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Friday, May 22, 2015

Egypt Police Rescue Kidnapped Christians



The following excerpts are from AINA.org:

Egyptian police have rescued four Copts who were kidnapped while on their way from a pilgrimage site in Minya province.

Authorities raided an isolated farmhouse in the mountainous area not far from the city of Salamut where the victims were taken away by armed gunmen, the Catholic Fides news agency reported.

Police tracked down the hideout of the kidnappers, who demanded ransom from the victims' families of 600,000 Egyptian pounds ($79,000), at the village of Akoris.

The raiding team stormed the kidnappers' safe house around dawn May 20, and a firefight ensued between authorities and the criminals. Some of the kidnappers managed to escape.

Police found the victims shackled with chains at the farm, and saw indications that they had been tortured by their captors, who waited for ransom to be paid.

The victims said the kidnappers constantly threatened to kill them if their families refused to pay ransom.

Some of the victims even suffered physical abuse as the kidnappers beat them up while waiting for the families to give into their demands.

Three of the victims were adults with ages ranging from 20 to 35 years, while the fourth was a five-year-old child.

The victims had come from the Church of the Virgin Mary in Jabal al-Tair, which was built around 328 A.D. on the orders of Queen Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine.

The church is one of the most popular Marian shrines frequented by the Coptic Christian community in Egypt.


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Egypt Police Rescue Kidnapped Christians



Assyrian Girl Kidnapped in Baghdad Released

Juliana George released in Baghdad
Juliana George released in Baghdad

The following excerpts are from AINA.org:

(AINA) -- Juliana George, a 16 year-old Assyrian girl who was kidnapped from her home in Baghdad 9 days ago (AINA 2015-05-12), was released yesterday after a $55,000 ransom was paid. According to her father, George, Juliana was badly frightened by the experience but was not apparently mistreated.

"I fear for her and my two other daughters," said George in a telephone interview. "There is no reason to believe that we will not be targeted again. I don't see how we can stay in Baghdad after this."

Juliana was abducted by four men when she answered the door bell at her home.

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Islamic State Burned a Woman Alive for Not Engaging in an 'extreme' Sex Act



The following excerpts are from AINA.org:

Amid all the Islamic State's atrocities -- its massacres of civilians, its beheading of hostages, its pillaging of antiquities -- the systematic violence the jihadists have carried out against countless enslaved women and girls never fails to shock. For months now, we've heard appalling testimony from women who escaped the Islamic State's clutches, many of whom endured rape and other hideous acts of violence.

Zainab Bangura, the U.N.'s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, recently conducted a tour of refugee camps in the shadow of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, war-ravaged countries where the Islamic State commands swaths of territory. She heard a host of horror stories from victims and their families and recounted them in an interview earlier this week with the Middle East Eye, an independent regional news site.

"They are institutionalizing sexual violence," Bangura said of the Islamic State. "The brutalization of women and girls is central to their ideology."

Bangura detailed the processes by which "pretty virgins" captured by the jihadists were bought and sold at auctions. Here's a chilling excerpt:

After attacking a village, [the Islamic State] splits women from men and executes boys and men aged 14 and over. The women and mothers are separated; girls are stripped naked, tested for virginity and examined for breast size and prettiness. The youngest, and those considered the prettiest virgins fetch higher prices and are sent to Raqqa, the IS stronghold.

There is a hierarchy: sheikhs get first choice, then emirs, then fighters. They often take three or four girls each and keep them for a month or so, until they grow tired of a girl, when she goes back to market. At slave auctions, buyers haggle fiercely, driving down prices by disparaging girls as flat-chested or unattractive.

We heard about one girl who was traded 22 times, and another, who had escaped, told us that the sheikh who had captured her wrote his name on the back of her hand to show that she was his "property."

Estimates vary, but there are believed to be somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 women enslaved by the Islamic State. Many are Yazidis, a persecuted minority sect that the extremist Islamic State considers to be apostate "devil-worshippers," in part because of the Yazidis' ancient connection to the region's pre-Islamic past. The jihadists' treatment of Yazidi women, in particular, has been marked out by its contempt and savagery.

Here's Bangura again:

They commit rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution and other acts of extreme brutality. We heard one case of a 20-year-old girl who was burned alive because she refused to perform an extreme sex act. We learned of many other sadistic sexual acts. We struggled to understand the mentality of people who commit such crimes.

Hundreds of Yazidi women and girls have escaped their captors, either by running away, or being ransomed and rescued by their families. Bangura has urged international assistance in providing proper medical and "psychosocial" support to the escaped women, who have experienced terrible trauma.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

ISIS Using Passports Stolen From Westerners to Travel to Syria and Iraq



The following excerpts are from AINA.org:

The Islamic State (Isis) militant group reportedly is using passports stolen from unsuspecting Westerners to assist its jihadi supporters to travel to Syria and Iraq.

According to a report by Dubai based Al Aan TV, several passports found in an Isis safehouse following a raid by a local Syrian armed rebel group, belonged to 'innocent' Westerners from the United States, the United Kingdom and France, apart from those belonging to Israel, with no ties to Isis.

The investigative report found that these passports were stolen and were later used by the Isis supporters to travel to Syria.

Jenan Moussa, a correspondent with Al Aan TV noted that she was able to get copies of 34 passports issued by various countries.

Six of the passports were Albanian, four were French, two each were of Holland, Germany, Sweden, Poland and Denmark; and one each of the US, the UK, Israel, Kosovo, Latvia, Finland and the Czech Republic.

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