May 18/15

Bible Quotation For Today/Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit
John 12/20-25: "Among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life."

Bible Quotation For Today/One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all
Letter to the Ephesians 04/01-13: ""I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said, ‘When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.’ (When it says, ‘He ascended’, what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 17-18/15
Egypt: For Sisi, executing Morsi has its benefits and drawbacks/
Will Mursi, Badie and Shater be executed/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/May 17/15
What about our own responsibility to Syria/Osman Mirghani/Asharq Al Awsat/May 17/15
Muslim Rape Gangs, Terrorists as 'Pop-Idols,' and the Trafficking of Children/Gatestone Institute/Soeren Kern/May 17/15

Lebanese Related News published on May 17-18/15
 Salam Hits Back at Aoun, Says His Presidential Proposal 'Weakens' Political System, Constitution
Lebanese border villages safer than ever: Hezbollah
Lebanese Suicide Attacker, Linked to ISIL, Killed in Iraq
State only ‘spectator’ in terror battle: Bassil 
Bassil from South: Army, Cabinet Should Assume Responsibilities, Defeat Takfiris
Hezbollah chief denies rumors of illness, says he sips lemonade, not medicine during speech
Gemayel Says Presidential Void Threatens Republic
Security forces on alert for expected Samaha protest 
Army pounds militant positions outside Arsal
53 Syrians arrested in Zahle: Army 
Rai dubs presidential void a ‘year of failure’
ISF Arrests International Drug Lord in Sahel Alma
Kanaan Warns of Status Quo, Calls on Rivals to Adopt Aoun's Initiative
Pharaon Says All-Inclusive Deal Necessary to Resolve Crises  
Derbas Pessimistic over Lingering Crises: Vacuum Shattering Lebanon
U.S. Renews Commitment to Provide Military Assistance to Lebanon
Nader Hariri to inform Aoun of stance on posts 
Taymour Jumblatt plays host at Mukhtara Palace 
Assir follower killed in Iraq suicide attack 
Ain al-Hilweh’s stability important: Islamist leader 

Nearly half of Lebanese over age 15 have a bank account

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 17-18/15
Pope canonizes 2 saints from 19th century Palestine
Pope Francis grants sainthood to Arabic-speaking nuns
Iran’s ambitions diffused at the rare Camp David summit?
Decisive’ Gulf stays strategic with Washington
Why the Arab Media Forum is the Oscars of Arab media
UN envoy urges Yemen truce extension
US raid in Syria killed 32 ISIS members, including 4 leaders
Killing Abu Sayyaf: what it means in the fight against ISIS
Video claims to show Syrian militants blasting regime tank
Syria army pushes ISIS back from ancient Palmyra
Syrian official says situation in Palmyra “under control”
Bombs target courthouses in two Egyptian cities
Middle East U.S. Raid in Syria Killed 32 IS Members, including 4 Leaders
Lebanese Suicide Attacker, Linked to ISIL, Killed in Iraq
US 'deeply concerned' over Morsi death sentence
Egypt restricts women traveling to Turkey
Egypt hangs six convicted Islamist militants
Influential cleric Qaradawi condemns Egypt death sentences

Suicide car bombs kill 10 Iraqi troops in besieged Ramadi
Israel's new justice minister seeks change to Supreme Court power
Saudi beheads Pakistani, 84 executions in 2015
German spy agency 'helped US find bin Laden': report
Jordanian, German FMs call for peace talks
Briton among Three Killed in Taliban Attack on EU Vehicle in Kabul
Iranian ship carries aid and activists into waters off Yemen
9 killed in fight between bikers in Texas

Latest Jihad Watch News
Hypocritical Charlie Hebdo suspends journalist who criticized Islam
Afghanistan: Islamic jihadists murder 3 in jihad attack on EU police convoy
Mosque Obama hails as “model” tied to 12 jihad terrorists
Texas graffiti: “Allah Akbar,” bomb image
Islamic State makes $323 million from smuggling migrants into Europe

Iranian Mullahs and Saudi Rulers are Worst than each Other
Elias Bejjani
May 17.05.15
In reality and in accordance with human rights' records the Saudi rulers and the Iranian Mullahs fall in the same category of barbarism, brutality, cruelty, as well as flagrant and intentional violations for each and every article of the International Covenants on Human Rights.
The two notorious religious regimes, Iran and Saudi Arabia are apparently in a frenzy race who executes more and who kills more.
According to documents and reports issued by the UN and Human Rights' World wide organizations, Saudi Arabia has executed by beheading 84 persons this year, mostly foreigners working in this Arabic kingdom.
Meanwhile Iran executed openly and publicly by hanging and shooting more than 100 individuals also this year, while secretly the Tehran Mullahas' oppressive regime assassinated, tortured, imprisoned and terrorized thousands of its citizens.
These two stone age regimes are not a role model for any thing that is human, civilization, human rights or respect for freedom and democracy.
Sadly the majority of our Lebanese politicians are divided in their alliances between these two savage Middle East powers.
The question is why the UN, USA and Western world free countries do not cry foul and take action and stop their empty mere rhetoric criticism for violations of human rights in both Iran and Saudi Arabia?
One really wonders, what these two religious dictatorship regimes can offer to Lebanon or to other countries except wars, divisions, fanaticism and awkwardness? Quite Frankly, Nothing at all, because as our Lebanese proverb says: "One can't give what he does not have and own".

*Elias Bejjani
Canadian-Lebanese Human Rights activist, journalist and political commentator
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Saudi Beheads Pakistani, 84 Executions in 2015
Naharnet/17.05.15/Saudi Arabia beheaded a Pakistani sentenced to death for drug smuggling on Sunday, bringing to 84 the number of executions in the ultra-conservative kingdom this year, the interior ministry said. Iftikhar Ahmed Mohammed Anayat was found guilty of attempting to traffic heroin into the kingdom in balloons concealed in his stomach, the ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. He was executed in the Red Sea city of Jeddah. The ministry has cited deterrence as a reason for its use of the death penalty despite criticism from human rights watchdogs. London-based Amnesty International ranked Saudi Arabia among the world's top three executioners of 2014. On a visit to Riyadh this month, French President Francois Hollande said capital punishment "should be banned", and his country is campaigning around the world for its abolition. Drug trafficking, rape, murder, apostasy and armed robbery are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia's strict version of Islamic sharia law.

Pope Francis canonizes 2 saints from 19th century Palestine
Associated Press/May. 17, 2015/VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis canonized two nuns from what was 19th century Palestine Sunday in hopes of encouraging Christians across the Middle East who are facing a wave of persecution from Islamic extremists. Sisters Mariam Bawardy and Marie Alphonsine Ghattas were among four sisters who were made saints Sunday at a Mass in a sun-soaked St. Peter's Square. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and an estimated 2,000 pilgrims from the region, some waving Palestinian flags, were on hand for the canonization of the first saints from the Holy Land since the early years of Christianity. Church officials are holding up the new saints as a sign of hope and encouragement for Christians across the Mideast at a time when violent persecution and discrimination have driven many of them from the region of Christ's birth. In his homily, Francis said the two women - as well as new saints Jeanne Emilie de Villeneuve from France and Maria Cristina of the Immaculate Conception from Italy - were models of showing unity and charity toward all. "Their luminous example challenges us in our lives as Christians," he said. Bawardy was a mystic born in 1843 in the village of Ibilin in what is now the Galilee region of northern Israel. She is said to have received the "stigmata" - bleeding wounds like those that Jesus Christ suffered on the cross - and died at the age of 33 in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, where she founded a Carmelite order monastery that still exists. Ghattas, born in Jerusalem in 1847, opened girls' schools, fought female illiteracy, and co-founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Rosary. The order today boasts dozens of centers all over the Middle East, from Egypt to Syria, that operate kindergartens, homes for the elderly, medical clinics and guest houses. Francis praised Bawardy as having been "a means of encounter and fellowship with the Muslim world," while Ghattas "shows us the importance of becoming responsible for one another, of living lives of service to one another."In addition to the Palestinian delegation on hand for the Mass, Israel sent a delegation headed by its ambassador to the Holy See. France, Italy and Jordan also sent official delegations. Christians make up less than 2 percent of the population of Israel and the Palestinian territories - the birthplace of Christianity. Although Christians have not experienced the violent persecution that has decimated Christian communities elsewhere in the region, the population has gradually shrunk over the decades as Christians have fled conflict or sought better opportunities abroad. Francis has raised the plight of Mideast Christians as a cause for concern, denouncing how ISIS has violently driven thousands of religious minorities from their homes in Syria and Iraq.

