Resources updated between Monday, March 09, 2015 and Sunday, March 15, 2015
March 15, 2015
Nearly 400 British girls as young as eleven are believed to have been sexually exploited by Muslim rape gangs in Oxfordshire over the past 15 years, according to a chilling new report. It charges local officials with repeatedly ignoring the abuse due to a "culture of denial."
The scale of the abuse in Oxfordshire, a county in southeast England, mirrors similarly shocking accounts of the sexual exploitation of white British girls by Muslim gangs in Bristol, Derby, Rochdale, Rotherham and Telford, and implies that the problem is not isolated, but endemic.
The 133-page Serious Case Review (SCR) was published on March 3, the same day that British Prime Minister David Cameron convened the so-called Downing Street Abuse Summit, during which he unveiled a raft of new measures aimed at bringing more offenders to justice.
The report - which reveals that there are "grounds for believing" that 373 girls have been sexually exploited by gangs in Oxfordshire since 2004 - focuses on the accounts of six girls and their contact with the authorities.
The girls were the victims in the "Operation Bullfinch" trial, in which seven Muslims were found guilty, in May 2013, of trafficking and raping the girls between 2004 and 2012.
According to the SCR, between 2005 and 2010, the six girls were reported missing 500 times - half of those when they were in the care of official child protection agencies - but authorities never bothered to investigate.
In Section 2, the report includes extracts of the Prosecution's opening speech at the trial in order to "focus the mind" on the suffering endured by the girls. The men would "ply the girls with alcohol and introduce them to drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, 'crack' and sometimes heroin. The girls became addicted to certain of the drugs and felt unable to live without them. This made them even more dependent on the men."
"Sometimes the men would also exercise extreme physical and sexual violence on the girls and threaten them that should they ever seek to free themselves from the grasp of the group they and/or their families would suffer serious harm.
"The defendants took the girls to other places, usually hotels/guest houses or empty private dwellings, for other men to have sex with them, again often in groups and often in return for money which was paid to the men and not the girls.
"Most of the men engaged in the sexual abuse of the young girls did so over many years. Each was much older than any of the girls and of an age to know precisely what he was doing; the harm he was inflicting on the girls; the fact of their suffering and that their activity was illegal and in many instances depraved. In short, their conduct was intentional and persistent.
Many of the sexual acts committed on the girls were extreme in their depravity. The girls were usually given so many drugs that they were barely aware of what was going on. Indeed, they say that it was the only way they could cope with what was going on.
"The sexual abuse included vaginal, anal and oral rape and also involved the use of a variety of objects such as knives, meat cleavers, baseball bats... sex toys.... It was often accompanied by humiliating and degrading conduct such as biting, scratching, acts of urinating, being... suffocated, tied up. They were also beaten and burnt. This sexual activity was often carried out by groups of men; sometimes it would go on for days on end.
"The places to which the girls were taken were often private houses and guest houses in Oxford. Some of the private houses appeared to be empty and used solely for the purposes of the abuse. The men who came to pay to have sex with the girls were not always from Oxford; many travelled from far afield, places such as Bradford, Leeds, London and Slough. It seems they came specifically to sexually abuse young girl, often by appointment with the men in Oxford who had dominated the girls.
"Between acts of abuse sometimes stretching over a number of days, the Oxford men ensured girls were guarded so that they could not escape. In addition to being abused in various locations in Oxford, some of the girls were taken to other towns and cities such as London and Bournemouth for the same purpose."
Section 3 of the SCR shows how local authorities could have stopped the abuse as early as 2005, but failed to do so because they refused to take the girls' complaints seriously. The report includes dozens of comments the girls made during interviews, including:
"I turned up at the police station at 2/3am, blood all over me, soaked through my trousers to the crotch. They dismissed it as me being naughty, a nuisance."
"Why would a 13-year-old make it up?"
"The social worker just wanted to hear what [the worker] wanted to hear so there was no need to do anything...."
"The Police never asked me why - they just took me home."
"I thought if I told the Police what was really happening they would not believe me, and they would not arrest them and then... they did not do anything and that made me think that nothing could be done."
"I made a complaint about a man who trafficked me from a children's home. He was arrested, released and trafficked me again."
"Oxford and another council argued about me to try and avoid doing anything. It wasn't my fault I was abused."
"Social services washed their hands - 'it's your choice' I was told."
"A WPC [woman police constable] found me drunk with men. I said I was ok and she went away and left me with them. I was abused that night."
