From Associated Press (via Sacramento Bee): An Afghan asylum-seeker accused of stabbing two Americans in Amsterdam believes that Islam is insulted in the Netherlands, Dutch prosecutors said Monday, giving the first indication of why they think a “terrorist motive” was behind the attack.
The 19-year-old suspect is accused of stabbing the 38-year-old tourists Friday in an unprovoked attack after he arrived at Amsterdam’s Central Station on an international train.
The American men were not targeted because of their nationality, which the alleged attacker did not know, prosecutors said. The suspect’s grievance was with the European country where the assault took place, they said in a written statement.
“It is apparent from his statements that he believes that in the Netherlands, the Prophet Muhammad, the Quran, Islam and Allah are repeatedly insulted,” prosecutors said, noting that the young Afghan man specifically mentioned Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, who is well known for his fierce anti-Islam rhetoric.
“From the suspect’s statements so far, it is clear the man had a terrorist motive … and that he traveled to the Netherlands for that reason,” the prosecutors’ said.
Earlier Monday, German authorities said the man had applied for asylum in Germany and was not considered a security threat there.
Wilders last week called off a planned contest for cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad following death threats and concerns other people could be put at risk. Prosecutors said the suspect did not mention the contest in his statements.
Wilders reacted with a tweet, writing: “Muslim terrorists hate our way of life and our freedoms. They answer criticism of Islam with violence.”
The prosecutors added that there was so far no indication the suspect, identified as Jawed S. under Dutch privacy rules, was working with anyone else.
Police shot him after the stabbings, and he remains in a hospital. An investigating judge held a closed-door hearing there Monday and ordered him held for two more weeks on suspicion of assaulting the Americans “with a terrorist motive.”
They suffered serious, but not life-threatening injuries in the attack.
The judge extended the suspect’s custody because of fears he may flee, repeat the crime or violate the law, according to a statement by an Amsterdam court.
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Ain’t multiculturalism grand?
From Daily Mail: An Afghan asylum seeker is under arrest in Germany suspected of stabbing a woman to death because she converted to Christianity.
The victim, Fatima S. 38, was knifed on Saturday in front of a Lidl supermarket in Prien in Bavaria. The 29-year-old migrant attacked the woman in front of her five and 11-year-old children and she later died from her wounds. Eyewitnesses said he stabbed her in the head and then slit her throat as her cries were heard for hundreds of feet around.
One horrified witness said: ‘I heard angry cries like, ‘He has a knife, he wants to stab her! It was bad. A brave citizen tried to intervene and save the woman, everything was full of blood, it was inconceivably terrible.’
And another said the alleged perpetrator first sat on a bench opposite the supermarket entrance before he attacked.
The suspect was detained in a psychiatric hospital after shoppers including an off duty policewoman overpowered him. Now police confirm they are probing the possibility the killer struck because the mother-of-two – who arrived in Germany in 2011 – was a Christian convert. ‘It’s a possibility that we’re exploring,’ said a police spokesman, adding that the victim and the alleged attacker knew each other,
The knifeman had arrived in Germany in 2013 and was residing at an asylum-seeker shelter.
Germany took in more than a million refugees since 2015, and some have taken on the Christian faith. The murder happened on Saturday evening at around 6.45pm in front of a busy supermarket in Prien, a town in the German state of Bavaria.
From the Independent: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has expelled almost 40,000 Pakistani migrant workers in the last four months, local media has reported. Over 39,000 people have been deported since October 2016 over visa violations and security concerns, the Saudi Gazette reported, citing unnamed interior ministry officials. As well as crimes including drug trafficking, forgery and theft, an unknown number of those removed from the country were suspected to have links to Isis and other extremist groups, the paper said.
The alleged mass deportations come after a year of strikes and other unrest in the kingdom due to unpaid wages following the oil market’s decline and subsequent blow to the Saudi economy.
Official Saudi statistics say that 243,000 Pakistanis were deported between 2012 – 2015. Mass deportations of migrant workers – which Human Rights Watch and other rights organisations say often involve illegal beatings and detainment in poor conditions – are fairly common.
