Posted by Kendall Harmon

After accompanying Pentagon officials on a tour Wednesday of the Navy brig near Charleston, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott said he remained opposed to plans to transfer terrorists now held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to a mainland U.S. prison.

“The only solution is enemy combatants must stay in Guantanamo Bay,” Scott, R-S.C., said during a news conference outside the main gate to the Navy base. “One thing that’s completely clear, without any question, there is no compelling reason to close down Gitmo.”

The Navy brig and the Army Detention Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., are among the sites being considered for holding terrorist detainees if President Barack Obama succeeds in shutting down the prison at Gitmo.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchPrison/Prison Ministry* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenateTerrorism* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 3, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Suspected Boko Haram gunmen on horseback killed at least 24 people in two separate attacks on villages in northeast Nigeria, military and vigilante sources said on Wednesday.

The gunmen opened fire and threw explosive devices in Kolori and Ba'ana Imam, in Damboa Local Government, Borno state, in the attacks on Monday evening.

Although nobody has claimed responsibility and the militants are rarely on horseback, the attacks bore the hallmarks of the Islamist group, which has killed thousands in its six-year-old bid to set up a state adhering to sharia law in the northeast.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 3, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A British jihadist who was a leading recruiter for Isis is believed to have been killed by a new clandestine drone programme designed to take out high-value targets in Syria.

Junaid Hussain, 21, from Birmingham, died when a drone hit the Isis-held city of Raqqa on Tuesday. He was third on an American list of Isis targets and is said to have played a key role as an instigator of lone-wolf attacks in Britain, Europe and the US.

He was jailed for six months in 2012 over a computer hack that gained access to Tony Blair’s address book.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram is trying to expand its activities beyond Nigeria's mainly Muslim north, to include the commercial capital Lagos, as well as other parts of the country, officials say.

Nigeria's intelligence agency says 12 members of the Islamist militant group have been arrested in Lagos since July.

It is not possible to independently verify details of the statement.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 1, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Terrorism is a multifaceted problem, so the solutions should address the political, economic, social and religious layers. Approaches that reduce the problem to religion do a disservice to at-risk youth and the world at large. The international community would do well to realize that Muslims are the primary victims of terrorism—both literally and symbolically—and they can help marginalize terrorists and prevent recruitment. That’s why governments should avoid statements and actions that result in the alienation of Muslims.

Violent extremism has no religion; there will always be people who manipulate faith texts. Just as Christians do not endorse Quran burnings or the actions of the Ku Klux Klan, and Buddhists do not endorse atrocities against Rohingya Muslims, mainstream Muslims do not endorse violence.

Muslims have historically added much to the flourishing of human civilization. Our greatest contributions were made in eras when the faith cherished mutual respect, freedom and justice. It may be immensely difficult to restore the blotted image of Islam, but Muslims can be beacons of peace and tranquility in their societies.

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

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Posted August 31, 2015 at 6:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

It wants videos with "reasonable messages, better messages" to drown out extremism, and is recruiting Muslims to make them. But will it work?
On a Thursday night late last fall, after leaving the Manhattan office where he works as a digital products specialist, Aman Ali -- a well-known comedian in American Muslim circles -- received an unusual email from YouTube.

“We need you,” read the note, which invited Ali to the company’s sprawling, 41,000-square-foot production facility in Los Angeles and promised a free flight and two nights in a hotel. “Muslim community leaders [are] struggling to have their voices heard against the overwhelming extremist and bigoted content currently surfacing the web.”

The words “Islamic State” appeared nowhere in the note asking Muslims like Ali to “change the discourse,” but the message was clear. The terrorist organization's vast media arm, with its slick recruitment videos, was winning the propaganda war. Muslims needed to figure out a way to fight back and “get your voices heard.”

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism

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Posted August 28, 2015 at 8:07 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) militants have destroyed a historic monastery seized in their latest advance across central Syria.

Photographs appeared online of fighters from Isil with bulldozers at the Mar Elian monastery in Al-Qaryatain, in Homs province.

The monitoring group Syrian Observatory of Human Rights said the Catholic monastery was then destroyed "on the pretext that it was used for worshipping others than God".
.....
Isil took Al-Qaryatain and the monastery on August 5, kidnapping an estimated 230 people, including Christians. Some of the older captives have been released, but at least 100 people have been taken as hostages to the de facto Isil capital of Raqqa further to the north.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism

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Posted August 24, 2015 at 12:53 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Islamic State militants on Sunday blew up the temple of Baal Shamin, one of the most important sites in Syria's ancient city of Palmyra, said Maamoun Abdul Karim, the country's antiquities chief.

The temple bombing would be the first time the insurgents, who control swathes of Syria and Iraq and captured Palmyra in May, damaged monumental Roman-era ruins.

"We have said repeatedly the next phase would be one of terrorizing people and when they have time they will begin destroying temples," Abdul Karim told Reuters.

"I am seeing Palmyra being destroyed in front of my eyes," he added. "God help us in the days to come."

A week ago, the militants beheaded Khaled Asaad, an 82-year-old scholar who worked for more than 50 years as head of antiquities in Palmyra, after detaining and interrogating him for over a month.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism

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Posted August 24, 2015 at 12:37 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

French President Francois Hollande on Monday awarded France's highest honor, the Legion d'honneur, to three U.S. citizens and a Briton who helped disarm a machine gun-toting suspected Islamist militant on a train last week.

"Faced with the evil called terrorism there is a good, that's humanity. You are the incarnation of that," Hollande told the four men.

Read it all and there is more here

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism

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Posted August 24, 2015 at 12:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Stone was cut by the attacker behind his neck, and his thumb was nearly sliced off as the man was wrestled to the ground by the Americans. Sadler said: "The gunman pulls out a box cutter and slices Spencer a few times." He added that the attacker "never said a word."

To Americans who remember Sept. 11, 2001, this kind of response — even down to the “let’s go” — echoes the story of Todd Beamer and the passengers of Flight 93. It’s the right response, of course, to terrorists who threaten innocents.

As Brad Todd wrote days after 9/11, it was the response of ordinary Americans on this flight that meant a repeat of the attacks was much less likely: “Just 109 minutes after a new form of terrorism — the most deadly yet invented — came into use, it was rendered, if not obsolete, at least decidedly less effective. ... United Flight 93 did not hit a building. It did not kill anyone on the ground. ... Why? Because it had informed Americans on board who'd had 109 minutes to come up with a counteraction. And the next time a hijacker full of hate pulls the same stunt with a single knife, he'll get the same treatment and meet the same result as those on United Flight 93. Dead, yes. Murderous, yes. But successful? No.”

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

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Posted August 24, 2015 at 10:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...Grainy security camera footage showed Khadiza and her two 15-year-old friends, Shamima Begum and Amira Abase, calmly passing through security at Gatwick Airport for Turkish Airlines Flight 1966 to Istanbul and later boarding a bus to the Syrian border.

“Only when I saw that video I understood,” Ms. Khanom said.

These images turned the three Bethnal Green girls, as they have become known, into the face of a new, troubling phenomenon: young women attracted to what experts like Sasha Havlicek, a co-founder and the chief executive of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, call a jihadi, girl-power subculture.

An estimated 4,000 Westerners have traveled to Syria and Iraq, more than 550 of them women and girls, to join the Islamic State, according to a recent report by the institute, which helps manage the largest database of female travelers to the region.

The men tend to become fighters much like previous generations of jihadists seeking out battlefields in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. But less is known about the Western women of the Islamic State. Barred from combat, they support the group’s state-building efforts as wives, mothers, recruiters and sometimes online cheerleaders of violence.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureTeens / Youth* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeTurkeyMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted August 21, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It would be hard to imagine a story much more hellish than the lengthy New York Times piece that is racing around the Internet today that ran under this blunt headline: "ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape."

However, it is the second piece of the double-decker headline that will be the most controversial and discussed part of this piece: "Claiming the Quran’s support, the Islamic State codifies sex slavery in conquered regions of Iraq and Syria and uses the practice as a recruiting tool."

