Category : Terrorism

Boko Haram raids village in Nigeria, steals food and medical supplies

Boko Haram Islamists raided a village in northeast Nigeria, in the latest rampage to steal food and medical supplies, as fears grew of more attacks, locals and security personnel said on Sunday.

Scores of fighters loyal to the faction headed by Abu Musab Al-Barnawi stormed Sabon Garin Kimba, some 140km southwest of the Borno state capital Maiduguri.

The jihadists were dressed in military uniform and arrived in a pick-up in Nigerian army colours at about 18:00 on Friday, according to the civilian militia assisting troops.

The raid is significant as no civilians were killed or injured.

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Posted in Nigeria, Terrorism

A Statement of solidarity from the City of Westminster Interfaith Leaders

1. We are members of Pathways, a group of faith leaders and representatives in St John’s Wood and Marylebone in the City of Westminster, who regularly meet together to foster good relations between our communities and to work on matters of mutual concern.

2. Fundamental to all our religions is the message of peace. We believe that human beings have a duty to work for peace and seek to build good relations with their neighbours.

3. We deplore the attack which took place in and around the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday. Anyone claiming a religious motive justifies an attack of this nature has repudiated the tenets of their faith.

4. We wish to express our sympathy and solidarity with those who have suffered and also those who are bereaved. We will pray for them in our churches, mosques and synagogues.

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Posted in England / UK, Inter-Faith Relations, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Christianity is ‘over’ in Iraq, but ‘God is not dead despite terrible persecution,’ says ‘Vicar of Baghdad’

An eminent Anglican priest known as the “Vicar of Baghdad” has just presented two contrasting images of Christianity in Iraq.

First, in a Fox News interview on Tuesday, Canon Andrew White said Christianity is “over” in the region from which the faith originated.

However, on the same day, he posted a message on his Facebook page, saying, “God is not dead … despite the terrible persecution of much of the Church today in Iraq and the Middle East.”

White went on to say that God “is alive and doing the greatest things ever. Resurrections, healing and angels are part of daily life. We in the western world just do not know of the real majesty, glory and presence of Jesus.”

Read it all from Christian Today.

Posted in Iraq, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(Der Spiegel) Targeting Terrorists: Germany’s Dilemma in Dealing with Islamist Threats

…. [This] case is a good example of just how difficult it can be for the German government to deal with people it considers a threat but who cannot be convicted of a crime due to insufficient evidence. The German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) has identified 602 individuals who are so-called “Islamist threats.” Some 300 of them live abroad — in Syria or in Iraq, often as fighters for terrorist groups like Islamic State (IS) — while around 100 are currently in jail in Germany. Of the 200 remaining suspected enemies of the state, most have not yet committed any prosecutable crimes, but authorities nevertheless believe them to be capable of “politically motivated crimes of considerable significance.” That’s how the BKA and the 16 state criminal offices have defined these individual threats since 2004. Put more simply, they believe these 200 identified individuals are capable of committing terrorist acts at any time.

“Threat” is a vague working term. And the individuals who have been identified as such often aren’t even aware of it. The decision to classify a person as a threat is made by the state offices of criminal investigation, and the person’s name is then added to a national list kept by the BKA. According to the definition, threats are identified “on the basis of certain established facts” which fall short of being actual crimes. Unable to prosecute them, the most the state can do is keep these individuals under close surveillance to the greatest degree possible.

But they often aren’t successful, as seen in the case of Anis Amri, the perpetrator behind the December attack on a Christmas market in Berlin. Officials had also classified him as a threat, but authorities were unable to prove he had committed any terrorist acts and they also couldn’t deport him to Tunisia. He was a free man who used his freedom to shoot a semi-truck driver, steal the vehicle and murder 11 more people.

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Posted in Germany, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(C of E Comm Blog) Westminster attack: Church of England leaders respond

The Archbishop of Canterbury and leaders of the Church of England have offered prayers for those affected by the attack in Westminster as they praised the bravery of police and emergency services.

With areas around the Houses of Parliament in lockdown as events unfolded, Westminster Abbey offered hospitality to MPs, their staff and others.

