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Stories from and

Question Time: How Many Jihadists Have Military Backgrounds?

Taking the cue from a Der Spiegel report on the mastermind behind the structure of ISIS, Palestinian blogger Iyad El-Baghdadi tweets:

Der Spiegel names Iraqi Samir Abd Muhammad al-Khlifawi, killed in Tal Rifaat in Syria in January 2014, as the “architect” of the ISIS, an Al Qaeda off-shoot which has come to control larges swathes of land in Iraq and Syria, leaving terror, death and destruction in its trail. It says al-Khlifawi was a former colonel in the intelligence service of Saddam Hussein's air defense force.

El-Baghdadi adds:

And explains:


Turn On Fact-Checking:

Help us track and verify stories on the number of ISIS top command with military backgrounds in our Global Voices/Checkdesk partnership project here.

ISIS Burning US Food Aid for Syria

Turkish journalist Mete Sohtaoğlu, who is based in Istanbul, reports that ISIS is burning US food aid destined for Syria “because it is not halal” – or Islamically permitted or lawful.

He tweets the following photographs to back up his report:

The Difference Between ISIS and Al Nusra Front

Satirist Karl Sharro draws a stark comparison between two Al Qaeda offshoots fighting each other in Syria: the notorious ISIS and the Nusra front. He tweets:

Both terrorist organisations use the Islamic prayer “There is no God other than Allah and Muhammad is Allah's prophet” in a different font on their flags.

Mexican Cartoonist Compares James Foley's Execution with Presidential Interview

Flowers laid for American journalist James Foley - Arlington

Flowers laid for American journalist James Foley, Arlington Cemetery. Photo by Cynthia Rucker. Copyright Demotix (20 August 2014).

On August 21, Mexican cartoonist Francisco Calderón raised controversy after publishing on his daily cartoon section on Grupo Reforma, an image depicting president Enrique Peña Nieto wearing an orange jumpsuit and kneeling down in front of a masked executioner. The image is a clear reference to the brutal murder of reporter James Foley in Syria, on August 19, by the jihadist group Islamic State that was later published on video as a warning to the United States.

Thursday August 21, 2014 THE INTERVIEW THE ALL THE TERNURITAS WOULD'VE LOVED.

The title of the cartoon plays with the idea that an execution like the suffered by Foley would have been the kind of “interview” the “ternuritas” (cuties) would've loved. Ternurita is the name some people use for Peña Nieto government opponents.

Some Twitter users reacted to the cartoon:

Your cartoon is a total disrespect to the life of James Foley. Let's hope it's just your ignorance.

Because being firm when questioning is the same thing that beheading. Right, right winger cartoonist?

It's a shame that Francisco Calderon makes a cartoon with a beheading. Will he make one about dead children in Gaza?

Only Mexico can gather the necessary dose of insensitivity and numbskullness to make fun of James Foley's death.

Pakistan, Stay Out of Syria's Civil War

A day after a tiny news items titled, “Saudi Arabia ‘seeking Pakistani arms for Syrian rebels” appeared in Pakistani newspapers, political blogger Ahsan Butt posts a provocative piece warning Pakistan's foreign policymakers against tiptoeing into Syria's affairs.

In “This is not our war (Syria Edition)” on the Five Rupees Blog, Ahsan writes:

What Pakistan is doing vis-a-vis Syria is one of the dumbest things Pakistan has done in a long time, and that’s really saying something. The Syrian civil war, tragic as it is, has nothing to do with Pakistan. Pakistan has no interests in that conflict. None.

Saudi Arabia is in talks with Pakistan to provide Pakistan-made anti-aircraft and anti-tank rockets. Ahsan warns:

Is it wise and advisable to wade into a sectarian civil war two thousand miles away?[…]

Just examine the trajectory of sectarian violence over the last decade.

He explains that any interference in Syria will force the Pakistani state to pay attention to rising sectarian violence in the country:

What are the possible ramifications for such a policy on sectarian violence in Pakistan? Is it likely to exacerbate and make more deadly sectarian cleavages or the opposite?

Ahsan lists four more provocative questions which you can read here.

