Thursday, September 12, 2013

Christian radio staff okay following Islamist attacks

A faction group attacks Zamboanga, Phlippines.
Philippines (MNN) ― Renewed fighting between government troops and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) has rekindled a turf war for independence in the Philippines. While a peace agreement was signed in 1996, the particular MNLF faction moved into the city of Zamboanga claiming they have been marginalized. The goal of MNLF: to break away from the country and declare its own Islamic State.

The violence has suspended flights from Zamboanga, and residents have fled areas hit by the fighting. Has it affected Edge Radio, Christian radio in Zamboanga? Yes. Edge Radio Network's General Manager and missionary Mike Medlin says, "We were on Facebook with one of our volunteers yesterday when the violence began to unfold in the street just outside his home. As of now, we don't have updates on him or his family. The Edge does broadcast in the area, and as of last night, our station manager and his family were safe and the station was still on the air."

There are 6 confirmed deaths, dozens of injuries, and over 100 hostages taken. The Philippine's military is sending additional troops to the hundreds already deployed in the unrest.

The MNLF members arrived by boat in the city early on Monday and wanted to raise their flag above Zamboanga's city hall, military officials said.

In a press conference yesterday, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas says the situation has stabilized, thanks to security personnel. "It has been contained and isolated, and won't spread to other areas," Mr Roxas told reporters. There have been conflicting reports on how many people are either trapped by the fighting or being held by the rebels.

Roxas reports that rebels were using about 180 residents as "human shields."

Please pray for peace in the region. Pray also that God will use Edge Radio to point listeners to Christ during this time of uncertainty.

'It's uncomfortable to think that people are dying for their faith'

Violence is on the rise in Iraq.
(Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
Iraq (MNN) ― It's been roughly twelve years since the U.S. entered a "War Against Terror" in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On this day in 2001, 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four airplanes and crashed them into major U.S. landmarks: two into New York's World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. When crew members and passengers attempted to gain control of the fourth plane, it crashed into a Pennsylvania field.

Nearly 3,000 people died in what would take a place in history as the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

Declaring a war on terrorism, the U.S. launched an offensive strike in Afghanistan called Operation Enduring Freedom. Two years later, Operation Iraqi Freedom put nearly 150,000 U.S. boots on the ground in the initial strike.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, over 1 million American soldiers served in Iraq; many of them on multiple deployments. U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq entirely in 2011, leaving the country in shaky hands.

This spring, Greg Musselman of Voice of the Martyrs Canada was in Baghdad.

"The thing that really struck me was just the state of fear," says Musselman. "Everybody is on-edge, all the time."

Shortly after Musselman and his team left, a new wave of violence began sweeping through Iraq.

Sectarian conflict between Sunni militants and Iraq's Shi'ite government is threatening to topple the unstable Middle Eastern nation. This summer saw Iraq's deadliest month since sectarian violence peaked in 2006 and 2007. According to UN figures, 1,057 Iraqis were killed and another 2,326 wounded during July.

Bombings are now an almost-daily occurrence. Yesterday, attacks in central and northern Iraq killed more than 20 people. Over 4,000 people have died so far this year, according to Agence France-Presse.

If the West uses force in Syria, it could push this alarming trend over the edge. Iraqi Christians are torn.

"They're just not sure what's going to happen," says Musselman. "There are some that would say, 'We'll stay no matter what; we're here to advance God's Kingdom.' [There are] others that would like to leave yesterday."

Among the latest developments in Syria comes a Russian proposal to surrender all chemical weapons to the United Nations. The U.S. and its allies have agreed to look over the plan, suspending a threatened military strike.

Musselman says church leaders inside Syria are "very concerned" about the unfolding state of affairs.

"It's such a volatile situation," he states. "We really need to be interceding and pressing in with our Lord and asking Him to help our leaders to do the right thing."

In Iraq, VOM Canada helps Christians who face arrest, torture, and even death for their faith in Jesus.

"The worst kind of persecution in Muslim countries is for those who have converted from Islam to Christianity," Musselman explains. "They're not only seen as infidels but even worse than that, because they have left Islam.

"We want to aid and support them any way we can."

Musselman refers to a young man he met this spring as an example.

"He had come to Christ, and his brothers tried to kill him because he had become a Christian," Musselman recalls.

As a result, the young man fled to southern Iraq and is now living in an area with a very strong Shi'ite presence. For security reasons, Musselman doesn't state the man's name or exact ways VOM Canada is helping him.

"Our desire is to…help and support Christians, sort of one-on-one, as best we can," says Musselman.

They're also trying to strengthen the underground Church. Only 334,000 Christians remain in Iraq--less than half of their 1991 population.

"They have to be very careful because if they're found out, they could be in great difficulty, could be killed, those kinds of things--arrested, tortured," says Musselman.

VOM Canada defines Iraq as a "restricted nation," a country whose government policies prevent believers from obtaining Bibles or other Christian literature. Also included in the definition are "government-sanctioned circumstances" that lead to Christians being "harassed, imprisoned, or killed."

"Our heart's desire is to empower the Christians, to say that we care about you, we know what's going on, [and] we're praying for you," says Musselman.

"How can we come along and support the Gospel ministry that you're doing at this point in time?"

Their answers take different shapes, from women's ministry to letters of encouragement.

What can you do?

"It's uncomfortable to think that people are dying for their faith," states Musselman. But as Christians, he adds, we are called to respond.

"We need to care, and we need to be praying for them and helping them in any way we can," Musselman says. "We may have a relative who doesn't know the Lord, but you're actually closer-related spiritually to someone that's in Iraq."

Islamic onslaught, Christian village takeover

(Photos courtesy Flickr/FreedomHouse)
Syria (MNN/ODM) ― Another village, another hostile takeover by Muslim extremists.

Last week, MNN reported the hostile takeover of the Christian village of Dalga, Egypt. The village was overrun by hardline Islamists.

This week, it's the Christian village of Maaloula, about 55 km northeast of Damascus. The area has become the battleground of fighting between rebel groups and the government army since Wednesday, September 4. The village had been under the firm grip of the regime until a suicide bomber attacked one of the government checkpoints in the village last week.

