Palm Sunday Bombing Underscores Depth of Egypt’s Anti-Christian Bigotry

by John Rossomando
IPT News
April 12, 2017

Suicide bombings of two Coptic churches in Egypt Sunday by ISIS terrorists should not be viewed in isolation. The bombings killed 44 people and injured 100 more, and mark the deadliest in a series of attacks targeting the country’s Christian minority.

ISIS warned of future attacks in December after another of its suicide bombers killed 25 worshipers in a chapel adjacent to the Coptic Pope’s cathedral in Cairo. In this case, one of the bombers struck just after the Coptic Pope finished celebrating Mass at the Coptic cathedral in Alexandria.

The attacks reflect a larger epidemic of anti-Christian bias and hate found among a sizeable portion of Egypt’s majority Muslim community. This bigotry remains entrenched despite President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s symbolic statements about reforming Islam and building a major Coptic church.

Many Islamists remain angry with the Coptic community for supporting al-Sisi after the 2013 ouster of President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party after a year in power.

“The Minority Copt’s (sic) Of Egypt Should Never Have joined Sisi Against The Sunni’s of Egypt Now They Are Paying The price! No End Soon Either,” an ISIS supporter identified as @HaqqRevolution wrote on Twitter.

Last month, ISIS’s Al-Naba newsletter vowed that attacks against the Copts would intensify unless they convert to Islam or pay the Quranic tax known as jizyah. Al-Naba also attacked the Copts for supporting al-Sisi.

Al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam’s most prestigious institution, spews anti-Christian statements and fatwas that label Christians as heretics. Al-Azhar distributed a free book in June 2015 describing Christianity as a “failed religion,” and suggested that the Bible contains “seeds of weakness.”

Building churches is a crime under Al-Azhar’s curriculum which also suggests that churches should be barred in Muslim countries.

“Hence, it is a mistake to say that the attacks currently taking place against Copts in Minya and elsewhere are the acts of individuals [and not part of a larger phenomenon]. [Al-Azhar] students will continue to study until they attain a certificate or a license to preach at a mosque, and then they will spread what they learned among the worshipers,” Egyptian researcher Ahmad Abdu Maher wrote last August.

Much of the anti-Coptic hatred found among Egyptian children stems from school lessons that say “Christians are infidels destined for Hell,” Al-Masry Al-Youm columnist Fathia Al-Dakhakhni wrote Feb. 26.

“Fanaticism in Egypt is a matter of education, so there is need to reform the education received by [the members of our] society, who are raised on the concept of discrimination against the other,” Al-Dakhakhni wrote. “[The change] must start in school – because fanaticism begins with religion classes that separate Muslims from Christians, so that the child discovers in his earliest formative years that there is an ‘other’ who is different and who must be shunned.”

Government forces either are unable or unwilling to protect civilians, especially Christians, from ISIS in Sinai.

A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report issued last month criticized Egyptian security forces’ response to ISIS attacks against the Copts. Over the past two months, 355 families have fled the northern Sinai city of Al-Arish, located near the border with Gaza and Israel. Of those, only 59 Coptic families have received housing.

After ISIS murdered seven Christians in northern Sinai, Coptic families who fled their homes described security forces as “apathetic,” the HRW report said.

Egyptian troops did nothing when ISIS established checkpoints hunting for Christians, according to a Daily Beast report. In one instance, ISIS fighters demanded to see a Christian man’s ID card to check his religion and to see if he had a wrist tattoo common among Coptic Christians.

“Convert, infidel, and we will spare your life,” the ISIS fighters said as they dragged him out of his vehicle. He refused. They shot him 14 times.

Christians in the Minya governorate, about three hours south of Cairo, face intimidation from terrorists, civil society and government alike, according to numerous news reports. Christians account for one-third of the 5 million people living in the Minya governorate. They have faced at least 77 sectarian attacks since the 2011 revolution that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.

Radical Muslims known as Salafists burned several Christian homes in Minya on July 16.

Police arrested several suspects, but the court declined to prosecute them. Instead, they were let go after reconciling with their victims. HRW notes that such enforced reconciliations deprive the Christians of their rights and allow their attackers to evade justice.

While al-Sisi promises to build Egypt’s largest church, he ratified a church construction law in September giving governors latitude to deny building permits without the chance for appeal. HRW slammed the law, partly because it contains security provisions that could subject permitting decisions to the whims of violent mobs.

Muslim mobs destroyed four Coptic homes and six buildings including a nursery in the village of Koum al-Loufi, near Minya, in late June and mid-July, after Muslim neighbors claimed Christians intended to use them as churches, HRW notes.

