British man sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan

A Pakistani court has passed the death sentence on a British national with mental health problems

Pakistan's tough blasphemy laws have attracted criticism from rights groups, who say they are frequently abused to settle personal scores

Pakistan’s tough blasphemy laws have attracted criticism from rights groups, who say they are frequently abused to settle personal scores Photo: AP


1:13PM GMT 24 Jan 2014

A court in Pakistan has sentenced a British man to death for blasphemy for claiming to be a prophet of Islam, a prosecutor and police said Friday.

Mohammad Asghar, a British national of Pakistani origin, was arrested in 2010 in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, near Islamabad, for writing letters claiming to be a prophet, police said. Continue reading “British man sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan”

Christian teacher to be tried in Egypt for insulting Islam


Christian teacher to be tried in Egypt for insulting Islam

Egypt’s prosecutors on Tuesday referred a Christian schoolteacher to trial on charges of insulting Islam, judicial sources said.

Dimiana Abdel-Nour, who was arrested on Wednesday, was accused by her Muslim students’ parents of insulting Islam and comparing it to Christianity by saying that the late Coptic Pope Shenouda was better than the Prophet Mohammad.

Alongside the political and economic turmoil Egypt has endured since Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in February 2011, tensions have risen between Muslims and Christians, especially since the election of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in June.

Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 84 million people and have complained that the authorities have failed to protect them since Mubarak was ousted, giving radical Islamists a free hand.

Last year, an Egyptian court sentenced a 17-year-old Christian to three years in jail for publishing cartoons on his Facebook page that mocked Islam and the Prophet, triggering sectarian violence.

At least three people were killed and more than 80 injured in clashes last month between Christians and Muslims at the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo after a funeral service for four Christians killed in sectarian violence with Muslims.

Abdel-Nour will appear in a court in Luxor next Tuesday, a judicial source said. She was free on bail of 20 thousand Egyptian pounds ($2,900) pending her trial.


The photos Saudi Arabia doesn’t want seen – and proof Islam’s most holy relics are being demolished in Mecca

Archaeologists fear billion-pound development has led to destruction of key historical sites

Jerome Taylor

Friday, 15 March 2013

The authorities in Saudi Arabia have begun dismantling some of the oldest sections of Islam’s most important mosque as part of a highly controversial multi-billion expansion.

Photographs obtained by The Independent reveal how workers with drills and mechanical diggers have started demolishing some Ottoman and Abbasid sections on the eastern side of the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca.

The building, which is also known as the Grand Mosque, is the holiest site in Islam because it contains the Kaaba –  the point to which all Muslims face when praying. The columns are the last remaining sections of the mosque which date back more than a few hundred years and form the inner perimeter on the outskirts of the white marble floor surrounding the Kaaba.

The new photos, taken over the last few weeks, have caused alarm among archaeologists and come as Prince Charles – a long term supporter of preserving architectural heritage – flew into Saudi Arabia yesterday for a visit with the Duchess of Cornwall. The timing of his tour has been criticised by human rights campaigners after the Saudis shot seven men in public earlier this week despite major concerns about their trial and the fact that some of the men were juveniles at the time of their alleged crimes.

Many of the Ottoman and Abbasid columns in Mecca were inscribed with intricate Arabic calligraphy marking the names of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions and key moments in the founder of Islam’s life. One column which is believed to have been ripped down is supposed to mark the sport where Muslims believe Muhammad began his heavenly journey on a winged horse which took him to Jerusalem and heaven in a single night.

To accommodate the ever increasing number of pilgrims heading to the twin holy cities of Mecca and Medina each year the Saudi authorities have embarked upon a massive expansion project. Billions of pounds have been poured in to increase the capacity of the Masjid al-Haram and the Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina which marks where Muhammad is buried. King Abdullah has put the prominent Wahabi cleric and imam of the Grand Mosque, Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, in charge of the expansion while the Saudi Binladin Group – the country’s largest firms – has won the construction contract.

While there is little disagreement over the need to expand, critics have accused the Saudi regime of wantonly disregarding the archaeological, historical and cultural heritage of Islam’s two holiest cities. In the last decade Mecca has been transformed from a dusty desert pilgrimage town into a gleaming metropolis of sky scrapers that tower of the Masjid al-Haram and are filled with a myriad of shopping malls, luxury apartments and five star hotels.

But such a transformation has come at a cost. The Washington-based Gulf Institute estimates that 95 per cent of Mecca’s millennium-old buildings have been demolished in the past two decades alone. Dozens of key historical sites dating back to the birth of Islam have already been lost and there is a scramble among archaeologists and academics to try and encourage the authorities to preserve what little remains.

Many senior Wahabis are vehemently against the preservation of historical Islamic sites that are linked to the profit because they believe it encourages shirq – the sin of idol worshipping.

But Dr Irfan al-Alawi, executive director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation which obtained the new photographs from inside the Grand Mosque, says the removal of the Ottoman and Abbasid columns will leave future generations of Muslims ignorant of their significance.

“It matters because many of these columns signified certain areas of the mosque where the Prophet sat and prayed,” he said. “The historical record is being deleted. A new Muslim would never have a clue because there’s nothing marking these locations now. There are ways you could expand Mecca and Medina while protecting the historical heritage of the mosque itself and the surrounding sites.”

There are signs that King Abdullah has listened to concerns about the historical destruction of Mecca and Medina. Last October The Independent revealed how new plans for the masjid an-Nabawi in Medina would  result in the destruction of three of the world’s oldest mosques on the west hand side of the main complex. However new plans approved by King Abdullah last week appear to show a change of heart with the bulk of the expansion now slated to take place to the north of the Masjid an-Nabawi.

