Friday, January 9, 2015

Video - Not enough H2O on Earth? NASA plans to mine water on Moon

Video Report - President Obama Speaks on His "America's College Promise" Proposal

Pakistan: Pervez Musharraf attack case: Ex-PAF technician hanged

A former Pakistan Air Force (PAF) chief technician Khalid Mehmood, convicted in the Pervez Musharraf attack case, has been executed in the Central Jail Adiala, DawnNews reported Friday night.
Khalid Mehmood, along with four others, was awarded the death sentence on October 3, 2005 by the Field General Court Martial under the Army Act for his involvement in an assassination attempt on Gen (Retd) Pervez Musharraf on December 14, 2003 in Rawalpindi.
He belonged to Chak No 372 police station of Dunyapur in the Lodhran district with the present address of Lava, near high school Talagang, Chakwal.
Mehmood was shifted to Adiala Jail on October 27, 2010.
Strict security measures had been taken before his execution. Army and Rangers personnel were deployed in and outside the Adiala jail. Besides this, aerial surveillance of the area was also carried out.
As many as 27 family members of Khalid Mehmood met him before his execution.
So far four convicts in the case: Niaz Muhammad, Karamdeen, Nawazish and Khalid Mehmood have been hanged, while another Adnan Rasheed has been on the run since an attack on Bannu jail.
This was the eighth execution since the prime minister lifted a moratorium on executions of death row prisoners in the country.
Earlier Dr Usman, the mastermind of the attack on the Pakistan Army headquarters in 2009, Arshad Mehmood, Zubair Ahmed, Rasheed Qureshi, Ghulam Sarwar Bhatti, Russian citizen Akhlaque Ahmed and Niaz Muhammad were executed in relations with the assassination attempt on Musharraf.

Pakistan - کسی مدرسےکا تعلق رانا ثنااللہ سےکسی کا چوہدری نثار سے

Which Madaris (seminaries) belong To... by shiitenewstv

Bahrain forces clash with anti-regime protesters

Bahraini regime forces have once again clashed with pro-democracy protesters demanding the release of a prominent jailed opposition leader.

Thousands of demonstrators poured onto the streets of Sitra, south of the capital Manama, on Friday.
The demonstrators rallied to vent their anger at the continued detention of al-Wefaq's secretary-general, Sheikh Ali Salman. They called for the immediate release of the top opposition leader and other activists held in detention.
The troops attacked the protesters and fired birdshot, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the angry crowd in the troubled region. Several protesters were severely injured during the crackdown.
Also on Thursday, the Bahraini regime forces shot people directly in the head during a protest in Bilad al-Qadeem, a suburb of Manama.
On Tuesday, prominent Bahraini Shia cleric, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qassim, said anti-regime demonstrations will continue in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom as long as Salman is held in detention.
According to the Bahraini prosecutor, Nayef Mahmud, the opposition leader is charged with "promoting regime change by force, threats, and illegal means, and of insulting the Interior Ministry publicly."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has recently called on the Bahraini regime to release Salman.
“We’ve spoken out repeatedly on Bahrain, I think I have told you that the Secretary General has called for the release,” Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for the UN chief, told reporters on Thursday.
Bahrain has been witnessing almost daily protests against the Al Khalifa dynasty since early 2011, when an uprising began in the kingdom. Since then, thousands of protesters have held numerous rallies in the streets of Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power.