Could such actions be coincidental in two different countries? Open Doors USA CEO Dr. David Curry says, "There seems to be a very systematic and intentional move into Christian areas: areas that are historically places of faith for Christian believers and where there are larger populations of Christians." The developments of the last 14 days makes one thing is clear: "In some of these countries, it's a very dangerous thing to call yourself a ‘follower of Jesus.' So, they tend to group themselves together in some of these historic areas."
In Syria, news reports say that 5 armed groups fought the government troops and occupied parts of the village. Government forces regained control on Thursday. But they lost it again on Saturday, when a second coordinated assault was initiated by the opposition.

Maaloula is a historic Christian village and known for several Christian residents still speaking Aramaic, the biblical language also spoken by Jesus. Before the war, it was a tourist attraction with its churches and convents, and also because of the narrow gorge, of which is believed that the mountain opened up miraculously to protect Thecla, a pupil of the Apostle Paul, from her persecutors.

In the attack of last week, opposition groups have given assurances that church buildings would not be damaged, but reports describe that at least three of the churches are seriously damaged during to the fighting.

Next to casualties among fighters in the combat, civilians have also been killed, including Christians. "What you see across Syria right now is a huge part of the Syrian population leaving their homes, becoming homeless; and certainly a very large portion of the Christian population in Syria is now refugees or homeless", explains Curry. Over the past week, practically all of the approximately 3,000 villagers have fled to safer regions in Syria, both Muslims as well as Christians.

In the propaganda aired by various stakeholders, it is difficult to distinguish what is truth, or really what an outcome would look like at the end of the war. Curry agrees. "One of the concerns that we have here at Open Doors is that there may not be a ‘best case scenario' for Christian believers between the two scenarios that people have laid out, because it's not clear that any of the political solutions have any concern over Christian believers in Syria."

On Monday September 9, the Syrian troops launched a new offensive against the rebel fighters who are still holding strategic positions in the hills overlooking the village. The attacks fuel the fear among Syrian Christians being driven out of their homes and the wider community of Christians in the country. Depending on who is left after the dust settles, the future could be bleak for believers coming back home. "There are some very radical forces in these countries that want to set up governmental theocracies or Muslim extremists who believe that they want to set up their version of Sharia law."

Please pray that those who have been traumatized will be touched by Jesus' healing power and will be cared for by other Syrian Christians in the country. There are reports of people coming to Christ, however, it's a dangerous time to do so. Gospel partners need wisdom and boldness. "It obviously has a ‘dampening effect' when people who are even identifying themselves as Christians are targeted for violence. We believe that the faith that people have in Jesus Christ to be salt and light in the community is critically important, so we need to support these folks."

Vietnam Inflicts Massive Official Force on Catholic Demonstrators

Dozens seriously injured in protest against arrest of two Christians

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

Protestors injured in confrontation with
 authorities in north-central Vietnam. (FVCMM)
LOS ANGELES (ANS) -- About 40 people on Vietnam's north central coast were seriously injured after authorities on Sept. 4 broke up a protest over the arrest and detention without charges of two Catholics.

According to a commentary and analysis story by Morning Star News, several of those injured were in life-threatening condition after hundreds of police and militia with tear gas, batons and police dogs beat demonstrators in Nghi Phuong Commune, Nghi Loc District, Nghe An Province.

The demonstrators were protesting the arrest on May 22 of two Catholics from the area's My Yen Parish church.

A shrine to St. Anthony at the church building in Nghi Phuong Commune attracted Catholics from far and near. In May, men believed to be plain clothes police began stopping and searching people on the road to the site, detaining some for hours. Catholics demanding to see identification from those stopping and searching them were refused.

Catholics unsuccessfully complained about the searches. During the complaints, Nguyen Van Hai, 43, and Ngo Van Khoi, 53, were arrested and incarcerated without official charges on May 22. Their families were later notified that they were charged with "disturbing pubic or der," but no specific incident was named.

Local Catholics began to lobby and petition for their release. Morning Star News said they hoped the two men would be released under the annual national amnesty on Sept. 2. When this didn't occur, a large number of Catholics demonstrated peacefully in front of the district Peoples' Committee office in Nghi Phuong on Sept. 3.

The local district chief issued a paper promising their release on Sept. 4 at 4 p.m., according to Catholic sources. That afternoon, when family and friends of the two prisoners approached the compound of the Peoples' Committee to pick them up, they were told no promise had been made. Church bells then summoned hundreds of others.
The Catholics announced they would stay there until the men were released. When some tried to push their way in, authorities responded with massive force, and the protest turned chaotic.

Morning Star News said according to initial reports, 3,000 police and military personnel "as well as hired thugs" appeared.

This may have been an exaggeration, Morning Star News said, but photos show hundreds of authorities, including numerous police with shields and full riot control gear.

In the ensuing chaos, authorities fired live ammunition into the air, liberally used tear gas and pepper spray, beat demonstrators with batons and terrorized them with police dogs.

Church authorities from the diocese came quickly to investigate.

According to Morning Star News, a Sept. 5 Vinh Diocese press statement stated that officials chased people into their homes, beat them and smashed their religious statues.

About 15 people arrested during the protest were released the following day.

On Sept. 8, the Federation of Vietnamese Catholic Mass Media released a press statement about the abuses.

The previous day the government-controlled media, including the Voice of Vietnam (VOV) and police media, "had launched a large-scale, coordinated propaganda campaign" on the Internet taking on allegations in Catholic reports.
The government-sponsored reports painted authorities' force as a measured and completely law abiding response to an unruly mob of "Catholic believers."

They claimed some officials and police were injured. But unlike Catholic reports that provided many photos of their injured, the government stories carried only photos of a crowd outside the government offices and protest banners.

While the government reports concur that the arrest of the two Catholics sparked the protest, they say their use of force stemmed from Catholics mistreating three officers who were investigating alleged "crimes" of the two men.

Ostensibly, to justify the arrests, authorities announced after the protests that they had charged the two Catholics with four infractions related to "disturbing public order."

Morning Star News said, "The government went so far as to report that the two men had 'confessed their crimes,' though the alleged infractions were still not specified."

Photos accompanying government web pages sug gest the men were smuggling. In Vietnam, authorities often create conditions for "criminals" to "confess."

Authorities say that protesting Catholics carried anti-government banners and, armed with sticks, stones and bricks, attacked the chairman of the Nghi Phuong Commune, hitting him in the face and tearing his clothes.

