Pauline Hanson: Before and after.Source:Supplied
After Jordan, Lebanon Repeals ‘Marry the Rapist’ Law
Substantive Female Representation in Civil Service Pakistan
Hyderabad: 16-Year-Old ‘Made’ To Wed 65-Year-Old Omani Sheikh
Pauline Hanson Turns Up To Parliament in Full Burqa
Saudi Women-Based Company Fixes 18,000 Mobile Phone Sets
Fostering Financial Inclusion and Women Entrepreneurship in Pakistan
American Drone Warrior Saved Woman from ISIS
ISIS Appoints Brit Female Doctor as Head of Iraq Health Department
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
At Islamic Seminary That 'Converted' Akhila to Hadiya, Love Jihad Has no Takers
August 17, 2017
New Delhi: “Propagation of Islam among non-Muslims; Islamic education for the conventional Muslims who lack religious awareness.” Sathya Sarani, an organisation based in Manjeri town of Malappuram district in Kerala, cites these very words on its official website as its ‘action plan’.
It’s the same organisation where Akhila alias Hadiya had gone to ‘study Islam’. Hadiya’s private life has now become a matter of national debate thanks to the Supreme Court intervention in her case that has brought alive the topic of “Love Jihad”.
Akhila, a student at a Homeopathic medical college, reportedly got converted to Islam “influenced” by her two room-mates, and married Shefin Jahan. The Kerala High Court annulled the marriage and soon, the Supreme Court asked the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe the marriage and the angle of ‘love jihad’.
Sarani has been the news after Hadiya’s father alleged that his daughter was in the custody of the organisation in 2015. His claims have been corroborated by the organisation, which told News18 that the girl was indeed at their campus in Manjeri.
“Hadiya was here a year and a half ago. However, she did not complete her course,” said one of the officials at the Islamic organisation. Hadiya had completed barely 40-45 days of a 50-day course the institute runs to teach Islam to people who want to know about the religion. The official refused to be named for this story saying he is not authorized to talk to media.
So what does life at the institute, which has been accused by Kerala state BJP chief Kummanam Rajasekharan of being “illegal” and acting as a “a centre for large-scale conversions”, look like?
With separate dormitories for females and males, the institute in the heart of a Muslim-dominated area (Malappuram is Kerala’s only Muslim-majority district), boasts of a 50-day crash course on Islam. On an average, 100 people register for the course every month, which comprises of eight modules.
“It’s too little a time to teach someone Islam. Those are very basic teachings that we tell them about Islam. It’s for everyone who wants to know about the religion,” said the official.
Adding that the institute has had families, including parents with their children, coming to them for their course, the official told CNN News18 that Sarani has people ranging from the age bracket of 20 years to 45 years.
Ignoring any claims made on conversion, the official said that it was easy to know about any religion these days and there was no need for ‘conversion’ platforms in that sense.
“Everything’s on the internet. People who are genuinely interested in the religion will take it forward. Those who don’t want to will not go forward with it,” CNN News18 was told. The institute also does not believe in the idea of love jihad, a concept which the official said has no meat. It is, however, imperative to note something that the official website states.
“Sathya Sarani could establish facilities for study of Islam in three remote villages in Palakkad district to those who lived astray from the faith…Christian missionaries are targeting poor Muslims at different parts of the state. They are brainwashed and driven to Christianity exploiting their poverty and lack of religious awareness,” it says.
The institute, the site further reads, could identify such people and succeed in bringing them back to the faith by convincing them the concept of monotheism of Islam.
After Jordan, Lebanon repeals ‘marry the rapist’ law
16 August 2017
The Lebanese parliament passed a law to abolish a controversial article which granted rapists an ‘escape’ from prison if they married their victims.
Wednesday’s move by the legislature follows years of campaigning against articles dealing with violence against women. The law had been in place since the late 1940s.
The Lebanese law stated that rapists are punishable by up to seven years in prison. If the rape victim is a person with a special need, physical or mental, the penalty was increased. Article 522 added that if the violator marries his victim, criminal prosecution is suspended.
“The repeal of article 522 is an important and overdue step to protect women’s rights in Lebanon,” said Bassam Khawaja, Lebanon researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Parliament should now follow this up by passing pending legislation to end child marriage and marital rape, both of which are still legal in Lebanon.”
Supporters of the law in socially conservative areas of the country argued that the marriage would salvage the honor of the woman and her family.
