by, Nicole Chavez and Joe Sutton | CNN | h/t Vlad Tepes
It’s not the first time the center was attacked or vandalized. In January, police said 30-year-old Lauren Kirk-Coehlo broke windows, damaged property and placed bacon on door handles at the Davis center. She was sentenced to five years’ probation on June 15 after pleading guilty to a felony hate crime, CNN affiliate KVOR reported.
The Sacramento chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called both incidents “apparent acts of intimidation” and thanked law enforcement for their response.
“Decisive action by law enforcement authorities sends a strong message of deterrence to anyone who contemplates turning their bigoted views into acts of intimidation,” said Basim Elkarra, the group’s executive director.
by, Faiz Siddiqui, Julie Zauzmer and Sarah Pulliam Bailey
The death of a Virginia teenager who police say was assaulted and then disappeared after leaving a mosque in the Sterling area isn’t being investigated as a hate crime, authorities said Monday.
On Sunday, police found the girl’s remains and a 22-year-old man has been charged with murder in connection with the case.
Video courtesy of: Wochit Entertainment
The mosque, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) in Sterling, and relatives identified the girl as 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen of Reston.
Fairfax County police identified the man charged with murder in her death as Darwin Martinez Torres of Sterling. On Monday, they did not release any explanation as to why they weren’t investigating the murder as a hate crime.
According to accounts from police and a mosque official, a group of four or five teens were walking back from breakfast at IHOP early Sunday when they were confronted by a motorist. All but one of the teens ran to the mosque, where the group reported that the girl had been left behind, according to Deputy Aleksandra Kowalski, a spokeswoman for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.
“Immediately thereafter, the ADAMS’ personnel notified both Loudoun County and Fairfax County authorities who immediately began an extensive search to locate the missing girl,” the mosque said in a statement.
Loudoun and Fairfax police jointly conducted an hours-long search around Dranesville Road and Woodson Drive in Herndon, which is in Fairfax. Remains thought to be the girl’s were found about 3 p.m. Sunday in a pond in the 21500 block of Ridgetop Circle in Sterling. During the search, an officer spotted a motorist driving suspiciously in the area and arrested Torres, police said.
Police said they collected several articles of evidence but declined to provide further details.
The girl’s mother said detectives told her that Nabra was struck with a metal bat.
“I can’t think of a worse instance to occur than the loss of a 17-year-old on Father’s Day, as the father of a 17-year-old myself,” Loudoun County Sheriff Michael L. Chapman said.
Detectives think the remains are those of the girl, but the chief medical examiner’s office will confirm the identity and manner of death, Fairfax police spokeswoman Tawny Wright said.
Shoyeb Hassan, the co-chair of ADAMS, said that during the last 10 days of Ramadan, the mosque has extra prayers at midnight and 2 a.m., and members frequently go to McDonald’s or the 24-hour IHOP to eat before they start their fast at sunrise, as Nabra and her friends were doing.
The killing rattled a Muslim community in the midst of celebrating Ramadan, a month of religious observance in which adherents fast from dawn to sunset for about a month. The period culminates in the feast-like celebration Eid al-Fitr, which is expected to fall next weekend.
“We are devastated and heartbroken as our community undergoes and processes this traumatic event,” Rizwan Jaka, chairman of ADAMS, said in a statement. “It is a time for us to come together to pray and care for our youth.”
ADAMS is Northern Virginia’s largest mosque and, with 11 chapters around the District and Northern Virginia, is among the nation’s most well-known congregations. According to ADAMS’s website, the Sterling location is 25,000 square feet and can accommodate more than 700 people. It includes a youth weekend school, a gymnasium and multipurpose hall, the site says.
Arsalan Iftikhar, an international human rights lawyer and commentator, said that he and his wife were at the mosque for evening prayers, which ended about 12:30 a.m. Sunday. As they were pulling out of the parking lot, he said, he saw a group of teenagers congregating and talking loudly about going out to eat. The girls, he said, were wearing the abaya, a full-length dress many Muslim women wear.
Police said Monday they aren’t investigating the death as a hate crime, but the issue was on the minds of many Muslims on Sunday.