 Salam Hits Back at Aoun, Says His Presidential Proposal 'Weakens' Political System, Constitution
Naharnet/Prime Minister Tammam Salam has snapped back at Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Michel Aoun over the latter's latest presidential proposals, noting that such suggestions would only “weaken” the political system and the Constitution. Failure to elect a president is “an abnormal situation that has led to the emergence of proposals which would only weaken our system and Constitution,” said Salam in an interview with the Qatari al-Sharq newspaper to be published Monday. Noting that there is no solution looming on the horizon for the presidential crisis, the premier pointed out that the stances of the political forces indicate that “things are heading to further obstruction.”And as he rejected to attribute the current crisis to defects in the Taef Accord, Salam underlined that “the Constitution is not to blame for what we're going through but rather the political forces.” “In my opinion, pinning the blame on the structure and composition of the system and on the Constitution is an attempt to evade responsibility,” added Salam. On Friday, Aoun blamed the crisis on “the limitation of the presidential powers” after the Taef Accord and “the lack of participation by all the Lebanese factions” in the country's political life.
He called for choosing one of four solutions: a two-phased election of the president by the people, a popular referendum that is binding for parliament, a parliamentary vote for the “two most representative Maronite MPs”, or holding parliamentary polls based on a new and balanced electoral law before organizing the presidential vote. Asked if regional powers can help Lebanon resolve the presidential crisis, Salam said: “We welcome anyone who makes an initiative in this regard, but a Lebanese agreement remains the priority.”
Lauding the ongoing dialogue between several political forces, the PM said it contributed to defusing tensions in the country, but he noted that it has failed to find “drastic solutions to the political crisis, most notably the presidential election.”
“We hope it will evolve into something productive,” he added. Answering a question on the stalled security appointments, Salam emphasized that “state institutions are more important than individuals.”
“This applies to all institutions and we stress the need to do everything that can strengthen these institutions. We reject to turn the issue of appointments into an occasion for putting the commands of these (security) institutions under the mercy of political bickering,” the PM went on to say. “The stability of these (security) agencies is a vital issue that must be prioritized. If the political forces lack the ability to choose new security chiefs, they must seek to avoid vacuum in these agencies,” Salam added.
Aoun's Change and Reform bloc has rejected a possible extension of the mandates of the army and police chiefs, calling instead for the appointment of new commanders. The FPM chief is reportedly seeking the appointment of his son-in-law, Commando Regiment chief Chamel Roukoz, as the new army commander.

Nearly half of Lebanese over age 15 have a bank account

The Daily Star/May. 18, 2015/BEIRUT: Figures issued by the World Bank show that 47 percent of Lebanese over the age of 15 had an individual or a joint account at a formal financial institution at the end of 2014, up from 37 percent at the end of 2011. The World Bank defines a formal financial institution as a commercial bank, credit union, cooperative, post office or microfinance institution. Lebanon’s account penetration rate ranks in 78th place among 144 countries globally, in 27th place among 40 upper-middle income countries, and in third place among nine developing countries in the Middle East & North Africa region. Globally, Lebanon’s bank account penetration rate is higher than that of Ecuador, Uruguay and Uganda, and lower than that of Argentina, Belize and Kosovo.
Lebanon’s bank account penetration is lower than the global penetration rate of 61.5 percent and the UMIC’s penetration rate of 70.5 percent, but is more than three times the MENA region’s penetration rate of 14.2 percent.
On a gender basis, 62.4 percent of Lebanese males and 33 percent of Lebanese females who are 15 years or older had an individual or a joint bank account at the end of 2014, relative to 49.4 percent and 26 percent, respectively, at the end of 2011.
The share of females in Lebanon with an account or a joint account is lower than the global and the UMICs’ averages of 58.1 percent and 67.3 percent respectively, but is more than three times the MENA region’s rate of 9.2 percent, as reported by Lebanon This Week, the economic publication of the Byblos Bank Group. Similarly, Lebanese males’ bank account penetration rate is lower than the global rate of 65 percent and the UMICs’ rate of 73.6 percent, but is more than three times the MENA region’s rate of 19.2 percent.
In parallel, 4 percent of Lebanese over age 15 who have an account at a financial institution made a transaction from their account using a mobile phone in 2014. Transactions include making payments, purchases and sending or receiving money. The share of Lebanese who made a mobile phone transaction in 2014 was the 16th lowest among 128 countries globally, the eighth lowest among 37 UMICs and the second lowest among seven developing countries in the MENA region. It was higher than Bulgaria (3.8 percent), Togo (3 percent) and Nicaragua (2.9 percent) and lower than Argentina and Angola (4.1 percent each) and Jamaica (4 percent). Also, it was higher than only Jordan (2.6 percent) in the region. The share of Lebanese who made a financial transaction from their account using a mobile phone in 2014 was lower than the global average (15.8 percent), the UMICs’ average (16.2 percent), and the average of developing MENA countries (7.2 percent). Overall, 1.8 percent of Lebanese who are 15 years or older made a financial transaction using a mobile phone. Also, 2.5 percent of Lebanese in the 15- to 24-year-old bracket used their accounts to make a transaction through their mobile phones, while 1.6 percent of Lebanese aged 25 and above utilized their accounts for the same reason.

Rai dubs presidential void a ‘year of failure’
The Daily Star/May. 17, 2015 /BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai Sunday lamented Lebanon’s presidential vacuum, which is approaching its one-year mark, saying that the past 12 months have marked a large failure for the country. “This entire year has revealed a political failure that we do not approve of and does not safeguard our national dignity,” Rai said during his weekly sermon for Sunday mass. Last week, lawmakers failed in their 23 consecutive session to elect a successor to former President Michel Sleiman, whose term ended last May, amid a feud between the country's rival factions on a consensus candidate. Lawmakers from Michel Aoun’s parliamentary Change and Reform bloc, Hezbollah MPs and their March 8 allies have thwarted a quorum since April 2014 by boycotting parliamentary sessions, demanding an agreement beforehand with their March 14 rivals over a consensus candidate. The first election session achieved quorum, but no candidate received enough votes. Rai said Sunday that six months after lawmakers extended their mandate by an additional two years and seven months, MPs have yet to elect a new president or set a new parliamentary election law. He said that MPs who have boycotted presidential election sessions have not lived up to their duties, adding that it was time for the “national conscious” to find alternative initiatives that would fill the presidential void. The patriarch also emphasized that the presidential deadlock is not merely a Christian issue, but rather a dispute amongst Lebanese political blocs. These parties, according to Rai, are the only groups that could find honorable and meaningful solutions to the presidential crisis through dialogue and consultations.

Lebanese border villages safer than ever: Hezbollah
The Daily Star/May. 17, 2015
BEIRUT: Hezbollah’s military victory in Syria’s Qalamoun mountain range has significantly improved the security of Lebanese border villages from the threat of terrorist groups, the deputy head of the party’s executive council Nabil Qaouk said Sunday. “The accomplishments of the resistance and the Syrian army in Qalamoun serve Lebanon’s interests first and foremost,” Qaouk said in a speech Sunday. “Through the [battles] we have distanced the [terrorist] threat from Lebanese villages more than any other time in the past.” Hezbollah’s control of strategic peaks straddling Lebanon’s borders will also safeguard Lebanon from what Qaouk described as “a series of provocations and blackmail by takfiri groups.” The Hezbollah official said that the accomplishments in Qalamoun are national feats rather than achievements for a particular side, noting that Lebanon will come out of the battle as the “biggest winner.” “The biggest loser, however, is Israel, which was betting on ISIS and the Nusra Front to drain Lebanon, the resistance, the people and the Army,” he added. The fighting between Hezbollah and Syrian jihadis began on March 4 when Nusra Front militants launched surprise attacks on Hezbollah and Syrian army posts along the rugged Qalamoun region along Lebanon's eastern border. Hezbollah and the Syrian army responded with a swift campaign to drive the militants north, beginning from the outskirts of the Lebanese border enclave of Tfail. The allies have since captured hill after hill, including Tallit Moussa, the highest point in Qalamoun, in fierce daily fighting that has left dozens of Nusra-led militants dead.

