"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"

Father God, thank you for the love of the truth you have given me. Please bless me with the wisdom, knowledge and discernment needed to always present the truth in an attitude of grace and love. Use this blog and Northwoods Ministries for your glory. Help us all to read and to study Your Word without preconceived notions, but rather, let scripture interpret scripture in the presence of the Holy Spirit. All praise to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Woman Fatally Stabs Daughter in Throat with Crucifix to ‘Rid Satan from her Body’

Juanita Gomez in a booking photo dated Aug. 28, 2016 © Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office
Juanita Gomez in a booking photo dated Aug. 28, 2016 © Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office

A 49-year-old woman has been arrested in Oklahoma City after confessing to carrying out a gruesome murder of her daughter, whom she believed to have been possessed by evil spirits.

Someone was possessed by evil spirits, but it wasn't the daughter.

The killing was discovered last Saturday by Francisco Merlos, who went to visit his girlfriend, 33-year-old Geneva Gomez, only to be met by her mother Juanita.

Juanita had previously disliked Merlos – accusing him of theft - and encouraged her daughter to break up with him only two days earlier, but now dragged him into the house, where he hugged her to try and put an end to the feud.

But when he requested to see Geneva, there was no reply, and when he came into the living room, he saw a grotesquely disfigured body.

“She was laying on her back with the cross on her chest, and you couldn’t even recognize her face,” Merlos told the Oklahoman.

Overcome with horror, Merlos attempted to escape, struggling out of a choke-hold by Juanita, who babbled “incoherently” about the devil and money.

He called the police, who arrived within minutes, to encounter Juanita, whose hands were bruised from fighting her daughter, who was resisting her attempts to “rid Satan from her body.”

Gomez then detailed how she murdered her daughter.

"Juanita stated she punched her daughter repeatedly and forced a crucifix and religious medallion down her throat until blood came out of her daughter's mouth," said court documents released on Monday. "Juanita saw her daughter die and then placed the body in the shape of a cross."

© Geneva Gomez
© Geneva Gomez / Facebook

She then washed Geneva’s body, prior to the arrival of Merlos.

The older Gomez was handed a suspended 10-year sentence for drug trafficking and gun possession in 2009, but it was not clear if she had a history of mental illness. Friends and neighbors speaking to the local media said that mother and daughter, who had a relatively small age gap, had been very close to each other.

During her arraignment, which was done through video link, Gomez refused to mention her deceased daughter, and instead spent time complaining about the lack of toilet paper in her cell, and claiming she’s got “the best lawyer in town,” under the name of Blaine. Online records showed that Gomez, who refused a public defender, has not hired a lawyer.

Gomez ended her statement by asking the judge, “Do you believe in God? I do.”

Wonderful! Unfortunately you do not know Him from Satan. If she didn't have a history of mental illness, she does now. Demonic beings are, I believe, very often present in insanity either because of it, or as the cause of it. Demonic beings often try to desecrate that which is associated with Jesus Christ, ie the crucifix. When you see such things happen, you know evil is involved.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Israel's U.N. Ambassador: West Bank Settlement Criticism Shows 'Disconnection' to Facts

By Ed Adamczyk, UPI

Building cranes stand near new housing units under construction in the Israeli settlement of Har Homa in southern East Jerusalem on August 2. The U.S. State Department strongly condemned Israel's recent decision to expand construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Monday Israel rejected a U.N. envoy's comments that such construction is eroding the peace process. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

JERUSALEM, (UPI) -- Israel's U.N. ambassador was critical Tuesday of a United Nations official who called Israeli West Bank settlements an obstacle to peace.

After Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N.'s Middle East envoy, referred to "Israeli settlement expansion" as eroding the possibility of a two-state solution with Palestine, Danny Damon, Israel's U.N. ambassador, called the remarks a "complete disconnection from the facts on the ground."

"Israel will continue to build in its eternal capital of Jerusalem, just as the nations of the world will continue to build in their capitals without asking the permission of the United Nations. The U.N. should concentrate on the main obstacle to a solution in the region, which is the Palestinian refusal to condemn terrorism and return to the negotiating table," Damon said. He called Mladenov's assertions baseless.

Israel has built thousands of homes for Jews in the West Bank, and construction has expanded in the past two months. The United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union, known as the Quartet, have called for a halt to construction of Jewish housing on Palestinian land. The Quartet, formed in 2002, has also urged an end to Palestinian violence.

In 1979, the U.N. Security Council declared Israeli settlements in occupied territory illegal. 

The UN is dominated by Muslim states which condemn every breath the Jews take. 

Settlements have grown in East Jerusalem and across the West Bank, an indication Israel has no plans to cede the territory to a future Palestinian state.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also rejected Mladenov's comments, saying Monday, "The remarks of the U.N. envoy to the Security Council today distort history and international law and only distance peace. Jews have lived in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria for thousands of years and their presence there is not an obstacle to peace. 

The obstacle to peace is the attempt to incessantly deny the relationship of Jews to their historical land and the stubborn refusal to acknowledge that they are not foreigners there... The Palestinian demand for ethnic cleansing of Jews in its future state is horrifying, and the U.N. should be condemning it instead of adopting it."

Bounty War: Drug Lords Raise Offer for Philippines Leader’s Head to $1,000,000

Bidding wars in the Philippines

Philippines' president-elect Rodrigo Duterte (C) speaks to journalists in Davao City © Manman Dejeto
Philippines' president-elect Rodrigo Duterte (C) speaks to journalists in Davao City © Manman Dejeto / AFP

Drug lords have raised the ante for anyone who kills Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, local media report. Over $1 million will be paid for the assassination of the country's new leader, who has recently declared "a bloody war” on drug cartels.

Duterte - 50 mn pesos

The incoming police chief Ronald Dela Rosa said he had received a tip-off from a source saying that raising the reward from 10 million pesos ($216,000) to 50 million pesos ($1,083,845) was the main subject of a meeting between drug lords currently behind bars at the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa, Philippines.

Image result for Asian star building
Asian Star Building, Muntilupa, Philippines

“What they did not know is that one of those present in the meeting has told me what they discussed,” Dela Rosa told the Manila Bulletin.

When asked how he plans to deal with them, Dela Rosa reportedly replied: “They should be taken out of the NBP horizontally.”

Indeed, that may be the only way to cancel out the reward offer. The drug lords probably just signed their own death warrant.

Last week, the Philippines' president elect urged the public to join his anti-crime fight and pledged to be tougher on local law enforcers and officials found to be protecting and covering up drug lords and other criminal groups.

Drug lords - 5 mn pesos

Duterte, 71, who won the presidential election last month, has publicly acknowledged that his anti-crime campaign would be "a bloody war,” and offered a reward of 5 million pesos ($108,000) for a drug lord “if he is dead.”

“If he is alive, only 4.999 million," he added, laughing, according to AFP.

Duterte, who has been mayor of the southern city of Davao for over 22 years, said he is deaf to criticism that he was promoting a “culture of death.”

Indeed, that is probably the case, but there already is a culture of drugs that is not much better than death. The culture of death is short-term, just until the country is cleaned up. The culture of drugs would otherwise be endless.

Documents released by WikiLeaks allege Duterte has been linked with a vigilante group called the Davao Death Squad. It is suspected of being behind dozens of killings.

“If they [criminals] can’t be talked into changing, let’s kill them,” the Manila Bulletin quoted him as saying.

"If they are there in your neighborhood, feel free to call us, the police or do it yourself if you have the gun. You have my support," he told crowds of cheering supporters.

"If he fights and fights to the death, you can kill him," Duterte, who officially takes office on June 30, suggested.

"I will give you a medal," he added, noting that drug addicts will not be rehabilitated. He warned: "If you are involved in drugs, I will kill you. You son of a whore, I will really kill you."

Ninja Cops - 2 mn pesos

Yesterday, the president of the Philippines took his much criticized war on drugs to another level, placing a bounty on the heads of “ninja” cops protecting drug syndicates. He said they will "face a day of reckoning," announcing a US$43,000 reward on their heads.

"I might be inclined to place a reward on their heads, the members of the ninja or the members of the police who are protecting the drug syndicates in this country. I am placing per head 2 million peso [$43,000]," President Rodrigo Duterte said in a National Heroes Day speech on Monday.

