Category : Terrorism

(Reuters) ISIS affiliate suspected of R Catholic church massacre, Nigeria says

Nigerian security officials suspect extremists from Islamic State’s affiliate in west Africa were behind an attack on a Catholic church last weekend that killed dozens.

Forty people are now thought to have died after gunmen stormed St Francis Catholic church in Owo, Ondo State, on Sunday, and 61 survivors are still being treated in hospital, according to local authorities. The total is double an earlier estimate.

Nigeria’s National Security Council said on Thursday that the attack was the work of the Islamic State West Africa Province (Iswap) group, apparently reinforcing fears that the militants, who have been restricted to the north-east for many years, are looking to expand their influence and reach to other parts of the country. Ondo, in the south-west, has long been considered one of the safer parts of the country.

Read it all.

Posted in Liturgy, Music, Worship, Nigeria, Parish Ministry, Pentecost, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Terrorism, Violence

(Guardian) Al-Qaida enjoying a haven in Afghanistan under Taliban, UN warns

Al-Qaida has a haven in Afghanistan under the Taliban and “increased freedom of action” with the potential of launching new long-distance attacks in coming years, a UN report based on intelligence supplied by member states says.

The assessment, by the UN committee charged with enforcing sanctions on the Taliban and others that may threaten the security of Afghanistan, will raise concerns that the country could once again become a base for international terrorist attacks after the withdrawal of US and Nato troops last year.

Critics of the US president, Joe Biden, will point to the report’s description of a “close relationship” between al-Qaida and the Taliban as evidence that his decision to pull out all US forces was an error.

Read it all.

Posted in Afghanistan, Foreign Relations, Terrorism, War in Afghanistan

A Fantastic London Times Profile Piece on Congolese Doctor and Pentecostal Pastor Denis Mukwege

In the past seven years tens of thousands of Yazidis kept as sex slaves by Isis fighters, girls abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria, and Rohingya women dragged from their huts and gang-raped by Burmese soldiers, have courageously come forward and told their stories, yet there has only been a single prosecution.

No one is better qualified to write about the situation than this astonishingly brave Congolese gynaecological surgeon. His Panzi hospital in eastern Congo has treated more than 60,000 raped women and girls over the past 20 years. Some arrive so damaged that he has carried out multiple operations to try to reconstruct them.

One of the most heroic men I have ever met, Mukwege literally risks his life to save women. After a series of threats and assassination attempts, he lives almost as a prisoner on the hospital site, guarded by UN peacekeepers.

Far from being supported by the Congolese state, he does all of this in the face of a government so craven it tried to fine him $20,000 for collecting rainwater on the hospital roof, insisting that rain belongs to the state.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Africa, Books, Health & Medicine, Republic of Congo, Sexuality, Terrorism, Violence, Women

(Economist) How not to lose the war on terror in Africa

In many western countries, politicians, soldiers and veterans gather every November to pay tribute to comrades killed fighting for their country. Among those commemorated this year were more than 3,500 troops from America and its allies who died in Afghanistan before the West’s humiliating retreat this summer. And among those paying tribute, far from the Cenotaph in London or the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, were dusty Western soldiers in small garrisons across a swathe of Africa. With the formalities over, they resumed their posts among almost 9,000 European and American troops on the front line of what is now the West’s biggest offensive against jihadists, in the Sahel. It is not going well. How it will end depends in no small part on whether the West learns the right lessons from its failures in Afghanistan.

Some may argue that the main lesson is to avoid fighting insurgents in distant lands where no pressing national interests are at stake. But that is not the case in the Sahel, where jihadists aligned to al-Qaeda and Islamic State have taken aim at Western countries, bombing their embassies and kidnapping or killing their citizens. If the jihadists are given havens and time, they will surely launch attacks on European or American soil, too. “That is their goal and their determination and they’ve been open about it,” says a Western general.

