LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Bible Quotation For Today/Fourth
Sunday of Great Lent: Sunday of the Prodigal Son
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 15,11-32.
Then Jesus said, ‘There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, "Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me." So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and travelled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, "How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.’ "So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son." But the father said to his slaves, "Quickly, bring out a robe the best one and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!" And they began to celebrate. ‘Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, "Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound." Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, "Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!" Then the father said to him, "Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found." ’
Bible Quotation For Today/Fourth
Sunday of Great Lent: Sunday of the Prodigal Son
Second Letter to the Corinthians 13/05-13: "Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you? unless, indeed, you fail to pass the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed. But we pray to God that you may not do anything wrong not that we may appear to have passed the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we are weak and you are strong. This is what we pray for, that you may become perfect. So I write these things while I am away from you, so that when I come, I may not have to be severe in using the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down. Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you."
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on March
US and Israeli intelligence at sharp odds on Iran’s breakout time to a bomb/DEBKAfile/March 07/15
Raise scholastic standards to address ISIS’ deviant ideology/Samar Fatany/Al Arabiya/March 07/15
A long trail of blood and tears/Hisham Melhem/Al Arabiya/March 07/15
Lebanese Related News published on
Syrian Detainee Confesses to Heading Armed Groups, Combating Army in Arsal
Report: Detained Syrian Terrorist Denies Involvement in Execution of Servicemen
Report: Breakthrough in Arsal Captives Case as Lebanon Handed Detainee List from Captors
Lebanese Christian converts to Islam, blows himself up for Islamic State
10 People Suffer from Food Poisoning in Tripoli
Two Killed in Traffic Accident in Baalbek
Amos: Syrian Refugees Make up 25 to 30 Percent of Lebanon's Population
Report: Dahiyeh Security Plan Will Be Implemented in Two Weeks
Report: Hariri to Meet Sisi in Cairo on Sunday
Report: Approval of New Constitutional Council in Limbo over Presidential Vacuum
Qahwaji: Atmosphere in Lebanon Will Determine Nature of Next President
Mashnouq, Gemayel to Hold Separate Visits to U.S. in March
Berri Welcomes Resumption of Cabinet Work, Says Time to Hold Legislative Sessions
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
Reports: ISIS bulldozed ancient Hatra city in Mosul
Netanyahu's secret peace offer concessions
U.S., France play down divisions on Iran deal
Loud noise triggers security alert at White House
Egypt to temporarily reopen Rafah crossing with Gaza
Egypt carries out first hanging over pro-Mursi violence
Egypt brands law banning dual-nationals in parliament ‘unconstitutional’
Man spotted at Harvard seeking donations for ISIS
US man says he planned to bomb Israeli embassy
British MPs reject calls to ban religious slaughter of animals
WATCH: Islamist gunman says parliament attack spurred by Canada military action
President Hadi says Aden is Yemen’s ‘capital’
Erdogan Attacks West for not Taking more Syrian Refugees
Iran Open to Regional Cooperation 'against Extremism'
Jihad Watch Site Latest Reports
Over 100 freed Gitmo detainees have returned to jihad
Mali: Muslim screaming “Allahu akbar” murders five in nightclub
Islamic State destroys 2,000-year-old city of Hatra
Three Bombings Blamed on Boko Haram Kill 58 in NE Nigeria
Boko Haram murders 50 as it pledges allegiance to the Islamic State
650 Muslims from Germany have joined the Islamic State
UK: Admirer of Awlaki who called for killing US & UK troops speaks at Parliament
Saudi Sharia court sentences gang rape victim to 200 lashes
Australia: Teen jihadi wannabes caught at airport and sent home
Female Islamic State recruiter arrested at Barcelona airport
The Lost Son Parable and Repentance
Lent is a prime time for spiritual change through genuine praying, serious and in depth self-examination, return to the roots of faith, repentance and forgiveness. Almighty God is ready and always willing to turn everything around and take the hands of those who seriously and honestly pursue His mercy with perseverance forgiveness and repentance. He, with love and extreme happiness leads their steps towards all virtues of righteousness. He who in the Cana Wedding changed the water into wine and cleaned the Leper is willing all the time also to transform our minds and consciences from wickedness to goodness and salvation if and when we call for His help.
In our Maronite Catholic Church's rite, on the Fourth Lent Sunday we recall and cite the biblical Lost Son's parable that is known also as The Prodigal Son. This impulsive, selfish and thoughtless son, as the parable tells us, fell prey to evil's temptation and decided to take his share of his father's inheritance and leave the parental dwelling.
He travelled to a far-away city where he indulged badly in all evil conducts of pleasure and corruption until he lost all his money and became penniless. He experienced severe poverty, starvation, humiliation and loneliness. In the midst of his dire hardships he felt nostalgic, came back to his senses and decided with great self confidence to return back to his father's house, kneel on his feet and ask him for forgiveness. On his return his loving and kind father received him with rejoice, open arms, accepted his repentance, and happily forgave him all his misdeeds. Because of his sincere repentance his Father gave him back all his privileges as a son.
The Lost (prodigal) Son's parable: Luke15/11-32: He said, “A certain man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of your property.’ He divided his livelihood between them. Not many days after, the younger son gathered all of this together and traveled into a far country. There he wasted his property with riotous living. When he had spent all of it, there arose a severe famine in that country, and he began to be in need. He went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed pigs. He wanted to fill his belly with the husks that the pigs ate, but no one gave him any. 15:17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough to spare, and I’m dying with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will tell him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight. I am no more worthy to be called your son. Make me as one of your hired servants .”’ “He arose, and came to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe, and put it on him. Put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. Bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat, and celebrate; for this, my son, was dead, and is alive again. He was lost, and is found.’ They began to celebrate. “Now his elder son was in the field. As he came near to the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the servants to him, and asked what was going on. He said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and healthy.’ But he was angry, and would not go in. Therefore his father came out, and begged him. But he answered his father, ‘Behold, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed a commandment of yours, but you never gave me a goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 15:30 But when this, your son, came, who has devoured your living with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ “He said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But it was appropriate to celebrate and be glad, for this, your brother, was dead, and is alive again. He was lost, and is found.
This parable is a road map for repentance and forgiveness. It shows us how much Almighty God our Father loves us, we His children and how He is always ready with open arms and willing to forgive our sins and trespasses when we come back to our senses, recognize right from wrong, admit our weaknesses and wrongdoings, eagerly and freely return to Him and with faith and repentance ask for His forgiveness.