The SCR also shows that parents were exasperated at the lack of concern displayed by police and social workers, who often blamed the girls for the situation they were facing. Parental comments include:
"Police wouldn't pursue anyone unless they had a cast iron case."
"No one thought about us - what it would be like if it was their daughter."
"Police wouldn't tell us addresses so we could go and bring her home."
"She was a minor but we were told it wasn't our business."
"I tried to tell social services about the evidence - but they weren't interested. It was obvious it was something sexual."
"A big chunk of her life has been taken away - when she should have been at the youth club or skating or the school prom - all that went missing because of them: the perpetrators and the police/social services for not stopping it when they knew."
"It's in my mind all the time - what happened to my 'baby' and what I did because I didn't understand what was happening to me. They knew what was happening to her and didn't tell me."
"Why did they let it go on during the long investigation?"
"No one spoke to us about dealing with the people responsible."
"The police said she didn't appear in danger, they said she was happy to be there, and refused to tell me where she was."
"Giving her a cuddle and taking her to MacDonald's was the [social worker's] solution."
"One manager said [before the exploitation was understood] 'She's streetwise, and loves it.'"
"[After a theft was investigated where a girl was with older men] The issue for the police was the burglary, not a 13-year-old with older men."
"At interagency meetings attended no one kept any records/minutes, and there were never agendas."
"The Children's Home didn't tell me when she went missing."
"I despaired of ever getting an appropriate response that stood alongside us and didn't try to blame and shame us."
And yet the report holds no one responsible or accountable. It blames the failure to act on a "lack of knowledge" and "organizational failings."
The report concludes:
"The Serious Case Review (SCR) has seen no evidence of willful professional neglect or misconduct by organizations, but there was at times a worrying lack of curiosity and follow through, and much work should have been considerably different and better. There is little evidence that the local understanding of child sexual exploitation (CSE), or how to tackle it once identified, was significantly different from many parts of the country.
"On the surface, many of the illustrations described in the report can seem like professional ineptitude, unconcern, or inaction. They become more understandable when put in the context of the knowledge and processes at the time, practical difficulties around evidence, and a professional mind-set which could not grasp that the victims' ability to say 'no' had been totally eroded.
"The overall problem was not grasping the nature of the abuse-the grooming, the pull from home, the erosion of consent, the inability to escape and the sheer horror of what the girls were going through-but of seeing it as something done more voluntarily. Something that the girls did as opposed to something done to them."
According to the Telegraph, local authorities across Britain are expending "considerable intellectual effort" into finding reasons not to conduct mandatory public investigations into child sexual abuse out of a fear of "negative publicity."
An investigation cited by the paper found more than 30 instances where local authorities refused to conduct a Serious Case Review, which is required by law whenever a child is seriously harmed as a result of abuse. When investigations were conducted, in many cases the reports failed to examine how "fear, overwork, timidity, willful blindness and over-optimism" had led social workers to make bad decisions.
Speaking at a summit on child exploitation on March 3, Prime Minister Cameron said British social workers are in need of "a massive dose of common sense." Reading a quote from the report, he said:
"One does not need training in child sexual exploitation to know that a 12-year-old sleeping with a 25-year-old is not right, or that you don't come home drunk, bruised, half-naked and bleeding from seeing your 'friends'."
"I think it's very important we take a step back and just recognize the horrific nature of what has happened in our country. Young girls - and they are young girls - being abused over and over again on an industrial scale, being raped, being passed from one bunch of perpetrators to another bunch of perpetrators. And all the while this has happened with too many organizations and too many people walking on by. And we have got to really resolve that this stops here, it doesn't happen again and we recognize abuse for what it is."
Under new plans announced at the summit, the government will seek to extend the crime of "willful neglect" that was recently introduced to protect the elderly in nursing homes to protect children from sexual predators. This would require teachers, social workers, police and elected officials to act on suspicions of child sexual abuse or face up to five years in prison. The new law would apply to all levels of the bureaucracy, from low- and mid-level employees to the most senior managers and directors.
Some observers are skeptical about the effectiveness of Cameron's plan. In an interview with Sky News, Conservative Party MP Tim Loughton, a former parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, had this to say about the Oxfordshire report:
"A 'worrying lack of curiosity' is a very charitable way of saying 'clear incompetence and neglect' that went on in various agencies within the children's services department, within the social services and within the police in Oxfordshire."
Loughton added that under the new law, "willful neglect" will be a high bar to prove. Prosecutors would need to show that authorities were "proactively obstructing people coming forward with allegations" and that there was "a conspiracy of cover-up or silence."
