A series of bomb explosions have killed at least four people and injured dozens of others at popular tourist areas in Thailand. Over the course of 24 hours, multiple bombs went off in the town of Hua Hin and the island of Phuket, both areas that attract foreign tourists.
Dissidents? Insurgents? The Thai government says it doesn't know who was behind a series of bombings https://t.co/5b3ufGMtbT
It’s not clear yet who is behind the wave of bombings, but an Islamic separatist insurgent group in the country is responsible for nearly 6,000 deaths since 2004, though officials haven’t found links to any terrorist organization at this point. And, up to now, the separatists haven’t directly targeted foreign tourists. As the BBC notes, the timing falls on a national holiday that marks the queen’s birthday. Discuss
GOP Vice Presidential candidate and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was recently a guest on The Charlie Sykes Show radio program, and was asked for some details about Trump’s controversial plan to ban anyone from certain countries that have been home to terrorism from coming to U.S. Trump has previously called for banning Muslims from entering the United States, and, recently called for suspending immigration from “any nation that has been compromised by terrorism.”
Pence, who previously called for suspending Indiana’s participation in the nation’s Syrian refugee program which allows specially-selected victims of ISIS and Syria's on-going civil war, to find new homes in the United States, was asked for details about Trump's ban. Specifically, he was asked if the ban would extend to Christians and Jews from those countries, many of whom are specifically targeted by ISIS.
Gov. Mike Pence: We should temporarily suspend immigration from countries that have been compromised by terrorism, which I think is altogether fitting and appropriate. When you look at the Syrian refugee program—we had another incident in Belgium over the weekend—the simple fact is that both our homeland security and FBI have said there are countries like Syria where people are coming in through routine means, the refugees program and otherwise, and we can simply not know who they are for sure. So suspending that program from those countries, I think, is in the best interest of the security of our people.”
Charlie Sykes: So there’s no longer a proposed temporary ban on Muslims? It would be anyone from those countries, including Christians, Jews?
Gov. Pence: I think what you heard in the convention speech, what we talked about out on the stump is that we would temporarily suspend from countries or from territories if you will—the caliphate obviously of ISIS expands beyond one country—but to say that individuals that come from regions or countries that have been compromised by terrorism, that we would expand that immigration. I think that’s appropriate until we develop a new vetting system.”
ISIS has killed thousands and displaced millions in parts of the Middle East. Most of their victims are fellow Muslims, but they also regularly target religious minorities. Discuss
A church in Sweden is using a unique method to bring the Bible to areas of Iraq controlled by the radical Islamic group ISIS: drones. Sweden’s Word of Life church will be partnering with another unnamed organization in the Middle East to carry out the operation. Church leaders explained to reporters that the Bibles “are the size of pill boxes and have a display. They require no electricity, but work on their own.”
ISIS currently controls large areas in Syria and Iraq where they brutally enforce their radical brand of Islamic ideology. Thousands of Christians have been displaced throughout the region, and ISIS regularly executes, tortures and even rapes victims in areas that it controls.
On their website, the church explained, “Our ambition is to pass on the hope and love of the Christian gospel to a population living in closed areas where they are being denied human rights.” They told the newspaper The Local, "This missions project is closer to traditional smuggling of bibles, and it is not connected to any military or aggressive action in any way.” Discuss
According to reports, at least 63 people were killed and at least 100 more were injured when suicide bombers blew themselves up at a hospital in Pakistan. Many of the victims had gathered there after a well-known lawyer named Bilal Anwar Kasti was shot earlier in the day, and were also prominent lawyers and journalists in the country. Moments after the bombs went off, gunmen opened fire on the victims.
Meet 18-year-old Yusra Mardini. Born in Syria, the world-class swimmer will compete with a team of 10 refugees from around the world at this year’s Summer Olympic Games in Rio, but her story of heroism is even more inspiring than her athletic achievements.
As she explained to The Independent, as a child in Syria “Sometimes we couldn’t train because of the war. And sometimes you would be swimming in pools where the roofs were [blown open] in three or four places.”
After years of war, she and her sister fled Syria, eventually making it to Turkey where they planned on taking a dangerous, overcrowded boat to Greece, in search of a better life in Europe. Most of the people on the boat couldn’t swim.
As the paper explains, Only a half hour into their journey across the Aegean Sea, the boat’s engine broke down. Mardini and her sister—along with the only two other people on the boat who could swim—jump into the water, and pushed and pulled the boat for three hours in open water.
I had one hand with the rope attached to the boat as I moved my two legs and one arm. It was three and half hours in cold water. Your body is almost like … done. I don’t know if I can describe that.
Today, her and her sister live in Germany, and she is proud to not only compete in the Olympic games, but to also challenge the way the world sees refugees. She explained at a press conference:
I want everyone to think refugees are normal people who had their homelands and lost them not because they wanted to run away and be refugees, but because they have dreams in their lives and they had to go. Everything is about trying to get a new and better life and by entering the stadium we are encouraging everyone to pursue their dreams.
Government officials in Israel are accusing a World Vision staff member of funneling more than $7 million to Hamas, an Islamic militant group designated a terrorist organization by the United States.
Yesterday, Mohammad El Halabi, who's run World Vision’s office in Gaza since 2010, was formally charged by Israeli authorities, according to NBC News. He was originally arrested back in June.
NBC explains that Isreali officials claim “El Halabi diverted around $7.2 million of World Vision money to Hamas each year.” If that’s true, it means that about 60 percent of the charity's total Gaza funding has gone to the terror group.
The money in question was reportedly intended children's health and other initiatives like funding for education and psychological health. Israel's Shin Bet security service says that about $1.5 million a year in cash was given to Hamas "combat units."
El Halabi denies the charges. His lawyer told NBC: "[El Halabi] told me he never, ever transferred any money to Hamas and he has never been a Hamas member."
The lawyer also claims that El Halabi, while in custody of Israel, has been beaten badly.
World Vision released a statement, saying leadership was "shocked to learn of these charges against Mohammad," adding, that they"will carefully review any evidence presented to us and will take appropriate actions based on that evidence," while calling for "a fair, legal process for Mohammad."
On June 15th, 2016, Mohammad El Halabi, the manager of operations for World Vision in Gaza, was arrested on his way home from routine meetings. On August 4th 2016, after 50 days in Israeli state detention, Mohammad was charged with providing support to Hamas. World Vision was shocked to learn of these charges against Mohammad.
World Vision subscribes to the humanitarian principles of impartiality and neutrality and therefore rejects any involvement in any political, military or terrorist activities and maintains its independence as a humanitarian aid agency committed to serving the poor, especially children. World Vision has detailed procedures and control mechanisms in place to ensure that the funds entrusted to us are spent in accordance with applicable legal requirements and in ways that do not fuel conflict but rather contribute to peace.
World Vision programs in Gaza have been subject to regular internal and independent audits, independent evaluations, and a broad range of internal controls aimed at ensuring that assets reach their intended beneficiaries and are used in compliance with applicable laws and donor requirements. We will carefully review any evidence presented to us and will take appropriate actions based on that evidence. We continue to call for a fair, legal process for Mohammad.
In some of the immediate fallout, NBC reports that Australia's government has suspended its funding for World Vision's operations in Palestinian territories. Discuss