August 27/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
The seed that fell in good soil, tare the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 08/01-15/:"Jesus went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources. When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: ‘A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.’ As he said this, he called out, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that "looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand."‘Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away. As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. The seed that fell in good soil, tare the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance."

So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth
First Letter to the Corinthians 03/01-11/:'I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? For when one says, ‘I belong to Paul’, and another, ‘I belong to Apollos’, are you not merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labour of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ."

Question: "What does it mean to be a stumbling block to someone else?"
Answer: In the midst of a series of laws regulating the treatment of others, we find “Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:14). Obviously, putting a rock or brick in front of a blind person is cruel, but the New Testament takes the practical adage and turns it into a spiritual metaphor.After Peter rebuked Jesus, denying the crucifixion would take place, Jesus said, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's” (Matthew 16:23). Peter, under the influence of Satan, tried to distract Jesus from what He had come to do. He tried to make Jesus “stumble” in His path to the crucifixion. Paul reiterates the idea: “…but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:23). The idea that the Messiah would be crucified was a stumbling block to the Jews—something that tripped up their beliefs of what the Messiah would be like. But most of the time, a “stumbling block” refers to something or someone who keeps another from a relationship with God. In Matthew 18:5-7, Jesus says, “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!” Just as it would be better to chop off one’s hand than to sin (Matthew 18:8), in the Kingdom perspective, it would be better to drown than lead a child into sin. Similarly, in Romans 14:13, Paul points out that God alone judges; we are not to judge others but be concerned that we are not the ones leading them into the sin we’re so concerned about. Stumbling blocks also arise when the path is a little more ambiguous. The mature Christian life allows some freedoms that seem contrary to an obedient, disciplined faith. The Corinthians were concerned about eating meat sacrificed to idols. Modern issues include drinking alcohol in moderation or dancing. “But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Corinthians 8:9). Our liberty is not worth another’s walk with God. If something God allows would lead another to sin, we need to avoid it. We are given great freedom as Christians, but the greatest is the freedom to consider others’ welfare over our own.  Refraining from being a stumbling block means not leading another into sin. How we accomplish this depends on the situation and the hearts of those around us. The security we have in God’s love and provision, both now and eternally, allows us to show concern to those who are weaker—those who need specific encouragement to understand who God is. In some situations, that means living in those freedoms to exemplify that God is a God of grace. In others, it means disciplining ourselves to building up weaker believers and not pushing them into a liberty they’re not ready for. But, always, it means not encouraging another to act in a way the Bible specifically identifies as sin

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 26-27/17
Qatari-Iranian Alliance, a Stark Proof Supporting Boycott Allegations/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Al sharq Al Awsat/August 26/17
While The West Sleeps, Iran Continues On Its Deadly Path/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/ArabNews/August 25/17
The World’s Shame: Iran’s Hunger Striking Political Prisoners are Largely Ignored/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Huffpost/August 25/17
Trump’s Afghanistan Strategy isn’t to Win. It’s to Avoid Losing/David Ignatius/Washington Post//August 26/17
A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in Britain: July 2017/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/August 26/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on August 26-27/17
Senior state officials praise General Security on 72nd anniversary
Aoun marking General Security Day: Preparing to celebrate the liberation of a valued spot of our Eastern borders
Lebanese Army: Significant strikes against terrorist centers within vicinity of Wadi Martbaya
Army: Terrorist arrested in the North
Hasbani salutes Lebanese army from Baalbek
Abu Faour: Taymour Jumblatt will only enter Parliament with a comprehensive national bloc
Israeli gunboat breaches territorial waters off Ras alNaqoura
Lebanese Army: To confirm with Army Command before publishing any info on "Fajr alJoroud" operation
Tueini: "Fajr alJoroud" operation came after a liberated political decision
Attack on Lebanese family in Venezuela results in spouse's death, husband's critical injury

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 26-27/17
Man Killed after Stabbing Soldier in Brussels as Attacker Held in London
Iraq Retakes Tal Afar Center, Citadel from IS
Not Afraid': Defiant Barcelona to March against Terror
Israeli Negotiator for Return of Hamas Captives Quits

Latest Lebanese Related News published on August 26-27/17
Senior state officials praise General Security on 72nd anniversary
August 26, 2017/Reuters/BEIRUT: Top Lebanese state officials praised General Security and its head retired Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim on the occasion of the agencies 72nd anniversary for its role in maintaining security and stability in the country. “Your institution [General Security] has become a role model for others, as you have successfully and professionally achieved your tasks,” President Michel Aoun said during a ceremony held at the General Security headquarters in central Beirut. General Security, with Ibrahim at the helm, have boosted their security measures following a series of car-bomb attacks that rocked the country in 2013 and 2014. In collaboration with other security agencies and the Lebanese Army, General Security has repeatedly cracked down on extremist sleeper cells to avert other potential attacks. Aoun also made a tribute to the sacrifices of the Lebanese Army that has been engaged in a battle against Daesh (ISIS) on the northeastern mountainous outskirts of Ras Baalbeck and Al-Qaa since Aug.19. Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk also praised the role of General Security and other security agencies. “We are destined to keep our faith in state institutions,” Machnouk said, adding that Lebanon accepts no “partner or parallel army” to fight along with the Lebanese Army. Machnouk also said that the Army’s battle in the northeastern mountains is “a milestone in the procession of national security” in Lebanon. “All other equations that were formulated under certain political circumstances should be referred to the national dialogue table,” Machnouk added. Hezbollah officials have long propounded their “golden equation” and maxim of “Army, Resistance, People,” which is highly contentious among rival Lebanese political parties. Machnouk also praised Ibrahim for his role in revamping the Directorate of General Security and negotiating with militant groups for the release of captured servicemen and civilians. For his part, Ibrahim vowed to deter any threats against Lebanon at the anniversary ceremony. "General Security will continue to perform their duties, and they will not rest until the whereabouts of the abducted soldiers are uncovered,” Ibrahim said, promising an imminent breakthrough that will reveal the fate of the servicemen taken by Daesh in 2014 after the militant group briefly overran east Lebanon’s Arsal.

Aoun marking General Security Day: Preparing to celebrate the liberation of a valued spot of our Eastern borders
Sat 26 Aug 2017/NNA - President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, confirmed Saturday "determined and steadfast anticipation to liberate the rest of the Southern land from the Israeli occupation, similar to the liberation of Arsal, al-Qaa and Ras Baalbek regions, thus achieving Lebanon's full sovereignty."
"We are preparing to celebrate a near national occasion denoted in the liberation of a precious spot along our Eastern borders from terrorist organizations, thus restoring peace and stability to it," said Aoun. "Our feelings of honor and pride in our armed forces and security institutions coincide with celebrating the General Security's 72nd Commemoration," he added, speaking at the central celebration held by the General Security's Directorate General at its headquarters in Museum area. Aoun praised the prominent national and security role played by General Security Director General, Abbas Ibrahim, and the great confidence entrusted in him by the political authority. The President also commended the leading role by the General Security's General Directorate "which has become a role model to follow," he noted, promising to continue to support this remarkable institution "so that Lebanon can regain its bright and distinctive position in this East and the entire world."For his part, Interior and Municipalities Minister Nuhad al-Mashnouq deemed that "the General Security has become a partner in the protection of the nation," hoping that the achievements reached thus far in the "Fajr al-Joroud" operation would be crowned very soon with a decisive victory for Lebanon, a turning point in the national security march for Lebanon since 1990. In turn, General Ibrahim stressed that the "General Security will remain a strong force in the face of terrorism anywhere it exists." He also disclosed that the kidnapped soldiers' dossier will be finalized soon, adding that relentless efforts will continue until their fate is unveiled, in coordination with the Army Command.