The Middle East War and Displaced Yazidis


The price of oil has hit rock bottom and the dollar has skyrocketed against the Turkish lira, and in the meantime a war is raging just across the border and the Yazidis have been displaced for something like the 74th time in their history. Indeed, isn’t this how things stand?
When commenting on Turkish history, we tend to say that history repeats itself and we complain about the lack of memory in our society. It appears that, as globalization increases pace, we are destined to go on living with such a short-lived memory in this so-called global village. In countries like Turkey, the drop in the price of oil led to excitement, but this was quickly replaced by consternation as the dollar rose as the result of the economic crisis in Russia and the Turkish lira depreciated. In that environment, the unpopular war in Syria and its victims were forgotten both in Turkey and abroad. In the meantime, people and governments who have supported and encouraged the war busied themselves with the new issues that have arisen. Yet again, are we going to pass it all off by saying that history simply repeats itself? Are we going to lament that war has reared its head, this time in Syria, leading to the same suffering that occurred a hundred years ago in the same region, a suffering with different faces that we have been enduring for years here in our country? I hope that’s not the case. I hope that we make the best of the peace process currently underway and that both in civil and official discourses we can bring about genuine peace with the core origins of our homeland. Of course, Turkey and the Middle East as a whole are peopled by members of various religious and ethnic groups. And prioritizing any one group over another and stoking conflicts among them leads to nothing but death and suffering. Those who manage to survive are expected to just shoulder their suffering and continue along. This has been going on for years, from the Balkans and the Caucasus to Mesopotamia. International powers that have had an impact on the Middle East, including the United States, Europe, Russia, and the Arab world, have persistently meddled in the region despite the negative consequences of their actions.
After visiting the camps in Urfa-Suruç, I visited the two Yazidi refugee camps in Diyarbakır and Mardin together with Nilgün and Fırat. Güler, who we’d met in Istanbul, joined us in Diyarbakır. Pooling our resources, we made donations so that the residents of one of the camps could purchase food for at least a few more days. We were told that food is still their most pressing need.
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Yazidi children.
The Yazidis return to their original homeland
On the 9th of August, nearly 36,000 Yazidis began fleeing into Turkey to escape advancing ISIS forces. Before that, however, Turkish military personnel made them wait for nine days on Shengal Mountain on the pretext of passport control issues and matters of legality. In the meantime, 4,000 children died of starvation and thirst. Soon they began making their way across the border near Roboski, where 35 youths were killed by bombs dropped by F-16s in 2011 during an operation carried out by the Turkish military. The refugees then made their way through villages that had been razed in the 1990s by the Turkish government in operations carried out against the local Kurds. They were “temporarily settled” in villages and “temporary” camps in the area, particularly in the village of Bacini in Midyat, which is originally a Yazidi village but had been razed in the 1990s as well. Even though they were intended to be temporary, the tent camp of Çınar in Diyarbakır and the bus terminal in Mardin, the opening of which was postponed so that the refugees could stay there, were transformed into more permanent camps due to the massive influx of refugees (nearly 400,000) from Kobané in September as the result of further assaults by ISIS. While some of the refugees from Kobané had relatives in the region with whom they could stay, the Yazidis did not have that comfort, and they were not enthusiastic about the idea of staying in a Muslim country where their forebears had once been massacred, nor did they want to be separated from one another. The majority of the Yazidis are consulting with representatives from the UN so that they can migrate to the United States and countries in Europe. Some of them have returned to Zaho, while those experiencing health issues are trying to get to the state-run camp in Nusaybin so they can receive health care. Still others are in other provinces in Turkey after having been swindled by human traffickers who promised they would get them into Europe illegally. Although the figures are constantly changing, it is estimated that the number of Yazidi refugees in the region has dropped to around 15,600. At the Çınar camp, there are around 3,835 refugees, 1,350 of whom are children, and at the bus terminal camp in Mardin, there are around 300 refugees, half of whom are children. It is estimated that the number of refugees around Mardin has dropped to around 1,600. One pressing issue is the fact that fundamentalist and separatist groups in Diyarbakır and Mardin, including ISIS sympathizers, pose a threat to Yazidis staying in the camps, and they have even attempted to attack them. Whenever a tip is received or there are suspicions that an attack might be carried out, local residents take turns holding watch over the camps to prevent killings from taking place. Based on what we were told, this system is still in place. Complaints and information have come in about traffickers in women and children and black market organ dealers in the region, and we were told that efforts have been made to prevent refugees from becoming involved in such schemes.
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The Çınar Camp in Diyarbakır.
How can sustainability be created?
