IS executes 217 in, near Syria’s Palmyra in 9 days: monitor

Beirut (AFP) – The Islamic State group has executed at least 217 people, including civilians, in the nine days since it captured areas in Syria’s Homs province including the ancient city of Palmyra, a monitor said Sunday.

Source: news.yahoo.com

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Syria says Islamic State executes hundreds in Palmyra

Ruins are pictured in the historical city of Palmyra

Ruins are pictured in the historical city of Palmyra

Islamic State fighters have executed at least 400 people in Palmyra since capturing the ancient Syrian city four days ago, Syrian state media said on Sunday.

It was not immediately possible to verify the account, but it was consistent with reports by activists that the Islamist fighters had carried out executions since capturing the city from government troops.

The militants seized the city of 50,000 people, site of some of the world’s most extensive and best preserved ancient Roman ruins, on Wednesday, days after also capturing the city of Ramadi in neighbouring Iraq.

The two near simultaneous victories were Islamic State’s biggest successes since a U.S.-led coalition began an air war against the fighters last year, and have forced an examination of whether the strategy is working.

The Sunni Muslim militants have proclaimed a caliphate to rule over all Muslims from territory they hold in both Syria and Iraq. They have a history of carrying out mass killings in towns and cities they capture, and of destroying ancient monuments which they consider evidence of paganism.

“The terrorists have killed more than 400 people.. and mutilated their bodies, under the pretext that they cooperated with the government and did not follow orders,” Syria’s state news agency said, citing residents inside the city.

It added that dozens of those killed were state employees, including the head of nursing department at the hospital and all her family members.

Islamic State supporters have posted videos on the Internet they say show fighters going room to room in government buildings searching for government troops and pulling down pictures of President Bashar al-Assad and his father.

Activists have said on social media that hundreds of bodies, believed to be government loyalists, were in the streets.

Sickening: A picture sent by activists to a Western journalist showed a row of men in a street in Palmyra — known locally by its Arabic name Tadmur — lying in a pool of blood. At least four had been decapitated

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors violence in the country with a network of sources on the ground, says that some people were beheaded in the town since it fell but has not given an estimate for the toll among civilians.

It says at least 300 soldiers were killed in the days of fighting before the city was captured.

“A bigger number of troops have disappeared and it is not clear where they are,” Rami Abdulrahman from the Observatory told Reuters.

TROOPS EVACUATE HOSPITAL

Islamic State is the most powerful of countless mainly Sunni Muslim groups fighting against the government of President Assad, a member of the Shi’ite-derived Alawite sect. The four-year-old civil war has killed a quarter of a million people and driven nearly 8 million from their homes.

Western countries and their Arab allies are bombing Islamic State but supporting other anti-Assad forces elsewhere in the country, where government troops have lost territory in recent months.

Dozens of Syrian troops evacuated a strategically-located position inside a hospital in Idlib province in the northwest of the country last week, where they had held out since April under siege.

Syrian state television said on Sunday its air force had killed 300 insurgents in strikes that broke the siege of the Jisr al-Shughour hospital. The al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, an insurgent group involved in the offensive in the area, said the government forces had fled.

State television aired footage on Sunday showing wounded soldiers arriving at another hospital in the nearby coastal area, stronghold of Assad’s supporters.

The Observatory said at least 261 soldiers including 90 officers had been killed in the past month. The toll includes the head of special forces, General Muheiddeine Mansour.

Assad has lost large parts of Idlib province to insurgents since late March, when the provincial capital fell. Assad had himself publicly addressed the situation at Jisr al-Shughour hospital this month, saying the army would reinforce the besieged troops there he described as heroes.

Syrian Official: Islamic State Militants in Palmyra’s Museum

museum Capture

Palmyra Museum

Islamic State fighters broke into the museum of Palmyra, though a Syrian official said its artifacts have been removed and are safe while the U.S.-led coalition conducted airstrikes on the group’s installations near the captured ancient town — the first such reported attack in the central province of Homs.

The Department of Defense said in a statement that U.S.-led coalition aircraft had attacked an IS position near Palmyra, which goes by the modern name Tadmur, destroying six anti-aircraft artillery systems and an artillery piece.

Smoke billows overhead from airstrikes on Palmyra (UGC / Militant video)

The Islamic State group captured Palmyra on Wednesday, raising concerns around the world they would destroy priceless, 2,000-year-old temples, tombs and colonnades located in the town’s south.

The strikes would appear to help the embattled forces of forces of President Bashar Assad, which have had a succession of recent defeats to IS group and other rebels. But experts and archeologists said the airstrike, coming days after the group overwhelmed the city, was too little too late.

“It is like closing the doors after the horses have bolted,” said Amr Al-Azm, a former Syrian antiquities official and currently a professor at Shawnee State University in Ohio.

ISIS soldier with flag

ISIS controls ‘every thing’ in ancient Palmyra

A picture circulated on Twitter accounts of Islamic State supporters showed the black flag used by the extremists raised over the town’s hilltop Islamic-era castle, a structure hundreds of years old. Al-Azm said the fact that the castle dates back to an Islamic civilization may protect it from the kind of destruction IS members have inflicted on pre-Islamic heritage sites such as the ancient cities of Hatra and Ninevah in Iraq.

The group says the ancient relics promote idolatry, but, it also maintains a lucrative business by excavating and selling such artifacts on the black market, according to antiquities authorities.

One activist in the city of Palmyra, who goes by the name of Khaled al-Homsi because of security concerns, told The Associated Press that the militants smashed a statue in the museum’s foyer — a replica that depicts ancient residents of Palmyra.

Maamoun Abdulkarim, the head of the Antiquities and Museums Department in Damascus

Maamoun Abdulkarim, the head of the Antiquities and Museums Department in Damascus, told the AP that militants entered the museum in the town’s center Friday afternoon, locked the doors and left behind their own guards. He said that the artifacts earlier had been moved away to safety.

“We feel proud as all the museum’s contents were taken to safe areas,” he told reporters. But Abdulkarim warned that the Islamic State group’s control of the town remains a danger to its archaeological sites.

palmyra Capture

Tourists walk in the historical city of Palmyra, September 30, 2010. Islamic State fighters in Syria have entered the ancient ruins of Palmyra after taking complete control of the central city, but there are no reports so far of any destruction of antiquities, a group monitoring the war said on May 21, 2015. REUTERS/Nour Fourat

Al-Azm said he doubts the museum was totally emptied because larger pieces would be hard to move. He said the museum also contained at least two mummies, and carvings from the nearby tombs, mostly dating to the 1st, 2nd and early 3rd century

Al-Azm said he fears that the “real looting” will take place at the site itself, adding that the group will take its time to recruit local antiquities experts to help in running the illicit trade. But he worried that the Temple of Bel, the majestic structure in the heart of this desert oasis, will ultimately be destroyed.

File:Temple of Bel, Palmyra

“It is the poster child of an IS cultural heritage atrocity,” he said, saying the temple in later years was used as a church and has walls covered in frescos.

Al-Azm said the only way to save the ancient site is by driving the Islamic State group out of the town.

Memorial Day 2015

memorial day may 25 imagebot

Memorial Day is a federal holiday observed every year on the last Monday in May. It honors those who died serving the United States military. It is also seen as the start of the summer season. All non-essential government offices are closed including schools, people usually have the day off work, and some local businesses may not be open as well.

Celebration\ Observance

Memorial Day honors those who lost their lives while in the military service. It is traditional to fly the American flag at half mast. Many people visit national cemeteries where volunteers will place the American flag on each grave. Memorials are attended as well. It is a day that marks the start of summer and vacation season. People will attend picnics, BBQs, sporting events, and spending time with family.

Memorial_Day_Logo_2

History

Memorial Day originated after the American Civil War to honor both the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war. The holiday was extended by the 20th century to include all American soldiers. Memorial Day is formally known as Decoration Day. This day is not to be confused with Veteran’s Day which celebrates the service of all United States military veterans.

