December 17/14

Bible Quotation for today/ the Spirit of truth
John 16/01-16: "“All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.  They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you,  but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’  Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.  When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment:  about sin, because people do not believe in me;  about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer;  and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.  All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”"

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on December 16-17/14
Al Azhar refuses to denounce the Islamic State as “un-Islamic”/RAYMOND IBRAHIM/December 16/14
Europe Should Learn Ethiopia’s ‘Islam Lesson’/Raymond Ibrahim/December 16/14
Muslim Reformers’: Forever Talking the Talk, Never Walking the Walk/Raymond Ibrahim/December 16/14

Lebanese Related News published on December 16-17/14
Geagea Holds Talks with Hariri on 'Pacification, Speedy Election of President'
Nusra Denies Naming al-Masri as Mediator amid Fresh Execution Threats
U.N. Urges Lebanese to Find 'Consensus' Presidential Candidate despite Foreign 'Influence'
LF Suspends Participation in Electoral Subcommittee, Calls for a General Assembly Meeting
Report: U.S. Warns of Cooperation between Army, Hizbullah in Battle against Terror
France, Kahwagi sign off on Saudi grant for Army
Envoys urge swift election as Hariri, Geagea meet
International community wants stable Lebanon: UN
Mustaqbal to Hizbullah: Stop Spawning Armed Groups under Resistance Brigades Label

Lebanese Woman Held in Sweden after Arriving on Private Jet Carrying Refugees
Change and Reform Says a Prisoner Swap was Never Raised in Cabinet
Hale Meets Salam, Says 'Widespread' Int'l Support for Lebanon Must Prompt it to Elect President
One Killed, Six Injured in Traffic Accident in Naameh
Gemayel Meets Berri, Urges Negotiations to Release Arsal Captives when Conditions Available
ISF Clamps Down on Illegal Vendors in Tripoli
Energy Minister Stresses Need to Adopt Oil Decrees as Settlement to Be Reached over Marine Blocks
Report: Aerial Footage Confirms Arms Caches in Arsal
LebanonBassil from Buenos Aires: Lebanon Rejects Terrorism, Not Linked to Any Terror Act
Kelley Says U.N. Looking Forward to Implementation of New Lebanese Crisis Response Plan
Electoral law knot far from being unraveled

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on December 16-17/14
Iran Court Drops Jail Terms of 3 Christian Clerics
Walid Phares: Sydney Siege Shows Need to scrutinize Asylum Seekers
Jewish Parents Honor Slain Druze Police Officer
Hamas-Ruled Gaza Prepares for Next War Against Israel
Canada Condemns Taliban Attack in Pakistan
Canada Strongly Opposes Decision to Convene Anti-Israel Conference in Geneva
15 Children among 25 Dead in Yemen Anti-Huthi Bombing
Carnage as Taliban Storm Pakistan School, Kill 141
Brent Oil Sinks under $59 on Mounting Global Tensions
Palestinians Say to Press U.N. Vote despite U.S. Veto Warning
Two Beheaded Saudis Bring 2014 Execution Tally to 82
312 Egypt Islamists to Face Military Courts
Australian agencies must learn from their first major terrorist attack on home ground

Jihad Watch Site Posts For Monday
Al Azhar refuses to denounce the Islamic State as “un-Islamic”
Australia: 34-year-old man and 38-year-old woman dead, as well as jihadist gunman, in Sydney hostage crisis
Muslims in Australia say they fear Sydney jihad hostage crisis backlash
Sydney jihad hostage crisis over, “number of people have been hit”
Breaking: Shots fired in Sydney jihad hostage crisis
Arkansas: Middle East Cyber Army hacks Little Rock School District website
Australia: “Expert” warns of reprisals against Muslims in wake of Sydney jihad hostage crisis
Sydney jihadi: Sheikh Man Haron Monis, on bail for accessory to murder

Sydney jihadi demands Islamic State flag, police ask terror suspect for one
Robert Spencer in FrontPage: Jihad in an Australian Chocolate Shop
Sydney jihad hostage-taker: “Australia is under attack by the Islamic State”

Report: U.S. Warns of Cooperation between Army, Hizbullah in Battle against Terror
Naharnet /Washington has reportedly warned the Lebanese army against cooperating with Hizbullah in its war against terrorism and takfiris, hinting that any cooperation could impact the U.S. aid to the military. According to a report published in al-Akhbar newspaper on Tuesday, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Policy Matthew Spence, who visited Beirut last week, warned in his meetings with Lebanese officials, in particular with Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji, of cooperating with Hizbullah as an partner in the war against terror. A prominent source told the daily that the U.S. official stressed that Hizbullah is impeding the state project, which should be protected solely by the Lebanese army. Spence also hinted that the army's success in battling jihadists, who overran the northeastern border town of Arsal in August, was due to the support that the U.S. granted. Washington sought to bolster Lebanon's military by recently announcing it had delivered a new shipment of Hellfire missiles and would also supply light aircraft. The prominent U.S. official reportedly described the performance of the Lebanese army as excellent and wise amid the sectarian tension in the country, noting that the war on terrorism created a new aspect that would allow the state to expand its authority on Lebanese territories at the expense of Hizbullah, indicating that the party cannot run the battle by itself. The source quoted Spence as saying: The army has capabilities that Hizbullah lack, at forefront the U.S. support, which the Iranians and Russians cannot provide the party with. The U.S. official also stressed that his country refuses to allow the war raging in Syria to move to Lebanon. The report comes as the army and security forces had been carrying out in recent months raids in various regions throughout Lebanon in search for wanted fugitives and suspected terrorists. Lebanese troops have been battling Syria-based Islamist militants, including the extremist Islamic State group and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, in areas near the border.

