House committee hearing on Boston bombings Thursday, as investigators continue to trace activities of Tsarnaev brothers

The House Committee on Homeland Security will hold a hearing Thursday on the deadly bombings, which killed three and injured more than 200. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), the committee’s chairman, called for the hearing to investigate and review what U.S. agencies knew about the alleged bombers before the attacks.

Some reports have suggested that one of the brothers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, met withmilitants in the strife-torn region of Dagestan last year during his six months in Russia. But one U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that issue was “still in the category of question marks.”

At the same time, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are trying to trace the gun that Tsarnaev allegedly used in a gunfight with police before he was killed April 19. They are hoping that identifying the first purchaser of the gun could shed light on where Tsarnaev obtained the firearm.

A U.S. official said that the FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center and the Department of Homeland Security are developing a formal intelligence assessment on the factors that moved the Tsarnaevs toward hard-line Islamist views, and whether there was a single development or tipping point in their alleged turn to violence.

“We need to understand it to counter it,” the official said. “From that we look at how do you put a brake in the radicalization process, and can you put something in that path to detect it.”

The official said the research, which involves experts on radicalization at NCTC and other agencies, is expected to take several months, culminating in a formal intelligence assessment that could be distributed across the executive branch.

Missouri anti-Sharia law advances

JEFFERSON CITY • In what has become a regular ritual here, a state Senate committee heard testimony Tuesday on a bill that would prevent Sharia Law from taking over Missouri.

The Senate General Laws committee also discussed a measure that would outlaw any federal attempts to regulate firearms in Missouri.

The committee hasn’t acted on either measure, and both appear unlikely to have much chance at becoming law. But they both touch on some of the hottest ideological issues in the nation right now.

“They should call that the Tea Party Committee,” Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, a committee member, scoffed as she left the hearing.

Both bills are sponsored by Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, who acknowledged that Missouri isn’t in any immediate danger of being overtaken by foreign legal theories. But he said he wants to make sure the state “keeps things the way they are.”

The bill doesn’t specifically mention the Islamist Sharia religious law. But more than 20 states have considered similar measures in the past few years, generally tied to the ongoing debate over alleged Islamist influences in the U.S.

There’s no current mechanism under which a foreign law could apply in Missouri.

The second bill would make it illegal for any government official to attempt to enforce any federal firearms regulation in Missouri.

Va. panel Oks measure to allow prayer, religious activities in all public places

RICHMOND — A Senate committee in the Virginia General Assembly on Tuesday narrowly endorsed a measure to amend the state’s Bill of Rights to require all public places and schools to accommodate prayer or other religious activity and allow students to be dismissed from assignments or presentations that conflict with their religious beliefs.


The resolution — sponsored by Republican Sens. William M. Stanley, Jr. (Franklin) and Charles W. “Bill” Carrico (Grayson) — would guarantee public officials, students and others the right to conduct religious activities as long as they were not disruptive and no one was coerced to participate.


Stanley told the panel that the measure was intended to ensure that people of all religions would not be penalized for exercising their right to religious beliefs. To illustrate, he said that a Muslim high school student could ask to be excused from dissecting a fetal pig in biology class, because their religion views those animals as unclean, without affecting his or her grades.


Foreign law ban proposal advances in Wyoming House Judiciary Committee

A proposal to ban Wyoming courts from considering foreign or international law narrowly won approval from a legislative committee Tuesday. The legislation under review is similar to an unsuccessful 2011 proposal that would have prevented courts from considering international law or Sharia law. This new legislation however does not specifically name Sharia, or Islamic, law. But During the January 22 hearings, it was said  that the possibility of Sharia law being considered in Wyoming is one of the things the resolution would prevent.Sharia-law-Billboard

Spain reinforces its cooperation with France to fight against Jihad

The Directors of the National Police and the Civil Guard, Ignacio Cosidó and Arsenio Fernandez de Mesa , respectively, attended in Paris the III Strategic Franco-Spanish Security Committee. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, this committee controls different Security Forces in Spain and France in order to coordinate and plan joint action by the services of the two countries in the fight against terrorism and organized crime.
In connection with international terrorism, the importance of combating the radical jihadist phenomenon, particularly in the Sahel was highlighted. It has agreed to establish a flow of information between research teams from both countries to track this problem in an optimal way via the Internet.