At present, the refugees’ winter needs are being met and a food distribution system is in place, but it is not currently able to ensure that their dietary needs are met in a sustainable manner. NGOs and individuals regularly step in to provide aid, and a team consisting of Yazidis is responsible for distributing the aid that comes in. The camps have equipment and personnel for first aid, the local municipalities have set aside finances and workforces for the camps, pharmaceutical associations are providing medicine, and further help is being provided by citizens living abroad, civil society organizations, the Faculty of Theology at Dicle University, local chapters of the Olive Branch Aid Association, human rights associations in Turkey, and the Diyarbakır Chamber of Commerce. These groups also visit the camps to make assessments. Mehdi Eker, a parliamentarian from the AKP (Justice and Development Party), has personally covered part of the expense of meeting the winter needs of the residents at the Çınar camp. Businessmen in the region are also providing assistance and local residents are helping as well, but in their case, it is a matter of the impoverished helping the impoverished. Civil solidarity is very important but the number of people in need of help is quite high, so it is questionable how long this situation can remain sustainable. The minimum amount of funds needed to cover the weekly needs of the Çınar camp is estimated to be 60,000 TL (roughly 20,000 Euro). In the eastern regions of Turkey alone there are approximately one million refugees, and the cost of meeting their needs is consequently high. It has become quite clear that refugees fleeing from the war should be integrated into Turkish society as citizens and opportunities for employment should be opened up for them. Additionally, steps should be made to normalize their lives and their children should be able to attend school. Despite the fact that this is a pressing issue in terms of the Turkish economy, the government has largely remained silent. Aside from setting up a tent city capable of housing 10,000 people, for all practical purposes the government is nonexistent in the region. Municipalities headed by the Kurdish-led HDP (People’s Democratic Party) are deeply in debt. It appears that this situation is being exacerbated by the AKP, which probably hopes to win votes in the general elections to be held in August later this year. This is one possible scenario in that regard: Funds will not be provided to municipalities in the region during this period of turmoil, refugees’ needs in the camps will not be met, local residents will sink deeper into poverty (the economy is becoming increasingly uncertain), and problems will arise with the refugees – and, in the meantime, everyone will struggle to get through the winter. In this situation, the AKP will come along in August and say, “Look, you voted for these people but they haven’t done anything for you, so vote for us.” It thus appears that the AKP will use this state of affairs to their own advantage. How else can it be explained? When people are living in such poverty, how else can you explain this lack of effort, this refusal to reach out for international aid? It is my hope that we are mistaken and that steps will be taken in that direction.
“Our forefathers massacred the Yazidis, but now we will look after them”
The inhabitants of the region are considerate when it comes to the camps. The reason for this is again about history. We were told that the region is the original homeland of the Yazidis and that fifty to sixty percent of the Yazidis who moved to the area of Shengal were originally from there. A hundred years ago, their lands were confiscated solely for economic reasons during the upheaval of the times. We were told that the Yazidis, as with the Assyrians and Armenians, were victims of genocide, and we were told that the local Kurds, whose forefathers carried out that genocide, felt that they had to look after the Yazidi refugees out of a sense of moral responsibility. The locals told us that the Yazidis had returned to their true homeland and that they should stay.
The peace process is being experienced very differently in the east and west of Turkey. In the west, the official conclusion of the “Kurdish conflict,” along with the fact that soldiers are no longer being killed and the budget allocated for the conflict has now been set aside for other purposes, has led many to feel pleased and relieved. However, people living in the west of Turkey did not feel the effects of the conflict and wartime migration as harshly as people living in the east, and as a result, discussions of the peace process have remained limited. It is my hope that debates can be raised that will lead to positive results so that a different Turkey can emerge in both the west and east through the initiative of individuals, companies, associations, and civil society organizations. Perhaps the best approach would be one that simplifies the problem rather than proposing complicated analyses. Even though the notions may seem worn-out, maybe our foundational criteria should be our self-defining conscience and the importance of human life. It is easy to find justifications to not live together in peace, but it is just as easy to invoke our humanity. By changing our perspective, we just may find that it is easier than we ever thought to lead honorable lives.
As we were walking the streets of Diyarbakır, we came across a bookstore in Sülüklü Han. Güler bought me a copy of Hagop Mintzuri’s book Crane, From Where Do You Come? which was released by Aras Publishing. I had never read his work before. When I was in Diyarbakır, I didn’t have a chance to read it, but on the plane to Istanbul, I started reading the back cover. As I set out on my journey back home, nothing could have described my state of mind at that moment as well as the words of Hagop Mintzuri:
“For us, it didn’t matter if we suckled from our own mother’s breast or not. If she wasn’t around in the village, they would take us to any woman who happened to be lactating. That’s how it was in the fields as well. It didn’t matter if the woman was Armenian, Turkish, Kurdish, or Kızılbaş, they would put us in their lap so we could suckle. They were happy to do it. And they were afraid of God. If they were to withhold their milk, God would punish and never forgive them.”
Mintzuri’s life was filed with suffering, but I was deeply struck by his words. We may take shelter in any belief or worldview, religious or otherwise, but the critical issue is that we have a point of reference that stops us from committing, and approving of, malignant acts. I wish that our ranks were filled with more people who held to tenets like that.