The bottom line: To make that statement, the Times team needs to show readers specific references in the Quran, by quoting them, and then show proof of how ISIS leaders are interpreting those passages, perhaps through a lens from earlier expressions of the faith. It would then help, of course, to show how mainstream Islamic scholars, and experts outside of Islam, read those same passages today.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMediaReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted August 17, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Defense Department is taking another look at the military prison in Kansas and the Navy Brig in South Carolina as it evaluates potential U.S. facilities to house detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, part of the Obama administration’s controversial push to close the detention center.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said a team was surveying the Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth on Friday and will do a similar assessment at the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston later this month.

Davis said the team will assess the costs associated with construction and other changes that would be needed in order to use the facility to house the detainees as well as conduct military commission trials for those accused of war crimes.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-N. Charleston, immediately blasted the idea of sending the Gitmo prisoners to the Palmetto State.

Read it all from AP.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison Ministry* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina

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Posted August 15, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. intelligence agencies have evidence indicating Islamic State used mustard agent against Kurdish forces for the first time at least two weeks ago in fighting in Syria, a tactic that the group may have repeated in two subsequent attacks in Iraq, U.S. officials said Friday.

The developments are fueling concerns that Islamic State has acquired a crude arsenal of banned chemicals that could herald a significant escalation of fighting in the region.

“It could be a pattern,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the intelligence.

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Posted August 15, 2015 at 8:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

She was a cheerleader, an honor student, the daughter of a police officer and a member of the high school homecoming court who wanted to be a doctor.

He was a quiet but easygoing psychology student. His father is a well-known Muslim patriarch here, whose personable mien and habit of sharing food with friends and strangers made him seem like a walking advertisement for Islam as a religion of tolerance and peace.

Today, the young woman, Jaelyn Young, 19, and the young man, her fiancé, Muhammad Dakhlalla, 22, are in federal custody, arrested on suspicion of trying to travel from Mississippi to Syria to join the ranks of the Islamic State.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingPsychologyReligion & CultureViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted August 14, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The BBC's John McManus says Archbishop [Josiah] Idowu-Fearon, who is the new secretary-general of the Anglican Communion, has a strong reputation for promoting dialogue between Christians and Muslims.
But the archbishop told our correspondent that efforts to maintain unity were undermined by some fellow Christians who failed to engage with their Muslim counterparts.
"We warned the leadership in my country, the Christian Association of Nigeria: 'Let us listen to the Muslim leadership, because the leadership is not in support of Boko Haram.'
"'Oh no no no,' they said, 'they are always deceiving us. They are all the same,'" he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 13, 2015 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The recruiting ground for Islamic extremism looks vastly different for western Muslims and Muslims living in the Middle East.

The traditional picture of the Australian recruit is of a young man, poorly educated in his faith. But a visiting Middle East expert says that in Muslim nations recruits are increasingly well-educated professionals who are deeply frustrated by a lack of opportunity.

Professor Hamdy Hassan is a faithful Muslim, the son of a Sheikh, and political scientist at the University of Cairo and Zayed University in Dubai. He's a Visiting Fellow at Deakin University, Victoria, and is sponsored by the Council of Australia Arab Relations

Listen to it all.

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

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Posted August 13, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A year after tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians fled communities overtaken by Islamic State militants, their lives are on hold in exile: They won't go back to Iraq, saying it's not safe for Christians, but as refugees they're barred from working in temporary asylum countries such as Jordan. Expectations of quick resettlement to the West have been dashed.

"We've lost hope in everything," said Hinda Ablahat, a 67-year-old widow who lives with dozens of fellow refugees in plywood cubicles set up in a church compound in downtown Amman, the capital of Jordan. "We've been sitting here for a year and nothing's happened."

About 7,000 Christians from northern Iraq have found refuge in Jordan, including about 2,000 living in church-sponsored shelters.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 10, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In addition to writing about your own experiences, you personally interviewed U.S., U.K., and Iraqi officials as well as clergy and religious leaders of all faiths. Can you describe some of the insight people of faith had on ISIS?

One of the terrible tragedies in Iraq is the fate of Christians, who were a central part of Iraq. I think there are more Iraqi Christians now in the state of Michigan than there are in Iraq. There were 1.2 million Christians living in Iraq in 2003; today there are 400,000, and most want to leave. I interviewed Reverend Canon Andrew White (vicar of the sole Anglican church in Iraq); he lost a quarter of his flock who were persecuted or forced to pay a tax or be killed. I asked myself, why has the Christian population gone down? It’s ISIS. The terrible violence, you wouldn’t believe it—what they did to people’s children, the churches they blew up and the number of people they have killed. I cite a report in the book about ISIS cooking a two-year-old Syrian girl and serving it to her family.

Can you describe what life is like in Iraq?....

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

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Posted August 7, 2015 at 4:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Zainab Bangura, the UN’s special envoy on sexual violence, said yesterday that a document discovered eight months ago that appeared to show Isis trading pre-pubescent girls as sex slaves had been authenticated.
“The girls get peddled like barrels of petrol,” she said. “One girl can be sold and bought by five or six different men. Sometimes these fighters sell the girls back to their families for thousands of dollars.”

In an interview with Bloomberg, she said that the document claimed that children aged nine or under could be sold to Isis fighters as slaves for $165. Older women, from the Christian or Yazidi communities, were worth less, with those over 40 selling for as little as $41.

Read it all 9requires subscription).

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram Islamists shot dead at least nine people and set homes on fire in a raid on two villages in conflict-hit northeastern Nigeria, fleeing residents told AFP on Thursday.

All nine victims were gunned down with assault rifles as the jihadis attacked Tadagara around 10:30 pm (2130 GMT), looting thatch-roofed mud homes and shops before setting them ablaze, according to witnesses.

"Boko Haram gunmen came on motorcycles and opened fire on the village after we had retired for the night and killed nine residents," Tadagara villager ‎Shuaibu Nuhu told AFP.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 6, 2015 at 4:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For many reasons, then, Boko Haram is a significant and threatening phenomenon, which demands explanation. It is valuable to have Virginia Comolli's thoughtful and wide-ranging account of the movement, which draws on extensive conversations with Nigerians of many backgrounds, apart from archival work. As with any study of a current topic, her book runs the risk of becoming obsolete the moment it appears in print, but it is nevertheless a very useful overview. Surprisingly, many aspects of this strictly contemporary movement are fiercely debated and poorly understood, and Comolli is a sure-footed guide through the scholarly battlegrounds.

She roots the insurgency in some very old-established traditions within North African Islam. Long before the arrival of British colonialism, the lands that became northern Nigeria were ruled by proud sultanates and emirates, of which Kano was the most celebrated. One of the great events in that history was the sweeping jihad movement undertaken at the start of the 19th century by the visionary Fulani reformer Usman dan Fodio. Islamic memories survived powerfully under the British, who worked closely with local political and religious authorities.

That historical legacy is cherished up to the present day, providing an ideological vehicle for popular disenchantment and resistance. Comolli rightly points out that Boko Haram did not spring from nowhere in 2002, but grew out of a series of Islamist, Wahhabi, and fundamentalist sects and student movements that had been flourishing from the 1970s onward. Islamic insurgencies are nothing new to Nigeria, and neither are charismatic and prophetic leaders.

I offer one criticism of an excellent book, namely that Comolli is so focused on tracing the tangled origins of Boko Haram that she underplays the larger political, ethnic, and religious picture, and specifically the role of Christianity. Undoubtedly, she knows that story very well, but most non-specialist readers will not, and they need to be told. A case can be made that Boko Haram is the most aggressive and acute form of a sweeping anti-Christian protest movement.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted August 6, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians are facing growing persecution around the world, fuelled mainly by Islamic extremism and repressive governments, leading the pope to warn of “a form of genocide” and for campaigners to speak of “religio-ethnic cleansing”.

The scale of attacks on Christians in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America has alarmed organisations that monitor religious persecution, with most reporting a significant deterioration in recent years.