“I think amending such violated articles first in Morocco, Jordan and now Lebanon is an indication that governments and parliaments have to work on repealing or amending discriminatory laws in the Penal Codes. It is also a sign that governments should comply with the International conventions including CRC and CEDAW,” MENA expert for woman’s rights organization Equality Now, Suad Abu-Dayyeh, told Al Arabiya English.
“I think it is high time to recognize women as citizens in our region by amending and revoking discriminatory articles not just in the penal code but rather in other laws such as the family laws, labor laws etc,” she added.
Earlier in August, Jordan’s parliament repealed a similar law.
Substantive Female Representation in Civil Service Pakistan
By Quratulain Fatima
An info graphic by the UN Women on UN Public service Day joyously announced that the number of women at the civil service academy, Pakistan has increased from 10 percent in 1984 to 40 percent in 2017. This certainly is a cause of festivities, however the celebration is short lived. Today, women of Pakistan have opportunities to enter the Central Superior Services (CSS) but after a while they encounter dilemma of ‘law of increasing disproportions’ i.e. the higher the hierarchy, the lesser the women.
Pakistan’s civil service has come a long way from women being inducted into just four services namely (a) audit and accounts service, (b) railway accounts service, (c) military accounts service, (d) income tax and postal services to being part of all the civil service groups. A condition limiting women entry in CSS also prevailed till 1973, which mandated women to voluntarily resign from civil service upon marriage or remarriage. Hence Pakistani government was of the opinion that governance skills of women somehow diminish once they enter the matrimonial bond.
Opportunities for women civil service aspirants changed at least theoretically after 1973, when constitution of Pakistan enabled the women to enter the civil service under clause of equal opportunity for all in services (Article 27) with government encouraged to take any affirmative action to increase women participation in civil service (Article 34). This opened the avenues of coveted Pakistan Administrative Service (previously District Management Group) and Police service of Pakistan for women. Consequently, after 33 years, in 2006, women were granted 10 percent reserve seat quota in the civil service to enhance the women representation in Central Superior Services of Pakistan.
Pakistan Public Administration Research Centre (PPARC)’ s last published report ‘Overview of the Public sector employment during 2013-14’ indicates that the major bulk of women in public sector remains concentrated below BPS 17 mostly comprising female teachers and nurses, the culturally favourable professions for women in Pakistan.
Another research by planning commission (based on data from 16 federal ministries) emphasised that none of the federal miniseries are setting aside 10 percent of its positions for women as required under the constitution.
What we see in Pakistan‘s civil service today is improved descriptive representation but weak substantive representation of women. Substantive representation requiring policy and societal change is just like justice, it must not only be done but seen to be done. Whereas descriptive representation of women is change in numerical representation of women and does not necessarily translate improved numbers for women into enhanced outcomes for women. In state feminism and political representation, Political scientist, Joni Lovenduski says that “descriptive representation is only one of the ways of increasing substantive representation of women. Gender debates and strong culture of feminine debates is more important in ensuring that women interests are watched rather than merely increasing the number of women in politics and public service.”
Pakistan‘s civil service is still male coded. The bulk of women civil servants are concentrated in the lower and middle echelons of service structure. Whereas the number of women transitioning to the top tier of decision making is markedly low. It is mostly concentrated in the areas that are considered traditionally women oriented areas or are less attractive to male civil servants in their career plans. Women get leadership roles in situations or organisations not considered lucrative career postings for males. This is another story that given the space, women are usually found to turn around the neglected departments.
Despite the apparent availability of diverse policy and implementation mechanisms for strengthening governance for women, the failure of descriptive representation conversion into substantive representation persist. One of the foremost reasons for this failure is non-recognition of gender equality as a political project. Institutionalised gender units, women quotas in civil service are descriptive representation mechanisms that offer easy institutional respite to government pressured to introduce gender equality. Yet, without the accompanying political will to transform descriptive measures into substantive outcomes, these popular actions result into technocratic fixes increasing number of women in the civil service without empowering them.
Civil service reform in service of a transformative agenda requires a political context
supportive of women’s empowerment. Its prerequisite is a responsive state in service to its citizens both men and women. Merely descriptive representation of women in the bureaucracy cannot transform governance.
