Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Islamic State executioner from Belgium who announced the group’s responsibility for the March 22 terror attacks in Brussels was communicating recently with several young Belgians arrested this week for plotting further attacks, according to officials briefed on the probe.

Four adults and several teenagers were arrested in and around the northern Belgian city of Antwerp on Wednesday after authorities intercepted their communications with Islamic State operative Hicham Chaib, the official said. While Belgian authorities officially acknowledged they arrested four adults on Wednesday, they wouldn’t comment on the minors.

Belgian authorities found evidence that the group had plans to strike densely populated targets, including the central train station of Antwerp, but investigators doubt that those plans were fleshed out. “It’s better to have a less strong judicial file than a terror attack,” the official said.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 26, 2016 at 4:37 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Nigerian navy will set up an operation base along the Lake Chad Basin to ramp up its fight against Islamist militants, Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Ibot-Ete Ekwe Ibas told reporters Monday in the northeastern city of Maiduguri.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 24, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mo, who attended one of the nation's top colleges, is one of a small group of American citizens and residents whose names were found in ISIS personnel files obtained by NBC News and verified by the West Point Combating Terrorism Center.

In the interview, he recounts his trip to Turkey and then Syria, his ISIS indoctrination, the violence he witnessed and the growing disillusionment that triggered his dangerous escape.

"The Islamic State is not bringing Islam to the world, and people need to know that. And I'll say that…till the day I die," he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 19, 2016 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the 276 schoolgirls kidnapped from the Nigerian town of Chibok by Boko Haram was found on Wednesday, the first one to escape the radical Islamist group in nearly two years, activists and the military said.

A band of hunters guiding government soldiers through the Sambisa forest in northeastern Nigeria discovered Amina Nkeki, 19 years old, wandering near a mostly abandoned village and breast-feeding what she said was her infant, said Sesugh Akume, a spokesman for the #BringBackOurGirls activist group.

She told her rescuers that six of her fellow students had died in captivity, Mr. Akume said.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 18, 2016 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

DAKAR, Senegal — In a city where nightclubs and mosques coexist peacefully, Islamist violence long felt like a foreign problem — something residents watched on news clips from the Middle East or other parts of ­Africa.

“We just didn’t worry very much about it,” said Abdullaye Diene, the deputy imam of the country’s largest mosque. “Here you can spend your nights drinking at the disco and then shake the hand of the imam.”

But Senegal and its neighbors are facing a new threat from extremists moving far from their traditional strongholds in northwest Africa. Since November, militant groups have killed dozens of people in assaults on hotels, cafes and a beachside resort in West Africa, passing through porous borders with impunity.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaSenegal* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 16, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fewer Americans are traveling to fight alongside the Islamic State and the power of the extremist group's brand has significantly diminished in the United States, FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday.

The FBI encountered "6, 8, 10" Americans a month in 2014 and the first half of 2015 who traveled to the Middle East or tried to go there to join the Islamic State, but that number has averaged about one a month since last summer in a sustaining downward trend, Comey said.

"There's no doubt that something has happened that is lasting, in terms of the attractiveness of the nightmare which is the Islamic State to people from the United States," he told reporters during a wide-ranging round-table discussion Wednesday.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 12, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the military and political battle against the Islamic State escalates, Muslim imams and scholars in the West are fighting on another front — through theology.

Imam Suhaib Webb, a Muslim leader in Washington, has held live monthly video chats to refute the religious claims of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. In a dig at the extremists, he broadcast from ice cream parlors and called his talks “ISIS and ice cream.”

Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, an American Muslim scholar based in Berkeley, Calif., has pleaded with Muslims not to be deceived by the “stupid young boys” of the Islamic State. Millions have watched excerpts from his sermon titled “The Crisis of ISIS,” in which he wept as he asked God not to blame other Muslims “for what these fools amongst us do.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted May 8, 2016 at 1:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In American politics, raising taxes is seen as a sure way to provoke a voter revolt. But in Germany, some politicians see taxing Muslims as a strategy to keep them from becoming radicalized.

The standard-bearer for this unexpected idea is a politician from the Christian Social Union, the folksy right-wing party known for desperately wanting to keep Muslim immigrants from the Middle East from pouring in to its traditionally Catholic southern state of Bavaria.

Strange as it might seem, there are Muslim leaders in Germany who think a religious tax might be a good idea, too. If they can get over the grumbling, mosque-goers may agree.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 7, 2016 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Pentagon said Friday that it sent a small number of U.S. special operations forces back to Yemen to provide training and assistance to an Arab coalition to fight al Qaeda militants in the fractured country.

Defense officials said about a dozen or so special operations forces are on the ground to assist United Arab Emirates special forces battle militants associated with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, in Yemen. They said the deployment of forces, which began about two weeks ago, had helped Arab forces retake the port city of Mukalla, along the southern coast of Yemen.

Since April 23, the Pentagon has conducted four counterterrorism strikes against AQAP, killing a total of 10 AQAP operatives and injuring one more, said Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaYemen* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 7, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Bishop of the Enugu Ecclesiastical Province, Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma, on Wednesday led a peaceful protest against the recent killings by herdsmen in the South East.
Joined by other clergymen and concerned Enugu State residents, the group marched through the major streets of Enugu to protest Monday’s attack of Nimbo in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State.
The group urged security agencies in the state to live up to their duty of protecting people’s lives and property.
Speaking with newsmen, Chukwuma encouraged Christians to intensify their prayers to conquer the challenge as “the Igbo cannot stay in their land and become strangers”.
He added: “The people of South East should stop patronising, empowering and engaging strangers in menial jobs so that they will stop killing our people.
“The state Governor, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, said that we should pray and fast but prayer without action is nothing.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 28, 2016 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Tunde] Adeleye who is also the Archbishop of the Church of Nigeria, Calabar Archdiocese of the Anglican Communion, said: "Continued silence by the president over this violence and deadly attacks by Fulani herdsmen could be seen as if he is supporting his tribe's men. He needs to speak now to calm frayed nerves in the country.

"The Fulani herdsmen are now everywhere in the country, not only with their cows but with sophisticated arms. Where or how did they come about such weapons without the knowledge of the security agencies?"

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 28, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Approval was given at a senior level of the prison service for Muslim inmates in British jails to raise money for an organisation linked to the alleged funding of terror attacks against Israel.

The discovery was made by an official probe into Islamist prison radicalisation that identified widespread failings at the top of the National Offender Management Service (Noms).

The Times revealed yesterday that state-appointed Muslim chaplains at more than ten prisons distributed extremist literature that encouraged the murder of apostates and contempt for fundamental British values.

It has now emerged that prisoners in at least four jails were encouraged by chaplains to participate in sponsored fundraising activities for “inappropriate” causes.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 21, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are signs that more Islamic State inspired militants have been sent to Belgium and Europe, Belgian authorities said on Tuesday, maintaining the country's threat status at the second-highest level.

Belgium's alert level was cut to three from the maximum of four just two days after the March 22 attacks which killed 32 people at the airport and on the metro in Brussels. It has remained at that level since.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 19, 2016 at 11:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism

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Posted April 15, 2016 at 11:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Relatives of the girls marched in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, on Thursday.
The BBC's Martin Patience in Abuja says they blame the previous government for doing nothing when the abduction took place, as well as the current administration for failing to devote enough resources to the search.
Boko Haram militants attacked the government boarding school in Borno state on 14 April 2014, seizing the girls who had gone there to take exams.
As the months passed, about 57 students managed to escape but at least 219 are still missing.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 14, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram's use of child bombers has increased over the last year with one in five suicide attacks now done by children, the UN's child agency says.
Girls, who are often drugged, were behind three-quarters of such attacks committed by the militant Islamist group in Cameroon, Nigeria and Chad.
It is an 11-fold increase with four attacks in 2014 compared to 44 the next year, including January 2016.
The change in tactics reflects the loss of territory in Nigeria by the group.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 13, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He lived under the rafters in a small attic apartment in the Molenbeek district of Brussels, and became known to some followers as the Santa Claus of jihad. He had the bushy beard and potbelly, and generously offered money and advice to young Muslims eager to fight in Syria and Somalia, or to wreak havoc in Europe.