2010 census figures show that 8.5 million of Saudi Arabia’s 27 million strong population, or around 30 per cent, are foreign nationals. According to a 2014 European University Institute report, there are approximately 900,000 people of Pakistani nationality currently employed in Saudi Arabia’s vast construction industry and other low-paid service jobs.
In Mecca in January, dozens of expatriate workers, mostly from poor Asian and Middle Eastern countries, were beaten and jailed over public protests against unpaid salaries that turned violent.
While the Philippines and India have also seen hundreds of thousands of citizens returned home after lay-offs in Saudi Arabia, the deportation of Pakistani workers has been mainly driven by security concerns, the New Arab reported. Several prominent Saudi politicians, including Abdullah Al-Sadoun, chair of the security committee of the country’s Shura Council, have called for tougher screening processes for Pakistani nationals before they are allowed entry into the country. “Pakistan itself is plagued with terrorism due to its close proximity with Afghanistan. The Taliban extremist movement was itself born in Pakistan,” he said. Approximately 80 Pakistani nationals are currently in prison in Saudi Arabia charged with terror or security related offences.
Read the rest of the story here.
An Afghanistan woman, Reza Gul, 20, was attacked by her husband after arguing with him over his decision to take a 6- or 7-year-old niece as his fiancée. Gul’s husband, Muhammad Khan, 25, then allegedly cut off her nose with a knife. Gul’s mother, Zarghona, told the Times that Khan and his family had beaten and abused Gul throughout her six-year marriage.
Yahoo reports that Gul brought her severed nose with her to the hospital and had already lost a lot of blood, according to hospital officials. But the local Afghan facility was not equipped to reattach her nose. Gul is seeking to travel to Turkey to have reconstructive surgery, according to the the Times. A police official told the Times that the Taliban had arrested Khan and is holding him in custody. According to the U.N., Afghanistan remains one of the worst places to be a woman, and violence against women remains “endemic.” Child marriages, like the one Khan was said to be arranging, are also common, robbing girls of the opportunity for education and often leading to abuse. AP notes that many Afghan women are victims of domestic violence because constitutional rights for protection are often denied to women in the country. And progress toward achieving rights for women is often met with significant resistance. This month, women were not invited to join the Afghan delegation during peace talks aimed at ending the country’s decades-long conflict.
Read all the details in The New York Timesand the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission report.
Originally published on January 29, 2014: My military guy came home from Afghanistan last October, after serving and surviving one year there. He shared with me this video of what it’s like to get rocketed in Bagram.
It’s pretty scary to us civilians yet know that our military are trained and prepared to deal with this. They see it as a “hassle” to deal with and, of course, the Taliban fire rockets on 9/11, Christmas, and other holidays – just to be jerks. The Taliban are usually so stoned they miss targets. Unfortunately, they do hit our guys as during my military guy’s tour, they lost four souls to a rocket attack. 🙁
So next time you’re having a bad day at work, be thankful your job doesn’t involve this! Update 12/23/14: Be thankful this Christmas for our soldiers who have made it home safely. We still have many troops abroad in both Iraq and Afghanistan who won’t be home to spend the holidays with their loved ones. They will undoubtedly be rocketed on Christmas. Prayers for their safety!
NY Daily News: The blood is not the most jarring part of the photograph taken shortly after the bomb blew off Marine Gunnery Sgt. Brian Meyer’s leg and hand. It’s his smile.
The bomb technician had asked a team member to take the picture. He knew his defiance in the face of death would keep his comrades going and ease the torment caused by what they had witnessed.
His attitude set the tone for the long journey the double amputee is taking along with nearly 2,000 troops who lost one or more limbs from combat injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It’s also pushing military medicine to find better ways to accommodate such a large population of young, severely disabled combat veterans who want to maintain an active lifestyle. Many wear out their prosthetic limbs in a matter of months doing everything from mountain climbing to running marathons. With survival rates reaching historic highs during the two wars, the Naval Health Research Center is launching a major, six-year study on wounded warriors to track their quality of life and better understand the road to recovery.