State only ‘spectator’ in terrorism battle: Bassil
The Daily Star/May. 17, 2015
BEIRUT: Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil Sunday accused the state and the Lebanese Army of being spectators in the battle against terror groups and lamented the “occupation” of Lebanese lands by extremists. “There is a failure and weakness by us and the state in confronting terrorist groups,” Bassil said during a tour of Christian villages in the south Lebanon district of Hasbaya Sunday. “This is evidenced by events that have taken place in Arsal, Tripoli and Abra,” he added, in reference to clashes between the Lebanese Army and extremist groups over the past two years. “The Cabinet and the Army should assume their responsibilities and not act as spectators,” he added, noting that the consequences of the state's lax response were “big” and the mistake of what happened in Arsal should not be repeated. The northeastern border town of Arsal, which saw pitched battles between the Lebanese Army and militants belonging to ISIS and The Nusra Front last August, has been portrayed by some officials as a haven for terrorists due to lax security.
The outskirts of the Lebanese border village is also known to be a base for ISIS and Nusra Front militants who are still holding 25 Lebanese servicemen hostage after they were captured during the August battle. Bassil claimed that “military and political drawbacks” have allowed for the “occupation” of Arsal by non-Lebanese terrorist groups. He also said that the mass influx of Syrian refugees reinforced the occupation since refugees are being used as cover by terrorist groups. In allusion to Hezbollah and its battle against Syrian jihadis along Lebanon’s eastern border, Bassil said the Lebanon has seen a victory by some of its citizens against terrorist groups. “It is the function of the official armed forces to liberate the land, and when they don’t meet this duty, it becomes our duty, as Lebanese, to liberate it,” he said, echoing remarks made by Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah in a speech delivered a day earlier. The foreign minister noted that the Lebanese resistance was founded because of the state’s inability to confront the Israeli occupation of south Lebanon, and that the country was once again being confronted with the state's inability to preserve the integrity of its borders from outside groups.

Lebanese Suicide Attacker, Linked to ISIL, Killed in Iraq
Naharnet/A Lebanese man, who hails from the southern coastal city of Sidon, has reportedly carried out a suicide attack in Iraq, his family confirmed on Sunday. The family of Rashed Bassam Abou Zeid mourned him, revealing that he is linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).Abou Zeid, who is also known as Abou Adam, was allegedly killed in a suicide attack he carried out in Iraq's Anbar province. The family said that the funeral prayers for the absent will be held at al-Zaatari mosque in Sidon. It said that ISIL distributed photos confirming that Abou Adam, who disappeared two months ago after he headed to Turkey, carried out the suicide attack. ISIL reportedly recruited several Lebanese men to join the group in its battles in Iraq and Syria. The group had tightened its siege on the last government positions in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province west of Baghdad, a day after they seized the city's government headquarters. Taking the city would be the group's most important victory this year in Iraq, and would give it control of the capitals of two of its largest regions, along with Mosul in Nineveh province. Anbar province extends from the Syrian, Jordanian, and Saudi borders to the gates of Baghdad. Military reinforcements have been sent to Ramadi and other parts of Anbar, local officials said, and Iraq's army and the U.S.-led coalition have struck IS positions in the area.

Army pounds militant positions outside Arsal
The Daily Star/May. 17, 2015/ARSAL, Lebanon: The Lebanese Army pounded militants positions on the outskirts of the border town of Arsal Sunday, in a bid to repulse new possible attacks, a security source said. The source said that soldiers used heavy artillery and rockets to fire at suspected militant movements in the area. The recently accquired weapons used in Sunday's attack had been financed by a $3 billion Saudi arms grant announced nearly a year and a half ago. The weapons, which include new MILAN anti-tank missiles, feature long-range rocket propelled propulsion that allows the missiles to reach deep into the outskirts of the Lebanese border town. Media reports claimed that a number of Syrian jihadis were killed and wounded during the attack. A security source, however, said that he could neither confirm nor deny any casualty total. Fears have grown that Islamist militants withdrawing from Qalamoun villages in Syria will regroup on the outskirts of Arsal, as Hezbollah and the Syrian army continue to make gains on the battlefield. Militants have moved toward the outskirts of the Syrian villages of Flita and Ras al-Maara, which implies they could be withdrawing further in the direction of Arsal. Lebanese militay sources revealed that there are thousands of troops stationed in areas of likely infiltration to ward off militants. Hezbollah and the Syrian army have seized control of most of Qalamoun's strategic hills in nearly two weeks of battles against jihadi militants.

Gemayel Says Presidential Void Threatens Republic
Naharnet/Kataeb Party leader Amin Gemayel called on Sunday for an end to the open-ended national crisis, considering the presidential elections a danger that is threatening the republic. “We should avert Lebanon's degradation and the collapse of the Arab” nation, Gemayel stressed on Sunday, wondering what is preventing the Lebanese from resolving their national crisis if they abide by the Constitution and elected a new head of state. “Obstructing the Constitution constitutes a coup against the system and contradicts the Lebanese entity,” the Christian leader pointed out. He called on the “partners in the nation to reveal their true intentions... as loyalty to Lebanon compels the election of a new head of state... the failure to end the vacuum reveals the true intentions of those who are impeding” the polls. Lebanon has been without a president since May last year when the term of Michel Suleiman ended without the election of a successor. Ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps over a compromise candidate have thwarted the election. Hizbullah's Loyalty to the Resistance and Aoun's Change and Reform bloc have been boycotting the electoral sessions over the sharp differences.

ISF Arrests International Drug Lord in Sahel Alma

Naharnet/The Anti-Drug Bureau of the Internal Security Forces Judicial Police Department detained in cooperation with the concerned Saudi security authorities the head of an international drug cell. According to a communique issued by the ISF, the kingpin of the drug network was apprehended last week in the Keserouan town of Sahel Alma. The 51-year-old Syrian drug lord, who was identified by his initials M.R., is “one of the most dangerous captagon manufacturer and smuggler in the Middle East.”“More than 1,000 kilograms of basic chemical and drug material to manufacture captagon, which could produce (a large) quantity of drugs were seized” in the operation, it added. The statement said the investigation under the supervision of the competent judiciary is underway as the ISF will continue its efforts to bust the members of the network.

Kanaan Warns of Status Quo, Calls on Rivals to Adopt Aoun's Initiative

Naharnet/Change and Reform bloc MP Ibrahim Kanaan warned on Sunday of the risks imposed by the current status quo, calling on the political rivals to agree on resolving the situation to prevent any further degradation. “We have reached the edge of abyss,” Kanaan said in comments to Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3). He said political arch-foes should give agreement a chance to prevent “the explosion of the situation,” which falls in favor of Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun's recent speech.
Kanaan, who is loyal to Aoun, stressed that the FPM is seeking the establishment of a Lebanese-Lebanese road map to end the stalemate, safeguard state institutions and maintain stability.
“Aoun's initiative is not a propaganda or isolated... it's to sound the alarm to avert dangers... we should respect the constitution to preserve the state and the (Lebanese) entity,” the lawmaker remarked. On Friday, Aoun questioned at a press conference the need for what he described as an ineffective government, suggesting the election of the president by the people, a presidential referendum and holding parliamentary elections based on a new and balanced electoral law before organizing the presidential polls to end the political deadlock.
Kanaan said that an FPM delegation will kick start a tour on the rival political parties to discuss Aoun's initiative. “The delegation will begin the tour with a meeting with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi in Bkirki, then head to Maarab and Saifi... the meet with Mustaqbal Movement is set to take place on Wednesday.”Vacuum striking the presidential post since May last year is having a tough impact on the cabinet and the parliament as the state is threatened with further crises over ongoing rows between the rival parties. Concerning the appointment of new high-ranking security officials, Kanaan announced a preliminary rejection to the extension of security and military personnel. “The military institution has qualified personnel,” Kanaan said, considering the failure to appoint new figures by the cabinet “violates the national and Constitutional duties.”The military posts in Lebanon are suffering as the result of the prolonged presidential vacuum. The FPM chief has previously rejected any attempts to extend the terms of high-ranking security officials. Media reports had said that Aoun's main objective is to receive political consensus on the appointment of Commando Regiment chief Brig. Gen. Chamel Roukoz, who is Aoun's son-in-law, as army chief as part of a package for the appointment of other top security officers.
Roukoz's tenure ends in October while the term of Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji expires at the end of September. Despite the reports about his insistence to have his son-in-law as army chief, Aoun denied that he had made such a proposal.