When the Belgian police seized the computer of the man, Khalid Zerkani, in 2014, they found a trove of extremist literature, including tracts titled “Thirty-Eight Ways to Participate in Jihad” and “Sixteen Indispensable Objects to Own Before Going to Syria.” In July, Belgian judges sentenced him to 12 years in prison for participating in the activities of a terrorist organization, and declared him the “archetype of a seditious mentor” who spread “extremist ideas among naïve, fragile and agitated youth.”

But only in the months since then has the full scale of Mr. Zerkani’s diligent work on the streets of Molenbeek and beyond become clear, as the network he helped nurture has emerged as a central element in attacks in both Paris and Brussels — as well as one in France that the authorities said last month they had foiled.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgiumFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 13, 2016 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The suicide bomber who blew up a youth soccer match late last month left barely a dent in the hard, dry earth, a faint scorch on a concrete wall nearby.

But he gouged a chasm of grief in the heart of the small community that lost more than two dozen of its sons in a single moment, at 6:15 on the evening of March 25.

A total of 43 people died in the bombing at the game, according to figures provided by the local government. Of them, 29 were boys younger than 17 who had either been participating in the match or were watching their friends play.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilySports* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism

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Posted April 8, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the real target is not Christianity but freedom. Nor is this a war. Wars are fought between nations, by armies, and the intended victims are combatants. Terrorists wear no uniforms, and their intended victims are innocent civilians. I for one will never forget the episode two weeks ago on the Ivory Coast where terrorists gunned down a five-year-old child begging for his life.

There have been ages of terror before, but never on this scale, and never with the kind of technology that has given the jihadists the ability to radicalise individuals throughout the world, some acting as lone wolves, others, like the attackers in Paris and Brussels, working in small groups, often involving family members.

The aim of Isil is political: to re-establish the Caliphate and make Islam once more an imperial power. But there is another aim shared by many jihadist groups: to silence anyone and anything that threatens to express a different truth, another faith, a different approach to religious difference. That is what lay behind the attacks on the Danish cartoons; on Catholics after a speech by Pope Benedict XVI; the murder of Theo van Gogh; and the attacks on Charlie Hebdo. The calculation of the terrorists is that, in the long run, the West will prove too tired to defend its own freedoms. They are prepared to keep committing atrocities for as long as it takes, decades if need be.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 30, 2016 at 5:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The suicide bombing Sunday in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore, along with published comments attributed to the militant Muslim group that claimed to carry it out, have served to grimly underscore the precarious position of Pakistan's Christians.

At least 70 people were killed in the Easter attack, mostly women and children.

Ahsanullah Ahsan, spokesman for Jamaat-e-Ahrar, a breakaway Taliban faction in Pakistan, said the attack specifically targeted Christians.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 28, 2016 at 5:39 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Shock and grief enveloped Pakistan on Monday as the official death toll from a suicide attack in Lahore a day earlier rose to 69, with 341 people wounded.

The local news media put the number of people killed at 71.

Police investigators said a suicide bomber had detonated explosives in a vest during the evening rush hour on Sunday at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, one of the largest public parks in this eastern city.

Jamaat-e-Ahrar, a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that it had targeted Christians.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan

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Posted March 28, 2016 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Indian priest Tom Uzhunnalil was reportedly crucified by Islamic State (ISIS) on Good Friday. The gruesome act was committed by the Yemen unit of the dreaded terror outfit.

Father Uzhunnalil was abducted by ISIS on March 4 in the aftermath of an attack on a church in Aden. At least 16 people were killed in the Catholic prayer hall by the Islamic militants. Eyewitnesses reveal that Father Uzhunnalil was dragged out of his room and loaded into a van. The militants were not to be seen again in the region again following the attack.

Read it all.

Update: CNA is reporting the news is still unconfirmed.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 28, 2016 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaEuropeBelgium* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 25, 2016 at 11:38 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Islamic State group has trained at least 400 fighters to target Europe in deadly waves of attacks, deploying interlocking terror cells like the ones that struck Brussels and Paris with orders to choose the time, place and method for maximum carnage, officials have told The Associated Press.

The network of agile and semiautonomous cells shows the reach of the extremist group in Europe even as it loses ground in Syria and Iraq. The officials, including European and Iraqi intelligence officials and a French lawmaker who follows the jihadi networks, described camps in Syria, Iraq and possibly the former Soviet bloc where attackers are trained to attack the West. Before being killed in a police raid, the ringleader of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks claimed he had entered Europe in a multinational group of 90 fighters, who scattered "more or less everywhere."

But the biggest break yet in the Paris attacks investigation — the arrest on Friday of fugitive Salah Abdeslam— did not thwart the multipronged attack just four days later on the Belgian capital's airport and metro that left 31 people dead and an estimated 270 wounded. Three suicide bombers also died.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 23, 2016 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This is not at all to say that most Muslims are violent. The vast majority of Muslims do not live their lives based on chapter 9 of the Quran or on the books of jihad in the hadith. My point is not to question the faith of such Muslims nor to imply that radical Muslims are the true Muslims. Rather, I simply want to make clear that while ISIL may lure youth through a variety of methods, it radicalizes them primarily by urging them to follow the literal teachings of the Quran and the hadith, interpreted consistently and in light of the violent trajectory of early Islam. As long as the Islamic world focuses on its foundational texts, we will continue to see violent jihadi movements.

In order to effectively confront radicalization, then, our tools must be similarly ideological, even theological. This is why I suggest that sharing alternative worldviews with Muslims is one of the best methods to address radicalization. Indeed, this is what happened to me. As I faced the reality of the violent traditions of Islam, I had a Christian friend who suggested that Islam did not have to be my only choice and that there were excellent reasons to accept the gospel.

As more and more Western Muslims encounter ISIL’s claims and the surprising violence in their own tradition, many will be looking for ways out of the moral quandary this poses for them. We need to be equipped to provide alternatives to violent jihad, alternatives that address the root of why so many Muslims are radicalizing in the first place. Any solution, political or otherwise, that overlooks the spiritual and religious roots of jihad can have only limited effectiveness.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyApologetics

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Posted March 23, 2016 at 4:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium

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Posted March 23, 2016 at 4:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

My favorite airport in the world is the Brussels Airport. In the shadowy distant past of my childhood, that airport was the gateway to many particular kinds of bliss–the stark, brisk rush of cold air, so different from the heavy bright humidity of Abidjan and the fierce dry heat of Bamako. You climb out of the plane and the world outside is all concrete and stone, petrol fumes, elegance, and frites avec mayonnaise. You gather your luggage and your exhaustion and make pilgrimages to the place of the waffle, the chocolate shop, the moules frites, Grand-Place, and, the very reason for going there, the grandparents. Going to Belgium meant being with them, for a few days, or maybe a whole week.

The curious thing about Europe in general, and Brussels in particular, was how seriously they took airport security in those far off days.

Read it all

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism

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Posted March 22, 2016 at 8:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first questions raised will focus on Belgium’s response to the problem on their home ground. Authorities may have scored a victory by capturing Salah Abdeslam, one of the Isis-aligned plotters linked to the Paris attacks, but they missed a network planning an atrocity with heavy weapons and explosives. This suggests gaps in the understanding and surveillance of the terrorist threat. Given that Brussels sits at the political heart of Europe, this points to a problem that can no longer be described as Belgian alone.

While for some the terrorist atrocities in Paris was a wake-up call, for security forces it had been expected for a while. Terrorist groups, from al-Qaeda to Isis, have long sought to launch a terrorist attack in the style of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and a string of plots have been disrupted or launched from a francophone network emanating from Brussels. The Paris attack was the realisation of these fears from a depressingly predictable place.

The networks of radicalised individuals with links to Isis have grown as the group continues to hold sway on the battlefield and send back people and plots to their original bases in western Europe. Given the tempo of attacks and the ease with which the networks appear able to acquire weapons and move freely around the continent, Europeans will ask themselves how much longer they will face this threat. I

Read it all or there is another link here.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted March 22, 2016 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two blasts tore through the departures area of Zaventem airport shortly after 08:00 local time (07:00 GMT).

An hour later, an explosion hit Maalbeek metro station, close to the EU institutions. The airport and whole transport system have been closed.

The attacks come four days after Salah Abdeslam, the main fugitive in the Paris attacks, was seized in Brussels.