However key sites are still at risk. The Independent has obtained a presentation used by the Saudis to illustrate how the expansion of Mecca’s main mosque will look. In one of the slides it is clear that the Bayt al-Mawlid, an area which is believed to be the house where Muhammad was born it, will have to be removed unless plans change.

The Independent asked the Saudi Embassy in London a number of questions about the expansion plans and why more was not being done to preserve key historical sites. They replied: “Thank you for calling, but no comment.”

Further reading

Mecca for the rich: Islam’s holiest site ‘turning into Vegas’

Why don’t more Muslims speak out against the wanton destruction of Mecca’s holy sites?

Medina: Saudis take a bulldozer to Islam’s history–and-proof-islams-most-holy-relics-are-being-demolished-in-mecca-8536968.html#

Egypt bans YouTube over Innocence of Muslims video

Published: 9 February, 2013, 20:01 Edited: 9 February, 2013, 20:01


An Egyptian court has ruled to ban video sharing portal YouTube for one month among the other websites hosting the controversial film trailer that mocked Islam and Prophet Mohammed.

­Egypt’s administrative court on Saturday ordered the authorities to block access to YouTube and other websites that have not removed the anti-Islamic trailer. The 14-minute clip made in the US was posted to YouTube in July 2012.

After having been translated into Arabic and partly broadcasted in Egypt last September, this low-budget film sparked a wave of outrage worldwide and anti-American protests in the Middle East that killed more than 70 people and injured hundreds.

The lawsuit against YouTube was filed by Egyptian attorney Hamed Salem amid accusations of the video-sharing service being a “threat to social peace.” Salem demanded YouTube and social media sites linking to the “insulting” video to be banned until all the anti-Islamic content is removed from them.

Egyptian protest movements have condemned the ban, calling YouTube a “vital resource for disseminating information about Human Rights abuses by the security forces,” Cairo-based journalist Bel Trew told RT on Saturday.

The Google-owned service had decided to temporarily block access to The Innocence of Muslims in specific countries, including Egypt and Libya. However, Google refused to remove the video, saying it didn’t violate YouTube’s community guidelines. YouTube still does not consider the film as hate speech towards Muslims, despite the Obama administration’s request to “reconsider” its status.

Recently, an Egyptian court upheld its decision that sentenced seven alleged makers of the film with death, and American pastor Terry Jones with jail term in absentia. Other countries such as Pakistan have taken legal action to suspend a list of Google services until the anti-Islamic video is removed.

Following the violent reaction to the film, to which the Benghazi attack that killed US ambassador in Libya was also initially attributed, a 55-year old US resident identified as a key filmmaker was arrested and sentenced to jail by an American court.

Egypt-born Coptic Christian Mark Bassely Youssef was sentenced to a year in prison and four years of supervised release after pleading guilty to four of the eight charges against him. A US-based Christian charity is said to have funded The Innocence of Muslims, which also portrayed the persecution of Copts in Egypt.

Under the hood of recent DDoS Attack on U.S. Banks

Author : Wang Wei on 1/10/2013 02:48:00 AM
Incapsula security study reveals how a simple neglect in managing the administrative password of a small UK site was quickly exploited by Botnet shepherds operating obscurely out of Turkey to hurl large amounts of traffic at American banks.
Under the hood of recent DDoS Attack on U.S. Banks
If you’ve been following the news, you are probably aware of a wave of DDoS attacks that recently hit several major U.S. banks.  Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, a hacker group that claimed responsibility for these attacks, declared them to be a retaliation for an anti-Islam video that mocked the Prophet Muhammad and a part of the on-going “Operation Ababil.”
As the reports of the attack started to roll in, Incapsula security team was able to uncover one of the secret foot-soldiers behind the assault: a compromised general-interest UK-based website that was trying to hurl large chunks of junk traffic at three of the world’s largest financial institutions (PNC, HSBC and Fifth Third Bank).
pnc hsbc 53 bank ddos
At On the eve of the attack, this website suddenly became a focal point of a rapidly -increasing number of security events, caused by numerous requests with encoded PHP code payload. Incapsula was able to intercept these requests and traced them back to a backdoor shell that was used to hijack the site.
The backdoor was installed before the website on-boarded Incapsula, and yet the cause of security breach was clear. The administrative password was…you guessed it: admin / admin.
encoded bank ddos
After decoding the incoming PHP requests, the security team could clearly identify them as DDoS attack commands, originating from a Turkish web design company website which was used as a remote Botnet C&C. From the looks of it, the Turkish website was also compromised and used as an additional buffer between the real hacker and its U.S. based targets.
Further investigation showed that the UK website was a part of a Botnet for Hire which was working in “shifts” to produce HTTP and UDP flood attacks. As Incapsula team continued to block and monitor incoming DDoS commands, they saw that the list of targets went beyond American banks, also including e-commerce and commercial websites from several other countries.
Incapsula published the full description of the DDoS attack in the company blog, concluding it by saying that this was just another demonstration of how security on the Internet is always determined by the weakest link. Simple neglect in manage the administrative password of a small UK site, can very quickly be exploited by Botnet shepherds operating obscurely out of Turkey to hurl large amounts of traffic at American banks.
Incapsula Security Analyst, Ronen Atias said: “This is a good example of how we are all just a part of a shared ecosystem where website security should be a shared goal and a shared responsibility.

