Archive | September 15th, 2013

Russia to expand Mediterranean fleet to 10 warships – Navy chief


The Russian Navy intends to build its presence in the Mediterranean Sea – particularly in the area close to Syrian shores – to up to 10 battleships, announced Admiral of the Fleet Viktor Chirkov.

“The task is crystal clear: to avoid a slightest threat to the security of the state. This is a general practice of all fleets around the world, to be there when a tension level increases. They are all going to act on operational command plan of the offshore maritime zone,” Chirkov told journalists on Friday. “Russia will be building up its Mediterranean fleet until it is deemed sufficient to perform the task set.”

Russia began military build-up in the Mediterranean in 2012, and starting from December last year the Navy established a constant presence in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea.

On May 1, 2013 all Russian battleships operating in the area were assigned to a single task force under special offshore maritime zone operation command.

Currently there are seven warships deployed in the area: landing craft carriers ‘Aleksandr Shabalin’, ‘Admiral Nevelskoy’, ‘Peresvet’, ‘Novocherkassk’ and ‘Minsk’ from Russia’s Black and Baltic Sea Fleets, as well as the escort vessel ‘Neustrashimy’, and large anti-submarine ship ‘Admiral Panteleyev’.


The Moskva missile cruiser (RIA Novosti/Vitaliy Ankov)The Moskva missile cruiser (RIA Novosti/Vitaliy Ankov)


According to previous reports, the missile-carrying cruiser ‘Moskva’ passed the Straits of Gibraltar on September 10 and is expected to arrive at its final destination in eastern Mediterranean on September 15 or 16.

Two battleships of the Russia’s Black Fleet, guided missile destroyer ‘Smetlivy’ and landing craft carrier ‘Nikolay Filchenkov’ left their bases in Sevastopol and Novorossiysk respectively and early on Friday morning have passed the Bosphorus Strait, heading to the eastern Mediterranean.

The SSV-201 reconnaissance ship ‘Priazovye’ also reportedly joined the group in the Eastern Mediterranean in early September.

Upon the arrival of the ‘Moskva’, its commander, Sergey Tronev, will assume operative command of the task force.

Commander Admiral Viktor Chirkov also informed that more than 80 Russian battleships and support vessels are currently offshore in various parts of the global ocean.


Pacific Fleet's large anti-submarine ship "Admiral Panteleyev" (RIA Novosti/Ildus Gilyazutdinov)Pacific Fleet’s large anti-submarine ship “Admiral Panteleyev” (RIA Novosti/Ildus Gilyazutdinov)


“In time of peace Navy’s duty and main application is military service, constant naval presence in the zones of military-political tension where interests of the Russian Federation are concentrated,” Chirkov said.

Admiral Chirkov recalled that a group of ships headed by the ‘Moskva’ missile cruiser recently called into ports of Cuba and Venezuela and for the first time ever passed into the Pacific Ocean via the Panama Canal, calling into ports in Nicaragua and Panama.

Chirkov also informed that a group of 10 warships and support vessels accompanied by four nuclear icebreakers right now are training on the Northern Sea Route. This task group is headed by Russia’s most powerful battleship and the flagship of the Northern Fleet, cruiser ‘Pyotr Veliky’ (Peter the Great).


Pyotr Veliky heavy nuclear-powered cruiser standing on roadstead. (RIA Novosti/Grigoriy Sisoev)Pyotr Veliky heavy nuclear-powered cruiser standing on roadstead. (RIA Novosti/Grigoriy Sisoev)


“For the first time ever all Russia’s nuclear surface ships – heavy nuclear missile cruiser ‘Pyotr Veliky’ and nuclear icebreakers ‘Yamal’, ‘Vaigach’, ‘Taimyr’ and ‘50 Let Pobedy’, were combined in to perform a joined task,” Chirkov said, adding that the icebreakers assisted the taskforce to pass the strait between the Taimyr Peninsula and the Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago, and now the group is continuing to move forward to the east, crossing the Laptev Sea.

Chirkov also mentioned that a group of battleships of the Pacific Fleet headed by the missile cruiser ‘Varyag’ is currently deployed in the southern-western Pacific performing an operational readiness exercise.

“This group will take part in international exercises of the naval forces of the countries of the Asia-Pacific region and later will take part in the centenary celebration of the [Royal] Australian Navy,” said Chirkov.


Guided missile cruiser Varyag (RIA Novosti/Vitaliy Ankov)Guided missile cruiser Varyag (RIA Novosti/Vitaliy Ankov)


The Russian Navy also continues to battle maritime piracy, deploying task force groups off the coasts of Somalia. In 2013 two naval task groups, one from the Northern Fleet and another from the Pacific Fleet, have been protecting sea routes near the Horn of Africa.

