Afghan Court Sentences Four Men To Death For Mob Killing Of Woman

An Afghan court sentenced four men to death by hanging on Wednesday for their roles in the mob killing of a woman in March.

Farkhunda, a 27-year-old Afghan woman, was killed March 19 after being accused of burning a copy of the Quran, although an investigation later determined she never did. The attack was captured on cell phone cameras and distributed across social media networks. Video shows Farkhunda being beaten, thrown from a roof, run over by a car, set on fire, and dragged to a river bank. Forty-nine suspects were accused of taking part in the mob, including 19 police officers.

Eight defendants were sentenced to 16 years in prison, and several others are scheduled to be sentenced on Sunday. Judge Safiullah Mojadedi dismissed the cases against 18 of the defendants. Prosecutors for the case said, “The 19 men still to be sentenced are policemen and that will be the interesting part of this trial because the Afghan law number 354 makes failure to render assistance a crime here and they too could be sentenced to jail.”

During the four-day trial, defense attorneys for the policemen argued that “the officers tried to do their job and called for reinforcements but reinforcements did not come.”

Farkhunda’s brutal killing has led to increased calls for the Afghan government to protect women from violence. After this vicious murder, many women and their families feel empowered to speak about the atrocities that happen to women in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, they also doubt any significant change will be made.

Mujub Ullah Farkunda, Farkhunda’s brother, told Al Jazeera News, “They have wasted our time. The trial only happened because of pressure from the government. The real perpetrators were not there.” He added, “The government didn’t arrest the real murderers. They arrested innocent people off the street and have hidden the real perpetrators. There were more than 100 people involved and they sentenced only 4 to death.”

Last February, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai refused to sign a law passed by parliament that some say could have denied women protection from domestic violence and forced marriage. In 2014, Amnesty International called on the Afghan Parliament to take all necessary measures to fully and effectively implement the 2009 Elimination of Violence Against Women law throughout the country.

The law criminalized some 20 acts of violence against women and girls, including domestic violence, underage and forced marriages, and the exchange of girls in marriage as part of a dowry or blood price (“baad”). It has made great strides in recognizing a woman’s human right to be protected from violence and harmful practices.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Taliban Kills 17 Despite Peace Talks

Image for representational purposes only.

Despite peace talks, Taliban militants attacked police checkpoints late Sunday night in the remote Afghan province of Badakhshan, killing at least 16 policemen. The insurgents said in a statement to media that the assaults were part of their annual spring offensive, which began late last month. According to the Associated Press, a Taliban suicide bomber struck a bus carrying government workers in the capital, Kabul, on Monday morning, killing one person and wounding 13. The Taliban also claimed responsibility for that bombing.

The Taliban launched their annual spring offensive on April 24 with an attack on the northern city of Kunduz, amid calls from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani for the group to join the government. During talks, Afghan officials believe negotiations are heading in the right direction. An Afghan official familiar with both sides in the Qatar discussions said: “It is a good starting point. We will ask them to go ahead prudently and wisely to find a political solution rather than intensify military activity, which is causing the loss of innocent life.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the discussions have not been made public.

Peace talks were hosted by the government of Qatar and the Pugwash Council, a global conflict resolution group, on Sunday and Monday, billed as unofficial and “not supposed to be any sort of negotiation.” The council issued a statement of “common points” that emerged during the talks, the most significant of which was probably the toned-down Taliban position on foreign forces in Afghanistan.

“Everybody agreed that foreign forces have to leave Afghanistan soon,” the Pugwash statement said. But in noting an apparent retreat by the Taliban from its insistence on full withdrawal of outside forces before formal peace talks can begin, the statement observed that “some expressed concern that there should be an agreement among Afghan political forces before the departure of the foreign forces.”

Both sides agreed that the Taliban should open a political office in Doha, Qatar, which would serve as a place where future negotiations might take place–and that the Constitution of Afghanistan was up for discussion.This was the first time in which both parties seemed willing to publicize their points of agreement.

