Oklahoma mother charged with using crucifix to kill ‘possessed’ daughter

Juanita Gomez is shown in this undated booking photo in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma August 30, 2016.  Courtesy Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS


A 49-year-old Oklahoma woman has been charged with first-degree murder on suspicion of killing her daughter whom she thought was possessed by the devil by jamming a crucifix down her throat and beating her, court records released on Tuesday showed.

Juanita Gomez was booked last week in the death of Geneva Gomez, whose body was found in an Oklahoma City home with a large cross on her chest, a probable cause affidavit said.

Local media said the daughter was 33 years old.

No lawyer was listed for Gomez in online jail records.

Police said Gomez confessed to the crime, telling officers she forced a crucifix and religious medallion down her daughter’s throat until blood came out.

“Juanita saw her daughter die and then placed her body in the shape of a cross,” the affidavit said.

Gomez was being held without bond at the Oklahoma County jail.

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Categories: Geneva, Gomez, Juanita, News, Oklahoma

Islamic State leader in charge of foreign attacks killed in Syria

IS spokesman and head of external operations Abu Muhammad al-Adnani is pictured in this undated handout photo, courtesy the U.S. Department of State. The United States carried out an air strike in Syria's town of al-Bab targeting a senior Islamic State official, a U.S. defense official told Reuters on August 30, 2016.  U.S. Department of State/REUTERS


The Islamic State group announced on Tuesday that one of its longest-serving and most prominent leaders, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, was killed in Syria, depriving the organization of the man in charge of directing attacks overseas.

A U.S. defence official told Reuters the United States carried out an air strike in the Syrian town of al-Bab against a senior Islamic State member. The official declined to disclose the target and said the operation was still being reviewed.

A senior Syrian rebel official had said earlier that Adnani was most probably killed in al-Bab in Aleppo province.

Adnani had been one of the last living senior members, along with self-appointed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, that founded the group and stunned the Middle East by seizing huge tracts of Iraq and Syria in 2014.

As Islamic State’s spokesman, Adnani was its most visible member. As head of external operations, he was in charge of attacks overseas, including Europe, that have become an increasingly important tactic for the group as its core Iraqi and Syrian territory has been eroded by military losses.

Advances by Iraq’s army and allied militia towards Islamic State’s most important possession of Mosul have put the group under new pressure at a moment when a U.S.-backed coalition has cut its Syrian holdings off from the Turkish border.

Those military setbacks have been accompanied by air strikes that have killed several of the group’s leaders, undermining its organisational ability and dampening its morale.

A U.S. counter-terrorism official who monitors Islamic State said that Adnani’s death will hurt the militants “in the area that increasingly concerns us as the group loses more and more of its caliphate and its financial base … and turns to mounting and inspiring more attacks in Europe, Southeast Asia and elsewhere”.

Under Adnani’s auspices, Islamic State has launched large-scale attacks, bombings and shootings, on civilians in several countries outside its core area, including France, Belgium and Turkey.

The official said Adnani’s role as propaganda chief and director of external operations have become “indistinguishable” because the group uses its online messages to recruit fighters and provide instruction and inspiration for attacks.

Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency reported that Adnani was killed “while surveying the operations to repel the military campaigns against Aleppo.” Islamic State holds territory in the province of Aleppo, but not in the city where rebels are fighting Syrian government forces.

Amaq did not say how Adnani, born Taha Subhi Falaha in Syria’s Idlib Province in 1977, was killed. Islamic State published a eulogy dated Aug. 29 but gave no further details.


Recent advances by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias, and by Syrian rebels backed by Turkey, have made inroads into Islamic State holdings in Aleppo province, cutting them off from the Turkish border and supply lines along it.

Iraqi army advances against the jihadist group mean that Baghdad is on track to retake Mosul from it by the end of this year, the head of the U.S. military’s Central Command General Joseph Votel said earlier on Tuesday.