Russian warships accompanied 19 convoys through the dangerous waters, maintaining security of 105 vessels from 27 countries and once preventing capture of a merchant vessel.

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TUT’s Mark Dankof’s response to Sen. Carl Levin regarding Syria


12 Sept 2013 

The Honorable Carl Levin (D-MI)

Chairman, Armed Services Committee

U. S. Senate


Dear Senator Levin:

I read your remarks in The Hill this morning regarding your support for American military strikes in Syria, and your criticism of colleagues who are listening to public opinion on this critical matter. 

I believe that the public is absolutely on target regarding the totally reckless policies you espouse, policies not only detrimental to the true national security interest of the United States and both regional and world peace, but policies clearly contraindicated by the Constitution of the United States and international law. When Pat Buchanan and Vladimir Putin are on the same page regarding the dangerous character of what you and your American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) purchased colleagues propose in carrying out Mr. Netanyahu’s War on Syria and Iran, I suggest a complete rethink on your part as both an American and the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. 

Being in Texas, I cannot vote for your reelection.  But it might surprise you that I would vote for you if I could, not for reelection to the United States Senate seat you presently occupy for the State of Michigan, but for election to the Israeli Knesset.  

You would do a marvelous, dynamic job in working for the people and government of Israel.  I’m sure that AIPAC and the Israeli PACs who presently bankroll your career in the United States would be more than happy to launder the money to the Tel Aviv bank of your designation. I do monitor the money you receive as posted every year by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (WRMEA). 

Pass my loyal suggestion along to your other colleagues working for Mr. Netanyahu.  I want all of you to feel loved and encouraged today Inside the Beltway.




Mark Dankof

San Antonio, Texas

U. S. A.

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(FORMER HEAD OF UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY) Father Miguel D’Escoto: “U.S. imperialism is a terrorist, murderer and genocidal”

