Oytun Ayse Mihalik, California Pharmacist, Gets Prison For Funding Terrorism


Source: huffingtonpost.com/AP

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A California woman was sentenced Friday to five years in prison for wiring money to Pakistan to help fund terrorist attacks against U.S. military personnel.

Oytun Ayse Mihalik, 40, of La Palma pleaded guilty in August to one count of providing material support to terrorists. She admitted to providing a total of $2,050 in three wire transfers to a person in Pakistan with the intention that the money would be used for attacks against U.S. military personnel and other people overseas, prosecutors said.

“While the sum of money involved in this case may not seem substantial, there’s no doubt the funds this defendant sent overseas would have covered the cost of an attack on U.S. soldiers,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement‘s homeland security investigations in Los Angeles. “Money is the mother’s milk of terrorism and we will move aggressively against those who provide financial support to groups and individuals bent on harming the U.S. and its allies.”

Mihalik, who worked as a pharmacist, has been in federal custody since she was arrested in August, after she attempted to board a flight to her native Turkey. Court records show she had been cooperating with investigators.

Shortly after her arrest, Mihalik told the FBI that she believed the person in Pakistan was a member of the Taliban and al-Qaeda and he was using the money for mujahideen efforts against American military forces in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region, authorities said.


Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/29/oytun-ayse-mihalik-sentenced_n_2981266.html

Muhammad Ismail Says He Is Proud of Triple Honor Killing



Source: CNN


Kot Chutta, Pakistan (CNN) — From behind the steel bars of his jail cell, Muhammad Ismail described with uncanny ease how he shot and killed his wife, his mother-in-law, and sister-in-law.
“The first shot hit the side of her body,” Ismail said. “I left her there and went next door and killed my wife’s mother and sister. I made sure they were all dead. Then I locked the door and left the house.”

Without any apparent regret, Ismail said he would do it again.

“I am proud of what I did. That’s why I turned myself over to the police.”

Ismail’s confession to the triple-murder that took place last February in a village in central Pakistan is a rare and chilling first-hand account of a so-called ‘honor’ killing — the murder of women who are usually accused of dishonoring their families by being unfaithful or disobedient.

Ismail accused his wife of eight months of repeatedly flirting with other men and spending long hours away from home.

“My wife never made me happy,” said the 20-year-old who played drums in a traditional Pakistani wedding band before his arrest. “She was like a prostitute. She never took care of me.”

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reported 943 women were “killed in the name of honor” in Pakistan last year, an increase of more than 100 from 2010.

Rights groups blame the increase in ‘honor’ murders partly on what they call an ineffective justice system in Pakistan that too often allows killers to go unpunished.

Despite his videotaped confession to CNN and an earlier confession to police, prosecutors say Ismail can soon be a free man if his victims’ family agrees to accept compensation for the killings.

Receiving blood money is an option for victims in many conservative Muslim societies under the Islamic principal that mercy is more noble than revenge.





Afghanistan & Pakistan: States of Play



Source: Al Jazeera

How will the 2014 US troop withdrawal and Pakistan‘s upcoming elections affect regional and global politics?


The April issue of the Al Jazeera English digital magazine presents in depth coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, countries that continue to face numerous internal and external challenges.

And as they do so, new stories emerge rekindling hope that peace will finally come to the region as well as political, social and economic stability.

Afghanistan is set for a 2014 US troop withdrawal and Pakistan is gearing up for elections in May – for the first time in its history a democratically elected government has completed five years in office.

So how will these major changes affect regional and global politics?

Some of the highlights of the issue include:

  • Kabul: A city of hope and fear – With the US set to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in 2014, what does the future hold for the country’s capital?
  • A journey along Pakistan’s Indus River – Fed by the water from the melted snow of the Himalayas and prone to monsoon floods, the ebb and flow of the river impacts on the lives of hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis.
  • Buzkashi: Riding into the scoring circle – Afghanistan’s national sport was banned under the Taliban but it now attracts thousands of passionate fans.
  • Pakistan’s troubled milestone – As the country heads towards elections, the mood remains one of cynicism rather than celebration.
  • Embracing a new Afghan challenge – A skiing competition – including an event for women – reflects a new sense of optimism in a country that is simultaneously holding its breath ahead of the 2014 US troop withdrawal.
  • Navigating Hell’s Road – Meet the Pakistani truckers who must battle arguably the world’s most dangerous road in order to ferry goods to remote mountain villages.

A final cigarette… then the hangman’s noose: Three men put to death in Kuwaiti car park in country’s first execution in six years


Source: dailymail.co.uk

Three men convicted of murder hanged today in the Gulf Arab state

Blindfolded, his hands bound, a condemned prisoner puffs desperately on a final cigarette.