Meanwhile the Church of England issued a Collect for Peace, led by the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu in a video.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Terrorism

Mark Woods–Pray for Westminster: the injured, the bereaved and the traumatised

We always knew, if we had any sense, that this was coming. Outrages in France, Belgium and Germany last year were uncomfortably close to home, though at least they were on the other side of the Channel. But Britain has always been just as much of a target for terror, and it’s only the skill of our intelligence services that has kept us safe so far.

Now that illusion of invulnerability, if it existed, has been shattered. We do not know for certain at the moment who’s behind this horror. But that it’s some kind of terror attack at the heart of our democracy appears certain.

It’s very tempting, when such things happen, to look immediately at the big picture. This is Westminster, the Mother of Parliaments. It has a huge symbolic value. Whoever did this could hardly have struck at a more significant target.

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Posted in England / UK, Spirituality/Prayer, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

A Prayer for Westminster, London, and those impacted by today’s horrific events

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer, Terrorism

Boko Haram’s Leader Abubakar Shekau reappears, criticises alleged Cameroon ‘lies’

Boko Haram’s elusive leader has made his first appearance in months, claiming responsibility for a spate of suicide bombings and rejecting claims scores of his fighters have been killed.

Abubakar Shekau spoke for nearly 20 minutes of a 27-minute video obtained by AFP on Friday, in a trademark pose in front of a sub-machine gun, flanked by two masked militant fighters.
Speaking in the local languages Hausa and Kanuri, as well as Arabic, Shekau said the recording was made on Thursday and that he was “in good health”, contrary to claims he may be injured.

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Posted in Cameroon, Nigeria, Terrorism

NYT-Uprooted by War, Threatened by Boko Haram and Desperate to Go Home

Dozens of drivers lined up in beat-up vehicles stuffed with mattresses, cooking pots and other belongings, clogging a road outside one of the most desperate and dangerous camps that serve as refuge from the war with Boko Haram.

All were waiting for the Nigerian military to escort them back to the farms and the villages they had fled during the yearslong rampage by the insurgents here in this northeast corner of the nation.

The military and the government have proclaimed that the countryside outside Maiduguri, the busy Borno State capital where Boko Haram was born, is mostly safe now. They’ve said it’s time for most of the nearly two million displaced people — many of them farmers and fishermen fighting to stave off hunger — to go home.

But the soldiers were guiding the throngs of people into a future that was no more certain, and potentially just as dangerous, as the past they had fled.

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Posted in Nigeria, Terrorism

(Economist) The Iraqi army is on the brink of defeating ISIS, but rebuilding will be a big challenge

Driving IS out of the city may come to be seen as the straightforward part, however. Judging by what has happened in east Mosul, rebuilding will be a slow process. Three months after their liberation, east Mosulites are getting fed up. They are still without running water, and the only electricity comes from private generators.

“We have security now, but no services at all,” complains Muhammad Ahmed, a pharmacist. “There is no government here.” The provincial governor lives in Erbil, a couple of hours’ drive away, partly along roads ploughed up by IS that show no sign of being repaired. No international agencies are to be seen in the recaptured city, bar a few clinics and some empty school satchels donated by UNICEF. The central government has failed to provide it with an emergency civilian administration, leaving it either to the army, which is otherwise occupied, or to the local government, which barely functions.

Mr Ahmed probably speaks for many when he recalls that in the days immediately after IS took control of Mosul, the jihadists were rather popular. The previous elected authorities had been corrupt and incompetent, and unable to deliver the basics. Electricity, he recalls, was available for just three hours a day. Under the caliphate the lights stayed on, at least until coalition air strikes began and then, shortly before losing control of east Mosul, IS blew up the city’s main power station and its water-pumping station.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Iraq, Politics in General, Terrorism

(WSJ) Iman Malik–A Suicide Bomber and the Sufi Soul

Thousands of worshipers were gathered at a prominent Sufi shrine in Sehwan, Pakistan, last month when a suicide bomb ripped through the courtyard, killing more than 80. As a counterterrorism analyst, I had long expected that something terrible would happen at the site—the mausoleum of Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, revered as a Sufi saint. And I wasn’t surprised that an Islamic State affiliate quickly claimed responsibility for the bombing. But as a human and a Muslim who practices Sufism, it wrenched my heart.

