Photo: The terrorists wreaked havoc in the 4000-year-old UNESCO site and the neighbouring modern city of Tadmur
Six American Women Marked For Death by Islamic Fatwa Face Threats with Fear, Courage
Malala: 'I Am Devastated By the Senseless Killing of Innocent People in Lahore'
Muslim Women Personal Law Board Head Shaista Ambar Meets 'Gracious' RSS Chief
In The Boxing Ring at a Self-Defence Class For Hijabi Muslim Women
Mississippi Woman Trying To Join Islamic State to Plead Guilty To Terrorism Charge
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Islamic State Jihadists Sold Female Slaves As They Wrecked Palmyra
March 29, 2016
Islamic State militants were running female slave auctions while they destroyed much of Palmyra, according to documents recovered by regime forces after they retook the ancient city.
The terrorists wreaked havoc in the 4000-year-old UNESCO site and the neighbouring modern city of Tadmur, after they swept in 10 months ago and captured one of the most historic towns in the Middle East.
Antiquities officials who visited the city on Monday said that the extremists destroyed the 2000-year-old Temple of Bel and shrine of Baal Shamin, a dozen of the city’s best-preserved tower tombs and the Arch of Triumph dating from about AD200.
Papers that were allegedly recovered by regime forces and broadcast by pro-regime Syrian media showed that the militants had not only been attacking heritage but were also running markets for women they had captured.
In a notice issued to all fighters last June, a month after they took Palmyra, the jihadists said: “For those who want to buy a female slave, sign up at the battalion’s main office.”
The statement was addressed to militants in Homs province, where Palmyra is located.
“As for our brothers who are on the road spreading Islam, there will be co-ordination with the battalion’s emir. Whomever does not sign up will not have the right to attend the slaves market. Prices are to be submitted in sealed envelopes at the time of buying,” the notice added.
It was another insight into ISIS’s savage behaviour during its 10-month hold over the town. They also beheaded and strung up Khaled Asaad, Palmyra’s former antiquities chief, turned the main theatre into a public killing square, and used the site’s museum as a Sharia court. Many ancient statues in the museum had been beheaded or toppled.
Syrian forces, backed by Russian airstrikes, finally pushed the militants out of the area after a fierce three-week offensive. ISIS lost 400 fighters and were pushed east towards Deir Ezzor, marking their single largest defeat since declaring their caliphate in 2014.
Regime forces were clearing landmines yesterday.
They also reopened the military airport as archaeologists arrived to assess the damage. The town itself appears to have been abandoned. ISIS had urged local residents to leave before the regime’s assault.
Maamoun Abdel-Karim, Syria’s antiquities chief at the site, said that it would take only five years to restore the ruins, and that the overall site was 80 per cent intact. Although some of the major sites, such that of the Baal Shamin, were obliterated, the damage was “not as bad as they feared”, he said. The Lion of Al-lat, a 3m, 2000-year-old statute thought to be one of the first casualties of ISIS’s occupation, was still standing, he said.
He said it was partially due to efforts by the ministry, which worked secretly with teams of local residents and government personnel in Palmyra, that ISIS had not destroyed the entire city.
However UNESCO’s Syria experts were less positive, saying it was unlikely that the site could be returned to its prewar state. “As long as the Syrian army is there, I am not reassured,” Annie Sartre-Fauriat, a UN expert on Syrian heritage, said. “We should not forget that the army occupied the site between 2012 and 2015 and caused a lot of destruction and pillaging.”
Russia, a staunch supporter of dictator Bashar al-Assad, said yesterday that it would be sending a team of specialists to help to repair the site as well as soldiers to assist with mine clearance.
Clashes continued between Isis and regime forces northeast of Palmyra yesterday. Airstrikes, believed to be carried out by Russian forces, struck the road running east out of Palmyra towards Deir Ezzor, which Isis has surrounded, activists said.
Six American Women Marked For Death by Islamic Fatwa Face Threats with Fear, Courage
March 28, 2016
Twenty-seven years ago, Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini called for the death of a British author, giving new fame to Salman Rushdie and infamy to the term “fatwa.”
Rushdie, whose “The Satanic Verses” had been deemed offensive to Muslims, remains threatened by the Islamic decree, but six American women who lack the resources of a best-selling author also have been marked for death by Muslim leaders. Some have been driven from their homes and jobs and even forced to live the rest of their lives in hiding, with little hope that the fatwa will be lifted.