Asking Almighty God for what ever we need is exactly what the Holy Bible instructs us to do when encountering all kinds of doubt, weaknesses, stumbling, hard times, sickness, loneliness, persecution, injustice etc. Matthew 7/7&8: "Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened" All what we have to do is pray and to ask Him with faith, self confidence and humility and He will respond. Matthew 21/22: "All things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
We are not left alone at any time, especially when in trouble, no matter how far we distance ourselves from God and disobey His Holy bible. He is a Father, a loving, caring and forgiving Father. What is definite is that in spite of our foolishness, stupidity, ignorance, defiance and ingratitude He never ever abandons us or gives up on our salvation. He loves us because we His are children. He happily sent His only begotten son to be tortured, humiliated and crucified in a bid to absolve our original sin.
God carries our burdens and helps us to fight all kinds of Evil temptations. Matthew11/28-30: "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” God is waiting for our repentance, let us run to Him and ask for forgiveness before it is too late.
May Almighty God Bless the Soul of Sgt. Andrew Joseph
"Yahweh gave, and Yahweh has taken away. Blessed be Yahweh’s name" (Job01/20)
With deep sadness we learned earlier today about the unfortunate friendly fire incident that took place in North Iraq and in which a Canadian special forces soldier, Sgt. Andrew Joseph Doiron has been killed and three others wounded.
From the LCCC. "The Lebanese Canadian Coordinating Council", we offer our sincere condolences to Sgt. Doiron's bereaved family, comrades, friends and to all Canadians far and wide who are mourning in the wake of his passing.
At the same time our thoughts and prayers go to the quick recovery of the all the injured.
Thank you Sgt. Doiron' for the precious sacrifice, your life, that courageously you gave to Canada and for maintaining of world peace. You are a Hero, and as we all know heroes like you will never be forgotten. rest in peace and may Almighty God Bless your soul.
For the LCCC
Canadian special forces soldier killed by Kurdish friendly fire in Iraq
The Canadian Press/By Murray Brewster, March 07/15
OTTAWA - A Canadian special forces soldier has been killed and three others wounded in a friendly fire incident in northern Iraq.
National Defence says the troops, who were training local forces, had just returned to an observation post at the front line when they were mistakenly fired upon by Kurdish fighters late Friday.
The military identifies the soldier as Sgt. Andrew Joseph Doiron, from the Canadian Special Operations Regiment, based at Garrison Petawawa, Ont.
In a statement, the military says the three wounded members are receiving medical care, but it does not indicate the extent of their injuries or whether they will have to be moved to a larger medical facility.
The special forces contingent, whose mission is to advise and assist Iraqi and Kurdish troops in their battle against Islamic State extremists, is based near the northern city of Irbil.
The military did not say precisely where incident took place, but Kurdish forces have been conducting a shaping operations in the vicinity of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, in preparation for an all-out offensive later this year.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed "deep sadness" over the death of Doiron, but in a statement he also stressed it's imperative that the coalition air strikes against the Islamic State continue.
“Our government and the Canadian Armed Forces take the duty to protect Canadians seriously," Harper's statement said. "Part of that duty requires us to stand tall and shoulder our share of the burden in the fight against ISIL."
Canada has 600 personnel involved in the international campaign against the Islamic State, most of them belong to an air task force of CF-18 jets, surveillance planes and a refueller, based in Kuwait.
The country's top military commander, in a statement, expressed profound sadness.
"We have lost another invaluable member of our family," said Gen. Tom Lawson, the chief of defence staff. "A soldier and a warrior, Sgt. Doiron was a consummate professional appreciated by all. His sacrifice will not be forgotten."
The commander of special forces, Brig.-Gen. Michael Rouleau, described Doiron as a gifted special forces operator and a leader.
"He loved his job and the people he soldiered with," Rouleau said in a statement.
"We grieve with Drew's family and extend our condolences to them. Our thoughts are also with our three injured operators. We will bring Drew home with all dignity and wrap our arms around our injured brothers and we will carry on with our important mission in Iraq."
The incident comes as the Harper government is actively debating whether to extend the country's combat mission, which is due to expire at the end of the month.
When the roughly 69 special forces troops deployed last September, the government took pains to emphasize they would be training the Kurds in battlefield and communication skills far behind the front lines.
But it was revealed in late January that the troops had been accompanying their charges to forward outposts, and they had been involved in three firefights with extremists.
And they were even guiding coalition airstrikes by "painting" extremist positions with for pointers for the laser-guided bombs.
Lawson described the change by saying the mission was "evolving."
Harper, Lawson and former defence minister Rob Nicholson, who is now at foreign affairs, have repeatedly underlined that they don't believe what the elite troops are doing constitutes combat because they are firing only in self defence.
From the beginning, Harper has acknowledged the danger.
"We don’t think the risks are enormous but the risks are very real," the prime minister said the day he announced the deployment.
New Democrats, who voted against the air combat mission when it came before Parliament last fall, expressed shock and sadness on Saturday with the latest developments.
"We offer our most sincere condolences, on behalf of the entire NDP caucus, to Sergeant Doiron's family, friends and to his extended family - the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces," Opposition leader Tom Mulcair said in a statement. "We also wish a swift recovery to the three brave soldiers who were injured in this friendly fire incident."
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau also expressed his condolences.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement on the tragic
death of a Canadian Armed Forces member in Iraq:
7 March 2015
Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement on the tragic death of a Canadian Armed Forces member in Iraq:
“It is with deep sadness that I learned that Sergeant Andrew Joseph Doiron was killed in a friendly fire incident while advising and assisting Iraqi Kurdish forces in Iraq on March 6, 2015.
“On behalf of all Canadians, Laureen and I offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Sergeant Doiron. We also offer our prayers for the speedy recovery of the other three injured members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
“Canadians are rightly proud of the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces. We support their families, and we honour all those who make the sacrifices necessary to safeguard our country and our highest values.
“This tragic incident reminds us of the very real risks that our brave men and women in uniform assume on our behalf to defend the freedoms that we cherish.
“Almost daily we see new evidence of the violent threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. More than ever, it is imperative that we, along with the more than sixty countries in the coalition, continue the campaign to halt ISIL’s spread and reduce its capacity to carry out terrorist attacks abroad and here in Canada.
“Our Government and the Canadian Armed Forces take the duty to protect Canadians seriously. Part of that duty requires us to stand tall and shoulder our share of the burden in the fight against ISIL. We are proud to do our part, and grateful to the men and women to whom it falls to carry out our commitment to peace and security.