Long term strategies to enhance substantive representation of women need profound changes in the patriarchal structure of both Pakistan’s society and civil service. As short term strategies, substantive women representation at decision making tiers of the civil service can be obtained through altering career requirements that discriminate against women, using affirmative action plans to advance women into key positions , introduction of equal opportunity structures in civil service (eg, anti-discrimination bureaus, merit protection agencies, equal opportunity commissions) as well as passing anti — discrimination laws that punish violations with effective sanctions.
The writer is a policy practitioner, an Oxford public policy alumnus and Oxford Global leadership initiative fellow
Hyderabad: 16-Year-Old ‘Made’ To Wed 65-Year-Old Omani Sheikh
Aug 17, 2017
HYDERABAD: In a shocking incident, a 16-year-old girl has been married to an elderly man from Oman, Ahmed, 65. The minor's mother, Syeeda Unnisa, a resident of Nawab Saheb Kunta, on Wednesday lodged a complaint with police pleading the girl be brought back from Muscat.
Unnisa charged her husband's sister Ghousia and her husband Sikander for getting the girl married to the sheikh, who had come to Hyderabad before Ramzan. Unnisa said she had refused to allow her daughter to be married to the sheikh, but Sikander had got a Qazi to perform the wedding at a hotel at Barkas.
"The sheikh is saying he had bought my daughter for 5 Lakh. He said this was paid to Sikander. Only if this amount is repaid, he said he would send my daughter back to India," Unnisa said in the complaint.
Pauline Hanson turns up to Parliament in full burqa
AUGUST 17, 2017
PAULINE Hanson has admitted the stunt she pulled, where she entered the Senate covered head to toe in a burqa, was “extreme”. But she’s unrepentant saying any anger it may have sparked was fine as it started a debate about face coverings.
Hanson has also suggested “these people” who wear burqas “should go to a country that suits their needs”.
The incident on Thursday is the latest round in Hanson’s battle against the burqa.
Hanson said she wasn’t challenged as to her identity. Although she has conceded security may have suspected the One Nation leader was beneath the face covering.
Gasps of “what on earth?” could be heard from the Senate as she sat down. Attorney-General George Brandis looked bemused by the spectacle and later berated Hanson for “mocking” law abiding Australian Muslims.
On Sydney radio station 2GB she said the burqa was “un-Australian”.
Talking to presenter Ben Fordham, she said, “Is it extreme? yes. Is it getting my point across? I hope so.”
Hanson said she entered the Senate without being checked.
“No security guards at any point in time asked to see my face,” she said.
“One of the attendants on the floor of parliament, he just gasped.
“He did not ask to see my face. Apparently they were told I was going to do it, they did not check if it was me.”
She said that in five years or more time, Australian women might be forced to wear the burqa. “This is a western country. If these people want to dress up, go to a country that suits your needs.”
Senator Hanson also claimed Greens Senator Peter Whish Wilson shook her hand in the corridor while she was wearing the burqa. He’d never greeted her or shaken her hand previously.
Senator Whish Wilson told BuzzFeed he did shake Hanson’s hand but said he had no idea who was under the material and was now “totally weirded out by it”.
He said the amount of security around Hanson led him to believe a Muslim woman, who was entitled to be in parliament, was being harrased so he wanted to support her.
An expert on Islam has said Hansons’s remarks could incite hatred towards women.
Director of the Institute for Religion, Politics and Society at Australian Catholic University, Dr Joshua Roose, said, “knowing that Muslim women are likely to be targeted in verbal and physical attacks due to their more recognisable appearance, Senator Hanson’s stunt is likely to directly and indirectly increase the risk of violence towards Muslim communities.”
As she entered the chamber, Senator Derryn Hinch immediately took exception.
“We’ve been assured by you that the Clerk (of the Senate) has identified this person here as Senator Hanson,” said.
“As a point of order I would like to know if Senator Hanson can stay here unchallenged. I understand she is not a Muslim. She is not of the Islamic faith.
“Can I appear tomorrow in fancy dress unchallenged?
Senate President Stephen Parry said he wouldn’t tell senators what to wear.
In a statement on her Facebook page, the noted critic of Islam said she had attended Question Time “dressed modestly in a full burqa” and would deliver a speech calling for the Government to ban full face coverings in public.
“Senator Hanson said that she believed that full face covering, such as the burqa, were oppressive, presented barriers to assimilation, disadvantaged women from finding employment, were causing issues inside our justice system, presented a clear security threat and had no place in modern Western society,” the statement read.
The stunt continued when Senator Hanson removed the covering to ask Brandis if the burqa could be banned as a matter of national security.