Video courtesy of: Wochit News
Last month, two men on a Portland train were stabbed and killed after they intervened to protect two girls who were being harassed with anti-Muslim threats, according to authorities.
Sunday night, a van struck a crowd of pedestrians, including worshipers leaving a pair of mosques in London. Witnesses said the pedestrians were struck as they departed late-night prayers.
The ADAMS Center has a paid armed security guard at the Sterling site, according to Iftikhar. He said many mosques have increased security since six Muslim worshipers were killed at a mosque in Quebec earlier this year.
Nabra’s slaying sent a chill through the community when news spread Sunday.
“People are petrified, especially people who have young Muslim daughters,” Iftikhar said.
Virginia officials condemned the killing Sunday night and expressed condolences to Nabra’s family.
Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) said she visited ADAMS Sunday and met with leadership and law enforcement officials.
“We are heartbroken and horrified by the news of the brutal murder of a beautiful 17-year old girl,” Comstock said in a statement.
The congresswoman represents Virginia’s 10th District, where the mosque is located. “We know there is no greater pain for any parent and Chip and I extend our prayers to her family and loved ones at this difficult time and the entire ADAMS Center community,” she said. “We commend the Fairfax County Police Department and the Loudoun County Sheriff’s office for their diligent work in apprehending the perpetrator. This case should be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said he and his wife, Pam, were “deeply disturbed” by the assault and killing.
“There is absolutely no place for this kind of violence in our Commonwealth,” Northam said in a statement. “Every Virginian should feel safe and welcome in our communities, and no parent should ever have to experience such a heartbreaking tragedy. As the police investigation continues, I urge all Virginians to keep Nabra’s friends and family in their hearts.”
Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) echoed Northam, urging Virginians to show compassion and kindness.
“The ADAMS Center has always welcomed me and so many in Northern Virginia like family,” Herring said. “This unspeakable attack feels like an assault on our entire community. Words fail at a time like this, so we’ll all have to do the best we can to surround them with the love and support they’ve always shown each of us.”
On a crowdfunding page to support Nabra’s family, donations surged Sunday night, jumping from $10,000 to nearly $18,000 in less than an hour. Shortly before 10 p.m., the fundraising page had met its $25,000 goal.
In a neighborhood full of Muslim immigrant families, the Hassanens’ modest Reston apartment was the one overflowing with friends and laughter most days, friends said Sunday.
“It’s a family where if you’re feeling down and you need to laugh, this is where you go,” said Samar Ali, 26, who grew up in the Hassanens’ apartment complex.
On Sunday night, that apartment normally filled with laughter was crammed with more than 30 women in traditional Muslim garb, sobbing and comforting one another. At the center of the crowded, dimly lit living room was Nabra’s mother, Sawsan Gazzar.
“Please pray for me, please pray for me,” Gazzar sobbed in Arabic. Her phone rang constantly. To her brother and sister in her native Egypt, she said, “Pray for me that I can handle this . . . I lost my daughter, my first reason for happiness.”
The night before, Gazzar had cooked a feast for Nabra, the oldest of her four daughters, who wanted to host a big iftar break-the-fast dinner for all her friends from ADAMS and South Lakes High School, where she just finished 10th grade.
The iftar was packed — Nabra was always popular and sociable. And when it ended, a friend’s mom drove some of the teens to ADAMS for the midnight prayers that mark the last 10 days of Ramadan. Family members said she frequented the mosque during Ramadan.
And during the holy month, the mosque was filled with teens like her.
Gazzar said she thought Nabra and her friends would eat at the mosque after the prayers, and she would have forbidden her from walking to IHOP in the middle of the night. But she also wasn’t surprised that the girl went out; she and other teens had done it safely last year.
Other mothers in the apartment Sunday night echoed the same thought repeatedly — they and their children had always felt safe taking the sidewalk path to IHOP or McDonald’s for a fun meal on those final Ramadan nights.
