Christian Teenager Killed in Iraq Protests

A 15-year-old Assyrian Christian named Rimon was killed by Iraqi security forces while protesting in Tahrir Square on Tuesday, February 25. Rimon was targeted and killed with a hunting rifle.


24 Other Protesters Wounded in Tahrir Square Violence

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that a 15-year-old Assyrian Christian named Rimon was killed by Iraqi security forces while protesting in Tahrir Square on Tuesday, February 25. Rimon was targeted and killed with a hunting rifle. Twenty-four other protesters were also wounded during the violence from gunshots and teargas.

Following this incident, the Iraqi Christian community is mourning the loss of one of its members. “Protesting in Baghdad took a lot of souls. Rimon was among them, and he was only 15 years old,” a local Christian woman told ICC. “I cannot imagine how sad Rimon’s parents are. Every day we are losing lots of souls; someone needs to do something to stop this massacre,” another Christian protester added.

A local shop owner near the protests said, “Targeting protesters by hunting guns is a crime. No one helps Iraqi citizens.”

Rimon’s mentor at his church commented, “All he did was seeking a better future.” A fellow church member echoed, “I am so sad for Rimon and his parents. He was there to ask for a better life. It could have been me instead of him. Actually, it could have been any of us there.”

Tuesday’s violence comes nearly 150 days after the protests first began. Reports indicate that over 600 Iraqis have been killed since October 1, protesting government corruption, high unemployment, insufficient public services, and foreign interference. The protests were originally ignited over the removal of Lt. Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi as commander of counter-terrorism forces. His widespread popularity after his leadership in defeating ISIS sparked demonstrations that have grown in both size and intensity.  

ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, Claire Evans, commented, “We pray for the family of Rimon and for peace to come to a region that has seen increased violence toward Christians. We praise God as the refuge and strong tower that He is for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ who continue to endure so much.”

Cell Phones and Accessories

Persecution.org (February, 2020) Christian Teenager Killed in Iraq Protests

Help a veteran in need by donating here.

Iranian Commander Threatens Israel and the US

On Thursday, the leader of Iran’s Terrorist Revolutionary Guard stated that Iran is ready to strike the United States and Israel if either nation gives them any reason to do so.


On Thursday, the leader of Iran’s Terrorist Revolutionary Guard stated that Iran is ready to strike the United States and Israel if either nation gives them any reason to do so.

According to Reuters, Major General Hossein Salami said in a speech at a ceremony marking the 40th day since the death of top commander Qassem Soleimani said, “If you make the slightest error, we will hit both of you.”

Soleimani, who was head of the Quds Force, a branch of the Guards responsible for operations outside Iran, was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad on January 3 along with Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Earlier on Thursday, a spokesman for the Revolutionary Guards said the killing of Soleimani will lead to the liberation of Jerusalem.

Soffe Men’s 3 Pack-USA Poly Cotton Military Tee

“The cowardly and craven assassination of commander Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis by the Americans will lead to the liberation of Jerusalem, by the grace of God,” the spokesman, Ramezan Sharif, said, according to Reuters.

Iranian officials have upped their rhetoric against both the US and Israel in recent days.

On Wednesday, Israel National News reported that a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry warned that Iran “will give a crushing response that will cause regret to any kind of aggression or stupid action from this regime against our country’s interests in Syria and the region.”

Previously, the former Commander-in-Chief of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard warned in a TV interview that Iran will “raze Tel Aviv to the ground” if it is attacked by the US.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei regularly threatens Israel and has several times in the past threatened to “annihilate” the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa.

In November, he stressed, however, that his country is not against the Jews, only against the “Israeli regime” and the State of Israel, which he described as an “imposed state”.

Reuters.com; Israelnationalnews.com (February, 2020) Iran says it will strike U.S. and Israel if they make the ‘slightest error’; Iranian commander: We’re ready to strike the US and Israel

Raising the Global Travel Security Bar: DHS Announces New Travel Restrictions on Six Countries and Updated Process for Evaluating Foreign Country Compliance

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf announced that President Donald J. Trump signed a proclamation, which places new, tailored visa restrictions on six countries that failed to meet a series of security criteria, demonstrating that they could be a risk to the homeland.