She was told “No” by Senator Brandis who criticised her for “mocking” religious garments.
He was given a standing ovation by Labor senators, and was congratulated by Labor Leader Penny Wong, and was given applause from his own Coalition side.
The Attorney-General said: “Senator Hanson no, we will not be banning the burqa.
“Now Senator Hanson, I’m not going to pretend to ignore the stunt you have tried to pull today by arriving in the Chamber dressed in a burqa, when we all know you are not an adherent of the Islamic faith.
“And I would caution you and counsel you Senator Hanson, with respect, to be very, very careful of the offence you may do to the religious sensibilities of other Australians.
“We have about half a million Australians of the Islamic faith in this country, and the vast majority of them are law-abiding good Australians.
“Senator Hanson, it is absolutely consistent with being a good, law-abiding Australian and being a strict adherent Muslim.”
At one point Senator Brandis could be seen to choke back tears.
Senator Hanson had couched her call for a ban on national security lines.
“In light of our national security of this nation, will you work with me to actually ban the burqa in Australia considering there have been 13 foiled national threats against us with terrorism, three that have been successful that Australians have lost their lives.
“Terrorism is a true threat to our country. Many Australians are in fear of it.
“What I would like to ask on behalf of the Australian people, considering there has been a large majority of Australians wish to see the banning of the burqa.”
Her time to ask the question then ran out.
The stunt comes just days after the Trump administration called out Hanson for her anti-Muslim rhetoric.
On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson introduced his department’s annual report on global religious freedom.
Tillerson reserved his deepest criticism for the terrorists of Islamic State.
But turn to the page on religious freedom in Australia and it’s Pauline Hanson’s One Nation that gets the most focus.
The 2016 International Religious Freedom Report noted the election of four One Nation senators and that their campaign platform included “ceasing Muslim immigration, holding a royal commission on Islam, halting construction of mosques, installing surveillance cameras in mosques, banning wearing of the burqa and niqab in public places, and prohibiting members of parliament from being sworn in under the Koran.”
The report turned to Ms Hanson in particular.
“In her first senate speech, One Nation Party Leader Pauline Hanson said the country was ‘in danger of being swamped by Muslims.’”
It contrasted Hanson’s speech with that of the PM. “Malcolm Turnbull disagreed with her views and said ‘my commitment is to an inclusive multicultural society which is based on mutual respect. The more we respect each other the more secure we become,’” the report added.
Saudi women-based company fixes 18,000 mobile phone sets
August 17, 2017
RIYADH — Al-Jawharah Al-Qahtani was studying at the Princess Nora Bint Abdul Rahman University in Riyadh when she saw a need for a mobile repair shop tailored specifically for women.
Women in Saudi Arabia tend to dispose of their mobile phone set upon their damage or encountering a technical error. Instead of fixing it, they opt for purchasing a new one. They do so to maintain the confidentiality of the personal data on their phones.
Seeking to fill that gap, Al-Jawharah opened a Twitter account in 2013 through which she offered phone and laptop maintenance to her colleagues.
Seeing it was welcomed with great support, a year later she established a physical store on campus to fix mobile phones and sell accessories.
As of 2015, her Twitter-fix and store turned a startup that goes by the name of Fixtag. Operating under this entrepreneurial idea, is an online store and, two physical stores in Princess Nora Bint Abdul Rahman University and the other on Exit 6 road.
The startup now has three cofounders, Al-Jawharah Al-Qahtani who is the CTO, her sister Madhawi Al-Qahtani the COO and Al-Anoud Al-Qahtani, the CEO.
Speaking to Wamda entrepreneurial platform, Al-Anoud said that the company’s motto, ‘women can fix your phone,’ “helps increasing people’s trust in us when it comes to their privacy (sic). They trust women more, given their integrity and excellence in what they do, which requires accuracy and patience.”
Since the launch of the startup, they were able to serve around 18,000 customers, said Al-Jawhara.
Al-Aanoud highlighted that during the summer, their sales are negatively impacted due to the location constraints. They also “faced difficulties in hiring since only female university students were allowed on campus,” she added.
The current Fixtag team consists of 13 females and two male employees.
Despite the obstacles ahead of them, Fixtag plans to overcome them and expand.
Plans to establish two more stores are underway, one in Jeddah at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, and the other branch at King Saud University in Riyadh.
