Pakistani heroes from First World War honoured by Britain

ISLAMABAD: Three soldiers from Pakistan were among 175 men from overseas who won Britain’s highest military honour the Victoria Cross for service in the First World War.


Commemorative plaques for these brave men were unveiled as part of the British government’s First World War Centenary Programme. A total of eleven plaques were awarded to soldiers from pre-partition India and of them three trace their origins to present day Pakistan. The soldiers include Naik Shahmad Khan, Sepoy Khudadad Khan and Jemadar Mir Dast.

The 11 bronze memorial plaques, which were displayed to the public for the first time in London this week, are inscribed with the names of the Victoria Cross holders and will be sent to the recipients’ home countries and displayed at a prominent location as a symbol of the gratitude that is felt towards them by the people of the United Kingdom.

The plaque remembering the three Pakistani recipients of the Victoria Cross will be presented to the Government of Pakistan in Islamabad later this year.
Speaking about the event, Senior Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi said: “It is important to remember this was a truly global war, one which pulled in people from every corner of the earth. Sacrifices were made not only by people in the United Kingdom but by many millions across the world: whether it was the large proportion of Australian men who volunteered to fight in a war far from home, the 1.2 million troops from the Indian Subcontinent who took part in the war, or the essential support which came from the islands of the West Indies. It is truly inspiring that so many countries came together 100 years ago to uphold our way of life. This was a war which saw extraordinary courage and sacrifice from an entire generation.”

“This year, we are marking our gratitude to 175 men from 11 countries, including Pakistan, who demonstrated the utmost bravery “in the face of the enemy” during the First World War. These extraordinary men were awarded the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest award for valour for their actions during the War. We shall honour them by engraving their names on bronze memorial plaques, to be presented to their home countries, sending out a powerful message that people of all backgrounds and faiths can unite in the name of a common cause.”

“I am determined that we ensure that people of all backgrounds and of all generations learn about the courage and heroism of their forefathers a hundred.”



McDonald’s Closes All Their Restaurants in Bolivia

Something good happened, McDonald’s Closes All Their Restaurants in Bolivia


Bolivia became the first McDonald’s-free Latin American nation, after struggling for more than a decade to keep their numbers out of ‘the red.’

And that fact is still making news.
After 14 years in the nation and despite many campaigns and promos McDonald’s was forced to close in 2002, its 8 Bolivian restaurants in the major cities of La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

McDonald’s served its last hamburgers in Bolivia, after announcing a global restructuring plan in which it would close its doors in seven other countries with poor profit margins.

The failure of McDonald’s in Bolivia had such a deep impact that a documentary titled “Por que quebro McDonald’s en Bolivia” or “Why did McDonald’s Bolivia go Bankrupt,” trying to explain why did Bolivians never crossed-over from their empanadas to Big Macs.
The documentary includes interviews with cooks, sociologists, nutritionists and educators who all seem to agree, Bolivians are not against hamburgers per sé, just against ‘fast food,’ a concept widely unaccepted in the Bolivian community.

The story has also attracted world wide attention toward fast foods in Latin America. El Polvorin blog noted:

“Fast-food represents the complete opposite of what Bolivians consider a meal should be. To be a good meal, food has to have be prepared with love, dedication, certain hygiene standards and proper cook time.”



Inventing Terrorists: US orchestrated most domestic ‘terror-plots’

Inventing Terrorists: US orchestrated most domestic ‘terror-plots’


We’ve all heard of pre-emptive strikes but what about pre-emptive prosecutions? Muslims in the US are outraged by what appears to be America’s latest tactic in its war on terror – entrapping people it suspects might plan terrorist acts in the future. Marina Portnaya explains how almost 95% of convictions for this crime are the result of FBI provocation. – RT





The FBI has drawn criticism over its apparent use of ‘entrapment’ tactics. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
David Williams did not have an easy life. He moved to Newburgh, a gritty, impoverished town on the banks of the Hudson an hour or so north of New York, at just 10 years old. For a young, black American boy with a father in jail, trouble was everywhere.