Among senior Islamic State officials to have been killed in air strikes this year are both Abu Ali al-Anbari, Baghdadi’s formal deputy, and the group’s “minister of war”, Abu Omar al-Shishani. Adnani had joined the group under its founder Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

There are conflicting reports as to where and how he died.

A senior Syrian rebel official said Adnani was most probably killed in the Islamic State-held city of al-Bab in an air strike. Citing unconfirmed reports, he said Adnani was in the Aleppo region to raise morale as the group comes under mounting pressure.

Hisham al-Hashimi, a security analyst who advises the Iraqi government on Islamic State, said Adnani was injured in a coalition strike on Aug. 17 near al-Rai, north of Aleppo, where Islamic State is fighting Turkish and U.S.-backed Syrian rebels.

Hashimi said he died from his wounds on Monday.

Islamic State’s territory around Aleppo is of particular significance to the group because it is also the location of Dabiq, where an Islamic prophecy holds the last battle between Muslims and infidels will rage, heralding the end of time.


Iraq said in January that Adnani had been wounded in an air strike in the western province of Anbar and then moved to the northern city of Mosul, Islamic State’s capital in Iraq.

Adnani is a Syrian from Binish in Idlib, southwest of Aleppo, who pledged allegiance to Islamic State’s predecessor al Qaeda more than a decade ago and was once imprisoned by U.S. forces in Iraq, according to the Brookings Institution.

He was from a well-to-do background but left Syria to travel to Iraq in order to fight the U.S. forces there after its 2003 invasion, and only returned to his homeland after the start of its own civil war in 2011, a person who knew his family said.

He has been the chief propagandist for the ultra-hardline jihadist group since he declared in a June 2014 statement that it was establishing a modern-day caliphate spanning swaths of territory it had seized in Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

Adnani has often been the face of the Sunni militant group, such as when he issued a message in May urging attacks on the United States and Europe during the holy month of Ramadan.

The United States designated him a “global terrorist” this year and says he was one of the first foreign fighters to oppose U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq since 2003 before becoming spokesman of the militant group.

There is a $5 million reward on his head under the U.S. “Rewards for Justice” programme.

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Categories: Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani, Adnani, Idlib, Islamic State, killed, News, Taha Subhi Falaha

Australia unveils “how-to” guide to fight militant propaganda

The Sydney Opera House is reflected in a harbourside hotel window in The Rocks district of Sydney, May 7, 2014.      REUTERS/Jason Reed/File Photo


Australia on Tuesday released what the government says is the world’s first ever how-to-guide for combating radical Islamist propaganda in Southeast Asia, which it hopes will help disrupt local recruitment efforts by groups such as Islamic State.

Australia, a staunch U.S. ally, has been on heightened alert for attacks by home-grown Islamist radicals since 2014 and authorities say they have thwarted a number of plots.

The 43-page document, entitled “Undermining Violent Extremist Narratives in South East Asia”, will be accessible online and aims to provide tools to disrupt the winding path to radicalisation, said Justice Minister Michael Keenan.

“The process of radicalisation to violence is an incredibly complex issue. Terrorist propaganda affects each individual’s state of mind, their thoughts and emotions differently. There is no single pathway to radicalisation,” Keenan told a conference in Canberra, according to an advanced copy of his remarks shared with Reuters.

“This compendium provides practical guidance and insight for governments, policy makers and civil society organisations in Australia and Southeast Asia to support their development of effective counter-narratives that undercut the appeal of terrorist propaganda.”

The document does not make for light reading. It contains tips for a successful strategy such as “protect the messenger” and “consider how military and counter-terrorism actions impact the strategic counter-narrative”.

It also offers case studies and examples, such as the Burqa Avenger cartoon in Pakistan, in which a teenage Muslim heroine battles extremist villains with books, analysing their success in countering narratives put forward by increasingly media-savvy militant groups.