British commentator Simon Kent is equally pessimistic. He writes:
"It is a fact teachers, councilors, police, NHS [National Health Service] staff and social workers in England and Wales have categorically failed to protect young children from sexual predators for a generation.
"Systemic failures have been condoned with silence, serial bunglers rewarded with promotion and whistle blowers shunned. Why is anything going to change now, after the event(s)?
"It will be years before David Cameron's intentions are fully acted upon. All the while the abuse will continue, to the eternal shame of those who have the power but not the ideological or intestinal fortitude to stop it."
Kent concludes: "Too little, too late. That's just not good enough."
March 12, 2015
The annual report on the death penalty in 2014 shows that since the election of President Rouhani in June 2013, Iranian authorities have executed more than 1193 people. This is an average of more than 2 executions everyday.
Iran Human Rights, March 12, 2015: On Tuesday March 12, Iran Human Rights (IHR) and Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort (ECPM) presented IHR's seventh annual report on the death penalty in Iran.
Different parts of the report will be published in the coming days.
Execution trends before and after the election of Hassan Rouhani:
Despite the optimism and hope after the election of Mr. Hassan Rouhani as the Iranian president, there are few indications that the human rights situation in the country has improved. In fact, a comparison of the 18 months before and after the presidential elections of June 2013 shows that the use of the death penalty has in fact increased.
The diagram on the right shows that the number of executions in the 18 months after the election of Hassan Rouhani as president (1. July 2013 – 31. December 2014) is 31% higher than the numbers in the 18 months before (1. January 2012-31 June 2013).
Even worse, the number of juvenile offenders executed in 2014 is at its highest annual rate since 1990.
Responsibility of the government in the implementation of the executions
According to the Iranian constitution, the government, led by the President, doesn't have the authority to issue and implement executions. The judiciary is the body directly involved, and it is the head of the judiciary (appointed by the Supreme leader) or the General Prosecutor in drug-trafficking cases, who sign the execution orders. However, public executions seem to be the exception to this rule. According to the law regarding responsibilities and authority of governors (who represent the government and not the judiciary), the Council for the Security of the Province (headed by the local governor) is specifically responsible for public order and tranquility. Therefore, besides the judiciary (represented by the local judges), the government (represented by the local governor) does have the authority to decide whether an execution should be carried out in public or not. For example, in 2014, the governor of the Sistan and Baluchistan Province (Southeastern Iran) had initially disagreed with the public execution of three alleged terrorists in his province. This decision was later changed (possibly due to political pressure) and the prisoners were hanged in public. This means that although the judiciary makes the initial decision of carrying out the executions in public, the government, if willing, can in fact prevent public executions. Therefore, the government, led by the President, is equally responsible for the high numbers of public executions in Iran.
Role of the President and his government in use of the death penalty in Iran
As mentioned in the previous section, the President, via his governors, has direct influence on the implementation of public punishments such as flogging, amputation and executions. Although we have observed a slight decrease in the number of public executions, Iran is among the very few countries that implement public executions. In fact, Iran is, together with Saudi Arabia, on top of the list of countries implementing public executions.
On the other hand, there is an increase in the total number of executions during the presidency of Hassan Rouhani. Although the judiciary, and not the government, have the authority to issue and implement death sentences, nor the President or his government representatives have even once criticized the high number of executions in Iran.
It seems that Mr. Rouhani's government is not preoccupied with the issue of the death penalty. However, this can be changed if the countries involved in a dialogue with Iran put it on the agenda. The government is normally the counterpart in the dialogue between Iran and the international community.
A teenage girl carried out a suicide bombing Tuesday at a crowded market in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, killing at least 34 people, witnesses said.
The blast occurred late afternoon in the market near the Old Elkanemi Cinema, said Musa Danbaba, a member of a civilian protection militia. He said 34 bodies were counted and many more were wounded.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, but it bears the hallmarks of Nigeria's Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram. It would not be the first time that a teenage girl was used to carry out a suicide attack.
Nor was it the first attack on the Maiduguri market. Suicide bombers detonated explosives there Saturday, killing 54 people.
Boko Haram is waging a nearly six-year insurgency to impose sharia, or Islamic law, in Nigeria. Violence by Boko Haram left an estimated 10,000 people dead last year, according to the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations.
Last week Boko Haram announced its allegiance to the Islamic State, the militant group operating in Iraq and Syria.
A baby-faced executioner who looks to be no older than 12 appears to kill an Israeli Arab who confesses to being a Mossad spy in the latest stomach-turning video released by ISIS.