Beyond Charlie Hebdo: 'Blasphemy' penalized by Arab governments

As a terrorist attack on a satirical magazine in Paris illuminates the issue of press freedom, media in most of the Arab world are still shackled and can be brutally punished for "blasphemy" by their governments.
Even after the promise of new freedoms during the Arab Spring movement, all countries in the region are regarded as having press freedom situations that are "difficult" or "very serious," according to Reporters Without Borders.
Research released last spring from the Pew Research Center found that laws restricting apostasy and blasphemy are most common in the Middle East and North Africa, where 14 of the 20 countries criminalize blasphemy, and in 12 apostasy is a crime. Penalties range from fines to death.

Saudi Arabia strictly censors the media and the Internet with dire consequences.
On Thursday in Jeddah, blogger Raif Badawi was flogged 50 times as part of a 1,000-lash sentence after his conviction of cybercrime and insulting Islam. His website, The Liberal Saudi Network, was banned and Badawi was arrested in 2012. He was also sentenced to 10 years in jail and ordered to pay a fine of 1 million riyals ($266,000).
Columnist Tariq al-Mubarak was arrested after criticizing the country's ban on female drivers and the fear Arab societies are subjected to by their governments that prevent them from having fundamental freedoms.
The lack of press freedom may be the worst in Syria, which Reporters Without Borders calls the world's most dangerous country for journalists.
Journalists continually flee the country after almost 130 news and information providers have been killed since the start of the Syrian conflict in March 2011. Both the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and armed Islamist groups, which include the Islamic State, are culpable.
Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution sparked the Arab Spring that fundamentally changed the region -- Egypt, Libya and Yemen's authoritarian leaders were removed from power as a result of the movement.
In December, Tunisia inaugurated its first democratically elected president, Beji Caid Essebsi, a leader of the Nidaa Tournes party, which has called for a progressive and secular society.
But the government still controls the media. Tunisia ranks 133rd in the list of 180 countries in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders.
Amnesty International is working to free film director Ines Ben Othman, who was arrested Dec. 19 and jailed without bail after criticizing a police officer in Tunisia. The human rights organization criticizes the government for "laws that criminalize insult and defamation against government critics, journalists, bloggers, and artists."
Countries in the Arabian Peninsula have tightened their grip on the media since the start of the Arab Spring in 2011.
The United Arab Emirates quickly crushes anti-government sentiment including any support for the Muslim Brotherhood or other organizations. Waleed Al-Shehhi, a citizen journalist in the country, was sentenced to two years in prison in 2013 for tweeting about the trial of 94 Islamists accused of attempting to overthrow the government.
Matt J. Duffy in his published study "Arab Media Regulations: Identifying Restraints on Freedom of the Press in Six Arabian Gulf Countries" describes the difficulties faced by researchers studying the issue in the Arab region.
First, a lack of academic freedom in universities perpetuates self-censorship on subjects deemed "sensitive." Researchers can be fired or expelled from countries.
Secondly, self-censoring, Arabic-speaking researchers avoid comprehensive study on the media, which means research relies upon English-speaking researchers who face a language barrier. Laws are written in Arabic without English translations in many Arab countries.
Lastly, a lack of transparency compounds to the problems that researchers face. Obtaining information is difficult, whether in English or Arabic.

Read more:

Raif Badawi flogged in Saudi Arabia for activism, Amnesty International says

    An activist who has a wife and three children in Sherbrooke, Que., underwent the first round of 50 lashes in public after morning prayers today in Saudi Arabia, human rights group Amnesty International says.
    Raif Badawi was sentenced last year to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of one million Saudi Arabian riyals (about $315,000 Cdn) for offences including creating an online forum for public debate and insulting Islam.
    The flogging will be carried out over a period of 20 weeks, Amnesty International said.
    “We received confirmation that the 50 first lashes were given this morning," Mireille Elchacar told the CBC Radio show Quebec AM.
    Badawi was first arrested in June 2012 for setting up the "Free Saudi Liberals" website.
    Prosecutors had demanded he be tried for apostasy, which carries the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, but a judge dismissed that charge.

    Wanted to foster debate

    Elchacar said Amnesty International considers Badawi a "prisoner of conscience."
    "He just wanted to open debate about the religious subjects, social subjects, political subjects, such topics which are not open to debate in traditional media in Saudi Arabia," Elchacar said.
    Amnesty International quoted a witness as saying the flogging took place before the public and security officials in front of the al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah.
    "The whole ordeal lasted around 15 minutes. Afterwards, he was put back in the bus and taken away," the group said in a statement.
    Amnesty International is calling for Badawi's sentence to be quashed and for him to be released immediately and unconditionally.
    On Thursday, the United States asked Riyadh to cancel the sentence of 1,000 lashes.

    Wife feared for safety

    Badawi's wife and three children settled as refugees in Sherbrooke after his arrest.  
    Ensaf Haider said she feared for the safety of their children and herself in Saudi Arabia. She fled via Egypt, Lebanon, and finally made it to Canada in October 2013.
    "I felt threatened by those who demanded Raif’s imprisonment," said Haider. 
    A protest was scheduled for Friday at 12:30 p.m. ET in Sherbrooke to denounce the sentence. 
    Badawi's website included articles critical of senior Saudi religious figures and others from Muslim history.
    Saudi Arabia's legal code follows sharia Islamic law. Judges are trained as religious scholars and have broad scope to base verdicts and sentences on their own interpretation of religious texts.
    Saudi Arabia on Wednesday condemned the killings of 12 people in an attack on a French satirical newspaper which had lampooned Islam. But it has also in the past called for an international law to criminalize insults to the world's main religions.