Western governments see other interests at stake as well. The most afflicted countries of the Sahel (Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger) are among the poorest, have the world’s fastest-growing populations and are among those where climate change will do the greatest harm.

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Terrorism

Amarnath Amarasingam reviews Jytte Klausen’s new book “Western Jihadism” (OUP)

As the Cold War came to an end, political scientists began to debate what the new paradigm in global conflict might look like. Perhaps the most notorious theory was proposed by Samuel Huntington in The Clash of Civilizations (1996) – “the fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future” – in which he singled out Islam as likely to be particularly problematic; Huntington further expounded this argument in Who Are We? (2004), in which he argued that, in many non-Muslim societies, Muslim minorities are proving to be “indigestible”.

Jytte Klausen’s The Islamic Challenge (2005) was in many ways a direct riposte to Huntington. The book, based on interviews with Muslim parliamentarians, educators, lawyers and businesspeople, pushed back on the notion that there is a uniform “Muslim” approach to integration in the West. Klausen discovered something “shocking”: Muslims are basically like everybody else. They want to educate their children, make a decent living and find ways to live a religious life of their choosing. Critics of her book didn’t see it that way, however, and pointed out that Klausen was ignoring a significant subset of the Muslim population in the West that was committed to terrorist violence.

The quest to answer these critics turned out to be a long one. As she writes in her new book, Western Jihadism: A thirty-year history, it took “fifteen years and the work of eighty students”, each of whom scoured court records, media reports and martyrdom biographies released by terrorist groups themselves, to amass a dataset containing 5,832 men and 561 women who have acted on behalf of al-Qaeda or Islamic State in some manner. The book – which has revelatory individual chapters on the life of Osama bin Laden, the first World Trade Center bombing, 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing and the rise of ISIS – argues that the “Western branch” of the jihadist movement is driven by a coalescence of the “strategic objectives of Osama bin Laden and the global movement he spearheaded” and the desire of some young Muslims to take part in a transnational and revolutionary social movement, to be part of a historical moment, and to have their lives imbued with purpose.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Globalization, History, Terrorism

(NYT) ISIS Poses a Growing Threat to New Taliban Government in Afghanistan

Aref Mohammad’s war against the Islamic State ended earlier this fall when his unit of Taliban fighters was ambushed by the terrorist group in eastern Afghanistan. A bullet shattered his femur, leaving him disabled and barely able to walk, never mind fight.

But for the Taliban movement he served under, now the government of Afghanistan, the war against the Islamic State was just beginning.

“If we knew where they were from, we would pursue them and destroy them,” Mr. Mohammed, 19, said from his hospital bed in Jalalabad, the capital of Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar Province where the Islamic State has maintained a presence since 2015.

In the two months since the Taliban took control of the country, the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan — known as Islamic State Khorasan or ISIS-K — has stepped up attacks across the country, straining the new and untested government and raising alarm bells in the West about the potential resurgence of a group that could eventually pose an international threat.

Read it all.

Posted in Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Foreign Relations, Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Terrorism, War in Afghanistan

(WSJ) Terror Groups in Afghanistan Could Be Ready to Attack West in 6 Months, U.S. Says

The Islamic State in Afghanistan could be able to launch attacks on the West and its allies within as soon as six months, and al Qaeda could do so within two years, a top Pentagon official told lawmakers on Tuesday.

The testimony by Colin Kahl, undersecretary of defense for policy, before the Senate Armed Services Committee, diverged from an earlier Biden administration view that al Qaeda had been “degraded” in Afghanistan.

Mr. Kahl said the U.S. is fairly certain that both terror groups “have the intention to” launch such attacks.

“We could see ISIS-K generate that capability in somewhere between six or 12 months, according to current assessments” by the intelligence community, Mr. Kahl said, using an acronym referring to Islamic State’s branch in Afghanistan. “And for al Qaeda, it would take a year or two to reconstitute that capability. We have to remain vigilant against that possibility.”