Gazzar loaned her daughter an abaya to wear to the mosque Saturday night, since Nabra didn’t typically wear traditional Muslim clothes. She heard from a detective that when the man in the car started shouting at the teens, Nabra tripped over the long garment and fell to the ground, just before she was struck.
“I think it had to do with the way she was dressed and the fact that she’s Muslim,” Gazzar said. “Why would you kill a kid? What did my daughter do to deserve this?”
Nabra was a diligent student, so much so that although she was extremely proud to get her first job ever at a McDonald’s, she quit when her manager didn’t understand that studying for a school exam took priority over a work shift. Family members were quick to note her interest in fashion and makeup, and her recently acquired nose ring.
All four Hassanen girls were born in the United States — the younger ones are 11, 10 and 3. Ali described Nabra as a “daddy’s girl” who was close with her father, a bus-and-limo driver. Her father spent Sunday at the mosque, Ali said, beside himself with worry all day.
Gazzar’s phone rang yet again, and this time she didn’t answer. She turned instead to the hundreds of photos stored on it, scrolling through them until she landed on one of Nabra visiting her parents’ homeland in Egypt, laughing as she embraced two of the teen’s little sisters.
“They’d all be laughing. They used to be really happy.”
She gazed into the girls’ eyes, and cried harder.
by, Elliot Friedland | Clarion Project
The Defense Department has signed a deal to sell $12 billion of F-15 fighter jets to Qatar. US Defense Secretary James Mattis reportedly met with representatives of Qatar to sign the deal on June 14. Bloomberg reported the deal was for 32 jets, to be manufactured primarily by Boeing.
This is despite a statement on June 9 from President Donald Trump that Qatar is a “high-level” sponsor of terrorism.
“The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high-level,” Trump said on Friday.
“We are pleased to announce today the signing of the letter of offer and acceptance for the purchase of the F-15QA fighter jets, with an initial cost of $12 billion dollars,” the Qatari Defense Ministry announced in a statement on Wednesday afternoon about the deal. “We believe that this agreement will propel Qatar’s ability to provide for its own security while also reducing the burden placed upon the United States military in conducting operations against violent extremism.”
Video courtesy of: CNN | Elliot Friedland | Clarion Project
Qatar is currently embroiled in a row with its neighbors over support for terrorist groups. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, the Tripoli Government in Libya, Yemen and the Maldives have all severed relations with the tiny wealthy oil state. Qatar is currently receiving food and diplomatic support from Turkey and Iran. The UAE ambassador to the U.S. recently suggested using the presence of the U.S. air base in Qatar to pressure the country to end support for extremism.
Qatar stands accused of bankrolling terror groups including Hamas and al-Qaeda-linked groups in Syria, in addition to allowing Hamas leaders to operate out of Qatar.
Some of these groups are connected to the deaths of Americans. Qatar originally funded Libyan militia group Rafallah al-Sehati, according to the New York Times. A breakaway faction of Rafallah al-Sehati formed Ansar al-Sharia, the group suspected of being responsible for the 2012 murder of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens at the American consulate in Benghazi.
Qatar also allowed the Taliban to set up a political bureau in Doha and allowed fundraisers tied to al-Qaeda affiliates free reign to raise money for jihadi groups in Syria. For example, in December 2013, the U.S. Treasury designated Abdul Rahman al-Nuaimi as a global terrorist and accused him of raising and transferring $2 million per month to “al-Qaeda in Iraq” and $250,000 to al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia.
None of this stopped the deal going through. The full deal, originally agreed in November 2016, is for $21 billion worth of F-15QA fighter jets. The deal was originally authorized by Congress and the president while Barack Obama was in office. However, Trump seemingly took no steps to prevent the deal.
Middle-Eastern dictatorships have been stocking up on arms recently. The region imports more weapons than any other and it’s not just Qatar.
Weapons imports by Saudi Arabia and Qatar rose by 275% from 2011 to 2015, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
“The combined value of Saudi Arabia and the [United Arab Emirates’] defence imports is more than all of Western Europe’s defence imports combined,” Janes senior analyst Ben Moore said in a statement last year. “The global defence trade market has never seen an increase as large as the one we saw between 2014 and 2015.”
