Archive for March, 2018

The women stolen by ISIS speak out: Dunya Mikhail details their journeys in new book

(THE NATIONAL) — By M. Lynx Qualey

It was the summer of 2014 when Dunya Mikhail learned that ISIS forces were not only kidnapping Iraqi women, but buying and selling them in open markets. Mikhail, an Iraqi poet living in the United States, says she “felt so insulted as a woman.” The Iraqi poet was so enraged by the treatment of women in her homeland by ISIS that she wrote a book detailing their pain – and strength

Mikhail, who now teaches at Michigan State University, went on to write Fi Souq Al Sabaya, which was longlisted for this year’s Sheikh Zayed Book Award. The English edition, titled The Beekeeper: Saving the Stolen Women of Iraq, was co-translated by the author and Max Weiss and was published by New Directions this month. The book is also being translated into Sorani Kurdish.

On the news, she heard of people being ordered to leave their homes. Online, she watched videos of hundreds of Iraqis fleeing on foot, many of them Yazidis. When Mikhail heard these women’s stories, she said: “I didn’t know what to do with my anger, but I contacted my friends in northern Iraq.”

She called a Yazidi journalist friend, who told her he’d heard horrifying stories from women who’d been kidnapped and escaped. He sent her the phone numbers of three women. At first, Mikhail didn’t call, as she wasn’t sure what to say. When she finally picked up the phone, the first two women spoke Kurdish, and Mikhail knew only a few words. At the third number, a man answered in Arabic. This was Abdullah, “The Beekeeper”, and he helped relay his cousin Nadia’s story. He also told Mikhail he was using his earnings from selling honey to assemble a network of smugglers and help women escape.

Mikhail is a multi-award-winning poet, the author of Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea and The War Works Hard (translated by Elizabeth Winslow) and The Iraqi Nights (translated by Kareem James Abu-Zeid). Yet although she wrote for The Baghdad Observer as a young woman, it had been a long time since she’d practiced journalism.

“In the beginning,” she said, “I thought I was going to write a long poem – an epic – in response to that crisis.”

But the more she heard women’s stories, and spoke with Abdullah about his attempts to help escapees, the more she “wanted to stay behind the story and not in front of it, so that I could let their voices be heard”. There are still poetic moments in the book, which Mikhail says she kept “as breaks for the reader and myself”.

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Italy arrests five suspected ISIS supporters

(THE NATIONAL) — Italian police on Thursday arrested five people as part of a major operation against suspected supporters of ISIL around Rome.

The swoop is the latest in a series of similar raids this month, coming as Italy steps up the number of foreigners it expels.

“A vast anti-terrorism operation” was being carried out by special investigation forces in Rome and the nearby town of Latina, police said in a statement on Thursday.

The five men are suspected of having links to Anis Amri, the Tunisian who carried out the 2016 Berlin Christmas market truck attack and was later killed in a shoot-out with police in Italy.

In a tweet on Thursday, the Italian police said one of the five was believed to have procured fake Italian identity papers that allowed Amri, a failed asylum seeker, to move around Europe.

Amri killed 12 people when he hijacked a truck and drove it into a crowded Berlin Christmas market in December 2016. The attack was later claimed by the insurgents. Using fake documents, he later fled to Italy and died in a shoot-out with police near Milan four days later.

On Wednesday anti-terrorism police arrested an Italian citizen of Moroccan origin who they said was an ISIS sympathizer planning a truck attack.

Interior Minister Marco Minniti said on Wednesday the security threat to Italy from ISIS supporters was higher than ever because more foreign fighters were attempting to return to Europe via Italy after the insurgents suffered defeats in Syria and Iraq.

So far this year, 29 foreigners, mostly Muslim, have been expelled from Italy as suspected threats to national security.

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French study: Average jihadist is young under-educated, petty criminal born in migrant-heavy suburbs

(BREITBART) — by Chris Tomlinson

A study conducted by the French Institute of International Relations (Ifri) examined 137 individuals convicted of radical Islamic terror offenses to create a profile of the average French jihadist.