About 100 people have left Australia for Syria to fight alongside organisations such as Islamic State, Australia’s Immigration Minister said this year.

Canberra has been increasingly focused in recent years on preventing the spread of militant Islamism to its neighbours in Southeast Asia, which have large Muslim populations and, it is feared, could link up with its own home-grown militants.

Earlier this year, Australian police arrested five men suspected of planning to sail a small boat from the far north to Indonesia and the Philippines en route to joining Islamic State in Syria.

The men were detained after towing the seven-meter boat almost 3,000 km (1,865 miles) from Melbourne to Cairns in Queensland state.

There have been several “lone wolf” assaults in Australia, including a 2014 cafe siege in Sydney that left two hostages and the gunman dead. Also in 2014, police shot dead a Melbourne teenager after he stabbed two counter-terrorism officers.

In 2015, a 15-year-old boy fired on an accountant at a police headquarters in a Sydney suburb and was killed in a gunfight with police.

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Categories: Australia, guide, Islamic State, Islamist, News, radicalisation, South Asia

Germany wants Facebook to take initiative in fight against online hate

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere (C), Eva- Maria Kirschsieper, Facebook head of public policy D-A-CH (R) and Martin Ott, Facebook managing director central Europe, pose during a vistit at the Facebook office in Berlin, Germany August 29, 2016. REUTERS/Stefanie Loos


Germany’s interior minister visited Facebook’s offices in Berlin on Monday and said it should be more proactive in removing forbidden content from its social network platform.

“Facebook should take down racist content or calls for violence from its pages on its own initiative even if it hasn’t yet received a complaint,” Thomas de Maiziere said.

“Facebook has an immensely important economic position and just like every other large enterprise it has a immensely important social responsibility.”

The German government has been critical of Facebook in the past. Political leaders and regulators have complained the world’s largest social network, with 1.6 billion monthly users, had been slow to respond to hate speech and anti-immigrant messages.

Last year Justice Minister Heiko Maas told Reuters that Facebook must abide by stricter German laws banning racist sentiment even if it might be allowed in the United States under freedom of speech.

De Maiziere said he recognized Facebook’s efforts to develop software that can better identify outlawed content and praised its efforts to fight child pornography. He said it was right to warn users in its terms against the dissemination of illegal content.

“But it’s up to the company to ensure those terms are upheld,” he said. “A company with a good reputation for innovation will have to earn a good reputation in this area.”

Eva-Maria Kirschsieper, Facebook’s head of Public Policy in Germany, told reporters during de Maiziere’s visit that the discussions between political leaders and companies in social media would continue.

“We see ourselves as part of German society and part of the German economy,” she said. “And we know that we have a major responsibility and we want to live up to this responsibility. We take this issue very seriously indeed.”

Mark Wallace, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who now heads the Counter Extremist Project (CEP) in New York, a non-profit group that maintains a database of information about extremist groups, said Facebook was a leader in the social media sector in combating extremism, but more work was needed.

“Of all the companies, Facebook has done the most, but they’re all just starting to recognize that the weaponization of social media platforms is not good business and not good for society,” Wallace told Reuters.

CEP is completing testing of a new software tool that will identify new images and videos published on social media sites by Islamic State and other extremist groups, and remove them instantly wherever they occur, much as already done with child pornography images.

Earlier this year, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg came to Berlin to respond to the criticism. He said he had learned from Facebook’s experience in Germany that migrants were a group of people who also needed to be protected from hate speech online.


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Categories: Content, Germany's Interior Minister, hate content, News, online hate, Social Media platforms, Thomas de Maiziere

Trip to Skegness Ends Up In Abuse for Muslim Family

Skegness Edited


This is the actual account of a case that we received within the last few days and which highlights how intolerance and prejudice can shape the impressions made on families and also the perception of other communities. The impacts of such prejudice are felt deep and wide within families that are affected and fuel further insecurity. This is the anonymised text from the case of a family who visited Skegness for the first time.

