Christianity to ‘Disappear’ From Middle East

Christianity to ‘Disappear’ From Middle East

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A new report highlights one of 2012’s most important underreported stories: Islam’s attack on Christianity.

Islam is on the brink of destroying Christianity in the Middle East, according to a study published by UK-based think tank Civitas on December 23. Rupert Shortt writes that “there is now a serious risk that Christianity will disappear from its biblical heartlands.”

Christians are targeted more than any other body of believers.
Christianophobia By Rupert Shortt
“It is generally accepted that many faith-based groups face discrimination or persecution to some degree,” he said. “A far less widely grasped fact is that Christians are targeted more than any other body of believers.”

Pope Benedict xvi also drew attention to this in his Christmas Eve address. Benedict called on Catholics to pray that “Christians in those lands where our faith was born may be able to continue living there.”

Shortt’s study charts the treatment of Christians in several nations across the Middle East and Asia. While Christian persecution is a problem in all the countries he examined, he concluded that “the lion’s share of their problems arise in Muslim-majority societies.”

He warns that “the early 21st century has seen a steady rise in the strife endured by Christians.” Half to two thirds of all Christians in the Middle East have been killed or forced to leave, he writes. One of the most dramatic drops in number comes from Iraq. In 1990 there were 1.2 to 1.4 million Christians. By the start of the second Gulf war, that number had plummeted to 500,000 fewer. Now there are under 200,000.

But the crisis has not gained the attention it should have because “[p]arts of the media have been influenced by the logical error that equates criticism of Muslims with racism, and therefore as wrong by definition,” he writes.

Shortt said he isn’t necessarily endorsing “talk about a supposed clash of civilizations.” But he says that many Muslims see it that way. He writes that “many Egyptian Muslims think that Copts are implicated in what they see as a Christian assault on the Muslim world.”

Shortt is also the author of the book Christianophobia: A Faith Under Attack, published last month.

Little of Shortt’s report is new information, but it is a timely reminder of one of the great underreported stories of the year: Christian persecution is a regular occurrence. Here’s a smattering of news reports on the subject from the past few days alone.

Only 7 percent of Christians turned out to vote in Eygpt’s constitutional referendum in some areas due to intimidation from Muslims, church officials in Egypt reported. In the city of Assiut, men on horseback armed with swords led 50,000 Islamists through Christian districts. Egypt will be “Islamic, Islamic, despite the Christians,” they chanted. Some in Egypt told the Associated Press that Christians were pelted with stones as they tried to reach polling stations.

In Syria, Christians fear the Islamists who are taking the lead in the fight against President Bashar Assad. “As the fight to overthrow Assad drags on, the rebels’ ranks are becoming dominated by Islamists, raising concerns that the country’s potential new rulers will marginalize them or establish an Islamic state,” the Associated Press wrote on Sunday.

“Al Qaeda-inspired groups have become the most organized fighting units, increasingly leading battles for parts of Aleppo or assaults on military installations outside the city,” it warns.

Shiite Ayatollah Ahmad Al Baghdadi Al Hassani proclaimed a fatwa against Christians on Egyptian television on December 13, Jewish News One and AsiaNews report. Al Baghdadi said Christians must choose “Islam or death.”

“Their women and girls may legitimately be regarded wives of Muslims,” he reportedly said. Al Baghdadi is an Iraqi ayatollah who is currently in Syria supporting the opposition.

Meanwhile, in Nigeria, Christians fear a repeat of last year’s Christmas Day bombing when Islamist terrorists from Boko Haram drove a car full of explosives into a church, killing 44. On Christmas Eve the year before, over 40 were killed in Islamist attacks.

“This Christmas, the police and military are expecting more trouble in the north,” reports Reuters.

“The fear for many is that more Christmas Day attacks could spark the sort of tit-for-tat sectarian violence between the mostly Muslim north and largely Christian south, which has claimed thousands of lives in the past decade,” it writes.

No wonder the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem (part of the Roman Catholic Church) Fouad Twal used his Christmas message to highlight the plight of Christians. He complained that despite “many inter-religious initiatives,” there was still “an increase in a certain religious radicalism.”

“I reiterate my dismay at the desecration of churches, convents, synagogues and cemeteries that offends everyone,” he said. “We must take out the evil at its root by educating our youth in all schools.”

Twal also dedicated a large portion of his speech to “ecumenism,” which to the Catholic Church means gathering all other Christian groups under Rome.

The fact that these stories didn’t feature prominently in the news isn’t the only reason Shortt gave for the lack of awareness about Christian persecution. He wrote that “young Christians in Europe and America do not become ‘radicalized,’ and persecuted Christians tend not to respond with terrorist violence.”

But this patience will not last forever. This world’s Christians aren’t immune to anger and retaliation. In fact, in Nigerian Christians have retaliated to some of the Islamist attacks.

Historically, Christianity has struck back at Islam when provoked. Anciently the Catholic Church led the Crusades, in part based on reports of Islamic brutality against Christians. These Crusades were also a chance for the church’s “ecumenism.” In them, the pope demonstrated that he spoke for and defended most Christians.

A clash of civilizations is brewing. Islamists are fighting it already, persecuting Christians as if they are one common enemy united with the West. As Europe, rather than America, becomes more involved in the Middle East, the Europeans will become closely associated with the Christians.

Geopolitics comes first. Europe is backing the rebels in Syria, while the Christians tend to favor the current regime. But the persecution will force Middle East Christians to seek a strong champion in Catholic Europe.

