Under the Obama administration’s expansive interpretation of executive authority, legal immigrants seeking citizenship through the nation’s Naturalization process are now exempt from a key part of the Oath of Allegiance.
Immigrants seeking to become citizens no longer have to pledge to “bear arms on behalf of the United States.” They can opt out of that part of the Oath. Nor do they have to cite any specific religious belief that forbids them to perform military service.
Police say a suicide bomber was responsible for one of the explosions, while the other blasts were caused by men on motorbikes throwing grenades. There have been unconfirmed reports as to the number of attackers, some that claimed as many as 14 people were involved.
At least three police officers and four civilians - suspected to be the attackers - were killed by the blasts that went off at a Starbucks cafe, the Sarinah shopping mall, and United Nations offices in central Jakarta. Three other bombs went off in the Cikni, Silpi and Kuningan neighbourhoods, near the Turkish and Pakistani embassies.
The Belfast preacher due back in court next week over a controversial sermon on Islam, has said a guilty verdict would spark an “uprising”.
Pastor James McConnell was charged following the broadcasting of remarks he made from the pulpit of the Whitewell Tabernacle last May.
When a video of the sermon was uploaded to the Newtownabbey church’s website, it showed the 78-year-old describing the Islamic faith as “heathen” and “satanic”.
Mr McConnell was subsequently prosecuted with the three-day trial held at Belfast Magistrates’ Court last month.
Judgment has been reserved and will be delivered on Tuesday.
Speaking to the News Letter on Friday, Mr McConnell said he shared his legal team’s optimism that the verdict will go in his favour, but warned of widespread anger if he is jailed.
“I am willing to go to jail and I am going to stand for what I believe in. If the verdict goes against me – and they do put me in jail – there will be such an uprising in this country.”
However, Mr McConnell said imprisonment was a price he was willing to pay rather than renounce his beliefs.
“I can honestly say I haven’t had one sleepless night over this court case.
“It’s not that I’m an iron man or anything like that, I just have other concerns in my heart,” he said.
“I am concerned about this country and about the way it is going politically, spiritually, every way I am really concerned about it.
“The country is a bigger issue than me – I am just praying for the Lord to guide me at this particular time.
“I have had thousands of emails, over 20,000 of them, plus cards, letters and phone calls. It has been amazing.”
The controversial preacher faced two charges – improper use of a public electronic communications network and causing a grossly offensive message to be sent by means of a public electronic communications network – after the sermon was streamed online. He denied both charges.
During the three-day hearing, Mr McConnell’s barrister said his client was was “not stereotyping a whole religion” but was “talking about cells of people”.
Phillip Mateer QC said: “If the pastor was more astute to the watery words to be used to weave our way through difficult areas ... it would have put it beyond doubt if he had said there are ‘cells’ of jihadists.
“It would have put it beyond doubt if he said ‘cells’ of Islamists.”
On day one of the trial, the court was shown an hour-long DVD recording of the service during which the controversial sermon was made. The judge also heard television and radio broadcasts in which Mr McConnell defended his comments.
The veteran preacher has received backing from First Minister Peter Robinson and a number of other prominent Executive ministers and political leaders.
Mr McConnell said he was prepared for whatever judgment is handed down, and that he felt sorry for District Judge Liam McNally who is hearing the case.
“The judge is in such a difficult situation here and has got to please so many people.
“We will just see what happens on Tuesday. I am on a level keel and I will just take what comes to me.
“My family will be there with me to hear what is going to take place. We are in the 100-seater court and the Whitewellers filled it every day.”
The White House had sent an additional aircraft carrier to the region after learning that Israeli aircraft had flown into Iranian airspace in what U.S. officials feared was a test run for an attack on Iran’s Fordow plant. The carriers had attack aircraft on board prepared to respond to any Israeli attack on Iran.
A Christian woman resident of Maalula told the media saying, “They arrived in our town at dawn and shouted ‘We are from the Al-Nusra Front and have come to make lives miserable for the Crusaders,” the woman who was identified as Marie, further narrated that after their first advance against the town, Christians started fleeing.
The militants who also killed 10 fishermen in nearby town, Toubon Ali on June 6 and 32 soldiers in Bosso had siezed the fishermen on 8 June from the village of Darak, located near the Nigerian border.
“Cameroonian sailors and villagers… saw several bodies floating on the water and immediately alerted security forces,” Cololen Nomo Jean Claude told the African news website the Daily Sabah. “We recovered 42 bodies from the water between Saturday and Sunday. After identification, we found they were of Cameroonian, Nigerian and Chadian nationality. The bodies were immediately handed over to the families for burial.”
