Death penalty for holding Bible?

Just possessing a Bible still can be cause for a death penalty in North Korea, so it’s no surprise that the hermit kingdom remains No. 1 on this year’s World Watch List of the world’s most notorious persecutors of Christians, a project assembled by Open Doors USA.

Persecution of believers also increased sharply across Africa, eight out of 10 worst offenders are ruled by Muslim theocracy and Egypt, under the Muslim Brotherhood, actually saw its ranking lowered, but not because of any improvement there. It was because of worsening conditions elsewhere, the report said.

In North Korea, a possible lesser penalty for someone having a Bible would be for the offender, and three generations of his or her family, to be sent to prison camps, where at estimated 50,000 to 70,000 people are held.

Open Doors’ Senior Communications Specialist Paul Estabrook says the reclusive communist dictatorship earned the ranking based on the group’s five criteria for evaluating a country.

“North Korea doesn’t allow Christians any freedom in any of the five spheres used in the process,” Estabrook said.

“We use five spheres, the private, family, community, congregational, and public. … North Korea doesn’t allow Christians any freedom,” Estabrook said.

In addition, the dictatorship maintains a gulag, he noted.

“North Korea is known to have somewhere between 50,000 to 70,000 Christians in forced labor camps. And they’re there for doing nothing except trying to worship the Lord,” Estabrook said.

That aligns with what WND reported in July, that under newly installed leader Kim Jong-un, the enigmatic nation of North Korea still has about 70,000 people in work camps.

Sources confirmed North Korea has eased or lifted a number of restrictions for citizens since Kim Jong-un succeeded his father, Kim Jong-il. Bans have been lifted on Western foods such as pizza and french fries, and restrictions on the number of cell phones have been loosened, for example, according to Ryan Morgan, an analyst with International Christian Concern Asia.

However, whatever secular benefits may have trickled down to residents of the isolated nation, there is no evidence of any improvement in the condition of the persecuted church there, he said.

“We have not heard any reports of improvement for Christians in the country and have no reason to believe anything has changed,” Morgan said. “The regime still has up to 70,000 Christians locked away in virtual concentration camps.”

Read more here.

TALIBAN MOCKS U.S. AS WAR ENTERS 12TH YEAR

The Taliban had mocking words for the U.S. as the war in Afghanistan entered its 12th year on Sunday, claiming U.S. and NATO forces are “fleeing” with “humiliation and disgrace.”

The last international combat forces are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014 after the U.S.-led invasion Oct. 7, 2001 following the 9/11 terror attacks.

“With the help of Allah, the valiant Afghans under the Jihadi leadership of Islamic Emirate defeated the military might and numerous strategies of America and NATO alliance,” the Taliban said in a statement Sunday, according to AFP.

“And now after eleven years of unceasing terror, tyranny, crimes and savagery, they are fleeing Afghanistan with such humiliation and disgrace that they are struggling to provide an explanation,” it said.

More than 3,100 NATO troops have been killed since the war began, according to the independent website iCasualties.org. Of those troop fatalities, more than 2,000 have been American.

Islam’s Latest Contributions to Peace

2012.10.01 (Narathiwat, Thailand) – A 40-year-old Buddhist teacher is shot three times in the head by Muslim militants.
2012.10.01 (Khost, Afghanistan) – A Fedayeen suicide bombers murders fourteen people, including three Americans.
2012.09.30 (Qamishli, Syria) – A Shahid suicide car bomber takes eight other souls with him.
2012.09.30 (Nairobi, Kenya) – A child is killed when Religion of Peace proponents toss a grenade into a church.
2012.09.30 (Taji, Iraq) – The Islamic Army of Iraq takes down eight people with three car bombs.
2012.09.30 (Madain, Iraq) – Three Shia pilgrims riding a minibus are exterminated by Sunni bombers.

Revealed: U.S. Knew of Embassy Attacks 48 Hours Beforehand, but did Nothing

The killings of the US ambassador to Libya and three of his staff were likely to have been the result of a serious and continuing security breach, The Independent can reveal.

American officials believe the attack was planned, but Chris Stevens had been back in the country only a short while and the details of his visit to Benghazi, where he and his staff died, were meant to be confidential.

The US administration is now facing a crisis in Libya. Sensitive documents have gone missing from the consulate in Benghazi and the supposedly secret location of the “safe house” in the city, where the staff had retreated, came under sustained mortar attack. Other such refuges across the country are no longer deemed “safe”.