Mr. Kahl’s testimony offered a more detailed assessment of militant capabilities than was provided by Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who told the same committee on Sept. 28 that terror groups generally could pose a threat between six and 36 months.

Read it all.

Posted in Afghanistan, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Terrorism, War in Afghanistan

The Archbishop of York writes about his Friend, Sir David Amess, RIP

He and I did not see eye to eye on some political issues. But this didn’t matter. Or rather, the fact that it doesn’t matter matters hugely for the flourishing of our democracy. Disagreement wasn’t a cause of enmity or division. Disagreement didn’t mean separation. Yet it is precisely this that we see around us in so much of the trench warfare of current public and political discourse, the vitriolic and ever amplifying echo-chambers of social media now invading other areas of life.

How do we counter this?

David Amess was a kind man.

The word kind is related to the word kin. When we are kind to someone, it doesn’t mean we necessarily agree with them, or even like them, but that we recognise a kinship, a common humanity and treat them accordingly; or as we sometimes say, ‘treat them in kind.’

David’s robust kindness came from his Christian faith. He was a devout Christian, a Roman Catholic. But the idea that we human beings belong to one another and have a responsibility to each other is not self evident. Observation of our behaviour and attitudes shows us the opposite. Our worst desires can be seen everywhere, leading us to separation, fuelled by selfishness, and bearing fruit in hatefulness and the possession of each other.

The picture of humanity that God gives us in Jesus Christ offers something else. In this regard, perhaps the most radical words Jesus ever spoke are the ones most of us know and many of us say every day: ‘Our Father’. In saying these words we don’t just acknowledge we belong to God, we acknowledge our belonging to each other as kith and kin.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

(FT on yesterday’s front page) Rwanda flexes muscles in fight against terror in Mozambique

The moment Yussuf Abdallah met the Rwandan soldiers he knew the game was up.

The 18-year-old Islamist insurgent in northern Mozambique was part of a group known to local people as Shabaab. It has loose ties with Isis and has over the past four years terrorised the northern province of Cabo Delgado, displacing more than 800,000 and killing more than 3,000.

But then troops from a country barely a fraction of Mozambique’s size showed up and cleaned up most of the area in a matter of weeks.

“We were overwhelmed by their number, they were also extremely fierce,” said Abdallah, now a prisoner of the Mozambican state in the coastal city of Mocímboa de Praia, until August an insurgents’ stronghold. “We couldn’t contain the confrontation, they have better weaponry, we couldn’t do anything.”

Rwanda’s 1,000-strong brigade of soldiers and police achieved in weeks what Mozambican and other forces had been unable to do in years. The turn of events in Cabo Delgado illustrates Kigali’s willingness under president Paul Kagame to reach beyond its borders and act as police officer in regional disputes.

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Military / Armed Forces, Mozambique, Rwanda, Terrorism

(NYT front page) Boko Haram Wanes, and a Nigerian City Is Fearful

For over a decade, the extremist group Boko Haram has terrorized northeastern Nigeria — killing tens of thousands of people, kidnapping schoolgirls and sending suicide bombers into busy marketplaces.

Now, thousands of Boko Haram fighters have surrendered, along with their family members, and are being housed by the government in a compound in the city of Maiduguri, the group’s birthplace and its frequent target.

The compound is next to a middle-class housing development and a primary school, terrifying residents, teachers and parents.

“We are very afraid,” said Maimouna Mohammed, a teacher at the primary school, glancing at the camp’s wall 50 yards from her classroom. “We don’t know their minds.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Nigeria, Politics in General, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

([London] Times) Taliban rule in Afghanistan ‘driving jihadists to join Isis‑K’

Isis-K is growing in power by recruiting disgruntled militants from across central Asia to join its fight against the Taliban, according to a former Afghanistan spy chief.

Rahmatullah Nabil, former director of Afghanistan’s intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security, told The Times that he predicted Isis-K would strengthen its insurgency after at least seven people were killed, including a child, and 30 injured in bombings over the weekend.

