Local Copts live in ‘horror, humiliation’ after radical Morsi supporters drive police out of area, strip ancient chapel bare
DALGA, Egypt (AP) — The Coptic Orthodox priest would only talk to his visitor after hiding from the watchful eyes of the bearded Muslim outside, who sported a pistol bulging from under his robe.
So Father Yoannis moved behind a wall in the charred skeleton of an ancient monastery to describe how it was torched by Islamists and then looted when they took over this southern Egyptian town following the ouster of the country’s president.
“Even the remains of ancient and revered saints were disturbed and thrown around,” he said.
Man tells police within 2 weeks everyone will know his name
Police in Fort Collins, Colo., are warning local churches to report any suspicious behavior after a self-proclaimed “Islamist jihadist” threatened Mormons and Catholics “would be destroyed” in the next two weeks.
According to the Coloradoan, police released a memo describing an unnamed white man in his early 30s who was stopped for attempting to shoot a video while driving. Wearing a T-shirt wrapped around his head and a bandana and sunglasses over his face, the man reportedly claimed he was the Archangel Michael and told police everyone would know who he was in the next two weeks, but didn’t elaborate or make threats specific enough to warrant arrest.
Dramatic aerial footage shows the raging wildfires that have sparked the evacuation of thousands of homes in Colorado.
At least four major wildfires have broken out along the front of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, burning up to 60 houses and chasing people from thousands more homes.
Thick smoke plumes visible for miles billowed from fires near Colorado Springs, in southern Colorado, and in Rocky Mountain National Park to the north.
A wildfire in a residential area northeast of Colorado Springs forced mandatory evacuations of 2,530 homes, including some worth more than $1 million.
The 2,000-year-old Jobar Synagogue in the Syrian capital of Damascus — the country’s holiest Jewish site — was looted and burned to the ground.
The Syrian army loyal to President Bashar Assad and rebel forces are blaming each other for the destruction of the historic synagogue, according to reports on Sunday.
The synagogue is said to be built on the site where the prophet Elijah concealed himself from persecution and anointed his successor, Elisha, as a prophet. It had been damaged earlier this month by mortars reportedly fired by Syrian government forces.
The rebels said the Syrian government looted the synagogue before burning it to the ground, Israel Radio reported Sunday.
The government said the rebels burned the synagogue and that so-called Zionist agents stole its historic religious items in an operation that had been planned for several weeks, the Arabic Al-Manar Television reported, citing the Arabic Syria Truth website.
The news came as Jews around the world marked the final days of Passover, the festival of freedom.
One of the oldest synagogues in the world, the shul was partially destroyed by Syrian government shelling four weeks ago, according to a video posted to YouTube.
The video, uploaded by the Syrian opposition’s military council, appeared to show that portions of the building and roof were blown off, with debris seen on the ground in front of the synagogue.
An inscription in English at the synagogue reads, “Shrine and synagogue of prophet Eliahou Hanabi since 720 B.C.,” although the actual date of founding is disputed. One of the earliest mentions of the synagogue is in the Talmud, which states that Rabbi Rafram bar Pappa prayed there.
The synagogue served a large Jewish community in the medieval period, but by the mid-1800s only one Jewish family lived in the area. Still, Jews came from across the city to pray there, and there was a tradition of leaving the sick in the building in the belief that Elijah’s spirit might heal them.
Syria’s Jewish community faced rampant discrimination after the establishment of Israel. With Jewish property rights severely limited, the synagogue was taken over and converted to a school for Palestinian refugees.
Only some 20 Jews are believed to live in Syria today, all of them in the capital.
In early 2011, Assad announced plans to rebuild about a dozen synagogue across Syria, including in Damascus — a move that was regarded in part as an effort to gain some support from American Jewry.
The nearly two-year-old civil war in Syria has caused damage to six World Heritage sites, according to Al Arabiya. UNESCO called for the protection of the country’s cultural heritage sites last March, expressing “grave concern” at the time.
The UN estimates that 70,000 people have died in the fighting between Assad regime forces and Syrian rebels.
Explosion destroys much of underground installation
An explosion deep within Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility has destroyed much of the installation and trapped about 240 personnel deep underground, according to a former intelligence officer of the Islamic regime.
The previously secret nuclear site has become a center for Iran’s nuclear activity because of the 2,700 centrifuges enriching uranium to the 20-percent level. A further enrichment to weapons grade would take only weeks, experts say.
The level of enrichment has been a major concern to Israeli officials, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly has warned about the 20-percent enriched stockpile.
The explosion occurred Monday, the day before Israeli elections weakened Netanyahu’s political control.
Iran, to avoid alarm, had converted part of the stockpile to fuel plates for use in the Tehran Research Reactor. However, days after the recent failed talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iranian officials announced the enrichment process will not stop even “for a moment.”
The regime’s uranium enrichment process takes place at two known sites: the Natanz facility with more than 10,000 centrifuges and Fordow with more than 2,700. The regime currently has enough low-grade (3.5 percent) uranium stockpiled for six nuclear bombs if further enriched.
However, more time is needed for conversion of the low-grade uranium than what would be needed for a stockpile at 20 percent. It takes 225 kilograms of enriched uranium at the 20-percent level to further enrich to the 90-percent level for one nuclear bomb.
According to a source in the security forces protecting Fordow, an explosion on Monday at 11:30 a.m. Tehran time rocked the site, which is buried deep under a mountain and immune not only to airstrikes but to most bunker-buster bombs. The report of the blast came via Hamidreza Zakeri, formerly with the Islamic regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and National Security,
The blast shook facilities within a radius of three miles. Security forces have enforced a no-traffic radius of 15 miles, and the Tehran-Qom highway was shut down for several hours after the blast, the source said. As of Wednesday afternoon, rescue workers had failed to reach the trapped personnel.
The site, about 300 feet under a mountain, had two elevators which now are out of commission. One elevator descended about 240 feet and was used to reach centrifuge chambers. The other went to the bottom to carry heavy equipment and transfer yellow cake. One emergency staircase reaches the bottom of the site and another one was not complete. The source said the emergency exit southwest of the site is unreachable.
The regime believes the blast was sabotage and the explosives could have reached the area disguised as equipment or in the yellow cake stock transferred to the site, the source said. The explosion occurred at the third centrifuge chambers, with the high-grade enriched uranium reserves below them.
The information was passed on to U.S. officials but has not been verified or denied by the regime or other sources within the regime.
Though the news of the explosion has not been independently verified, other sources previously have provided WND with information on plans for covert operations against Iran’s nuclear facilities as an option before going to war. The hope is to avoid a larger-scale conflict. Israel, the U.S. and other allies already have concluded the Islamic regime has crossed its red line in its quest for nuclear weapons, other sources have said.
However, this information was not revealed for security reasons until several days ago when sources said the regime’s intelligence agency, through an alleged spy in the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, had learned of the decision to conduct sabotage on Iran’s nuclear sites on a much larger scale than before.
As reported, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called an urgent meeting Tuesday with the intelligence minister, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization and other officials to discuss the threat, and now it’s clear the meeting included the sabotage at Fordow.
Several Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated in recent years. Last year, saboteurs struck the power supply to the Fordow facility, temporarily disrupting production. And a computer worm called Stuxnet, believed to have originated in the U.S., set Iran’s plans for nuclear weapons back substantially.
The 5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) hope to resume talks with Iran over its illicit nuclear program. The talks ended last year after regime officials refused to negotiate.