In March 2016, an Egyptian court convicted four Christian teenagers and their teacher of contempt for making a video mocking ISIS that also appeared to mimic Muslim prayers. Three were sentenced to prison terms ranging from three to five years, while the fourth was sent to a juvenile detention facility.

In January, an Egyptian court dropped charges against Muslim men accused of beating 70-year-old Christian grandmother Soad Thabet and ripping her clothes off during a sectarian riot. Instead, the court prosecuted her son, Ashraf Abdo Attia, for adultery for an alleged affair with a Muslim neighbor’s wife. Mob anger over the alleged affair led to the assault against Thabet last May.

A Muslim mob burned and looted at least 80 Christian-owned buildings in Al-Beida, south of Cairo, last June. A rumor that a building under construction could be a church sparked the rampage. Al-Beida police were unwilling or unable to stop the violence.

Following Mohamed Morsi’s forced removal as Egypt’s president in 2013, Muslim Brotherhood supporters conducted a reign of terror against the Coptic community, burning at least 58 churches.

A mob of 1,000 Muslim Brotherhood supporters set fire to two churches in Minya after Egyptian security forces cleared Cairo’s Rabia Square in August 2013.

Muslim Brotherhood members torched the main Coptic church in the southern Egyptian city of Sohag. “And for the Church to adopt a war against Islam and Muslims is the worst crime. For every action is a reaction,” a memo posted on Facebook by a local branch of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) in Egypt’s Helwan governorate said.

Islamists previously raised an al-Qaida flag over the church.

Sunday’s attacks mark the continuation of a violence spree targeting Egypt’s minority Copts. Al-Sisi needs to bring the full power of the Egyptian state to bear in the cause of reforming society to end it and end the Copts’ second-class status.

***

Also see:

A Look at the Groups Taking Part in the Women’s March Protesting Donald Trump’s Inauguration

A WOMAN LOOKS ON AS SHE TAKES PART IN A PROTEST AGAINST PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP IN FRONT OF TRUMP TOWER IN NEW YORK ON NOVEMBER 10, 2016. (KENA BETANCUR/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

A WOMAN LOOKS ON AS SHE TAKES PART IN A PROTEST AGAINST PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP IN FRONT OF TRUMP TOWER IN NEW YORK ON NOVEMBER 10, 2016. (KENA BETANCUR/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

How Do You Stop Good People from Hurting Themselves? by Eileen Toplansky, American Thinker,  January 1, 2017:

How do you stop good people from careening over a cliff?  How do you protect decent Jewish philanthropic women from aligning with groups who would be quite happy to hurt them in many ways?

A Women’s March is scheduled for Saturday, January 21, 2017.  The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), which I joined over 30 years ago as a life member, is joining forces with groups that have neither Jewish nor American interests at hand.  And far too many of the NCJW members are either willfully blind or simply ignorant of the nefarious background of many of the “partners” marching at this event.  NCJW needs to review its principles, one of which includes “efforts that counter attempts to delegitimize Israel.”

NCJW members were informed that “[a]lthough the values espoused by all the organizers are certainly those of NCJW, [the march is scheduled for] Shabbat.  But, given that [they] are an organization based on Jewish values, not an orthodox observant group, it was finally decided that it was more important to be a part of this coalition.”

First of all, no one has to be an orthodox Jew to observe the Sabbath.  According to Jewish law, Shabbat regulations can be broken only if it is a matter of life or death.  Thus, “[w]hen treating on Shabbat a patient who is critically ill, or when dealing with an individual whose life is in danger … one is commanded to ‘violate’ the Shabbat. This applies even if there’s a doubt whether it is – or could evolve into – a life threatening situation.”  The National Council of Jewish Women deems it acceptable to disregard a key pillar of Jewish life.

The first clue to the march is that it is a “social justice” event.  It is important to perceive that “[o]ppression is the fixed constant of Social Justice Warriors[.] The only thing justifying their oppression is their victimhood. To oppress, they have to perpetuate the myth of their victimhood. They are always the beleaguered minority under siege by the people who don’t want to be oppressed or who don’t even know they exist.”

According to Marcus Ellsworth, the march “will be taking a stand against the racism, misogyny, Islamophobia and classism that Trump and his administration represent.”  Furthermore, “with a strong socialist core, these protests are standing up to the entire political system and all forms of oppression.”

Some of the groups planning to march are DisruptJ20, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, Code Pink, Human Rights Watch, National Network for Arab American Communities, Oxfam, and Planned Parenthood, to name only a few.

So let us take a closer look at some of the groups participating in this march.