  In an exclusive interview for the International News Agency and speak Peoples Movement for Life Peace and Progress in which the Father is the Honorary President , visited his home where a lovely chat we explained its view what is currently happening with the threat of invasion by the U.S. against Syria, then the words of Father Miguel D’ Esccoto Brockman :
[[[[The terrorist , murderer and genocidal U.S. empire , you call the United States, as a follower of Christ so call it , imperialism terrorist and genocidal murderer , because well, I have to be deeply every fiber of my being anti-imperialist , anti-capitalist , this is an empire murderer lives always inventing , not the first empire, when our Lord Jesus died was the world under the fifth of the great empires , was the Roman empire, the Jews thought that was the last empire, San Pablo asked why preferably not to marry and not to have their children suffering under the rule , but now we are in the sixth rule , the more murderer , most criminal, most diabolical of all , you know that in biblical terms the rule is called Apocalyptic Beast Septocefálica and Sandino called wimps , in biblical terms are called whores or prostitutes , are those which say for example be Nicaraguan but they have no qualms about taking to the bed with the rule in order to win personal benefits that’s the bourgeoisie , all pro-imperialist bourgeoisie has always been , every bourgeoisie is killer , is criminal, is a thief]]]]]].
What is what is really happening in Syria?
What is what is happening in Syria ? , After the Second World War, immediately after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki , the Empire decided that his reason from that point on, they gave him the name to what we might call military doctrine “Full Espectrum dominance” Total Spectrum Dominance , means total and absolute domination on planet earth , about its atmosphere , on outer space and cosmic implications that entails , then do not stop, are fully possessed by the devil of greed , arrogance and war , that is the struggle.
Nicaragua was the first country in the world subjected to aerial bombardment by U.S. imperialism . In the U.S. there were many protests in the streets when the Marines were chasing Sandino in Nicaragua in the mountains, Nicaragua was the first country in the world subjected to aerial bombardment for a new aircraft invented after the First World War, before the planes were of horizontally throwing the bombs, but then invented some coming in a tailspin, throwing bombs and then went up, so the first time it was used here in the Segovias against Sandino, when Sandino realized what were doing put some straw man in a place where it was windy and believing that they were people and they threw the bombs at the scarecrow. So in the U.S. beyond the President of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Senate wants to know what happens in Nicaragua that thing is that of Sandino, and sends for the chief Colonel Matthew Marines to go to Washington to explain that Sandino, then when he is explaining what Sandino, after fifteen minutes and was desperate Senator, and told the colonel did not like interrupting people, but you already got me riled up, I’m hearing about this man called Sandino, and refers to him as a robber, but I do not understand because I hear that’s what makes this man and I do not understand why they call bandit, then Colonel Matthew responds, well, it is not bandit in the normal sense of that word, we call bandit because just do not know another word to use, because you your English is being forgotten and perhaps not learned Spanish, and English you miss, you’ll remember that English is a very good word here would call that man and PATRIOT. That is in the records of the Senate.
We are on the brink of human extinction .
[[[[[The USA is a country fully possessed by the devil and arrogance is limitless and continue , continue because they are in their efforts to dominate the entire world, in fact humanity is passing the most critical moment in its history , because humanity now have the means to kill most of the life on the planet , when a 20 year old get to be my age , half of the species will no longer exist and there is nothing they can do to change that , that it is a fact , but it may be that in three years and there is neither humans are on the brink of extinction of the human species]]]][[[[[[[[[This war in Syria is obviously just a lie, always invent a reason, the Americans got into Vietnam, all their European friends said they would not get that, then invented that an American ship had been torpedoed in the Bay of Tonkin , but it was a lie , but then with so much evidence acknowledged that it was true, that was a mistake, but the war continued . They are based on people are idiots , and human stupidity is the most incredible , is immense , Albert Einstein was asked if he believed that there was something infinite creation , they say, well, could be the cosmos and the course human stupidity , but about the cosmos , I’m not sure , I’m just certainly fully human stupidity is infinite , as can a Nicaraguan who is not deeply anti-gringo , anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist , when Nicaragua is the country that most suffered from the greed of empire.]]]]]]Every follower of Jesus has every day to risk his life telling the truth , if you likes you the bourgeoisie or the empire and can be 100% sure that you traicionastes to Jesus, Jesus never sit well , and which are wrong I want to be liked God and the devil . So the U.S. is as I say , terrorist, murderer and genocidal empire, the apocalyptic beast .USA and England have always been countries in the last century were very advanced in their chemical and bacteriological weapons , then the Japanese during World War II , they are very dedicated, very studious , some Japanese scientists managed to advance it too much of bacteriological weapons , which made the Americans were running before the Núremberg take to court to be tried for war crimes, were taken to the U.S. , they offered security to give them all their secrets , what it made ​​U.S. with German scholars but would not have had as dropping the atomic bomb .
The U.S. is playing with fire that can be the beginning of the third world . What I ask our Lord is that China and Russia as well, Russia suffered a big setback with the collapse of the Soviet Union , seems to be to build again, but apart from that Russia is what the U.S. . else wants , inmaginate , divide this room into eight parts , Russia is one-eighth of the entire globe , is so great the Russian Federation, is immense , ranging from Europe to Asia end and notice that Russia is a neighbor of North Korea , has more than 25% of drinking water in liquid state , has all minerals and for avid , Russia almost alone compared to Latin America, because we have in copious amounts of wealth , we have the 8 most strategic minerals for the U.S. to maintain its military and economic supremacy , 8 major minerals where more there are in Latin America, in addition to Venezuela have the largest oil reserves in the world , but something happened in Latin America , the Church betrayed Jesus , I say this with pain , I ‘m Catholic, but I like to say I try to be a follower of Jesus , the Church betrayed Jesus , but not right now , 1,300 years ago , and we could say 1,600 years ago , in the year 382 the Church accepts be the official religion of the empire, the empire’s official religion is the most important part of an empire , because it is the ideology of empire , is what holds it together , is what justifies all its crimes and genocide, and that is our Church, but Jesus has nothing to do with that. So what happens? we worry about the world events we are talking about the problems of humanity and nobody thinks of the Church , the Church is irrelevant , then, by association, as the Church is perceived as irrelevant , to our Lord Jesus also sees people of that way , irrelevant , has nothing to do with this thing , is that in the Church the prophetic voice was silenced , the prophets in the Church did bozaleaban or kill, but God can raise up prophets to a stone, greatest prophet in a long long time , the most faithful follower of Jesus is called Fidel Castro Ruz.
Recognition of Los Pueblos speak to Father Miguel D’ Escoto Brockmannn .
And finally our good talk with Father Miguel, Los Pueblos talk presented a certificate of recognition to Father Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann for his contribution to the development of education and culture, for his work on the dissemination of humanistic values and the promotion of peace and solidarity among peoples. Recognize his courage, his work, his deep devotion and revolutionary conviction and his valuable contribution to political ideological peoples.
Exclusive Los Pueblos hablan to Peoples of the World.
[ed notes;click link for whole piece…

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Hizbullah Says It Asked State to Protect Dahieh before Taking Own

