Saturday, April 30, 2016

Video - Islamic 'state' Struggles to Overcome their Budget Deficit.

Video - Islamic 'state' Struggles to Overcome their Budget Deficit. HT: SouthFront.

Russia - About 60 Islamic State Sympathizers detained in underground Salafi 'prayer house' in Samara.

Russia - About 60 Islamic State Sympathizers detained in underground Salafi 'prayer house' in Samara. (Tass).

About 60 persons were detained on Friday in an underground prayer house of a Salafi Islamic cell in Samara, a city in the Middle Volga area, a spokesman for the regional department.

An improvised explosive device found in the same house was destroyed and samples of the blasting agent were taken away for an expert study.

"In the course of the operation at the site of gathering of a Salafi religious cell, some sixty people were detained," he said. "We had information on a number of individuals affiliated with the cell who are taking part in the armed conflict in Syria as paramilitaries."

A former member of the same cell, a resident of Samara, who is now a paramilitary in the ranks of the Islamic State terrorist grouping is known as a producer of a number of video clips uploaded in the Internet.

"The operatives found an improvised explosive device during the search in the building," the spokesman said. "Demolition engineers didn't manage to defuse it and had to demolish it on the spot."

"Also, they found extremist literature," he said. "About sixty persons were detained and taken to the Krasnoglinski district police department where police officers are questioning them over their possible involvement in the crime."

During the efforts to defuse and demolish the explosive, police fully fenced off a section of the M5 federal automobile road, as the building where the prayer house was located stands at a distance of a mere 30 meters away from the road.

The column of flame produced by the explosion was about 15 meters tall. The blast destroyed several annexes to the building.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Italian Officials Arrest Islamic State Suspects Plotting To Hit Vatican, Israeli Embassy In Rome

Italian Officials Arrest Islamic State Suspects Plotting To Hit Vatican, Israeli Embassy In Rome.(WSJ).

Italian police issued six arrest warrants Thursday for people suspected of plotting to join the Islamic State group. Three of the suspects were plotting attacks on the Vatican and the Israeli embassy in Rome, Reuters reported.

According to authorities, investigators intercepted communication from Islamic State members in the Middle East in April ordering Abderrahim Moutaharrik, a Moroccan-born Italian, to carry out attacks in Italy, a sign that the group wants aspiring foreign fighters to stay in the West rather than travel to Syria and Iraq.

These were messages with alarming, even devastating content,” prosecutor Franco Roberti said. There were no signs that a specific attack had been planned, he said.

The man was told to pay particular attention to Rome because Christians would be flocking to the city for the Holy Year, another prosecutor Maurizio Romanelli said. Pope Francis initiated the Jubilee “year of mercy” in December.

Mr. Moutaharrik, a Moroccan boxer who has Italian citizenship, was detained together with his partner, identified as Salma Bencharki.
I swear I will be the first to attack them in this Italy of crusaders, I swear I’ll attack it, in the Vatican, God willing,” one man said, according to a transcript of a wire-tapped conversation released by Italian officials. Another recording revealed the same man said he had contacted an Albanian man in order to get a gun so he could target the Israeli embassy in Rome.

Officials across Europe have stepped up security in the wake of major terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels. The Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, took responsibility for both attacks. The November attacks in Paris left 130 people dead and hundreds injured while attacks in Brussels in March left 32 people dead and hundreds injured.

American officials said Monday that ISIS was operating cells throughout Europe in countries including Germany, Britain and Italy.

“That is a concern, obviously, of ours and our European allies,” said James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, when asked about the terror group’s activity across Europe, the New York Times reported.

Italian officials said four of the six suspects were arrested Thursday while the location of a Moroccan man and his Italian wife was still unknown. Officials said the couple had left Italy last year to travel to either Iraq or Syria where ISIS controls territory.

The new aspect here is that we are not talking about a generic indication [of an attack] but a specific person being appointed to act on Italian soil,” said Milan prosecutor Maurizio Romanelli. Read the full story here.

Islamist Turkey deploying troops to Qatar, the 'Muslim brotherhood' threat to U.S. Troops stationed in Qatar?

Islamist Turkey deploying troops to Qatar, the 'Muslim brotherhood' threat to U.S. Troops stationed in Qatar? (AlAraby).

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has signed a military deal with Qatar that includes the deployment of Turkish troops to a new Turkish military base in the Gulf nation to help "counter threats to both countries".