Lebanese Army: Significant strikes against terrorist centers within vicinity of Wadi Martbaya
Sat 26 Aug 2017 /NNA - Army artillery and warplanes directed Saturday significant strikes against a number of terrorist organization centers in and around Wadi Martbaya, which resulted in the destruction of these centers and the killing and wounding of several terrorists, an Army Command communiqué indicated.

Army: Terrorist arrested in the North
Sat 26 Aug 2017/NNA - Following its monitoring of dormant terrorist organization cells within its preemptive security operations, the Army Intelligence Directorate arrested Saturday Hassan Hamad al-Hassan on charges of belonging to Daesh terrorist organization and preparing for the assassination of a senior army officer, an Army Command communiqué indicated. The arrested terrorist was planning to target a senior army officer via a sniper operation or by means of an explosive device. In this context, al-Hassan was commissioned by his operating cell in al-Raqqa to prepare the necessary explosives to be used in the bombing of Lebanese army facilities and centers, as well as several northern villages, the communiqué added. Moreover, al-Hassan had requested his operating cell to secure an explosive belt to be used in a suicide operation. He also provided one of the terrorist organization leaders in Arsal's outskirts with information on underway preparations for the Lebanese army's "Fajr al-Joroud" operation, the Army communiqué concluded.

Hasbani salutes Lebanese army from Baalbek
Sat 26 Aug 2017/NNA - Public Health Minister, Ghassan Hasbani, visited on Saturday the city of Baalbek, where he was welcomed by Industry Minister, Hussein Hajj Hassan and Minister of Agriculture, Ghazi Zeaiter. "Being close to the area of operations that the Lebanese army is carrying out in the outskirts of Baalbek and al-Qaa region, we salute the army, wishing it best of luck [in its battle against Daesh] to protect Lebanon from terrorism danger," Minister Hasbani said. "This region [Baalbek] suffered a lot of pressure, especially in terms of the burdens that the Syrian displacement has caused," Hasbani added. In turn, Minister Zeaiter considered that the recent liberation of territories, whether by the Lebanese Army or the Resistance, serves Lebanon and the Lebanese as a whole.
Zeaiter saluted the Lebanese army martyrs who have lost their lives for the sake of defending Lebanon from terrorists.

Abu Faour: Taymour Jumblatt will only enter Parliament with a comprehensive national bloc
Sat 26 Aug 2017 /NNA - Democratic Gathering Member, MP Wael Abu Faour, stressed Saturday that "Taymour Jumblatt will only enter the Parliament Council as head of a national bloc comprised of all sects.""Our hand is extended to all in the elections under the partnership headline," said Abu Faour, referring to MP Walid Jumblatt's pioneering role in the actual implementation of partnership in the country. Abu Faour's words came during his patronage of the "Summer Youth Forum 2017" inauguration, organized by the Progressive Youth Organization in Rashaya.

Israeli gunboat breaches territorial waters off Ras alNaqoura
Sat 26 Aug 2017/NNA - An Israeli gunboat violated the Lebanese territorial waters off Ras al-Naqoura at 00:06 a.m. to a distance of about 445 meters for a period of 43 minutes, an Army Command communiqué indicated on Saturday.
The breach is being followed-up by Army Units, in coordination with the United Nations Interim Force in South Lebanon.

Lebanese Army: To confirm with Army Command before publishing any info on "Fajr alJoroud" operation
Sat 26 Aug 2017 /NNA - In an issued statement by the Lebanese Army Command-Orientation Directorate on Saturday, it called on all media outlets to refrain from quoting military sources providing inaccurate information on the process of the 'Fajr al-Joroud" operation, urging them to confirm with the Army Command before going public with any news in this regard.

Tueini: "Fajr alJoroud" operation came after a liberated political decision
Sat 26 Aug 2017/NNA - State Minister for Combating Corruption, Nicolas Tueni, deemed Saturday that "Fajr al-Joroud" operation came after political consensus between all Lebanese counterparts, and a political decision free of all constraints.
"Fajr al-Joroud operation came after a liberated political decision," Tueini emphasized, describing the operation as the new dawn for Lebanon and the Lebanese borders. "The decision that President Michel Aoun and Army Commander Joseph Aoun have taken in launching the offensive [against Daesh] is purely Lebanese, and is a decision based on a long military experience," he went on. Tueini rejected recent talk of military coordination between Lebanon, Syria and Iran "since it has no logical basis," adding that "political reality imposes itself on all options." Elaborating further on the subject, Tueini pointed to the necessity of cooperating with Syria over daily-living and economic issues. He cited herein Lebanon's need of "operating its factories and exporting its products to Arab and Gulf countries as quickly as possible, in addition to addressing the issue of displaced Syrians and ways to ensure their return to their homeland."

Attack on Lebanese family in Venezuela results in spouse's death, husband's critical injury

Sat 26 Aug 2017/NNA - Lebanese expatriate, Abdul-Samad al-Assaad, who hails from the region of Akkar, was attacked Friday by gunmen in Venezuela along with his wife, Hala, who was killed instantly while he suffered critical injury resulting from several bullet shots, NNA correspondent in Akkar reported Saturday."This family has worked hard throughout its years of being away from home trying to secure a decent living," said Mayor of Akkar, Khaled al-Bahri. Deploring this heinous crime, he called on the Venezuelan police and judiciary to "speed-up investigations to uncover and punish the criminal perpetrators."
Al-Bahri also appealed to the Lebanese Foreign Ministry to "accord this issue utmost attention and follow-up through diplomatic channels to secure the transfer of the victim's body to Lebanon and provide all necessary medical treatment for the husband."

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 26-27/17
Man Killed after Stabbing Soldier in Brussels as Attacker Held in London
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 26/17/A man wielding a knife was shot dead Friday after wounding a soldier in Brussels in an "attempted terrorist murder" while in London counter-terror experts were investigating a similar attack on police near Buckingham Palace.The two incidents come as much of Europe is on high alert following a string of major attacks over the past two years -- most of which have been claimed by, or blamed on, jihadists. Last week, Spain was hit by twin vehicle attacks which left 15 dead, and another two people were killed in a stabbing spree in Finland, with the violence carried out by radicalized youngsters.Belgian prosecutors said the attacker yelled "Allahu akbar" (God is greatest) during the assault before being shot by a soldier in the center of city which has been on high alert since last year's carnage at the airport and on the metro.
One of the soldiers was "slightly" wounded in the attack which Mayor Philippe Close said was perpetrated by a "lone individual."Overnight, police raided the suspect's home in Bruges, northwest Belgium, with federal prosecutors opening an investigation into "attempted terrorist murder," a statement said.
Somali-Belgian attacker
During the attack near the Grand Place in central Brussels at 8:00 pm (1800 GMT), the man rushed at several soldiers from behind and struck them with a knife, prompting one of them to open fire. "The man was hit and died shortly afterwards in hospital from his wounds," the prosecutors' statement said. As well as the knife, police found a replica gun and two copies of the Koran on him. The assailant was a Belgian national of Somali origin who was born in 1987, authorities confirmed. He arrived in the country in 2004 and was granted Belgian nationality in 2015. Although not known for any terror-related activities, he had an assault and battery charge on his record from February, the statement said. Less than two hours later, two British police officers were slightly injured while arresting a man with a large knife outside Buckingham Palace in London. The 26-year-old attacker, who was initially detained on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm and assaulting police, was later arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000. "Detectives from the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command are now investigating the incident," police said. The queen was at her Balmoral residence in Scotland at the time. With much of Europe on edge over the attacks, many of them 'low-tech' assaults using knives or vehicles as weapons, thousands of people were expected to take to the streets of Barcelona on Saturday evening in a defiant march under the slogan "No tinc por" -- Catalan for "not afraid."
Lone attacker
The Brussels attack happened on a boulevard near the Grand Place central square, one of the "sensitive" areas of the capital where armed soldiers are on patrol because of the terror threat. "I heard yelling and straight away two shots," a witness called Yohan told AFP, who did not wish to give his surname. As he approached, he said he saw "a soldier bleeding from his hand and a man on the ground," who had a beard and was wearing a hood. Soldiers have been deployed at railway stations and landmark buildings in the Belgian capital since the November 2015 attacks on Paris when investigators found the assailants had a clear link to Brussels. Their presence has been reinforced since suicide bombers struck Zavantem Airport and Maalbeek metro station in March 2016, killing 32 people and wounding hundreds more. The carnage in Paris, which left 130 people dead and hundreds more wounded, was claimed by the Islamic State group, which also said it was behind the bombings in Brussels. In June, a man who tried to bomb a Brussels Central train station was shot dead by a soldier. No one was injured but officials said the consequences could have been severe if the bomb, which was packed nails and gas canisters, had detonated. In Britain, 35 people have been killed in three attacks in London and Manchester since March. Two of those involved a vehicle plowing into pedestrians. The other attack was a bombing in May at the end of a pop concert by U.S. star Ariana Grande in Manchester which killed 22 people, a third of them children.