“Sergeant Doiron lost his life in the line of duty. We will honour and remember his service to Canada.”
Statement by Minister of National Defence Jason Kenney on death of a Canadian soldier in Iraq
The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement today on the death of a Canadian soldier in Iraq.
“As Minister of National Defence, I extend my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Sergeant Andrew Joseph Doiron of the Canadian Special Operations Regiment, based at Garrison Petawawa, Ontario.
“Sergeant Doiron was a true Canadian patriot, whose bravery and dedication to Canada’s security is an inspiration to us all. May he rest in peace.
“Sergeant Doiron was killed while conducting advise and assist operations in Iraq when he and other members of the Special Operations Forces were mistakenly engaged by Iraqi Kurdish forces following their return to an observation post behind the front lines.
“Three other Canadian Special Operations Forces personnel were also wounded, all of whom are in stable condition. Our thoughts and prayers are with them for their recovery.
“We remain committed to our mission of supporting our allies in the fight against ISIL's campaign of hatred and terror.”
10 People Suffer from Food Poisoning in Tripoli
Naharnet /Ten people suffered on Saturday from food poisoning in the northern city of Tripoli, reported the National News Agency. First aid was administered to the victims before they were transferred to the Dar al-Shifa hospital.
The poisoning took place at the Abi Samra vocational school. NNA said that they were poisoned from eating spoiled cheese, while MTV said they were poisoned from spoiled croissants purchased from a nearby shop.
Health Minister Wael Abou Faour tasked head of the health authority in the North to head to the school and follow up on the case. Seven of the victims were identified as Azwa Abdullah, Nadine al-Masri, Fatima Samadi, Hilal Thamin, Hiba Rifaat, Badrieh Nassif, and Rayan Sharif. They are in stable condition.
Syrian Detainee Confesses to Heading Armed Groups, Combating Army in Arsal
Naharnet/The army announced on Saturday that it had arrested in February a Syrian national who confessed to belonging to armed terrorist groups. Hassan Mohammed Jamil Harba, who was detained on February 27, admitted to heading an armed group that was active in the outskirts of Flita and Arsal in the eastern Bekaa area. He has since been referred to the concerned judicial authorities. Harba was also part of the group that launched an assault against an army checkpoint in Arsal's Wadi al-Hosn region. The attack took place in August when Islamic State and al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front groups overran Arsal and engaged in battles with the army. A number of servicemen were abducted from the town in the wake of the fighting. A few have since been released, four were executed, while the rest remain held. The army communique added that in light of the kidnapping, Harba and his group launched an attack against a military checkpoint in the Wadi Hmeid area in Arsal. He failed to seize control of it, but waged several other consequent attacks against it. In September, Harba announced his allegiance to a terrorist group and was appointed its security chief in Arsal. He was handed seven explosives, each weighing three kilograms, with the aim of planting them at army positions. He succeeded in placing an explosive and detonating it on al-Masyada road. Another explosive was placed near the Hariri clinic in Arsal, but a military expert managed to dismantle it. The suspect planted another explosive on the Wadi Ata road in Arsal, but it failed to detonate. Furthermore, Harba is also accused of parking a booby-trapped vehicle in Arsal, but it too did not detonate. The army managed to dismantle the bomb. In addition, said the military statement, the detainee confessed to attempting to target members of the Fleiti family through a booby-trapped vehicle in Arsal. He also admitted to killing a number of Syrians in the outskirts of Arsal. Moreover, he revealed the identity of a number of individuals who are tasked with booby-trapping cars and the names of others linked to terrorist activity. Earlier this week, the Army Intelligence arrested a Syrian national who was involved in the Arsal clashes and the abduction of the servicemen.
Report: Detained Syrian Terrorist
Denies Involvement in Execution of Servicemen
Naharnet /A Syrian member of the Islamic State group, who was arrested earlier this week, denied that he was involved in the execution of Lebanese servicemen who were abducted in the northeastern border town of Arsal in August, reported As Safir newspaper on Saturday.
It said that Hassan Ghurelli repeatedly denied to investigators his involvement in the executions despite being confronted by Syrian detainee confessions who had mentioned his name in the killings.
Army Intelligence arrested Ghurelli, also known as Abu Harith al-Ansari, on March 3 from Farhat Hospital in the eastern Bekaa town of Jeb Jennine.
He was receiving treatment to head injuries he sustained in battles with the army in the Ras Baalbek region in Bekaa on February 23.
He managed to receive the medical treatment through the aid of Lebanese who are cooperating with takfiri groups, said As Safir.
He had reportedly told the army that he sustained his injury in a motorcycle accident. Ghurelli had nearly managed to be discharged from hospital to return to the terrorist groups in the outskirts of Arsal had it not been for information being relayed to the Army Intelligence from the hospital that he was present at the facility. The news prompted the army to re-interrogate him and verify the claims over his injuries, added As Safir.
The arrival of the army took him by surprise and he soon confessed to his deeds, it reported. He confessed that in 2014 he was part of an armed group that was overseeing al-Zamrani crossing that was receiving its orders from the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front group.
In mid-summer of 2014, he, along with most of the members of that armed group, joined the ranks of the Islamic State.
Ghurelli was at the head of a group that seized the Arsal servicemen, said As Safir. He informed investigators that he was a witness to the executions of Ali al-Sayyed and Abbas Medlej, adding that he also helped in burying them.
He also confessed to receiving training from IS-affiliated groups, saying that he was aware of a number of operations they had carried out against the army and civilian areas in Lebanon.
He gave information on the structure and hierarchy of the terrorist groups present in the outskirts of Arsal and al-Qalamoun region.
In light of his confessions, a number of Syrian refugee encampments in the Bekaa were raided on Friday.
On his role in the August clashes with the army in Arsal, the daily An Nahar Saturday said that Ghurelli led a terrorist group in attacking a military post in the Wadi al-Hosn area in Arsal, where he killed a number of soldiers.
He confessed to personally transporting soldier Ali Qassem al-Ali from Arsal.
The fate of the soldier remained unknown for some time until news of his death in the wake of the battles was announced recently.
Ghurelli confirmed claims that al-Ali was initially beheaded with his body later being shot by terrorists, a high-ranking security source told An Nahar.
Military Examining Judge Imad al-Zein interrogated Ghurelli and issued an arrest warrant and charges against him, said As Safir.
Some charges carry the death penalty if he is convicted.
State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr charged him with belonging to an armed terrorist group, taking part in battling the army, and kidnapping military personnel.
In August, extremists from the IS and al-Nusra Front overran Arsal where they engaged in brief clashes with the army.