Davutoglu concluded the deal on Thursday while on a two-day visit to Qatar to meet with his Qatari counterpart Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah and the Qatari Interior Minister Abdallah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani.

The two long-time allies have both provided support for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and Syrian rebel groups fighting the Bashar al-Assad regime.

"There has been exceptionally high-level strategic cooperation in the defence and military fields between Turkey and Qatar," Davutoglu said.

He said that his country's first overseas military base in the Middle East "was not directed at against any nation" but that it was a "presence for stability".
"I can tell you now that the security and stability of Qatar is like the security and stability of Turkey. We want a stable and secure Gulf. Turkey and Qatar, we have the same destiny. We face the same threats," he added.
The number of soldiers to be deployed was not specified.

The Turkish base was first announced last December when the two countries signed a defence agreement aimed at helping confront "common enemies".

At the time, Turkish envoy Ahmet Demirok said that 3,000 ground troops would be stationed at the base as well as air and naval units, military trainers and special operations forces.

The number of Turkish troops currently deployed to Qatar is unclear, Demirok said in December that there were 100 servicemen training with Qatar's military.

Ankara's defence minister said last month that the military base will be ready within two years and that that Qatari military personnel and aircraft currently stationed in Turkey as a part of the reciprocal.

An agreement signed in 2014 and ratified by Turkey's parliament last June intensified the partnership with Qatar at a time of rising instability and a perceived waning of US interest in the region.

Qatar is already home to the biggest air base in the Middle East, Al Udeid, where some 10,000 military personnel are stationed, and is the forward headquarters of United States Central Command. Hmmm.....My guess in the not so far future Qatar will politely thank the U.S. for it's past presence and ask them to leave now that 'Big Islamist Brother' Turkey is there to protect them -----> PS:

                                             Turkey's New Base in Qatar.

                                  US military faces toxic enemy on Qatar air base

Ahmed al Tayyeb, great Imam of Al Azhar, personally went to express his Easter greetings to Orthodox Coptic Patriarch Tawadros II

Ahmed al Tayyeb, great Imam of Al Azhar, personally went to express his Easter greetings to Orthodox Coptic Patriarch Tawadros II. (Fides).

In Egypt, Coptic churches - who follow the Julian calendar - are celebrating Holy Week. In view of Easter, greetings and good wishes are expressed to the Copts by representatives of institutions.

Even Ahmed al Tayyeb, great Imam of Al Azhar, went to the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo to personally express his Easter greetings to Orthodox Coptic Patriarch Tawadros II.

And in the imminence of the Christian solemnity, also pastoral initiatives flourish in the large North African country: in recent days, some Coptic Orthodox priests of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Minya, Upper Egypt, decided to leave their parishes to go to celebrate moments of prayer in the streets, in cafes and in public places, in order to announce the Passion and the Resurrection of Christ to the many baptized who do not attend churches and sanctuaries even on the occasion of the liturgical solemnities.

The Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Minya presented this initiative on its website as an attempt to reach Christians, especially among many young people, who do not usually attend the parishes.

"This is an initiative that may seem unusual in a country overwhelmingly Muslim, always threatened by sectarian conflicts" refers to Agenzia Fides Anba Botros Fahim Awad Hanna, Coptic Catholic Bishop of Minya, "and it is obvious that it can be done with freedom and serenity in residential areas and villages only by Christian citizens.

But it still represents a sign of apostolic vitality: many young people have no real contact with the life of the Church and its liturgical and sacramental dynamics. So instead of waiting for them in a parish, we gently try to reach them, in places where they live and prefer to spend their time". (GV) (

NASA: Mosquitoes carrying the deadly Zika virus could reach as far north as New York....And Canada?