Williams also made bad choices. He ended up going to jail for dealing drugs. When he came out in 2007 he tried to go straight, but money was tight and his brother, Lord, needed cash for a liver transplant. Life is hard in Newburgh if you are poor, have a drug rap and need cash quickly.

His aunt, Alicia McWilliams, was honest about the tough streets her nephew was dealing with. “Newburgh is a hard place,” she said. So it was perhaps no surprise that in May, 2009, David Williams was arrested again and hit with a 25-year jail sentence. But it was not for drugs offences. Or any other common crime. Instead Williams and three other struggling local men beset by drug, criminal and mental health issues were convicted of an Islamic terrorist plot to blow up Jewish synagogues and shoot down military jets with missiles.

Even more shocking was that the organisation, money, weapons and motivation for this plot did not come from real Islamic terrorists. It came from the FBI, and an informant paid to pose as a terrorist mastermind paying big bucks for help in carrying out an attack. For McWilliams, her own government had actually cajoled and paid her beloved nephew into being a terrorist, created a fake plot and then jailed him for it. “I feel like I am in the Twilight Zone,” she told the Guardian.

Lawyers for the so-called Newburgh Four have now launched an appeal that will be held early next year. Advocates hope the case offers the best chance of exposing the issue of FBI “entrapment” in terror cases. “We have as close to a legal entrapment case as I have ever seen,” said Susanne Brody, who represents another Newburgh defendant, Onta Williams.

Some experts agree. “The target, the motive, the ideology and the plot were all led by the FBI,” said Karen Greenberg, a law professor at Fordham University in New York, who specialises in studying the new FBI tactics.

But the issue is one that stretches far beyond Newburgh. Critics say the FBI is running a sting operation across America, targeting – to a large extent – the Muslim community by luring people into fake terror plots. FBI bureaux send informants to trawl through Muslim communities, hang out in mosques and community centres, and talk of radical Islam in order to identify possible targets sympathetic to such ideals. Or they will respond to the most bizarre of tip-offs, including, in one case, a man who claimed to have seen terror chief Ayman al-Zawahiri living in northern California in the late 1990s.

That tipster was quickly hired as a well-paid informant. If suitable suspects are identified, FBI agents then run a sting, often creating a fake terror plot in which it helps supply weapons and targets. Then, dramatic arrests are made, press conferences held and lengthy convictions secured.

But what is not clear is if many real, actual terrorists are involved.

The homes of the Fort Dix Five were raided by the FBI. Photograph: Joseph Kaczmarek/AP
Another “entrapment” case is on the radar too. The Fort Dix Five – accused of plotting to attack a New Jersey army base – have also appealed against their convictions. That case too involved dubious use of paid informants, an apparent over-reach of evidence and a plot that seemed suggested by the government.

Burim Duka, whose three brothers were jailed for life for their part in the scheme, insists they did not know they were part of a terror plot and were just buying guns for shooting holidays in a deal arranged by a friend. The “friend” was an informant who had persuaded another man of a desire to attack Fort Dix.

Duka is convinced his brothers’ appeal has a good chance. “I am hopeful,” he told the Guardian.

But things may not be that easy. At issue is the word “entrapment”, which has two definitions. There is the common usage, where a citizen might see FBI operations as deliberate traps manipulating unwary people who otherwise were unlikely to become terrorists. Then there is the legal definition of entrapment, where the prosecution merely has to show a subject was predisposed to carry out the actions they later are accused of.

Theoretically, a simple expression, like support for jihad, might suffice, and in post-9/11 America neither judges nor juries tend to be nuanced in terror trials. “Legally, you have to use the word entrapment very carefully. It is a very strict legal term,” said Greenberg.

But in its commonly understood usage, FBI entrapment is a widespread tactic. Within days of the 9/11 terror attacks, FBI director Robert Mueller issued a memo on a new policy of “forward leaning – preventative – prosecutions”.