“It is not safe, of course, not even in the West, for anyone who has a fatwa of death issued against them,” Nonie Darwish told FoxNews.com.
“I just look over my shoulder in the parking lot.”
- Raheel Raza, subject of fatwa
Darwish, an Egyptian-born U.S. citizen who was born Muslim and later converted to Christianity, spoke out against radical Islam following the 9/11 attacks. She has since been the subject of multiple Fatwas issued by various Islamic clerics. Like others who bear a price on their heads, Darwish stays below the radar, and constantly looks over her shoulder.
“There are constant attempts to silence us by many Islamic organizations,” she said. “We are the No. 1 target of jihadists and ISIS sympathizers who are now in all 50 states.”
Ayaa Hirsi Ali has lived under a fatwa for years for speaking out against abuses of women in Muslim society. (Reuters)
Darwish is cut off from her family in Egypt, which disapproved of her decision to speak out. She has published several books, including “The Devil We Don’t Know: The Dark Side of Revolutions in the Middle East,” and is the founder and president of “Arabs for Israel.”
Molly Norris was a respected newspaper cartoonist in 2010, when Comedy Central censored a “South Park” episode that featured the prophet of Islam, Muhammad, amid outrage from extremists. Norris fought back with free speech, but it cost her career.
Norris drew a cartoon of the religious figure, whom Islamist scholars believe must never be portrayed, on various items such as a teacup, a thimble and a domino. Her work was never formally published, but images went viral on the Internet and helped promote “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.”
Suddenly, Norris was deluged with death threats. Influential U.S.-born Muslim cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki issued a fatwa calling for her death a year before he was killed by a U.S drone strike in Yemen.
Raza admits looking over her shoulder, but tries not to live in fear. (HonorDiaries.com)
Former FBI counter-terrorism agent David Gomez, who handled Norris’ case from the Seattle field office at the time, told FoxNews.com that the bureau advised Norris of the “very legitimate” threats against her. The bureau stopped short of telling Gomez to go underground, but advised her to take certain precautions, including changing her appearance.
Norris opted to disappear, leaving her job and home and cutting off communication with friends and neighbors.
“Molly really took the advice to heart,” Gomez said. “She really went dark.”
A source told FoxNews.com that Norris is alive and living a new, quiet life in an undisclosed location and that the decision to completely disappear was spurred by fear for the lives of her loved ones. However, many argue she was hardly given a choice.
Nonie Darwish was marked for death after converting to Christianity and speaking out against violence within Islam.
“People are shocked to realize a journalist inside the U.S. could be forced into hiding by radical Islam,” said author Larry Kelley, founder of the Free Molly Norris Foundation. “This issue is a really big one as far as our freedoms are concerned.
Kelley’s foundation has raised an undisclosed sum and hopes to give it to Norris to help her get by, but hasn’t been able to get in touch with her.
And the fatwa against Norris has not faded. She was again spotlighted three years ago in Al Qaeda’s “Inspire” magazine on its “Wanted: Dead or Alive for Crimes Against Islam” list alongside the likes of Rushdie and French cartoonist Stephane Charbonnier, known for his irreverent drawings of Muhammad.
The fatwa against Charbonnier ended Jan. 7, 2015, when two Muslim fanatics stormed the offices of his employer, the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and killed him and 11 others. If Norris had thought about resurfacing, the attack surely gave her new pause.
“I do hope she is okay,” said Mark Baumgarten, Norris’ old editor at Seattle Weekly. “But I have no way of knowing.”
Fatwas are not empty threats, according to experts. Many subjects in addition to Charbonnier have been killed by fanatics who believe they win eternal favor by making good on the threats. Egyptian academic Forag Foda, who wrote in defense of secularism and Western values, was assassinated in 1992 after a fatwa from Sheikh Gad al-Haq Ali Gad al-Haq, who at the time was the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Egypt’s highest authority in Sunni Islamic thought and Islamic jurisprudence.
After the order went out against Rushdie, the British-Indian author hired armed guards, traveled under a phony name, wore disguises and rarely saw his own son. Stores that sold his books were burned and the Japanese translator of “The Satanic Verses” was murdered.