They withdrew from the town at the end of the fighting, but kidnapped with them a number of servicemen.
A few were released, four were executed, while the rest remain held.
The IS and al-Nusra Front want to exchange the captives with Islamist prisoners in Lebanon and Syria.
Three Bombings Blamed on Boko Haram Kill 58 in NE Nigeria
Naharnet/Three bombings, including one by a female suicide attacker, killed at least 58 people and wounded 139 others in northeast Nigeria on Saturday, in the latest violence blamed on Boko Haram. Many children were among the dead in the explosions that hit two crowded markets and a busy bus station in Maiduguri, the region's largest city and capital of the embattled Borno state. The Nigerian Islamist militants have relentlessly attacked Maiduguri throughout their six-year uprising, which has cost more than 13,000 lives and security forces in the city have struggled to contain the bloodshed. Nigeria has since last month claimed key victories over Boko Haram in an offensive being waged in cooperation with forces from neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
Several towns and villages in the northeast previously captured by the insurgents have reportedly been taken back by government troops and experts have said that in response Boko Haram was likely to increase attacks on civilian targets in major cities.
- Markets, bus station attacked – A woman with explosives strapped to her body blew herself up at roughly 11:20 am (1020 GMT) when she got out of a motorized rickshaw at Maiduguri’s Baga fish market, said the head of the fisherman’s union, Abubakar Gamandi, who was at the scene.“The bomb was devastating because it occurred at a crowded area,” said Jamuna Jarmi, a grocery seller. Boko Haram has deployed women and even girls as young as seven as human bombs in attacks across northern Nigeria in recent months, prompting global condemnation, including from other jihadist groups. About an hour later another blast rocked the popular Monday Market, causing chaos as locals voiced anger at security forces who struggled to control the scene. Just after 1:00 pm a third blast hit a used car lot which is attached to the busy Borno Express bus terminal. There were indications that the second and thirds blasts were also carried out by suicide bombers but details were not immediately clear. Borno's police commissioner Clement Adoda gave a toll of 58 dead "for the three locations" and 139 wounded. "Normalcy has been restored," he added, declining to give further details. Gamandi, who was supporting rescue workers at Maiduguri General Hospital, told AFP that "the dead include women and children" but said most of the victims were men.Danlami Ajaokuta, a vigilante leader whose fighters have been working with military across the northeast, said the security forces had ordered the closure of all businesses in Maiduguri fearing the prospect of further attacks.
Borno State’s Justice Commissioner Kaka Shehu blamed Boko Haram for Saturday's violence, describing it as a response to the defeats suffered by the insurgents in recent weeks.“The terrorists are angry with the way they were sacked from towns and villages and are now venting their anger,” Shehu told AFP.
- Elections looming –
Nigeria postponed its elections initially scheduled for February to March 28 after security chiefs said they needed more time to weaken Boko Haram.While reported victories in the remote northeast may enable polling in areas previously controlled by the insurgents, rising unrest in Maiduguri is likely to raise fear as election day approaches. Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau has vowed to disrupt the vote and widespread attacks, especially near polling stations, could prove disastrous. Hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the conflict are living in Maiduguri, swelling the city’s population to well over two million. Maiduguri residents have voiced overwhelming support for opposition leader and former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, who is thought to be running neck-and-neck with President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari, a Muslim from the north of religiously divided Nigeria, is expected to poll well among those hit hardest by Boko Haram. But Jonathan, a Christian from the southern oil producing Niger Delta region, is still seen as having considerable support in many areas and analysts have said the likely result is still to close to call. Agence France Presse
Lebanese Christian converts to Islam, blows himself up for Islamic State
March 7, 2015 9:30 am
By Robert Spencer
Islamic StateOnce Haddad converted to Islam, he probably came into the company of people who affirmed their love for death. And so his jihad-martyrdom suicide attack is no surprise.
Islamic supremacists frequently affirm how much they love death. Austrian Muslim teenage girls who recently traveled to Syria for jihad announced: “Death is our goal.” Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said: “I’m even longing for death, you vagabond.” A Muslim child preacher recently taunted those he has been taught to hate most: “Oh Zionists, we love death for the sake of Allah, just as much as you love life for the sake of Satan.” Jihad mass murderer Mohamed Merah said that he “loved death more than they loved life.”
Ayman al-Zawahiri’s wife advised Muslim women: “I advise you to raise your children in the cult of jihad and martyrdom and to instil in them a love for religion and death.” And as one jihadist put it, “We love death. You love your life!” And another: “The Americans love Pepsi-Cola, we love death.” That was from Afghan jihadist Maulana Inyadullah.
This idea comes from the Qur’an: Say, “O you who are Jews, if you claim that you are allies of Allah, excluding the people, then wish for death, if you should be truthful.” (62:6)
“Man from Christian family turns into ISIS suicide bomber,” The Daily Star, February 27, 2015 (thanks to The Religion of Peace):
TRIPOLI, Lebanon: When 28-year-old Charlie Sleiman Haddad showed up at the office of the mukhtar of Tripoli’s neighborhood of Zahrieh George Atieh four months ago to get a passport, the latter did not know that the young man intended to go to Turkey to join ISIS.
Charlie left for Turkey and was never heard from again but Lebanese security forces received information that he had died carrying out a suicide mission in Iraq for ISIS.
Instead of making his story known, the security forces decided to keep it hidden, family members said, to protect Charlie’s two brothers, one of whom is an officer with the Internal Security Forces and another a training cadet at the military school.
An As-Safir report published Thursday reported that Charlie visited Turkey twice, where he received military training from ISIS before he departed for Syria, according to statements given by his brother during interrogations with Army intelligence.
Charlie is the second Lebanese Christian known to have joined ISIS’ ranks. George Nabih Dibeh, 23, who disappeared a few days ago, is suspected of having joined ISIS in Iraq.
In January, Elie Tony al-Warraq, a 22-year-old Christian resident of Tripoli’s impoverished neighborhood of Qibbeh, was one of three people the Lebanese Army announced had been arrested in connection to a twin suicide blast that targeted a cafe in the Jabal Mohsen neighborhood.
Atieh told The Daily Star about the details of what happened from the moment Charlie disappeared to the measures taken by security forces to track the young man.
“The [Haddad] parents are very good people and this case is not worthy of them,” Atieh said.
The two Christian men who joined ISIS had converted to Islam before departing, shocking their families and neighbors….