Smartphone applications connect Canadian Muslims with Islam

CBC News – July 31, 2012


More and more Canadian young people receive reminders of the five daily prayers on their smartphones. Many use iPray — an iPhone app — that is among a host of smartphone offerings that aid Muslims in the observance of Islamic rituals. “We can be connected and are able to look up something, such as text from the Quran, at a moment’s notice, and anywhere,” says Ahtisham, the co-chair of the youth committee at the Muslim Association of Hamilton and a recent McMaster University graduate.

Fahad Gilani, operations manager and lead developer at Guided Ways Technologies, says downloads of Islamic apps during Ramadan rises upward 10 times the ordinary rate. Though, the smartphone apps are not solely to mark Ramadan. For believers, there are Islamic apps that help its users learn accurate Arabic pronunciations of a daily prayer, locate the nearest restaurant offering Halal foods or pinpoint qiblah, the direction that Muslims face when engaged in prayer — all on a smartphone.

Similarly, smartphone apps exist to enable believers of every religious stripe to read holy book verses, receive prayer reminders or locate the precise direction of prayer. Gilani says their suite of smartphone apps is available in at least 14 languages, including English, Urdu and Farsi. Yet for all his enthusiasm, Gilani acknowledges limiting factors still exist. He recalls the early years of the app development and worry over preserving the sanctity of Islam.

Dutch MP Refused Visa, Cancels Egypt Visit

8 November 2011

Dutch MP Raymond de Roon of the anti-Islam PVV has been denied a visa to Egypt. Consequently, the working trip planned by parliament’s foreign affairs committee has been cancelled. Telegraaf reports De Roon’s assertion that he was refused the visa on the basis of his earlier statements regarding the “ethnic cleansing” of Christians ousted from Egypt.

Re-assessing the “Prevent” strategie against Muslim extremists in Britain

As delivered so far, the Prevent program has stigmatized and alienated those it is most important to engage, and tainted many positive community cohesion projects, says a cross-party committee of MPs. Moreover, the government’s strategy to limit the development of violent extremism in the UK sits poorly within a counter-terrorism strategy.

High number of British Muslims has allegedly been tortured overseas

A growing number of young British Muslims say they have been tortured overseas with the apparent complicity of MI5 or MI6 officers. Not all are still considered terrorism suspects — many were released without charge — but the intelligence and security committee has never sought to interview any of them, or their lawyers.

Proposed burqa ban in France ripples into Italy

After six months, the French parliamentary committee has released a 200-page report proposing an act banning the burqa and the niqab in public services and offices. However, the ban wouldn’t extend to all public spaces and it wouldn’t necessarily be a criminal offense.

The French government considers the burqa an offense to French national values. The strong French position expressed by President Sarkozy and the content of the parliamentary committee report, have ignited a political debate in Italy.

Mara Carfagna, the ministry for equal opportunities claims that the burqa is not welcome in our country and suggests a law banning this form of veiling in public spaces. In her opinion, indeed, the burqa is not a religious symbol but an abuse of power by men against women. The ban would be a crucial way to help young immigrant women to escape from ghettos where they are supposedly confined.

Franco Frattini, the Italian foreign minister doesn’t agree with a legal ban of the burqa, preferring to direct the argument towards a wider commitment to integration. The Lega Nord, instead, subscribes to the French position considering personal freedom to be balanced with the protection of security.

Differing opinions on the proposed ban exist from group to group. Four political initiatives link the burqa and the niqab to security: the Lega Nord, Souad Sbai (PDL), UDC and the PD (Demcratic Party), who proposes to allow religious, ethnic or cultural freedom in garment choice on the condition that faces remain uncovered. Of Muslim groups, Ahmad Giampier, president of Muslim Italian Intellectuals supports a ban, while Yunus Distefano, COREIS’ spokeman, wants to ensure Islam isn’t seen as a fundamentalist ideology. He believes the veil is a spiritual symbol but unfortunately, some misuse it. However., he feels this is an anomaly, and isn’t Islamic.