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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:


Related:
                                             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.  http://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/resources/vector-control.html

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.


RELATED !!!


More than 800 "jihadists" arrived in Germany over past four years — Russian General Staff


More than 800 "jihadists" arrived in Germany over past four years — Russian General Staff. (Tass).
"The situation remains tense in the Islamic diaspora dwelling areas in Austria, Belgium, France and other West European countries," the Russian military official says.
More than 800 "jihadists" have arrived in Germany over the past four years, Deputy Chief of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Sergei Afanasyev said on Wednesday.
The situation remains tense in the Islamic diaspora dwelling areas in Austria, Belgium, France and other West European countries", Afanasyev said at the 5th Moscow International Security Conference.
According to the General Staff representative, the flow of refugees from the armed conflict-affected regions of Africa and the Middle East poses a real threat of destabilization of the situation in European countries.

Supporters of radical Islam or "outspoken terrorists" penetrate into European countries under the guise of migrants, Afanasyev said. Read the full story here.

After Russia now the Dutch FM warns no safety 'guarantees' for visitors to 'Islamist' Turkey.

 Erdogan in his younger years, dreaming of Conquest? 2008 Source here.
After Russia now the Dutch FM warns no safety 'guarantees' for visitors to 'Islamist' Turkey. (F24).
 Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders has warned the Netherlands cannot guarantee the safety of citizens travelling to Turkey if they have been critical of Turkish leaders.
The warning, made during a parliamentary debate on Tuesday, comes as the Dutch government is working to lift a travel ban on Dutch-Turkish journalist Ebru Umar who was briefly arrested over the weekend for tweeting comments critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
But asked Tuesday in the Dutch parliament if he could provide guarantees for Dutch or Dutch-Turkish citizens travelling to Turkey on holiday who may have criticised Erdogan on social media, he said "no".
"There are no guarantees," Koenders insisted. "We have just had a case showing exactly what can happen. That is why we are working on it. But I cannot give any guarantees."

He also delivered a sharp warning to Turkey that "if it wants to step closer to Europe, it must significantly improve its behaviour."
"Let's be honest. You can't treat the press and press freedom this way, if you want to be part of Europe."

Headline : Afraid of Turks.

On Monday, the daily De Telegraaf published a large front page cartoon entitled "The long arm of Erdogan" depicting an ape with the Turkish leader's face crushing a woman resembling Umar.

Trials in Turkey for insulting Erdogan have multiplied since his election to the presidency in August 2014, with nearly 2,000 such cases currently open.

(In Dutch the expression 'De Apen Rots' (Monkey Rock) means the rock of power, the political hierarchy.) Read the full story here.

“Iran is poised to do something in cyber that will change the way the world looks at it"


“Iran is poised to do something in cyber that will change the way the world looks at it" (FT).

With its nuclear program curbed, digital weaponry has become even more central to Tehran’s arsenal.

Among the world’s big five cyber superpowers — the US, UK, Israel, Russia and China — MalCrawler concluded there was a digital equilibrium in military cyber offence based on assumptions over deterrence and reprisal.

“But in the Middle East, that’s not the case at all,” says Dewan Chowdhury, MalCrawler’s chief executive. “The mindset just seemed completely different — it wasn’t espionage or some kind of targeted operation necessarily, it was just to do as much damage as possible.” Read the full story here.
Related?

Palestinian Authority's billion dollar terror funding scam revealed.


Palestinian Authority's billion dollar terror funding scam revealed. (INN).
Western governments continue mass aid for PA after it promised to stop paying jailed terrorists' salaries, but new report exposes the lie.
A shocking report on Wednesday reveals that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has fooled Western governments, raking in over a billion dollars in aid from them annually despite breaching their demands that it stop paying salaries to terrorist prisoners. The report by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), which can be read in full here, exposes how the PA has coped since August 2014, when - in the face of demands by the US and European donor countries that it stop paying salaries to jailed terrorists - it announced it would stop the terror funding.