Are ISIS Fighters in Rakka Infested with Skin Disease Leishmaniasis?

News is spreading that ISIS fighters in the Syrian town of Rakka have been hit by a skin condition caused by a parasite known as Leishmaniasis.

According to the World Health Organisation, the disease is “caused by the protozoan Leishmania parasites which are transmitted by the bite of infected sandflies.The disease affects some of the poorest people on the planet, and is associated with malnutrition, population displacement, poor housing, a weak immune system and lack of resources.” Newspaper accounts describe it as a “deadly flesh eating disease.”

Thalia Rahme is looking for leads to verify the story at Global Voices Checkdesk, a partnership project with Meedan.

Checkdesk is a liveblogging tool for journalists, with built-in tools to allow citizen journalists and staff journalists alike to make and verify reports. Anyone from the newsroom community can submit a report — a Tweet, a photo, video or other type of media — and add details that bring important context to the report. Staff journalists can then add these reports to a developing story.

To join Thalia's team, send her an email from her Global Voices Online page.

Photo of Peshmerga Combatant Breastfeeding Her Child Captivates Kurdish Media

Shared widely online. Photograph by Veronique de Viguerie, September 6, 2014. Veroniquedeviguerie.com.

Kurdish media outlets are abuzz with a photograph of a Peshmerga woman, sitting beside an automatic weapon, breastfeeding her child. The picture has been widely distributed on social networking sites, highlighting the strength of Kurdish women and the resilience of female combatants in the ongoing fight against ISIS.

In contrast to the contentiousness of breastfeeding in many Western countries (most recently in the United Kingdom), Kurdish media outlets have largely welcomed this Peshmerga woman breastfeeding her child, celebrating how the photograph captures her dual roles as a “warrior” and a “nurturer”.

Kurdish Internet users have also praised the Peshmerga woman, whose identity remains unknown. Kemal Taher from Erbil remarked, “I don’t know what to say about this lioness of Kurdistan, wishing them success on the battlefield, May God protect you all”. Shakar Sndy from Sulaymaniyah said, “An example that we’re proud of”.

Internet users have circulated photographer Veronique de Viguerie's image widely online, typically without attribution. Using Google's reverse image search, Global Voices learned that the photo is de Viguerie's work. (Note added by Kevin Rothrock.)

Iranians protest in solidarity with Kobane

Iranians held several protest rallies in different cities including Tehran,Tabriz and Mehabad to support Kobane‘s people on Tuesday.Fighting continues to rage in the Syria-Turkey border town of Kobane

Video: Distributing Food in Yarmouk Camp-Syria

FAJER PRESS posted a video of the besieged Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus while receiving food parcels to feed the 18,000 remaining residents of the camp, who have been forced to eat stray animals to survive amid critical food shortages.

The video is dated December 30, 2013.

e-Booklets for Syrian Activists

Syrian activists are now able to access an online archive which lists tactics for resisting tyranny and peaceful ways to revolt.

Dawlaty, an NGO whose name translates to My State from Arabic, provides a series of e-booklets which [ar]:

محاولة لتقديم بعض الأساليب والتكتيكات التي استخدمها وما زال يستخدمها نشطاء سوريا في كفاحهم السلمي.
حاولنا قدر الامكان أرشفة هذه التحركات لتقديمها للسوريين وغيرهم على شكل دليل للحراك الثوري في سوريا.
لربما يلهم هذا الكتيب البعض على إنتاج المزيد من تجارب الأرشفة للحراك السلمي في سوريا ويزود الناشطات والناشطين بأساليب خلاقة في كفاحهم ضد الطغيان.

attempt to provide a number of methods and tactics which were used and are still being used by activists in Syria as part of their peaceful resistance.
We have tried, as much as possible, to archive these movements to present them to Syrians and others, as a guide to the revolutionary movement in Syria.
This series may perhaps inspire some of you to produce more archives for the peaceful movement in Syria, which will provide activists with creative methods to resist tyranny.

Already on the site are Tactics for Revolutionary Activism in Syria [ar] and Transitional Justice in Syria [ar] (this booklet is available in English), among others.

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