"I want the police and the armed forces to destroy the drug apparatus in this country," he told retired and serving soldiers, government officials, and foreign diplomats.

He also said that officers who are aware of unethical "ninja" cops should "squeal on your friends," Reuters reported.

Last month, Duterte – who came to power in May on a promise to wipe out drugs and dealers – named around 160 officials, judges, police, and soldiers who he said were protecting drug traffickers or selling drugs in their neighborhoods.

72 ISIS Mass Graves Containing up to 15,000 Discovered in Iraq & Syria

A Yazidi mass grave in Sinjar, in Iraq© Ari Jalal
A Yazidi mass grave in Sinjar, in Iraq© Ari Jalal / Reuters

As Islamic State retreats the true scale of its atrocities is becoming apparent. Associated Press collated existing documents and testimonies to produce the fullest picture yet – but activists say that thousands more victims buried in shallow mass graves are yet to be discovered.

The agency says it has pinpointed the exact location of 72 Islamic State mass graves – 17 of those in Syria, the rest in Iraq – which contain anything from at least 5,200 to over 15,000 victims.

The information came from AllSource, a satellite intelligence firm that has matched photos from space with eyewitness accounts, aid groups such as Yazda, which are recording the systematic slaughter, and often IS itself, which has boasted about killing hundreds of 'infidels' and 'traitors' in its own regularly-broadcast videos.

"They are beheading them, shooting them, running them over in cars, all kinds of killing techniques, and they don't even try to hide it," said Sirwan Jalal, who has been appointed by Iraqi Kurds to investigate the mass burials.

Bones, suspected to belong to members of Iraq's Yazidi community, are seen in a mass grave on the outskirts of the town of Sinjar, November 30, 2015 © Ari Jalal
Bones, suspected to belong to members of Iraq's Yazidi community, are seen in a mass grave on the outskirts of the town of Sinjar, November 30, 2015 © Ari Jalal / Reuters

The biggest documented massacre was committed in Camp Speicher in Tikrit in June 2014, when Islamic State gunned down between 1,000 and 1,700 unarmed Shiite Iraqi Air Force recruits, forcing them to shout slogans as they lay down, waiting to be executed.

Thirty-six of the perpetrators were hanged for the war crime earlier this month.

But while that location was well known, another massacre happened near Ramadi just two days earlier. AllSource looked for images of disturbed earth in the city in the northwest of Iraq – big enough to be noticeable from a satellite image – that tallied with accounts given by survivors to Human Rights Watch.

This was a testimony by a man only known as A.S., who was singled out for being a Shiite and put in a line in which each man had to shout out his number: "I was number 43. I heard them say '615,' and then one ISIS guy said, 'We're going to eat well tonight.' A man behind us asked, 'Are you ready?' Another person answered 'Yes,' and began shooting at us with a machine-gun."

A.S. told HRW that he escaped by playing dead and then sneaking out at night, among about 15 others, a common tactic among the few survivors of such large-scale massacres.

With war still ongoing, in places such as Hardan, a Kurdish area, the authorities have merely roped off the mass graves, and say there are currently no resources to excavate and document the dead.

As the bodies continue to decay, and the wind blows away the earth, revealing the still-clothed bones, locals are served a daily reminder of the horrors.

"I have lots of people I know there. Mostly friends and neighbors," Arkan Qassem, who lives in a village outside Hardan, told AP. "It's very difficult to look at them every day."

With IS counting different sects – such as Shias and Yazidis – different ethnicities – such as Kurds – and even Sunni tribes as their enemies, there are estimated to be “hundreds” of mass graves that will take years to be fully mapped, and their victims to be given a proper burial.

“This is a drop in an ocean of mass graves expected to be discovered in the future in Syria,” said Ziad Awad, from The Eye of the City, a publication in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor, which is cataloguing the IS massacres.

Meanwhile, Algeria is spending $1.5bn on a spectacular mosque dedicated to the same god that ISIS worships. Oh, the insanity of it all. They don't even know they are worshiping Satan and his messenger.

© Binyen DZayer
The Djamaa el Djazair, or Great Mosque of Algiers

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Failed Suicide Bomber Stopped in Indonesia Catholic Church

By Yvette C. Hammett

A 17-year-old suicide bomber failed in his attempt to blow up a
Roman Catholic Church in North Sumatra Sunday morning,
leaving a priest with only minor injuries

Image result for st. Yoseph church, Medan
St Yoseph Catholic Church, Medan, Indonesia

JAKARTA, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- A 17-year-old suicide bomber failed in his attempt to blow up a Roman Catholic church in North Sumatra Sunday morning, leaving a priest with only minor injuries.

The bomber, who also sustained minor injuries, is in custody, thanks to the quick action of the congregation, Jakarta Globe reported.

Father Albert S. Pandingan was conducting the Sunday service at Medan's St. Yoseph Church when the teen, strapped with a bomb, ran toward the pulpit and tried to stab the priest. The bomb, tucked inside the suspect's vest, failed to detonate. It created only sparks that injured the attacker, identified as I.A.H. The priest received some minor scratches to his arm.

"We have seized a backpack from the perpetrator," said National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar. "The perpetrator is alive and injured and there are no casualties in this incident."

Amar also said police found what appeared to be a drawing of the Islamic State flag, but it is unclear whether the student from Setia Budi in Medan Selayang, North Sumatra, is affiliated with a terror cell. Police are investigating any potential terrorist links.

Image result for st. Yoseph church, Medan

Photos have shown the attacker lying bloody on the floor in the church after parishioners held him for police, Sky News reported.

Looks like parishioners more than just held him.

The teen had reportedly been sitting with members of the congregation prior to the attack, when he rushed toward the priest. He was carrying an ax, a knife and a pipe bomb in his backpack.

This is the second recent suicide bomb attempt in Indonesia. A suicide bomber attacked the Solo police headquarters in early July before Idul Fitri celebrations, killing himself, but no one else.

Image from Google maps

Saturday, August 27, 2016

UAE Leader in Gender Equality in the Middle of Islam

In empowering women and providing them with unstinting support at every step, UAE has invested in a dynamic tomorrow

Zulaikha Al Sayed Al Hashemi wearing a pilot’s cap with Emirati pilots of Etihad Airways, Shereefa Al Beloushi (third from right) and Aisha Al Mansouri (second from left), Engineers Alia Rashid Al Shamsi, (second from right) and Muna Al Hadram (left) with Atija Ali Taresh Al Herbi, (right) during a meeting of First Generations Emirati women with the staff of Etihad Airways to celebrate Emirati Women’s Day at Etihad Airways Training Academy in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Gulf News Samir Salama, Associate Editor

Abu Dhabi: The UAE is a leader in gender equality in the region, providing women with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes.

“I believe that constructing a modern state requires women’s efforts,” said Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the nation and women’s premier supporter.

Shaikh Zayed urged women to storm their way into education at all stages to achieve their goals.

While the literacy rate of both women and men in the UAE is close to 95 per cent today, more women than men complete secondary education and enrol in university and post-graduate institutions.

Some 95 per cent of girls and 80 per cent of boys who complete their secondary education enrol in a higher education institution in the UAE or travel abroad to study.

Shaikh Zayed maintained that women’s political participation is a right safeguarded by the constitution.

Eight women serve in the UAE Cabinet — including Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance, who was recognised by Forbes magazine as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world.

Eight women also hold seats within the Federal National Council (FNC), a consultative parliamentary body, accounting for 20 per cent of the House’s membership.

In November last year, Dr Amal Al Qubaisi became Speaker of the FNC, making her the first woman in the region to lead a national assembly. She previously had made history in 2006 as the first elected female to the FNC and in 2011 was appointed deputy speaker of the FNC.

Women fill two-thirds of all public-sector posts, with 30 per cent in senior and decision-making positions.

Women make up 20 per cent of the diplomatic corps, and there are also several women ambassadors, including one to the United Nations, Spain, Portugal and Montenegro, and a woman Consul General in Milan.

In September, 2013, Lana Nusseibeh became the first woman permanent representative to the UN. Ambassador Nusseibeh was also the fifth woman in the country to serve as an ambassador.

Since the foundation of the country, Shaikh Zayed believed that the UAE, in its march towards development, cannot afford to neglect to offer women – who are half of society – their role in the development of the country; otherwise, he believed, it would be as though the country were relinquishing a valuable natural asset.

