign of repentance. As I received this mark of the cross today I was thinking of the 21 Egyptian Christian martyrs. Copts permanently bear the sign of the cross, tattooed on their wrists, as a sign that they will refuse to renounce their beliefs.

I read out these men's names at our morning church services on Sunday, here in Melbourne. And I also choose to honour them by writing to acknowledge the truth about why they were killed, and in particular the explanation given by their killers. I also wish to record, as a Christian and a pastor, my intense protest at the White House official statement of February 15, 2015, concerning this event. This makes no mention of the reason the 21 were killed: their Christian faith. This culpable denial dishonours them, as it dishonours me and Christians everywhere.

The White House made no mention of the victims' Christian faith, a culpable denial that dishonours them and Christians everywhere.
The White House statement claimed that "ISIL's barbarity knows no bounds. It is unconstrained by faith, sect or ethnicity." Not true. The Islamic State's actions are constrained by its theology, and in this case its targets are also determined on religious grounds; they were Christians. It is not an endorsement of the killer's Islamic beliefs to acknowledge that these jihadis follow a form of Islam, and that their sect and faith does constrain their behaviour accordingly.

President Obama has defended his administration's misrepresentations on the grounds that the radicals are "desperate for legitimacy" so "they try to portray themselves as religious leaders, holy warriors in defense of Islam." But these are not desperate people. They are shockingly confident in their beliefs. They do not 'try to portray themselves' as Islamic: they sincerely believe they are. Christopher Hitchens got it right over a decade ago when he suggested of Al Qa'ida recruits that 'they believe their own propaganda,' and 'absolutely subscribe to the tenets of their version … of their religion, Islam.'

It is not an endorsement of the killer's Islamic beliefs to acknowledge that these jihadis follow a form of Islam.
Obama also stated that 'we must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie.' This too is nonsense. A lie is a deliberate intention to deceive, and these self-described jihadis are – at least by their own understanding – speaking the absolute truth when they claim to speak for Islam.

Some years ago I had the privilege of reading the Gospel at a Coptic service held in St Paul's Anglican Cathedral, here in Melbourne. The service was held to commemorate the 22 martyrs of the attack on Al-Qiddisin Church in Alexandria on New Year's Eve. It was led by Bishop Suriel, Melbourne's Coptic bishop. The Al-Qiddisin martyr's service impressed me deeply. I long pondered the fact that the Coptic church of Egypt has been grieving over the freshly dug graves of its martyred sons and daughters since the dawn of Christianity. As I sat through the service and sung the hymns about martyrdom, I thought, 'So this is what it means to be a Copt'.

The Islamic State video, a polished production, depicts 21 Christian men, hands bound behind them, being led one-by-one along a beach in Libya to a point where they are forced to bow down with their heads in the sand, and there they are beheaded, crying out Ya Rabbi Yasou 'Lord Jesus!', some reciting the Lord's Prayer. Severed heads were then placed on top of each corpse, their Muslim slayer standing over them. The final film shots show the Mediterranean washing red with their blood.
The whole event was meticulously choreographed and rehearsed. The video's obvious purpose is to humiliate and terrorise Christians, whom it derisively calls, 'The Nation of the Cross'. I admire the courage of the martyrs, who did not disown the name of Christ and the cross to follow Islam, even as they were being mocked and killed by their tormentors.

It is indisputable that the whole script of this video is intensely religious. It is packed with references to the Qur'an and the Hadiths of Muhammad. As Graeme Wood comments in an important recent Atlantic Monthly article, the Islamic State adherents are constantly referencing Islam's sacred texts. In their everyday speech, 'Koranic quotations are ubiquitous'. This film is no exception. For anyone who knows anything about Islam it is impossible to view this film without being aware of the heavy constraining influence of the Qur'an and the Hadiths on the script. These references are essential for understanding the true context, meaning and intent of the film.

Egypt reacted angrily to the executions, but it has a long track record of not prosecuting Muslims who massacre Christians within its borders.
The Egyptian government reacted angrily to the executions, bombing Islamic State positions inside Libya. Egypt was incensed about this massacre – and rightly so – but it has a very long and enduring track record of not prosecuting Muslims who have massacred Christians within its own borders.
General Al-Sisi is a leader who has been complicit in this peculiar form of Muslim cowardice. This moral inconsistency is causing great division and confusion among Copts at the present time.

My comment after the Al-Qiddisi massacre in January, 2011, remains as valid now as it was then: I deplore the lack of freedom of religion in Egypt, the authorities' apparent unwillingness to protect the indigenous Christian minority and its places of worship, and the lamentable track record of the Egyptian justice system in securing criminal convictions against those who have targeted Christians for attack. I call upon Egypt's leaders to respond to these abuses honestly and with integrity, without making excuses or indulging in denial.