The Belgian government has confirmed casualties at the airport but has given no numbers. The cause of the explosions is unknown.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium

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Posted March 22, 2016 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. officials say Secretary of State John Kerry has determined that the Islamic State group is committing genocide against Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 17, 2016 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Angaelos, a U.K.-based leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church, stood before the media holding up a thick report on “genocide” in the Middle East that featured a 2015 photo of Islamic state extremists preparing to behead 21 members of his faith in Libya.

“They were not killed for any other reason but they were Christians,” he said Thursday (March 10), joining with others calling attention to religious persecution.

Hours later, he addressed board members of the National Association of Evangelicals, explaining the basics of his 15 million-member faith — “Coptic Orthodox just means Egyptian Orthodox” — and telling them that what they have in common “far, far exceeds” their differences.

A year after losing 21 fellow Copts, Angaelos continues his bridge-building work, seeking support for persecuted people of many faiths, visiting Muslim refugees and helping evangelicals realize that the Orthodox are part of the Christian flock.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchEvangelicalsOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted March 15, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just as it is starting to turn the tide against Isil, Iraq is running out of money.

Behind the front lines of the Iraqi desert, where the Nineveh provincial police are training to retake their homes in and around Mosul, they are short of one thing: weapons.

“We have been regrouped here since the fall of Mosul,” said Major Ayman, standing over his line of men in blue uniforms. “We have been waiting here for five months but we have no weapons.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 13, 2016 at 5:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A major report released Thursday by two US-based Christian organizations argues for including Iraqi, Syrian, and Libyan Christians as victims of genocide perpetrated by ISIS, ahead of a March 17 deadline for the US State Department to make a finding about whether, and to which categories of ISIS victims, the term “genocide” applies.

Although experts say a finding of genocide would not immediately trigger changes in US foreign policy or the acceptance of refugees and asylum seekers, it’s nevertheless important since both domestic and international law require that acts of genocide be investigated and those responsible indicted and prosecuted.

The 278-page report was released by the Knights of Columbus in partnership with “In Defense of Christians,” a US-based research and advocacy organization devoted to protecting Christians in the Middle East.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 10, 2016 at 5:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A massive leak of top-secret Islamic State documents has exposed details of the terrorist network’s global recruitment programme.

Security services were last night examining files alleged to contain names, addresses and family contacts of 22,000 jihadist fighters, including at least a dozen British recruits.

The leak was hailed as a severe setback for Isis, providing vital intelligence on the war effort in Syria and Iraq. Will Geddes, managing director of International Corporate Protection, a threat management company, said that the leak, if verified, would be a blow to the group. “They will be in massive crisis mode, worried about what is in there, who is in there and how it will disrupt their activities,” he said.

Read it all (requires subscription) or Christian Today covers the story here (open access) and the original report from Sky is here

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted March 10, 2016 at 6:03 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The coalition has managed to push IS out of the Iraqi cities of Tikrit and Ramadi, as well as an ever-increasing stretch of Syrian-Turkish borderland.
Enemies of the "caliphate", backed by (mostly) US fighter jets, are now bivouacked 50km (30 miles) from the IS "capital" of Raqqa, in northern Syria.
Yet IS' hold on its most valuable strategic terrain, the areas seized either in or before 2014, is still uncontested.
It is entrenched in Mosul and Raqqa and the Sunni Arab tribal heartland of the Euphrates river valley, which stretches from eastern Syria to western Iraq.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East

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Posted March 8, 2016 at 9:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The resolution on genocide, introduced by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Nebraska, "expresses the sense of Congress that the atrocities committed by ISIS against Christians, Yezidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide."

"ISIS commits mass murder, beheadings, crucifixions, rape, torture, enslavement and the kidnapping of children, among other atrocities," said the committee's chairman, Rep. Ed Royce, R-California. "ISIS has said it will not allow the continued existence of the Yezidi. And zero indigenous Christian communities remain in areas under ISIS control."

The Islamic State "is guilty of genocide and it is time we speak the truth about their atrocities. I hope the administration and the world will do the same, before it's too late," Royce added.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 4, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was a running-away-from-home nightmare for the age of global terrorism. Marilyn Nevalainen, a pregnant teenager, decided to follow her boyfriend last year when he set out to wage jihad, leaving the lakes and forests of southwest Sweden for life under the Islamic State in the desert heat of Iraq.

Apparently lacking any clear idea of what she was getting herself into, she ended up with militants near Mosul, with a new baby to care for and her boyfriend dead on an Iraqi battlefield.

Remarkably, Ms. Nevalainen, now 16, and her infant son made it out alive. Much remains unknown about how she turned up two weeks ago in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, and she has not spoken publicly beyond a brief television interview in which she contended that she had followed her boyfriend without knowing “what ISIS means, what Islam is, nothing.” She is now back in Sweden.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationTeens / YouthWomen* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeSweden* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 3, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigerian police are hunting for three teenage girls abducted from their boarding school on the outskirts of Lagos city by heavily armed men.

Kidnappings for ransom occasionally occur in Nigeria's commercial capital, but this is the first time a school in the city has been attacked by gunmen....

Our reporter says the school, linked to the Anglican Church, is one of the best and most expensive in Lagos state and is mostly attended by children of politicians and wealthy individuals.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchEducationTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria

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Posted March 2, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ultimately, Rafi’s life was transformed because his eldest brother, Akhtar, pinched pennies and sent Rafi to the best public school in the family’s home province, Balochistan. Rafi had an outstanding mind and rocketed to the top of his class. But he also fell under the spell of political Islam. A charismatic Islamic studies teacher turned Rafi into a Taliban sympathizer who despised the West.

“I subscribed to conspiracy theories that 9/11 was done by the Americans themselves, that there were 4,000 Jews who were absent from work that day,” Rafi recalls. “I thought the Taliban were freedom fighters.”

I’ve often written about education as an antidote to extremism. But in Pakistan, it was high school that radicalized Rafi. “Education can be a problem,” Rafi says dryly.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 29, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mlitary commanders have mounted a cyberoffensive against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in recent weeks by deploying hackers to penetrate the extremist group’s computer and cellphone networks, according to the Pentagon.

The cyberassault, which Defense Secretary Ashton Carter authorized last month, marks the first time teams from U.S. Cyber Command have been integrated into an active battlefield since the command was established in 2009.

“These are strikes that are conducted in the war zone using cyber, essentially as a weapon of war,” Carter said in a National Public Radio interview. “Just as we drop bombs, we’re dropping cyberbombs.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 29, 2016 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than a year of U.S.-led airstrikes and financial sanctions haven’t stopped Islamic State from ordering supplies for its fighters, importing food for its subjects or making quick profits in currency arbitrage.

This is because of men such as Abu Omar, one of the militant group’s de facto bankers. The Iraqi businessman is part of a network of financiers stretching across northern and central Iraq who for decades have provided money transfers and trade finance for the many local merchants who shun conventional banks.

When Islamic State seized control of the region in 2014, the world’s wealthiest terror group made him an offer he decided not to refuse: You can keep your business if you also handle our money.

“I don’t ask questions,” said Abu Omar, whose money-exchange offices in the Iraqi cities of Mosul, Sulimaniyah, Erbil and Hit charge as much as 10% to transfer cash in and out of militant territory—twice normal rates. “Islamic State is good for business.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted February 24, 2016 at 11:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Canada’s spy agencies have tracked 180 Canadians who are engaged with terrorist organizations abroad, while another 60 have returned home.

The latest figures mark a significant increase from the findings of the 2014 Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Can-ada, which identified about 130 people involved in terror-related activities overseas, including 30 taking an active role with the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and the Nusra Front in Syria.

“The total number of people overseas involved in threat-re-lated activities – and I’m not just talking about Iraq and Syria – is probably around 180,” Canadian Security Intelligence Service director Michel Coulombe told The Globe and Mail after testifying before the House of Commons public safety committee. “In Iraq and Syria, we are probably talking close to 100.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 24, 2016 at 7:07 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The liberation of towns from the Islamic State has had the surprising effect on my Iraqi friends of making them more despondent than they were before. When they are asked when things will turn around, they shrug and say Allah karim, akin to the English expression “when pigs fly.” Just after Sinjar was “liberated,” my former student from there sent me pictures of his family’s Friday lunch spread before and after they devoured it, labeling them Sinjar “before liberation” and “after liberation.”

