KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused Washington Sunday of withholding military supplies to press him to sign a bilateral security deal that will shape the U.S. military presence after most foreign troops leave in 2014.Washington, which swiftly denied the assertion, has said that unless the pact is signed promptly, it could pull out most of its troops, as it did in Iraq two years ago.
“The cutting of fuel supplies and support services to the Afghan army and police is being used as a means of pressure to ensure Afghanistan . . . signs the Bilateral Security Agreement,” a statement from Karzai’s palace said.
Karzai said last week he might refuse to sign the deal until after Afghanistan’s presidential election in April 2014.
U.S. officials said logistical problems in Pakistan might have given rise to the alleged delays in deliveries.
“There has been no stoppage in the delivery of requested fuel and we continue to process all orders as soon as they are received,” the NATO-led force in Afghanistan said in a statement.
Karzai’s relationship with the United States has worsened since he invited thousands of elders to vote on the security deal last week and then ignored their advice, which was to sign it promptly.
Even after the pact’s terms were settled after about a year of wrangling, Karzai has since added conditions that include the release of all Afghan prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and an end to military operations involving Afghan homes.
On Thursday Karzai denounced his Western allies for bombing an Afghan home and killing a child, an accusation the NATO-led force has promised to investigate.
If the bilateral pact is not signed, Western aid running to billions of dollars will be in jeopardy and confidence in the fragile economy could collapse amid fears that Afghanistan will slip back into ethnic fighting or civil war.
Diplomats said Karzai may have overplayed his hand, raising the risk of a complete U.S. withdrawal from a country where Western troops have fought Taliban militants for the past 12 years. Karzai’s domestic critics say he is playing a dangerous game with Afghanistan’s future security.
The decade-long security deal would mandate the size and shape of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan once the NATO combat mission ends next year. Without it, the United States would be unable to keep troops in Afghanistan, and most other nations would be likely to withdraw theirs too.
ISLAMABAD — A political party opposed to U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan revealed Wednesday what it said was the name of the top CIA spy in the country and called for him and the head of the agency to be tried for a recent missile strike.
CIA spokesman Dean Boyd would not confirm the Islamabad station chief’s name and declined to immediately comment. The Associated Press is not publishing the name given by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party because it could not verify its authenticity.
It was the second time in recent years that Pakistanis opposed to drone strikes targeting Islamic militants have claimed to have revealed the identity of the top CIA spy in the country.The missile attacks have become an increasing source of tension between the United States and Pakistan, but Washington has shown no willingness to stop them.
Shireen Mazari, the information secretary for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, called for the current station chief and CIA director John Brennan to be tried for murder and waging war against Pakistan in connection with a drone strike in northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Nov. 21.She claimed the station chief did not enjoy diplomatic immunity.
Mazari said in a news conference that the strike on an Islamic seminary in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Hangu district “killed and injured a large number of those present, including children.”
But Pakistani intelligence officials say the attack killed five Afghan militants, one of whom was a deputy to the leader of one of the most dangerous groups fighting American troops in Afghanistan. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to journalists.
The Hangu district police chief, Iftikhar Ahmad, said at the time that no one was seriously wounded in the attack.
The strike was one of the first to take place outside of Pakistan’s remote tribal region and outraged members of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which controls the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.
The party is led by cricket star Imran Khan, who has been an especially vocal critic of drone strikes. He and other Pakistani officials publicly criticize the strikes as a violation of the country’s sovereignty, although the government secretly supported some past attacks.They also say the strikes kill too many civilians.
Human rights organizations say the attacks have killed hundreds of civilians. The United States rarely discusses the covert CIA drone program in Pakistan, but officials have insisted the civilian casualty figures are much lower.
Khan’s party pledged on Saturday to block trucks carrying NATO troop supplies to and from Afghanistan until the United States stopped drone attacks.Protesters stopped trucks and roughed up drivers before the police intervened to stop them. The NATO supply trucks remain stuck though because transportation officials are still worried about what protesters will do.
The CIA pulled its top spy out of Pakistan in December 2010 after a Pakistani lawsuit accused him of killing civilians in drone strikes. The lawsuit listed a name lawyers said was the station chief, but the AP learned at the time it was not correct. Nevertheless, the CIA pulled out of the country after militants threatened to kill him.
The CIA’s work is unusually difficult in Pakistan, one of the United States’ most important and at times frustrating counterterrorism allies.
