The Nation Sunday Print Edition - page 8-9

Sunday, March 8, 2015
foreign news
Compiled by
Ravi Nagahawatte
Beirut, Lebanon - (AFP)
It has
become known for horrific images
of beheadings and torture, but the
Islamic State group is trying to lure
foreign recruits to its “caliphate”
with promises of adventure, homes,
jobs -- even love.
Using sophisticated recruitment
techniques, the jihadists have
attracted hundreds of supporters
from Western countries to the
swathes of territory they have
seized in Syria and Iraq.
In the beginning, these efforts
focused on luring young men to join
the ranks of jihadist fighters.
But IS is increasingly targeting
young Western women, as
dramatically illustrated last month
when three British teenage girls
ran away from their London homes
to join the jihadists.
Experts say many are shocked by
what they find in IS territory, but by
then it is too late.
“IS sells its Islamic utopia to
these young men and women,” said
Lina Khatib, head of the Carnegie
Endowment’s Middle East Centre
in Beirut.
“It tells them that this is the only
real Islamic state in the world, and
that they can become important
figures in it.”
Experts say the number of
Westerners who have travelled
to the “caliphate”, which is more
than twice the size of Jordan and
home to about six million people, is
about 3,000, including roughly 550
In the latest high-profile case,
three close friends from London --
a 16-year-old and two 15-year-old
girls -- are believed to have crossed
into Syria last month after flying to
Turkey from London.
One of them is believed to have
been in contactwithAqsaMahmood,
a woman from Glasgow, Scotland,
who reportedly travelled to Syria
last year to marry an IS fighter.
blog -- “
Diary of a Muhajirah
” (Diary
of a Traveller) -- has become a key
source of IS propaganda aimed at
“We don’t pay rent here. Houses
are given for free. We pay neither
electric nor water bills. We are given
monthly groceries. Spaghetti, pasta,
can foods, rice, eggs,” Mahmood
wrote in one recent post.
Work is available too, she said, for
women who want jobs in education
and health care. 
Marriage in IS territory also has
its perks, Mahmood has written. 
IS fighters receive “seven
days off” as part of the wedding
celebrations and new brides can
choose their own dowry -- but
instead of requests for jewellery,
they ask for Kalashnikovs.
“Newly married couples are given
$700 as a gift,” Mahmood wrote.
“We don’t have fireworks but we
celebrate the wedding by gunshots
and lots of takbeer,” or shouts of
“Allahu akbar” (God is greatest).
A picture featured on her site of
a bearded fighter and his new wife,
dressed in a full white veil, was
captioned: “Till martyrdom do us
Abuja, Nigeria (AFP)
- When
Boko Haram attacks made life
at home unbearable, Rebecca
Samuel was confronted with a
stark choice that any mother
would struggle to make. 
Her family had decided to
leave the remote town of Chibok,
northeast Nigeria, in March 2014
because of the persistent threats
from the Islamist militants.
But Samuel decided that her
17-year-old daughter Sarah should
stay back for an extra month to take
her final secondary school exams.
On April 14, Boko Haram gunmen
stormed Sarah’s school, kidnapping
her and 275 of her classmates.
Fifty-seven girls escaped, but
the rest, including Sarah, have
not been heard from since.
“Every day I am crying,” said
Samuel, 36, who had been living
with her family as refugees in
neighbouring Cameroon before
relocating to Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. 
But while the Chibok
abductions remain the most
prominent attack of the six-
year insurgency, they represent
only a fraction of the atrocities
inflicted on women and
girls in the bitter conflict.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) last
year estimated that the rebels had
kidnapped more than 500 women
and girls since 2009, including
those seized from Chibok but the
figure could be much higher.
Female hostages have been
forced into marriage, raped and
been made to work as domestic
slaves for extremist fighters. Some
recounted being deployed to carry
ammunition on the front line.
Other women forced to run
from attacks have trekked for
days through the northeast’s
harsh bushlands, sometimes with
infants strapped to their backs. 