The DisruptJ20 site calls “on all people of good conscience to join in disrupting the ceremonies [because] Trump stands for tyranny, greed, and misogyny. He is the champion of neo-nazis and white Nationalists, of the police who kill the Black, Brown and poor on a daily basis, of racist border agents and sadistic prison guards, of the FBI and NSA who tap your phone and read your email. He is the harbinger of even more climate catastrophe, deportation, discrimination, and endless war. He continues to deny the existence of climate change, in spite of all the evidence, putting the future of the whole human race at stake.”

Thus, “[f]rom day one, the Trump presidency will be a disaster. #DisruptJ20 will be the
start of the resistance. We must take to the streets and protest, blockade, disrupt, intervene, sit in, walk out, rise up, and make more noise and good trouble than the establishment can bear[.]”

An ostensible Jewish group, Bend the Arc “seeks to ‘create a just, fair and compassionate America’ by ‘mobilizing … Jewish resources’ to promote ‘equality and justice for disenfranchised residents of our nation.’ Bend the Arc ‘condemns voter ID laws as barriers that make it harder for communities of color, women, first-time voters, the elderly, and the poor to cast their vote,’ and finally, Bend the Arc ‘calls for comprehensive immigration reform that creates a path-to-citizenship for millions of illegal aliens currently residing in the United States.'”  Bend the Arc used to be known as Jewish Funds for Justice.  According to Daniel Greenfield, “it is currently headed by Stacy Cotler who is an anti-Israel protester.”  “[A]n article in the Saudi lobby’s Washington Report states that Cotler was working with Women in Black. She appears as a signatory on a Not In My Name petition calling for war crimes charges against Israeli soldiers.”

What makes this particularly intriguing is that Bend the Arc is now getting a boost from George Soros’s son, who wants “to play a more active role in the 2016 election with the launch of new political action committee focused on representing the views of Jewish Americans – beyond foreign policy.”  Thus, Bend the Arc will “back progressive candidates by making direct contributions to their campaign committees. It will focus on issues such as income inequality, marriage equality, social justice and immigration reform.”

As Greenfield ruefully explains, “who better to show the real experience of American Jewry than the son of a Hungarian Nazi collaborator whose father described his own mother as a Jewish anti-Semite and who blamed Jews for anti-Semitism. Anyway this whole thing is already as incestuous as any Soros project. The PAC is drawing on Soros’ Democracy Alliance donors, a project for using big money to hijack elections. The whole thing will officially be run by Hadar Susskind of Soros’ J Street.”

Oxfam is an international relief organization that condemns Israeli defensive measures against terrorism and supports the boycotts of Israeli products.  In fact, on January 29, 2014, actress Scarlett Johansson announced she was quitting her role as an ambassador of Oxfam, since the group “is opposed to all trade with products from Israeli settlements which it holds are illegal under international law. Ms. Johansson signed a contract to be the first brand ambassador and spokesperson for SodaStream, the Israel business making products that allow people to produce carbonated sodas.”  Ironically, the “SodaStream factory in Ma’ale Adumim employs 1,300 workers; of these 442 are Palestinians from the West Bank and 237 are Palestinian citizens of Israel, all of whom receive the same benefits as Israeli workers. Apparently their salaries are far higher than those paid by Palestinian employers. Unquestionably, Palestinians would suffer from the closure of this factory.”

Human Rights Watch “directs a disproportionate share of its criticism at Israel. Following an April 2002 counterterrorism operation by the Israeli military in the Palestinian refugee camp of Jenin, the organization issued a report charging that ‘IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] military attacks were indiscriminate,’ and that ‘Israeli forces committed serious violations of international humanitarian law, some amounting prima facie to war crimes.’ Contrary to HRW’s charges, which echoed Palestinian propaganda, a United Nations report later exonerated the Israeli forces.”

As Gerald Steinberg notes, “similar political attacks using the language of ethics and morality have taken place in connection with false massacre claims, related to the intense fighting information.”  “Almost nobody checks their accuracy, and this process is a central pillar in the war to delegitimize Israel.”  In fact, between 2004-2006, “ideological attacks against Israel took up one-third of the entire activity of Human Rights Watch.”

More recently in January of 2016, Human Rights Watch issued a lengthy reportclaiming “how [Israeli] settlement businesses contribute to Israel’s Violations of Palestinian Rights” – a continuing demonization of Israel amidst high-sounding ideas, many of which are factually incorrect.

Then there is Code Pink.  According to John J. Tierney, “Code Pink are serious and very radical political activists. They subscribe in varying degrees to strands of Marxist, neo-Marxist, and progressive left-wing thought[.]”