About Author:

chin has been a security consultant for the government, financial securities, banks. Working as Researcher with The Hacker News. He is also a renowned speaker on the subject of ‘Exploit Writing’. He   is Malware analyst, Freelancer Penetration Tester, Cloud Computing,   Mobile application & Software Developer.  He has worked professionally in research, and in the practical implementation of technique. Follow him @ Twitter | | Email

Egyptian Christians sentenced to death for Islam film

A Cairo court on Wednesday sentenced to death seven Egyptian Christians tried in absentia for participating in an anti-Islam video that was released on the Internet in September and prompted violent protests in Muslim countries.

“The seven accused persons were convicted of insulting the Islamic religion through participating in producing and offering a movie that insults Islam and its prophet,” Judge Saif al-Nasr Soliman said.

The low-budget video, produced privately in California, denigrated the Prophet Mohammad and triggered anti-U.S. protests and attacks on Western embassies around the Muslim world.

The convicted persons included Egyptian-American Nakoula Bassely Nakoula, who is currently serving a one-year-jail term in Los Angeles after an American court convicted him of probation violations that stemmed from his role in the movie.

The 13-minute video portrays the Prophet Mohammad as a fool and a sexual deviant, although cast members have said they were misled into appearing in a film they believed was an adventure drama called “Desert Warrior.”

Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church did not issue an official comment on the ruling.

“The Church denounced the movie, which it has nothing to do with. As for today’s case, it is a court ruling and the Church does not comment on court decisions,” said a Church source who asked not to be named.

Christians make up around 10 percent of Egypt’s 83 million people and many complain of discrimination in work and treatment.


Anti-Islam film prompts Saudi call for net censorship body

Saudi Arabia has called for a new international body to censor the internet, in the wake of the anti-Islam YouTube clip that recently sparked violence in the Middle East.

The armed mob that stormed the US consulate in Benghazi, apparently killing the American ambassador, struck at a moment loaded with symbolism.

The US consulate in Benghazi in flames after the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens Photo: REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori

By , Technology Correspondent

3:45PM BST 11 Oct 2012

In a submission to forthcoming international talks on internet governance, the Gulf state said “there is a crying need for international collaboration to address ‘freedom of expression’ which clearly disregards public order”.

During the controversy over a 14-minute clip posted on YouTube and purportedly a trailer for a feature film called “The Innocence of Muslims”, Google resisted pressure, including from the White House, to remove it.

“This video – which is widely available on the web – is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube,” Google said last month.

The Saudi government has now told the World Telecommunications Policy Forum, a UN body, that the incident was “an obvious example” of the need for greater international cooperation to restrict content online.

“Any reasonable person would know that this film would foment violence and, indeed, many innocent persons have died and been injured with this film as a root cause,” the Saudi submission said.

The amateurish clip, produced on tiny budget by Nakoula Nakoula, a 55-year-old Egyptian Coptic Christian resident in the United States, depicts the Prophet Mohammad as a fool and sexual deviant.

In the uproar surrounding it, there were violent protests in across the Middle East and North Africa, coinciding with an attack by extremists on the American Embassy in Benghazi. The Ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three other officials were killed.

Following the attack Google did restrict access to “The Innocence of Muslims” clip in Egypt and Libya on account of “the very difficult situation”, but maintained its refusal to delete it. The governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan meanwhile ordered internet providers to completely cut off access to YouTube.

The Saudi government called for greater international cooperation to censor such material at the source, comparing it to outlawed content such as images of child abuse and malicious software.

“This behaviour, along with other malicious and criminal activities such as child pornography, identity theft, spam, denial of service attacks, and malware aimed at destroying or crippling businesses, inter alia, must be addressed by states in a collaborative and cooperative environment and strongly underscores the need for enhanced cooperation,” it said.

The submission highlights increasing interest in internet governance discussions from nations that do not share Western liberal values, as access to and the influence of the web grows.

Christian Copt to face trial in Egypt for blasphemy

Posted 2012/09/24 at 6:09 pm EDT

CAIRO, Sep. 24, 2012 (Reuters) — An Egyptian Copt arrested on suspicion of posting an anti-Islam video online that ignited Muslim protests around the world will stand trial next Wednesday on charges of insulting religions, the state news agency MENA said on Monday.

Computer science graduate Alber Saber, 27, was arrested at his Cairo home on September 13 after neighbors accused him of uploading sections of the film “Innocence of Muslims” and making another movie mocking all religions.

His case has raised concerns over freedom of expression under Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, who came to power in free elections earlier this year after the 2011 popular uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Many Christian Copts have been concerned about the political rise of Islamists since Mubarak’s fall and fret about any action that could stoke tensions with their Muslim compatriots.

The crude film made in California portrayed the Prophet Mohammad as a womanizer, thug and child molester. Angry Muslim crowds stormed U.S. embassies around the Arab world. In Libya, the U.S. ambassador was killed by Islamist militants.

Human rights lawyers say Saber was arrested without a prosecutor’s warrant and that he was beaten during interrogation. Security officials have refused to talk publicly about the case, but a judicial source said the police had acted on the instructions of prosecutors.

Prosecutors have accused him Alber of running Facebook pages calling for atheism, insulting Islam and Christianity and questioning religious beliefs, and have referred him to a Cairo misdemeanor court.

Saber’s lawyer wasn’t immediately available for comment. His mother, Kariman Ghali, said her son had done nothing wrong.

(Reporting by Tamim Elyan and Ali Abdelattai; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

French magazine publishes naked Prophet Mohammed cartoons

By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 4:41 EDT

Charlie Hebdo's publisher, known only as Charb, unveils the issue (AFP, Fred Dufour)

A French satirical magazine published nude cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed Wednesday, a move that could further inflame tensions after violent protests in the Muslim world over an anti-Islam film.

