Monday, April 29, 2013

Politically Correct Culture & The Terror War

The Superpower Patron -Caroline Glick

Each day more and more reports come out about the information US agencies had — for years — regarding the threat posed by the Boston Marathon bombers.

But how could the FBI have possibly acted on those threats? Obama has outlawed all discussion or study of jihad, Islamism, radical Islam and the Koran by US federal government agencies. The only law enforcement agency that monitors Islamic websites is the New York Police Department.

And its chief Ray Kelly has bravely maintained his policy despite massive pressure from the media and the political class to end his surveillance operations.

Everywhere else, from the Boston Police Department to the FBI and CIA, US officials are barred from discussing the threat posed by jihadists or even acknowledging they exist. People were impressed that Obama referred to the terrorist attack in Boston as a terrorist attack, because according to the administration-dictated federal lexicon, use of the word terrorism is forbidden, particularly when the act in question was perpetrated by Muslims.
[Jewish World Review]

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

More Reflections on Boston Terror

The younger Tsarnaev brother, Islamist terrorist

Boston Bomber Exposes Islamist Secret -Steven Emerson

It is one thing for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to be seen on security camera videos placing one of the bombs that killed three people at last week's Boston Marathon.

But now he's really crossed a line.

Tsarnaev is telling investigators he and his brother were motivated by religion to plot their carnage, media reports citing anonymous federal sources say.

Radical Islam. It's a label banned by the Obama administration. National Islamist groups say it doesn't belong in conversations about terrorism. Tsarnaev didn't get the memo.

Recovering from multiple gunshot wounds, Dzhokhar told investigators from his hospital bed that he and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev were driven by religious fervor and took their instructions from al-Qaida's Inspire magazine, NBC News reports.

The Tsarnaev case threatens the Islamist narrative that radical Islamic ideology in terror attacks should be ignored or minimized.
[Jewish World Review]

Education by Murder in Boston -Daniel Pipes, PhD

[The Boston Marathon attack] will not bring American opinion together; if the "United We Stand" slogan lasted brief months after 9/11, consensus after Boston will be even more elusive. The violence will not lead to Israeli-like security measures in the United States. Nor will it lead to a greater preparedness to handle deadly sudden jihad syndrome violence. It will not end the dispute over the motives behind indiscriminate Muslim violence against non-Muslims. And it certainly will not help resolve current debates over immigration or guns.

What it will do is very important: it will prompt some Westerners to conclude that Islamism is a threat to their way of life. Indeed, every act of Muslim aggression against non-Muslims, be it violent or cultural, recruits more activists to the anti-jihad cause.

Education by murder is the name I gave this process in 2002; we who live in democracies learn best about Islamism when blood flows in the streets. Muslims began with an enormous stock of good will because the Western DNA includes sympathy for foreigners, minorities, the poor, and people of color. Islamists then dissipate this good will by engaging in atrocities or displaying supremacist attitudes. High profile terrorism in the West - 9/11, Bali, Madrid, Beslan, London – moves opinion more than anything else.
[The Washington Times]

Monday, April 22, 2013

Reflections on Boston Marathon Attack


The photo above depicts the bomber coolly passing behind the little boy he murdered at the Boston Marathon.  The bag he left is visible, circled in red. 
Two kids paralyzed an American city with great ease just by being willing to sacrifice their lives if necessary, which is after all the whole theory of the suicide terrorism, we-believe-in-death-you-believe-in-life school of thought.

Whether or not they had some brief training in bomb making and didn’t just take the Internet course isn’t that important. And remember that the Chechen nationalist movements have no interest in attacking the United States. This was al-Qaida, as we can see from the selection of You-Tube videos by one of the bombers.

When I was watching the September 11 attacks on television, an announcer said, “From now on, everything will be different.” And I said out loud to the television set: “No, it won’t.”

For many years before 2001 I carried with me a secret. When reporters would ask me, “Why haven’t terrorists targeted the United States directly?” I didn’t answer.

That’s because the answer was: “Because they haven’t yet realized how easy it would be to do that.”