“Code Pink describes itself as a ‘grassroots peace and social justice movement.’ It is anti-everything about America – against the U.S. economic system, against U.S. foreign and domestic policies and against the American culture of ‘racism’ and ‘sexism.'”

Tierney asserts that “Code Pink’s leaders are not pacifists – they are revolutionaries. They are not devoted to peace – they are dedicated to political turmoil.”  Like so many of the Women’s March groups, “Code Pink is part of a global network of leftwing activists. Individuals in the network may pursue diverse issues and programs, but all are united in opposition to the U.S.”

Finally we have Linda Sarsour, one of the national co-chairs of the anticipated January Women’s March.  Billed as a “social media maverick,” Sarsour has been the civic engagement coordinator for the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC).  Honored by Obama as a “Champion of Change,” Sarsour “supports the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) Movement, a Hamas-inspired initiative that uses various forms of public protest, economic pressure, and court rulings to advance the Hamas agenda of permanently destroying Israel as a Jewish nation-state.”

Sarsour favors a one-state solution, where an Arab majority and Jewish minority live together within the borders of a single country.  In October 2012, she stated that “nothing is creepier than Zionism.”  In addition, she has maintained the falsehood that “Palestine existed before the State of Israel.”  On Rachel Maddow’s television program, Sarsour maintained that there is a nationwide epidemic of Islamophobia and Muslim “kids being executed in the United States.”  Sarsour played a central role in pressuring the New York Police Department to terminate its secret surveillance of Muslim mosques and organizations suspected of promoting extremism or terrorism.  Furthermore, Sarsour is deeply involved in the Black Lives Matter Movement – despite its anti-Semitic overtones.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Refugee resettlement industry panicked; fears funds will be slashed

bill-frelickRefugee Resettlement Watch, by Ann Corcoran on November 10, 2016:

And, if funds are slashed, the numbers to be resettled in your towns and cities will be slashed because as I have told you ad nauseum the resettlement contractors have little money of their own.  They need your tax dollars or they wither and die.

“If [Trump] decides to cut the state funds or federal funds for refugees, refugee resettlement will collapse…” (former Church World Service employee)

Here is what Newsweek has to say about the panic (hat tip: Michael). The article begins with Muslim immigrant fears, then this:

Another point of concern to many Muslim families and others is what will happen to the country’s refugee resettlement program during a Trump presidency, considering his repeated Islamophobic statements during the campaign. [At this point, reporter uses the word ‘Islamophobic’, I went back to see if this was supposed to be straight reporting or an opinion piece! It is supposed to be a straight news story!—ed]

[….]

We’re all afraid. Afraid is probably putting it mildly. Most refugee advocates are really terrified of what’s coming,” says Neil Grungras, executive director of the Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration (ORAM), a San Francisco-based organization that specializes in helping LGBT refugees. “From a global standpoint, this development could be a real catastrophe.”

He adds: “The world’s resettlement system—if the worst case scenario occurs—will take an extreme blow.”

Readers, pay attention to this next paragraph. Trump has the power to suspend the program, and to cut the funding (pretty much one and the same!).

During his presidential campaign, Trump said he planned to suspend the Syrian refugee program, which is “fairly easy for him to do because this is discretionary,” says Bill Frelick, director of Human Rights Watch’s refugee program, who described himself as “shell-shocked” when he spoke with Newsweek on Wednesday. “In the U.S., there’s not a quota that has to be filled. The U.S. has a budgeted amount of money to do refugee resettlement, but there’s no requirement that the U.S. resettle a single refugee, and there’s no legal obligation to do it.”

[….]

Whether the entire refugee resettlement program will be shut down is difficult to predict, but I think it’s safe to say that from a policy standpoint, a Trump administration will be looking to limit the number of refugees resettled, and if refugee resettlement continues, it will be from countries that are ‘safe,’” says Joel Charny, director of Norwegian Refugee Council USA.

I had no idea that we were paying the UN for their work of picking our refugees, this is useful information:

In addition to resettling large numbers of refugees, the U.S. is also a key financial contributor to a number of refugee resettlement organizations, including the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR). The U.S. gave UNHCR nearly $700 million in the last fiscal year, and more than $1.3 billion in fiscal year 2015. What will happen to those contributions remains unclear; UNHCR did not respond to Newsweek’s request for comment.

[….]

“If [Trump] decide to cut the state funds or federal funds for refugees, refugee resettlement will collapse and we won’t be able to bring in any refugees to this country,” Vidhya Manivannan, a former employee of Church World Service—one of the nine U.S. refugee resettlement agencies—said in an email to Newsweek.

Click here for more.