    Video: Inside Charlie Hebdo After the Attack

    Will France fall into the trap of pitting ‘Islamism’ vs. ‘Nativism?’

    By Carlo Invernizzi Accetti 

    The brutal attack that took place in Paris Wednesday on the headquarters of the satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, leaving at least 12 dead and more than 20 injured, could lead to dreadful consequences. 
    Beyond grief for the victims and those close to them, many are speculating as to what the political reactions to this attack will be. In a speech delivered on site just a few hours after the attack, the French President François Hollande called for “national unity” in the face of a “tragedy that affects everyone.” It is clear, however, that the attack runs the risk of fanning the flames of an already tense situation not only in France but also across Europe.
    Reports strongly suggest that the attack is linked to a form of militant Islamism. If this were to be confirmed, the result could be a strong boost for rampant anti-Islamic rhetoric across Europe.
    If forced to match the French far right’s anti-Islamic program, the already struggling Hollande government could be pushed into making some unwise decisions. If, for example, it were to turn out that the attack could be linked with the perpetrators receiving support or military training from Islamist organizations operating from abroad, how is the French president — and public opinion — going to react?
    To take stock of the risks, it might be worthwhile to examine the greater context in which the attack took place. Doing so in no way justifies or even exculpates the perpetrators of the attacks. Such acts are to be condemned without reservation. It is also important, however, not to lose sight of the issues and events that have shaped them.
    Monday in Dresden, Germany, more than 18,000 people attended a rally organized by Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West. Similar anti-Islam events took place in Stuttgart, Muenster and Hamburg.
    A few days earlier, Sweden witnessed three reported arson attacks against a mosque within a week. In that country, the primary response was an anti-racism rally in front of the parliament, while Sweden’s culture minister called for the government to intervene to counter Islamophobia.
    In France, the most recent Charlie Hebdo magazine cover before the attack featured a cartoon of the controversial novelist Michel Houellebecq, whose latest book imagines a dystopic future in which an Islamist president takes power in France. The issue was released the day of the attack.
    One key detail of that novel that commentators have noted is the symbolism of the election in the plot. This sees the imaginary French “Muslim Brotherhood” win a run-off election against a less-than-imaginary Front National, led by Marine Le Pen, leaving the country with no choice but to pick an extreme. The center has fallen by the wayside. As the author himself later explained in an interview on the Paris Review, this element reflected his fears that French politics might be in the process of degenerating into a struggle between ‘Islamists’ and ‘nativists’.
    The imagined scenario would indeed be a nightmare. But is this binary opposition the best way of viewing the problem?
    The greatest risk now is to fall into the trap of framing the attack in terms of a struggle between Islam and the West.
    On one hand, framing the attack that way is precisely what the terrorists want — it is the way they perceive the world – and it is a framework within which their actions make sense. On the other hand, it is a virtually certain way of losing sight of what is at stake in the struggle against terrorism — the values of openness, pluralism and tolerance that the terrorists so manifestly despise.
    The only way to answer is the attack on Charlie Hebdo to stand by the values that the French Republic supposedly embodies — treat these gunmen for what they are: dangerous criminals who need to be brought before the justice system for what they have done.

    Video Report - Le Pen: We must respond to war declared by Islamic fundamentalism

    Video Report - Obama: United States Grieves With France

    Countering radical Islam

    Channel 1 has been airing the satirical sketches series| Hayehudim Ba’im (“The Jews are Coming”). In this twisted version of Jewish history since biblical times, no sacred cow is spared, including God and his prophet Moses.

    Now imagine that following one of the most controversial episodes, a group of armed Jewish zealots would have stormed the television studios in Romema, Jerusalem, killing the creators and the presenters of the series.

    Or, for that matter, imagine a bunch of raging Mormons, opening fire in the theater on Broadway or in London’s West End, where their religion is being mocked every night by The Book of Mormon, to the delight of ecstatic crowds.

    One is tempted here to go on and conclude that it is only Muslims who – like the three terrorists in Paris on Wednesday – are likely to react with deadly violence when their sacred religious symbols are ridiculed. Theo Van Gogh comes immediately to mind, that Dutch film director and producer, whose film Submission, which criticized the treatment of women in Islam, offended many Muslims.