Discontent is said to be growing within Taliban ranks, centered on an alleged rift between factions loyal to Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the deputy prime minister who led peace talks with the US, and supporters of Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of the network behind many of the worst suicide attacks of the past 20 years. Haqqani is now the acting interior minister.

Nabil suggested that Taliban fighters who were unhappy with the group’s proclaimed ideological reforms under Baradar, such as allowing women to attend school and hold jobs, would join Isis-K’s ranks. This raises the prospect of a new war for control of Afghanistan between jihadist groups.

Read it all.

Posted in Afghanistan, Asia, Terrorism, War in Afghanistan

(GR) Lisa Beamer on the hard spiritual lessons learned in a media spotlight after 9/11

After the press blitz, Beamer tried to withdraw from the spotlight. It was especially painful, she said, that critics called her a hypocrite who was seeking fame, while some believers put her “on a pedestal as God’s chosen woman for such a time as this.”

Nevertheless, “Todd was gone,” she said. “I was called a ‘widow’ and a ‘single parent,’ titles that literally made me sick to my stomach. My sweet husband had become a mythic figure to the public, an idealized version of manhood who died valiantly defending his country.”

In the end, Beamer said it was crucial to strengthen her “core identity,” focusing on her faith and trust in “God’s goodness and his greatness.” She was convinced that, facing the crisis aboard Flight 93, her husband had managed to do that.

That’s the final lesson, she told the students in chapel: “If God is bigger than we can image, we are wasting our time to chase after something or someone lesser. … We must place our ultimate identity not in who we are, but in who we know God to be. That’s it.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, History, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

The full transcript of the final telephone call of Todd Beamer, from United flight 93, on 9/11/2001

Please take the time to try to digest it–KSH

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Terrorism

The Legacy Website for September 11, 2001

This site is intended as a place to remember and celebrate the lives of those lost on September 11, 2001. It includes Guest Books and profiles for each of those lost.

It is well worth your time to explore it thoroughly today.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Terrorism

(WSJ) Remember Todd Beamer of United 93–His heroism on 9/11 drew from a lifetime of faith and character.

A strong Christian faith also carried Beamer toward his fate. Lisa recounts that their life together was founded on faith—at Wheaton, while rearing children, and teaching Sunday school at Princeton Alliance Church.

Before ending his call with Ms. Jefferson, Beamer asked, “Would you do one last thing for me?”

“Yes. What is it?” she answered.

“Would you pray with me?”

They said the Lord’s Prayer together in full, and other passengers joined in. Beamer then recited Psalm 23, concluding, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” Immediately after, he turned to his co-conspirators and asked, “Are you guys ready? OK, let’s roll.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Terrorism

Kendall Harmon for 9/11: Number 343

On [a] Monday [in September 2003], the last of the 343 firefighters who died on September 11th was buried. Because no remains of Michael Ragusa, age 29, of Engine Company 279, were found and identified, his family placed in his coffin a very small vial of his blood, donated years ago to a bone-marrow clinic. At the funeral service Michael’s mother Dee read an excerpt from her son’s diary on the occasion of the death of a colleague. “It is always sad and tragic when a fellow firefighter dies,” Michael Ragusa wrote, “especially when he is young and had everything to live for.” Indeed. And what a sobering reminder of how many died and the awful circumstances in which they perished that it took until this week to bury the last one.

So here is to the clergy, the ministers, rabbis, imams and others, who have done all these burials and sought to help all these grieving families. And here is to the families who lost loved ones and had to cope with burials in which sometimes they didn’t even have remains of the one who died. And here, too, is to the remarkable ministry of the Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, who played every single service for all 343 firefighters who lost their lives. The Society chose not to end any service at which they played with an up-tempo march until the last firefighter was buried.

On Monday, in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn, the Society therefore played “Garry Owen” and “Atholl Highlander,” for the first time since 9/11 as the last firefighter killed on that day was laid in the earth. On the two year anniversary here is to New York, wounded and more sober, but ever hopeful and still marching.