Burma, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania Will Face New Restrictions

Today, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf announced that President Donald J. Trump signed a proclamation, which places new, tailored visa restrictions on six countries that failed to meet a series of security criteria, demonstrating that they could be a risk to the homeland.

Acting Secretary Wolf also announced that the Department has updated the methodology it uses to assess compliance with the security criteria established under Executive Order 13780 in 2017.

This enhanced review process raises the bar for global security by requiring nations to meet the Department’s stronger security standards and by making it clear to countries what they must do to meet those standards. The updated criteria enhance our screening and vetting capabilities and allow DHS to better identify terrorists and criminals attempting to enter the United States.

“The top responsibility of the President and the Department of Homeland Security is the safety and security of the American people, and these new vetting criteria accomplish that goal and are raising the bar for global security,” said Acting Secretary Wolf. “It is logical and essential to thoroughly screen and vet everyone seeking to travel or immigrate to the United States.

Soffe Men’s 3 Pack-USA Poly Cotton Military Tee

However, there are some countries from which the U.S. does not receive the necessary information about its travelers and, as a result, pose a national security or public safety risk that warrants tailored travel restrictions.”

Wolf continued: “DHS has refined its robust security standards, including enhanced screening and vetting capabilities that allow us to better identify terrorists and criminals attempting to enter the United States. These screening and vetting capabilities are most effective when foreign governments contribute to our ability to verify a traveler’s identity and assess whether they pose a national security or public safety risk. For a small number of countries that lack either the will or the capability to adhere to these criteria, certain travel restrictions have become necessary to mitigate potential threats. The new, additional restrictions are not blanket restrictions. These tailored restrictions will make the U.S. safer and more secure. And countries that make the necessary improvements will have their restrictions removed accordingly, as was done in 2018.”

About the Refined Methodology

Pursuant to Executive Order 13780, DHS established identity-management, information sharing, national security, and public safety risk criteria all foreign governments are expected to adhere to in order to facilitate accurate and fair admissibility decisions under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

In its most recent review, DHS, in consultation with other departments and agencies, updated the methodology by which it reviews a foreign government’s performance. The update included refining and modifying specific performance metrics for each criteria, collecting additional data on foreign practices, and weighting criteria based on their degree of significance to U.S. national security. For example, DHS now considers whether a foreign government reports lost and stolen passports at least every 30 days, instead of considering whether they have ever shared such information. By reporting regularly, DHS officers can determine passport validity with higher confidence.

These changes give DHS a more detailed picture of a country’s compliance with the individual criteria and to hold them accountable for regular cooperation. In doing so, the updated methodology helps guide U.S. government discussions with foreign governments. Since implementing these measures, the Administration has recorded improvements in identity management and information sharing with multiple foreign governments, and because of this Administration’s actions, our international partners have raised their own baseline requirements.

About the New Restrictions

The Acting Secretary, in coordination with the Secretary of State, Attorney General, and Director of National Intelligence has conducted the fourth review required by Proclamation 9645. After further coordination with the other members of the cabinet and the National Security Council, the Acting Secretary submitted his recommendations to the President on September 13, 2019.

The travel restrictions imposed by the President today are tailored to the country-specific deficiencies identified during the review process and an assessment of travel-related risk. The new restrictions imposed by the President are less restrictive than the existing restrictions. Like the seven countries that continue to face travel restrictions pursuant to Proclamation 9645, the six additional countries added for restrictions are among the worst performing in the world; however, there are prospects for near-term improvement for these six countries. Each has a functioning government and each maintains productive relations with the United States. In each case and consistent with those restrictions imposed in 2017, the President has imposed specific travel restrictions to mitigate the risks posed. The restrictions imposed by this proclamation reflect the U.S. government’s greater confidence that these countries can make meaningful improvements in a reasonable period of time.