The station chief in Islamabad operates as a secret general in the U.S. war against terrorism.He runs the Predator drone program targeting terrorists, handles some of the CIA’s most urgent and sensitive tips, and collaborates closely with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
The CIA station chief who ran operations in Pakistan during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden left his post in 2011 due to illness, U.S. and Pakistani officials say.American officials said at the time that the station chief clashed with the U.S. ambassador in Pakistan, who objected to CIA drone strikes during diplomatic negotiations.
Reactions from the Muslim majority to those protests were mixed, which might signify how Christians are, on the whole, perceived in Pakistani society. In the light of U.K. Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi’s speech in Washington, D.C., 10 days ago, World Watch Monitor has looked back over the period since the Peshawar bombs. A climate of much sympathy has nevertheless been punctured by several charges of blasphemy against Christians for actions in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.
A large number of Muslims expressed sympathy with the beleaguered Christian community (estimated at about 2 percent of the population). For example, Dr. Taimur Rehman, an assistant professor of political science at Lahore University of Management Sciences, formed a human chain outside a Catholic church in Lahore to condemn the Peshawar blasts and to express solidarity with the Christian community. In several areas, Muslims joined Christians in their protests, while in others (Iqbal Town in Rawalpindi, Yahounabad in Lahore, and Michael Town in Karachi) protests were met with ridicule and strong resistance.
However, despite the sympathetic majority, four blasphemy cases against Christians were registered in less than a month, four times higher than the monthly average recorded over the last two years.
In all these blasphemy charge cases, no direct evidence was available against those accused.
However, some suspect the rhetoric around the church bombing influenced a few disaffected Pakistanis, who, seeing Christians as suitable targets, took up blasphemy charges against them.
“The Christians are the enemies of Islam and Pakistan,” says a representative from Jundul Hafsa, a subsidiary of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, which claimed responsibility for the Peshawar attack. ”Therefore, we have targeted them, and we will continue our attacks on non-Muslims on Pakistani land.”
The group says the church attacks were meant to avenge “U.S. drone strikes on the Taliban and al-Qaida operatives in the Pakistani tribal belt.”
“We carried out the suicide bombings at Peshawar church and will continue to strike foreigners and non-Muslims until the American drone attacks stop,” Ahmadullah Marwat, a spokesman for the group, told a foreign news agency by phone.
Christians across the country held street protests against their lack of protection in wake of the Peshawar bombing.
The city of Hyderabad, 750 miles south of Peshawar, came to a halt after Christians held protest rallies in virtually every corner of the city. However, some anti-rally protesters got in amongst the Christians and started attacking passersby and buildings such as gas stations, says Catholic priest Fr. Samson Shukardin.
“The situation got tense, but it still remained calm because the Muslims were equally saddened by the attacks,” he says.
Back in the north, tensions remain between the Malik and Pashtoon clans and the Christians of Iqbal Town, Rawalpindi. When the Christians there held a protest rally on Sept. 23, about two dozen men pelted them with stones.
Saleem Masih, a resident of Iqbal Town, says that three days after the protest, a Muslim desecrated a copy of the Quran but Christians were blamed. For the following few nights, he says more than 100 armed Christians guarded the Christian area in Iqbal Town.
On Oct. 29, at about 7 p.m., worship was taking place in the Pentecostal Saints Church of Pakistan in Iqbal Town when about five young Pashtoon men thumped the main gate, shouting, “Close this den of prostitution.” When the congregants came out, the young men fled the scene.
A similar episode unfolded on Nov. 2 in Iqbal Town, where a Christian convention was taking place. A group of young men again tried to disrupt the gathering.
“One of them said that they are the lords of this area and nothing can take place without their permission,” Riaz Masih told World Watch Monitor.
After this, a scuffle broke out between the Christian security men and the attackers.
In Lahore, when Christians from the Christian colony of Yahounabad were holding a rally, a Muslim vegetable vendor, Muhammad Akbar, known as Billa, jeered at them. He shouted at protesters that it didn’t matter that a “few Christians had died in the [Peshawar] blast.” He said these same Christians had also come out to protest when Joseph Colony was set on fire.
“He even went on to ridicule the poor Christian community by saying that Christian women were willing to do anything for the sake of two kilograms of potatoes, so what right did they have to protest,” Pakistan People’s Party Minority Wing Leader Napoleon Qayyum told World Watch Monitor.
Violence then broke out between the Christians and Billa, during which his shop was damaged. Since then, local Christians have boycotted Billa’s vegetable stall.
In Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan, the Christians of Michael Town had to flee their homes following a rally on Sept. 23, after they were accused of committing blasphemy by pelting the sign of a mosque with stones.