Some of the missing papers from the consulate are said to list names of Libyans who are working with Americans, putting them potentially at risk from extremist groups, while some of the other documents are said to relate to oil contracts.

According to senior diplomatic sources, the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and “lockdown”, under which movement is severely restricted.

Mr Stevens had been on a visit to Germany, Austria and Sweden and had just returned to Libya when the Benghazi trip took place with the US embassy’s security staff deciding that the trip could be undertaken safely.

Read more here.

Taliban Behead 17 Afghans For Attending “Mixed Sex” Dancing Party

The Taliban in Afghanistan have served up a harsh reminder of what life will be like in Afghanistan once Barack Obama’s recall of U.S. troops occurs in the near future as 17 Afghan civilians who attended a party that had the audacity of having BOTH men and women there were beheaded. Let’s do a countdown for the outrage from Afghan President Karzai – I’m sure it won’t take any longer than the outrage he would have shown if two Afghans were accidentally killed in a U.S. JDAM strike….right?

The story comes from The Jerusalem Post.

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Syria’s Horror in Houla (Contains Graphic Images)

It is extremely important to do what the mainstreams refuse: To spread the truth about the Houla massacres to the world. Here is one report from the scene by AP. The killers apparently went around and systematically killed young children, using the same method used in Afghanistan to kill children — by cutting their throats.

A Facebook poster has one photo of about 10 children in identical postures lying on the ground with their throats cut. They may have been sexually abused prior to execution.

Read more here.

‘Anti-Education’ Attack

150 Afghan schoolgirls have been poisoned in what reports are deeming an “anti-education” attack.

“We are 100 percent sure that the water they drunk inside their classes was poisoned. This is either the work of those who are against girls’ education or irresponsible armed individuals,” Jan Mohammad Nabizada, a spokesman for the province’s education department, told Reuters.

Officials knew the attack was intentional because only the schoolgirls’ water was poisoned– the larger tank where they got the water remained uncontaminated.

“This is not a natural illness. It’s an intentional act to poison schoolgirls,” said the head of the province’s public health department.

Females in Afghanistan have been allowed to seek an education since the toppling of the Taliban in 2001, but they are still subject to periodic retribution from those who disagree with their choices, particularly in the more conservative regions of the country.

No group has yet stepped forward to claim responsibility for the attack, and officials have declined to name suspects, fearing potential retribution.

The Taliban, a prime suspect for many, said last year that it no longer opposes women’s education in an effort to adopt a more “moderate” face.

However, according to Reuters, the Taliban “has never stated [its opposition to women’s education] explicitly, and in the past acid has been thrown in the faces of women and girls by hardline Islamists while walking to school.”

The fate of many of the girls remains to be seen. Some are in critical condition, while others are expected to recover after treatment in the hospital.

Read more here.

Officials Remove Cross From U.S. Military Chapel

Some U.S. servicemen are up in arms after a large cross was removed from outside a chapel on a military base in northern Afghanistan. The base, called Camp Marmal, is German and hosts NATO forces. The chapel in question is an interfaith house of worship that is overseen by the U.S. Army.

Soldiers say that they felt comfort as a result of having the cross visible from the outside of the chapel. In an e-mail to Politico, one serviceman said, “Sometimes the Church and the ability to openly express religious views ultimately gets people through the deployments over here.”

According to this particular soldier, when he asked a chaplain what had happened to the cross, he was told that it needed to be taken down. The faith leader, however, didn’t share any additional information on the matter.

“We are here away from our families, and the chapel is the one place that feels like home,” added another service member. “With the cross on the outside, it is a constant reminder for all of us that Jesus is here for us.”

“Not having it there is really upsetting,” a serviceman explained. “I walk by the chapel daily on the way to chow and the gym, and seeing the cross is a daily reminder of my faith and what Jesus accomplished for me. It is daily inspiration and motivation for me to acknowledge my faith and stay on the right path.”

Read more here.

Last Pic of Soldier & His Infant Daughter Just Days Before His Tragic Death

Life is short. This is a lesson many of us often hear, but so few retain. It‘s easy to get caught up in life’s chaos and messiness, but Master Cpl. Byron Greff‘s story is a reminder that it’s important to cherish the people in our lives who matter most.