I didn’t want to be the one who tipped them off. Back then, in the 1980s and 1990s, the Islamist terrorists knew they didn’t know America very well. Also, I suspect, they couldn’t believe how open the United States was, that there weren’t policemen who would follow them around because they were Muslim and Middle Eastern.

Here’s the irony: Only when the terrorist leaders realized that Islamophobia was not a big factor in the United States could they resolve to attack the United States with a belief that they would succeed.
[PJ Media]

Boston Bombing Lesson: Ban Burqas -Daniel Pipes, PhD

The Tsarnaev brothers pulled off their terrorist attack with great skill but made a fatal mistake in letting their faces and bodies be seen at a heavily photographed international sporting event. This meant that multiple images of them were available for a massive law enforcement squad to comb over and, after three days, identify them by name and appearance.

This rapid identification was not unprecedented – the London police had done likewise in the July 2005 suicide bombings but because none of the four perpetrators survived that attack, that was more a theoretical achievement than a practical one. To the best of my knowledge, the Tsarnaevs were the first terrorists to be tracked down via still and video pictures.

Obviously, they should have put on Islamic full body covers that show only the eyes (niqabs) or nothing at all (burqas). These garments have multiple and unique virtues, totally hiding the wearers identity; being legitimate attire in any weather and in any place; permitting the discreet transport of weapons; giving off the helpfully false impression of being worn by women, which both reduces suspicion and misleads witnesses; usefully creating a social barrier; maximizing personal prerogatives; and being ideologically appropriate, sending an unmistakable Islamist signal.

The niqab exposes the eyes, which is a drawback that sunglasses can compensate for; and it has the great virtue of allowing the terrorist to see around him better than the burqa.

One must expect future non-suicide bombers to turn to niqabs or burqas. (As many terrorists and criminals repeatedly have done so: see my 16,000-word blog on this topic.)

But why wait for them to engage in more murders? Why close the barn door only after the horse has run away? Far smarter would be to ban the niqab and burqa in public places now, before tragedy occurs.
[National Review Online]

Pounding Square Pegs into Round Roles - Norvell B. DeAtkine

The demonstrated ineffectiveness of Arab armies in conventional warfare does not apply to the parameters of unconventional warfare, where insurgents displayed initiative and imagination. A number of factors account for this difference.

The guerilla usually had leadership sharpened by battle as well as experience and exuded the confidence that motivated others to follow him - as opposed to a conventional unit commander most likely picked by the regime for political reasons. Moreover, the guerilla was apt to be with those of his own ethnic group, clan, or tribe. The unconventional soldier is fighting within his element with people he trusts.
(GLORIA Center-IDC Herzliya)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Israeli Training Helped Boston Hospital

Israel-Trained Medical Team Responded to Boston Attack

Dr. Alasdair Conn [pictured in rear], chief of emergency services at Massachusetts General Hospital where many of the wounded from Monday's bombing attack were treated, credited Israel with training the hospital's first-response team and readying it to deal with mass-casualty incidents.

Two years ago, the Israelis "helped us set up our disaster team so that we could respond in this kind of manner." 
(Times of Israel)


Israeli Doctor Treats Boston Terrorist and Victims
- Yitzhak Benhorin

The surviving suspect in the terror attack at the Boston Marathon, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and 24 of those injured - 16 in serious condition, are being treated by an Israeli.

Prof. Kevin (Ilan) Tabb, 49, is the director of Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. "Unfortunately, I have had a lot of experience with these types of injuries after years of treating people injured in terror attacks in Israel," said Tabb, a member of the board of Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem, where he studied medicine and completed his residency.
(Ynet News)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Bombs Similar to Afghan Devices

Bombs in Pressure Cookers -Eileen Sullivan
The explosives used in the deadly Boston Marathon bombing were contained in 6-liter pressure cookers and hidden in black duffel bags on the ground, a person briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press.
One of the explosives contained shards of metal and ball bearings, and another contained nails, the person said.
These types of pressure cooker explosives have been used in Afghanistan, India, Nepal and Pakistan, according to a July 2010 joint FBI and Homeland Security intelligence report. One of the three devices used in the May 2010 Times Square attempted bombing was a pressure cooker, the intelligence report said.