Iraq Retakes Tal Afar Center, Citadel from IS
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 26/17/Iraqi forces have driven the Islamic State from central Tal Afar and its historic citadel, they said Saturday, placing them on the verge of fully recapturing one of the last IS strongholds in the country.
The advance, just days into an assault on the strategic town, comes six weeks after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over the jihadists in second city Mosul, where the jihadist group declared its "caliphate" in 2014. "Units of the Counter-Terrorism Service liberated the Citadel and Basatin districts and raised the Iraqi flag on top of the citadel," operation commander General Abdulamir Yarallah said in a statement. The CTS and federal police units had also seized three northern districts and the al-Rabia neighborhood west of the citadel, a day after taking the district of al-Talia to the south. Clashes were ongoing on the northern outskirts and Iraqi forces were dealing with final pockets of jihadists inside the city, Yarallah said. Government troops and units of the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary coalition, backed by a U.S.-led coalition against IS, launched the assault on Sunday after weeks of coalition and Iraqi air strikes. Tal Afar sits on a strategic route between IS-controlled territories in Syria and Mosul, 70 kilometers (40 miles) further east. Progress there has been far more rapid than in Mosul, Iraq's second city, which fell to Iraqi forces in July after a gruelling nine-month battle. Officials have said they hope to announce victory in Tal Afar by Eid al-Adha, the Muslim holiday set to start in Iraq on September 2.
Obstacle course 
Most of Tal Afar's 200,000 residents, the majority of them Shiite Turkmens whose beliefs are anathema to the Sunni hardliners of IS, fled as the jihadists arrived. Pro-government forces faced an obstacle course of roads blocked with earth embankments and strategically-parked trucks, as well as sniper fire and mortar shelling. Troops also said they discovered a network of underground tunnels used by the jihadists to launch attacks behind lines of already conquered territory, or to escape. The International Organization for Migration said "thousands of civilians" had fled Tal Afar since the offensive began. Those who flee through desert areas face soaring temperatures for long periods, putting them at risk of dehydration, said Viren Falcao of the Danish Refugee Council. Once Tal Afar is retaken, Baghdad is expected to launch a new offensive on Hawija, 300 kilometers north of Baghdad. IS is also present in the vast western province of Anbar, where it controls several zones along the Syrian border with war-ravaged Syria, including the al-Qaim area. The jihadist group has lost much of the territory it controlled and thousands of its fighters have been killed. The foreign and defense ministers of France visited Baghdad Saturday to affirm their country's support in the fight against IS. Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Defense Minister Florence Parly, who arrived in the Iraqi capital on Friday evening, were scheduled to meet Abadi. French forces have carried out air and artillery strikes in support of Iraqi operations. "As long as our common enemy has not been eradicated, France will continue to take part" in the campaign, Parly said.

Not Afraid': Defiant Barcelona to March against Terror
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 26/17/Tens of thousands of Spaniards and foreigners are to stage a defiant march against terror through Barcelona on Saturday following last week's deadly vehicle rampages. The Mediterranean city is in mourning after a van plowed into crowds on Las Ramblas boulevard on August 17, followed hours later by a car attack in the seaside town of Cambrils. Fifteen were killed in the carnage and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called on Spaniards to turn out in force to show their "love" and solidarity with Catalonia where the rampages took place. King Felipe VI will also attend the march, becoming the first Spanish sovereign to take part in a demonstration since the monarchy was re-established in 1975 after the death of dictator Francisco Franco. Europe has been shaken by a spate of deadly Islamist violence with an increasing number of low-tech attacks using vehicles as weapons or knives. On Friday evening, a man was shot dead in central Brussels after stabbing a soldier while shouting "Allahu akbar" (God is greatest) and shortly afterwards another man with a large knife attacked police in London as they tried to arrest him outside Buckingham Palace.
'Love' for Barcelona
The Spanish premier said Friday the king would be attending the march to demonstrate "his love for the people of Barcelona, of Cambrils, of Catalonia". "There, with all of Catalan society and all of Spain... we will once again give a clear message of unity and condemnation of terrorism, and of love for the city of Barcelona," he added. The warm comments contrast with Rajoy's earlier criticism of Catalan leaders, with whom he has been at loggerheads over their plans to hold an independence referendum on October 1. But in the aftermath of the attacks which were claimed by the Islamic State group, he and Catalonia's separatist president Carles Puigdemont made a show of unity and both will attend the march which begins at 6:00 pm (1600 GMT). Already on Friday evening, thousands of people marched against terror in Cambrils, shouting "no tinc por", which means "not afraid" in Catalan -- as defiantly shouted by locals last week after the attacks. The slogan of the Barcelona demonstration will also be "no tinc por."Those who tended to the victims last week will be given pride of place at the top of the procession. These include security forces, emergency workers, residents and shop owners in the Las Ramblas avenue and taxis who took people for free.
People like Montse Rovira, the city hall's head of social emergencies who helped people who were lost or who couldn't find their loved ones. Over the following days, she and her colleagues gave families psychological support when they were given terrible news, and also helped others like doctors and firefighters.
"There are a lot of people who are suffering," she said, adding that even psychologists themselves had struggled. For her, the march will help "recognize the work of people who have been on the front line."
Ode to peace
Saray Gomez, an 18-year-old who works at a flower stall right next to where the van ended its murderous rampage, said it was important "to give a message of unity and peace.""And it's important to distinguish between Islam and jihadists, because Muslims are the first to be affected." Thousands of red, yellow and white flowers -- the colors of Barcelona -- will be distributed to protesters. The march will end at Plaza de Catalunya near Las Ramblas where two cellists will play "Cant dels ocells" (Song of the birds), a traditional Catalan melody which has become a symbol of peace. In 1961, late composer Pau Casals had played it at the White House in a rejection of the Franco regime.