The cover of Charlie Hebdo shows a Muslim in a wheelchair being pushed by an Orthodox Jew under the title “Intouchables 2″, referring to an award-winning French film about a poor black man who helps an aristocratic quadriplegic.

Another cartoon on the back page of the weekly magazine show a naked turbaned Mohammed exposing his posterior to a film director, a scene inspired by a 1963 film starring French film star Brigitte Bardot.


France has stepped up security at its embassies in countries following the move, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Wednesday.

“I have obviously issued instructions so that special security measures are taken in all the countries where this could pose a problem,” Fabius said, admitting that he was “concerned” by the potential for a backlash.

The publication came a day after 12 died in an Afghan suicide bombing, the deadliest attack linked to an anti-Islamic film.

A female suicide bomber killed 12 people in Afghanistan on Tuesday in the deadliest single attack attributed to the controversial film which has sparked furious protests across the Muslim world.

The deaths raised to over 30 the toll from incidents linked to the trailer for “Innocence of Muslims,” a film produced by extremist Christians in the United States that depicts the Prophet Mohammed as a thuggish womaniser.

Charlie Hebdo’s website crashed on Wednesday after being bombarded with comments that ranged from hate mail to approbation.


The magazine is no stranger to controversy over issues relating to Islam.

Last year it published an edition “guest-edited” by the Prophet Mohammed that it called Sharia Hebdo. The magazine’s offices in Paris were subsequently fire-bombed.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said anyone offended by cartoons could take the matter to the courts after expressing his “disapproval of all excesses”.

But he emphasised France’s tradition of free speech. “We are in a country where freedom of expression is guaranteed, including the freedom to caricature,” he said on RTL radio.

“If people really feel offended in their beliefs and think there has been an infringement of the law — and we are in a state where laws must be totally respected — they can go to court,” Ayrault said.

He also said a request to hold a demonstration in Paris against the controversial US-made anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” which has sparked furious protests across the Muslim world would be refused.

Charlie Hebdo’s latest move was greeted with immediate calls from political and religious leaders for the media to act responsibly and avoid inflaming the current situation.

The magazine’s editor, originally a cartoonist who uses the name Charb, denied he was being deliberately provocative at a delicate time.

“The freedom of the press, is that a provocation?” he said. “I’m not asking strict Muslims to read Charlie Hebdo, just like I wouldn’t go to a mosque to listen to speeches that go against everything I believe.”

Dalil Boubakeur, the senior cleric at Paris’s biggest mosque, appealed for France’s four million Muslims to remain calm.

“It is with astonishment, sadness and concern that I have learned that this publication is risking increasing the current outrage across the Muslim world,” he said.

“I would appeal to them not to pour oil on the fire.”

France’s Muslim Council, the community’s main representative body, also appealed for calm in the face of “this new act of Islamaphobia”.

President Barack Obama said Tuesday he expected governments in the Muslim world to protect American diplomats, despite their revulsion at a film made on US soil deemed offensive to their faith.

“The message we have to send to the Muslim world is that we expect you to work with us, to keep our people safe,” Obama said during a taping of the “Late Show with David Letterman” on CBS TV.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, said “we are taking aggressive steps to protect” diplomatic missions worldwide.

Among those killed so far have been four US diplomatic staff in Libya, including ambassador Chris Stevens, who died when militants laid siege to the US mission in Benghazi a week ago on September 11 in a four-hour attack.

Clinton said the FBI had launched an investigation inside Libya, and she vowed that “we will not rest until the people who orchestrated this attack are found and punished.”

In Afghanistan, Hezb-i-Islami, the second largest insurgent group after the Taliban, said the suicide bomb attack was to avenge the “insult” of the film.

“The bombing was in retaliation for the insult to our Prophet,” spokesman Zubair Sidiqi told AFP by phone from an undisclosed location.

Security officials said nine foreigners including South Africans were among those killed on a highway leading to Kabul airport when the bomber blew up her station wagon alongside a minivan carrying foreign workers.

Taliban fighters last week stormed a British-run airfield, killing two US Marines and destroying six US fighter jets in another act of vengeance.

In Lebanon, the head of the Shiite Muslim movement Hezbollah, listed in the United States as a terrorist organisation, made a rare public appearance to warn of “very dangerous” repercussions if the entire film is released, rather than the 14-minute trailer that has already sparked outrage.

Al-Qaeda’s franchise in North Africa urged Muslims to storm US embassies and kill American envoys in Muslim countries, monitoring group IntelCenter said.

The film-maker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a 55-year-old Egyptian Copt and fraudster who was sentenced to 21 months in prison in the United States in June 2010, has not been seen since Saturday when he was questioned.

The risks now facing those involved in the film’s production were underlined when a Salafist cleric in Egypt called Monday for the deaths of all those involved in its making.

Before dawn on Monday, officers from the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department escorted four members of Nakoula’s family to join him in hiding.

Egypt’s public prosecutor has ordered that seven US-based Egyptian Copts be tried over their role in the film, accusing them of “insulting the Islamic religion, insulting the Prophet and inciting sectarian strife.”

However Interpol in a statement said it was not aware of any request from Egypt for the arrest of people related to the film but stressed that its charter “forbids it from undertaking any matter of a predominantly political, military, religious or racial nature.”

In Pakistan, two protesters died after demonstrating against the film close to the Afghan border and outside the US consulate in Karachi.

Police used tear gas to disperse more than 2,000 protesters trying to reach the US consulate in the city of Peshawar, chanting anti-US slogans and burning the Stars and Stripes flag.