"Placed carefully, such devices provide little or no indication of an impending attack," the report said.
The Pakistani Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the 2010 attempt in Times Square, has denied any role in the Boston Marathon attack.
[Associated Press]

Monday, April 15, 2013

Jihad Meets The Boston Marathon

Investigators have a suspect — a Saudi Arabian national — in the horrific Boston Marathon bombings. Law enforcement sources said the 20-year-old suspect was under guard at an undisclosed Boston hospital.

Fox News reported that the suspect suffered severe burns. It was not immediately clear why the man was hospitalized and whether he was injured in the attack or in his apprehension. The man was caught less than two hours after the 2:50 p.m. bombing on the finish line of the race, in the heart of Boston.

In addition, Boston police have surveillance video of someone bringing multiple backpacks to blast site, according to CBS News.

A law enforcement source confirmed to The Post that 12 people were killed and nearly 50 were injured in today's blast.
[New York Post]


Boston Marathon bombing suspects are brothers

A U.S. law enforcement official and the uncle of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings are confirming that the name of the second suspect is Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older brother of Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a gun battle with police in Massachusetts overnight.

The uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Md., told The Associated Press that the men lived together near Boston and have been in the United States for about a decade. They traveled here together from the Russian region near Chechnya.

The two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing are believed to have killed an MIT police officer, injured a transit officer in a firefight and threw explosive devices at police during their getaway attempt in a long night of violence that left the older brother dead and the younger one still at large, authorities said.

In May of 2011, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, then a senior at a prestigious high school, was awarded a $2,500 scholarship from the city of Cambridge, Mass., to pursue higher education. Now, Tsarnaev is on the run, described as "armed and dangerous" and suspected of the Boston Marathon bombing.

Two brothers, one now dead, one alive and at large. After hours of only grainy images of two men in baseball caps to go on, a portrait gradually started emerging Friday of the men suspected in the attack.

They came from the Russian region near Chechnya, which has been plagued by an Islamic insurgency stemming from separatist wars.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's page on the Russian social networking site Vkontakte says he attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, graduating in 2011, the year he won the scholarship, which was celebrated with a reception at City Hall, according to a news release issued at the time.

Before moving to the United States, he attended School No. 1 in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim republic in Russia's North Caucasus that has become an epicenter of the Islamic insurgency that spilled over from Chechnya. On the site, he describes himself as speaking Chechen as well as English and Russian. His world view is described as "Islam"...
[Associated Press]

Israel Independence Day


The videos above are posted in celebration of Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day

Friday, April 12, 2013

Kerry Stirs The MidEast Pot

Conflict Is Not Primarily over Territory - Barak Ravid

A senior Israeli official involved in the talks held in Jerusalem with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that Israel opposes Kerry's proposal to resume negotiations with the PA on the basis of discussing border and security issues alone. The official said that Kerry "thinks that the conflict is primarily over territory...and that is wrong." "Israel opposes placing the issues of borders and security at the preliminary stage of negotiations, and we said this to Kerry. On this issue, there is full consent among all the ministers dealing with the Palestinian subject, including Tzipi Livni."

Israel demands that if negotiations are to be resumed, they will need to address, in parallel, all core issues of the final settlement - including recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and a solution to the refugee problem. "If the discussion commences with talks about borders and security, Israel will only give, and will get almost nothing in return," the official said. "When we get to the issues where the Palestinians will need to give something up - like the right of return - we won't have any bargaining chips left."

In addition, Israel also opposes making significant gestures toward the Palestinians before the resumption of negotiations. Off the table are any moves such as releasing prisoners, transferring weapons to the PA's security services, and the promotion of economic projects that would require the transfer of land to Palestinian control. "There is no problem with setting up sewage treatment plants, schools or roads in Area C. But if we're talking about transferring land through economic projects, then we're not ready to do so. If negotiations are renewed, we will be willing to perform many gestures and steps, but they will take place as part of a process that is already underway."