Many Westerners today associate Islam with the doctrinaire tradition of Salafi jihadism, embodied by organizations like ISIS and al Qaeda. Yet Islam is so far from monolithic that sectarian differences often lead to violence and hatred among Muslims. Islamic State attacked the shrine precisely because of its importance to adherents of Sufism.

Sufism is an esoteric, mystical dimension of Islam whose adherents focus on maintaining a direct, personal relationship with God. It isn’t a sect. Rather, Sufism is an approach to understanding Islam. Sufis seek conciliation, rather than confrontation, among all religions. They can be found throughout the world, and Sufism is apolitical. Its adherents are on a quest not for temporal power but for self-knowledge and an understanding of the divine. To Sufis, all those who believe in a higher power and divine connection are Sufis.

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Posted in Islam, Other Faiths, Terrorism

(NYT) In Nigeria, Killing Civilians in the Hunt for Terrorists

A wheelbarrow saved his life.

Sprawled across it, Babagana felt every bump, moaning in pain from four bullet wounds. Covered in his blood, his pregnant wife helped roll him across the Nigerian countryside to a hospital.

Somehow, Babagana survived the makeshift ambulance ride. More than 80 men from his village had been shot to death, he said, all of them forced to strip to the waist and lie face down. The gunmen then burned their small farming village before speeding away.

The attack fit the pattern of rampages by Boko Haram, the terrorist group that has killed poor people in this region for years. But Babagana and multiple witnesses to the attack in June, as well as another one days before in a neighboring village, say the radicals were not to blame this time.

Instead, they say, the massacres were carried out by the Nigerian military.

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Posted in Nigeria, Terrorism

(ABC Aus) Coptic Christians flee an unwelcome Egypt, seek refuge in Australia

A church in the middle of Cairo is bombed. A 70-year-old woman is stripped naked and paraded through a southern Egyptian village.

Military vehicles run over Coptic protesters, dismembering and mangling 27 people in the worst massacre of Christians in the country’s history.

Firebrand preachers shout incensed anti-Christian messages from the pulpit and mobs attack Coptic churches, businesses and homes.

This is now a daily routine for Egypt’s Coptic Christians, the largest Christian minority in the Middle East.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Coptic Church, Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(NR) Kathryn Jean Lopez-Christians in the Middle East refuse hatred, even as they face the machete

Two years ago this month Beshir Kamel went on television and thanked so-called Islamic State terrorists for not editing out the last words of his brother and the other Egyptian men they beheaded on a beach in Libya. “Lord, Jesus Christ,” were the last words of the Coptic Christians slaughtered because of their faith.

The courage and integrity of their witness strengthened Kamel’s faith. “We are proud to have this number of people from our village who have become martyrs,” he said after his brother’s murder. “Since the Roman era, Christians have been martyrs and have learned to handle everything that comes our way. This only makes us stronger in our faith, because the Bible told us to love our enemies and bless those who curse us.” He further explained that his mother is prepared to welcome any of the men involved in her son’s beheading into her house. If one of them were to visit her, she would “ask God to open his eyes, because he was the reason her son entered the kingdom of heaven.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Coptic Church, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Wapo) They’re young and lonely; ISIS thinks they’ll make perfect terrorists

The threat presented by the Islamic State is taking on a new form: child terrorists either directly in contact with or inspired by the militant group. Even as it suffers setbacks on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State is cultivating adolescents in the West, who are being asked to stay in their home countries and strike targets with whatever weapons are available, such as knives and crude bombs. A 16-year-old girl was among four people arrested in the south of France on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack, French authorities said Friday.

“The amount of Islamic State videos and propaganda aimed at children has really jumped in recent months,” said Daniel Koehler, director of the German Institute on Radicalization and Deradicalization Studies. “We haven’t seen anything quite like this, not on this scale and of this quality. They know that in the West, you don’t expect a 10-year-old to be a terror suspect.”

Last September, German authorities arrested a 16-year-old Syrian asylum seeker after they discovered the young man was in contact with an Islamic State handler who was teaching him how to build a bomb.

In December, a 12-year-old German Iraqi boy ”” guided by an Islamic State contact in the Middle East who warmly addressed him as “brother” and groomed the boy via the encrypted messaging app Telegram ”” built and tried to detonate a bomb near a shopping center in the western German city of Ludwigshafen. The device failed to explode.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence, Young Adults