They are expected to be open by next year, said Wamda. — Al Arabiya English
Fostering financial inclusion and women entrepreneurship in Pakistan
August 17, 2017
It is a fact that Pakistan faces gender disparity at various social levels. The country ranks 143 out of 144 in the Global Gender Gap Report of 2016 in terms of economic participation and opportunities for women.This global ranking has been unchanged since 2015 because of the complexity surrounding the socioeconomic factors like employment, financial inclusion, business and asset ownership.
Efforts are beingmade to minimize the gender disparity level in the country. In this regard, Karandaaz Pakistan in collaboration with Department for International Development (UKAid) has launched a program, Innovation Challenge Fund, focused on supporting female entrepreneurs in Pakistan.
In 2014, only 25%of the 90 million Pakistani women actively participated in some form of labor. From 2004 to 2013, the average work force gap between Pakistan and the South Asia market decreased, and an in-depth review of the statistics reveals that most of this development is due to the growth in Pakistani agriculture sector, which increased from 67% to 75%. However, the share of women in industry, services, wage and salaried work has decreased by 3.6%, 4.6% and 6.6% respectively. The above mentioned decline in women’s work participation appeared at the time when adult female literacy rate was increased by 75% between 2005 and 2015. This missed opportunity elaborates the fact that we have a decent number of educated female individuals but the number of females who are actually contributing to the various strata of economy is very less.
Last year, the Women’s Economic Participation and Empowerment status in Pakistan published by the UN Women, analyzing various factors representing gender disparity, reported that the policies in Pakistan and subsequent initiatives merely focused on income generation rather than economic inclusion targets set for women. This kind of short-term focus results in one-off initiatives and greater unskilled employment rather than entrepreneurship or highly skilled jobs. The report also highlighted the financial inclusion of females, a sustainable solution, and associated it with the deeper inclusion of women in conventional economy, which would allow them to generate sustainable livelihoods.
Only 13% of women are able to borrow from a microfinance institution and merely 5% of women have a bank account and in Pakistan. This is because of the fact that a low percentage of women have ownership, joint or otherwise, of physical capital which is an important requirement by the financial institutions.
Greater access to formal finance can improve economic empowerment and allow an increasing number of women to participate in the formal economy. It can be argued that better financial access is both a cause and a result of economic participation, as more working class women signify better financial inclusion. Similarly, another report – Financial Inclusion of Women in Pakistan 2016 – states that employment is often tied to banking, as wages need to be received. Hence, greater economic opportunity through employment or entrepreneurship can be a vital factor for the financial inclusion of women in our country.
The UN Women report recommends that there should be incentives for enterprises that have better women employment ratio, women decision makers or the woman owner of the enterprise. The report also recommends improving the ownership of physical assets, technical and management training, improved working conditions for women, and financial inclusion through supporting financial institutions like banks.
The report, Financial Inclusion of Women in Pakistan 2016, supports these focus areas and highlights mobility constraints, banking regulatory policies, property rights and collateral, and the financial literacy as a few factors impeding the financial inclusion.
Above-mentioned challenges along with a complex environment for banks and other financial institutions are the bottlenecks for them as well. This includes expensive and scarce infrastructure, limited understanding of end user needs, predominance of informal financial services, low literacy rate, a skeptical mindset and limited possibilities of revenue generation from existing models.
In such a situation, targeted projects and special initiatives such as Karandaaz are trying to reinvigorate the industry and provide the missing technical and financial links in order to deliver financial services to women and others who are out of this financial circle.
American Drone Warrior Saved Woman From ISIS
The photo of the kidnapped woman wouldn’t leave me alone. I lay on my lumpy single bed after 48 hours of juggling multiple missions and all I wanted was to sleep. My pillow was flat and hard like a big slice of Melba toast. I kept trying to toss some shape into it and close my eyes. But she was still there.
I flipped on my light and sat up. The air-conditioning was on the fritz again, making rumbling sounds. I grabbed the photo off my side table and looked at it. The edges bent over, little wrinkles in the face.
The woman was in her late twenties, with long black hair and light skin. She had these piercing blue eyes and looked Lebanese. A few nights before, a colleague had walked into the Box with her photo and handed it to me. “An Iraqi general came to us about her,” he said. She was the wife of a prominent Iraqi doctor. An ISIS cell had grabbed her on the street a few weeks before and a man had begun to call the doctor’s phone daily, demanding ransom payment for her return.
