News briefs from 2001

How religious, political and ideological beliefs spark violence, crime, intolerance and falsehoods

edited by: Jim Walker

(News briefs abridged from various news server articles. Note, these articles present only a glimpse of the problems caused by belief-systems throughout the world. For more information, and full accounting, please refer to the Associated Press and UPI news sources on the internet.


ARCHIVE: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998 | 1997 |
Bold characters, mine. Ed.
Red = destruction, violence or killing

News: Bombs Go Off in Sri Lanka Office

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka-- Two bombs exploded in the office of pro-government Tamil political party in eastern Sri Lanka on Saturday wounding at least 19 people, witnesses and the defense ministry said.

Sri Lanka has been torn since 1983 by fighting between Tamil rebels and the government, a conflict that has killed more than 64,000 people. The separatist rebels say Tamils face discrimination by the country's majority Sinhalese.

On Saturday, two government soldiers and four rebels were killed in fighting near Trincomallee, about 140 miles northeast of Colombo.

[Note, the Tamils represent a Hindu sect and the Sinhalese, a Buddhist sect. Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 01 Dec. 2001

News: Anthrax Hoaxer On Most-Wanted List

WASHINGTON-- Clayton Lee Waagner, one of the FBI's most-wanted fugitives, is a suspect in a string of anthrax hoax letters sent to abortion clinics.

The feminist Majority Foundation said more than 450 clinics and advocacy organizations received letters in envelopes carrying white powder and letters signed by "the Army of God."

Waagner, 44, an escaped inmate from Illinois, was placed on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted Pugitives" list in September. He escaped in February from Clinton, Ill., jail where he was awaiting sentencing on federal firearms and auto theft convictions.

During his trial, Waagner testified that he had watched abortion clinics for months, stocking up weapons after God asked him to "be my warrior" and kill doctors who provide abortions.

In June, abortion clinics were warned after someone purporting to be Waagner posted an Internet message threatening to kill employees of abortion providers.

Source: Associated Press, 29 Nov. 2001

News: Indian Army: 11 Pakistanians Killed

SRINAGAR, India-- Indian troops killed 11 Pakistani soldiers in an exchange of mortar and artillery fire along the cease-fire line in Kashmir, the Indian army said Wednesday.

The two neighbors have fought three wars, two of them for control of Kashmir, since they won independence from Britain in 1947.

More than a dozen Islamic militant groups have been fighting Indian security forces since 1989 to separate Kashmir from India. The 12-year insurgency has killed at least 30,000 people, the government says. Human rights groups say the figure is twice that.

Source: Associated Press, 28 Nov. 2001

News: Carpet bombing 'kills 150 civilians' in frontline town

A catastrophic error by carpet-bombing US Air Force warplanes was blamed yesterday for the deaths of about 150 unarmed Afghan civilians in a densely populated frontline town caught up in the battle for the Taliban redoubt of Kunduz.

Terrified refugees fleeing the town of Khanabad yesterday told The Independent that American planes had bombed the area a few miles from Kunduz daily since Thursday, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the buildings they were bombing were civilian homes. All day yesterday, huge plumes of smoke rose from the hills on the front lines near the Taliban's last northern stronghold as B-52 bombers continued to drop their loads of bombs.

"I saw 20 dead children on the streets," said Zumeray, one of the refugees. "Forty people were killed yesterday alone. I saw it with my own eyes. Some of them were burned by the bombs, others were crushed by the walls and roofs of their houses when they collapsed from the blast."

While most support the attacks on the Taliban, one man shouted angrily that the Americans were wrong to kill civilians.

Source: Independent, 19 Nov. 2001

News: Witchcraft fears keep Fargo kids from Harry Potter

FARGO, N.D.-- A witchcraft controversy brewing in a North Dakota town forced a local school to cancel a field trip to a screening of the new Harry Potter movie Friday

About 100 students from Agassiz Middle School in Fargo were slated to attend the opening day of the widely anticipated movie, ``Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,'' which revolves around the adventures of a young wizard.

All the students, mainly aged between 12 and 15, had parental permission to attend the trip to a local movie house during school hours.

But a few concerned parents and one local radio personality successfully killed the trip after raising concerns about the movie's depiction of witchcraft.

The fact that some consider witchcraft a religion, the protesters said, meant that the school-led trip to the movie theater would constitute a violation of the separation of church and state and possibly lead to legal action.

``It's a little bizarre,'' said Fargo School Superintendent David Flowers, who supported the field trip. ``We believe that we were on firm ground in letting the kids go. But (the school) made the decision ... that they would just as soon not be embroiled in a controversy.''

Meanwhile in Memphis at least two Catholic schools said they were keeping the series of ``Harry Potter'' books by author J.K. Rowling out of their libraries because of the witches and wizardry content.

[Yet another example of the intolerance of religion. Welcome to the Dark Ages II. Ed.]

Source: Reuters, 17 Nov. 2001

News: NY Woman Killed Daughter in Exorcism

NEW YORK-- A woman who believed her 4-year-old daughter was possessed by demons killed the girl while attempting an exorcism, authorities said Tuesday.

Sabrina Wright, 29, was charged with murder and being evaluated at a local hospital. An autopsy showed the girl was drowned, according to the medical examiner's office.

``She was trying to exorcise some demons,'' said Jennifer Falk, a spokeswoman for the city's Administration for Children's Services.

Source: Associated Press, 14 Nov. 2001

News: 130-plus Afghan civilians killed: report

MORE than 130 Afghan civilians were killed in three villages near the Taliban's southern stronghold of Kandahar after intense US bombing raids, the Afghan Islamic Press has reported.

It said the final civilian death toll from the attacks in the three villages could exceed 300, with 133 bodies already recovered from one community called Shah Aga.

The Pakistan-based news agency said Shah Aga was one of two villages in Khakrez district, about 70km north-west of Kandahar, which were completely destroyed in three nights of heavy air attacks. The third village was not identified.

Source: AFP, 10 Nov. 2001

News: India Clashes Leave 15 People Dead

SRINAGAR, India-- Gunbattles with suspected Islamic militants left 15 people dead in the northern Indian state of Jammu-Kashmir over the weekend, police said Sunday.

In one incident, Indian troops shot and killed 10 militants believed to members of the Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, which is fighting to separate the region from India, a police official said on condition of anonymity.

Hindu-dominated India accuses Muslim Pakistan of supporting an Islamic insurgency in Kashmir, India's only Muslim majority province. Pakistan denies it aids the insurgents but calls them freedom fighters.

Human rights groups say at least 60,000 people have been killed in the fighting since 1989.

Source: Associated Press, 04 Nov. 2001

News: Tamil Militants Claim Suicide Attack

BATTICALOA, Sri Lanka-- Tamil Tiger rebels claimed responsibility Wednesday for a suicide attack on a fuel-laden ship that left seven people dead and raised questions about Sri Lanka's maritime safety.

Tamil militants have been fighting for a separate homeland in Sri Lanka's north and east since 1983. More than 64,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

[Note, the Tamils represent a Hindu sect. Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 31 Oct. 2001

News: American airstrikes kill 13 civilians

KABUL, Afghanistan -- American airstrikes meant to punish the Taliban spilled over today into residential neighborhoods of the Afghan capital, killing 13 civilians - the second time in as many days that missiles have accidentally hit homes and killed residents.

Weeping families buried their dead hours after the morning bombardment, apparently aimed at Taliban targets to the north and east of Kabul. ``I have lost all my family. I am finished,'' said a sobbing woman in the Qali Hotair neighborhood on Kabul's northern edge.

Source: Associated Press, 28 Oct. 2001

News: Gunmen Kill 15 at Christian Church in Pakistan

BAHAWALPUR, Pakistan-- Women keened over the bodies of 15 Christians lying in pools of blood in a Pakistani church Sunday after masked gunmen on motorcycles drew up, shot dead a police guard and sprayed the congregation with Kalashnikov fire.

Christians feared they could become targets if unrest broke out in Muslim Pakistan over opposition to the U.S. attacks on neighboring Afghanistan's ruling Muslim Taliban militia.

Four gunmen entered the church chanting ``Allah-u-Akbar'' (God is Greater) while two waited outside to shoot anyone who tried to flee, a witness said.

Pope John Paul condemned the attack as evil.

Source: Reuters, 28 Oct. 2001

News: U.S. Bomb kills 10 villagers

A foreign ministry official from the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance confirmed that a U.S. bomb hit the village of Khan Agaha at the mouth of the Kapisa valley on Saturday, according to reports from Afghanistan. An ambulance driver who went to the village, three kilometers from the Taliban frontlines northeast of the Afghan capital of Kabul, said 10 civilians were killed instantly by the bomb and at least another six injured.