    On November 2, 2004, he was murdered by a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim, who, in a chilling resemblance to the recent Paris massacre, walked to the already wounded Van Gogh and calmly shot him several more times at close range.

    So, can we safely generalize that this vicious trait is exclusively Muslim? Not so fast. On October 22, 1988, French Christian fundamentalists threw Molotov cocktails inside the Espace Saint-Michel theater in Paris while it was screening Martin Scorsese’s controversial film The Last Temptation of Christ.

    This attack wounded 13 people, four of whom were severely burned.

    And am I stretching the limits of the discussion here by reminding us that my boss, prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, was slain by a zealot Jew, on religious, not political, grounds? According to Yigal Amir, by planning to give parts of the Land of Israel to non-Jews, Rabin became a Rodef, a Halachic term describing a Jew who puts the lives of fellow Jews at risk, and therefore should be stopped by any means, and even be killed.

    Is it not about Muslim fanaticism, then, but about fanaticism in general? Not quite. The cases where Christians or Jews committed atrocities in the name of religion are rare and are universally condemned, while such Muslim atrocities are numerous, and are condoned by leading radical Muslim clerics. As a Saudi journalist, Abdelrahman al-Rashid, the managing director of the satellite channel Al-Arabiya, wrote in Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper more than 10 years ago (and quoted by Ben-Dror Yemini in Yediot Aharonot): “It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims.”

    Alexis de Tocqueville, the most astute observer of the French Revolution, wrote in his L’Ancien Régime et la Révolution (1856) that the Revolution didn’t wish to destroy religion; however, it replaced it with a new religion, a political one, based on principles that anyone, anywhere, could relate to: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.

    By their strike in Paris, the Muslim terrorists demonstrated again that radical Islam refuses to accept that hegemony of liberal and humanistic democracy, initiated in the same city 225 years ago.

    Furthermore, in this counter-revolution, not only democracy should recede before religion, but that religion should be Islam and Islam only, and the way to enforce it is through a holy war, jihad.

    Children of the French Revolution are now openly fighting Islamic State, al-Qaida and the other embodiments of radical Islam on the battlefields of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. A more difficult battle, however, should be waged for the hearts and minds of millions of angry, disenfranchised young Muslims anywhere in the West, who are constantly fed by their inciting clerics with promises of the coming victory of radical Islam.

    To win that battle, democracies should adopt a carrot-and-stick strategy: Embrace those Muslims amongst them who are willing to accept the hegemony of the liberal and humanistic values of the French Revolution, while using an iron fist against radical Islamist incitement and terrorism. Looking at the West today, I’m not holding my breath.

    Europe’s nightmare: Islamist terror threats large and small


    Western society now facing violence by radicalized Muslims that can erupt at any time