U.S., France play down divisions on Iran deal
By Reuters | Paris/Saturday, 7 March 2015
The United States and France sought on Saturday to play down any disagreements over nuclear talks with Iran, saying they both agreed the accord now under discussion needed to be strengthened. “We are on the same page,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters after talks with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Paris.“If we didn’t think that there was further to go, as Laurent said, we’d have had an agreement already,” Kerry added. “The reason we don’t have an agreement is, we believe there are gaps that have to be closed. There are things that have to be done to further strengthen this. We know this.”The aim of the negotiations is to persuade Iran to restrain its nuclear program in exchange for relief from sanctions that have crippled its economy. Iran, a major oil exporter, wants the sanctions scrapped swiftly, the powers only in phases. France’s Fabius said on Friday commitments offered by Iran in the nuclear talks with six world powers do not go far enough and more work needs to be done, notably on what he called “volume, checks and duration.”
On Saturday, Fabius made clear that by volume he meant the number and quality of centrifuges Iran might be allowed to operate under any deal. By checks, he meant an inspection and verification regime to ensure Iran does not violate the deal. “There is still work to be done,” said Fabius, whose government has positioned itself as more demanding on the conditions Iran must meet under any nuclear agreement. As well as the United States and France, the other world powers involved in the Iran negotiations are Britain, China, Germany and Russia. Western powers and Israel suspect Iran of having used its civil nuclear program as a cover to develop a nuclear weapons capability. Iran denies this, saying its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes such as generating electricity.
Reports: ISIS bulldozed ancient Hatra city in Mosul
Staff writer, Al Arabiya News/Saturday, 7 March 2015/Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants bulldozed early Saturday the ancient city of Hatra founded 3rd or 2nd BC by the Seleucide Empire, activists and Kurdish media reported. Spokesman for the 14th branch of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) in Ninveh province Saeed Mumuzini told Rudaw news website that “ISIS militants used buldozzers to destroy Hatra city.”“ISIS stole the ancient gold and silver coins, which were used by the Assyrian kings and were stored in the city,” Mumuzini added. Hatra is located 80 kilometers south of Mosul, and is currently a district in the northern Iraqi city, which was seized in a lightening offensive by ISIS militants in June last year. Hatra floused during the 1st and 2nd centuries AD as a religious and trading center after it was captured the Parthian Empire. Later on, the city became the capital of possibly the first Arab kingdom in the chain of Arab cities running from Hatra, in the northeast, via Palmyra, Baalbek and Petra, in the southwest.
WATCH: Islamist gunman says parliament attack spurred by Canada military action
The gunman who shot and killed a soldier in Canada's capital and then stormed Parliament last year said he was retaliating against Canadian military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a video recording released on Friday. Michael Zehaf-Bibeau made the short video on his mobile phone just before launching his attacks on Oct. 22. A Canadian convert to Islam, he died in a gun battle with police and security guards shortly after entering the Parliament building in Ottawa. "To those who are involved and listen to this movie, this is in retaliation for Afghanistan and because (Canadian Prime Minister Stephen) Harper wants to send his troops to Iraq," Zehaf-Bibeau said in a calm voice on the video, which police played to a committee of legislators. "So we are retaliating, the Mujahedin of this world ... just aiming to hit some soldiers just to show that you're not even safe in your own land, and you gotta be careful," he said.
Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, struck three weeks after Canada decided to deploy forces against Islamic State militants in Iraq. Two days earlier, another convert to Islam rammed and killed a soldier in Quebec with his car.
Canada maintained a military mission in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2011.
Harper cited the attacks and the threat of "jihadist terrorism" as reasons for a tough new security bill the Conservative government unveiled in January.
Critics say the bill - which would give Canada's spies greater powers to disrupt attacks - is too sweeping. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Bob Paulson did not say if the police probe into the attacks had determined whether Zehaf-Bibeau was acting alone. "But I am persuaded that he was influenced by other individuals toward this crime so in that sense I am of the view that there were other individuals involved," he told reporters. Paulson said Zehaf-Bibeau, who had a long knife strapped to his wrist during the attack, had become "increasingly aligned with terrorist ideology". He said the attack could have been prevented if Zehaf-Bibeau's associates had reported these signs to authorities. Citing operational reasons, Paulson said 13 seconds had been edited from the start of the video and five from the end.Zehaf-Bibeau said in the video: "We'll not cease until you guys decide to be a peaceful country ... and stop going to other countries and stop occupying and killing the righteous of us who are trying to bring back religious law in our countries."The gunfight with Zehaf-Bibeau took place in the hallway just outside the room where Paulson spoke on Friday. Conservative legislators meeting there during the attack had barricaded themselves in. An autopsy found no alcohol or drugs in Zehaf-Bibeau's body, Paulson said, adding that while he had a history of mental illness, there was no evidence that played a role. Paulson said a renewed focus on preventing attacks was close to over-stretching the RCMP, which has put 130 investigators and staff on the Zehaf-Bibeau case alone. Six hundred staff have been transferred into counter-terrorism, casting doubt on the sustainability of other programs, he said.
President Hadi says Aden is Yemen’s ‘capital’
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News
Saturday, 7 March 2015
An aide to Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled to Aden after escaping from Shiite militia controlling Sanaa, said the Yemeni president considers the southern port city the country’s capital, Agence France Presse reported on Saturday. Meanwhile, AFP said tensions were high in the city, as special forces suspected of links to the militia, known as Houthis, readied defenses against an anticipated assault by Hadi loyalists. “Aden became the capital of Yemen as soon as the Houthis occupied Sanaa,” the aide quoted Hadi as saying in reference to their takeover of the city several months ago. Hadi’s claim is purely symbolic, as moving the capital would require a change to the constitution, but it reflects the president’s determination to hold out against Houthi efforts to extend their sway. Several Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, have already moved their embassies to Aden after an exodus of foreign diplomats from Sanaa in February over security concerns. But the United States, the first to close its mission in Sanaa, has said it will not do so. The southern city, the country’s second largest, was capital of a once independent south Yemen. The Gulf Cooperation Council continues to support Hadi, as does Washington. The Houthis named a “presidential council” after Hadi and Prime Minister Khalid Bahah tendered their resignations in January in protest at what critics branded an attempted coup. Hadi fled house arrest in Sanaa and resurfaced in Aden, where he retracted his resignation. Bahah remains trapped in the capital. Meanwhile, special forces commander Abdel Hafez al-Saqqaf has defied a decree by Hadi sacking him and said he will only follow orders coming from the presidential council in Sanaa, AFP reported. His men have cut roads leading to their headquarters near Aden’s international airport and set up barricades, saying they fear an assault by fighters from the Popular Resistance Committees, loyal to Hadi.(With AFP)
A long trail of blood and tears
Hisham Melhem/Al Arabiya/Saturday, 7 March 2015/There is a long trail of blood, tears and causality stretching from that fateful moment when Saddam Hussein decided to invade Iran in September 1980, to the current moment where Qassem Soleimani Iran’s supreme military commander in Syria and Iraq is leading a Shiite campaign to retake Tikrit, Saddam’s birthplace, from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) the most extreme of Sunni extremists. For 35 years, Iraqis with a little help from their regional and international ‘friends’ have put Iraq on a steady trajectory towards state collapse and societal fragmentation. Four years after the completion of the American military withdrawal from Iraq, and four years after the beginning of the Syrian popular uprising, the United States finds itself in those two countries being eclipsed by an ascendant Iran acting as the custodian of two sectarian regimes in Baghdad and Damascus, and acquiescing – with the occasional protest- to its sectarian and regional designs. For all of their public claims that they are not cooperating militarily against the Islamic State (ISISI) the U.S. and Iran are surreptitiously fighting alongside the Shiite based regime in Iraq and the Alawite (an offshoot of Shiite Islam) based regime in Syria by leading an international air campaign against their Sunni enemies.