Hizbullah on Sunday noted that it had asked state authorities to protect its Dahieh stronghold and other areas following the deadly Rweiss blast, rejecting accusations that it was seeking “autonomous security.” “Hizbullah is not with autonomous security, but with all due honesty, we openly asked security forces and the highest-ranking officials to shoulder their responsibilities regrading security[[[and no one responded,”]]] Sheikh Mohammed Yazbek, head of Hizbullah’s Juristic Committee, said. [[[[[[“What do you want us to do while you are saying that there are booby-trapped cars? Have you ever learned of a state that abandons the security of its people?” Yazbek told mourners during a commemoration ceremony in the Bekaa town of Ansar.]]]] Addressing “those who keep mentioning self-dissociation,” the top Hizbullah official said: “Does self-dissociation involve turning Lebanon into a corridor for sending gunmen and arms to Syria?” Meanwhile, Hizbullah deputy chief Sheikh Naim Qassem said: “We believe that security is the responsibility of Lebanese security authorities and we also believe that the law is the responsibility of the Lebanese judiciary.”But Qassem revealed: [[[[[“We communicated with the Lebanese security agencies and tasked a Hizbullah official to meet with the chiefs of security agencies, and we openly asked them to perform their duties and role.” “But they declared their impotence and said they could not provide the needed personnel or protect Dahieh and some other areas,”]]]] Qassem added. [[[[[“We said that we do not accept such an answer and that authorities cannot say that they are powerless and that they must seek a solution. If the solution lies in increasing the number of personnel, then beef up the numbers. If the solution lies in boosting the budget, request the needed budget, and if the solution lies in a political decision, let us discuss how to take that political decision,”]]]]] Hizbullah’s number two went on to say. He stressed that security agencies “are exclusively responsible for people’s security and they must find the solution.” [[[[[“But until that happens, what should we do? Should we keep our regions vulnerable? Should we give a chance to criminals and Takfiris to stage hostile acts against people?” Qassem asked rhetorically.]]] [[[[[“To those saying that the state is the answer – while it is admitting its incapacity – we say: Should we keep the streets open to booby-trapped cars … and allow them to cause casualties? What kind of logic is this?”]]] he added.Hizbullah had beefed up its security measures in and around Beirut’s southern suburbs in the wake of bomb attacks that targeted the Bir al-Abed and Rweiss areas and left dozens of people dead and scores others wounded.

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WW3 : Tahrir Square Preacher: Al-Assad Deserves Support. FSA Members Are Terrorists, Must Be Killed”


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Court Case Reveals Turkey Arms Flow To Syrian Rebels


 “To tell the truth, it’s a flat lie when the state claims it does not help provide the opposition with weapons,” Cihat Acikalin, a lawyer in the Turkey-Syria border town Reyhanli, told Al-Monitor. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected all conjecture regarding the transfer of weapons to the Syrian opposition through Turkey as recently as May 10. Erdogan stressed that Turkey only provides humanitarian help by opening its borders to nearly 300,000 refugees, costing the country roughly $1 billion. The conjecture about Turkey’s assistance to the opposition peaked after Syria allegedly shot down aTurkish warplane in June 2012. Erdogan said at the time, “Turkey and the Turkish people will provide all sorts of support to the Syrian people until they free themselves from this persecution, this bloody-handed dictator and his gang.” This statement led to much speculation and brought the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government’s policy toward Syria under a domestic and foreign spotlight. Regardless of the allegations, the AKP government staunchly insists that it has not played any role in arming the opposition, let alone had any contacts with radical Islamist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra, which is known as al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch. [[[[“The prime minister and I have repeated this numerous times. Turkey has no relationship with any radical group. I am saying this especially referring to Nusra,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Sept. 10. “This is black propaganda by those circles who want to cast a shadow on Turkey’s humanitarian-based policies regarding Syria.”]]]] 

