Posted by Kendall Harmon

Could the jihadists inspired by Islamic State stoop any lower? Father Jacques Hamel was 85 years old. His young attackers reportedly attempted to behead him in front of the altar of his church. They failed in that but succeeded in killing him and in proving, once again, that an evil is stalking the continent and it is willing to plumb any depths in its attempts to terrorise and enslave us.

Christians in other parts of the world will not have been surprised at the blood spilt in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen. Some feel that we, in the West, have turned our backs on their sufferings. “We feel forgotten and isolated,” complained Louis Sako, the Chaldean Archbishop of Baghdad: “We sometimes wonder, if they kill us all, what would be the reaction of Christians in the West? Would they do something then?”

While estimates of the global scale of religious slaughter and harassment differ wildly, there is enough evidence to suggest that religious persecution is widespread and growing. The Open Doors charity is a respected and relatively cautious chronicler of persecution and it estimates that an average of 322 Christians are killed every month as a direct consequence of their faith, while 214 churches or Christian properties are demolished, burnt down or in some way destroyed. Overall, Open Doors records, Christians are subject to 772 acts of violence — including beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests or forced marriages — each month.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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

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Posted July 27, 2016 at 9:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Rouen, Dominique Lebrun, is returning to Normandy from Krakow, where he was attending events linked to the Roman Catholic Church’s World Youth Day. “I cry out to God with all men of good will,” he said. “I would invite non-believers to join in the cry!

“The Catholic Church cannot take weapons other than those of prayer and brotherhood among men. I leave [in Krakow] hundreds of young people who are the future of humanity, the true ones. I ask them not to give into violence and become apostles of the civilisation of love.”

The Bishop-in-Charge of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, Pierre Whalon, responded to the Archbishop’s statement on Twitter, saying: “Amen. This could have been one of ours. . . In fact, it was.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

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Posted July 27, 2016 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The dreaded Nigeria-based terrorist group, Boko Haram, established links with some international terrorist groups, including Al-Qaeda, the Presidential Fact-Finding Committee on the Abducted Female Students of Government Secondary School, Chibok, has said.

The committee stated this in its report submitted to former President Goodluck Jonathan before he left office.

The 50-page report, which details were never made public, was obtained exclusively by Premium Times.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 27, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The gravity of this crisis has long been hidden by what we like to call the construction of Europe. The energies of our political class have been devoted to buttressing the authority of an enterprise that delegitimizes the nation and promises a new way of bringing humans together. As national political life becomes less and less satisfying, citizens and government officials look elsewhere. The people, unhappy with government, and the government, unhappy with the people, both turn their faces toward the promised land of Europe, a new, post-political way of being, in which each would finally be rid of the other.

These sweet hopes have become less and less plausible. Those who govern and those who are governed remain prisoners of each other. And both are prisoners of a European Union that is now just one more insoluble problem. Neither the institutions of Europe, nor the government of France, nor what is called civil society have enough strength or credibility to claim the attention or fix the hopes of citizens. As rich as we still are in material and intellectual resources, we are politically weak. Nothing seems to have the power to gather us toward the common action we all feel necessary. Faced with crises such as Greek default and the attacks of radical Islamists, we are capable only of offering technical fixes or hollow platitudes. Real political leadership of the kind that calls on our deepest loyalties and highest capacities is nowhere to be seen.

This political weakness has not escaped the attention of those who now attack us. To be sure, when men have at each other, they do not precisely calculate the power ratios, and it sometimes happens that the weaker attacks the stronger. Still, it would be a mistake to look at things this way. When some of our citizens take up arms against us so brazenly and implacably, this means that not only our state, our government, and our political body but we ourselves have lost the capacity to gather and direct our powers, to give our common life form and force....

Read it all (emphasis mine).

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

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Posted July 26, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ST.-ÉTIENNE-DU-ROUVRAY, France — Attendance was sparse at the 9 a.m. Mass on Tuesday at the Église St.-Étienne, a 17th-century church in a working-class town in Normandy. Many regular parishioners were on vacation; so was the parish priest.

Mass was ending around 9:30 a.m. when two young men with knives burst in. They forced the auxiliary priest, the Rev. Jacques Hamel, 85, to kneel. When he resisted, they slit his throat. They held several worshipers and at least one nun hostage, while another nun escaped. Officers from a specialized police unit descended on the church. A short while later, officers shot the young men dead when they emerged from the church.