And, in a new tactic widely
reviled even by other jihadists,
Boko Haram has over the last 10
months increasingly used females,
including young girls, as human
bombs in attacks across the north.
A 33-year-old woman was
beaten to death on Sunday at a
market in northern Bauchi state
following suspicion that she had
explosives strapped to her body.
HRW and other experts say the
incidents of females and other
“vulnerable groups” being targeted
has risen dramatically since Boko
Haram began facing increased
military pressure in 2013. 
Overall, the plight facing
women in the rebels’ stronghold
is “a picture of violence and
intimidation”, Jacob Zenn and
Elizabeth Pearson wrote in the US
Journal of Terrorism Research. 
Sultan Kudarat, Philippines
- Hundreds of Muslim rebels
lined up in the Philippines Saturday
to register as voters, keeping faith
with a 2014 peace pact that was
thrown into doubt after 44 policemen
were killed in a botched terror raid.
The Moro Islamic Liberation
Front (MILF) rebels, unarmed and
wearing civilian clothes, had their
photographs and fingerprints taken
at a government building in the
southern town of Sultan Kudarat to
qualify for voter identification cards.
“They are all very eager to take
part,” Von al Haq, spokesman
for the 10,000-member MILF’s
military wing told AFP.
Some would be voting for
the first time, he added.
“This is part of our preparations
to lead our own government,” he
said, referring to a March 2014
agreement in which the MILF
committed to end an armed rebellion
that has claimed 120,000 lives.
As part of the deal, the MILF
is to disarm and President
Benigno Aquino is set to legislate
an area of Muslim self-rule.
Rey Sumalipao, regional head
of the government’s Commission
on Elections, told AFP he expects
about 1,500 members to register
within the day to allow them to vote
in national and local elections.
Other MILF members are
expected to apply later, he added.
Muslim rebels have been battling
for independence or autonomy in
the southern islands of the mainly
Catholic Philippines since the 1970s.
The peace process was
thrown into doubt on January
25 when MILF forces and other
armed groups ambushed police
commandos going after Malaysian
Zulkifli bin Hir, one of the world’s
most wanted Islamic militants.
The fighting left 44 policemen
dead and sparked a public backlash,
causing parliament to suspend
debates on the proposed self-rule law.
The MILF returned some of
the dead commandos’ weapons
and pledged to go after other
militants sought by the Philippine
courts, but rejected Aquino’s
demand that it surrender those
who took part in killings.
Rebel leaders said they would
impose their own sanctions
on those found at fault.
The Senate and the House
of Representatives have since
said they will resume discussions
on the bill that they said would
likely pass by mid-June.
Al Haq, the MILF spokesman,
said Saturday the high rebel
turnout was proof they remained
committed to the peace process.
“We’re very confident that the
peace process will continue,” said
Al Haq, adding he last voted in 1986
before becoming a full-time guerrilla.
Job opening for the
next MacGyver
Guys need
not apply
Washington, United States
-Talk about a cool dude:
he once stopped a sulfuric
acid leak with a piece of
chocolate, and dismantled a
missile using a trombone.
The 1980s US television
character, secret agent Angus
MacGyver, could do it all. And
in 2016 his successor will be
a woman, if a US engineering
association has its way.
Late last month, the National
Academy of Engineering launched
what it called the “The Next
MacGyver Project,” aimed at
coming up with ideas for a scripted
TV series featuring a female
engineer as the leading character.
Thirty years after that cult series
riveted TV viewers, “the objective
here is not a MacGyver reboot,
but to inspire a new generation
of young women interested in
science and technology by creating
a strong female role model,” said
Lee Zlotoff, creator of MacGyver.
The project is joint initiative
by Adam Smith, an engineering
professor at the University
of Southern California,
and Randy Atkins, head of
communications at the National
Academy of Engineering.
“After an interview with Lee Zlotoff,
Adam called me and proposed
that we develop a TV show, and I
immediately said yes,” said Atkins. 