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini died in 1989, but his fatwa against Rushdie did not. (Reuters)
Just last month, 40 state-run Iranian media outlets added a reported $600,000 to the near $4 million bounty for Rushdie’s head and renewed calls for his death.
“Depending on the issue, a fatwa could be permanent or temporary. In the case of established principles like respecting prophet, it is permanent,” Daniel Akbari, an Islamic scholar and Shariah-certified lawyer for the Supreme Court of Iran, now an adjunct professor of law at St. Mary’s University in Texas, told FoxNews.com. “Going underground and living secretly is the first step the targets of fatwa take to avoid the life-threatening danger that could even threaten the life of their families. They have to limit the number of people they used to socialize with and in many cases leave their jobs.”
Iranian media just added $600,000 to the bounty on Rushdie's head. (Reuters)
Fatwas were traditionally issued by muftis, who are very high-ranking imams. But in recent times, less respected scholars and figures with less credibility and followers have begun issuing Fatwas.
Pamela Geller, co-founder of the controversial anti-Muslim extremist American Freedom Defense Initiative, is believed to have been the target of two men who tried to storm a “Draw Muhammad” cartoon competition in Garland, Texas, last year. She had already been threatened with death from various Islamist groups, including ISIS.
Geller has defiantly lived under Islamist death threats since at least 2006, when her blog, Atlas Shrugs, reprinted cartoon images of Muhammad originally published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Geller organized a "Draw the Prophet" cartoon contest held May 3, 2015, at the same site in Texas where a Muslim group had months earlier held a "Stand With the Prophet" event.
Two Muslim extremists were killed in a shootout with a Garland Independent School District police officer outside the event.
Geller is believed to have been the target of an attack last year in Garland, Texas.
“I was their prime target,” Gellar told FoxNews.com. “Muslims have called for my death and published on Twitter what they think is my home address. Shortly after the Garland event, ISIS issued a formal fatwa calling for my death.”
A month later, a 26-year-old Muslim man, Usaamah Rahim, was killed by Boston police after charging at them with a military knife. After his death, police revealed that Rahim was an ISIS follower who had planned to behead Geller in retaliation for her Muhammad art exhibit.
Gellar’s strong stance against radical Islam has angered more than just Muslims. She was denied entry into the UK in 2013 as “not conducive to the public good” and has been branded a bigot by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Geller, who lives in New York City under constant guard, said she will never give up her campaign to warn the world about radical Islam.
“I take nothing for granted. I’m aware of the risks,” Geller noted. “But I would rather die standing up than on my knees.”
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born, Dutch-American, routinely calls for a reformation of Islam, asserting that “we cannot get away from the reality that there is something within Islam that inspires, incites and mobilizes millions of people to engage in what our president euphemistically calls ‘violent extremism.’”
In 2004, Ali worked with Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh on a highly contentious short movie “Submission” regarding the subjugation of women under Islam. Death threats against the pair ran rampant and Van Gogh was soon murdered in the streets of Amsterdam, a note pinned to his body promising that Ali would be next.
Now a fellow at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, Ali, whose latest book, “Heretic,” was released last year, continues to rail against what she sees as the injustice of Islam.
Theo van Gogh, the great-grandson of Vincent van Gogh's brother, was killed by a Muslim fanatic in 2004 after working with Ali on the short film "Submission," which criticized the treatment of women in Islam. (Reuters)
Like Ali, Raheel Raza left her Islamic homeland and discovered freedom in North America. Twenty-eight years ago, she moved with her husband and two children from Pakistan to Canada, where she is an activist for the rights of Muslim women.
“I am most passionate about human rights and women’s rights in the Muslim world,” the Karachi University graduate and author of “Their Jihad, Not My Jihad: A Muslim Canadian Woman Speaks Out” said.
Her efforts, which include advocating for a Burqa ban, mixed-gender prayers for Muslims and opposing plans to build a Muslim community center near New York’s Ground Zero, have yielded death threats, hate mail and a fatwa.
Raza does not have personal bodyguards, and is not provided protection by the Canadian government.
“Many people get full-time security, but I just leave it in God’s hands to protect me,” she told FoxNews.com. “If I allow myself to be afraid I can’t do the work I do, so I don’t wallow in the luxury of fear.