Just a few minutes later he and two others are led up a short flight of stairs, nooses are placed around their necks before a trapdoor opens beneath their feet. This is justice Kuwait-style.

The Gulf-Arab state hanged three convicted murderers today, the first executions to take place there since 2007, state news agency KUNA reported.

Sentenced to death: Three men hang from the scaffolding in Kuwait in the first executions in the country since 2007

 The three were a Pakistani, a Saudi and a stateless man who were hooded and bound before being hung from gallows outside the Central Prison, official pictures showed.

They had been found guilty in three separate murder cases. Authorities had invited journalists from Kuwaiti publications to witness the executions.The last recorded case of the death penalty being carried out in Kuwait was six years ago when a Pakistani man was executed for drug trafficking, according to Amnesty International.

No escape: The Saudi prisoner is held by two executioners as he puffs on his final cigarette

Kuwait, which has a population of around three and a half million people, operates a judicial system which is a mixture of Islamic Sharia law, English common law, and the Ottoman civil code. 

The state carried out 72 executions (69 men and three women) between April 1964 and May 2007.

Crimes that carry the death sentence include drug trafficking, murder and treason. Sentences are not carried out publically however members of the media act as witnesses and pictures are published in the hope it will act as a deterrent KUNA said 48 people remain on death row in Kuwait.

Bomb explosion: Office of NGO targeted in Hayatabad



Source:  tribune.com.pk

A bomb weighing six kilogrammes went off outside the office of Sawera, destroying the building used by the NGO along with furniture and a vehicle. PHOTO: INP

PESHAWARAfter the brutal killing of its executive director last year, Sawera – an NGO working to promote women’s rights – once again came under attack on Saturday.

A bomb was planted by unidentified militants near the gate of the NGO’s office in Hayatabad Phase-I. The device, weighing six kilogrammes, rendered heavy losses to the building, furniture and a vehicle used by the organisation, but no loss of life was reported. “The blast also damaged two other houses in the area,” said a police official.

Sawera’s technical advisor Lal Jan Afridi said the NGO, which stands for Society for Appraisal and Women Empowerment in Rural Areas, is presently working on voters’ education and mobilisation in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). He added they are also providing livelihood to displaced persons not residing in refugee camps.

Jan said despite the murder of their colleague in Jamrud, Khyber Agency on July 4, 2012, they have continued with their operations fearlessly.

Sawera’s Executive Director Farida Afridi was shot dead while she was on her way to office from her house in Hayatabad, Peshawar. “She was a great loss for us, but that didn’t deter us from working for the welfare of poor people,” Jan told The Express Tribune.

He added they had not received any prior warnings of an attack on them, saying it was “sudden and tragic.”

Jan claimed they have now been compelled to suspend operations as their office has been completely destroyed. He said they will talk to donors to provide funds to compensate for the losses they have sustained. “We will do everything we can to ensure the organisation keeps running.”

He said the lives of the NGO’s employees were at stake and appealed to the government to provide them security. “We have 15 staff members, most of whom are females. They are gripped with fear after this blast.”

Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network (PCSN) Coordinator Idrees Kamal strongly condemned the attack.

“The terrorists are targeting these people because they don’t want the residents to come out from the clutches of darkness. We demand the government to compensate the organisation,” he said in a statement.

“The lukewarm response of Pakistani forces and their constant failure to catch the culprits are providing a safe haven for terrorists in tribal areas. These attacks are now happening on a daily basis. The caretaker government should chalk out a proper strategy to rid Pakistani soil of these militants,” he added.

Kamal said a PCNS delegation will soon meet the K-P chief minister and governor to discuss the issue. “We asked the previous government to provide jobs to the family members of the Swabi blast victims, but the demand was not fulfilled in their tenure. We now request the present government to compensate them.”

‘Don’t burn this house. It belongs to a Muslim’



Source:(tribune.com.pk  By Ali Usman / Photo: Abid Nawaz / Creative: Essa Malik)


While most of the two hundred houses set on fire in Joseph Colony have been rebuilt, the shattered confidence of the residents will take more time to be picked up.

Nevy Samuel, 28, was one of the inhabitants who saw her house attacked by angry mob over an alleged act of blasphemy committed by Sawan Masih.

“It’s not easy being a Christian. All my life, I have heard remarks like ‘woh dekho, eesai guzar rahi hai’ (look, that’s a Christian passing by),” she says. “But this incident has brought the (level of) discrimination to a peak.”

In the aftermath, the fear is now even more deeply embedded into the community’s psyche.