Jean-Baptiste Salvaing, 42, suffered nine stomach wounds at a private address is Magnanville, in the Yvelines department, north of Paris, shortly after 8.30pm. Inside the house, they found the lifeless body of Mr Salvaing's wife, who also worked for the police force. The only survivor was the couple's three-year-old child. Tonight it emerged that the knifeman had claimed allegiance to ISIS while the terror group's Amaq news agency said the attacker was an 'Islamic State fighter' and claimed responsibility for the killings.
Via Pulp Ark
PARIS: Just a week into the year, France has already been rattled by an attempted attack on a police station, but counter-terrorism officials have far graver fears for Europe in 2016.
November's attacks in Paris, in which 130 people were killed by Daesh group terroists, showed the trauma that could be caused by a group of men with Kalashnikov rifles, but experts fear it could be just the start.
"Unfortunately, I think 2015 was nothing," a counter-terrorism official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
"We are moving towards a European 9/11: simultaneous attacks on the same day in several countries, several places. A very coordinated thing. We know the terrorists are working on this," he added.
He said the Daesh was recruiting and training Europeans "with the goal of sending them back to hit their countries of origin".
"They have the necessary false documents, the mastery of the language, the sites, the weapons. We stop a lot of them, but it must be recognised that we are overwhelmed. Some will get through - some already have."
Recent arrests of terrorists returning from Syria and Iraq have added to concerns, he said.
"The profiles are changing. We are seeing ultra-radical guys return, very battle-hardened, who should have stayed over there. RELATED LINKS
"Before we mostly had guys returning who had made a mistake, who didn't realise that war can be painful. But now, we are seeing guys return who are sticking to their chosen path."
Rapid response needed
Faced with an enemy that is happy to die and maximise civilian casualties, the challenge for France's security forces is to massively speed up response times.
"There will always be a delay for intervention forces that we have to reduce as much as possible," Colonel Hubert Bonneau, head of the elite GIGN police, told AFP.
"In the Bataclan, the killing of 90 people took 20 minutes. It stops when there is the opposition of security forces," he said, referring to the attack on a Paris concert hall on November 13. It took two-and-a-half hours for police to storm the concert hall as they tried to gather information on the layout of the building and position of the Islamist terrorists.
Bonneau said this new type of threat meant there were no classic hostage situations such as in the past.
"Hostages are just a buffer to slow the progress of security forces. If we don't intervene as quickly as possible there will be more victims. That's the lesson to draw from the attacks of November 13, that will change our mode of intervention.
"We need to have surgical action, as forceful as possible and as quickly as possible," he said.
'Just a rehearsal'
Multiple, pan-European plots are not new and have been disrupted on several occasions, including one in late August 2010, said Yves Trotignon, a former analyst for France's DGSE intelligence service.
"At that time, it was still Al Qieda," he said.
"The teams were due to arrive in western Europe, recover pre-placed material - handguns and assault rifles. It was disrupted by the Americans, who carried out a series of preventative drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan against the guys thought to be mounting the operation.
"This type of multiple attack is part of the worst-case scenarios for 2016," said Trotignon.
"I know that in European capitals, particularly London, specialised services are working on this theory."
Police, military and intelligence services are constantly adapting to the shape-shifting threat, but so are the other side and often more quickly and effectively, the specialists said.
"It's not just us that learn the lessons, it's the Daesh as well," said the counter-terrorism official.
He said a key lesson was to stay away from telephones, which have often been a key way to monitor potential attackers. "They take lessons from the press investigations, read everything on the subject. They saw that it took two-and-a-half hours to launch the police raid at the Bataclan," said Trotignon.
They also saw that "the explosives weren't good, that they must be changed, that the guys left too many traces. They learn fast."
"If the quality of the attackers improves, we will have a problem," he said, adding that there was a "terrible pessimism" among security service professionals for 2016.
"Maybe we will say that 2015 was just a rehearsal," he added.
Obama’s $500 million plan to combat Bashar Al-Assad and ISIS forces in Syria created an elite force called “Regiment-30”. While Fox News revealed the program only gained 54 applicants, new evidence reveals that there were “thousands of outside forces” who joined Regiment-30, who are now also joining Al-Nusra terror front in Syria. The U.S-appointed Regiment-30’s main leader, as ironclad evidence reveals, is one code-named Abu Iskandar and he has now sent out an official appeal, including airing an explosive T.V interview, confirming they joined the notorious terrorist Al-Nusra Front which carried out massacres against Christians in Adra and Maaloula in Syria.
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