Israeli Negotiator for Return of Hamas Captives Quits
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 26/17/The Israeli official charged with negotiating the return of Israelis held captive in Gaza by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has resigned, a statement said Friday. Lior Lotan's role was to seek the return of five Israelis from the Gaza Strip, including the bodies of two former soldiers killed during the last war between Israel and Hamas. The resignation of Lotan, a lawyer and former army colonel, was interpreted by Israeli commentators as a sign of his frustration at the lack of progress. Lotan was mandated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with seeking the return of three Israeli citizens, as well as the bodies of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin -- two soldiers believed to have been killed in the 2014 war in Gaza. "During my mission, I was confronted with the cruelty and cynicism of Hamas," Lotan said, quoted in a statement from the prime minister's office. Netanyahu said in the statement he would continue to "do all he can to bring back the prisoners," and appointed his military secretary to take up the matter. Hamas is believed to have held Hisham al-Sayed and Avraham Mengistu since April 2015 and September 2014, respectively, after they sneaked into the blockaded Palestinian enclave. Human Rights Watch said both men suffered from mental disorders and has demanded Hamas return them. A fifth man, Juma Abu Ghanima, entered Gaza illegally, but it is unclear if he is being detained or has joined a militant group. Gaza is sealed off by Israeli barriers and the Jewish state bans its nationals from entering for security reasons.Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008. Hamas has also previously suggested Shaul and Goldin are alive, but has provided no evidence for this and Israel considers them dead. In 2011 Israel freed more than a thousand Palestinian prisoners in exchange for an Israeli soldier who had been held captive for five years.The army is a venerated institution in Israel, where conscription is compulsory for most citizens, and the return of the bodies is a key issue for politicians.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on 
August 26-27/17
Qatari-Iranian Alliance, a Stark Proof Supporting Boycott Allegations
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Al sharq Al Awsat/August 26/17
Qatari-Iranian cooperation by no means surfaced as a surprise to Gulf observers. The alliance stood as proof to the claims made by the bloc of four countries boycotting Qatar for its hostile behavior and actions.
It is stark proof that Qatar, like Iran, is a source of chaos and violence. The renewed alliance is at best described as the meeting of the two main violence-funding poles in the region.
On one hand, Iran is the main supporter of ultra-hardline militant groups such as Hezbollah, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, the Fatimids, and others. While on the other, Qatar, for nearly three decades, sponsored extremist militant organizations such as al-Qaeda, ISIS, Nusra Front, Ansar al-Sharia, and others.
The only common denominator bringing Qatar and Iran together is regional security and political cooperation.
Qatar is not an important trading partner of Iran, and there is no Shiite figure in Qatar to facilitate their visits to the holy sites. There is no cultural or popular consensus that can justify political rapprochement.
Doha saying that the economic boycott by its angry Gulf neighbors forced it into rebooting ties with Tehran is simply not true. The peninsula’s consumer market is relatively the smallest in the region, meaning that Qatar’s demands can easily be met. Any potential Qatari-Iranian trade is based on one factor– forming a hostile front against Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE.
Adopting such an approach suggests that Qatar has fallen back to its pre-2010 policies. Qatar was an ally of Iran, a key supporter of Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad and Lebanon’s “Hezbollah. “
This alliance was then directed against the Saudi-Egyptian alliance. The relationship between Doha and Tehran lasted for over a decade, was anti-Saudi, with the two governments fiercely supporting Hezbollah and Hamas.
Signs of change and the advance of cooperation preceded visits carried out by Qatari officials to the Iranian capital recently. Al Jazeera, Doha’s state-funded media mouthpiece, started employing altered rhetoric from what the Qatari government was using.
It covered the Iran-backed Houthis militias, defended pro-Iranian armed groups in the Saudi town of Awamiyah, and changed its viewpoint about its coverage of the uprising in Syria.
Qatar refused to agree to several terms set by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, describing the blockade and demands made by the quartet a blunt and loud transgression against its sovereignty– but it is now making itself liable to Iranians and their allies.
Why? Not for military protection, as it is the case with Turkey, but the cooperation with Tehran is a conscious effort to take a hostile, offensive step in the region. In return, the Iranian cleric-led regime expects Qatar to pump funds and propaganda support to Iranian proxies spread across the region in order to amp pressure against its adversaries.
This all emphasizes what everyone knows already, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, the retiring prince, is still the one who first-handedly deals with the crisis in Qatar, not his son Tamim, the current emir.
Unfortunately for Doha, no matter who holds the reigns today, US policy under the leadership of Donald Trump, the main international player in the region, changed from what it was during former president Barack Obama. Trump’s administration is fighting Iran rather than appeasing it.
Doha’s cooperation with the Iranian regime is a nonsensical step and presents proof the Arab quartet can use in discussions with international governments. It is further evidence of the hostile nature of the Qatari administration and its ties to extremism and violence. It will be difficult to justify Doha’s decision to a large part of the Arab public which despises the mullahs in Tehran because of their actions in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.

While The West Sleeps, Iran Continues On Its Deadly Path
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/ArabNews/August 25/17
While the West sleeps, Iran continues on its deadly path
When the nuclear agreement was reached in 2015 between the six world powers and Iran, I pointed out that the major mistake of Western governments was to believe that Tehran viewed the deal in the same way that they did.
For the West, the deal was going to be transformational — moderating the Iranian government’s foreign policy and halting its nuclear ambitions. But from the viewpoint of Iranian leaders, the nuclear accord was a transitory and fleeting deal. It was a means to an end.
There are increasing signs that Iran’s leaders never intended to abandon their nuclear proliferation. Recently, in a surprise move, the so-called “diplomat” of Iran, president Hassan Rouhani, as well as several other high level officials, warned that the Islamic Republic now has the capability to advance its nuclear activities much more quickly than before the nuclear agreement. Rouhani cautioned: “If Americans want to return to those experiences, Iran certainly in a short time – not weeks and months, but hours and days — will return to a more advanced situation than at the start of negotiations.” In addition, Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, pointed out: “We have created a lot of bridges to return to the previous conditions, quicker and better. Nuclear activity is going on better than in the past in the area of enrichment and heavy water production, and with the new design of the Arak plant in cooperation with the Chinese, and the extraction of uranium.”
These remarks indicate that, when it comes to their nuclear program, Iran’s leaders have not been sitting idly by since the nuclear deal was reached. Instead, they suggest that Tehran has conducted nuclear research in violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). That is why Iran can boast that it has the capability to resume its nuclear proliferation at a much faster pace.
This argument is supported by new revelations from the organization that was the first to reveal Iran’s clandestine nuclear sites at Arak and Natanz. The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) recently disclosed that the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND), which is thought to be the main player behind attempts to weaponize Iran’s nuclear program, has continued its research after implementation of the nuclear deal. The NCRI revealed the existence of a previously unknown site in Parchin called Pajouhesh Kadeh, or Research Institute, which is being operated by the Center for Explosives, Blast Research and Technologies, a sub group of SPND, in order to research the weaponization of the nuclear program.
The six world powers who agreed the nuclear deal viewed it as an end in itself, but for Tehran it was merely a tactic in the weaponization of its nuclear program
It has been crystal clear from the outset that Iran viewed the nuclear deal as a transitory accord in the sense that, by agreeing to it, Tehran would first gain its objectives, including gaining economic concessions and global legitimacy, ensuring its hold on power and pursuing its hegemonic ambitions. Later, the Islamic Republic would revert to pursuing its nuclear ambitions from a much powerful stance.
In other words, for Iran, the nuclear agreement is merely a tactical policy shift, not a fundamental change in the core pillars of its foreign policy.
Unlike in Western governance, where policies are often based on short-term goals because administrations change every few years, the autocratic regime of Iran holds a long-term perspective and agenda. Iran is at an advantage because it can plan and pursue its policies and objectives for decades, while occasionally making some tactical shifts toward those ends. That is why the core pillars of Iran’s foreign policy have remained the same for almost four decades.
From the Iranian leaders’ perspective, they killed two birds with one stone; on the one hand the Iranian government continues to receive concessions for the nuclear agreement, on the other hand, it has not abandoned its nuclear research and ambitions.
• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. He serves on the boards of the Harvard International Review, the Harvard International Relations Council and the US-Middle East Chamber for Commerce and Business. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh

The World’s Shame: Iran’s Hunger Striking Political Prisoners are Largely Ignored
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Huffpost/August 25/17
Human rights record has deteriorated markedly in Iran according to human rights organizations including Amnesty International.
For example, most recently, on July 30, inmates in Ward 4, Hall 12 of Iran’s Gohardasht (Rajai Shahr) Prison were made subject to a violent and unexplained raid that led to more than 50 persons being transferred to Hall 10, where conditions and treatment are even worse than the prisoners had been experiencing up to that time. Hall 10 had been newly renovated ahead of the raid, apparently with the explicit intention of putting more pressure on the prisoners of conscience that the Iranian government was planning to transfer there. In their new surroundings, the prisoners are subject to 24-hour video and audio surveillance, even inside private cells and bathrooms. Windows have been covered over with metal sheeting, thereby reducing airflow during summer in a facility that was already known for its inhuman and unhygienic conditions. In additional, the raid saw the confiscation or outright theft of virtually all of the inmates’ personal belongings, including prescription medications. Since then, prison authorities have denied the prisoners access to medical treatment and have even blocked the delivery of expensive medications purchased for them by families outside the prison.
According to Amnesty International, withholding medical treatment is a well-established tactic utilized by Iranian authorities to exert pressure upon political prisoners, especially those who continue activism from inside the nation’s jails or strive to expose the conditions that political prisoners and other detainees face. The former residents of Hall 12 certainly fit this description, as evidenced by their response to the raid and worsening conditions. Despite the fact that their newfound stress and lack of sanitation already threatened to have a severe impact on their health, more than a dozen of the raid’s victims immediately organized a hunger strike and declared that the protest would continue until they were transferred back to their former-surroundings and had their belongings returned to them.
In subsequent days, several of this initial group’s cell mates joined them, and at last count, 22 detainees were participating in the hunger strike, the vast majority of whom are serving sentences for political crimes like criticizing the government’s policies or supporting the country’s leading banned opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran. The core group of hunger strikers has been starving themselves for approximately a month now, and their health conditions have predictably deteriorated. Heart, kidney, and lung ailments have been reported, among other health problems in Iran’s prisons, and the prisoners appear to be rapidly approaching the point at which they may start dying as a result of their protest. Nonetheless, neither the Gohardasht authorities nor the Iranian judiciary have shown any sign of responding to their demands or publicly addressing the severity of the crisis. What is much worse, though, is the fact that the international community has not proven to be much more attentive to the hunger strikers’ dire circumstances.
Notwithstanding calls to action by such human rights groups as Amnesty International, there has been virtually no push by Western governments or the United Nations to put pressure on the Iranian regime to save the lives of the Gohardasht inmates. This is particularly disappointing in light of the recent shifts in Western policies toward Iran, which come after years of conciliation and neglect for human rights while the United States and its allies focused their attention narrowly on the nuclear issue and prospective trade deals. During that time, various human rights activists rightly criticized the world community for putting certain matters of Iran policy on the back burner even though they had an absolutely immediate impact on the lives and safety of potentially millions of Iranian citizens. It has been widely reported that Tehran has been cracking down with escalating intensity on journalists, activists, and other undesirables, and thus swelling the ranks of its political prisoners.
The Gohardasht raid is a clear indication that this trend is still ongoing, but the resulting hunger strikes are an equally clear sign that Iranians as a whole have not capitulated to the pressure yet. Unfortunately, in absence of a coordinated international response, this situation also promises to be a sign that for all their resilience in the face of violent repression, the Iranian people have precious little outside support that they can rely on. Every global policymaker and every prominent human rights activist has a responsibility to prove this conclusion wrong. Organizations like the National Council of Resistance of Iran have vigorously responded to the hunger strikes by calling for the United Nations high commissioner on human rights and the special rapporteurs on torture and on human rights in Iran to issue public statements and initiate a coordinated strategy that will impose serious penalties on the Iranian government if it does not address the plight of the Gohardasht hunger strikers. Some organizations that claim to be advocate of promoting Iran’s situation and Iranian people’s rights have ignored the issue and human rights violations.
There is desperate need for international inquiries not only into this but also into various other human rights crisis throughout the Islamic Republic. In fact, while the Gohardasht situation is particularly urgent, once an adequate international response is made, it should only serve as the template for many more such inquiries, some of them into human rights abuses that are happening at this very moment and some of them into crimes against humanity that no one in the mullahs’ establishment has ever answered for. In the summer of 1988, some 30,000 political prisoners were hanged simply for suspected loyalties to anti-theocratic resistance groups, mainly the PMOI. The incident was largely ignored in Western media, and despite a handful of statements over the years, no serious inquiry has been launched to identify the locations of the secretly buried victims or to pursue charges against those responsible, many of whom retain positions of influence to this day.
Although 1988 marked the single worst act of repression against Iran’s population of political prisoners, the Gohardasht hunger strikes highlight the fact that the overall pattern of repression remains unchanged, while the ruling clerical establishment remains as indifferent to human suffering as it ever has been.
It goes without saying that the international community as a whole is better than this; but that community must act accordingly, to protect and promote human rights, and intervene when Iran’s political violence threatens to claim new victims.

Trump’s Afghanistan Strategy isn’t to Win. It’s to Avoid Losing.
David Ignatius/Washington Post//August 26/17
Will President Trump’s new Afghanistan strategy alter the dynamics of America’s longest and most frustrating war? Do commanders really have any better chance of succeeding now than when this conflict began 16 years ago?
I put those questions by phone Tuesday to Gen. John “Mick” Nicholson Jr., who for more than 18 months has commanded US forces in Kabul. This is his fourth tour in Afghanistan and his sixth year of service there. He probably knows as much about this difficult and costly war as any American in uniform.
Nicholson answered by describing what he has learned about Afghanistan since we first met 10 years ago in Jalalabad, when he was a colonel commanding a brigade of the 10th Mountain Division. Those were heady, optimistic days when Nicholson would take visitors to a provincial “loya jirga” tribal council, where the turbaned leaders professed support for the US mission; when US development teams were building roads and schools, confident that stability would follow economic development.
It didn’t happen that way, and Nicholson now cites two illusions of that period that he says undermined the war effort. The first was that US commanders didn’t realize just how crucial external support from Pakistan was in allowing an unpopular Taliban insurgency to survive. The second was that commanders didn’t understand how corruption was rotting the Afghan security structure the United States was trying to build.
Both problems are addressed, at least modestly, by Trump’s strategy. First, Trump warned: “We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations.” This will likely mean more sticks and fewer carrots for Islamabad — perhaps including new sanctions that punish Pakistan for aiding terrorist groups such as the Haqqani network that kill Americans and their allies. (Unfortunately, Trump may have undermined his Pakistan pitch by urging a closer “strategic partnership” with its archenemy, India.)
Second, Trump promised support for an Afghan government under President Ashraf Ghani that is seeking to combat corruption and is planning provincial elections next summer. Stronger, better leadership will, in theory, bolster the campaign against the insurgents. “The American people expect to see real reforms, real progress and real results,” Trump said. (In addition to being a long shot, this sounds suspiciously like the nation-building Trump insists he’s abandoning.)
But will it work? Many observers doubt the strategy will “push onward to victory,” as Trump said, but they think it may avoid an outright defeat. The consensus among these experts is that by adding troops and other measures, the United States can sustain the current stalemate, in which the Taliban controls about half of the countryside and the central government holds Kabul and other major cities.
The Trump strategy reduces the probability that the Kabul government will collapse over the next two to three years. This is a very limited version of success.
So why did Trump reverse his early, skeptical view and back Nicholson and the other generals who dominate his national security team? Why did this Wharton School graduate ignore the advice often offered by business professors that “sunk cost” — the money and effort already spent — does not by itself justify further investment?
The answer isn’t really very complicated. Trump doesn’t want to be the president to pack up and go home. He doesn’t want the stain of defeat.
The best argument for Trump’s Afghanistan policy is that it avoids losing, and at relatively low cost. It maintains a platform that can operate against what Trump said are 20 terrorist groups in the region; it sustains a base that will allow the United States to keep watch on nearby Pakistani nuclear weapons. It avoids a quick win by the Taliban and allows eventual reconciliation. Those are all worthy goals.
“I don’t know that we have a choice to walk away,” argues Nicholson. “It would inspire other jihadis around the globe.” He likens Afghanistan and Pakistan to a “petri dish” in which dangerous terrorist groups have thrived. Across the US government, even skeptics of the policy share his concern about the risks of a hasty US withdrawal.
Trump was once said to be so frustrated with the slow pace of the US campaign in Afghanistan that he wanted to fire Nicholson as commander. “The American people are weary of war without victory,” he said Monday night. But as he has weighed the terrible dilemma of the war in Afghanistan, Trump seems to have opted for a stay-the-course policy to “seek an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made.”
No victory parades, but no defeat, either.