I was interested to see that only one (former) employee of a resettlement contractor was quoted. Where is the gang? Where is the Refugee Council USA (the lobbying arm of the industry)?

More tomorrow!

Leaflets in London Mosque Encourage Killing Ahmadiyya Muslims

leaflets on AhmadisIPT, by John Rossomando  •  Apr 11, 2016

Pamphlets left at London’s Stockwell Green Mosque threaten death to Ahmadiyya Muslims unless they convert to mainstream Sunni Islam. Opponents have accused this mosque of helping promote acts of terror and hate in Pakistan in 2011, prompting a denial from a mosque trustee.

The mosque lists itself on official United Kingdom government documents as the official “overseas office” of Khatme Nabuwwat, a Pakistani Islamist movement known for its strong anti-Ahamdi sentiment, the BBC reports. It also is listed as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Muslim Council of Britain.

Ahmadis suffer intense persecution in Pakistan and are regarded as heretics due to their belief that their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmed of Qadian, was a prophet after Muhammad. They also differ from Sunnis by rejecting offensive jihad and believing that military jihad no longer is applicable in the modern world. In a 1983 ruling, the sheikh of Al-Azhar, one the most highly respected authorities in Sunni Islam, declared the Ahmadis “apostates.”

The English-language Khatme Nabuwwat pamphlets found at the Stockwell Green Mosque derisively refer to the Ahmadis by the epithet “Qadiani” and say they should be killed as apostates.

“Those who refuse to convert to mainstream Islam within three days should face a ‘capital sentence’ — or death penalty,” a pamphlet cited by the BBC says.

“Khatme Nabuwwat do not inflict violence themselves, but they provide an enabling environment for a number of actors to do so,” Human Rights Watch official Saroop Ijaz told the BBC.

“There are enough violent groups in Pakistan, enough radical population in Pakistan, that if accusation is made enough times and loudly enough – that is murder. Khatme Nabuwwat do this with the very clear desire of leading to that outcome.”

The mosque denied placing the pamphlets in its literature rack, with a spokesman saying they may have been planted by someone with malicious intentions.

The pamphlets’ discovery comes in the wake of the murder of Asad Shah, an Ahmadi, in Glasgow last month. Tanveer Ahmed of Bradford, England, said he killed Shah for disrespecting Islam and falsely claiming to be a prophet.

The MCB responded to the attack against Shah, saying that Muslims should not be forced to classify Ahmadis as Muslims if they do not wish to do so and for Muslims to “respect all people irrespective of belief or background.”

The MCB statement represented the sentiments that fueled the growth of intolerance and extremism in Pakistan, an Ahmadi spokesman said in response.

Also see:

World View: Russia and Turkey Head for Clash on Syria Border

AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

Breitbart, by JOHN J. XENAKIS, Feb. 10, 2016:

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Mass exodus from Aleppo, Syria continues amid reports Russians are using cluster bombs
  • United Nations demands that Turkey admit tens of thousands of Syrian refugees
  • Turkey border ‘buffer zone’ could result in clash with Syrian army

Mass exodus from Aleppo continues amid reports Russians are using cluster bombs

Refugee camp in northern Syria on border with Turkey on Monday (AP)

Refugee camp in northern Syria on border with Turkey on Monday (AP)

Russian warplanes continue to pound civilians, causing tens of thousands more to flee the city.

A report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) says that Russian warplanes used cluster bombs in at least 14 attacks across five provinces since January 26. Cluster bombs open in flight and scatter dozens of explosive munitions over wide areas. They are particularly effective in killing large numbers of civilians over a wide area.

The United Nations has warned that hundreds of thousands of civilians could starve if, as feared, forces loyal to the Syrian government encircle Aleppo and submit it to a siege, backed by Russian warplanes. It said that a huge new wave of refugees would be forced to flee from a Russian-backed assault. Independent (London) and Fox News and AP

United Nations demands that Turkey admit tens of thousands of Syrian refugees

Thousands more Syrians continue to flee Syrian army forces and Russian warplanes pounding Aleppo, and are joining the tens of thousands already massed on the border with Turkey.

The Red Crescent (the Islamic branch of the International Red Cross) has been overseeing refugee camps in Turkey, as well as aid to hundreds of thousands of refugees in Turkey, and is now providing eight tent camps and humanitarian aid for refugees in Syria massed on the border with Turkey. They have provided 2,000 tents, as well as blankets, food, water, and hygiene kits.

However, aid groups say that tents on the Syrian side of the border are overcrowded and that food is in short supply. The United Nations is demanding that Turkey open its border to “all civilians who are fleeing danger and seeking international protection as they have done since the start of this crisis.”

