Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, the executive producers behind the Emmy-nominated "The Bible" series, are raising $25 million to help Christians displaced or affected by the ISIS terror group in Iraq, Syria and neighboring countries before the winter arrives.
"The Cradle of Christianity Fund" will be distributed through an established network of traditional church communities, according to the Institute for Global Engagement, through which the Hollywood couple have launched the initiative.
"This initial gift will be used exclusively to rescue those in immediate need while simultaneously beginning a process of restoration and healing through the documentation of both the atrocities inflicted upon their communities, and the stories of hope and courage found amidst such unspeakable tragedy," states the Fund's page on the Institute's website. more >>
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has announced that an inquiry is being set up into the high number of civilian deaths that occurred during the Israel-Hamas conflict over Gaza earlier this year. The inquiry will also investigate reports of Palestinian militants storing weapons at U.N. facilities.
"I look forward to a thorough investigation by the Israel Defense Forces of this and other incidents in which U.N. facilities sustained hits and many innocent people were killed," Ban said at the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday, according to BBC News.
"I am planning to move forward with an independent board of inquiry to look into the most serious of those cases, as well as instances in which weaponry was found on U.N. premises." more >>
A 15-year-old Islamic State fighter imprisoned by Kurdish forces in northern Syria explained how he was threatened into joining ISIS' military ranks and alleges that ISIS leaders are often drugging their fighters before battle so that the militants would be more likely to commit suicide bomb attacks.
In a CBS report Tuesday, correspondent Holly Williams interviewed various prisoners accused of fighting for ISIS in the basement of the Kurdish-operated prison in northern Syria. Fifteen-year-old Kareem Mufleh told Williams of how he was forced into becoming an ISIS fighter and also highlighted the forceful nature behind their suicide tactics and detailed how the militants kill women for showing too much skin.
While the other men that Williams interviewed in the basement of the Syrian prison ultimately deny that they fought with ISIS, Mufleh, who was captured by Kurdish forces over nine months ago after a firefight, did not hide the fact that he had joined the ISIS ranks. However, it was not by choice. more >>
The Islamic State terror group is raking in an estimated $800 million per year, or $2 million per day, in crude oil sales which is produced in oil regions the group captured in the past year in Iraq and Syria, a U.S.-based global analytics group reported on Monday.
A report by IHS, a leading source in global information and analytics, found that ISIS is making twice as much off of their oil production per day than the $1 million per day figure that U.S. lawmakers were previously told when the Deputy Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Nicholas Rasmussen testified before Congress in September.
The IHS report stated that the Islamic State generates the income needed to continue funding its deadly jihadist movement through the production of over 50,000 barrels of crude oil per day, which is sold to black market traders. The report also added that ISIS is only producing "a fraction" of the total oil capacity of the oil regions it controls. more >>
Two Christian pastors and a deacon have each been given six-year sentences by an Iranian court. A persecution watchdog group has expressed concern over the development, noting that the prisons are isolated and will force the men's families to travel great distances to see them.
"We are deeply concerned by the six-year sentences given to pastors [Benham] Irani and [Matthias] Haghnejad and deacon Silas Rabbani, and the fact that they will serve these sentences so far from their families and home towns," said Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Operating Officer Andy Dipper.
"We are particularly appalled by the extra six years given to pastor Irani, who has already endured ill-treatment whilst in prison and now faces nearly a decade in prison on trumped-up charges. We urge the Iranian government to release without delay every person who is imprisoned for their faith. Their incarceration contravenes international covenants guaranteeing freedom of religion or belief, to which Iran is party." more >>
Canon Andrew White, the Anglican pastor who's known as the Vicar of Baghdad, says that after U.S. troops left Iraq in 2011, the country has been facing "total devastation," even worse than under Saddam Hussein. White also described what Christians are facing as one of the worst persecutions in history.
"It was total devastation, it was the most horrendous thing," White told The News Tribune in Takoma, Washington, Sunday when speaking about the persecution Christians have endured in Iraq since the U.S. pulled its troops out in 2011. "The terrible thing that the Americans have to realize is that all of their intervention, everything they tried to do, has totally been wasted. Nothing has been achieved by this at all."
He continued, "Are we worse now than under Sadam? A million times worse." more >>