A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in Britain: July 2017
Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/August 26/17
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said that the government would not publish a much-delayed report into the funding of Islamist extremism in Britain.... Opposition parties condemned the government for not publishing the report. They said that the decision appeared to be intended to bury any criticism of Saudi Arabia.
The British government lacks reliable immigration statistics and has no way of accurately tracking who is entering or leaving the country, according to a new report released by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee.
A father-of-five, Anjem Choudary, an Islamist who is serving a five-and-a-half year sentence for urging support of the Islamic State, has claimed up to £500,000 ($640,000) in benefits, which he has referred to as "Jihad seeker's allowance."
July 1. Two men, both aged 21, one from Leicester and one from Birmingham, were arrested at Heathrow Airport on suspicion of terrorism offenses after arriving on a flight from Turkey. Two days earlier, a 21-year-old woman was arrested, also on suspicion of terrorism offenses, at the same airport, as she arrived on a flight from Istanbul. In May, a 30-year-old man was arrested at Heathrow, on suspicion of preparing for terrorist acts after he stepped off a plane from Istanbul.
July 2. Sahnoun Daifallah, a 50-year-old Algerian chemist, sentenced to nine years in prison for contaminating supermarket food with his own excrement, avoided deportation for seven years. Daifallah came to Britain in 1999 and was granted refugee status two years later. In May 2008, he used a weed killer spray bottle to contaminate food with a mixture of urine and feces at several supermarkets in Gloucestershire. Damage to the businesses was estimated at £700,000 ($900,000). Daifallah was told he would be deported in 2010, but apparently bureaucratic incompetence has kept him in immigration custody since February 2013. The 54 months he has spent in detention have cost British taxpayers around £155,000 ($200,000), not including his legal bills which have added at least another £100,000.
July 2. A new report — "The Missing Muslims: Unlocking British Muslim Potential for the Benefit of All" — concluded: "It is of great importance that British-born imams, who have a good understanding of British culture and who fluently speak English, are encouraged and appointed in preference to overseas alternatives." The 18-month inquiry — commissioned by Citizens UK, a community organizing charity, and chaired by former Attorney General Dominic Grieve MP — was set up to examine ways in which the participation of Muslims in the public and community life, outside of their own faith groups, might be improved. Imams were told they must take a "stronger stance" against persecution of others, including Jews, Christians and other Muslims. "The Commission has heard a great deal about the need for better leadership within the UK's Muslim communities," the report said. "The management committees of the UK's mosques need to better understand, and respond to, modern British life."
July 3. BBC One broadcast a documentary — "The Betrayed Girls" — about the Rochdale child exploitation ring, in which dozens of underage girls were raped and trafficked by a gang of men from Afghanistan and Pakistan. The 90-minute film, which featured interviews with individuals from the case, including some of the victims, former Detective Constable Maggie Oliver and Chief Prosecutor Nazir Afzal, provided insights into the failings of police and other official bodies to investigate the large-scale sexual abuse, which occurred between 2008 and 2009.
Oliver, who resigned from the Manchester police force after claiming that hundreds of cases of alleged sexual abuse by Muslim grooming gangs were mishandled or ignored, criticized police for failing to tackle the abuse. Appearing on Lorraine, a television show, Oliver said:
"We are 15 years on now and there is not one senior police officer that has been held accountable. Most of them have retired with big pensions. I think it has gone way beyond the racial debate, I see it as a class debate also....
"These girls had no voice, just like the people that they stuck in Grenfell Tower. They are not living in big fancy apartments in the West End of London so those in positions of authority they have got an attitude and an arrogance that they can do what they like. It shouldn't matter where anybody's from, a rapist is a rapist.
"What puzzles me is at what point in the life of police what point in that climb up the slippery pole do they lose sight of why they joined and what is right and what is wrong, and what has happened is wrong and nobody has been brought to account."
July 3. Haroon Syed, 19, from West London, was sentenced to 16-and-a-half years in prison for plotting to attack an Elton John concert in London on the fifteenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Syed admitted to researching potential targets on the internet, including an Elton John concert in Hyde Park and Oxford Street, a busy shopping district. He also used the internet to try obtain weapons to use in a possible attack, and used social media to contact people he believed were supporters of Islamic State. In one message, he wrote: "So after some damage with machine gun then do martyrdom...that's what im planning to do."
July 3. Armed police swooped down on a Megabus from London after a "disruptive" man, shouting "praise Allah" and "something's about to happen," caused a driver to pull over and evacuate worried passengers. A Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police spokesman said: "The bus stopped on Central Park Drive where a 47-year-old man from Manchester was detained under the Mental Health Act. He will now undergo a mental health assessment."
July 3. Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, reportedly has deployed agents to Ireland to monitor jihadists there. A source interviewed by the Irish Star said:
"Ireland is a major area of concern for the British there is no doubt about that. They are here specifically to watch jihadis. They are here because they think we are a weak link in terms of their security. They want to know about potential threats to the UK from extremists living here. The British think our security here is too lax and MI5 are here to try and spot any problems in Dublin before they get to England."
July 4. The National Health Service (NHS) recorded 5,391 new cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) during the past year. Almost half of the victims involved women and girls living in London. One-third were women and girls born in Somalia, while 112 cases were UK-born nationals. Although FGM was banned in the UK in 1985, not a single person has been convicted of the crime. Many victims are said to be reluctant to report offenses because it would require them to give evidence against members of their family. This has made it difficult for authorities to secure prosecutable evidence.
July 4. Sally Jones, a former punk rocker who became the leading female recruitment officer for the Islamic State, married a now-deceased jihadist and moved with her son to Raqqa, reportedly wants to return to Britain. In an interview with Sky News, "Aisha," the wife of a Moroccan jihadist in Syria, said: "She was crying and wants to get back to Britain but ISIS is preventing her because she is now a military wife. She told me she wishes to go to her country."
July 4. Haleema Butt, the 28-year-old sister of the London Bridge terror attacker Khuram Butt, was fired from her job at Heathrow Airport after an internal investigation. Her husband, Usman Darr, was suspended from his job, also at the airport. Both were security staff. A Heathrow spokesman said: "Heathrow took appropriate action in close cooperation with the authorities in relation to two colleagues employed at the airport."
July 4. Northern Ireland's lead prosecutor, Barra McGrory, said he has no regrets about charging Pastor James McConnell for hate speech for making "grossly offensive" remarks during a May 2014 sermon in which he said that Islam is "satanic" and "heathen." McConnell was acquitted of the charges in January 2016. McGrory said:
"The remarks were sufficiently offensive in my view to bring it over the prosecutorial threshold, as did those who worked on the case here. The fact that the district judge didn't think that the remarks were over that threshold is not something I've any great issue with.
"It's not OK to offend people, but it's not a criminal offense to offend people in the context of using language to get across a doctrinal point. The case was taken on the basis that we believed there were points in the sermon where he strayed outside the strict doctrinal debate and used language which we considered to be offensive beyond the doctrinal context.
"The judge in the end decided that it was all within a doctrinal context and only on that basis, the remarks weren't considered to be grossly offensive. So, it was a very fine judgment.
"There are laws which control and limit free speech in certain contexts. It's a prosecutor's nightmare trying to make these finely balanced decisions on whether or not such comments do or do not stray across the line."
Northern Ireland's lead prosecutor, Barra McGrory, recently said he has no regrets about charging Pastor James McConnell (pictured above on December 16, 2016) for hate speech for making "grossly offensive" remarks during a May 2014 sermon in which he said that Islam is "satanic" and "heathen." (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