There are two major reasons why Turkey is reluctant to open its border to tens of thousands more refugees:

  • Once it is known that the border was open, tens of thousands more refugees would leave Aleppo for Turkey, making the problem even worse.
  • Turkey is already hosting 3 million refugees, 2.5 million of whom are Syrian. Turkey has said that it is “at capacity,” and cannot handle any more refugees.

Some Turkish columns are calling European Union calls to open the border “a joke”:

It’s almost like a bad joke. At the very moment when EU member states are doing their utmost to close their borders to Syrian refugees, the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Frederica Mogherini is calling on Ankara to admit the tens of thousands of refugees piled up on Turkey’s borders near the town of Kilis, following the recent advances near Aleppo by al-Assad regime forces supported by Russia and Iran.

Mogherini is saying that there is a moral if not legal duty to provide protection to these people. According to her, the EU is also providing funds to ensure that Turkey has “the means, the instruments, and the resources to protect and host the people who are seeking asylum.”

This appears to be no more than a flimsy attempt to retain a moral high ground against Turkey at a time when Europe is reacting deplorably to the refugee crisis and therefore has much to answer for. What Mogherini says also completely disregards what Turkey has been doing for the past four years.

Turkish columnists also note that the EU has promised financial aid for refugees in Turkey, but that the financial aid has not materialized. Daily Sabah (Turkey) and Hurriyet (Ankara) and Washington Post

Turkey border ‘buffer zone’ could result in clash with Syrian army

There is another, more strategic reason why Turkey is setting up refugee camps on the Syrian side of the border near Aleppo.

For four years, Turkey has advocated setting up a “buffer zone” on the Syrian side of the border, starting at a time when hundreds of new refugees were entering Turkey each day rather than many thousands. Turkey received no international support for the idea, because of the concern that it would bring Turkey’s army into conflict with Syria’s army. (“17-Mar-12 World View — Turkey once again talks about a ‘buffer zone’ in Syria”)

Now, with tens of thousands of Syrian refugees massed on Turkey’s border, Turkey has managed to set up a de facto buffer zone. Turkey considers this even more urgently needed today not only because of the larger mass of refugees, but also because Turkey wants to prevent the hated Kurds from creating a de facto Kurdish state along the entire border, from western Syria all the way west into Iraq.

However, the concerns today about a clash with Syria’s army are just as real. Syrian officials are making it clear that they intend to “control the borders” with Turkey.

In an interview, Bouthaina Shaaban, advisor to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said:

[There would be no letup in an army advance, which aimed] to liberate cities and villages that were controlled by the terrorists for 3-1/2 years, and also an attempt to liberate the city of Aleppo from the crimes of terrorism.

[We intend] to control our borders with Turkey, because Turkey is the main source of terrorists, and the main crossing for them. […]

We hope that the operation will continue in the north until we control the borders and stop the terrorists who Turkey has since the start of the crisis worked to send to Syria.

This is not something that Turkey would want to see, as it would certainly mean Kurdish control of the entire length of the border between Syria and Turkey.

Perhaps Turkey will back down and let the masses of refugees into Turkey, and allow the Syrian army to take control of the border region. Or, perhaps Syria will back down, and allow Turkey to keep its de facto buffer zone in Syria along the border.

Syrian army forces are already just 25 km from Turkey’s border. If neither side backs down, then there will be a clash in the next few weeks.

As long time readers know, Generational Dynamics has predicted for years that the entire Mideast is headed for a major war between Jews and Arabs, between Sunni and Shia Muslims, and among various ethnic groups. Things have been moving very quickly for the last few months, and each new week seems to have some event that brings that prediction closer to fruition. Reuters

Also see:

European Influx of Militiamen Loyal To Iran Could Pose Problems

1249by John Rossomando
IPT News
October 19, 2015

Evidence uncovered on social media indicates that members of Iranian-trained Shiite militias may be entering Europe as refugees, a London-based Iraqi émigré group says. The Foreign Relations Bureau – Iraq (FRBI) identified images of 48 men on Facebook and Twitter who it says fought with Iranian-trained Shiite militias in Iraq and now are in Europe.

FRBI came into existence in 2014 and promotes women’s rights, equality, Iraqi independence from foreign control, and a non-sectarian approach to governance.

FRBI’s list shows pictures of militiamen in uniform and carrying weapons. Alongside those images are pictures showing the same people wearing Western street clothes and standing in places such as Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Greece and Finland. This same list also includes 16 people belonging to Iraq’s security services who similarly made their way to Europe and who FBRI accuses of crimes against the Iraqi people.