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Obama's Man in the Palestinian Authority

Salam Fayyad Stands No Chance Against Fatah
- Khaled Abu Toameh

  • Fatah leaders are yearning for the days of Yasser Arafat, when they were able to steal international aid earmarked for helping Palestinians.
  • The Palestinians' problem with [Salam] Fayyad [pictured] is that he did not sit even one day in an Israeli prison. For them, graduating from an Israeli prison is even more important that going to any university.
  • PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah leaders see U.S.-educated Salam Fayyad, who was appointed PA prime minister in 2007 at the request of the U.S. and EU countries, as a threat to their control over the Palestinian Authority and its finances.
  • Some Fatah leaders, such as Tawfik Tirawi and Najat Abu Baker, are even convinced that Fayyad is plotting, together with the U.S. and other Western countries, to replace Abbas. Were it not for U.S. and EU intervention, Abbas and Fatah would have removed Fayyad from his job several years ago.
  • Each time Abbas considered sacking Fayyad, U.S. and EU government officials stepped in to warn that such a move would seriously affect foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority.
  • Yet these efforts have been counterproductive and have further discredited Fayyad in the eyes of many Palestinians. Fayyad's enemies have cited these efforts as "proof" that he is a "foreign agent."
  • Fatah's main problem with Fayyad is that he has almost exclusive control over the PA budget. Fatah does not like the idea that its leaders can no longer steal international aid because of Fayyad's presence.
(Gatestone Institute)


By Their Predictions Shall You Know Them -Barry Rubin, PhD

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has resigned once again. What's news, however, is that PA "President" Mahmoud Abbas has accepted it.

While it's hard to believe that Fayyad will finally be ousted--the Western donors want him in power--the continuing frustrations of the only honest and relatively moderate Palestinian official shows that the PA has made no progress toward moderation, state-building, or real economic success.

This is despite what might be the highest per capita foreign aid in world history. It also sheds new light on what often seems to be the the world's best-kept secret: The Palestinian leadership doesn't want a peaceful solution with Israel.
[The Rubin Report]

Fayyad's Resignation: The Beginning of the End of the PA? - Barak Ravid

The resignation of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Saturday will affect Israel and the Obama administration's efforts to renew the peace process, as well as EU policy towards the Palestinians. Fayyad, a former IMF economist educated in the U.S., was a symbol of good governance and the war on corruption. But PA President Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah party's old guard saw Fayyad as a political rival who needed to be eliminated.

Fayyad's resignation will place a question mark on the prospect of continued international aid to the PA without Fayyad guarding the public coffers.

Resignation: Bad News - Jonathan S. Tobin

The resignation of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad lays bare the collapse of the hope that Palestinian nationalism would be refocused on development and coexistence rather than violence. It dooms the Palestinians to a choice between the incompetent cadres of Fatah or the bloody Islamist tyranny of Hamas.

Without Fayyad (or someone like him), there is no pretense of a state living in peace with Israel, rather than a kleptocracy run by terrorists. It is also a guarantee that the terms of any peace deal signed with the Palestinians will not be observed.

Fayyad's tragedy was not just that both Fatah and Hamas wanted to be rid of him, but that he had virtually no support among ordinary Palestinians.
(New York Post)

Fayyad's Departure - Hugh Naylor

The resignation of Salam Fayyad may signal a resurgence of old-style politics in the West Bank, with a focus on backroom deal-making and patronage. Appointed by President Abbas to the premiership in 2007, Fayyad streamlined the PA's bloated budget while reining in corruption and dismantling the militant groups that had roamed the West Bank. The result was more stability and glimmers of economic prosperity.

(The National-UAE)

The Fayad Resignation: Scapegoating a State-Builder - David Makovsky

The departure of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayad could be a blow to the Palestinians, particularly in terms of how much international aid they receive. Fayad became the PA's finance minister in 2002 upon demand by donor countries who were concerned that their contributions were being diverted for corruption. Before he took office, PA security personnel were paid via paper bags full of cash. Fayad insisted that every PA employee have a bank account and be paid on time. After Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, Fayad became prime minister and security cooperation with Israel became the norm.

His tenure has been defined by institution-building, in which the PA built schools, health clinics, hospitals, paved roads and installed water pipes. In particular, Fayad's embrace of economic transparency - which included U.S.-led audits - was instrumental in attracting increased international aid.