–First published on this blog September 11, 2003

Posted in * By Kendall, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Police/Fire, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

Billy Graham’s Address at the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance in 2001

President and Mrs. Bush, I want to say a personal word on behalf of many people. Thank you, Mr. President, for calling this day of prayer and remembrance. We needed it at this time.

We come together today to affirm our conviction that God cares for us, whatever our ethnic, religious, or political background may be. The Bible says that He’s the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles. No matter how hard we try, words simply cannot express the horror, the shock, and the revulsion we all feel over what took place in this nation on Tuesday morning. September eleven will go down in our history as a day to remember.

Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God. Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God.

We’ve always needed God from the very beginning of this nation, but today we need Him especially. We’re facing a new kind of enemy. We’re involved in a new kind of warfare. And we need the help of the Spirit of God. The Bible words are our hope: God is our refuge and strength; an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.

But how do we understand something like this? Why does God allow evil like this to take place? Perhaps that is what you are asking now. You may even be angry at God. I want to assure you that God understands these feelings that you may have. We’ve seen so much on our television, on our ”” heard on our radio, stories that bring tears to our eyes and make us all feel a sense of anger. But God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.

But what are some of the lessons we can learn? First, we are reminded of the mystery and reality of evil. I’ve been asked hundreds of times in my life why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I really do not know the answer totally, even to my own satisfaction. I have to accept by faith that God is sovereign, and He’s a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering. The Bible says that God is not the author of evil. It speaks of evil as a mystery. In 1st Thessalonians 2:7 it talks about the mystery of iniquity. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah said “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” Who can understand it?” He asked that question, ‘Who can understand it?’ And that’s one reason we each need God in our lives.

The lesson of this event is not only about the mystery of iniquity and evil, but secondly it’s a lesson about our need for each other. What an example New York and Washington have been to the world these past few days. None of us will ever forget the pictures of our courageous firefighters and police, many of whom have lost friends and colleagues; or the hundreds of people attending or standing patiently in line to donate blood. A tragedy like this could have torn our country apart. But instead it has united us, and we’ve become a family. So those perpetrators who took this on to tear us apart, it has worked the other way; it’s back lashed. It’s backfired. We are more united than ever before. I think this was exemplified in a very moving way when the members of our Congress stood shoulder to shoulder the other day and sang “God Bless America.”

Finally, difficult as it may be for us to see right now, this event can give a message of hope–hope for the present, and hope for the future. Yes, there is hope. There’s hope for the present, because I believe the stage has already been set for a new spirit in our nation. One of the things we desperately need is a spiritual renewal in this country. We need a spiritual revival in America. And God has told us in His word, time after time, that we are to repent of our sins and return to Him, and He will bless us in a new way. But there’s also hope for the future because of God’s promises. As a Christian, I hope not for just this life, but for heaven and the life to come. And many of those people who died this past week are in heaven right now. And they wouldn’t want to come back. It’s so glorious and so wonderful. And that’s the hope for all of us who put our faith in God. I pray that you will have this hope in your heart.

This event reminds us of the brevity and the uncertainty of life. We never know when we too will be called into eternity. I doubt if even one those people who got on those planes, or walked into the World Trade Center or the Pentagon last Tuesday morning thought it would be the last day of their lives. It didn’t occur to them. And that’s why each of us needs to face our own spiritual need and commit ourselves to God and His will now.

Here in this majestic National Cathedral we see all around us symbols of the cross. For the Christian–I’m speaking for the Christian now–the cross tells us that God understands our sin and our suffering. For He took upon himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, our sins and our suffering. And from the cross, God declares “I love you. I know the heart aches, and the sorrows, and the pains that you feel, but I love you.” The story does not end with the cross, for Easter points us beyond the tragedy of the cross to the empty tomb. It tells us that there is hope for eternal life, for Christ has conquered evil, and death, and hell. Yes, there’s hope.

