Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120620

Financial Crisis
»Fed Extends Effort to Lower Long-Term Interest Rates
»Fort Hood Shooting Suspect Barred From Courtroom Over Beard
»Is Anti-Muslim Bias St. Anthony’s Issue?
»Islamic Terrorist Ties to Michigan Public School Sale
»Kane County Delays Decision on Mosque
»Local Muslims Hope for a Home
Europe and the EU
»France: Toulouse Bank Gunman ‘Detained’
»France: ‘Al-Qaeda Militant’ Takes Four Hostages in Toulouse Bank
»France: Grand Mosque of Marseille Gets Green Light After Court Case
»France: Man Claiming Al Qaeda Ties Takes Hostages in Toulouse, France
»France: Suspect Confesses to Double Police Murder
»France: Marseille Mega-Mosque Gets Go-Ahead
»Islamic Mediators and Germany’s ‘Two Legal Systems’
»Man Claiming Al Qaeda Link Takes Hostages in France
»Netherlands: Dutch Upper House Rejects Ban on Ritual Slaughter
»UK: Asked to Make a Statement on His Departmental Responsibilities, Michael Gove Replies: “Today is the Birthday of Britain’s Greatest Living Poet”
»UK: King’s Church Manchester to Host Cleric Who Thinks Converts to Christianity Deserve Death
»UK: Safe Stolen After Raid on Blackburn Mosque
»UK: Thieves Steal Cash From Mosque Safe
Middle East
»Lebanon: Landmark Christian-Muslim Peace Summit Opens in Beirut
South Asia
»Admin Discipline Recommended for Troops Involved in Quran Burning
»Afghanistan: NATO Troops Among Casualties in Afghan Suicide Bombing
»India: Kosi Kalan is a Tinderbox Ready to Ignite Anytime
»Violence Spikes Across Southern Afghanistan
Far East
»Philippines: Muslims Oppose Move to Ban Religion in Government
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Ghana: Hohoe: Council to Impose Strict Residency Conditions on Muslims
»Mozambique: 22 Held Over Moz Muslim Kidnappings
»Nigeria: Reprisal Attacks: Muslims Demonstrate in Kaduna
Latin America
»Hugo Chavez Helps Assad Slaughter Syrian Civilians

Financial Crisis

Fed Extends Effort to Lower Long-Term Interest Rates

The Federal Reserve announced Wednesday a modest increase in its efforts to reduce borrowing costs for businesses and consumers by extending its existing “Operation Twist” asset-purchase program through the end of the year.

[Return to headlines]


Fort Hood Shooting Suspect Barred From Courtroom Over Beard

Bell County Sheriff’s Dept./TimeHOUSTON — On Tuesday, a Texas military judge barred former Fort Hood Army psychiatrist — and alleged shooter — Maj. Nidal Hasan from court because he appeared with a beard.

Hasan is preparing to stand trial in connection with the deadly 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, about 70 miles northwest of Austin.

Judge Gregory Gross told Hasan on Tuesday that he will have to attend hearings via closed-circuit video until he shaves. Earlier this month, Gross had warned Hasan that his beard violated Army policy.

Hasan was removed from court Tuesday and had to watch the proceedings on closed-circuit television from a nearby room.

Hasan’s lead defense attorney, Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, told The Associated Press that Hasan grew his beard as a “deeply sincere” expression of his Islamic faith and because he had a premonition that he would soon die.

Poppe also released a statement on Hasan’s behalf stressing that he is no longer represented by former attorney John Galligan and that “any comments made by Galligan about this case are for his own purposes and not on behalf of Hasan.”

Defense attorneys indicated Tuesday that they plan to seek a writ of prohibition and a stay of the proceedings from the Army Court of Criminal Appeals based on the judge’s ruling that excludes Hasan from the courtroom.

Other motions argued and considered by the judge include: a request for a further continuance; resolution of discovery issues; whether the government should pay for Hasan to be evaluated by a neurological expert; a request to compel production of documents used in selecting the jury; and a request to allow the defense to interview a commanding general and his military attorney.

