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ISIS Threatens Arson Against Church in Dallas, Texas

In the 5th issue of the Islamic State digital magazine Rumiyah, ISIS propaganda media outlets suggest a new weapon of terror for lone wolf actors in the West: fire.

The magazine began circulation in September 2016 after the death of ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani. The magazine is published in several languages, including English, French, German, Russian, Turkish, and more.

In the latest edition, released on January 6, ISIS praises the terroristic possibilities of fire. It also specifically points out a target in the United States, First Baptist Dallas. First Baptist Dallas is a church in Texas that ISIS states is “a popular Crusader gathering place waiting to be burned down.”

The article also claims a recent fire at a furniture factory in Losino-Petrovsky, Moscow, Russia as an act of ISIS terrorism.

The article also lists hospitals, nightclubs, schools, Shia mosques, and more as targets.

Distressingly, the article ends with, “Arson attacks should in no way be belittled. They cause great economic destruction and emotional havoc and can be repeated very easily.”

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Dubai in United Arab Emirates a centre of human trafficking and prostitution

The Sydney Morning Herald

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Imagine if you were told of well-paid work in a new country, far from your impoverished home. Once you arrived, you learned the only way to make the promised money was through prostitution. That's what happened to 24-year-old Ethiopian Tsega*.

She sits on a bar stool in a dark basement bar in the old quarter of Dubai, dressed in a short skirt. Her hair is bleached.

"I started working in a supermarket, but life is so expensive here," she says.

Tsega's fate is shared with thousands of women in the United Arab Emirates. The country, and especially Dubai, one of the seven emirates, is known as a centre for prostitution and sex tourism in the Middle East.

Some estimates have as many as 30,000 sex workers in Dubai alone.

It is one of the many in the emirate where prostitutes offer their services openly, even though prostitution is strictly forbidden in the UAE and sharia courts can impose flogging as punishment.

For Tsega, there wasn't any money left from her monthly salary of 5000 Emirati dirhams ($1980) to send home to her sick mother. Now she earns about 20,000 dirhams a month.

"My family would never take the money if they knew. It's a big secret," she whispers and adds: "This work is really terrible.

"I think that in three months I will have earned enough and will go home."

A Filipino rock band starts playing and a German tourist comes over and asks where she is from.

In a nightclub on the top floor of a hotel in the northern city of Ras al-Khaima, six women in nylon dresses slowly circle on a stage lit by coloured spotlights. Plastic flower garlands hang around their necks. The walls are draped with purple and red velvet. At the tables in front of the stage, men dressed in the traditional Emirati long white garb known as a dishdasha are drinking strong liquor and smoking water pipes. The keyboard player sings in Iraqi Arabic: "Don't be so cruel, Syrian woman. This man is fed up with waiting. You are so stubborn. Bring your price down."

Sex services in the country are also openly advertised on websites and social media. How many women do this work of their own free will and how many are coerced is unknown, says Sara Suhail, director of the Ewa'a shelters for trafficked women and children. Most of the victims had been offered a respectable job as a receptionist in a hotel or as a secretary in the UAE while still in their home countries, she explains from her office at a shelter in an Abu Dhabi suburb. "They are often lured to the country by a friend or family member and don't suspect anything."

This was also the case with 19-year old Oksana, of Uzbekistan, who has long brown hair and is wearing a wide flower-print dress. She has been staying in the shelter for a few months now. Her best friend and her best friend's mother, who had earlier moved to Abu Dhabi, persuaded her to come too, saying many well-paid jobs were available.

Soon after however, her friend's mother told her to spend the night with an old Afghan man.

"Luckily, when I started crying, he didn't touch me," Oksana says in a soft voice. Instead he gave the mother 20,000 dirhams for the costs she had incurred in bringing the girl to the country. "But she didn't release me and instead found another man interested in a virgin like me." She managed to escape and the mother and daughter are now in prison.

Maitha al-Mazrouei, a shelter employee says helping victims of sexual abuse is something new in the Gulf region. "Most people don't know that prostitutes are often forced. It's still a big taboo." She shows the bedrooms with the bunk beds, the large kitchen and the rooms where painting and other creative courses take place.

Two Nigerian women are knitting in the living room in front of the TV.

"We want to go home," one of them whispers.

Dubai, Sharjah and Ras al-Khaima also have shelters, all opened by the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking after a law was passed in 2006 criminalising human trafficking. So far, fewer than 250 women and children have stayed in the shelters.

The number of victims who have received shelter has decreased in the past few years, the director says, thanks to the state's efforts in combating trafficking. The women are encouraged to take legal action, but in 2014, only 15 women took their cases to court.

However, Rothna Begum, researcher at Human Rights Watch, thinks that the number of victims who receive assistance, and the number of prosecutions are far lower than would conceivably be expected for a country known for its high rate of trafficking. "The UAE authorities would like to consider that the drop in cases is because of successful deterrence, but in fact, the success would be noted if there were more successful prosecutions", she said.

An activist for migrants' rights from one of the Persian Gulf countries, who asked not to be named after having received threats, says that "literally on a monthly basis" they receive reports about domestic workers being sold into sex slavery upon arrival in Dubai.

The government and recruitment agencies prefer not to upset the status quo, because they benefit from it economically, the activist says.

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Peter Martin Ebel, ex-Stillwater teacher and fugitive pedophile suspect, back in jail

Pioneer Press

PUBLISHED: June 15, 2013 at 11:01 pm | UPDATED: November 6, 2015 at 8:31 pm

Peter Martin Ebel was many things to many people when he became a fugitive from justice in Minnesota 22 years ago.

To the students and faculty of St. Croix Catholic and Stillwater Junior High schools in the late 1970s, he was Edward Alan Scott, a published author, accomplished photographer and stern but brilliant math and Latin teacher. He also taught one of his proteges how to fly an airplane.