In its new report on Wednesday, PMW cited numerous official PA sources as well as statements by officials in the organization, which clearly show the PA is tricking the West.

The sources cited all testify that the PA Ministry of Finance continues to be the body making decisions for funding, and continues to be the source paying salaries to the jailed terrorists.
In 2015, following the PA's promise that it was no longer paying terror salaries and after it closed its Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs, it suddenly made a transfer more than double the amount it had moved over to the PLO in previous years, jumping from 294 million shekels (around $78 million) in 2014 to 775 million shekels (over $206 million) in 2015.
The extra 481 million shekels ($128 million) in the 2015 transfer was a sum nearly identical to the 442 million shekel (over $117 million) budget previously allocated to the Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs before it was closed.

That extra funding therefore exactly matched the amount of money the PLO would need to pay terrorist prisoners - indicating the source of the salaries is still the PA funds propped up by Western aid.

In one case when the PA was short on funds, it made an announcement that it had cut the salaries of terrorist prisoners, as well as civil servants, by 60%.

Summarizing its report, PMW concluded by noting that "since it continues to fund salaries to terrorists, thereby clearly violating its promise to donors, the PA should be ineligible to receive Western donor money."

"However, through this deception the PA is still reaping over a billion dollars in foreign aid." Read the full story here.  Full report can be downloaded here.

Related:
Video - US Lawmaker Calls Out International Community for Funding Palestinian Terror 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

PAKISTAN - Appeal court trial for Christian couple sentenced to death for blasphemy.


PAKISTAN - Appeal court trial for Christian couple sentenced to death for blasphemy. (Fides).

Lahore - An appeal has been filed to the Court of Appeal and the first hearing will take place in May regarding a Christian couple Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar.

This was reported to Fides by the team of lawyers of the "Farrukh Saif Foundation", Pakistani organization that has taken on the legal defense of the couple. The two were of accused of sending blasphemous text messages and were sentenced to death in 2014.

On July 20, 2013, the Christian couple, from Gojra, in Punjab, were accused of sending blasphemous text messages and were later arrested.
"The text messages were written in English but both of the accused were uneducated and incapable of writing proper Urdu let alone English", note the lawyers.
Shafqat is also confined to a wheelchair due to an accident in 2004 that resulted in him suffering a spinal injury.

The local police proceeded to torture him in front of his wife. He pleaded for mercy while the police continued in their attempts to extract a confession from him.

On 4 April 2014 the couple were given death "although the police failed to recover any mobile phone or SIM card allegedly registered in Shagufta’s name", refer the lawyers. The only evidence produced by the local police was the receipt from the phone company.

"Addition Sessions judge succumbed to Islamist pressure and handed down the death sentence", reaffirm the lawyers. The whole trial was concluded inside the boundary walls of the prison due to fears for the couple’s security. The couple have four children and activists of the "Farrukh Saif Foundation" are taking care of them.

"The blasphemy law, misused, has put hundreds of members of minority communities behind bars. The law is grossly abused to target minorities", say the lawyers of the "Farrukh Saif Foundation" to Fides. "In most cases, people are falsely and maliciously accused, just for personal revenge" they conclude. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 27/04/2016)

Ahmadinejad’s Office Reacts to Accusations over US Seizure of Iranian Assets.


Ahmadinejad’s Office Reacts to Accusations over US Seizure of Iranian Assets. (IranFrontpage).

The office of Iran’s ex-president has reacted to the recent criticisms against Ahmadinejad’s government over the mistakes that have allegedly led to a recent US court ruling to seize Iran’s assets.

Since the recent move by the US to confiscate nearly $2bn of Iranian assets in order to give it to the families of the victims and survivors of 1983 Beirut bombing, Iranian media has been covering the issue from two perspectives. The conservatives have been blaming the incumbent administration of President Hassan Rouhani and have criticized the government’s excessive optimism towards the West (the US in particular).