Although Washington remains the world’s number one weapons exporter, it is not just the U.S. that is funding and arming sponsors of terrorism in the Middle East.
British arms giant BAE sold sophisticated surveillance systems to a slew of oppressive states including but not limited to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Morocco and Algeria, a new investigation just revealed.
Saudi Arabia also stands accused of exporting extremism worldwide. Nevertheless, the U.S. Senate just approved a sale of $500 million worth of bombs to the Saudi Air Force for use in the war in Yemen.
The systems allow these governments to track and read most communications, the physical whereabouts of their citizens, listen to what they say by hacking into their smartphones and more.
“It used to be that ‘the walls have ears’, but now it’s ‘smartphones have ears,’” Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi women’s rights activist who also now lives abroad since escaping Saudi Arabia, where she was forced to leave one of her two sons behind.
“No country monitors its own people the way they do in the Gulf countries. They have the money, so they can buy advanced surveillance software.”
That equipment is coming from Western countries like the United States, Canada and the UK, which talk a tough game on terrorism and extremism but continue to sell high end weapons systems to the most repressive theocracies in the world.
“We had a decision to make,” Trump said in his statement calling out Qatar for funding terrorism. “Do we take the easy road or do we finally take a hard but necessary action?”
When the question of a deal for $12 billion worth of hardware came up, Trump certainly made his decision.
False Criminal Charges Placed Against Iraqi Christians in America by Islamic Interim Government in Iraq
by, Lauren Markoe | NCRonline.org | h/t T. Shoebat
Some Chaldeans and their supporters are wondering why more Christian Americans — their co-religionists — are not speaking out against the impending deportation of hundreds of them from the U.S. to Iraq, which many liken to a “death sentence.”
About 200 Chaldeans — members of a group of Christians indigenous to Iraq — were rounded up by ICE agents in past weeks, including 114 in the Detroit area last weekend.
Martin Manna, president of the Chaldean Community Foundation, based in Sterling Heights, Mich., said he’s frustrated by evangelicals and others who have expressed outrage over the persecution of Christians in the Middle East but who have been silent about the Chaldeans who face deportation.
“They could be doing a lot more,” he said. “They could be saying, ‘Wait, we have been fighting to protect these people in their ancestral lands and now we are sending them back to those areas that we’re not doing enough to protect?'”
Philippe Nassif, executive director of In Defense of Christians — a Washington-based group that seeks to protect persecuted Christians in the Middle East — pointed to evangelicals such as Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, who held a summit in Washington last month to rally support for Middle Eastern Christians he called victims of genocide.
“They came to D.C., a whole bunch of them,” said Nassif. “They brought up the issue that needed to be brought up, but we’re not seeing the follow-up. If they can’t stand up for the people who already made it here, then how can they stand up for the ones in the Middle East?”
Graham this week had not spoken out about the Chaldeans in custody until Thursday (June 15), when he issued a statement after an inquiry from RNS.
“I find it very disturbing what I have read about Chaldean Christians being rounded up by ICE for possible deportation. I would encourage the president to have someone investigate these cases thoroughly,” Graham said in a statement.
“I understand a policy of deporting people who are here illegally and have broken the law,” Graham’s statement continued. “I don’t know all of the details, but I would encourage our president to give great consideration to the threat to lives of Christians in countries like Iraq.”
Nassif said he was glad Graham felt moved to speak out.
But Nassif said there should have been more of an outcry when news broke of the Chaldeans’ plight.
Although the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic fraternal organization and a longtime ally of the Chaldeans, is circulating a letter on their behalf, “we aren’t seeing a lot of these other larger voices in the community standing up for the Iraqi Christians,” Nassif said.
“If all these people really care about these communities in the Middle East, they should also be caring about the communities that are living here in the United States that are being sent back,” he said.
Another group that has taken a stand on behalf of the Chaldeans: the American Civil Liberties Union. It filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court in Detroit on Thursday to halt the deportations.
Some of the Chaldeans detained by ICE have committed crimes, but their families say those offenses were often nonviolent and happened decades ago. The convicted have served their time and have become productive members of society on whom their families depend, they say.