Iraq is now face-to-face with the classic “day after” dilemma. Many of its towns are demolished and there is no money to rebuild. There is no agreement on which groups should secure and govern the areas and who gets to go back. The most visceral and volatile barrier is the newfound distrust among the local populations of liberated areas, who see one another as collaborators, bystanders or victims of the Islamic State. Left unattended, these “day after” dynamics will — and have already — lead to internecine conflict and political gridlock that will undermine battlefield victories, similar to what happened in 2010 when military successes of the Sahwa, or Sunni Awakening militias, against Al Qaeda in Iraq were squandered due to a lack of lasting national and local political deals.

This is evident in Iraq’s disputed post-IS territories, where both the Kurdistan regional government in Erbil and the Iraqi federal government in Baghdad feel they have greater claims than ever before....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 22, 2016 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Unlike his predecessor Steve Jobs, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has never shied away from taking a political and social stand.

He was the first head of a Fortune 500 company to come out as gay. He pledged to one day donate his personal fortune to charity, and he talks passionately about the importance of social justice, diversity and the environment.

But it's his hard-line stance on privacy that could define his legacy at Apple and set the tone for the way big corporations deal with big government at a time when so much of our lives unfold on the devices we use every day.

How far Cook is willing to take the fight is being tested on a national level now. He ramped up the debate Wednesday when he publicly and vehemently opposed a federal judge's order to provide access to encrypted data on an iPhone belonging to the terrorist couple who killed 14 people in San Bernardino last year.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeTerrorism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 18, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 21 [Coptic] men executed that day [in Libya] were itinerant tradesman working on a construction job. All were native Egyptians but one, a young African man whose identity is uncertain—reports of his name vary, and he was described as coming from Chad or Ghana. But the power of his example is unshakable. The executioners demanded that each hostage identify his religious allegiance. Given the opportunity to deny their faith, under threat of death, the Egyptians declared their faith in Jesus. Steadfast in their belief even in the face of evil, each was beheaded.

Their compatriot was not a Christian when captured, apparently, but when challenged by the terrorists to declare his faith, he reportedly replied: “Their God is my God.” In that moment, before his death, he became a Christian. The ISIS murderers seek to demoralize Christians with acts like the slaughter on a Libyan beach. Instead they stir our wonder at the courage and devotion inspired by God’s love.

While we remember these men’s extraordinary sacrifice, is there not more that we can do to stop this genocide against Christians in the Middle East?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptIranIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 12, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"I'd thought about the families that were bombed. There was one in which the package arrived to the man's home and his little 2-year-old daughter was there. She was almost in the room when he opened the package. Luckily she left, and his wife left. And then he died," Patrik told ABC News' Byron Pitts. "And there were others. And so I spent those days thinking about those people."

Between 1978 and 1995, Kaczynski placed or mailed 16 bombs that killed three people and injured 23 others, according to authorities.

In 1995, before he was identified as the Unabomber, he demanded newspapers to publish a long manuscript he had written, saying the killings would continue otherwise. Both the New York Times and Washington Post published the 35,000-word manifesto later that year at the recommendation of the Attorney General and the Director of the FBI.

A professor of philosophy, Patrik recognized familiar sounding ideas in the manuscript from letters her husband David Kaczynski had received from his older brother Ted, including a 23-page essay in which he raged against the modern world. In the essay, Ted wrote phrases such as, "Technology has already made it impossible for us to live as physically independent beings."

Read it all (or watch the video which is recommended).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyMental Illness* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyTheodicy

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Posted February 11, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Which brings us to the multi-layered complexity of the situation: How to help create a context such that people can return to their ISIS-occupied homes 30 miles away? We spent a lot of time listening. The words that kept coming: Rescue. Restore. Return. So we designed a long-term strategy, consistent with their environment, that builds on short-term impact:
Rescue: We wanted to help those in immediate need, providing relief to them so that they could make it totomorrow. In so doing, we were also able to discern who was doing the best work locally, like the Dominican Sisters, or Assyrian Aid Society (which is just incredible). Besides helping people, we found partners whose yes is yes, and no is no. We are in relationship with them. We trust each other in a part of the world where there is no trust.

Restore: All of those who have fled ISIS have been traumatized in some fashion. They need a way to address the internal if they are to become whole again, and thus serve as peace-builders in a post-ISIS world. So we have sought to invest in education as well as trauma training, seeking to build internal reconciliation such that external reconciliation might one day take place.

Return: This is the tricky part, on two counts....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 5, 2016 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Belgian government, reacting to the major role terrorists from Brussels played in the Paris terror attacks, unveiled a program Friday to combat Islamist radicalization in and around the city.

The plans include the hiring of 1,000 new police officers across the country by 2019, with 300 of them added this year and deployed in eight municipalities in the Brussels region.

Interior Minister Jan Jambon said the additional police force in Brussels would focus on cutting off revenue sources for extremist groups by countering illicit trade in arms, drugs and false travel documents. Brussels police will also increase the monitoring of places of worship known for extremist preaching, he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 5, 2016 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is it accurate and/or expedient to use the word “genocide” to describe the persecution of religious minorities by the terrorist group known as Islamic State, Daesh or a variant of that name? Hypothetical as it might seem, that question is a real dilemma for people in high places in western Europe and America.

On January 20th, Federica Mogherini, the foreign-policy chief of the European Union, gave a speech to the European Parliament in which she deplored the suffering of Christians and other minority faiths in the Middle East but carefully stopped short of using the word genocide, to the great disappointment of many MEPs and religious-freedom campaigners.

Those campaigners took heart when another Strasbourg-based body of legislators, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), took a much firmer position. PACE is an arm of the 47-nation Council of Europe. The European Parliament, an organ of the 28-nation European Union and rather more important, will also vote on the IS-and-genocide question in a few days' time. The PACE resolution, passed on January 27th, denounced the wave of terror attacks on civilians in Europe and the Middle East

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 3, 2016 at 7:23 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The outgoing commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan warned Congress on Tuesday that security there will deteriorate further from a resurgent Taliban unless the U.S. military makes a long-term commitment to stay.

Army Gen. John F. Campbell, who has led the international force since August 2014, said the Afghan military is “uneven and inconsistent” on the battlefield and is beset by corruption. He said the central government in Kabul probably won't be able to fully defend itself until the 2020s.

The warning is the latest from a U.S. military officer that suggests the Pentagon wants to reconsider President Obama's plan to cut the current U.S. deployment of 9,800 military advisors and Special Operations troops in half by the time he leaves office.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorismWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 3, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It has been nearly a year since Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi-born American citizen, was hacked to death on the street in this South Asian country's teeming capital, part of a series of grisly killings of secular writers who criticized Islamic fundamentalism.

But in the last four months, Bangladesh has been stunned by a second wave of deadly attacks — against religious minorities, security forces and foreigners — that is unusual even with the nation's long history of political violence.

The more recent killings have raised fears that Bangladesh is entering a disturbing new phase of instability inspired from abroad. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for several of the attacks and is stepping up its efforts to recruit from this country of 160 million people, the vast majority Sunni Muslims.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAsiaBangladesh

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Posted January 27, 2016 at 5:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 2016 political season is churning with anti-immigrant vitriol and wariness of the outside world. But one group of American Christians—missionaries—continues reaching out instead of walling themselves off. They honor Christ’s message in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

The selfless work of missionaries was poignantly illustrated by the terrorist murder on Jan. 15 of 45-year-old Michael Riddering, an orphanage director in West Africa.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaBurkina Faso

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Posted January 22, 2016 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So why shout "Allahu Akbar!" when killing these students? Because they are not worshiping and serving Allah in the proper manner. This is a battle between true Islam and false Islam, even in a nation with a notoriously strict approach to Sharia law. It is always important to remind readers how many Muslims are dying in these conflicts, as well as Christians and members of other religious minorities.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted January 21, 2016 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Satellite photos obtained by The Associated Press confirm what church leaders and Middle East preservationists had feared: The oldest Christian monastery in Iraq has been reduced to a field of rubble, yet another victim of the Islamic State group's relentless destruction of heritage sites it considers heretical.

St. Elijah's Monastery stood as a place of worship for 1,400 years, including most recently for U.S. troops. In earlier millennia, generations of monks tucked candles in the niches, prayed in the chapel, worshipped at the altar. The Greek letters chi and rho, representing the first two letters of Christ's name, were carved near the entrance.