The persecution will aid the Catholic Church in “radicalizing” Europe. At the moment, Christianity is taking Islam’s attacks lying down. That will soon end. Both history and Bible prophecy tell us the Catholic Church will play a key role in driving Europe to confront radical Islam.

Already Europe is taking the lead in the Middle East. Britain and France persuaded a reluctant America to get involved in Libya. Europe is leading in Syria. Europe wants to send troops into Mali, while America wants to back off and wait.

How different that is to the situation 10 years ago, where America led Europe into Afghanistan and Iraq.

Europe is now very concerned at the threat posed by radical Islam. And while America spends its strength in vain—funneling weapons to Egypt and Saudi Arabia in exchange for very little—Europe, and especially Germany, is far more strategic about its involvement. Its targeted weapons sales and military presence is part of a calculated opposition to radical Islam.

This shift will soon be obvious in Europe’s religion. No longer will Europe tolerate vast Islamic migration. Already right-wing parties have pushed governments to push back against Islam.

The attack against Christians will add an emotional fervor to what is now a calculated opposition to radical Islam.

As the Catholic Church rises in Europe, watch for these attacks to receive more publicity. They are part of the clash between the king of the north and the king of the south.

The worst inter-religious violence the world has ever seen is coming. Catholicism’s response to these attacks may be taking time to build, but when it comes, it will be brutal.

The good news, however, is that this will be the last religious fighting the world will ever see. For more information on what is coming, and the hope beyond, read our free booklet The King of the South.

WorldWatch

From the February 2013 Trumpet Print Edition

Europe  

Europe’s reluctant new colony

Cyprus “will effectively lose its sovereignty,” Spiegel Online said after a somber announcement from Cypriot President Demetris Christofias on December 4. Christofias said the Mediterranean island nation has no choice but to submit to the European Union and request a bailout.

“I need to make it clear that it was not our choice to resort to the European Stability Mechanism,” President Christofias told the nation in a televised address. But Cyprus’s “dire situation” forced him to turn to Europe with “heartfelt pain,” he said. Christofias told fellow Cypriots that Europe’s terms will cause pain for them too, and he exhorted them to face it with the same stoicism “as we did after 1974, when our country was almost completely destroyed by the Turkish invasion and occupation.”

But this time, it’s the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund that will be in control of the island. The infamous troika plans to dictate Cyprus’s tax rates, working hours for civil servants and even how officials travel internationally (economy class from now on).

Christofias’s speech indicated that his government is ready to sign the troika’s memorandum of understanding. But the EU is moving at its usual glacial pace and has yet to make up its mind on the terms to which Cyprus will sign.

Economists had been expecting Cyprus to ask for a bailout. Unlike the Greeks, however, the Cypriots had another place to look for aid: Russia. With Europe and Russia both competing for influence, it appeared Cyprus could negotiate a better deal. It did—but just barely.

Unlike Greece, Cyprus will not be forced to sell off government assets, unless things get worse. It will also probably retain control of oil and gas reserves, with a portion of the revenues going to pay off its debt. Yet because it is so tiny, it has been forced to yield sovereign power to Brussels. The estimated €17.5 billion it needs is roughly equal to its annual economic output.

Yet to Europe, that sum is little more than pocket change, especially compared with what Spain and Italy might require. It’s a good investment, buying off a nation’s sovereignty for less than a sixth of Daimler AG’s annual sales.

The Cypriots know that their nation is doomed to follow Greece into the status of European colony, beholden to Berlin to keep the funds coming.

With radical Islam on the march, European strategists are more interested in Cyprus than ever. Under Britain, the island was a strategic base for projecting power into Egypt and the Levant. But Cyprus was used as a military asset long before the British Empire. In the 1300s, King Peter i of Cyprus used his fleets to lead European armies to victory in Egypt and Lebanon.

As radical Islam is now rising in these same areas, Europe is once again eyeing Cyprus as a way to leverage influence in the region. The island is a key listening post with surveillance technology that has allowed Britain to monitor communications traffic for decades.

Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has often pointed out the geographic importance of Cyprus. “More than one crusade has been launched from Cyprus,” he wrote in January 2011. “Will we see the last crusade launched from there as well? Is history about to repeat itself?”

“Cyprus is now a member of the EU,” he continued. “Are European leaders already thinking about Cyprus as a launching pad from which to protect their Jerusalem interests? You can be certain that they are thinking about how to protect the holy places in and around Jerusalem. The Europeans have thought like this for almost 2,000 years!”

It is now common knowledge that EU elites created the euro knowing it would cause a crisis. This crisis, they hoped, would force Europe to integrate further—something that had, until quite recently, been unacceptable to Europe’s public.

Now, however, we see their plan coming to fruition. EU elites are talking about creating a European federation, and even a “United States of Europe.” Greece has become a German protectorate, and now so has Cyprus—just as radical Islam takes over Egypt a mere 300 miles away.

Mr. Flurry has also shown how Iran’s strategy revolves around controlling the Red Sea and pushing at Europe in the Mediterranean. Where better to push back from than Cyprus? It is the best place from which to project power around the eastern Mediterranean.

Watch for the European Union to take full advantage of its newly acquired real estate.