Was the bloody attack on U.S. diplomats preventable? Libyan security official claims he warned Americans about possible hostilities in the country THREE DAYS before assault

  • Jamal Mabrouk serves with the February 17th  Brigade
  • The Brigade is a Libyan militia affiliated  with the country’s military
  • Mabrouk claims he met with U.S. diplomats to  tell them about the deteriorating security situation

By Snejana Farberov

PUBLISHED:11:00 EST, 16  September 2012| UPDATED:11:49 EST, 16 September 2012

A member of a Libyan security force said he  had met with American diplomats in the capital of Benghazi three days before the  deadly assault on the U.S. consulate to warn them about the deteriorating  situation in the country.

Jamal Mabrouk, of the February 17th Brigade,  told CNNthat he and a battalion commander sat down  with U.S. envoys to discuss the economy and security in the country, which has  been going through a turbulent transition since the fall of Moammar Gaddafi last  year.

According to Mabrouk, they told the diplomats  that the precarious security situation was not beneficial for international  business.

Threatening gesture: A mock U.S. flag set on fire by a group of about 50 angry Islamists, who were shouting anti-U.S. slogans and protesting against a film ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad, near the U.S. embassy in Ankara, TurkeyThreatening gesture: A mock U.S. flag set on fire by a  group of about 50 angry Islamists, who were shouting anti-U.S. slogans and  protesting against a film ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad, near the U.S. embassy  in Ankara, Turkey


Brimming anger: Afghan demonstrators prepare to torch a U.S. flag during protest in Herat Brimming anger: Afghan demonstrators prepare to torch a  U.S. flag during protest in Herat


Spreading fury: Pakistani Muslims shout anti-U.S. slogans during a protest rally against an anti-Islam movie in Islamabad on SeptemberSpreading fury: Pakistani Muslims shout anti-U.S.  slogans during a protest rally against an anti-Islam movie in Islamabad on  September

‘The situation is frightening, it scares us,’ Mabrouk said they told the U.S. officials. He would not say how they  responded.

The U.S. State Department was not immediately  available to comment on Mabrouk’s claims.

Mabrouk added that it was not the first time  he has alerted foreigners to safety concerns in the face of the growing presence  of armed jihadist groups in the Benghazi area.

U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three  other embassy employees were killed after a barrage of small arms,  rocket-propelled grenades and mortars tore into the consulate buildings in  Benghazi on Tuesday, the 11th anniversary of the September 11  attacks.

The room where the body of the ambassador was  found was protected by a large door with steel bars; the windows had steel bars,  CNN reported.

Stevens’ body was later recovered after  looters broke into the room. It appears his security detail left him in the room  while they clashed with the attackers.

The State Department has not released details  about how Stevens died, although numerous media reports have  said the  ambassador was taken from the consulate to the Benghazi medical center by  locals.

Aftermath: A Libyan military guard standing in front of one of the U.S. Consulate's burnt out buildings during the visit of President Mohammed el-Megarifto the U.S. Consulate, in BenghaziAftermath: A Libyan military guard standing in front of  one of the U.S. Consulate’s burnt out buildings during the visit of President  Mohammed el-Megarifto the U.S. Consulate, in Benghazi


Seething masses: People shout and hold slogans in front of the U.S. embassy during a protest in Cairo September 11, 2012Seething masses: People shout and hold slogans in front  of the U.S. embassy during a protest in Cairo September 11, 2012


Terrible prelude: A vehicle set on fire during the violent assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on TuesdayTerrible prelude: A vehicle set on fire during the  violent assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Tuesday

He arrived at the hospital, according to the  reports, unresponsive and covered in soot from the fire. A doctor was unable to  revive him and declared him dead, the reports said.

It has been reported that the assault on the  American embassy that ended in the death of the envoy and thee other officials  began simultaneously from three directions.

Slain: U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed by protesters angry over a film that ridiculed Islam's Prophet MuhammadSlain: U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed by  protesters angry over a film that ridiculed Islam’s Prophet Muhammad

According to an embassy guard, heavy machine  guns and rocket -propelled grenades were used by masked men who then threatened  to kill him ‘protecting the infidels.’

The February 17th Brigade — a militia formed  in the first days of the uprising against Gaddafi which has since become  affiliated with Libya’s military – was closely involved in the rescue of the  American staff trapped after the attack Tuesday night.

After the consulate was sacked, several  Americans escaped to a safe-house in another part of Benghazi, but that location  too came under attack.

Mabrouk said he received a call from an  official in Tripoli who said he had been called by a ‘terrified’ American hiding  at the safe house.

Mabrouk said the Brigade asked the Americans  if they required assistance, but were told that while the situation was  precarious, it was under control.

A few hours later, Mabrouk said he received  another call from Tripoli about the arrival of a U.S. team at Benghazi airport  that needed transport into the city.

He met the seven heavily armed Americans  dressed in civilian clothing and conducted them to the safe house with an armed  escort.

Upon the arrival of the newcomers in the  city, they came under intense fire before their assailants fled.

Mabrouk’s statements come just days  after  the U.S. State Department has angrily denied claims that it had  intelligence  warning its consulate in Libya would be attacked 48 hours  in advance.

Earlier this week, a spokesman has dismissed  claims that the attacks were the  result of a ‘continuing security breach’ and  diplomats should have been  warned before the attacks as ‘completely wrong.’