The brutality in St.-Étienne-du-Rouvray, a suburb of Rouen in northern France, was the latest in a series of assaults that have left Europe stunned, fearful and angry. President François Hollande raced to the town and blamed the Islamic State for the attack; soon after, the terrorist group claimed responsibility, calling the attackers its “soldiers.”

It was the fourth attack linked to the Islamic State in Western Europe in less than two weeks

Read it all.

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Posted July 26, 2016 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last week, I was browsing the internet for information about the tragic attack in Nice on Bastille Day, when I spotted a story that suggested disturbing new images were circulating of the Isis attacks on Paris inside the Bataclan theatre late last year. I was about to click “Search” — but then I had a second thought and stopped.

Until recently, I assumed that one of the great benefits of the internet was that it could give access to any information we wanted, any time we wanted. But, as the fight with Islamist extremism intensifies, I now realise that this privilege has turned into a curse. These days, the war is not only being waged on the battlefield; a second front has opened up in cyber space. And what makes this second — largely hidden — fight so insidious is that it involves all of us, sitting in our own homes in front of our computer screens or mobile phones.

Isis has taken the media game to a new level. In the past, terrorist and insurgent groups have often used the media to propagate their messages. What makes Isis unusual is that it is not only extraordinarily adept at mastering modern media platforms but that it has made this a strategic priority, to spread fear and attract new recruits. Its media outreach has been so effective that some US intelligence observers even suspect that Isis has studied western consumer giants to replicate their marketing tactics.

It seeks to build “audience engagement” and “reach”, creating memorable “content” that can be easily “shared”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted July 22, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Robert has been telling radio listeners in Britain about how the church in Nice has been responding to the aftermath of Friday’s terror attacks when a lorry careered into the crowds celebrating Bastille Day.

The Bishop had already planned to be in Nice for a meeting with clergy on Saturday (16 July 2016) and he was able to share in the special service of commemoration and see for himself the effects of the incident and the ministry of Holy Trinity Church just off the Promenade des Anglais.

Read and listen to it all (a little over 4 1/2 minutes).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

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Posted July 18, 2016 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In December 2014, a middle-aged man driving a car in Dijon, France, mowed down more than a dozen pedestrians within 30 minutes, occasionally shouting Islamic slogans from his window.

The chief prosecutor in Dijon described the attacks, which left 13 injured but no one dead, as the work of a mentally unbalanced man whose motivations were vague and “hardly coherent.”

A year and a half later, after Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel slaughtered dozens of people when he drove a 19-ton refrigerated truck through a Bastille Day celebration on Thursday in Nice, France, the authorities did not hesitate to call it an act of Islamic terrorism. The attacker had a record of petty crime — though no obvious ties to a terrorist group — but the French prime minister swiftly said Mr. Lahouaiej Bouhlel was “a terrorist probably linked to radical Islam one way or another.”

The age of the Islamic State, in which the tools of terrorism appear increasingly crude and haphazard, has led to a reimagining of the common notion of who is and who is not a terrorist.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 17, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Promenade in Nice, where at least 84 people were mown down by a lorry on Thursday evening, resembles a war zone, the Anglican chaplain in the town has said.

The Chaplain of Holy Trinity, the Revd Peter Jackson, said on Friday that the town was in shock after the attack, which has also left dozens fighting for their lives in hospital.

He had taken part in the Bastille Day festivities in Nice just a few hours before the carnage began. “I know exactly where this happened: it is so familiar. I can’t believe something like this happened there,” he said.

“It’s horrible: it becomes a sort of war zone. But people are determined to just carry on.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPastoral CareSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

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Posted July 15, 2016 at 10:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Robert will participate in the service, as a sign of our support as a Diocese for all who have been affected. All are very welcome to attend this time for prayer as the Diocese in Europe stands with the people of Holy Trinity, of Nice and of the whole of France.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted July 15, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....it would be very useful if our political leaders felt able to speak the name of the actual cause for which all those murderous guns and knives and cars are being deployed. Perhaps that is too much to hope.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 15, 2016 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




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

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Posted July 15, 2016 at 3:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For one thing, the targets are too important to be left to just anyone. No one but the Islamic State (or possibly al-Qaeda) would dare attack the Prophet’s Mosque.