The misguided strike occurred during the heaviest day of U.S. bombing on the frontlines of the Taliban north of Kabul.

Source: Xinhua News-Agency, 27 Oct. 2001

News: U.S. Jets Bomb Red Cross Compound Again

During the daylight attacks in Kabul, a bomb exploded near the compound of the International Committee of the Red Cross, setting a warehouse filled with humanitarian goods on fire. U.S. jets attacked the same compound Oct. 16.

"This is the second time our warehouses have been hit," ICRC worker Abdul Rashid said as he watched the flames. "Of course, I am sad. We had special programs over the next several days to distribute these items to the disabled people."

The raids Friday followed one of the heaviest nighttime bombings in Kabul in days. Three children were killed-- two from one family living in the northwest area of the city and a third from the east part of town, officials at the Wazir Akbar Khan Hospital said. The United States has repeatedly said it is not targeting civilians and regrets any loss of life.

[Would it have made any difference if the Sept. 11 terrorists had said "we are not targeting civilians and regret any loss of life even if they had meant it? Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 26 Oct. 2001

News: Taliban: We'll fight to the last

The sole foreign envoy of the Taliban vowed today that the regime would not hand over Osama bin Laden, even at the cost of every life in Afghanistan.

Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef said his country was ready to attack the US - if only it had the resources - and vowed to kill Americans in revenge for their killing of Afghans.

"If they were to kill all of the nation of Afghanistan, we will not hand over Osama bin Laden because we have law, we have respect for the honour of Afghanistan, we have the culture of Afghanistan and this is against the culture of Afghanistan," he said.

"If they were to kill all of the nation of Afghanistan, we will not hand over Osama bin Laden because we have law, we have respect for the honour of Afghanistan, we have the culture of Afghanistan and this is against the culture of Afghanistan," he said.

Source: Associated Press, 24 Oct. 2001

News: More U.S. Bombs Hit Kabul Homes, Killing 8

KABUL, Afghanistan-- U.S.-led bombardment flattened two homes in a residential neighborhood of Kabul on Sunday, killing at least eight civilians, including four children, neighbors said.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene in the Khair Khana residential district and at a hospital later saw the bodies of seven of the dead ­ three women and four children, all boys.

"This pilot was like he was blind. There are no military bases here ­ only innocent people," said Haziz Ullah, one of a crowd of distraught, edgy residents at the scene.

"We don't care about military targets, if they want to hit military targets, let them,' said Bacha Gul, the brother of one of the dead. "But these are not terrorists."

The United States previously has expressed regret for any civilian deaths in its now two-week old military campaign in Afghanistan, saying terror suspect Osama bin Laden and his Taliban allies are its true targets.

Source: Associated Press, 21 Oct. 2001

News: Airstrikes Hit Afghan Homes, 5 Dead

KABUL, Afghanistan-- American jets bombarded the center of the Afghan capital Thursday, and residents said a strike that hit homes killed at least five civilians ­ including a 16-year-old girl and four in one family who lived near a Taliban tank unit.

Alongside missiles and bombs, U.S. forces have been bombarding Afghanistan with radio broadcasts and leaflets urging surrender. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said at the Pentagon that those operations had borne some fruit, with some Taliban defecting to the opposition.

A 16-year-old girl was also killed when another bomb exploded in the Microryan housing complex about a half mile away, residents said. Late Thursday, two strong detonations shook buildings in the once-fashionable Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood.

[If I lived as an Afghan citizen, I think I'd claim myself a Tabilan and surrender just to protect myself. Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 18 Oct. 2001

News: 18 killed in anti-U.S. protest; hundreds possibly dead

LAGOS, Nigeria-- Authorities in the northern Nigerian city of Kano confirmed at least 18 dead Sunday, after two days of clashes between police and anti-U.S. protesters. Others said hundreds may have died.

The protests began peacefully Friday as a reaction against the U.S.-led airstrikes in Afghanistan, but turned violent Saturday. Some of the fighting was attributed to traditional rivalries between Christians and Muslims.

Although Saturday's violence was linked to the bombardment of Afghanistan, it followed a familiar pattern of deadly religious clashes that have rocked Nigeria over the past two years, killing thousands.

The int roduction of Islamic law in some northern states triggered Muslim-Christian fighting in cities in the region.

Nigeria's population of about 120 million is split almost evenly between Muslims and Christians.

Source: CNN, 14 Oct. 2001

News: US Food Drops "Useless' For Hungry Hordes

AID agencies last night warned food drops to Afghanistan were doing more harm than good.

They said more than a million people faced starvation as refugees fleeing the Taliban were trapped between Allied bombs and the closed Pakistan border.

Glasgow-born Zia Choudhury, 29, humanitarian programme director for Oxfam, is in Islamabad, desperate to deliver food to the Afghans but unable to reach them.

He said: "It is extremely frustrating to be sitting here in the knowledge that things are getting worse every day and we are unable to do anything about it.

"Now we're facing a race against time to get enough food into Afghanistan to see them through the winter.

"If aid agencies are allowed to enter Afghanistan and the people trying to get into Pakistan are allowed over the border, we still have time to prevent a catastrophe. But I'm not hopeful we're going to be allowed to do that."

Other aid workers agreed, claiming many of the packages, which are dropped from a great height, have been scattered across Afghanistan's many minefields. Organisation of Mine Clearance and Afghan Rehabilitation spokesman Alhaj Fazel said: "When the food lands, these desperately hungry people will simply rush towards it. Women and children are most vulnerable."

A spokesman for French aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres added: "This is not a humanitarian effort, this is part of a military campaign designed to gather approval for the attacks. It is virtually useless and may even be doing harm."

Source:, 14 Oct. 2001

News: Thousands in Europe Protest Bombing

LONDON-- An estimated 20,000 people marched through central London in the largest of several demonstrations in Europe on Saturday against the military strikes in Afghanistan.

In Germany, more than 25,000 peace protesters took to the streets. The largest turnout was in the capital, Berlin, where some 15,000 protesters held a protest in the central Gendarmenmarkt square, police said. The rally was preceded by several peace marches held throughout the city under the motto "No War ­ Stand Up for Peace."

In the southern German city of Stuttgart, about 10,000 peace protesters called on the United States to leave Afghanistan and for Germans to stand together against the war.

In Sweden, several thousand people marched peacefully in the country's three biggest cities Saturday to protest the bombings.

"It's absolutely unacceptable that the world's richest country bombs the world's poorest people," said Ann-Cathrin Jarl of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

In Italy, youths demonstrated peacefully in Rome, Naples and several smaller cities. The biggest turnout was in Naples, with about 2,000 people.

In Glasgow, Scotland, around 1,500 people gathered in George Square for an anti-war protest.

Thousands of people across Australia rallied Saturday for peace.

"No one supports the Sept. 11 attacks but no one supports what's happening now in Afghanistan, either. The way to remember the dead of Sept. 11 is not by building another mound of innocent people's bodies," said Denis Doherty, a rally organizer.

Source: Associated Press, 13 Oct. 2001

News: Taliban reports 200 villagers killed

KABUL, Afghanistan-- A Taliban report that 200 villagers were killed in a missile strike this week opened a contentious exchange of claims and counter-claims Friday over civilian casualties from the U.S.-led air campaign against Afghanistan.

"We're still digging bodies out of the rubble," Zadra Azam ­ the Taliban deputy governor of Nangarhar province, where the village is located ­ said Friday.

Later, the air campaign apparently resumed early Saturday when several planes streaked over Kabul and large explosions were heard in northern areas of the city, rattling buildings in the heart of the capital.

The United States and its allies have repeatedly stressed that everything possible will be done to avoid civilian casualties. Still, they acknowledge that such deaths are almost unavoidable, with targets inor near populated areas.

"There is no question but that when one is engaged militarily that there are going to be unintended loss of life," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said at the Pentagon when asked Thursday about Taliban claims. . "And there's no question but that I and anyone involved regrets the unintended loss of life."

"We have been assured again and again that only terrorists and those who provide protection to terrorists will be targeted," Foreign Ministry spokesman Riaz Mohammed Khan told journalists on Friday.

In Kabul, worshippers at the central Haji Yaqoub mosque heard fiery appeals for divine vengeance from the imam, or preacher. "Cruel America has killed scores of our people," he said. "We pray to God that the United States should meet a fate similar to that we are suffering."

Source: Associated Press, 12 Oct. 2001

News: 25 Rebels killed In Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka-- The navy killed 25 guerrillas during sea battles off the northeast coast Friday and sank two rebel vessels, a navy officer said.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have been fighting for a Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka's north and east since 1983. More than 64,000 people have been killed in the fighting.