There is a double standard in the house of Islam. Examples are legion. The Jordanian royal house has been prominent in speaking up against attacks against Christians in Iraq and Syria, yet at the time when the Common Word letter was being released to the Christian world in 2008 under Jordanian royal sponsorship, its own Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought had posted on its website fatwas by its Chief Scholar – the former Mufti of Jordan – which declared death for Christians for the crime of leaving Islam, and even identified one person by name (see here).

King Abdullah has on the one hand been a champion of the rights of displaced Christians in the Middle East, and God knows they surely need one. On the other hand he has held up the notorious Pact of Umar as evidence of Jordan's history of religious tolerance:
Jerusalem, which is, regrettably, subject to the worst forms of Judaisation today, stands witness to fourteen centuries of deep, solid and fraternal relations between Muslims and Christians, enhanced by the Pact of Omar [ibn al-Khattab], and promoted by my grandfather, Sharif Hussein bin Ali, may God bless his soul.
In contrast to this historical revisionism, the renowned Muslim jurist Ibn Kathir, accurately described the intent and effect of the conditions of the Pact of Umar as guaranteeing the continued degradation of Christians under Islamic rule: "This is why the Leader of the faithful 'Umar bin Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, demanded his well-known conditions be met by the Christians, these conditions that ensured their continued humiliation, degradation and disgrace." (Those who read classical Arabic may consult the Royal Jordan Aal al-Bayt Institute's own database of commentaries here, to view Ibn Kathir's original text.)

The highest legal authorities of the Islamic mainstream continue to assert the right of Muslims to kill those who leave Islam.
The problem is that as long as Muslims allow derogatory words like mushrik (associator, polytheist) and kafir (infidel) to be applied to Christians, while also preaching Qur'anic verses that denigrate non-Muslims, the hostility and hatred can only continue. As long as the highest legal authorities of the Islamic mainstream continue to assert the right of Muslims to kill those who leave Islam, bursts of extreme religious hatred such as we have just seen in Libya can only continue. As long as Muslims claim that the well-documented brutal slaughters of Islamic conquest and the ensuing oppression of nations under the Islamic system of dhimmitude were a mercy to the world, the 'opening' up (al-futuh) of dark nations to light and truth, hatred towards non-Muslims will continue to arise in the house of Islam.

The fundamental problem is not peculiar variants of extreme religious worldview, it is a deeply engrained religious worldview that is not acknowledged by many who hold it. Those who, like King Abdullah, allow it room to breathe by claiming that it is something other than what it really is are as much a part of the problem as the violent jihadis who are proud to own the worldview.

In the house of Islam, hatred has deep roots stretching back through time. In 1836 Edward Lane reported in The Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians that it was standard practice in many Cairo schools to require Muslim school boys to invoke daily curses on the heads of Christians, Jews and other non-Muslims. In essence these curses called for the looting, killing and enslavement of non-Muslims. It is only against the backdrop of inter-generational hatred that a television series on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion could have become mainstream viewing in Egyptian society, and continuing kidnapping, rape and killings of Copts are perpetrated without justice for the victims.

There is an ill-wind of hatred blowing in the house of Islam and it has been blowing for a very long time indeed. When this wind is whipped up into a tornado, the world is appalled, but it is the constant steady breeze of hatred that is the root of the problem.

As this letter was addressed to the Christians of the world, here I give my personal reply to the Islamic State, written as a Christian:
I am not intimidated by your hatred. Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us not to fear those who may kill the body. The people of honour on that beach in Tripoli were those 21 courageous Copts, who dared to confess the name of Christ, even with a knife to their necks. They knew well what choice they were making. You thought to humiliate them, but the Word of God tells me they are the vindicated ones, the men of glory. I believe they knew that full well.
For you I have no hate, only pity. You wield the sword to kill ideas and worship you do not understand, but you do this in vain. The truth cannot be killed by your knives.
General Sisi of Egypt was right: because of you, people all over the world are doubting Islam.
(Quadrant editor's note: This is an edited, shorter version of a post at Lapidomedia: Centre for Religious Literacy in World Affairs)
Mark Durie is a theologian, human rights activist, Anglican pastor, a Shillman-Ginsburg Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and Adjunct Research Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths at Melbourne School of Theology.