NASA: Mosquitoes carrying the deadly Zika virus could reach as far north as New York....And Canada? (NYT).
Nasa is better known for its work in space - but has today revealed it is assisting public health officials, scientists and communities to better understand the Zika virus and try to limit the spread of the disease it causes. 
Scientists at the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, partnered with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado to produce a risk map.  
They hope it will help government agencies and health organizations better prepare for possible disease outbreaks related to the spread of the virus.
The research team looked at key factors including temperature, rainfall and socioeconomic factors that contribute to the spread of Zika virus to understand where and when a potential outbreak may occur.  
The researchers described their findings in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Current Outbreaks. 
'This information can help public health officials effectively target resources to fight the disease and control its spread,' said Dale Quattrochi, NASA senior research scientist at Marshall. 
To determine the potential risk in the mainland United States, Morin, Quattrochi and their colleagues applied methodology being employed in their current vector-borne disease project to potentially identify and predict the spread of Zika in 50 cities across the U.S. in or near the known range of the species.  
The team has studied this mosquito species for years, because it also transmits the dengue and chikungunya viruses. 
The research team found that the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is spreading the virus, will likely increase in number across much of the southern and eastern U.S. as the weather warms across those regions in the coming months.  
Summertime weather conditions are favorable for populations of the mosquito along the East Coast as far north as New York City and across the southern tier of the country as far west as Phoenix and Los Angeles. 
'The results generally confirmed many of our suspicions about the relative risk of Zika virus transmission in the U.S.,' said Cory Morin, a NASA postdoctoral program fellow with Marshall's Earth Science Office.  
'However, there were some surprises, such as the northern extent of Aedes aegypti potential survival during the summer months.' 
Hmmmm..........In my humble opinion the area in which Zika could emerge is greater,, the Aedes albopictus also called the Asian tiger mosquito which transmits among other diseases:dengue (DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3, DENV-4), chikungunya (CHIKV), yellow fever (YFV), and Zika) West Nile virus. (See map below and link to my post of February 2016).

West Nile virus cases in Canada Source here.
Zika - Predicted distribution of of A. aegypti and A. albopictus.

Source and download here.
This does not bode well for much of the southern and eastern US, or for much of the Midwest and central California. Or, for that matter, for the most densely populated region of Canada, from Windsor, Ontario to Montreal. We're not on the map, yet, but we'll have our hands full even if we have to deal only with imported cases of Zika, dengue, and chikungunya. HT & Source: Crof.

Based on the Agency's Rapid Risk Assessment, the overall risk to Canadians, in Canada, is very low, as mosquitoes known to transmit the virus are not established in Canada and are not well-suited to our climate.

The primary risk of autochthonous transmission in Canada would arise from Aedes albopictus also called the Asian tiger mosquito becoming established here. Our knowledge of its current whereabouts is based on informal surveillance. More field research is needed in North America to better understand and predict the climatic limits of this species Footnote 10.

Several factors could alter this assessment. Temperatures suitable for chikungunya virus transmission are achieved at times in many parts of Canada during the summer Footnote 9, and it is possible that in some circumstances housing conditions and densities of uninfected people would be sufficient to sustain limited outbreaks. Furthermore, it is possible that genetic plasticity of mosquito species could improve their capacity to survive in cooler, more northerly climates, although this is difficult to predict Footnote 10

Source and more info (CDC) HERE.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Video - Abdul Sattar Edhi: Pakistan's richest poor man

Video - Abdul Sattar Edhi: Pakistan's richest poor man. HT: TheExpressTribune .

For over 60 years, Abdul Sattar Edhi has shown us the power of one individual’s unwavering commitment and sincerity to the cause of humanity. As I write this, it pains me to say that Edhi has been robbed of just that.

Edhi, the obstinately humble hero to Pakistan’s masses

Maya Angelou famously said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Such will be the legacy of Abdul Sattar Edhi. His story will only live among the people; long after he has left us. Hmmmm......Now that's a real Nobel Peace\Prize winner!

Read the full story here.

Ahrar Ash-Sham, Jaysh Al-Islam; The Obama 'Admin's' Favorite Islamic Terrorists.

Ahrar Ash-Sham Leader Source

Ahrar Ash-Sham, Jaysh Al-Islam; The Obama 'Admin's' Favorite Islamic Terrorists. (AlWaght). 

Washington and its allies in West Asia region make efforts to draw a line between the two terrorist groups ISIS and al-Nusra Front and other groups in which they have representatives in the Syrian peace talks.
The most prominent of them are Ahrar ash-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam which Washington wants to separate from other militant groups and refuses to blacklist them as terror groups and at the same time, even insists that they are part of the Syrian opposition.
Meanwhile, Moscow has expressed its refusal to the idea, calling the groups terrorists with no difference from ISIS and al-Nusra Front terrorists in practice. What could these groups be called? Why does the title “terrorist groups” fit them well?

Ahrar ash-Sham: A background of terrorism, looting and trying to disintegrate Syria.