In this vein, he realised that Her Highness Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, could have a sizable influence in altering the status and living conditions of women in her country. And, indeed, she has attained that goal, through diligent efforts and plenty of assistance from Shaikh Zayed, and she has since distinguished herself among peers, Arab and international alike — and her flurry of achievements continues to this day.

95 per cent of girls enrol in a higher education
8 women serve in the UAE Cabinet
8 women are members of Federal National Council
20 per cent of FNC members are women
Two-thirds of all public-sector posts held by women
30 per cent of senior decision-making positions held by women
20 per cent of the diplomatic corps comprise women

Send Them Back: Bavarian Minister Wants to Repatriate 1,000s of Refugees Within 3 Years

Merkel's Migrant Madness under fire from Bavaria

© Dominic Ebenbichler
© Dominic Ebenbichler / Reuters

The thousands of migrants that flooded into Germany thanks to Chancellor Merkel’s open-door policy should be sent back home within the next three years, Bavaria’s Finance Minister said in an interview with Spiegel newspaper.

The politician added that the conflicts in the war-torn states the refugees come from should be over within that time-frame.

“In specific terms, we need instead of reunification of migrant families, to repatriate these several hundred thousand refugees within the next three years,” Bavarian FM Marcus Söder said.

“We’ve given many people temporary protection from civil wars, but if the situations in their home countries improve, they should return there to rebuild their homelands. The Asylum Procedure Law stipulates that people should return to their homeland when they no longer need to flee,” he stressed, while noting that some countries that the refugees come from, such as Afghanistan and Iraq, already have safe areas where migrants can go.

Germany accepted more than a million asylum seekers last year. Since the closure of the so-called Balkan route and signing of the refugee pact between the EU and Turkey, the number of refugees flowing into Europe has sharply dropped. Still, there are thousands of asylum seekers crammed into migrant camps all over Europe waiting to be granted the right to stay.

Söder further stated that even “the best of intentions do not have the power to successfully integrate so many people from a completely foreign culture,” pointing to the recently intensifying debate on Islamic attire worn in public places in Germany, especially full-face veils that are deemed to rob Muslim women of a “chance of integrating” into society. A new law is being mulled over by German authorities that would ban the burqa and niqab, garments worn by Muslim women that adhere to ultraconservative interpretations of Islam. Polls suggest that 81% of German citizens support the move, and Söder says he can be counted among them.

“Whoever wants to live here must adapt to our values – and not vice versa. The burqa is not compatible with Germany. If someone wants to keep wearing it, this someone should do it elsewhere,” the politician noted sharply.

I wonder of German courts will agree with that thinking? French courts did not.

The idea for the ban appeared after violent Islamist attacks were carried out in the German cities of Wurzburg and Ansbach this summer, for which Söder blames Merkel, saying that instead of trying to integrate refugees into German culture, the main priority of the government should be protecting the German population.

“It is therefore clear that a simple ‘we can do it’ is not enough,” Söder said.

“I think the citizens would have preferred a different message [from authorities] after the attacks, something like ‘we have realized [the threat].’ But we’re still waiting.”

Her initiative has met strong opposition from a number of European leaders, however, some of whom, like Söder, would prefer to talk about the repatriation and deportation of migrants instead. Austrian Defense Minister Hans Peter Doskozil has suggested that the EU should hold a “summit on deportation” to discuss steps that would speed up the process of returning refugees to their home countries, while slamming Angela Merkel’s “welcoming” approach as “irresponsible.”

The Czech Republic has also openly criticized the quota system, along with Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary, which together form the so-called “Visegrad group” that opposes any mandated re-distribution of migrants across the EU.

The German state of Bavaria has been an outspoken critic of Merkel’s refugee policy over the past months. Last year, Bavarian leaders even threatening to sue the federal government if it failed to stem the influx of refugees. Back then, Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann warned that if “effective measures” weren’t taken to deal with the crisis, Bavaria would take the matter to the Constitutional Court and charge the German government with endangering “the legal capacity of the German states to act independently.”

Friday, August 26, 2016

Bomb Disposal Teams in Birmingham City Centre After Terror Arrests


Police and bomb disposal crews in Bath Row, Birmingham after five arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences
Crews sent to site off Bath Row as 'precautionary measure' after five held on suspicion of terrorism offences  @benchambers1990

Bomb disposal teams have been called into Birmingham city centre this afternoon as five men were arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences.

West Midlands Police said an Army Bomb Disposal Team had been called in to the Lee Bank area of Birmingham as a “precautionary measure” at around 3pm on Friday as a result of one of the arrests.

Police arrested two men aged 18 and 24 from their home addresses in Birmingham while another, aged 28, was held elsewhere in the city.

A further two men, aged 32 and 37, were arrested in Stoke. All five were held on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

Birmingham man jailed for breaching terrorism order

In a separate case earlier today, a Birmingham man was jailed for 20 months after breaching a terrorism order.

Ishaaq Hussain admitted breaching his licence conditions after failing to tell police of onward travel on three separate occasions.

The 24-year-old, from Chetwynd Road in Washwood Heath, was released from prison on an order made under Part 4 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2011 after he pleaded guilty to terrorism offences in 2012.

He was arrested in April at Gatwick Airport and today he pleaded guilty to the breach and has been sentenced at the Old Bailey to 20 months in prison.

Ishaaq Hussain
Ishaaq Hussain

Favourite to be Next Dutch PM Vows to Ban the Koran and Close All Mosques

Basically, Wilders wants to rid the Netherlands of Islam altogether. This might be 
the only strategy that will ensure the survival of European culture. Other countries 
will come to realize this, but it may be too late when they do.

The promise will not come without great resistance from Muslims, short-sighted leftists,
courts, and from the EU. It will be tantamount to a declaration of war which will radicalize more
Muslims and result in extraordinary chaos in the streets. But if Europe is going to survive,
it has to happen and the sooner the better. It will not get easier as Muslim populations increase.

The front-runner to become the next Dutch Prime Minister has vowed to ban the Koran and to close all mosques in the country.

Geert Wilders
Geert Wilders has vowed to ban the Koran if he becomes Dutch PM - Getty

Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch Freedom Party (PVV), called for the total "de-Islamification" in a controversial manifesto posted online.

The far-right MP, who has previously compared the Koran to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, also vowed to put an end to immigration from Islamic countries.

He would also close all Islamic schools and asylum centres, and ban Muslim women from wearing the headscarf in public, if elected prime minister next year.

If the current levels of immigration continue for just a few more decades, all women will be wearing headscarves in public and burkinis will be the minimum requirement on beaches. This will happen in the lifespan of our children and grandchildren.

Mr Wilders unveiled the manifesto ahead of the Netherlands' parliamentarian elections in March.

The PVV currently leads the pack in almost every opinion poll amid growing anger at the Dutch government’s handling of the refugee crisis.

It is on course to take 35 seats in the 150-seat Dutch Parliament, about 10 seats more than the ruling Liberal party, led by prime minister Mark Rutte.

Mr Wilders also promised to do all he can to hold a referendum on Netherlands' membership of the EU following June's historic Brexit vote.

Sybrand van Haersma Buma, leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) party, branded Mr Wilders' plans "utterly bizarre and unbelievable".

He added: "The programme will further polarise Dutch society."

Mr Wilders last month said he was "proud" of his tough stance on Islam after claiming the Netherlands "can't take any more" refugees from Syria and Iraq.

The outspoken leader added: "I also don't have a problem with people from Slovakia and Lithuania. But I do have a problem with immigration from Islamic countries.

"The EU leaves us no freedom to determine our own immigration and asylum laws. That's why leaving the EU is necessary."

Refugee crisis
The MP has said the Netherlands 'can't take any more' refugees - Getty

The PVV was unofficially part of the first Rutte cabinet from October 2010 until November 2012.

It gave critical parliamentarian support to help the Liberal and CDA coalition get a majority in the House of Representatives.

But the PVV could struggle to form a coalition if it wins next year's election because other parties are currently reluctant to work with Mr Wilders.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

‘Hey ISIS, You Suck!’