The rebels say Sri Lanka's 3.2 million Tamils need a homeland to prosper away from domination of the Sinhalese, who make up 14 million of the country's 18.6 million people.

[Note, the Tamils represent a Hindu sect and the Sinhalese, a Buddhist sect. Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 05 Oct. 2001

News: Spiritual Manual Guided Hijackers

WASHINGTON-- The Sept. 11 hijackers had step-by-step instructions to pray, smile and kill while earning a life in paradise for "a job which is loved by God," according to a document released Friday.

Four handwritten pages of fervent prayer and directions for everything from what to wear (tight clothes) to the last words to utter ("There is no God but God") were found in the suitcase of one of the hijacker, Mohamed Atta, who boarded an American Airlines flight that smashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

The instructions ranged from the practical to the spiritual.

"In the name of God, the most merciful, the most compassionate. . . . In then name of God, of myself and of my family. . . I pray to you God to forgive me from all my sins, to allow me to glorify you in every possible way."

"Remember the battle of the prophet. . . against the infidels, as he went on building the Islamic state."

"You should ask God for guidance, you should as God for help. . . . Continue to pray throughout this night. Continue to recite the Koran."

"Everybody hates death, fears death. But only those, the believes who know the life after death and the reward after death, would be the ones who will be seeking death."

Check your weapon and tidy up your clothes the night before, the document said.

"Be happy, because the distance between this life and your joyful new life is short," said one passage.

"You're doing a job which is loved by God, and you will end your day in heavens where you will join the virgins," it said.

The document contains numerous prayers and poetic versus.

In the final section, instructions are given for the final moments: "Open your chest welcoming death in the path of God and utter your prayer seconds before you go to your target."

"Let your last words be, There is no God but God and Mohammad is His messenger. Then, inshallah, you will be in heavens."

Source: Associated Press, 29 Sep. 2001

News: Osama Bin Laden Urges Holy War

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates-- Here is the text of Osama bin Laden's statement as provided on Monday by the Al-Jazeera television news network, based in Qatar. It was translated from Arabic by The Associated Press. Some sections of the faxed statement were illegible.

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Sunday, 6 Rajab 1422 (Sept. 23, 2001)

And for martyrs from their God their reward and light

To our Muslim brothers in Pakistan

Peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah and his blessings;

I received with great sorrow the news of the murder of some of our Muslim brothers in Karachi while they were expressing their opposition to the American crusade forces and their allies on the lands of Muslims in Pakistan and Afghanistan. We ask Allah to accept them as martyrs and include them with prophets, their followers, martyrs, good doers and the like and ask that their families be gifted with patience and consolation, and bless their children and money, and reward well for their Islam.

Whoever of them left children behind, they are my children, and I am their caretaker, Allah willing.

It is no wonder that the Muslim nation in Pakistan would rush to defend its Islam, since it is considered the first line of defense for Islam in this area, just like Afghanistan was the first line of defense for itself and for Pakistan before the Russian invasion more than 20 years ago.

We hope that these brothers are among the first martyrs in Islam's battle in this era against the new Christian-Jewish crusade led by the big crusader Bush under the flag of the Cross; this battle is considered one of Islam's battles ...(text illegible)

We incite our Muslim brothers in Pakistan to give everything they own and are capable of to push the American crusade forces from invading Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Prophet, Peace Be Upon Him, said: Whoever didn't fight, or prepare a fighter, or take good care of a fighter's family, Allah will strike him with a catastrophe before Judgment Day.

I announce to you the good news my loved brothers that we are steadfast on the path of Jihad for the sake of Allah, following the example of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him), with the heroic, faithful Afghan people, under the leadership of our fighter emir, who is proud of his religion, the prince of the faithful, Mullah Mohammed Omar.

We ask Allah to make him victorious over the forces of infidels and tyranny, and to crush the new Christian-Jewish crusade on the land of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

If Allah makes you victorious, none will defeat you and if He fails you, who after Him will make you victorious and on Allah the faithful shall trust.

Your brother in Islam

Osama bin Mohammed bin Laden

Source: Associated Press, 24 Sep. 2001

News: Bin Laden Support in Indonesia

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia -- Radical Islamic groups in the world's most populous Muslim nation are rallying in support of Osama bin Laden, illustrating how last week's deadly violence in the U.S. could spread even to traditionally moderate Muslim countries in Asia.

Western intelligence officials believe a number of these Indonesian Islamic organizations have links to Mr. bin Laden and other suspected international terrorist networks, due to their ties to Afghanistan and their history of using violence. The leaders of these Muslim groups say it is their shared religious ideology, rather than any organizational links, that is driving their support for the Saudi exile and militant Islamist,

A number of Western officials, however, are still worried that the Laskar Jihad and other militant Islamic groups could foment a backlash against U.S. interests in Indonesia, should Washington strike Afghanistan or other Middle Eastern countries.

A Sunday rally in the central Javanese city of Solo underpinned these fears, as 2,000 members of fundamentalist Islamic groups gathered to voice their support for Mr. bin Laden's cause and their antipathy toward the U.S.

The catalyst for the Laskar Jihad, senior members say, was the escalating war that broke out between Christians and Muslims on the eastern Indonesian island of Ambon in early 1999.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, 22 Sep. 2001

News: Cries of Holy War Echo in Mideast

CAIRO, Egypt-- Mosques in the Mideast rang with cries of holy wars and crusades Friday, as clerics and faithful looked to a coming U.S. war on terrorism that many worried loomed as nothing less than an attack on Islam.

"The Muslim people are united, just like one body. They must stand by each other and support each other at all times," cleric Mussa Abu-Sweilem roared through a loudspeaker in Amman, Jordan, hitting a theme that sounded in mosque after mosque.

Muslims throughout the region seized on President Bush's declaration of the coming U.S. campaign against terrorism as a "crusade" -- a remark apologized for by the White House but not forgiven in the Muslim world.

"It is a war against Islam, even though the White House had apologized for Bush's statements of them being a crusade," cleric Sheik Maher Hammoud said in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon.

"The Americans cover their colonial aims with hollow slogans such as war against terrorism ... while everyone knows that the real American motives are not that," he said.

"It's a new crusader war, but this time it's directed against Muslims," businessman Ismail Bishtawi said in Amman. "The United States is falling in the trap of those terrorists and it's holding the Muslim world, all the Muslims, responsible for something they haven't done."

In Egypt, hard-line clerics of the Al-Azhar Ulama Front said the proposed U.S.-led coalition against terrorists aims to "punish innocent people to (seize) an individual who until now hasn't been proven guilty."

"Revenge will increase against the United States if it takes any action," a cleric warned at Bahrain's Grand Mosque in Manama. "The United States has no right to take action before investigating this matter."

Source: Associated Press, 21 Sep. 2001

News: Taliban Willing to Meet U S.; Bush rejects offer

KABUL, Afghanistan-- The leader of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban movement
said Wednesday his officials were willing to meet with the United States but
accused Washington of unfairly vilifying terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden.

In a speech read to the gathering in the war-shattered Presidential Palace, Mullah Mohammed Omar denounced Washington's portrayal of bin Laden's alleged role in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States and its refusal to produce evidence.

"Osama has denied his involvement. It is unfortunate that America does not listen to us and levels all sorts of charges and threatens military action," Omar said in the speech.

"We have held talks in ... the past with U.S. governments several times, and we are ready for more talks," he said.

But he said: "If America still wants to attack us ... and to destroy the Islamic government of Afghanistan, we want to get the religious decision from you, our respected religious scholars."

The Bush administration rejected the Taliban offer for talks.

"The president has made it clear it's time for actions not negotiations with the Taliban," said White House press secretary Ari Fleischer.

On Monday, the Taliban said that God would protect them if the world tried to "set fire" to Afghanistan for sheltering bin Laden. A Taliban broadcast Tuesday also called on all Muslims to wage holy war on America if it attacks the poor and war-ravaged central Asian country.

Source: Associated Press, 19 Sep. 2001

News: Taliban Threatens 'Holy War'

KABUL, Afghanistan-- Afghanistan's Taliban rulers vowed Tuesday to wage a holy war against America if U.S. forces launch an assault to punish them for sheltering suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden.

The Taliban, who say bin Laden was wrongly implicated in last week's terror attacks on the United States, urged the people of Afghanistan to prepare for jihad, or holy war, against America, the official Bakhtar News Agency reported Tuesday.

"If America attacks our homes, it is necessary for all Muslims, especially for Afghans, to wage a holy war," Mullah Mohammed Hasan Akhund, the deputy Taliban leader, said Monday, according to the state-run Radio Shariat. "God is on our side, and if the world's people try to set fire to Afghanistan, God will protect us and help us."