Change and Reform Says a Prisoner Swap was Never Raised in Cabinet
Naharnet /The Change and Reform parliamentary bloc noted Tuesday that the issue of freeing the captive servicemen through a swap deal was never raised in the cabinet's meetings, denying claims that it is obstructing such a move. “Any claims that we are rejecting a swap deal are baseless, because no one has informed us in the cabinet meetings of the real demands of the kidnappers,” Education Minister Elias Bou Saad said after the bloc's weekly meeting in Rabieh. “We are not against a swap deal but we want the release of the servicemen while preserving the state's prestige and its laws and we'll do whatever we can to return the servicemen to their families,” the minister added. Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun “has said that the state cannot negotiate with terrorists and he did not mention the issue of a swap deal,” Bou Saab clarified. The servicemen were abducted by jihadist militants in August during deadly clashes with the Lebanese army in and around the Bekaa border town of Arsal.
Four captives have been executed so far, and the jihadists have threatened to kill the remaining hostages unless there is a deal to free Islamist prisoners in Lebanon. The state has repeatedly refused to hold direct negotiations with the kidnappers.
“In the first cabinet session after the crisis, we were told that some parties had volunteered to negotiate with the gunmen and they asked for a 2-hour truce in return for the release of the servicemen. After that we did not know how the process moved forward and how the servicemen were kidnapped,” Bou Saab reminisced. “A crisis cell was then created and it is exerting efforts and trying to find a solution, but (Foreign) Minister (Jebran) Bassil did not take part in any meetings because things were being tackled in a manner that cannot lead to quick results,” he added. “The issue of negotiations was then raised and we all agreed on the principle of negotiations,” Bou Saad went on to say. Separately, the minister stressed that the solution to the presidential crisis “must be Lebanese.” “Everyone must realize that real partnership is the solution for Lebanon. The beginning of the solution is partnership and the end of the hegemony of one party over another,” Bou Saab said, adding that the bloc wants “a strong, open-minded president who enjoys wisdom and patriotism and has a history of sacrifices.” “We would overcome the current crisis when everyone realizes that a strong president is one who has a large popular base,” said Bou Saab. FPM chief Aoun is still the candidate of the March 8 camp in the face of Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, the nominee of the March 14 forces. Political differences and the rivalry between the two men have led to a lack of quorum in 16 electoral sessions in parliament, amid a boycott by the MPs of Aoun and Hizbullah. The presidential seat has been vacant since president Michel Suleiman's term ended on May 25.

Mustaqbal to Hizbullah: Stop Spawning Armed Groups under Resistance Brigades Label
Naharnet /Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc on Tuesday called on Hizbullah to “stop spawning armed groups” and to end its military “involvement in Syria and Iraq.”
“What happened recently in the Taamir area in Sidon was a blatant attack against security, national safety and civil peace,” the bloc said in a statement issued after its weekly statement. It was referring to the weekend clashes between the Hizbullah-affiliated Resistance Brigades and agents from the Intelligence Bureau of the Internal Security Forces. “Hizbullah must stop spawning armed groups under the label of Resistance Brigades or any other label," the bloc said. It also urged the rival party to “end its (armed) involvement inside Lebanon and in the streets and alleyways as well as in Syria and Iraq.” Calling on Hizbullah to “abide by the state's authority, rule and laws,” the bloc asked the state to “continue the crackdown on all of those who took part in the attack against security and civil peace and jeopardized the lives of citizens in Sidon.”The bloc also discussed the recent crime in the northern Bekaa town of Btedei, urging the government and the security forces to “arrest the criminals and hold them accountable.”Mustaqbal stressed that any political cover must be lifted off the culprits.“Leniency in this case would topple what remains of the state's prestige and sovereignty and would also put civil peace and coexistence in danger,” the bloc warned. The couple Sobhi and Nadimeh Fakhri were killed on November 15 in Btedei at the hands of fugitives from the Jaafar family who were fleeing army troops. The gunmen entered the family's house with the intent of taking their vehicle but the tenants showed resistance, which prompted the armed men to shoot the couple and their son. Turning to the issue of the captive troops and policemen, the bloc urged an end to “the storm of irresponsible statements” and to the “state of chaos and ambiguity that resulted from the involvement of a large number of mediators in the negotiations.”“It has become a duty to quickly put an end to this horrible tragedy … as it is unacceptable to keep this major national cause as a topic for political bickering inside or outside the government,” Mustaqbal added. “The Lebanese need a unified national stance and a unified governmental stance, according to which the hostages and Lebanon can be rescued,” the bloc urged. The troops and policemen were abducted by jihadist militants in August during deadly clashes with the Lebanese army in and around the Bekaa border town of Arsal. Four captives have been executed so far, and the jihadists of the al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State have threatened to kill the remaining hostages unless there is a deal to free Islamist prisoners in Lebanon.

U.N. Urges Lebanese to Find 'Consensus' Presidential Candidate despite Foreign 'Influence'
Naharnet /The United Nations on Tuesday urged “unity” among the Lebanese political parties in order to find a “consensus” presidential candidate and put an end to the protracting political crisis. The remarks were voiced by visiting Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson after talks with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi in Bkirki. “One problem that His Beatitude the Patriarch Rahi and I discussed was of course the fact that there has been a vacancy in the presidency for so long. I agreed with him that this vacancy is causing problems,” Eliasson said. “I am sure that with the Lebanese innovative minds and, hopefully, the sense of responsibility of all leaders that they would come together to find a consensus candidate,” he added. The U.N. official stressed that “this is of course a Lebanese matter.” “There are those who say that the situation is influenced by the outside. That is possible but I also think that it could be solved if you have unity among the different actors in Lebanon and that is in the interest of the nation,” Eliasson added. The presidential seat – the country's top Christian post -- has been vacant since president Michel Suleiman's term ended on May 25. Political differences and electoral competition have led to a lack of quorum in 16 electoral sessions in parliament.