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Financing The Ultimate Terror

"[The Islamic State represents] a new type of terrorist organization with unique funding streams."
"[We plan to] immediately review whether all [its] members have implemented measures to cut off terrorism-related financial flows."
"The report demonstrates that ISIL is essentially living off the  capital illicitly generated by the territory it occupies, primarily by looting banks, exploiting oilfields and robbing economic assets."
"ISIL can be stifled by frustrating its ability to generate funds from these activities and by preventing it from obtaining funds from other sources and activities."
Financial Action Task Force, Paris

The all-female al-Khanssaa Brigade in Syria
The all-female al-Khanssaa Brigade in Syria. Photograph: unknown/Syriadeeply.org
Governments that are identified as failing to do their utmost to staunch the flow of cash to Islamic State have been given due notice that they will be pressured to take immediate remedial action by the global agency set up to represent the international community's dedication to fight terrorist financing and money laundering. All 36 of its members are required to freeze terrorists' assets and to ensure it is illegal within their jurisdictions to finance terrorists.
The Financial Action Task Force is preparing to "put pressure on any country that has failed to implement these measures". And what then of countries which are careful themselves to adhere to the agreed-upon measures, but which nonetheless maintain cheerfully close relations with other countries not part of the pact and therefore free to continue contributing to the well-being of Islamic State -- like Turkey, like Qatar?
Qatar’s Emir meets Obama in first visit to White House
US president Barack Obama and the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani smile while in the Oval Office at the White House on February 24, 2015. Larry Downing/ ٍReuters

Take, for example, President Obama's beyond-courteous display of friendliness with a country that is well known to promote the activities of terrorist groups, like funding Hamas, and Islamic State, yet the emir of Qatar is honoured at the White House. What does this say for American commitment to the global goal of stifling Islamic State through cutting off its funding? Mind, the U.S. and Qatar mutually befriend another terrorist group, the Muslim Brotherhood.

Since the warning was issued with the  specific purpose of warning Gulf states such as Qatar, which the US. itself has accused of failing to crack down on Islamic State financiers, the meeting at the White House three days earlier appears mystifying indeed. Is this an instance yet again of the Obama administration stating an unequivocal position, and then surrendering it at the earliest occasion?

Turkey is another member of the Financial Action Task Force. And it is well enough known the viral antipathy that President Erdogan has taken to President al-Assad's campaign against Syrian Sunnis who had protested their status of an oppressed majority under the Alawite minority regime. Turkey is also known to have financed Islamic State operations, as well as those of Hamas, and it permits itself to be used as an entry point for those jihadis eager to join the Islamic State in Syria.

The U.S. Treasury had calculated that Islamic State looted a half-billion dollars from state-owned banks in Mosul alone when it flooded the city with its militias as Mosul was left undefended by fleeing Iraqi troops. The oil refineries Islamic State 'caliphate' now operates, selling their production on the black market earns it another $100 million annually from the sale of oil and oil products.

And add in another $20 million for ransoms of Westerners; those that aren't horribly mutilated and slaughtered whose countries will bargain with terrorists for the release of their nationals, exempting Britain and America. And the sale of looted architectural and archaeological treasures in the West demanding huge amounts of cash in exchange for black market sales of artefacts that legitimate collectors and national museums refuse to touch.

The Islamic State must qualify as the best-funded terrorist group that history has ever seen. It has its state and non-state backers handsomely funding its atrocious activities and aspirations. And the mass looting it is involved in remains capable of gains advantaging its positioning in its long-range plans of occupying ever-large geographic areas of the Middle East, killing and destroying as it proceeds.

The indirect aid given it by those countries sworn to defeat the Islamic State and its purpose, along with the discreet direct aid advantages its course of action. A situation that all countries signing on to the global pledge should be aware of, yet the leading country that has dedicated resources and ostensibly is geared to defeat ISIS, has been hobnobbing with those countries funding it, instead of remonstrating and demanding compliance.

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Friday, February 27, 2015

The Raging Insult Motivating Slaughter

"I had a job waiting for me and marriage to get started. [But now] I feel like a prisoner, only not in a cage, in London. A person imprisoned & controlled by security service men, stopping me from living my new life in my birthplace & country, Kuwait."
Mohammed Emwazi, London, England; aka "Jihadi John", Syria, Islamic State jihadist
Intelligence agencies said to have unmasked 'Jihadi John'
"There was an extremely strong resemblance. This is making me feel fairly certain that this is the same person. The guy's got a hood on his head. It's very, very difficult."
"The Mohammed that I knew was extremely kind, extremely gentle, extremely soft-spoken, was the most humble young person that I knew."
When we treat people as if they are outsiders, they will inevitably feel like outsiders, and they will look for belonging elsewhere."
"Mohammed was quite incensed by his treatment."
"This is a young man who was ready to exhaust every single kind of avenue within the machinery of the state to bring a change for his personal situation. [In the end he felt] actions were taken to criminalize him and he had no way to do something against these actions."
Asim Qureshi, research director, Muslim rights group CAGE

