Recent News from ACT! for America



A 400 y/o oak, which is possibly the oldest in Syria, may also be in danger.

Radical Islam is not just a threat to people but to the dogs and cats they kill (many of which were people's pets or blind assistance dogs), the historic trees they cut down, the grave sites they destroy, the schools, churches, and religious buildings they burn down, the old books, scrolls, & artifacts they destroy, the archeological sites they tear up, and the ancient temples they blow up. They have even been discussing how to destroy the pyramids.

 


by Naharnet Newsdesk

"Jihadists cut down a 150-year-old oak tree in Atme, on Syria's border with Turkey, after they accused locals of worshiping it, a pro-jihadist source said.

"Thank God almighty, the tree... aged more than 150 years has been removed, after people were worshiping it instead of God," said the source on Thursday via his Twitter account named "our call is our jihad."

He also posted pictures of a man in a black mask using an electric saw to cut down the tree. A black al-Qaida-style flag bearing the Islamic profession of faith had been planted on top of the tree.

The jihadist sympathizer used the hashtag used by supporters of the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the tree had been cut down, adding that it stood next to an ancient shrine in Atme.

After jihadists took over the shrine and prevented people from going to pray there, prayers were held by the tree instead.

The reports came hours after ISIL took over the town of Atme in northwestern Syria's Idlib on Thursday, according to the Observatory and a local rebel source.

ISIL "have taken over Atme... They have set up checkpoints across the town," said Abu Leila, a rebel from Idlib who was angered by the capture.

He saw it as a strategic loss for mainstream opposition fighters, many of who have been at loggerheads with the jihadists.

"Atme was oxygen for the (rebel) Free Syrian Army" fighting to topple Syria's President Bashar Assad, he told Agence France Presse.

The rebels had been using Atme "as an entry point for everything from weapons to food, and as an exit point for the wounded" into Turkey's hospitals, said Abu Leila."

[source]

 
Afghan President Hamid Karzai (right) sits down with RFE/RL's Akbar Ayazi in Kabul on November 26.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai (right) sits down with RFE/RL's Akbar Ayazi in Kabul on November 26

Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he has two demands before he'll sign a Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States and that he'll approve the document as soon as those demands are met -- despite saying earlier he would wait until his country's presidential election is completed in April 2014. RFE/RL's Akbar Ayazi sat down with Karzai in Kabul for an exclusive interview to discuss the Afghan president's views.

RFE/RL: Mr. President, you called a consultative Loya Jirga to consider the Bilateral Security Agreement negotiated with the United States. Now that the Jirga has concluded, are you happy with its recommendations and have you achieved what you intended to get from it?

Hamid Karzai: The Afghans now want to conclude an agreement with the United States, and the Loya Jirga has done well in backing it. We consider this agreement to be in the interests of Afghans. But our condition is to ensure the protection of Afghan homes. The Americans should stop attacks against Afghan homes. Another condition is peace in Afghanistan. If we don’t have peace, this agreement will turn into a disaster for Afghanistan instead of a blessing.

RFE/RL: Mr. President, the Loya Jirga has recommended adding 36 new clauses to the draft security agreement. One of the clauses recommends that you sign the agreement before the end of this year. The head of the Loya Jirga [former president Sibghatullah Mojadiddi] also demanded the same from you. So are you going to add these new clauses and sign the agreement before the end of 2013?

Karzai: I have demanded an end to all American attacks against Afghan homes and the beginning of a realistic peace process. Whenever the Americans meet these two demands of mine, I am ready to sign the agreement. And when these two demands are implemented, this agreement is in Afghanistan's interests. On the issue of elections, last night the U.S. national security adviser [Susan Rice] assured me that America is not going to interfere in the elections and that it wants the elections to be conducted on time. In addition, if possible, it wants to see the elections concluded in the first round and even if it goes into a second round [they are committed to back the process.] They have assured me about this. But I will see what happens.

RFE/RL: Are you saying that Susan Rice, the U.S. national security adviser, has assured you the United States will help in holding free and fair elections?

Karzai: I talked to the U.S. national security adviser about this and I explained to her the situation during the previous presidential election. I briefed her about how America and other Western nations interfered in the previous presidential election, how they delayed the election, how they maligned the first round ballot. Keeping in view that experience, and as the president of Afghanistan today, it is my duty not to allow foreigners to either malign Afghanistan's next presidential election or stretch the process so that they can manipulate it. She assured me that this time there will be no interference in our election. So for now, I have her assurance. But I am watching them to see whether they interfere in the election or not. And I will talk about it then.