Despite the Taliban’s recent aggression, Afghan officials do not believe it will stall negotiations.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

AWESOME! Meet The Afghanistan War Vet Who’s Turning Her Sights On A Different Kind Of Killer

Image Credit: KING-TV

She’s an Army combat veteran who served four years in the military as a weapons instructor and mechanic, a stint that included a tour in Afghanistan.

Now, Kinessa Johnson has taken on a new fight for a cause she passionately supports — combating poachers in East Africa who kill protected wildlife.

Johnson — whose striking photos showing her handling formidable weapons are circulated widely on the web — joined a group called VETPAW, Veterans Empowered To Protect African Wildlife.

Image Credit: KING-TV

Image Credit: KING-TV

According to a report by a Seattle TV station not far from Johnson’s hometown of Yelm, Wash., “VETPAW is a nonprofit organization that works to help end the African wildlife poaching crisis by utilizing the skills of U.S. veterans to train park rangers and support their communities.”

In an interview with the station, Johnson said that, despite her military training and her depiction as a gun-toting war-fighter, the mission of VETPAW is not to hurt anyone, but to help those trying to stop the poachers.

Image Credit: KING-TV

Image Credit: KING-TV

Image Credit: KING-TV

Image Credit: KING-TV

The VETPAW website notes that “nearly 100 elephants are slaughtered every day for their tusks. Without action, this iconic species, and others, will be gone from the wild within a decade.”

Says Johnson of her work protecting elephants and other endangered animals: “Our intention is not to harm anyone; we’re here to train park rangers so they can track and detain poachers and ultimately prevent poaching.”

An article on Johnson’s Africa mission by Liberty Cannon Media notes that Johnson is the only female currently deployed on the VETPAW team.

While some are making her out to be some hardcore war mongering death dealer, when you talk to her about her mission it’s a totally different story.

Behind that heavily tattoo’d bad-girl exterior is a heart made of gold and a sincere love and passion for her team, her job and the animals she is protecting.

If you’re interested in Kinessa Johnson’s work with VETPAW, you can follow her mission in East Africa through her regular posts on her Facebook page.

Image Credit: KING-TV

Image Credit: KING-TV

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Calls For Obama’s Impeachment Could Well Grow Louder With Army’s Decision To Charge Bergdahl

Images Credit: Twitter

When President Obama agreed in mid-2014 to exchange five top Taliban leaders in U.S. custody for an American soldier held by a terror group in Afghanistan, prominent critics of the deal charged that the commander-in-chief had committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” and should be impeached.

At the heart of those early calls for impeachment were claims that Obama had broken federal law against supporting terrorists. A June 2014 post on WND quoted Fox News’ Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano:

“’We have a federal statute which makes it a felony to provide material assistance to any terrorist organization. It could be money, maps, professional services, any asset whatsoever, include human assets,’ [Napolitano] said.”

Colonel Allen West, a former member of Congress, called on Capitol Hill lawmakers “to draft articles of impeachment as no one is above the law in America.”

Joining in the stinging criticism of Obama’s questionable “Taliban Five” trade deal was the former assistant U.S. attorney who successfully prosecuted Islamic radicals behind the first bombing of the World Trade Center.

Andrew McCarthy argued that “transferring the five terrorists to Qatar in exchange for the release of Bergdahl ‘violates the law against material support to terrorism.’”

Commentator Matt Barber (whose columns frequently appear on Western Journalism) added his voice to the chorus calling for impeachment. Via CNS News:

Whether Obama is intentionally trying to overthrow his own government is open for debate. But that he is, ‘adhering to [America’s] Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort,’ is without question.

Those calls for Obama’s impeachment came after controversial details of the deal were made public last summer, but long before the Army’s investigation of the Bergdahl case was complete…and longer still before today’s announcement that the military is charging Bowe Bergdahl with desertion.

