New Age Islam News Bureau
6 Apr 2015
An Iranian woman holds an Iranian flag during a ceremony of farewell for the national soccer team ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, at the hall of Azadi (freedom) sports compound in Tehran, Iran. (Source: AP)
• Somalia: Kenyan Women En-Route to Al Shabab Arrested in Wajir
• UNHCR: Chibok Girls May Have Been Slaughtered in Bama
• Kenyan Peacemakers Raped Somali Women-HRW
• Boy, 14, And 16-Year-Old Girl Arrested In UK on Suspicion of 'Preparing For Acts of Terrorism'
• Women to Vote in Jeddah Council Elections
• Iran Relaxes Ban on Women Attending Men’s Sports Matches
• Afghan Woman Killed By Mob Becomes Icon for Justice, Rights
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Terror Cases Allege Women Wanted To Fight, Not Wed Fighters
April 6, 2015
NEW YORK (AP) — Two women accused in New York City's latest homegrown terrorism case may be part of what some experts say is an evolving threat — a greater willingness by women to shed blood in the name of militant Islamic jihad.
The pair allegedly wanted to "make history" on their own by building a bomb and attacking a domestic target. Just a day after the New York pair was arrested, a Philadelphia woman was accused of expressing her willingness to die as a martyr for the Islamic State group.
While past cases often involved women answering the call by the Islamic State group on social media to join the cause as nurses or wives, "the idea that they want to fight is more a noticeable new trend," said Karen Greenberg, director of Fordham Law School's Center on National Security.
The sometimes boastful and profane language one of the New York women was quoted as using in the criminal complaint — "Why can't we be some real bad b-----s?" — bolstered the idea that the defendants weren't candidates for nonmilitary roles in a caliphate.
The two U.S. citizens "were determined to play an essentially military role, so that's different," said Jessica Stern, who was on the National Security Council staff during the Clinton administration and lectures on terrorism at Harvard University. "In that way, they were typical Americans. They're sort of between these two cultures with a kind of amorphous identity."
Another expert, Mia Bloom, professor at University of Massachusetts and the author of "Bombshell: Women and Terrorism," disagreed with the conclusion that more women are now participating in global terrorism, citing large percentages of women among insurgents in Chechnya and Turkey. In Nigeria, the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram has begun using teenage girls and young women for suicide bombings in marketplaces, bus stations and other busy areas.
Bloom also said the evidence shows the American women charged this week were probably aligned more with al-Qaida than with the Islamic State group, and that the threat was overblown.
"These are wannabe jihads that sort of have this, at least in their head, projection of importance of significance," she said. "They want to build a bomb but they don't know how to do it."
Noelle Velentzas and Asia Siddiqui were arrested at their Queens homes early Thursday following a sting operation using an undercover officer. Officers searching the homes recovered items including three gas tanks, a pressure cooker, handwritten notes on the recipes for bomb making and jihadist literature, court papers say.
Velentzas had been "obsessed with pressure cookers since the Boston Marathon attacks in 2013," and was caught on recordings saying she and Siddiqui were "citizens of the Islamic State," also known as ISIS, the papers say.
The complaint suggests the women were initially radicalized by al-Qaida literature. But it also refers to them watching a video of "in which pro-ISIS French foreign fighters urged others to leave their countries to try to fight with ISIS," and looked at a photo of "ISIS blowing up a gas pipe between Egypt and Israel."
Authorities said Friday that Valentzas, 27, was believed to have been born in Florida of Greek ethnicity and claimed to have worked as a home health aide. Siddiqui, 31, was born in Saudi Arabia and was unemployed.
Siddiqui's lawyer, Thomas F.X. Dunn, declined to talk about the allegations on Friday, saying only that he plans to "mount a vigorous defense." In a statement, Velentzas' lawyer called his client "a loving mother and wife who is innocent of the sensationalistic charges manufactured by the U.S. government."
The complaint does not identify the undercover officer or say how the officer managed to befriend the pair. But one passage gives clues about the officer's assumed role by quoting Velentzas as referring to the officer as a Muslim who, if caught, would be labeled as "an inconspicuous student studying about detonators" and "a Muslim with two terroristic friends."
Authorities declined to confirm whether the undercover officer was a woman. Past cases have relied on male New York Police Department recruits — typically with Muslim or Arab backgrounds — who agreed to skip the police academy and enter a NYPD counterterrorism program that grooms and deploys young undercover officers to expose potential plots.
In the Philadelphia case, Keonna Thomas was arrested Friday and held without bail on charges she attempted to travel overseas to join the Islamic State group before she could use an airline ticket she bought Tuesday to fly overseas. Her lawyer declined to comment.