This month, at the request of the AP, satellite imagery firm DigitalGlobe tasked a high resolution camera to grab photos of the site, and then pulled earlier images of the same spot.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

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Posted January 20, 2016 at 10:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The fourth deadliest known terrorist group has been named as the Fulani militant group operating in Nigeria and parts of the Central African Republic.

The little-known group, formed of individuals from the semi-nomadic pastorial ethnic group Fula people existing across several West African nations, has seen a dramatic escalation of its activities in the past year.

In 2013, the Fulani killed around 80 people in total – but by 2014 the group had killed 1,229.

Read it all from the Independent.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria

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Posted January 19, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 2015, a sense of unease and foreboding seemed to settle on all the world’s major power centres. From Beijing to Washington, Berlin to Brasília, Moscow to Tokyo — governments, media and citizens were jumpy and embattled.

This kind of globalised anxiety is unusual. For the past 30 years and more, there has been at least one world power that was bullishly optimistic. In the late 1980s the Japanese were still enjoying a decades-long boom — and confidently buying up assets all over the world. In the 1990s America basked in victory in the cold war and a long economic expansion. In the early 2000s the EU was in a buoyant mood, launching a single currency and nearly doubling its membership. And for most of the past decade, the growing political and economic power of China has inspired respect all over the world.

Yet at the moment all the big players seem uncertain — even fearful. The only partial exception that I came across this year was India, where the business and political elite still seemed buoyed by the reformist zeal of prime minister Narendra Modi.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 30, 2015 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even as the Obama administration scrambles to confront the Islamic State and resurgent Taliban, an old enemy seems to be reappearing in Afghanistan: Qaeda training camps are sprouting up there, forcing the Pentagon and American intelligence agencies to assess whether they could again become a breeding ground for attacks on the United States.

Most of the handful of camps are not as big as those that Osama bin Laden built before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But had they re-emerged several years ago, they would have rocketed to the top of potential threats presented to President Obama in his daily intelligence briefing. Now, they are just one of many — and perhaps, American officials say, not even the most urgent on the Pentagon’s list in Afghanistan.

The scope of Al Qaeda’s deadly resilience in Afghanistan appears to have caught American and Afghan officials by surprise. Until this fall, American officials had largely focused on targeting the last remaining senior Qaeda leaders hiding along Afghanistan’s rugged, mountainous border with Pakistan.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistanMiddle East* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 29, 2015 at 2:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A child of London’s East End, White explained to his listeners from theological, journalistic, and policymaking circles how years in Iraq and the wider Middle East had made him happy in the face of unspeakable horror.

“There are the days when you are crying, saying ‘why Lord and there are days of immense joy,” the nattily-dressed, pink and blue bowtie-wearing White stated. His cane, indicating White’s multiple sclerosis, and his cross made of nails taken from the cathedral in Coventry, England, destroyed by German bombing in World War II, signified life’s harsher realities..

A singing White explained that he is even happier now than when he was resuscitating the dead from cardiac arrest as a London doctor before he joined the clergy. For “I know that I have got the love of Jesus with me all the time,” he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq WarTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Theology

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Posted December 24, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Faith leaders from across Britain have condemned a growing crackdown on Christmas in Muslim countries.

Brunei threatened yesterday to imprison for up to five years anyone who celebrates the Christian festival in public. The former British colony’s new penal code could also hand out $20,000 fines for any ceremony contrary to Sharia, including singing religious songs, sending festive greetings or putting up Christmas trees, crosses or candles.

Somalia’s leading clerics issued a similar edict in 2013, which they reiterated yesterday. Sheikh Mohamed Khayrow, the religious affairs minister, said that “all events related to Christmas and new year celebrations are contrary to Islamic culture”. They could “damage the faith of the Muslim community” and risk attracting terrorist attacks from Al Shabaab, he added.

In China, which has 70 million Christians and is set to overtake America as the world’s largest Christian country within a decade, large outdoor crosses on hundreds of churches have been dismantled by officials from the atheist Communist party. Some churches have been demolished in the eastern city of Wenzhou, dubbed the “Jerusalem of China”.

Read it all (requires subscription).




Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOrthodox ChurchRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted December 23, 2015 at 4:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The killing of minorities by so-called Islamic State should be recognised as genocide, more than 60 parliamentarians have said in a letter to the PM.
They urge David Cameron to use his influence to reach an agreement with the UN that the term genocide be used.
This would send the message that those responsible would be caught, tried and punished, the letter adds.
IS has been systematically killing minority groups including Iraqi and Syrian Christians and Yazidis, it said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 22, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Another American military official who analyzes ISIS said that under the pressure of airstrikes and internal strife, members with titles like emir and wali now gain rank through attrition, not design. “We watch the deck shuffle constantly, as they attempt to determine who will fit a role that has been vacated,” he said, “vacated” being a euphemism for “killed.”

Whatever Mr. Aboud’s eventual fate, his relative said, much of the legacy was already known. The recording of Mr. Aboud singing — coolly in tune as he described killing old friends — was a marker of a man lost to crime, a revolution soured and a people betrayed.

“His violence, his assassinations, his killing people — he is really behind this,” he said. “It is a mess now. Everything we have is a mess.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 22, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Islamic State in October released a video that is a stomach-wrenching glimpse of the worst kind of religious repression. Three Syrian Christian men, one a doctor, are made to kneel in the desert in orange jumpsuits and state their religion. Behind each is an executioner who then uses a handgun to fire a bullet into the back of each Christian’s head.

Some Christian leaders in America want President Obama to declare that a genocide is underway against Christians in the Middle East. I don’t think I’d call it a genocide, but it is absolutely the religious version of an ethnic cleansing.

In 1910, Christians made up 14 percent of the population of the Middle East. Today they are about 4 percent, the result of emigration, lower birthrates — and religious repression that threatens the viability of Christianity in much of the region where it was born.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 20, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

,,,in the United States of 2015 — weeks before the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif. — someone had insulted and implicitly threatened...[Heba Macksoud] in her favorite ShopRite. It felt to her as if all the toxic language of the Republican presidential campaign, with its various forms of Islamophobia, had infiltrated even a store she cherished for its commitment to diversity.

With Ms. Yu at her side, she went to the Customer Service counter to report what had happened. The agent there called for the store’s assistant manager, Mark Egan. “I’m not done shopping,” Ms. Macksoud recently recalled telling him, “but I don’t feel safe here.”

Mr. Egan was about as much of a Jersey guy as a Jersey guy can get. He grew up in Freehold, Bruce Springsteen’s hometown, and married in the young Springsteen’s parish church, Saint Rose of Lima. Mr. Egan, his hair starting to thin at 43, has worked at ShopRite for 13 years.

He told Ms. Macksoud he would protect her.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 19, 2015 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tragically, present policy does not take into account the uniquely precarious situation of displaced Christians. Instead of receiving priority treatment, Christians are profoundly disadvantaged. For instance, the State Department has accepted refugees primarily from lists prepared by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees, which oversees the large camps to which refugees have flocked, and where they are registered. Yet endangered Christians do not dare enter those camps.

George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote in the Telegraph in Britain in September that a similar protocol in the U.K. “inadvertently discriminates against the very Christian communities most victimised by the inhuman butchers of the so-called Islamic State. Christians are not to be found in the UN camps, because they have been attacked and targeted by Islamists and driven from them.”

U.S. missteps and missed opportunities in the region contributed to the crises that disproportionately affected Christians. America’s policy should immediately be amended to include these refugees at the top of the list. Opening America’s doors to them first is the right thing to do.

Read it all.

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Posted December 18, 2015 at 3:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to a blogger in the ancient Iraqi city of Mosul, ISIS (also known as ISIL) leaders there have issued a "fatwa" against children with Down syndrome and other birth defects.

The only source for the story is the Mosul Eye, self-described as a "blog … set up to communicate what's happening in Mosul to the rest of the world , minute by minute from an independent historian." It has been repeated by dozens of mainstream and niche news sites, from the British Daily Mail through Fox News to Breitbart.

According to the Mosul Eye's December 14 Facebook entry, "the Shar'i Board of ISIL issued an 'Oral Fatwa' to its members authorizing them to – in the fatwa's words, 'kill newborn babies with Down's Syndrome and congenital disorders and disabled children.'"

Read it all.

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Posted December 15, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The handsome Washington townhouse where Wayne Hickory practices orthodontics is a landmark of terrorism in America.