RFE/RL: In your speech during the Loya Jirga, you demanded an end to operations or attacks against Afghan homes, help with conducting free and fair presidential elections, and support for a meaningful peace process. But it has been reported that in your talks with the U.S. national security adviser, you demanded the freeing of 17 prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. Is that true? What did you demand?

Karzai: This was a demand made by the jirga. If you look at the 29th clause of their recommendations, it says that America should release all Afghan prisoners at Guantanamo Bay immediately and hand them over to Afghanistan. So if the Americans want to implement the recommendations of the Loya Jirga, and one of the clauses that the Loya Jirga has recommended is an immediate signing of the security agreement, then they cannot ignore this other clause that demands the freeing of Afghan prisoners. Such things are not acceptable.

RFE/RL: In your view, why are the Americans insisting on signing this agreement soon?

Karzai: The Americans have their own agenda and their own plans. Whatever is behind their programs or their plans is up to them. But we Afghans need to have our own plans. We showed the Americans that Afghanistan wants friendship and an alliance with them. We are not against them. But in this friendship and alliance with the United States, the Afghans want to protect Afghanistan's interests. We don't want to stand against American interests. But we want to protect our homeland. And what are our homeland's interests? Our interest is to protect the homes of the Afghans from American attacks, night raids, and the unnecessary suffering of our people so that Afghan women and children are not forced to abandon their homes at night because of fears of American bombs and helicopters. You know well that in Afghanistan during the past few years people have taken their women and children to the mountains just to protect them from American attacks at night. It is impossible to have a security agreement with America while our people are still forced to leave their homes because of the fear of American forces. So if America wants to conclude a security agreement with us, America needs to respect the security of Afghan homes and let the Afghan children, men, and women live in their homes in security.

To read more, click here.

Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty
November 26, 2013

 

The Mutaween (Sharia Police) are best known for when they prevented schoolgirls from escaping a burning school in Mecca because they were not wearing headscarves and abayas (black robes) nor were they accompanied by a male guardian. 15 girls died and 50 were injured as a result.

This is not a world we want to live in where kindness is met with sharia brutality and girls are trapped in a burning school because they don't have a head covering and a male guardian. Go to actforamerica.org/alac to sign and share our American Laws for American Courts petitions for our big 2014 ALAC push to help protect our constitutional freedoms.

 



By Felicity Morse

A man who decided to offer ‘free hugs’ in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh has been arrested by the state’s religious police.

Abdulrahman al-Khayyal went out onto the streets along with a friend carrying a placard saying ‘free hugs’, apparently inspired by a viral video of a campaign posted on YouTube earlier this week.

In that video Bandr al-Swed was filmed hugging young men, in a three minute clip that racked up over a million views in three days. 

Inspired by the cuddling campaign, 21-year-old Al-Khayyal announced on Twitter that he was going to offer free hugs in Tahliya, one of the main shopping streets.

However the two men were arrested and their ‘free hugs’ banners seized, CNN Arabic reported.

Members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice arrested the two men in Riyadh for violating local laws and engaging in “exotic practices”, Al Hayat newspaper said. They were then made to sign a pledge that they would not go out again.


Abdulrahman al-Khayyal posted a picture of him drawing the placard on his instagram account.

Despite this, al-Khayyal told The Independent that he would continue to give out free hugs and he was proud of what he had done. He said he considered it an act of charity.

The religious police in Saudi Arabia are tasked with enforcing the government’s Sharia law.

They are also known as the Mutaween and empowered to stop unrelated men and women socialising with each other, as well as any homosexual activity and prostitution. They enforce strict Islamic dress codes and dietary rules.

They have come under heavy criticism in the past, most notably in March 2002, when they prevented schoolgirls from escaping a burning school in Mecca because they were not wearing headscarves and abayas (black robes) and accompanied by a male guardian. Fifteen girls died and 50 were injured as a result.

[source]
 




“This type of nonsense is why ACT! for America’s grassroots have been diligently working at (and succeeding) passing refugee resettlement legislation at the state level. And why we are ramping up our efforts at the federal level as well. Be sure to sign up for action alert e-mails so you can learn how to most effectively take action on this and other issues.”



Several dozen suspected terrorist bombmakers, including some believed to have targeted American troops, may have mistakenly been allowed to move to the United States as war refugees, according to FBI agents investigating the remnants of roadside bombs recovered from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The discovery in 2009 of two al Qaeda-Iraq terrorists living as refugees in Bowling Green, Kentucky -- who later admitted in court that they'd attacked U.S. soldiers in Iraq -- prompted the bureau to assign hundreds of specialists to an around-the-clock effort aimed at checking its archive of 100,000 improvised explosive devices collected in the war zones, known as IEDs, for other suspected terrorists' fingerprints.