On his recent trip to Latin America, Pope Francis said he was dismayed “to see how in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus”. He went on: “In this third world war, waged piecemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide is taking place, and it must end.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 5, 2015 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At least eight people were killed and about 100 others were kidnapped by suspected Boko Haram militants in an overnight raid on a village near Cameroon's northern border, a local government and a military source said.

Tchakarmari, the village targeted early on Tuesday, lies north of Maroua, where dozens of people were killed in a series of suicide bombings by the Nigerian Islamist group last month.

"Residents said the attackers headed back to Nigeria where Cameroon is not allowed to pursue them," the local government source in the Far North region said.

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

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Posted August 4, 2015 at 5:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The radical Islamist group Boko Haram has intensified its suicide bombing attacks in northern Nigeria and Cameroon in recent weeks.

On Friday (31 July) a massive bomb exploded in the market in Maiduguri, north-eastern Nigeria – the traditional heartland of Boko Haram violence. At least six died, and 11 were injured.

The previous Saturday (25 July), 20 people were killed when a 12-year-old girl blew herself up in a crowded bar in Maroua, northern Cameroon. Seventy-nine others were injured.

However, on 2 August the Nigerian military said it had rescued 178 people – including 101 children and 67 women – taken captive by Boko Haram in the northern Nigerian state of Borno.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaCameroonNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 3, 2015 at 4:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

British Muslims who hold “intolerant ideas” and create a climate for extremism will become the target of a new clampdown to be announced by David Cameron today.

In a landmark speech the prime minister will say that a failure of integration has meant that there are people born and raised in this country who do not identify with Britain. Outlining a five-year strategy to combat extremism, he will attack those who hold ideas “hostile to basic liberal values” and who promote “discrimination, sectarianism and segregation”.

Mr Cameron will single out Muslim conspiracy theorists who believe that “Jews exercise malevolent power”, that 9/11 was inspired by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, and that Britain allowed 7/7 because it wanted an anti-Muslim backlash.

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In advance of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this December, many publics around the world name global climate change as a top threat, according to a new Pew Research Center survey measuring perceptions of international challenges. This is particularly true in Latin America and Africa, where majorities in most countries say they are very concerned about this issue. But as the Islamic militant group ISIS maintains its hold in Iraq and Syria and intensifies its grisly public executions, Europeans and Middle Easterners most frequently cite ISIS as their main concern among international issues.

Global economic instability also figures prominently as the top concern in a number of countries, and it is the second biggest concern in half of the countries surveyed. In contrast, concerns about Iran’s nuclear program as well as cyberattacks on governments, banks or corporations are limited to a few nations. Israelis and Americans are among the most concerned about Iran’s nuclear program, while South Koreans and Americans have the greatest concern about cyberattacks relative to other publics. And apprehension about tensions between Russia and its neighbors, or territorial disputes between China and surrounding countries, largely remain regional concerns.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchClimate Change, WeatherGlobalizationReligion & CultureScience & TechnologySociology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 19, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At least 49 people were killed and dozens injured when twin blasts struck a market in the northeast Nigerian city of Gombe on Thursday, rescue workers said.

The first explosion took place outside a packed footwear shop around 1620 GMT, followed by a second explosion just minutes later, said Badamasi Amin, a local trader who counted at least three bodies.

He said the area at the time was crowded with customers doing some last-minute shopping on the eve of the Eid festival marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

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

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Posted July 17, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The FBI is investigating two attacks on military centers in Chattanooga in which four members of the military were killed, leading to lockdowns at local hospitals as well as the Army Recruiting Center on Lee highway as well as the Naval and Marine Reserve Center at the Chattanooga Riverpark, where the shots were fired.

A single shooter, identified as 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, drove a silver Ford Mustang convertible to a Lee Highway recruiting center and began firing shots at 10:45 a.m., then led police on a chase to the Amnicola Highway location, where further shots were fired.

Abdulazeez was believed to have been born in Kuwait, and it was unclear whether he was a U.S. or Kuwaiti citizen. It was not immediately clear whether the gunman's first name was spelled Muhammad or Mohammad.

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

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 6:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Most British Muslims are Sunni, only about 5 per cent are Shia, but both communities are represented by the MC, which believes the government’s “Prevent” anti-terrorism strategy is discriminatory, demonising a law-abiding community. Relations have thawed; Shafi is pleased that Theresa May, the home secretary, is beginning to close what he calls the “trust deficit” by ordering police authorities to record every reported Islamophobic incident for the first time, even if charges are not pressed.

The MC is working with the government and the police to find out why young Muslims feel “alienated” and hence vulnerable to be being lured by the promise of a foreign adventure by people who are “misinterpreting Islam”.

“The Muslim Council has condemned those who claim to act in our name and we have mobilised mosque leaders, civil society leaders and families to speak out and redouble their efforts. However, we’ve no magic wand and what is important is sustained work within communities,” says Shafi, a retired doctor who arrived in Britain from India 46 years ago. “Extremism is mainly hidden on the internet and on social media and our concern is that the age group it attracts is getting younger and younger.”

Read it all (requires subscription).


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 15, 2015 at 11:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When President Buhari was sworn-in, Nigerians must have expected to hear broadcasts like "every past political office holder should report to the nearest Police Station". Yet instead, it has been a quiet, slow, and seemingly irresponsive Buhari that has been impossible to predict as the nation is gripped by anxiety.

Nigerians expecting a quick and decisive fix were already deriding the President for being "slow and indecisive", and refusing to understand that much more important in finding solutions to the problems of the country is the difficult and often slow task of articulating a plan, based on an ideological framework. Even if you had plans to hit the ground running, it matters where you hit ground.

The fact that the activity of the group gained momentum after Buhari's inaugural pronouncement and slow moves to start off, shows the fundamental need to address the challenge from the root cause. The radicalisation of adherents, and their commitment to their faith-based mission, gives it ability to mutate, splinter, break up into cells and continue with the objective to spread terror. One can assume that momentum gained earlier has been lost due to the delay in determining the new order. One can understand the import of anxieties of the erstwhile service chiefs who Nigerians expected would have been rested long ago. President Buhari it is believed has, by now, received a proper briefing of why the Government did so poorly against the insurgents. Who would tell this better than the men in the situation room, the sacked Service Chiefs? Albeit, it was natural for insurgents to exploit such impasse to revive their deadly attacks that we are witnessing. There seemed to be a letting down of the guard.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 15, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Islamic State extremist group has claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on the Italian embassy in Cairo. The BBC reported that ISIL had called western embassies “legitimate targets”.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently said it was important not to underestimate or be complacent about the national security threat from ISIL. He also said it was equally important not to overestimate that threat. He called ISIL twisted and wicked but said it wasn’t Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia, with their power to conquer or challenge the West.

Australian journalist Martin Chulov has been on the ground in Iraq and Syria for a decade. He is Middle East correspondent for The Guardian and recently won the prestigious Orwell Award for his reporting. In Australia for a series of Guardian lectures, he assesses the current strength of ISIL.

Listen to it all from the Religion and Ethics Report.

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

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Posted July 15, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian president, has sacked the country’s army, air force and naval chiefs after allegations of widespread human rights abuses by troops and a surge in violence by Boko Haram insurgents in the north of the country.

Mr Buhari, a former military dictator who ran Nigeria with an iron fist in the 1980s, had pledged in his inauguration speech in May to reform the armed forces but criticism of his failure to fulfil the pledge after almost two months in office was starting to grow.

The president has also moved Nigeria's defence command centre to Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram, and has been pushing for the rapid deployment of a new, regional military force to combat the jihadi sect.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria

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Posted July 13, 2015 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If humanity wants some quick wins, a good place to start would be road accidents. Traffic killed 1.24 million people in 2010, says the World Health Organisation. That’s about double the toll of homicides and armed conflict combined. Yet we could save many of these lives quite easily. Our failure to do so is in part a simple failure of imagination.