Investigators believe that the masked killer known as
From ordinary schoolboy to world's most wanted terrorist
"[Forget the usual ideas that] these guys are all impoverished, that they're coming from deprived backgrounds."
"They are by and large upwardly mobile people, well educated."
Shiraz Maher, King's College radicalization centre
A masked, black-clad militant, who has been identified by the Washington Post newspaper as a Briton named Mohammed Emwazi

Goodness gracious, wouldn't you know it, that old colonizing spirit at it again, identifying the lesser-privileged and reminding them that their status is that of an unequal, almost-deserving dependent of Great Britain. Offending the dignity of those who migrate from their countries of origin in the near East to the West, to find a 'better life' of economic and social opportunities for themselves, away from violent tribal and sectarian animosities and government oppression.

And so, a young man whose family removed from Kuwait to London when he was a child, enabling him to attend college and obtain a degree in computer science, felt appalled at the treatment he suffered at the suspicious hands of the Dutch and British intelligence agents who viewed his travels askance, questioning him about his real motivations, suspecting that he had within him the active ingredients of jihad terrorism bubbling to the surface.

And weren't they spot on? This young man who was humble and gentle, gracious and kind appears to have been transformed into a ragingly brutal murderer sans conscience. In his introduction on the world stage via Islamic State 'public relations' videos he is seen personally conducting progressive slaughters of the most gruesomely odious variety. No crucifixions, no disembowelment, no immolation, but the crude sawing off of victims' heads.

Not his fault, though, clearly not; the West had it coming for disrespecting his dignity.

The polite, soft-spoken young man so miserably disappointed by the treatment he was exposed to that he jettisoned his middle-class lifestyle in London for the preferential experience of a guerrilla battlefield where attacks against ethnic and religious minorities were justified; not merely questioning these people under suspicion by ISIS for their outrageous gall in assuming they would be permitted to live in peace among Islamists, but raping the women and enslaving children, and slaughtering men.

Jihadi John's solution to his rage over being unjustly singled out for questioning, is to butcher all those who offend his sense of propriety in fanatical Islam. Not his fault, though, just ask Mr. Qureshi; he was driven to it through his despair at the insolent manner in which he was treated when all he wanted to do was travel freely in Africa and the Middle East without the nosy interference of Western intelligence and their infuriating inferences.

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Exclusively All-Inclusive

Canadians were in for a treat. Justin Trudeau, former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau's first-born son would lead the lost-in-the-wilderness Liberal party back to the helm of governance. Because he had the royal jelly to enable him in that task. And he would, he promised, transform the way that government behaved, to make it wholly transparent, accountable, noble in its social contract with those who elected Members of Parliament to lead the country.
He expressed a youthful exuberance and irresistible idealism that appealed to many. After all, the reason that the Liberal party was in third-place status in Parliament was a popular back-lash to the previous Liberal governments, particularly under that wily old trough-nuzzler Jean Chretien and the revelations of skullduggery all too common among the Liberals of his day. Justin Trudeau would smooth a healing balm over all of that.

And he would deliver the people of Canada from their pitiful sojourn into the future under the "hidden agenda" of the Conservative party. So dedicated to maintaining their grip on power were the Conservatives that they have kept their hidden agenda skilfully hidden for the past nine years of their governance under the craftily steady hand of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. But the hidden agenda waits patiently for the right moment to reveal itself and horrify Canadians.

Justin Trudeau will undertake to rescue Canada from its ill judgement in choosing the Conservative party to govern, over the Liberals; no need to even nod in the direction of the NDP. Take nominations for potential candidates for example; the riding associations would have full freedom in determining who among them they prefer to stand forward for election to represent themselves. It was high time to return freedom of choice to the ridings.

Unfortunately that resolve more or less fizzled in the practicality of fielding 'star' candidates upon whose stellar qualities as candidates, Mr. Trudeau has fixated, causing him to surrender yet another of his promises in democracy-in-action. There are at least two lawsuits pending, brought against Mr. Trudeau and his inner-circle apparatchiks practising the power of "positive politics" by candidates summarily dismissed in favour of those Mr. Trudeau prefers.