For another thing, only the Islamic State has the right kind of experienced personnel on the ground in Saudi Arabia. In the past four years, more than 3,000 young Saudi men have gone to fight with the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Of them, about 700 have reportedly returned home to Saudi Arabia fully trained and willing to carry out such attacks as these.

Finally, it is the Islamic State that harbours the greatest contempt for Saudi Arabia.

Since the day, two years ago, on which Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State, declared a caliphate in the parts of Iraq and Syria the group had conquered and occupied, he has wanted to overturn the House of Saud.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 8, 2016 at 4:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With these attacks being carried out by ISIS especially during the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan, lots of questions have been raised about Islam. This past January, I attended the Mere Anglicanism Conference where one of the premier speakers was Nabeel Qureshi author of Seeking Allah, and finding Jesus.

In his book he describes his dramatic journey from Islam to Christianity, complete with friendships, investigations, and supernatural dreams along the way. Engaging and thought-provoking, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus tells a powerful story of the clash between Islam and Christianity in one man’s heart―and of the peace he eventually found in Jesus.

Now he has developed a study course. In this course he explores Muslim culture, the most common Muslim objections to Christianity, and the core doctrines upon which Islam stands or falls. Compassionate and clear this study develops in further detail the objections to Islam and case for Christianity that Qureshi introduced in his book.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult Education* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* South Carolina

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Posted July 7, 2016 at 1:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadan, many are struggling to comprehend a wave of attacks that killed 350 people across several countries during the holy month and raised the question of what drives the militants to ever more spectacular violence.

The high-profile attacks underline the warnings by many experts that the Islamic State group, especially when on the defensive, will metastasize far beyond its theater of operations.

The extremist group has always sought attention and recruits through terrorism, which has proven to be a winning strategy among its disenfranchised and angry followers.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 7, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Werner Gallmeister, a high-school headmaster here, called the police in January with a worrying message. A 16-year- old student known for his Islamist sympathies had been showing off a smartphone video of an explosive device.

Police already knew the teen. He had been interrogated and suspended from one school after threatening to “break the neck” of a Jewish student. Police in 2015 searched his home. And he was enrolled in a government-sponsored program designed to prevent radical youngsters turning to violence.

Soon after the smartphone stunt, Mr. Gallmeister reported to police that his pupil’s behavior seemed to calm. He was wrong.

Three months later, the teenager, whom German officials and police identify as Yusuf T., allegedly threw a bomb at a Sikh temple in the nearby city of Essen as a wedding was drawing to a close. The Wall Street Journal isn’t using his full name in accordance with German custom. In the attack, three people were injured, one seriously.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 30, 2016 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Inspired by Instagram accounts like @humansofny, which captures the lives of New Yorkers “one story at a time,” Ms. [Fati] Abubakar snaps portraits of market vendors, refugees and students, posting them to her Instagram account, @bitsofborno, along with quotations or captions that describe them.

Boko Haram has affected nearly all of her subjects in some way.

“When they say there’s an insurgency here, people assume it’s nothing but death and despair,” Ms. Abubakar said. “I want to change the image. You can see, everyday life continues.”

In Maiduguri, she has become somewhat of a celebrity. Civilian vigilante militia members posted throughout the city to guard against Boko Haram look out for her, beating back children who flock to her as she goes about her work.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 29, 2016 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At least five people have been killed and 15 others wounded in a multiple suicide bomb attack in north-eastern Lebanon, officials and medics say.
Four bombers blew themselves up outside a house in the predominantly Christian village of Qaa, close to the border with war-torn Syria.
It was not immediately clear who or what the attackers planned to target.
Al-Manar TV, which is owned by the militant Shia group Hezbollah, blamed the Sunni jihadist group Islamic State.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 27, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nearly 200 people who fled Boko Haram attacks have died of malnutrition and sickness in a single camp in northeastern Nigeria in the past month, the medical charity Doctors Without Borders said on Thursday, describing a “catastrophic humanitarian emergency.”

In the camp, which sits on the outskirts of the largely ruined Nigerian city of Bama, the charity said that the local authorities reported five to six people dying every day.