    — The military-style attack in Paris has made clear that Europe faces an evolving, ever-more complex terror threat no longer dominated by a few big players.
    It’s not just al-Qaida, or Islamic State. It’s not just the disciples of some fiery, hate-filled preachers. Instead, security experts say, it’s now an Internet-driven, generalized rage against Western society felt by radicalized Muslims that can burst into the open at any time — with a slaughter in Paris, an attack on a Jewish Museum in Belgium, or the slaying of a soldier in the streets of London.
    This evolving hydra-headed beast bedevils security chiefs, who have to deal not only with al-Qaida planners looking for another 9/11-style hit but also with, as in Paris, well-trained, well-armed killers intent on avenging perceived insults to their religion by gunning down journalists.
    In a rare public speech, Andrew Parker, director of the domestic British security service MI5, said Thursday that thwarting terrorist attacks has become more difficult as the threat becomes more diffuse.
    It is harder, he said, for agents to disrupt plans of small groups or “lone wolves” who act spontaneously, with minimal planning but deadly effect.
    “We believe that since October 2013 there have been more than 20 terrorist plots either directed or provoked by extremist groups,” he said, citing deadly attacks in Europe, Canada and Australia. He said security services have stopped three potentially lethal terrorist plots inside Britain alone in recent months.
    “The number of crude but potentially deadly plots has gone up,” he said, warning that small-scale plots carried out by volatile individuals are “inherently harder for intelligence agencies to detect.”
    The individuals are not part of disciplined, sophisticated networks, he said, and often act with little or no warning.
    Already some 600 Britons have gone to Syria to join extremists there, with most embracing Islamic State, Parker said. Some 550 Germans have done the same, with about 180 known to have returned, including a hard core of about 30 who are judged to be extremely dangerous, according to German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere. About 1,200 French citizens have left for Syria, including about 400 still in the war zone and 200 on their way, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said last month.
    Parker said they have learned how to hate and how to kill.
    Concentrating solely on these volatile individuals wouldn’t work, he said, because at the same time rival al-Qaida and Islamic State groups inside Syria are trying to orchestrate broader attacks in Britain and Western Europe.
    Open societies everywhere have difficulty protecting against terrorism, whose perpetrators are aided by the very freedoms and openness that they often despise. But in Europe, several factors further complicate the situation.
    The main one is a large Muslim population in many countries — France first among them, but also Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Britain, and even Spain and Italy. The size of these communities enables the radicals among them to better hide.
    The issue is compounded by the fact — only recently the source of angst in Europe — that many immigrants are not well-assimilated into Western society. While most immigrants are law-abiding and non-hostile, it seems that many have not absorbed its liberal values, including freedom of expression up to and including satire of religious figures. This creates an atmosphere in which radicalism can survive and sometimes thrive.
    Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism specialist with the Swedish National Defense College, said a new generation of Muslim youths has grown up in Europe’s cities in the post 9/11 era and has to a degree embraced the al-Qaida view that the West is at war with Islam — first in Afghanistan, then Iraq and now in Syria as well.
    At the same time, he said, the Islamic State’s brazen proclamation of a caliphate has caught the imagination of many young European Muslims, who want to go to Syria to join the battle and then bring it back home.
    “The sectarian tensions in the Middle East are mirrored in our cities in Europe,” he said. “There is more strident activism in Muslim communities.”
    He said many Muslims feel segregated in disadvantaged communities on the fringes of major cities and are willing to fight back.
    “There is a much sharper polarization of society,” he said, citing the corresponding rise of right-wing, anti-immigration political parties opposed to the growth of Islam in Europe. “The people carrying out the violence work in small groups but they all join up and know what direction they are traveling in. They are very clear on the goal. The caliphate provides that common purpose, that unity, that momentum.”
    The law-enforcement challenge is exacerbated by the free movement of people that is a cherished ideal of the European integration project. It is an item of faith that open borders will spur trade, job creation and spread prosperity.
    But it also makes it much easier for anyone with criminal intent and an EU passport to cross borders to carry out an attack — as happened in May when a Frenchman linked to the Islamic State group in Syria crossed into Belgium and killed four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels.
    U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, a member of the House intelligence committee, said U.S. officials are making a strong effort to track Americans who have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq. But the challenge for European officials is much more daunting, he said.
    “It’s tough though, particularly when we don’t have great intelligence in places like Syria to identify what’s happened to Americans who have gone overseas to fight,” he said. “Very opaque and difficult to track. That problem is magnified a hundred times in Europe, where people can travel freely with a passport.”
    Britain took unilateral steps Thursday to tighten up its border checks at seaports and train stations, and Spain raised its terror threat level, not because of a specific plot, but because of a general sense that all of Europe — not just France — was at heightened risk since the attack in Paris on the newsroom of the satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo, that left a dozen people dead.
    Spain also stepped up security Thursday at transportation hubs like airports and train stations, nuclear power plants, energy networks and water sources.
    “The current international scenario means we can talk about a generic threat that is shared by all Western countries in general,” said Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz.
    He said the rivalry between the two main terror organizations— which are vying for primacy in Syria and elsewhere — is being felt in Europe.
    “There is a clear battle between al-Qaida and the Islamic State to become terror leaders. And this increases the risk of attacks,” he said.
    Pointedly refusing to use Islamic State’s chosen name in his address Thursday, Parker said the group’s effective social media strategy has allowed it to spread its “message of hate directly into homes across the United Kingdom.”
    He said the group poses a three-pronged threat: It has murdered innocent Britons inside Syria, it is using Syria as a base for directing terrorist attacks against Britain, and it is using its sophisticated propaganda to provoke Britons to carry out attacks at home.
    The brothers suspected in the Charlie Hebdo killings were known to France’s intelligence service and were on the U.S. no-fly list, yet authorities were unable to prevent the attack, in part because the planning group involved may have been quite small and operating under the intelligence radar. The same was true of the two al-Qaida-inspired British extremists who hacked to death soldier Lee Rigby on a busy London street in May 2013.
    Peter Neumann, director of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College London, said the smaller attacks seen of late reflect a change of strategy among jihadi groups, who have previously harbored ambitions to create incidents as big as the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States or the subway bombing attacks on Britain in July 7, 2005.
    “Now what has happened since last year is that everyone has realized that you can cause as much terror if you do very small attacks that do not require you to build a bomb,” Neumann said. “They’ve been incredibly effective.”
    He said there will be other similar attacks in the future.