This is great propaganda. Good for those who are behind it and who will get behind it.
Of course, westernized Muslims are not actually considered real Muslims by fundamentalists,
so the sign will have no effect on them, but it is a good declaration nevertheless

‘Hey ISIS, you suck!’: Muslims’ war of words ad campaign prompts rubbernecking in Arizona

© fawziyahya
© fawziyahya / Instagram

Billboards have popped up in Chicago and Phoenix with the blunt message, “Hey ISIS, you suck!” as part of the beginning of what might be a national advertising campaign to combat both Islamophobia and radical Islam.

The billboard, which intimates a blackboard shows the chalk-written statement, “Hey ISIS, you suck,” signed by “#ActualMuslims.”

ISIS is an acronym used to refer to Islamic State. The sign references a line of verse in the Quran, which states if a person kills another, it’s “as if he had slain mankind entirely.”

The billboards have appeared so far in a parking lot near Interstate-10 in Phoenix, Arizona and on a highway leading toward Chicago, Illinois’ O'Hare International Airport.

The Chicago-based Sound Vision Foundation, an Islamic public relations organization and non-profit, is the innovator of the campaign.

“Our neighbors don’t realize that Muslims are absolutely opposed to ISIS,” Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Chicago told CBS News. “ISIS actually kills more Muslims than anyone else.”

Imam Mujahid said the attacks in Europe and the US caused his Chicago group to get more pro-active. Young people came up with the blunt slogan, because they wanted to keep the language simple.

The billboard has started to catch attention with Muslim groups in 15 other cities, who are reportedly requesting a sign be installed in their area.

“ISIS and Islamophobia are the two sides of the same coin which is hurting Islam, as well as humanity,” Imam Mujahid told CBS News. “They are increasing fear, hate, anger which is dividing a beautiful nation.”

“The KKK was defeated by good Christians, ISIS needs to be defeated by good Muslims,” he added.

“Behind this billboard are the common people,” Sound Vision Executive Director Mohammad Siddiqi told KPHO. “This is our declaration of independence against ISIS. It’s as simple as that.”

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Duterte Style Justice Not Going Over Well in Peru

Peru launches probe into alleged rogue
police killings of civilians
By Andrew V. Pestano

LIMA, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Officials in Peru are investigating at least 18 police officers accused of carrying out illegal killings of civilians they said were dangerous criminals in order to secure promotions.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Peru's Deputy Public Order Minister Ruben Vargas said there are "strong indications" the group of alleged rogue officers -- including a general -- could be behind the deaths of at least 20 civilians since 2012.

In Rodrigo Duterte's Philippines, 1900 drug dealers have died 'resisting arrest' in the past couple months. 

The killings occurred in at least six police stations in Lima, Chiclayo and Chincha Alta. Vargas said at least 11 of the 20 people known to have been killed did not have criminal records. The officers are accused of falsifying reports to fit their stories related to the killings.

Peru's Interior Ministry released a video of the press conference Vargas held in the Spanish language. The names of the accused were not revealed.

History of Islam's Order of Assassins (Suicide Assassins)

Fascinating history of the creation and ascension of Muslim's insane suicide murderers 

Holy Terror: The Rise of the Order of Assassins


Image result for Order of Assassins
An agent of the Order of Assassins (left, in white turban) fatally stabs Nizam al-Mulk, a Seljuk vizier, in 1092, the first of many political murders by the sect. The faces in this depiction, which was contained in an illustrated 14th-century manuscript, were later scratched out (Topkapi Palace Museum, Cami Al Tebari TSMK, Inv. No. H. 1653, folio 360b)

During the Crusades, the Muslim sect known as the Assassins tamed more powerful enemies using a shocking means: murder

For almost two centuries, from 1090 until 1273, the Order of Assassins played a singular and sinister role in the Middle East. A small Shiite sect more properly known as the Nizari Ismailis, the Assassins were relatively few, geographically dispersed, and despised as heretics by both the Sunni Muslim majority and even by most other Shiites. By conventional standards, the Assassins should have been no match for the superior conventional military power of any of their many enemies. But near the end of the 11th century, the charismatic and ruthless Hasan-i Sabbah forged this small, persecuted sect into one of the most lethally effective terrorist groups the world has ever known. Even the most powerful and carefully guarded rulers of the age—the Abbasid and Fatimid caliphs, the sultans and viziers of the Great Seljuk and Ayyubid empires, the princes of the Crusader states, and emirs who ruled important cities like Damascus, Homs, and Mosul—lived in dread of the chameleonlike Assassin agents.

Known as a fida’i (one who risks his life voluntarily, from the Arabic word for “sacrifice”; the plural in Arabic is fidaiyn, or the present-day fedayeen), such an agent might spend months or even years stalking and infiltrating an enemy of his faith before plunging a dagger into the victim’s chest, often in a very public place. Perhaps most terrifying, the Assassins chose not only a close and personal manner of killing but performed it implacably, refusing to flee afterward and appearing to welcome their own swift death.

Not much changes in a thousand years of Islam

Fanatical and disciplined, Hasan-i Sabbah and his successors were brilliant practitioners of asymmetric warfare. They developed a means of attack that negated most of their enemies’ advantages while requiring the Assassins to hazard only a small number of their own fighters. As with any effective form of deterrence, the Assassins’ targeted killings of hostile political, military, and religious leaders eventually produced a stable and lasting balance of power between them and their enemies, reducing the level of conflict and loss of life on both sides.

Today, 750 years after the Mongols crushed them, the Assassins’ pioneering use of suicide terrorism, of murdering systematically though at times indiscriminately to achieve political ends, finds chilling echoes in the tactics of terrorist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, and al Qaeda. But for Hasan-i Sabbah, acts of terror were a legitimate means of self-defense precisely because they focused on high-ranking enemy military, political, and religious leaders who had taken hostile actions against the Ismaili community. There is little doubt he would have viewed the tactics employed by modern Middle Eastern terrorist groups—particularly their targeting of unarmed civilians—with incomprehension and disdain.

After the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632, the Muslim world was riven into two groups, Sunnis and Shiites. Shiites believed that only a divinely inspired imam could properly interpret the meaning of the Koran, considered by Muslims to contain God’s revelations to the prophet Muhammad, and the sayings (hadiths) of Muhammad; that only certain direct descendants of Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law Ali were qualified to assume the role of imam; and that the imam should exercise supreme political as well as spiritual authority over the Muslim community.

The far more numerous Sunnis believed the Koran and hadiths could be understood through diligent study and the guidance of scholars. They accepted the leadership of caliphs who were not direct descendants of Ali.

As the years passed, the Shiite community became further divided, as disagreements arose over which of Ali’s living descendants was the divinely guided imam. In the mid-eighth century, the Ismailis chose to follow an imam (Ismail bin Jafar, the seventh imam in their line of succession) who was not accepted by most Shiites. These “Sevener” or Ismaili Shiites, a minority within a minority and the predecessors of the Assassins, were dispersed across the Muslim world. Their faith was characterized by theological sophistication and a radical egalitarianism that condemned the wealth and luxury enjoyed by the Sunni Abbasid caliphs, who ruled most of the Muslim lands from their capital of Baghdad. The main wing of the Shiite movement, known as the “Twelver” Shiites because the line of their imams ended with the twelfth in 872, was most heavily concentrated in parts of what is today Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and the Arabian Peninsula. Because both the majority Sunnis and the more numerous Twelver Shiites considered the Ismailis’ faith heretical, the Ismailis developed into a clandestine, revolutionary sect that relied upon secret missionaries known as da’is to spread their theology.

One Ismaili da’i, Ubayd Allah, led a successful revolt against a local Sunni dynasty in the area of modern Tunisia and founded the Fatimid caliphate (the name commemorated Fatima, Muhammad’s favorite daughter and Ali’s wife) in January 910. The Fatimid caliphs conquered Egypt in 969 and then advanced farther east to occupy Palestine, the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, and parts of Syria. They dreamed of capturing Baghdad, dethroning the Abbasids, and uniting the entire Muslim world under their rule. As their star rose, the Fatimids established their capital in Cairo and developed an institutional infrastructure to direct and support their missionary efforts abroad. Ismaili religious activity inside and outside the Fatimid caliphate was supervised by the chief da’i in Cairo, while deputy da’is exercised operational authority for particular regions, selecting and supervising the local da’is who were responsible for spreading Ismaili doctrine.