“I just look over my shoulder in the parking lot,” she said.
Malala: 'I am devastated by the senseless killing of innocent people in Lahore'
Monday 28 March 2016
safzai has condemned the "senseless killing" in her birth country Pakistan after a terrorist bombing left at least 70 dead on Easter Sunday.
The country entered a three-day mourning period on Monday following the attack in a park in Lahore, believed to be carried out by a suicide bomber.
The 18-year-old former Nobel Prize winner, who lives in Birmingham, said: "I am devastated by the senseless killing of innocent people in Lahore.
"My heart goes out to the victims and their families and friends. I condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms."
She called for Pakistan and the world to stand together adding: "Every life is precious and must be respected and protected."
More than 300 were injured in the attack, many seriously, after a device was detonated near children's rides while families celebrated Easter in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore.
A breakaway Pakistani faction of the Taliban claimed responsibility for the carnage and said it had deliberately targeted the Christian community.
However most of those killed were Muslims - with 14 having been identified as Christians, according to Lahore Police Superintendent Mohammed Iqbal.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who used his Easter message to urge Britons of all faiths to stand up for Christian values, said he was shocked by the attack and promised British help.
"My thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims. We will do what we can to help," the PM posted on his Twitter feed.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "My thoughts are with the victims and the family of the victims of the horrific attack in Lahore.
"Solidarity with the emergency services there."
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said British nationals were advised to avoid the area and monitor travel advice updates and local media.
"My thoughts are with the victims and their families," he said.
"The UK utterly condemns these senseless acts of violence.
"We will continue to provide support and assistance to the government of Pakistan as they work to defeat those who plan and perpetrate these acts of terror."
Muslim Women Personal Law Board head Shaista Ambar meets 'gracious' RSS chief
Tuesday March 29, 2016
Lucknow: In an alarming development for the community, All-India Muslim Women Personal Law Board president Shaista Ambar met RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat here on Tuesday.
Ambar said she was present at a function in the Post-Graduate Institute area where Bhagwat was visiting. She sought an appointment with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief that was immediately granted.
"He was very gracious and in his address he spoke of nation building and character development," she said.
Ambar also said she requested Bhagwat to visit the mosque which they have got constructed, and he readily agreed to do so.
In The Boxing Ring At A Self-Defence Class For Hijabi Muslim Women
March 28, 2016
"Hitttttt it, go, go, GO!" Ruqsana Begum yells at her class. She spins around, high kicks and then, without pause for air, continues telling me about the new sports Hijab she's recently brought to market.
Begum is an impressive woman. An international kickboxing champion and captain of Britain's Muay Thai team, she's the only Muslim woman to be a national champion in her sport. When Begum isn’t fighting or developing sportswear for her sisters, she also runs a boxing/self-defence class that is geared towards the needs of Muslim women.
Begum has herself had to fight cultural attitudes to achieve her own sporting goals. She tells me that she "trained in secret when I was at university." For a while, Begum was concerned about telling her family she was participating in a male-dominated sport. "I had to also break down stereotypes and cultural boundaries in order to train and accomplish my goal of being a national champion."
I've headed down to one of Begum's self-defence classes on a Sunday afternoon in Bethnal Green. It took a while to set up the interview: Begum was understandably cautious that the class would be represented in an appropriate and non-judgemental way, given the ongoing rise in Islamophobic attacks across the UK. According to London's Metropolitan Police, Islamophobic hate crimes rose by 70% in London in 2015, while the anti-Islamophobia charity Tell MAMA reports that the bulk of these attacks are targeted towards women who wear the headscarf or face veil.
And as women stream into Begum's class on a sunny Sunday afternoon, all the women mention the ability to defend themselves in the face of Islamophobic violence as a motivating factor for coming.
One of the class attendees, Amani Nsour, tells me, ‘‘Well, I used to go to the gym but I got bored of it and I felt people looked at me strangely because of the scarf. In these times, it is better to be safe than sorry, so with this boxing class it is a win-win situation, I can exercise and learn how to defend myself."
This sentiment is also shared by Alifa Begum who says, "the class has made me more confident when going out because whilst I do enjoy karate, this plain boxing makes me feel more aware. This is especially important now when you hear about the sisters being attacked wearing the Hijab, which is sad but the boxing really helps my confidence." Laughing, she adds, "and it helps my posture too!"