Pharaon Says All-Inclusive Deal Necessary to Resolve Crises
Naharnet /Tourism Minister Michel Pharaon stressed on Sunday that the cabinet of Prime Minister Tammam Salam was able to compensate for the nearly one year presidential vacuum, expressing concern that paralysis would affect state institutions. “Those who are boycotting (presidential) election sessions are responsible” for the lingering crisis, Pharaon said in a lengthy interview with the Kuwaiti al-Rai newspaper. He pointed out that the Lebanese Constitution compels lawmakers to attend the session, considering it a “national and constitutional responsibility.”“It's an attempt to hit the (Lebanese democratic) system and the regularity of state institutions,” Pharaon warned.
Pharaon described the boycott of the parliament as a “new phenomena,” calling for open presidential election sessions.
Lebanon has been without a president since May last year when the term of Michel Suleiman ended without the election of a successor. Ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps over a compromise candidate have thwarted the election.
Hizbullah's Loyalty to the Resistance and MP Michel Aoun's Change and Reform blocs have been boycotting the polls over the dispute. Asked about the rift over the extension of high-ranking security officials' tenure, the Mustaqbal Movement minister said that the matter “requires broad discussions.” “The extension of security officials' terms could wait a little, or we can resolve all crises as part of one package.”Pharaon soothed fears over the cabinet’s situation, saying: “It is compensating for the vacuum... it's the responsibility of everyone” to maintain its stability.
Concerning Free Patriotic Movement chief Aoun's threats to boycott the cabinet or withdraw his ministers, the minister considered such a decision to have repercussions on the “interests of the people and ignite political tension.”
Aoun questioned on Friday the need for what he described as an ineffective government. He continuously rejected the extension of the terms of high-ranking security officials, threatening to press the resignation of the ministers representing him in the cabinet.
The military posts in Lebanon are suffering as the result of the prolonged presidential vacuum. Media reports had said that Aoun's main objective is to receive political consensus on the appointment of Commando Regiment chief Brig. Gen. Chamel Roukoz, who is Aoun's son-in-law, as army chief as part of a package for the appointment of other top security officers. Roukoz's tenure ends in October while the term of Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji expires at the end of September.
On the sentence against former Minister Michel Samaha by the Military tribunal, Pharaon said that the verdict is “unjust.”“Certainly Samaha's acts could be considered a terror felony one way or another.”The tribunal sentenced on Wednesday Samaha to four-and-a-half years in jail over terrorism charges. Arrested in August 2012, he would be released at the end of this year taking into account time served and because the judicial year amounts to nine months in Lebanon. The verdict created uproar among politicians and civil society, who slammed the Military Tribunal for its light verdict. Samaha was found guilty of "having tried to carry out terrorist actions and for belonging to an armed group" and was also stripped of his civil and political rights.
The defense team argues that the former minister fell into a trap set by the Internal Security Forces Intelligence Branch. Samaha, who was also once an adviser to Syrian President Bashar Assad, admitted in court last month that he had transported explosives from Syria for use in attacks in Lebanon, but argued that he had been the victim of entrapment. The explosives were to be used in blasts on the Lebanese border, intended to force the closure of the frontier and stop the passage of Lebanese fighters joining rebel forces in Syria.

Will Mursi, Badie and Shater be executed?
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
Sunday, 17 May 2015
Both sides in Egypt chose to escalate the conflict. Muslim Brotherhood leaders who fled and settled abroad decided to defy the regime, justifying the killings in Sinai and threatening the current Egyptian rule. As for the prosecutor, he chose to submit a petition against the imprisoned MB senior leaders accusing them of two charges that can lead to the gallows: spying and fleeing prison. The opinion of the Grand Mufti of Egypt is yet to be announced before the final court hearing. But the question remains: Will these provisions be implemented? Will deposed President Mursi be executed? Will they execute the Brotherhood’s General Guide Mohammad Badie and leading member of the organization Khairat el-Shater, as well as a large number of members and ministers who served when the Brotherhood was in power?
Facing the gallows
The possibility of executing MB leaders and members cannot be ruled out. Sayyid Qutb was executed in 1966 on similar charges, for conspiring against Egypt. The current political climate is similar to the 1960s. High-ranked convicts will be led to the gallows, without taking into account calls for clemency and mediations, which are expected to arise after the potential confirmation of sentences. A state of defiance and tension is prevailing in Egypt; the Egyptian regime believes that the Muslim Brotherhood is still waging wars against the country and that MB leaders living abroad may want to have another “Sayyid Qutb” case to exploit in their political battle.
The possibility of executing MB leaders and members cannot be ruled out
It is also believed that the Brotherhood is no longer able to control the practices and statements of its leaders who became hostages to external forces aiming to expand the circle of conflict inside Egypt. This is at least what an Arab Muslim Brotherhood member believes. He thinks that the MB lost its real leadership when it took power, then failed in presidential rule and ended up in prisons. The rulings have entangled all MB leaders because they failed to remain aware of what is happening around them; they got involved in the battle and became easy targets. He believes that the group lacks leadership and that is what makes governments that are “at war” with Egypt, take advantage and exploit the group in the media and on political and military fronts. Consequently, there is no longer a chance of resorting to reconciliation or lenient sentences. No one wants to witness bloodshed in Sinai or in Cairo, regardless of anything. However, it seems that things will inevitably be out of control in the country if President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi doesn’t interfere and grant amnesty to MB leaders and members, which would be a constitutional right.