Fayad repeatedly warned that Abbas' statehood bids at the UN would spur Washington to cut off aid, and Israel to halt the transfer of Palestinian tax revenues. Nevertheless, he was blamed for the economic downturn that resulted.
The writer is director of The Washington Institute's Project on the Middle East Peace Process.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

A New Challenge for Palestinians - Aaron David Miller

The resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has the potential to inject clarity and honesty into the discussion. Hamas said that Fayyad was a major obstacle to the formation of a unity government in the territories. Fayyad's departure will help reveal that Palestinian unity is an illusion, that what divides the Palestinians are fundamental differences over what Palestine is and even where it should be.

Fayyad's resignation highlights the leadership crisis in the Palestinian national movement. If PA President Mahmoud Abbas were to leave the scene, Fatah itself might split.

There is no obvious, nationally recognized figure who could hold the Palestinian Authority together. The name usually mentioned as a possibility, Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, is currently serving several life sentences in an Israeli prison.

The writer is a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
(Los Angeles Times)

Israel: The happy little country that can -Caroline Glick

Fayyad was nothing more than a Western delusion, like Arab peace with Israel.

Fayyad didn't have a chance of leading the Palestinians because he never personally killed a Jew. And the Palestinians only accept murderers as their leaders. But the fact that he never killed a Jew personally didn't render Fayyad a partner for Israel.

Fayyad dutifully used donor funds to pay the salaries of terrorists in Judea, Samaria and Gaza every month. He led the Palestinian branch of the boycott, divestment and sanctions war against Israel. He made working for Israelis and buying Israeli goods criminal offenses. Fayyad personally led raids into private homes to inspect people's refrigerators to see if they had Israeli cottage cheese on their shelves. He organized and attended bonfires where they burned Israeli goods.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is not the sort of behavior you would expect a peace partner to engage in.
[Jewish World Review]

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Palestinian's Kick Sand in Obama's Face

After Obama snubbed the PA on his recent trip [twice],
Palestinians kick sand in Obama's face

Efforts to Revive Peace Process Run Adrift -Robert Tait

Palestinian sources said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during his current visit to Israel and the West Bank suggested reviving the Arab Peace Initiative - first proposed by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in 2002 - as a basis for re-starting talks between Israel and the Palestinians, which have been stalled for the past three years. Kerry was said to have proposed wording that would soften the initiative's demand for Israel to withdraw to pre-1967 borders, saying they could be modified by mutual agreement, while inserting stronger security guarantees for Israel.

"Kerry asked us to change a few words in the Arab Peace Initiative but we refused," said Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator.

The plan, which calls for Israel's complete withdrawal from the West Bank and east Jerusalem, has been accepted by the Arab League but rejected by Israeli leaders on the grounds that it would leave the county with indefensible borders.

Firmness Bears Fruit...Talks Fail

Iran Heeds Israel's Uranium "Red Line" -Editorial
  • The latest round of negotiations on Iran's nuclear program was, by all accounts, a disappointment. Tehran's negotiators did not spell out a full response to a proposal by the U.S. and five partners for limiting its enrichment of uranium, and what they did say revealed a wide gulf between the two sides.
  • The international coalition is offering Iran a partial lifting of sanctions in exchange for a freeze on the production of medium-enriched uranium, while Iran wants a complete lifting of sanctions in exchange for token steps that would leave its nuclear work unfettered. The Obama administration and its allies rightly refused Iranian requests to schedule further meetings.
  • Proponents of diplomacy over war with Iran can thank Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli leader's explicit setting of a "red line" for the Iranian nuclear program in a speech to the UN General Assembly in September appears to have accomplished what neither negotiations nor sanctions have yielded: concrete Iranian action to limit its enrichment.
  • A host of commentators scoffed at what they called Mr. Netanyahu's "cartoonish" picture of a bomb and the line he drew across it [pictured above]. The prime minister said Iran could not be allowed to accumulate enough 20% enriched uranium to produce a bomb with further processing, adding that at the rate its centrifuges were spinning, Tehran would cross that line by the middle of 2013.
  • But then the regime began diverting some of its stockpile to the manufacture of fuel plates for a research reactor. According to the most recent report of international inspectors, in February, Iran had converted 40% of its 20% uranium for this purpose. As a result, Iran has remained distinctly below the Israeli red line.
  • The lesson here is that clear red lines can help create the time and space for diplomacy that President Obama seeks.
(Washington Post)

Iran Beyond Oil? -Patrick Clawson

Iran is in the midst of a non-oil export boom. While still important, oil is becoming a smaller part of Iran's trade. The country's largest trading partners are Iraq, China, the UAE, Afghanistan, India, and Turkey. In short, even with reduced oil income due to sanctions, Iran's government finances are doing as well as (or better) than those of the U.S. and most other industrial countries.

