It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself. -- Thomas Jefferson

Monday, September 23, 2013

Canadian Muslim Brotherhood Group Loses Charitable Status Over Terror Funding

The following excerpts are from AINA.org:
  • The Canada Revenue Agency has revoked the charitable status of an Islamic group after it says it distributed over $280,000 to an agency allegedly linked to a terrorist organization in Pakistan.
  • The CRA announced Friday it will strip the Islamic Society of North America Canada's Development Foundation of its charitable status.
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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Gates, Panetta Question Obama's Syria Strategy

The following excerpts are from AINA.org:

  • President Barack Obama's first two defense secretaries on Tuesday night questioned his Syria strategy and said they would have told him not to seek Congress' approval for a strike on President Bashar Assad's forces.
  • Speaking at a forum in Dallas, Robert Gates and Leon Panetta disagreed on whether the United States should ultimately carry out a military strike in retaliation for a chemical attack that the U.S. says killed 1,400 people. But both men said Obama shouldn't have asked Congress to approve a strike, and both were skeptical and sometimes sarcastic about the current Russia-backed negotiations to have Syria turn over its chemical weapons.
  • Panetta said he supported a strike because Obama needed to enforce the "red line" he set over Syria's use of chemical weapons.
  • "When the president of the United States draws a red line, the credibility of this country is dependent on him backing up his word," Panetta said.
  • But Gates said a strike would be like "throwing gasoline on an extremely complex fire in the Middle East." He brought up past interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya as examples of how American military action can lead to unintended consequences.
  • He also dismissed attacking Syria to enforce a red line.
  • "I believe to blow a bunch of stuff up over a couple of days to underscore or validate a point or principle is not a strategy," he said.

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Gates, Panetta Question Obama's Syria Strategy

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Churches, Monasteries Abandoned in Small Syrian Christian Town Following Rebel Fighting

The following excerpts are from AINA.org:
  • The fate of the small, predominantly Christian town of Maaloula, Syria, remains uncertain after remaining rebel factions continued to clash with the occupying Syrian army over the weekend. Reports from the area indicate that most of the village's cathedrals and worshipping spaces were abandoned Sunday due to the threat of a continued rebel presence linked to al-Qaeda.
  • Although Syria's army, loyal to President Bashar Assad, claims to have re-taken control of the small town north of Damascus at the beginning of the weekend, reporters visiting the war-torn region have said that in the past few days, rebel fighters have remained on the fringes of the town, firing at army forces from nearby caves that overlook the small mountain city.
  • "There was hardly time to notice the white statue of Christ the Redeemer on the hillside before we were fired on, bullets aimed at our van, blowing our tire and holing the chassis. We screeched to a halt and scrambled clear," Bill Neely, the International Editor for ITV News, wrote in an Op-Ed for The Telegraph.
  • "We were caught in the middle of a town the Syrian army had declared liberated from rebel control the day before. But it was not, and for the next four hours, I witnessed a fierce battle as the army tried to dislodge the snipers of, among other groups, Jabhat al-Nusra, the fighters allied to al-Qaeda," Neely added.
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Friday, September 13, 2013

Two Hostages of Syrian Jihadists Say Chemical Attack Was Launched By the Rebels

The following excerpts are from AINA.org:
  • Two Europeans who were allegedly abducted and held hostage for several months in Syria claim they overheard a conversation between their captors suggesting the Syrian rebels were behind the deadly chemical attack in Damascus. The men were released on Sunday.
  • Belgian teacher Pierre Piccinin and Italian journalist Domenico Quiric both say they were able to eavesdrop on an English-language Skype session between their abductors in which they allegedly revealed that it was the Syrian rebels who perpetrated the attack so that the West would intervene.
  • "In this conversation, they said that the gas attack on two neighborhoods of Damascus was launched by the rebels as a provocation to lead the West to intervene militarily," Quirico told the Italian daily newspaper La Stampa. "We were unaware of everything that was going on during our detention in Syria, and therefore also with the gas attack in Damascus."
  • Piccinin said he has a "moral duty" to share what he heard. He also stressed that he and his fellow hostage were completely cut-off from the outside world and didn't even know chemical weapons had been used in the first place.
  • "The government of Bashar al-Assad did not use sarin gas or other types of gas in the outskirts of Damascus," Piccinin reportedly told Belgium's RTL radio station.
  • Quirico, a journalist, correctly acknowledged that there is no proof that the conversation he overheard was based on irrefutable facts. He was sure to point out that he "cannot say for sure that it is true because I have no means of confirming the truth of what was said." However, he also revealed that one of the three people he overheard in the alleged conversation identified himself as a Free Syrian Army general, according to the La Stampa report.
  • Italy's Quotidiano Nazionale reports Quirico as saying: "I am extremely surprised that the United States could think about intervening, knowing very well how the Syrian revolution has become international jihadism -- in other words Al-Qaeda."
  • The 62-year-old journalist was highly critical of the opposition in Syria in another interview, claiming that radical Islamic groups operating in Syria want to take down Assad and "create a caliphate and extend it to the entire Middle East and North Africa," the Russia-friendly RT reports.
  • Peccinin agreed with Quirico, telling RTL that it would be "insane and suicidal for the West to support these people."
  • The two men were reportedly kidnapped in Syria last April by a group of heavily armed men in pickup trucks. They were believed to be with the Free Syrian Army, though that has not been verified.