“Me and my family went for a family trip for the first time to Skegness with a local community centre. Together there were 12 people, of which 7 of us wore hijabs.

“Once we reached to the main area where there were shops, we noticed a lot of people just staring at us as if we were some form of aliens. It didn’t really bother us until we walked past the pub and a man shouted “terrorists”.

“My sister and I just looked at each other and didn’t bother looking back at the man and we were shocked at what he had said.  As we went to the beach again, a lot of people continuously stared at us. We just smiled back, but it made us think how ignorant these people are.

“We then went to buy some seaside ‘rock’ and the lady at the shop said “don’t you get hot in them”, referring to our hijabs. My sister replied “no” and they were not that thick and showed her the material of her hijab. She did not say anything after that and we left the shop.

“We saw another Muslim lady there and we were so happy to see her. She gave us a ‘salaam’ and smiled at us. She was the only Muslim I saw there.

“This was our first family trip with our kids to Skegness and I don’t think I would like to go again seeing the behaviour of the people there. It really made us sad and made us miss the area we are from and also made us reflect on how different people are in England.

“It opened my eyes to the nasty comments Muslims get.”


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Categories: Family trip, Hijab, Muslim women, News, Skegness

Mother Teresa to be made Roman Catholic saint Sept. 4 – Pope

Mother Teresa


Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a nun who dedicated her life to helping the poor, will be made a saint of the Roman Catholic Church at a Vatican ceremony on September 4th.

Pope Francis cleared the way for sainthood for her last December. Teresa’s compassion reached out to slum-dwellers, famine sufferers and AIDS victims, and won her the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

Born in Yugoslavia in 1910, Teresa traveled to India at age 18 and taught geography at a convent school. Twenty years later she opened her first school in the Calcutta slums.

She was honored by many world and religious leaders including the Pope, Indian Premiers Indira Gandhi and Narasimha Rao, and British Queen Elizabeth II.

The post Mother Teresa to be made Roman Catholic saint Sept. 4 – Pope appeared first on Faith Matters.

Categories: Calcutta, Christianity, Goa, India, Mother Teresa, News, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic Church, Saint, Vatican

Merkel urges Turks not to bring conflicts to Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets visitors on tour during the open day at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin, Germany August 28, 2016. REUTERS/Stefanie Loos


Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday urged people of Turkish origin living in Germany to take part in German society and not to bring conflicts taking place back in Turkey to Germany.

“It is first and foremost about not bringing the conflicts that exist now in Turkey over to Germany,” she said in an interview with German broadcaster ARD.

“But rather, those who have been living here for years and perhaps also have German citizenship, take part in the development of our country and if they want to they are very welcome to do so,” she said.

Merkel drew criticism for an interview published in Passauer Neue Presse newspaper on Tuesday, in which she said: “We expect those with a Turkish background who have lived in Germany for a long time to develop a high degree of loyalty to our country.”

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Categories: Angela Merkel, Gulen Movement, HIzmet, News, Turkey

#MakeaMovieIslamic Hashtag Shows Hows Race and Religious Bigotry is Normalised for Some

Twitter 1


Yesterday evening, (27th August 2016), was a perfect example of how race and religious bigotry is normalised for some who chose Twitter to promote their prejudiced views through.

There are some who believe that faith is open to ridicule. That is not the issue here, since people can ridicule any faith or set of beliefs and no doubt many will challenge their views. What is deeply problematic is the inclusion of groups of people, anti-Muslim tropes and a sprinkling of racism thrown in for good measure. It also shows the kinds of people drawn to this hashtag.

Some Twitter accounts therefore slipped quite easily between Islam and their prejudice against Muslims and their bigotry and prejudice was clear to see. Take for example @sydneyatheist below, or references to Prophet Muhammad and anti-Muslims tropes thrown around that Muslims are ‘paedophiles’, even though two words come to mind – Jimmy Saville – for a start. Or take open racism through the @JulianusPowell account where it calls a group of angry bearded Muslim men, “Planet of the Apes.”