The judge granted the defense request for an expert neurologist, and is expected to rule on other motions at the next hearing, scheduled June 29.

Hasan faces the death penalty in connection with the shooting that killed 13 people at the Army base. His trial is scheduled to start Aug. 20.

[Return to headlines]

Is Anti-Muslim Bias St. Anthony’s Issue?

U.S. Attorney’s review welcome after Islamic center rejection.

Eight months ago, the St. Anthony City Council denied a Christian congregation’s proposal to move to a building in an area zoned for light-industrial use. Last week, the council struck down an attempt to locate an Islamic center in a similarly zoned area. City leaders say their actions were consistent, based on land-use issues and not religious discrimination.

But supporters of the center wonder whether discrimination was a factor in the council’s rejection, and they point to the hateful comments directed at the Muslims by a few residents at a recent council meeting.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Islamic Terrorist Ties to Michigan Public School Sale

Terrorism Ties? Grand Jury Sought to Investigate Allegations of Corruption In Michigan Public School

ANN ARBOR, MI — The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, announced today that it submitted a letter to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette asking that he conduct a grand jury investigation into the Farmington Public Schools sale of Eagle Elementary School to the Islamic Cultural Association (ICA), which has ties to terrorist organizations.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Kane County Delays Decision on Mosque

A McHenry County-based Muslim organization spent the past 10 years renting halls and borrowing public school classrooms for its worship gatherings. Now it will spend at least another 30 days waiting to see if it can use a more permanent space in Kane County. The American Muslim Community Organization already cleared Kane County’s Zoning Board last week. The group’s plan calls for converting a home just west of Carpentersville, near Huntley and Boyer Roads, into a mosque. With a 750-foot addition, group leaders believe the home could accommodate as many as 80 people.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Local Muslims Hope for a Home

Editor’s note: Lake County Commissioners last March denied a rezoning request needed by the Islamic Center of Clermont to build a two-story, 25,000 square-foot mosque and community center on 4.8 acres at 15128 Lost Lake Road in Clermont, citing the neighborhood’s insufficient infrastructure. The center, which wanted the new building to serve a growing Muslim population in South Lake, will have to make due with its current facility — a double-wide manufactured home on the property — which Daily Commercial Staff Photographer Keri Rasmussen has visited several times since that rezoning denial. Her observations follow.

KERI RASMUSSEN | Staff Photographer

Rules of a photojournalist: show up early, stay late and always anticipate your moment. I browse event calendars, press releases and public announcements daily looking for stories. When I read the Lake County Commission agenda for a re-zoning hearing regarding a request to build a mosque by the Muslim community in Clermont I knew I had a story.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

France: Toulouse Bank Gunman ‘Detained’

A man who seized four people in a bank in the southern French city of Toulouse has been detained, reports say.

Officials say the gunman first demanded money. When he was refused, a shot was fired and hostages taken.

The man, saying he was linked to al-Qaeda, demanded to speak to the elite Raid police unit that killed Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah.

He released two women hostages and later, after gunfire was heard, French media reported that he was in custody.

The gunman is said to have been wounded but his two remaining hostages are not thought to have been harmed.

‘Religious reasons’

The man went into the branch of the CIC bank at 10:10 local time (08:10 GMT), taking the manager and three other people hostage.

The area around the bank was cordoned off and two nearby schools were closed.

Special police units from the GIPN (Groupe d’intervention de la police nationale) arrived from Marseille and Bordeaux.

A police union source told the regional newspaper Ouest-France it was not clear whether the man’s claim about al-Qaeda was “serious or a fantasy”.

More than four hours into the siege, police said a woman hostage had been freed in exchange for food and water. A second woman was released some time afterwards.

Public prosecutor Michel Valet told reporters that the man “wishes to let it be known that he is not acting for money, but for religious reasons”.