July 5. A new report — "Foreign Funded Islamist Extremism in the UK" from the Henry Jackson Society — highlighted the need for a public inquiry into the foreign-based funding of Islamist extremism. The report's conclusions include:
"The foreign funding for Islamist extremism in Britain primarily comes from governments and government-linked foundations based in the Gulf, as well as Iran.
"Foremost among these has been Saudi Arabia, which since the 1960s has sponsored a multimillion dollar effort to export Wahhabi Islam across the Islamic world, including to Muslim communities in the West.
"In the UK, this funding has primarily taken the form of endowments to mosques and Islamic educational institutions, which have apparently, in turn, played host to Islamist extremist preachers and the distribution of extremist literature. Influence has also been exerted through the training of British Muslim religious leaders in Saudi Arabia, as well as the use of Saudi textbooks in a number of the UK's independent Islamic schools.
"A number of Britain's most serious Islamist hate preachers sit within the Salafi-Wahhabi ideology and are apparently linked to Islamist extremism sponsored from overseas, either by having studied in Saudi Arabia as part of scholarship programs, or by having been provided with extreme literature and material within the UK itself.
"There have been numerous cases of British individuals who have joined Jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria whose radicalization is thought to link back to foreign funded institutions and preachers."
July 5. Several of the most dangerous and radicalized extremists in the British prison system were moved into the first of three special "jihadi jail" separation units across England and Wales. The first specialist center is at HMP Frankland near Durham; two other centers, at HMP Full Sutton near York and at HMP Long Lartin in Worcestershire, are due to open in the coming months. The three centers combined will hold up to 28 of the most subversive extremist prisoners in the system, far short of the 186 prisoners convicted of terrorist or extremist offenses.
July 7. A 17-year-old boy who grew up in a Christian family and converted to Islam allegedly plotted a "lone wolf" attack on a Justin Bieber concert in Cardiff. Counter-terrorism police said the boy, who was not identified because of his age, was radicalized in less than a week online. The attack was to take place on June 30 as more than 40,000 fans descended on the Principality Stadium for the concert. The boy was arrested during a raid on his rural home hours before the performance.
July 8. Nazim Ali, a director of the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), claimed that the victims of the fire at the Grenfell Tower "were murdered" by Zionists who fund the Conservative party. Ali said:
"As we know in Grenfell, many innocents were murdered by Theresa May's cronies, many of which are supporters of Zionist ideology. Let us not forget that some of the biggest corporations who were supporting the Conservative Party are Zionists. They are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell, in those towers in Grenfell, the Zionist supporters of the Tory Party.
"It is the Zionists who give money to the Tory party, to kill people in high rise blocks.... Careful, careful, careful of those rabbis who belong to the Board of Deputies, who have got blood on their hands."
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "We received an allegation of anti-Semitic comments and it is being investigated by detectives from Westminster. The inquiry continues."
July 9. Zohair Tomari, 20, was sentenced to 12 years and nine months years in prison for raping a 17-year-old girl and sexually assaulting two other girls, aged 13 and 14. Tomari, who claims to be from Morocco but is believed to be from Syria, raped the 17-year-old after plying her with alcohol. He was granted bail and went on to attack the two younger girls.
July 12. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said that the government would not publish a much-delayed report into the funding of Islamist extremism in Britain. The review was commissioned by former Prime Minister David Cameron in November 2015. Rudd said:
"It gives us the best picture we have ever had of how extremists operating in the UK sustain their activities.... Having taken advice, I have decided against publishing the classified report produced during the review in full. This is because of the volume of personal information it contains and for national security reasons."
Opposition parties condemned the government for not publishing the report. They said that the decision appeared to be intended to bury any criticism of Saudi Arabia. Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, said that the public "has a right to know if any governments, foreign or domestic organizations or individuals are funding extremism in this country." She added:
"There is a strong suspicion this report is being suppressed to protect this government's trade and diplomatic priorities, including in relation to Saudi Arabia. The only way to allay those suspicions is to publish the report in full."
Caroline Lucas, the Green co-leader, said that Rudd's "utterly vague statement" was unacceptable:
"The statement gives absolutely no clue as to which countries foreign funding for extremism originates from, leaving the government open to further allegations of refusing to expose the role of Saudi Arabian money in terrorism in the UK."
The Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, said the decision to not publish the report was "utterly shameful." He said:
"Instead of supporting the perpetrators of these vile ideologies, the government should be naming and shaming them, including so-called allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar if need be."
July 12. British Transport Police released a CCTV image of an elderly Muslim man suspected of having sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl on a train between Preston and Blackburn. A police spokesman said: "We do not tolerate any form of unwanted sexual behavior and we are working to identify and trace the offender. The victim was understandably left distressed and shaken by what happened."
July 14. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, Britain's most senior police officer, said that a "very large number of plots" have been foiled over the last few years. "Some of them were very close, we would say, to an attack, very close." Pressed on exactly how many attacks have been thwarted, she said that five had been averted in "just the last few weeks." She added:
"Overall I think it is well into the teens in the last couple of years, where we know people were intent on attacking and that has been stopped. In addition, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of arrests of people who are radicalized, and are either spreading hatred or supporting terrorism, or want to carry out a terrorist attack."
July 14. Muslim leaders filed a complaint with the organizers of London's Pride festival after placards allegedly bearing Islamophobic messages were spotted at the event. Banners bearing slogans such as "Allah is gay" and "F*** Islamic homophobia" were carried at the event by members of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB). Maryam Namazie, spokeswoman for CEMB, said the group was protesting the treatment of LGBT people in states under hardline Islamic leadership, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is a capital offense. She added:
"Pride is full of 'God is gay' and 'Jesus had two fathers' placards as well as those mocking the church and priests and pope, yet hold a sign saying 'Allah is gay' — as we did — and the police converge to attempt to remove them for causing offense."
July 14. Jahed Choudhury, 24, thought to be one of the first British Muslims to be in a same-sex marriage, said that since his wedding, he had received death threats online and abuse on the streets: "The worst messages say, 'the next time I see you in the streets, I'm going to throw acid in your face.' Even if I walk down the streets, I have people spitting on me and calling me pig." He added: "I've been brought up Muslim and the Koran mentions you cannot be gay and Muslim. But this is how I have chosen to live my life. I will never get rid of my faith."
July 15. An investigation revealed that Imran Miah, a 27-year-old ISIS supporter who threatened and mocked non-Muslims on Facebook, has been working as a teaching assistant at several state schools in London. Lord Carlile, the former independent reviewer of terror legislation, said Miah's online statements warranted a police investigation. Lord Carlile said they may breach the Terrorism Act of 2006, which bans indirect encouragement of terrorism, as well as hate crime laws. "It is alarming that somebody was being employed as a supply teacher, given that this type of internet activity was not compatible with someone being a supply teacher," Lord Carlile said.
July 16. Aniso Abulkadir, 18, from Harrow, London, claimed that she and her friends were racially assaulted at the Baker Street Tube station. After reporting the incident to the police, Abulkadir shared a photo of the alleged attacker online and described how he attempted to remove her headscarf before hitting her. When the picture went viral, the man in the image identified himself on Twitter and refuted the allegations. Pawel Uczciwek, 28, from London, said he was protecting his girlfriend and attempting to defuse what he called a "racist attack from three random females." Uczciwek wrote: "The police is fully cooperating with me and will be able to obtain CCTV footage showing the three women attempting to attack my partner because we are in an interracial relationship."