"We are currently supporting dozens of current counter-terrorism investigations like that," FBI Agent Gregory Carl, director of the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center (TEDAC), said in an ABC News interview to be broadcast tonight on ABC News' "World News with Diane Sawyer" and "Nightline".

"I wouldn't be surprised if there were many more than that," said House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul. "And these are trained terrorists in the art of bombmaking that are inside the United States; and quite frankly, from a homeland security perspective, that really concerns me."

As a result of the Kentucky case, the State Department stopped processing Iraq refugees for six months in 2011, federal officials told ABC News – even for many who had heroically helped U.S. forces as interpreters and intelligence assets. One Iraqi who had aided American troops was assassinated before his refugee application could be processed, because of the immigration delays, two U.S. officials said. In 2011, fewer than 10,000 Iraqis were resettled as refugees in the U.S., half the number from the year before, State Department statistics show.

Suspect in Kentucky Discovered to Have Insurgent Past

An intelligence tip initially led the FBI to Waad Ramadan Alwan, 32, in 2009. The Iraqi had claimed to be a refugee who faced persecution back home -- a story that shattered when the FBI found his fingerprints on a cordless phone base that U.S. soldiers dug up in a gravel pile south of Bayji, Iraq on Sept. 1, 2005. The phone base had been wired to unexploded bombs buried in a nearby road.

An ABC News investigation of the flawed U.S. refugee screening system, which was overhauled two years ago, showed that Alwan was mistakenly allowed into the U.S. and resettled in the leafy southern town of Bowling Green, Kentucky, a city of 60,000 which is home to Western Kentucky University and near the Army's Fort Knox and Fort Campbell. Alwan and another Iraqi refugee, Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 26, were resettled in Bowling Green even though both had been detained during the war by Iraqi authorities, according to federal prosecutors.

Most of the more than 70,000 Iraqi war refugees in the U.S. are law-abiding immigrants eager to start a new life in America, state and federal officials say.

But the FBI discovered that Alwan had been arrested in Kirkuk, Iraq, in 2006 and confessed on video made of his interrogation then that he was an insurgent, according to the U.S. military and FBI, which obtained the tape a year into their Kentucky probe. In 2007, Alwan went through a border crossing to Syria and his fingerprints were entered into a biometric database maintained by U.S. military intelligence in Iraq, a Directorate of National Intelligence official said. Another U.S. official insisted that fingerprints of Iraqis were routinely collected and that Alwan's fingerprint file was not associated with the insurgency.

 

"How do they get into our community?"

 

 

In 2009 Alwan applied as a refugee and was allowed to move to Bowling Green, where he quit a job he briefly held and moved into public housing on Gordon Ave., across the street from a school bus stop, and collected public assistance payouts, federal officials told ABC News.

"How do you have somebody that we now know was a known actor in terrorism overseas, how does that person get into the United States? How do they get into our community?" wondered Bowling Green Police Chief Doug Hawkins, whose department assisted the FBI.

Department of Homeland Security spokesperson Peter Boogaard said in a statement that the U.S. government "continually improves and expands its procedures for vetting immigrants, refugees and visa applicants, and today [the] vetting process considers a far broader range of information than it did in past years."

"Our procedures continue to check applicants' names and fingerprints against records of individuals known to be security threats, including the terrorist watchlist, or of law enforcement concern... These checks are vital to advancing the U.S. government's twin goal of protecting the world's most vulnerable persons while ensuring U.S. national security and public safety," the statement said.

Last year, a Department of Homeland Security senior intelligence official testified in a House hearing that Alwan and Hammadi's names and fingerprints were checked by the FBI, DHS and the Defense Department during the vetting process in 2009 and "came in clean."

After the FBI received the intelligence tip later that year, a sting operation in Kentucky was mounted to bait Alwan with a scheme hatched by an undercover operative recruited by the FBI, who offered Alwan the opportunity to ship heavy arms to al Qaeda in Iraq. The FBI wanted to know if Alwan was part of a local terror cell -- a fear that grew when he tapped a relative also living in Bowling Green, Hammadi, to help out.

The FBI secretly taped Alwan bragging to the informant that he'd built a dozen or more bombs in Iraq and used a sniper rifle to kill American soldiers in the Bayji area north of Baghdad.

"He said that he had them 'for lunch and dinner,'" recalled FBI Louisville Supervisory Special Agent Tim Beam, "meaning that he had killed them."

Alwan even sketched out IED designs, which the FBI provided to ABC News, that U.S. bomb experts had quickly determined clearly demonstrated his expertise.