Bloody sacking: Glass, debris and overturned furniture are strewn inside a room in the gutted U.S. consulate in Benghazi after the attack that killed four AmericansBloody sacking: Glass, debris and overturned furniture  are strewn inside a room in the gutted U.S. consulate in Benghazi after the  attack that killed four Americans


Devastation: People inspect the damage at the U.S. consulate, one day after armed men stormed the place during a protest Devastation: People inspect the damage at the U.S.  consulate, one day after armed men stormed the place during a protest


New claims: A member of a Libyan security force said he had met with American diplomats three days before the deadly assault to warn them about the deteriorating situation in the country New claims: A member of a Libyan security force said he  had met with American diplomats three days before the deadly assault to warn  them about the deteriorating situation in the country

The official told Politico: ‘This is  absolutely wrong. We are not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating  that an attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi was planned or  imminent.’

The violent assault on the consulate in  Benghazi started out as a demonstration against the film Innocence of Muslims,  which reportedly was made in California by a filmmaker whose identity was not  known at the time.

The Mail on Sunday has since exclusively  revealed that Nakoiula Basseley Nakoula, an Egyptian-born Coptic Christian, has  been named by the FBI as the director of the controversial film which ridicules  the Prophet Mohammed.

The release of the film online set  off a  firestorm in the Middle East, with Muslims throughout the region  taking to the  streets and staging violent protests against the U.S.

On Sunday, demonstrators in Afghanistan  torched a U.S. flag and were heard shouting slogans denouncing America during a  protest in the city of  Herat.

A similar scene was  captured in Turkey,  where a group of about 50 protesters set a mock  American flag on fire near the  U.S. embassy in Ankara.

One protester read out a statement denouncing  the U.S., praising protests  that erupted in Libya, Cairo and Tunisia and  calling on Turks to also  rise up against insults to the Prophet  Mohammed.

Protests against the anti-Muslim film also  continued in cities across Pakistan  on Sunday. The Frontier Post reported that  rallies were staged the  cities of Kotli and Lahore.

Incitement: Al Qaida has urged Muslims around the world to step up their protests and kill more diplomats in Islamic countriesIncitement: Al Qaida has urged Muslims around the world  to step up their protests and kill more diplomats in Islamic countries

Meanwhile, in Karachi, police were forced to  use tear gas and aerial firing to disperse a protest rally by the Islamist party  Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen outside the U.S. consulate.

The U.S. has ordered diplomats’ families and  non-essential staff to leave its embassies in Sudan and Tunisia following  revelations by the Libyan government that Al Qaeda might have been responsible  for the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

In a statement, the terrorist network has  urged Muslims around the world to step up their protests and kill more diplomats  in Islamic countries.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta predicted  that the turmoil raging across the Muslim world is likely to continue into  the  days ahead, but said the violence appears to be leveling off

Read more:

As Violence Spreads in Arab World, Google Blocks Access to Inflammatory Video



Published: September 13, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO — As violence spread in the Arab world over a video on YouTube ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad, Google, the owner of YouTube, blocked access to it in two of the countries in turmoil, Egypt and Libya, but did not remove the video from its Web site.

Google said it decided to block the video in response to violence that killed four American diplomatic personnel in Libya. The company said its decision was unusual, made because of the exceptional circumstances. Its policy is to remove content only if it is hate speech, violating its terms of service, or if it is responding to valid court orders or government requests. And it said it had determined that under its own guidelines, the video was not hate speech.

Millions of people across the Muslim world, though, viewed the video as one of the most inflammatory pieces of content to circulate on the Internet. From Afghanistan to Libya, the authorities have been scrambling to contain an outpouring of popular outrage over the video and calling on the United States to take measures against its producers.

Google’s action raises fundamental questions about the control that Internet companies have over online expression. Should the companies themselves decide what standards govern what is seen on the Internet? How consistently should these policies be applied?

“Google is the world’s gatekeeper for information so if Google wants to define the First Amendment to exclude this sort of material then there’s not a lot the rest of the world can do about it,” said Peter Spiro, a constitutional and international law professor at Temple University in Philadelphia. “It makes this episode an even more significant one if Google broadens the block.”

He added, though, that “provisionally,” he thought Google made the right call. “Anything that helps calm the situation, I think is for the better.”

Under YouTube’s terms of service, hate speech is speech against individuals, not against groups. Because the video mocks Islam but not Muslim people, it has been allowed to stay on the site in most of the world, the company said Thursday.

“This video — which is widely available on the Web — is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube,” it said. “However, given the very difficult situation in Libya and Egypt we have temporarily restricted access in both countries.”

Though the video is still visible in other Arab countries where violence has flared, YouTube is closely monitoring the situation, according to a person briefed on YouTube’s decision-making who was not authorized to speak publicly. The Afghan government has asked YouTube to remove the video, and some Google services were blocked there Thursday.

Google is walking a precarious line, said Kevin Bankston, director of the free expression project at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a nonprofit in Washington that advocates for digital civil liberties.

On the one hand, he said, blocking the video “sends the message that if you violently object to speech you disagree with, you can get it censored.” At the same time, he said, “the decision to block in those two countries specifically is kind of hard to second guess, considering the severity of the violence in those two areas.”

“It seems they’re trying to balance the concern about censorship with the threat of actual violence in Egypt and Libya,” he added. “It’s a difficult calculation to make and highlights the difficult positions that content platforms are sometimes put in.”

All Web companies that allow people to post content online — Facebook and Twitter as well as Google — have grappled with issues involving content. The questions are complicated by the fact that the Internet has no geographical boundaries, so companies must navigate a morass of laws and cultural mores. Web companies receive dozens of requests a month to remove content. Google alone received more than 1,965 requests from government agencies last year to remove at least 20,311 pieces of content, it said.

These included a request from a Canadian government office to remove a video of a Canadian citizen urinating on his passport and flushing it down the toilet, and a request from a Pakistan government office to remove six videos satirizing Pakistani officials. In both cases, Google refused to remove the videos.