So far, 1,500 people have signed up for the Wounded Warrior Recovery Project study. The Navy aims to recruit 10,000. About 50,000 military personnel have been injured in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, with 16,000 hurt so severely that they likely would not have survived previous conflicts. Doctors say a positive attitude is key to recovery, so the study will also examine mental resilience and why some troops have it and others don’t. It will rely on Web-based, telephone and mailed surveys conducted every six months about mobility, ability to function and social activity. Researchers will also analyze military databases detailing clinical encounters with each service member injured while deployed.
Eric Lunson/AP Photo
The study aims to provide one of the broadest reviews yet of how post 9-11 veterans with a variety of combat injuries are coping and enjoying life, and how much their quality of life impacts their long-term care.
Meyer is not yet part of the study but intends to participate. His case was featured in the New England Journal of Medicine in May to demonstrate the success of battlefield trauma care over the past decade.
The retired Marine has benefited from a host of new medical strategies used by the military, including laser treatments.
Cmdr. Peter Shumaker, chief of dermatology at Naval Medical Center San Diego, helped pioneer the use of an ablative laser — commonly used to smooth wrinkled or acne-scarred skin — to ease Meyer’s scar tissue, dramatically improving the range of motion in his fingers, among other things. “It’s a privilege to work with soldiers and Marines, like Brian, because they’re young and motivated and healthy and they can go farther than we ever thought,” Shumaker said. “They don’t want to just walk, they want to do things that their colleagues are doing, their friends are doing.”
Meyer was hospitalized for a month after the 2011 bomb blast in Afghanistan. He lost his right leg above the knee, and his right hand above the wrist. Only his pinky and ring finger remained intact on his left hand.
After multiple surgeries, he was outfitted for prosthetics and learned to walk again. But Meyer, 29 at the time, wanted full independence.
He turned down offers to install wheelchair ramps in his home. He debated before accepting a handicap parking permit. He did not want to avoid the struggle to reintegrate. He wanted to go anywhere. “I focus on what I have left, not what I lost,” Meyer said.
His prosthetic arm has a flashlight so at night he can see where he plants his prosthetic foot. His prosthetic arm has the knobs and battery pack positioned to one side so he can shoot a bow and arrow.
Thanks to the laser treatments on his scar tissue, he can now hold a toothbrush, write with a pen, dial his phone, and pull the trigger of a hunting rifle. Laser treatments also removed a sore, allowing him to withstand his prosthetic leg for 18 hours a day.
Shumaker and Dr. Chad Hivnor, who recently retired from Lackland Air Force Base, helped pioneer the method. Hivnor also discovered botulinum toxin A injections decrease perspiration where the prosthetic limb attaches, helping stop it from slipping off while the person is exercising or in hot climates.
The findings were recently presented to the American Academy of Dermatology to promote the treatment for severely scarred people in the general population.
“These are not special, scar lasers or special, wounded warrior lasers,” Shumaker said. “We’ve taken these techniques that are primarily used for cosmetic purposes and altered them a bit to apply to trauma rehabilitation.” Such unconventional treatments make a big difference in daily life, veterans and their doctors say. One soldier’s scar tissue has softened so he can grasp his daughter’s hand; another can now type.
A week after a recent treatment, Meyers rode on his motorcycle through a shopping district in Murrieta, 60 miles northeast of San Diego. His pinky and ring finger operated the throttle that has been put on the left side because he only has a left wrist. It has a side car that can carry another amputee, wheelchair or his dog.
Meyer and two others have started the nonprofit organization, Warfighter Made, which modified his motorcycle. It also customizes sports cars, off-road vehicles and other transportation for veterans, who can join in the work.
“What we want is for a guy in the coolest car to drive into a handicap spot and have people be like, ‘What’s this guy doing?’ Then they see him get out with his prosthetic legs,” said Meyer, whose prosthetic leg sports a sticker of Bill Murray and the word “Laugh.”
Meyer works for the Injured Marines Semper Fi Fund, counseling fellow combat veterans. He loves the photograph taken after he was injured because “it’s the exact opposite of what somebody expects you to do. So when I show it to people and they are inspired by it, instead of being shocked, I know they get it.”