Spain

Portugal

Italy

Greece

Coordinated unrest spreads

Hundreds of thousands of workers took to the streets on November 14 as part of a “European day of action and solidarity” organized by the European Trade Union Congress. The etuc claimed the action was the first time that four European countries have held coordinated strikes. Some sectors in Spain saw more than 85 percent of employees walk off the job, according to unions. In Madrid, 80 people were arrested after protests turned violent. In Lisbon, protesters threw rocks at police outside of Portugal’s parliament building. In Italy 17 police officers were wounded. Twenty activists in Turin beat an officer with baseball bats. The economic crisis is putting huge social pressures on southern Europe.

Hungary

MP: Jews are ‘potential danger’

Hungary should create a list of Jewish politicians who are a “threat to national security,” and all Jews in Hungary should be registered, Marton Gyongyosi said on November 26. Gyongyosi is the deputy parliamentary floor leader for the far-right Jobbik party, which received nearly 20 percent of the vote in 2010. He called for “Jews, particularly those in parliament and the government,” to “be evaluated for the potential danger they pose to Hungary.” The government condemned the statements; even Gyongyosi backed away from them the next day. Yet the more anti-Semitism emerges in Europe, the less shocking it becomes. Put this trend in context of Gerald Flurry’s feature article (page 4) to understand its significance.

Poland

We need a new superpower: the EU military

Five EU nations called for a new European military structure on November 15. Foreign and defense ministers from France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain published the joint communiqué after a meeting in Paris, to “confirm our readiness to foster an ambitious European policy in the field of security and defense.” Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski was more blunt. “If the EU wants to become a superpower, and Poland supports this, then we must have the capability to exert influence in our neighborhood. … Sometimes we must use force to back our diplomacy,” he said, according to the EU Observer. The Polish foreign minister is admitting outright what the Trumpet has warned for years: EU leaders want to create a superstate with a military to match.

Germany

Saudi Arabia, Algeria getting made-in-Germany hardware

Saudi Arabia has officially requested Germany’s permission to buy several hundred Boxer armored vehicles, Der Spiegel reported on December 2. It described the Boxer as one of the most modern battle vehicles in the world, able to support remote-controlled weapons or a surgical suite or to serve as an armored personnel carrier.

Spiegel also said that a Rheinmetall subsidiary plans to build 1,200 Fuch armored personnel carriers in Algeria over the next 10 years. These deals are forging strong links between Germany and Saudi Arabia, which are also planning a deal for 270 German Leopard A7 tanks—one of the most advanced tanks in the world.

Meanwhile, Germany’s arms trade with Algeria has also exploded. In 2010, Germany sold under €20 million in military equipment to Algeria. In 2011 and 2012, it sold €400 million worth and underwrote a €2.13 billion sale of two warships. Germany is using its arms industry strategically to build up the enemies of Iran and to create an alliance for itself in the Middle East.

Germany

Far right going further right

The number of east Germans with far-right or xenophobic views has increased dramatically over the past two years, according to a report published by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation on November 12. The study found that 20 percent of those in the west are considered xenophobic, along with nearly 40 percent in the east. Just over 56 percent of those polled in east and west completely or mostly agreed with the statement “Islam is an archaic religion, unable to adapt to the present.” The study also examined both “traditional” anti-Semitism and “secondary” anti-Semitism. Nearly 32 percent of respondents agreed with “secondary” anti-Semitic statements like, “Jewish people use the memory of the Holocaust to their own advantage.” Watch for east Germany and the rest of the nation to adopt an increasingly strident devotion to Deutschland—Deutschland above all.

Middle East

Syria 

Expect flight delays

Intense clashes between Syrian rebels and Bashar Assad loyalists near Damascus International forced the airport to close for a couple days in November, leaving Assad’s regime weaker than ever. The closure affected flights by Emirates and EgyptAir, two of the few airlines still operating in Syria after almost two years of civil war. Disruption at Syria’s main airport chokes the flow of supplies, weapons and money to Assad’s government and gives its global image a black eye. Stratfor called jeopardizing the airport “a symbolic success for the rebels” (Nov. 30, 2012). Soon after the airport shut down, the Internet went down in Syria for two days, apparently blacked out by Assad’s forces. Assad’s power is weakening, and it appears to be only a matter of time before Syria gets a regime change.

United Nations elevates Palestinians’ status

An overwhelming majority of the United Nations General Assembly upgraded the status of the Palestinian Authority from “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state” on November 29. The UN scheduled the vote on the 65th anniversary of when it recognized the State of Israel. The majority included France, Italy, Russia, China and New Zealand. The United Kingdom, Germany and Australia abstained. The United States, Canada, the Czech Republic and some Pacific Island nations stood with Israel. The final vote was 138-9. While the resolution does not grant statehood or independence to the Palestinians, it is a significant diplomatic score. The group can now take part in UN debates and even potentially prosecute Israel for war crimes in the International Criminal Court or seek to resolve territorial disputes through the International Court of Justice.

One day after the UN elevated the Palestinians’ status, Israel retaliated by announcing plans to build settlements in East Jerusalem. The move provoked international condemnation, with critics saying the move complicates the so-called peace process. Britain, France, Spain, Denmark, Egypt and several other countries summoned Israeli ambassadors to their respective countries for rebuke and to demand explanations. Though Germany did not follow suit, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokeswoman said her administration is “worried” about the plans. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Germany in December, but so far Israel has resisted the international pressure. Reuters reported that Germany is considered Israel’s closest ally in Europe.