What about our own responsibility to Syria?
Osman Mirghani/Asharq Al Awsat
Saturday, 17 May, 2015
The Syrian crisis is one of the worst humanitarian disasters that the Middle East has ever witnessed, if not the worst. In one of its most recent reports, the European Union went so far as to say that the Syrian conflict has created the worst humanitarian disaster since the Second World War. More than 4 million Syrians have been forced to leave their country, while 8 million have been internally displaced. In other words, more than half the entire Syrian population have been forced to flee this conflict, whether to another part of the country or from the country completely. This is not to mention the terrible death toll over the past four years.
What is even more saddening is that there is no sign of respite on the horizon. There is no indication that the terrible suffering of the Syrian people will be allayed, at least not in the short-term. More likely, it will get even worse as the fighting intensifies while any solution seems an impossibility given the huge differences between the various parties involved in this conflict—not to mention the tense situation in the region and the absence of any international will to impose a solution. The international community has left the ball in the court of the UN and its envoys, while we have seen three such envoys come and go while the conflict continues to rage. Kofi Annan, Lakhdar Brahimi and now Staffan de Mistura have all attempted to find a solution to the crisis to the point that the post of UN envoy to Syria has become something of a graveyard for international diplomats. The UN is, and will remain, incapable of resolving the situation unless it is backed by a genuine international will to intervene to address the crisis and impose a solution, even if this requires the use of force.
De Mistura has finally moved forward with his plan to resolve the situation, which is based on extensive consultations with all parties involved but without necessarily bringing them all together around the same negotiating table. The aim of this is to reach a vision on how to put an end to the war, and what a transitional period would look like, and how, eventually, to reach elections and an elected government that represents the Syrian people. But De Mistura’s chances of success are not necessarily any better than his predecessors, particularly given the vast differences in the positions of each camp, and that includes huge differences among the Syrian opposition itself. All the while, the conflict is escalating and more arms and fighters are entering the Syrian battlefront. The longer this conflict lasts, the more complicated it gets, and the further we are from a workable solution.
De Mistura gave himself a time-frame of one year—which ends in June—to finish his “consultations” with more than 40 different parties that have a stake in the Syrian conflict, including Iran and other international states. Western states say that Iran’s inclusion in any putative talks on reaching a solution is necessary, while Tehran claims that it is seeking to play a “positive role” and contribute to resolving the crisis.
But is it a coincidence that the deadline for de Mistura to issue his report to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon overlaps with the deadline for an Iran nuclear deal?
It seems that the West is connecting many regional issues with the putative nuclear deal with Iran, including perhaps Iran’s future role in Syria and Iraq and the war against terrorism, among other issues.
It is this “coincidence,” or at least the perception of one, that is raising serious concerns among many Arab states, as well as Turkey. This is something that is ultimately only serving to add fuel to the regional fire. So, as a result of this, we have seen the fighting intensify in parts of Syria over the past few weeks, along with the unremitting flow of arms into the Syrian interior, as well as ongoing attempts by certain Syrian rebel groups to unify their positions with others that share a similar ideology, including the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front.
There are those who view the escalating fighting and the regime’s recent losses on its northern and southern fronts as a unique opportunity to overthrow the Assad government and impose a new reality on the ground before Iran returns in strength to the scene after the signing of a nuclear accord. According to this view, even if the regime is not wholly overthrown, any advance on the ground now will result in greater concessions later when the time comes to negotiate.
On the other hand, it seems that the West, and particularly the US, believes that this crisis will drag on for the foreseeable future. In fact, Washington, which has finally embarked on a program to train moderate Syrian opposition rebels, said that this training will be complete in three years. While there have also been signs that the US’s greatest fear is Damascus falling into the hands of Islamist terror groups like the Al-Nusra Front or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). There is a concern that Assad’s ouster, at this point, would lead to a situation similar to that which is playing out in Iraq or Libya today, namely even more chaos and conflict between rival political factions accompanied by the rise of extremist movements like ISIS. This would be even more dangerous in Syria given its proximity to Israel.
So, however you look at it, the Syrian people are the ones who are suffering, and will continue to suffer. The fact of the matter is that all this diplomatic movement will continue to spin for the foreseeable future and likely achieve very little. The US is heading towards elections, while the already tense situation in the region continues to deteriorate, leading to more fighting in Syria, not less.
How and when will this terrible crisis end?
Nobody knows, and there is no clear agreed-upon plan that can achieve this. At the same time, we can keep pointing the finger of blame at the international community, but we have to ask: What about our own responsibility?

The risks of foreign policy dilemmas for the U.S. and Lebanon
Dr. Robert Chahine, American Lebanese Foundation (ALF) President*
When one listens to analytic coverage of the Middle East (ME), or is privileged to talk privately with some leaders, it is amazing how frequently the words: failed states, failed policy, failing or absent strategy and chaos are heard. The more disappointing aspects of any conversation about this subject are the lack of vision or horizon for any reassuring solution in the foreseeable future. Conflicting stories continue to appear regarding the identity of friend vs. foe, success vs failure or gaining vs losing ground. The only certainty is that barbarian acts are being documented and displayed on TV worldwide. Genocides are now subject of general concern and targeted or threatened populations are begging for protection, from whoever is able or willing to intervene or just listen. Some also speak of “World War Three” about to start, with the only questions being how broad and destructive will it be? We still do not hear of any adjustments to the policies that may notoriously be failing, or do not appear to have any significant chance of achieving the stated objectives.
A recent article in Time Magazine entitled “A Failing Middle East” listed four failed states: Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen. The common denominator is some form of US intervention. Luckily, Lebanon was not on that list. Yet Lebanon has been without an elected President for nearly a year. Many of its institutions are surviving on the basis of unconstitutional prorogations. The country has suffered from sharp and dangerous divisions for a very long time. Anxiety and fear have tortured too many Lebanese citizens, inside the country and in the diaspora, to the point of hopelessness. Despite all that, Lebanon’s shaky stability and imperfect but surviving democracy, make it stand out as an “Oasis of near normal life” compared to its neighbors.
The relatively better climate persisting despite the destructive winds produced by the out of control violence in the neighborhood, can only be explained by Lebanon’s traditions of relative freedom, democracy and respect of human rights. There is also a genuine and compelling desire for unity among its diverse and conflicted population. Further, Lebanon has developed some relative immunity to violence, having experienced the horrible results of its long and very costly civil war. The country is also blessed by a Sunni population dominated by the moderates who are holding the political power and providing the necessary participants in the armed forces, thus making it much more difficult for the radicals to find game changing inroads. The Lebanese Shiites, although impressively militarized, are displaying remarkable wisdom in choosing dialogue with their Sunni compatriots and avoiding any possible confrontation that could ignite violence. The Christians are divided and marginalizing themselves from their solemn duty and interest to be tireless and wise facilitators or guarantors of a productive Sunni-Shiite dialogue.
Thus Lebanon with its long history of pro-western traditions now constantly faces the dilemma or better the challenge to protect those traditions despite the constant pressure to tilt towards the Iranian axis. Given that its population is evenly divided, Lebanon is somehow managing to hold loosely to a pathway of shaky neutrality. Nevertheless the country still needs a lot of help from all its friends and particularly from the U.S. for protection from two existential threats to its survival. These threats come from the persistence of the Syrian refugee problem with all its economic and security risks and the presidential vacuum with the widening risk of expanding vacuum in practically all the country’s constitutional institutions. Both these issues could be addressed and improved or solved if Lebanon is given appropriate attention or priority in the really needed re-evaluation or adjustments of US ME foreign policies. If the necessary help is provided, Lebanon could become a significant catalyst for the success of other improvements in other areas which now do not appear to be progressing towards their stated goals.
ALF is a “think thank” organization focused on Lebanon and deeply interested in fair and successful US policies supportive to Lebanon, and which expand America’s circle of friendships and alliances and limit or diminish unnecessary animosities. Many leaders and analysts are concerned about the dangers and terror potentials of the growing numbers of failed states. They sympathize with the President’s dilemma about adjusting or changing policies which may trigger a new war. Nevertheless we would like to simply raise some questions about current ME issues which may probably need reevaluation by the Administration and/or Congress.
1. The US-Iran negotiations which are approaching their deadline in less than 2 months: Can we reasonably expect success, with hope of receiving at least tacit approval from the Congress and the US allies in the region? Should the negotiations remain focused only on eliminating the Iran nuclear threat, without addressing other areas of confrontation like Syria, Lebanon and now Yemen?
2. The Syrian issue which is much bigger and more important than the attention it was given to date: Is there a significant reevaluation in progress? If not, why? What positive results can be expected from current policies?
3. Can we expect anytime soon the final truth about Benghazi, the results of which could significantly affect US policy in both Libya and Syria?
4. Are we optimizing US relations and coordination with Egypt under the leadership of President Al Sissy who has demonstrated impressive leadership and courage in confronting the terrorists and the radicals? In addition he enjoys good relations with our allies in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf? Has he been consulted or offered a bigger role in solving the problems generated by ISIL’s barbarism?
5. More recently, Yemen has emerged as a new and pressing problem: What is our objective and are we coordinating reliably and intelligently with our Saudi and Gulf allies?
While Lebanon’s dilemmas may be just theoretical, since the choices are extremely limited, the US ME policy dilemmas can make a huge difference, if addressed with more wisdom and courage. We believe that smart and tenacious efforts to seek good results in one or two of the problems listed above, can trigger a chain reaction of positive results, and resuscitate real hope for peace and stability in the region. Otherwise, we may unfortunately witness increasing risk that the US President who was elected to end all wars, may find himself inadvertently presiding on the real start of a dangerous war that may progress into WW III, during the short time he has left in office.
**Dr. Robert Chahine, President, American Lebanese Foundation,