Between punches, Alifa goes on, "After seeing the footage of the recent [Islamophobic] attacks in London, my husband said he will take me anywhere I want to go. To be honest, after hearing a lot of sisters being attacked, I haven't used the train as much. I know it sounds really bad, I should but I couldn't think about going into the city."
So, it seems that Ruqsana’s class has come to serve a dual purpose. On one level, the female-only training class gives women a space to work out and improve their fitness. It also helps them to feel more secure in British society – no mean feat given the ongoing demonisation of many Muslim communities by the right-wing press and far-right groups.
Alifa agrees that the negativity towards Muslim women is in part reinforced by the the media. With a slight air of exasperation, she says "there is a lot to do with the negative media [coverage], people do not focus on the positives. Who is really talking about what a great thing she [Ruqsana] is doing here for mostly Muslim women, her community and other women of colour in general? On top of this, we [Muslims] are always expected to constantly justify ourselves and our actions."
The day after writing this piece the dreadful attacks in Brussels happen: a reminder of the very real threat faced by communities across the world from Islamic extremism. In the aftermath, a Twitter post goes viral after a man reports "confronting" a Muslim woman over the Brussels attack and asking her to "explain" their actions.
While his tweet was rightly mocked, the depressing reality for many Muslim women is that being the victims of indiscriminate physical or verbal abuse is becoming commonplace in 21st century Britain. Until a longer-term solution to rising Islamophobic violence is delivered by our policy-makers and government, it will be up to community laeders such as Ruqsana to find ways to help keep Muslim women safe.
Mississippi Woman Trying To Join Islamic State to Plead Guilty To Terrorism Charge
March 28, 2016
JACKSON, Miss. — A young Mississippi woman plans to plead guilty to a terrorism charge Tuesday, months after authorities say she and her fiancé tried to go to Syria to join the Islamic State group.
Court papers show 20-year-old Jaelyn Young, originally from Vicksburg, will plead guilty in Aberdeen federal court to conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization.
Young faces up to 20 years in prison, $250,000 in fines and lifetime probation.
Lawyers for Young did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Monday.
Her fiance, Muhammad Dakhlalla, pleaded guilty March 11 to a similar charge and awaits sentencing. The pair at one point planned to claim they were going on their honeymoon while traveling to Syria.
The couple was arrested Aug. 8 before boarding a flight from Columbus, Mississippi, with tickets for Istanbul. Authorities say they contacted undercover federal agents last year, seeking online help in traveling to Syria. Both are jailed in Oxford.
Young, a sophomore chemistry major at Mississippi State University at the time of her arrest, is the daughter of a school administrator and a police officer who served in the Navy reserve. She was a former honor student, cheerleader and homecoming maid at Vicksburg's Warren Central High School.
Dakhlalla grew up as the youngest of three sons of a prominent figure in Starkville's Muslim community. He is a 2011 psychology graduate of Mississippi State who and was preparing to start graduate school at the university.
Prosecutors have portrayed Young as the leader of the plot. They said that by the time Young began dating Dakhlalla in November 2014, she was already interested in converting to Islam. She announced her conversion in March and began wearing a burqa, a garment worn by some Muslim women to cover their face and body.
"After her conversion, Young distanced herself from family and friends and felt spending time with non-Muslims would be a bad influence," prosecutors wrote in a statement of facts regarding Dakhlalla's plea.
The statement said Young increasingly complained about the treatment of Muslims in the United States and United Kingdom. Prosecutors said that, after watching pro-Islamic State group videos, she began to view the fighters as liberators. They said Young approvingly cited a video of a man accused of being gay being thrown off a roof to his death by militants and also expressed approval of the shooting of five members of the military in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
"Young continually asked Dakhlalla when they were going to join (the Islamic State group) and began to express hatred for the U.S. government and to express support for the implementation of Sharia law in the United States," prosecutors wrote.
The court papers reiterated earlier government claims that Young and then Dakhlalla contacted undercover FBI employees online stating they wanted help to travel to Islamic State group territory.
The papers confirm that both Young and Dakhlalla left farewell letters "that explained they would never be back, with Young acknowledging her role as the planner of the expedition and that Dakhlalla was going as her companion of his own free will."