And perhaps another is pending. Although this time the Liberal star candidate for the riding of Nepean was blocked at the last moment, a man who had passed the "green light committee" with flying colours. Until it was discovered that he is an active member, supporter and spokesman for the fascist Syrian Social Nationalist Party, aligned with the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad with their own little death squad operations.
Federal Liberal Nomination Candidate for the riding of Nepean

Justin Trudeau, in courting the votes of Arab Canadians, touted open nominations as the key to "building a team as diverse as our great nation". Who knew it would include tainted death-squad politics of the deadly-dysfunctional Middle East sending its tentacles into Canada? University of Ottawa professor Nour El Kadri, formerly vice-president of the Canadian Arab Federation, hoped to serve as the Liberal standard bearer in the new Nepean riding.

The Syrian-Canadian community, furious at what Bashar al-Assad, the country's Alawite Shiite ruler has done to their former birthplace in his conflict with the majority Sunni Syrians, alerted journalists and presumably the Liberal party about Mr. El Kadri's intimate connections with the fascist SSNP and connection with the Baathist regime, as part of the ruling Assad coalition.

Justin Trudeau has been busy back-tracking on many of his ill-advised moves, let alone the idiotic eruptions that keep burbling out of his earnestly 'progressive' mouth.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Friends and Foes in Heads of State

"I find it stunning to see the comments out of the White House on this issue. It is more than a distraction, it is unfortunate. It plays into the hands of those people who are not in favor of the relationship [between Israel and the US], who are not in favor of Israel, or who are in favor of Iran, and the idea that people are saying what they are saying I find most unfortunate. The entire discussion on [Netanyahu’s] visit, it seems to me, is a distraction from the important subject about Iran."
"Here is a country that is supporting terrorism, has a pattern of being hostile not only toward the United States and Israel but toward many of the countries in your [Middle East] region. If the White House or the administration has a problem on an issue with a friend, normally they would work it out privately. They would sit down and say, ‘Gee what about this, what about that, let’s work this out.’ In this case, it’s all public diplomacy."
"[Susan Rice’s comments] reflect an imperfect understanding of our system of government and our constitution. Certainly, there’s a role for the Congress in foreign policy and national security affairs. Iran is a critical issue and Israel is an important ally, and there is nothing inappropriate at all for the speaker to invite the prime minister or for the prime minister to come over."
I think the [Obama] administration is making a statement that they don’t want anything to intervene in their negotiations with Iran, and they are probably understandably apprehensive that Prime Minister Netanyahu will come and talk about this subject in a way that is not consistent with what their aspirations are for a deal with Iran. Therefore, they have said things that are undiplomatic and inconsistent with the relationship between our two countries and its importance… I’m really amazed at the rudeness, at the undiplomatic way this administration is handling this issue. '
"[The Obama administration’s attitude] is unfortunate because it damages, or appears to damage, the relationship with an important ally for the United States. I think it is exactly what the Iranians are happy to hear—it has to be encouraging for them. But it is also unprofessional. I think the rest of the nations of the world look at the administration’s behavior in this matter and see the damage that has been done to one of our important relationships. It is not in any sense permanent damage because this administration is in its waning years, but I think that other countries will inevitably wonder how reliable an ally this administration is."
Donald Rumsfeld, former American Secretary of Defence
Obama and Netanyahu: A story of mutual hatred.
Obama and Netanyahu during the U.S. president's visit in Israel, March 20, 2013. Photo by Bloomberg
"It appears that they have given up on that commitment [U.S.-Israel alliance] and are accepting that Iran will gradually, within a few years develop capabilities to produce material for many nuclear weapons. They might accept this but I am not willing to accept this."
"I respect the white House, I respect the president of the United States, but in such a fateful matter that can determine if we exist or not, it is my duty to do everything to prevent this great danger to the State of Israel."
"I regret that the invitation to address the special joint session of Congress has been perceived by some to be political or partisan. I can assure you [Democratic senators] that my sole intention in accepting it was to voice Israel's grave concerns [ with the Iran nuclear deal]."
Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu
Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress in May 2011, and he's coming back in March – but Vice President Joe Biden (left) won't be there
Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress in May 2011, and he's coming back in March – but Vice President Joe Biden (left) won't be there

Neither the president, Barack Obama, nor the vice-president, Joe Biden will meet with Mr. Netanyahu, nor will they attend that joint Congressional session to hear out what Mr. Netanyahu plans to say to explain Israel's position on enabling the Islamic Republic of Iran -- which has threatened repeatedly to destroy Israel -- to have its longed-for nuclear arsenal.  The problem of a nuclear-armed Iran directly affects Israel. The United States looks to its own short- and long-term problems; this administration does not deem Iran a direct and immediate threat to itself.