KOMO: After five tours in Afghanistan, a retired marine flew home Thursday to a rousing reunion with his very first partner. There was tail wagging, ball throwing and big, sloppy, wet kisses.
“I’m really nervous,” former Marine Sgt. Deano Miller said as he waited at Sea-Tac Airport.
He’s been waiting four years. Four years to be re-united with Thor, the friend that kept him and his colleagues safe every day of their 2010 tour in Afghanistan.
“I’m just so excited,” Miller said. “I didn’t think this was ever going to happen.”
Thor is an explosives sniffing expert and Miller was his very first handler. Together they led patrols through Afghanistan, usually on point, searching for improvised explosive devices, IEDs. The pair ate together, slept together, patrolled together.
“I love that dog,” Miller said.
After they completed that first tour in Afghanistan, Miller came home, but Thor had to go back. “He was my best friend, he was my everything, I didn’t go anywhere without him, and then when I had to leave him I felt like I abandoned him,” Miller said.
Thor has done five tours and has had four more handlers after Miller. Now Thor is retired — he left Afghanistan in October, and flew home Thursday from North Carolina to be re-united with his first partner.
Miller was nearly speechless as Thor walked off the escalator with a volunteer from Mission K9 Rescue, Kathileene Anderson, who brought Thor home. A mass of cameras, people, and the long flight left Thor unable to settle. But after Miller took him for a quick walk outside to a dog-friendly area at the airport he was ready to chase a ball, mouth his favorite stuffed animal and pay attention to his first friend and last home.
Miller and his fiance live in Tacoma with their two other dogs, Tevin, a Siberian Husky and Doug, a yellow lab/golden retriever mix like Thor. Miller’s fiancee Tomi Gallegos says they’re all ready for him.
“He has his own kennel and food bowl, water bowl, we’re not worried about dog beds because they all sleep in our bed anyway,” she said.
Volunteer Anderson was tearful at having to leave Thor behind, saying it was an honor to help two heroes reunite. “I feel like it’s a miracle,” Anderson said.
The American Humane Association paid for Thor’s flight home. The organization estimates that each military working dog saves the lives of approximately 150 to 200 service members.
A year ago on May 23, Obama declared in a speech to National Defense University that he intends “to engage Congress” about the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) that resulted from 9-11, “to determine how we can continue to fight terrorism without keeping America on a perpetual wartime footing.”
That’s because, the POS said, “The Afghan war is coming to an end. Core al Qaeda is a shell of its former self. Groups like AQAP must be dealt with, but in the years to come, not every collection of thugs that labels themselves al Qaeda will pose a credible threat to the United States.” To avoid being “drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight, or continue to grant Presidents unbound powers,” Obama said “I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate.”
A year later, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee convened a hearing to do just that — to review the AUMF and determine whether it should be repealed. The committee’s member senators took seriously their charge, but not the two lawyers sent to represent the White House. To get a simple “yes” or “no” answer from those two was like pulling teeth.
In this post, you’ll read for yourselves just how pointless the hearing was, how empty Obama’s grand words were in that National Defense University speech, and how meaningless are this man’s promises.
Marine Sgt. William C. Stacey had been on the last of several deployments and was going to be a tactics instructor at Camp Pendleton, writes Kimmy Kirkwood, who was his girlfriend of more than three years. The two had been through the ups and downs of deploying and were looking forward to settling down upon his return.
“We could see the rest of our lives in front of us, we just had to get through the next few months,” Kirkwood wrote. “After four deployments in three and half years, we could finally get engaged and plan a future. Our calendars wouldn’t be paper countdowns ever again.”
Then Stacey, 23, was killed by an IED while on foot patrol in Now Zad in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2012.
“My world fell apart on Jan. 31, 2012,” Kirkwood recalled. “I was walking Otis (her cavachon) before work, when Will’s dad called. He had been hit by an IED on patrol and was killed. After getting off the phone with him, I blacked out for a few minutes before calling my family. It was the worst phone call any of us had ever received.”
