Middle East In The News


Islamic State Kidnaps Christian Toddler and Women

By Judit Neurink 1 hour ago Saturday, August 30th, 2014, 2:24pm

Photo by author.
Photo by author.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Christians who fled the town of Qaraqosh are reporting that the Islamic State (IS) kidnapped several women and a 3-year-old girl after they forced families from their homes last week.

The IS attack on the Assyrian town and the kidnappings, the first to be reported in a Christian area now under IS control, purged the town of most of its remaining residents. Fearing an IS advance, most had fled Qaraqosh, 30 miles southeast of Mosul, to Erbil in early August but some vulnerable residents were forced to stay behind. 

According to refugees, IS militants took the women and toddler when they expelled the remaining residents — among them the elderly, people with disabilities, children and their female caretakers. A few dozen others, including a doctor, were ordered to stay behind.

One resident, Kafah, a woman in her forties who was looking after her elderly parents, told Rudaw that three men forced them out of their home and took them to a local health clinic with around 75 other residents. All of their possessions, including their money, documents and mobile phones, were confiscated. 

“Women were told to take off all their gold jewelry, even their earrings,” said Kafah, who asked that her last name not be used.

They were then shuttled into a bus, where the disabled were forced to leave their wheelchairs behind.

“While I was helping my mother into the bus, I saw a bearded IS guy carry off a girl, about 3 years old, called Christina,” Kafah said. “Her mother started to scream and cry.”

Christina’s mother later spoke to Ishtar TV in Erbil about her ordeal, recalling how she followed the man who took her child. While the girl was crying, Christina was handed to an older man, whom the mother said was “one of those IS people, who was apparently their leader.”

She begged him, “Poor girl, what has she done wrong? For the sake of Allah, for the sake of Muhammad, what do you worship? Give her to me; I’m nursing and she’ll die if she’s not with me.”

The man “drew his machine gun and said, ‘Go quickly to the bus. If you come close to this little girl you will be slaughtered. We will slaughter you.’”

Along with the girl about seven or eight young women were also taken, according to Kafah. 

One of the hostages managed to phone a family member and reported that they were taken to Mosul, including the toddler. 

The kidnappings are the first account of mass abduction of Christian women and girls since IS seized Mosul in June, and follows the kidnappings of hundreds of female Yezidis when IS seized the Yezidi town of Shingal and surrounding areas earlier this month. 

Some of the Yezidis girls and women have been able to make contact with their families and the press, reporting they were being held hostage and were sexually abused. They have not been heard from since.

Given that journalists and other investigators cannot travel in Nineveh province, most of which is IS controlled, it is difficult to confirm reports about the fate of the Yezidis and Assyrian hostages.

Most Qaraqosh residents fled the IS advance into the minority-dominated Nineveh Plains in early August, residents said. IS has targeted Yezidis, Christians, Shabbak and other Iraqi religious minorities. Thousands of Christians fled Mosul and surrounding areas after IS ordered Christians to convert to Islam or die.  

Passengers on the bus were forced the cross the Zab river on foot, a long and harrowing journey for the refugees with disabilities. Family members and one IS militant carried those who couldn’t walk across the river, a journey made more difficult by the summer heat. 

The victims said they had no water, food or medicine and the area was deserted because all of the villagers had fled for fear of IS. 

One of the refugees hid his phone and alerted family members in Erbil, where most ended up taking refuge after crossing the river and being released by IS. Some survived the ordeal with just blisters and dehydration, though one elderly man was hospitalized in intensive care for three days.

Refugees who found refuge in Erbil’s Christian enclave of Ainkawa have called on church authorities there to organize rescue missions for the girls, but have been told that the church is powerless.

Kurdish and US forces, with the support of US air strikes, rescued tens of thousands of Yezidis stranded on Shingal Mountain earlier this month and have been hitting IS strongholds in Nineveh province. The US is supplying Peshmerga with weapons and continuing aerial bombings, but the joint operations have not included additional rescue missions for civilians trapped in IS-controlled towns.

In the Arab world, Frankenstein’s monster turns on its masters

Friday, 29 August 2014

A bloodthirsty bunch of crazed head-hunters are on the rampage in Syria and Iraq and not only threaten to disperse their poisonous ideology throughout the Middle East region but also to Western capitals. Sounds like a bad fairy-tale doesn’t it, except there is no fairy godmother in this story to banish this bloodthirsty horde. This is real and it is happening. And what are the self-appointed guardians of our world doing about it other than dropping bombs here and there to defend their own interests, issuing threats and distributing care packages?

Are we seriously to believe the explosive conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and what remains of the Libyan state are mere happenstance? Or could it be that a grand plan to destabilize the region using extremists is underway so as to slice-up Arab countries into easily manipulated weak entities whose natural resources will be ripe for plunder?

I believe “scientists” in suits bore a creature that was nurtured and assisted to develop its murderous skills in the same way that al-Qaeda was born and is now known as ISIS. But the creature grew so militarily, financially and ideologically powerful that it now threatens its creators’ existence; a monster that is terrorizing the world with inhuman atrocities under the banner of Islam, the religion of tolerance and peace.