By focusing only on degrading (ISIS) the U.S. will end up shoring up the two Shiite sectarian regimes in Baghdad and Damascus. As long as the U.S. and its western and regional allies are not pursuing a comprehensive transitional strategy in Syria leading to the removal of the Assad regime, the very magnet that attracted (ISIS) in the first place and unless they push their Iraqi allies to seriously rein in the Shiite militias and genuinely include the Sunnis in the political life of Iraq, America’s venture in the Levant and Iraq will end tragically.
From one war to another
Saddam’s chauvinism, his primitive understanding of history and politics, his desire to settle old scores with Iran and his fear of its revolutionary zeal led him to embark on a stunning suicidal mission. The son of a brute rural environment would never entertain complex notions such as beware of invading a society when it is intoxicated with revolutionary fervor and in Iran’s case visions of Millenarianism. The European monarchies that tried to deter and reverse the French Revolution suffered the wrath of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. The Allied military intervention (in Which American forces participated) in the Russian Civil War in 1918 against the Revolutionary Bolsheviks backfired and the Red Army led by the Indefatigable Leon Trotsky emerged victorious. (Trotsky, the prolific writer and ruthlessly unorthodox warrior managed to find time between the bloody battles to write literary criticism and essays on modern art).
For 35 years, Iraqis with a little help from their regional and international ‘friends’ have put Iraq on a steady trajectory towards state collapse
At the outbreak of the longest conventional war in the twentieth century, Iraq had amassed an estimated $35 billion in foreign exchange reserves. When the guns were retired in 1988 Iraq had accumulated an external debt of over $100 billion. Saddam, who felt entitled to the wealth of his Arab allies in the Gulf because he believed that he had defended the Eastern gates of the Arab world, could not resist the beckoning of the bank vaults of Kuwait. In this sense the invasion of Kuwait was the epilogue for the Iraq-Iran war. The invasion of Kuwait led to the 1991 war and the defeat of Iraq at the hands of a U.S. organized and led international coalition and the imposition of harsh economic sanctions. In 2003 President George W. Bush with a handful of advisors decided to complete the ‘unfinished’ job of his father in 1991, and ostensibly to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction and bequeath it the gift of Jeffersonian democracy. Iraq has been in a free fall ever since.
The road to Persia
From the beginning of his tenure President Obama has doggedly pursued a historic bargain with the Islamic Republic of Iran that could conceivably be as consequential to both countries and to the region as Richard Nixon’s rapprochement with China was for the two powers and to South East Asia. Administration officials believe that a nuclear deal with Iran would be the foreign policy equivalent to the Affordable Care Act (health care) Obama’s signature domestic achievement. Such an agreement it is thought would bring in Iran from the cold, and into the ‘family of nations’ and paves the way for a new era in U.S.-Iranian relations. In a recent interview President Obama hinted at that goal; “they have a path to break through that isolation and they should seize it,” the president intoned, because “if they do, there’s incredible talent and resources and sophistication . . . inside of Iran, and it would be a very successful regional power.” It was unfortunate indeed, that President Obama chose not to recognize the resourceful, talented and sophisticated Iranians, and they are a plenty during their peaceful and admirable uprising in 2009. Obama in fact abandoned the very Iranians, with whom he should partner and left them to the tender mercies of the Revolutionary guards after he created false equivalence between the man who stole the election and his legitimate opponent. All along Obama was the unabashed pursuer, and Ayatollah Khamenei was the aloof and at times elusive pursued. Obama’s extended hand was met during his first term by Khamenei’s clenched fist. The resumption of the nuclear talks with Iran, and the president’s eagerness for a deal, explain in part his actions, and more importantly his inactions in Iraq and Syria.
Iran’s Arab satraps
Qassem Soleimani is a very busy man. He is always on the move, he is constantly checking the frontline warriors, and the frontlines traverse Syria and Iraq. The once elusive commander of the Quds Force never seems to get tired of being filmed and photographed by his legions of Shiite and Kurdish admirers, who offer him tea and even green apples. His perennial sly smile, and his droopy but cunning eyes give him away as the tough and successful Iranian political viceroy-cum-military commander of the modern-day Shiite Internationale operating on behalf of Iran in the bad lands of the Arabs. In the last four years the Shiites of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon obliterated the political borders from Iran to the Mediterranean, long before (ISIS) did so theatrically to the Syrian-Iraqi borders. Soleimani has every reason to be happy with the ruthless efficiency of his Shiite Arab satraps such as the Lebanese Hezbollah, whose expeditionary force in Syria saved the Assad regime from collapsing, and the Badr organization in Iraq which is spearheading the current campaign against Tikrit (when they are not busy terrorizing the local Sunni population, that are suspected en mass of harboring sympathy towards (ISIS).
It is breathtaking indeed to think that twelve years after George W. Bush’s imperial venture to plant Jeffersonian democracy in the parched land of Mesopotamia, thus exacting a tremendous price from Iraqis and Americans, Iran has emerged as the uncontested main outside power in Iraq. Both the Bush and Obama administrations opted to live in denial for years, when the former premier Nouri al-Maliki was allowed for 8 years to pursue sectarian politics, hounding and intimidating his Sunni Arab and Kurdish critics. Instead of reining in these destructive policies, the Obama administration provided Maliki’s government with sophisticated weapon systems including F-16 fighter jets and Apache helicopter gunships that he used against his Sunni political opponents.