The name -- “The Next MacGyver
Project” -- was suggested by
Zlotoff, who has supported
the project from the outset. 
Baghdad, Iraq
- Condemnation
poured in Friday of the
Islamic State group’s
bulldozing of the
ancient city of Nimrud,
the jihadists’ latest
attack on Iraqi cultural
treasures that the UN
termed a “war crime”.
After rampaging
through Mosul’s
museum with
sledgehammers and
torching its library last
month, IS “bulldozed”
the nearby ruins of
Nimrud Thursday, the
tourism and antiquities
ministry said.
The devastation comes with the jihadists
the target of an Iraqi government offensive.
The US military said Friday Iraqi
government forces and allied tribal militia
have retaken the town of Al-Baghdadi,
from where jihadists had
threatened to attack an airbase
housing American troops.
Iraqi antiquities officials
said IS militants had moved
trucks last week to the
Nimrud site overlooking the
Tigris River, 30 kilometres
(18 miles) southeast of
their main hub of Mosul.
“Until now, we do not
know to what extent it was
destroyed,” one official said.
Washington’s National
Security Council tweeted
Friday: “Deeply saddened
by incomprehensible
destruction of historical,
cultural and religious
artifacts in Iraq, including
recent attacks in Nimrud.”
Nimrud was the latest victim of
what appears to be a systematic
campaign by the jihadists to
obliterate Iraq’s rich heritage.
United Nations, United States
The UN Security Council on
Friday adopted a US-drafted resolution
condemning the use of chlorine in
Syria and threatening measures if
chemicals are used in future attacks.
The resolution was approved by 14 of
the 15 council members including Russia,
Syria’s ally, but Venezuela abstained.
“Today this council makes crystal
clear that the use of chlorine as a
chemical weapon is no less an evil
than the use of any other chemical
as a weapon,” US Ambassador
Samantha Power told the council.
While the measure does not single
out the Damascus regime over the
use of chlorine, Western powers
have made clear that the evidence
points to attacks being carried out by
President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
Venezuela’s Ambassador Rafael
Ramirez said his country would not support
the resolution as no blame was assigned
over the use of chlorine in reports by the
OPCW chemical weapons watchdog.
“An investigation should first be
concluded in order to determine the
responsibility of those who perpetrated
such an abominable act,” said Ramirez.
The resolution states that the
Security Council “decides in the
event of future non-compliance... to
impose measures under chapter 7”
of the UN charter, which provides for
sanctions and possibly military force.
The measure “condemns in the
strongest terms any use of any toxic
chemical, such as chlorine, as a
weapon in the Syrian Arab Republic.”
Russia backs resolution - 
Russia’s envoy Vitaly Churkin
said measures under chapter 7
could not be decided unless there
is proof of chemical weapons used
by either side in the conflict.
A few patients have made rare and
unexpected recoveries leaving doctors
scratching their heads, says David
Robson. Can these cases provide
vital clues for tackling cancer?
It was a case that baffled everyone
involved. The 74-year-old woman
had initially been troubled by a rash
that wouldn’t go away. By the time
she arrived at the hospital, her lower
right leg was covered in waxy lumps,
eruptions of angry red and livid purple.
Tests confirmed the worst suspicions: it
was carcinoma, a form of skin cancer.
The future looked bleak. Given the
spread of the tumours, radiotherapy
would not have been effective; nor
could the doctors dig the tumours from
the skin. Amputation was perhaps
the best option, says Alan Irvine, the
patient’s doctor at St James’ Hospital,
Dublin – but at her age, she was
unlikely to adapt well to a prosthetic
limb. After a long and frank discussion,
they decided to wait as they weighed
up the options. “We had a lot of
agonising for what to do,” says Irvine.
Then the “miracle” started. Despite
receiving no treatment at all, the
tumours were shrinking and shrivelling
before their eyes. “We watched for a
period of a few months and the tumours
just disappeared,” says Irvine. After 20
weeks, the patient was cancer-free.