A journalist working for a local news channel who reached the site when the attack was taking place told World Watch Monitor that “a large number of attackers wearing dark brown and green turbans” told him a text message had been circulated saying the Christians had demolished a mosque, so they had come to avenge the “blasphemous act.”
Shahnawaz Khan, a U.K.-based Pakistani journalist, told World Watch Monitor that brown and green turbans represent membership of the Sunni Tehreek (ST), or Sunni Movement.
The ST is defined as an ultra-radical movement, distinct from Sufi and Wahhabi schools of thought but anti-Christian and also against puritan movements within Islam.
“After repeatedly coming under attack from puritan Islamist terror groups, the movement itself has taken up arms,” Khan told World Watch Monitor while referring to his report on the ST published in the Wall Street Journal. “No other force in Pakistan so jealously guards the blasphemy laws as does the ST.”
Khan added that the ST’s taking up arms, zeal for the blasphemy laws, anti-Christian stance and turbaned appearance are all indications that they are the most likely group to have attacked Michael Town.
Although the Pakistani police initially tried to strike a compromise between the Christians and Muslims in Karachi, in the end they registered two criminal cases against the Christians. The first case was registered against three men (Yasir, Harry and Waqas Masih) for allegedly murdering a man who was part of the Muslim mob and who died in the stampede.
The second case was lodged against Ubert, Ilyas and Babar Masih under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. No criminal case for the rampage and arson carried out by the Muslim mob was registered, primarily because the Christians feared a backlash.
About 300 Christian families had to flee their homes in the wake of the blasphemy accusation. They returned after two weeks, following mediation by the Sindh government.
But the legal cases are still pending, and these Christians will face trial.
Increase in Blasphemy Cases
Apart from the blasphemy case registered against the residents of Michael Town, three blasphemy cases were also registered against individuals.
The most recent blasphemy case registered against three Christian brothers is the most extreme.
Tariq, Waris and Munawar Masih make fireworks in the Christian community in the village of Thatha Faqir Ullah, Gujranwala.
On Oct. 27, one of their friends, Khurram Shehzad, came to them and asked for fireworks for a wedding. According to the police report lodged the same day, only one of the five fireworks went off.
“When the fireworks that did not go off were ripped apart, pages of the Quran were found [inside],” states the report.
Farukh Tanveer Chaudhry from the Pakistan Minorities Alliance says a mob then went to the brothers’ shop and beat them up. He says some Christians intervened by extracting an apology from the brothers, who told them they did not know about the contents of the fireworks and were not intending to insult Islam.
“The family whose wedding it was stopped pushing the matter any further after the apology, but Shehzad and a local cleric, Hafiz Muhammad Raza Shirazi, still insisted a criminal case be lodged against Tariq,” Chaudhry says.
After the registration of the case, Tariq Masih fled the area and has been hiding ever since. Meanwhile, the police have detained his two brothers, who were not mentioned in the police report.
In a similar case in Lahore, Adnan Masih went into hiding after a case of blasphemy was registered against him on Oct. 8.
The complainant, Abid Mehmood, says he used to work in the Diamond Glass shop, where he met Adnan Masih. He says that on Oct. 7, Masih was reading I Asked the Bible Why the Qurans Were Set on Fire, written by Maulana Ameer Hamza, the central leader of Jamat-ud-Dawa, a political arm of Lashkar-e-Taiba, one of the largest and most active pure jihadi organizations in South Asia, mainly operating from Pakistan.
Mehmood alleged, “When the next day, Tuesday, Oct. 8, I opened the book, I saw Pastor Adnan Masih had marked several pages, while on some other pages abusive words had been used against the prophet of Islam.”
Other reports claim Masih had marked the pages with biblical references that refuted claims made in the book.
Aneeqa Maria, director of the Voice Society (representing Masih in court), says Mehmood distorted the facts in his report and that before the alleged incident, Mehmood and Masih had exchanged religious views.
After Adnan Masih fled, the police detained his brother, mother, aunt and uncle to pressure him to return. On Nov. 6, he returned to ensure the release of his family, which happened the next day.
The police then brought Masih to court on Nov. 9, though they are legally bound to present a suspect within 24 hours. His lawyer says the police feared a mob attack, which is why they delayed. However, she says the police tortured him during this period to extract a confession from him.
“The day he was arrested, after ruthlessly beating him, a deputy superintendent of police pushed the barrel of a pistol in Adnan’s mouth and told him that he would count to three and if he didn’t tell whether he had written on the book or not, then he would press the trigger,” she says. “At another point, the police brought him out onto the road at night and told him to flee, which he didn’t.”
She says that if Masih had fled, the police could have shot him from behind and later claimed he was trying to escape.