The reports in the state-sponsored media assert the protestors forced the chairman to sign a release paper for the two Catholic prisoners, and also forced the deputy head of the Nghi Loc District Peoples' Committee to sign it in order to attest to its authenticity.

Morning Star News commented, "Photos of the state's overwhelming forces and church reports of heavy-handed tactics, make such assertions by authorities virtually impossible."

The VOV story ends with the statement, "The truth is clear - we completely reject all charges made on the Internet in which evil elements, both local and foreign, distort the truth and incite divisions in our great national unity bloc."

Morning Star News commented, "The government battle on the web to influence public opinion against Catholic Internet reports also shows the ineffectiveness of Vietnam's growing, harsh regulations to control online content. Decree 72, which became effective on Sept. 1, for instance, forbids quoting other sources in social media. Unable to regulate the Web, authorities are forced to counter reports that show them in a bad light with words and arguments."

The commentary continued, "The entrenched communist culture of lies, denials and cover-ups is not well positioned to win in media where photos speak volumes and truth has equal footing. Very few in Vietnam or abroad will believe the government's complete denial of wrongdoing and its propaganda painting demonstrating Catholic believers as unruly, brick-throwing hooligans."

Morning Star News said, "The protest was a serious and peaceful attempt to hold unrestrained local officials accountable for the illegal arrests and detention of two co-religionists they knew to be upstandin g citizens."

The same day in Nghe An Province, another troubling event took place. Was it a coincidence that General To Tam, head of the Ministry of Public Security, was in the province giving a rousing speech to his forces to be aware of and stop plots and anti-revolutionary schemes?

Morning star News said, "His officials in Nghi Loc District would not have been deaf to this message."

Nghe An is considered by Vietnamese communists as an important seat of the Vietnamese revolution, and some observers speculate that authorities there are especially quick to suppress anything that might be perceived as contributing toward undoing the revolution. Protestants too have faced hardship in this province.

In spite of some hopeful sounds from some Hanoi officials, Morning Star News said it appears many if not most government officials in Vietnam still categorize religion (and other civil society manifestations) as "national security problems," and thus as a threat to their one-party state.

With this labe l they rationalize widespread suspicion of religious people and organizations and any means to oppress them.

It is hard to believe that such a well-organized and massive show of force against citizens asking for fairness and justice was not carefully planned for some time.

"The consequences of covering and protecting officials who break Vietnam's laws will be to further exacerbate citizens' distrust of the country's rulers," Morning Star News said, "and to show Vietnam on the world stage as a bullying some of it best citizens whose religion has long contributed to human flourishing."

Is this event an indication of the growing desperation of authorities so insecure that they will strike out at any imagined threat?

In any case, Morning Star News said, "it constitutes a huge blot on Vietnam's claim and desire to be seen as a nation of laws and basic human rights."
For more information visit Morning Star News at

A Catholic priest and a pastor are among the ‘hostages’ in a standoff with government forces in Southern Philippines city

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

ZAMBOANGA CITY, SOUTHERN PHILLIPINES (ANS) -- A Catholic priest and a Protestant pastor are said to be among the “hostages” of the Moro National Liberation Front who are engaged in a standoff with government forces in Zamboanga City, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said Tuesday.

According to GMA News (, the CBCP said Chief Inspector Ariel Huesca, spokesman of the Philippine National Police Regional Office 9, identified the priest as Fr. Michael Ufana of St. Joseph Parish.

“Ufana was reportedly with his parents who were celebrating their wedding anniversary yesterday when the rebels took them in Barangay Sta. Catalina,” the CBCP said on its news site, citing information from Huesca.

A separate report on dzBB radio Tuesday night said the MNLF is also holding his parents and sister hostage.

The CBCP quoted Zamboanga Archdiocese administrator Msgr. Crisologo Manongas as saying Ufana was trapped in the standoff.

“All the time they were there until eventually their house was forced open by the MNLF and the rebels used it as a place where they put their guns,” Manongas said.

Manongas said they have been praying for the safety of the hostages and an end to the violence.

“We are praying. That is all we can do for now because we have to leave the rest to the authorities. We are also helping in distribution of food to those stranded in the evacuation centers,” he said.

According to an ANS correspondent based in the area, “A pastor called a radio station this morning and secretly informed the station he is one of the hostages, but the communication was cut off. I could not write the story straight at the moment because of the ongoing crossfire.”

In eight evacuation centers, over 9,000 residents are seeking temporary shelter amid the continuing standoff between government forces and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters loyal to founding chairman Nur Misuari.

Several areas in Zamboanga City have become virtual ghost towns on Tuesday, September 10, as government troops continue to choke MNLF positions on the second day of the siege that left four people dead and at least a dozen wounded.

As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, there were still about 170 residents being held hostage by the MNLF. The rebel group released five hostages, one adult and four children, earlier in the day at Barangay Talon-Talon following negotiations initiated by the police.

The Philippine Information Agency Western Mindanao pegged the number of evacuees as of Tuesday noon at 9,546, but authorities expect the number to swell.

Overcoming persecution with the Egyptian church

(Images courtesy SAT7)
Egypt (SAT7) ― On July 3, when millions of discontented Egyptians toppled their president (again), current affairs show Bridges was prepared with episodes addressing implications of the week's events. In fact, Bridges had been airing episodes discussing the June 30 protests before they even occurred.

The producers of Bridges felt it was important to continue live broadcasts throughout the summer. At the SAT-7 studio in Cairo, host Dr. Ehab Kharat interviewed politicians and social activists, asking them to discuss the challenges that would face Egyptians in the coming months. Some of the topics they addressed were the poor state of the economy, the prevalence of corruption, changing the constitution, and holding elections.
In the weeks following President Morsi's ouster, angry Morsi loyalists attacked over 80 churches, burning many to the ground and killing a child in front of her church. They also looted and attacked Christian business establishments, apartments, and schools. In some instances, Muslims stood by their Christian neighbors to protect them and decried the attacks.

In response to the horrifying attacks, Bridges sent a filming crew 700 kilometers south of Cairo to Al Dabia, one of the villages affected by sectarian tensions. Women tearfully explained that police removed them from their homes, leaving their husbands to be tortured and die. Church leaders in this particular village were crushed because their longtime neighbors stood by without helping, while Christians were attacked and their buildings looted.