Thomas, 30, was accused of corresponding with an Islamic State fighter who asked if she would join a martyrdom operation. She responded by writing, "that would be amazing," court papers said.
"A girl can only wish."
Somalia: Kenyan Women En-Route to Al Shabab Arrested in Wajir
April 6, 2015
If confirmed, this will be the first time that Kenyan women have been arrested planning to travel abroad on a jihadist mission. Two families in Malindi have said their daughters have been missing for days, and that they were informed that they were arrested in Wajir on Friday.
The families were reluctant to speak to journalists but released a statement through human rights group Haki Africa. Francis Auma, an official at Haki Africa, told The Standard last evening that the women were arrested in Wajir on Wednesday and taken to Mombasa.
He said both were from Malindi and were students at a university in Mombasa. Auma alleged that the two were being held at Makupa and Port police stations in Mombasa and that their families had been denied access to them.
The Standard established that Mariam is a Bachelor of Commerce student at a private university in Mombasa while Khadija studies at a campus of a public university in Mombasa, but we could not confirm the course she is enrolled in. Sources, however, indicated that she had previous training in nursing.
UNHCR: Chibok Girls May Have Been Slaughtered in Bama
April 6, 2015
An official of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Mr. Raad Zeid al Hussein, believes that the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram a year ago may have had a sad ending.
He premised his verdict on the fact that the girls may have been part of the women who were murdered by the insurgents before they fled from Bama and other towns in Borno State just before the Nigerian military and allied forces from Chad and Niger recovered the territories.
Scores of abducted women who had been forcibly married by Boko Haram fighters were slaughtered last month as the military advanced towards Bama and other towns to recapture the territories.
Eyewitnesses said that the women were killed by the insurgents to prevent them from getting remarried to what they termed “infidels” after their release.
Aligning with the report on the murder of scores of women, Al Hussein said last week that Boko Haram murdered people who were captives, including women and girls who were taken as “wives” in their flight against the advancing forces.
According to the senior official with the UNHCR, various reports which arrived at his department in Geneva showed that the recent recovery of territories in northeastern Nigeria “has brought to light macabre scenes of mass graves and more obvious signs of killings by Boko Haram”.
These reports include the “...murder of the wives of combatants, women and girls actually held in slavery,” he said without elaborating.
The use of children by Boko Haram as “expendable cannon meat” and human bombs could, if confirmed, constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, the official added.
Al Hussein also said there are “persistent and credible reports” of serious violations by the Nigerian security forces and other countries in their fight against Boko Haram, and called for “complete and fully transparent investigations” by the authorities.
The report by UNHRC may explain the mystery surrounding the whereabouts of the Chibok girls despite the recapture of Gwoza, the de facto headquarters of the terrorists’ caliphate, as well as the disappearance of the sect’s leader Abubakar Shekau.
Military sources, who spoke to THISDAY at the weekend in Maiduguri, said neither the girls nor Shekau had been sighted since the liberation of Gwoza, which was the epicentre of the sect’s operations.
The Nigerian military on the eve of the presidential and National Assembly elections had announced the recapture of the strategic town but was silent on the abducted Chibok girls and seemingly elusive Shekau.
The Director of Defence Information (DDI), Maj-Gen. Chris Olukolade, had in a joint press conference with the spokespersons of the Nigerian Army, Navy and Air Force, confirmed the recapture of the former terrorist stronghold.
Many were however disappointed to find out that contrary to expectations before the liberation of Gwoza, there was no mention of the girls or Shekau who is believed to be on the run.
Military sources, who spoke to THISDAY, said the mystery surrounding the Chibok girls was yet to be unraveled.
However, the strongest lead now is that the girls might have been amongst the unfortunate women who were slaughtered and dumped inside wells in Bama.
“As for Shekau, you are aware that the man suspected to have been killed or fatally wounded two years ago and his double was confirmed killed a year later, and this current impostor is yet to be fully unmasked.
“Unfortunately, on the Chibok girls, there is a strong lead that they might be among the women who were slaughtered by the fleeing terrorists and dumped into those wells in Bama.
“Remember the girls were said to have been forcibly converted to Islam and married off as trophies to those terrorists. We have a strong suspicion that they are part of those women butchered in Bama and other parts of the territories, which were under their captivity.
“Also, some of these terrorists are currently retreating to the border towns and some have successfully mingled into various towns and villages,” the source said.
Another senior military officer also informed THISDAY that while the troops had freed some women from Gwoza and other surrounding towns, they could not however ascertain if any of the Chibok girls were among them.
He said interrogations were ongoing, as there were other women who were released from the towns recaptured from the Boko Haram terrorists other than the Chibok girls.
He also explained that it is proving difficult to ascertain if the women massacred and dumped in the wells were actually the Chibok girls because the bodies were in various states of decomposition by the time they were discovered.