Geagea Holds Talks with Hariri on 'Pacification, Speedy Election of President'
Naharnet /Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea held talks Tuesday with al-Mustaqbal movement leader MP Saad Hariri as part of his visit to Saudi Arabia. A statement issued by Hariri's office said the two men met in Riyadh and discussed the current situations in Lebanon and the region. “The two parties stressed the importance of pacifying the political atmosphere and preserving security and stability,” said the statement. They also underlined the need to “continue consultations and discussions aimed at overcoming the current political crisis and electing a president as soon as possible.” Earlier on Tuesday, Geagea held talks with Prince Khaled bin Bandar, head of the Saudi General Intelligence department. Discussions tackled the general political situations in Lebanon and the region, according to Geagea's press office. Geagea also met on Tuesday with Saudi National Guard Minister Prince Miteb bin Abdullah. They held “extensive talks on the issue of fighting terrorism and the need to confront this phenomenon in the Arab world by all parties,” the press office said.
The LF leader had arrived in the Gulf kingdom on Sunday. “No one can claim to be Christian and working for the sake of Christians as they simultaneously paralyze the presidential post. No one can claim to be a resistance as they obstruct the presidential elections,” Geagea said Sunday in a meeting with Lebanese expats, in an apparent reference to Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun and Hizbullah. “To reach a solution, we must all go to parliament and elect a president and congratulate him or we – Christian parties and all the Lebanese – can find an agreement over a consensual president in order to prevent all forces from interfering in our presidential vote,” Geagea added.FPM chief Aoun is still the candidate of the March 8 camp in the face of Geagea, the nominee of the March 14 forces. Political differences and the rivalry between the two men have led to a lack of quorum in 16 electoral sessions in parliament, amid a boycott by the MPs of Aoun and Hizbullah. The presidential seat has been vacant since president Michel Suleiman's term ended on May 25.

Nusra Denies Naming al-Masri as Mediator amid Fresh Execution Threats
Naharnet /The extremist al-Nusra Front and Islamic State groups on Tuesday launched fresh threats to execute the Lebanese troops and policemen who are in their custody, as the so-called ministerial crisis cell failed anew to appease the servicemen's distressed families.
“The Islamic State group has given the government until Thursday to fulfill its demands or face the execution of two troops,” a Syrian source in Syria's Qalamun told MTV.Sky New Arabia meanwhile reported that “al-Nusra Front has threatened to kill another Lebanese soldier if the government does not meet its demands.” The reports prompted the families of the servicemen to burn tires outside the government's headquarters in downtown Beirut. Al-Nusra and the IS have more than 25 troops and policemen in their custody. The servicemen were taken hostage during the deadly Arsal clashes in early August. After Qatar ended its mediation on December 7, the families demanded a role for the Muslim Scholars Committee in the negotiations, but the Lebanese government has so far refrained from granting the committee an official authorization. The name of Muslim cleric Sheikh Wissam al-Masri has recently surfaced in media reports claiming that he had been named as a possible mediator by al-Nusra Front. However, the reports were refuted Tuesday by a “prominent al-Nusra Front leader.” “We have not issued any statement tasking Sheikh Wissam al-Masri or any mediator with negotiations over the Lebanese servicemen,” the Nusra official told Turkey's Anatolia news agency. Meanwhile, Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq denied allegations by Free Shia Movement chief Sheikh Mohammed al-Hajj Hassan, who quoted the minister as saying that “the government will consider the captives as martyrs of war.”“These remarks are totally baseless and Minister al-Mashnouq has not announced or leaked any information related to the case of the captive servicemen, other than saying that there will be no negotiations with the captors before they offer written pledges on halting executions,” Mashnouq's press office said. Also on Tuesday, the so-called ministerial crisis cell held a meeting at the Grand Serail under Prime Minister Tammam Salam to discuss the developments of the case. The cell did not announce any resolutions after the talks but Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil had said prior to the meeting that the conferees would “reiterate the need to take serious measures to release the captive servicemen.”  The meeting was also supposed to “settle the identity of the negotiators and the negotiations' mechanism,” said Khalil. Al-Mashnouq for his part denied the presence of any “chaos” in the crisis cell, noting that “the channel of negotiations is well-known and (General Security chief) Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim is the head of the security group and everyone agrees on this.”

LF Suspends Participation in Electoral Subcommittee, Calls for a General Assembly Meeting
Naharnet /The Lebanese Forces suspended on Tuesday its participation in the electoral subcommittee until a parliamentary session is scheduled to vote on a new draft-law. LF MP George Adwan told reporters after a meeting for the committee at the parliament that “the subcommittee is only passing time until a settlement is reached regarding the presidential post.”He lashed out at the rival parties at the committee, pointing out that whenever a breakthrough is reached new proposals are presented. Adwan called on the rival parties to head to the parliament to vote on a new electoral law whether a breakthrough is reached or not. The LF MP said that “only the hybrid electoral law can better represent all parties.”“We refuse to fool people and if there are any intentions to adopt a new electoral law we are the most enthusiastic,” Adwan added. The subcommittee is discussing several proposals, the so-called Orthodox Gathering proposal, a draft-law that divides Lebanon into 50 districts based on a winner-takes-all system, in addition to the hybrid suggestion made by Speaker Nabih Berri. The 11-member parliamentary subcommittee tasked with discussing several electoral law proposal kicked off meetings recently, in light of the extension of the parliament’s tenure, in an attempt to reach consensus over a hybrid electoral draft-law.The March 8 and 14 alliances are represented in the committee, which was granted a one-month ultimatum by Berri to reach consensus.In May 2013, the parliament voted to extend its own mandate for 17 months after the rival political parties failed to reach a deal on a new electoral law other than the one based on 50 small-sized districts in a winner-takes-all system. Lawmakers also deepened the political deadlock in the country after they voted once again in November to delay elections and announced they would extend their mandate until 2017, which was met by a huge popular dismay. Most blocs have announced their rejection to the 1960 electoral law that is based on a winner-takes-all system. It was used in the 2009 elections.

