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INTERNATIONAL DIGEST: Extremists execute young Christian in Somalia

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Islamic extremists in Somalia tortured and executed a young Christian they accused of trying to convert a 15-year-old Muslim to Christianity, even though they found no evidence to support the charge.

Mumin Abdikarim Yusuf, 23, was abducted by members of the radical al Shabaab group on Oct. 28 after the boy reported him to the militants, according to the Compass Direct news service. Yusuf’s body was found Nov. 14 in a residential area of Mogadishu. He reportedly died of two gunshots to the head, and the body showed signs of torture, including broken fingers and missing teeth.

The extremist group reportedly raided Yusuf’s home after he was accused, but failed to find anything relating to Christianity and still took him into custody, Compass Direct reported. Yusuf’s parents apparently did not know their son had become a Christian and told the militants he was still a Muslim. They were ordered to appear before an al Shabaab court. Underground church leaders in Mogadishu reportedly have relocated believers who knew Yusuf, in case he divulged information about them while he was being tortured.

Al Shabaab, which reportedly is linked to the al-Qaida terror network, controls parts of Mogadishu and other areas of the country, which has been without a strong central government since the 1991 ouster of dictator Siad Barre. A transitional government backed by the African Union and Western nations is trying to regain control of the country.

The extremists have demonstrated they have no qualms about killing those they perceive to be sympathetic to any “foreign” religion and did not execute Yusuf quickly only because they had no evidence against him except the testimony of the teenage boy, an unidentified source told Compass Direct.

“In Islam, to execute someone you need to have evidence of three witnesses, and they didn’t have it,” the source said. “Al Shabaab is known to do whatever they like, and they don’t even follow the rules of their religion they claim adherence to.”

JEWISH RADICAL INDICTED IN 2008 BOMB ATTACK — An ultra-Orthodox Jewish nationalist has been indicted for a March 20, 2008, bombing that severely wounded the 15-year-old son of a Messianic pastor in Ariel, Israel.

Jack Teitel, a 37-year-old West Bank settler reportedly shouted in the courtroom that God was proud of him for the attack. “It was a pleasure and honor to serve my God,” Teitel said, according to the Compass Direct news service. “God is proud of what I have done. I have no regrets.”

The bomb, which was filled with needles and screws, badly injured Ami Ortiz, youngest son of pastor David Ortiz and his wife Leah, and destroyed much of the family’s belongings, Compass Direct reported. Doctors told his family the boy was dying. Twenty months later, however, 16-year-old Ami is back in school and playing basketball.

The U.S.-born Teitel also is accused in the June 1997 shooting death of a Palestinian taxi driver and the murder of a Palestinian shepherd two months later. Police also suspect Teitel in an attempted arson of a monastery and the September 2008 bombing of a Hebrew University history professor. He also is accused of manufacturing a weapon, possession of illegal weapons and incitement to commit violence, Compass Direct reported.

Howard Bass, a leader of a Messianic congregation in Beer Sheva, Israel, said he believes Jewish followers of Jesus are in growing danger. Bass cites a new book published in Israel entitled, “The King’s Torah,” which encourages killing gentiles and anyone else deemed to be a threat to Israel.

“We’re seeing a spirit rising where they feel they have a legitimate right to kill anyone who threatens the Jewish state,” Bass told Compass Direct. Attacks like the one on Ami Ortiz “makes people aware of how far they [people set against the Messianic Jews] will be willing to go and abhor them. It’s bringing things to light and forcing people to make a decision: What is good and what is evil?”

HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER’S FAMILY GETS U.S. ASYLUM — The wife and two children of imprisoned Chinese human rights lawyer Guo Feixiong have been granted political asylum in the United States.

Guo’s wife, Zhang Qing, their teenage daughter, Yang Tianjiao, and 8-year-old son, Yang Tiance, escaped from China in February 2009 after she came under pressure for releasing open letters about her husband’s unjust imprisonment to Chinese and American leaders. She fled to Bangkok, Thailand, where the United Nations’ High Commission on Refugees denied her appeal for political refugee status March 19.

When the United States government refused to activate a special asylum procedure bypassing UN approval, the ChinaAid human rights organization helped them escape to the United States. The three arrived safely in the U.S. on April 7 and have settled in Midland, Texas, according to a ChinaAid statement. The appeal for asylum was granted in a little over seven months.

Guo Feixiong has suffered intense persecution for his human rights legal defense work. He currently is serving a five-year sentence in Guangdong’s Meizhou Detention Center.

PROTESTORS THREATEN SEMINARY STUDENTS IN INDONESIA — An estimated 1,000 seminary students who were forced by Muslim protestors to abandon their campus in 2008 are now under pressure to leave the facility where they took refuge.

About 300 students were evicted Oct. 27 from the former municipal building in West Jakarta, but about 1,000 other students refused to leave, saying the alternative facilities offered by the provincial government are too small and unfit for occupancy, the Compass Direct news service reported. Some of the students reportedly had sewn their mouths shut as part of a hunger strike.

In July 2008 a machete-wielding mob forced staff and students to evacuate from Arastamar Evangelical Theological Seminary in Kampung Pulo after a mosque loudspeaker urged residents to “drive out the unwanted neighbor,” Compass Direct reported. The mob attacked with sharpened bamboo sticks and acid, injuring at least 20 students. A female student said a banner was posted at the campus that read: “If you dare to return, we will wipe you out.”

The students in the West Jakarta building were facing daily threats from mobs in Jakarta, seminary rector Matheus Mangentang told Compass Direct. They have lived without electricity and water since late October and some students reportedly have contracted diarrhea and hemorrhagic fever. “We are going to move as soon as possible — Dec. 31 at the latest,” Mangentang said. “If we don’t, the place is no longer safe.”
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Mark Kelly.

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