The average radical Islamic extremist is a young man in his 20s, likely born in one of the country’s poorer migrant-heavy suburbs, with a background in petty crime, broadcaster Franceinfo reports.

Of the 137 convicted Islamic extremists, the average age is 26 and the vast majority, 131, were men with only six women convicted between 2004 and 2017.

Around 40 per cent of the convicts came from heavily-migrant populated poor suburbs, 90 per cent came from large families, and around half didn’t have a degree-level education. Over one third, 36 per cent, were unemployed while a further 22 per cent were employed in part-time or occasional work.

While all the convicts were Muslims, 74 per cent of them had been born into the Islamic faith and 26 per cent had been French converts to Islam. Most of the convicts, 69 per cent, were born in France but a majority — 59 per cent — had at least one parent from the “Maghreb region”, or North West Africa.

Few of the convicts had become radical Islamists overnight, with the process taking several years for many. The idea that Muslims were being radicalized solely due to the internet was also questioned as many of the convicts described having a community of fellow believers in the real world.

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France honors hero cop who died saving hostage in terror attack

(NEW YORK POST) — President Emmanuel Macron led national tributes on Wednesday to the gendarme who switched places with a woman hostage during an attack on a supermarket in southern France last week and was killed by the Islamist militant gunman.

Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame’s heroism has helped reassure a nation left shaken and in mourning after Moroccan-born Radouane Lakdim’s killing spree, an attack that rekindled a debate over how France deals with suspected radical Islamists.

Tributes for Beltrame began with a minute’s silence in gendarme barracks across France, before the gendarme’s Tricolor-draped coffin was driven through Paris in heavy rain to Les Invalides, a former military hospital.

Crowds lined the streets and gendarmes stood to attention as the cortege passed.

In the cobbled courtyard of Les Invalides, Macron solemnly addressed the nation.

“To accept to die so the innocent can live: that is the essence of what it means to be a soldier,” he said. “Others, even many who are brave, would have wavered or hesitated.”

Lakdim’s rampage began when he shot dead the occupant of a car he stole and fired on a group of police joggers, wounding one. He then headed to a supermarket in Trebes, east of the popular medieval tourist city of Carcassonne, where he killed an employee and a customer.

Beltrame, 44, led the team of gendarmes who arrived first on the scene. He persuaded Lakdim to release a woman he was holding as a human shield, laying down his weapon and putting his mobile phone on a table with the line surreptitiously left open.

When three shots later rang out, elite police stormed the building and shot dead Lakdim. Beltrame was found with bullet wounds to an arm and foot and a grave knife wound to the neck.

He died the following morning in hospital.

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UK: Full speed ahead on Islamization

(ZERO HEDGE) — The UK is accelerating its Islamization at an ever-increasing speed. The desire of the British establishment to submit to Islam appears to be overwhelming.

In a recent report, the Henry Jackson society exposed how the UK used taxpayer funds to support Islamist charities working against British society to the tune of more than six million pounds in 2017 alone. According to the report, “As the case studies in this report are illustrative rather than comprehensive, it is likely that this sum represents only the tip of the iceberg”. The report concludes, “Until more comprehensive action is taken, a network of Islamist extremists operating in the UK will continue to use charities and taxpayer money to fund the spread of divisive, illiberal and intolerant views within our communities”.

Among the charities detailed in the report, are several Islamic charities involved in dawa [outreach, proselytization], such as the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA), as well as several charities connected to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, such as the Muslim Charities Forum (MCF) and Islamic Relief.

Deploying taxpayer money to support Islamic charities is not the only way in which the UK embraces Islamization.

St. Stephen’s Primary School in Newham, London, was recently forced to change its ban on hijabs for girls under the age of eight, even though, in Islam, girls are not obliged to cover themselves before they reach puberty.