Embracing old enemies
The current campaign to retake Tikrit, is being directed by Soleimani who coordinates with the heads of the Shiite militias and organizations since they constitute more than two third of the 30,000 fighters taking part in the battles. Many of these leaders have lived in Iran and they are known personally by Soleimani. These militias, whose members have American blood on their hands, are using American equipment. Some of their leaders like Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis who has been designated by the U.S. Treasury as a terrorist in 2009, a move that forced him to seek refuge in Iran until the Americans left Iraq, are directly responsible for killing Americans. The Iraqis did not inform the U.S. of the Tikrit campaign, which surprised American military commanders according to press reports. Hajj Qassem Soleimani would like to keep the Americans guessing.
President Obama’s actions in Iraq, like arming the sectarian Maliki, and his inaction in Syria like refusing to seriously arm and train the moderate opposition long before the rise of (ISIS) have facilitated the rise of (ISIS) and other radical Islamists like Jabhat al-Nusra and deepened the sectarian divide and made Iran the master of Iraq and Syria. The Obama Administration’s almost obsession with reaching a nuclear deal with Iran, and its eagerness not to provoke Iranian retaliation against American personnel in Iraq, explain in part Washington’s refusal to remove Assad from power. Americans and the rest of the world were horrified when a Jordanian pilot was immolated by (ISIS) and young Egyptian Copts were beheaded in Libya; and yet the Assad regime is responsible for killing more innocent civilians than (ISIS) could ever do, given that Assad has the industrial capacity to conduct such horrors. His primitive but lethal barrel bombs that his air force rains daily on the civilians of Aleppo, have immolated more Syrians than (ISIS) would like to claim.
These boots are not made for walking
President Obama’s absolute dogma against dispatching ground troops, known in Washington’s parlance as the perennial ‘boots on the ground’ to inflict serious damage on (ISIS) and not even entertaining conducting special operations to decimate their leadership casts serious doubt on his claim that the campaign is determined to achieving the goal of first degrading then ultimately destroying (ISIS). He has yet to mobilize the needed human and material resources to destroy (ISIS). This position, which deprives the U.S. of the much needed ground component to win the war, made the U.S. dependent on Iranian and Iraqi ground troops to do the job. American boots are not expected to be walking into the battlefield if President Obama could help it. In the current campaign to drive (ISIS) from Tikrit Iran has dispatched units of its Revolutionary Guards as well as military advisors, to coordinate the operations with Iraqi militias and military. And since the U.S. is not providing air cover, because the ‘reviled’ Soleimani is leading the charge, Iranian jets and drones have been deployed. In the last few days, U.S. officials went out of their way to assure congress and the public that America’s military is not coordinating its operations in Iraq with Iran.
Dangerous wishful thinking
However, when we look at the broad military campaign, we see that U.S. military commanders inform their Iraqi counterparts of their plans, expecting that the Iraqis will relay the information to the Iranians so that accidents and misunderstandings would be avoided. This situation led an astute observer to say that General Lloyd Austin, commander of the U.S. Central command is in charge of the air campaign against (ISIS), while General Qassem Soleimani is in charge of the land campaign. General Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told a congressional committee that the involvement of the Iranian- backed Shiite militias in the battle of Tikrit and its environs which is heavily inhabited by Sunnis, could be ‘a positive thing’ provided it did not stoke sectarian tension. Dempsey went on to say ‘this is the most overt conduct of Iranian support, in the form of artillery and other things’. And as if the General was engaging in wishful thinking Dempsey added ‘frankly, it will only be a problem if it results in sectarianism’. The problem with this statement is that it flies in the face of the overwhelming evidence that these Shiite militias always play out their sectarian hatreds. The tragic reality of Iraq (and Syria) is that there is no hope that this long trail of blood and tears is likely to end any time soon.
Raise scholastic standards to address ISIS’ deviant ideology
Samar Fatany/Al Arabiya/Saturday, 7 March 2015
The Muslim world today is in crisis and a more serious and effective strategy is needed to fight deviant ideas that justify violence and terror. The lack of an effective religious authority has allowed deviant organizations such as Daesh and other terrorist organizations to exist.
There is also a lack of a united stand against extremism and sectarianism. Although Muslim leaders have repeatedly denounced all forms of support for terrorist activities and consider terrorism a global phenomenon not associated with any religion, race, color or country, they have failed to form an effective strategy to counter the threat of the evil forces that are undermining our religion and unity. Terrorists disguised as Muslims and warmongers continue to pose a great threat to the nation of Islam. More awareness campaigns need to be conducted to protect the innocent and the vulnerable from the malicious designs of terror organizations that are out to destroy the harmony in the Muslim world. Islamic scholars and intellectuals have failed to address the rage and violence that has erupted because of terrorist propaganda. The various schools of thought in Islam emerged after the death of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Different Islamic opinions were based on diverse understanding and influenced by different circumstances. However, they existed in an atmosphere of tolerance and not extremism. Unfortunately, religious establishments today are not prepared to embrace modernity and the masses remain confused. They rely only on the scholars’ rigid interpretations of religious texts. Over the past couple of decades, a large number of moderate scholars trained in Islam and Islamic law have come up with more flexible and tolerant interpretations of theology focusing on spirituality rather than religiosity. Their views have appealed to many in the Muslim world and across the globe. However, since they are not considered to be mainstream Islamic scholars, their teachings are being ignored by the public and rejected by the established clergy. Modern experts in Islam and Islamic law are not recognized by traditional scholastic authority in the Muslim world
Many Muslims today believe that there is a dire need for a new recognized system of interpretations of religious texts and the Holy Qur’an.
A renewed reading of Islamic texts should be supported and applied with more advanced methods of research to address the current deviations from the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah. The prevalent system of the interpretations of the teachings of Islam is the “sanad” or the chain of lineage dating back to the days of the Prophet (pbuh). Any Islamic text is referred to someone who has referred to someone and it goes on until the someone who was with a companion who has heard the sayings of the Prophet (pbuh) or interpretations of Islam.
Adherents of these systems of interpretations do not recognize the studies of any university degree holder and do not recognize anyone else’s qualification to interpret religious texts and the Holy Qur’an.