Walid Phares: Sydney Siege Shows Need to scrutinize Asylum Seekers
Monday, 15 Dec 2014/Newsmax/By Greg Richter
The lone-wolf gunman who took hostages in an Australian café on Monday shows the need for people seeking political asylum to go through a vetting process, says Middle East expert Walid Phares. Gunman Man Haron Monis, who was killed along with two hostages, was an Iranian refugee. Appearing Monday on Fox News Channel's "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren," Phares said Monis had been "mutating." "He was an Iranian Shia. He came to Australia, applied for asylum, so he's against the Iranian regime," Phares said. "Then started to be anti-Western, anti-Australian, anti-American, and then he shifted to Salafi-jihadism from the Sunni side. So, he has been changing camps, but the one ideology was always anti-Western."Western nations should do a better job of checking the ideology of people who say they are seeking political asylum, Phares said. During his 25 years as an expert in political asylum cases, Phares said, he has seen many cases of people fleeing Egypt who later become jihadists. "The question is not, 'Who are you afraid of?' [but] 'What do you want to do here?'" he said.

Hamas-Ruled Gaza Prepares for Next War Against Israel
Tuesday, December 16, 2014 | Aviel Schneider /Israel Today
In Gaza, there is no serious reconstruction and certainly no disarmament. Instead, the Hamas-ruled enclave is gearing up for its next war against Israel. Three months after Operation Protective Edge, nothing has changed in Gaza. The Palestinian media has been full of reports about how the people in Gaza continue to suffer and how Hamas does nothing to help, preferring instead to invest its time and money in new rockets and terror tunnels. Tens of thousands of Palestinians whose homes were destroyed in the recent war are still living in tent camps set up by the refugee agency UNRWA. Well over one million Gazans continue to be caught in the middle of an often-violent dispute between Hamas in Gaza and the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Hamas sees violence against Israel as a means of strengthening its own position. Reconstruction funds totaling USD $5.4 billion that were promised during negotiations in Cairo this summer continue to exist only on paper. Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah is currently touring the Persian Gulf in an attempt to collect the pledges. But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the money is not being released because Hamas refuses to honor its agreement to hand over control of Gaza’s border crossings. Hamas, in turn, blames Israel and Fatah of holding up the money, but it has become clear to both Israelis and Palestinians that the terror group will do anything to prevent the reconstruction of Gaza. Israel, for its part, has been working for months with the UN to advance the reconstruction in Gaza. But every step of the way, Hamas has scuttled any progress, such as when it suddenly raised taxes on imported cement. Earlier this week, Hamas forces proudly marched through Gaza City with large missiles and aerial drones, a clear message that the group intends to strike Israel even harder next time, even to the detriment of its own population.


Al Azhar refuses to denounce the Islamic State as “un-Islamic”
DECEMBER 15, 2014
For all its talk about “combatting radicalism,” Al Azhar University—perhaps Sunni Islam’s most authoritative voice—will not even denounce the Islamic State as “un-Islamic.” When pressed on it, an Al Azhar spokesman, Abbas Showman, recently said: “As an official entity, Al Azhar has never in all its history proclaimed anyone or any organization as un-Islamic …. being occupied by this question will not lead to anything,” because “Al Azhar will not judge ISIS or its Islam as un-Islamic, for it is not its right, neither concerning ISIS or anyone else.” But, as one human rights advocate in Egypt was quick to quip: “What, didn’t the ulema and sheikhs of Al Azhar denounce as un-Islamic Naguib Mahfouz and Farag Foda and others from among the intellectuals and writers whose activities were stopped and some of whom were assassinated due to Al Azhar’s position?”

Jewish Parents Honor Slain Druze Police Officer
Tuesday, December 16, 2014 | Israel Today Staff
A Jewish couple from New York has decided to name their newborn baby boy after Israeli Druze police officer Zidan Seif, who was killed on November 18 while battling two Palestinian terrorists as they slaughtered Jewish worshippers at a synagogue in Jerusalem.
Seif was widely praised throughout Israel for his selfless actions on behalf of his Jewish countrymen, and his funeral was attended by thousands of Israeli Jews. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Seif as a “hero of Israel,” and said his sacrifice was further proof of the blood bond that exists between the Jews and Druze of Israel. Alexander and Jennifer Chester of New York agreed and named their newborn son Yaakov Zidan in honor of the slain officer.“Zidan Seif was part of Israel’s patriotic and loyal Druze community,” Chester wrote in an article carried by Israel’s Ynet news portal. “When he heard the terror attack at the synagogue in Har Nof, he did not hesitate for a moment. He did not consider remaining on the sidelines because he wasn’t Jewish.”Chester said that he considers Zidan to be “a Jewish hero, and he deserves to have his name spoken by Jews for the rest of time. [Zidan] deserves to have Jews name their children after him.”