Acikalin raised an objection to Davutoglu’s statement. [[[[[“I may be violating the ethics rule as a lawyer, but I am choosing to talk to you because we believe that the government is suspending the rule of law by providing support to this opposition, including Jabhat al-Nusra, and putting our lives at risk here.”]]]]] To make his case, Acikalin provided a copy of the indictment with the registration number 2013/125 at Hatay Criminal Court, as well as the copies of the last hearing’s transcript, dated July 5, and a copy of a petition sent by the Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) Ankara office to the state prosecutor in Hatay, dated Nov. 24, 2012. [[[[In brief, the indictment summarizes the following incident: On Nov. 11, 2012, a black bag full of weapons and ammunition was discovered inside a taxi driven by Syrian national Mohamad Ahmad during a routine search at the Cilvegozu border gate, which is roughly 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) to Reyhanli, and about 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) to Bab el-Hawa in Syrian territory, believed to be under the control of al-Qaeda-affiliated militants.]]]]] Prior to this moment, someone with the code name Abu Ismail, introducing himself as a member of the FSA, called Mehmet Cuma Saz, who works as a porter and cab driver at the border gate, and asked him to help two Syrians enter the country. Saz arranged for Orhan and Ali Soyler, who work at the border gate, to help him assist these Syrians, carrying their luggage. On that day, Abu Ismail traveled in a white car to the border gate on the Syrian side with Sahel al-Khatib, a FSA member known by the code name Abu Suleiman, and an unidentified woman. Because the woman did not have a passport, Saz and others helped her illegally cross into Turkey. In the meantime, they also transferred the two Syrians’ belongings from Abu Ismail’s car into Ahmad’s. [[[[After the authorities discovered and took under possession the black bag full of weapons and ammunition, Basel Awad, another FSA member, voluntarily came from Syria to the Cilvegozu border gate on Nov. 14, 2012, three days after the incident, and claimed that that bag belonged to him, and that it was mistakenly transferred to Ahmad’s car from Abu Ismail’s car. He told the authorities that they never had the intention to transfer the weaponry into Turkey, but that it was needed for the fight in Syria. Separately or not, the police also discovered “video recordings in a Nokia E66-1 mobile phone of manslaughter with torture,” as well as “a series of videos believed to belong to al-Qaeda … its training manuscripts, jihadist videos and pictures, as well as a number of documents belonging to this radical right terror organization.” The court documents do not specify al-Qaeda as a radical “Islamist” group.]]]] As the investigation picked up, Mehmet Cuma Saz fully cooperated with security officers out of fear of imprisonment. He provided the address where he dropped off Khatib and the woman, whom he helped to illegally enter the country. The police raided the place only to discover even more weapons and ammunition, as well as $367,700; 20,900 euros (27,744); and 300,000 Syrian pounds ($2,300). A Syrian national named Ahmed al-Huli owned the place.According to the hearing transcript, Huli declared he makes $40,000 to $50,000 per month. He said he’s a tradesman, and he has strong ties with the local authorities. “I saw Huli twice before,” said Saz at the last hearing in July. “One time, I took him to a meeting with the governor [of Hatay] and the mayor. I am a taxi driver and it’s none of my business to pass judgment on what my passengers do or carry with them.” Saz also drew the attention of the judge to the fact that before these Syrians arrived at the border gate, there were two prior checkpoints — one operated by narcotics police and the other by gendarmerie. “We trust they do a good job. We would not know what these people carry in their bags,” Saz said. At the July hearing, Huli told the judge, “All the money found in my place is the money coming from foreign countries to help the FSA … and all the guns, shells and ammunition clips are ‘Made in Turkey’ munitions.” He added, “When I came to Turkey, I did not have a passport, as these institutions in Syria are in the hands of Bashar al-Assad’s men. When I came to Turkey, I called the governor and mayor, and they organized my entrance into the country.” Acikalin represented Huli in court. Acikalin told the judge: “The state knows well what these Syrians are doing here. This incident occurred due to a disconnect between the security officers and the intelligence officers. And if you pay close attention, the police felt obliged to go to Huli’s house because its address was provided. The police didn’t look for it.”He continued, “The FSA has an office in Ankara. [In their petition to the state prosecutor, they also asked for their money, weapons and ammunition be returned to them.] … Ahmet al-Huli is the man who organizes the financial needs and arrangements of the FSA.” He added, “There is a humanitarian tragedy here, and our regulations don’t show any flexibility for people like those in Huli’s position. Therefore, we are having such problems. It’s not possible not to send arms and humanitarian aid to Syria and be an eyewitness on the sidelines to all that is taking place. Thirteen bags of money were also discovered in Deputy Governor Mehmet Eris’ car the other day. That was also processed. They provide aid supply with that money. Moreover, Eris also serves as the head Cilvegozu local authority, and they organized it in such way that they returned all the money to Syrians. … This issue has nothing to do with what took place at the border gate in November. This is a separate issue which came to this point through coincidences. … Huli’s house is known as the FSA’s Reyhanli hostel and coordination center.” According to the court documents, Awad and Khatib stated that they are members of the FSA. They claimed innocence and asked to be released with the charges withdrawn. They are being tried under several different articles of Turkish criminal law: Article 174, for carrying dangerous material without permission, which carries a sentence of three to eight years; Article 197 for carrying counterfeit money, two to 12 years; and Law 6136 for carrying explosives, sharp materials and other dangerous materials, carrying a sentence of five to 12 years. If the amount of dangerous materials is considered significant, the judge has the authority to double the prison term. The judge decided in the last hearing in July that the defendants were to be released as the trial continues. The next hearing convenes Oct. 11. The judge also decided that the money that was taken by authorities from Huli’s house and Ahmad’s taxi be returned to them in full. [[[[[None of those Syrian nationals are in Turkey anymore. They are all gone. It’s evident that the Turkish taxi drivers are innocent in this case. You can’t punish them for carrying people who are engaging in illegal activity,” Acikalin told Al-Monitor. “In short, this case is closed, and the judge decided to free these Syrians, and return their money. This is a straight violation of the rule of law, but they have done it in such a way [to present a scenario] as if they are following the law.” He added, “All these people are members of al-Qaeda, and the state is supporting them.”]]]] Acikalin continued: [[[[“When you study this area closely, you will easily find that this is not the first and only incident of this kind. There are numerous occasions where authorities get inside tips to stop trucks or vehicles carrying explosives, guns and ammunition. There are many in the state structure who understand how wrong it is to yield to radical groups like this. We’re not really talking about innocent refugees here. No one can ever have a problem with them here.“The problem here is this. If you take all these incidents as being separate from each other, you don’t see the full picture. But when you start looking at all these incidents as being linked to each other, and that there is an organization behind it, then you have to also treat this differently under the law. These people are openly taking action against the safety and security of the Turkish state, and we’re letting them go free. We’re suspending the rule of law to topple the Assad regime, but at a cost of putting the lives of our people here at risk.”]]]]]]]