George Makeen, Programming Manager for SAT-7 ARABIC, describes the powerful episode: "Testimonies of people who lost their beloved ones and who lived these hours in fear and pain were heart-breaking. In this episode, we talked about the way to social justice and reconciliation. We discussed the danger of using violence to implement political demands and agendas."

SAT-7, a Christian satellite television ministry to the Middle East and North Africa,  purposed to provide those affected with an opportunity to grieve publicly.
Rev. Dr. Safwat Al-Baiady, President of the Evangelical Churches in Egypt and Deputy Chairman of the SAT-7 International Council, has appeared on past episodes of Bridges as a guest. He notes that Christian schools and hospitals are open to people of all religious backgrounds.

During the civil unrest from the end of June through July, Christian field hospitals even treated members of the Muslim Brotherhood who had perpetrated attacks on churches. The agony of persecution created opportunities for Christians to show their attackers the meaning of forgiveness and unconditional love.

Church leaders throughout Egypt, including Rev. Dr. Al-Baiady, have emphasized that the Church is a body of people and not a building. In the face of persecution, he says, "Our purpose now is to show mercy.... We care for people, not buildings. We can restore the buildings, but we cannot restore a person who is killed or injured."

One of Al-Baiady's greatest concerns is for the young children. He asks, "What kind of children will they be when they grow up? So I say, please don't lose a generation. The children, the coming generation, will be affected by all the scenes they are watching." There are many voices trying to shape the minds of children in Egypt right now. For parents, monitoring the influences in their children's lives can begin with television in the home. As Egyptians look to stay informed and find answers about their changing nation, SAT-7 ARABIC offers a biblical perspective on events that is appropriate for family members of all ages.

Currently, the Egyptian army is fighting militants in the Sinai Peninsula and has taken off the air several television channels connected to the Muslim Brotherhood. However, Executive Director Farid Garas reports that attacks on Christians have subsided elsewhere in the country: "The attacks on churches have stopped, and security is returning to the streets. The good thing about what happened is the unity between Egyptians."

Join us in praying that God's Spirit of peace and love will unite Egyptians and empower them to overcome the persecution of past months.

Peril worsening for Egyptian Christians

(Cover photo courtesy AINA.
 Story photo courtesy Christian Post)
Egypt (MNN) ― Some scholars believe Egypt's continued onslaught of violence against Christians could be the worst in 700 years. And it's not over yet. Musselman, a spokesman with the Voice of the Martyrs Canada, says, "Talking to those that are plugged in to what's going on, they believe that the violence, the destruction, and the assault on the Christian community will continue for at least several more years."

The recent headline news may bear that out. It seems like every Friday after Muslim prayers end, there are riots and protests that erupt among members of the Muslim Brotherhood. A sudden burst of unpredictable violence lurks just beneath the surface, similar to that of 3 July.

The target? Christians. Coptic Church leaders are trying to keep a lid on the tensions. They're encouraging calm and talking about peace, unity, and forgiveness. The most obvious reason behind the message, says Musselman, is that "when people react with violence against violence (which is totally understandable), it just leads to more violence."

Easier said than done. The Islamist takeover of a town in Egypt has Christians drowning in fear. Dalga's takeover followed the ouster of the country's president, Mohamed Morsi. On 3 July, Morsi's Islamist supporters attacked Christians, their homes, and businesses in the southern Minya province.

Radicals have yet to leave, promising defiance of the military-backed leadership that has replaced him, and successfully stopping army attempts to send in armored personnel carriers.

Trouble in Sinai could mean a second insurgency could erupt in Minya and Assiut provinces, home to two of the biggest Christian communities in Egypt, while at the same time a foothold for the Islamists.

Musselman considers, "That's very much possible. You've got the Muslim Brotherhood who are not going to sit down and say ‘OK. I guess we lost this thing. We're going to forget about it.' No. That's not what they're thinking about."

The problem is that in the security vacuum, it has been Christians largely paying the price. Musselman explains, "Of course we've seen dozens of churches destroyed, Christian businesses destroyed, homes destroyed--a lot of intimidation. There's a lot of fear right now because even the military and police say they can't adequately protect them."

While the constitution allows for freedom of conversion, in practice, discrimination is commonplace. What's more, waiting for a new constitution puts things in limbo. With things as bad as they are for Christians, Musselman wonders, "Who knows what's going to be happening two months from now? People are leaving.

There's a lack of trust in what's going to happen there." He goes on to add that with the mass exodus of Christians fleeing Egypt, "Who knows how many will be left to vote, or to think at this point in time there's any reason to even be involved in the constitutional process?"

And yet, there's opportunity. "In the middle of all this, there's also been an incredible expression of forgiveness by Christians in places like Minya, south of Cairo. We're seeing where they are actually writing on their destroyed churches, ‘We forgive you.'" The open-handed extension of forgiveness to those who have pulverized their communities speaks volumes for the Christ they follow. It takes guts to speak His name, though, in an atmosphere where you can be killed by a mob just for wearing a cross or being identified as a Christian.

That's where you come in. "Be praying that they will be strong, that they will not be ruled by fear, but they would use wisdom. And also [be praying] that the Christians, in large masses, would exhibit forgiveness."
Pray that God will strengthen and embolden Christians in this time of political uncertainty and give them new opportunities to share the gospel.

Afghani Member of Parliament: "Execute Afghan Christian Converts."

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

AFGHANISTAN (ANS) -- Quds Online news website, affiliated with Astan Quds Razavi Foundation, reported that an Afghani news service, Ava, is saying the number of Christians is increasing in Afghanistan.

According to Mohabat News Service, Ava quoted Nazir Ahmad Hanafi, Afghani Parliament Member, as saying, "Afghani citizens continue to convert to Christianity in India. Numerous Afghanis have become Christians in India. This is an offense to Islamic Laws and according to the Quran they need to be executed."

Earlier, another Member of Afghanistan's Parliament had acknowledged that an Afghani church had been built in India. He said, "A church has been built in India called Afghani's Church. Any Afghani citizen who travels to India would be officially invited to the church."

However, Mohabat News said, some other Afghani MPs, however, blame the U.S. for the increasing number of Christian conversions.

Abdul Latif Pedram, who represents Badakhshan province in the Afghani Parliament, stated, "The presence of the U.S. in Afghanistan results in the conversion of Afghans to Christianity. The United States' long term plan is to attack Afghani culture. Converting Afghan citizens serves that purpose."

Mohabat News said he a lso claimed, "If you want to stop people from converting to Christianity, and are afraid that more people will convert, then why did you sign the Bilateral Security Agreement with the U.S?"

Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi, Speaker of the Parliament, has a long record of anti-Christian activities. Condemning all evangelical activities in Afghanistan, Mohabat News said he ordered the National Security Committee in parliament to follow up on the issue through "authoritative organizations."

Of course, Mohabat News commented, such harsh statements against Christianity are made while a number of members of the Parliament of Afghanistan have converted to Christianity, despite all the risks involved.

Islamic leaders of Afghanistan consider the growth of Christianity to be a threat. This phenomenon has reached the point where Mohabat News said they received reports that some Afghani Islamic clerics warned the government against the influence of Christianity in the country.

Some time ago, Mohabat News reported, the Islamic Counc il of Afghanistan notified President Karzai about more Christian aid workers and missionaries coming to Afghanistan and the likelihood of more conversions across the country.

Human Rights Group Says Up to 20,000 North Korean Prison Camp Inmates Have "Disappeared"

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

TOKYO (ANS) -- There are fears that as many as 20,000 people may have died of disease or starvation in the run-up to the closure of North Korea Prison Camp No 22,at the end of last year.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un walking arm in arm with soldiers of the Wolnae islet defense detachment.(Photo: EPA/KCNA)

According to a story by Julian Ryall of Britain's Telegraph newspaper, the suspicion has emerged from a newly-released report by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK). 

It details the situation in penal colonies as Kim Jong-un consolidated his power after taking over as leader from his father, Kim Jong-il who died in 2011. Now the group is demanding an inquiry into their fate.

The Washington-based organization gleans information from defectors from the North, including former guards and the occasional survivor of a prison camp, as well as examining satellite imagery.

It focused much of its attention on Camp 22, a vast compound that sprawled across more than 770 square miles, making it larger than London.

The report, "North Korea's Hidden Gulag: Interpreting Reports of Changes in the Prison Camps," reveals that two camps have been shut down in the last year but that 130,000 individuals are still being held in penal labor colonies across the country.

"Through this vast system of unlawful imprisonment, the North Korean regime isolates, banishes, punishes and executes those suspected of being disloyal to the regime," The Telegraph says the report states. "They are deemed 'wrong-thinkers,' 'wrong-doers,' or those who have acquired 'wrong-knowledge' or have engaged in 'wrong-associations.'"

Detainees are "relentlessly subjected to malnutrition, forced labor, and to other cruel and unusual punishment," the report says, with thousands more forcibly held in other detention facilities.

"North Korea denies access to the camps to outsiders, whether human rights investigators, scholars, or international media and severely restricts the circulation of information across its borders," the study adds.

At Camp No. 22, in North Hamyong Province, in the far north-east of the country, the prison population shrank dramatically in the months before its closure.

The Telegraph said reports suggest a severe food shortage meant that little was passed on to inmates and numbers dwindled rapidly from 30,0 00 to 3,000.

Defectors told investigators that as many as 8,000 prisoners may have been transferred to other camps in North Korea's network of gulags, but there are no suggestions that any inmates were released - implying that they may have succumbed to a harsher than usual prison regime.

"North Korea's 2009 currency devaluation (whereby camp authorities were reportedly unable to purchase food in markets to supplement the crops grown in the camps), combined with bad harvests, resulted in the death of large numbers of prisoners after 2010," the report states.

"If even remotely accurate, this is an atrocity requiring much closer investigation."

The Telegraph said a United Nations commission of inquiry held hearings in Seoul and Tokyo late last month to examine reports of human rights abuses in the North, including the abduction of foreign nationals. Pyongyang insists that it respects the human rights of its citizens and refused to allow members of the commission to visit specified sites.

Roberta Cohen, c o-chairman of HRNK, called for the International Red Cross to be granted access to the camps as soon as possible.

"An accounting of the fate and whereabouts of all of North Korea's political prisoners, including those missing and those who have died in detention, should be of highest priority to the UN commission of inquiry and the entire international community," The Telegraph reported she said.

The organization has said it fears the North Korean regime will attempt to erase evidence of atrocities or eliminate surviving prisoners.

Very few North Koreans have managed to escape from prison camps and to freedom outside the country's borders, but those who have tell of terrible suffering.

The Telegraph said inmates - who can be imprisoned for life for anything considered critical of the regime - are forced to survive by eating frogs, rats and picking corn kernels out of animal waste.

Activists say that as many as 40 percent of inmates die of malnutrition, while others succumb to disease, sexual violence, torture, abuse by the guards or are worked to death. Men, women and children are required to work for up to 16 hours a day in dangerous conditions, often in mines or logging camps.

Anyone sent to a North Korean labor camp is unlikely to ever leave again, The Telegraph reported analysts say, while a failed attempt to escape brings execution.

A recent report by South Korea's National Human Rights Commission suggests that the majority of inmates were caught attempting to flee the country in search of food or work, instead of being incarcerated for their political beliefs. Others were imprisoned after being overheard praising South Korea.

Christian woman raped and murdered in Madhya Pradesh

Woman’s body left naked beside her screaming child

A Christian woman has been raped and brutally murdered in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
The 30-year-old was raped and killed by two men on August 29 in Bakoudi village in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

It is uncertain whether the attack took place because of the woman’s faith, but Christian women often report threats in the area.

Moroccan Christian jailed for evangelising

Mohamed el Baldi convicted for ‘shaking the faith’ of Muslims

A Moroccan Christian man has been jailed for two-and-a-half years and fined for evangelising.

Mohamed el Baldi, 34, from the town of Ain Aicha, near Fes, was ordered to pay 5000 dirhams ($600) for “shaking the faith of a Muslim”, at a court hearing on September 3.

Propagating Christianity is prohibited under Article 220 of the Moroccan Penal Code. By law, the maximum punishment for this offence is three-to-six months’ imprisonment and a fine of 200 to 500 dirhams. However, el Baldi has been punished much more strictly.

