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‘Our lions have infiltrated’: ISIS video depicts future caliphate located in the West

(PJ MEDIA) — By Bridget Johnson

The pro-ISIS group that in January depicted the invasion of Washington and in February declared “Paris before Rome,” depicting a terrorist invasion that began with cells in the countryside outside Paris before attacking the city, today released a new video depicting a global caliphate.

The Al-Abd al-Faqir Media video shows, as described at the beginning, “an imaginary chat in the future between an old immigrant to the land of the caliphate where he talks to his friend ‘John’ who’s a new convert to Islam after Allah has fulfilled his promise and the caliphate reached east and west … in the near future inshallah.”

ISIS Focuses on U.S. Embassy Attacks, Kidnappings of Westerners

A young man in a living room labeled as being in Baghdad, wearing khakis and a blue button-down shirt, opens a laptop to a Facebook-styled page with ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the banner photo, an ISIS flag as the profile pic, and his profile name Al-Mohajir.

His clicks to a profile of “John Stephen,” a white man with a closely trimmed beard and an image of the White House exploding in flames as his banner photo.

ISIS supporters,future caliphate,Al-Abd al-Faqir Foundation

Al-Mohajir strikes up a chat with Stephen, identified as being located in Belgium, who reminisces on the days “when I took pride in sinning with my companions” and says he wishes he would have converted sooner to “this true religion.”

Al-Mohajir tells Stephen not to think about the past but “strive for what is coming.”

The westerner declares to his Baghdad friend that “the banner of Islam has preceded you, flying in the skies of our country! … and the parents are eager to meet you.”

Al-Mohajir declares that earlier jihad campaigns were “the beginning of the planting… and now the time of harvest came.” He then asks about “the status of soldiers of the caliphate with you” in the West.

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SOUTHCOM Commander: Terror networks ‘reach deep into our hemisphere’ in ‘new and surprising ways’

(PJ MEDIA) — By Bridget Johnson

The commander of U.S. Southern Command said there’s “significant concern” in the Western Hemisphere about “the ability of radicalization to occur via the internet” and create terrorists in their home countries, as well as the return of foreign fighters who spent time in Syria.

“The threats that we and our partners face in the region are a chief concern to many,” Adm. Kurt Tidd told reporters at the Pentagon, underscoring “the sophistication, adaptiveness and considerable financing leveraged by criminal and extremist elements.”

“Drug traffickers, human smugglers, terrorist supporters, arms dealers and money launderers are not new to this region, but they operate in new and surprising ways, compared to years past,” he said. “Relying solely on what worked in decades past to find and disrupt them is not enough. Threat network enablers like facilitators, suppliers, recruiters and technicians provide criminals and extremist with unprecedented global reach, and the ability to operate stealthily in both the physical and the cyber worlds. Criminal networks leverage all means available to move lethal narcotics, people, weapons and dirty money into and out of Latin America and the U.S. homeland.”

“Extremist networks like ISIS reach deep into our hemisphere, inspire would-be terrorists to conduct attacks in the region, or to attempt entry into the United States to do our citizens harm.”

Pressed to elaborate on ISIS movement in the Western Hemisphere, Tidd pointed to the at least 100 jihadists, by that government’s count, from Trinidad and Tobago who fought for ISIS abroad.

“That would be probably the best indicator that, yes, in fact, there are individuals who have been radicalized, who this pernicious message has taken root,” he said. “And so it’s one that is of concern to the government of Trinidad and Tobago. They have focused on it. And so I think it’s an area that we all have to take into consideration.”

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Sri Lanka: an illustrious destination for Buddhist heritage tourism

(VIET NAM NEWS) — This year Sri Lanka celebrates its 70th Anniversary of Independence and 48 years of formal diplomatic relations with Viet Nam. Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Viet Nam Hasanthi Urugodawatte Dissanayake shared a message with Viet Nam News readers about the mutual co-operation between two countries and the achievements of Sri Lanka in the recent years.

Looking back at Sri Lanka’s progress over the past 70 years, we are proud that the free education and free healthcare systems in the country outshine all others. They have led Sri Lanka to become a country with a high level of human capital, currently ranked 73 in the Human Development Index. Above all, Sri Lankans can be proud of their democratic traditions, having gained universal adult franchise in 1931, for both men and women. On the economic front, Sri Lanka has reached Middle Income Status with per capita GDP of US$ 3,835.