The Christians in the local area have been concerned about a backlash since Masih’s blasphemy charge, due to the input in the case of Jamat-ud-Dawa. Although Masih is in prison awaiting trial now, many still fear for his safety.
The third blasphemy case was registered against Asif Parvaiz in Lahore on Sept. 25, only three days after the Peshawar blast.
According to the police report lodged by Saeed Ahmed Khokhar, he received a text message that insulted Islam, the Quran, Muslims and the Prophet Muhammad. The case was registered under the Telegraph Act 1985 and Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
Parvaiz’s brother Wasim told World Watch Monitor his brother had lost his cell phone in August. He added that some of his brother’s friends had told him they received some text messages that were insulting Islam, after which the network provider was asked to stop outgoing messages from the lost SIM.
The treatment of minority Christians in Pakistan has come under the international spotlight recently. The most high-ranking Muslim in the U.K. government, Baroness Warsi (born in England to Pakistani immigrants), spoke about the difficult climate for Christians in a visit to Washington on Nov. 15.
“It is wrong to look at minorities in [Muslim-majority countries] as outsiders. We will have to stress that these communities are an intrinsic part of these countries and share their belonging [to these countries],” she said. “What we are seeing, sadly, is a sense of collective punishment, which is meted out by local groups—sometimes states, sometimes extremists. [Christians are] seen as legitimate targets for what the [local groups] perceive as actions of their core religions, and this concept of collective punishment, about them being seen as agents of maybe the West or other places of the world or agents of regimes is wrong, and therefore we need to speak out and raise this with the countries where this is happening.”
Shakil Afridi, hailed as a hero by U.S. officials, was arrested after U.S. soldiers killed bin Laden in May 2011 in a secret raid that outraged Pakistan and plunged relations between the strategic partners to a new low.
Pakistan arrested Afridi and sentenced him last year to 33 years in jail for membership of militant group Lashkar-e-Islam, an accusation he denies.
But in August, Pakistan overturned his conviction, citing procedural errors and ordering a retrial.
Friday’s murder charge, relating to the death of a patient eight years ago, dims Afridi’s chances of going free and could further sour ties with the United States.
It centers on the death of Suleman Afridi, at a hospital in Pakistan’s rugged Khyber Agency region in 2005, and was brought by the man’s mother, a local official told Reuters.
“A woman blamed Afridi for the death of her son,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “She stated that he operated on her son at a hospital in Khyber Agency even though he was not a surgeon, and that caused (her son’s) death.”
No further details of the case were immediately available. Afridi is not a relative of the doctor, despite the shared surname.
The Khyber Agency, on the border with Afghanistan, is part of the semiautonomous areas where tribal law holds sway instead of Pakistan’s judicial system, and the government is represented instead by a political agent.
Afridi’s lawyer, Samiullah Afridi, also no relative, said Khyber officials had informed him about the murder charge on Friday morning.
Pakistan accused the doctor of running a fake vaccination campaign in which he collected DNA samples to help the CIA track down bin Laden.
Afridi is a last name shared by members of the Pashtun tribe of that name.
Hakimullah Mehsud has been killed one day before Pakistani officials say they were scheduled to send a three-member team to start peace negotiations with the Taliban.
Pakistan’s interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar, told a local TV news channel, Geo, that the drone strike was an attempt to “sabotage” Pakistan’s peace talks with Taliban.
But many believe Mehsud’s death will leave the field open for groups that are known to have publicly favoured a rapprochement with Pakistan.
One of these groups is headed by Khan Said Sajna, the successor of Waliur Rehman, a militant commander who favoured talks with Islamabad and once contested for the leadership of the Pakistani Taliban (TTP). Rehman was killed in a drone strike in May.
Mr Sajna is one of those now tipped to succeed Mehsud as the new leader of the Pakistani Taliban.
Pakistan’s government has issued a statement strongly condemning the drone attack, saying such strikes were a “violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
Friday’s strike targeted Mehsud’s vehicle in the Dande Darpakhel, some 5km (3miles) north of the region’s main town, Miranshah.
A senior US intelligence official told the Associated Press that the US received positive confirmation on Friday morning that he had been killed.
Hakimullah Mehsud had come to prominence in 2007 as a commander under the militant group’s founder Baitullah Mehsud, with the capture of 300 Pakistani soldiers adding to his prestige among the militants.
In January 2010 he gained further notoriety when he appeared in a video alongside a Jordanian who is said to have blown himself up, killing seven CIA agents in Afghanistan to avenge Baitullah Mehsud’s death.