I’ve become an old man now. And I’ve preached all over the world. And the older I get, the more I cling to that hope that I started with many years ago, and proclaimed it in many languages to many parts of the world. Several years ago at the National Prayer Breakfast here in Washington, Ambassador Andrew Young, who had just gone through the tragic death of his wife, closed his talk with a quote from the old hymn, “How Firm A Foundation.” We all watched in horror as planes crashed into the steel and glass of the World Trade Center. Those majestic towers, built on solid foundations, were examples of the prosperity and creativity of America. When damaged, those buildings eventually plummeted to the ground, imploding in upon themselves. Yet underneath the debris is a foundation that was not destroyed. Therein lies the truth of that old hymn that Andrew Young quoted: “How firm a foundation.”

Yes, our nation has been attacked. Buildings destroyed. Lives lost. But now we have a choice: Whether to implode and disintegrate emotionally and spiritually as a people, and a nation, or, whether we choose to become stronger through all of the struggle to rebuild on a solid foundation. And I believe that we’re in the process of starting to rebuild on that foundation. That foundation is our trust in God. That’s what this service is all about. And in that faith we have the strength to endure something as difficult and horrendous as what we’ve experienced this week.

This has been a terrible week with many tears. But also it’s been a week of great faith. Churches all across the country have called prayer meetings. And today is a day that they’re celebrating not only in this country, but in many parts of the world. And the words of that familiar hymn that Andrew Young quoted, it says, “Fear not, I am with thee. Oh be not dismayed for I am thy God and will give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand upon “thy righteous, omnipotent hand.”

My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us and will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us as we trust in Him. We also know that God is going to give wisdom, and courage, and strength to the President, and those around him. And this is going to be a day that we will remember as a day of victory. May God bless you all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, History, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

Must not Miss 9/11 Video: Welles Crowther, The Man Behind the Red Bandana

The Man Behind the Red Bandana from Drew Gallagher on Vimeo.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Marriage & Family, Sports, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

Twenty Years Later, we Remember 9/11

“The cloudless sky filled with coiling black smoke and a blizzard of paper—memos, photographs, stock transactions, insurance policies—which fluttered for miles on a gentle southeasterly breeze, across the East River into Brooklyn. Debris spewed onto the streets of lower Manhattan, which were already covered with bodies. Some of them had been exploded out of the building when the planes hit. A man walked out of the towers carrying someone else’s leg. Jumpers landed on several firemen, killing them instantly.

“The air pulsed with sirens as firehouses and police stations all over the city emptied, sending the rescuers, many of them to their deaths. [FBI agent] Steve Bongardt was running toward the towers, against a stream of people racing in the opposite direction. He heard the boom of the second collision. “There’s a second plane,” someone cried.”

–Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (New York: Random House [Vintage Books], 2006), pp.404-405

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Terrorism

A Prayer for 9/11 by yours truly

Almighty God and Father who wills that people may flourish and have abundance of life, be with us especially on this day when we remember such destruction, darkness, devastation, death and terror; help us to honor the memory of those whose lives were utterly cut short, and to believe that you can make all things new, even the most horrible things. Redeem and heal, O Holy Spirit, grant us perspective, humility, light, trust and grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted in * By Kendall, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Spirituality/Prayer, Terrorism

([London] Times) Joe Biden to declare end of combat operations in Iraq

The United States will today declare an end to combat operations in Iraq, asserting that the fight against Islamic State can be led by local forces.

The announcement will be part of a deal signed with Iraq’s prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who is in Washington and will meet President Biden.

It will state formally that US combat troops will be withdrawn from Iraq and the forces that remain will perform only training and advisory roles. Its aim is to help Kadhimi to argue that he is no longer beholden to western military interests, and that attacks by pro-Iran militias on US targets, often bases shared with Iraqi troops, are illegitimate.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iraq, Iraq War, Military / Armed Forces, Terrorism

(NBC) Boko Haram Kidnapping Survivors Now Pursuing Graduate Degrees To Help Others

“Joy Bishara and Lydia Pogu were among the hundreds of girls kidnapped in 2014 by Boko Haram in Nigeria. After escaping, both women have now graduated from Florida’s Southeastern University and plan to pursue graduate degrees. They’re determined to be a voice for those still missing.”