In the mid-11th century, a vigorous band of Sunni military adventurers from central Asia, the Seljuk Turks, won control of Persia and Mesopotamia and became the new masters of the Abbasid caliphs. At the same time, the Fatimid caliphate was weakened by internal disunity and by the challenge presented by the European Crusaders, who arrived in the Levant and took Jerusalem in 1099. As their power ebbed, the Fatimids lost their conquests in Syria, Arabia, and their original base in Tunisia, reducing their empire to roughly the area of modern Egypt. A tenuous internal stability was eventually re-established by a father-son pair of Armenian military commanders who assumed the vizierate and ruled the state from 1073 through 1121. But once these blunt soldiers came to power, the Fatimid caliphate lost its revolutionary zeal and concentrated its energies on defending its remaining territories.

The Fatimid retrenchment and decline was still in its early stages in 1078 when a fervent Ismaili da’i from Persia, Hasan-i Sabbah, arrived in Cairo. A rising figure in Persia’s Ismaili community, Hasan was born between 1040 and 1050 into a family of Twelver Shiites in Rayy, just south of modern Tehran. Scholarly, intense, and ambitious, he converted to Ismailism as a young man after suffering a near-fatal illness. In 1072 he was commissioned as an Ismaili da’i by the superior of the Ismaili mission in western Persia. Hasan spent four years carrying out the secret and dangerous proselytizing work of an Ismaili agent in his home city.

In 1076, the local authorities attempted to arrest him, but Hasan escaped and took refuge with his superior in Isfahan. His mentor considered Hasan an unusual asset to the Ismaili movement, for his formidable personality combined the intellectual brilliance and debating skills of a highly trained scholar with the toughness, resilience, and daring required of a clandestine revolutionary. He accordingly sent Hasan to Cairo for advanced instruction.

By June 1081, Hasan had rejoined his superior in Isfahan. For the next several years, he carried out proselytizing missions all over Persia, but he eventually focused his efforts on the Elburz Mountains along the southern shores of the Caspian Sea, where the Shiite Dailami highlanders proved receptive to Ismaili doctrine.

Hasan now had an objective besides winning additional converts: locating a satisfactory base from which he could launch the next phase of the Ismailis’ struggle. He found it in the late 1080s, in a valley surrounded by towering mountains north of the Shah River. The castle of Alamut occupied the crest of an 800-foot-high mass of limestone, granite, and volcanic conglomerate that thrust up abruptly from the valley floor. The only way to reach the castle—a steep and exposed track that snaked up a series of switchbacks to its gateway—could be defended by a handful of men, while its summit commanded a panorama of breathtaking sweep and grandeur.

Having identified a suitable base, Hasan set out to steal the castle from the Seljuks. He first dispatched Ismaili missionaries into the communities around Alamut to win converts. After they established themselves in the surrounding villages, his agents infiltrated the castle and started evangelizing among its garrison. When most of the garrison had been won over to Ismailism, Hasan himself slipped secretly into the castle on September 4, 1090.

Hasan built his Ismaili empire by acquiring a series of strongholds, beginning with the castle at Alamut. While his followers occasionally resorted to violence, he preferred taking over these fortified places through his agents’ missionary activity, or simply by buying them (Map by: Baker Vail).
Hasan built his Ismaili empire by acquiring a series of strongholds, beginning with the castle at Alamut. While his followers occasionally resorted to violence, he preferred taking over these fortified places through his agents’ missionary activity, or simply by buying them (Map by: Baker Vail).
Sensing that something was amiss, Alamut’s Seljuk commandant forced a showdown and tried to expel the Ismaili converts. But he discovered that the bulk of the garrison now answered to Hasan, not to him. Outmaneuvered, the commandant surrendered. Hasan generously gave the commandant a draft for 3,000 gold dinars before sending him on his way.
Hasan then awaited the inevitable Seljuk response. It came initially from a local Seljuk emir, who swept through the valley, destroying crops and houses, and killing Ismaili converts. But he failed to retake the castle.

Once he had withstood the initial Seljuk counterstroke, Hasan sought to extend his authority throughout the surrounding district of Rudbar. Whenever possible, he won over other fortified places through missionary activity called “propaganda.” But Hasan was equally prepared to resort to coups or direct assault, to “slaughter, ravishment, pillage, bloodshed, and war,” reported Juvaini, the 13th-century Persian historian who participated in the Mongol destruction of Alamut in 1256, “and wherever he found a suitable rock he built a castle upon it.” Soon, the high valleys of Rudbar assumed the character of a miniature state—a heavily fortified Ismaili island in a Seljuk sea.

Another area that Hasan identified as potentially receptive to Ismailism was Kuhistan, a dry region in eastern Persia of low mountains and oasis towns surrounded by the Great Salt Desert. Like the Dailami mountain people, the Kuhistanis were not orthodox Sunnis, and their Seljuk governor had ruled oppressively, suggesting to Hasan they might be ripe for revolt.

Hasan—who, once ensconced in Alamut, was not to leave the rock for the next 35 years—therefore dispatched his chief subordinate to Kuhistan on another mission of evangelism and subversion. His deputy performed superbly, and in the spring of 1092 a popular Ismaili uprising seized Kuhistan’s four largest towns and drove their Seljuk garrisons away into the desert.

The Seljuks initially viewed Hasan’s seizure of Alamut as a tiresome local problem. But the Ismaili successes in Rudbar and Kuhistan called for a stronger response. The Seljuk sultan Malik Shah and his aging but still formidable vizier, Nizam al-Mulk, dispatched armies to both Rudbar and Kuhistan to snuff out the spreading Ismaili infection. Uncharacteristically, the Seljuk counteroffensive caught Hasan off guard. When a Seljuk emir laid siege to Alamut in June or July 1092, there were just 60 or 70 Ismaili fighters available, and its storerooms were nearly empty. Hasan and his men were soon reduced to a starvation diet, and Alamut’s fall appeared imminent.

But Hasan managed to get a message to one of his da’is who lived beyond the mountains in Qazvin, roughly 150 miles northwest of modern Tehran. Carrying loads of food and weapons, 300 Ismaili volunteers crossed the mountains to Alamut, where they slipped through the Seljuk lines and delivered their supplies to the desperate garrison.

This success bought time for the Ismailis to assemble a larger relief force. Late that summer, the Alamut garrison and Hasan’s allies outside the castle launched a concerted night attack on the Seljuk encampment. The assault achieved complete surprise, and the emir’s army fled down the valley in a panicky rout.

Hasan soon followed up this victory with an even more devastating strike against the Seljuk state—one that would ensure a sinister place in history for both himself and the religious community he led. First he identified Vizier Nizam al-Mulk as the Persian Ismailis’ single most dangerous enemy. Then, even as the embattled garrison atop Alamut concentrated on holding off the besieging Seljuk army, Hasan dispatched a single agent, a young Ismaili named Bu-Tahir, on a daring mission that required him to penetrate the heart of the Seljuk court.

In early October, Bu-Tahir learned that Sultan Malik Shah and his entourage, including Nizam al-Mulk, had set out from the Seljuk capital of Isfahan for the Abbasid caliph’s residence in Baghdad. On the evening of October 16, 1092, Nizam al-Mulk had joined Malik Shah in his tent for the feast breaking the Ramadan fast. Afterward, as Nizam’s attendants carried him in a litter to the tent where his harem was waiting, Bu-Tahir approached, dressed as a Sufi mystic and calling out that he had a petition for the vizier’s consideration.

When Nizam leaned out from his litter to receive it, Bu-Tahir drew a dagger and stabbed the old man fatally in the chest before the vizier’s guards killed him.

“The killing of this devil is the beginning of bliss,” said Hasan, on receiving news of Nizam’s murder. With the assassination of Nizam al-Mulk, the Persian Ismaili sect demonstrated to the Sunni Muslims that they now faced an enemy that—although numerically few and relatively powerless by conventional measures of military strength—was capable of defending itself with cold ruthlessness and suicidal determination.

Bu-Tahir’s successful mission marked the beginning of a new era in the power relationship between the Ismailis and their enemies. Hasan soon forged the lethal agents he called fida’is into the Persian Ismailis’ principal striking force. Over the next century, as other fida’is followed in Bu-Tahir’s footsteps, caliphs, viziers, generals, emirs, urban and religious leaders, and even Christian princes fell to their daggers, and their sect came to be known by the chilling sobriquet, the “Order of Assassins.”