Older Post – thenakedfacts

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Notorious Florida pastor arrested en route to Koran-burning

Terry Jones (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images / AFP) Terry Jones (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images / AFP)

A controversial Florida pastor who has made headlines worldwide for repeated threats to publicly burn copies of the Koran has been arrested with thousands of kerosene-soaked copies of the Muslim holy book in his possession.

Terry Jones announced last month that he intended to set thousands of Korans ablaze in rural Florida to mark the 12th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. He said he would burn 2,998 copies of the holy book, one to commemorate every American killed in the tragic attack. Jones threatened a similar stunt in 2010 but called it off after US President Obama and other leaders warned of the potential implications throughout the Middle East.

The radical hand of Islam shows itself with violence against anyone who dares to stand up and speak the truth,” read a press release from Jones’ organization. “We at Stand Up America Now will not back down. We will not be silent.”

But the plan, which drew the ire of the small Florida community of Mulberry, quickly unraveled when Jones – unable to secure permit – declared he would burn the Korans anyway in a Polk county public park.

The Gainesville-based preacher was arrested en route to the park when police found the Korans already in a barbecue grill in the back of Jones’ truck, according to the local ABC affiliate. Both Jones and Wayne Sapp were charged with unlawfully transporting fuel while Jones was charged with openly carrying a firearm.

Sapp’s wife declared that the arrests were “a very dangerous sign to us, as Americans, as citizens, and to the First Amendment.”

A Polk County spokesperson told WTSP 10 News in Tampa that Jones, 61, filed for a facilities permit last Thursday, too short a time for the county to conduct a review and grant a permit.

He must have the facilities use permit in order to have that type of event in a county park.” said Mianne Nelson. “We responded to his email asking where he was planning to have his event in the park because it is a large park, but he did not respond back to us.”

Jones said he was willing to be arrested for his cause, although the surrounding region has not been as passionate. His announcement that Mulberry would be the destination provoked anger and embarrassment through much of the community.

Why would you come to little Mulberry, that is peaceful and diverse?” resident Suzanne Carter-Moore told WTSP last month. “We like it that way, and why come to our town and stir up the pot of hate and division?”

Mulberry Mayor George Hatch told reporters after Jones’ arrest he hoped “the world will not judge our community from the actions of one man who is not from here.”


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Syria Christian ‘made to convert at gunpoint

The funeral in Damascus on September 10, 2013, of three Christians killed in Maalula at the weekend

Jihadists who overran Syria’s ancient town of Maalula last week disparaged Christians as “Crusaders” and forced at least one person to convert to Islam at gunpoint, say residents who fled the town.

Many of Maalula’s people left after a first rebel assault knocked out an army checkpoint at the entrance to the strategic town on September 4. Some went to a nearby village and others to Damascus, about 55 kilometres (34 miles) to the south.

One of them, Marie, was still frightened as she spoke of that day.

“They arrived in our town at dawn… and shouted ‘We are from the Al-Nusra Front and have come to make lives miserable for the Crusaders,” an Islamist term for Christians, Marie said in Damascus, where she and hundreds of others attended the burial Tuesday of three Christian pro-regime militiamen killed in the fighting.