Watch it all.

Posted in Education, Nigeria, Terrorism, Violence, Women, Young Adults

(CT) Whispered Prayers, Hidden Bibles, Secretly Scribbled Verses: Inside the Resilient Faith of the #BringBackOurGirls Hostages

Eventually, word of the girls’ indiscipline reached Malam Ahmed. The girls were singing, he learned, and were hiding a Bible. He was furious. His guards arrived, a mass of men descending on them all at once, shouting orders and demanding to search the area. The girls stood to the side while the men rifled through the piled-up clothes and kitchen utensils they kept under a tree. The militants confiscated medicine, mainly basic painkillers the girls had been hiding. They found a cellphone. But the girls had already buried their diaries and a Bible, marking the spot with a stone.

“We were no longer afraid,” Naomi told us.

It wasn’t until May 2017 that she and 81 of her classmates were ordered to march to the side of a dirt road, where a row of white Red Cross Toyota Land Cruisers were parked. One after the next, the young women were invited to cross the road by a lawyer, who had been working with the Swiss Foreign Affairs ministry to help negotiate their release. The cars rumbled off, and as the schoolmates cracked open juice boxes, the men who’d held them hostage for three years became small figures on the horizon. The journey had barely begun when the passengers broke into a song from Chibok, loud enough that the entire convoy could hear and join in. Their voices arched and lingered over the a in happy, reaching for a note at the top of the melody.

Today is a happy day!
Everybody shake your body, thank God! Today is a happy day.

Years later, Naomi began to recount these anecdotes to us, recalling a story of courage in the face of horrors that sounded fantastical in their depravity. Nevertheless, after many hours of interviews with the young women held in captivity, it became clear that her account often understated the schoolgirls’ bravery. Naomi and her friends had no reason to believe they would survive their ordeal and every expectation that each challenge to their captors’ worldview would result in physical and mental punishment. They stuck to their principles all the same, staging a rebellion that signaled their determination to persevere.

“We stood our ground,” as Naomi later told us.

Read it all.

Posted in Nigeria, Teens / Youth, Terrorism, Violence, Women

(WSJ) Adam O’Neal–Kazakhstan’s efforts at rehabilitation and reintegration put Europe to shame

“Kazakhstan made a very bold move by being the first country to repatriate large numbers of its nationals,” Chris Harnisch, a Trump State Department official who worked on the issue, said in an interview. “They were not dipping their toe in the water. They went all in.” The Kazakh government repatriated 607 citizens through a program called Operation Zhusan. Most were women (157) and children (413). Thirty-seven adult male fighters faced prosecution upon arrival. Another 32 women and 89 children returned themselves.

The Kazakh government sends women and children to rehabilitation centers, where they undergo a long process to help them reintegrate into society. Some return completely jaded, while others remain committed to ISIS: One woman tried to smuggle the group’s propaganda into Kazakhstan in a child’s toy.

“We are trying to bring them back to normal,” then-Deputy Foreign Minister Yerzhan Ashikbayev told me earlier this year. “We would like to see them as ordinary people.” This created controversy domestically, but the government held firm.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Kazakhstan, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Women

(UCA) Anglican pastor among 50 killed in Congo attacks by an Islamist armed group

An Anglican pastor was among 50 people killed in separate attacks in the troubled eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Local officials and monitor groups said on June 1 that the attacks on May 31 night were the worst seen in at least four years in the troubled Tchabi and Boga regions in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, bordering Uganda.

The army blamed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an Islamist armed group, for raiding villages.

Albert Basegu, head of a civil rights group in Boga, told Reuters that he came to know about the attack there by the sound of cries at a neighboring house.