Campaign launched to free Pakistan mother on death row 'for drinking water'

By Claire Fuller
Special to ASSIST News ServiceMinistries

GLASGOW, UK (ANS) -- A UK-based human rights organisation is calling for the release of a mother of five currently on death row in Pakistan for allegedly blaspheming during an argument over drinking water.

Free Aasia Bibi - (iTunes image)
The Global Minorities Alliance (GMA) has launched a worldwide awareness raising campaign to free Aasia (also known as Asia) Bibi, the first woman in Pakistan's history to receive a death sentence under blasphemy laws.

As well as aiming to gather half a million signatures for a petition against the sentence, GMA has also launched a song to raise awareness of her plight at a well-attended event at Wellington Church in Glasgow on Saturday 7 September, where noted guests included John Mason, MSP for Shettleston.

The song, called "Free Aasia Bibi", is a call for her release as well as a message to the world about Pakistan's discriminatory blasphemy laws.

Aasia Bibi
The song, written by GMA's Vice-Chairperson Shahid Khan, composed and produced by musician Sam Gallagher and performed by the GMA Band, is a call for solidarity to demonstrate how people across the world are standing with her as the third anniversary of her death sentence approaches.

"The song is the expression of the inner most feelings of concerned people across the world who share in the pain and sufferings of Aasia, along with her family who is currently in hiding in Pakistan due to the threats and fears from the extremists," said Mr Shahid Khan.

"We continue to stand with the persecuted that are subject to violations, oppression and tyranny. Music is our way and message to the world to treat other human beings with love, honor and dignity regardless of anything else."

In June 2009, Aasia Bibi, a Christian farm hand and mother of five from the small village of Ittianwali in Sheikhupura District of Punjab, Pakistan, had a heated argument with her fellow labourers over a seemingly trivial matter of drinking water from the same glass as them. Bibi was then accused of using derogatory words about the prophet Mohammed and was subsequently arrested.

According to some reports she had a noose put around her neck and was dragged through the streets by the village men before taken into police custody where a First Investigation Report (FIR) was lodged which cited Section 295-C of Pakistan's blasphemy laws for her arrest:

"Whoever by words, either spoken or written or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine."

Following pressure from influential Muslims in the area, she was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death in November 2010.

Glasgow students standing in solidarity
with Aasia Bibi
Later Bibi applied for clemency under Article 45 of the Constitution of Pakistan, which allows the President of Pakistan to pardon any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or authority. Bibi's case is currently pending an appeal at Lahore High Court, and despite of the international outcry against the misuse of Pakistan's blasphemy laws and countless pleas from human rights organizations, religious leaders and politicians across the world, she is still kept in solitary confinement in Multan women's prison.

She was moved there from Shiekhupura jail amid security issues following prison breaks by militants in North West Pakistan; however, there are still fears for her safety as other blasphemy convicts have died by having their food poisoned during their incarceration.

"We are extremely concerned about the safety of Aasia Bibi in light of the prison breaks in Pakistan and the threats from militants who want to take away her life," said Mr Manassi Bernard, GMA's Chief Executive.

"She is facing threats not only from the outside but also from within prison, which is making us more concerned about her safety," he added. 

GMA has recently launched an online petition and is aiming to gather 500,000 signatures demanding the release of Bibi. The petition will later be presented to Pakistan Consulate in Glasgow, both to further Aasia's cause and to urge the Pakistan Government to stop the widespread misuse of Pakistan blasphemy laws.
The petition is available at

GMA has vowed to work against persecution, such as the kind Aasia Bibi is currently facing, by working through national and international ambassadors in countries of concern such as Pakistan, Egypt, Nigeria, Iran and Indonesia where members of minorities are made prisoners of persecution by harassment, imprisonment or killing.

GMA is also advocating for Rohingya Muslims and Iranian Baha'is, and is currently planning parliamentary sessions, both in Holyrood and Westminster. GMA has also recently visited Berlin to speak to German parliamentarians about human rights violations the world over, and also holds awareness-raising sessions in the UK to advocate for persecuted communities.

"Our message to the world is of hope and love. There is enough pain, death and suffering in our world and we continue to spread our message of love and light to the far corners of the world through the work of the Global Minorities Alliance, be that through our peace education project or becoming a voice for the persecuted communities around the world," said Mr Shahid Khan.

You can sign and share the petition by clicking going to

About Global Minorities Alliance

Formed in 2012, the Global Minorities Alliance is a Glasgow-based human rights organisation, committed to raising the voice of minority communities around the world.

As stated by the Alliance's Vice-Chairperson, Shahid Khan, on the Global Minorities Alliance "The absence of fairness, transparency, meritocracy and the rule of law in general in some countries leave minorities more vulnerable to abuse as the mighty and influential in these lawless lands take it as their birthright to mistreat minorities as they choose. In some parts of the world the integration of minorities into mainstream society is restricted by design due to the subjugation forced upon them.

"We call for an end to the systematic discrimination of minorities in any shape or form and urge the governments of such countries to push through reforms aimed at providing equal rights to the poor and the disadvantaged sections of their societies.

"No-one can choose where they are born or who they are born to. To be born into a minority community should not mean that you have to live a life where you suffer at the hands of your own countrymen.

"We say enough is enough and call upon the international community and like-minded organizations and individuals across the world to support us in our commitment to help the minority communities across the world."

Religious Repression Carries on Unabated in Turkmenistan

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

TURKMENISTAN (ANS) -- Turkmenistan has been one of the most repressive countries in the world for over two decades, as key international actors continue to sideline the issue of religious and other freedoms due to their thirst for cheap energy. This Muslim-majority Central Asian nation possesses the world's fourth largest reserves of natural gas resources.

Turkmenistan military (Photo:
According to a Research and Analysis Report issued by World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission, like some other countries in this region, Turkmenistan is "reminiscent of the old Soviet Union" as it commits serious human rights violations, "particularly through enacting and enforcing laws against freedom of religion or belief," Katrina Lantos Swett and M. Zuhdi Jasser, Vice Chairs of the U.S. 

Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), wrote in an op-ed article in The Moscow Times recently.

On Aug. 29, Forum 18 reported that police raided a children's summer camp run by a Baptist church on its own premises in the south-eastern town of Mary. 

Police and other officials, including a cameraman, questioned the children, took food samples, ordered the camp closed and handed down two fines, it said.
Raids, detentions, fines, torture and threats are some words that often appear in stories of persecution that come out of Turkmenistan.

President of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov (1940 - 2006)
"While religious repression cuts across Central Asia, Turkmenistan stands out due to its unabated disrespect for civil and political freedoms since the rule of dictatorial President Saparmurat Niyazov," says the report.

"Niyazov, who was known for imposing his personal eccentricities upon the country, took office in January 1990 and ruled the country with an iron fist until his sudden death in December 2006.

"Niyazov's successor, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, the incumbent president, revoked some of the policies of his predecessor and sought to establish relations with the West. 

However, he, too, retained unchallenged power. His family members and associates continue to have unlimited power and control over all aspects of public life. In the sham presidential election in February 2012, Berdymukhamedov claimed he received 97 percent of the vote."

The WEA report goes on to say that a legacy of Niyazov, Turkmenistan believes in an evolutionary approach to reforms - the claim that political and economic stability alone can ensure smooth transition. And in the name of stability, even basic rights of citizens are violated and justified, while democracy and individual freedoms are branded as Western ideals fit only for the developed world.

As a result of Turkmenistan's refusal to introduce genuine reforms and continued policy of promoting an ethnically homogeneous Turkmen-speaking Turkmen national culture, the country has gone from extremely bad to worse over the years.

The Catholic Church in Turkmenistan still lives underground (Photo:
"With the demise of the Soviet Union hastened by democratic opposition across the region a generation ago, we hoped that also meant the end of religious repression in that region of the world," the USCIRF officials said in the op-ed. "But in too many post-Soviet states today, the ghost of Soviet control over peaceful religious life is alive and well."

Turkmenistan remains one of the world's most repressive countries, says the 2013 report by Human Rights Watch (HRW). "The country is virtually closed to independent scrutiny," it notes. "Media and religious freedoms are subject to draconian restrictions, and human rights defenders and other activists face the constant threat of government reprisal. The authorities continue to use imprisonment as a tool for political retaliation and to restrict peoples' right to travel freely."

The WEA says that in its 2013 World Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders has ranked Turkmenistan as having the 3rd worst press freedom conditions in the world, behind only North Korea and Eritrea.

"The state controls all media in Turkmenistan, and foreign media often do not have access to the country. The Internet is heavily controlled, and the country's only Internet service provider is state-operated," it continues.

"The ruling Democratic Party of Turkmenistan is the only party that can effectively operate in the country. 

Political gatherings are deemed illegal if they are held without government approval. Dissent is not tolerated, and severely punished.

"The justice system is not independent either, and trials are closed in political cases.

Congregation on an Orthodox church
"While the Constitution provides for freedom of religion, in practice, no religious group, apart from Sunni Muslims and Russian Orthodox Church, enjoy religious freedom, according to Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

"More than 90 percent of the population of Turkmenistan is Muslim, mostly Sunni. Christians are estimated to be about 9 percent, with Russian Orthodox Church as the largest Christian denomination."

The WEA states that according to the 1991 Law of Turkmenistan on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations, all religious groups are required to register with the Ministry of Justice. An amendment to the law, introduced in October 1995, required that the request for registration be signed by not less than 500 Turkmen citizens of at least 18 years of age - a provision that apparently targeted small religious groups, including Protestant and evangelical groups. After the amendment, all registered groups, except the Sunni Muslims and Russian Orthodox, lost their registration.

While registration is not possible for many groups, unregistered religious activity is an offence under Article 205 of the Code of Administrative Offences. It contains fines that are between five and 10 times the minimum monthly wage for refusing to register a religious community or participating in an unregistered religious community. Fines double in the case of a repeat offender.

A Turkemenistan horseman
Publishing religious material is virtually impossible in the country, as authorities routinely confiscate religious literature. It is, therefore, extremely difficult for many believers to acquire even a copy of the Bible.

The government has co-opted sections of the Russian Orthodox Church, which has helped the authorities in their crackdown on smaller, unregistered Protestant and evangelical groups in the past, according to Forum 18.

However, despite being a highly repressive republic, Turkmenistan continues to expand relations with foreign governments and international organizations without having to correct its human rights record, HRW noted in its report.

The report concludes by saying that the European Union's Partnership Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with Turkmenistan was frozen in 1998 over human rights concerns. But the EU continues to press forward with the agreement without requiring any human rights reforms in exchange. While the European Parliament has held up approval of the agreement, some believe it will eventually be ratified because the EU is seeking to diversify its energy supply.

"In 2008, the European Parliament framed human rights benchmarks as a precondition for the EU's relations with Turkmenistan. Therefore, the EU must not let its relations with Turkmenistan grow more than the latter's respect for human rights and genuine improvement in the civil and political atmosphere in that country. Any discrepancy in this equation can rightly be seen as holding of double standards," it said.

Turkmenistan is located on the Asia continent (Central Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Kazakhstan. According to the latest census, the population of Turkmenistan is 4,940,916 inhabitants. These are people, who lived in cities and who have citizenship of Turkmenistan. The area of Turkmenistan is 488,100 square kilometers.

Note: World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Religious Liberty Commission (RLC) sponsors this WEA-RLC Research & Analysis Report to help individuals and groups pray for and act on religious liberty issues around the world.

WEA has a consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council. This report was researched and written by Fernando Perez, and moderated by the WEA-RLC Executive Director, Godfrey Yogarajah. For more information, please go to: 

Armed Muslims in Nigeria Kill Christians in their Homes

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

ADU, NIGERIA (ANS) -- Gabriel Anthony, 25, was praying at 5 a.m. on Sept. 1 in this northern Nigerian village when he heard gunshots.

Anthony Nkom, 60, killed in attack in Adu, Nigeria. (Morning Star News photo)
"Within minutes, bullets were piercing into our rooms," Anthony told Morning Star News. "I escaped from my room by jumping through the window."

According to a story by Morning Star News, a half hour later, seven of his relatives in Adu village, Kaduna state, were dead, including his father, 60-year-old Anthony Nkom; his mother, 45-year-old Asabe Anthony; his brother, 35-year-old James Anthony; and another brother, 37-year-old Andrew Anthony. Also killed were three of his nephews - 5-year-old Meshack Aaron, 12-year-old Bulus James Anthony, and 15-year-old Happiness Anthony.