Sri Lanka’s relations with Viet Nam are rooted in the two countries’ affinity for Buddhism and were later nurtured through Sri Lanka’s strong solidarity towards Việt Nam’s struggle against colonialism.

Although Buddha was born in modern-day Nepal and lived in India, it was in Sri Lanka that Theravada Buddhism continuously flourished in its purest form.

According to the Sri Lanka’s historical chronicles, the Buddha visited Sri Lanka three times.
Arboreal: Painting at Kelaniya Temple by neo-classical artist Solias Mendis (1897 –1975). This painting depicts Ven. Sangamitta, arriving in Sri Lanka, with the sapling of the Bodhi Tree, from the original Bodhi Tree at Bodh Gaya, India, in the third century BC. — Photo courtesy of the embassy

In the third century BC, Emperor Asoka of India sent his own son, Venerable Mahinda, to introduce Buddhism to Sri Lanka during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa. The Mihintale area, where the two met, was later declared as a wildlife sanctuary by the King and is the world’s first wildlife sanctuary. Later, he also planted the Sacred Bo sapling, brought by Venerable Sangamitta, daughter of Emperor Asoka. While the original Bodhi Tree disappeared in India, the Sri Maha Bodhi continues to grow in Anuradhapura and is recognised as the world’s oldest tree with a recorded history.

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ISIS, The Koran, and The Hudud

(UNDERSTANDING THE THREAT) — ISIS crucifies Christians, kills apostates (those who leave Islam), and amputates the hands of those who steal.

How do they justify such barbaric behavior? These cruel punishments are commands from allah in the Koran.

The Hudud is a part of sharia (Islamic Law), and contains the seven (7) crimes specifically listed in the Koran along with their punishments. If it is in the Koran, according to Islam, it is the word of allah as revealed to Mohammad.

Punishments for hudud crimes are fixed and, therefore, cannot be altered by an Islamic judge’s ruling.

Four of the seven offenses are punishable by death. They include fornication, adultery, armed robbery, and rebellion.

For instance, for armed robbery Koran 5:33 states: “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and his messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land.”

The other hudud crimes include punishments for: fornication (sex outside of marriage) for which Koran 24:2 prescribes “The woman and the man guilty for fornication flog each of them with a hundred lashes: let not compassion move you in their case in a matter prescribed by Allah”; false accusation of sexual intercourse; drinking intoxicants; and theft.

On September 24, 2014, an open letter to the leader of ISIS Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi signed by 126 Islamic leaders, including senior scholars across the globe, was published.

The letter stated: “Hudud punishments are fixed in the Qur’an and Hadith and are unquestionably obligatory in Islamic Law.”

The signatories included leaders of prominent U.S. Islamic organizations including: the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) also known as Hamas; the Fiqh Council of North America; the North American Imams Federation; and others.

Its in the Koran, which means allah said it. U.S. Islamic leaders condone it. ISIS does it.

What is all the fuss about?

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Iran, Israel battle openly in race to define ‘rules of the game’

(NBC NEWS) — The shift from covert attacks to open fighting between Iran and Israel illustrates that the regime in Tehran feels emboldened enough to confront and provoke its enemy, according to analysts.

Last weekend’s clashes involving an Iranian drone launched from Syria, a downed Israeli jet and retaliatory airstrikes may also signal a new and intensified period of conflict, experts warn.

Fighting between Iran and Israel had until now been conducted furtively or through proxies — such as Tehran-backed Lebanese militant group and political party, Hezbollah.

Saturday’s confrontation signals “a different level of self confidence in Tehran and Damascus in terms of them having the upper hand in Syria,” said Ofer Zalzberg, a Jerusalem-based senior analyst with the International Crisis Group.

He said Iran, Israel and Syria would likely continue to test each other’s boundaries as each tries to “define the new rules of the game.”

The back-and-forth attacks demonstrate how the conflict in Syria — what began as a civil war nearly seven years ago — has turned into a broader power contest with ramifications for the entire region.

The showdown began with Israel shooting down an Iranian reconnaissance drone that Israel claimed had entered its airspace. Israel retaliated for the incursion by striking the Iranian base in Syria from which the drone was operated. A Syrian anti-aircraft missile hit one of the attacking Israeli F-16 jets, which crashed on Israeli soil after the two pilots ejected; both survived, but one was seriously injured.

The incident culminated in the largest set of Israeli airstrikes against Syrian air defenses since the 1982 Lebanon War. The strikes also targeted several Iranian positions in Syria.