“Road traffic injuries have been neglected from the global health agenda . . . despite being predictable and largely preventable,” says the WHO. Car crashes aren’t considered news precisely because they are routine, remarks the Dutch writer Joris Luyendijk. He says that although road accidents are “the biggest bloodbath in the Arab world”, media instead focus on the much smaller bloodbath of terrorism.

Terrorists killed nearly 18,000 people worldwide in 2013, says the Institute for Economics and Peace. That’s 1.5 per cent of the number killed by traffic. Of course, terrorism might one day escalate to apocalyptic proportions, but then pundits have been predicting that since 2001. Meanwhile, with ever more cars sold, roads will soon probably kill more people than either Aids or tuberculosis.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchGlobalizationTravel* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 12, 2015 at 6:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Soon after 7/7 the families and the friends of the victims compiled a Book of Tributes. It is a taste of the ocean of pain surrounding the loss of each one of the victims. The tribute book is also very revealing about the character of the London which the bombers attacked.

The majority of the victims were young. They came from all over the UK and all over the world. There were Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Humanists. There are in the book tributes in Italian, French, Arabic, Turkish, Hebrew, Tamil, Polish, Farsi, as well as English.

London is an astonishing world-in-a-city but beyond the diversity the book also conveys a unifying agonised outcry – this was a terrible crime which robbed us of beloved sons and daughters, partners and friends.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersPolice/FireReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 10, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Cameroon's army has repulsed an attack by Boko Haram and killed three of the Nigerian Islamist militants in heavy fighting in the Far North region of the country, a Cameroon government spokesman said on Thursday.

The attack represented a change of tactics by the militants following a series of battlefield defeats this year in which they have lost territory to a regional force that comprises Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, spokesman Issa Tchiroma said.

"Early Tuesday morning around 3.:40 a.m. (0140 GMT) an enemy column in four-wheel drive vehicles opened fire on positions held by our defense forces," he said of the attack in Bodo town.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 9, 2015 at 6:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Four children were killed when Islamic State blew up an historic church in Mosul, Iraq's second city.

The blast destroyed the Mother of Aid church, according to the Kurdish news site Rudaw.

Saeed Mamuzini, of the Mosul branch of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, said the children happened to be near the church, which was more than 1,000 years old and was in central Mosul.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 9, 2015 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have no doubt whatsoever that this is a terrorist attack. We did hope in the first few minutes after hearing about the events on the Underground that it might simply be a maintenance tragedy. That was not the case. I have been able to stay in touch through the very excellent communications that were established for the eventuality that I might be out of the city at the time of a terrorist attack and they have worked with remarkable effectiveness. I will be in continual contact until I am back in London.

I want to say one thing specifically to the world today. This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed at Presidents or Prime Ministers. It was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old. It was an indiscriminate attempt to slaughter, irrespective of any considerations for age, for class, for religion, or whatever.

That isn’t an ideology, it isn’t even a perverted faith - it is just an indiscriminate attempt at mass murder and we know what the objective is. They seek to divide Londoners. They seek to turn Londoners against each other. I said yesterday to the International Olympic Committee, that the city of London is the greatest in the world, because everybody lives side by side in harmony. Londoners will not be divided by this cowardly attack. They will stand together in solidarity alongside those who have been injured and those who have been bereaved and that is why I’m proud to be the mayor of that city.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireTravelUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted July 7, 2015 at 4:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Today, the survivors and families of the 7/7 London attacks continue the journey that those of Tunisia have just begun. Our hearts grieve with those who lost loved ones ten years ago, and with those so suddenly and cruelly bereaved less than a fortnight ago. We hold them all before God and our spirits call out to Christ to strengthen them.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

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Posted July 7, 2015 at 10:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A bomb attack has killed at least 25 people and wounded 32 others in northern Nigeria's Zaria city, the state governor has said.

A suspected suicide bomber targeted civil servants at a government building in the city, witnesses said.

Emergency workers have rushed to the scene to help evacuate the wounded.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ten years to the minute after the 7/7 bombings brought carnage to London, the 52 victims of the terrorist atrocity were remembered in a simple ceremony at the Hyde Park memorial that bears their names.

At the first of a series of events throughout Tuesday to mark the 10th anniversary, David Cameron and Boris Johnson stood with heads bowed in silent tribute at 8.50am amid the 52 steel pillars, each one representing a life lost.

The skies above central London darkened suddenly as the prime minister and the mayor of London walked silently through the thicket of stainless steel pillars, the only sounds the clicking of cameras and the rumble of passing traffic.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 7, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two bombs blamed on the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram exploded at a crowded mosque and an elite Muslim restaurant in Nigeria’s central city of Jos, killing 44 people, officials said Monday.

Sixty-seven other people were wounded and were being treated at hospitals, said National Emergency Management Agency coordinator Abdussalam Mohammed.

The explosion at the Yantaya Mosque came as leading cleric Sani Yahaya of the Jama’atu Izalatul Bidia organization, which preaches peaceful coexistence of all religions, was addressing a crowd during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to survivors, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am left with the sense that in many ways Nicholson’s own life stopped that day. Faith, career and marriage all ended soon afterwards and for years after the bombings she would take the train from Bristol to London, travel to Edgware Road Tube station and stare into the tunnel where her daughter died.

She says she will never forgive Mohammad Sidique Khan, her daughter’s killer. How does she feel when she sees a picture of him today?

“There’s a moment in the film when Emily Watson, as me, throws a bottle of wine at the television screen when his face appears on it. I feel that I could still throw that wine.”

Early in our conversation, while discussing her writing and what it has brought her, I clumsily use the word “catharsis”. Nicholson interrupts: “I wouldn’t call it that. After catharsis there is a sense of renewal and I don’t feel renewed. I’m still grieving deeply. I will be until I take my last breath.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Area Bishop of North Africa, and Rector of St George's, in the capital Tunis, the Rt Revd Bill Musk, visited survivors of the attack in intensive care at hospital. He said that they were still deeply in shock.

"It's very humbling - you just go to listen," he said. "Everyone wants us to pray with them. When you have come very close to dying, or someone you love has, we are all vulnerable."

The overwhelming response from Tunisians has been one of shame, Bishop Musk said. One of the nurses at the bedside of a British victim of the shooting was continually apologising and explaining how Mr Rezgui did not represent true Islam, he said.

The attack was also a disaster for Tunisia, as it would lose billions of pounds if tourists decided to stay away.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 3, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Britain and America may now be post-Christian societies but they don’t need to become anti-Christian societies. Sadly, I see signs that we might be drifting in that direction. There is the mounting campaign to close all faith schools; the questioning of Tim Farron MP’s legitimacy to lead the Liberal Democrats because of his evangelical background; and the fear of the chief justice of the US Supreme Court that opponents of Christian morality “are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent”; no charitable status for faith-based groups and no room for believers in the public square.

Half of me can identify with the anti-religious instinct because, while I’m a Christian seeking space within a secular society, I am also a sceptic about Islam. I’m fearful that, without Christianity’s clear narrative — ending as the New Testament does with the example of Jesus — Islam is a religion that’s too easy for the likes of Seifeddine Rezgui to misinterpret. Most Muslims, of course, hate the heinous crime he committed in their name — but, regardless of what we might think about Islam, thinking the worst is not really a practical option. Nearly three million Britons are Muslims; 1.6 billion of our global neighbours see Allah as the one true God. The challenge must be to understand them and help them to reform their religion — not to drive them and it underground.

I want less vacuous talk of fairness, tolerance and generosity from our politicians. Let’s start getting specific about what we mean by “British values”. Freedom of religion should be a cornerstone of western belief and it must stand as a contrast to the many Islamic states where apostasy is punishable by death.

Read it all from the London Times (subscription required) [emphasis mine].

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaTunisiaAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria have been forced to join Islamist militant group Boko Haram, the BBC has been told.

Witnesses say some are now being used to terrorise other captives, and are even carrying out killings themselves.

The testimony cannot be verified but Amnesty International says other girls kidnapped by Boko Haram have been forced to fight.

Read it all.