Israel 

After ceasefire, Hamas scorns negotiations

Hamas’s second in command has insisted that fighting, not talking, is the way forward in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Moussa Abu Marzouk’s statements came just days after Hamas agreed to a ceasefire with Israel on November 21. “Occupation needs resistance, not negotiations,” Marzouk told the Associated Press. Hamas’s actions are true to his words. As it celebrated its 25th anniversary in December, the terrorist organization continued its warlike rhetoric—and its stockpiling of weapons from Iran. Though Israel’s heart is set on more negotiations, Hamas is making clear its preference for bullets and rockets.

Sudan 

‘Strategic arm’ of Iran

Israeli defense and intelligence sources say that missiles striking its cities from the Gaza Strip come from Iran via Sudan. The report came from the Sunday Times (Nov. 25, 2012). The sources say Tehran is building a “strategic arm” swinging at Israel from the south. Satellite photos showed a shipment of missiles being prepared for delivery to Gaza, even as Israel and Hamas were negotiating a ceasefire. The shipment included Fajr-5 rockets, which can hit Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem from Gaza. It also contained 54-foot Shahab-3 missiles with an 800-mile range—capable of hitting Israel from Sudan. Israeli officials believe the missiles were to be dismantled, smuggled through Egypt and delivered through underground tunnels across the Gaza border. Israel also believes Iran is building another weapons factory in Sudan to replace the one the Israeli Air Force is thought to have destroyed in October.

Asia

China

Aircraft carrier deploys jets

China’s military has conducted its first successful jet landings on its first aircraft carrier, enabling it to deploy fighters on the ship, a senior navy officer said on November 25. People’s Liberation Army Navy Vice-Adm. Zhang Yongyi said J-15 pilots had mastered takeoff and landing, including during unfavorable conditions such as unstable airflow and poor visibility. Zhang compared landing on the narrow, short seaborne runways at several hundred miles per hour to “dancing on a knifepoint.” China continues to make military advancements. Watch for weaker Asian states to start rallying behind Beijing.

China

Russia

Turning a ‘new chapter’

The Russian defense minister’s visit to China in November wrote “a new chapter of mutually beneficial cooperation” between Beijing and Moscow, the People’s Daily Online said on November 28. Sergey Shoigu met with Qian Lihua, the director-general of the Foreign Affairs Office at China’s Ministry of National Defense.

According to the People’s Daily, enhancing Russo-Chinese trust depends on the two militaries’ “cooperation mechanism.” In recent years, the Moscow and Beijing general staffs have held 15 rounds of strategic consultation and three bilateral joint military exercises.

Russia and China are global titans in terms of population and territory and are also permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. For these reasons, Europe is warily watching the Russo-Chinese strides toward economic, political and military cooperation. European states know that in order to counter this forming Asian bloc, they themselves must be united. And European integration is not lost on Asia. Bible prophecy shows these developments will ultimately lead to a colossal confrontation between these blocs.

Ready to share secrets

China’s fifth-generation J-20 stealth fighter jet program may soon get a huge boost. Until recently, Beijing’s newest fighter seemed to be very much a work in progress, dependent on how much technology Chinese engineers could copy from Russian designs or could steal from Lockheed Martin’s databases. But Defense News reported on November 25 that everything is about to change, because Beijing is negotiating a deal with Moscow to purchase the twin-engine Sukhoi Su-35 multi-role fighter. Russia’s Su-35 uses a powerful Saturn AL-117S engine, which can easily be modified into a fifth-generation engine. Previously, Moscow denied a Chinese request to buy 48 Su-35s (with the 117S engine). The Su-35 was marketed exclusively within Russia. But the terms of the new deal say Russia will sell Beijing 24 of the Su-35 units with 48 brand-new 117S engines.

China

Uzbekistan

Kyrgyzstan

Connecting Central Asia

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made a push for increased connectivity within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (sco), which includes China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Wen’s remarks came at the 11th sco prime ministers’ meeting on December 5.

Wen said Beijing would invest $10 billion in key projects, including a railway that would join China with Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, a land route all the way from western Russia to China’s east coast, and a road network that would link sco nations and allow low-cost access to the sea. This infrastructure will represent a major enhancement for Central Asia, most of which is landlocked.

Such developments between these six Asian states is particularly important in light of Bible prophecies. The prophecy of “the kings of the east” found in Daniel 11:44, Revelation 9:13-16 and elsewhere says an enormous Asian power bloc will form, amassing the largest army ever assembled in mankind’s history. This staggering 200-million-man military is prophesied to travel westward into modern-day Israel (e.g. Revelation 16:12, 16; Daniel 11:44). The Trumpet has said for years that these kings would be led by Russia and China. The railways and roadways that sco leaders are laboring to build could be instrumental in transporting these great hoards of soldiers to the Holy Land.

Latin America

Africa

UNASUR summit promotes South American citizenship

Leaders at a Union of South American Nations summit in Peru in late November called for creating a single South American citizenship. The bloc includes Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay, Venezuela and Paraguay. This call for regional citizenship is based on the European Union model. Watch for South America to unite into a more cohesive regional power bloc, and expect this bloc to negotiate a close alliance with the EU. The Plain Truth magazine predicted in May 1962: “[T]he United States is going to be left out in the cold as two gigantic trade blocs, Europe and Latin America, mesh together and begin calling the shots in world commerce. The United States is going to be literally besieged—economically—frozen out of world trade!”

Mexico 

Drug cartel network spreads

The Sinaloa Cartel, one of Mexico’s largest and most dangerous drug trafficking networks, is extending its activities throughout the world. Journalists in Brussels now confirm that in addition to running billions of dollars’ worth of illegal drugs into the United States, the cartel is now trafficking primarily cocaine into Spain, Italy and the western Balkans. Police forces in Melbourne, Australia, confirm that the Sinaloa cartel has also been caught working with local biker gangs to smuggle illegal drugs into the city. Cash from America’s out-of-control drug addiction is feeding a monster of global proportions.