Central to that is a growing informant network. The FBI is not choosy about the people it uses. Some have criminal records, including attempted murder or drug dealing or fraud. They are often paid six-figure sums, which critics say creates a motivation to entrap targets. Some are motivated by the promise of debts forgiven or immigration violations wiped clean. There has also been a relaxing of rules on what criteria the FBI needs to launch an investigation.

Often they just seem to be “fishing expeditions”. In the Newburgh case, the men involved met FBI informant Shahed Hussain simply because he happened to infiltrate their mosque. In southern California, FBI informant Craig Monteilh trawled mosques posing as a Muslim and tried to act as a magnet for potential radicals.

Monteilh, who bugged scores of people, is a convicted felon with serious drug charges to his name. His operation turned up nothing. But Monteilh’s professed terrorist sympathy so unnerved his Muslim targets that they got a restraining order against him and alerted the FBI, not realising Monteilh was actually working on the bureau’s behalf.

Muslim civil rights groups have warned of a feeling of being hounded and threatened by the FBI, triggering a natural fear of the authorities among people that should be a vital defence against real terror attacks. But FBI tactics could now be putting off many people from reporting tip-offs or suspicious individuals.

“They are making mosques suspicious of anybody. They are putting fear into these communities,” said Greenberg. Civil liberties groups are also concerned, seeing some FBI tactics as using terrorism to justify more power. “We are still seeing an expansion of these tools. It is a terrible prospect,” said Mike German, an expert at the American Civil Liberties Union and a former FBI agent who has worked in counter-terrorism.

German said suspects convicted of plotting terror attacks in some recent FBI cases bore little resemblance to the profile of most terrorist cells. “Most of these suspect terrorists had no access to weapons unless the government provided them. I would say that showed they were not the biggest threat to the US,” German said.

“Most terrorists have links to foreign terrorist groups and have trained in terrorism training camps. Perhaps FBI resources should be spent finding those guys.”

Also, some of the most serious terrorist attacks carried out in the US since 9/11 have revolved around “lone wolf” actions, not the sort of conspiracy plots the FBI have been striving to combat. The 2010 Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, only came to light after his car bomb failed to go off properly. The Fort Hood killer Nidal Malik Hasan, who shot dead 13 people on a Texas army base in 2009, was only discovered after he started firing. Both evaded the radar of an FBI expending resources setting up fictional crimes and then prosecuting those involved.

Yet, as advocates for those caught up in “entrapment” cases discover, there is little public or judicial sympathy for them. Even in cases where judges have admitted FBI tactics have raised serious questions, there has been no hesitation in returning guilty verdicts, handing down lengthy sentences and dismissing appeals.

The Liberty City Seven are a case in point. The 2006 case involved an informant, Elie Assaad, with a dubious past (he was once arrested, but not charged, for beating his pregnant wife). Assaad was let loose with another informant on a group of men in Liberty City, a poor, predominantly black, suburb of Miami. The targets were followers of a cult-like group called The Seas of David, led by former Guardian Angel Narseal Batiste.

The group was, perhaps, not even Muslim, as its religious practices involved Bible study and wearing the Star of David. Yet Assaad posed as an Al-Qaida operative, and got members of the group to swear allegiance. Transcripts of the “oath-taking” ceremony are almost farcical. Batiste repeatedly queries the idea and appears bullied into it. In effect, defence lawyers argued, the men were confused, impoverished members of an obscure cult.

Yet targets the group supposedly entertained attacking included the Sears Tower in Chicago, Hollywood movie studios and the Empire State Building. Even zealous prosecutors, painting a picture of dedicated Islamic terrorists, admitted any potential plots were “aspirational”, given the group had no means to carry them out.

Nonetheless, they were charged with seeking to wage war against America, plotting to destroy buildings and supporting terrorism. Five of them got long jail sentences. Assaad, who was recently arrested in Texas for attempting to run over a policeman, was paid $85,000 for his work.

This year the jailed Liberty City men launched an appeal and last week judgment was handed down. They lost, and officially remain Islamic terrorists hell-bent on destroying America. Not that their supporters see it that way.