The hostage-taker was believed to be around 30 years old and known to the authorities, Toulouse newspaper La Depeche reported. He was from Castres, to the east of Toulouse, and one source told the paper he was a schizophrenic who had broken off his treatment.

The bank is a few hundred metres from Merah’s flat, in an area adjacent to the barracks where Raid police were based during the March siege.

No officers from Raid — which has its headquarters north of Paris, about 600km (400 miles) from Toulouse — have been deployed to the scene.

           — Hat tip: Seneca III[Return to headlines]

France: ‘Al-Qaeda Militant’ Takes Four Hostages in Toulouse Bank

A man claiming to be a member of al-Qaeda has taken several hostages in a bank in the southwestern French city of Toulouse.

Tensions have been higher than usual in Toulouse since March, when a gunman whom police said claimed links to al-Qeida killed three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three paratroopers in the area. Those were France’s worst terrorist attacks in years. Thursday’s [Wednesday] hostage-taking began about 11 a.m. (0900GMT) at a CIC bank branch in central Toulouse, a Toulouse police official said. The official said a single shot was fired but no injuries have been reported so far. The official could not confirm the report on France’s BFM television that the hostage-taker claimed ties to al-Qaeda. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media. The neighborhood around the bank was cordoned off. Calls to the CIC bank branch went unanswered. BFM also reported that four hostages were inside — the bank branch director and three others — and that the hostage-taker wanted the elite RAID police force to come and negotiate with him.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

France: Grand Mosque of Marseille Gets Green Light After Court Case

PARIS — A French court on Tuesday gave the green light for the construction of a mega mosque in the city of Marseille, following years of delays caused by challenges from residents and local businesses. The Grand Mosque of Marseille is set to be France’s biggest, with the capacity for 14,000 worshippers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The cornerstone was laid in a pomp-filled ceremony in spring 2010 but the project quickly ground to a halt after a group of businesses and residents in the Saint-Louis district, where it is being built, challenged the construction permit. Butcher Pierre Metras, who led the campaign against the mosque, said the project threatened the economic and social fabric of the neighborhood. In October 2011, Marseille’s administrative tribunal invalidated the construction permit, citing concerns over its failure to provide adequate parking. On Tuesday an appeals court overturned that decision on the advice of an independent magistrate, after the city approved the construction of a car park. Several large mosques are planned around France, which has Europe’s biggest Muslim community, estimated at between 5 million and 6 million people, but which is critically short on purpose-built mosques. Many Muslims currently pray in makeshift mosques in garages and basements or in rented rooms.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

France: Man Claiming Al Qaeda Ties Takes Hostages in Toulouse, France

A man holding four people hostage in a Toulouse bank is demanding to speak to police about their fatal shooting of a French Muslim man who attacked a local Jewish school in March.

A man claiming ties to Al Qaeda has taken four hostages in a bank in Toulouse, France — the same area where Mohammed Merah killed seven people earlier this year before being shot dead by police.

After firing a shot, the hostage-taker demanded to speak to the elite police unit, RAID, behind Mr. Merah’s death. Merah, a French citizen of Algerian descent who also claimed ties to Al Qaeda, killed three children and a rabbi at a local Jewish school and three French soldiers in a nearby town in March. He was killed by police in his apartment after a 32-hour siege.


Little is known about today’s hostage-taker at this point, but if he turns out to be a member of France’s Muslim community, whether a native or an immigrant, it will shine an unwanted spotlight on a community that often feels unwelcome and under siege for the actions of a small number of radical individuals, as The Christian Science Monitor reported following the March attacks.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

France: Suspect Confesses to Double Police Murder

A man is being held in police custody after confessing to the murder of two female police officers at the weekend.