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

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Posted June 30, 2015 at 4:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

All of us must be full of grief at the attacks in Tunisia, France and Kuwait. They are intended not only to destroy but to divide, not only to terrify but to take from us our own commitment to each other in our societies....

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 27, 2015 at 2:46 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a tent city under a highway overpass in Baghdad, refugees from Iraq’s Sunni province of Anbar were unanimous about whom to blame for their misery.

“I hold Americans responsible for destroying Anbar,” said former policeman Wassem Khaled, whose home was taken over by Islamic State, or ISIS, after the Iraqi army fled from Anbar’s provincial capital of Ramadi last month.

“We all know that America is providing ISIS with weapons and food, and that it is because of American backing that they have become so strong,” added Abbas Hashem, a 50-year-old who also escaped from Ramadi and now lives in the makeshift Baghdad camp that is only occasionally supplied with water.

Such conspiracy theories about America’s support for Islamic State are outlandish, no doubt. But they are so widespread that they now represent a political reality with real-world consequences—making it harder for the U.S. and allies to cobble together Iraqi forces that could regain the country’s Sunni heartland from Islamic State’s murderous rule one day.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted June 26, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....I haven’t encountered many defenders of U.S. counterterrorism strikes. Last year, I co-chaired a Stimson Center commission on U.S. drone policy with retired Gen. John Abizaid. The commission, which included former senior military and intelligence officials from both Obama’s and George W. Bush’s administrations, concluded in June 2014 that “the Obama administration’s heavy reliance on targeted killings as a pillar of US counterterrorism strategy rests on questionable assumptions, and risks increasing instability and escalating conflicts. While tactical strikes may have helped keep the homeland free of major terrorist attacks, existing evidence indicates that both Sunni and Shia Islamic extremist groups have grown in scope, lethality and influence in the broader area of operations in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.” In dozens of interviews and conversations with national security experts since June 2014, I have yet to find anyone who won’t admit, off the record, that U.S. counterterrorism policy is flailing badly.

So here’s the question: If no one except administration press flacks thinks the whack-a-mole approach to counterterrorism is working, why are we still using it?

To me, that’s one of the unsolved mysteries of the universe, right up there with “what is dark matter?” and “why do we yawn?” Why do smart people like Obama and his top advisors continue to rely on counterterrorism policies that aren’t working?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram militants have killed at least 40 people in north-eastern Nigeria, according to witnesses.

The attacks on Monday and Tuesday took place in the villages of Debiro Hawul and Debiro Bi in Borno state.

Residents say the militants drove into the towns and began shooting, looting and burning houses.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 25, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Bishop of the Calabar Diocese of the Anglican Communion, Rt. Reverend Tunde Adeleye, has given kudos to President Muhammadu Buhari for successfully mobilising the international community to provide support in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorists.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 23, 2015 at 11:18 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Four suicide bombers on motorcycles killed at least 23 people and wounded more than 100 others in Chad’s capital on Monday, raising fears of a widening threat from the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the simultaneous attacks on two buildings, including the national police academy, in N’Djamena. But suspicion quickly fell on Boko Haram, the Islamist group based in northeast Nigeria.

The suicide attacks were the first of their kind in the capital of an ally of Nigeria involved in the fight against the group. In recent months, its strongholds in Nigeria have come under increased pressure from a five-nation coalition of African forces.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 16, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Al Qaeda confirmed Tuesday that it's No. 2 official — a former aide to Osama Bin Laden who rose to lead the terror group's powerful Yemen affiliate — was killed in a U.S. airstrike.

Rumors about Nasir al-Wuhayshi's death first circulated on social media and in the Yemeni press.

A video released by al Qaeda on Tuesday said Wuhayshi had been killed in a U.S. airstrike along with two other militants and that a successor, Qassim al Rimi, had been appointed.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 16, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Islamic State seized Iraq's largest northern city of Mosul almost a year ago, tribal leader Hekmat Suleiman was sure the extremist militants wouldn't expand further into his hometown.

"We bet Islamic State won't have what it takes to last," Suleiman said in October during a visit to the Iraqi Kurdish city of Erbil, smoke rising from his shisha water pipe. "We've reached the beginning of the end of extremism."

He was wrong. His hometown of Ramadi fell last month, three days before Islamic State captured Palmyra, a 2,000-year-old UNESCO world heritage city on the Syrian side of its territory.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 14, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Iraqi city of Mosul fell to the Islamic State on June 10, 2014. When the militants laid out an ultimatum -- convert, pay a tax or be killed -- thousands of Christians and other religious minorities fled to neighboring cities, like the northern city of Erbil.

Even though it’s been more than a year, Erbil’s Chaldean Catholic leader, Bishop Bashar Warda, still vividly remembers what it was like to watch the streams of refugees enter his city.

“It was [a] really sad occasion,” Warda said in an interview with Vatican Radio. “The memories that we have is the queue of thousands of people arriving, tired, crying and leaving behind everything, memories and properties.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam

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Posted June 12, 2015 at 4:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Middle East crisis that peaked one year ago Wednesday when the Islamic State captured Mosul may result in the breakup of Iraq and an indefinite continuation of a war in Syria that’s already out of control, analysts say.

Yet still worse things could happen.

“The conditions are very much like 1914,” says Michael Stephens of the Royal United Service Institute in London. “All it will take is one little spark, and Iran and Saudi Arabia will go at each other, believing they are fighting a defensive war.”

Hiwa Osman, an Iraqi Kurdish commentator, was even more blunt: “The whole region is braced for the big war, the war that has not yet happened, the Shiite-Sunni war.”

Read it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted June 10, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hisham: "Daily life has changed in an indescribable way. Those who were in the military and day labourers no longer have any income because there are no jobs anymore. The rich have been relying on their savings, those with a salary are just about getting by, but the poor have been left to the mercy of God.

"I have lost my job and have been forced to abandon my studies. Like everyone else, I am denied my basic rights. According to IS, everything is 'haram' (forbidden) and so I end up just sitting at home all the time. Even simple leisure activities like picnics are banned now in Mosul, under the pretext that they are a waste of time and money.

"IS takes a quarter of everyone's salary as a contribution towards paying for rebuilding the city. People can't say no because they would face harsh punishments. The group controls everything. Rent is paid to it and the hospitals are for its members' exclusive use.

Read it all.


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Posted June 9, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To learn about the enigmatic group, CT editorial resident Morgan Lee spoke with Virginia Comolli, the author of Boko Haram: Nigeria's Islamist Insurgency and a fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

Why are the origins of Boko Haram so unclear?

During my research, I was struck by the amount of confusion and contrasting views among high-level politicians and members of the military. There are people who believe it is a group purely motivated by violent religious extremism. Other people say it is a political movement. Other people think it’s an opportunistic criminal entity.

However, if we look at the history of northern Nigeria in the post-colonial period, you’ll see the emergence of a number of groups framing their discourse in religious-revival terms, with people advocating a return to true Islam as a way of addressing societal evils. But although these critics were speaking in religious terms, they were all critical of the corrupt government. They also represented those from the north who were socioeconomically and politically marginalized.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 9, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Days after seizing the Syrian desert city of Palmyra, Islamic State militants blew up the notorious Tadmur Prison there, long used by the Syrian government to detain and torture political prisoners.

The demolition was part of the extremist group’s strategy to position itself as the champion of Sunni Muslims who feel besieged by the Shiite-backed governments in Syria and Iraq.

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has managed to advance in the face of American-led airstrikes by employing a mix of persuasion and violence. That has allowed it to present itself as the sole guardian of Sunni interests in a vast territory cutting across Iraq and Syria.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqLebanonSyria

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the United States gave more than 3,000 armored Humvees to Iraqi security forces over the past 12 years, U.S. officials could not have imagined that the humble utility vehicles would become a decisive weapon in the hands of Washington’s enemies from the Islamic State.