Maalula is one of the most renowned Christian towns in Syria, and many of its inhabitants speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus.

Home to around 5,000 people, it is strategically important for rebels, who are trying to tighten their grip around the capital.

It could also be used as a launching point for attacks on the highway between the capital and Homs, a key regime supply route.

The rebels have been in and out of the town since the first assault as they battle with government troops and militia.

On Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and residents said rebels, including jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda, had overrun Maalula.

But on Tuesday night, the Free Syrian Army said rebels would withdraw to spare the town’s people and heritage, on the condition that the regime kept its forces out as well.

View gallery.”

The funeral procession in Damascus on September 10, …

The funeral procession in Damascus on Tuesday of three Christians killed in Maalula at the weekend.  …

However, they were still in the town on Wednesday, a Syrian security source said.

“The army has not yet retaken Maalula. The battles are raging on, but (the army) is making progress,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

Some rebel groups have accused the army of having deliberately pulled out of the town in the fighting, leaving it open to jihadist capture, as a propaganda ploy to gain sympathy for the Christians there.

A nun from the Mar Takla Greek Orthodox convent in Maalula told AFP by telephone that “there were fierce battles (on Tuesday) but the town was not shelled. We and the orphans we take care of are doing well, but we lack fuel.”

Recalling the events of last week, 62-year-old Adnan Nasrallah said an explosion destroyed an archway just across from his house that leads into the town.

“I saw people wearing Al-Nusra headbands who started shooting at crosses,” said Nasrallah, a Christian.

One of them “put a pistol to the head of my neighbour and forced him to convert to Islam by obliging him to repeat ‘there is no God but God’.”

“Afterwards they joked, ‘he’s one of ours now’.”

Nasrallah spent 42 years running a restaurant — which he named Maalula — in the US state of Washington and returned to Syria just before the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad broke out in March 2011.

“I had a great dream. I came back to my country to promote tourism. I built a guesthouse and spent $2,000 installing a windmill to provide electricity in the town.

View gallery.”

A general view of the Syrian Christian town of Maalula …

A general view of the Syrian Christian town of Maalula on Sunday. Picturesque Maalula, nestled under …

“My dream has gone up in smoke. Forty-two years of work for nothing,” he lamented.

But worse, for him, was what he said was the reaction of his Muslim neighbours when the town was seized by the rebels.

“Women came out on their balconies shouting with joy, and children… did the same. I discovered that our friendship was superficial.”

But Nasrallah’s sister, Antoinette, refused to condemn everyone, saying recent arrivals in the town were to blame.

“There are refugees from Harasta and Douma (in the suburbs of Damascus) that we have taken in, and they are spreading the poison of hatred, especially among the younger generation,” she said.

Another resident, Rasha, recounted how the jihadists had seized her fiance Atef, who belonged to the town’s militia, and brutally murdered him.

“I rang his mobile phone and one of them answered,” she said.

“Good morning, Rashrush,” a voice answered, using her nickname. “We are from the Free Syrian Army. Do you know your fiance was a member of the shabiha (pro-regime militia) who was carrying weapons, and we have slit his throat.”

The man told her Atef had been given the option of converting to Islam, but had refused.

“Jesus didn’t come to save him,” he taunted.

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Senate moving on from Syria resolution — for now


The Senate is formally dropping consideration of a resolution authorizing U.S. military force in Syria and deferring instead to diplomatic attempts to end the crisis.

“We’ve agreed on a way forward based on the president’s speech last night,” Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) announced on the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon.

While Secretary of State John F. Kerry travels to Geneva on Thursday for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Reid said the Senate would move on so as “not to tread water” on the Syrian issue and begin debating a bipartisan energy efficiency bill that has been waiting for consideration for months.

But talks on the wording of a new Syria resolution will continue among members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and other senior senators who are often involved in foreign affairs and military policy.

“We have a very broad cross-section of the senate – Democrats and Republicans – and this action is likely to create a stronger foundation for the use of support of force should it be necessary,” said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who chairs the foreign relations panel.

The talks will continue in order “to keep in consonance in case there’s an effort to remove the chemical weapons from Bashar Assad,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who added that the resolution likely would lay out potential timelines and conditions.

“I think we’ll know in a couple of days” whether we have to act, McCain said.

Several senators said they were hopeful that the Obama administration would be able to end the stalemate through diplomatic means.