The 13-minute clip was released via Twitter Tuesday evening, and shows a seated man identified by his family as 19-year-old Muhammad Said Ismail Musallam calmly confessing to having been recruited by the Jewish State's spy agency, even stating how much he was paid.
Musallam, from East Jerusalem, is believed to be the alleged Mossad spy ISIS claimed last month to be holding, and who was interviewed in the terror organization's February edition of its online magazine, Dabiq.
In the interview, Musallam says he was enlisted into the Mossad by a Jewish neighbor who worked as a police officer.
"He came one day and asked me to work with Israeli intelligence," Musallam said in the interview. "I told him I would think about it, and then went and asked my father and brother what they thought. They both encouraged me to do it and told me that it was a very good job. They told me there was a lot of money in it, and that you could advance to higher positions. I knew at that point that they themselves were working as spies."
According to Musallam, the Mossad wanted him to infiltrate ISIS and provide information about the location of weapons, bases and the names of Palestinians fighting with the terror group.
Musallam says on the video he was caught because he "began acting in a manner that was not typical of a muhajir despite the training (he) had received from the Mossad."
Musallam's father told Haaretz his son was not a spy and had joined ISIS willingly several months ago. Experts have speculated Musallam may have tried to flee the group and was accused of spying and executed as punishment.
One of the most frightening aspects of the video, according to Veryan Khan, editorial director of the Florida-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, is the threat at the end made against specific Mossad agents, which in addition to providing their names in English and French on a "hit list," also lists their home addresses and maps of their locations.
A similar threat was issued against Jordanian pilots in a video of Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, 26, being burned alive was released in February.
While the Mossad are notable targets, ISIS makes an international appeal in the video, Khan said.
"In this video, ISIS appeals to the Palestine people saying 'we haven't forgotten your plight' and issues a call to French speaking fighters, saying 'Your voice is powerful within the state, and your foreign fighters hold key glamorous positions.' To the English speaking audience, they seek potential recruits and political leaders. To Israel, they say "You are not safe, we know who you are and where you live."
Israeli security officials said they were aware of the video but could not confirm that it was authentic.
Near the end of the video, a man speaking in French issues threats against Jews in France, before the boy moves in front of the kneeling hostage and shoots him in the forehead with a pistol.
The boy, who shouts "Allahu Akbar," then shoots Musallem four more times as he lies on the ground.
In January, ISIS released a video in which a young Kazakh boy was shown executing two Russian men accused of spying.
"Since 2015, Islamic State has been pushing hard its "cub" training program and we've seen a significant up tick in 'graduation' photo journals, training facilities and one other foreign fighter child executioner," Khan said. "The use of a child executioner is significant because ISIS is demonstrating the "growing" Caliphate and that they are raising their next generation of warriors now."
Chilling new images have emerged of three men accused of homosexuality and blasphemy being forced to their knees and publicly beheaded by a sword-wielding Islamic State executioner.
Photographs of the barbaric murders show the blindfolded men kneeling in the centre of what appears to be a traffic roundabout with a crowd of people looking on as a masked executioner stands by with a long, rusty blade.
After an elderly man uses a microphone to read to the crowd from his notes, the executioner then steps forward with the blade poised above the men's heads in the unnamed city in northern Iraq.
Accompanying captions said the trio were then beheaded - two for engaging in homosexual acts and the third for alleged blasphemy - but there were no images released of the actual beheading.
The jihadist group, which controls swathes of Iraq and neighbouring Syria, has carried out hundreds of barbaric executions as it has imposed its brutal version of Islamic law, many of which are photographed or videotaped.
The photos were said to have been taken in Nineveh province - the first to fall to a sweeping IS-led offensive last June - but the exact location was not specified.
Many young men have also been thrown from the roofs of buildings throughout ISIS-controlled areas after being accused of engaging in homosexual acts.
The stomach-churning photographs usually show a blindfolded victim being dragged to the top of a building by black-masked militants.
As crowds gather at street level the men are thrown to their death, while jihadis and members of the public use mobile phones to film the gruesome murders.
Iraqi troops and militia are battling to push the jihadists back with support from a US-led coalition and Iran.
But retaking Nineveh and its capital Mosul poses a major challenge for Baghdad's forces, as the militants have had more than nine months to dig in.
Iraqi forces launched a huge operation last week aimed at retaking the city of Tikrit that, if successful, would serve as a stepping stone towards Mosul.
March 9, 2015