To view this document on the department website, please click on the following link:

Canada Strongly Opposes Decision to Convene Anti-Israel Conference in Geneva
December 16, 2014 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement regarding the decision to convene a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions:
“Canada has conveyed its deep concerns and has communicated clearly that it will neither attend this conference nor lend it any credibility.
“Canada is deeply disappointed by the convening of this one-sided and politicized conference, which serves only to single out one country, Israel, for criticism. Canada has complete faith in the strength of the rule of law in Israel, and we believe the Israelis are capable of investigating matters surrounding the events that took place in Gaza in the summer of 2014.
“This conference risks undermining the integrity and credibility of the Geneva Conventions and the neutrality of their application.
“Such a misguided approach will neither serve the cause of peace nor bring the parties closer to a negotiated settlement.”

Canada Condemns Taliban Attack in Pakistan
December 16, 2014 - Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement:
“We were all sickened to hear that the Taliban gunned down more than 120 people, most of them children, in Peshawar today. Canada unequivocally condemns this heinous act.
“There is no more cowardly act than attacking innocent children and nothing more sinister than brutally murdering them while at school.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those affected, and we wish a full and quick recovery to those injured.
“On October 9, 2012, the Taliban attempted to silence one girl who dared to confront them and to stifle her future. They failed miserably.
“In the moments that follow such harrowing tragedy, we hope that the resolve and the dignity of innocent Pakistani people will see more children like Malala Yousafzai emerge to carry the torch forward for more education, free from violence or intimidation. Canada will stand by them and support them in the face of this ongoing terrorist threat.”

Europe Should Learn Ethiopia’s ‘Islam Lesson’
By Raymond Ibrahim
December 15, 2014 in Muslim Persecution of Christians
Veritas International Enterprise
Yet another Christian church was destroyed by Muslims in Ethiopia—this time by local authorities.
Heaven’s Light Church, which served some 100 evangelical Christians, was demolished last November 28. The church had stood and functioned in the Muslim-majority city of Harar for five years. In the days preceding the destruction, officials forcibly removed the church’s exterior sign and warned believers not to worship there, citing complaints by a local Muslim. Officials further told church members who had previously congregated at the church “not to gather under what remains of the church building.” Accordingly, Christians are now meeting in homes of individual believers.
Prior to the demolition of the church, when some Christian leaders protested, they were illegally detained, released only after community members, “outraged by the wrongful detentions,” called “for their immediate release,” reported International Christian Concern, a rights advocacy group supporting the Christians:
These are no isolated incidents, explained ICC, adding that it had documented “numerous ongoing land rights battles between churches and their local governments across Ethiopia.”
In many cases, ICC said, “churches have been operating peacefully for decades on land given to them by now-deceased former congregants.”
However efforts by local majority Muslim populations to “eliminate the public presence” of churches resulted in the forceful closure, destruction and demolition of several church buildings in recent years, according to ICC investigators [...]
ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, Cameron Thomas, accused Ethiopia of violating the rights of devoted Christians. “Corrupt officials willing to defend their religion [Islam] rather than the laws they’ve sworn to uphold, are violating Christians’ rights by forcibly closing, destroying and demolishing churches across Ethiopia,” the official said.
If this is the treatment Christian churches receive by Muslim officials and politicians—“sworn to uphold” the rights of every citizen, not just Muslims—one can imagine the treatment churches receive by Muslim mobs. One example suffices:
In 2011, after a Christian was accused of desecrating a Koran, thousands of Christians were forced to flee their homes when “Muslim extremists set fire to roughly 50 churches and dozens of Christian homes” in a Muslim-majority region in western Ethiopia. At least one Christian was killed, many injured, and anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 displaced. Around the same time, in another area that is 90% Muslim, “all the Christians in the city woke up to find notes on their doors warning them to convert to Islam, leave the city or face death.”
For those few Western observers who live beyond the moment and have an interest in the “big picture”—the world bequeathed to future generations—it is well to reflect on the question of numbers in the context of Ethiopia. As Jonathan Racho, another official at ICC, earlier said, “It’s extremely disconcerting that in Ethiopia, where Christians are the majority, they are also the victims of persecution.”
That Muslims are an otherwise peaceable minority group in Ethiopia, but in enclaves where they represent the majority, they attack their outnumbered Christian countrymen, suggests that Muslim aggression and passivity are very much rooted in numbers. This reflects what I call “Islam’s Rule of Numbers,” which holds that, wherever and whenever Muslims grow in number—and thus in strength and confidence—so too does Muslim intolerance for “the other” grow (video explanation here).
This naturally has lessons for the West, especially European nations like Britain and France that have a significant and ever-growing Muslim population—and where church attacks and even beheadings are now taking place.
By way of final illustration, the reader is left with the story of Islam’s entry into Ethiopia, one of the oldest Christian civilizations. According to Islamic tradition, in 615, when the pagan Quraysh were persecuting Muhammad’s outnumbered followers and disciples in Arabia, some fled to Ethiopia seeking sanctuary. The Christian king, or “Negus” of Ethiopia, welcomed and protected these Muslim fugitives, ignoring Quraysh demands to return them—and thus reportedly winning Muhammad’s gratitude.
Today, 14 centuries later, when Islam has carved itself a solid niche in Ethiopia, accounting for 1/3 of the population, Muslim gratitude has turned into Muslim aggression—not least a warning to Western states.