South Africa 

The nation’s riskiest job

Amid hearty renditions of apartheid-era songs and wails from vuvuzelas, South African President Jacob Zuma was swept to victory on December 18 in his party’s leadership contest. The move effectively secures Africa’s most powerful office until 2019.

Zuma’s imminent reelection has sobering implications for South Africa because he has repeatedly condemned the white minority’s control of the country’s economy and has long called for a widespread transfer of wealth to the nation’s black majority, including the redistribution of white-owned farms.

At present, only 8 percent of South African farms are owned by blacks, a number far short of the 30 percent goal by 2014 proposed by former President Nelson Mandela. This discrepancy has rendered it even more dangerous to be a white farmer than to be a policeman—and South Africa is awash with violence and crime.

The dangers to South Africa’s ever-dwindling number of white, mostly Afrikaner landowners have become so serious that a group of activists and farmers marched to the capital of Pretoria in December to demand state protection of their lives and property. “Farm murders are not only a crisis,” said AfriForum Deputy ceo Ernst Roets. “They are a catastrophe.” The Transvaal Agricultural Union of South Africa says nearly 1,600 farm murders have been reported since 1990; think tanks place the number closer to 3,000.

With Zuma’s office secured for six more years, the situation for South Africa’s white farmers is not likely to improve anytime soon.

Nigeria

Cooperation increases with Germany

Nigeria and Germany issued a statement in early December announcing a commission to promote bilateral relations. This commission will explore possible political, trade, energy, education and migration cooperation. The agreement comes after talks between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan last July. Foreign affairs analysts rank Nigeria as one of Africa’s three most geopolitically important nations. Egypt’s fate determines the stability of Northern Africa, South Africa’s fate determines the stability of sub-Saharan Africa, and Nigeria’s fate determines the stability of the oil-rich nations surrounding the Gulf of Guinea. This fact is not lost on Germany’s political leaders, who have already taken great pains to develop bilateral relations with Nigeria through arms exports and military training programs.

Anglo-America

The ceiling that keeps going up

President Barack Obama is demanding that Republicans allow his administration to raise the debt ceiling once again. In addition, the president has asked for a new wave of stimulus spending and for a round of tax hikes on the richest 2 percent of Americans. However, these taxes will not even make a dent in America’s enormous budget deficit, and the new wave of stimulus spending will likely increase the deficit even more—hence the call for the debt ceiling to be raised. There is even a distinct possibility that the tax increases on America’s richest job creators will eventually depress gross domestic product to the point where total tax revenues actually decrease.

Terrorizing gas stations

A group of robbers wielding AK-47s hit two gas stations in Detroit on December 5. It is believed the group is responsible for several similar crimes across the city. After robbing a BP station, the four suspects went on to rob a Mobil station. The suspects were described as black males in their 20s wearing dark clothing and black masks. As economic conditions in Detroit and the rest of America deteriorate, robbery and looting is becoming more common—and gaining more firepower.

Sandy’s costs worse than expected

The damage from Hurricane Sandy is more extensive and will be longer-lasting than initially anticipated, Federal Reserve official William Dudley said on November 29. Increases in jobless claims coupled with manufacturing losses indicate the damage could be worse than feared. Weather-related curses are compounding the effects of America’s reckless fiscal policy and forcing the nation into an ever deepening economic recession. Expect these curses to continue.

Is Iran infiltrating the U.S. with terrorist sleeper cells?

A November report from the House Homeland Security Committee warns that Iran may be working with Mexican drug cartels to smuggle Hezbollah operatives into the United States. The committee also found that Iranian-backed terrorists and Latin American drug-traffickers are developing a growing rapport.

North Carolina Rep. Sue Myrick issued a similar warning earlier in 2012 in the wake of an Iranian plot to assassinate a Saudi diplomat in Washington, d.c., using a hired gun from a major Mexican drug cartel. Last June, the Homeland Security Committee reported that there are hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of Iranian or Hezbollah agents in America. One law enforcement official said the New York Police Department believes there are somewhere between 200 and 300 Hezbollah sympathizers in New York City alone.

Federal authorities have brought numerous criminal cases against these alleged Hezbollah operatives, but so far most of their activities have been limited to surveillance missions and fundraising. They have been observed examining sensitive U.S. targets such as subway systems, bridges and nuclear power plants.

It is alleged that Hezbollah funds itself by collecting donations from Islamist sympathizers across the Western Hemisphere and by taking commissions from Latin American drug traffickers. One South American drug smuggler investigated by Colombian officials in 2008 admitted that his traffickers gave 12 percent of their annual profits to Hezbollah in return for its support. Iranian-backed Hezbollah operatives spread out across the U.S., Mexico and Latin America are using the money that Americans spend on drug addiction to fund terrorism in the Middle East.

Several U.S. officials have warned that, in the event of an Israeli or U.S. strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, Hezbollah could quickly move from surveillance and fundraising in North America to launching terrorist attacks. Hezbollah will be in a prime position to unleash chaos if so directed by Iran.

Anciently, the Prophet Ezekiel foretold of a day when end-time Israel would be beset by terrorism, rioting and societal collapse. This time is prophesied to result primarily from a great economic siege against America, but it could be enhanced by violence caused by foreign terrorists.