And even more heartbreaking: “It was his mother’s birthday, and just 54 days before he was supposed to return home forever,” Kirkwood wrote.
Stacey wanted his loved ones to know that he died doing what he loved doing.
“Over the years so many have died, just as I have,” Stacey wrote. “We do this for the ones we care about; we do this because we believe that the good of the masses is worth more than that of ourselves.
“If my life buys the safety of a child who will one day change this world, then I know that it was all worth it,” he wrote.
Kirkwood details their relationship, which started with a high school crush in 2007 that didn’t go anywhere at the time, to the messages they exchanged on Facebook, to his much-anticipated homecomings, to the aftermath of Stacey’s death.
And her reason for sharing? To let Americans know how military families have to deal with well, being military families.
“So many Americans are completely untouched by war these days, it’s strange for them to even imagine what I, the Stacey’s, my family and everyone who knew Will had to go through,” Kirkwood posted on her Facebook later. “Many times they ask me to tell them about us, how we met, how I dealt with so many deployments, how I dealt with losing him.”
US Army: Former Army Capt. William D. Swenson will be presented the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama in a White House ceremony Oct. 15, making him the sixth living recipient of the nation’s highest military award for valor during combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The Washington State native will receive the Medal of Honor for his conspicuous gallantry at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, Sept. 8, 2009, during combat operations against Taliban insurgents in Kunar Province, Afghanistan.
“It’s a monumental event for me, for my family and for my teammates,” Swenson said after receiving word directly from Obama. “This day also means a lot to those I served with.”
During his second tour in Afghanistan, Swenson served as an embedded adviser with the Afghan Border Police Mentor Team in support of 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. He was tasked with mentoring members of the Afghan National Security Forces.
On the morning of Sept. 8, 2009, Swenson and his team moved on foot into the rural community of Ganjgal for a meeting with village elders. It was then he and his team were ambushed by more than 50 well-armed, well-positioned insurgent fighters.
As the enemy unleashed a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades, mortar and machine gun fire, Swenson returned fire, coordinated and directed the response of his Afghan Border Police soldiers, and simultaneously tried to call in suppressive artillery fire and aviation support.
After the enemy effectively flanked Coalition Forces, Swenson repeatedly called for smoke to cover the withdrawal of the forward elements. Surrounded on three sides by enemy forces inflicting effective and accurate fire, Swenson coordinated air assets, indirect fire support and medical-evacuation helicopter support to allow for the evacuation of the wounded.
Swenson ignored enemy radio transmissions demanding surrender and maneuvered uncovered to render medical aid to a wounded Soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth W. Westbrook. Swenson stopped administering aid long enough to throw a grenade at approaching enemy forces, then assisted with moving Westbrook for air evacuation.
After using aviation support to mark locations of fallen and wounded comrades, it became clear that ground recovery was required due to the proximity of heavily-armed enemy positions to potential helicopter landing zones.
With complete disregard for his own safety, Swenson voluntarily led a team into the kill zone, exposing himself to enemy fire on three occasions to recover the wounded and search for missing team members.
Returning to the kill zone a fourth time in a Humvee, he exited the vehicle, evaded a hail of bullets and shells to recover three fallen Marines and a Navy corpsman, working alongside then-Marine Corps Cpl. Dakota Meyer, who on Sept. 15, 2011, received the Medal of Honor for his own actions in the battle.
After six hours of continuous fighting, Swenson rallied his teammates and effectively disrupted the enemy assault.
Swenson was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant following graduation from Officer Candidate School on Sept. 6, 2002. His military training and education includes the infantry Maneuver Captains Career Course, Ranger Course, Infantry Officer Basic, Infantry Mountain Leader Advanced Marksmanship Course and Airborne School.
His military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with Two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters; the Purple Heart; the Army Commendation Medal; the National Defense Service Medal; the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with one campaign star; the Iraq Campaign Medal with two campaign stars; the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; the Army Service Ribbon; the Overseas Service Ribbon; the Combat Infantryman Badge; the Ranger Tab; and the Parachutist Badge.