 

 

'Needle in a Haystack' Fingerprint Match Found on Iraq Bomb Parts, White House Briefed

The case drew attention at the highest levels of government, FBI officials told ABC News, when TEDAC forensic investigators tasked with finding IEDs from Bayji dating back to 2005 pulled 170 case boxes and, incredibly, found several of Alwan's fingerprints on a Senao-brand remote cordless base station. A U.S. military Significant Action report on Sept. 1, 2005 said the remote-controlled trigger had been attached to "three homemade-explosive artillery rounds concealed by gravel with protruding wires."

"There were two fingerprints, developed on the top of the base station," Katie Suchma, an FBI supervisory physical scientist at TEDAC who helped locate the evidence, told ABC News at the center's IED examination lab. "The whole team was ecstatic because it was like finding a needle in a haystack."

"This was the type of bomb he's talking about when he drew those pictures," added FBI electronics expert Stephen Mallow.

Word was sent back to the FBI in Louisville.

"It was a surreal moment, it was a real game changer, so to speak, for the case," FBI agent Beam told ABC News. "Now you have solidified proof that he was involved in actual attacks against U.S. soldiers."

Worse, prosecutors later revealed at Hammadi's sentencing hearing that he and Alwan had been caught on an FBI surveillance tape talking about using a bomb to assassinate an Army captain they'd known in Bayji, who was now back home – and to possibly attack other homeland targets.

"Many things should take place and it should be huge," Hammadi told Alwan in an FBI-recorded conversation, which a prosecutor read at Hammadi's sentencing last year.

Then-FBI Director Robert Mueller briefed President Obama in early 2011 as agents and Louisville federal prosecutors weighed whether to arrest Alwan and Hammadi or continue arranging phony arms shipments to Iraq that the pair could assist with, consisting of machine guns, explosives and even Stinger missiles the FBI had secretly rendered inoperable and which never left the U.S.

But agents soon determined there were no other co-conspirators. An FBI SWAT team collared the terrorists in a truck south of Bowling Green in late May 2011, only weeks after al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan and Obama had visited nearby Fort Campbell to thank the SEALs and Army Nightstalker pilots for their successful mission. The Kentucky al Qaeda case drew little attention as the nation celebrated Bin Laden's death.

 

 

Suspects Linked to Attack That Killed 4 US Soldiers

Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers who had served in Bayji in 2005 saw news reports about the two arrests, and Army Staff Sgt. Joshua Hedetniemi called the FBI to alert them to an Aug. 9, 2005, IED attack that killed four of their troopers in a humvee patrolling south of the town. The U.S. attorney's office in Louisville eventually placed the surviving soldiers in its victim notification system for the case, even though it couldn't be conclusively proven that Alwan and Hammadi had killed the Guardsmen.

The four Pennsylvania soldiers killed that day were Pfc. Nathaniel DeTample, 19, Spec. Gennaro Pellegrini, 31, Spec. Francis J. Straub Jr., 24, and Spec. John Kulick, 35.

"It was a somber moment for the platoon, we had a great deal of love and respect for those guys and it hit us pretty hard," Hedetniemi said in an interview in the Guard's armory near Philadelphia. "I think that these two individuals are innately evil to be able to act as a terrorist and attack and kill American soldiers, then have the balls to come over to the United States and try to do the same exact thing here in our homeland."

Confronted with all the evidence against them, Alwan and Hammadi agreed to plead guilty to supporting terrorism and admitted their al Qaeda-Iraq past. Alwan cooperated and received 40 years, while Hammadi received a life term which he is appealing. A hearing for Hammadi's appeal took place Tuesday in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Ohio.

"We need to take this as a case study and draw the right lessons from it, and not just high-five over this," said retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero, who headed the military's Joint IED Defeat Organization until last May. "How did a person who we detained in Iraq -- linked to an IED attack, we had his fingerprints in our government system -- how did he walk into America in 2009?"

Barbero is credited with leveraging the Kentucky case to help the FBI get funding to create a new state of the art fingerprint lab focused solely on its IED repository in a huge warehouse outside Washington. The new FBI lab assists counterterrorism investigations of suspected bombmakers and IED emplacers and looks for latent prints on 100,000 IED remnants collected over the past decade by the military and stored in the vast TEDAC warehouse.

The only man in the Humvee to survive the 2005 IED bombing in Bayji, Daniel South, who is now an Army Black Hawk helicopter pilot in Texas, said he was stunned to learn al Qaeda-Iraq insurgents were living in Kentucky -- but he's glad they were finally brought to justice for attacking U.S. troops in Iraq.

"I kind of wish that we had smoked [Alwan] when it happened, but we didn't have that opportunity so I guess this is second best," South told ABC News.

[source]

 

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