Neelie Kroes, Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg and Europe’s Digital Battle Plan

Neelie Kroes, Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg and Europe’s Digital Battle Plan

GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images

How 70 percent of households were so quickly connected with broadband technology

On December 18, the European Commission unveiled its agenda for digital expansion through 2014. The goal is to breathe fresh air into the Continent’s sagging economy with job prospects in the millions.

The Commission is inviting greater venture capital in broadband and cloud technologies, redefining far-reaching perimeters in fields of e-governance, security and copyright.

“Today I am presenting a ‘to-do’ list for 2013 and 2014,” said the EC’s vice president, Neelie Kroes. “It is for some a wake-up call, for others this is just a confirmation and for other this is just a dream. Broadband and jobs are the topics. But the message is that we need to take risks, and please just skip the word ‘risk avoiding’; we should push ourselves.”

In a press briefing, Kroes recounted seven key action items planned to jolt the finances of the European Union, with their impact reaching through to 2020, then went on to add the future roll-out of 10 more pending broadband-only items, revealing the size and scope of the Commission’s digital task list.

Brussels calculates the Union’s collective digital wealth is outpacing all other sectors by “seven times.” Kroes went on to claim the current structure renders the Continent unable to attain its “full digital potential,” and that these announced priorities will save over a million employment vacancies over the next three years.

Formally approved two years ago, the EU’s “Digital Agenda” established a 10-year plan using information and communication technologies to enlarge the Union’s economic clout, and also identified and addressed social objectives.

The Union abacus agency, Eurostat, unveiled data mid-month claiming a four-fold increase from just over six years ago in high-speed Internet access, positioning the Continent a mere 30 percentage points from reaching 100 percent coverage of households.

Of Dutch descent, Kroes has succeeded in substantially fining both Microsoft and Intel for billions and apportioning €7 billion toward broadband expansion throughout member states.

On November 13, in an exclusive survey conducted by Burson-Marsteller and EurActiv, over half of those polled said the Commission was failing, but said Kroes “received the best score overall—six—and was also judged to be the most improved commissioner and best communicator.” She is the EU’s digital iron butterfly.

However, some of our readers may remember her name for a rather different reason. An EU press release dated Dec. 12, 2011, recounted, “European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes has invited Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg, a former federal minister of defense, and of economics and technology, in Germany, to advise on how to provide ongoing support to Internet users, bloggers and cyber-activists living under authoritarian regimes. This appointment forms a key element of a new ‘No Disconnect Strategy’ to uphold the EU’s commitment to ensure human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected both online and off-line, and that Internet and other information and communication technology (ict) can remain a driver of political freedom, democratic development and economic growth.”

Our February 2010 Trumpet print edition featured his image on its cover and headlined, “Why You Should Watch Him.” Editor in chief Gerald Flurry answered the question, Who is Baron Guttenberg? Events thereafter, and particularly the media coverage that followed, painted a picture of this rising star of German and Euro politics being cast into the shadows and governmental isolation. However, he in fact has refined, retooled, reorganized and reenergized himself into an invited adviser of the European Commission’s most popular personality, its vice president, Neelie Kroes.

On October 21 this year, theTrumpet.com reported, “Having voluntarily resigned from politics in the wake of a left-wing attack on his academic credibility, Guttenberg moved to Connecticut, accepting a post with Neelie Kroes, EU commissioner for Digital Agenda, in addition to joining a U.S.-based international think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, under the title of ‘distinguished statesman.’”

Continue to watch moves of the Digital Agenda, Kroes and Guttenberg as Europe rises from its fiscal malaise into a biblically prophesied 10-nation combine of church and state in the spirit of Charlemagne and the tradition of the medieval Holy Roman Empire.

Europe’s Mali Dilemma

Europe’s Mali Dilemma

HABIBOU KOUYATE/AFP/Getty Images)

Europe is facing a major dilemma with the radicalization of Mali. Will sending troops there really be a viable solution?

Mali is yet another anarchical, deeply divided African state whose continued instability is increasingly posing a security threat to Europe and presenting an international dilemma on intervention.

On Thursday, a French-sponsored resolution to send international troops to intervene in Mali was unanimously approved by the oft-divided United Nations Security Council. Under the resolution, 3,300 combat troops will be deployed by a bloc of West African nations to regain the northern part of Mali that fell to radical Islamist groups in April. The European Union will be responsible for training the 5,000 remaining frail Malian forces.

The EU, particularly France, is deeply concerned about Mali’s political and security crisis. Europe fears northern Mali will be the newest hotbed for international terrorism and crime that could hit the Continent, which is just 900 miles away. While visiting Mali, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said, “It is our own security that is at stake.” The EU’s head of Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, said that “the presence of terrorist groups and the oppression of local populations in the north of Mali, as well as human rights violations, not only pose a grave threat to the Sahel region, but also to North Africa and to Europe.”

Impoverished Mali fell into turmoil when a military coup in March created a power vacuum that allowed terrorist groups to take over the north of the country, a chunk of territory about the size of France. One of these groups, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (aqim), is linked to the Benghazi terrorist attacks in Libya. Already, hostages have reportedly been seized, including six French nationals. Parts of this region are firmly now under sharia law, with mass rape, amputations and killings. The Observer noted that families are being coerced to give their children over to the militia in northern Mali. A former Malian teacher testified, “Families are being forced to give up their children. They [the children] are told to kill, rape. Children do whatever they are told.”