But that is exactly what has happened. Humvees were some of the 30 vehicles converted into mobile suicide bombs that the Islamic State used to blast through Iraqi security forces’ defenses during its three-day conquest of Ramadi in mid-May. The militants also used an armored bulldozer and at least one U.S.-made M113 armored personnel carrier. There’s a simple reason the militants are using Humvees and other armored vehicles as rolling bombs: Their protective armored plating prevents defenders from killing the trucks’ drivers before the militants can detonate their loads, while the vehicles’ capacity to carry enormous amounts of weight means the Islamic State can sometimes pack in a ton of explosives. Some of the bombs used in Ramadi contained the explosive force of the deadly Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 that devastated a federal office building and killed 168 people.

The attack on Ramadi was the latest assault in which the Islamic State used armored Humvees as shock weapons to breach security force perimeters, scare beleaguered Iraqi troops into fleeing their positions, and become the centerpieces of flashy videos the group released through social media to its supporters around the globe.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An online video posted this week purportedly shows Boko Haram fighters using the logo “Islamic State in West Africa.”

In the video, a militant accuses countries fighting Boko Haram of lying about the extent of their success in pushing back the group.

The video comes just days after newly inaugurated President Muhammadu Buhari vowed to make fighting Boko Haram a top priority, an issue that he discussed with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who attended the inauguration last Friday.

It is that change in leadership last week that analysts say could breathe new life into US. efforts to assist the country in fighting Boko Haram, by giving the countries a chance to reset relations that had become strained under former President Goodluck Jonathan.

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Posted June 3, 2015 at 6:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the U.S. carrying video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology - all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government, The Associated Press has learned.

The planes' surveillance equipment is generally used without a judge's approval, and the FBI said the flights are used for specific, ongoing investigations. The FBI said it uses front companies to protect the safety of the pilots and aircraft. It also shields the identity of the aircraft so that suspects on the ground don't know they're being watched by the FBI.

In a recent 30-day period, the agency flew above more than 30 cities in 11 states across the country, an AP review found.

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Posted June 3, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Syrian rebels appealed for U.S. airstrikes to counter a new offensive by the Islamic State in the northern province of Aleppo that could reshape the battlefield in Syria.

The surprise assault, launched over the weekend, opened a new front in the multi-pronged war being waged by the extremist group across Iraq and Syria, and it underscored the Islamic State’s capacity to catch its enemies off guard.

The push — which came on the heels of the miltants’ capture of the Syrian city of Palmyra and the western Iraqi city of Ramadi late last month — took them within reach of the strategically vital town of Azaz on the Turkish border.

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Posted June 2, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Islamist terror group Boko Haram conducted a three-day spree of assaults that killed at least 42 people in northeast Nigeria, marking a grim beginning to the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The attacks began on Friday, when a bomb killed 10 people at a wedding in the town of Hawul, two residents said. The blast took place around the time Mr. Buhari was reciting his oath of office in the capital, Abuja, about 400 miles away.

“Some of us managed to escape,” said Haruna Musa, who was at the wedding.

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Posted June 1, 2015 at 4:03 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Right Rev. and Right Hon. George Carey includes among his passions his wife, Eileen; the Barclays Premier League football club Arsenal; and “certain things such as a peaceful world,” he told The Blade during an interview at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Detroit.

The former archbishop of Canterbury elaborated on obstacles to peace that he sees.

“I really do feel very worried about” what is happening to Christians in the Middle East at the hands of the Islamic State, Lord Carey said. “I think we’re now living in a world more dangerous than ever.”

He said that “our biggest enemy now is [ISIS] and Islamic fundamentalism, which now exists in America in all those Muslim families that you have graciously invited and said, following the Statue of Liberty, ‘Come and make your home here.’

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Posted May 30, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A year on from the start of the siege and a shaky alliance of the Middle East’s major Arab powers, with the limited support of the reluctant US government, has failed to contain the expansion of Isil.

The problem for the US and the rest of the industrialised world is that the Middle East controls 60pc of proven oil reserves and with it the keys to the global economy. Should Isil capture a major oil field in Iraq, or overwhelming the government, the consequences for energy markets and the financial system would be potentially catastrophic.

Many of the countries most threatened by the onslaught of the extremist group, which has grown out of the chaos of Syria but was initially dismissed as a wider threat to regional stability, will gather at the end of this week in Vienna for the meetings of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec).

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Posted May 30, 2015 at 9:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigerian President-elect Muhammadu Buhari's promised campaign to defeat Boko Haram could drive more militants over the country's borders, raising the need for cooperation between governments across the region, senior U.N. officials said on Thursday.

Speaking on the eve of the former army general's inauguration, they voiced hope that the new Abuja government would crush the Islamist militants accused of using women and children as sexual slaves and suicide bombers

"There is this concern that success inside northeast Nigeria spells trouble for Niger, Cameroon, and even potentially Chad. So there is a lot of focus on regional cooperation," Robert Piper, U.N. Assistant Secretary-General and regional humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel, told a news briefing.

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Posted May 29, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than half of the world’s countries are now producing jihadis to fill the ranks of violent Sunni terrorist organisations in the Middle East, according to a UN report.

The al-Qaeda network and its schismatic rival, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) have seen more than 25,000 mujahideen join them in recent years, it states, creating an “unprecedented” threat to national and international security in both the “immediate and long-term” that most governments have failed to grasp the significance of so far.

The report — prepared by the UN Security Council’s special permanent committee for monitoring violent Islamism — amounts to one of the most bleak and comprehensive assessments of the global foreign fighter phenomenon compiled yet. Its findings are based on “robust and detailed” evidence from 27 intelligence and security services spread across UN member states, its authors state.

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Posted May 28, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Buhari's to-do list is indeed a long one.

Earlier this month, his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, said that 110 million out of Nigeria's population of 170 million were living in "extreme poverty" while the largest chunk of the nation's wealth was going into the pockets of a small percentage of the population.

This situation has been brought about by the mindless corruption of the past six years, mainly fuelled by a cabal in the oil and gas industry.

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Posted May 28, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The UN children's agency says there has been an "alarming" increase in the number of suicide attacks in northern Nigeria, with many of them involving women and children.

There had been 27 attacks so far this year, compared with 26 for the whole of last year, Unicef said in a statement.

Three-quarters of the attacks were carried out by female bombers, some as young as seven, it added.

Militant Islamist group Boko Haram is waging an insurgency in Nigeria.

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Posted May 26, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So nine months into this campaign, is the strategy working, and are the losses of cities like Ramadi temporary setbacks – just bricks and mortar and not symbolic of anything, to paraphrase General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff in recent congressional trestimony?

Clearly, the strategy has severe problems. To have any chance of succeeding in its present form, it must be seriously re-tuned or altered.

The first is that the air campaign is proving unable to contain IS. It has had successes, most notably in areas like Kobani or around Mosul, where it has degraded IS at the fringes. On the one hand, where it has utterly rooted out IS, as in Kobani, it is difficult to claim a victory after four months of bombing left the city in ruins and likely in need of billions of dollars to repair. On the other hand, while the IS advance has been stopped in places, not enough air power is available to gut the economic wherewithal of IS. The recent success in Ramadi demonstrates that IS can move where air power is not. The coalition’s undisputed technical superiority does not translate into numerical sufficiency.

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Posted May 26, 2015 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In late April, a commander for Islamic State said his forces were ready to launch an offensive to take Ramadi, and the group called for fighters to redeploy to Iraq from Syria.

Three weeks later, the jihadist group seized the capital of Anbar province after relentless waves of suicide bombings.

U.S. defense chief Ash Carter has blamed Ramadi’s fall mainly on Iraqi forces’ lack of will to fight. But Islamic State’s battlefield performance suggests the terrorist group’s tactical sophistication is growing—a development the Iraqis and the U.S.-led coalition have so far failed to counter, said Iraqi officials, former U.S. officials and military analysts studying the organization.

An examination of how Ramadi fell indicates that Islamic State commanders executed a complex battle plan that outwitted a greater force of Iraqi troops as well as the much-lauded, U.S.-trained special-operations force known as the Golden Division, which had been fighting for months to defend the city.