Muslim Rape Gangs, Terrorists as 'Pop-Idols,' and the Trafficking of Children
A Month of Islam in Britain: April 2015
Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute
May 17, 2015 at 5:00 am
"The boys want to be like them [jihadists] and the girls want to be with them. That's what they used to say about the Beatles... [Muslim teenagers] see their own lives as poor by comparison, and don't realize they are being used." — Nazir Afzal, Britain's leading Muslim prosecutor.
"The extreme views of a 'racist, homophobe and anti-Semite' who supports killing non-Muslims and 'stoning adulterers' are being made available to prison imams and prisoners...with the blessing of [prison] authorities." — Newsweek magazine.
"Mohammed was selling me for £250 to paedophiles from all over the country. They came in, sat down and started touching me... Sometimes, I would be passed from one pervert to another... Mohammed's defense was laughable... His barrister, a woman, implied I was a racist because all the defendants were Muslim." — Excerpts from Girl for Sale, by Lara McDonnell.
"Democracy... violates the rights of Allah. Islam is the only real, working solution for the UK." — Election posters in Cardiff, Wales.
What follows is a summary of some of Islam and Islam-related issues in Britain during April 2015, categorized into four broad themes: 1) Islamic extremism; 2) British multiculturalism; 3) Muslim integration; and 4) Muslims and the British general elections.
1. Islamic Extremism and Syria-Related Threats
British police believe that about 600 Britons have travelled to Syria and Iraq since the conflict began in early 2011. About half of those are believed to have returned to the UK.
On April 1, police in Turkey detained nine British nationals from Rochdale, Greater Manchester, who were allegedly seeking to join the Islamic State in Syria. The nine — five adults and four children, including a one-year-old baby — were arrested in the Turkish city of Hatay.
One of those arrested was Waheed Ahmed, a student of politics at Manchester University. His father Shakil, a Labour Party councilor in Rochdale, said he thought his son was doing an internship in Birmingham. He said:
"It's a total mystery to me why he's there, as I was under the impression he was on a work placement in Birmingham. My son is a good Muslim and his loyalties belong to Britain, so I don't understand what he's doing there. If I thought for a second that he was in danger of being radicalized I would have reported him to the authorities."
Also on April 1, Erol Incedal, 27, a British national of Turkish origin, was jailed for 42 months for possessing a bomb-making manual. His friend, Mounir Rarmoul-Bouhadjar, 26, a British national of Algerian origin, who admitted to having the same manual, was given three years. Both men had been to the Syrian-Turkish border and mixed with jihadists, who taught them about weaponry and explosives.
Meanwhile, it emerged that the father of one of the three teenagers from Brent, northwest London, who were arrested in Turkey in March on suspicion of trying to join the Islamic State in Syria, works for the British Ministry of Defense. The father, who may have had access to the names and addresses of British military personnel at home and overseas, was placed on "compassionate leave."
On April 2, Yahya Rashid, of Willesden, also in northwest London, was charged with "engaging in conduct in preparation for committing an act of terrorism, and engaging in conduct with the intention of assisting others to commit acts of terrorism, between November 2014 and March 2015." Rashid, 19, was arrested at Luton Airport after arriving on a flight from Istanbul. The Middlesex University electronics student was allegedly returning from Syria after travelling there via Morocco and Turkey.
On April 3, six Muslims were arrested at the Port of Dover in Kent on suspicion of attempting to leave England to join the Islamic State. The Crown Prosecution Service said that three of the individuals were found in the back of a truck in an apparent attempt to smuggle themselves out of Britain. They were charged with "preparing acts of terrorism."
On April 5, Abase Hussen, the father of runaway British jihadi schoolgirl Amira Hussen, conceded that his daughter may have become radicalized after he took her to an extremist rally organized by the banned Islamist group Al-Muhajiroun, run by Anjem Choudary, the British-born Muslim hate preacher.
Amira, 15, was one of three girls from Bethnal Green Academy in East London who flew to Turkey in February to become "jihadi brides" in Syria. During a hearing at the Home Affairs Select Committee in March, Abase blamed British authorities for failing to stop his daughter from running off to Syria. Asked by Chairman Keith Vaz if Amira had been exposed to any extremism, Hussen replied: "Not at all. Nothing." The police eventually issued an apology.
Abase, however, changed his story after a video emerged which unmasked him as an Islamic radical who had marched at an Islamist hate rally alongside Choudary and Michael Adebolajo, the killer of Lee Rigby. Abase, originally from Ethiopia, said he had come to Britain in 1999 "for democracy, for the freedom, for a better life for children, so they could learn English."
On April 8, Alaa Abdullah Esayed of South London admitted to posting 45,600 tweets in support of the Islamic State in just one year. The tweets included pictures of dead bodies and encouraged children to arm themselves with weapons. Esayed's tweets also included a poem, "Mother of the Martyr," which advises parents on how to teach children about jihad. Esayed, 22, faces up to 14 years in prison for encouraging terrorism and disseminating terrorist publications.
On April 9, the families of two teenage boys from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, who are believed to have traveled to join the Islamic State, said that they were "in a state of profound shock" and deeply worried about the safety of their "ordinary Yorkshire lads." The 17-year-old boys, Hassan Munshi and Talha Asmal, are believed to have gone to Syria after heading to Turkey on March 31. The boys reportedly told their relatives that they were going on a school trip, but instead used the Easter holidays as a "window of opportunity" to flee Britain.
On April 20, a 14-year-old schoolboy from Blackburn, Lancashire, became Britain's youngest terror suspect. He was arrested in connection with an Islamic State-inspired terror plot in Melbourne, Australia. Police said messages found on his computer and mobile phone indicated a plan to attack the centenary celebrations of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli during the First World War. (Anzac Day — April 25 — marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.)
Also on April 20, police in Turkey arrested a British couple and their four young children on suspicion of seeking to travel to a part of Syria controlled by the Islamic State. Asif Malik, his wife Sara, and the four children — aged between 11 months and 7 years — were detained at a hotel in Ankara. Turkish officials said the family had crossed into Turkey from Greece on April 16 and that they had been detained after a tip-off from the British police.
On April 24, Hassan Munir of Bradford was jailed for 18 months for posting links to Dabiq, an Islamic State propaganda magazine, on his Facebook page. The court heard that Munir, 27, had ignored repeated warnings by Facebook and by police after he posted jihadist material, including items about beheadings. The judge said magazine posed a serious danger because it incited people to take up arms for the Islamic State.
On April 27, Mohammed Kahar of Sunderland was arrested after being caught disseminating extremist material, including documents such as "The Explosive Course," "44 Ways To Serve And Participate In Jihad," "The Book Of Jihad," and "This Is The Province Of Allah." Kahar, 37, was also accused of plotting Syria-related terrorism acts, supporting a proscribed organization and financing terrorism — in all, 10 offenses stretching back 18 months.
On April 28, an 18-year-old jihadist, Kazi Jawad Islam, was convicted of "terror grooming" for trying to "brainwash" his friend, Harry Thomas, "a vulnerable young man with learning difficulties," into attacking British soldiers with a meat cleaver.
The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales (aka Old Bailey) was told that Kazi Islam — allegedly inspired by the beheading of serviceman Lee Rigby in 2013 — befriended the then-19-year-old Thomas in October 2013 after meeting him at college. The court heard how Islam also "ruthlessly exploited" his autistic friend into preparing to make a bomb.
In an interview with the Guardian, Nazir Afzal, Britain's leading Muslim prosecutor, warned that more British children are at risk of "jihadimania" than previously thought because they see Islamic terrorists as "pop idols." He said:
"The boys want to be like them and the girls want to be with them. That's what they used to say about the Beatles and more recently One Direction and Justin Bieber. The propaganda the terrorists put out is akin to marketing, and too many of our teenagers are falling for the image.
"They see their own lives as poor by comparison, and don't realize they are being used. The extremists treat them in a similar way to sexual groomers — they manipulate them, distance them from their friends and families, and then take them.
"Each one of them, if they go to Syria, is going to be more radicalised when they come back. And if they don't go, they become a problem — a ticking time bomb — waiting to happen."
2. British Multiculturalism
In April, officials at the Lostwithiel School in Cornwall publicly humiliated nearly a dozen pupils between the ages of eight and 11 whose parents had refused to allow them to participate in a school trip to a mosque in Exeter. Some parents said they were concerned about the safety of their children, while others said they were opposed to the teaching of Islam in school. But school officials forced the non-compliant pupils individually to give an explanation in the student assembly.
On April 5, Victoria Wasteney, 38, a Christian healthcare worker, launched an appeal against an employment tribunal that found she had "bullied" a Muslim colleague by praying for her and inviting her to church. Wasteney was suspended from her job as a senior occupational therapist at the John Howard Centre, a mental health facility in east London, after her colleague, Enya Nawaz, 25, accused her of trying to convert her to Christianity. Wasteney's lawyers say that the tribunal broke the law by restricting her freedom of conscience and religion, which is enshrined in Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
On April 8, the Guardian reported that there has been a 60% increase in child sexual abuse reported to the police over the past four years, according to official figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request that make public for the first time the scale of the problem in England and Wales.
The number of offenses of child sexual abuse reported to the police soared from 5,557 cases in 2011 to 8,892 in 2014. At the same time, the number of arrests for child sexual abuse offenses in England and Wales fell from 3,511 in 2011 to 3,208 — a drop of 9%.
The biggest increase in reported cases in a single police force over the past four years took place in South Yorkshire. The force saw an increase of 577% in cases from 74 in 2011 to 501 in 2014, apparently reflecting the exposure of the Muslim sexual abuse scandal in Rotherham.
On April 14, the president of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Lord Neuberger, said in a speech that Muslim women should be allowed to wear veils in court. He added that in order to show fairness to those involved in trials, judges must have "an understanding of different cultural and social habits." He said:
"Well known examples include how some religions consider it inappropriate to take the oath, how some people consider it rude to look other people in the eye, how some women find it inappropriate to appear in public with their face uncovered, and how some people deem it inappropriate to confront others or to be confronted — for instance with an outright denial."
Neuberger's comments came after a judge upheld a ruling allowing Rebekah Dawson, a 22-year-old convert to Islam, to stand trial wearing a niqab, a veil that only leaves the eyes visible.
On April 15, Newsweek magazine reported that the "extreme views of a 'racist, homophobe and anti-Semite' who supports killing non-Muslims and 'stoning adulterers' are being made available to prison imams and prisoners throughout England and Wales, with the blessing of [prison] authorities."