“Even other communities whose women and girls were kidnapped are not comfortable with the attention being given to the Chibok girls, while leaving their cases in the dark,” he said.
Last week, the Nigerian military confirmed the rescue of a large number of vulnerable women and elderly locked up by the retreating Boko Haram terrorists in the liberated town of Gwoza.
Similarly, THISDAY learnt that sustained aerial surveillance of Gwoza and other liberated areas, as well as intensive mop-up operations to clear out the remnants of Boko Haram insurgents was ongoing.
On Sunday, there were several aerial operations in support of the ground troops to consolidate the liberated towns and villages.
In this regard, Sambisa forest which straddles four liberated local government areas of Bama, Mongonu, Konduga and Gwoza, was being bombarded from the air to knock out any terrorist camp and installations.
“What I can tell you is that there is very little presence of the terrorists in those areas but we have intensified the bombardments,” a military source revealed.
Despite the bombardment of Sambisa forest, at least four people were killed Saturday when suspected Boko Haram fighters raided a local market in a village near Maiduguri, security sources said.
Scores of Boko Haram gunmen stormed Kayamla village, 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) from Maiduguri, capital of restive Borno State, and opened fire on a weekly market, killing four traders, a senior security official in Maiduguri told AFP.
“It was obvious they were looking for food to replenish their supplies because they didn't target residents as they normally would,” the official said.
The attack on the village was the sixth in as many months, according to vigilantes in the area.
Troops and vigilantes mobilised from the nearby town of Konduga to the village but the attackers left before the troops arrived, said Abubakar Sani, who was among the vigilantes that accompanied troops to the village.
“When we reached Kayamla the gunmen had left,” Sani said.
“We found four dead traders in the deserted market and we were told by residents that the attackers took away food supplies and livestock,” he said.
This was the first Boko Haram raid in a few days, although an explosion outside a bus station in Gombe State on Thursday that killed 10 people was blamed on the Islamists.
Sweeping offensives against the Islamists by a regional coalition involving troops from Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroun appear to have substantially weakened Boko Haram’s capabilities.
Meanwhile, leaders of Central and West African states will hold a summit on April 8 to try to draw up a joint strategy against the threat posed by Boko Haram, a statement from the organisers said on Sunday.
It will be the first meeting of its kind since Nigeria’s election a week ago which was won by Muhammadu Buhari, a former military leader who has vowed to rid his country of the “terror” of Boko Haram.
The meeting in Malabo, capital of Equatorial Guinea, is being jointly organised by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
“In the face of the mounting and increasingly bloody attacks by the fundamentalists against Nigeria, Niger, Cameroun and Chad and the serious consequences for these countries, and the real risk of destabilising Western and Central Africa, the two organisations have decided to take action,” the ECOWAS statement said.
It was not immediately clear if Buhari would be attending, as he will not be sworn in as president to succeed incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan until May 29.
Kenyan Peacemakers Raped Somali Women-HRW
April 6, 2015
Peacekeepers in Somalia used humanitarian aid to lure women and teenagers, who come to ask for medicine and food, and to rape them, HRW said on Monday. The victims often conceal it fearing reprisals, while the troops are immune from local prosecution.
The women who agreed to talk to HRW said that other victims didn’t report abuse for various reasons. Some of them fear reprisal from the soldiers, others – retribution from their own families. But there are also women who don’t want to lose their only source of income. That’s why HRW can’t draw a definitive conclusion concerning the real extent of the problem.
Following years of military conflict and famine, the economic situation in Somalia is very tough and humanitarian aid is often the only way to survive.
The AMISOM troops are immune from prosecution in Somalia. It is the countries providing peacekeeping troops who are responsible for the conduct of their forces. They have exclusive jurisdiction over the personnel and have started procedures to investigate the cases. Although until now only one country, Uganda, has seen a case going before a military court. Source HRW
Boy, 14, And 16-Year-Old Girl Arrested In UK On Suspicion Of 'Preparing For Acts Of Terrorism'
April 6, 2015
A 14-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl have been arrested on suspicion of terror offences.
The North West Counter Terrorism Unit and Lancashire Constabulary detained the boy on Friday "following the examination of a number of electronic devices", a spokesperson said.
He was arrested at a home in Blackburn on suspicion of "preparing for an act of terrorism".
Also on Friday, police raided a home in the Longsight area of Manchester and detained a 16-year-old girl in connection with “engaging in conduct in preparation” for terrorist acts.
The crime, introduced under the 2006 Terrorism Act, is punishable by life imprisonment for adults.
A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said: “As part of an ongoing investigation, officers from the Tactical Aid Unit and North West Counter Terrorism Unit executed a warrant at a house in Longsight.