Name in other languages

Name Language
Memorial Day English
Día de la Memoria Spanish
יום הזיכרון (ארצות הברית) Hebrew
يوم الذكرى Arabic
메모리얼 데이 Korean
Gedenktag (Memorial Day) German

memorial day imagebot

Memorial Day Weekend usually conjures up images of backyard parties, beaches and beer.

But Memorial Day is more than just a three-day weekend marking the unofficial start of summer. It’s actually been an official national holiday for over 40 years aimed at remembering those who served in the armed forces.

A few years after the end of the Civil War, May 30 was established as “Declaration Day” — a day to decorates veterans’ graves with flowers. May 30 may have been the selected day because flowers would be in bloom throughout the country, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.

In 1971, Memorial Day was officially declared a national holiday and placed on the last Monday in May, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website says.

In December 2000, the president signed into law The National Moment of Remembrance Act.

“The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Ameri1cans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation,” the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website says.

Two California men arrested by FBI after ‘trying to join ISIS

  • Muhanad Budawi, 24, and NaderElhuzayel, 24, both of Anaheim, California, were arrested on Thursday 
  • Elhuzayel was detained at Los Angeles International Airportand Budawi in Orange County 
  • Nader Elhuzayel’s father, Salem, said that his son was going to visit relatives in Palestine and had no involvement with the terrorist group 
  • The men were expected to be charged Friday in federal court in Santa Ana 
ACCUSED OF TRYING TO JOIN ISIS Capture

Nader Elhuzayel (pictured), 24, of Anaheim, California, and Muhanad Budawi, also 24, were arrested on Thursday on suspicion that they were trying to join ISIS

Two men accused of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State militant group have been arrested, the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday.

Federal prosecutors alleged that both men intended to travel overseas to join the group.

Muhanad Budawi, 24, and Nader Elhuzayel, 24, both of Anaheim, California, were arrested on Thursday, prosecutors said.

Elhuzayel was detained at Los Angeles International Airport and Budawi in Orange County.

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Nader was living with his family at his motel in Anaheim after they lost their home two years ago and declared bankruptcy

Nader was living with his family at his motel in Anaheim after they lost their home two years ago and declared bankruptcy

The men were expected to be charged Friday in federal court in Santa Ana in the probe conducted by a joint terrorism task force made up of federal and local authorities.

The FBI declined to give further details about the incident.

According to an FBI affidavit seen by The LA Times,  the agency was aware of the young men’s social media activity about ISIS and several phone conversations.

But their commitment to the terrorist cause hardened earlier this month when the pair together bought a one-way ticket for Elhuzayel to fly to Turkey and on to Tel Aviv.

Elhuzayel mentioned visiting Palestinian relatives then making his way to the battlefield by crossing into Egypt.

Badawi had not travel plans but was arrested because he also paid for Elhuzayel’s airfare.

The affidavit also revealed that Elhuzayel had made plans over social media to marry an ISIS supporter while in Palestine and the pair professed love for each other.

According to the court documents: ‘Early in their communications, the woman told Elhuzayel that she is pro-ISIL, and that she had tried to travel to the Islamic State but was detained and returned to her home in Palestine.

‘Elhuzayel responded by telling the woman that he too is pro-ISIL and that he has the same beliefs and goals as the woman.’

However the parents of one of the young men told KTLA that he had been wrongly accused.

Nader's mother said that her son had been wrongly accused of terrorist activity and that he was a good boy

Nader’s mother said that her son had been wrongly accused of terrorist activity and that he was a good boy

She showed the family's apartment after it had been raided by the FBI on Thursday following her son's arrest

She showed the family’s apartment after it had been raided by the FBI on Thursday following her son’s arrest

Nader Elhuzayel’s father, Salem, said that his son was going to visit relatives in Palestine and had no involvement with the terrorist group.

The father told KTLA: ‘No way that he kept that from us. Nader is just an innocent human being who was traveling to go home to see his family and enjoy a stay of one, two months and then come back.’

He added: ‘I think they’re looking for a victim.’

The young man’s mother, Fakar, said the family were being targeted because they were Muslim and from the Middle East.

Salem Elhuzayel said FBI and SWAT officials searched the family’s Anaheim motel room after they returned from the airport.

The pair together allegedly bought a one-way ticket for Elhuzayel to fly to Turkey and on to Tel Aviv so that he could make his way through Egypt to join ISIS

The pair together allegedly bought a one-way ticket for Elhuzayel to fly to Turkey and on to Tel Aviv so that he could make his way through Egypt to join ISIS

Read more:

Understanding Pakistan’s complicated web of deceit and why the U.S. puts up with it

U.S. President Obama shakes hands with Pakistan's PM Sharif at the White House in Washington

U.S. President Obama shakes hands with Pakistan’s PM Sharif at the White House in Washington

Why do allies sometimes pretend to believe one another’s lies? There are good reasons and bad, as new evidence about the U.S. relationship with Pakistan demonstrates.

Throughout its “war on terrorism,” the United States has had to rely on Pakistan. Though Washington may occasionally have believed its trust was abused, the Pentagon’s need for overflight rights or landing bases, crucial for U.S. troops in Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East, trumped diplomatic niceties.

The American people may wonder if this trumped self-respect as well. Seasoned investigative reporter Seymour Hersh recently wrote about Pakistan’s possibly problematic role in the U.S. capture of Osama bin Laden for the London Review of Books. Hersh, who broke both the My Lai massacre story during the Vietnam War and the Abu Ghraib torture story during the war in Iraq, alleges that Islamabad kept bin Laden under lock and key in Abbottabad for six years — even as U.S. intelligence urgently tried to track him down. Combing treacherous mountains and ravines for the world’s most wanted man, Washington may have risked and lost lives unnecessarily.

HERSH Capture

Journalist Seymour Hersh speaks at Al Jazeera Forum in Doha, April 1, 2007. REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad

Would Washington ever tolerate such lies from a friend — or condone U.S. leaders covering up for them? When President Barack Obama announced bin Laden’s death, he said, “cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound in which he was hiding.” According to Hersh’s reporting, the reverse may have been true.New York Times reporter Carlotta Gall agrees with some of Hersh’s allegations. She wrote last week that the U.S. government realized Pakistan was undermining its efforts but chose not to make the problem public. Gall confirmed that she learned right after bin Laden’s death that a Pakistani army officer probably sold the secret of the al Qaeda leader’s whereabouts to the Americans for a cool $25 million. That piece of intelligence — not six-years worth of CIA blood-hounding — may be what led right to the compound in Abbottabad.

There are often excellent reasons for not outing a bad ally. In dangerous times, for example, the consequences of a diplomatic rupture can be far worse than swallowing a lie. Poland discovered this during World War Two.

In 1943, Radio Berlin broadcast the discovery of a mass grave of Polish officers in the Katyn Forest, a region previously occupied by the Soviet Union under the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop pact by which the Nazis and the Soviets had divided Poland between them. The grave contained the remains of more than 20,000 people shot by the Soviet secret police to thwart resistance.

josephStalin1943

Joseph Stalin at the Tehran Conference in 1943. Wikipedia

Joseph Stalin at the Tehran Conference in 1943. Wikipedia

Not long after, Germany turned on Joseph Stalin’s empire, took Poland for itself and attacked the Russian homeland. Nazi officials saw revelations of the massacre as an opportunity to drive a wedge between Moscow and its new Western allies, including the Polish government-in-exile.

Stalin resolutely denied the shocking charges, despite the findings of an international Red Cross forensics team that the Nazis invited to Katyn. The British and U.S. governments refused to confront their ally, and tacitly accepted the subsequent conclusions of a Soviet special report that blamed the execution and mass burial (including approximately 8,000 Polish officers) on Nazi Germany. Russia pretended innocence — and the allies pretended to believe it.

Not surprisingly, the prime minister of the Polish government based in London challenged the story. Wladyslaw Sikorski angrily demanded a thorough, independent investigation. Stalin retaliated by accusing Sikorski of collaborating with the enemy. Russia then broke off diplomatic relations with Poland, nullifying the Sikorski-Mayski treaty that pledged wartime cooperation. The gloves were off.