Hakimullah Mehsud had a $5m FBI bounty on his head and was thought to be responsible for the deaths of thousands of people.
Mehsud became leader of the Pakistani Taliban in 2009, aged 30, after his predecessor Baitullah Mehsud died in a US drone strike at his father-in-law’s residence in South Waziristan.
The strike against Baitullah Mehsud reportedly came after repeated complaints by Pakistani officials that the Americans were not hitting militant groups who attacked targets in Pakistan.
Hakimullah Mehsud spoke exclusively to the BBC in a recent interview
His second-in-command, Waliur Rehman, died in a drone strike in May.
The attack targeting him comes on the same day that the Pakistani government announced it was about to send a delegation to North Waziristan to try to get peace negotiations with the Taliban under way.
Pakistani Prime MinisterNawaz Sharif had pledged to talk with the Taliban to try to end its campaign of violence, which has left thousands dead in bombings and shootings across the country.
In a rare interview with the BBC two weeks ago, Mehsud said he was open to “serious talks” with the government but said he had not yet been approached.
Mehsud denied carrying out recent deadly attacks in public places, saying his targets were “America and its friends”.
He had loose control over more than 30 militant groups in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
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In 2012, terrorism claimed the lives of 15,500 people during 8,500 deadly attacks, according to START, which classified 11 incidents in the United States that took seven lives, six of them in a shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis.
Eight U.S. civilians died in attacks in Afghanistan.
International terrorism looks much different than it did in decades past. In the 1970s, most terrorist attacks occurred in Western Europe, and guns were the predominant weapon. Terrorism moved to Latin America in the 1980s. By the 1990s, attacks — mostly bombings and explosions — began steadily rising in South Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East, a trend that continues, according to CNN.
The Obama administration hoped that the May 2, 2011, operation that killed bin Laden would curtail militant-Islamic terrorist attacks, but the opposite has been the case.
Al-Qaida and similar groups are retooling their tactics with the hope of mitigating the slaying of Muslim civilians, according to Fox News.
During the September siege at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, members of al-Shabab quizzed those inside on Quran scripture, asking the petrified victims to recite specific verses or name the Prophet Muhammad’s relatives, in an attempt to identify — and spare — Muslims.
Sixty-seven people died in that attack.
Eighty-five countries saw terror attacks in 2012, but more than half of those happened in just three — Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Deadliest Terrorist Groups:
• Taliban (Afghanistan)
• Boko Haram (Nigeria)
• Al-Qaida (Iraq)
• Communist Party of India-Maoist (India)
• Al-Shabab (Somalia)
• Al-Qaida (Arabian Peninsula)
• Taliban (Pakistan)
Christians worldwide are paying a heavy price for following Christ.
North Korea tops the country list each year as the worst persecutor of Christians. If discovered, North Korea believers are arrested, tortured, and killed for their faith.
Thirty-three-year-old Kim Eun Jin is among the fewChristians who have escaped the country to tell about their experience.
“We met every Saturday evening. My family gathered in the back room of our small apartment. We had to be very quiet,” Jin recalled.
“We whispered when we prayed, sang songs or read the Bible. We often covered our heads to muffle the noise,” he said.
But soon the authorities discovered that her father was a secret believer.
“My father was a tailor in town and the police suspected something was going on. We believe they planted listening devices in his shop and on his clothes,” Jin said.
In 1994 police raided the family’s secret house church. They arrested Kim’s father and her uncle. Both men probably ended up in one of the six labor camps dotting North Korea.
Eric Foley, CEO of Seoul USA, a mission group helping North Korean Christians, said if believers are released from prison they face additional hardships.
“That becomes the hardest time in their Christian life because they are back in the grind of life and not only that, they are tracked, they are traced, their relatives are watched, their phone calls are monitored,” Foley said.
Meanwhile, far from North Korea in the Islamic world of Pakistan, Christians are denied the right to free speech. They even face imprisonment or possible death if they say something deemed offensive about Muhammad or Islam.
“The whole Christian community can pray for Pakistan and if you want to step forward and do something concrete, you can uplift the Christian community here in Pakistan,” Jave Rauf, a Pakistani Christian, said.
Many Christians during the past three decades have been falsely accused and imprisoned on charges of blasphemy.
Pakistan’s blasphemy law contains three main sections: blasphemy against Islam, blasphemy against the Muslim Holy book—the Quran, and blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad.
The maximum sentence for those found guilty of blaspheming the Quran is life imprisonment.
The maximum penalty for those convicted of violating blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad is death.
No Christian has actually been executed for blaspheming Muhammad, but many like a woman named Asia Bibi have wasted away for years in prison, waiting for their cases to reach a higher court.