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Syria Rebel Coalition Rejects Russia Chemical Weapons Handover Proposal

The following excerpts are from AINA.org:
  • The military wing of the U.S.-backed Syrian National Coalition (SNC), an umbrella opposition group fighting against President Bashar Assad, has flatly rejected a proposal by Russia which would see the regime hand over control of its vast chemical weapons stockpiles to international control to avoid U.S. military strikes.
  • After more than two and a half years of bloodshed in Syria which has left more than 100,000 people dead and millions displaced, the Russian initiative was announced Monday and quickly agreed to by Assad's government.
  • The U.S., Israel and France have voiced cautious optimism that the plan could yield results, but remain skeptical that Syria is genuine in its offer to hand over the weapons, and concerned about how such an operation could actually function in a country where fighting between government forces and rebels is intensifying.
  • Late Wednesday, Gen. Salim Idriss, the head of the SNC's military council, said in a video posted online that he and his fellow rebel commanders "announce our definitive rejection of the Russian initiative to place chemical weapons under international custody."
  • "We ask that the international community not be content with withdrawing chemical weapons, which are a criminal instrument, but to hold the perpetrator accountable and prosecute him at the International Criminal Court," Idriss said, blaming Assad for an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack on the Damascus suburbs which the Obama administration says left at least 1,400 people dead.
  • French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Thursday, meanwhile, that a United Nations team of inspectors would likely publish its report on the attack in the eastern Ghouta suburbs on Monday.
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Syria Rebel Coalition Rejects Russia Chemical Weapons Handover Proposal

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Syria's Rich Archaeological Treasures Imperiled By Civil War

The following excerpts are from AINA.org:
  • The Romans occupied modern-day Syria, and before them, the Assyrians, Persians and Akkadians built empires there.
  • The country is home to ancient Paleolithic fossils, some of the earliest evidence of agriculture and one of the largest troves of cuneiform tablets ever discovered.
  • "It's probably one of the oldest occupied areas of the Earth," said Emma Cunliffe, an archaeology researcher at Durham University in England, who has published a report documenting archeological damage in Syria. "It's been continuously occupied since before modern man even existed."
  • Yet hundreds of archaeological sites are imperiled by civil war in Syria; bombing and looting have ravaged some of the richest of these sites; government and rebel forces have occupied ancient castles and bulldozed archaeological mounds created over thousands of years of human occupation. All six of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country have been damaged, Cunliffe said.

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Monday, September 2, 2013

China Argues Against US Action Against Syria

The following excerpts are from AINA.org:

  • China on Monday urged the U.S. not to take unilateral action against Syria in response to last month's chemical weapons attack against civilians.
  • Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Washington had briefed Beijing over the matter and China was highly concerned about any use of chemical weapons.
  • But he said China opposed the U.S. acting alone and believed any response must conform to the U.N. Charter and the basic principles underlying international relations.

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China Argues Against US Action Against Syria

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Putin Calls Obama's Syria Military Push 'Nonsense'


The following excerpts are from AINA.org:

  • As President Barack Obama seems Congressional approval for a military strike on Syria, his counterpart in the Kremlin said Saturday that Washington's chemical weapons call is "unimaginable nonsense."
  • Washington says Syria's government used chemical weapons against its own people. Moscow says it did not.
  • Once again, the two old enemies are sparring over Middle East unrest, with Putin dead-set against military action on their former ally.
  • Ria Novosti newswire reported today had Putin defending Syria's government, saying he believed they did not use chemical weapons against. The United Nations has not been able to confirm the validity of Washington's charge at this time.
  • For his part, Putin did not deny the use of chemical weapons in Syria, but said he doubts it was used by the government. Putin has basically come out and said that chemical weapons were being used to scapegoat the government of Bashar Assad.
  • "I am sure this was no more than a provocation by those looking to drag other countries (into the conflict) and obtain support of powerful international player, particularly the United States," Putin said about the chemical attack that reportedly killed hundreds last week. "Claims that the proof exists, but is classified and cannot be presented to anybody are below criticism," Putin said.

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Putin Calls Obama's Syria Military Push 'Nonsense'

UN's Syria Samples to Undergo Meticulous Scrutiny

The following excerpts are from AINA.org:

  • They've endured repeated delays, unrelenting scrutiny and even snipers' bullets in Damascus. Now U.N. inspectors, who have been gathering evidence of a possible chemical weapons attack in Syria, are poised to return to the Netherlands in coming days, setting in motion a meticulous process of analyzing samples at specially accredited laboratories.
  • According to the team's U.N. mandate, the analysis will establish if a chemical attack took place, but not who was responsible for a deadly Aug. 21 attack that Doctors Without Borders says killed 355 people and included the use of toxic gas. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that Washington knows, based on intelligence, that the Syrian regime carefully prepared for days to launch a chemical weapons attack.
  • U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to get an initial briefing on the U.N. team's work this weekend from disarmament chief Angela Kane. The team is expected to leave Syria on Saturday, but it remains unclear exactly how long the process of examining samples will take.

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UN's Syria Samples to Undergo Meticulous Scrutiny