Thursday, July 24, 2014

Norway on Alert Over Imminent Terrorist Attack; Muslims Returning from Syria Seen as Attackers

Norway is increasing its security amid intelligence reports of a possible imminent "terrorist attack" by militants who have fought in Syria, the country's security officials said today (July 24, 2014), according to the AFP (Agence-France Presse) website.

The move comes as concerns mount in Europe about the growing threat posed by jihadists returning from war-torn Syria.

"We recently received information that a group of extremists from Syria may be planning a terrorist attack in Norway," said Benedicte Bjoernland, the chief of PST, the nation's domestic intelligence service.

The threat is "non-specific" but "credible," said Bjoernland. Neither the timing of the attack, nor the identity of the militants are known, she added.

Pentagon: Russia Fires Artillery at Ukraine Troops; Will Supply Ukraine Rebels with Stronger Weapons

The Pentagon has gathered intelligence showing that Russian troops have been firing artillery across the border at the Ukraine military, the Washington Times website reports today (July 24, 2014).

Pentagon officials said today that the destabilizing development was revealed to them via an interagency intelligence briefing this morning. U.S. spy satellites are believed to have shown Russia's use of artillery against the Ukrainian troops.

In addition, the United States is now tracking a Russian plan to supply its Ukraine-based supporters with stronger, more damaging weapons than they already have on hand, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said. U.S. spy satellites have also shown Russian troops at a military base in Rostov in southwestern Russia training Ukrainian separatists on how to use more powerful rocket launchers.

"We have new evidence that the Russians intend to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers to the separatist forces in Ukraine and have evidence that Russia is firing artillery from within Russia to attack Ukrainian military positions," Harf said during a press briefing this afternoon.

UN Now Uses Unmanned Drones in Its Missions; May Soon Be Using Deadly Missiles to Kill People

In a controversial move supported by the Obama administration, the United Nations is now using unmanned aerial drones to support what it calls "peacekeeping missions," The New American website reports today (July 24, 2014).

While the drones are unarmed at this time, concerns are growing that they may eventually carry missiles to rain down death on enemies of the UN or its largely autocratic member regimes.

The testing ground for the drones used by the UN's self-styled "peace" troops is the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa. There, the dictator-dominated global outfit is operating a fleet of five "unmanned aerial vehicles" -- or UAVs -- in its bloody effort to disarm various groups. The drones are equipped with infrared sensors, helping UN forces pick up on hot spots even at night and through thick vegetation.

One day -- perhaps soon -- the drones may also carry deadly weapons such as missiles to kill people. Such action would violate the primary purpose of the United Nations, which is to help to maintain peace throughout the world, not to commit acts of aggression.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza Shelters Civilians; Abp.: "We've Opened the Church to Help People"

About 1,000 Palestinian Muslims fleeing Israeli shells devastating their Gaza neighborhood have found shelter in the city's 12th century Greek Orthodox Church, the Reuters website reports today (July 23, 2014).

Despite its thick walls dating back to the Crusades, the Church of Saint Porphyrius was still not a very safe haven. Shortly after they arrived, Israeli aircraft bombed a nearby field, spraying shrapnel on the church and damaging graves.

But children from the Shejaia district, where some 72 Palestinians -- many of the women and children -- were killed during fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas militants on July 20, were busy playing football in the yard yesterday.

"We have opened the church in order to help people. This is the duty of the church and we are doing all we can to help them," Archbishop Alexios told Reuters as the sounds of small children echoed outside his office at the church. "At the beginning there were 600 people, and today they became a thousand -- mostly children and women. Some of those children are a week old," said the head of Gaza's Greek Orthodox minority -- the largest of the Christian communities in Gaza. 

France,Germany,Italy Slam Europe Anti-Semitism; Jointly Agree Gaza Conflict Does Not Justify It

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) welcomed a powerful statement on European anti-Semitism today (July 23, 2014) by the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and Italy, the Breaking Christian News website reports.

"At a time when 'Death to the Jews' chants can be heard at public gatherings in the European capitals, allegedly in protests against Israel, the bold, timely and unambiguous words of the three foreign ministers send a strong message that should be embraced by all EU member states," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "Now the challenge will be to translate the clear words into equally clear actions. Threats to Europe's Jews threaten Europe's core values and very future."

"Anti-Semitic agitation and hostility against Jews, attacks against people of Jewish faith and against synagogues have no place in our societies," declared Ministers Laurent Fabius of France, Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany, and Frederica Mogherini of Italy.

The three foreign ministers denounced "the ugly anti-Semitic statements, demonstrations and attacks of the last few days," and stressed that "nothing, including the dramatic military confrontation in Gaza, justifies such actions in Europe."

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Eleven Parents of Kidnapped Nigerian Girls Died; At Least 4 Died of Trauma, 7 from Islamic Attack

In the three months since Islamic extremists kidnapped more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls, 11 of their parents have died, the Telegraph (British) website reports today (July 22, 2014).

The town where the girls were kidnapped, Chibok, is cut off by Islamic militants, who have been attacking villages in the region. The militants are determined that Nigeria must adopt sharia (Islamic law), and have said the girls are being sold into slavery and as child brides.

Seven fathers of kidnapped girls were among 51 bodies brought to the Chibok hospital after an attack on the nearby village of Kautakari this month, said a health worker who insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisals by the extremists.

At least four more parents have died of heart failure, high blood pressure, and other illnesses that the community blames on trauma due to the mass abduction 100 days ago, said community leader Pogu Bitrus. "One father of two of the girls kidnapped just went into a kind of coma and kept repeating the names of his daughters, until life left him," said Bitrus.

Islamic State (IS) Muslims Seize Iraqi Monastery; Force 5 Monks to Leave on Foot with Just Clothes

Islamic militants have taken over a monastery in northern Iraq -- one of the country's best-known Christian landmarks -- and expelled five resident monks, the AFP (Agence-France Presse) website reports today (July 22, 2014).

Islamic State (IS) fighters stormed Mar (Saint) Behnam, a fourth century monastery run by the Syriac Catholic Church near the predominantly Christian town of Qaraqosh on July 20, sources said.

"You have no place here anymore; you have to leave immediately," a member of the Syriac clergy quoted the Sunni militants as telling the monastery's residents. He said the monks pleaded to be allowed to save some of the monastery's relics, but the fighters refused and ordered them to leave on foot with nothing but their clothes.

The incident was the latest move by the Islamic State -- which last month declared a "caliphate" straddling large regions of northern Iraq and Syria -- to threaten a Christian presence in the area spanning some 2,000 years.