[I feel confused. George Bush assured us that God stands on our side. God has yet to answer via prayer express. Does anyone have God's phone number or email address so that I can ask him myself? Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 18 Sep. 2001

News: Robertson, Falwell: U.S. Vulnerable

The Rev. Jerry Falwell and religious broadcaster Pat Robertson said the United States was vulnerable to this week's terrorist attacks because the nation has insulted God and lost divine protection.

"God Almighty is lifting his protection from us," Robertson said in a four-page statement issued Thursday by his Christian Broadcasting Network.

"We have imagined ourselves invulnerable and have been consumed by the pursuit of ... health, wealth, material pleasures and sexuality."

Falwell, a Baptist minister and chancellor of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., said Thursday on Robertson's religious TV program "The 700 Club" that he blames the attacks on pagans, abortionists, feminists, homosexuals, the American Civil Liberties Union and the People for the American Way.

"All of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen,'" Falwell said.
He added later, "God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve."

[Jerry, Jerry, our government originally started out secular. Would you have America turn as religious as the Taliban? The attack apparently came for religious zealots, very much like you Jerry. Point a finger at yourself and the other one at Pat Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 14 Sep. 2001

News: Taliban anticipating massive US attack, vows revenge

Afghanistan's Taliban said Friday it expected to be hit by a massive attack by the United States and vowed that it would take revenge.

"We are ready to pay any price to defend ourselves and to use all means take our revenge," a spokesman for the Islamic militia's supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar told AFP by satellite phone from the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar.

The spokesman's comments came a day after the United States said for the first time that it considered Osama bin Laden a suspect in the investigation into Tuesday's terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

"Now they are indicating in clear words that they are going to strike," the spokesman, Abdul Hai Mutmaen, said.

"It will be at a very high level. Last time they only attempted to strike a (bin Laden) camp. This time they want to eliminate the whole system and government."

Despite the impending threat of US military action, the Taliban has refused to hand bin Laden over.

[Revenge through belief has no limits, and this applies to those in power in the U.S. as well as those in other countries. Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 14 Sep. 2001

News: The U.S. Attacked, and Islamic Reactions

NEW YORK-- In one of the most audacious attacks ever against the United States, terrorists hijacked two airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center in a coordinated series of blows today that brought down the twin 110-story towers. A plane also slammed into the Pentagon, bringing the seat of government itself under attack. Authorities had been trying to evacuate those who work in the twin towers, but many were thought to have been trapped. About 50,000 people work at the Trade Center and tens of thousands of others visit each day.

In the West Bank city of Nablus, thousands of Palestinians poured into the streets to celebrate, chanting "God is Great" and distributing candy to passers-by, even as their leader, Yasser Arafat, expressed horror over the attacks.

Iraqi television played a patriotic song that begins "Down with America!" as it showed the World Trade Center's towers falling.

In a speech from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Tuesday afternoon, President George Bush remarked, "Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward, and freedom will be defended."

[Virtually every political and new media source, at the time of this writing, alleges that the attackers came from some Islamic terrorist organization. Yet one should not forget that an attack like this could just as well have come from a number of fanatical groups that live in the United States. Moreover, George Bush completely missed the mark when he called them a "faceless coward." Whoever did this could hardly have done it out of cowardice. They sacrificed their lives for some, yet unknown, reason. Despicable, inhumane, or criminal would have described it better, but certainly not cowardice. There occurs only one known type of mentality that could carry out such an atrocity. Whoever did this, you can most certainly bet that they carried with them an insufferable hate and an intolerance driven by an extreme and coordinated belief system. Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 11 Sep 2001

News: Slaying suspect kills self

A 20-year-old security guard who went on a 24-hour rampage that left at least five people dead and two others wounded shot himself to death early today after being cornered by authorities near Folsom Boulevard and Zinfandel Drive.

During his rampage, sources said, Ferguson compared himself to Soltys and Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. His background led authorities to conclude he is an extremely troubled young man.

Police searching the Meadowview area home he shared with his father and brothers Sunday found racist materials, including some from the World Church of the Creator. They also found a number of weapons and a makeshift bunker beneath the house that sources said may have been used for target practice.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, 10 Sep. 2001

News: Fear, Fury Grips Belfast Neighbors

BELFAST, Northern Ireland-- Angie Boyle tightly clasped the hand of her 10-year-old daughter Helen on the walk to school. A few streets away, Alyson Ross made a similar trip alongside 6-year-old Rachel.

The girls live in the same Belfast neighborhood, Ardoyne, and attend schools virtually side by side. They are unlikely ever to become friends.

The boys and girls at Rachel's Wheatfield Primary School are Protestants, the girls at Helen's Holy Cross Primary all Catholic. That separates them as surely as the rows of British armored cars and riot police that have kept the two communities apart since schools reopened Monday.

Behind the ugly confrontations-- which hit a low Wednesday when Protestant militants threw a homemade grenade toward girls and parents outside Holy Cross ­ lie complex fears and furies that sustain NorthernIreland's conflict from one scarred generation to the next.

Each community considers itself the victim, the other the aggressor. The only thing they seem to agree on is the need to keep living apart.

"It's weird but true that you can tell somebody's religion by the side of the street they walk on," said Jim Boyle.

The 1998 peace accord that was supposed to ease Catholic-Protestant tensions, and end each community's dependence on illegal gangs, has instead reinforced animosities in places like Ardoyne.

Source: Associated Press, 06 Sep. 2001

News: 343 Muslim Bodies Found in Bosnia Grave

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina-- Seven weeks of excavations at a mass grave in eastern Bosnia have uncovered the remains of 343 people whose bodies were dug up from other graves and reburied, a commission said Tuesday.

It is the largest grave containing the reburied bodies of Muslims slain in 1995 in Europe's worst massacre of civilians since World War II, said Murat Hurtic, a member of the Muslim Commission for Missing Persons.

The victims were Muslims from the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica. They were executed by Serb forces in July 1995, buried elsewhere and later exhumed and reburied after the war when the U.N. war crimes tribunal began investigating the slaughter.

The deputy head of the commission, Jasmin Odobasic, said his experts would head to northwest Bosnia to exhume bodies from several other sites. The sites will include the area near the former Omarska camp where Serb forces jailed thousands of Muslims and Croats and killed many of their prisoners.

[Note: Bosnia's three factions include the Eastern Orthodox Christian Serbs, Roman Catholic Croats, and the Sunni Muslims]

Source: Associated Press, 29 Aug. 2001

News: 17 Killed in Sri Lanka Attack

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka-- A cadre of female rebel fighters attacked a police camp in eastern Sri Lanka on Tuesday, killing 12 police officers, two civilians and wounding 18 others, the government said.

Three Tamil Tiger rebels were also killed and seven wounded in the guerrillas' first major operation since they attacked the country's only international airport and an adjoining air base on July 24 near Colombo.

The rebels are fighting to create a homeland for the country's minority Tamils, saying they suffer discrimination by the Sinhalese who comprise 14 million of country's 18.6 million pe ople. The government denies the charge. More than 64,000 people have died in the 18-year-old conflict.

Most of Sri Lanka's 3.2 million Tamils live in the north and they are in equal numbers with Muslims in the east.

[Note, the Tamils represent a Hindu sect and the Sinhalese, a Buddhist sect. Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 21 Aug. 2001

News: Killing Iranian Prostitutes for God

MASHHAD, Iran-- In the past year, 21 women, all identified as prostitutes and drug addicts and most of them in Parvaneh's home city of Mashhad, have been found dead ­ strangled with their Islamic scarves which were left wrapped around their necks.

The suspect arrested for the killings is being applauded by some Iranians.

Saeed Hanaei, arrested July 25, has confessed to killing 16 prostitutes, leaving three unaccounted for, and since his arrest two more strangled bodies have turned up. Police say copycats are at work.

"I killed the women for the sake of God, and for the protection of my religion because they were prostitutes and corrupting other people," Hanaei told reporters who watched him accompany a a judge to the site where one of the bodies was found.

There are Iranians who find prostitution so contemptible that they are praising the alleged murderer.

"God may bless him for killing corrupt women. Killing prostitutes causes fear among them and forces them to stop corrupting our people, especially the youth," said Mohammad Taqi Shariatmadaran, a Mashhad man.

Source: Associated Press, 13 Aug. 2001

News: Palestinian Dies Seeking Revenge

NABLUS, West Bank--Firas Abdul Haq was so full of rage at the killing of his kid brother that he devoted the rest of his life to trying to avenge the death, quitting his job, buying a rifle and shooting at Israeli soldiers on the edge of town. He died trying.

The 23-year-old was buried Friday, a day after he was shot and killed by Israeli troops on the southern edge of the city ­ just like his brother. The Israeli army said it fired on two Palestinians trying toplant a bomb. One escaped. The other, Firas, was killed.