“Our country is no safer as a result of the prosecution of these seven impoverished young men from Liberty City,” said Batiste’s lawyer, Ana Jhones.

“This prosecution came at great financial cost to our government, and at a terrible emotional cost to these defendants and their families. It is my sincere belief that our country is less safe as a result of the government’s actions in this case.”

Saudi female student got stabbed 16 times in Essex


imageRelatives console the father of Nahid Almanea during her funeral in Al-Jouf on Saturday. — Okaz photo by Abdulaziz Al-Mushaiti
Saudi Gazette report

AL-JOUF – Thousands of people attended the funeral of Nahid Almanea, the Saudi female student who was murdered in Colchester last Tuesday.

Her body arrived here early Saturday morning and was later laid to rest.

Meanwhile, the police released a teenager who was arrested in connection with Almanea’s murder, reported the British media.

Almanea, a 31-year-old student at the University of Essex, was found fatally injured on a path near Avon Way on Tuesday. She had been stabbed 16 times in broad daylight and died at the scene from injuries to her head and body.

A 19-year-old man from Colchester was arrested on Friday afternoon over the death and questioned about an attack on a woman jogging nearby. Essex Police said he would face no further action in relation to either case.

Another man, aged 52, who was initially arrested in connection with the death has also been “positively eliminated” from inquiries, the media said.


CCTV footage showing Almanea’s last movements as she headed for the footpath on Tuesday morning has been released along with a map of her likely route from her home in nearby Woodrow Way, where she lived with her brother, to the Salary Brook trail, and a photograph of the bag she was carrying.

Police have called for calm in the wake of the stabbing as the possibility that she was targeted because of her traditional Saudi dress provoked fears of revenge attacks.

Almanea was wearing a hijab and a full-length navy blue robe, called an abaya, when she was knifed to death.

She arrived in Britain several months ago with her younger brother to study for her PhD in life sciences at the university.

More than 200 Saudi nationals study at the University of Essex, according to students.

The Student Union has its own Saudi society to help members with “culture shock” and to promote the country’s culture, according to its website.

Officers there were similarities between Almanea’s death and the murder of James Attfield, a vulnerable man with brain damage who died after being stabbed more than 100 times in a park in Colchester on March 29.

India, ‘Strip to prove you were raped,’ Indian police tell teen girl


A 14-year-old girl turned to police in India to file a rape complaint, but instead she was allegedly forced to strip in front of a senior police officer to convince him that her allegation of rape was genuine.


Earlier this week the teenager had gone to a police station in Kushinagar, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, with her parents to file a report about her alleged rape by a local resident. But the girl’s father was allegedly asked to pay 50,000 rupees ($800) to the police – to register the complaint and arrest the accused.

After the man refused to pay, the senior officer asked the man’s daughter to accompany him into a room where he locked the door from inside and demanded that she strip for him to make sure she was raped, The Times of India reported.

“He took me into a room and closed the door and asked me to remove my clothes,” the girl stated in her complaint. The police officer also allegedly verbally abused the girl and her parents and sent them away without filing a report.

The incident came out after the family filed a new complaint with Kushinagar’s police superintendent, accusing the senior police officer of demanding money and humiliating the girl. Only then did the police finally take action and detained the accused, the newspaper reported.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, one woman is raped every 20 minutes in India. The number of children raped has increased by 336 percent in the past 10 years.

Studies reveal that women are more likely to report sex crimes if female police officers are on duty. When they report rape charges to male officers, they are often humiliated. Compounding the problem, India has a much lower proportion of female police officers than in other Asian countries. In New Delhi, for instance, only 7 percent of police officers are women, according to The Times of India.

The average waiting time for the judiciary to try a rape case in India is over 600 days, with many cases taking five to 10 years to complete. As of March 2013, 24,000 cases of sexual assault were pending before state High Courts and the Supreme Court of India.


Indian youth protest outside the Saket Court Complex in New Delhi on September 13, 2013 (AFP Photo / Prakash Singh)

On top of this, according to The Hindu, India’s official source of crime data, the National Crime Records Bureau, systematically under-reports virtually all crime in India, due to a statistical shortcoming.