By downing Iran’s drone and attacking its sites in Syria, Israel signaled that it has little tolerance for a stronger Iranian presence on its northern border.

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Iran’s suppression of December 2017 unrest marked by brutal violations of law

(CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN IRAN) — February 19, 2018—The state crackdown that effectively crushed the protests that erupted across Iran in late December 2017 was marked by an unusually high degree of violence and disregard for the law, according to a new briefing by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

Silencing the Streets, Deaths in Prison: The December 2017 Crackdown in Iran, which is based on extensive interviews with released detainees, the families and attorneys of detainees, and journalists and human rights defenders inside Iran, provides a detailed look at the mass arrests, systematic denial of counsel, campaign of intimidation against detainees and their families, and ill treatment and deaths inside the prisons that characterized the state response to the week-long unrest.

“People came out to exercise their legitimate right to public protest,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of CHRI. “They came home beaten, too frightened to seek counsel or in coffins.”

Key Findings:

Some 4,970 people were arrested during protests that broke out on December 28, according to the government’s own sources, 90% of them under age 25.
Detainees were denied access to attorneys and threatened with charges that carry the death penalty if they sought counsel.
Multiple reports indicate many of the detainees were beaten.
Detainees were administered pills of an unknown substance, as well as methadone, without the presence of a doctor, in an attempt to depict the detainees as drug addicts.
At least two detainees died during detention. The bodies were quickly buried without an investigation or autopsy, with officials claiming the deaths were suicides.
A third detainee death, unrelated to the protests, was also labeled a “suicide” by officials, indicating a growing pattern of fatal ill treatment in prison and cover-up.
The families of deceased detainees, as well as released detainees and their families, have been under intense pressure by state authorities not to speak publicly.

“From arrests to burials, the authorities in Iran have demonstrated a refusal to allow peaceful protest, disregard for due process, abandonment of their responsibility to respect the safety of detainees, and a concerted effort to cover up rights violations,” said Ghaemi.

“Officials worldwide should register their condemnation of these violations directly with their Iranian counterparts,” he added.

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Iraqi archbishop: Muslim genocide of Christians started 1400 years ago

(OAN) — An Iraqi archbishop for the Chaldean Catholic Church is calling for a response to the Muslim genocide against Christians.

Archbishop Bashar Warda said the behavior of Muslims is rooted in the Islamic symbol of faith, which calls for an endless “holy war” against infidels.

Warda made his remarks in a speech at Georgetown University in D.C. last week.

The archbishop added, terror and violence are key characteristics of Islam, which have accompanied Muslim practices throughout their history.

“There is a fundamental crisis within Islam itself and if this crisis is not acknowledged, addressed and fixed, then there can be no future for Christians or any form of religious plurality in the Middle East,” stated Warda.

the archbishop urged the Christian community to crackdown on the Islamic persecution of Christians in the Middle East and beyond.

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Munich Security Conference: How to stop a post-caliphate jihad?

(DEUTSCHE WELLE) — Munich Security Conference: How to stop a post-caliphate jihad?

Panelists at the Munich Security Conference about how to stop a post-caliphate jihad unanimously agreed that the terror group “Islamic State” remains a threat, even though it may have lost its “territory.”

It has been just 3 1/2 years since the self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the founding of the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) at the mosque of the freshly captured city of Mosul in Iraq.

Now, after a long and bloody military campaign, the group has been wholly driven out of the country. And in neighboring Syria, only isolated pockets of IS fighters remain in the former IS stronghold of Raqqa. At its zenith, some 40,000 people took up arms for IS. Now 3,000 of them are hiding in the desert – or are seeking new areas of operation.

Although the terror group has been thwarted in its efforts to create a sovereign state, it nevertheless lives on. It still has its propaganda division — albeit greatly weakened. It also lives on in the hearts of its blind adherents and as the dream of a Salafist “utopia” for which thousands were willing to die. More than 5,000 people traveled to the “caliphate” from Western Europe alone.

Above all, “jihad” as such lives on. And the demise of IS could encourage other terror groups such as al-Qaida to launch new attacks, as Dan Coats told participants at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. As the US director of national intelligence, Coats has a good overview of the threat posed by terrorism. The “Global Threat Assessment” that the US intelligence community released on Tuesday emphasized that the largest terror threats still emanate from “violent Sunni extremists,” above all from Islamic State and al-Qaida.