Le Parisien newspaper reports that Abdallah Boumezaar will be charged over the deaths of Audrey Berthaut and Alicia Champion. The two women were killed late on Sunday night when Boumezaar opened fire in the southern town of Collobrières. He fired two shots at 35-year-old Audrey Berthaut after seizing her weapon. He then chased 29-year-old Alicia Champion down the street and fired a further six shots. Boumezaar was with a 20-year-old woman who got involved with the initial argument with her officers. She is also being held in connection with the murders.

New interior minister Manuel Valls visited Collobrières on Monday and met the families of the two women. “The country will have the opportunity in the next few days to pay its respects to these two officers and to show its gratitude,” he said. A ceremony will take place on Friday with the minister attending. The suspect’s brother told journalists on Monday that Boumezaar was “out of control.” “He killed police officers but he could have killed my mother, my sister or me,” he said. “He’s someone who has spent a lot of time in prison. I spoke a lot to him, tried to get him back on track. I tried to spend a good chunk of time with him when he came out of prison to stabilise him.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

France: Marseille Mega-Mosque Gets Go-Ahead

A French appeals court approved Tuesday the construction of a large mosque in the city of Marseille, home to an estimated 250,000 Muslims. The mosque, seen as a symbol of Islam’s growing presence in France, has attracted national controversy.

AFP — A French appeals court granted permission Tuesday for the building of a mega-mosque in the southern city of Marseille that has been touted as a symbol of Islam’s growing place in France. The court overturned an October ruling by Marseille’s administrative tribunal that cancelled the project’s construction permit for supposed failures to meet urban-planning requirements. A community association led by a local butcher had filed a complaint against the building permit, saying the mosque project did not fit with the surrounding urban environment.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Islamic Mediators and Germany’s ‘Two Legal Systems’

by Joachim Wagner

For years, Islamic mediators have been stepping in to solve family disputes and marital problems among Muslims in Germany. A new book takes a closer look at how their reliance on elements of Sharia law, to the detriment of German law, affects Muslim women.

Demir furniture store in the western German city of Recklinghausen is the go-to place for people in need of either inexpensive furniture or, for some Muslims, advice on how to handle a disobedient daughter. In his 400-square-meter (4,300-square-foot) warehouse-like shop, Haj Nur Demir, a 61-year-old Lebanese man, sells items like used desks, washing machines and armchairs from estate sales. The furniture dealer is tall, slim, gray-haired and sports a mustache. He also exudes authority. It’s a good trait to have in his second profession. Demir estimates that he has settled more than 2,000 conflicts in Muslim families in Germany and Lebanon since 1972. Sometimes Demir merely provides information on the phone, and at other times he practically has to throw himself between the parties to prevent them from coming to blows.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Man Claiming Al Qaeda Link Takes Hostages in France

(Reuters) — A man claiming to be a member of al Qaeda has taken several hostages in a bank in the south-western French city of Toulouse, a police union source said on Wednesday.

The source said the man had fired a shot and could be holding up to four people. The Interior Ministry was not immediately available to comment.

In March, an al Qaeda-inspired gunman shot dead three soldiers, a rabbi and three Jewish children in Toulouse. The man was later shot dead by police after a standoff at his home in the city.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Dutch Upper House Rejects Ban on Ritual Slaughter

Dutch lawmakers vote down bill that caused uproar in Jewish, Muslim communities. Rabbi: Victory for tolerance, common sense

The Dutch upper house, the Senate, on Tuesday rejected a bill that would have banned the ritual slaughter of animals and had been criticized by both Muslim and Jewish groups. The bill, proposed by the small Party for the Animals, stipulates that livestock must be stunned before being slaughtered, contrary to Muslim halal and Jewish kosher laws, which require animals to be conscious. The lower house of parliament passed the bill a year ago, leaving a loophole saying religious groups could continue ritual slaughter if they proved it was no more painful than other methods of slaughter.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Asked to Make a Statement on His Departmental Responsibilities, Michael Gove Replies: “Today is the Birthday of Britain’s Greatest Living Poet”

Hansard records the exchange as follows:

Sir Tony Baldry (Banbury) (Con): If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities.