The Islamic Ahrar as-Sham group, as it calls itself, is considered as one of the armed groups in Syria that takes up the Salafism as its ideological basis. It rose in the beginning of the Syrian crisis on November 11, 2011 after unification of four Islamist Syrian movements Ahrar ash-Sham Battalions, al-Fajr Islamic Movement, Jamaat al-Talia al-Islamiya and al-Iman Fighting Brigades. Despite the fact that the movement has emphasized, since its establishment, that it was independent and that it would not follow any of the fighting movements inside and outside Syria, the movement has failed to hide its regional links to both Turkey and Qatar.

In addition to looting, Ahrar ash-Sham has taken control of border crossings as an income sources, a step that has driven it in many cases to work with ISIS terrorist organization. Moreover, the terrorist group receives donations from some institutions.
Some sources suggest that Ahrar ash-Sham has been provided with huge Qatari and Turkish military support, as well as funding supplied to the group by IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, a non-governmental Turkish organization (NGO) but holding links to Turkey's government. Besides, the group received help from Qatar Charitable Society, a civil organization, also connected to the Qatari government.

A terror partnership with al-Nusra Front and open adoption of Salafist ideology.

The Ahrar ash-Sham militant group is known for its outstanding military relations with the terrorists of al-Nusra Front although it tried to move away from Al-Qaeda terrorist organization and claim that it does not carry the same ideology of the terror organization. Many of its large-scale military assaults took place in coordination with al-Nusra Front, however. 

While Ahrar ash-Sham tries to claim that its cooperation with al-Nusra is tactical and happens due to situational requirements and calls the members of the Front "Khawarij"-the outsiders in English-, it overtly announced that it adopted a Salafist ideology and that it moved towards establishment of an Islamist state. Additionally, it repeatedly said that it would use solely armed methods and power to trigger change in Syria- the crux of Salafist ideology.

Therefore, the group’s attempts to stand out of other terror organizations active in Syria fail when its ideological and intellectual bases are brought in spotlight. One of its ideological leaders is Abu Musab al-Suri, one of the most prominent Al-Qaeda propagandists, and Abu Basir al-Tartusi, who came back to Syria from Britain as his exile place and started activity in takfirism promotion.

Jaysh al-Islam: Its foundation and links to Al-Nusra Front.

Jaysh al-Islam is a result of mix of over 55 armed factions, formed after outbreak of Syrian crisis. It started work under title Saraya al-Islam as a military brigade aiming at fighting the Syrian government.

Afterwards, it developed into Jaysh al-Islam following rise in number of its fighters. On July 29, 2013 there a statement emerged, announcing foundation of Jaysh al-Islam as an outcome of combination of tens of factions. The group was at that time the largest armed force of opposition, led by Zahran Alloush, before it joined the Islamic Front which had also Alloush as chief commander. Administratively, Jaysh al-Islam is comprised of leadership council, 26 executive offices and 64 battalions.

Present in many Syrian regions, Jaysh al-Islam took part in many terror operations in a variety of Syrian cities. It never hid its partnership with al-Nusra Front. Its former Commander-in-Chief Zahran Alloush said that “ al-Nusra Front is a fighting faction in Syria with which we worked in an array of battles and we observed their practice, jihad and diligence, and we hail al-Nusra Front and do not consider them Khawarij.

Analysis and reasoning.

Without doubt, the US and Russia disagree on blacklisting these two sides as terrorist groups. A couple of cases need clarification concerning the case, including:
1. Washington attempts to exploit these groups as political trump cards including for its own interests in Syria and, as it is clear, Washington’s policies are on collision course with those of the Syrian people. The key feature of the two groups is the working to impair the Syrian government. They use killing and looting to realize their aims and ensure their funding. Besides, it embraces a Salafist ideology, which it never hides.
2. Here the Russian interests collide with those of the US, especially that Moscow is diligently seeking to guarantee success of the Syrian peace negotiations, but it seems that they are faltering as a result of problems inside what is called the Syrian opposition, leading to some members defecting from the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), the main Syrian opposition delegation to Geneva peace talks. 
The defection took place after members of HNC disparaged “dominance of the extremists, including leaders of Jaysh al-Islam, over the negotiating delegation.” Such a dominance led to Moscow’s infuriation, expressed by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who called for blacklisting such groups as terrorist organizations.
What is obvious is Moscow’s hard work to broker a peaceful political deal for the Syrian crisis while Washington shows not much caring about finding a settlement for a devastating five-year conflict, rather, its stances and attempts lay bare its need for killing the time and thus betting on getting more bargaining chips in the future- a good interpretation for failure of Syria’s peace negotiations so far.


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