On the other hand, the pro-government and reformist media, while strongly condemning the move by the US Supreme Court, have been pinning the blame on the former government for their purchases of US bonds in spite of the hostile relations at the time between Tehran and Washington.

Among the critics who have blamed the former administration are the current Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Valiollah Seif, as well as the former CBI Chief Tahmasb Mazaheri, two of the most important figures in finance.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Public Relations Department of the office of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the ex-president, rejected these criticisms and claimed that Rouhani’s government has made the country seem weak enough for the US to dare to make such a move.

Here is IFP’s translation of excerpts from the statement published by the website of Ahmadinejad’s office.

The recent move by the authoritarian US government … has become a new pretext for [Iranian] statesmen and political and media figures close to them to attack the former government. 
The US administration has looted the Iranian nation’s assets in the current year and under the incumbent government, while the pretext for which the court ruling was issued dates back to 1983. It is not clear why, and for what hidden motivation, this cruel move by the US is being attributed to Ahmadinejad’s government. 
They have claimed the managers of Iran’s Central Bank during the previous government were not careful enough, and should not have trusted in the international rules and regulations governing the global banking ties. They claim such trust has resulted in the assets seizure this year. 
The US government did not dare to encroach upon the Iranian nation’s resources at that time, because the government of Ahmadinejad always behaved in a wise way and maintained the country’s honour and dignity. 
The Iranian nation, however, has been portrayed as a weak nation in the international arena in recent years, and this has emboldened US statesmen. So the question is: isn’t this the reason behind the recent “plunder”? 
The money was stolen right at the time when the Iranian foreign minister was in the US, holding private, long, secret, and repeated meetings with his US counterpart. Isn’t the seizure of assets related to the meetings and the topics discussed by the two? Isn’t this the continuation of a long-running drama to humiliate the Iranian nation and government? 
The incumbent government says that Ahmadinejad’s cabinet members should not have trusted the Americans, or even in international rules and regulations. If that is true, why did they curb, dismantle, and shut down the country’s nuclear program, including facilities that were worth almost $30bn, based on the US Secretary of State John Kerry’s ambiguous promises without any guarantees? 
The government’s trust in US statesmen and their promises, and the subsequent weakening of Iran’s international position in the past three years have led to a sharp drop in the Iranian nation’s most valuable asset, crude oil, from $105 to $35. 
If this remains unchanged, almost $150m a day and almost $55bn a year will be picked from Iran’s pocket and given to the negotiating sides [from the nuclear talks] or their allies. 
People expect the government to avoid illogically pinning the blame on others, accept their own responsibilities, try to pursue the issue, and reclaim the nation’s rights.

Quoting materials from Iran Front Page is permitted only if the source is mentioned by name.

US Seizure of Iran’s Assets is “Blatant Theft”: President Rouhani

US Seizure of Iran’s Assets is “Blatant Theft”: President Rouhani. (IranFrontpage).

Here are Rouhani’s remarks, as reported by the President’s website and translated by IFP.
That a court or legislature in another part of the world would make decisions about the Iranian nation’s rights and property is totally illegal and in contradiction of international laws, based on which central banks are legally immune in all parts of the world,” Rouhani said in a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
No thief can be proud of his or her theft and think that the stolen properties are his or hers,” the Iranian president stressed, telling Americans to understand that Iran’s property cannot be looted.

Such pressures and illegal rulings by the US judiciary and congress are “International theft and a legal scandal” for the US, he noted, expressing surprise over an “unprecedented” move by the US Congress to put the judiciary under pressure over the issue.

Rouhani stressed that, in politics, the US move means the continuation of hostilities against the Iranian nation, and vowed to resist the incorrect verdict and reclaim the country’s rights.

These assets belong to the Iranian nation, and any encroachment upon them is considered hostile and illegal,” he added, emphasizing that the Americans will not be able to use the assets without facing repercussions.

Quoting materials from Iran Front Page is permitted only if the source is mentioned by name.