“We have been told that people, including children there, have starved to death,” Ghada Hatim, the group’s head of mission in Nigeria, said in a statement.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 23, 2016 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The stage has been set for... [an] al Qaeda resurgence in Nigeria. One potential strategy for the group would involve building up a new pro-al Qaeda jihadi network in Nigeria that is designed to eclipse Boko Haram or pry away its members. To this end, AQIM could try to unite its Fulani members in Mali with Fulanis in Nigeria under a charismatic figure like Amadou Koufa, the leader of the Massina Liberation Front, an AQIM-created Malian faction that counts many West African Fulanis among its ranks. This could achieve a unified AQIM framework that stretches from Mali to Nigeria, allowing the group to exploit the grievances of Muslim Fulani herdsman, who have long felt abandoned and exploited by the governments of both countries.

Al Qaeda might also choose to negotiate directly with the leaders of friendly Boko Haram elements like the splinter group Ansaru, which could serve as a vehicle for sparking mass defections from Boko Haram. Although the top Ansaru commander, Khalid al-Barnawi, was arrested earlier this year, there are still key figures within the splinter group who maintain high-level contacts with AQIM and al-Shabaab, such as Mamman Nur, who masterminded the 2011 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Abuja. The task of prying away Boko Haram’s foot soldiers might be made easier by Shekau’s alleged flight to Libya, together with a key cadre of Islamic State loyalists, after facing increased pressure from the Nigerian-led regional military coalition.

Should Boko Haram ultimately turn its back on the Islamic State, it would send an enormous shockwave through the global jihadi movement. The Nigerian militant group is by far the highest-profile organization to leave an existing terrorist network to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State. If it were to suddenly cut ties with the Iraq- and Syria-based caliphate, it would send a powerful message to other al Qaeda affiliates toying with the idea of Islamic State membership: Baghdadi’s caliphate is a dying brand. But as brutal as it is, the Islamic State’s implosion would not herald an overall diminishment of the global jihadi threat. On the contrary, it would underscore that an even thornier problem remains: Al Qaeda, during its time under the radar, has become an even more formidable foe.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 21, 2016 at 5:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Q: What message do you have, as a national religious leader, for LGBT people — especially young LGBT people?

A: There are a lot of us who want to make sure they are treated with respect — that they’re given every opportunity to live their full lives, that they’re as precious in the eyes of God as anyone who has ever been made. That would be the bottom line I want all people to understand, but specifically those who are going through this kind of struggle or this kind of cultural transition right now.

Q: Do you think the LGBT community in Orlando feels comfortable at your church and other conservative evangelical churches?

A: I hope so. We have several gay couples and gay people who go to our church, but we specifically don’t address a lot of sexual issues in the worship service. We talk about vulnerable populations, we talk about service, we talk about following Christ. I would hope they would be comfortable in a congregation like ours — but I don’t know. You’d have to ask them. We certainly want them to be.

Q: Do you believe there will be any reassessment or rethinking of positions on doctrine or theology in light of this tragedy?

A: We won’t in all likelihood change the way we interpret Scripture.

Read it all from RNS.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSexualityUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 16, 2016 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Yousuf told CBS that he knew there was a door behind the panicked crowd, but people were too overwhelmed to unlatch it.

“And I’m screaming, ‘Open the door! Open the door!’ ” Yousuf said. “And no one is moving because they are scared.”

If they did not act, they could be targeted by the gunman, who could have appeared at any moment. They were a few feet from relative safety. Yousuf told CBS that there was “only one choice.”

“Either we all stay there and we all die, or I could take the chance of getting shot and saving everyone else, and I jumped over to open that latch and we got everyone that we can out of there.”

It was a simple act of heroism, but it may have been one of the most decisive actions that took place that morning. Asked how many people left through that exit, Yousuf told CBS that he estimated as many as 60 or 70.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchSexualityUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 16, 2016 at 5:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We still struggle to know how to think, feel and respond to these attacks.

Of course as Christians it should not come as a total surprise, we know the world is not the way it’s supposed to be. The words of CS Lewis at the outbreak of World War II are applicable to the current situation: “The war [attack] creates no absolutely new situation; it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it. Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice..... We are mistaken when we compare war with ‘normal life.’ Life has never been normal” (The Weight of Glory, p. 23). But as Christians, despite a world view that predisposes us to understand such evil, we are still left reeling within ourselves....