The consequences for Poland reverberated for 40 years. The Soviet Red Army camped on the opposite side of the Vistula River, waiting while Germany burned Warsaw in 1944. Moscow then refused to recognize the Polish government in 1945 and forced its substitute Communist Polish regime on the country until 1989.

For Poland, it turned out honesty was not the best strategy. Russia finally acknowledged Stalin’s crime only in 1990, as part of Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of transparency, or glasnost.

The Katyn massacre is an egregious example of a common phenomenon that is usually far more benign. Nations often look the other way at bad behavior for the simple reason that a cost-benefit analysis would show no point in confrontation. Governments are aware that friends sometimes spy on them, for example. It’s obnoxious but not damaging enough to risk the rewards of continued good relations.

The American people, however, have placed a high value on transparency since the founders wrote the Constitution in 1787. The Constitution requires Congress to publish its proceedings. With this, the United States became the first nation in history to require government transparency by law.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is greeted by Pakistan's National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz shortly after arriving in Islamabad

Secretary of State John Kerry is greeted by Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz (L) in Islamabad, January 12, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Even if one assumed Pakistani duplicity and that the U.S. government was aware of it, telling the truth would not be anywhere near as catastrophic as the wartime rupture between Poland and Russia. Washington is roughly 7,000 miles from Islamabad; Pakistan’s regular military cannot hurt the United States and would not wish to. But a public breach of trust may have erased any possibility of future cooperation between the two “friends.”

Pakistan was then providing logistical support for the U.S. intervention in neighboring Afghanistan. If Obama knew Pakistan was disloyal, he made the correct short-term choice not to reveal it.

Yet Americans should question their nation’s long-term policy. Had the United States not linked its fortunes with Pakistan in the first place, Obama would not have had to accept Islamabad’s possible lies — and tell fresh ones (or at least dissimulate) to the American people.

In 2004, Washington dubbed Islamabad a “major non-NATO ally” in the war on terror, which entitled Pakistan to foreign aid and new weapons. The United States also lifted economic sanctions previously imposed for illegal nuclear testing. But Pakistan’s usefulness as an ally has proved questionable.

Since 1947, the United States has added nation after nation to its roster of allies. From the progressive expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to the widening of the war on terror, the United States has entangled itself with a larger, increasingly diverse cast of countries.

Not all these relationships work equally well.

Choose your friends wisely, the old saying goes, because you’ll end up being like them. Now is the time to evaluate Washington’s longtime friends and reinvigorate relations with the most reliable, honest ones.

Pakistan might not make it into the mix.

Source: Reuters

North Korea missile launch photos were fakes, analysts say

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the test-fire of a strategic submarine underwater ballistic missile (not pictured), in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on May 9, 2015. REUTERS/KCNA

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the test-fire of a strategic submarine underwater ballistic missile (not pictured), in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on May 9, 2015

Reuters: Photographs showing a North Korean missile launched from a submarine were manipulated by state propagandists and the country may be years away from developing such technology, analysts and a top U.S. military official said on Tuesday.

North Korea, sanctioned by the United States and United Nations for its missile and nuclear tests, said on May 9 it had successfully conducted an underwater test-fire of a submarine-launched ballistic missile which, if true, would indicate progress in its pursuit of missile-equipped submarines.

On Wednesday, North Korea warned the United States not to challenge its sovereign right to boost military deterrence and boasted of its ability to miniaturize nuclear warheads, a claim it has made before and which has been widely questioned by experts and never verified.

But North Korea is still “many years” from developing submarine-launched ballistic missiles, U.S. Admiral James Winnefeld told an audience at the Centre for Strategic & International Studies in Washington on Tuesday.

“They have not gotten as far as their clever video editors and spinmeisters would have us believe,” said Winnefeld, who is vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Analysis seen by Reuters from German aerospace engineers Markus Schiller and Robert Schmucker of Schmucker Technologie appeared to support Winnefeld’s statement.

Slideshow: Kim Jong Un's female fans

Slideshow: Kim Jong Un’s female fans

The Munich-based pair said photos of the launch were “strongly modified”, including reflections of the missile exhaust flame in the water which did not line up with the missile itself.

North Korea, which regularly threatens to destroy the United States, had a record of offering faked proof to claim advances in missile technology, Schiller and Schmucker said, such as poorly built mockups of missiles on display at military parades in 2012 and 2013.

The pair agreed with analysis posted by experts on the websites 38north.org and armscontrolwonk.com that the missile was likely launched from a specially designed submerged barge, and not from a submarine

A photo on state television showed a missile high in the sky leaving a trail of white smoke, whereas other photos from state media showed no white smoke, suggesting the two photos were of different missiles with different propulsion systems, Schiller and Schmucker said.

South Korea stood by its position that the photos appeared authentic. “We haven’t changed our stance that the rocket was fired from a submarine and flew about 150 meters out of the water,” a South Korean military official said.

The North’s National Defence Commission, the main ruling body headed by leader Kim Jong Un, said on Wednesday the submarine-based missile launch was “yet a higher level of accomplishment in the development of strategic attack means”.

Muslim schoolgirl, who converted to Christianity reveals she lives in fear of honor killing by family or fanatics

Muslim schoolgirl, who famously converted to Christianity on Facebook and ran away from her Ohio home, reveals how ten years on she’s still estranged and living in fear of honor killing by family or fanatics.

Unbroken: Six years after Fathima Rifqa Bary fled her parents’ home in Ohio for fear of retribution for her conversion from Islam to Christianity, the young woman, now 22, says she still lives in fear

  • Fatima Rifqa Bary fled her parents’ home at age 16 and traveled 1,000 miles by bus to seek refuge in Florida 
  • She claimed her father threatened to kill her for secretly converting from Islam to Christianity 
  • Bary was eventually returned to Ohio, where soon after she was diagnosed with rare uterine cancer, but survived 
  • Bary, now a 22-year-old college student, penned new memoir titled Hiding in the Light: Why I risked Everything to Leave Islam and Follow Jesus
  • Six years on, Bary still lives in undisclosed location and fears for her life  

Rifqa Bary, the Ohio teen who made national headlines in 2009 when she ran away from her Muslim family after secretly converting to Christianity, writes in her new book that nearly six years after her escape she still lives in fear but does not regret her decision.

Born Fatima Rifqa Bary, the Sri Lankan native moved with her family to the US in 2000, when she was 8 years old, ostensibly to seek medical treatment after an accident involving a toy airplane left her blind in her right eye.

At age 12, Rifqa secretly became a Christian. When her devout Muslim parents discovered her conversion four years later, the teen fled her family’s home in New Albany, Ohio, and sought refuge in Central Florida.

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fatima barry Capture

Fatima is now a 22-year-old college student

Bary, now 22, is a college student majoring in philosophy. She still lives in an undisclosed location for fear of retribution.

In her new book, Hiding in the Light: Why I risked Everything to Leave Islam and Follow Jesus, released Tuesday by the WaterBrook Press division of Penguin Random House, Bary details her transformation from a girl growing up in a strict Muslim household to an apostate who, according to some people, shamed her family.

Author: Bary wrote a new memoir tracing her transformation from a girl growing up in a strict Muslim household to an apostate

Author: Bary wrote a new memoir tracing her transformation from a girl growing up in a strict Muslim household to an apostate

‘Those who do understand it, and understand it very well, are those who have wanted me dead. That’s why I have taken, and continue to take, precautions to protect my life and safety,’ she writes, according to Columbus Dispatch. 

The book also sheds light on Rifqa’s strict upbringing, her first religious experiences as a Christian convert and a battle with cancer that nearly cost Bary her life at age 18.

In her memoir, the 22-year-old aspiring lawyer reveals that she had been molested as a child by a member of her extended family – an incident that ultimately prompted her parents to leave Sri Lanka and move to the US.