But it did block access in Turkey to videos that exposed private details about public officials because, in response to Turkish government and court requests, it determined that they violated local laws.

Similarly, in India it blocked local access to some videos of protests and those that used offensive language against religious leaders because it determined that they violated local laws prohibiting speech that could incite enmity between communities.

Requests for content removal from United States governments and courts doubled over the course of last year to 279 requests to remove 6,949 items, according to Google. Members of Congress have publicly requested that YouTube take down jihadist videos they say incite terrorism, and in some cases YouTube has agreed.

Google has continually fallen back on its guidelines to remove only content that breaks laws or its terms of service, at the request of users, governments or courts, which is why blocking the anti-Islam video was exceptional.

Some wonder what precedent this might set, especially for government authorities keen to stanch expression they think will inflame their populace.

“It depends on whether this is the beginning of a trend or an extremely exceptional response to an extremely exceptional situation,” said Rebecca MacKinnon, co-founder of Global Voices, a network of bloggers worldwide, and author of “Consent of the Networked,” a book that addresses free speech in the digital age.

Somini Sengupta contributed reporting.

U.S. intelligence agencies didn’t issue high alert about Mideast unrest threat : They had 3 days

By Mark HosenballPosted 2012/09/13 at 9:02 pm EDT

WASHINGTON, Sep. 13, 2012 (Reuters) — Although U.S. authorities believe anti-American violence that erupted on Tuesday in Libya and Egypt was triggered by an Arabic talk-show broadcast three days earlier, U.S. officials said high-alert warnings were not issued to American outposts in the region about the possibility of unrest.

An Egyptian TV network, al-Nas, broadcast on Saturday what its presenters described as extracts from an English-language film denigrating the Prophet Mohammad, which it said had been uploaded on the YouTube website by “migrant Coptics,” a reference to exiled members of a Christian sect with a large minority presence among Egypt’s Muslim majority.

The clips broadcast on al-Nas were taken from a short film called “Innocence of Muslims,” which portrays Mohammad, played by what appears to be a young American actor, as a womanizer, thug and child molester.

For many Muslims, any depiction of the Prophet is blasphemous, and caricatures or other characterizations have in the past provoked violent protests across the Muslim world.

While U.S. government officials were aware of the film’s inflammatory content, three officials said the broadcasts did not prompt strong warnings from intelligence agencies or the State Department of possible threats to U.S. diplomatic missions in the Islamic world.

Four U.S. diplomats, including the ambassador, were killed in an attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Tuesday that U.S. officials said may have been planned by one or more militant factions.

One official, who like the others spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said at least one specific warning about possible unrest in the region was circulated within the government, but was not so alarming as to lead to a major upgrade in emergency security precautions.

The lack of major warnings appears to illustrate how, in today’s world of globalized social media, threats to U.S. interests can gather strength rapidly and seem to appear out of nowhere. The events also underline the role of the Middle East’s more freewheeling media, loosened from state restrictions after the fall of longtime dictators.

“The number of potentially inflammatory things that are said or broadcast every week (is so large) … that warning about all of them would be useless,” said Paul Pillar, former top U.S. intelligence analyst for the Middle East and South Asia. It was “impossible to predict” the kind of violent reaction that occurred in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere.

One U.S. official said, “You can’t freak out on everything that’s broadcast.”

That official and others said the airwaves and Internet were filled with hateful material and U.S. authorities could be “crying wolf” if they issued a warning every time an anti-Islamic broadside was aired or posted online.

A senior congressional official said the question of what the United States knew about pre-September 11, 2012, threats and what it did about them would likely be examined in legislative inquiries into the Libyan and Egyptian violence.

Another aide indicated it would be difficult to fault U.S. agencies on the issue.


U.S. facilities in the Middle East were already on heightened alert earlier this week due to the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington.

The FBI has opened an investigation into the killings in Benghazi. U.S. officials said Attorney General Eric Holder was cutting short a foreign trip and would return to Washington on Friday to manage the Libya investigation.

It is not clear that anyone involved in making the anti-Islam film faces criminal investigation in the United States.

“Making a bad movie is not a crime,” one official said, referring to the film’s low production values.

Al-Nas is an Egyptian Islamic satellite channel whose programming ranges from Islamic scholars delivering religious edicts to shows about cooking and medicine.

Before Egypt’s 2011 revolution, authorities periodically suspended privately owned religious satellite channels such as al-Nas, many of which follow conservative Salafi Islam, for allegedly violating broadcasting licenses by promoting religious or sectarian hatred and providing dubious medical advice.

U.S. officials believe that al-Nas’ Saturday broadcast of a talk show hosted by Sheikh Khalid Abdallah was the spark that triggered violence and protests against U.S. missions in a half-dozen Arab cities.

Egyptian political scientist Omar Ashour said Abdallah was a controversial Islamist host of a TV show that specialized in criticizing liberals, often inviting firebrand commentators to mock secular Egyptians. His show tends to be popular with Salafi Muslims, but not with followers of the more mainstream Muslim Brotherhood that dominates Egypt’s government.

A European security official said intelligence reporting indicated the inflammatory clips from the American film run on the talk show had been translated and dubbed into Arabic by Copts, possibly members of the sect living in the United States.

In their commentary on the film clips, the hosts of al-Nas’ program alleged the material had been uploaded by “migrant Coptics,” according to Flashpoint Global Partners, a firm that monitors militant websites for government and private clients.

According to Flashpoint’s translation, the al-Nas presenters at one point in their introduction to the anti-Mohammad film, specifically mentioned “radical pastor Terry Jones,” the Florida preacher who staged a number of anti-Islamic events over the past year. Jones has confirmed he was involved in promoting the film.