A Department of Homeland Security representative defended the government’s actions.
“The agency recently arrested a number of Iraqi nationals, all of whom had criminal convictions for crimes including homicide, rape, aggravated assault, kidnapping, burglary, drug trafficking, robbery, sex assault, weapons violations and other offenses,” DHS spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said in a statement.
“Each of these individuals received full and fair immigration proceedings, after which a federal immigration judge found them ineligible for any form of relief under U.S. law and ordered them removed.”
Advocacy groups and the U.S. government have for years documented the danger to Christians living in Iraq, whose numbers have plummeted to less than 200,000 from a high of 1.2 million before the Iraq War. Many died during the conflict and hundreds of thousands fled to safer lands. Today Iraqi Christians sit in the crosshairs of the group known as the Islamic State, which is losing territory but still active in Iraq.
More than a year ago Congress and the State Department, under then-Secretary of State John Kerry, recognized the slaughter of Christians in the Middle East as a genocide.
“This is not complicated,” said Thomas Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs. “Iraqi Christians have formally been designated by the United States as victims of ‘genocide.’ They and other named minorities of that declaration should be welcomed to this country. Those who have made it here already should not be deported.”
Chaldeans are Eastern Rite Catholics, who affiliate with the Roman Catholic Church but have their own bishops and patriarch. They believe their ancestors were converted to Christianity by Thomas the Apostle.
The largest groups of Chaldeans reside in Iraq and Syria. In the U.S., population estimates range in the hundreds of thousands, with more than 100,000 living in Greater Detroit, where many began to immigrate in the 1920s.
“On a practical level, this is mind-boggling,” said Nina Shea, an international human-rights lawyer who runs the Center for Religious Freedom at the Washington-based Hudson Institute. She can’t think of a safe destination for the Chaldeans in Iraq.
“The director of Homeland Security — does he know that there has been a genocide declared there by the United States? Had anyone told him? Does ICE know this?” Shea said.
“In a situation of genocide you don’t deport anybody. We didn’t even deport Gitmo detainees to places where they would be killed.”
by, Meira Svirsky | Clarion Project
A lawyer involved in the ongoing case against the Michigan doctor charged with performing female genital mutilation (FGM) on young girls alleged in court that the doctor’s mosque had paid for the barbaric and illegal procedures.
Dr. Juama Nargarwala, 44, an emergency room doctor, is accused of performing FGM on two young girls from Minnesota, although prosecutors said in court that she may have cut up to 100 girls over the past 12 years.
Nargarwala is part of a sect of Muslims from India called the Dawoodi Bohra. She was arrested in April trying to board a flight to Kenya after the FBI received a tip in the case and was denied bail. Also charged in the case are two other members of the Dawoodi Bohra sect: Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, 53, accused of letting Nargarwala use his clinic in Livonia to carry out the procedures and his wife, Farida Attar, 50, who is charged with holding the girls’ hands during the painful cutting.
Cynthia Nunez, the attorney who made the allegation and who was assigned by the court to look out for the best interests of Nargarwala’s children, also stated that Nargarwala’s husband is the treasurer of the mosque and could face criminal charges over the allegations that the mosque was paying for cutting.
Other members of the sect and their daughters have been told to keep quiet about the FGM procedures according to the charges against the doctor and her alleged accomplices. So far, the state has discovered that in addition to the two girls from Minnesota, six more girls are known to have been mutilated.
Medical examinations have shown that the girls’ genitals were altered and not just symbolically “scraped” as Naragarwala claimed. Writing in Mother Jones, a victim of FGM from the same sect, describes her horrific memories of the procedure that was carried out on her as a child and how wide-spread the practice is among the Dawoodi Bohra.
The state has been moving to take parental rights away from Naragawala as well as parents who have taken their daughters to be cut. In the case of Nargarwala, the children’s father agreed to move out of the house to avoid having the children put into foster care. The children are currently being taken care of by their grandparents.
Although the state requested the father’s visits to the children be made only with supervision, the judge ruled that for the time being, he is allowed to visit his children freely and without supervision.