Iran is therefore unlikely to be crippled by any sanctions the West could impose. Thus, it would be imprudent to rest one's hopes for resolution of the nuclear impasse on such a possibility.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)


Negotiations on Iran Are Failing -Emily B. Landau
  • The latest round of negotiations with Iran has ended in failure, with the two sides as far apart as ever. 
  • Time is running out for the international community. Iran has built up its nuclear infrastructure and will continue to do so until a decision to move to nuclear weapons is unstoppable. Time works in Iran's favor as long as it can string the international community along, and ward off military action by convincing it that cooperation is just around the corner.
  • If Obama is truly committed to stopping Iran, the lack of any reasonable prospect for a negotiated settlement after ten years of efforts should make it clear that the U.S. has no choice, and it's time for more forceful options.
  • A limited, surgical strike to Iran's nuclear facilities would send a serious message, perhaps one that would bring them to the table looking for a deal. Military action is far from the preferred option, but it is beginning to look like the one that has a realistic prospect of compelling Iran to seriously consider changing course.

    The writer is a senior research associate at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Sad Easter in The MidEast

A Coptic Church in Libya lies in ruins

Islamist "Cleansing" of Christians in Mideast - Ralph Peters

Islamist terrorists and fanatics are methodically exterminating the 2,000-year-old Christian civilization of the Middle East through oppression, threats, appropriations and deadly violence. Christianity's greatest thinkers, greatest monuments and greatest triumphs for its first 1,000 years rose in the Middle East. But today, the end is in sight.

In Iraq, the country's Christian population, estimated at up to 2 million a decade ago, has fallen by half - perhaps by three-quarters. Over 2 million Christians in Syria dread Islamist terror and religious cleansing. Two-thirds of the West Bank's and more of Gaza's Christians have been driven out. They're now a small minority even in Bethlehem. Christians in Iran? Gone. Turkey? Almost gone. Saudi Arabia? Once-thriving Christian and Jewish populations were finished off centuries ago.

Egypt has the region's largest remaining Christian population, at least 10 million Copts. With rare exceptions, they've long been confined to squalid quarters and treated as third-class citizens. Now the Salafist fanatics have been unleashed.
(New York Post)

A Wary Easter Weekend for Christians in Syria -Anne Barnard

Torches flickered outside the church. Little girls wore their sparkly Easter best. Children bearing lanterns filed out through the heavy gilt doors, as worshipers carried an icon of Jesus and a cross covered with carnations.

But the Good Friday procession at St. Kyrillos Church here in Syria’s capital did not follow the route it had taken for generations. No drums or trumpets announced its presence. The marchers made a tight circle inside the iron-gated courtyard, then headed back into the church...
Easter weekend is usually the year’s most festive for Syria’s Christians, but this year, it is infused with grave uncertainty. Christians here say they primarily fear the general chaos enveloping the country as the war enters its third year. But like members of Syria’s other religious minorities, many Christians also fear what they see as the rise of extremists among the mainly Sunni Muslim rebels fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
[New York Times]


Kidnappers Target Christians in Egypt -Hamza Hendawi 

Ezzat Kromer, a Christian gynecologist in Matai, Egypt, was kidnapped by masked gunmen and held for ransom. His case was part of a dramatic rise of kidnappings targeting Christians, including children, in Egypt's southern province of Minya, home to the country's largest concentration of Christians.

Kromer, a father of three, was snatched on Jan. 29 as he drove home. By the next day, his family paid nearly $40,000 to a middleman and he was released.
Church leaders and rights activists blame the atmosphere created by the rising power of hard-line Islamists.

Over the past two years, there have been more than 150 reported kidnappings in the province - all of them targeting Christians, with 37 in the last several months, according to a top official at the Interior Ministry.