When President Obama formally and proudly announced Bergdahl’s release after five years in captivity, there was a high-profile Rose Garden celebration of sorts featuring Bergdahl’s parents. Fox News reminds us:

“Bob Bergdahl, who had studied Islam during his son’s captivity appeared with a full beard and read a Muslim prayer, while Bergdahl’s mother Jani embraced the president.”

Then the administration set about trumpeting its triumphant accomplishment in the media.

Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice — known for her adamant assertion that the Benghazi attack was caused by an Internet video — went so far as to praise Bergdahl on national television, hailing the newly freed soldier as having “served the United States with honor and distinction.”

Rice’s declaration that the release of this “honorable” soldier marked a “joyous day” seems all the more removed from reality now that the Army has determined to prosecute Bergdahl for willfully leaving his post in Afghanistan.

Appearing on “The O’Reilly Factor” close to two months ago, retired Army officer, Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, claimed the Pentagon had determined to charge Bergdahl; but the White House was desperately trying to keep that fact from going public because it would embarrass Obama.

Some of Bergdahl’s platoon-mates in recent months have been outspoken in their claims that Bowe Bergdahl voluntarily walked away from his unit and put his fellow soldiers lives at risk when they conducted dangerous missions to try to locate him.

At a Wednesday afternoon briefing about the Bergdahl case, an Army spokesman said there are two charges being lodged: “desertion with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty” and “misbevaior before the enemy” that endangered his fellow soldiers.

The next step in the case is for the Army to hold a preliminary hearing at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. If taken to a court martial and found guilty, Bowe Bergdahl could face life in prison.

The consequences for Barack Obama, beyond potential embarrassment and renewed political grief, are yet to be determined.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Breaking: What Obama Just Did Shatters A Major Campaign Promise On This Key War Strategy

Images Credit: USA Today

When he was hot on the trail to re-election in 2012 and tossing out all sorts of campaign promises, Barack Obama said the following at a stop in Boulder, Colorado:

We are bringing our troops home from Afghanistan. And I’ve set a timetable. We will have them all out of there by 2014.

Politico writer Josh Gerstein reminds us that a short time before, in Sioux City, Iowa, the president had boasted:

I put forward a specific plan to bring our troops home from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. And when I say I’m going to bring them home, you know they’re going to come home.

Well, as with so many of Obama’s other pledges to the American people — promises that helped him to defeat Mitt Romney — that “you know they’re going to come home” vow has turned out not to be fulfilled. In fact, far from it.

And now, as USA Today has just reported, the White House says the planned withdrawal of U.S. forces still in Afghanistan will be delayed, thus dramatically changing the latest timetable Obama had assured us would be followed in bringing the troops home.

The article notes that the Pentagon, under Obama’s direction, will maintain a force of some 9,800 U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan at least through the end of 2015.

That revised number, while indicating yet another substantial shift in Obama’s military strategy, is not altogether unwelcome to U.S. commanders or to the relatively new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Both feared the too-rapid drawdown would jeopardize Afghanistan’s security and allow the Taliban a greater chance to make substantial inroads.

“The Obama administration has planned to reduce its troop presence in Afghanistan from some 9,800 to about 5,500 by the end of this year; Ghani has said he wants more U.S. troops to stay longer as Afghanistan seeks to build up its own military.”

In its coverage of the president’s decision on a higher troop presence in Afghanistan through the end of the year, The Wall Street Journal notes that this move could cast into doubt another of Obama’s promises to bring to a close America’s longest-running war.

“Left unclear is how the new drawdown plan will affect Mr. Obama’s promise to fully end the Afghanistan war, now approaching its 14th year, by the time he leaves office.”

Since he first began campaigning in 2008 for America to put him in the White House, Barack Obama has been promising to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But as so often happens with this commander-in-chief, those commitments have turned out to be little more than dust scattered on the winds of political expediency.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom