The Islamic State spy who betrayed al-Baghdadi was an insider motivated by revenge

By Richard Engel and Marc Smith

191030-mazloum-abdi-al-1212_df949716b3ce2e2e5c69f34d8071b01a.fit-2000wNORTHERN SYRIA — ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was betrayed by a member of his inner circle who helped lead American troops to his compound in Northern Syria.

The commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, Gen. Mazloum Abdi, gave NBC News a detailed account of how he spent months running a spy inside ISIS who followed al-Baghdadi as he moved from one safehouse to another, until he was finally trapped in a tunnel beneath one of them.

Abdi did not identify the source, but Kurdish intelligence officials described him as an Arab who had many relatives in ISIS.

Abdi said the informant’s main motivation was revenge.

“I think he was under a lot of pressure from his family,” the general said. “His relatives were subjected to harsh treatment by ISIS and he no longer believed in the future of ISIS. He wanted to take revenge on ISIS and al-Baghdadi himself.”

OCT. 30, 201904:42

The spy was in a unique and extremely rare position to exact his revenge.

“He was, you could say, a security official,” the general said. “A personal security official for al-Baghdadi himself, in charge of al-Baghdadi’s movements. “

FULL ARTICLE FROM NBC NEWS 

Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders sign declaration against euthanasia

20191026T1105-50-CNS-SYNOD-FINAL.jpg.pngVATICAN CITY (CNS) — Representatives from the Catholic and Orthodox churches and the Muslim and Jewish faiths signed a joint declaration at the Vatican reaffirming each religion’s clear opposition to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.

They also encouraged promoting palliative care so that dying patients could receive the best, most comprehensive physical, emotional, social, religious and spiritual care and appropriate support for their families, according to the joint statement.

Pope Francis met Oct. 28 with the signatories, who presented him with a copy of the declaration they signed a few hours earlier at a Vatican ceremony. The signatories included representatives from the Vatican, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia, Muslim and Jewish scholars and leaders.

The declaration, titled, “Position paper of the Abrahamic monotheistic religions on matters concerning the end of life,” was prepared by the Pontifical Academy for Life and released Oct. 28.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AMERICA MAGAZINE 

Extremists Won’t Hinder Interfaith Dialogue

shutterstock_560746489-1In this edition of The Interview, Fair Observer talks to Leonard Swidler, professor of Catholic thought and interreligious dialogue at Temple University, Philadelphia.

Interfaith dialogue is a necessity in our age. In a world suffering from armed conflicts, diplomatic standoffs and trade wars, cooperative and constructive interaction between people of different religious traditions is fundamental to solidifying peace and stability, and stemming racism, xenophobia, radicalization, violent extremism and terrorism.

Interreligious dialogue is about encounters — it drives respect, mutual understanding and appreciation for common values. Interfaith dialogue helps debunk the myths and eradicate the stereotypes about religion that politicians abuse to further their (often populist) agendas.

The 1893 Parliament of World Religions at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, is often referred to as the birth of the modern interfaith movement, even though interfaith dialogue has ancient roots. There have been notable examples of collaboration between the devotees of different religions in the far past. In the 16th century, the emperor Akbar the Great encouraged tolerance in Mughal India where people of various faith backgrounds, including Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Christianity, lived.

It’s also narrated in the Bible that Cyrus the Great, the king of Persia, allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and ordered a temple to be built in Jerusalem upon a decree from God in the first year of his reign. It is for this reason that Cyrus is talked of favorably in the Bible and loved by the Jews.

While such plagues as Islamophobia and anti-Semitism continue to spread intolerance and mar relations between Muslims, Jews and Christians, faith leaders have a crucial responsibility to preach engagement, interaction and peaceful dialogue among their followers to prevent these social gaps from widening further.

Leonard Swidler is professor of Catholic thought and interreligious dialogue at Temple University, Philadelphia. He is the co-founder and director of Global Dialogue Institute and is a major figure in the scholarly study of interfaith dialogue. In this edition of The Interview, Fair Observer talks to Swidler about interreligious dialogue and the major obstacles blocking successful cooperation between the leaders and adherents of the world’s many faiths.

The text has been lightly edited for clarity.

Kourosh Ziabari: What are the prerequisites of successful interfaith dialogue? What should be done before religious leaders sit together to discuss their differences and shared values?

Leonard Swidler: The essence of interreligious dialogue is to learn from the dialogue partner so we can grow — and a growth of knowledge, no matter how slight, is a growth in me, and hence a change in me. My dialogue partner is not me, and so necessarily sees reality from his or her family, gender, wealth and religious perspective, which will be the same or similar to mine, and necessarily different from mine. That combination of the livening person is what I want to learn about in dialogue so I can live more fully on the basis of the always expanding, deepening understanding of reality. In brief, as in a mantra I composed, “Nobody knows everything about anything — therefore, dialogue!”

FULL ARTICLE FROM FAIROBSERVER.COM

Ancient agreements guarantee tolerance among Muslims, Christians

Note:  This post is from March.  What it underscores, however, is timely. 

ows_155200276897596Rep. Ilhan Omar’s views on American Jews and their support for the nation of Israel sadly contribute to a major misunderstanding of the Muslim faith for many Americans. She has been condemned for not putting behind her a deep-seated anti-Semitism.

