French hostage beheaded by Algerian militants
An Algerian extremist group, Jund al-Khilafah has released a video claiming responsibility for the beheading of a French hostage Herve Gourdel on September 24. The video, entitled “A Message with Blood to the French Government” employs a similar style to those used in previous videos by ISIS showing the beheadings of three Western hostages. Gourdel, a 55 year old mountaineering guide from Nice was abducted in Algeria's northeast on September 21 by militants of Jund al-Khilafah.
In the video, armed militants are seen reading a statement in Arabic that states they will be “closer to God by killing this filthy Frenchman in defence of God's religion”. The video then shows Gourdel kneeling with his hands behind his back, in front of four armed militants with their faces covered. The terrorist group issued a statement after his abduction demanding that French President Francois Hollande cease his country’s intervention in Syria or ready to face Gourdel death. President Francois Hollande has confirmed the death, saying Gourdel was cruelly “assassinated” because he was French, and because his country was fighting terrorism and defending human liberty against barbarity.
Separately, Abu Sayyaf, a militant group in the Philippines also announced that it is holding two Germans and has threatened to kill them if Germany does not back out of the intervention in Syria.
Ebola cases could reach 1.4 million by next year
Till now, Ebola virus has killed more than 2,800 people in West Africa. According to a report by the United States Centers for Disease Control, the Ebola epidemic cases in West Africa could reach up to 1.4 million by January 2015. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also published an analysis of data from the first nine months of the epidemic on September 22 in the New England Journal of Medicine. On this serious issue, Christopher Dye of the WHO in Geneva said “If we don't do anything immediately then the exponential growth that has been forecast will continue, so far as we can see, and we'll have not a few thousand cases but probably tens of thousands of cases.”
Idols vandalised in B'desh before Navratri
Hindus and their religious sentiments have been always on target by the majority community in Bangladesh. In a recent incident, just before the biggest festival of Hindu Community, Navratri, unidentified miscreants vandalised three idols in a Hindu temple at Pratabnagar area in Jhenaigati upazila of Sherpur, Bangladesh on September 21.
Local people suspected that miscreants swooped on the temple at night after the devotees left the temple premises on September 20 and vandalised the three idols installed ahead of Durga Puja.
The incident came to light when the worshipers went to the temple. They found the idols, including one of Durga broken. Representatives of upazila puja celebration committee and local leaders visited the spot and later informed the police.
Condemning the incident, Jhenigati upazila Puja Udjapon Parishad president Gopal Chandra Sen demanded immediate arrest and punishment of those involved in the incident. A case was also filed in this connection.
In another incident miscreants vandalised idols of Hindu gods and goddesses at temples Faridpur and Narail during the last few days.
Four idols of Hindu gods and goddesses vandalised at a household temple at Garua village in Bhanga upazila.
Expressing frustration over the incident, local Hindus said they will not be able to make the idols again before the Puja due to limitation of time.
Bhanga Police Station officer-in-charge Nazmul Islam said police have launched a drive to arrest the miscreants involved in vandalising the idols. He also noted that security for 85 Puja Mandaps set up in the upazila ahead of Durga Puja has been beefed up.
US, Allies launch strike on ISIS, kill 120
“We are going to do what is necessary to take the fight to this terrorist group. This in not just America’s fight alone”. said President Barack Obama vowing to destroy the terror group ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS)’. On September 22, the United States launches air strikes against ISIS in Syria killing at least 120 of them.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are reported to join the campaign against ISIS. Prime Minister David Cameron also announced that Britain will soon join the fight against ISIS. The participation of these muslim countries in the mission will bolster Obama’s argument that this mission is not against the Sunni Muslims but is against a Sunni extremist group. In a recent development US and allies launched new strikes targeting ISIS Oil fields.
According to a report, there are around 30,000 Islamic State group fighters. The group began as al-Qaida in Iraq and was chased out of the country during the Iraq War. It fled to Syria where it rearmed and regrouped, and began a sweeping advance across the Syrian border toward Baghdad earlier this year, catching Western governments by surprise.
Ghani, Afghanistan’s new President
After months of wait and United States intervention, Afghanistan got its new president. Former finance minister Ashraf Ghani was declared Afghanistan's next president on September 21. The declaration was made after signing a power-sharing deal (a deal to form a government of national unity in Afghanistan) between Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah in Kabul, capital city of Afghanistan.
Under the deal, Ashraf Ghani becomes president while runner-up Abdullah Abdullah nominates a CEO with powers similar to those of prime minister. The new Afghan government will have a cabinet of ministers, including the CEO and two deputies, chaired by the president who will take strategic decisions.
The White House welcomed the election result and the power-sharing deal. “The unity government offers a huge opportunity for progress in Afghanistan, for the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) in a week or so,” said US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Under the BSA, some foreign special forces are expected to stay in the country to conduct counter-terror operations and others to support and train Afghan forces. The US is planning to significantly reduce the number of its troops in Afghanistan before the end of the year.
South Africa first
Pro-Gay Mosque shut down
South Africa's first pro-gay mosque, which also allows women to offer prayers, has been closed few days after opening. Cape Town councillor said the newly established Mosque had violated municipal by-laws by not having any parking spaces.
The mosque was opened by Taj Hargey, a professor at the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford in the United Kingdom which according to him will help counter the surge of radical Islam in Africa.
Despite the death threat Hargey opened the mosque which will welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers. The City Council is trying to close the mosque using ridiculous bylaws and I will not be threatened by them or anyone else said Mr Hargey. “We have freedom of religion and expression in this country. No-one has the right to tell anyone what to believe in. This is a gender equal mosque, autonomous and independent and will remain so,” he said.
South Africa has around 7, 37,000 Muslims according to figures from the Pew Research Centre.
ISIS sends audio file to Brits wife
Barbara Henning, the wife of Alan Henning, a British aid worker who is being held by ISIS, has said she received an audio file from her husband pleading for his life.
Alan Henning, a former taxi driver from Manchester, has been held by IS militants in December 2013.
Previously also ISIS had released videos of the beheading of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. Recently, another video released by IS earlier this week showed British photojournalist John Cantlie sitting at a desk reading from a prepared script and explaining that he would speak about IS in future videos, although no threat to kill him was made on camera.
-Nishant Kr Azad with inputs from agencies