The magazine interviewed Haras Rafiq, managing director of the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism think tank, who warned that British prisons have become "incubators for Islamic extremism" because inmates are being allowed to read the works of controversial South Asian cleric Abul Ala Maududi. Rafiq described Maududi, who died in 1979, as the "grandfather of Islamism."
Newsweek discovered that hundreds of copies of Maududi's analyses of the Koran were distributed in March at a training event for prison imams and chaplains held at the prison service college in Rugby. The books came from the Markfield Institute for Higher Education, part of the Islamic Foundation, a UK-based organization that is "inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood."
On April 22, the Daily Mail published excerpts of a new book, Girl for Sale, which describes the shocking ordeal of Lara McDonnell, who became the victim of a Muslim paedophile gang when she was only 13 years old. She wrote:
"Mohammed was selling me for £250 to paedophiles from all over the country. They came in, sat down and started touching me. If I recoiled, Mohammed would feed me more crack so I could close my eyes and drift away. I was a husk, dead on the inside.
"Sometimes, I would be passed from one pervert to another. In Oxford, many of my abusers were of Asian origin; [in London] these men were Mediterranean, black or Arab.
"Then, at the start of 2012 [some five years after the abuse began], Thames Valley Police asked to see me. They had been conducting a long-overdue investigation into sexual exploitation of young girls and wanted a chat. I told them everything, and by the end of March, Mohammed and his gang were in custody. Unbeknown to me, five other girls were telling police the same story.
"Mohammed's defense was laughable: he claimed I'd forced him to take drugs and have sex with me. His barrister, a woman, implied I was a racist because all the defendants were Muslim.
"Because the defendants were Muslim, the case had opened sensitive issues about race and religion. My view is clear: they behaved that way because of differences in how they viewed women."
On April 25, the Telegraph reported that British taxpayers are paying the monthly rent for Hani al-Sibai, the Islamist preacher who "mentored" Mohammed Emwazi (aka Jihadi John, the Islamic State executioner). Al-Sibai, 54, a father of five, lives in a £1 million home in Hammersmith, a district in West London. According to the Telegraph:
"The public purse has also paid for a number of legal actions brought by al-Sibai against the British government in his battle to prevent his deportation to Egypt and also attempts to have his name removed from terror sanctions lists.
"From his home, al-Sibai, also known as Hani Youssef, runs an effective al-Qaeda propaganda machine that includes the al-Maqreze Centre for Historical Studies. In recent months he has used various Internet sites to praise bin Laden and glorify al-Qaeda for waging war against 'the Crusader-Zionists.'"
Also in April, the Reverend David Robertson, who will soon take over as Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, wrote a hard-hitting essay on the Christian Today website in which he argued that "fear of Islamophobia is blinding many of our politicians to the threat we face from Islam." Robertson wrote:
"Christianity is the bedrock and foundation of our secular society. Islam is different. Islam has no doctrine of separation of the spiritual from the political. Islam is, and has always been, a political movement. There can be no such thing as secular Islam. In the Islamic view the world is divided into two houses, Darus Salma, the house of Islam, and Darul Har, the house of war. The former is the actual area controlled by Islam, full political and religious control; the latter is those areas of the world still unsubdued by Islam. Islam means 'submission,' not peace."
Robertson added:
"I recently attended a Monday night meeting at a mosque in my city. ... I was impressed by what I observed. There were 150 mostly young men on a Monday night at a prayer meeting. This was not Friday prayers. This was only one of five mosques in the city. And there was a community, social and political aspect which was very impressive. But I was also depressed. Because I knew that there was no church in the city that would have 150 men coming to pray. Because I knew that there was no political or social organization in the city that could come remotely near matching what I observed. And this in a city where only 2 per cent of the population are Muslim. Imagine what power they can hold in a town or city where 25 per cent are Muslim?
"It's not so much the numbers — government is not done by opinion poll. It's the organization, social cohesion, wealth and internal discipline that brings the political power; if you want it. And Islam does. A survey was released this week which shows that in the UK as a whole Islam will be 11 per cent of the population within a couple of decades."
3. Muslim Integration
On April 8, the Leicester Crown Court jailed Jafar Adeli, an Afghan asylum seeker, for 27 months after he admitted to attempting to meet "Amy," an underage girl, after grooming her online. Adeli, 32, who is married, arranged to meet the girl after engaging in sexual conversations online and sending an indecent image of himself. But he was duped by a paedophile vigilante group called Letzgo Hunting. "Amy" was in fact a vigilante named John who was pretending to be a young girl.
Adeli, who has filed an appeal to remain in Britain, was placed on a ten-year sexual offenses prevention order. Judge Philip Head said: "It was your intention to have full sexual activity with someone you believed to be 14 and something you know to be a crime in this country. You were grooming this person for sexual activity."
Jafar Adeli (left), a 32-year-old Afghan asylum seeker, was jailed in April for 27 months, convicted of arranging to meet an underage girl for sexual relations. Pakistani-born Mohammed Khubaib (right), 43 was convicted in April of sexually grooming girls as young as 12 with food, cash, cigarettes and alcohol.
On April 10, Abukar Jimale, a 46-year-old father of four who sought asylum in the UK after fleeing war-torn Somalia, walked free after sexually assaulting a female passenger as he drove her across Bristol in his taxi. Although Jimale was found guilty of sexual assault and causing a person to engage in sexual activity without her consent, he had his two-year sentence suspended. The defending counsel said that Jimale, who left Somalia in 2001 because he was being persecuted, was a hard-working father who had lost his job and good name as a result of the offenses.
On April 13, Mohammed Khubaib, a Pakistani-born father of five, was convicted of grooming girls as young as 12 with food, cash, cigarettes and alcohol. The 43-year-old married businessman, who lived in Peterborough with his wife and children, befriended girls in his restaurant and then "hooked" them with alcohol — normally vodka — in an attempt to make them "compliant" to sexual advances.
After a trial at the Old Bailey, Khubaib was found guilty of forcing a 14-year-old girl to perform a sex act on him and nine counts of trafficking for sexual exploitation involving girls aged from 12 to 15 between November 2010 and January 2013.
On April 14, Mohammed Ali Sultan, 28, of Wellington, Telford, was sentenced to five years in prison after having been found guilty of two counts of rape and one count of attempted rape. The sentence is in addition to a seven-year sentence after he pled guilty to two counts of sexual activity with a child and one count of controlling child prostitution in 2012.
On April 22, four Muslim men were charged with sex crimes against children in Rochdale. Hadi Jamel, 33, of Rochdale, Abid Khan, 38, of Liverpool, Mohammed Zahid, 54, of Rochdale, and Raja Abid Khan, 38, of Rochdale, were each been charged with one count of sexual activity with a child. The charges relate to alleged offenses against one girl who was under 16 at the time.
The charges are the latest to be brought following Operation Doublet, a probe by the Major Incident Team of the Greater Manchester Police into allegations of child sexual exploitation in Rochdale. In March 2015, ten men were charged with sex offenses alleged to have been committed against the girl and six others.
On April 23, Britain's Electoral Court found Lutfur Rahman, the mayor of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, guilty of election fraud and ordered him to vacate his post immediately. The Bangladesh-born Rahman and his supporters were found to have used religious intimidation through local imams, vote-rigging and wrongly branding his Labour rival as a racist to secure his re-election for a second term on May 24, 2014.
Rahman, who has been banned from seeking office again, was also found to have allocated local grants to buy votes. He was ordered to pay immediate costs of £250,000 ($390,000) from a bill expected to reach £1 million.
On April 23, the Birmingham Crown Court sentenced Imran Uddin, 25, a student at the University of Birmingham, to four months in jail for hacking into the university computer system to improve his grades. Uddin used keyboard spying devices to steal staff passwords and then increased his grades on five exams. Uddin is believed to be the first ever British student to be jailed for cheating.
On April 23, a jury at Chester Crown Court heard how Masood Mansouri, 33, from Saltney, Flintshire allegedly kidnapped and raped a 20-year-old woman, from Mochdre, near Colwyn Bay, after pretending to be a taxi driver to a woman trying to hail a cab. Five days later, the woman took a fatal overdose, the court heard. Mansouri denied all the charges.
On April 28, Aftab Ahmed, 44, of Winchcombe Place, Heaton, was charged with threatening to behead David Robinson-Young, a candidate for the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in Newcastle East.
4. Muslims and the British General Elections
On April 4, the Telegraph reported that a front group for Muslim extremists boasted that it would act as "kingmaker" in the May 7 general election, and that it was "negotiating with the Tory and Labour leadership" to secure its demands.
According to the paper, Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) built links with both parties after claiming to promote "democratic engagement" by Muslims. However, it was actually "a façade to win political access and influence for individuals holding extreme, bigoted and anti-democratic views."
During a MEND event on April 3, a man named Abu Eesa Niamatullah, who has called British people "animals," demanded that women should not work, attacked democracy and said that "the Creator is the one who should decide what the laws should be."
Meanwhile, Ed Miliband, the Labour Party's candidate for prime minister, vowed to ban "Islamophobia" if he emerged victorious in the elections. In an interview with The Muslim News, Miliband said:
"We are going to make it [Islamophobia] an aggravated crime. We are going to make sure it is marked on people's records with the police to make sure they root out Islamophobia as a hate crime.
"We are going to change the law on this so we make it absolutely clear of our abhorrence of hate crime and Islamophobia. It will be the first time that the police will record Islamophobic attacks right across the country."
The move — which one observer called "utterly frightening" because of its implications for free speech in Britain — was widely viewed as part of an effort by Miliband to pander to Muslim voters.
Previously, Home Secretary Theresa May pledged that if the Conservatives win the elections, every police force in England and Wales would be required to record anti-Muslim hate crimes as a separate category, as is already the case with anti-Semitic crimes.
In Derby, Gulzabeen Afsar, a Muslim candidate for the town council, sparked outrage after she referred to Ed Miliband as "the Jew," in comments made in Arabic.
Meanwhile, the British-born Islamist Anjem Choudary actively discouraged Muslims from voting. In a stream of Twitter messages using the #StayMuslimDontVote hashtag, Choudary argued that voting is a "sin" against Islam because Allah is "the only legislator." He has also said that Muslims who vote or run for public office are "apostates."
Other British Islamists followed Choudary's lead. Bright yellow posters claiming that democracy "violates the right of Allah" were spotted in Cardiff, the capital of Wales, and Leicester, as part of a grassroots campaign called #DontVote4ManMadeLaw.
One such poster stated:
"Democracy is a system whereby man violates the right of Allah and decides what is permissible or impermissible for mankind, based solely on their whims and desires.
"Islam is the only real, working solution for the UK. It is a comprehensive system of governance where the laws of Allah are implemented and justice is observed."
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