“Though everything is normal now, I feel that simply being a Christian is an invitation to danger,” says Samuel. “When I pass through the lanes without my husband, my heart keeps pounding because of fear.”

Samuel is a mother to a four-month-old daughter – a normal, contributing member to society. Yet, now she feels like a second-class citizen.

“We were told by some Muslim neighbours that our house had burnt to the ground. They advised us not to come back. When we finally did, all we found were ashes,” she recalls. “This happened just because I am a Christian. Being a Christian isn’t a crime, is it?”

According to Samuel, they fled the locality during the riots after the police assured them that they would protect properties.

The chants and loud proclamations they were subjected to while escaping – we will get rid of Christians, we will teach them a lesson – still ring in her ears.

Sixteen-year-old Junaid Patras also belongs to the Badami Bagh area, home to a generally lower income group.

“I saw people burning our house before my very own eyes,” said Patras. “They wanted to burn us in the house but some Muslim friends managed to get us out in time. My father suffered a mental shock and, since then, hasn’t regained his senses.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2013

Girls’ teacher killed in Taliban shooting victim ‘Malala-style’ attack


Source: .independent.co.uk (ANDREW BUNCOMBE)

A teacher in Pakistan has been murdered in an attack similar to that on Malala Yousafzai, the schoolgirl blogger.

Shahnaz Nazli was shot dead in Shahkas, near the town of Jamrud in the Khyber tribal district, between the north-western city of Peshawar and the Afghan border.

Reports said the 41-year-old was hit in what as described as a drive-by shooting.

According to the AFP news agency, the teacher was on her way to the government girls’ primary school in Shahkas when gunmen fired at her about 200 metres from the school and then fled the scene.

“The teacher was killed after unknown gunmen on a motorbike shot her and fled,” said a local government official, Asmatullah Wazir.

No groups have so far claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack, though the Taliban has previously been behind numerous attacks on girls’ schools and teachers. Hundreds of schools have been bombed and destroyed in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

Last year, the Taliban shot and seriously wounded Malala Yousafzai, a teenager who campaigned for girls’ education.

Child suicide bombers find safe haven


Source: edition.cnn.com ( John Horgan, Special for CNN)

Editor’s note: Dr. John Horgan is a psychologist at Penn State where he is director of the International Center for the Study of Terrorism. His latest book is ‘Divided We Stand: The Strategy and Psychology of Ireland’s Dissident Terrorists’ by Oxford University Press.

Swat, Pakistan (CNN) — Just over one week ago, Pakistani authorities paraded 11 children accused of terrorism in front of the local media. The boys, aged 10 to 16, were apprehended while attempting to plant home-made explosives on behalf of local militant groups operating in and around the city of Quetta, in Balochistan.

The boys’ arrest highlights Pakistan‘s worsening civil strife and underscores how Pakistani terrorist groups continue to exploit children.

This is not a recent phenomenon. In fact, terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan are increasingly turning to children as operatives.

A few weeks ago, my colleague Mia Bloom and I traveled to Pakistan’s Swat Valley to see firsthand how the Pakistani government is working to solve this problem.

Swat District includes the city of Mingora, part of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province which borders Afghanistan.

This is the region where 14-year old Malala Yousafzai — an activist for girls’ education — narrowly survived a Taliban assassinationattempt last year.

                                                                                 Pakistani police: Kids used as bombers
Renowned for its picturesque vistas, the Swat region fell victim to a brutal reign of terror by the Pakistani Taliban, or TTP in 2008. Faced with an emboldened TTP, Pakistan’s national army launched an 18-month counterinsurgency campaign. Law and order were restored and the Taliban forced to retreat.

An emerging success story — and the reason for our visit to Swat — is the establishment of “Sabaoon.” From the Urdu meaning “the first ray of light from the dawn”, Sabaoon is Pakistan’s rehabilitation facility for child militants who were formerly recruited by the TTP.

Some of these children were even prepared to become suicide bombers.

Sabaoon’s team of psychologists, social workers and military advisers share a principal objective — to prevent recidivism and ensure that its ‘graduates’ don’t return to the fight.

Sabaoon joins a growing list of similar initiatives that have cropped up around the globe since the mid-2000s. Perhaps the best-known terrorist rehabilitation program is in Saudi Arabia.

Collectively characterized as “de-radicalization” programs, it is more accurate to call them “risk reduction” initiatives. They represent a change in the way counterterrorism campaigns are waged, and share the goal of reducing the risk of re-engagement in terrorism once the program’s graduates are allowed to return to their communities.

So far, Sabaoon has had 188 ‘students’ fully participate in its program of risk assessment and rehabilitation.