Australian Boy, 16, arrested over 'Anzac Day terror plot' was in De-radicalization program.

Neil Prakash

Australian Boy, 16, arrested over 'Anzac Day terror plot' was in De-radicalization program. (Smh).

The 16-year-old boy arrested in Sydney on terrorism charges on Sunday afternoon is alleged by police to have chatted about obtaining a gun for use in a terrorist attack. Vision courtesy Ten News.

A 16-year-old boy arrested over an alleged Anzac Day terrorism plot had been in a government-run deradicalisation program for about a year.

The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, chose not to appear in Parramatta Children's Court on Tuesday for a brief mention two days after his arrest.

His lawyer, Zemarai Khatiz, entered a not guilty plea to one charge of doing an act in preparation or planning for a terrorist act, an offence that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The boy was arrested near his Auburn home Sunday afternoon, just hours after police allegedly intercepted an online chat he was having with a man overseas in which he mentioned trying to obtain a firearm and targeting an Anzac Day event on Monday.

He was not considered a "prime target" for counter-terrorism officers but had been on their radar for about a year.

The boy was arrested near his Auburn home Sunday afternoon, just hours after police allegedly intercepted an online chat he was having with a man overseas in which he mentioned trying to obtain a firearm and targeting an Anzac Day event on Monday.

The boy came to the attention of police in May last year after he was intercepted talking ­online to Neil Prakash, a former Melbourne man who had risen to become a key Islamic State figure.

Prakash, who has been involved in several foiled terror plots, was reportedly trying to encourage the teen to launch a Sydney attack to co-ordinate with a Melbourne bombing. Read the full story here.

Related:  
Australian ISIS ’jihadist’ Neil Prakash worked in accounts

Video - What It's Really Like to Fight and DIE for the Islamic State.

Turkish 'Islamist' police disperse pro-secularism rally protesting suggested religious constitution.


Turkish 'Islamist' police disperse pro-secularism rally protesting suggested religious constitution. (RT).

Turkish police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse a rally of people, who protested a call for the country to adopt a religious constitution.

The small crowd of some 100 people came to the parliament building in Ankara on Tuesday after its speaker Ismail Kahraman said the new Turkish constitution, which is currently being developed, should not have any references to secularism.




The group chanted the slogan "Turkey will remain secular" in support of one of the founding principles of modern Turkey.


The police broke up the gathering and prevented the protesters from speaking to the press, AFP reported. Some people were arrested.

A similar protest in the coastal city of Izmir, one of Turkey's most secular cities, ended with police intervention too.

The controversial suggestion was publicly rejected by some senior officials of the ruling AKP party. President Tayyip Erdogan defended secularism by saying that the Turkish state should “have an equal distance from all religious faiths” while the head of the constitutional committee said no plans were made to drop secularism out of the draft.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu reassured the Turkish people on Wednesday that the constitution would remain secular. Hmmm........Sure just testing the waters ? Read the full story here.


Turkey has become such a thorny issue, that its prospects of joining the EU are receding.


Turkey has become such a thorny issue, that its prospects of joining the EU are receding. (BBC).

                              EU referendum: Will Turkey's EU hopes affect UK vote?


The question of whether Turkey and six Balkan countries will join the European Union and, if so, what it will mean for the UK has become a live issue in the EU referendum campaign.
Campaigners wanting to leave the EU say such a further enlargement could result in a migration "free-for-all" and pose a "serious and direct threat" to UK public services. Is there any truth in this?

Nothing will happen for at least three years, because European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker imposed a five-year moratorium on enlargement in 2014.

Seasoned EU-watchers say Montenegro and Serbia are, to coin a phrase, at the front of the queue, while there are major hurdles to overcome with Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia.

As for Turkey, the challenges it faces in meeting the membership criteria are so big, and it has become such a thorny issue, that its prospects are receding.

In short, yes. Turkey has a customs union with the EU, but its troubled relations with the Republic of Cyprus have always been a unique stumbling block - a situation exacerbated by Cyprus' own admission to the EU in 2004.