In the decades following Nizam al-Mulk’s murder, the Assassins’ use of political terror developed several defining characteristics. First, Hasan fostered an atmosphere of intense ideological commitment that produced a constant supply of volunteers willing to carry out his deadly missions. These fida’is were young men selected for their courage, resourcefulness, and unhesitating willingness to lay down their lives at a superior’s command. The best of the Assassin fida’is combined the self-sacrificial zeal of kamikaze pilots, the close-quarters combat skills of special operations troops, and the ability of deep-cover intelligence agents to work undetected for months or even years. All these attributes allowed the fida’is to terrorize the sect’s opponents.

Second, the fida’is typically attacked their targets in very public settings—quite often, the Friday prayers at a city’s principal mosque—and under conditions where, owing to the presence of crowds or large numbers of bodyguards, they stood little chance of escape even if the attack was successful. These circumstances ensured there would be large numbers of horrified witnesses, underlined the fida’is’ willingness to sacrifice their own lives to kill the enemies of their faith, and fostered the perception that a leader marked for elimination by the Assassins was a dead man walking, no matter how many armed and armored defenders protected him.

Third, the Assassins’ method of killing enhanced the terror their victims and potential victims felt. For the fida’is eschewed poisons or arrows shot from a distance. Instead, they killed with daggers, close enough to see the final look of surprise, terror, or pain in an enemy’s eyes, and to be splattered by his blood.

The Assassins sometimes planted fida’is within a target’s personal entourage, where they first gained their victim’s trust before unsheathing their daggers. For example, a Seljuk vizier who launched a savage punitive expedition against the Assassins’ strongholds in 1126 subsequently was slain by two fida’is who found work as grooms in his stables. They abruptly killed him one day when he asked them to help select two horses as a New Year’s gift for the sultan.

Similarly, after the Turkish emir of Damascus instigated a savage pogrom that slaughtered thousands of Ismailis in that city in 1129, the Assassins responded by quietly dispatching two Persian fida’is to Damascus. Posing as Turks, the fida’is obtained places in the emir’s personal bodyguard and bided their time for two years until they were able to attack and fatally wound him.

Likewise, Conrad of Montferrat, a Crusader leader who had just been designated the next ruler of the kingdom of Acre in 1192, died at the hands of two fida’is whom he knew and trusted, thinking they were Christian Arab monks.

The Assassins’ attacks sent a clear warning that leaders who harmed the sect’s members or interests could expect to meet violent deaths, even if their vengeance took years to accomplish. A city prefect of Aleppo, who incited a pogrom in 1113 in which several hundred Assassins were murdered, discovered the remorselessness of the Assassins six years later. Fida’is ambushed him and two of his sons at a river crossing and killed all three of them. And a Druze leader who slew the chief Assassin da’i in Syria in 1128 met a similar fate, dying at the hands of the Assassins in 1149.

A final noteworthy characteristic of the Assassins’ approach to political terrorism was that they did not kill indiscriminately. They never engaged in the wholesale slaughter of civilians. Many of the Sunni notables who fell to the daggers of the fida’is had encouraged pogroms against Ismailis or ordered military expeditions against their enclaves. Hasan considered these leaders legitimate military targets in a life-and-death struggle. Innocents were spared. Over time, the increasingly fearsome reputation of the Assassin fida’is, coupled with the Assassins’ successful defense of their main bases, increasingly deterred Sunni leaders from taking action against the sect. By the mid-12th century, the result was a grudging live-and-let-live relationship between the Persian Assassins and their Sunni enemies that lasted until the coming of the Mongols a century later.

The number of the Assassins’ victims, nearly 50 between Nizam al-Mulk’s assassination in 1092 and Hasan’s death in 1124, fell to 14 under the second of his successors, between 1138 and 1162, and largely trailed off outside Syria in subsequent years.

The Assassins’ use of political terror could thus be justified on moral grounds as an effective means of self-defense. These tactics cost far fewer lives, for both sides, than conventional military operations.

Hasan was also shrewd enough to recognize that it could sometimes be more effective to deter a hostile leader than to kill him and risk revenge from his family, court, and subjects. Thus, after Sanjar ibn Malik Shah, the Seljuk viceroy who ruled eastern Persia, dispatched several military expeditions against the Ismailis and refused to receive their ambassadors in the early 1100s, Hasan bribed a member of Sanjar’s court to leave a dagger embedded in the ground next to his bed while he slept.

Sanjar was terrified when he discovered the weapon the following morning, but he had no idea who was responsible and kept the incident secret. Shortly thereafter, another Assassin ambassador arrived at his court, bearing a sobering message from Hasan: “Did I not wish the Sultan well, that dagger which was stuck into the hard ground would have been planted in his soft breast.” Sanjar promptly concluded a nonaggression pact with the Assassins that lasted a quarter of a century.

Nizam al-Mulk’s assassination would ordinarily have produced a savage reprisal. But barely a month after Nizam’s murder, the 37-year-old Seljuk sultan Malik Shah fell ill, and he died in November 1092. His death sparked 12 years of civil war among claimants to the sultanate. That permitted Hasan and the Assassins to pursue their own objectives for more than a decade. One immediate benefit was the collapse of the Seljuk expedition against the Assassin strongholds in Kuhistan, as the Seljuk commander and his soldiers scrambled to take part in the struggle for power.

The Assassins subsequently took advantage of the Seljuk civil war to capture several fortresses by subversion or stealth. These included the virtually impregnable citadel of Girdkuh, which controlled the mountain highway that linked Persia to China; the castle of Lamassar to the west of Alamut, which the Assassins seized in a daring night assault in 1102; and various other strongholds outside the Seljuk capital of Isfahan and in the mountains of southwestern Persia.

These advances continued despite the development of a bitter rift between the Persian Ismailis and their Fatimid overlords in Cairo. In 1094, the Fatimid caliph Ma’ad al-Mustansir Billah died after a 60-year reign, and a short, sharp civil war erupted between his eldest son, Nizar, and his youngest, al-Mustali. It ended with Nizar’s defeat, captivity, and death in prison.

Hasan-i Sabbah and the other Persian Ismaili leaders had supported Nizar’s claim. Even after his death, they continued to insist that the imamate must pass through one of Nizar’s descendants, or to someone he had designated. But their loyalty to Nizar’s line split the Ismaili movement. After 1094, the Syrian, Mesopotamian, and Persian Ismailis who accepted Nizar as the imam became known as Nizari Ismailis. Their Fatimid opponents in Cairo—whom the Nizaris considered illegitimate usurpers and regarded with an intense hatred that matched what they felt for the Abbasid caliphs or the Seljuk sultans—were called Mustalians.

In the short run, this schism had surprisingly little effect on the Assassins. Hasan-i Sabbah came to be widely recognized as the deputy (hujja) of the hidden, yet-to-be-manifested imam, and his authority over the scattered archipelago of Nizari Ismaili communities in Syria and Persia was as absolute as their geographic circumstances permitted.

But when the Seljuk civil war finally ended in 1105, the victorious sultan Muhammad Tapar, a son of Malik Shah I, launched a sustained offensive against the Assassins. The Seljuks picked off the Assassin strongholds in southwest Persia, and they recaptured the Assassin fortress of Shahdiz outside Isfahan after a protracted and hard-fought siege.

Muhammad Tapar then turned his attention to the Assassins’ original base in Rudbar. From 1107 to 1117, he annually dispatched armies that ravaged the highlands around the Assassin castles, causing such severe famine that Hasan and his followers sent their wives and daughters away to Girdkuh in the eastern Elburz Mountains for their safety. Just when the Seljuks seemed on the verge of capturing both Alamut and Lamassar in the spring of 1118, however, messengers from Isfahan reached the Seljuk encampments with the news that Muhammad Tapar had died. The emirs whose troops were besieging Alamut and Lamassar promptly dispersed to their home cities, leaving the Assassins to celebrate another unexpected triumph.

But Hasan now realized that the Assassins could not overthrow the Seljuk sultanate, and also that the Assassins’ mini-state could not thrive under the conditions of constant warfare that had existed from 1107 to 1118. During the final years of his life, he focused his energies on strengthening the security and prosperity of the existing Assassin enclaves, not on expansion.