If that expectation is met, the President may remove travel restrictions at any time. Conversely, the President has also determined that if improvements are not made, additional restrictions may be added. Those travelers who have already been issued visas by the U.S. government will not be affected by the new restrictions.

Newly Imposed Restrictions

Burma: Burma has begun to engage with the United States on a variety of identity-management and information-sharing issues, but it does not comply with the established identity-management and information-sharing criteria assessed by the performance metrics.

Suspension of entry for Immigrants, except as Special Immigrants whose eligibility is based on having provided assistance to the U.S. Government.

Eritrea: Eritrea does not comply with the established identity-management and information-sharing criteria assessed by the performance metrics.

Suspension of entry for Immigrants, except as Special Immigrants whose eligibility is based on having provided assistance to the U.S. Government.

Kyrgyzstan: Kyrgyzstan does not comply with the established identity-management and information-sharing criteria assessed by the performance metrics.

Suspension of entry for Immigrants, except as Special Immigrants whose eligibility is based on having provided assistance to the U.S. Government.

Nigeria: Nigeria does not comply with the established identity-management and information-sharing criteria assessed by the performance metrics.

Suspension of entry for Immigrants, except as Special Immigrants whose eligibility is based on having provided assistance to the U.S. Government.

Sudan: Sudan generally does not comply with our identity management performance metrics and presents a high risk, relative to other countries in the world, of terrorist travel to the United States.

Suspension of entry for Diversity Immigrants, as described in section 203(c) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1153(c).

Tanzania: Tanzania does not comply with the established identity-management and information-sharing criteria assessed by the performance metrics.

Suspension of entry for Diversity Immigrants, as described in section 203(c) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1153(c).

The remarks as prepared can be found here: www.dhs.gov/news/2020/01/31/2020-travelvisa-restrictions

DHS.gov (February, 2020)  Raising the Global Travel Security Bar: DHS Announces New Travel Restrictions on Six Countries and Updated Process for Evaluating Foreign Country Compliance

American Contractor Kidnapped by Taliban in Afghanistan

Newsweek has reported that an American contractor was captured by Taliban-aligned militants in Afghanistan last week, prompting a nation-wide rescue effort.


Newsweek has reported that an American contractor was captured by Taliban-aligned militants in Afghanistan last week, prompting a nation-wide rescue effort.

Mark R. Frerichs of Lombard, Illinois, was kidnapped last Friday in Khost, a province located in the southeastern part of the country that borders the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, an underdeveloped region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, U.S. officials told Newsweek, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the details publicly.

Newsweek went on to report:

Frerichs, 57, is a former U.S. Navy diver and the managing director for International Logistical Support, a U.S. government contractor. According to his LinkedIn account, he has worked as a civil engineer in several conflict zones from Iraq to Sudan during the past 10 years, where he has consulted on logistical contracts for both governments and non-governmental organizations. U.S. officials told Newsweek Frerichs had regularly traveled to Afghanistan since 2012.

While no group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, U.S. officials believe the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network orchestrated the operation. Newsweek was unable to determine exactly how Frerichs was captured, but efforts to locate and recover him include a joint effort by Departments of State and Defense, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If hostage rescue becomes an option for military commanders, typically the mission would be given to U.S. special operation forces.

During the past few days, American forces carried out both ground and intelligence-gathering operations to track the whereabouts of Frerichs while navigating difficult Afghan topography and severe winter weather that has prevented overhead surveillance missions by U.S. military drones.

Newsweek first learned about the kidnapping on Monday. The Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell, a multi-agency team based at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., asked Newsweek to hold the story until efforts to recover Frerichs progressed, and the publication agreed.

“The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State,” said Holly Jensen, a spokeswoman for the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell. “We have no further comment.”

A Defense Department spokesman referred questions to the State Department.