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Posted in Anglican Church in Congo/Province de L'Eglise Anglicane Du Congo, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Republic of Congo, Terrorism, Violence

(Reuters) Nigeria’s military investigates reports of Boko Haram leader’s death

Nigeria’s military is investigating reports that the leader of militant Islamist group Boko Haram may have been killed or seriously injured following clashes with rival jihadists, an army spokesman said on Friday.

Abubakar Shekau has been the figurehead of an Islamist insurgency that has since 2009 killed more than 30,000 people, forced around 2 million people to flee their homes and spawned one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

A number of reports published on Thursday in Nigeria media, citing intelligence sources, said Shekau was seriously hurt or killed after his insurgents clashed with members of Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), which broke away from his group in 2016.

Reuters has been unable to independently verify the claims.

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Posted in Nigeria, Terrorism

(Premium Times) Nigerian Anglican Archbishop Isaac Nwobia calls for national dialogue to address issues of insecurity throughout the country

An Anglican Archbishop, Isaac Nwobia, has urged the federal government to convene a national dialogue to address issues of insecurity in the country

Mr Nwobia, who is the Archbishop/Bishop of Diocese of Isiala Ngwa South (Aba Province), made the call during the 4th Synod of the diocese at St. Peter’s Cathedral Owerrinta, Abia State on Thursday.

The archbishop, while speaking with reporters during the opening session of the Synod, said that national dialogue was important, as the communication gap could be responsible for some of the present security challenges in Nigeria.

“The president should summon us, either as a meeting or a confab, so that people can say why they are annoyed.

“The solution should be that we need to sit down, dialogue and sort things out,” he said.

The cleric condemned the destruction of some of the nation’s security facilities.

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Posted in Church of Nigeria, Law & Legal Issues, Military / Armed Forces, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(Open Doors) Christians murdered in terror attack in Indonesia this week

On 11 May, four Christian men were murdered in a village in Indonesia. Members of a terrorist group are believed to be responsible. Open Doors partners are looking to help the families of the victims.

Tragically, four Christian men from a village called Kalimago in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, were beheaded by Islamic extremists on the morning of 11 May. The attack is believed to have been carried out by members of the terrorist group East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT), which has links to so-called Islamic State – it’s the second attack in the past six months: four Christians were killed in Sigi, in the same region, last November.

The victims (who have yet to be named) were men aged between 42 and 61, and all attended churches in the area.

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Posted in Indonesia, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Terrorism, Violence

(AP) Burkina Faso’s 7 Army Chaplains Struggle Amid Jihadist Attacks

In the more than 15 years Salomon Tibiri has been offering spiritual succor as a military pastor in Burkina Faso, he’s never fielded so many calls from anxious soldiers and their relatives as in recent years, when the army found itself under attack by Islamic extremist fighters.

“Before the crisis there was more stability,” Tibiri said, seated in a military camp church in the city of Kaya, in the hard-hit Center-North region. “Now (the soldiers) are busier, and when you approach them you feel their stress—much more stress.”

Once considered a beacon of peace and religious coexistence in the region, the West African nation has been embroiled in unprecedented violence linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State since 2016.

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Posted in Burkina Faso, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

(Reuters) “Nation is on fire”: Nigerian lawmakers demand action on security crisis

Nigeria’s parliament called on the presidency, armed forces and police to address the country’s mounting security crisis on Tuesday, with the lower house urging President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency.

The resolutions come as a wave of violence and lawlessness sweeps across Africa’s largest economy. Security forces, including the military deployed across most of Nigeria’s states, have shown little ability to stem the tide.

“The president should immediately declare a state of emergency on security so as to fast track all measures to ensure the restoration of peace in the country,” said a resolution passed by the lower house.

In the northwest, gunmen have kidnapped more than 700 schoolchildren since December, as militants pillage communities in the region.

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Posted in Military / Armed Forces, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Terrorism