The bodies of Happiness and Meshack were buried in one grave, and those of the other five in another.
Andrew Anthony Nkom, 37, killed in attack in Adu, Nigeria. (Morning Star News photo)

Besides these seven people, two other Christians in the village were killed and three were wounded in the attack by more than a dozen ethnic Fulani Muslims, Anthony said. All of those killed were members of the St. Andrew's Catholic Church in Adu.

As Anthony's relatives were being shot, in another part of Adu village another set of Muslim Fulani gunmen attacked the house of Joseph Abwoi, 50, killing him and his wife, Asabat Abwoi, 40. They were buried in a single grave.

The three people wounded in the attack on Anthony's home were grandchildren of the murdered Nkom - Godiya Andrew, 9; Shenyan Andrew, 3; and Kawot, 5, Morning Star News reported he said.

While Godiya was being treated for gunshot wounds at the Jos University Teaching Hospital, Kawot was taken to Kafanchan General Hospital and Shenyan was receiving treatment at the Rural Hospital Kaura in Kaduna state, Anthony said.

"By the time the Fulani gunmen had moved to other houses in the village, the sounds of gunshots had forced the over 500 inhabitan ts of the village to flee into the bushes, thus escaping from being killed," he said.
Survivors fled to the town of Manchok in Kaura LGA of Kaduna state, he said.

Armed Fulani herdsmen had attacked villages in the same area on the border of two states - Attakar in the Kaura Local Government Area (LGA) of Kaduna state, and Riyom LGA in Plateau state - in a four-day Easter assault March 28-31 that killed at least 26 Christians.

The Easter violence had prompted talks between Fulani leaders and area Christians of other tribes to try to determine why the Muslims had attacked and how to bring an end to the aggression.

Rev. Yakubu Gandu Nkut, pastor of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), Zankan, said he was thus baffled about possible reasons for Sunday's attack.

"I don't understand the reasons behind these attacks on our people by these Fulani herdsmen," he said. "Several meetings have been held with their leaders in order to resolve whatever are the differences. However, in spite of promises by these F ulani leaders that these attacks will not occur again, we have continued to witness these beastly attacks."

The violence is undermining the work of various area churches, Morning Star News reported he said.

"As you are here, you can see that my family is not here in this village," Nkut said. "The reason is because sinceSunday, these Muslim Fulani herdsmen have been attacking Christian villages around here. On Monday up to yesterday (Sept. 4), some of the Muslim gunmen were here to attack this community, but they were repelled by the people. And because of this, almost everybody has left the village."

Nkut said there has never been a time when area Christians attacked the Fulani. Christians believe Islamic extremist groups have increasingly incited Fulani Muslims to attack Christians in Kaduna and Plateau states as well as in Bauchi, Nasarawa and Benue.

They fear that Fulani herdsmen, with backing from Islamic extremist groups, want to take over the predominantly Christian areas in order to acquire land for grazing, stockpile arms and expand Islamic territory.

Nkut, chairman of the Zankan chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, appealed to the government to take urgent action to stop the attacks.


Islamic extremists from outside of Nigeria paid to join forces with Fulani Muslims the prior Friday, Aug. 30, attacked another village in Plateau state that left a Christian in a coma, area Christians said.

The mercenaries, whose appearance and speech suggested they were from outside the country, joined with Fulani Muslims to attack church property in Dorowa Babuje, also known as Ratatis, they said.
The assailants beat John Fidelis, 40, a Christian merchant, until he was unconscious.

Rev. Luka Jang Tsok told Morning Star News he narrowly escaped death when the armed Fulani Muslims and mercenaries set fire to his Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) building in the village, in the Barkin Ladi LGA. The village is about 140 kilometers (86 miles) from Adu i n neighboring Kaduna state.

"I had to sneak out of the church compound by jumping over the fence to save my life," Tsok said.

He added, "During the attack, the Muslim men and Fulanis, who were armed, set fire on the church, but the efforts of some of my church members, who had to ensure that all the entry gates to the compound were well locked, saved the church building from being burnt."

In the two-hour attack that began about 2 p.m., 17 shops and three houses belonging to Christians were looted and damaged, he said.

"There is a need for a sustained security surveillance of this area, because with the way things are going, we fear that there is a great danger ahead," Tsok said.

Rufai Ozokwo, a 40-year-old Christian who owns a shop in Dorowa Babuje, told Morning Star News by phone that his shop was looted.

"I was in the shop when suddenly we started hearing gunshots, and quickly I had to lock the shop and run away," he said. "But when everything settled, I came back to find a hole that was dug t hrough the wall of my shop, and when I checked, my television, generator, some provisions and money were taken away."

Ozokwo said a Christian from the Yoruba ethnic group who has a store in the village also had his shop looted.
"We, the Christians in this village, were all attacked," Ozokwo said. "Another Christian who is an Igbo man with a shop here was also attacked and his shop looted."

In previous attacks, Morning Star News reported, Muslim extremist mercenaries were suspected to have come from Chad, Niger and Cameroon. There has been no government statement about the affiliation of these mercenaries to terrorist groups, but a few days before the Aug. 30 attack, the governor of Plateau state referred to outside extremists wreaking havoc in Nigeria.

"Had Nigerians listened to the cries and complaints of Plateau state over the involvement of foreigners in the crises in the state and addressed the situation, the insurgence in the north and other parts of the country would have been nipped in the bud," Gov. Jonah David Jang reportedly told Martins Brian, Charge D' Affairs of the American Embassy in Nigeria, who visited the governor in his Jos office.

"Our cries on many occasions as regards the involvement of foreign mercenaries in the crises in the state were dismissed as sentiment until other states in the north started having similar experience."

Morning Star News said Jang urged the U.S. government to help contain the crisis.

"When we started reporting about foreigners getting involved in the crises here, no one believed us," he said. "I have been vindicated; what we were trying to stop here escalated and developed into (Islamic extremist terrorist group) Boko Haram, which some parts of the north are suffering today."

Brian reportedly responded that the United States was interested in peace in Nigeria and was ready to assist the country to achieve peace.

For more information visit Morning Star News at