The Secretary of State for Education (Michael Gove): Today is the 80th birthday of the Oxford Professor of Poetry, Professor Sir Geoffrey Hill, our greatest living poet. I am sure that the whole House would like to join me in wishing him a very happy birthday, and thanking him for the fantastic work that he has done. Sir Geoffrey was knighted in the new year honours. My hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Sir Tony Baldry) was knighted in the recent Queen’s birthday honours, and I am sure that the whole House will also want to join me in congratulating him on his well-deserved elevation.

Sir Tony Baldry: I thank my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for his kind comments. Is he aware of the work being done by the Oxford diocesan board of education in setting up a unit to give full support to Church of England primary schools that wish to become academies, and does he share my hope that other diocesan boards of education will do likewise?

Purists will say that Mr Gove was taking a view of his responsibilities that was both narrow and wide, but I believe that we should make the most of the Education Secretary while we have him. Wide, narrow, both or neither, he was certainly right about Sir Geoffrey (ambushing Sir Tony — congratulations again — in the process). He is indeed our finest living poet. Nick Pearce of the IPPR has a good short piece on Sir Geoffrey here. And below is a film in which the Professor of Poetry declares his imperishable admiration for Ken Dodd.

[JP note: And Ken Dodd, arguably Britain’s greatest living comedian.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: King’s Church Manchester to Host Cleric Who Thinks Converts to Christianity Deserve Death

This Saturday, King’s Church Manchester will be hosting Muhammad Musa Al-Shareef, a Saudi cleric who believes that Muslim converts to Christianity should be killed for abandoning Islam, and that human rights are an invention of “the Christians, the atheists and the fornicators”.


[Reader comment by Jurek Molnar on 19 June 2012 at 10:50 pm.]

It is one of the most astonishing aspects of modern Islamic thought that it is in its entirety an intellectual disaster. There is not one argument, not even one concept which passes any intellectual test. […] It is a relativism that even doesn’t know it is one. It is a war against thinking as such and any philosophical concept of reality because it denies even to recognize its most inner contradictions. It is the totalitarian threat of the 21st century.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Safe Stolen After Raid on Blackburn Mosque

MONEY, marriage certificates and financial documents were stolen in a raid at a mosque. Burglars stole a large safe con-taining the money and documents, from Sajedeen mosque, in Plane Tree Road, Blackburn, over the weekend. Now police are appealing for anyone with information to contact them. The mosque was burgled between 11.45pm on Saturday and 3.15am on Sunday. Police said thieves broke into the mosque from the back and made their way to the office.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Thieves Steal Cash From Mosque Safe

Cash has been stolen from the town’s mosque after thieves entered the building through an unlocked door and forced open the safe. The incident on Havelock Street took place overnight at some time between 11.50pm on Thursday and 4.15am on Friday. PC Julie Price, investigating, said: “There was no sign of a forced entry and so it is suspected that a door may have been left unlocked to allow thieves entry. “A man visited the mosque earlier on the Thursday, who had not attended the mosque before and we would like to speak to him. He is described as black, around 6ft 3ins, medium build, around 35, clean shaven with a shaved head. “He was wearing a black jacket, navy blue polo shirt and navy blue trousers.” Call police on 101.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Lebanon: Landmark Christian-Muslim Peace Summit Opens in Beirut

[Episcopal News Service, Beirut] The Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, a former Episcopal bishop of Washington and four Iranian Shi’ite Muslims, two holding the rank of ayatollah, are among the religious leaders who’ve traveled to Beirut, Lebanon, for the second Christian-Muslim peace summit organized by Washington National Cathedral. The three-day conference, which opened June 18, is taking place against a regional backdrop that includes the conflict spilling into Lebanon from nearby Syria, the chaotic Egyptian elections, the threat of nuclear strikes between Israel and Iran, and following the 45th anniversary of the 1967 war that ended in the occupation of the Palestinian Territories.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Admin Discipline Recommended for Troops Involved in Quran Burning

Up to seven U.S. troops will face administrative punishment-not criminal charges-as a result of the military investigation into the February Quran-burning incident in Afghanistan, according to The Associated Press. While none of the recommended punishment decisions are final, it is believed that one Navy servicemember and six Army soldiers will receive “nonjudicial disciplinary actions” for the incident that touched off deadly protests and caused President Obama to apologize to Afghans.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Afghanistan: NATO Troops Among Casualties in Afghan Suicide Bombing

(Reuters) — - A suicide bomber struck a security checkpoint in Afghanistan’s city of Khost on Wednesday, killing at least 16 people and wounding 30, police said, the latest attack to raise questions about stability in the volatile eastern region bordering Pakistan.

A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said the casualties included foreign troops, but declined to say how many and whether that meant deaths or injuries.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

India: Kosi Kalan is a Tinderbox Ready to Ignite Anytime

Under curfew exists feeling of insecurity, a spark can give the situation another direction, says a fact-finding team of law students from AMU

By TCN News

Mathura: At present there exists an uncertain peace under the shadow of PAC rifles but situation is tense. Various rounds of negotiations have proved futile. Markets are still closed. Both communities are blaming each other for the impasse and trying to take revenge, say two law students of Aligarh Muslim University after visiting the riot-hit Kosi Kalan town of Mathura district. The riot erupted over a petty issue. A Hindu boy, after urinating, had taken water from a drum kept for Namazis near the local mosque on Friday (1st June 2012). There were some exchanges of filthy words from both sides. Muslims went to offer Juma prayer, meanwhile Jat community with the help of VHP and MLC and a former agriculture minister unleashed the fury on the homes and shops of Muslims. The incident ended with the death of four persons and twenty five others from both sides were wounded.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Violence Spikes Across Southern Afghanistan

Violence spiked in southern Afghanistan as militants stormed a NATO military base and attacked a police checkpoint Tuesday, a day after gunmen wearing police uniforms killed a U.S. soldier. The heaviest fighting in Afghanistan this summer has been in the south and east where Afghan forces are increasingly taking charge of security from their international partners. That could signal a rocky transition as foreign combat troops are due to withdraw by the end of 2014. Most of the attacks over the past two days occurred in the southern Kandahar province, the Taliban’s birthplace. Insurgents attacked a NATO base before dawn Tuesday in Kandahar’s Shah Wali Kot district, the U.S.-led coalition said. Fewer than 10 U.S. troops were wounded and officials believe coalition forces were able to kill seven or eight insurgents, said Navy Capt. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Far East

Philippines: Muslims Oppose Move to Ban Religion in Government

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos in Cebu is asking the lower House to dismiss House Bill 6330 or the Religious Freedom in Government Services Act that wants all religious symbols to be removed from government offices. Aldin Pangarungan, head of the Cultural Affairs Division of NCMF, said the proposed law violates the rights of people living in a democratic country. Pangarungan said that although Muslims don’t believe in the religious images, they respect the belief of Catholic Christians and their effort to keep their faith strong. Putting the images not only in their homes but also in offices is just one way of keeping their faith alive, he added. Pangarungan also said that the display of the images and the Bible is part of the Filipino culture. The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Ghana: Hohoe: Council to Impose Strict Residency Conditions on Muslims

Hohoe Traditional Council to impose strict residency conditions on Muslims returning after last week’s deadly violence

The Gbi Traditional Council in Hohoe says Muslims who fled the Volta Region town in the wake of last week’s deadly violence cannot return without first agreeing to a set of conditions the council will impose on them. The Council Tuesday announced it is setting up its own committee tasked with the responsibility of formulating strict conditions based on which the Muslims will be allowed back into the community. The council issued its latest edict during a media interaction in Hohoe. Togbe Agyeman the fifth spoke on behalf of the council. “We are not entirely refusing to admit them in our community but their continuous staying in our community would be under strict conditions. Abide by such conditions, we believe they can live with us.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Mozambique: 22 Held Over Moz Muslim Kidnappings