These militias engaged in serious human-rights abuses in places like Tikrit after they ousted the Islamic State, and Iraqi security forces similarly engaged in unlawful killings, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). FRBI refers to HRW’s research about human-rights abuses in Iraq as a reason why these men should not have been allowed into the E.U.

Images of these fighters began surfacing on social media in August and early September, said FRBI spokesman A. Al-Mahmoud.

“Our lists are compiled with the efforts of some of our affiliate analysts who follow social media of all sorts mainly militia related pages whom suddenly started posting images from within the EU as the refugee situation escalated,” Al-Mahmoud said in an email to the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT). “A public page was then set up on our website to document what can be from these accounts in hope that media would find it easier to have what they need all in one page.”

Thus far, FRBI has no evidence that the influx of Shiite militiamen into Europe has been organized or orchestrated by Iran or any organized crime syndicate in Europe, but the scale of the militiamen’s migration is unprecedented, Al-Mahmoud said.

They may have varying motivations, he said. Some may fear war crimes prosecutions and are trying to remake themselves into refugees. Others may no longer care about their government’s or clergy’s goals.

The men regularly posted images of themselves on the battlefield, Al-Mahmoud said, then suddenly began posting images showing them in Europe, which led FBRI to believe they had infiltrated the wave of refugees.

No matter the reasons for their move, FRBI fears these men are on a collision course with European values and trapped by a vicious sectarian ideology that makes them a potential threat to their host countries. It alleges that some of these men may have participated in war crimes in Iraq.

“[M]ost of the people who did join the militias do have sectarian leanings and they will export their irrational thought of non co-existence outside Iraq, which will collide with other open and liberal societies, so they will bring their problems with them,” Al-Mahmoud said. “Finally, the background they are from is very low and poor with minimal education; unskilled and foreign, they will quickly find it easy to get into the criminal/theft and drug world adding more problems to the European Union immigrant communities already suffering from stereotyping and media pressure.

“They were paid members of organizations that were trained to kill under religious banners; this is the first time they have come out of Iraq in such large numbers.”

The men belonged to deadly militias such as Al-Hashid al-Shaabi and its subsidiaries such as: Kataib Hizballah (aka Hizballah Iraq), Kataib Imam Ali militia, Saraya al-Salam militia (Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s Peace Brigades) – all of which are trained and strongly influenced by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Qods Force under the command of Gen. Qasem Soleimani. He emerged as a controversial figure in the discussions of the Iranian nuclear deal.

Kataib Imam Ali militia formed from splinter elements of al-Sadr’s militia that fought American forces during the Iraq War and remain “extremely anti-American,” said Phillip Smyth, an adjunct fellow at the Washington Institute and an expert on Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria. Kataib Imam Ali militiamen have been implicated in human-rights abuses similar to those carried out by the Islamic State (ISIS), he said. In one case, a video showed a militiaman dismembering the burned corpse of a Islamic State fighter as if he were “shwarma,” which sparked a reprisal video by the Islamic State in which two Shiite fighters were burned to death.

An IPT review of the information provided by FRBI lends credence to its contention that Shiite fighters have entered Europe among groups of refugees.

For example, the Facebook page of Al-Hashid al-Shaabi militia member Ali Spaakishows a clear progression from being on the battlefield in Iraq in June to making his way across Europe throughout September and on to Helsinki, Finland on Oct. 4. Spaaki’s Facebook page shows him getting off a ferry along with a crowd of people in a picture posted to his timeline on Sept. 20 in front of a Greek-flagged ferry and a large crowd. A related photo, also taken Sept. 20, shows him standing in front of a boat that reads “Bodrum” [Turkey] on its stern as its homeport, suggesting the ferry may have departed from that Turkish town. Bodrum has become a “magnet” for refugees, andlarge numbers of refugees have left the town hoping to make it to Greece since the summer, according to news reports. Spaaki’s departure date came weeks after the body of Aylan Kurdi, a toddler refugee, washed up onshore near Bodrum.

A similar story can be told by examining the Facebook page belonging to Al-Hashid Al-Shaabi fighter Mustafa Al-Azawi. There, he explicitly discusses his effort to enter Greece on the island of Lesbos on Sept. 17 via Izmir, Turkey, which news reports say is a common point of departure for refugees. Pictures on Al-Azawi’s timeline of himself posing on the shore of the island and of inner tubes and a crowd of likely refugees happened the same day a Getty Images photographer captured an image of migrants arriving on Lesbos. Days earlier, on Sept. 10, Al-Azawi posted Google Maps images of routes to Lesbos on Facebook, suggesting he planned his route to the island. Like Spaaki, Al-Azawi’s Facebook page shows his travel across Europe before making his to his final destination in Oulu, Finland on Oct. 3.