Evidently, the Iranian Republican Guard naval exercise destroying a replica of an American war ship is an exercise in good neighbourly fun, and nothing to get all excited about. Barack Obama extends a fist to Israel and an open hand to the Islamic Republic of Iran, but that's just the way it is for the present time where an American president has mystified and bedazzled with disbelief his former allies and welcomed with open arms those working diligently against the interests of peace in the world.

In seeking ways to have a counter-effect on Mr. Netanyahu's upcoming address to Congress, along with his separate scheduled speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, President Obama has also decided this year to bypass addressing AIPAC, a powerful lobbying group he has in the past benefited by his presence. Instead, he has sent a very direct and powerfully insulting message to both Mr. Netanyahu/Israel and AIPAC by hosting Qatar's emir at the White House. Photographs of Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu together always show a glowering Mr. Obama.

U.S. President Barack Obama shares some laughs with Qatar's Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at the White House, February 24, 2015. (Image source: C-SPAN video screenshot)

In this photograph Mr. Obama is positively glowing. Qatar, lest anyone need reminding, gives aid and support to Hamas, and is a great admirer of Iran. Its support for the Muslim Brotherhood has enraged Egypt which has cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar for its trouble-making within Egypt, supporting the Islamist terrorist groups assembled in the Sinai Peninsula which have been attacking Egypt's military and police in an effort to restore the Muslim Brotherhood to power there. Mr. Obama has turned American Middle East policy on its head.

Iran and Qatar are in, Israel and Egypt are out, and include Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, and Jordan in that little re-arrangement. The Muslim Brotherhood has access to the White House and the executive installed therein, however. And it appears that the Obama administration conspires with the Brotherhood to restore it to power, removing President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi whom Egyptians have indicated they far prefer than Mohammad Morsi, whom they rejected, though favoured by Barack Obama in the wisdom of his preferences.

Plans for Mr. Netanyahu's speech had "injected a degree of partisanship" into the traditional U.S.-Israel relationship, a relationship that surmounts politics, according to the national security adviser, Susan Rice. "It's destructive to the fabric of the relationship. It's always been bipartisan. We need to keep it that way." And isn't that odd, since Mr. Netanyahu turned down an invitation to meet privately with Senate Democrats, on the basis of it being perceived to be political or partisan. Whereas his speech will be an address to a joint sitting of Congress.

Who is the hypocrite here?

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Casting Blame

"They told us she had been interacting with people they thought were dangerous and were influencing her in a negative way, but they didn't give us enough information and it was all very vague."
"We all went to work, came home, all her stuff was gone. She had packed all her winter clothes, took her computer and left."
"If they had shown me the emails between my sister and this girl. If they had let me listen to the recordings of them planning on going places [it would have given the family more to act on]."
"I would have ripped her passport up. There's no way I would have let her leave if I knew now that she was going to the craziest war zone in the world."
Sister of young Muslim recruit to ISIS

"You know what, we can't be everywhere. We can't be everywhere at all times. To me, the news makes part of our community. And if we were to be involved in those things at earlier stages, things sometimes can change."
"And my concern always when it comes to any of these kinds of things, is people holding on to information prior to getting it to police."
"People are looking for things to belong to, whether that's (Somali terrorist group) al-Shabab or a gang. So no, it's just different and it's highlighted in the media right now."
"It is imperative we, as a police service and a society, look at terrorism and radicalization as extremist criminal behaviours."
"This criminal activity is not about placing blame on a specific race, religion, culture or community."

Insp. Dan Jones, RCMP investigative support branch

The family of the missing young woman who took the bait as an ISIS recruit finds fault with Canada's national police service, insisting that they were given insufficient information to adequately alert them to the potential of their family member's imminent departure from Canada to join Islamic State in Syria. But they were in fact notified and doubtless questioned as well. Having been informed that the police suspected the  young woman had been radicalized, what more information might the family have expected to have them take the initiative to tackle their family problem?

It is always easy to lash out at external sources. But the external sources in this instance as in so many others where the RCMP is held to blame by families of those radicalized in their local mosques or through the Internet, is those espousing the unsavoury tenets of their own religion. The young woman in question took an online course on Islam, and it was through that course that she is suspected of having been persuaded that her place is alongside the Islamist terrorists slaughtering their own whom they identify as apostates.

The manner in which the Muslim community itself responds to the threat within that targets their impressionable young men and women is telling in and of itself. The identity of the woman who ran that online course is known to the Muslim community. As she is to the police. She is evidently not held to have been doing anything illegal, for no charges have been brought against her. The mosque where she is connected simply requested that she leave in view of her recruiting for Islamic State. Protecting themselves, or protecting others?