    Read more: Europe's nightmare: Islamist terror threats large and small | The Times of Israel
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    France - 6 dead in terror clashes in Paris; several hostages freed

    Two al-Qaida-linked brothers suspected in the Charlie Hebdo massacre came out of their hideaway with guns blazing Friday and were killed in a clash with security forces, French police said. Moments later, another hostage-taker in Paris was killed in a separate clash, along with three of his hostages.
    France has been high alert since the country's worst terror attack in decades — the massacre Wednesday in Paris at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead.
    After the two separate hostage-taking incidents began Friday, city officials scrambled to protect residents and tourists from further attacks, shutting down a famed Jewish neighborhood, putting schools under lockdown and urging residents to stay indoors and remain vigilant.
    By Friday afternoon, explosions and gunshots rang out and white smoke rose up outside a printing plant in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris, where brothers Cherif Kouachi, 32, and Said Kouachi, 34, had holed up with a hostage.
    Security forces had surrounded the building for most of the day. After the explosions, a police SWAT forces were seen on the roof of the building and a police helicopter landed nearby it.
    Audrey Taupenas, spokeswoman for the town near the Charles de Gaulle airport, said the brothers died in the clash. Their hostage was freed.
    Another gunman who took at least five hostages Friday afternoon at a kosher grocery in Paris also died in a nearly simultaneous raid there, said Gael Fabiano of the UNSA police union.
    The gunman, identified as Amedy Coulibaly, had earlier threatened to kill his hostages if French authorities launched an assault on the two brothers, a police official said. The two sets of hostage-takers know each other, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the rapidly developing situation.
    One other police officer said three hostages also died at the grocery. None could say what happened to the woman listed on a police bulletin as his accomplice.
    Security forces stormed the Paris grocery near the Porte de Vincennes neighborhood minutes after news of clashes at the printing plant. Moments later, several people were seen being led out of the store. It was not clear exactly how many hostages had been inside or how many were freed.
    Trying to fend off further attacks, the Paris mayor's office shut down all shops along Rosiers Street in the city's famed Marais neighborhood in the heart of the tourist district. Hours before the Jewish Sabbath, the street is usually crowded with shoppers — French Jews and tourists alike. The street is also only a kilometer (a half mile) away from Charlie Hebdo's offices.
    The gunman had burst shooting into the kosher store just a few hours before the Jewish Sabbath began, declaring "You know who I am," the official recounted. The attack came before sundown when the store was crowded with shoppers. Several wounded people were able to flee, police said.
    Paris police released photos of Coulibaly, also believed responsible for the roadside killing of a Paris policewoman, and one of a second suspect, a woman named Hayet Boumddiene, who they said was his accomplice.
    About 100 students were placed under lockdown in schools nearby and the highway ringing Paris was closed.
    Hours before and 40 kilometers (25 miles) away , a convoy of police trucks, helicopters and ambulances streamed toward Dammartin-en-Goele, a small industrial town near Charles de Gaulle airport, to seize the Charlie Hebdo suspects, who had hijacked a car in a nearby town after more than two days on the run.
    "They said they want to die as martyrs," Yves Albarello, a local lawmaker inside the command post, told French television station i-Tele.
    With the brothers trapped, Charles de Gaulle closed two runways to arrivals to avoid interfering in the standoff or endangering planes.
    Both brothers had ties to terrorist networks. Cherif Kouachi was convicted of terrorism charges in 2008 for ties to a network sending jihadis to fight U.S. forces in Iraq.
    A Yemeni security official said his brother, Said, is suspected of having fought for al-Qaida in Yemen. Another senior security official said Said was in Yemen until 2012. Both officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of an ongoing investigation into Kouachi's stay in Yemen.
    Both brothers were also on the U.S. no-fly list, a senior U.S. counterterrorism official said.
    Nine people, members of the brothers' entourage, have been detained for questioning in several regions.
    The satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo had long drawn threats for its depictions of Islam, although it also satirized other religions and political figures. The weekly paper had caricatured the Prophet Muhammad, and a sketch of Islamic State's leader was the last tweet sent out by the irreverent newspaper, minutes before the attack.
    Eight journalists, two police officers, a maintenance worker and a visitor were killed in the newspaper attack, including the paper's editor. Charlie Hebdo plans a special edition next week, produced in the offices of another paper.
    Authorities around Europe have warned of the threat posed by the return of Western jihadis trained in warfare. France counts at least 1,200 citizens in the war zone in Syria — headed there, returned or dead. Both the Islamic State group and al-Qaida have threatened France, home to Western Europe's largest Muslim population.