They said they were raping her and would continue to do it until he paid them millions of Iraqi dinar. But the doctor didn’t have that kind of money. He pleaded for the Iraqi general’s help in getting his wife back, and the general came straight to us.
Sadly, this wasn’t an unusual situation in Iraq. ISIS had employed kidnapping cells for years to target Iraqi government officials, women, and children—anyone with elevated status and money. They used the money to finance their activities. And most of the time it didn’t even matter if the ransom was paid. They killed their captives anyway.
“He could really use our help if you have the time,” the colleague said.
He handed me the phone number of the guy who’d been calling the doctor with the threats. It was the only clue they had to go on. This was yet another instance of a terrorist group that claimed to fight for their fellow Muslims but instead did harm to them—an everyday occurrence, it was clear from where I sat.
It was mid-deployment, sometime in the summer. We had dozens of other targets that still needed to be taken out. Guys who had killed a lot more people and were plotting against Americans back home even. I remembered thinking, Why should I help this man I don’t even know, especially when we have bigger fish to find?
“I wish we could,” I said.
People were always asking us for our help. We had started making a name for ourselves as a force who could find ghosts, guys no one else could find, and pinpoint their location in a short amount of time. So it wasn’t uncommon for other military units to ask us to track down targets they had lost.
But we had our own priorities. We knew the network better than anyone—we were living and breathing it every day. And even though we officially answered to headquarters, they rarely forced missions on us because they knew the importance of staying out of our way.
“Can’t you just throw up a drone?” an FBI agent asked us one day over a video meeting about the search for some target he wanted tracked down. The suit was being beamed in from a comfortable conference room in Virginia.
The question was ridiculous. Why don’t you try putting a fucking drone up and see where it gets you?
“Drones don’t work alone,” I said diplomatically.
The suits never got it. They thought a drone was like a remote-control airplane—just hit a few buttons and it would go to work finding whomever we needed to find. What we did was very complicated and technical. We just made drones look easy to people on the outside.
We just couldn’t help everyone. There were not enough of our teams to go around.
But something in me changed that morning as I stared at the Iraqi doctor’s wife’s photo again. I couldn’t put it down. The organs inside my chest were all tightening as if something was telling me this time was different, a feeling that I hadn’t experienced in years of chasing these assholes. It hurt my head. For the first time I began to sense that I had been slowly losing what made me essentially human: the ability to care about people, about the lives around me.
Long ago, I had come to terms with the fact that we were doing bad things to very bad people, because that’s the reality of what it takes to deal with fanatics who care only about killing.
The thing was, in this world, emotions couldn’t apply. Emotions clouded judgment when it came to the decisions we had to make. On our drone feeds, I had to stare at families as they went about their lives, women and children, who had no idea their worlds were about to be upended forever.
I had to look at the bigger picture of our strategy, which was larger than any one person. It was about trying to save hundreds, even thousands, of lives—not one or two here and there. Because this woman didn’t have anything to do with our higher-level goal, she didn’t fit into my calculus.
Death happened every day. And sometimes I had to do things to remind myself that these were real human lives.
I felt light-headed as these emotions swirled inside me. I remember suddenly thinking, What if this was a member of my family? What if this was my mother or somebody close to me?
My inner voice wrestled with itself: If you saved this woman, it would be one of the few times that we could see the tangible results of our actions. Isn’t saving this one life the real reason you’re here anyway? It wouldn’t even take very long, and yet it would mean the world to her family.
That’s when I got up. I threw on clothes and headed for the Box.
The rest of the team was already at work. We’d been following another high-level target for the last few days, but not much had changed. We had built a solid pattern of life on the guy—he was going back and forth between work and home. Nothing unusual. I was certain we’d know where to find him again in a day or two if we redirected our drones.
“We have a new mission,” I said to Kate. I held up the photo. “We are going to find this woman.”
We spent a couple of hours digging into the phone number of the guy who had been calling the doctor’s mobile. It helped that our technology was probably the best in the world. We used a special tool to ping the mobile to give us a general location of where its signal was coming from. Soon we had our start point.
I don’t know if we were lucky that we were dealing with relative amateurs or we were just that good, but in a matter of hours we were orbiting a house in a neighborhood slum in the southern part of the city, where I was sure the woman was being kept.
The neighborhood block was a jam of worn-down concrete houses in various stages of falling apart. Some were barely standing, tilting left and right into one another, and others had no roofs at all.