That’s when they are usually thrown out for lack of evidence.
Bibi is a Christian mother who has been imprisoned now for more than four years. She’s confined to a small 8-by-10 prison cell near the Pakistan city of Faisalabad where she awaits possible death.
Bibi was arrested in June 2009 after an argument with her Muslim co-workers who accused her of insulting the prophet Mohammed. A local judge found Bibi guilty and sentenced her to death by hanging. Her case is still on appeal.
Those who speak out against the blasphemy pay a heavy price. Shahbaz Bhati was a Christian and an official in the Pakistan government.
He called for Bibi’s release and the repeal of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
“I believe in Jesus Christ who has given His own life for us. I know what is the meaning of the cross and I’m following the cross and I am ready to die for a cause,” Bhatti said.
Bhati was eventually killed for his efforts. As he drove to work, radicals shot him to death in his car.
There is also a tide of Islamic extremism spreading across Africa. Somalia is one of the most deadly places for Christians.
The al-Shabab terror group wants to imposeShariah law on the Somali people. Its goal is to rid the country of all Christians. Muslim converts to Christianity are killed.
In September 2008, an al-Shahab video swept the Internet, showing the brutal beheading of 25-year-old aid worker Mansour Mohammed. He had converted to Christianity in 2005.
One Mulsim convert to Christianity said he was awakened in his home by al-Shabab soldiers.
“They ransacked my house, searched my bag and found several pages from a Bible. They had crosses on them,” Abdi said—his name has been changed to protect his identity.
Abdi was taken away, imprisoned, and tortured.
“I was blindfolded and they put me in a dark, underground cell. They beat me up with a wooden baton,” he recalled.
“They wanted to know where I got the Bible pages and if I knew of any others like me. … When they finally took the blindfold off, I noticed three dead bodies in the room. They placed them there just to frighten me,” Abdi continued.
His torturers said they were going to kill him, but late one night Abdi and two cellmates made a daring escape.
Reunited with his family, Abdi is now living in a safe place. He said he still suffers physical pain from the torture he endured, but spiritually he feels closer to God
“I was happy to go through all this because now I am stronger spiritually. People prayed for me to escape. Their prayers are what saved my life,” he said.
So how should Christians worldwide pray during the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church?
“We shouldn’t pray for the persecuted church, but we should pray with the persecuted church. … They don’t pray to be released from persecution. They pray to be found faithful in it.” Foley said.
The Global Index on Modern Slavery for 2013 released yesterday rated Nigeria as the fourth country with the highest numbers of slaves in the world.
The report shows that there are 701,032 estimated population in modern slavery in Nigeria. The range of the estimate spans from 670,000 to 740,000 salves in the country.
India has the highest population of slavery in the world with 13,956,010; China is rated second with 2,949,243; and Pakistan third, with 2,127,132. The report showed that 30 million people are enslaved worldwide, trafficked into brothels, forced into manual labour, victims of debt bondage or even born into servitude.
Almost half are in India, where slavery ranges from bonded labour in quarries and kilns to commercial sex exploitation, although the scourge exists in all 162 countries surveyed by Walk Free, an Australian-based rights group. Its estimate of 29.8 million slaves worldwide is higher than other attempts to quantify modern slavery.
slavery, a staggering but harsh reality, particularly in parts of West Africa and South Asia,” the report said.
“Other victims are captured or kidnapped before being sold or kept for exploitation, whether through ‘marriage’, unpaid labour on fishing boats, or as domestic workers. Others are tricked and lured into situations they cannot escape, with false promises of a good job or an education.”
The Global Slavery Index 2013 defines slavery as the possession or control of people to deny freedom and exploit them for profit or sex, usually through violence, coercion or deception. The definition includes indentured servitude, forced marriage and the abduction of children to serve in wars.
The rankings for the index are generated using three variables: a composite estimate of the number of people in slavery in each country, an estimate of the level of human trafficking from and into each country, and an estimate of the level of child and early marriage in each country.
According to the index, 10 countries, including Nigeria, alone account for three quarters of the world’s slaves. Other countries with high population of modern slavery include Ethiopia (651,000), Russia (516,000), Thailand (473,000), Democratic Republic of Congo (462,000), Myanmar (384,000) and Bangladesh (343,000). United Kingdom and Ireland tied as the least countries with low population in modern slavery.
The index also ranked nations by prevalence of slavery per head of population. By this measure, Mauritania is worst, with almost 4 percent of its 3.8 million people enslaved. Estimates by other organisations put the level at up to 20 percent.