July 19. Jihadists linked to the Islamic State called on supporters to carry out "lone wolf" attacks on Jewish businesses and places of worship in Britain. The threat, posted on a pro-ISIS social media site called Lone Mujahid, included a list of every synagogue in Britain, as well as a list of Jewish shops and delis across the country.
July 20. Rachida Serroukh, 37, a single mother of three, filed a lawsuit against her daughter's school, the prestigious Holland Park School, dubbed the "socialist Eton," after being told she could not wear a face veil on its premises. The school said it is a safety issue to be able to identify all of those on school premises. Serroukh's lawyer, Attiq Malik, said it was a "straightforward" test case of religious discrimination. "The government constantly talks about British values. To me, those values include diversity and multiculturalism."
July 21. The British government lacks reliable immigration statistics and has no way of accurately tracking who is entering or leaving the country, according to a new report released by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee:
"The available data on migration are extremely poor. They fail to provide an accurate number of migrants entering or leaving the country or the number of migrants in work. The data, based upon flawed sample surveys, are wholly inadequate for policy making and measuring the success or otherwise of the policies adopted. The margin of error for the latest net migration statistics was 41,000. The Government must prioritize plans to improve the longstanding flaws in the data if it is to take effective control of migration."
July 22. A freedom of information request revealed that Anjem Choudary, an Islamist who is serving a five-and-a-half year sentence for urging support of the Islamic State, has received more than £140,000 ($180,000) in taxpayer-funded legal aid for his unsuccessful bid to avoid prison. The figure is set to rise as his lawyers continue to file claims. The father-of-five has claimed up to £500,000 ($640,000) in benefits, which he has referred to as "Jihad seeker's allowance."
July 22. Zana Hassan, a 29-year-old Iraqi who has been living illegally in Britain for nine years, avoided deportation after he stormed into a Methodist church and threatened churchgoers. "I will kill you and kill all the English," he shouted. The Crown Prosecution Service deemed the offense a "low-level disorder," which allowed Hassan to avoid time in jail. Hassan walked free after Home Office officials failed to take the opportunity to seek a deportation order. Ukip MEP Mike Hookem asked, "Do we really need this sort of person in our country?" George Richardson, Conservative county councilor for Barnard Castle East, said, "It seems someone needs to be killed before they get a bigger sentence."
July 25. Mujahid Arshid, 33, was charged with kidnapping, raping and murdering Celine Dookhran, a 19-year-old Indian Muslim, in a suspected "honor killing" in London. Prosecutor Binita Roscoe told the Wimbledon Magistrates' Court that the teenager was of Indian Muslim heritage and had started a relationship with an Arab Muslim man.
July 25. An inmate at a prison in Norfolk shouted "this is for Allah" before slashing the throat of a guard. After being moved to another prison, the man attacked a second officer. An official source said that the suspect was not serving a sentence for a terror-related offense, a statement that raised the possibility that he had been radicalized in prison.
July 26. A 15-year-old girl was raped at a railway station in Birmingham. She was then raped again by the driver of a passing car she flagged down to help her. Police described the first attacker as an "Asian" man in his early 20s and of a skinny build. Police said the second man was also "Asian" and in his 20s and of a large build.
July 27. Victoria Wasteney, a Christian NHS worker, lost an appeal in her legal battle which erupted because she shared her faith at work with her Muslim colleague, Enya Nawaz. Wasteney, the former Head of Forensic Occupational Therapy at St. John Howard hospital in East London, was suspended in June 2013 for "gross misconduct" after Nawaz complained that Wasteney had been attempting to convert her to Christianity. Wasteney said she was surprised by the allegations because she thought she and her colleague had become friends over the 18 months they worked together. Wasteney lost the case when she took the trust to the Employment Appeal Tribunal. In October 2015, Wasteney won permission to appeal on grounds of religious freedom. After losing the appeal in April 2016, she decided to challenge the decision, but lost once again.
July 27. An official report revealed that Omar Deghayes, a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay who was paid £1 million ($1.3 million) in compensation by the British Government for the time he spent at the detention center, passed some of the money on to teenage jihadists who later died fighting in Syria. Deghayes is alleged to have paid young Muslim boys to attend a gym where children were "vulnerable to radicalization." The Serious Case Review revealed that police and other authorities were warned about a network of teenage jihadists attending the gym, but that those concerns were ignored.
July 27. Four members of the Rochdale sexual grooming gang received £1million ($1.3 million) in taxpayer-funded legal aid to fight their deportation to Pakistan. Lawyers for Shabir Ahmed, Abdul Aziz, Adil Khan and Abdul Rauf, paedophiles who raped and abused girls as young as 13, are leveraging Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which safeguards the right to family life. David Spencer, of the Center for Crime Prevention think-tank, said:
"These men have been convicted of some truly abhorrent offenses and it beggars belief that they are now able to run up even bigger taxpayer-funded bills making spurious appeals in an effort to extend their stay in the UK."
July 28. Iman FM, a radio station in Sheffield, was taken off the air by Ofcom, the media regulator, after it broadcast 25 hours of lectures by Anwar al-Awlaki, a former leader of al-Qaeda who was killed in an American drone strike. Ofcom said Iman FM was guilty of "extremely serious breaches" of the broadcasting code by airing material that "was likely to incite or encourage the commission of crime or to lead to disorder." Iman FM said it "fully accepted" that breaches had taken place but insisted they were due to "recklessness, but not deliberate intent."
July 28. The government appeared to abandon its two-year-long attempt to ban teachers caught up in the Trojan Horse affair in Birmingham, after those in the remaining cases were told that disciplinary action against them has been halted. Fifteen teachers and senior staff were accused of trying to Islamize schools in Birmingham, but letters from the National Council of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) — an arm of the Department for Education — to lawyers for the remaining teachers involved were told that the proceedings have been discontinued. The decision means that only one teacher out of the 15 who faced proceedings by the government has received a classroom ban, while the other 14 have had their cases dismissed, overturned or dropped.
July 30. Mubarek Ali, the ringleader of sexual grooming gang in Telford, was told he would be released from prison just five years into a 22-year sentence. Ali was one of seven men convicted at Worcester Crown Court in 2013 for preying on girls as young as 13. Telford MP Lucy Allan condemned the decision, which could allow Ali back into a community where his victims continue to live. She said:
"Victims and members of the public would have expected a 22-year sentence to mean that the community could have time to heal and victims would be able to get on with their lives. What we see in this case is that the one of the main perpetrators is being released into the community only five years after the trial....
"What is unacceptable is that in this case there was no attempt by the authorities to reach out these young women and prepare them for this wholly unexpected event. Worse still is the prospect that this person may be returned to Telford and naturally this has caused huge anxiety to victims."
July 31. Amin Mohmed, 24, Mohammed Patel, 20, and Faruq Patel, 19, were sentenced to between 18 and 42 weeks at a young offenders' institution after rampaging through Liverpool city center attacking strangers because they were white "non-Muslims." One of the men stopped Gary Bohanna and said, "I'm a Muslim, what are you?" When Bohanna answered, "I'm a Christian," the attacker shouted, "Why aren't you a Muslim?" before punching him twice, breaking his glasses and causing a 2-cm cut above his left eye. The group then encountered St. Helens councilor Paul Lynch and his girlfriend. Faruq filmed Mohmed punching Lynch with a "sickening blow" that could be "seen and heard." The judge said: "References to the fact he was not a Muslim were made and you appeared to justify your actions because of certain beliefs you held."
**Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.
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