Al-Mahmoud also worries these militiamen could become entangled in organized crime and become involved in Iranian-controlled social organizations across Europe, and they will be used for Iran’s political ends.

“A lot of them believe in … Iran’s guiding ideology, and that political and social matters are presided over by Ayatollah Khamenei … so they follow what he says,” Smyth said. “They (Iraqi Shiite militiamen in Europe) do pose a risk.

“These groups believe that both America and the State of Israel are their existential foes.”

In the past, Hizballah supporters living in Europe, Canada or the United States have engaged in criminal activities. This includes cigarette smuggling in the U.S. andaccusations of organized crime in Canada and in the E.U. Hizballah supporters also plotted and carried out terrorist attacks in Argentina and Bulgaria. Although these Iraqi militias are not part of Hizballah, they are branches on the same Iranian Qods Force tree – first cousins in effect.

Shiites who support Hizballah and Iran in places like Sweden already have been recruited as foreign fighters by Iranian proxies to fight in Iraq, said Smyth, who traveled to Scandinavia last year on a related research trip. Having a passport from someplace like Sweden means a foreign fighter can come and go from hot zones like Iraq or Syria without the same hassles someone traveling on a Lebanese, Syrian or Iraqi passport.

While most attention has been given to Sunni foreign fighters traveling to Syria and Iraq to fight for the Islamic State and other Sunni jihadist groups, Smyth said, not enough attention has been given to Shiite fighters with ties to Iran.

“You now have a new transnational threat that is loyal to the Iranians, that is anti-American, is anti-Western, is anti-Israel,” Smyth said. “There is a direct threat that’s there.”

It is hard to tell how many people on the FRBI list actually are refugees or if they are in the E.U. vacationing or are there for some other reason. But Smyth sees them as a national-security threat either way.

“Here are examples of these guys when they are out of uniform, when they are possibly still militiamen, and they are traveling to Europe, which says something. How did they get there with a visa? Why, after all of this has been publicized, are they all still going?” Smyth asked in a phone interview with the IPT. “There are already examples of Shia militiamen, Hizballah for instance, who have used Western passports to go different places and to engage in bad deeds.”

This also has U.S. Customs officials concerned. The ease in which these Shia militiamen have entered Europe raises fears that they will be able to travel to the U.S. on E.U. passports, said one Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent who spoke under the condition of not being named. Anyone with a passport from places like Germany, Sweden can easily get on a flight to the U.S. without the sorts of hassles they might experience traveling on an Iraqi or a Syrian passport.

A spokeswoman for Europe’s top law enforcement agency, EUROPOL, told the IPT her agency was unaware of any organized effort by terrorist organizations to infiltrate the E.U. However, none of the Shia militia groups whose members have made their way to Europe are listed as terror groups by the E.U.

“There are however concerns about the use of the Mediterranean routes. While the majority of irregular migrants and refugees are in search of safety, other groups such as returning foreign fighters and other individuals linked to IS (Islamic State), might make use of the services provided by the organized crime groups,” EUROPOL spokeswoman Agnieszka Biegaj wrote in an e-mailed statement. “Given the hazardous nature of the illegal migratory routes, from a terrorists’ perspective, it makes more sense to use regular travel methods and other resources such as false or genuine travel documents.”

Saudi Arabia Sentences Editor to 7 Years in Prison and 600 Lashes

RaifThe editor of a social website in Saudi Arabia was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes for insulting Islam and violating the Kingdom’s anti-cybercrime law.  Raif Badawi, the online editor of the “Free Saudi Liberals” forum was also found guilty of “parental disobedience” (a crime in Saudi Arabia) which resulted the criminal court adding another three months to his sentence.

Badawi had left the country in 2008 after the initial charges of insulting Islam were filed against him. After being told that the charges were dropped, he returned, only to be barred from leaving the country again. His business assets were also frozen at the time.

Badawi was moderating a forum that promotes “liberal thinking” by encouraging participants to voice their opinion about religion in the Kingdom.

Charges of apostasy – a crime in the Kingdom that carries the death penalty – that were pending against Badawi were dropped after Badawi testified in court that he is a Muslim. According to his lawyer, the court required Badawi to recite the Shehadeh, the Muslim declaration of faith, in order to drop to apostasy charges.

Badawi founded the online platform in 2008 “to encourage debate on religious and political matters in Saudi Arabia,” according to Human Rights Watch.  The group also said that the judge affirmed that “liberalism is akin to unbelief.”

Read more at The Clarion Project