For example, the country’s most high-profile rape case, the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old medical student in New Delhi in December, which prompted new examination of data on sexual assault in the country, doesn’t even figure in NCRB data on rape. As has been confirmed to the newspaper by the NCRB deputy director, the data published by the Bureau takes into account only the “principal offence” in every First Information Report (FIR), i.e., the charge that attracts the maximum penalty. When rapes result in murder, such as the New Delhi gang rape case, the principal offence is murder, because it carries a maximum death penalty.

In the New Delhi gang-rape case, the young woman was attacked by a group of men on a night bus and later died of her injuries at a Singapore hospital. The crime prompted a massive wave of anti-rape protests across the country, as thousands of people, including women lawmakers, called for action from the authorities to protect women and more vigorously prosecute rape cases.

Earlier this month, an Indian court sentenced four men to death by hanging for the rape and murder of the young woman. The sentence has to be confirmed by the Indian High Court before it can be carried out. The men may appeal to the High Court and ask for clemency from the president.

After previously appealing for a lighter sentence, defense lawyers said that if hanging the men prevents further incidents of rape in the country, they might choose not to appeal the ruling in the High Court.

A survey conducted by Trust Law showed that India is the world’s fourth-worst country for violence against women, behind only Afghanistan, the Congo and Pakistan. India was ranked the worst out of the G20 nations as it had abuse, violence, and murder on scales unparalleled in the other G20 nations, with reasons behind this including high rates of forms of slavery and exploitation. A cult of masculinity is an essential part of Indian culture. Young men often bully their wives through sexual violence, blaming women for their own unemployment and other misfortunes, resorting to violence and rape in revenge. One woman allegedly dies every hour in dowry-related crimes in India, with over 8,000 such deaths officially reported in 2012.

Nearly 31,000 violent crimes against women were reported in 2012 in the state of West Bengal, the highest in the country – a figure that accounts for 12.67 percent of the total crime committed against women in India. The irony is that the state is ruled by a woman chief minister, India Today reported.

In June, police in eastern India detained 13 members of a women’s rights group as they staged a protest to raise awareness of violence against women and lack of police protection. The protesters were outraged by two similar incidents that occurred in June: the gang rape and murder of a 20-year-old college student in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district in June, and that of a 14-year-old girl, who was gang-raped and killed by one of her neighbors when she was returning from school in the town of Gede.

In the final two months of 2012, the International Centre for Research on Women conducted a survey amongst New Delhi residents to find out their attitudes toward sexual violence. 95 percent of the female respondents reported feeling unsafe in public, due to the perceived threat of sexual violence against women, while 75 percent of male respondents said “women provoke men by the way they dress.”


Pakistan, Woman gang-raped, killed and hanged from a tree

Parents looking for 20-year old Mazummil Bibi found her hanged from a tree in eastern Pakistan. Police discovered the girl was gang raped before being killed; three men were arrested over the crime, her former boyfriend among them.

“This is the first time in my 22 years of service with the police that I have seen such a case. We have heard of such cases in India but never in Pakistan,” said Sadaqat Ali Chohan, a senior police officer in the poor Layyah district of Punjab province.

Mazummil went missing in Thursday night. Her parents looked for her all night, police said, only to find the body in a field.

Police found the girl was attacked by several men and put up a fight, after which they strangled her.

“We have heard of such cases in India but never in Pakistan. The girl’s clothes were torn. We took her down and moved her to hospital. Her body had signs of resistance. We have arrested three individuals who have confessed to the crime,” the police officer told Reuters.

One of them was the woman’s boyfriend whom she had been dating for six months. He admitted to trying to force the woman to have sex with his two friends and then killing her.

Bibi was the eldest daughter of two blind parents and had made a living from farming a small piece of land.


The incident bears a chilling resemblance to a crime that took place in May, where two teenage cousins were found hanging from a tree after being raped in the north of India. Political leaders in Uttar Pradesh faced criticism for not even going to visit the scene of the horrific crime.