(Additional reporting by David Ingram in Washington, Marwa Awad in Cairo and William Maclean in London. Editing by Warren Strobel and Peter Cooney)

Identity of anti-Muslim filmmaker called into question: Update: Film’s consultant confirms “Sam Bacile” is not real

Identity of anti-Muslim filmmaker called into question

By Stephen C. Webster Wednesday, September 12, 2012 14:12 EDT

Update (below): Film’s consultant confirms “Sam Bacile” is not real

A man who claimed he’s the creator of an anti-Muslim film that’s sparked violent protests in Libya and Egypt may not be who he says he is.

The mysterious “Sam Bacile” supposedly spoke to The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal and The Times of Israel, claiming to be a California real estate developer and an Israeli Jew who raised $5 million for the film from 100 other nameless Jewish donors.

However, since those stories were published, several cracks in that description have emerged, and now reporters are wondering whether he even exists at all.

The WSJ reported that he’s 52, but the AP placed his age at 56. Raw Story‘s own inquiries could not find a ”Sam Bacile” linked to any California court filing, which would be highly unusual for a real estate developer. He’s also missing from U.S. genealogy databases and the major social media networks.

And yet another wrinkle: Speaking on condition of anonymity, Israeli officials told the AP that they have no record of anyone by that name. “If that is true, and ‘Bacile’ was claiming to be Jewish and to have raised money from Jews for the film, it only multiplies the incendiary nature of his project,” Religion Dispatches senior editor Sarah Posner pointed out.

Foreign policy reporter Laura Rozen also noted that Steve Klein, cited by the AP as a consultant on the film, said in 2007 that he had ties to the Coptic Christian community in Egypt, an often persecuted minority group. “And there were some hints that Bacile may be a pseudonym, possibly for someone affiliated with the Egyptian Coptic diaspora,” she wrote.

He also published a book called “Is Islam Compatible with Democracy?” which claims that mosques on U.S. soil are “the head quarters of terrorism.” Interestingly, the film, “Innocence of Muslims,” depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a gay man who approves of sexually abusing children, and shows his followers rioting and murdering Coptic Christians.

Speaking to The Daily Mail, Klein said he did not feel responsible for the violent protests that erupted in Egypt and Libya, resulting in the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

“I feel bad for the death of the ambassador – he didn’t do anything to anybody – but it’s not our fault,” he reportedly said. “We didn’t want anybody to get killed but on the other hand the truth had to come out. We told the truth and these people reacted the way that Mohammed wanted to them to react – by killing people. Do I feel guilt? Yes, but not for me, I feel it for those that did this. Do I feel shame? Yes, but not for me. Killing this man fits in with their legal and ethical standpoint.”

Update: Film’s consultant confirms “Sam Bacile” is not real

Speaking to The Atlantic, in a story published later Wednesday afternoon, Klein admitted that “Sam Bacile” is not real, claiming he doesn’t know the man’s real name.

“I don’t know that much about him,” he reportedly said. “I met him, I spoke to him for an hour. He’s not Israeli, no. I can tell you this for sure, the State of Israel is not involved, Terry Jones is not involved. His name is a pseudonym. All these Middle Eastern folks I work with have pseudonyms. I doubt he’s Jewish. I would suspect this is a disinformation campaign.”

Christian girl with Down’s Syndrome arrested for blasphemy in Pakistan

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, August 19, 2012 11:09 EDT

ISLAMABAD — A Christian girl with Down’s Syndrome has been arrested on blasphemy charges in Pakistan, accused of burning pages inscribed with verses from the Koran, police and activists said on Sunday.

Police arrested Rimsha, who is recognised by a single name, on Thursday after she was reported holding in public burnt pages which had Islamic text and Koranic verses on them, a police official told AFP.

A conviction for blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan.

The official said that the girl, who he described as being in her teens, was taken to a police station in the capital Islamabad, where she has been detained since.

Angry Muslim protesters held rallies demanding she be punished, said the official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

“We had to register the case fairly quickly to prevent any unpleasant situation,” he added, referring to the demonstrations.

Rimsha was produced before a court on Friday and remanded in custody for 14 days, another police official said. She is expected to go before the court again by end of this month.

The girl’s plight is likely to reignite debate about growing religious intolerance in Muslim-majority Pakistan, where strict anti-blasphemy laws make defaming Islam or the Prophet Mohammed, or desecrating the Koran, a capital offence.

Human rights activists say the law is often used to settle petty disputes, but in the face of huge public support for the legislation, the government says it has no plans to change it.

The girl’s alleged behaviour sparked Muslim anger in Mehrabad, an area of the capital where she lives with her parents and where up to 800 Christians reside. Christians there were forced to leave amid mounting fury.

“These Christians had sought shelter with their relatives in other parts of the city but now they are gradually returning to Mehrabad,” a senior official of All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA), Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, told AFP.

He said that the girl had Down’s Syndrome — a condition which causes various degrees of learning difficulties — and disputed the age given by police.

“She was just 11 to 12 years old,” he said, adding it was a hugely sensitive issue and “we would not like it to be mishandled and would rather want to resolve it amicably”.

Women’s Action Forum (WAF), a leading Pakistani organisation fighting for the rights of women, condemned Rimsha’s arrest.

“WAF is outraged at the total inhumanity of the men who lodged the First Information Report (FIR) in the police,” WAF spokeswoman Tahira Abdullah said, demanding Rimsha’s immediate release.

Police should have dealt with the case under the Juvenile Justice System and not the serious allegation of blasphemy, she said, accusing police of not allowing lawyers or civil society representatives to visit the girl in custody.