“There had been no doubt about her
diagnosis,” he says. “But now there was
nothing in the biopsies, or the scans.”
Somehow, she had healed herself
of arguably our most feared disease.
“Everyone was thrilled, and a bit
puzzled,” Irvine says, with some
understatement. “It shows that it is
possible for the body to clear cancer
– even if it is incredibly rare.”
The question is, how? Irvine’s patient
believed it was the hand of God; she
had kissed a religious relic just before
the healing set in. But scientists are
instead looking to the underlying
biology of so-called “spontaneous
regression” to hunt for clues that could
make these rare cases of self-healing
more common. “If you can train the
body to do this on a broader scale,
you could have something that’s very
widely applicable,” says Irvine.
In theory, our immune system
should hunt out and destroy mutated
cells before they ever develop into
cancer. Occasionally, however,
these cells manage to sneak under
the radar, reproducing until they
grow into a full-blown tumour.
By the time the cancer has
reached the attention of doctors,
unaided recovery is highly unlikely:
overall, just one in 100,000 cancer
patients are thought to shed the
disease without treatment.
Disappearing act
Within those scant reports, though,
there are some truly incredible stories. A
hospital in the UK, for instance, recently
reported the case of a woman who
had experienced long-lasting fertility
problems. She then discovered that she
had a tumour between her rectum and
her uterus, but before doctors could
operate, she finally conceived. All went
well and a healthy baby was delivered
– only for the doctors to find that the
cancer had mysteriously vanished
during the pregnancy. Nine years later,
she shows no sign of relapse.
Paris, France (AFP)
- US
Secretary of State John Kerry
was due to arrive in Paris
Saturday seeking to boost
European support for an
emerging nuclear deal with Iran
as France voiced concerns over
whether it was stringent enough.
Kerry was to fly in from
London on the last stop of
his latest diplomatic trip, to
brief his French, German
and British counterparts
on the negotiations.
The top US diplomat spent
three days in Switzerland
earlier this week huddled
with Iranian Foreign Minister
Mohammad Javad Zarif seeking
to hammer out a deal as a
March 31 deadline looms.
But French Foreign
Minister Laurent Fabius, who
will meet first with Kerry for
bilateral talks on Saturday,
remained skeptical.
“There has been progress
but as regards the numbers,
controls and the length of the
agreement, the situation is still
not sufficient, so there is more
work to be done,” Fabius said
on the sidelines of an EU foreign
ministers meeting in Latvia.
Fabius gave no figures but
key issues in the talks which
began in late 2013 include the
level of uranium enrichment
that Iran should be allowed, the
degree of international oversight
of its programme and how
long an accord should last.
“The deadline is March 31
but in the event it could be
later, although everyone wants
to make progress by the end
of the month,” Fabius said.
Kerry has acknowledged
that he is uncertain whether
a deal can be reached,
warning that after months
of intensive negotiations
between world powers and
Iran time is running out.
“We are seeking to show that
Iran’s program is exclusively
peaceful and that we can block
all of the pathways necessary
to acquire the fissile material
for a nuclear weapon and then
to be able to move towards the
production of that weapon,”
Kerry said on Thursday after
briefing Gulf foreign ministers in
Riyadh on the state of the talks.
“To date, we have made
progress, but there do remain
serious gaps, and those need
to be resolved,” he stressed. 
“It may be that Iran cannot
say yes to the type of deal
that provides assurances
that the international
community requires.”
Many teenagers are believed to have crossed into
Syria last month as a result of the Islamic State
group luring in foreign recruits with promises of
adventure, homes, jobs -- even love
‘Promise’ of Caliphate
produces results
Teenagers crossover to Syria as
Malaysia’s transport minister
says he is confident the
missing MH370 airliner will be
found in the Indian Ocean.
Liow Tiong Lai said
the Malaysian authorities
were not concealing any
information about the flight.