About 3,000 people filled the central square of Nablus for his funeral procession. In the crowd was a third brother, Hadi, 29, who rose out of the crowd on the shoulders of a friend, shouting together with others, "Revenge, revenge."

"I told my brother Hadi about the dream and he told me, 'God will save him,'" Khaled said. A few hours later, people came to the house to deliver the awful news. Firas had been killed.

"God wanted my brothers Firas and Hamam. They recruited themselves to go to God," he said

The young man's body was carried to a large cemetery in the center of town and buried in a grave beside the brother whose death he had hoped to avenge. On the tombstone was inscribed with a verse from the Quran: "Those who are killed for the sake of God are not dead, but alive to their God."

[Yet another example of a belief in an afterlife surpassing importance over actual life. This kind of belief virtually guarantees future conflict.]

Source: Associated Press, 03 Aug. 2001

News: Israeli Missiles Kill 8 Palestinians

NABLUS, West Bank-- Israeli helicopters fired missiles into Hamas offices in the West Bank town of Nablus on Tuesday, killing eight Palestinians, including two young boys and two senior officials of the militant group, officials said.

In the deadliest day of the Mideast conflict in two months, two Palestinians were also killed in the Gaza Strip ­ one was shot by Israeli troops, while the other appeared to fall victim to an internal Palestinian feud.

"Israel has violated all the red lines," said Sheik Ahmed Yassin, Hamas' spiritual leader. "The Israeli people should know that they will pay the price, and our blood is not cheap."

A U.S.-brokered cease-fire declared in June has failed to take hold, and violence has been on an upsurge in recent days. Since fighting erupted last September, 548 people have been killed on the Palestinian side and 133 people on the Israeli side.

Source: Associated Press, 31 July 2001

News: Israeli's Storm Jerusalem Mosque

JERUSALEM-- Israeli police stormed the mosque compound that is Jerusalem's most contested religious site, tossing stun grenades Sunday at Muslims who threw stones at Jews worshipping at the nearby Western Wall.

At least 15 policemen and 10 Palestinians were injured inside the hilltop compound, the sensitive site where Israeli-Palestinian violence erupted 10 months ago during a similar confrontation.

The compound, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, is the third holiest site in Islam. It is built atop the ruins of the two biblical Jewish temples, the holiest site in Judaism, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

"The Jews are bullying us and no one is able to make them stop," said Abdullah Mohammed Abdullah, 53, one of the Muslim worshippers. "They are not going to quit until they take everything."

Because the compound is so sensitive, incidents can spark a much larger conflagration between Israelis and Palestinians.

Source: Associated Press, 29 July 2001

News: 13-year-old arrested for 51 ritual killings

KANO, Nigeria-- A 13-year-old girl has been arrested in northeast Nigeria for ritual-linked killings of 51 people, including her father, police said Friday.

The police chief Bello Uba Ringim said that under interrogation the girl had confessed to the killings.

"During investigations, she confessed to being a member of a cult based in Lagos and that she has killed 51 people, including her father, since she was initiated seven years ago," he said.

Source: Associated Press, 27 July 2001

News: Sri Lanka Rebels Attack Main Airport

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Separatist rebels firing guns and mortars attacked Sri Lanka's main airport and an air force base Tuesday, shutting down the nation's only international air link in one of their boldest attacks ever near the capital.

Nine guerrillas and three soldiers were killed, while eight air force personnel were wounded, said military spokesman Sanath Karunaratne.

The attack on the airport came on the anniversary of July 23-24 riots in 1983. The deaths of more than 2,000 Tamils during the rioting contributed to the start of the rebels' 18-year insurgency.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have been fighting for a Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka's north and east, claiming discrimination at the hands of the majority Sinhalese. Fighting has killed 64,000 people in the Ireland-size island of 18.6 million, formerly known as Ceylon, off the coast of India.

[Note, the Tamils represent a Hindu sect and the Sinhalese, a Buddhist sect. Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 24 July 2001

News: Grenades Kills12 in Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India-- Islamic militants are suspected of lobbing two hand grenades at a heavily guarded Hindu pilgrimage route, killing 12 people, including five pilgrims, in the troubled province of Kashmir early Saturday, police said.

Nearly 15,000 police have taken positions to prevent attacks by separatist militants who have targeted Hindu pilgrims in the past along the 200-mile route from Jammu to the Amarnath cave in the Himalayan range in northern India.

More than 30,000 people in Kashmir have been killed since the insurgency erupted in 1989. Muslim militants want the province to become independent or be joined to Pakistan, India's Is lamic neighbor to the west. Most rebel groups are based in Pakistan.

Source: Associated Press, 21 July 2001

News: Suspected Witches Reported Killed

KAMPALA, Uganda-- People in northeastern Congo have killed more than 800 suspected witches they blame for diseases in the remote, heavily forested area, a state-run Ugandan newspaper reported Thursday.

Residents of Aru, 50 miles south of Sudan, began killing people suspected of witchcraft in mid-June, but the killings have been stopped by Ugandan forces, Jeje said Thursday.

Source: Associated Press, 21 July 2001

News: Christians Massacre 18 Muslims in Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia--A Christian gang killed 18 Muslims, including women and children, outside a town on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, during religious clashes, police said Wednesday.

Fighting broke out early Tuesday between Muslim and Christian gangs outside the town of Poso, with dozens of villagers injured and houses set ablaze, an officer at the military station in the town said.

Police found 14 people hacked to death, many of them women and children. Local police Lt. Col. Jasman Baso Opu said officers discovered four more victims ­ all of them stabbed to death ­ on Wednesday.

In May last year, around 200 people died in religious fighting in the region, 1,000 miles northeast of Jakarta. Muslim-Christian clashes have continued sporadically.

Meanwhile in Aceh, another violence-wracked province, Indonesian Red Cross officials found four bodies in a shallow grave near the northern town of Lhokseumawe. All the corpses appeared to have been tortured and stabbed.

Source: Associated Press, 04 July 2001

News: 27 Corpses Found in Indonesia

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia-- Humanitarian workers found 27 slashed bodies in Aceh, officials said Monday, raising to more than 50 the number of people killed or found dead in the province in the past three days.

The bloodshed came despite weekend peace talks in Geneva between Indonesian officials and rebels from the Free Aceh Movement, who have been fighting for 26 years for an independent homeland on the northern tip of Sumatra island.

More than 870 people have been killed this year in Aceh, 1,000 miles northwest of Jakarta.

At least 5,000 people have been killed in fighting between Christians and Muslims in the province, once known as the Spice Islands, since January 1999.

News: Mother Believes 'Devil' Is in Her

DALLAS-- A mother charged with drowning her five children in a bathtub told family members from jail that she thinks the devil is in her, her brother said.

Andrea Yates, 36, asked visiting siblings on Wednesday whether her children had been buried and told them during a Sunday visit that she feared she was possessed, her brother Andrew K ennedy told The Dallas Morning News in Saturday's editions.

"She asked me and my brother, 'How long do you think the devil's been in me?'" Kennedy said. "I guess she's looking for answers as to why she did what she did."

Yates told police that she killed the children because she believed she was a bad mother and they were hopelessly developmentally damaged.

Yates has been charged with one count of capital murder. Authorities said other charges might follow. The children ­ Noah, 7, John, 5, Paul, 3, Luke, 2, and Mary, 6 months ­ were buried on Wednesday.

[Believing in devils prevents one from seeking medical help and shows the double sided effect of superstitious religion. See Two Sides on the Same Coin. Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 30 June 2001

News: Malaysia Ritual Death

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia-- Malaysian police on Tuesday arrested the last of four suspects in the slaying of an American woman authorities believe was killed in a ritual to obtain lottery numbers from the spirits.

Authorities believe the killing was carried out by three men and a woman.

Police said one of the suspects led police to the grave last week and told them the woman was sacrificed in the hope of obtaining winning 4-digit lottery numbers from the spirits.

Some Malaysians have held ceremonies where they offer prayers and slaughter goats in hopes of receiving inspiration on winning lottery numbers.

Source: Associated Press, 26 June 2001

News: Mom Describes Killing Five Kids

HOUSTON--The mother who allegedly drowned her five children one by one in a bathtub told police the oldest one tried to escape but she chased him through the house, the Houston Chronicle reported Friday.

Yates, a former nurse, told police that 2-year-old Luke was the first child to be drowned, followed by Paul, 3, and John, 5.

Yates told police she chased Noah through the house, dragged him back to the bathroom and drowned him next to Mary, the investigator told the newspaper.

Ann Dunnewold, a Dallas psychologist, said postpartum depression may evolve into postpartum psychosis if something dramatic occurs, such as marital problems or a death in the family.