Or take @harbi607 and the dehumanization of a woman wearing the burqa and niqab (face veil), into ‘the thing.’ Or @WillPPritchard who also throws in some anti-Semitism for good measure. Or @SuperOldHolborn whose views are so skewed that they warrant challenging by others on Twitter.

These are just some of the accounts that were active using this hashtag. Yet, to be fair, we must also add that the hashtag did not catch on and that some accounts, (listed below), started to challenge some of the prejudice being promoted.

Which brings us onto the final point. There will be small scale campaigns like this in the future that will target communities, including Muslims. Twitter is not removing material unless there is a targeted threat or if there are copyright issues with pictures for example. Whatever changes Twitter implements in the future, it is imperative that more people are active in challenging such accounts, and with accounts like @JulianusPowell, ensuring that they are reported in.

If Twitter fails to act on such accounts promoting open racism, we will ensure that they are highlighted with the social media agency. Until more accounts do not challenge hatred, prejudice and bigotry, the very platforms many of us use to connect with others will be used by those who find it easy and acceptable to promote their hatred. We cannot allow that to continue unchallenged.


Some however, challenged those accounts using the #MakeaMovieIslamic hashtag, showing that counter-speech can make a difference, though more accounts needs to challenge such bigotry and prejudice.



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Categories: #MakeaMovieIslamic, anti-Muslim hate, harbi607, JulianusPowell, News, SuperOldHolborn, WillPPritchard

Relative of Charlie Hebdo attacker investigated for Islamist ties

Gunmen gesture as they return to their car after the attack outside the offices of French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo (seen at rear) in this still image taken from amateur video shot in Paris January 7, 2015. REUTERS/Reuters TV


A relative of one of the militants who attacked French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January 2015 has been put under formal investigation for Islamist ties and remanded in custody, a judicial source said on Saturday.

The source said Mourad Hamyd was suspected of trying to travel to Syria to join Islamic State.

Hamyd, who is French and a brother-in-law of assailant Cherif Kouachi, was detained in Bulgaria last month after a Paris court issued a European arrest warrant against him.

Hamyd was questioned by French police following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in which Cherif Kouachi and his brother Said shot dead 12 people before being killed by police, but was cleared of any involvement.

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Categories: Attack, Cartoons, Charlie Hedo, Cherif Kouachi, Islamist, Mourad Hamyd, News, Paris, terrorism

Anjem Choudhary Hated the Very Essence of Democracy – That is Why He Attacked Councillors

Islamic preacher Anjem Choudary addresses members of the media during a protest supporting the Shari'ah Law, in north London October 31, 2009.      REUTERS/Tal Cohen/Files


The Director of Faith Matters, Fiyaz Mughal, writes about the intimidation and inflammatory nature of the actions of Anjem Choudhary and his young coterie of followers, in targeting elected councillors.

Anjem Choudhary has finally been brought to justice. One of the most infamous Islamist faces on TV screens across the globe, this Pied Piper of hatred was found to be instrumental in garnering support for Daesh or Islamic State and in pledging allegiance to it in 2014.

Yet, Anjem was a regular at major Islamic events and in places like Newham, Tower Hamlets and Haringey to name a few London boroughs. He was not allowed into venues and stood outside surrounded by young boys and men who clearly looked up to him and his tactic was to berate and blame and his targets were not only the US, or UK foreign policy, on many occasions they were Muslim elected councillors.

Choudhary knew that by confronting elected members who happened to be Muslim, he could grandstand in front of his young supporters and question the democratic structures of our country.

I was one of the elected members in 2009 who whilst doing my Sunday shopping, ended up with about 20 young people around me hurling obscenities and terms such as ‘kafir’ at me for representing local residents in the Noel Park ward in the London Borough of Haringey. It seems that the exercising of my democratic right meant that Choudhary and his supporters thought that I had ‘sold out’ and that I was no longer a Muslim. Such was the toxic mix of poison he pumped into the minds of young men.