In 1919, an anarchist exploded a bomb at what was then the home of the attorney general. The failed assassination set off a wave of violent raids on radicals, Communists and leftists, and the deportation without due process of hundreds of innocent European immigrants — a high point of hysteria in an era known as the first Red Scare.

“Maybe there is something to learn from history,” Dr. Hickory said in a sitting room that now contains advertising for invisible braces. But asked about Donald J. Trump’s call to bar Muslims from entering the United States, Dr. Hickory said that, as implausible as it was, the proposal had prompted a necessary discussion about whether travelers from countries fraught with Islamic extremism should receive increased scrutiny. “Perhaps,” he said, “the line needs to be drawn a little bit more severely.”

Read it all.

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Posted December 12, 2015 at 8:56 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As terrorist attacks fueled by extreme Islamist ideology convulsed cities in the U.S. and Europe over the last 15 years, Los Angeles and its sprawling suburbs were spared.

It couldn't last forever.

The assault on a San Bernardino social services center last week by a U.S.-born Muslim man and his Pakistani wife was an event of national significance, potentially reshaping next year's presidential contest and raising Americans' fears of terrorism to levels not seen since the World Trade Center attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But the killing of 14 people by Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik has had a particular effect in Southern California, a densely populated region whose residents have at times felt themselves remote from the transatlantic waves of terror that have washed over New York, London, Paris, Madrid and Washington, D.C.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 12, 2015 at 7:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As American intelligence agencies grapple with the expansion of the Islamic State beyond its headquarters in Syria, the Pentagon has proposed a new plan to the White House to build up a string of military bases in Africa, Southwest Asia and the Middle East.

The bases could be used for collecting intelligence and carrying out strikes against the terrorist group’s far-flung affiliates.

The growth of the Islamic State’s franchises — at least eight militant groups have pledged loyalty to the network’s leaders so far — has forced a debate within the Obama administration about how to distinguish between the affiliates that pose the most immediate threat to the United States and Europe and others that are more regionally focused. The regional groups, some officials say, may have opportunistically adopted the Islamic State’s brand to bolster their local clout and global stature.

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Posted December 11, 2015 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

During its six-year insurgency in northeastern Nigeria, Boko Haram has killed thousands of people and displaced millions in its bid to realize its fundamentalist vision of an Islamic caliphate. In that quest, it has persecuted Nigeria’s Christian population and sought to exterminate Christian clerics, including Hassan John, an Anglican pastor from Jos, central Nigeria.

John, 52, is used to living with the perpetual threat of Boko Haram. “Every Christian cleric anywhere has the same bounty on his head,” says John, who is currently studying at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics in the U.K. “If you are a pastor or a priest, from Jos all the way to Maiduguri, you do have a bounty on your head.” The price of John’s life, according to the militant group, is 150,000 naira ($754)—slightly more than the going rate for an iPhone 6s in Nigeria. The bounty, however, has not stopped him from reaching out to Nigeria’s Muslim community in order to build bridges burned down by Boko Haram’s violent actions.

The Anglican pastor is currently studying in Oxford, but will return to his hometown of Jos in July, where he works with Muslim communities. Jos, the capital of Plateau state, lies in the central belt of the West African country. Nigeria is roughly 50 percent Muslim and 40 percent Christian, but the vast majority of Muslims are concentrated in the north—the epicenter of Boko Haram’s insurgency—while Christians tend to live in southern states. Jos, as John describes it, lies on “the fault line between the two forces.”

Read it all.

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Posted December 9, 2015 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After the recent terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, Americans' satisfaction with the way things are going in the U.S. dropped seven percentage points to 20%. This is the lowest level of satisfaction recorded since November 2014, but still above the all-time low of 7% in October 2008.

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Posted December 9, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Greek police tried to capture the suspected ringleader of the Paris terror attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, in January but the operation failed.

A Belgian anti-terrorism source told the BBC the Athens operation planned to target Abaaoud before anti-terror raids in Belgium, but that did not happen.

Abaaoud had been directing the Belgian cell by phone from Athens.

Abaaoud died in a battle with French police five days after the 13 November Paris attacks that killed 130 people.

Read it all.

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Posted December 8, 2015 at 4:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lorenzo Vidino knows violent radicals — personally. The 38-year-old Italian academic has “longstanding” relationships with some jihadists, he said, as part of his 15 years in the study of radicalization and violent Islamism in the West.

“I think it’s crucially important,” he said in an interview with The Hill last week, which took place in his office on George Washington University’s (GWU) campus overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue. “How do you study a certain phenomenon if you don’t talk to the people inside it, whether they are former or whether they are still radicals?

“I think it’s the right thing to do. It gives you good perspective.”

Read it all from The Hill.

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Posted December 8, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Zohra Arastu migrated to the United States from India with her husband, a young surgeon, in 1976.

In addition to being an artist and a mother, she teaches American children how to read translations of the Quran properly. But recently, she has grown more concerned that U.S. presidential candidates are playing the race card against Muslims, preying on “Islamophobia” to gain votes.

“How do we make them stop?” she asked during a forum to promote cross-religious understanding at the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia on Monday night. “They are undoing all that we are trying to do here.”

Read it all from The State newspaper in Columbia.

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Posted December 8, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The young southern California parents who killed 14 people in a workplace rampage last week had both been "radicalized" into following an extreme form of Islam, an FBI official said Monday.

"As the investigation has progressed, we have learned and believe that both subjects were radicalized and had been for quite some time," David Bowdich, the FBI's assistant director in charge of the Los Angeles office, told reporters.

He added, "The question we're trying to get at is how did that happen, and by whom, and where did that happen. And I will tell you right now we don't know those answers at this point."

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Posted December 7, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Syed Rizwan Farook was looking for a woman. A few years ago, not long out of college, he went online to find a match. He was slim, dark-eyed, 6 feet tall and living with a parent in Riverside, his dating profiles explained.

He was Chicago-born, with Pakistani roots. He didn't drink or smoke. He avoided TV and movies, preferring instead to tinker with old cars, work out and memorize the Quran. He had a $49,000-a-year government job as a health inspector and wanted a young wife who shared his Sunni Muslim faith.

"Someone who takes her religion very seriously and is always trying to improve her religion and encouraging others to do the same using hikmah (wisdom) and not harshness," he wrote on BestMuslim.com, one of several dating and matrimonial sites he used.

Read it all.

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Posted December 6, 2015 at 1:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last week was Thanksgiving.

This week is fright-giving.

So with apologies to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s epic 1933 pep talk:

We have much to fear, including fear itself.

Read it all.

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Posted December 6, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I felt like I was betraying God and Christianity,” said Alex, who spoke on the condition that she be identified only by a pseudonym she uses online. “But I also felt excited because I had made a lot of new friends.”

Even though the Islamic State’s ideology is explicitly at odds with the West, the group is making a relentless effort to recruit Westerners into its ranks, eager to exploit them for their outsize propaganda value. Through January this year, at least 100 Americans were thought to have traveled to join jihadists in Syria and Iraq, among nearly 4,000 Westerners who had done so.

The reach of the Islamic State’s recruiting effort has been multiplied by an enormous cadre of operators on social media. The terrorist group itself maintains a 24-hour online operation, and its effectiveness is vastly extended by larger rings of sympathetic volunteers and fans who pass on its messages and viewpoint, reeling in potential recruits, analysts say.

Read it all from the New York Times.

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Posted December 5, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pakistani intelligence agents say they have questioned members of Malik's extended family in the Pakistani province of Punjab, an area that is considered a stronghold of Islamic militant organizations.

Malik belonged to an educated, politically influential family from Karor Lal Esan in Layyah district. Malik Ahmad Ali Aulakh, one of her father's cousins, was once a provincial minister. Residents said the Aulakh family is known to have connections to militant Islam.

"The family has some extremist credentials," said Zahid Gishkori, 32, a resident of the Layyah district in the area who knows the family well.

Read it all from the LA Times.

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Posted December 5, 2015 at 1:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The “camp” consisted of a few houses close to each other. “When we got to the place, there were about 50 other women. I recognised many other Christians, who had now become Muslims and were forced to undergo Islamic teaching.”

Mercy could only guess what was in store for her. “My first day was like hell. I cried all day and all night. I prayed like never before and asked God to give me courage.”