[Although no one has yet determined the exact cause and motive for the deaths, and very well could have resulted from a mental disorder, I found it interesting that all of her children were either coincidentally or intentionally named after Biblical characters: Noah, Luke, John, Paul and Mary. Awaiting more information... Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 22 June 2001

News: Seven Killed in Sri Lanka Clash

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka-- Seven combatants were killed in three incidents in Sri Lanka's northeast as sporadic confrontations continued between government troops and Tamil separatist rebels, the defense ministry said on Friday.

Most of the fighting in the 17-year civil war takes place in the north, but confrontations spill over to the east and northeast, where rebels have infiltrated.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels are fighting for a homeland for Sri Lanka's 3.2 million minority Tamils. More than 63,000 people have been killed since the war broke out in 1983.

[Note, the Tamils represent a Hindu sect. Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 15 June 2001

News: Philippine Priest Needs Gun, He Says

LAMITAN, Philippines-- Traveling around his remote southern Philippine province, Roman Catholic priest Cirilo Nacorda carries a Bible - and a pistol.

The extra cargo would be unusual for most men of the cloth. But in violence-prone Basilan, where Nacorda has organized a 3,000-member armed group to defend Christians, the priest says his .45-caliber gun is a necessity.

"We cannot protect our lives by just prayers or dialogue. We have to be practical," said the 44-year-old Nacorda, who is parish priest of Basilan's coastal town of Lamitan, scene of the Abu Sayyaf's most recent terror.

[If you want practical, then abandon your intransigent religion; that way you won't need guns. Just a thought. Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 09 June 2001

News: Bomb Kills 10 in Bangladesh Church

DHAKA, Bangladesh--A bomb exploded inside a Catholic church during Mass Sunday, killing at least 10 people and wounding 25 others in southwestern Bangladesh, police said.

Nine worshippers died instantly in the Christian Mission Church in Baniarchar village in Gopalganj district, 100 miles southwest of Dhaka. Another died on the way to hospital. At least two of the wounded are in critical condition, doctors said.

"I was deep into prayer when I heard a big bang. The hall was engulfed in smoke. Everyone was screaming," Hubert Bairagi, one of the survivors, was quoted as saying by United News of Bangladesh.

No one has claimed responsibility.

Religious attacks against minority Christians are not common in Bangladesh, where Christians account for a little more than 1 percent of Bangladesh's 130 million people. Muslims make up 88 percent of the population and Hindus 10 percent.

[What kind of god allows a bombing against his praying worshipers? Dare I suggest that there's no god to protect them? Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 03 June 2001

News: Tel Aviv Blast Kills At Least 15

TEL AVIV, Israel-- An explosion late Friday on a crowded beachfront in Tel Aviv killed 15 people, including a suicide bomber who had mingled with young people outside a disco, Israel army radio reported.

The blast went off about 11 p.m. at the entrance to a nightclub named Pascha that faced a promenade area lined with restaurants, bars and hotels ­ all packed with Israelis enjoying the start of their Sabbath weekend.

"The terrorist exploded outside the entrance to the disco when there were people around him," Klausner said.

There was no immediate word on who carried out the attack, but in recent months of Israeli and Palestinian fighting, Islamic militants have detonated more than a dozen bombs.

The Islamic militant group Hamas has said it would carry out at least 10 suicide bombings and so far has claimed responsibility for eight.

Since Israeli-Palestinian fighting erupted last September, 483 people have been killed on the Palestinian side and 88 on the Israeli side, including 24 settlers.

Source: Associated Press, 01 June 2001

News: Cordon Around India Mosque Lifted

SRINAGAR, India-- Suspected Islamic militants, who killed two members of the government security force and later holed up in a Kashmir mosque for nearly 20 hours, were given safe passage out of the shrine early Thursday, officials said.

The decision to offer a safe passage to the militants came after officials decided against a sustained operation on the mosque, said a senior police official on condition of anonymity.

The militants had killed one paramilitary soldier and a police officer from their hide-out in the mosque in Karwara, a remote village in Pulwama district, 35 miles south of Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir.

The army decided not to force their way into the mosque to avoid offending religious sentiments, said the police officer.

More than a dozen militant groups have been fighting for Kashmir's independence from India since 1989. The fighting has killed at least 30,000 people, the government says, but human rights groups put the death toll at around 60,000.

Source: Associated Press, 31 May 2001

News: Religions Clash in Myanmar

YANGON, Myanmar-- A curfew has been imposed in a northern town of Myanmar where simmering tensions between Buddhist and Muslim residents erupted into rioting last week, travelers said Tuesday.

Members of the two communities in Toungoo town attacked each other with sticks and stones, while several mosques were set on fire, said a Yangon resident who returned from Toungoo onMonday.

A Muslim resident of Toungoo who fled to neighboring Thailand told The Associated Press in the Thai border town of Mae Hong Sot that Buddhist monks and laymen killed four Muslims, including a 60-year-old woman.

The resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Buddhists set fire to about 140 Muslim houses and 14 mosques, eight of which were destroyed.

Muslims comprise 3.9 percent of Myanmar's 51 million people, while Buddhists form nearly 89 percent. Myanmar's military junta allows freedom of worship to all faiths, but clashes between people of different religions are not uncommon.

Source: Associated Press, 22 May 2001

News: Indonesia's Megawati Warns of Crisis

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Indonesia's president, popular Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri warned Monday that the sprawling nation could break up and become "the sick man of Asia."

She said the fate of other countries that have disintegrated in recent years could befall Indonesia, a nation of 210 million people and 13,000 islands that is plagued by violence in several restive regions.

Over the weekend, six people died as the result of a religious conflict between Muslims and Christians in the Maluku islands and three were killed in Aceh province, where separatist rebels have been fighting government forces for 25 years.

Source: Associated Press, 21 May 2001

News: Philippines: Catholic Church Sends Women To Their Doom

Filipino women are trapped in a vicious circle. While on one hand the Catholic Church strictly prohibits contraception, poverty on the other strictly prohibits more children. The result is an extremely high abortion rate. An estimated 320,000 to 480,000 women resort to abortion every year, that are 20 to 30 out of every 1,000 women of childbearing age; in the metro Manila it is even 50. Another statistic says that 16 per cent of all pregnancies ends in induced abortion (source: the recently published State of the Philippine Population Report 2000).

Abortion is not only illegal in Philippines. Due to the influence of the Catholic Church it is as well a very strong social taboo. Women forced to discontinue pregnancy have to do this clandestinely and would not even admit having done it, if they suffersevere medical complications, because they are afraid of ridicule, criminal liability and social stigma. The methods of abortion are horrifying: for example insertion of sharp objects into the uterus or drinking of chemicals or toxic substances. Abortion is the fourth leading cause of death among Filipino women and causes many permanent disabilities.

Despite the steady rise of abortion, the population keeps growing at a rate of 2.3 per cent every year, and if not stopped, the country's 75 million people will double within the next 35 years.

It has been one of former Philippine President Joseph Estrada's merits that he made up his mind to propagate birth control. In an interview in May 1999, he announced that he was ready to defy the Roman Catholic Church's ban on contraception, because he felt responsible for the welfare of the population of his country (see Bulletin # 11). The wrath of the Catholic Church against him has been the major factor for Estrada's forceful ouster from power in January this year.

Source: Rationalist International, Bulutin #71

News: 431 Palestinians Killed in Intefadeh

JERUSALEM-- More than seven months of violence have killed 431 people on the Palestinian side and 72 people on the Israeli side.

The Palestinian figure includes four suicide bombers, several suspected informers for Israel killed by Palestinian militants, 13 Israeli Arabs killed in pro-Palestinian riots and a German resident of the West Bank. The Israeli figure includes four non-Jews killed in Israeli army uniform.

Source: Associated Press, 02 May, 2001

News: Greek Monks Denounce Pope Visit

MOUNT OLYMPUS, Greece-- Byzantine chants echoed over the misty slopes of the mythical home of ancient Greek gods, as hundreds of Orthodox monks and nuns prayed through the night, appealing to God to stop Pope John Paul II from visiting Athens.

"The worst enemy of Orthodoxy is coming, the arch-heretic of Rome," the Most Rev. Theofilos told the vigil. "This is a great evil. We pray for God to prevent this."

For many in the clergy ­ who see themselves as protectors of the "true Christianity" ­ the visit smacks of a Roman Catholic attempt to establish authority over the Orthodox church, which split from the Vatican in 1054 in a dispute over papal power.

Greek clergy have created their own storm over the visit by a religious leader many describe as a "heretic" and a "two-horned grotesque monster."