“A 16-year-old girl was arrested on suspicion of engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism.”
Witnesses speaking to the Manchester Evening News described the street being “full of terrorist police” as the girl was arrested.
Both teenagers have been bailed until 28 May.
The force said the arrests were not related to the continuing investigation into a family of nine people including a one-year-old baby stopped at the Syrian border last week.
The group from Rochdale were detained by Turkish police on Wednesday. They included Waheed Ahmed, the 21-year-old son of a local councillor, two other men aged 24 and 22, two women aged 47 and 22 and four children aged one, three, eight and 11.
Five men and a woman aged between 23 and 28 were arrested at the port of Dover on suspicion of Syria-related terror offences on Friday.
Around 600 Britons have travelled to Syria and Iraq since the conflict began, the Metropolitan Police believe, while around half are believed to have returned to the UK.
Isis is fighting to establish a so-called Islamic State in both countries and gained control of huge swathes of territory in an offensive last year.
Women to Vote in Jeddah Council Elections
April 6, 2015
JEDDAH — Women will be allowed to vote in the Jeddah City Council elections for 2016 to be held in September, Al-Hayat daily reported.
Jeddah City Council Head Abdulmalik Al-Junaidi said Jeddah City Council is the first council in the Kingdom to allow women to vote.
“I believe this step will vitalize the role of women in our society and will give them the chance to contribute to the development of the country. The city council is the entity supervising the municipality and overlooking its reports,” said Al-Junaidi.
He added potential candidates must meet a few basic requirements to run in the elections.
“Candidates must have at least a high school diploma, have a record of good conduct and be knowledgeable about the municipality and city affairs. The city council does not interfere with the elections as it is entirely organized by unbiased committees from the municipality,” said Al-Junaidi.
He added the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and experts from academic and legal fields also participate in the organization of the elections.
“Usually, half of the council members are elected and the other half assigned. However, in the next elections, only a third of the members will be elected and the rest will be assigned. The elections will take two to three months before the city council members for the year 2016 are announced,” said Al-Junaidi.
Iran relaxes ban on women attending men’s sports matches
April 6, 2015
Iranian authorities have partially lifted a ban on women attending men’s sports matches, a senior sports official said Saturday.
Deputy Sports Minister Abdolhamid Ahmadi said Iran’s State Security Council has approved a plan by his ministry to allow women and families to attend some sports events, the official IRNA news agency reported Saturday, adding that the plan would be implemented sometime this year.
Ahmadi, however, cautioned that not all matches or stadiums would allow women, but did not elaborate. Ahmadi said only that the issue would, “depend on the type of sport.”
Women have been banned from attending men’s sports matches since the 1979 revolution that brought hard-line Islamic clerics to power. The idea was to prevent crowds of unrelated men and women from mixing publicly. In the past, exceptions have been granted to allow foreign women living in Iran to attend matches by their visiting national teams.
The announcement comes after FIFA President Sepp Blatter urged Iran last month to end the “intolerable” ban on women watching football in stadiums.
Iran recently lost a bid against the United Arab Emirates to host the 2019 Asian Cup, with some officials saying the ban on female attendance played a factor in the decision.
Afghan woman killed by mob becomes icon for justice, rights
April 6, 2015
KABUL: Poets, musicians, actors and activists packed an empty shop in a Kabul mall to commemorate the short life and violent death of a woman who has become a symbol for justice and women’s rights in a country that historically elevates warlords and battlefield heroes to national icons.
The name of Farkhunda, beaten to death by a frenzied mob apparently in the mistaken belief that she had burned a copy of the Qur’an, has become a rallying cry for Afghans hoping the shocking incident will lead to profound changes in Afghanistan.
Activists say the previously unquestioned power of the religious establishment is being challenged for the first time in Afghanistan’s modern history. Religious leaders and conservative politicians have been forced by the power of public opinion to apologize for trying to justify Farkhunda’s killing.
At least one official has been sacked for saying the woman would have deserved her brutal death if she had indeed burned the Muslim holy book.
At last week’s Kabul vigil, candlelight illuminated a huge poster of Farkhunda’s blood-reddened face as an actor recited Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man,” followed by performances of works commemorating her death. Outside, documentary filmmaker Diana Saqeb broke down: “I don’t believe in the humanity of this country anymore,” she said. “It has been more than 10 days, but still I can’t sleep, I can’t eat. These people are killers, no different to the Taleban or Daesh who also kill people in the name of God,” Saqeb said, referring to an alternative acronym for the Islamic State group.
The rule of law, said human rights activist Nader Nadery, is in the ascendancy.
“This is a turning point for civil liberties that is real. It will be difficult to return to the former status quo when only self-proclaimed religious leaders held the high moral ground at the expense of justice and the constitution,” he said.