Chattel slavery is common in Mauritania, meaning that slave status is passed down through generations. “Owners” buy, sell, rent out or give away their slaves as gifts.
After Mauritania, slavery is most prevalent by population in Haiti, where a system of child labour known as “restavek” encourages poor families to send their children to wealthier acquaintances, where many end up exploited and abused. Pakistan, India, Nepal, Moldova, Benin, Ivory Coast, Gambia and Gabon have the next highest prevalence rates.
At the other end of the scale, Iceland has the lowest estimated prevalence with fewer than 100 slaves.
Next best are Ireland, Britain, New Zealand, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, Finland and Denmark, although researchers said slave numbers in such wealthy countries were higher than previously thought.
It took a long time, but finally Jon Stewart is not reporting the fake news. In a rare moment of genuine humility, the Daily Show host conducted possibly his most compelling interview to date—with a teenager from Swat Valley in Pakistan.
At the ripe old age of 11, Malala Yousafzai launched her blog (under a pseudonym) for BBC, detailing her life under the oppressive rule of the IslamicTaliban. A few years later, a terrorist’s bullet entered her head, seeking to silence her forever—and to silence any other would-be voices of freedom.
By Oct. 9, 2012, everyone in her region knew who she was. She was no longer hiding behind a fake name but openly challenging the terrorists. On that “muggy day last October, a Taliban fighter leapt onto a school bus, shouted, ‘Who is Malala?’ and shot her point-blank in the head for speaking out about her God-given right to attend school.”
Amazingly, the young girl survived and is now shining the light ever brighter on the oppression of Islamic terrorism.
According to Yousafzai, the Taliban terrorists have bombed more than 400 schools in Swat. Innocent victims have been flogged and many murdered systematically. These victims are not from the West. They are not Christians or Jews. They are not Israeli or American. These are Pakistani Muslims who are simply not Islamic enough for the Taliban.
When young girls were forbidden to study, young Malala said to herself, “Why should I wait for someone else. … Why don’t I raise my voice? … I need to tell the world what is happening in Swat.”
While the West placates terrorism and does everything it can to pretend there is a simple answer to Islamic fanaticism, this young girl took the Taliban head-on. She went on radio and TV and did newspaper interviews, calling for girls to be educated.
And last week, she shared with Stewart a tale to which Arabs of Gaza can relate. When the Taliban came to her city, they offered a better life—better services than they were receiving from their own government, such as a speedier justice system. However, once in power, the oppression began and women were stuck in their homes, not allowed to go to the market or to school.
Malala believes the answer to terrorism is not war but education. While I don’t share the brave teenager’s pacifist views, I do think she has a point. When it comes to the Islamic world, there is a narrative, which spreads like a deadly virus. Young Muslim children learn from the time they are weaned from their mother’s breast that the West, particularly the United States, wants to destroy Islam. The narrative is drilled into the minds of not only radical Muslims, but moderate ones as well.
My friend Umar Mulinde grew up as a Muslim in Uganda. After becoming a believer, he wanted to visit Israel. When he discovered his Israeli cab driver was an Arab, he was stunned. When he noticed most of the workers at his hotel were Arabs, he was flabbergasted. This went against the narrative that had been drilled into him since he was young—that Israel oppresses and kills Arabs and that Arabs have no freedom in Israel. (One of our three Supreme Court justices is Arab!)
I believe the West needs to focus on education more than on drones and missiles. I didn’t say instead of, but more than. The truth is that force must be used, since a lack of force invites more terror. President Obama’s show of camaraderie in his now infamous Cairo friendshipspeech of 2008 did nothing to stop terror. In fact, terror has increased.
Malala, through education, whether from her parents or by the fact that it was in a British hospital that her life was saved, clearly rejects this narrative that the U.S. is out to destroy Islam or that Jews are evil. Her interview took place in the heart of the America—in New York City—and her host, Jon Stewart, is Jewish.
Sadly, most Western nations reject using force or education altogether and pursue the path of placation instead. In the West, you can burn a Bible, but God forbid you burn a Quran. Draw a funny picture of Jesus, but don’t you dare draw a cartoon of Muhammed. Make movies and write books that Jesus was gay or had an affair with Mary Magdalene—not a problem; but don’t focus on the perversions of Muhammed, who had sexual relations with his 9-year-old wife!
The most ironic event to take place in light of Malala’s newfound fame is that just days ago, she did not win the Nobel Peace Prize. Many expected her to take home the prize, but instead it went to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (where were they on Aug. 23?). I don’t mock the work of the OPCW; by all accounts, they do good work.