Turkey would also be the first country with a majority Muslim population to join the EU, in itself a major development.

Some see a future advantage for Europe if many young Turkish workers fill jobs, as ageing populations cause the labour force to shrink.

But the migrant crisis, caused by the five-year civil war in Syria, has fueled doubts among those EU politicians who, in principle, have always been in favor of letting Turkey in.

More than two million Syrian refugees have fled to Turkey, a country which already had a population of nearly 76 million.

EU leaders are desperate to uphold free movement rules, enshrining the right of any EU national to live and work elsewhere in the union. They are nervous that admitting a country of Turkey's size could make this untenable.

Under a recent agreement with Turkey to curb the migrant influx to Greece, the EU undertook to "re-energise" the stalled accession talks.

But there are major concerns about Turkish human rights violations, including curbs on the media and rule of law - all key issues when judging a country's fitness to join the EU.

At the same time, economic hardship, Islamist terror and the migrant crisis have fuelled a nationalist backlash in much of Europe, often expressed as hostility to Islam.

Even politicians in favour of EU membership, such as Home Secretary Theresa May, have signalled that further enlargement needs to be reconsidered for countries with "poor populations and serious problems with organised crime, corruption and sometimes even terrorism".
Ministers have emphasised that the UK has the right of veto over future prospective members, while insisting the talks with Turkey and other countries are unlikely to be rushed and, as such, the issue will not come to a head for a while.
Last month, George Osborne said a Turkish agreement was "not on the cards any time soon" and insisted the UK would not allow any free movement deal with countries which weren't closely aligned in terms of size and prosperity.

Hmmm......Thank God for Churchill, 'we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender'.Read the full story here.

Related:
  Theresa May says UK may block Turkey & Balkans EU membership!

Visa liberalization for 'Islamist' Turkey only when all prerequisites are met, says EU Commission.


Visa liberalization for 'Islamist' Turkey only when all prerequisites are met, says EU Commission.(Cyprusmail).

VISA liberalisation will be granted to Turkey only when all 72 legislative prerequisites are fulfilled, including Ankara’s Cyprus-related obligations, European Commission Chief Spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the daily briefing in Brussels, and clarifying reported “ambiguity” during the past few days, Schinas said the European Commission would examine the situation, in accordance with the College of Commissioners schedule, but has no intention to make any “discounts”.

An EC source, speaking exclusively to CNA, later explained that “there is absolutely no possible way for Turkey to legislate, ignoring the Cyprus related obligations” and pointed out that all these issues were absolutely clear since yesterday, when the visa liberalisation report came out.

Moreover, another European Commission spokesperson Maja Kocijancic said during the same briefing that the visit of Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, to Turkey had nothing to do with the opening of Chapter 33 on the budget and economic policy, the preparation of which is already done and is still up to date.

The spokesperson pointed out that the schedule which has been decided is to convene an intergovernmental conference in June, during the last days of the Dutch Presidency and open the chapter there.

On Wednesday the first Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans will inform the College of Commissioners about his joint trip to Gaziantep, together with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council President Donald Tusk.


On Tuesday, the issue of the agreement with Turkey was also on the agenda of a working lunch of the European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker with the President of the Council and the President of the European Parliament. (CNA)

Russia asks UN to put Ahrar ash-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam on sanction list — Russian UN envoy Vitaly Churkin


Russia asks UN to put Ahrar ash-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam on sanction list — Russian UN envoy Vitaly Churkin. (Tass).

The reason for this step, in his words, was numerous reports that these groups active in Syria have close links with such terrorist organizations as Islamic State and Al Qaeda.