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Posted May 26, 2015 at 6:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“‘A good job’ means a really tough fire,” says retired firefighter Alfred Benjamin. Some call it terrifying or seductive, but as Rescue 5’s Joseph Esposito notes, “You should be scared…that’s what keeps you alive.”
Directed and produced by Liz Garbus (HBO’s Emmy®-nominated “Bobby Fischer Against the World”) and produced by actor Steve Buscemi (Emmy® nominee for HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”), A GOOD JOB: STORIES OF THE FDNY explores life in one of the most demanding and innovative fire departments in the world.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMovies & TelevisionUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted May 23, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Islamic State fighters are celebrating their second major conquest in a week in Syria and Iraq as they pick through the ruins of the historic city of Palmyra.

The sudden advance of the militants into the UN heritage site in central Syria resulted in the rout of a national army, the exodus of refugees and a fresh pulse of regional alarm at the resilience of the self-styled caliphate force.

The UN said one-third of Palmyra’s 200,000-strong population had fled. And Isis militants used social media to show themselves posing amid ancient columns in Palmyra on Thursday. Other images displayed a more familiar theme: the summary slaughter of local men whose blood drenched the road.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Nigerian army has relocated at least 260 women and children recently rescued from the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, officials say.

They were taken from a camp in the north-eastern city of Yola and flown to an unspecified military facility.

The women will receive medical help and support as part of their rehabilitation process, the BBC has learnt.

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Posted May 22, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Southern Iraq’s long-shuttered museums are also finally reopening. The National Museum of Iraq reopened in February 2015 after a $40 million renovation. And in Nasiriya, a city famed for its step ziggurat, the director of the antiquities museum, Iqbal Ajeel, proudly displayed the museum’s exquisite Sumerian miniatures and naked figurines to her first group of high school visitors since the 1991 Gulf War forced its closure.

Few Iraqis in the south openly champion separation from the rest of the country, but the chasm is widening. It is not only a question of ISIS imposing its rules on personal behavior and punishing people only slightly out of line. While ISIS destroys museums, the south refurbishes them; while ISIS destroys shrines, the ayatollahs expand them; and while ISIS is burning relics and books, the Imam Ali shrine hosts a book fair where scripture shares space with romantic novels. On the new campus of Kufa University, a burned-down wreck under American occupation when last I saw it, three engineering professors spoke of the golden age that awaits a united Iraq, or at least its Arab provinces, once the militias defeat ISIS.

But a dissenting fourth engineer quietly questioned why the south should bother. As long as al-Sistani’s jihad was defensive he supported it, but why, he asks, shed blood against ISIS for a Sunni population that is neither welcoming nor particularly wanted? The further north the militia advances, the more lives are lost, and the returns from the battle diminish. Compared to the south’s mineral wealth, the Sunni provinces offer few natural resources. Much of their territory is desert, and their feuding tribes will only cause trouble. Better, he argued, to safeguard what the south already has. In short, he said, breaking a taboo by uttering a word he claims many privately already espouse, why not opt for taqsim, partition? A heavy silence followed.

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Posted May 21, 2015 at 4:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria have entered the Unesco World Heritage site of Palmyra after seizing the town next to the ancient ruins, reports say.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there were no reports yet of any destruction of artefacts.

The militants had taken control of the nearby airport, prison and intelligence HQ after government forces pulled out of the area, the monitoring group said.

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Posted May 21, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fears that Islamic State has sent fighters to Europe posing as migrants were growing last night after a terrorist suspect was smuggled across the Mediterranean to Italy.

Abdelmajid Touil, 22, who was arrested by anti-terrorism police near Milan, is alleged to have helped to stage an attack on the Bardo museum in Tunis two months ago in which 22 people, including a Briton, were killed.

Police said that Mr Touil, a Moroccan, first arrived in Italy on February 17 at Empedocle, Sicily. Since Moroccans are not offered asylum in Italy, he was told that he would be expelled.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEurope

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Posted May 20, 2015 at 5:47 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is religious persecution on a horrific scale, involving massacres, bombings, slavery, beheadings and mass rape.

So why don’t our churches protest against this slaughter of their own?

Yes, Christians are now the prime target of unbelievably barbaric attacks in the Middle East and Africa, yet Australia’s bishops, ministers, priests, church “social justice” units and Christian aid groups — usually so vocal — are now near mute.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ten youths have been arrested by Canadian police on suspicion of planning to travel to Iraq and Syria to join Islamic State.

All 10 had their passports confiscated after they were detained at Montreal's Trudeau International Airport at the weekend.

Police said in a statement on Tuesday that none of the suspects had been charged, but investigations were ongoing.

Their families have been informed.

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Posted May 20, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hundreds of women and girls captured by Boko Haram have been raped, many repeatedly, in what officials and relief workers describe as a deliberate strategy to dominate rural residents and possibly even create a new generation of Islamist militants in Nigeria.

In interviews, the women described being locked in houses by the dozen, at the beck and call of fighters who forced them to have sex, sometimes with the specific goal of impregnating them.

“They married me,” said Hamsatu, 25, a young woman in a black-and-purple head scarf, looking down at the ground. She said she was four months pregnant, that the father was a Boko Haram member and that she had been forced to have sex with other militants who took control of her town.

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Posted May 19, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Islamic State leaders in Syria have sent money, trainers and fighters to Libya in increasing numbers, raising new concerns for the U.S. that the militant group is gaining traction in its attempts to broaden its reach and expand its influence.

In recent months, U.S. military officials said, Islamic State has solidified its foothold in Libya as it searches for ways to capitalize on rising popularity among extremist groups around the world.

“ISIL now has an operational presence in Libya, and they have aspirations to make Libya their African hub,” said one U.S. military official, using an acronym for the group. “Libya is part of their terror map now.”

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Posted May 19, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There’s a thin line separating angry youth and the world of jihadists, one that underscores the risk European countries face from people they call their own.

It’s also one Berlin imam Mohamed Taha Sabri knows all too well. When the Arab-born mother of a 23-year-old German Muslim man noticed her son had started using the words “jihad” and “infidels,” it was Sabri she turned to.

“The difference between adopting an extremist opinion and terrorist extremism is sometimes a hair’s breadth,” Sabri, 50, said in an interview at his Dar Assalam Mosque in the German capital’s Neukoelln district.

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Posted May 18, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. Special Operations killed a senior Islamic State leader in a ground raid inside Syria on Friday night, the White House said in a statement Saturday.

The statement said that Abu Sayyaf, described as having a senior role in overseeing gas and oil operations that have been a key source of revenue for the militant group, had been killed when he “engaged U.S. forces” and resisted capture.

His wife, who was said to be an Islamic State member, was captured during the operation, and a young woman who appeared to be held as a slave of the couple was freed. The young woman was a member of the Yazidi sect in Iraq, the White House statement said.

“We intend to reunite her with her family as soon as feasible,” said National Security Council spokesman Bernadette Meehan.

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Posted May 16, 2015 at 9:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A jury of seven women and five men sentenced Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death by execution, closing one of the most painful chapters in this city's history.

Tsarnaev looked straight ahead, showing no emotion, as the sentence was read. Jurors wiped away tears as the judge thanked them for their service.

"Your service as jurors in this case has been the very antithesis of mob law," U.S District Judge George O'Toole Jr. told the jury. "You can and you should be justly proud of your service in this case."

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Posted May 15, 2015 at 4:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Marte, the border town in the northern flank of Borno state has again fallen to the Boko Haram sect, security sources and government officials have confirmed.

Security sources said the terrorists, most of whom had fled Sambisa forests and their other strongholds across Borno State, have now regrouped in Marte, a town 112km north of Maiduguri, the state capital.

The deputy governor of Borno State, Zannah Mustapha, confirmed that Marte was seized on Friday.

The news came as soldiers sustained a 24-hour curfew imposed on Maiduguri, the state capital on Thursday after Boko Haram terrorists attempted an invasion of the city on Wednesday night.

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Posted May 15, 2015 at 2:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Booby traps, tunnels, mines and dense woodland cover thousands of miles.