‘In some Muslim cultures, like mine, this kind of violation is a great source of dishonor,’ Bary explains. ‘Yet the shame is not attached to the abuser; it is cast on the victim.

‘So not only was I viewed now in my parents’ eyes as a half-blind picture of imperfection, but I was also a shameful disgrace to the Bary name. My mere presence and appearance were a stain against the most important thing of all — our family honor.’

On July 19, 2009, Rifqa Bary boarded a Greyhound bus in Ohio and traveled nearly 1,000 miles southeast to Central Florida.

Police used phone and computer records to track her to the Reverend Blake Lorenz, pastor of Orlando, Florida-based Global Revolution Church, whom she had met through a Facebook prayer group.

When local authorities threatened the pastor and his wife with criminal charges for harboring the teenage fugitive, Rifqa turned herself in to police and spent two days behind bars at a juvenile detention facility.

Thrust into the limelight: Bary made headlines when at age 16 she boarded a Greyhound bus in Ohio and traveled 1,000 miles to seek refuge from her parents in Central Florida. Here she is pictured August 21, 2009, entering a Florida courtroom clutching her Bible   

Thrust into the limelight: Bary made headlines when at age 16 she boarded a Greyhound bus in Ohio and traveled 1,000 miles to seek refuge from her parents in Central Florida. Here she is pictured August 21, 2009, entering a Florida courtroom clutching her Bible

Conflicting accounts: Bary writes in her book that her father, Mohamed Bary (pictured in court in 2009), threatened to kill her for turning her back on Islam. But Mr Bary's attorney insists that Rifqa was 'the apple of his eye'

Conflicting accounts: Bary writes in her book that her father, Mohamed Bary (pictured in court in 2009), threatened to kill her for turning her back on Islam. But Mr Bary’s attorney insisted that Rifqa was ‘the apple of his eye’

Rifqa claimed her father threatened to kill her for converting to Christianity and her mother threatened to ship her off to a mental institution in Sri Lanka.

The teenage runaway told a Florida judge at one point she feared she would become the victim of an ‘honor killing,’ but investigations carried out by the Columbus Police Department and Florida Department of Law Enforcement failed to corroborate this threat, according to Orlando Sentinel.

After several rounds of court hearings, Bary was returned to Ohio where she bounced between foster homes until she turned 18.

In her book, Rifqa Bary writes critically of her family and their local mosque, suggesting that they were the deciding factors in her decision to turn her back on Islam and flee.

According to Bary, her parents and older brother routinely abused her and prevented her from spending time with friends because in Islam, she write, ‘the place for women was at home close to their families, close to Allah.’

She also describes in the book how strict religious rules imposed by the leaders at the mosque attended by her family created a ‘whiplash of abuse’ at her home.

Fearing her family’s wrath, Bary said she would hide her Bible and lie to her parents so she could sneak off to church services.

Living in fear: The teenage runaway told a Florida judge at one point she feared she would become the victim of an ‘honor killing’

Living in fear: The teenage runaway told a Florida judge at one point she feared she would become the victim of an ‘honor killing’

'Exploited': Her father's attorney claimed that as a teenager, Rifqa came to be exploited and manipulated by ‘Islamophobes’ 

‘Exploited': Her father’s attorney claimed that as a teenager, Rifqa came to be exploited and manipulated by ‘Islamophobes’

Rifqa was eventually sent back to Ohio, where she bounced between foster homes until she turned 18 

Rifqa was eventually sent back to Ohio, where she bounced between foster homes until she turned 18

Bary’s parents have repeatedly denied the allegations of abuse and claimed that they allowed her to freely practice Christianity.

Describing Bary as the ‘apple of the eye of her father,’ attorney Shayan Elahi said the family is heartbroken over her estrangement and wish Rifqa would reconcile with them.

Elahi, who represented Mohamed Bary, Rifqa’s father, in Florida during the custody battle, claimed that as a teenager she came to be exploited and manipulated by ‘Islamophobes’ pursuing their own political and religious agendas.

Rifqa Bary details in her autobiography how she was drawn to Christianity as a young girl because it offered her a chance to worship God in a more personal way, not by compulsion, and in a language she could understand.

‘To think that someone could pray in English about whatever they wanted to was both scandalous and fascinating to me,’ she writes.

Describing her first Christian chruch service, the 22-year-old college sophomore writes how she broke down in tears looking at a cross, which to her symbolized ‘freedom,’ ‘hope’ and ‘unyielding love.’

fatima barry 2 Capture

In her memoir, Bary writes that her mother, Aysha Bary (right), threatened to ship her off to a mental hospital in Sri Lanka. Her parents have denied these allegations

Upon her return to Ohio, Rifqa Bary was diagnosed with a rare form of uterine cancer and given a year to live.

After undergoing eight weeks of chemotherapy and several surgeries to remove the malignant tumor, Bary stopped treatment and refused to undergo a hysterectomy citing her religious beliefs.

Against overwhelming odds, today the 22-year-old is in remission.

But as she tries to lead a normal life, Rifqa says the fear of retaliation is always lurking in the background.

‘I still feel like my life is in danger,’ she says. ‘I don’t live in fear all the time but I still have to be wise and cautious.’

 source: Mail Online

​Jihadist welfare: Denmark paid benefits to citizens fighting in Syria

At least 32 Danish citizens have received about 378,000 kroner (US$57,000) in unemployment benefits …while they were ‘employed’ engaging in jihad, fighting alongside extremists in Syria, government data shows.

“STAR [Danish Labour Agency] has thus far received information pertaining to 32 people who, according to PET’s [Security and Intelligence Service] information, have gone abroad in relation to the conflict in Syria while at the same time receiving social benefits,” an Employment Ministry document obtained by Danish Radio24syv says.

The benefits paid to members of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) are in the form of kontanthjælp and dagpenge, two types of unemployment payments.

Denmark has one of the best systems of unemployment benefits. Those who are on dagpenge welfare benefits can receive up to 801 kroner per day ($121) for up to two years.

According to Peter Skaarup of the Danish People’s Party, the recent information about benefits for jihadists show that Copenhagen was “careless” about extremists.

“There has been a lot of talk about how serious it is, but when it comes to the practical consequences we can see that nobody does anything,” he told BT, a local tabloid.

He said that every single case should be reported to police immediately “because you are not available to the job market when you are in the midst of Syria’s civil war.”

“And if we are to send a signal that we won’t accept these Syrian fighters going down there, we need to put more consequences in place.”

The information that Danish radicals fighting for IS [Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS/ISIL] receive unemployment benefits was revealed back in November 2014. However, then PET put the number of ‘unemployed’ extremists to 28 and didn’t specify the amount of money they manage to receive while fighting in the ranks of IS.

In March, PET said that at least 115 Danish citizens have joined jihadists in Syria and Iraq since the start of Syrian Civil War in 2011. Nineteen of them were killed in battle.

“CTA [PET’s Centre for Terror Analysis] believes there is a continued terror threat against Denmark from people who return home from the conflict in Syria/Iraq,” the head of PET, Jens Madsen, said.

According to CTA Director Soren Jensen, the influence of IS in Denmark is quite significant.

“We assess that there are still people who join the militant Islamic environments in Denmark and that within those environments there is widespread sympathy for ISIL,” he said.

Between 5,000 and 6,000 Europeans have traveled to Syria to join Islamic State, the EU Commissioner for Justice Vera Jourova said in April.

The EU nationals traveling to Syria cause authorities’ concern, as the European governments fear they may return and carry out attacks on home soil.

Source: rt.com

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Iran sets court date for Washington Post’s Jason Rezaian

TEHRAN (FNA)- Jason Rezaian, an American national who is held by Iran for espionage charges, will go on trial in Tehran on May 26, an Iranian official has announced

(CNN)Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, who is charged with espionage, will make his first court appearance in Iran’s Revolution Court next week, the nation’s Fars news agency reported Tuesday.

The newspaper’s Tehran bureau chief was arrested in July on several charges, including spying.

The Washington Post has rejected the allegations.