Muslim Reformers’: Forever Talking the Talk, Never Walking the Walk
By Raymond Ibrahim on December 16, 2014 in From The Arab World, Islam
Due to its rarity, it’s always notable whenever a top Islamic leader publicly acknowledges the threat of Islamic radicalism and terror. And yet, such denunciations never seem to go beyond words—and sometimes not even that.
Thus, in “An Arab Prince Denounces Islamism,” Daniel Pipes highlights “a remarkable but thus-far unnoticed address on Dec. 5” by Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, the crown prince of Bahrain. In his address, the prince “candidly analyzed the Islamist enemy and suggested important ways to fight it.”
After discussing the positive aspects of this speech, Pipes remarks:
So far, perfect. But Salman avoids the bitter reality that the “twisted” and “barbaric” ideology he describes is specifically Islamic and the theocrats are all Muslim: “this war that we are engaged in cannot be against Islam, … Christianity, … Judaism, … Buddhism.” So, when naming this ideology, Salman dithers and generalizes. He proffers an inept neologism (“theo-crism”), then harkens back to World War II for “fascist theocracy.” He implicitly rejects “Islamism,” saying he does not want a “debate about certain political parties, whether they’re Islamist or not.”
In fact, this sort of equivocation is typical of ostensibly moderate leaders and institutions throughout the Islamic world. Consider Egypt. One of the most appealing characteristics of President Sisi has been his outspokenness concerning the need for a more modern, moderate Islam.
For example, months before Sisi was elected president, I reported/translated the following:
During his recent speech at the Dept. of Moral Affairs for the Armed Forces [in January 2014], Gen. Abdul Fateh al-Sisi—the man who ousted former President Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood in response to the June Revolution and who is seen as the nation’s de facto ruler—declared that “Religious discourse is the greatest battle and challenge facing the Egyptian people, and pointed to the need for a new vision and a modern, comprehensive understanding of the religion of Islam—rather than relying on a discourse that has not changed for 800 years.”
Sisi further “called on all who follow the true Islam to improve the image of this religion in front of the world, after Islam has been for decades convicted of violence and destruction around the world, due to the crimes falsely committed in the name of Islam.”
As with the pronunciations of Bahrain’s crown prince, so far so good. Yet what has Sisi actually done about renewing Islamic discourse since becoming president? “Absolutely nothing,” says one prominent Egyptian journalist. Speaking recently on his popular TV show, Ibrahim Eissa said:
What is the position of the Egyptian government concerning religious radicalization among the religious parties? And now I specifically refer to the position of President Sisi concerning this matter. Five months have passed since he became president, after his amazing showing at elections. Okay: the president has, more than once, indicated the need for a renewal of religious discourse…. But he has not done a single thing, President Sisi, to renew religious discourse. Nothing at all.
Actually, if anything, it appears the Sisi government has done the reverse, for instance, allowing Salafis—those Egyptian Muslims most similar in ideology to ISIS—to return to the podium. One political activist called this move
a major setback that will make it that much harder for the government to combat reactionary thinking—and this, after the Egyptian public had made great strides against such thinking…. Permitting the Salafi sheikhs to ascend to the pulpits again revives the bitter experiences of confronting this form of thinking, bringing us back to square one.
Individuals aside, what about important Islamic institutions that ostensibly condemn terrorism? How influential are they? This last December 5, the embassy of Egypt issued a press release saying,
Al-Azhar, the oldest center for Islamic learning, pressed for Muslims to combat extremist ideology at an international conference [possibly the same one that the crown prince of Bahrain spoke at] …. Delegitimizing the ideology of ISIS is an important pillar of the global effort to combat the group. Egypt’s religious leaders play a critical role in that effort.
Good words. Yet, for all its talk about “combatting extremist ideology,” Al Azhar University—perhaps Islam’s most authoritative voice—will not even denounce the Islamic State as “un-Islamic.”
When pressed on it, an Al Azhar spokesman, Abbas Shouman, recently said: “As an official entity, Al Azhar has never in all its history proclaimed anyone or any organization as un-Islamic …. [B]eing occupied by this question will not lead to anything,” because “Al Azhar will not judge ISIS or its Islam as un-Islamic, for it is not its right, neither concerning ISIS nor anyone else.”
But, as one human rights advocate in Egypt was quick to quip: “What, didn’t the ulema and sheikhs of Al Azhar denounce as un-Islamic Naguib Mahfouz and Farag Foda and others from among the intellectuals and writers whose activities were stopped and some of whom were assassinated due to Al Azhar’s position?”
Indeed, Farag Foda was a prominent Egyptian professor, writer, and human rights activist who was assassinated after being denounced by none other than Al Azhar. And although Naguib Mahfouz won the Noble Prize for Literature, his literature was denounced by Al Azhar and, predictably, he was stabbed in the neck with a knife when he was 82-years-old outside his home.
What accounts for this stark double standard—that Al Azhar will vent against secular/humanist Muslims, thus inciting the mob against them, while refusing to denounce the cancerous Islamic State? Or that it will denounce terrorism, but praise jihad (as in this bizarre article full of twisted logic and semantic quibbling)?
Muhammad Abdullah Nasr, coordinator of a group of former Al Azhar graduates who support a civil government, explains:
The Islamic State can never denounce the Islamic State as un-Islamic. For the Islamic State is the working, postgraduate project for graduates from Al Azhar. And after this statement [refusing to denounce IS as “un-Islamic”], Al Azhar’s mask has fallen…. Everything that the Islamic State does exists in the curriculum of Al Azhar and is taught to students, including apostasy [punishing Muslims who leave Islam], payment of jizya, sex slaves and the captivity of women.
At this late point in the game—as I write, Islamic jihadis are terrorizing Sydney, Australia—all purported Muslim moderates and reformers, individuals and organizations, need to understand—or rather, be made to understand by their Western counterparts—that talking the talk is no longer enough: they must walk the walk before they can ever be taken seriously.