Saudi Beheads Pakistani, 84 Executions in 2015
Naharnet/Saudi Arabia beheaded a Pakistani sentenced to death for drug smuggling on Sunday, bringing to 84 the number of executions in the ultra-conservative kingdom this year, the interior ministry said. Iftikhar Ahmed Mohammed Anayat was found guilty of attempting to traffic heroin into the kingdom in balloons concealed in his stomach, the ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. He was executed in the Red Sea city of Jeddah. The ministry has cited deterrence as a reason for its use of the death penalty despite criticism from human rights watchdogs. London-based Amnesty International ranked Saudi Arabia among the world's top three executioners of 2014. On a visit to Riyadh this month, French President Francois Hollande said capital punishment "should be banned", and his country is campaigning around the world for its abolition. Drug trafficking, rape, murder, apostasy and armed robbery are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia's strict version of Islamic sharia law.

Egypt: For Sisi, executing Morsi has its benefits and drawbacks
By ARIEL BEN SOLOMON/J.Post/05/18/2015
If carried out, the death penalty requested by an Egyptian court on Saturday for former president Mohamed Morsi could boost President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi by putting an end to calls to return the Muslim Brotherhood leader to power, but would be countered by international and domestic censure.In February, death penalty verdicts against 36 Islamists were overturned in what could have set a precedent for this case. Moreover, Egyptian authorities could be worried about the repercussions of killing Morsi, and that it could add fuel to an already raging Islamist insurgency. It could lead many Muslim Brotherhood supporters to radicalize even further and join jihadist groups such as Islamic State, which is active in Sinai. US and European criticism is also certainly going to weigh on Sisi and become a thorn in his side when seeking economic and military aid from them, if Morsi is executed. However, for Sisi’s regime, killing the former president could be seen as a nail in the coffin of the Muslim Brotherhood movement which has seen its leadership decimated by arrests, while some leaders have fled the country. Zvi Mazel, who served as Israel’s sixth ambassador to Egypt and is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs today and a contributor to this newspaper, told The Jerusalem Post that while many in the West were expressing their outrage over the death sentence, Standard & Poor’s upgraded Egypt’s outlook to positive from stable. It was undoubtedly a vote of confidence to Sisi’s efforts to create sustainable economic growth, said Mazel.
“This will give confidence to potential investors from the West and lessen the burden of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries which have been making a remarkable effort to support Egypt’s economy,” he said.
“Egypt is still hampered by low income, institutional shortcomings, illiteracy and unemployment, but there is a glimmer of hope after four years of almost chaos that followed the fall of [president Hosni] Mubarak,” asserted the former Israeli ambassador to the country.
The seeking of the death penalty, he continued, “is certainly part of the difficult war that Sisi is waging against Islamic terrorism [which is] aiming to destabilize Egypt” and bring it to the situation of Libya, Syria or Iraq.
“It must be understood that the legal system in Egypt draws its basic law from the Shari’a according to the constitution that stipulates that the Shari’a is the principal source of the legislation,” noted Mazel.
Mazel, though, is not sure that the sentence will actually be carried out, since it could be overturned on appeal; or the most senior religious authority in the country, the mufti, who has the last say on the verdict, could also reject it.
Many will say that this is a political verdict, said Mazel. Even so, he added, “the defendants were guilty and had endangered the security of Egypt as well as bearing the responsibility for killing unarmed demonstrators.”