“Any charges of that sort would be absurd, the product of fertile and twisted imaginations,” the paper said in a statement last month.

The U.S. State Department called the charges “absurd.”

Since officers picked up Rezaian and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, on July 22 at their home, the Post, the State Department and Rezaian’s family have protested and called for his release. Salehi was released on bail in October.

Rezaian was denied bail. And for months, he was denied access to proper legal representation, his family has said.

Shortly before his ongoing imprisonment in Iran, Jason Rezaian appeared on CNN’s “Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown.”

Boxing great Muhammad Ali, also an American Muslim, appealed to Tehran last month to give Rezaian full access to legal representation and free him on bail.

“To my knowledge, Jason is a man of peace and great faith, a man whose dedication and respect for the Iranian people is evident in his work,” Ali said in a religiously worded statement.

The journalist has also not been allowed to see visitors aside from his wife and has endured long interrogations, family members have said.

In December, after a 10-hour hearing, Rezaian signed a paper to acknowledge that he understood the charges against him, the Post reported.

Iran‘s human rights chief, Mohammad Javad Larijani, told news outlet France 24 last year that he hoped Rezaian’s case would come to a positive conclusion. He said, “Let us hope that this fiasco will end on good terms.”

Related: 

 

Judge sentences 11 Afghan police over lynching of woman in Kabul

An Afghan judge sentenced 11 police on Tuesday to one year in jail for failing to prevent the mob killing of a woman in Kabul who was accused of burning a Koran.

Judge Safiullah Mujadidi freed eight other officers accused of failure to carry out their duty for lack of evidence.

The lynching in March of the 27-year-old woman, named Farkhunda, sparked outrage and demonstrations in the Afghan capital even before it was revealed that she had not desecrated Islam’s holy book.

It prompted rare protests against religious extremism and violence against women in Kabul.

Earlier this month, the same judge sentenced four men to death after they were convicted of murdering Farkhunda. Among them was the caretaker of a local shrine who had accused her of burning the Koran and led the mob that beat her to death and set her body on fire.

afghan-burningEight others were jailed for 16 years for participating in the attack.

Some of those arrested were tracked down after posting footage of the attack on social media and bragging about taking part.

warning graphic content Capture

Watch video here: view?i=0f5_1426790044

Afghanistan remains a deeply conservative religious society where many frown on women in the public sphere, more than 13 years after the Taliban’s hard-line Islamist regime was ousted.

Under the Taliban’s five-year rule, women were banned from leaving home without a male guardian, denied education and forced to wear the all-covering burqa.

(Reporting by Kay Johnson; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

Source: www.reuters.com

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Insight – Islamic State learns lessons from U.S. raid: jihadist sources

A U.S. special forces raid against an Islamic State leader in Syria caught the jihadist group off guard, killing not only the declared target, but also two other important figures, jihadist sources in Syria said.

The sources said a spy must have infiltrated the movement and passed on vital information that helped the U.S. commandos zero in on the home of their victim early Saturday when most of the guards had left to join a battle elsewhere.

They said the ultra-hardline group had absorbed the shock, but promised that any culprits would be discovered. The Islamic State was also considering tightening its recruitment procedures to try to root out moles and was considering forming a specialist unit to counter such attacks in future.

“This is a lesson for us. We consider what happened as a lesson not to underestimate our enemy regardless who he is,” said one of the group’s fighters inside Syria reached by Reuters via the Internet, who declined to be named.

The fighters are not allowed to speak to the media and face severe punishment if they flaunt the rule.

U.S. Delta Force reached deep into eastern Syria in the early hours of Saturday for their ground assault, departing from their usual reliance on air strikes alone to hit the Islamic State, which holds swathes of both Iraq and Syria.

During the raid, the U.S. troops killed Abu Sayyaf — a Tunisian citizen whom Washington believes was responsible for overseeing Islamic State’s financial operations and was involved in the handling of foreign hostages.

Islamic State has yet to make any formal statement about the attack in Deir al-Zor province, and it appears to be business as usual in the territory it holds. A resident in the northeastern Syrian city of Raqqa — the group’s de facto capital — said life continued as before.

Sources told Reuters that two other leaders died in Saturday’s incursion — Abu Taym, a Saudi believed to oversee oil operations in the area, and Abu Mariam, who worked on group communications. His nationality was not immediately known.

Abu Sayyaf’s two brothers were wounded and his wife, who is believed to have overseen a slave market for abducted Yazidi women, was captured and flown back to Iraq.

“The reason this has happened is because of the spies. Someone from inside has helped them,” said a fighter within Syria, who asked not to be named for security reasons.

“They knew exactly where to go and when. They went to the building where he was staying with his family. They did it at a time when we have minimized the guards around the compound because they were sent to a battle,” he said.

RESTRICTIONS ON RECRUITS

Abu Sayyaf and his family were staying in a compound that contained at least 50 buildings, each four storeys high, where 1,000 people including civilians, lived.

The compound was built by the Syrian government to accommodate families of employees and engineers who run the nearby al-Omar gas and oil plant.

When Islamic State seized the area last year, it kept only a few dozen government employees, enough to operate the plant. The rest were killed or expelled and their houses handed over to Islamic State fighters and their families.

“The (Islamic) State is now taking new measures. One of those measures is to increase restrictions on joining. Members will be reviewed and new ones will have to be recommended. Whoever they are,” said a Syrian Islamic State fighter from inside Syria.

Earlier this month, Islamic State issued an audio recording that it said was by its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, calling on supporters around the world to join the fight in Syria and Iraq. Many hundreds of foreign fighters have swelled the group’s ranks and it was not clear if these new measures would slow the flow.

Abu Sayyaf has been quietly replaced in the group hierarchy and there were no signs that his death had had a direct impact on its current battles or the movement’s structure.

Just hours after the U.S. sortie, Islamic State fighters overran the Iraqi provincial capital of Ramadi dealing a major blow to Iraq’s government and its Western backers. In Syria, it pressed on with its assault on the ancient city of Palmyra.

Fighters and jihadi sources say the group is built in such a way that it can easily absorb the deaths of leading figures.

“We are here to die, we are here to become martyrs. Even our Caliph could be a lucky martyr one day so even if this happens, the State will not collapse. It has become bigger than one person,” said another fighter from a Middle East country.

STRIKING THE EGO

Fighters contacted by Reuters inside Syria were initially stunned that such a raid could have happened and its loyalists on social media have made little or no mention of the incident.

The group takes pride in being impenetrable to foreign intelligence services, particularly in Syria, believing it can root out infiltrators before they can cause any damage.

Once caught, suspected spies are often executed in public, with videos of the beheadings or shootings regularly posted on the Internet to deter would-be agents. Their bodies are sometimes left out for days as an example for others.

Communication with media is also rare and controlled.

Fighters believe that such restrictions have allowed the organisation to operate quietly and effectively, regularly catching its enemies unawares with surprise offensives.

This also helps explain, they said, the failure of a similar U.S. raid to rescue American hostages last summer.

“We knew it was going to happen then. We quietly evacuated the place. They came, there was no one,” a Syrian fighter, who said he had been in Raqqa then, told Reuters.

“But this time they were successful. It is spies, but they will be found and punished in no time. As for us, we will continue our path, the path of jihad.”

Source: uk.reuters.com

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Iraq deploys tanks as Islamic State tightens grip on Ramadi

Iraqi security forces on Tuesday deployed tanks and artillery around Ramadi to confront Islamic State fighters who have captured the city in a major defeat for the Baghdad government and its Western backers.

After Ramadi fell on Sunday, Shi’ite militiamen allied to the Iraqi army had advanced to a nearby base in preparation for a counterattack on the city, which lies in Anbar province just 110 km (70 miles) northwest of Baghdad.

As pressure mounted for action to retake the city, a local government official urged Ramadi residents to join the police and the army for what the Shi’ite militiamen said would be the “Battle of Anbar”.