Russia has filed a request with the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the United Nations Security Council to put Ahrar ash-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam, which are reported to regularly violate the ceasefire regime in Syria, on the sanction list of terrorist groups, Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said on Tuesday.
"On April 26, the Russian delegation lodged with the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the United Nations Security Council (1267/1989/2253) on sanctions against Islamic State and Al Qaeda a request on putting two organizations - Ahrar ash-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam - on the sanction list of this auxiliary body of the United Nations," Churkin said in a statement.
The reason for this step, in his words, was numerous reports that these groups active in Syria have close links with such terrorist organizations as Islamic State and Al Qaeda, offer them and receive from them financial, logistics and military support.

When put on the list of terrorist organization along with Islamic State and Al Qaeda, these groups will stop to be covered by the ceasefire regime in Syria and it will be possible to deliver strikes against them.

According to the Russian diplomat, Russia began preparatory work to promote its request to the committee several months ago but decided to take a pause when another round of intra-Syrian talks started in Geneva. But now that these groups are reported to regularly violate the ceasefire regime in Syria, the Russian side has taken a decision to resume its request. Hmmm......And put their state sponsors on the list as well!!!

6 Things to Know About the “Miracle of the Holy Fire”, next Saturday in Jerusalem.





6 Things to Know About the “Miracle of the Holy Fire” next Saturday in Jerusalem.(StPeterslist).

The following is a brief examination of the controversial “Miracle of the Holy Fire.” The Greek Orthodox Patriarch enters the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Holy Saturday – according to the Orthodox calendar.

He proceeds into the Tomb of Christ and begins to pray. A fire is then miraculously enkindled by the Holy Spirit – supposedly the power of the resurrection – and is shared rapidly throughout the Church and all those who are waiting outside.

To be clear, it is said that Pope Gregory the IX declared “Holy Fire” a fraud in AD 1238, but a primary source is needed to confirm this papal statement. Today, the miracle is not recognized by the Catholic Church, but is considered a pious tradition of certain Orthodox Churches.

The first written account of the Holy Fire (Holy Light) dates from the fourth century, but authors write about events that occurred in the first century. So Ss. John Damascene and Gregory of Nissa narrate how the Apostle Peter saw the Holy Light in the Holy Sepulchre after Christ’s resurrection. “One can trace the miracle throughout the centuries in the many itineraries of the Holy Land.”

The Russian abbot Daniel, in his itinerary written in the years 1106-07, presents the “Miracle of the Holy Light” and the ceremonies that frame it in a very detailed manner. He recalls how the Patriarch goes into the Sepulchre-chapel (the Anastasis) with two candles.

The Patriarch kneels in front of the stone on which Christ was laid after his death and says certain prayers, at which point the miracle occurs. Light proceeds from the core of the stone – a blue, indefinable light which after some time kindles unlit oil lamps as well as the Patriarch’s two candles.

This light is “The Holy Fire”, and it spreads to all people present in the Church. The ceremony surrounding “The Miracle of the Holy Fire” may be the oldest unbroken Christian ceremony in the world. From the fourth century A.D. all the way up to our own time, sources recall this awe-inspiring event.

From these sources it becomes clear that the miracle has been celebrated on the same spot, on the same feast day, and in the same liturgical frame throughout all these centuries. The following material is quoted from various sources. Read the full story here.

For an excellent collection of photos: MSNBC/Reuters – Holy Fire.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

UN Security Council rejects Israel’s PM claim to the Golan Heights.


UN Security Council rejects Israel’s PM claim to the Golan Heights. (INN).

UNSC rebuffs PM's declaration that Golan Heights will remain part of Israel 'forever' - but with a relatively tame statement.

The UN Security Council on Tuesday issued a rejection of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's assertion that the Golan Heights would remain part of Israel "forever," but did not go as far in denying Israeli claims as Arab states had demanded.

The The 15-member council agreed that the status of the Golan, which Israel liberated from Syria control in 1967, "remains unchanged," said Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi, who holds this month's council presidency.

Liu recalled a 1981 resolution which states that Israel's "decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights was nul and void and without any international legal effect."

The council statement followed remarks made by Netanyahu earlier this month when his cabinet held its first meeting in the Golan.