Newsweek.com (February, 2020) EXCLUSIVE: U.S. CITIZEN KIDNAPPED BY TALIBAN GROUP IN AFGHANISTAN

 Help me maintain this news reporting blog by donating here.

Justice Department Secures Denaturalization of Convicted Terrorist Who Sought to Help al Qaeda Destroy the Brooklyn Bridge

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois entered an order revoking the naturalized U.S. citizenship of convicted terrorist, Iyman Faris. Faris, a native of Pakistan, was convicted in 2003 of providing material support


Court Denaturalizes Iyman Faris Based on His Provision of Material Support to al Qaeda in Early 2000s, Which Included a Personal Meeting with Usama bin Laden at Terrorist Training Camp Months After Taking Oath of Allegiance to the United States

On Feb. 3, Judge Staci M. Yandle of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois entered an order revoking the naturalized U.S. citizenship of convicted terrorist, Iyman Faris. Faris, a native of Pakistan, was convicted in 2003 of providing material support to al Qaeda and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Among other actions in support of al Qaeda, in 2002, Faris evaluated the practicality of a plot to collapse the Brooklyn Bridge in New York using gas cutters, communicating his assessment to al Qaeda via coded messages. In its order revoking his U.S. citizenship, the court found that Faris was ineligible for naturalization and unlawfully procured his citizenship through willful misrepresentation of material facts.

“A top priority at the Department of Justice is protecting our national security, and one of the things we do in support of that goal is tirelessly pursue denaturalization of known and suspected terrorists,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt for the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “What Faris did is unconscionable – he pretended to support the United States and the Constitution to naturalize while he actively supported Usama bin Laden and senior al Qaeda leadership in their plans to attack the United States. The denaturalization of Faris and of others who similarly defraud the United States helps defend the integrity of the immigration system, promote the rule of law, and make America safer.”

“Iyman Faris is a traitor to the oath he took renouncing foreign allegiances and pledging to defend the Constitution and our American way of life. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing who took advantage of American generosity with plans to terrorize and murder. He does not deserve the honor of being an American citizen,” said U.S. Attorney Steven D. Weinhoeft for the Southern District of Illinois. “Becoming a naturalized citizen is a privilege. The process must be guarded for the safety of our nation and to protect and recognize the sacrifices, determination, and honor of those who earn that privilege honestly.”

Faris, 50, was convicted in 2003 in the Eastern District of Virginia of providing, and conspiring to provide, material support to al Qaeda, a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Among other actions underlying that conviction, in 2000, Faris traveled to Afghanistan where he met Usama bin Laden and other high-ranking members of al Qaeda at an al Qaeda training camp, researched information about ultralight airplanes for a senior al Qaeda leader, and arranged for airline tickets to be issued to al Qaeda operatives.

In its Feb. 3 order, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois granted the government’s motion for summary judgment revoking Faris’s U.S. citizenship on multiple bases.

The court found that Faris’s admitted affiliation with al Qaeda within five years after naturalizing established that he was not attached to the principles of the Constitution and well-disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States at the time he naturalized in 1999.

The court also found that Faris was ineligible for naturalization based on his lies to immigration officers while under oath and his fraudulent entry into the United States in 1994 by using another person’s passport and visa.

Faris is currently serving his criminal sentence at the U.S. Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois, with a projected release date in August 2020. Because of the Court’s order, Faris is no longer a U.S. citizen and may be subjected to removal proceedings.

This case was investigated by the Civil Division’s Office of Immigration Litigation, District Court Section (OIL-DCS) National Security and Affirmative Litigation Unit (NS/A Unit), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with consultation and support from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The case was jointly prosecuted by Chief Tim Belsan and Counsel for National Security John Inkeles and Ed White (ret.) of OIL-DCS’s NS/A Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Biersbach of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois.

Justice.gov (February, 2020) Justice Department Secures Denaturalization of Convicted Terrorist Who Sought to Help al Qaeda Destroy the Brooklyn Bridge

Help me maintain this news reporting blog by donating here.