Sunni Islamic State fighters had set up defensive positions and laid landmines, witnesses said. As the group tightened its grip on the city, Islamists went from house to house in search of members of the police and armed forces and said they would set up courts based on Islamic Sharia law.

They released about 100 prisoners from the counter-terrorism detention center in the city.

Saed Hammad al-Dulaimi, 37, a school teacher who is still in the city, said: “Islamic State used loudspeakers urging people who have relatives in prison to gather at the main mosque in the city center to pick them up. I saw men rushing to the mosque to receive their prisoners.”

The move could prove popular with residents who have complained that people are often subject to arbitrary detention.

Sami Abed Saheb, 37, a Ramadi restaurant owner, said Islamic State found 30 women and 71 men in the detention center. They had been shot in the feet to prevent them escaping when their captors fled.

Witnesses said the black flag of Islamic State was now flying over the main mosque, government offices and other prominent buildings in Ramadi.

Jasim Mohammed, 49, who owns a women’s clothing shop, said an Islamic State member had told him he must now sell only traditional Islamic garments.

“I had to remove the mannequins and replace them with other means of displaying the clothes. He told me that I shouldn’t sell underwear because it’s forbidden,” he said.

Islamic State had also promised that food, medicine and doctors would soon be available.

Dulaimi said Islamic State fighters were using cranes to lift blast walls from the streets and bulldozers to shovel away sand barriers built by security forces before they fled.

“I think they (Islamic State) are trying to win the sympathy of people in Ramadi and give them moments of peace and freedom,” he said.

SECTARIAN HOSTILITY

The decision by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is a Shi’ite, to send in the militia, known as Hashid Shaabi or Popular Mobilisation, to try to retake the predominantly Sunni city could add to sectarian hostility in one of the most violent parts of Iraq.

The Abadi government had pledged to equip and train pro-government Sunni tribes with a view to replicating the model applied during the “surge” campaign of 2006-07, when U.S. Marines turned the tide against al Qaeda fighters – forerunners of Islamic State – by arming and paying local tribes in a movement known as the Anbar Awakening.

But a repeat will be more difficult. Sunni tribal leaders complain that the government was not serious about arming them again, and say they received only token support.

There are fears that weapons provided to Sunni tribes could end up with Islamic State. Islamic State has also worked to prevent a new Awakening movement by killing sheikhs and weakening the tribes.

Iraqi ministers on Tuesday stressed the need to arm and train police and tribal fighters. Abadi called for national unity in the battle to defend Iraq.

A spokesman for Iraqi military operations, Saad Maan, said the armed forces controlled areas between Ramadi and the Habbaniya military base about 30 km (20 miles) away where the militia fighters are waiting.

“Security forces are reinforcing their positions and setting three defensive lines around Ramadi to repel any attempts by terrorists to launch further attacks,” Maan said.

“All these three defensive lines will become offensive launch-pads once we determine the zero hour to liberate Ramadi.”

The International Organization for Migration said 40,000 people had been forced to flee Ramadi in the past four days.

About 500 people were killed in the fighting for Ramadi in recent days, local officials said.

Islamic State gains in Ramadi mean it will take longer for Iraqi forces to move against them in Mosul, where militants celebrated victory in Anbar by firing shots into the air, sounding car horns and playing Islamic anthems, residents said.

(Reporting by Baghdad Bureau; Additional reporting by Stephen Kalin; Writing by Giles Elgood; editing by Janet McBride)

Source: www.reuters.com

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Holiday Inn, Hilton hotels allegedly caught selling anti-Semitic items in Moscow

russian dolls Capture

Russian nesting dolls painted with anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jews found in a Moscow hotel gift shop.. (photo credit:SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTRE)

Legal action is being urged after a number of Moscow hotels, namely Holiday Inn and Hilton, were allegedly caught selling anti-Semitic and Nazi-themed items in its gift shop.

In a letter to Russian Prosecutor-General Yuri Yakovlev Chaika, the Simon Wiesenthal Center urged legal action to be taken against the items’ producers and distributors.

Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a federal law banning Nazi imagery.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, was the one who spotted the shocking items while in Moscow for a conference celebrating the end of the Second World War, called ‘The Lessons of Victory in the Second World War/The Great Patriotic War – Seventy Years Later.’ The letter notes that the items are targeted to tourists and some even cost 27,000 rubles ($590 or NIS 2,317).

One of the items he saw for sale was a Russian nesting “matryoshka” doll, painted with anti-Semitic stereotypes of orthodox Jews with big noses and peyot.

The shock continued as he and colleagues also saw a chess set featuring Nazi Whermacht army figurines led by an Adolph Hiler figurine pitted against Red Army figurines led by a Joseph Stalin figurine.

nazi chess board Capture

Samuels noted that not far from both of these shocking displays was a Russian veteran victory ribbon.

“Born in London, I have always acknowledged the role of the Red Army on the Eastern Front in preventing a Nazi invasion of Great Britain,” Samuels wrote in his statement. “Thereby, your people’s sacrifice contributed to the survival of British Jews from destruction in the Holocaust – only 50 kilometers away on the European continent.”

The center called the sale of these items “an insult to every Allied veteran and victim of World War II and also to the Russian tradition of chess excellence,” and recommended that all the items immediately be confiscated.

source  Jerusalem Post

ISIS fanatics tweet chilling photos from European cities counting down to ‘zero hour’

site montage Capture

Threat: European cities are vulnerable to terrorist attack

One of the posts reportedly shows a note in Arabic saying: ‘#Islamic State in Rome. Now is observing and locating for the target. Waiting for the zero hour’

ISIS fanatics have tweeted chilling photos from European cities counting down to ‘zero hour.’

One of the posts reportedly shows a note in Arabic saying: ‘#Islamic State in Rome. Now is observing and locating for the target. Waiting for the zero hour.’

Others show Milan’s Cathedral and an Expo Centre – while police cars appear to have been deliberately included in several photos.

Isis in Rome

Note: The note in Arabic says the group is locating its target

ISIS has identified Rome, which is the centre of Roman Catholicism, as a target in the past.

The group’s magazine infamously published a photo of its notorious black flag flying over St Peter’s Square.

The disturbing posts come amidst claims by Libya’s intelligence agents that the terrorist organisation is sending fighters into Europe among migrants cross the Mediterranean.

Isis in Rome

Chilling: One of the images shows Rome’s Colosseum

The north African state’s Minister of Information reportedly told Italian news agency ANSA: “In the next few weeks Italy will see the arrival of boats carrying not only poor immigrants from Africa but Daesh (IS).”

It comes after it emerged that the UK would play a major role in battling people trafficking across the Mediterranean.

These latest disturbing tweets were published by the terror watch website Site, but can’t be independently confirmed as posted by ISIS.

Isis in Rome

Isis in Rome

12 Year Old Victim Of Asian Abuse Gang Had Sex With 60 Men

  • Schoolgirl allegedly passed around men after meeting Vikram Singh, 45, while out shopping with her friends.
  • Girl and friend ‘groomed into thinking abuse gang were their boyfriends”.
  • She told police she did what men wanted because they made her life ‘a bit more exciting’.
  • 11 men deny a total of 49 charges including rape and giving girls.

Accused: Harmohan Nangpal, Vikram Singh and Sajid Ali at the Old Bailey this morning

A schoolgirl was raped by at least 60 men by members of a horrific paedophile grooming gang – a court has heard.

A jury at the Old Bailey was told the girl were subjected to “horrific sexual assault on a massive scale” by a child sex gang in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

A close friend was also allegedly raped by two of the gang.

Eleven Asian men appeared before the court for the first day of trial today and face charges of rape, sexual assault, conspiracy to commit sexual assault, conspiracy to commit rape, conspiracy to facilitate child prostitution and drugging the girls in order to rape them.

Girl A, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was allegedly raped by at least 60 men while she was aged between 12 and 14.

Girl B, a close friend of the first girl, was also allegedly raped by two of the men.

The attacks took place between 2006 and 2012.

Prosecutor Oliver Saxby said the two girls, who came from broken homes, were bought alcohol, drugs and other small gifts by the men to gain their trust.