The first grand master of the Assassins died on June 12, 1124, after a short illness. Hasan was at least in his mid-70s, and possibly a full decade older. The Sunni historian Juvaini felt certain that upon his death, Hasan “hastened off to the fire of God and His hell.” Today, it is possible to take a more measured view. Hasan was an extraordinary figure—reminiscent of Vladimir I. Lenin in his iron will, ruthlessness, and aptitude for revolutionary agitation and conspiracy; austere and self-denying as a desert monk; prescient and relentless in the pursuit of his religious and political objectives; perceptive and pitiless in his assessment of his enemies’ strengths and weaknesses. His own people revered him, and they made a shrine of his mausoleum in the mountains of Rudbar.

The Assassins continued to thrive for some time after Hasan’s death. They even expanded their influence during the second quarter of the 12th century, in Syria. By 1103, the Assassins there had established a substantial community in Aleppo, where the local Seljuk emir, Ridwan ibn Tutush, was indifferent to their heretical reputation. Ridwan also recognized that the Assassins had their uses. Their first prominent victim in Syria was Ridwan’s estranged father-in-law, the emir of Homs.

The Syrian Assassins realized they would not be truly secure until they had a fortified base, so they spent the early 1100s trying to emulate their Persian brethren by seizing a castle. A series of attempts between 1106 and 1129 failed, but in 1132 the Assassins purchased the castle of Qadmus in an area of rolling limestone hills between Aleppo and the Crusader principalities west of the Orontes River. Over the next decade, they acquired six other castles in the region, one of which—Masyaf—served as the capital of the order’s Syrian branch for the next 130 years.

From this territory wedged between the Seljuk and Crusader lands, the Syrian Assassins adroitly pursued a complex and sometimes inscrutable balancing act among the various powers that surrounded them. Starting in 1152, they paid an annual tribute to the Knights Templars, the powerful Crusader military order, but they also murdered Count Raymond of Tripoli for obscure reasons that same year.

When the Kurdish general Saladin (Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub) was on the verge of uniting all the other Muslim states between Cairo and Aleppo under his rule in the mid-1170s, the Syrian Assassins twice sought unsuccessfully to murder him. They finally reached an accommodation with Saladin and thereafter coexisted easily with him and with his successors in the Ayyubid sultanate.

Perhaps the most consequential of the Assassins’ killings was their murder of Conrad of Montferrat. Conrad, a wily and charismatic northern Italian lord who was Saladin’s match as a military commander, had just been selected as the new ruler of the Crusader kingdom of Acre. His premature death in April 1192 ended any possibility of a further revival of Christian fortunes in the Holy Land after the leaders of the Third Crusade returned to their realms in the West. His death also brought the Assassins to the Western world’s attention, exciting both curiosity and fear, and ensuring that the word “assassin” would permanently find its way into the English language as a synonym for “murderer,” generally of a specific, significant victim.

As the 13th century began, the missionary zeal that characterized the Assassins’ early years under Hasan had waned. Still, they managed to outlast their Fatimid and Seljuk enemies. Saladin had extinguished the declining Fatimid caliphate in 1171, while the Seljuks’ realm was gradually nibbled away by rising new powers. Its decline continued until one of the Seljuk realm’s vassals, the shah of Khwarezm, from the region below the Aral Sea, defeated the last of the Seljuk sultans in battle in March 1194, and killed him. At its peak under Ala al-Din Muhammad in 1200–1220, and his son, Jalal al-Din Mingburnu, the Khwarezm dynasty ruled lands from India to Anatolia.

In the third decade of the 13th century, however, a terrible new power arrived in the Middle East, one the Assassins ultimately proved unable to either intimidate or conciliate. In a stunning series of fast-moving campaigns between 1219 and 1231, the previously little-known Mongols under Genghis Khan completely obliterated wealthy and populous cities across central Asia, in the process destroying the Khwarezmian Empire. The Mongols largely ignored the Assassins during this first onslaught, but that respite lasted for barely a quarter of a century.

By the early 1250s, the Mongols in their distant capital of Karakorum had heard plenty about the Assassins’ sinister reputation from their Sunni enemies, and the Mongol leaders concluded that this dangerous sect had to be eradicated to ensure their own security. In October 1253, the Mongol khan Möngke, one of Genghis Khan’s grandsons, ordered his brother Hülegü to take an army to Persia and eliminate the Assassins for good.

Hülegü’s army reached Persia in early 1256. The hereditary principle had long since come to govern the succession of the Assassins’ grand masters, and their quality had fallen far below the example set by Hasan-i Sabbah. The last lord of the Assassins, Rukn ad-Din Khur-Shah, was an amiable young man of no great intelligence, courage, or force of character. He and his advisers proved utterly unequal to the challenge the Mongols presented. Khur-Shah attempted to negotiate with Hülegü, but the Mongol prince insisted upon Khur-Shah’s personal submission and that he surrender or destroy the Assassins’ castles. Khur-Shah temporized until, in October 1256, Mongol forces converged on Rudbar from the south, north, and east and besieged him inside the fortress of Maimun-Diz.

Less than two weeks later, Mongol trebuchets and siege towers persuaded Khur-Shah to accept the Mongols’ terms and surrender. Hülegü initially treated Khur-Shah well, but he compelled him to send messages ordering the remaining Assassin castles to surrender. Forty of them, including Alamut, did so, and the Mongols razed them all. Only Lamassar and Girdkuh of the Persian castles continued to resist. Lamassar held out for another year, but Girdkuh kept the Mongols at bay for fully 13 years, until December 1270.

Although Khur-Shah also sent messengers to the Syrian Assassins commanding them to likewise submit to the Mongols, their castles were beyond the reach of the Mongol armies, and the Syrian branch of the order had been effectively independent for nearly a century. They simply disregarded his instructions.

Hülegü continued into Syria, against the Ayyubid descendants of Saladin, and took Aleppo and Damascus in 1260. But then he desisted, distracted by the death of the Khan Möngke. When his brothers contended for power, Hülegü eventually helped his brother Kublai prevail.

While the Syrian Assassins could ignore the Mongols, they lacked the strength to preserve their independence against a nearer enemy. The Mamelukes, a group of slave soldiers, had come to power in Egypt, and in the 1260 Battle of Ayn Jalut, defeated Ket Buka, Hülegü’s deputy in Syria. This was the first Mongol defeat in the West, and the Mongols retreated.

Baibars, the Mameluke sultan, first reduced the Syrian Assassins to a state of vassalage during the 1260s, then forced them to surrender each of their castles between 1271 and 1273. Although the sect survived, and its adherents lived on in some of their old communities, it never again possessed any political importance. The Syrian branch of the Assassins thus ended with a whimper. But its fate was far preferable to that of the Persians. After almost all of the Assassin castles in Persia had been dismantled, Khur-Shah had outlived his usefulness to the Mongols. Sometime in 1257, he and the members of his entourage were executed while returning from an unsuccessful embassy to the Great Khan’s court in Karakorum.

Their coreligionists back in Persia met a grim fate as well; Khur-Shah’s family and his close associates and retainers were put to death. Male Assassins of fighting age had been rounded up and distributed as laborers among the various contingents of the conquering Mongol army. Now they, too, were butchered. The Mongols then slaughtered all the other Nizaris they were able to find, causing the hostile Sunni historian Juvaini to coldly write that they “became but a tale on men’s lips and a tradition in the world.”

Thus did the mass of the Assassins, in numbers that totaled in the tens of thousands, expiate with their own deaths the limited but all-too-notorious roster of killings carried out in the name of their faith. In the end, the carefully targeted program of assassinations developed by Hasan-I Sabbah, which had brought their despised sect security in a hostile world for over a century and a half, spelled its doom. For the fear and insecurity the Assassins’ deadly reputation inspired succeeded all too well, convincing the Mongols that their own safety could only be guaranteed by the order’s complete extermination.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Nigerian Army: Self-declared Boko Haram Leader Abubakar Shekau 'Fatally Wounded'

If Goodluck Jonathon were still running Nigeria, I would completely dismiss anything that comes from the Army. However, since his demise I have come to where I almost believe what the military say. 