And the family of this particular missing young woman wants heads to roll at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service which, they claim, insufficiently alerted them to the situation. In response, Edmonton police speak of building trust, engaging youth and working closely with community partners against radicalization, as their "strongest weapon". If the Muslim community itself, and more specifically its leaders and its mosque clerics are not sufficiently involved to counteract the effects of recruitment, their effectiveness in their alliance with intelligence services suffers.

Last weekend's release by al-Shabab of a video calling for local Muslims to engage themselves in violent acts targeting the city of Edmonton's largest mall, sent shivers of apprehension through the minds of locals. Anything is possible, and should there be local Muslims who find the appeal of the Islamists sufficiently attractive to want to emulate their destructive violence in Africa or the Middle East, there is little to stop them from attempting to become blessed martyrs in the cause of jihad.
Much depends on the success of the Muslim communities c-operating with police. Or is the supposed alliance of co-operation seen as a betrayal? A religious demographic that has in the past viewed Canadian intelligence and security authorities with suspicion and mistrust. Three Edmonton men died while fighting for Islamic State last fall. If the Muslim community from which they came view that as a sacrifice for a cause they believe in, little can be done to persuade them otherwise.

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Evils of the Devils

"In addition to its strategy of terrifying people, taking hostages to use as human shields to protect from coalition airstrikes is another of its goals."
"Daesh is wiping Assyrian heritage in Mosul, and at the same time wiping them geographically from the face of the Earth."
Osama Edward, director, Assyrian Network for Human Rights in Syria, Stockholm, Sweden

"There are 200 families who were running away and trying to escape to Turkey, but the border is closed for Syrians. No Syrian can cross into Turkey."
"(ISIS) attacked two villages, which are a Christian majority. They took families from both villages."
'[Every night he can hear planes passing over their heads, but] without bombing or doing anything…in the past four days [coalition] air operations have been suspended. I ask myself why."
Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, Syrian archdiocese of Hassake

Assyrians citizens hold placards during a sit-in for abducted Christians in Syria and Iraq, at a church in Sabtiyesh area east Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. (Hussein Malla/Associated Press)

The group of an estimated 90 Christians that Islamic State jihadists abducted from their villages has been moved to one of their strongholds, presumably while their leadership decides how they will dispose of the captives; by slaughtering them as yet another message to the world that they will not tolerate any religion other than Islam the privilege of living alongside the faithful, or as pawns for trade in exchange for captured ISIS terrorists. 

Even more likely as a threat to the U.S.-led bombing coalition that all those abducted will be killed if the aerial assaults don't cease.

Hassakeh province bordering Turkey and Iraq now represents the latest fierce battleground in the conflict being prosecuted against the spread of Islamic State in Syria. Predominantly Kurdish, there are also populations of Arabs and predominantly Christian Assyrians and Armenians, the latter two accustomed to the dreary reality of persecution, but never quite prepared to have to suffer through it all again, afflicted by hatred and remorseless violence.

Younan Talia, an official with the Assyrian Democratic Organization, speaking from Hassakeh bemoaned this latest assault on his people: "It's a tragedy ... It is true what they say: history repeats itself". Well, of course it does; humankind is urged to recall history to ensure that it does not repeat itself, but human memory is short and the malice that exists within ethnic, tribal, clan and sectarian isolatin ensures that each views the other with suspicion and unease.

In the case of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, however, the motivation is pure, unadulterated hateful menace backed up by the resolve that no amount of bloodshed is too much to achieve their goal of cleansing the geography of non-Muslims, and of Muslims whom they consider apostates. Now the hostages reside helpless to their fate in the Islamic State-controlled city of Shaddadeh, south of Hassakeh. where the coalition bombing ISIS have occasionally struck Shaddadeh.

According to Mr. Talia, the jihadi terrorists had raided no fewer than 33 Assyrian villages, collecting up to 300 people along the way, many taken from their beds at dawn. One man who refused to leave was set on fire, along with his house. Over 700 families who fled the region had arrived in Hassakeh. And even more hostages have been taken from their homes in northeastern Syria since the first abductions on Monday.