The reptilian creature, that’s announced a caliphate across northern Syria and Iraq with its sights set towards Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, has shed its skin and is now spewing its venom against its masters. It was manufactured in Syria as a Western tool to jeopardize the Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) growing popularity throughout the Arab World and its honorable cause with the result Assad’s initially fictitious argument that he’s battling terrorists has been bolstered.

The slaughter paraded on our screens, perpetrated by masked men driving around in identical brand new Humvees, are not the work of amateurs. And neither is the serpent’s propaganda machine which uses sophisticated messages on social media to reach out to vulnerable, gullible or disaffected young Muslims in the U.S. and Europe who view the establishment of a caliphate as an affirmation of their identity whereas a caliphate built on rivers of blood, mountains of severed heads and girls sold as slaves is nothing but an evil abomination.

There is evidence to suggest it was covertly trained by the regional and Western powers, which abandoned the legitimate opposition, the brave men of the Free Syrian Army. Had the Leader of the Free World, President Obama, done the right thing several years ago by heeding the just demands of the FSA, tens of thousands of Syrian and Iraqi lives would have been saved, the American journalist would have been spared and the region and beyond wouldn’t be facing this menace. The FSA didn’t ask Obama for boots on the ground or to engage in a full scale war against the regime. He was merely requested to provide the FSA with air cover, heavy weapons and ammunition to assist its fight. But no, Western weapons mysteriously found their way into the hands of extremists like Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS which turned their guns on the FSA.

Thoroughly probed

The U.S. president should be thoroughly probed by a congressional committee for his role in worsening the carnage in Syria and for fomenting the sectarian conflicts and lawlessness plaguing the Middle East. His intervention in Libya has brought division and destruction; his failure to respond to appeals for assistance from the Iraqi government last year has resulted in black flags fluttering over one third of the country. Moreover, his support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt over the will of the Egyptian people would have ignited a bloody civil war if the people and the army weren’t united. Congress should investigate whether or not his actions or non-actions were in keeping with U.S. interests and the real reasons behind his seeming support for religious extremists over moderates.

The governments of the UK and France should be placed under a microscope for acting as America’s mini-me’s on foreign policy

Khalaf Ahmad al- Habtoor

Furthermore, how can one explain the sudden flirtation between Iran and the West when for decades the United Nations, the U.S. and Europe have applied anti-Iranian sanctions to no real effect. If Iran had been an Arab country, I’ve no doubt in my mind that it would have been invaded long ago to remove the threat, even without concrete proof that it was, indeed, developing a nuclear weapons capability, as we witnessed when “shock and awe” was delivered to Iraq.

The governments of the UK and France should also be placed under a microscope for acting as America’s mini-me’s on foreign policy. They have spectacularly failed at tamping down on the monster’s recruiting drives. The British press, in particular, is packed with news about jihadists openly touting their ideology on high streets, in universities and via UK-based media outlets; they’ve even been handing out leaflets on London’s Oxford Street but rather than face arrest, the police announced they needed to check on what laws may have been broken!

The BBC regularly interviews young British Muslims praising the so-called caliphate. At least 500 – some say the figure is near 2,000 – British citizens, apparently including would-be Jihadist brides, have travelled to Syria to take-up arms targeting Sunnis who reject ideological slavery as well as Christians and other minorities. Hundreds more have flocked there from the U.S., Canada and Australia. ISIS welcomed over 6,000 new recruits in July alone, including 1,100 foreigners. The idea is catching on. Boko Haram has announced its own caliphate in an area of Nigeria. Where next?

Anyone with even half a brain cannot fail to wonder why no firm action has been taken to prevent this tide, which will sooner or later return to hit Western shores with a violent tsunami of cataclysmic proportions, under the pretense of free expression and respect for individual freedoms. Former UK Foreign Minister Kim Howells believes home grown terrorists may be planning a spectacular attack on the NATO summit to be held in Cardiff next month.

Why are terrorists boasting of their exploits or encouraging their children to proudly display severed heads on the internet being given a free pass when purveyors of child pornography are so easily be rounded up, not to mention celebrities accused of crimes committed thirty years ago?

A question that demands urgent answering is this: Are the implosions and explosions throughout the Arab world caused by internal circumstances or random acts of fate - or have they been deliberately orchestrated by unseen hands? I’ve come to my own conclusions; I’ll leave you to ponder on yours.


Khalaf Ahmad al-Habtoor is a prominent and highly respected citizen of the United Arab Emirates. A self-made man, he is Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group - one of the most successful conglomerates in the Gulf. Al Habtoor is known not only for his many business achievements but also his extensive knowledge of international political affairs; his philanthropic activity; his efforts to promote peace; and the fact that he has long acted as an unofficial ambassador for his country abroad. Writing extensively on both local and international politics, he publishes regular articles in the media and has released a number of books. Habtoor began his career as an employee of a local UAE construction firm and in 1970 established his own company, Al Habtoor Engineering. The UAE Federation, which united the seven emirates under the one flag for the first time, was founded in 1971 and this inspired him to undertake a series of innovative construction projects – all of which proved highly successful.

Last Update: Friday, 29 August 2014 KSA 09:19 - GMT 06:19