The next morning, Mercy and the others were taken to a clearing for questioning. They were asked to become Muslims and to marry Boko Haram members.

Read it all.

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Posted December 5, 2015 at 12:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Muslims came to an Anglican church? ‘People respect faith in Iraq,’ says Sarah. ‘They can see he is sincere.’

So is it better to be a Christian negotiating with Muslims than to be secular, I ask. I’m always hearing that religion is the problem, not the solution, in Iraq.

‘Yes, absolutely,’ says White. ‘People say it’s important to keep religion out of the peace process in the Middle East, but you can’t have a peace process without religion. You can’t have politics without religion in the Middle East! It’s impossible. Faith is our common ground.’

Read it all from the Spectator.

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Posted December 5, 2015 at 9:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One can be more specific: They should be Sunni Muslims, since this is the community from which ISIS has emerged. (God knows, Shiite Muslims, with Iran in the lead, have engaged in their own variants of terrorism, but ISIS is the more immediate issue.) But also it should probably not be individuals with Muslim backgrounds who are so Westernized that what they say has little resonance among most Muslims—Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Salman Rushdie come to mind. In other words, the want ad should be for conservative Sunni Muslims.

(I speak of ISIS. I’m annoyed by the practice of constantly listing every acronym by which this odious outfit has been called: “Islamic State” won’t do, because supposedly that legitimates the pretension that it is the Islamic state. So we get an endless serving of all the acronyms: “IS, ISIS, ISIL, Deash”. This is silly. We know who they are. I prefer the most descriptive acronym “ISIS”—the developing Islamic state in Iraq and Syria. No legitimacy implied.)

As a matter of fact, there have been a good many voices raised. Here is a partial list, who spoke up in the course of 2014: Probably the most significant has been that of Shawki Alam, Grand Mufti of al-Azhar in Cairo, the most prestigious Sunni center of learning in the world. He described ISIS as “corrupt”, “a danger to Islam”, “violating Sharia law and humanitarian law”. There have been statements by the Grand Mufti Abdulaziz al-Shaikh, Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority, who spoke of ISIS as “the number one enemy of Islam”; by Mehmet Gormez, the highest cleric in Turkey, who saw ISIS as “hugely damaging” and “truly awful”; and rather amazingly, 100 Sunni and Shi’a imams in Britain issued a joint statement (this unusual collaboration probably easier in Europe than in the Muslim heartland) calling ISIS “an illegitimate vicious group, who do not represent Islam in any way”. What has been the effect of these statements? I don’t know. But this is not a story of tacit acceptance.

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Posted December 4, 2015 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Police and intelligence agencies have an enormously difficult job because radicalization pathways to violence are not always straightforward. Sometimes an individual on the periphery of an investigation, who is assessed as low risk, rapidly becomes a threat. Similarly, an individual considered very dangerous may never act or may disengage from extremism. As the 2009 investigation of al Qaeda operative and New Yorker Najibullah Zazi demonstrated, the manpower needed for physical surveillance of even a single individual requires dozens of agents and hundreds of man-hours, and that doesn’t include the analytic team required to evaluate electronic communications such as email, chat, tweets and phone data.

In the past, Western intelligence organizations intercepted communications that allowed security agencies to move against al Qaeda or ISIS operatives, often before they could strike. Now end-to-end encrypted communications apps like “Telegram” have become standard operating procedure among terrorists. So intercepting and deciphering communications is far more difficult, even for organizations as sophisticated as the National Security Agency or the FBI.

There is no doubt that al Qaeda and its remnants as well as Islamic State have the intention and capability to strike the United States using Western operatives. What happened in Paris can happen here. A false sense of security will be deadly. The U.S. must mobilize at home and lead abroad to defeat this increasing threat.

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Posted December 4, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At least 200 churches or places of worship are attacked every single day, a vice-president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, said this week, at a high-level meeting in Brussels investigating the persecution of Christians.

Mr Tajani, an Italian MEP in the Parliament’s European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) group, said on Tuesday that “every day, in every region of our planet, we register new cases of systematic violence and persecution against Christians. No other religious community is faced with such hatred, violence, and aggression as is the Christian community.”

A report prepared by the Parliament’s research unit highlighted the “paradoxical aspect of contemporary Christianity” in that, while Christians were in a majority across the world, they were in a minority in places of conflict.

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Posted December 4, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The profiles of the suspects behind the Paris terrorist attacks reflect a pattern often seen among perpetrators of previous atrocities—a group of guys who turned from drugs and petty crime to terrorism. What’s new is the potency of the movement that mobilized them.

To many in the West, Islamic State represents a medieval-style death cult. To its sympathizers, estimated to number in the thousands or even tens of thousands in Europe, its radical message of reviving the Sunni Muslim caliphate is strengthened by the fact that it already rules over territory.

Scott Atran, a Franco-American academic who has interviewed hundreds of radical Islamists over years, likens the rise and allure of Islamic State to the ascendancy of the Bolsheviks in czarist Russia and the National Socialist Party in Weimar Germany.

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Posted December 4, 2015 at 5:51 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Law enforcement officials said the F.B.I. had uncovered evidence that Mr. Farook was in contact over several years with extremists domestically and abroad, including at least one person in the United States who was investigated for suspected terrorism by federal authorities in recent years. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The officials called the case perplexing, saying that no clear evidence of terrorism had emerged, though the attack was clearly premeditated. The victims were Mr. Farook’s co-workers at the county health department, and the shooting may have involved grievances against them, but it did not fit the mold for workplace violence, either.

The idea that this was a workplace argument that spiraled out of control seems far-fetched, the officials said, given the explosives and the preparation. “You don’t take your wife to a workplace shooting, and especially not as prepared as they were,” said a senior law enforcement official briefed on the investigation. “He could have been radicalized, ready to go with some type of attack, and then had a dispute at work and decided to do something.”

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Posted December 3, 2015 at 1:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

3.a. To suggest that we should act (though usually without specifying how those of us not physically present could act in the immediate wake of tragedy or terror), instead of pray, therefore, is to ask us to deny our capacity for empathy.

3.b. At the same time, the Bible makes it clear that God despises acts of outward piety or sentimentality that are not matched with action on behalf of justice. The harshest words of Jesus recorded in the Gospels are directed at public leaders who pray extravagantly and publicly but neglect “the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faithfulness” (Matt. 23:23).

3.c. Therefore we must never settle for a false dichotomy between prayer and action, as if it were impossible to pray while acting or act while praying. Nonetheless it is vital, whenever possible, to pray before acting lest our activity be in vain.

3.d. To insist that people should act instead of pray, or that we should act without praying, is idolatry, substituting the creature for the Creator.

Read it all.

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Posted December 3, 2015 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Just War criteria have to my mind been met. But while they are necessary, they are not by themselves sufficient in action of this kind – where we can end up doing the right thing in such a wrong way that it becomes the wrong thing.

To my mind there are three components which currently need more emphasis and to some extent are missing.

In this role, through visiting all 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion, through the constant contacts we have with Muslim and Christian leaders in the region – as recently as three weeks ago in a conference at Lambeth Palace – I am constantly reminded that this is a global issue, to which we are addressing local solutions.

ISIL is but one head of the Hydra: religiously-motivated extremism is not restricted to one part of the world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 2, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram is growing and threatening to spread further eastwards from Nigeria as far as the Central African Republic (CAR), despite heightened efforts by the Nigerian military and a regional task force, the top United Nations (U.N.) aid official in Cameroon told Reuters.

The Nigerian-founded organization—recently ranked as the world’s deadliest militant group—has expanded operations in neighboring countries in recent months, including Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian president, has given his military a December deadline by which to vanquish the militant group from its base in northeastern Nigeria. And the U.S. recently committed to sending 300 troops to Cameroon to assist with regional operations against the group.

Read it all.

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Posted December 2, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the Archbishop struggles. Why? I can only conclude that (as he has sometimes hinted) his belief in the very existence of a deity can falter. After all, if one starts from an absolute faith that there is a benevolent God, one must simply find ways to explain or discount apparently awkward evidence — of which the problem of pain is an obvious example. If, on the other hand, one is unsure about the existence of God, one does not seek to discount troubling evidence against the theory, but approaches it with an open mind.