All of the boys were captured by the army or police in raids on Pakistani Taliban training camps. The boys spend anywhere from six months to two years at Sabaoon. A few have spent as long as three years in rehabilitation.

In Pakistan, the TTP showed no hesitation in their use of children for terrorism. In fact, “recruitment” is hardly the right word. It became clear from our conversations at Sabaoon that these children had little if any say in their induction.

The younger children lacked the capability to refuse the terrorists, fearing their own safety or reprisals to their families. One mother explained to me that she had turned to the Taliban when she could no longer cope with her son’s alcohol and drug abuse — marijuana grows wild throughout Swat.

Targeting children at risk like this provided the Taliban with a perfect opportunity to reach out to parents with an offer to help “save” their children. The militants promised a future involving discipline, belonging, purpose, and meaningful work.

In some cases, families faced a horrible choice — pay an enormous financial tax (double the annual wage) or surrender a child to the movement.

Deception and manipulation have come to define the TTP’s child induction practices such that the prevention of children’s involvement in violent extremism in Pakistan can hardly be characterized as counterinsurgency.

It is instead a challenge of basic child protection.

Most of the children recalled overwhelmingly negative experiences at the training camps. After performing menial tasks, they were locked in a 4×5 meter room for the rest of the day. Some reported being repeatedly beaten, and in a few cases, sexually assaulted by senior figures.

One child with whom we spent some time graduated from such deplorable conditions only to be ‘allowed’ to become a martyr, changing his mind literally at the last second. That boy is now one of Sabaoon’s brightest hopes for successful rehabilitation and reintegration, and a potential role model for younger children at Sabaoon. But he remains profoundly traumatized by his experiences.

Other children actually reported having had positive experiences with the TTP. Some became involved through family members already in the movement. For them, adventure, camaraderie, and a sense of purpose proved all too real. Terrorism was the family business, and even if the children didn’t want to get involved, how could they refuse?

Nobody knows exactly how old some of the children are. Many don’t have birth certificates and don’t know their own age themselves.

Abdul (not his real name) is now about 17-18 years old. He is very soft-spoken and painfully shy, but spoke English very well. He has big brown eyes and a wonderful, broad smile. He was very thin, but so shy he wouldn’t take the food offered to him at lunch.

We were very sensitive to the trauma he had experienced at the hands of the terrorists. The staff briefed us about the abuse he endured. In our limited time with Abdul, we were careful not to ask him anything that might upset him so we focused only on speaking about his future, and how he has adapted to life after Sabaoon.

Abdul is a great success story. One of the first graduates of the program, he excelled academically at Sabaoon. Shortly after his repatriation to his home village, he won a scholarship to university. He chose to defer his admission to take care of his mother and younger brother.

He occasionally comes back to Sabaoon to visit the staff and also to talk to the younger students about how the program has changed his life.

He is one of Sabaoon’s role models.

Although addressing the children’s needs and reducing the risk of re-engagement in terrorism are Sabaoon’s most pressing objectives, its staff are not unaware of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that face the children when the leave the program.

For Sabaoon, so far it appears that recidivism is not the problem, though with any such program, we may have to wait a bit longer to see if someone returns to the fight. No terrorism risk-reduction program has a 100% success rate, or even close to that. When such claims are made, it doesn’t take long to realize that there are significant questions surrounding definitions and measurement of “success” or “re-engagement.”

Such questions need to be answered if programs like these are to be supported as creative approaches to counterterrorism. Knowing why they work is as important as knowing if they work. A few high profile instances of recidivism may spell the death-knell for such initiatives.

As academic researchers who study violent extremism, we have a great deal of hope for such programs, and Sabaoon in particular has been the shining ray its name implies. Battling immense odds, Sabaoon’s staff remain infectiously optimistic and dedicated, and that’s one of the reasons we will return later this year.

But time is not on their side.

A few years ago, research conducted by Dr. Mia Bloom highlighted the changing nature of women’s involvement in terrorism. Today a similar argument could be made for the involvement of young children. Both in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the child suicide bomber has come to represent a routine terrorist profile.

Children are easier to manipulate, and like female operatives, they can penetrate security checkpoints without raising the normal levels of suspicions. A 2012 report from Afghanistan suggested that almost 100 would-be child suicide bombers had been ‘intercepted’ in the preceding 12-month period. Many of those boys were recruited in Quetta.

What the rising tide of child militants means for the development of counter-terrorism initiatives, or even child protection, is unclear.

Sabaoon alone will certainly not solve this problem, but it, and programs like it must continue to develop if we are to truly prevent the next generation of militants.



Taliban BMW

Taliban BMW