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 15, 2016 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The revelation that the 29-year-old man who opened fire on Sunday in a gay nightclub had dedicated the killing to the Islamic State has prompted a now-familiar question: Was the killer truly acting under orders from the Islamic State, or just seeking publicity and the group’s approval for a personal act of hate?

For the terror planners of the Islamic State, the difference is mostly irrelevant.

Influencing distant attackers to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State and then carry out mass murder has become a core part of the group’s propaganda over the past two years. It is a purposeful blurring of the line between operations that are planned and carried out by the terror group’s core fighters and those carried out by its sympathizers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 13, 2016 at 4:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At a high school in Florida, students watched the horrors of Sept. 11, 2001, unfold on live TV. When the second hijacked airliner slammed into the World Trade Center’s south tower, the class sat in stunned disbelief. But one student, a classmate recalled, “started jumping up-and-down cheering on the terrorist.”

That was sophomore Omar Mateen, according to one of the accounts from former students in Stuart, Fla., remembering 9/11 and the reaction by the student who, nearly 15 years later, would carry out the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

The recollections of Mateen’s actions could not be independently verified, and the memories could be clouded by the years that have passed. But similar versions were detailed in separate interviews. As the snapshot in time, the recollections appear to offer yet another stitch in the wider tapestry of Mateen’s life and views before Sunday’s rampage, which included his pledge of loyalty to the Islamic State during a call to police during the standoff.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureSexualityTeens / YouthUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 13, 2016 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The gunman who opened fire inside a crowded nightclub here early Sunday morning, launching a rampage that killed 50 people and injured 53 others in the deadliest shooting spree in the country’s history, had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State before the attack, according to U.S. law enforcement officials.

In a rampage that President Obama said the FBI was investigating as an act of terrorism, this gunman fired a barrage of bullets inside Pulse, a popular gay bar and dance club, forcing people to drop to the floor and rush out through a back entrance during the club’s “Latin night.”

After the first round of gunshots, police said the shooter held hostages for about three hours until officers stormed inside to rescue people and killed him in a shootout, though many details remained unclear about the standoff and the final confrontation.

Witnesses and others said the shooting left a gruesome scene behind, with the bloodshed 20 minutes away from Disney evoking the carnage seen in war zones.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchSexualityUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 12, 2016 at 4:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Monday was a sad day for the men and women with the Cy-Fair Fire Department as they said their final goodbyes to Bretagne (pronounced "Brittany"), the last known surviving search and rescue dog who worked at Ground Zero after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Bretagne would have turned 17 in August, but the golden retriever's health had been declining recently and Monday her handlers took her to the vet's office to be put down.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* General InterestAnimals

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Posted June 7, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A federal jury in Minnesota has found three young men guilty of plotting to join ISIS and commit murder overseas, in a case in which six other men have already pleaded guilty. All of the men are Somali-Americans who are in their early 20s; they now face maximum sentences of life in prison.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted June 4, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anglican bishops on Friday had a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari where they sought to know what his administration is doing to tackle the spate of insecurity, particularly vandalism of oil facilities in the Niger Delta and herdsmen’s attacks in parts of the country.
The Primate, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Rev’d Nicholas Okoh, who led the bishops to the meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, disclosed this while interacting with State House correspondents.

“We told him (the President) many things but part of it is that we are all looking for solutions to issues of the herdsmen; the issue of vandalism; on security in one way or the other because the people are asking us and we want to have explanation for the people whom we lead,” Okoh said.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism

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Posted June 3, 2016 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ISIS is reported to be holding several hundred families as "human shields" in the Iraqi city of Fallujah while government forces close in, the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday, citing witness accounts.

Some 3,700 people have fled Fallujah, west of Baghdad, over the past week since the Iraqi army began its offensive on the city controlled by militant forces, it said.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted May 31, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all (requires subscription).

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

Update: CNA is reporting the news is still unconfirmed.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon




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

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

Posted by The_Elves

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

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

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all or there is another link here.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all from the Independent.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all (requires subscription).




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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

He told Ms. Macksoud he would protect her.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOrthodox ChurchOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

It couldn't last forever.

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologySociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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




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