Duesche Welle, the German equivalent of the BBC, wrote in January 2013 that Malala may have become “the most famous teenager in the world.”
United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown launched a U.N. petition in Yousafzai’s name, using the slogan “I am Malala,” demanding that all children worldwide be in school by the end of 2015—a petition that helped lead to the ratification of Pakistan’s first Right to Education bill.
In the April 29, 2013, issue of Time magazine, Yousafzai was featured on the magazine’s front cover.
Time magazine also named her as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.”
On July 12, Yousafzai spoke at the U.N. to call for worldwide access to education.
Yousafzai is the recipient of the Sakharov Prize for 2013, an award handed out to those who fight for human rights.
In addition, her first book, I Am Malala,just came out last week.
So why would such a brave young girl get the Nobel snub? Journalist Leha Gilbert asks, “How could that brilliant, courageous Pakistani girl be overlooked in favor of some faceless, virtually anonymous agency?”
My guess is that the left-leaning Nobel committee was too gutless to name someone who is confronting Islamic radicalism as an award recipient. Who knows? They may even think of recent the heroine, Who is she to challenge deeply held community values? If it weren’t for people like her, the radicals wouldn’t be so … well, radical. I would like to believe that no decent-minded human being could think that way, but so many progressives agree with Muslims that Israel (the only true democracy in the region, with freedom for all her citizens) is the problem in the Middle East—not Islamic fundamentalism.
Gilbert asks some probing questions:
Is it safer for the Nobel Committee to ignore the reality of radical Islamist violence than to risk putting a spotlight on it?
Is it more comfortable to brush off Malala Yousafzai’s story as an unfortunate but isolated incident in some remote village?
Or is it simply politically incorrect to applaud her?
How ironic that a young lady who stands up to Islamic bullies may have been snubbed by the Nobel gang because of their fear of those very bullies. They are not Malala!
Ron Cantoris the director of Messiah’s Mandate International in Israel, a Messianic ministry dedicated to taking the message of Jesus from Israel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Cantor also travels internationally teaching on the Jewish roots of the New Testament. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. His newest book, Identity Theft, was released April 16. Follow him at @RonSCantor on Twitter.
While the temporary partial government shutdown has riveted our nation, Christians are being martyred all over the world.
The limited space of this column does not permit me to enumerate the long list of martyred Christians and the locations where Christians continue to be killed in cold blood. But needless to say, the violence stretches from Nigeria to Egypt to Iraq to Syria to Pakistan and beyond.
The most tragic act of treachery recently committed by Islamists against innocent Christians took place in a church in Peshawar, Pakistan, just a few weeks ago. There, 81 innocent worshippers were slaughtered and many more were wounded, some permanently.
The Western press, if they reported that tragedy at all, reported it as just another day at the office, as if it was unworthy of much news attention. Nothing to see here; move right along.
But those of us who read Arabic and Islamic publications know that Tehrik-e-Taliban Jundullah claimed responsibility for the bombing, stating that the attack of the 130-year-old All Saints Church in Peshawar was revenge for U.S. drone strikes.
Islamists view Christian churches, and Christians in general, as outposts of Western influence. Little do they know, however, that Western governments are just as anti-Christian as they are—although they are more polite in their opposition.
Western governments are not only silent when it comes to Christian martyrdom—which is now in the tens of thousands—but they are complicit as well. While enthusiastically supporting Libyan rebels against Moammar Gadhafi, and now Syrian rebels against Assad, Western governments have actually helped al-Qaida or al-Qaida affiliate members. Western governments have, wittingly or unwittingly, strengthened the hands of those who are now slaughtering whole Christian villages in Syria.
With the exception of Angela Merkel of Germany, who factually told a gathering of Lutheran leaders that Christianity “is the most persecuted religion in the world,” sadly nothing is being done for those beleaguered Christians.
Or take the case of the Copts in Egypt. They have been harassed, discriminated against and persecuted for 1,400 years. More recently, they have suffered violence from the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood. That violence accelerated at a rapid pace because the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohammed Morsi felt emboldened—not only by the praise heaped on him by his fellow Islamists, but also by the praise of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
In fairness to President Obama, the harmful effect of our foreign policy on Christians started prior to his administration. Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, there were 1.4 million Christians in that country. Now it would be a stretch to find 300,000.
Today, because of Western policies, Christians are being killed in greater numbers than during the first-century Roman Empire.
I do not expect Islamist groups to care about the anti-Christian posturing of Western governments. But for heaven’s sake and the sake of their own eternal judgment, may foreign policymakers of the U.S. and Western governments understand their culpability in this matter and do something about it.