The Nigerian military's push to invade the Sambisa Forest, the last stronghold of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, capture its leader and wipe the group out is delicate, highly dangerous and unlikely to be completely successful, analysts said.

Government forces have taken over numerous Boko Haram bases in the forest in Nigeria's northeast, rescued hundreds of women and children and released aerial images of terrorists retreating, but it has yet to capture the top leaders of the group or many of its fighters.

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Posted May 12, 2015 at 3:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The international community stepped in, investigated, and found enough to warrant a further investigation by the International Criminal Court. In the meantime, the country tried to put things back together. By 2010, post-crisis reforms had come into being along with a new constitution that brought about a coalition government.

These were the first few steps toward reconciliation, but they were surface deep, nowhere near the restoration of the people. David Shibley with Global Advance says their organization was called in to help the church rebuild in 2010. God used them as a catalyst; sometimes it takes someone coming from the outside, speaking into a situation, to be the fresh eyes needed. “God graciously used our first Frontline Shepherds Conference there, five years ago, to bring healing and reconciliation. We saw a marvelous move of God’s Spirit as men who had not talked to each other suddenly were embracing each other, asking for forgiveness.”

Since that time, says Shibley, reconciliation efforts reawakened a sense of belonging to one nation. “The pastoral leaders of that area have been used of God to bring a real healing in that area, and now there is tremendous cooperation among most, if not all, of the evangelical churches of that area.”

Then came the al-Shabaab attack on the Nairobi University campus in Garissa in April. 147 Christian college students were killed. “Since that time, there has been a real galvanizing of the Church in Kenya: kind of a ‘snapping to attention’ that I saw,” explains Shibley.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 12, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility on Tuesday for a weekend attack at a center near Dallas, Texas, that was exhibiting cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad - though it offered no evidence of a direct link to the attackers.

An audio statement on the extremist group's Al Bayan radio station said that "two soldiers of the caliphate" carried out Sunday's attack in Garland and promised the group would deliver more attacks in the future

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Posted May 5, 2015 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The women said several were killed in the stoning, but they did not know how many.

The survivors said that when they were initially captured, the militants had killed men and older boys in front of their families before taking women and children into the forest.

Some were forced into marriage.

They said the Islamists never let them out of their sight - not even when they went to the toilet.

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Police in Kenya have issued a warning that Nairobi's churches and university are at risk of a new attack by Al-Shabab.

The warning, circulated via the president's office on April 23, states that Al-Shabab has dispatched spies to launch 'high scale attacks' on 'unspecified dates'.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism

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Posted April 29, 2015 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The rise of extremism has left Christians without hope for a future in the birthplace of their faith, according to a new petition to David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband.

Thousands of evangelicals who attended Spring Harvest are calling on the Conservative, LibDem and Labour leaders to set aside party differences and take new steps against persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

The 4,496 Christians warn that the faith is at serious risk of extinction in the region.

Read it all.

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Posted April 28, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So many thought the Arab Spring would allow the region self-determination, and would shift the gaze of the world away from the twin spectres of oil and Israel. Perhaps the world would finally gaze upon Arabs without racism and Islam without bigotry.

The Arab Spring was a resounding protest against everything, from the corruption of the West's corporate cronies - who exploit the region's natural resources so that they can enjoy the latest luxuries their colonial masters have to offer - to the foreign occupations and humiliations heaped upon all those who dared to think that they had a right to resist.

The Arab Spring was about this magical word, hurriyya, which means different things to different people - but at a minimum, it means freedom from oppression, exploitation, corruption and a servile existence.

But the Arab Spring was like a foetus in an abortion clinic; it never had a chance.

Read it all from Khaled Abou El Fadl at ABC Religion and Ethics.

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Posted April 26, 2015 at 11:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Welby’s visit was to offer condolences for Egypt’s most recent witnesses, the twenty Coptic Christians and one Ghanaian martyred in Libya in February. The word ‘martyr’ is derived from a Greek word meaning ‘witness.’

Symbolically, Welby delivered to Pope Tawadros twenty-one letters written by grieving British families. One is believed to have been related to David Haines, the aid worker captured in Syria and beheaded last year.

“Why have the martyrs of Libya spoken so powerfully to the world?” Welby asked. “The way these brothers lived and died communicated that their testimony is trustworthy.”

Read it all.

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Posted April 23, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigeria’s military announced last week that it was raiding the Sambisa Forest, one of the last strongholds of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram. Liberating the forest might be the hardest part of the campaign against the group.

Aided by regional troops and foreign mercenaries, Nigeria’s military has managed to take back nearly all of the towns and villages controlled by Boko Haram in Nigeria’s northeast over the past few months.

But one area remains mostly under their control: Sambisa, a massive expanse of forest that spreads thousands of square kilometers over several states.

Read it all.


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Posted April 22, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

French anti-terror police believe they have foiled an 'imminent" terrorist attack against "one, maybe two churches" in Paris, the interior minister revealed on Wednesday.

"A terrorist attack was foiled on Sunday morning," said France's interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve in an impromptu media briefing.

Cazeneuve revealed announced that a 24-year-old IT student, of French Algerian origins, was arrested on Sunday in possession of a significant arsenal of weapons. It is believed he was intending to carry out an attack that very day.

Read it all.

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Posted April 22, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Bishop for Ethiopia has hailed as martyrs 28 Ethiopian Christians shot or beheaded in Libya by members of the terrorist group known as ISIS or ISIL.

"I have just learned the horrifying news that as many as twenty-eight Ethiopian Christians have been shot or beheaded in Libya by members of the terrorist group known as ISIS or ISIL. This alarming act of violence against those that ISIS calls “people of the cross” comes just two months after twenty-one other Christians - twenty Egyptians and one Ghanian, were beheaded on a Libyan beach." Bishop Grant LeMarquand said in a letter to be read in Ethopian churches and distributed overseas.

Bishop LeMarquand is Anglican Area Bishop for the Horn of Africa (Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and Ethiopia) and Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

Read it all.

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Posted April 21, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury was in Cairo yesterday to show solidarity with Egyptian Christians murdered by jihadists two months ago. His visit was made more timely even as it was overshadowed by yet more murders. As he gave letters of condolence to the families of the victims of Islamic State’s last massacre of Christians, IS released sickening video footage of the next.

The latest film from the terrorist organisation holding the Middle East to ransom is as barbaric as anything it has produced. Prefaced with footage of jihadists vandalising Christian churches, the 29-minute video shows militants holding two groups of prisoners who they claim are members of an “enemy Ethiopian church”. Twelve are shown being beheaded on a beach. At least 16 more are shot in the head elsewhere. Both groups are thought to have been murdered in Libya.

Subject to verification of the footage this brings to more than 50 the number of Christians killed by IS in recent weeks. The strategy is clear. The leadership of the so-called caliphate, under pressure in Iraq, is seeking to expand its reign of terror in North Africa and in particular to sabotage efforts to bring stability to Libya.

Read it all (subscription required).

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Posted April 20, 2015 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The confirmation of the murder of Ethiopian Christians by Daesh (IS) in Libya has been received with deep sadness. These executions that unnecessarily and unjustifiably claim the lives of innocent people, wholly undeserving of this brutality, have unfortunately become far too familiar. Once again we see innocent Christians murdered purely for refusing to renounce their Faith.

The Christians of Egypt and Ethiopia have had a shared heritage for centuries. Being predominantly Orthodox Christian communities with a mutual understanding of life and witness, and a common origin in the Coptic Orthodox Church, they now also share an even greater connection through the blood of these contemporary martyrs.

This sad news came on the day that His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury visited His Holiness Pope Tawadros II in Egypt to personally express his condolences following the similar brutal murder of 21 Coptic Orthodox Christians in Libya by Daesh in February of this year.

Read it all.

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Posted April 20, 2015 at 4:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For those who survived the Oklahoma City bombing, this is a tough milestone, but it's also a moment to honor their resilience.

Watch it all.

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Posted April 18, 2015 at 12:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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