France had been hoping for a swifter intervention, but the approved military force may not be operational until September 2013. Mali needs first of all to ensure that there is a clear contact person for international allies. Mali’s coup leaders have continued to meddle in the transitional government that has been set up. On December 10, for example, at around 11 p.m., the military coup leaders arrested interim Prime Minister Modibo Diarra and apparently forced him to resign on national tv about two hours later. The UN resolution is demanding political stability first in Bamako, then transparent elections, perhaps in April 2013, before any intervention. Political dialogue with some of the separatist movements is also a prerequisite.

Meanwhile, France fears “the terror cells now occupying Mali’s north will use any delay to further embed themselves in the vast territory, and use it to recruit and train foreign fighters for global jihad,” wrote the Associated Press. Their forces number an estimated 10,000. The whole situation in Mali is complex and dire, and possible scenarios are bleak.

Mali is presenting Europe in particular with a serious dilemma, and Europe is taking this seriously. With radical Islam raging in nearby North Africa and the Middle East, Europe will soon be forced to intervene and deal with radical Islam. The United States is bogged down and reluctant to commit troops on the ground in another North African country; the onus is on Europe to deal with Mali.

Bible prophecy reveals that Europe is destined to become much more involved in the Middle East, while America is set for a rapid exit. For more information on these prophecies, study The King of the South.

Herbert W. Armstrong Presented With Cross of the Veterans of King Leopold III

Herbert W. Armstrong Presented With Cross of the Veterans of King Leopold III

PT

Belgium’s Princess Lilian’s surprise presentation in the library of Chateau d’Argenteuil

At midday on Sunday, May 5, 1985, Herbert W. Armstrong arrived in Brussels, Belgium, for meetings with publication staff of the French-language version of the mass-circulation Plain Truth magazine, Pure Verite.

Thereafter, he drove to Chateau d’Argenteuil for a special luncheon with Princess Lilian, the widow of his longtime friend King Leopold iii, whom he had first met in 1968 seeking use of the king’s extensive color photograph collection in editions of the Plain Truth.

Seventeen years later, after collective global humanitarian endeavors between Ambassador International Cultural Foundation, which Mr. Armstrong had founded, and the King Leopold iii Foundation, this friendship had built into a powerful partnership in the pursuit of peace by the king and unofficial ambassador.

Upon arrival, Mr. Armstrong, who was accompanied by Colonel Von Cauberg, was greeted near a sitting room by the princess and her youngest daughter, Esmeralda. For the next half hour they conversed, before adjourning to the dining room.

During lunch, Princess Lilian complimented the close friend of her husband, who at 92 years of age maintained a strenuous travel schedule. Largely, the topic of conversation centered upon Outrageous Fortune, the new book authored by Roger Keyes. Relying upon documents obtained from the Second World War, the book exonerated King Leopold’s decision to stay with his troops as their chief commander and surrender to the invading troops on May 28, 1940, and as such save approximately half a million of his countrymen from slave labor in Germany.

The king was repudiated by Belgian government officials, who by the time of the invasion had fled to the safety of Britain. King Leopold iii was held in Belgium until 1944 as a prisoner by the occupying Nazis, after which he was transferred to Austria until hostilities ceased and he was freed to return to Brussels.

However, controversy at home led him to renounce the throne on Aug. 11, 1950. “The king did not speak in his own defense, but instead suffered with dignity the politically expedient abuse heaped on him by others in England, France and Belgium,” wrote Mr. Armstrong’s personal aide in the May 13, 1985, edition of the Worldwide News.

Reflections of his father, King Albert, impacted Leopold. In the wake of the savagery of World War i, Albert toured the battlefield of his tattered realm. In dismay at the images of waste and carnage, he directed an iron shell casing from these grounds cast into four watch cases. His desire was to award each watch to the person who had made the most notable efforts toward peace.

One was given to the head of the Allied Supreme Command, Field Marshal Ferdinand Foch. Another was given to Commander in Chief of the Third Expeditionary Force Gen. John J. Pershing. The third was awarded to France’s Premier Georges Clemenceau in recognition of his wartime leadership. During his lifetime, Albert found no one of his estimation worthy of the last remaining prize. After his death, the fourth watch was passed on to his son King Leopold iii.

In 1970 the king presented the last of these special watches to the internationally recognized unofficial ambassador for world peace. In acceptance, Mr. Armstrong stated, “I feel it was the highest honor the king could have paid anyone. Whatever contribution to world peace I may be making is not through war, but through education, teaching millions worldwide the way to peace!”

At the conclusion of lunch the ensemble repaired to the relaxation of the royal library. Surprisingly, the princess then excused herself for a few minutes, leaving the group to reflect upon the meaningful mealtime conversation. When she returned, Mr. Armstrong made a point of telling her that he felt the king was “a courageous man and a dear and affectionate friend,” adding that an article featuring him would appear in a future edition of the Plain Truth.

In response and to Mr. Armstrong’s amazement, Lilian reached into her pocket and pulled out a small box, opening it to expose a beautiful medal covered in white enamel, featuring in its center a gold portrait of Leopold.

Then, with the small assembly gathered, she officially presented to this special friend of Belgium and its regal house, the Cross of the Veterans of King Leopold iii.

“She said that her husband intended to confer this decoration to him earlier because of his friendship to the king and the Belgian people, but he died before he could present it,” wrote the Worldwide News. Thereafter, she presented Mr. Armstrong with a signed copy of Outrageous Fortune, adding her desire to accept his previous invitation for her to tour the Ambassador College campus in Pasadena, California.