One thing participants at the Munich Security Conference unanimously agreed upon is that the fight against jihadism is far from over. Many spoke of the stamina that would still be required to achieve ultimate victory. The primary importance of exchanging information among intelligence services was also stressed.

Germany’s federal interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, emphasized the importance of international intelligence services’ cooperation in tracking down German jihadists who have fought for IS in Iraq and Syria: “Especially with America, but also with other agencies in the region that often give us tips. Those agencies are key to helping us protect German citizens,” he told DW.

Nevertheless, during the panel discussion on “Post-Caliphate Jihad,”he spoke of the many technical and legal hurdles impeding data exchange within the European Union itself. EU security commissioner Julian King assured the audience that the EU was dealing with such impediments effectively. He pointed out that the exchange of information among national anti-terror agencies had grown by 40 percent since 2015.

It was conspicuous that Thomas de Maiziere, much like Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen before him, spoke in support of the concept of “networked security” – albeit, without calling it by name. De Maiziere did not limit himself to addressing the importance of police and intelligence cooperation; he also spoke extensively about prevention and the necessity of denying terrorism any kind of platform.

This issue was also addressed in a separate panel discussion called “Making the Sahel Safe.” A number of African leaders, the president of the World Bank and the secretary-general of the UN Climate Secretariat spoke frankly about the connections between development, climate change and terrorism. Lack of opportunity, poor governance and a lack of education, they said, all provide fertile ground for terrorism.

Moussa Faki, the chairman of the African Union (AU), illustrated the threat posed by a lack of education with an anecdote about a woman living near Lake Chad. She decided to become a suicide bomber because she was told she would be able to choose her own husband when she got to paradise.

Tunisia’s foreign minister explained that many Tunisians join terror groups for financial reasons. A disproportionate number of Tunisians traveled to the caliphate because IS offered them good pay, he said.

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How badly is the U.S. Government penetrated by terrorists?

(UNDERSTANDING THE THREAT) — A reminder of the serious penetration of our system by suit-wearing jihadis. Remember this is much more a counterintelligence and espionage problem than merely a “terrorism” issue.

[ CLICK HERE FOR A SERIES OF DISTURBING REMINDERS]

The Islamic State has left a toxic farewell of environmental sabotage and chronic disease

(POST-GAZETTE) — Iraq – Like any typical 15-year-old, Ahmed Jassim stays glued to his smartphone, watching music videos and playing games. In his family’s modest living room with dark concrete walls, the light from the phone’s screen illuminates his handsome but gaunt face.

But unlike his peers, Ahmed doesn’t go outside to play soccer or fly kites. Simple activities tire him out quickly because his heart is permanently damaged, the result of inhaling the smoke that blanketed this town of farmers and shepherds after Islamic State militants ignited nearby oil wells.

“He hates life. He just hates life,” his mother, Rehab Fayad, said wistfully. “It’s affected him not just physically, but psychologically.”

The militants detonated 25 oil wells in a desperate and ultimately unsuccessful effort to defend their terrain against Iraqi security forces in 2016 and wreck a prized national asset. For nine months, a thick, blinding cloud of smoke engulfed Qayyarah and the villages that surround it, turning people’s skin and sheep’s coats black from soot.

The Islamic State footprint on Iraq’s environment may be unprecedented and permanent, with a toxic legacy that includes wide-scale cattle deaths, fields that no longer yield edible crops and chronic breathing complications in children and the elderly, doctors and experts said.

Up to 2 million barrels of oil were lost, either burned or spilled, between June 2016 and March 2017, when firefighters put out the final blaze, according to a United Nations report citing Iraq’s Oil Ministry. Environmental experts worry that much of the oil has seeped into the groundwater and the nearby Tigris River – a lifeline for millions of Iraqis stretching more than 1,000 miles to Baghdad and beyond.

The militants also torched a sulfur plant north of Qayyarah, spewing 35,000 tons of the stinging substance into the air, the United Nations said. Reportedly containing one of the largest sulfur stockpiles in the world, the plant was set ablaze in part to help hold off Iraqi security forces, according to human rights and environmental experts.

Still unknown is the full extent of the impact. Studies into the long-term health effects have been halting, with Iraq’s government putting greater urgency on rebuilding, resettling displaced people and the clearing of explosives.

“The effect of what happened here will be felt for many years and decades, and the worst of it hasn’t even shown up yet,” said Abdelmeneim Tabbour, the head of Qayyarah’s health department. “The government has other priorities.”

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