Over the years, Choudhary had made it a point to visit the London Borough of Haringey and would stand outside local stores in the middle of the High Street. He would make inflammatory comments and speeches and would the justify why democracy, the rule of law and human rights were of no value and meaning to him. All the while as he did this, he would urge his young coterie of followers to ensure that Muslims did not vote since it was not allowed in Islam.

Choudhary would rail against these very concepts that make up our society and he would say that only God’s law mattered to him, thereby rendering any legitimate debate invalid and useless with someone who was simply an agitator. Yet, in 2009, as I came out with my shopping, Choudhary made a beeline for me accusing me of apostasy by ‘joining the British system.’ What he meant was that I had exercised my right to play a part in British political life, even though by 2009, I had already served for over 5 years as a councillor in Oxford and the London Borough of Haringey.

What followed was abuse, aggressive threats against me and about 20 young Asian Muslim males suggesting that the fire of hell was somewhere where Muslim councillors belonged within. It seemed that Choudhary knew who I was and being a Liberal Democrat Councillor at the time, he quoted some of the positions that I had held within the national party structure.

Watching this from a side line were a handful of police officers who thought that the whole scenario would just wash over. Little did they realise that Choudhary was going to go on to become one of the most charismatic of radicalisers that this country had seen, yet that was the problem. In 2009, he was seen by many, as simply a joke and a clown and not a threat.

The Beating Up of a Shia Man in the Heart of the West End – Sectarianism at the Heart of Choudhary

My next encounter with Choudhary came in July 2013 as I sat in Edgware Road in the West End one afternoon. Choudhary, it seems, had visited the Egyptian Embassy and had demonstrated outside it and decided to visit Edgware Road simply to agitate on the back of the Sunni and Shia splits that were engulfing Syria after the Arab Spring. Choudhary knew that the Syrian civil war posed an opportunity for him to recruit more impressionable young Sunni Muslim males here in the UK.

With loudspeaker in hand, Choudhary shouted anti-Assad and anti-Shia rhetoric as the young men around him became more and more agitated on the middle of Edgware Road. All the while I watched as his followers kept repeating the anti-Shia slogans. Sadly, within a few minutes of having turned my head away, a young man had been brutally assaulted on the basis that Choudhary’s followers thought that he was Shia. It seems that at the heart of Choudhary’s ideology, was a voracious hatred of Shia and other sects within Islam.

In fact, it turned out that there were 2 men who had been assaulted and one was Sunni and the other Shia. They had been walking down Edgware Road and had been identified as Shias by one of Choudhary’s group. The assault on the Shia male led to 10 separate injuries on his head, face and body and when I met up with him a few days later through the intervention of the Al Khoie Centre in Brent, it turned out that the man was married to a Sunni woman. This though, was of no consequence to Choudhary or the young men who followed him and who listened and hung on his every word. For even when the assault was taking place in the heart of the West End, Choudhary was to be found in the melee, having wound up his followers, yet with his hands not directly involved in criminality. This was precisely how he operated.

Both of these incidents showed me one thing. That Choudhary was the puppeteer and the man who wound up impressionable young men and then released them onto an unsuspecting public in the UK and the Middle East. This went on for many years and with impunity as police forces admitted that he had broken no laws. Sadly, though, this conviction came too late for many young men who were brainwashed by Choudhary. Many lie in unmarked graves in the Middle East, whilst others languish in our jails. However, the real losers in all of these, have been the families of those who were murdered by the young men that the Pied Piper of Hate had groomed and released like javelins onto the world. That is the true legacy of Anjem Choudhary.

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Categories: Anjem Choudhary, Anti-Shia, councillors, Daesh, Islamic State, Muslim councillors, Opinions