Resentment of the Vatican runs deep. Orthodox blame the Roman Catholic church for perceived injustices dating as far back as the 1204 sacking of Constantinople by crusaders. The city, now Istanbul in Turkey, was then the seat of the Orthodox Byzantine empire.

Orthodox Christianity is Greece's official religion, with more than 90 percent of its 11 million population baptized into the church. There are about 50,000 Roman Catholic Greeks

[Just one of hundreds of "true Christianities" and yet another example of the failure of prayer. How many more millions of expressed hate and failed prayers does it take to confinvce believers that something appears amiss here? Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 29 April 2001

News: Mideast Fighting Persists

JERUSALEM-- Israeli troops fired grenade launchers and machine guns Friday to repel Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank, close to where top security officials from both sides had met just hours earlier to try to reduce the violence.

The hostilities have killed 419 people on the Palestinian side and 70 on the Israeli side.

Source: Associated Press, 27 April 2001

News: Suicide Bombing Brings Uprising to Heart of Israel

KFAR SABA, Israel-- A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up at a bus stop Sunday, killing a doctor and wounding 41 people in a rush-hour blast that again brought the Palestinian uprising to the heart of Israel.

"Pieces of flesh flew over my car," said Katriel Aloni, who had driven some 20 yards past the bus stop when the blast rocked the Tel Aviv suburb of Kfar Saba.

Suicide bombings are the weapon of choice of Islamic militant groups. Human bombs may be poor and driven by a desire to avenge the killing or injury of a relative or friend. They believe they will be martyrs treated to an idyllic after-life. Guerrillagroups say there is no shortage of recruits.

Source: Reuters, 22 April 2001

News: Church members upset over tithing

BOSTON-- The letter had the threatening tone of a bill collector, but it wasn't from a credit card or utility company demanding past-due payments. It was from a church.

Nearly half the members of the Holy Tabernacle Church of God in Christ Apostolic received letters warning them to pay tithes to the church or else get booted, according to The Boston Globe.

Alfreda Moore, the church's executive secretary, wrote to more than 200 congregants, telling them they were late in paying tithes. She warned members they had 30 days to make payments by check or money order.

Paying tithes is a tradition in some churches that comes from an Old Testament exhortation to give the church 10 percent of one's earnings. The letter was the latest problem in a power struggle at "Holy Tab," a Dorchester Pentecostal church.

[Without a MONEY trail, no church could exist. How about if the people don't pay, then the Church gets booted? Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 19 April 2001

News: Mideast in strife on eve of Easter

JERUSALEM-- On Christianity's holiest weekend, Israeli warplanes blasted the hideouts of Lebanese guerrillas who attacked Israeli Troops, Palestinians resumed mortar fire against Israelis, and pilgrims heard biblical hymns with tears in their eyes.

So went the day before Easter in the holiest city in the world, revered by Christians, Jews and Muslims.

[Note: Jerusalem means "peace". Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 15 April 2001

News: Japan Says Doomsday Cult Growing

TOKYO-- The doomsday cult behind the 1995 deadly gassing on the Tokyo subways is growing steadily and reasserting influence through the Internet, the government said Friday.

Aum Shinri Kyo membership has grown by about 150, or 10 percent, with at least 1,650 followers by the end of last year, the Justice Ministry said in a report submitted to the Cabinet. About 650 of them are carrying out cult activities at group homes and facilities, it said.

The group was responsible for the sarin gas attack on March 20, 1995 that killed 12 people and sickened thousands.

The group is moving to expand overseas as well, said the report, which did not specify where.

Source: Associated Press, 13 April 2001

News: Israel Bombards Palestinian Targets

BEIT LAHIYA, Gaza Strip-- The Israeli army bombarded Palestinian targets in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday night, plunging a town into darkness and injuring four people includinga 10 year-old boy.

The fighting in the Gaza Strip has been intensifying with almost nightly exchanges of and rocket and mortar fire.

Hamas, meanwhile, called on the Muslim world to protect the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, Islam's third holiest site.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last week instructed police to find ways to allow non-Muslims to visit the compound, which has been closed to visitors since the fall.

In a leaflet, Hamas warned Jews against visiting the compound, known to Muslims as Haram as-Sharif, and called upon Palestinians, Muslims and Arabs to prevent such visits "by all means."

The fighting broke out after Sharon made a visit to the area, known to Jews as the Temple Mount because it is the site of their biblical Temples.

Source: Associated Press, 08 April 2001

News: Hamas Releases Alleged Bomber's Tape

JERUSALEM-- In a farewell videotape, a Palestinian student said he was one of 12 suicide bombers groomed by the Islamic militant group Hamas to carry out attacks in Israel.

Hamas has claimed responsibility for a string of recent attacks, including a bombing Wednesday in which the assailant and two Israeli teen-agers were killed at a gas station in central Israel.

The videotape, released Wednesday to a Western news agency, showed a clean-shaven Palestinian man in his 20s sitting behind a rickety table. Three assault rifles and a book were placed on the table, and the wall behind him was decorated with green Islamic flags.

"I am the 12th of the martyrs the Izzedine al Qassam Brigades have prepared to turn their bodies and their bones into shrapnel that will kill the Zionist occupiers," the man said, reading from a text.

At the end of his brief speech, he sang a Quranic verse.

Source: Associated Press, 28 March 2001

News: Priests, Missionaries Sexually Abuse Nuns

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican acknowledged Tuesday a damning report that some priests
and missionaries were forcing nuns to have sex with them, and were in some cases committing rape
and forcing the victims to have abortions

Some nuns were forced to take the contraceptive pill, the report cited in the Rome daily la
Repubblica said.

The Vatican said the issue was restricted to a certain geographical area, but the report cited cases in
23 countries, including the United States, Brazil, the Philippines, India, Ireland and Italy.

"The stories are horrifying and disturbing to say the least," said Bill Ryan, spokesman for the U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Source: Reuters, 20 March 2001

News: Hindus, Muslims Clash in Indian Riot

LUCKNOW, India-- Hindu mobs joined bloody battles between heavily armed Muslims and riot police in a northern Indian industrial city, leaving six dead Sunday in spreading religious riots.

Kanpur, a leading industrial center, was paralyzed as looting and arson continued over the alleged burning of a copy of the Quran, the Islamic holy book, by Hindu fundamentalists in India's capital, New Delhi.

Source: Associated Press, 18 March 2001

News: 7 Sunni Muslims Killed in Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan-- Attackers riddled a bus with gunfire in a remote corner of northwest Pakistan, killing at least seven Sunni Muslims, police said Sunday.

The attack followed a battle Friday between rival members of the two Islamic sects over control of a mountain. Four Shiite Muslims were wounded, police said.

Hundreds of people have been killed throughout Pakistan in bitter religious violence. Some of the most violent clashes have occurred in the northwest of Pakistan.

Source: Associated Press, 11 Mar. 2001

News: Death Toll Hits 143 in Indonesia

SAMPIT, Indonesia-- Thousands of people were fleeing brutal ethnic clashes on the Indonesian part of Borneo island Friday as police said the violence ­ which has so far claimed at least 143 lives ­ was getting worse.

For decades, former dictator Suharto used his security forces to crush any public unrest, keeping the lid on tensions between Indonesia's many ethnic and religious groups. But since his ouster in 1998, violence has flared throughout the archipelago. Efforts by the new democratic government to resolve the multiple crises have largely failed.

Thousands have been killed in fighting between troops and separatist rebels in Aceh province and between Christians and Muslims in the Maluku islands. In Irian Jaya, an upsurge of violence has claimed dozens of lives since December, when separatists hoisted independence flags. In addition, dozens have died in unexplained terrorist bombings in several major cities, including the capital, Jakarta.

Source: Associated Press, 23 Feb. 2001

News: Uncompromising Fight Against Fundamentalism

In Berrouaghia, 70-kilometer south from Algiers, 26 residents of a shantytown have been gunned down by a troop of Islamic fundamentalists on 11 February. Eleven of the victims were children under 14 years. The militants entered the shantytown with Kalashnikov assault rifles and fired at everybody around. The residents believe that they would have killed all the 500 inhabitants if not stopped by nearby stationed soldiers who opened fire on them and forced them to retreat to the forest from where they had come. Workers of a neighboring factory, noticing the massacre, alarmed the soldiers by activating a warning siren.

Such gruesome scenes of terror against the population have become common in the northern African state. Just four days before, seven shepherds were killed, and two weeks back, 25 villagers including 16 children and four women were slaughtered by slashingtheir throats. More than 100,000 people have been killed since Islamic fundamentalists took up arms in 1992.