This reversal happened after a massive coordinated backlash by Islamic organizations, such as the Muslim Council of Britain — which the UK government believes to be linked to the Muslim Brotherhood — and MEND. The campaign against the ban included a petition, signed by more than 19,000 people as well as local councilors. Ten Newham councilors protested that, “To attack an article of faith and clothing in this manner is an outrage and is simply wrong. The argument against allowing school children of whatever age, to wear a hijab actually goes against our fundamental values as a progressive, tolerant and inclusive society. We therefore call upon the school to overturn this decision immediately…” During the coordinated campaign against the hijab ban at the school, teachers were subjected to bullying and abuse, and the head teacher responsible for introducing the ban was compared to Hitler.

The school’s chair of governors, Arif Qawi, who had written in a social media post that he was trying to “limit the Islamisation process, and turn these beautiful children into modern, British citizens”, also had to resign. Miqdaad Versi, the assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said his organization welcomed Qawi’s resignation, because of his “appalling” statements in support of the ban. “Yet serious questions remain unanswered as to the school leadership’s attitude towards Muslims, which are potentially discriminatory…We hope that future decisions are made carefully and with full consultation with local communities.” Versi said.

This is how Islamization occurs and is made permanent: Other schools will think carefully of the risks before they even attempt to “limit the Islamization process”. According to the former head of the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), Sir Michael Wilshaw, the lack of a national policy on wearing hijabs in schools is due to political correctness, which leaves teachers “alone, isolated and vulnerable”.

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Driver killed in fiery Travis base crash identified as Sausalito Muslim

(MERCURY NES) — A man killed in a vehicle fire at Travis Air Force base on Wednesday has been identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as Hafiz Kazi, 51, of Sausalito.

FBI officials said the incident has no known “nexus to terrorism.”

A Kia van illegally entered the base on Wednesday and caught fire as it approached the gate of the base, then veered away and crashed, according to FBI Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan.

Kazi was dead when authorities reached the wreck.

Inside the van, investigators found five propane tanks, three plastic one-gallon gasoline cans, a gym bag with personal effects, three cellphones, and several lighters.

Authorities extracted a video from a phone and are analyzing it to try and see if it could help point to a motive.

Ragan said investigators aren’t sure why Kazi came to the base or why he lit the van on fire. Investigators have had trouble locating family of Kazi, who was originally from India but has lived in the United States since 1993. He appeared to work as a cab driver in the past, but investigators have not determined if he was currently employed.

Multiple sources described Kazi to ABC News as a “nomad” and a “vagabond.” “Hafiz” is often the title for someone who has memorized the entire Koran.

“We know that the community is concerned but we can assure everyone that we are unaware of any specific threat to Travis Air Force Base and the Fairfield community,” Ragan said.

“We continue to seek the answer to the question of why this man acted in the manner he did,” he continued. “We appreciate the public’s concern and patience as we continue to follow all investigative leads in order to provide a factual basis for the events that occurred.”

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Scimitar-wielding Turkish governor vows to conquer Jerusalem

(THE TIMES OF ISRAEL) — A Turkish regional governor last weekend declared while wielding a double-bladed scimitar above his head that Turkey’s forces would soon march into Jerusalem and other cities in the Middle East.

Necati Senturk, the government-appointed governor of the Kirsehir province, raised eyebrows with a speech from the balcony of the governor’s office as Turkish troops were poised to take the Syrian city of Afrin from Kurdish militia.

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“God willing, we will take Afrin. We will take Manbij,” he said in videos posted on Turkish news websites, referring to another Kurdish-held city in Syria.

Waving a sword known locally as a zulfiqar above his head with one hand and holding a megaphone in another, he added: “We will also go to Mosul, and we will go to Jerusalem!… God is Greatest!”

The Turkish sultans controlled both the Iraqi city of Mosul and the holy city of Jerusalem for long periods during the Ottoman Empire.

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Islamic State claims its ‘soldier’ took hostages in southern France

(THE LONG WAR JOURNAL) — By Thomas Joscelyn

French authorities have ended a hostage crisis that began earlier today when an armed man held up a supermarket in Trèbes. The French government has identified the assailant as Redouane Lakdim, who had a criminal past and may have traveled to Syria.

The attacker reportedly killed at least three people during the course of the day’s events. The first victim was killed when he attempted to hijack a car and two more perished inside the supermarket, according to the Associated Press.

The Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency quickly claimed responsibility for the slayings, saying the perpetrator was a “soldier” of the group who acted in response to calls to target nations participating in the anti-ISIS coalition. France is a member of the international coalition, which has been targeting the so-called caliphate since 2014.

Amaq has employed identical language after attacks in the past, repeatedly claiming that individuals have heeded the Islamic State’s calls for violence inside the West. Amaq did not provided any additional details about the attacker, but initial press reports say he claimed allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s enterprise.

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb provided updates on the hostage crisis via his official Twitter feed. Collomb praised the “heroism” of a French officer who volunteered to trade places with one of the hostages, adding that the policeman was “badly wounded.” Collomb told the press that Lakdim acted “alone” and had been shot by the police, according to BFMTV. However, it can often take time for authorities to follow all of the clues in terrorism-related cases. And officials have uncovered ties between jihadists in Europe and Islamic State networks on multiple occasions in the past.

According to BBC News, Lakdim demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam, an Islamic State member who acted as a point man for the Nov. 2015 attacks in Paris. Abdeslam is being tried in Belgium on terrorism charges.

Islamic State-connected attacks in France

France has been combating the jihadist threat since the 1990s, but the rise of the Islamic State in 2014 generated a new array of threats.

In Jan. 2015, the Kouachi brothers massacred the staff of Charlie Hebdo at the magazine’s offices in Paris. The Kouachis were openly loyal to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which claimed responsibility for the attack. AQAP had called on jihadists to strike Charlie Hebdo after the publication printed controversial images. AQAP also assisted at least one of the brothers.

Amedy Coulibaly, a friend of the Kouachis, decided to raid a kosher market in Paris around the same time they acted. Coulibaly swore allegiance to the Islamic State in a video he recorded prior to killing a French policewoman and assaulting the market.

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Gunman claiming allegiance to ISIS shot dead after killing three, injuring at least 16 at French supermarket

(NY DAILY NEWS) — A gun-wielding Muslim extremist claiming allegiance to ISIS took multiple hostages at a supermarket in southern France Friday, killing at least three people and injuring another 16 before police shot him dead.

The attacker, identified as 26-year-old Redouane Lakdim, holed up at the Super U in Trèbes, a small city near the Pyrenees Mountains, around 11 a.m.

Lakdim screamed “Allahu akbar” — Arabic for “God is great” — and proclaimed himself a “soldier of the Islamic State” as he stormed into the small-town supermarket.

“You are bombing Syria and you are going to die,” the attacker said before opening fire, one witness who escaped told regional newspaper L’Independent.

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Around 20 shoppers and staff reportedly escaped from the grocery store after running for their lives, though it was uncertain how many hostages were taken during a standoff with police.

The attacker was killed by officers around 2:30 p.m., authorities said, praising one “gravely wounded” police officer who exchanged himself for a hostage during the chaotic standoff.

“He saved lives,” French President Emmanuel Macron said of the officer.

It was not immediately clear where the three victims were, as beyond those shot in the supermarket, investigators believe Lakdim opened fire on people in the nearby Carcassonne and hijacked a car, killing at least one.

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Boko Haram returns 104 of 110 kidnapped schoolgirls, Nigeria says

(USA TODAY) — Boko Haram extremists returned most of the 110 girls they kidnapped a month ago from their school in northeastern Nigeria, the Nigerian government said Wednesday.

Fighters from the militant group drove into the northern town of Dapchi in nine vans and dropped the girls off early Wednesday, just after Nigerian soldiers withdrew, said Alhaji Baba Shehu, a resident, and other witnesses.

“(Some) girls ran away to their home before being counted,” he said. “Still, we are happy. God has answered our prayers and our daughters are back.”

Nigeria’s government said 104 of the 110 schoolgirls were confirmed as freed.

The minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said no ransom was paid. He said the release was obtained through “back-channel efforts,” after “a pause in operations” and with the help of “some friends of the country.”

He said negotiations for the release of the remaining girls continue.

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