Carnage as Taliban Storm Pakistan School, Kill 141

Naharnet/Taliban insurgents stormed an army-run school in Pakistan on Tuesday, killing at least 141 people, almost all of them children, in Pakistan's bloodiest ever terror attack. Survivors described how the militants went from room to room shooting children as young as 12 during the eight-hour onslaught at the Army Public School in the northwestern city of Peshawar. The attack, claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as revenge for a major military offensive in the region, was condemned by the U.S., U.N. and major Western powers as well as Pakistan's arch-rival India.
The Pakistani government and military reaffirmed their determination to defeat the TTP, which has killed thousands since it began its insurgency in 2007. Chief military spokesman General Asim Bajwa said 132 students and nine staff were killed, and 125 wounded. This exceeds the 139 killed in blasts targeting former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in Karachi in 2007. Teenage survivor Shahrukh Khan described his narrow escape from the militants as they rampaged through the school, hunting for people to kill. The 16-year-old said he and his classmates ducked below their desks when four gunmen burst into their room.
"I saw a pair of big black boots coming towards me, this guy was probably hunting for students hiding beneath the benches," Khan told Agence France-Presse from the trauma ward of the city's Lady Reading Hospital Khan decided to play dead after being shot in both legs, stuffing his tie into his mouth to stifle his screams.
"The man with big boots kept on looking for students and pumping bullets into their bodies. I lay as still as I could and closed my eyes, waiting to get shot again," he said.
"My body was shivering. I saw death so close and I will never forget the black boots approaching me -- I felt as though it was death that was approaching me."There were around 500 students in the school when the attack started, and Bajwa said the attackers, equipped with ammunition and food to last "days", only wanted to kill.
"The terrorists started indiscriminate firing as they entered the auditorium so they had no intention of taking any hostages," he told reporters. The Lady Reading Hospital was thronged with distraught parents weeping uncontrollably as children's bodies arrived, their school uniforms drenched in blood. Irshadah Bibi, 40, whose 12-year-old son was among the dead, beat her face in grief, throwing herself against an ambulance. "O God, why did you snatch away my son? What is the sin of my child and all these children?" she wept.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced three days of national mourning and described the attack as a "national tragedy unleashed by savages."
"These were my children. This is my loss. This is the nation's loss," he said.
Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousafzai, herself shot by the Taliban in 2012, said she was "heartbroken" by "the senseless and cold-blooded" killing. U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the attack as "heinous" and said America would stand by Pakistan in its struggle against violent extremism. Narendra Modi, the prime minister of Pakistan's neighbor and bitter rival India, phoned Sharif to offer condolences, Sharif's office said. The school on Peshawar's Warsak Road is part of the Army Public Schools and Colleges System, which runs schools nationwide. Its students range in age from around 10 to 18.
Tuesday's attack was seen as shocking even by the standards of Pakistan, which has suffered thousands of deaths in bomb and gun attacks since the TTP rose up in 2007.
TTP spokesman Muhammad Khorasani said Tuesday's assault was carried out to avenge Taliban fighters and their families killed in the army's offensive against militant strongholds in North Waziristan. "We are doing this because we want them to feel the pain of how terrible it is when your loved ones are killed," he said. "We are taking this step so that their families should mourn as ours are mourning." The military has hailed the offensive as a major success in disrupting the TTP's insurgency. More than 1,600 militants have been killed since the launch of operation Zarb-e-Azb in June, according to data compiled by AFP from regular military statements. Talat Masood, a retired general and security analyst, said the attack was intended to weaken the military's resolve. "The militants know they won't be able to strike at the heart of the military, they don't have the capacity. So they are going for soft targets," Masood told AFP. Agence France Presse