It was daytime, clear and sunny, the streets full of activity, with people walking around, kids playing, and guys doing nothing much at all but smoking. Everything was covered in dust from the dirt streets.
The target house was tiny, probably just a few rooms inside. The yard out front doubled as a parking lot, with a couple of cars and a van pulled up right to the door—a sign that someone was home.
We waited out the day and watched from above. A couple of men came and went. One was a smoker. But there was no sign of the woman.
Jason and I talked it over in the Box and came to the conclusion that if there was even a slight chance she was there, we needed to go before it was too late, since her captives might move her.
We decided to strike that night. Jason and his assault force came into the Box and talked out the hostage rescue. It wasn’t a typical planning session. If the woman was inside, they needed to be extra careful. When they crashed a house, everything moved lightning fast. They only had a split second to decide if the person in their crosshairs was a friend or foe. It was easy for things to go wrong. If they didn’t carry out the raid just right, the doctor’s wife would die.
An hour later, we were spinning up and the operators were breaking down the door. They found three men from the kidnapping cell and dragged them out to the street. The woman was locked in the back bedroom. “Got her,” the radio erupted.
The barbarians had handcuffed her to an air-conditioning unit and it was clear that the men had been assaulting her. Her face was bruised and her clothes were ripped up.
The men deserved to die.
Throughout that deployment, I kept the woman’s photo with me in my notebook as a reminder: in a world of all this evil, we had the power to make a difference. Saving someone good was just as important as killing and capturing our enemy.
That woman won’t ever know who I am, but it felt good knowing she was safe. Despite what people said about our team and the drones we operated, despite all the bad stuff people said, we were the good guys.
From the book Drone Warrior: An Elite Soldier's Inside Account of the Hunt for America's Most Dangerous Enemies by Brett Velicovich and Christopher S. Stewart. Copyright © 2017 by Brett Velicovich and Christopher S. Stewart. Published by arrangement with Dey Street Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Brett Velicovich has over ten years of experience conducting counterterrorism and intelligence operations globally. As an intelligence analyst within the U.S. military’s elite 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment—Delta, his work was directly responsible for countless missions leading to the successful capture and kill of terrorist leaders. Serving five combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan, he also worked in Somalia and received numerous combat medals for his service, including the Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge. Regarded as a world-renowned drone expert, he left the service and earned an MBA from Duke University and helped start an initiative that looks to employ unmanned aerial vehicles in support of wildlife conservation in East Africa. He lives in Virginia. brettvelicovich.com @brettvelicovich
Christopher S. Stewart is an investigative reporter at The Wall Street Journal, where he shared a 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. His work has appeared in GQ, Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, New York magazine, The Paris Review, Wired, and other publications, and he also served as deputy editor at the New York Observer and is a former contributing editor at Condé Nast Portfolio. Stewart is the author of Hunting the Tiger and Jungleland. He lives with his family in New York. christophersstewart.com @csstewart
ISIS appoints Brit female doctor as head of Iraq health department
16th August 2017
By Rachel O'Donoghue
The evil terror cult named the UK citizen as head of its medical services in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk within the group’s so-called caliphate.
The unnamed woman – reportedly of Sudanese origin – is said to have arrived in the city of Nineveh via Syria two years ago.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a security source told local news sites she left Britain with a group of other doctors to join ISIS.
The source said: “IS selected a British female doctor from Sudanese origin, who arrived in Nineveh via Syria two years ago, to head the group’s health department after the group’s health minister was killed in an airstrike in Hawija.
“The doctor was one of eight doctors who fled London to join IS.”
She is believed to be the first woman ever to be made chief of one of the terror group’s health departments.
In 2015, a group of nine British medical students, which included ay least three women – fled to join ISIS.
They had all been studying in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum boarded a flight to Istanbul, Turkey, and then made it over the border into the war zone.
They were named as: Hisham Mohammed Fadlallah, Tasneem Suleyman Huseyin, Ismail Hamadoun, Nada Sami Kader, Mohamed Osama Badri Mohammed, Rowan Kamal Zine El Abidine, Lena Maumoon Abdulqadir and Tamer Ahmed Ebu Sabah.
At the time, the students’ families said they had been “brainwashed” and could not understand what prompted their decision.
Large areas of ISIS and Iraq have been under ISIS control since mid-2014 when the terror group began establishing its “caliphate” in the Middle East.
The UK Foreign Office has been contacted for comment.
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