Militant group ISIS, which has captured significant territory in Iraq and Syria, announced that its annual budget for 2015 exceeds $2 billion. The funds will be used to pay the salaries of its fighters, and monthly wages will also reportedly be offered to orphans, widows, and families who have lost relatives due to the American-led airstrikes in the region.
ISIS has also opened up an Islamic Bank in Mosul, Iraq, according to tribal leader Naji Abdullah. He told al-Araby al-Jadeed that the budget, which has a projected $250 million surplus, is part of a development program for the territory the group has captured.
Also known as the Islamic State, the jihadist group has sought to establish a country on the territory of Iraq and Syria, and implement strict Islamic law. Its actions, which include mass beheadings and targeting of Christians and other religious minorities, have been condemned throughout the world. more >>
The World Health Organization is investigating reports that ISIS militants have contracted the deadly Ebola virus and are seeking help at a hospital in Mosul in Iraq. The virus, which has claimed thousands of lives in West Africa, is believed to have been brought to the city by jihadists from several different countries.
WHO spokesman Christy Feig confirmed that the health agency is reaching out to ISIS officials in the region to gather more information, The Daily Mail noted on Friday. Feig said that the Iraqi government hasn't yet responded to the news of possible Ebola cases in the country.
An unconfirmed number of jihadists apparently sought treatment at the hospital in Mosul, which was captured by ISIS earlier this year. Local newspaper al Sabaah has claimed that the virus was brought to Mosul by terrorists arriving from several countries in Africa. more >>
A 49-year-old American living in Costa Rica decided to heed God's call on his life and join the fight against ISIS.
Dean Parker, formerly from Florida, joined the Lions of Rojava, a group of fighters linked with the Kurdish People's Protection Unit in October. He felt called to action after seeing ISIS persecute the Yazidi people and trap them on a mountainside.
"Women and children rushed in and started piling into the chopper," Parker told Mail Online. "The cameraman filmed this one mother holding her 10- or 11-year-old son. He was dressed for school it seemed. She was crying, holding him. He was looking at the camera and that look of sheer terror in his eyes overwhelmed me with emotions I have never felt before. I actually became physically ill and crying uncontrollably." more >>
An Iraqi man who claims to be one of the 50,000 "ghost soldiers" on the Iraqi military's payroll, revealed over the weekend that corrupt superior officers within the Iraqi military are allowing soldiers, who have failed to report for duty, to stay on the military's payroll in exchange for a portion of their salary.
Thirty-eight-year-old Mazin, who works full time as a cab driver in Baghdad while collecting a monthly salary from the Iraqi army, said in an interview with NBC News that he made an agreement with an Iraqi superior officer in 2009 to give up half of his own monthly salary (about $950) to the superior officer in exchange for not having to report for duty anymore and still remaining on the payroll.
"The officer used to call me every month to receive my salary and give him his share," Mazin said. "He used to call me whenever we needed, for example, to renew our identification cards." more >>
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A New York City pastor and Texas-based Yazidi activist who flew to Iraq the week before Christmas to assess the humanitarian needs of displaced Yazidis persecuted by the Islamic State have called the present situation of more than 300,000 refugees "genocidal" and "insane."
William Devlin and Murad Ismael connected via phone with a radio show in New York City live from Iraq just days before Christmas to describe the living conditions of distraught Yazidis staying at several refugee camps in Dohak in Kurdistan, in northern Iraq. more >>
Although hundreds of thousands of refugees are displaced from their homes in Iraq and their futures remain uncertain due to the siege of the Islamic State, The Vicar of Baghdad wrote in an online Christmas statement that Christian refugees in Iraq have not been deterred from exhibiting joy in the only thing they have left: the unconditional of Jesus.
Writing from his new temporary home in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ, the Rev. Canon Andrew White, the only Anglican pastor in Iraq, said that even though ISIS has left these displaced Christian refugees with no homes, no clothes and, in some cases, no families, their faith remains strong in the "refugee child," Jesus.
"All you have got left is the love of that refugee child. That to us in the Middle East is all that matters this Christmas," White explained. more >>