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Christian mothers, wives take up the fight against ISIS, whose women serve as suicide bombers and slaves

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  • As Captive Americans, Families Grateful for Years of U.S. Efforts to Free Them From Iran

The second class of the all-female Syriac Christians Brigade proudly took its place earlier this month on the front lines in the fight against ISIS, whose own increasing use of women as suicide bombers offers a sharp contrast between the two sides’ visions.

Known as the “Female Protection Forces of the Land Between the Two Rivers” – in reference to the stretch of traditionally Syriac-inhabited land between the Tigris and Euphrates, the all-volunteer unit consists of Syrian mothers, wives and professionals who pray in Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus.

“I’m a practicing Christian, and thinking about my children makes me stronger and more determined in my fight against Daesh (ISIS),” one fighter named Babylonia, who graduated with the first class in December, told AFP. She said her husband, also a soldier in the same war, encouraged her to leave their children behind to fight for their future – and “against the idea that the Syriac woman is good for nothing except housekeeping and make-up.”

The women, the first of whom graduated from a training camp in Al-Qahtaniyeh in August, are primarily focused on protecting Christian areas. Patterned after the highly successful female Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the unit has already seen battle, most recently in the fight to retake the northeastern town of Al-Hol after two years of ISIS rule.

But while these women are fighting to protect their families and homeland, their female counterparts fighting for ISIS have a much different role in advancing the terrorist group’s bleak and barbarous cause in the war that has engulfed much of Iraq and Syria.

Sources from Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, an undercover group of activists based inside ISIS’ Syrian stronghold, told FoxNews.com that the terrorists recently formed an all-female volunteer suicide bombing squad. Wives of ISIS jihadists recruit the city’s females to the grim duty with tales of the “paradise” that awaits them for giving their lives to defend the caliphate. Recruiters ensure their prey that their families will be taken care of after death – with a significant sum of money handed over before the mission date to seal the deal.

“The females go through proper training at a camp with weapons and learn how to do a proper suicide bombing,” a member of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently told FoxNews.com. “These are women who choose to do this, women of all ages. Even teenagers.”

Before being pressed into the task of recruiting for and carrying out suicide attacks, the women of ISIS were typically deployed as the “Shariah police,” known as the Al-Khansa Brigade. The brigade was comprised exclusively of armed women who patrolled the streets of Raqqa and other towns and villages occupied by ISIS, terrorizing and punishing other females for sharia violations as minor as wearing a niqab that fits too closely, therefore showing the outline of a woman’s body.

Whether based on need or a twisted take on progressivism, ISIS is working hard to emphasize that its cause transcends social status and gender barriers, said Prof. Shaul Gabbay, executive director of the Denver-based Global Research Institute.

“The idea that ‘everyone is part of our mission’ is also part of the terrorizing, that the enemy can be attacked from anywhere at any time by anyone,” he said. “ISIS will recruit from any social strata, and using female terrorists in general and suicide bombers in particular is only going to increase.”

While women fighting for freedom in Iraq and Syria is relatively new, ISIS is following a terrorism tradition in tapping females to kill and be killed for radical Islam. The concept of Islamic female jihadists, stabbers, bombers and “burka brigades” – while undergoing something of resurgence – is not new.

“The phenomenon of female jihadists has been growing for many years now,” said Kamran Bokhari, senior analyst at Geopolitical Futures and author of “Political Islam in the Age of Democratization.” “Females go through the same technical tradecraft with respect to guns and explosives, and the ideological training is very similar in that they are promised heaven should they carry out their mission.”

Female jihadists have taken up arms all over the globe, including Israel, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Kenya, Chechnya and even the U.S., in last month’s deadly attack in San Bernardino, Calif.. But in Iraq and Syria, the so-called “burka brigades” are meeting their match in Christian and Kurdish women who fight for hope and for their homeland.

“I was afraid of the noise of cannons firing, but the fear quickly went away,” an 18-year-old member of Female Protection Forces of the Land Between the Two Rivers told AFP. “I would love to be on the front line in the fight against the terrorists.”

Meanwhile, joyous relatives and friends of three of the Americans released from captivity in Iran effusively thanked supporters and the U.S. government for securing their freedom as details emerged Monday that they were in relatively good condition.

“It’s surreal. It’s unbelievable,” Nagmeh Abedini, the wife of Saeed Abedini of Boise, Idaho, told NBC station KTVB. “I woke up my kids at 7:30 and told them Daddy’s coming home, [and] they were jumping up and down and excited.”

Saeed Abedini, a Christian minister who was helping start an orphanage in Iran when he was arrested in 2012, was among four Americans freed in a complicated prisoner swap Saturday.

Three of them — Abedini, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and Marine veteran Amir Hekmati of Flint, Michigan — arrived Sunday in Germany, where they were being treated at the U.S. Army’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

Editors of The Washington Post met with Rezaian on Monday and said he was “looking good” but faced a recovery process that could take months or even years.

Executive Editor Martin Baron and foreign editor Douglas Jehl released a photo through the newspaper showing a smiling Rezaian wearing a hooded gray sweatshirt.

“I want to thank my family, especially the efforts of my brother Ali, and my wife in Iran and my mother everywhere she was,” the newspaper quoted Rezaian as saying.

“I also want to thank everybody at The Post and my colleagues in other media as well, as well as everybody in the U.S. government who played an important role in my release,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hekmati’s sister, Sarah Hekmati, arrived in Germany for their long-awaited reunion, which occurred at 6 p.m. (noon ET) with Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Michigan.

The fourth captive American, Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, elected to remain in Iran, The Associated Press reported. Khosravi-Roodsari’s case hadn’t been publicly reported before the release, and little remains known about Khosravi-Roodsari, whose name doesn’t appear in publicly available records.

A fifth American, Matthew Trevithick, a Boston University graduate studying Farsi in Tehran, was released independently of the prisoner exchange and arrived home Sunday in Hingham, Massachusetts.

A White House official told NBC News that Obama hadn’t yet spoken with the freed prisoners but that he had been in extensive contact with their families.

The president said Sunday that his administration had been “tireless” in working to bring the four Americans home.

“I gave these families my word — I made a vow — that we would do everything in our power to win the release of their loved ones,” he said.

Foxnews with additional report from NBC

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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