Police in Mozambique have detained 22 people implicated in at least 14 kidnappings of wealthy Muslims for ransom since last year, a newspaper reported on Tuesday. Deputy interior minister Jose Mandra said all the people were rounded up in the capital Maputo, according to O Pais daily newspaper. Some are behind bars while others have been freed, said Mandra. It is unclear if any have been charged. Authorities claim at least 14 people — most from the wealthy Muslim commercial class — have been kidnapped since late last year. Gangs target unsuspecting victims in public, then claim thousands of dollars in ransom for their release.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Reprisal Attacks: Muslims Demonstrate in Kaduna

Nigerian Muslims took to the streets in Kaduna on Tuesday, firing AK-47s, burning tyres and destroying at least one church, two days after rioting by Christian youths killed several people, witnesses told Reuters. Multiple gunshots were heard across the city where at least 52 people were killed on Sunday in retaliatory violence after suspected Islamist suicide bombings of three churches in Kaduna State that killed 19 Christians. Religiously mixed Kaduna is near the volatile “Middle Belt”, where the mostly Christian south and largely Muslim north meet and the city has sometimes been a sectarian flashpoint. “They are out on the streets, burning tyres and shooting. They burnt a church,” said a witness, who only gave his first name, Suleiman, for fear of reprisals…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Hugo Chavez Helps Assad Slaughter Syrian Civilians

By Otto J. Reich

Originally published in

The world has witnessed, through the eyes of courageous videographers and journalists, how Bashar al-Assad mercilessly targets Syrian women, children and other civilians for annihilation. Assad’s Russian-made tanks and weapons have been seen obliterating entire neighborhoods and towns. But we know little about the enablers who provide Assad the weapons, the ammunition and the fuel that facilitates the Syrian genocide.

Recently, US Secretary of State Clinton pointed to the Russians as the source of some of the weapons. International intelligence has exposed the fundamentalist Iranian regime as a provider of arms and ammunition.

Now we have evidence that Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez has been sending millions of gallons of diesel fuel to his good friend al-Assad, whom he calls a “humanist” and a “brother.” Venezuelan state-owned ships have been transporting hundreds of thousands of barrels of diesel fuel to the ruthless Syrian Army.. Assad’s killers move around the country assassinating civilians in vehicles fueled by Chavez.

At this very moment the Venezuelan oil carrier “Negra Hipolita” is being loaded in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, with more than 9 million gallons of ultra-low sulphur diesel bound for Syria’s port of Banias. Soon this fuel will move the tanks and artillery that will pulverize innocent beings, adding to the 12,000 already cold-bloodedly exterminated by Assad “the Humanist.”

Chavez uses his own vessels because no self-respecting international shipping firm will transport fuel to Assad’s killing machine. There is another advantage, however: since he controls the entire voyage, from dock to dock, Chavez may be sending Assad military materiel hidden in the ships.

Just this month Chavez boasted that Venezuela is manufacturing thousands of the latest model of the iconic Russian AK-47 assault rifle, the AK-103. Where are those weapons going? Could it be that Chavez’s ships (that, incidentally, also call on U.S. ports carrying oil) are additionally transporting narcotics?

Narcotics trafficking has reached the highest levels of Chavez’s government; for example, Venezuela’s top military officer and Defense Minister, Henry Rangel Silva, has been designated as a Drug Kingpin by the US Department of Treasury, as have six other key generals and civilian officials of the government. Western intelligence sources point to Chavez’ brother, Adan, the governor of the state of Barinas, as the head of the government-sponsored drug cartel in Venezuela. Washington sources speculate that Adan Chavez is close to being designated by Treasury as the next Venezuelan drug-kingpin.

Chavez’s support for Assad comes as no surprise to anyone who knows his malevolent friends.

           — Hat tip: Fausta[Return to headlines]