In 1992, Islamic hard-liners tried to sweep the parliamentary elections, threatening to "turn ballot boxes into coffins". The government banned all non-religious activities in the 10,000 mosques of the country and cancelled the second part of the polls. This unleashed a wave of violence. The Islamic Salvation Front started fighting for theocracy. It comprised of Afghan mercenaries, who found after the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan their new target in Algeria. The militants lead a war of atrocities against the population, especially against intellectuals and women. They massacred, decapitated, raped and cut off women's breasts.

In December 1996, newly elected president Liamine Zeroual established a constitution that banned political parties formed on the basis of religion. Algeria fought a brave and successful battle to develop and defend sound democratic structures and is today the only Islamic country which does not give in to political manipulation in the name of religion and fights fundamentalism without reservation.

Source: Rationalist International, 22 Feb. 2001

News: Students March on U.S. Embassy

BEIRUT, Lebanon-- Security forces used water cannons and batons to drive back hundreds of students marching on the American Embassy Wednesday, protesting the bombing of Iraq and U.S. support for Israel. Officials said at least 12 people were lightly injured.

"They call us terrorists, but the Americans are themselves the world's biggest terrorists and what's happening to the children of Iraq is the proof," said Zahra Haidar, an 18-year-old university student.

The protest was the biggest since a Feb. 17, 2000, demonstration by about 2,000 students who were angered by perceived American support of Israeli airstrikes against Lebanese power stations.

[When a Christianized country bombs Babylon (Iraq), do you suppose that it might create pissed off Muslims for generations to come and risk future terrorist attacks or possibly another war? Nah. Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 21 Feb. 2001

News: Indonesia Violence Kills At Least 27

JAKARTA, Indonesia-- Separatist and ethnic violence wracked parts of Indonesia Tuesday, with death tolls from clashes rising on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.

In the town of Sampit on Borneo, police said 20 people were killed ­ most of them hacked or stabbed to death ­ in fighting between indigenous Dayak people and migrants from other parts of Indonesia.

Meanwhile, in the eastern Maluku islands, where Christians and Muslims have been fighting each other for two years, about 1,000 Muslim refugees threw gasoline bombs at a government office on Tuesday. No one was injured.

Source: Associated Press, 20 Feb. 2001

News: Palestinian Attack Shocks Israel

AZUR, Israel-- A Palestinian driver who a friend said was upset about weeks of Mideast violence rammed his bus into a packed bus stop on Wednesday, killing seven Israeli soldiers and a civilian in the deadliest Palestinian attack in four years.

The hit-and-run raised fears that violence was spinning out of control when prospects for a resumption of peace talks appear remote.

Angry Israeli and Palestinian leaders blamed each other.

Israel's deputy defense minister, Ephraim Sneh, said Israelis and Palestinians may face a full-blown guerrilla war in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Already, 400 people have been killed in five months of gunbattles, stone-throwing clashes and shooting ambushes.

White-gloved ultra-Orthodox volunteers from a burial society picked through remains, collecting body parts and placing them in plastic bags to comply with a Jewish religious requirement that corpses be as complete as possible at burial.

In a call to Israel radio, the Islamic militant group Hamas claimed responsibility.

[Since more Palestinian's have died from Israeli attacks, do you suppose they might feel shocked also? Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 14 Feb. 2001

News: Doomsday Astrologer Arrested

The "prediction" of an astrologer that the earthquake hit cities of Ahmedabad and Bhuj would be completely destroyed by another devastating earthquake in the night of Friday, 2 February, sparked never before seen panic amongst the surviving victims of the earthquake of 26 January. Schools closed, private firms announced holidays, and everybody tried to escape the disaster. Thousands left for nearby cities. Flights to Delhi and Mumbai were booked-out since morning with hundreds on the waiting list. In the early evening thousands of people came out to open places and big roads. The highway Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar was choked with people who prepared themselves to spend the night under the open sky. The authorities tried to calm down the panic by announcing with loud speakers on mobile vans that the doomsday prediction was nothing but a rumor, but people did not want to take any chances. Police arrested astrologer Amlal Patel for causing panic.

Some days earlier, several well-known astrologers in Delhi, interviewed in the media, had to admit their total failure in predicting the recent devastating earthquake. All of them had to agree that it was not possible to predict such calamities

Source: Rationalist International, 04 Feb. 2001

News: Religious Violence Rages in Pakistan

KARACHI, Pakistan-- The wail of the evening call to prayer sounded Sunday as mourners buried five Sunni Muslims killed in a violent ambush that prompted the worst round of religious violence in more than a year.

Angry protesters set fire to two cinemas and dozens of shops, and closed one of the city's busiest roads with burning tires and cars. The neighborhood looked like a battlefield, said witnesses, who ran for cover as police in full riot gear pounded the pavement with tear gas shells.

As protesters pelted police with stones, they shouted, "Shias are unbelievers." Some radical Sunni groups want Shiites declared non-Muslim. The majority of Pakistan's population is Sunni Muslim, and most live without friction with the minority Shiites, another branch of Islam. But small, heavily armed groups from both branches are involved in violence. Thousands have been slain in revenge killings between extremist Muslim groups.

Source: Associated Press, 28 Jan. 2001

News: Apocalyptic Beliefs

JERUSALEM-- Negotiations over a disputed Jerusalem holy site are failing to take into account its central role in the end-times prophecies of Judaism, Christianity and Islam alike - or to calm those who want to see the prophecies played out, an Israeli author warns.

"People's beliefs are a strategic fact when you're dealing with Jerusalem, the Holy Land, and the Temple Mount," said Gershom Gorenberg, an expert on apocalyptic beliefs.

Gorenberg warns that a U.S. proposal for Israel to cede the sacred hilltop, known to Jews as Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Haram as-Sharif, could spur extremists to desperate action.

The holy site at the center of peace talks and prophecy lies in a corner of Jerusalem's Old City, over the ruins of Judaism's two biblical Temples. It's Islam's third-most holy site; Judaism's first.

It's also the single stage on which three different plays unfold - the final-days beliefs of the world's major monotheistic faiths, Gorenberg writes in a new book, "The End of Days."

And for Christian and Jewish end-timers, Israel's proposed concession of the Temple Mount to the Palestinians threatens to rewrite the ending to what they see as a divine script:

- For Jews, the day a third Temple rises on the site of the old is inextricably linked to the coming of the Messiah.

- In Christian doomsday theology, Jews' construction of the third Temple would be another ordained step toward the Antichrist, the Apocalypse and the Second Coming - as was the founding of the state of Israel itself.

- In some Muslim beliefs, meanwhile, Jerusalem will be the field for the final battle between good and evil, Gorenberg says.

"A single fanatic can bring horrible things on us," warned Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitz, overseer of the Temple Mount's adjacent Western Wall.

To Gorenberg, people who dismiss the power of those beliefs risk a mistake that's been made too many times ­ as in Waco, Texas, where, before the fatal Branch Davidian compound inferno erupted, David Koresh's fixation on the Apocalypse was dismissed by some officials as "Bible babble."

[Unfulfilled prophesies lead to self-fulfilling prophesies. Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 25 Jan. 2001

News: Taliban Orders Prayers for Rain

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Muslims gathered in mosques throughout drought-stricken Afghanistan Saturday to pray for rain on the orders of the ruling Taliban militia.

In a Radio Shariat broadcast, the supreme leader of the ruling Taliban, Mullah Mohammed Omar, ordered the faithful to the mosques for three days of prayer aimed at ending the worst drought in 30 years.

"There is a grave humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan because of the drought and fighting, and tens of thousands of new refugees are coming here," Mohammed Riaz Khan, a Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman, told a news conference in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad on Saturday.

[No reports of rain followed the prayer oder. Do you suppose that if the Muslims used the time to solve the drought problem instead of spending precious time on superstitious appeals, they may have had a chance to alleviate starvation caused by drought? Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 20 Jan. 2001

News: Machete Attack Kills 25 in Colombia

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Suspected right-wing paramilitary gunmen with machetes hacked to death 25 men in northern Colombia on Wednesday before burning dozens of homes to the ground, police said.

The victims, all men between the ages of 22 and 65, were removed one by one from their homes, surrounded and killed with machete blows to the head and neck. The attackers apparently accused the men of working with leftist guerrilla groups.

Source: Associated Press, 17 Jan. 2001

News: Date To Build Hindu Temple Mulled

LUCKNOW, India-- A Hindu nationalist group said Thursday it will announce the date for building a controversial temple on the site of a demolished mosque later this month.

The decision is expected to whip up tensions between the majority Hindus and the minority Muslims, who are opposed to building the temple on the site of a demolished medieval mosque in Ayodhya, 345 miles east of New Delhi.

The demolition of the mosque in December 1992 by Hindu nationalists sparked religious riots between Hindus and Muslims that killed 2,000 people across India.

Source: Associated Press, 04 Jan. 2001