Victim: One of the girls was allegedly raped by at least 60 men

He said: “The men are accused of sexual assault on a massive scale. It features two young girls who were exploited and sexually assaulted from the age of 12 or 16.

“Both girls were from unstable backgrounds which made them perfect targets. Their lives were off the rails. They were looking for excitement, for attention, for somewhere to hang out away from school and home.

“They were wanting to feel grown up, and looked after. And they were easy prey for a group of men wanting casual sexual gratification that was easy, regular and readily available.

“They were being conditioned, exploited, their trust was being established and they were sexually abused.”

The prosecutor said the first girl tried to explain why she had had sex with so many men.

The prosecutor read out her statement to police: “You get passed round. It wasn’t me looking for them it was them looking for me.

“It’s just that they pass your number around. Or your with one if them and they invite three or four of their friends round and then you have to sleep with them.

“Because you’re in their place and they’re making your life a bit more exciting so you do what they want. I just knew Asian men wanted to sleep with me.

Trial; Eleven men face child sex charges at the Old Bailey

“I didn’t think they found me attractive. I was happy that I was wanted. I felt popular. Like they wanted me and I got a load of attention, that was it.”

Vikram Singh, 45, of Cannock Road, Aylesbury, is charged with four counts of rape, four counts of sexual activity with a child, and one of administering a substance with intent.

Harmohan Nangpal, 41, of Langdale Drive, Hayes, is accused of one count of rape, and one count of sexual activity with a child.

Asif Hussain, 33, of Hodge Lea, Milton Keynes, face three counts of rape, three counts of sexual activity with a child and one count of arranging child prostitution.

Arshad Jani, 33, of Cousins Drive, Aylesbury, denies one count of rape, and a further count of sexual activity with a child.

Mohammed Imran, 38, of Springcliffe Street, Bradford, is accused of three counts of rape, three counts of sexual activity with a child, two counts of conspiracy to commit sexual activity with a child, two counts of conspiracy to rape and one count of child prostitution.

Akbari Khan, 36, of Mandeville Road, Aylesbury, denies two counts of rape, one count of of sexual activity with a child, and one each of administering a substance with intent, conspiracy to rape, and conspiracy to commit sexual activity with a child.

Taimoor Khan, 29, of Highbridge Road, Aylesbury, is charged with one count of rape, one count of sexual activity with a child, one count of conspiracy to rape, and one count of conspiracy to commit sexual activity with a child.

Jerome Joe, 35, of Pightle Crescent, Buckingham, is charged with one count of rape and a single count of sexual activity with a child.

Sajad Ali, 34, of Brockhurst Road, Chesham, is charged with rape, sexual activity with a child and administering a substance.

Sohail Qamar, 41, of St Anne’s Road, Aylesbury, is accused of sexual activity with a child, two counts of rape, and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Faisal Iqbal, 32, of Pixie Road, Aylesbury, is on trial accused of conspiracy to rape and conspiracy to commit sexual activity with a child.

The case continues.

‘Islam must be banned’: French Mayor in trouble after extreme tweets, calls to deport Muslims

A mayor of a French town has been suspended from former president Nikolas Sarkozy’s UMP party after urging a ban on Islam in the country and the immediate “escorting to the border” of those practicing the religion.

“The Muslim religion must be banned in France,” Robert Chardon, mayor of the southern town of Venelles, wrote on Twitter earlier this week.

All followers of Islam should be “immediately escorted to the border,” the mayor added, forecasting that the Muslim faith will be banned in France by 2027.

The controversial tweet was made by Chardon as part of an online public discussion initiated by French ex-president and UMP (Union for a Popular Movement) leader, Nicolas Sarkozy, under the #NSDirect hashtag.

Sarkozy, who is likely to run for president once again in 2027, was quick to distance himself from the comments.

“I condemn this proposal even if secularism also means fixing limits. Rights and limits go together,” he wrote.

The Venelles mayor was also slammed by Twitter followers, who on their part suggested “to ban idiocy in France” instead of Islam, Sputnik news agency reported.

“In France, everyone is free to choose whether or not to believe in God, and that’s just fine!” one of the users reminded, while another wrote to Chardon that he was “glad not to live in your **** town!”

At first, it was suggested that the comments didn’t come from the mayor as his account on Twitter was hacked.

But Chardon confirmed the authenticity of the tweet, and expressed eagerness to defend his position.

In his interview with Le Monde paper, said he stands firm in his belief that banning Islam and deporting all Muslims is “the only solution for most of France’s problems.”

Muslims should practice their religion “in their country of origin,” Chardon said.

According to the mayor, the understandings of this idea came to him as an epiphany, while he was taking leave to get treatment from mouth cancer.

Union for a Popular Movement vice-president, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, announced that party has suspended Chardon, who will be later removed from UMP’s ranks.

“I have called for the expulsion procedure to be started for these absurd statements that in no way reflect the values and program of the UMP,” Kosciusko-Morizet told AFP.

Racism and xenophobia against the country’s five billion Muslims have been on the rise in France, following series of terror attacks by Islamic radicals, including the deadly shooting at Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly in mid-January.

Read more :

http://rt.com/news/255845-franch-mayor-muslim-kids/

Source: rt.com

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Boston bomber Tsarnaev’s family plans to appeal death sentence

Meeting his fate: This court sketch shows Tsarnaev, emotionless, listening to a Boston jury sentencing him to death Friday

Meeting his fate: This court sketch shows Tsarnaev, emotionless, listening to a Boston jury sentencing him to death Friday

  •  Anzor Tsarnaev said family still has hope after jury of seven women and five men ruled that his son should die.
  • Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted of 17 charges eligible for death sentence over 2013 bombing.
  • Jury unanimously ruled in favor of capital punishment for six of the counts.
  • Tsarnaev was somber and emotionless as death sentence was delivered. 
  • Defense lawyers had argued he should get life in prison without parole.
  • Survivor Sydney Corcoran said the punishment is ‘an eye for an eye’ and that bomber ‘took away his own right to live’.

By KIERAN CORCORAN and ANNETA KONSTANTINIDES FOR DAILYMAIL.COM and ASSOCIATED PRESS

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s father said the family will fight the death sentence he was given yesterday for the Boston Marathon bombings ‘until the end’.

Anzor Tsarnaev said the family had hope during the trial and they ‘still do’.

His father was just one of the family members who rallied behind Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after the jury unanimously voted to punish the 21-year-old with death for his part in detonating two bombs at the 2013 Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others.

‘What a parent can feel at such moment? It is hard,’ Anzor Tsarnaev told ABC News from Dagestan, Russia. ‘Hope exists always.’

Scroll down for videos:

Anzor Tsarnaev said the family had hope during the trial and they ‘still do’.

Saeed Tsarnaev, Anzor’s brother, blamed the defense lawyers for giving the family too much hope and said they plan to appeal the death sentence, which he called a ‘big tragedy’ that was ‘insulting’ to the family’s name.

Dzhokar Tsarnaev’s aunt, Maret Tsarnaeva, said she was not surprised that her nephew received the death sentence but that the punishment doesn’t matter because she believes the family will prove he is not guilty.

Anzor Tsarnaev became a subject during the sentencing phase of the trial, as the defense tried to argue his mental illness and brain damage deprived Dzhokhar Tsarnaev ‘of needed stability and guidance during his adolescence,’ according to Boston.com.

During the trial a doctor diagnosed Anzor Tsarnaev, who was tortured during the Russian-Chechen war, with PTSD and agoraphobia, as well as brain disease he believed had been caused from boxing and a childhood head injury.

But although all 12 jurors areed Anzor Tsarnaev had been disabled by ‘mental illness and brain damage’ only two agreed that this had deprived Dzhokhar Tsarnaev of stability in his childhood.

Likewise, only two jurors agreed that this disability made Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who Dzhokhar carried out the attacks with, the ‘dominant male figure’ in his life.