Brent Oil Sinks under $59 on Mounting Global Tensions
Naharnet/Oil suffered another dizzying plunge on Tuesday, with Brent crude sliding to a five-year low under $59 as markets were rocked by shrinking Chinese manufacturing output and turmoil in Russia. At midday in London, benchmark contract Brent North Sea crude for January delivery slumped to $58.50 per barrel -- the lowest level since May 2009 -- and New York's West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for January hit a similar nadir at $53.80. The oil market has plummeted by almost 50 percent since June, dented also by OPEC's recent decision to hold its output ceiling in an oversupplied market. Sentiment was hit by the Russian central bank's shock move to raise interest rates to 17 percent, which has failed to arrest the slide of the ruble.
The Russian ruble crashed to new record lows Tuesday, losing some 20 percent in value by the afternoon despite drastic overnight measures by the central bank to hike the key rate. The ruble hit 80 to the dollar and 100 to the euro on the Moscow Exchange.
- 'Triple blow' to markets -
"The combined effects of slumping oil, the Russian Central Bank’s interest rate hike and falling output from China have all come together to deliver a triple blow to the markets," said ETX Capital analyst Daniel Sugarman.
"Lower output from China means less of a need for oil, while as a primary oil producer Russia really feels the pain of lower oil prices, compounded by the sanctions imposed earlier this year."European stock markets saw volatile trading on Tuesday, sliding in morning deals on tumbling oil prices before rebounding briefly on news of bright investor sentiment in eurozone engine Germany. However, Europe's main indices hit reverse gear again in early afternoon trade, in line with a renewed plunge in oil, which weigh on the profits and share prices of energy companies. "Everywhere you look at the moment, there is bad global news, be it the ruble, Chinese manufacturing, or most significantly, Brent crude oil," Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell told Agence France Presse.
"If something doesn’t change, be it an OPEC/USA decision on oil, or a lifting of sanctions on Russia, the markets are going to be unable to build up a substantial bullish run to drag the global economic situation into calmer waters."
In early afternoon deals, Frankfurt's benchmark DAX 30 index fell 0.90 percent to 9,255.69 points, and the CAC 40 in Paris shed 1.55 percent to 3,943.46 compared with Monday's close. London's FTSE 100 slid 0.09 percent to 6,177.92 points, despite data showing Britain's annual inflation rate slowed to a 12-year low of 1.0 percent in November.
Asian stock markets mostly fell Tuesday following Monday's sell-off in Europe and the United States that was rooted in the sliding oil prices.
Hong Kong equities shed 1.55 percent, Sydney fell 0.65 percent and Tokyo dived 2.01 percent in value. Shanghai stocks however jumped 2.31 percent on hopes the government will introduce new measures to spur economic growth.
The ruble has now lost nearly 60 percent of its value since the start of the year amid the collapsing oil prices and Western sanctions over Russia's support for the separatist uprising in eastern Ukraine. Half of Russia's revenues come from oil and gas, and the 50 percent slump in oil prices in the past six months has had a major impact on the country's economy. Investors also fretted over news that China's manufacturing activity worsened in December with HSBC's purchasing managers' index (PMI) hitting a seven-month low, signalling weakness in the world's second-largest economy and top energy consumer.
The preliminary PMI for the month came in at 49.5, below the break-even point dividing expansion and contraction.
- Euro rises on data -
The European single currency meanwhile rose Tuesday to $1.2541 from $1.2435 late Monday, lifted by upbeat eurozone and German data on the eve of the U.S. Federal Reserve's latest monetary policy decision. German investment sentiment rose sharply in December after a rebound the previous month, driven by a weak euro and plunging oil prices, a survey showed Tuesday. The investor confidence index, calculated by the ZEW economic institute, jumped by 23.4 points in December, after rising for the first time this year in November, ZEW said in a statement. In addition, a key survey showed that business activity in the eurozone accelerated slightly in December. Markit Economics said its Composite Purchasing Managers Output Index for the 18-country zone that uses the single currency rose marginally to 51.7 points in December from 51.1 points in November. Agence France Presse

Australian agencies must learn from their first major terrorist attack on home ground
DEBKAfile Special Report December 16, 2014
The 17-hour cycle of Australia’s first major Islamist terrorist experience at home, which began early Monday, Dec. 16, with a hostage siege at the Lindt chocolate café in Sydney’s bustling central business district, will have afforded its counter-terror services more operational lessons than any studies of past incidents or attacks in far-off places.
The 1996 Port Arthur massacre, in which Martin Bryant killed 35 people at the historic Port Arthur prison colony, was one of the deadliest shootings ever committed by a single person. Its outcome in another century was hardly relevant to this week’s hostage siege in Sydney, any more than the smaller incidents in the same city and Brisbane four months ago.
The Lindt affair was brought to an end by an armed commando raid on the darkened café to free the 15-30 hostages, two of whom were killed along with the lone hostage-taker, a dodgy self-styled sheikh who accumulated a long criminal record after reaching Australia as a refugee from Iran.
Compared with most counter-terror agencies in other parts of the world – especially at the hands of Islamist jihadis - the New South Wales police had some high-value advantages to work with: They were fed a steady stream of inside information through the hostages’ smart phones and social media; they were familiar with the scene in the besieged café from detailed descriptions by the five to ten hostages who managed to escape; they were supported by a disciplined, law-abiding public which respected police directives.
The hostage-taker, Man Haran Monis, who did not survive the commando raid, showed no sign of the bloodlust familiar from most radical Islamist outrages, although it is still not clear whether the two hostages who died in the last stage of the episode, the manager of the café, Tony Johnson, aged 34 and 38-year old barrister Katrina Dawson, were killed by Monis or by rescuers’ bullets.
Described by Prime Minister Tony Abbott as a “deeply disturbed individual”, he was not on any Australian terror watch list. But the national law enforcement agencies were all familiar with his criminal profile, could refer to clips depicting his public performances and were updated by the prisoners on how he was behaving and armed.
By dragging out the negotiations with pointless demands, the self-styled radical cleric treated religious fanatics of the world to a sustained dose of publicity as, hour by hour, TV screens flashed live broadcasts. A brief episode would have robbed the hostage-taker of this objective.
But it could have been shorter had trained army raiders split up into three groups at an earlier stage, stormed the café through two entrances and the glass frontage by clambering down from the roof by rope. Then, stun grenades and precise gunfire might have ended the episode sooner with fewer casualties.
However the interaction with the hostages, a critical increment for procuring advance intelligence on the availability of entrances and during the course of the operation, was not put to sufficient use for bringing it to a clean and speedy conclusion.
Our intelligence sources refer to the easily obtainable electronic-magnetic “dome,” which could have served to channel the cell phone communications from the hostages held in the Lindt café directly to the counter-terror service’s situation room. SMS messages, MMS images and video clips would have been beamed directly to the right address in an orderly fashion, instead of going round to the hostages’ relatives who had to be contacted by the police for this information.
The hostages could have been clued to use their video cameras to record images and conversations for live input on what was happening minute by minute in the siege café, and been warned to lie down and protect themselves, or escape, ahead of the commando assault.
Australia’s security services are no doubt making a close study of how the café siege unfolded and the improvements necessary for handling any potential terrorist attacks in the future.
Australia, which fights the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq as a member of the US-led coalition, is braced for a new phase of terrorism. Its security services are anxiously watching out for the possible return home of the estimated 70 Australians thought to be fighting with jihadis in the Middle East, or even for more lone wolf terror by individuals radicalized by jihadi ideology.