He told the BBC they
would keep searching for the
aircraft, which disappeared
with 239 people on board.
Malaysia’s civil aviation
department is due to release an
interim report on Sunday, one
year after the Malaysia Airlines
Boeing 777 airliner was lost.
It vanished en route from
Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Australia is leading an
international search team in
the southern Indian Ocean,
approximately 1,600km (1,000
miles) off its west coast.
Two experienced pilots
explain what they think may
have happened to flight MH370
Search vessels are focused
on a 60,000sq km priority zone.
The search’s A$120m (£61m;
US$93m) budget is being jointly
put up by Australia and Malaysia.
Australia, Indonesia and
Malaysia announced earlier
this week they would try out
a new method of tracking
long-haul flights in the wake
of the disappearance.
The trial system enables
planes to be tracked every 15
minutes, an increase on the
current 30 to 40 minutes.
MH370vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing
Missing Malaysia Airlines
flight ‘will be found’
Mysterious miracle cases
inspiring doctors
Rebels signup to
vote as Philippines
moves to save
peace pact
Boko Haram’s war against women
The mother of a missing
Chibok Schoolgirl (L) laying the
foundation for new classrooms
at a school burned out by Boko
Haram Islamist fighters in Chibok,
Northeastern Nigeria Only three
percent of females from the north
complete secondary school.
Picture –
IS bulldozes ancient Iraq city
Nimrud was founded in
the 13th century BC and
was considered the jewel
of the Assyrian era
UN Security Council condemns
Syria chlorine attacks
Kerry seeks to boost French
support for Iran deal
‘cowardly’Mali attack
Riga, Latvia (AFP)
- Belgian Foreign
Minister Didier Reynders denounced
Saturday the killing of five people,
including reportedly a Belgian national, in
a “cowardly attack” on a Mali nightclub.
“My thoughts are with the victims
and their families,” Reynders said on
the sidelines of an EU foreign ministers
meeting in the Latvian capital Riga.
Reynders said he believed the
dead included a Belgian national,
but the Belga news agency reported
that the ministry of foreign affairs
in Brussels could not immediately
confirm that information.
At least one gunman entered
the nightclub in an area of the Mali
capital Bamako which is popular with
expatriates and opened fire in the early
hours of Saturday, local police said.
“This is a terrorist attack, although
we’re waiting for clarification.
Provisionally, there are four dead -- one
French national, a Belgian and two
Malians,” a policeman told
, adding
that the dead included a police officer
who had been passing the restaurant.
Smog documentary
blocked by China
Beijing, China (AFP)
- A hard-
hitting video investigation into
China’s grave air pollution problem
has been pulled from mainstream
video sites, days after it garnered
more than 100 million hits online.
“Under the Dome”, an independent
documentary produced by former
Chinese state media journalist Chai
Jing, was no longer available on popular
mainland video sites, including Youku
and iQiyi, as of Saturday afternoon.
A link on Youku’s website that
previously led to the video now
prompts the message: “We’re
very sorry, Youku was unable to
find the page you requested.”
The 103-minute documentary –- hailed
by some as China’s “Inconvenient
Truth” -- remains available on
YouTube, which is blocked in China.
Pakistan arrests 45
Indian fishermen
Karachi, Pakistan (AFP)
- Pakistani
marine forces have arrested 45 Indian
fishermen for violating territorial waters
in the Arabian Sea, police said Saturday.
Pakistan’s Maritime Security Agency
(MSA) detained the fishermen on
Friday after they strayed into Pakistani
waters, and they were handed over to
local police in the port city of Karachi,
a senior police official told AFP.
“The MSA has handed over 45
arrested Indian fishermen to police who
will be presented before a magistrate
and later sent to jail,” senior police
official Fida Hussain told AFP.
Such arrests are frequently carried
out by both countries, as the maritime
border in the Arabian Sea is poorly
defined and many fishing boats
Didier Reynders
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