"God protect the Christians of Syria from all the evils of the devils."
"For our Syriac and Assyrian brothers, let us pray together." [Placards held in the photo above]

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New Secret Iranian Nuclear Facility Revealed

New Secret Iranian Nuclear Facility Revealed

Wed, February 25, 2015
Satellite image of Iran's secret Lavizan-3 nuclear facility as revealed by satellite maps.
Satellite image of Iran's secret Lavizan-3 nuclear facility as revealed by satellite maps.
An Iranian opposition group has disclosed the existence of a secret uranium enrichment site in Iran that has been operating since 2008. The revelation comes as the U.S. and Iran come close to an "historic compromise" on its nuclear program ahead of a March 31 deadline for a deal.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a controversial opposition group, is known for its expansive intelligence network inside Iran that regularly delivers detailed information about the regime’s secret activities.

In 2002, NCRI exposed that Iran had a secret uranium enrichment facility at Natanz and was building a heavy water reactor at Arak suitable for making plutonium-based nuclear weapons. The Iranian regime was forced to admit their existence and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has inspected the sites.

The specifics contained in the NCRI’s report give it credibility because they make the report easy to either verify or debunk. The report pinpoints the hidden nuclear site with satellite photography, explains its internal structuring and shows the entrances as well as the location of an elevator to access a 200-meter underground tunnel. There’s even an up-close photograph of one of the shielded doors used at the site to conceal radiation.

A door to shield radiation at the Lavizan-3 facilityA door to shield radiation at the Lavizan-3 facility

The secret site is called Lavizan-3 and is operated by the Ministry of Intelligence and Security. It is within a military compound so that the regime can declare it off-limits to IAEA inspectors. Construction of the site began in early 2004 and is believed to have finished in 2008 or around that time.
A satellite image of the secret Lavizan-3 facility with the halls and tunnels markedA satellite image of the secret Lavizan-3 facility with the halls and tunnels marked

According to the group’s sources inside Iran, the site is used for enriching uranium and building, testing and installing advanced centrifuges that enable Iran to produce the uranium for a nuclear bomb more quickly. The centrifuges at this location are of the IR2, IR3 and IR4 types. These centrifuges can potentially cut the time needed to make bomb-grade uranium from low-enriched uranium in half, from 18-24 months to 9-12 months.

NCRI also listed the names of key personnel involved in the hidden site. One of them is Morteza Behzad, an engineer involved with the Fordo uranium enrichment site that is buried 300 feet underground and was exposed in 2009. The Treasury Department sanctioned him in 2012.
The Lavizan-3 site can only hold 3,000 centrifuges, making it unsuitable for an a civilian energy program but entirely suitable for nuclear weapons creation.

Four top nuclear experts said earlier this month that they now consider Iran to be a nuclear-ready state,  warning that Iran poses an Electro-Magnetic Pulse threat to the U.S. and its satellite launches show that it has intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S.

The IAEA confirms that Iran is still not being transparent about its nuclear activity. The agency’s September 5 report stated that Iran is still denying inspectors access to the Parchin site where the regime is believed to conducted research inarguably related to nuclear weapons. The regime also continued to deny that it has worked on nuclear warheads and has not adequately addressed the IAEA’s evidence.

The International Committee in Search of Justice, an organization the Iranian opposition, also released an extensively detailed report on November 20. It outlined 10 nuke-related activities by the Iranian regime that it has not admitted to or clarified.

It is important to note that the Iranian regime has a history of hiding its nuclear facilities and only disclosing them once they are caught.

The U.S. believes its intelligence service and those of its partners can validate Iranian compliance with a potential nuclear deal, but the West does not have a good record of detecting activities concerning weapons of mass destruction. Top non-proliferation expert Mark Fitzpatrick says, “[Uranium enrichment] can be carried out using centrifuge cascades in relatively small buildings that give off no heat and are hard to detect.”

Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, a top nuclear expert, told the Clarion Project that “it is not easy to detect a clandestine program,” and it is “virtually impossible to detect the development of a gun or implosion detonation system.” A U.S. intelligence official commented to the Daily Beast that you could hide a uranium enrichment site inside a warehouse, and it would not give off the detectable “signatures” that would reveal its existence.

The IAEA even said, “The agency is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran and, therefore, to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”

The disclosure of a hidden site is to be expected. After all, Iran’s “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani previously boasted of expanding the country’s nuclear program through deception. Its major nuclear sites are only known because they were discovered -- not because of any interest by the regime in transparency.

The U.S. government has yet to officially comment on this breaking news about the Lavizan-3 site. The wrong approach would be to dismiss the report if the CIA lacks verification. However, the “absence” of evidence is not evidence of absence.
Any realistic nuclear deal with Iran would require unfettered access to all suspected nuclear sites by IAEA inspectors. The U.S. should insist on this now. If the Iranian regime is seriously interested in a deal, then it will open the doors to Lavizan-3 and prove its sincerity.

Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio.

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