I suspect that describes Archbishop Welby. If so, we should not reproach him for responding to an act of great wickedness as he did — though we might enquire whether it was really a good idea to be Archbishop of Canterbury. But what I must reproach him for is this: Paris is now, close to home, and once Welby’s own home, but why should that make the atrocity any more philosophically troubling than a Lisbon earthquake centuries ago? I feel a righteous anger against people who renounce their faith because their aunt died of cancer. Other people’s aunts die of cancer all the time. ‘Why us? Why me? Why now?’ should carry no more force than ‘Why others? Why then?’

The Archbishop’s response was doubtless human, but theologically shallow. Jesus, in His agony (‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?) doubted Himself, not God. Straining his ears on last Saturday’s walk, the Archbishop might have heard a rumble from the sky: ‘My Canterbury, my Canterbury, why has thou forsaken me?

Read it all from the Spectator.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyTheodicy

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Posted November 30, 2015 at 12:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The test will obviously be the total mobilisation of effort in a focussed way that recognises the long-term needs of security for indigenous populations, and particularly the Christian populations, being harried out of the area at the time.

“For the first time in almost 300 years, we’re facing a conflict that has a distinct theological and religious element which we have not faced before. Recent studies demonstrate the theological basis of extremist groups behind jihadist thinking.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria

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Posted November 27, 2015 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England has overwhelmingly backed military intervention in Syria to establish safe routes for refugees. The general synod voted yesterday in favour of a motion that the Archbishop of Canterbury said committed the church to supporting the use of armed force. Justin Welby said that if the motion was passed the “implications are enormous”, adding that he supported it.

It comes as David Cameron today reveals his “comprehensive strategy” for taking on Islamic State in Syria, designed to allay fears that airstrikes alone will not solve the crisis.

The prime minister said there was no “perfect strategy” but added that the UK could not wait for the arrival of a stable government in Syria capable of tackling Isis. “There is a clear and present danger to the United Kingdom from [Isis], based in Iraq and Syria, planning attacks against our country,” he told MPs.

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Posted November 25, 2015 at 5:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“If ISIS is allowed to define the terms of this engagement then they’ve pretty much won the battle. We have to understand them and meet them where they’re coming from but not capitulate, not really surrender to the terror they’re trying to spread, because that’s the victory they are looking for,” says Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance.

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Posted November 22, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“For such an attack, involving so many people, it must have been decided near the highest level,” said Claude Moniquet, a former French intelligence official who heads the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center. The Islamic State’s military operation, whose senior leaders include numerous former military officials from Iraq, “would never let someone below them direct a strategic operation.”

The roots of the attacks — which struck France’s largest stadium, a crowded concert hall, and a series of restaurants and cafes — may be visible in the suspects’ path to radicalization.

While their stories vary — one had been a student, another a bus driver, another a bar owner — many came from Muslim families that were neither fundamentalist nor extreme. Their radicalization appears to have happened over just the past few years, or even a couple of months.

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Posted November 22, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram has become the most deadly terrorist group in the world, killing more people in terrorist attacks in 2014 than ISIS, according to the 2015 Global Terrorism Index.

The GTI attributed more than 6,644 deaths to Boko Haram in 2014, with most attacks occurring in northeastern Nigeria. ISIS killed 6,073 in terrorist attacks in the same year, according to the report.

The GTI noted a 317 percent increase of terrorism deaths in Nigeria, the largest increase ever recorded by any country, where newly elected president Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to contain Boko Haram by the end of 2015.

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Posted November 21, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mali once again reeled Friday under a terrorist attack, the latest violence in a country that has been racked by war for more than half a century. The current battle pits a confusing array of at least five Islamist groups against a weak central government supported by the former colonial power, France, as the United Nations seeks a diplomatic solution and offers military protection in some areas.

The latest attack, on the Radisson Blu hotel in the Mali capital of Bamako, takes on a special urgency as France tries to deal from last week's devastating Islamist militant violence that left 130 dead.

That attack was carried out by Islamic State, not known to be directly involved in Mali. But its supporters celebrated the Mali attack using the Twitter hashtags #IslamicState, #ParisIsBurning and #Mali_Is_Burning.

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Posted November 20, 2015 at 4:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...in the United States, where neither Al Qaeda nor Islamic State has pulled off a major strike since Sept. 11, 2001. Despite the track record, FBI director James B. Comey has warned that Islamic State, an organization that was added to the agency's list of foreign terrorist groups only last year, is now in virtually every state.

"This is sort of the new normal," Comey said in July after announcing the arrests of 10 people believed linked to Islamic State plots, including some suspected of planning attacks to coincide with the July 4 holiday.

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Posted November 20, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

And what about the Christians from the Middle East? Are they part of a resettlement plan into Europe or the United States? Sadly, the Department of State does not support a “special” category to bring, for example, Assyrian Christians into the United States, even though private donors have offered complete funding for the airfare and the resettlement in the United States of Assyrian and other Iraqi Christians. It is a particularly absurd irony for U.S. government officials to say that Christian refugees from the Middle East will not be supported because of their religious affiliation, even though it is precisely their religious affiliation that makes them candidates for asylum based upon a credible fear of ISIS persecution.

To the consternation of the United States and European Union officials (and much of the mainstream media), several EU countries have said that they will admit refugees from the Middle East, but only those who are Christians, and no Moslems need apply. Slovakia is one such country, and I have been informed that intra-governmental task forces in at least two other European nations are contemplating similar action, though no official actions have been announced. However, EU Commission spokeswoman Annika Breithard has stressed that EU states are banned from “any form of discrimination.” Thus, Christians from the Middle East have been driven out of their homes by ISIS and other terrorists, but are given little protection or safe havens as refugees, notwithstanding international law. Yes, we should watch and pray, but we must also remember our obligation from Galatians 6:10, which reads, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”

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Posted November 20, 2015 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even after the Paris atrocities, the West still isn’t joining up the dots. The free world was shocked by 9/11, shocked by the 7/7 London bombings, shocked by the 2008 onslaught in Mumbai, shocked by January’s Paris massacres at Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket.
Now it is shocked by Isis, which it presents as “nihilists”. So they just happen to be the same type of nihilists as al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Jaysh al-Islam and Boko Haram.
By an amazing coincidence, these all just happen to have the same aim: to spread Islam through holy war using the same tactics of shootings, stabbings, beheadings, disembowelling and human bomb attacks.
Theresa May fatuously said of the Paris attacks that they had “nothing to do with Islam”. David Cameron inched towards realism by saying on Monday night it was “not good enough” to “deny any connection between the religion of Islam and the extremist”. Yet on other occasions he says Islamic terror is a “perversion” of the religion.
Such contortions are an attempt to avoid lumping all Muslims together. But Islam is simply what Muslims practise.

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Posted November 20, 2015 at 5:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“It was like Kabul come to Paris,” said one doctor at a military hospital on the outskirts of Paris, as the city’s emergency medical teams responded to the gravest attack on French soil since the Second World War.
At least 415 people were wounded in last Friday’s attacks and rushed to 38 different hospitals in and around Paris.
The city put into action its “plan blanc”, a maximum level of mobilisation designed to deal with “exceptional medical scenarios”. It has been hailed as a testament to France’s renowned public hospitals system that only three of the injured victims are believed to have died in hospital, arresting the death toll at 129 when it could have been far higher.
Parisian hospitals had carried out a drill for a terrorist attack that morning, just hours before the real attacks took place. The “plan blanc”, devised in 2004 for just such a crisis, allowed staff to requisition nurses, surgeons, resuscitation staff, operating theatres, beds, ambulances and psychiatric services.

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Posted November 19, 2015 at 7:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Most importantly, we shouldn’t allow our domestic controversy over refugees to cloud the larger issue of what is driving the refugee crisis in the first place—a death cult with aspirations of regional or global dominance. Christian communities that have been in the Middle East since literally the Book of Acts are in danger of extinction, as are those who are in need of hearing the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.

We cannot love our neighbors at the same we’re standing aside and watching them be slaughtered. The Bible grants the state the power and mandate to use force to protect the innocent. That means both engaging ISIS with a strong military response and doing what is in our power to shield the innocent from terror. Anything less is not a sufficiently Christian response.

We cannot forget our brothers and sisters in peril. And we cannot seal ourselves off from our mission field. An entire generation of those fleeing genocide will be asking whether there is an alternative to the toxic religion they’ve seen.

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Posted November 19, 2015 at 3:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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