A 25-year-old British mother is believed to have traveled to Syria, along with her 1-year-old baby son, to join Islamic State extremists in their Syrian stronghold of Raqqa, according to her family.
The father of Tareena Shakil, a young British mother who resided in Birmingham and holds a psychology degree, told the British news source The Sun that he's concerned for his baby grandson's safety after he learned that his daughter and her 14-month-old son have entered the Islamic State caliphate in Syria and don't plan on returning home.
After four months of posting extremist messages on a Facebook account Shakil had created under an Islamic pseudonym, Shakil's family said that she lied when she told them that she and her son, Zaheem, were going on a vacation to Spain. They learned that Spain was not her intended destination when Shakil sent messages back home to the family saying that she and Zaheem had instead crossed Turkey's porous border into Syria and that they are now in the ISIS Syrian stronghold of Raqqa. more >>
As Islamic State extremists continue their reign of terror through Iraq and Syria, the chaos, violence and persecution forced upon the thousands of people in the region has caused 90 percent of Orthodox Christians in Iraq to flee the sanctity of their homes, according to the Greek Orthodox Bishop for Baghdad, Ghattas Hazim.
Hazim, who is also the Greek Orthodox Bishop of Kuwait and other surrounding areas, said in a recent interview with Al Monitor that he fears for the future of the Orthodox Christian presence in Iraq, Syria, and the whole Mesopotamia region. Citing unspecified statistics, Hazim said that 90 percent of Iraqi Orthodox Christians have been displaced from their homes. He added that only 30 of 600 Orthodox families remain in Baghdad as ISIS' quest to conquer the city continues.
In Mosul, the Islamic State's stronghold in Iraq in the northern Nineveh province, Hazim said only 10 Orthodox families remain, although it's believed that the only Christians left in Mosul are those who could not afford to, or physically, flee. more >>
The American Center for Law and Justice has started a petition asking the U.S. government to stop sending foreign aid to Pakistan, the country that recently upheld the death sentence for Christian mother Asia Bibi for blasphemy. Figures have shown that the U.S. sent close to $8 billion to Pakistan in the past five years while Bibi has been imprisoned.
"We must stop sending billions of our taxpayer dollars to nations that persecute Christians. It's that simple. Not one more dime for persecution. Cut off American foreign aid to any country that persecutes Christians," reads the petition, which has close to 40,000 signatures as of Tuesday morning and is addressed to Congress and President Barack Obama.
"As a wave of persecution sweeps across the Middle East — and Christians flee for their lives — it's time for the money to stop," it adds. "Already there is growing support for basic human rights and basic common sense on Capitol Hill." more >>
Talks between Nigeria and Jihadist group Boko Haram to release more than 200 kidnapped girls have not been jeopardized by a surge in violence, the West African nation's foreign minister said today.
The Islamic militant group agreed to a ceasefire 10 days ago and release talks are said to be ongoing, Aminu Wali confirmed. Despite ongoing negotiations, the terrorist group continues to wreak havoc in Northeastern Nigeria which has raised doubts about the likelihood of a release.
"There are still negotiations going on and we expect a lot of progress to be made. Soon we will announce exactly where we are," Wali told journalists after meeting French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. more >>
An Iranian woman hanged for murdering her alleged rapist left behind a heartbreaking message for her mother in which she asserts that "death is not the end of life" and that she trusts God with her future, even if it meant death by the Iranian court.
"Let's see what God wants," Reyhaneh Jabbari said in a voicemail to her mother several months ago. The Iranian woman was charged with the murder of her accused rapist and in jail at the time she left the voicemail—her fate had not yet been decided, but she knew that she could easily be found guilty and hanged.
"The world did not love us," she said. "It did not want my fate. And now I am giving in to it and embrace the death. Because in the court of God I will charge the inspectors, I will charge inspector Shamlou, I will charge judge, and the judges of country's Supreme Court that beat me up when I was awake and did not refrain from harassing me … I will charge Qassem Shabani and all those that out of ignorance or with their lies wronged me and trampled on my rights and didn't pay heed to the fact that sometimes what appears as reality is different from it." more >>
U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, who have been beheaded by the Islamic State militants, were subjected to severe physical torture and may have converted to Islam under duress, according to their freed cellmates.
Foley and at least 23 other western hostages from 12 countries were routinely beaten, subjected to waterboarding and starved for months, according to The New York Times, which interviewed five former hostages, local witnesses, relatives and colleagues of the captives, and a tight circle of advisers who made trips to the region to try to win their release.
The 23 prisoners were eventually divided into two groups. "The three American men and the three British hostages were singled out for the worst abuse, both because of the militants' grievances against their countries and because their governments would not negotiate, according to several people with intimate knowledge of the events." more >>