Belgian and all readers of our French-language edition of our magazine, La Trompette Philadelphienne—Été, need to request their free copy of He Was Right, Il avait raison, for a recounting of over 50 years of prophetically accurate fulfillment of biblical prophecies impacting Belgium. In 1934, Mr. Armstrong declared, via the Plain Truth, that one last time the Continent would be in the grip of German dominance amid its pursuit of regional and global ambitions as the final resurrection of the beastly medieval church-state combine of the Holy Roman Empire.

Hamas Sets Its Sights on the West Bank

Hamas Sets Its Sights on the West Bank

SAIF DAHLAH/AFP/Getty Images

Palestinians in the West Bank are taking note of what Gazan rulers have achieved by attacking Israel.

Last week, thousands of Hamas supporters waving green flags marched through Hebron and Nablus in what some called an outbreak of the Arab Spring in the West Bank. During this peaceful but powerful show of force by Hamas, Palestinian security forces simply stood by.

On December 9, the Associated Press reported that Israel is concerned a third intifada might soon erupt in the West Bank. A quick review of the more recent developments in that region proves that its concern is not without cause.

First, there was the eight-day war between Israel and Hamas in November. Hamas not only survived that battle with its infrastructure intact, it emerged from the war with newfound clout across the region and more popularity than ever before within the Palestinian community.

Then on December 7, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians swarmed the streets of Gaza in celebration of Hamas’s 25-year anniversary. During the celebration, Hamas welcomed home its exiled leader, Khaled Mashaal. It was the first time Mashaal had ever been to Gaza, which in itself shows how confident and strong Hamas now is.

As Stratfor wrote December 13, “The most telling sign of Hamas’s new confidence is Mashaal’s visit to Gaza. It was the leader’s first visit to any Palestinian territory since he left the West Bank after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, and it was his first ever visit to Gaza. … A sympathetic administration in Cairo and the ceasefire that ended the Gaza war in November created the right conditions for Mashaal to visit. The visit follows Hamas’s attainment of recognition from regional players, including Qatar, Jordan and other Arab capitals, after the group decided to end its relationship with Syria.”

In several speeches over the course of that weekend, Mashaal praised Hamas militants for standing up to Israel and repeated the movement’s founding goal of wiping Israel off the map. “God willing, we shall liberate Palestine together, inch by inch,” Mashaal said. “We started this path and we are going to continue until we achieve what God has promised.”

In the West Bank, controlled by the supposedly more moderate Palestinian Authority, there was no public condemnation of Mashaal’s diatribe. In fact, the Palestinian Authority allowed a Hamas rally in Nablus on the anniversary day.

Then there was the scary moment in Hebron earlier this month when Israeli soldiers on routine patrol had to seek refuge inside a butcher’s shop, of all places, to avoid confrontation with an angry mob of Palestinian protesters. After showing footage of the incident, an Israeli news station asked if Israel might be in the early stages of a third intifada.

Add all of this to the United Nations’ recent decision to upgrade the status of the Palestinian Authority to a “non-member observer state,” and it makes for a dangerous mixture of events.

The bottom line, as Israel Hayom’s editor in chief Amir Mizroch wrote on December 9, is that things in the West Bank are changing—and fast! According to Mizroch, the Palestinians have seen what Gaza’s rulers have achieved by standing up to Israel and now they want change too.

The Jerusalem Post recently reported that Hamas is working to reactivate its sleeper cells in the West Bank. That was followed by a report the Sunday Times released this weekend warning of a Gaza-style Hamas takeover of the West Bank. According to Israeli military intelligence, Hamas political chief Mashaal has called upon his supporters in the West Bank to prepare for a takeover.

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been warned by his intelligence services that the Islamist group Hamas could seize power in the West Bank, just as it did in Gaza five years ago,” the Times wrote. “According to military intelligence, there are strong indications that Iran is encouraging Hamas to replace Fatah, the more moderate party led by Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian National Authority.”

Senior Fatah member General Tawfiq Tirawi told the Times, “We’re on the verge of catastrophe. Hamas wants intifada (an uprising) and now only a spark is needed to light the inferno. Hamas will take over the West Bank.”

The Times of Israel wrote, “A source close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the paper that the prime minister is maneuvering to halt Iran and Hamas from gaining dominion of the territory.”

To make matters worse, according to a recent survey by Jerusalem-based pollster Khalil Shikaki, 48 percent of people in the West Bank back Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, while only 45 percent support Mr. Abbas.

Stratfor wrote, “In the West Bank there is a general disappointment with Fatah and its governance. There are signs of frustration and of a loss of faith in Fatah, and the West Bank Palestinian leadership is seen as geriatric, corrupt and ineffective. This creates an opening that Hamas can exploit.” Due to the religious and political alignment of many people in the West Bank, Stratfor goes on to point out, there is plenty of political space for Hamas to exploit in the West Bank.

Now notice what we wrote at theTrumpet.com back in August of 2008: “The Arabs of the Fatah party currently control the West Bank. However, Hamas terrorists (and weapons) are present throughout the West Bank and there is little doubt that they are working toward getting control of this strategic region of Israel.”

And looming behind all of these proxies, as we have said all along, is the head of radical Islam, Iran. Our article continued: “Iran’s ultimate goal is to overrun Jerusalem. The West Bank adjoins the city. The Iranians believe that if they can conquer Jerusalem, they can unite the Arab world under their control.”

If you haven’t done so already, make sure you read online or request The King of the South.