Cold: Tsarnaev has barely shown any emotion at all throughout the 10-week sentencing hearing. He is depicted above arriving for Friday's hearing

Cold: Tsarnaev has barely shown any emotion at all throughout the 10-week sentencing hearing. He is depicted above arriving for Friday’s hearing

Disgusted: Heroic fire fighter Michael Ward slammed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as 'vile' after the verdict

Disgusted: Heroic fire fighter Michael Ward slammed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as ‘vile’ after the verdict

Tsarnaev was convicted last month of all 30 federal charges against him, 17 of which carried the possibility of the death penalty.

The same jury, comprised of seven women and five men, found that he deserved the death penalty for some but not all of the charges – which means he will be executed by lethal injection.

Tsarnaev’s defense lawyers, who did not dispute that he and his brother Tamerlan carried out the bombings, said he deserved life in prison instead.

Some families affected by the bombing agreed.

Bill and Denise Richard, parents of eight-year-old victim Martin Richard, said the government should stop seeking the death penalty because it will draw out the legal process.

Writing in the Boston Globe, they said the appeals and trial will only ‘prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives’.

Michael Ward, a heroic firefighter who rescued victims during the attack, said the death sentence was nothing to celebrate.

‘He wanted to go to hell – he is going to there early,’ he said about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Confession: Tsarnaev's defense do not dispute that he (left in white cap) and his brother Tamerlan (right in black cap) carried out the bombing

Confession: Tsarnaev’s defense do not dispute that he (left in white cap) and his brother Tamerlan (right in black cap) carried out the bombing

Ward was off duty along the marathon route when two explosions went off.

On Friday, two years after he pulled wounded men, women and children to safety, Ward was in court to witness Tsarnaev being sentenced to death.

‘I remember the vile, disgusting thing that this person did and his brother,’ Ward told a press conference. ‘They destroyed countless innocent lives.’

Families of bombing victims, including the Richard family, packed the courtroom to hear the verdict.

When Tsarnaev entered he was said to appear emotionless – even relaxed – much like at every other phase of the trial. He was wearing a dark sport coat and a light-colored shirt.

Had he not carried out the bombings, Tsarnaev would have been due to graduate from college today instead of being sentenced to death.

He was said to be equally expressionless when the jury delivered their verdict.

Reporters in the courtroom said he cracked his knuckles twice and ran his hands through his hair as it became clear he would be executed.

Defiant: Tsarnaev is pictured above in a jail cell shortly after being arrested making an obscene gesture at a camera. He has been largely emotionless throughout the trial, even as his victims testified

Defiant: Tsarnaev is pictured above in a jail cell shortly after being arrested making an obscene gesture at a camera. He has been largely emotionless throughout the trial, even as his victims testified

Before the verdict, jurors rules on a swathe of aggravating factors – declaring that Tsarnaev extensively planned the attack purposefully targeted a child, acted in a ‘heinous and cruel’ manner and has no remorse for his actions.

However, they decided there was not enough evidence to prove he incited others to make further attacks against the United States.

The defense sought to save Tsarnaev’s life by pinning most of the blame on his radicalized older brother. However, only three jurors agreed that this was a mitigating factor in the crimes.

Prosecutors portrayed Tsarnaev as an equal partner in the attack and so heartless he placed a bomb behind children, killing eight-year-old Martin Richard.

Other victims of the bombing include 23-year-old Chinese exchange student Lingzi Lu and 29-year-old restaurant managed Krystle Campbell.

Six counts: Jurors unanimously decided that six crime of which Tsarnaev has been convicted ought to be punished by death

Six counts: Jurors unanimously decided that six crime of which Tsarnaev has been convicted ought to be punished by death

Sean A Collier, a 27-year-old police officer, was killed by the Tsarnaevs when the two were being hunted down. Dzhokhar’s older brother Tamerlan died before he could be caught.

Before Dzhokhar launched the bombing attack he was a student at the University of Massachusetts’s Dartmouth campus.

His peers in the class of 2015 were graduating as he was sentenced to death Friday.

Jurors in Tsarnaev’s trail heard 10 weeks of testimony, spanning about 150 witnesses, including people whose legs were torn off by the shrapnel-filled bombs.

William Richard described the gut-wrenching decision to leave Martin to die of his wounds so that he could save the life of his daughter, Jane, who lost a leg but survived.

Prosecutors described Tsarnaev as an adherent of al Qaeda’s militant Islamist views who carried out the attack as an act of retribution for U.S. military campaigns in Muslim-dominated countries.

In their closing arguments, Tsarnaev’s defense told the jury ‘Dzhokhar is not the worst of the worst, and that’s what the death penalty is reserved for – the worst of the worst.’

Attorney Judy Clarke claimed that he is ‘genuinely sorry for what he’s done’ and has ‘the potential for redemption’.

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Destruction: One of the two explosions at the marathon is pictured above. Three people died from the bombs and hundreds were injured

Destruction: One of the two explosions at the marathon is pictured above. Three people died from the bombs and hundreds were injured

Jurors were told that each of them individually had the power to save Tsarnaev’s life, as the death sentence requires all 12 to agree. In this case, nobody dissented from capital punishment.

Meanwhile prosecution lawyer Steve Mellin argued that Tsarnaev’s actions ‘earned him a sentence of death’.

He said: ‘The defendant knew what kind of hell was going to be unleashed.’

Bombing victim Sydney Corcoran, who nearly bled to death and whose mother lost both her legs, supported the death sentence.

She said: ‘My mother and I think that NOW he will go away and we will be able to move on. Justice.

‘In his own words, “an eye for an eye.”‘

She added: ‘He took away his own right to live.’

Liz Norden, whose two sons both lost a leg in the explosion, said: ‘I have to watch my two sons put legs on every day… but it feels like a weight’s been lifted. It was justice.’

Adrienne Haslet, a dancer who lost a leg in the attack, said: ‘My heart is with our entire survivor community. I am thrilled with the verdict!’

Dic Donohue, a police officer who was injured trying to apprehend the Tsarnaevs, said: ‘Just over two years after the events that impacted us as a community and a nation, we can finally close this chapter in our lives.

All his fault? Tsarnaev's defense have argued that his older brother, Tamerlan, radicalized him and should bear most of the responsibility for the deadly terror attacks in 2013

All his fault? Tsarnaev’s defense have argued that his older brother, Tamerlan, radicalized him and should bear most of the responsibility for the deadly terror attacks in 2013

Capture: Tsarnaev is pictured above leaning on a boat where he had been hiding from police in Watertown, Massachusetts, before he was captured

Capture: Tsarnaev is pictured above leaning on a boat where he had been hiding from police in Watertown, Massachusetts, before he was captured

‘The verdict, undoubtedly a difficult decision for the jury, gives me relief and closure as well as the ability to keep moving forward.’

After the sentence was delivered, Attorney General Loretta Lynch welcomed the sentence as ‘a fitting punishment for this horrific crime’.

She said: ‘Dzhokhar Tsarnaev coldly and callously perpetrated a terrorist attack that injured hundreds of Americans and ultimately took the lives of three individuals’.

She continued: ‘We know all too well that no verdict can heal the souls of those who lost loved ones, nor the minds and bodies of those who suffered life-changing injuries from this cowardly attack.

‘But the ultimate penalty is a fitting punishment for this horrific crime and we hope that the completion of this prosecution will bring some measure of closure to the victims and their families.’

Boston mayor Marty Walsh also gave a statement. He said: ‘I hope this verdict provides a small amount of closure to the survivors, families, and all impacted by the violent and tragic events surrounding the 2013 Boston Marathon.

‘We will forever remember and honor those who lost their lives and were affected by those senseless acts of violence on our City.

‘Today, more than ever, we know that Boston is a city of hope, strength and resilience, that can overcome any challenge.’

Charlie Baker, the governor of Massachusetts, added: ‘I think every time somebody runs the marathon, it will be impossible for this to be too far from their minds.

‘The marathon has certainly changed forever… and that by definition, I suppose, changes Boston.’

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