The true teachings
They reject all modern approaches of research into Islamic jurisprudence and religious teachings.Modern experts in Islam and Islamic law are not recognized by traditional scholastic authority in the Muslim world. According to them such acumen can only come via these systems of training through chains of transmission. This concept has resulted in many Muslims being unable to understand the true teachings of Islam which has made them vulnerable to the recruitment of radical groups.Religious authorities need to expose and refute what is “un-Islamic” and explain why it is un-Islamic and guide the faithful to the true values of Islam. They have not succeeded so far because many of them lack academic caliber and credibility. More should be done to upgrade the scholastic standards of Islamic scholars.
Only then can they earn credibility and become more effective in fighting the deviant ideology of ISIS and all terrorist organizations.
US and Israeli
intelligence at sharp odds on Iran’s breakout time to a bomb
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis March 7, 2015
US and Israeli intelligence experts are in sharp disagreement over the time Iran needs for breakout to a bomb. The Americans say that Iran would need one year between a decision to go from nuclear threshold to nuclear bomb – enough time for preventive action – while the Israelis say the time is much shorter - six months at most. President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry, who leads the negotiations with Tehran, insist that America intelligence would detect an Iranian decision to go forward in time to step in and pre-empt it.
European co-negotiators are "on the same page," lined up behind the same “strategy and goal” for trying to achieve a nuclear deal with Iran, Kerry said after meeting with French, German and British foreign ministers in Paris Saturday, March 7.
However, Saudi Arabia and fellow Gulf states are no more convinced than Israel or Egypt that a year is a realistic timeline for diplomacy, sanctions or force of arms to go into effect and cut short Iran’s progress towards assembling its first nuke – despite Kerry’s attempt to reassure them last week in Riyadh.
Israel’s military, intelligence and political leaders are strongly skeptical of Washington’s time calculus for three reasons:
1. There is no guarantee that either American or Israeli intelligence agencies will be able to detect a decision byTehran to cross the agreed nuclear threshold into manufacture. Iran might well be months into the production of a nuclear bomb, or even at its finishing stages, before the wake-up alert reaches Washington.
The two agencies are agreed on one point, that if Tehran does decide to go ahead and build a nuclear bomb, it will produce an arsenal of three to five devices at the outset.
2. Israel has found grounds for suspicion that US and Iranian negotiations have in fact cut down the one-year period substantially to six months at most, from the moment Iran goes into production of a nuclear bomb and it becomes operational.
3. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his advisers believe that Obama and Kerry are aware of this, but are keeping it dark because it would undercut their argument that the final nuclear deal with Iran would take into account Israeli and Gulf security concerns. Six months would obviously not be long enough for preventive action by the United States, least of all Europe.
4. The collision between US and Israeli intelligence in their evaluations of Iran’s timeline for a bomb is far more critical and potentially harmful to the relations between the two governments than the public feuding between the White House and Israeli Prime Minister.
Netanyahu cautioned against the buried timeline bombshell in one sentence of his speech to the US Congress last Tuesday, March 3. He said, “Because Iran’s nuclear program would be left largely intact, Iran’s breakout time would be very short – about a year by US assessment, even shorter by Israel’s.”
In the heat of electioneering - ten days to go for the Israeli vote on March 17 - the prime minister’s rivals are avoiding lining up with him on the grave ramifications of this diversity of assessment. They prefer to hammer away at his inadequacies in domestic policy.
British MPs reject calls to ban religious slaughter of animals
By JPOST.COM STAFF \ 03/07/2015/British ministers rejected a call to ban the slaughtering of animals sans-stunning, addressing the acceptance of Jewish shechita and Muslim Halal practices in the UK, the Daily Mail reported Saturday. A petition backed by more than 100,000 called the practice of non-stun slaughter inhumane and demanded that ministers acknowledge the strength of "public feeling over animal welfare" and properly inform consumers of how their meat was killed. Proponents of the petition said that they respect religious traditions but insist that animal welfare take precedent, according to the Daily Mail. Calling to differentiate between religious and non-stun slaughter, they raised concerns that meat being sold in UK markets lacks any indication of how the animals was slaughtered, thus misleading the uninformed consumer. UK legislation respects Jewish and Muslim slaughter practices and permits them to continue slaughtering their meat as per tradition. In a speech last year to the Knesset, according to the Daily Mail, Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to maintain exemptions for animal slaughter conducted under religious pretenses. The parliament upheld his promise with the dismissal of this latest petition, insisting that it does not intend to outlaw religious slaughter practices. "The government had no intention of banning religious slaughter," the Daily Mail quoted a government spokeswomen saying. "We respect the rights of Jewish and Muslim communities to eat meat in accordance with their beliefs," she said.
Egypt Carries out first
Hanging over Pro-Morsi Violence
Naharnet/Egypt on Saturday carried out the first death sentence handed down over the violence that erupted after the army's 2013 overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, the interior ministry said.
Hundreds of Morsi supporters have been sentenced to death after speedy mass trials, which the United Nations has described as "unprecedented in recent history".
Mahmoud Ramadan, who was hanged at 7 am (0500 GMT), was the "first to be executed of those involved in violent clashes," ministry spokesman Hani Abdel Latif said.
A court in Egypt's second city Alexandria sentenced Ramadan and another Morsi supporter to death in 2014 after convicting them of throwing youths off an apartment block, killing one of them.
They were among dozens of people put on trial over deadly violence in the city's Sidi Gaber neighborhood on July 5, 2013, two days after Morsi's ouster by then army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
The violence came as supporters and opponents of the elected president held rival demonstrations across the city.
A government crackdown on Morsi's supporters left hundreds dead and thousands detained and put on trial.
Hundreds were killed in a single day on August 14, 2013, when police stormed two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo.
The ousted president is himself facing multiple trials on charges that carry the death penalty.
The leader of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement, Mohamed Badie, has already been sentenced to death in one trial.
Many of the prosecutions have been in mass trials, which then U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay described last June as "obscene and a complete travesty of justice."
The government crackdown has triggered retaliatory attacks by Islamist militants targeting security forces in Cairo and other major cities, but mostly in the Sinai Peninsula where troops are battling a raging insurgency.
Scores of policemen and soldiers have been killed in the attacks, most of them claimed by Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, the Egyptian affiliate of the Islamic State group.
Late on Friday a bomb blast in the textile town of Mahallah, north of Cairo, killed one person and wounded 11.
The interior minister who oversaw the crackdown on Morsi's supporters, Mohamed Ibrahim, was replaced on Thursday amid mounting criticism of the failure by police to halt the attacks.
His successor Magdy Abdel Ghaffar appointed 25 new commanders on Friday in a major shake-up.
Agence France Presse