Council members "expressed deep concern" over the Israeli statements and "stressed that the status of the Golan remains unchanged," said Liu. The Arab League and the European Union have also criticized Netanyahu over the remarks.

Notably, however, the Security Council resolution stopped short of any drastic statements such as a call for Israel to withdraw from the 1,200 square kilometer (460 square mile) region, despite pressure from Arab states to do so.

The Golan's once-thriving ancient Jewish community was wiped out by the Arab conquest in 636 CE, but since 1967 has seen a major revival, with dozens of thriving Jewish communities. Read the full story here.

Cartels Help Terrorists in Mexico Get to U.S. to Explore Targets; ISIS Terrorist Among Them.


Cartels Help Terrorists in Mexico Get to U.S. to Explore Targets; ISIS Terrorist Among Them. HT: JudicialWatch.

Mexican drug traffickers help Islamic terrorists stationed in Mexico cross into the United States to explore targets for future attacks, according to information forwarded to Judicial Watch by a high-ranking Homeland Security official in a border state.
Among the jihadists that travel back and forth through the porous southern border is a Kuwaiti named Shaykh Mahmood Omar Khabir, an ISIS operative who lives in the Mexican state of Chihuahua not far from El Paso, Texas.
Khabir trained hundreds of Al Qaeda fighters in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen and has lived in Mexico for more than a year, according to information provided by JW’s government source.
Now Khabir trains thousands of men—mostly Syrians and Yemenis—to fight in an ISIS base situated in the Mexico-U.S. border region near Ciudad Juárez, the intelligence gathered by JW’s source reveals.

Staking out U.S. targets is not difficult and Khabir actually brags in an Italian newspaper article published last week that the border region is so open that he “could get in with a handful of men, and kill thousands of people in Texas or in Arizona in the space of a few hours.”

Foreign Affairs Secretary Claudia Ruiz, Mexico’s top diplomat, says in the article that she doesn’t understand why the Obama administration and the U.S. media are “culpably neglecting this phenomenon,” adding that “this new wave of fundamentalism could have nasty surprises in store for the United States.”


Updated data gathered on Khabir reveals he’s 52 years old and was ordered to leave Kuwait about a decade ago over his extremist positions. Khabir is currently on ISIS’s (also known as ISIL) payroll and operates a cell in an area of Mexico known as Anapra, according to the recently obtained information.Read the full story here.

Video - Documentary on Turkish war crimes during siege of Kurdish Cizre that killed 100s of civilians(EN subs)

Experts: Uranium-238 confiscated in Georgia was intended for buyers abroad.


Experts: Uranium-238 confiscated in Georgia was intended for buyers abroad. HT: Caucasianknot.

Georgia has no structures, which could buy smuggled radioactive materials, said the experts interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot". Terrorist groupings from Middle East can try to get uranium, said Shota Utiashvili, the former head of the information-analytical department of the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA). 

As noted by Irakli Aladashvili, a military expert, the confiscated uranium is not fit even for making a "dirty" atomic bomb, because of low level of radiation.

The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on April 18 the State Security Service of Georgia (SSSG) reported about a detention of six persons, three Georgian citizens and three – Armenian ones. According to special services, they tried to sell radioactive uranium-238 for 200 million US dollars. A container with the radioactive material was found in the house of one of the detainees.

Shota Utiashvili has noted that citizens attempting to transport radioactive materials abroad are periodically detained in Georgia.

He did not rule out that "someone is trying to set up a supply chain to third countries."

According to Irakli Aladashvili, the editor of the military magazine "Arsenali", a part of the above radioactive material originated from Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and another part – from Armenia. He suggested that the container could be obtained from the Armenian NPP in Metsamor.

Uranium-238 cannot be used for making an explosive, due to its physical and chemical properties, said Alexander Koldobskiy, the Deputy Director for Quality of the Institute of International Relations of the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute (known as MIFI).


Full text of the article is available on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet  agency ‘Caucasian Knot’.
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