“I’m very skeptical  of Putin’s credibility, Assad’s credibility and the UN’s ability to execute this kind of resolution. However, I do think that the president should be given the opportunity,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.). “If we could get Assad with verification to give up the chemical weapons, I don’t know who would be against that. It makes sense for the world.”

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An ally of Syria, Iran also bears scars from chemical weapons attacks — by Iraq


Sanjan Salimzadegan, who lost her right leg during the Iran-Iraq war, shows her artificial leg, as she weeps at the grave of her children who were killed during a chemical attack in Zardeh village in 1988.

Gholam Delshad, 42, is a living reminder of the horrors caused by chemical weapons.

The Iran-Iraq war veteran is among tens of thousands of Iranians who survived the repeated chemical attacks launched by Iraqi forces during the eight years of fighting in the 1980s. Now that painful legacy is complicating Iran’s stance in dealing with Syria, perhaps Tehran’s closest ally.

“They can take your life away from you when you’re living,” said Delshad, who was a volunteer soldier and just 14 years old when he was injured in an Iraqi chemical attack. His respiratory problems mean that he cannot complete a sentence without coughing, and he regained his sight only after many years, when he received a retina transplant from his sister.

Iran still contends that Syrian opposition forces, not the Syrian government, launched the Aug. 21 chemical attacks that have left Bashar al-Assad’s regime facing international pressure to relinquish its arsenal or face military strikes. But the toll that Iran still faces because of the use of chemical weapons in the war has led Tehran to voice a particularly uncompromising stand.

Any use of chemical weapons would be a “crime against humanity,’’ the new foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said in a recent English-language television interview with the state-run Press TV. He said that Iran’s history as a victim means that its stance would be the same “regardless of who the culprits or victims are.’’

Since last month’s alleged attack in Syria, programs about the history of the Iraqi chemical attacks have been broadcast repeatedly on state television, along with interviews of military and government officials condemning their use.

During the Iran-Iraq war, which ran from 1980 to 1988, Saddam Hussein’s army made more than a dozen documented mustard and nerve gas attacks on Iran, including civilian targets. Iraq’s use of chemical weapons, including those deployed against Kurds inside Iraq in 1988, are widely considered to have been the deadliest employment of weapons of mass destruction since the United States dropped atomic bombs on Japan in 1945.

An estimated 20,000 Iranian soldiers were killed immediately by chemical weapons during the fighting, and tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians over time have developed illnesses related to chemical exposure. In the Iranian city of Sardasht, the site of some of the worst Iraqi attacks, at least a quarter of the population of 20,000 suffers illnesses related to a 1987 strike.

There is no indication that Iran responded by using chemical weapons of its own. Many Iranians, including many veterans, say they would not tolerate it if their government were to use chemical weapons in the future.

“Anyone and any country that uses weapons of mass destruction or nuclear or chemical weapons must be punished,” Delshad said. Interviewed by telephone from his home in Shiraz, he is among about 100,000 Iranians who receive government-funded compensation or medical attention for wounds and illnesses resulting from the Iraqi chemical attacks. In his southwestern Iranian city, there are nearly 5,000 people receiving treatment for chemical-related medical conditions

Another Iranian victim, Amineh Vahhab-zadeh, said, “I’m ready to protest against chemical weapons use anywhere in the world and by anyone.” Vahhab-zadeh, who was a medic on the front lines for nearly five years during the Iran-Iraq war, suffers respiratory, digestive and skin problems from the chemical weapons attacks.

Seyed Hadi Kasaei-zadeh, a reporter for the state-run Mehr News Agency who is also an advocate for Iranians injured by chemical warfare, said the question of who was responsible for the Aug. 21 attacks is essential to answer.

“It is important to know who used chemical weapons in Syria, because if it was Assad, which to me seems unlikely, then the Iranian people and our government have to reconsider our support for him,” Kasaei-zadeh said.

Kasaei-zadeh has made repeated visits to the affected areas in Sardasht and suffers from skin problems that he says are related to exposure to high levels of toxins in the water supply.

“You see many people coughing in Sardasht. Some of them do not have proper resources or enough money to pay for medical care, so they use narcotics for pain relief or become traffickers themselves to get money for treatment,” said Kasaei-zadeh, who thinks authorities are not doing enough to care for those harmed by chemical warfare.

Iran’s strong denunciations of chemical weapons come as the United States and its allies continue to assert that the Tehran government is trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has said its nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes.

Kasaei-zadeh and others interviewed say that Iran’s experience with chemical weapons and its Islamic values make it inconceivable that Iran would employ weapons of mass destruction.

“We know that our government would never use chemical, nuclear or any other mass-destruction weapon, as it is against our religion,” Kasaei-Zadeh said.

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