By Andrew V. Pestano  

Abubakar Shekau, who took over leadership of Boko Haram after its founder was killed in 2009, recently said he maintains his position as leader in the group despite contradicting claims. The Nigerian Army on Monday said Shekau was "fatally wounded" in an airstrike conducted last week. Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Justice

ABUJA, Nigeria, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- The Nigerian Army said an airstrike carried out last week "fatally wounded" self-proclaimed Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau.

Nigerian Army Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman, acting director of the army's public relations division, said Monday the "unprecedented and spectacular air raid" conducted on Friday by the Nigerian air force killed "some key leaders of the Boko Haram terrorists" while others were "fatally wounded."

"Those Boko Haram terrorists commanders confirmed dead include Abubakar Mubi, Malam Nuhu and Malam Hamman, amongst others," the army colonel wrote. "While their leader, so-called 'Abubakar Shekau,' is believed to be fatally wounded on his shoulders. Several other terrorists were also wounded."

If this is true it is good news. With Shekau being ousted as leader there was a good probability that he could have started a competing terror group with his and Boko Haram each trying to out-do the other. That, if possible, would have made life even more difficult for the good people of northeast Nigeria. It would also have split military resources fighting against them. Let's hope 'fatally wounded' is an accurate description of Shekau's injuries.

Shekau became leader of Boko Haram after its founder, Mohammed Yusuf, was killed in 2009 -- when the militant Islamist group first began its campaign of mass kidnappings, executions, suicide bombings and assaults on remote military bases and villages. More than 20,000 people have been killed and millions have fled Nigeria due to the fighting that created a humanitarian crisis.

Boko Haram would later pledge allegiance to the Islamic State -- becoming the self-proclaimed caliphate's West Africa province.

Earlier this month, Shekau said in a video he remained the leader of Boko Haram despite contradicting claims published in an Islamic State magazine, also vowing to continue fighting. At that time, the Islamic State declared Abu Musab al-Barnawi, the son of founder Yusuf, the new "governor" of Boko Haram.

Boko Haram was designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department in 2013. The militant Islamic group seeks to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria and has ruthlessly targeted civilians.

Big Pharma Still Sucking the Blood Out of Sick and Needy

There's a new Martin Shkreli on the block

Senators have allergic reaction to EpiPen price hike
© mylan.com
© mylan.com

A five-fold increase in the price of emergency allergy medication has drawn a reaction from several US senators, who have accused the manufacturer of exploiting a monopoly. It is also prompting comparisons with “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli.

EpiPen administers a quick dose of epinephrine to counter a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. The easy-to-use injector is made by the West Virginia-based Mylan Pharmaceuticals, which now finds itself accused of price gouging and compared to Martin Shkreli’s 5,000-percent price hike of anti-parasitic medication Daraprim.

Mylan bought EpiPen from the Merck Group in 2007, and has since raised the price by more than 450 percent, adjusted for inflation, reported the Boston Globe’s health publication STAT. Selling for around $100 in 2008, the injector now retails for around $600. Given that US doctors have issued some 3.6 million prescriptions for the injector last year, the hike is not sitting well with some US senators.

“Not only is this alarming price increase unjustified, it puts life-saving treatment out of reach to the consumers who need it most,” Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) wrote to Federal Trade Commission chair Edith Ramirez on Monday. The increasing cost is driving patients to rely on expired EpiPens or traditional syringes that “require more training and are potentially more dangerous,” Klobuchar wrote.

The letter follows the Minnesota senator’s call for a Judiciary Committee hearing and an FTC investigation into the price hike. In a statement on Friday, Klobuchar pointed out that SanofiUS had to recall its competing product from the market last fall, while Teva’s generic version of the injector failed to receive regulatory approval earlier this year.

“This outrageous increase in the price of EpiPens is occurring at the same time that Mylan Pharmaceutical is exploiting a monopoly market advantage that has fallen into its lap,” Klobuchar said. “Patients all over the US rely on these products, including my own daughter.”

Senate Judiciary Committee chair Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) took up Klobuchar’s suggestion, writing to Mylan on Monday with a request for explanation.

“Please explain the changes Mylan has made to EpiPen since the acquisition that have caused it to increase the price and reflects the value the product provides,”Grassley wrote, also challenging the company to show its compliance with a 2013 law mandating school access to emergency epinephrine.

Responding to Grassley’s request, Mylan said it has provided over 700,000 free EpiPens to some 65,000 US schools participating in the company’s program.

"Mylan has worked tirelessly over the past several years advocating for increased anaphylaxis awareness, preparedness and access to treatment for those living with potentially life-threatening (severe) allergies," the company said in a statement. "Ensuring access to epinephrine — the only first-line treatment for anaphylaxis — is a core part of our mission.”

Pfft! Ensuring sickening, unjustified profits is THE core part of your mission.

Mylan dodged questions about the specifics of EpiPen pricing, however, by pointing out the “current changes in the healthcare insurance landscape,” with many people enrolling in “high deductible health plans.”

The retail price of an EpiPen went from $265 in July 2013 to $350 in 2014, when the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) went into effect. By the following year, the price was up to $460 and then to $600, according to a Wells Fargo analysis quoted by CNBC.

Heather Bresch - the new Martin Shkreli

As the price of EpiPens rose, so did the company’s stock price, going from $13.29 a share in 2007 to a high of $47.59 this year. Mylan CEO Heather Bresch (left) also saw her compensation go up 671 percent in the same time period, from $2.4 million to $18.9 million, NBC News reported.

But, I'm sure their motives are entirely altruistic, right?

Vermont Senator and former presidential contender Bernie Sanders also blasted Mylan for price gouging, telling NBC News last week that “the only explanation for Mylan raising the price by six times since 2009 is that the company values profits more than the lives of millions of Americans.”

Although, what major industry in America does value the lives of Americans above profits? Can you think of any?

Monday, August 22, 2016

MI5 ‘Blocked’ Arrest of ISIS-Supporting Radical Preacher Choudary ‘for Years’

Many of us who pay attention to things like this have been frustrated for years trying to figure out why the British allowed this nut-case to continue preaching his Islamic insanity. Now we know why, and personally, I think it was extremely irresponsible. How many young people were radicalized in this time frame? How many terrorist attacks was he involved in during that time?

Islamic preacher Anjem Choudary © Tal Cohen
Islamic preacher Anjem Choudary © Tal Cohen / Reuters

Counterterrorism officers were repeatedly blocked by British security service MI5 from pursuing criminal investigations against Britain’s highest-profile radical preacher, Anjem Choudary, it has been claimed.

Last week, Choudary was found guilty of supporting Islamic State, which seized territory in Iraq and Syria and inspired terrorist attacks across Europe.

Following his conviction, it was revealed that the 49-year-old former lawyer had been linked to at least 15 terrorist plots since 2001. Police also believe he has connections to as many as 500 of the 850 young British Muslims who have traveled abroad to join IS.

According to the Telegraph, counter-terrorism officers often felt they had enough evidence to build a case against the cleric, only to be told to hang fire by MI5 because he was crucial to one of their ongoing investigations.

The situation led to a build-up of tension between the two sides, with police feeling “frustrated” that Choudary was not being brought to justice, a source told the newspaper.

He was eventually prosecuted after swearing an oath of allegiance to IS and posting YouTube videos in which he praised the group.

One counterterrorism source says the decision not to prosecute him earlier came from MI5.

“I am gobsmacked that we allowed him to carry on as long as he did. He was up to his neck in it, but the police can’t do full investigations on people if the security service say they are working on a really big job, because they have the priority,” he told the Telegraph.

“That is what they did constantly. While the police might have had lots of evidence, they were pulled back by the security service because he [Choudary] was one of the people they were monitoring.

“It was very frustrating and did cause some tension, but we were told we had to consider the bigger picture.”

Security expert Will Geddes said while police and security services had a good record of working together, there was often a difficult balance to strike between prosecuting evidence and gathering intelligence.

“Whilst the cops always want the collars the spooks want the information and it is a challenge getting the right balance.

“Choudary was certainly clever and knew where the line was, and that was part of the reason it took so long to get him. But it was certainly possible that MI5 wanted to continue to monitor him because he was the focal point of so much,” Geddes told the Telegraph.

“Given how influential he was in terms of setting up the forums for those guys to get inspired, it made perfect sense for the intelligence agencies to say ‘we haven’t exhausted this yet.’

“In the end though he got caught because he believed his press too much and he got carried away by his own media profile."

Choudary faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced on September 6.