Calls for Democrats and Republicans to condemn Omar in the House of Representatives confirmed what many non-Muslim Minnesotans suspect: that somewhere in the Islamic faith is persistent intolerance and prejudice.

Such suspicions of Islam as a wayward Abrahamic faith are, we believe, wrong. It is important to note that the prophet Mohammed professed respect for Christians and promised to protect their churches, bishops and priests, pilgrims, and values.

We have with us today texts of six covenants made by the prophet with Christian communities of his day.

Under the terms of these covenants, the Muslim community may not impose Shari’a obligations on Christians. Christian churches are to be protected and rebuilt if damaged; Christian pilgrims are not to be harmed. Christians will not be drafted to fight in Muslim wars or pay taxes levied on Muslims.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE 

The imam and the pastor: from being enemies to ‘partners in peace’

Yogi-Bahai-faith-e1572180631860In a world where extremism has painted religion as a catalyst for bloodshed, two Nigerian men of different faiths have proven that reaching common ground is possible – despite fundamental differences.

Pastor James Wuye and Imam Muhammad Ashafa led opposing sides of a deadly conflict in Kaduna, Nigeria, an area known for violent clashes between its Christian and Muslim populations.

Twenty-six years later, the two are almost inseparable. They joked and laughed during an inter-faith dialogue at the Cape Town Bahá’í Centre in Rosebank on Thursday 24 October as they shared a harrowing tale of turning from being enemies to becoming “partners in peace”.

The evening was hosted by Initiatives of Change South Africa, a worldwide movement encouraging social cohesion, and facilitated by economist Iraj Abedian, who serves on the board of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of South Africa. It was part of a series of “Meaningful Conversations” taking place in different cities.

Wuye, dressed in black clerical garb, and Ashafa, clothed in a loose-fitting green and white robe, sat side-by-side as they described Nigeria’s volatile social climate.

“At the slightest provocation, we can go at each other’s throats and kill each other,” said Wuye, mentioning issues like Boko Haram and the country’s scourge of kidnapping.

It seems Nigeria’s rich diversity is both a blessing and a curse. With a population of just under 200 million people, roughly 250 official languages and three primary religions – Christianity, Islam and multiple indigenous faiths – it is a hotbed of intolerance.

“We come from a background of our sensitivity to issues of religion and ethnicity,” said Wuye explaining how religion and ethnicity are interlinked and have become “political tools” in Nigeria – and in Africa as a whole.

“Because of the power held by religious leaders, people listen.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM DAILY  MAVERICK (SOUTH AFRICA)

The Pittsburgh Playbook: How the Jewish Community Worked With Their Christian and Muslim Neighbors to Heal

1.8027476.2268327494After the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history, interfaith ties, initiative and compassion led to organization and solidarity others can model.

In Pittsburgh, they don’t call the blood-soaked anti-Semitic rampage that began at 9:50 A.M. on a rainy Saturday one year ago, when a white supremacist gunned down 11 Jewish worshippers “the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting” – although that’s how it is commonly referred to elsewhere. Rather, it is referred to in the city by the date no local resident will ever forget: 10.27.

Pittsburgh, people there will tell you, is a thriving and close-knit city that they love and identify with deeply, whose residents have come together across all walks of life – despite differences in religion, race and politics – to repudiate the deadliest attack on Jews in American history. Pittsburgh is “Stronger than hate” as the ubiquitous signs created in response to the attack continue to remind passersby from front yards and shop windows.

That comprehensive response was closely coordinated, with Jewish communal agencies taking the lead and dividing up responsibilities of security and mental health care in the immediate aftermath of the attack and beyond. Those efforts were buoyed by long-standing ties with local churches and mosques, by strong support from the mayor and municipal officials, and by the city’s bedrock of foundations, nonprofit agencies and academic institutions.

FULL ARTICLE FROM HA’ARETZ

Opposing team members surrounded a soccer player whose hijab came off, and it’s fabulous

jordan-soccer2018True acts of sportsmanship are always a delight to see. And a video shared by ESPN that captured a beautiful moment from a women’s soccer match is no exception.

In a WAFF Women’s Club Championship match between Jordan’s Shabab al Ordon Club and Arab Orthodox Club that took place last October, a Muslim player from the latter team had a minor collision with another player that partially removed her hijab.

For women who cover their hair with the hijab, it is an expression of faith and symbol of modesty. For a hijabi woman to be seen in public without that covering is to feel inappropriately exposed.

RELATED: What this teen wants you to know about the hijab after her dad’s text went viral.

The players on the opposing team didn’t wear hijab themselves, but they immediately recognized the potential embarrassment of the player. As soon as they saw her kneel down to replace her head covering, players from Shabab al Ordon Club started gathering around her, signaling their teammates to come and form a shield around her while she put everything back into place. It was a spontaneous act, clearly born of understanding, empathy, and respect. Even though those players did not practice the same custom, and even though it wasn’t even their own teammate, they supported this woman’s adherence to her faith tradition without hesitation and gave her the privacy she needed in the moment.

FULL ARTICLE FROM UPWORTHY