To officials of a boys academy in Georgia, he was Dr. Ebel, a respected and renowned child researcher based in Albania.

But much of what people knew about the man, now 54, was a deception — from his relationship with children and teaching background to the doctor credentials that led to felony drug charges against him in Minnesota in 1979.

Ebel jumped bail in 1980, and his whereabouts remained a mystery to authorities and others for two decades, until he was arrested last year and then pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges in Los Angeles.

Today, as Ebel sits in a federal prison cell awaiting sentencing and a possible mandatory minimum 10-year prison term, federal authorities and those who came in contact with Ebel are wondering aloud how many child victims there may be in Minnesota and elsewhere.

Ebel was detained at a California airport Sept. 7 and later was arrested after he was caught with sexually explicit pictures of young boys. In the process, federal officials learned he had been convicted 34 years ago in England on a sex-related charge.

Ebel’s court-appointed attorney could not be reached for comment.

“I’m wondering … if we’re just scratching the tip of the iceberg here,” says Rodrigo Castro-Silva, the federal prosecutor in California handling the case.

“There were a lot of kids he came in contact with here,” says Allen Klein, a former Stillwater Junior High student who filed a lawsuit in 1993 against St. Croix Catholic School and in a deposition alleged that Ebel had molested him.

Klein, a 38-year-old Plymouth resident who is publicly coming forward for the first time, suspects there may be other victims besides him.

“My desire now is to confront (Ebel) face to face and talk to him about what he did to me,” Klein says.

EDWARD ALAN SCOTT

Interviews with more than a dozen people nationally and a review of court documents portray Ebel as an enigmatic Renaissance man who impressed people with his knowledge of subjects ranging from medical surgeries to nuclear power plant operations.

Ebel, actually a 10th-grade high school dropout from Morrison County, N.J., and using Edward Alan Scott as an alias, secured a job for the 1976-77 school year as a math teacher at the St. Croix Catholic School. The school, also known as St. Michael’s School, shared physical education and other courses with a nearby public school, Stillwater Junior High.

“He was brilliant, had a vocabulary to die for, and he was teaching a summer photography class to area kids,” recalls Brandon Crawford, then a St. Croix teacher and now the head of its middle-school program. “At the time, we were in need of a math teacher and he supplied us with what seemed excellent credentials, like his education in England.”

Known as “Mr. Scott,” Ebel had written two books under the pseudonym of Reynolds Locke. One dealt with anthrax mutation. The other, published by the now-defunct Stein & Day publishers, was called “Mayday 747” and involved the aftereffects of a jumbo jet crash. A third book, “Soldier of Eden,” a purported nonfiction account of an orphaned American boy who became an Arab freedom fighter in Libya, was published in England in 1987 under the pen name of James Congdon.

After joining the faculty, Scott quickly gravitated toward a small core group of students, school officials said. One of them was Klein, a bright seventh-grader with six siblings and the product of a troubled home. Scott befriended Klein and his family and taught him how to fly an airplane. Meanwhile, posing as Dr. Peter Martin Ebel, he was duping a pharmacy in Maplewood into filling bogus prescriptions for Valium and codeine, according to charges brought later.

Suspicions were raised at both schools when the nurse at Stillwater Junior High received a note through Scott from a Dr. Ebel asking that Klein be excused from taking a shower because he had been diagnosed with scoliosis.

Don Hovland and Steven Studer, then principal and assistant principal at Stillwater Junior High School, and Sister Kathleen Foley, then principal at St. Croix, denied the request and confronted Scott about his credentials near the end of the 1976-77 school year.

A short time later, Ebel took Klein to England on a supposed trip to treat him with growth hormone drugs not available in this country, according to Klein and others.

Klein was in fact among three boys taken to England with their parents’ permission, all of whom “returned with drug dependency problems,” according to a Maplewood police incident report. The children, according to the report, refused to talk with authorities about the trips or their relationship with Ebel.

Officials at both schools compared notes and secured copies of bogus drug prescriptions Ebel had obtained for Klein’s mother and others and as well as for himself, according to court records.

Scott was booted from the school after one year on the job and subsequently charged in Ramsey County District Court on June 10, 1979, with two felony counts in the drug case.

A Stillwater family that had rented an apartment to Ebel posted $500 bail on his behalf. He left town during a pretrial hearing in early 1980, and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest.

His fugitive status ignited more suspicions about his relationships with Klein and a handful of other students. During one of his trips to England, he had brought back with him a boy. The boy, Crawford learned years later, committed suicide after returning to England.

“I guess we didn’t know much about these things back then, and in hindsight there were red flags,” Crawford said last week after learning of Ebel’s arrest in September. “But there was nothing blatant. The parents trusted this man. The kids never told us what if anything happened.

“There was nothing we could get our hands on.”

CAPTURED

U.S. Customs Service agent Randy Karavanich was ready when Swissair Flight 106 landed at Tom Bradley International terminal in Los Angeles on Sept. 7, 2001. Ebel was on board and, because of a tip from officials at Gables Academy in Stone Mountain, Ga., he was suspected of being engaged in child pornography or molestation.

Ebel, who claimed to be a researcher for a nonprofit group in Albania, had approached the school three years earlier and persuaded it to invest in an exchange program and a school to be built on the strikingly beautiful shores of the Adriatic Sea. In return, Ebel’s adopted son, a 13-year-old, received English language classes at the academy.

But the therapist wife of James Meffen III, the school’s headmaster, became concerned after traveling to Albania and uncovering what she considered a disturbingly close relationship between Ebel and several boys.

A check of Ebel’s criminal background by the Customs Service disclosed the 1980 warrant from Minnesota as well as an arrest in 1968 by Scotland Yard police in England for an “indecent assault” on a minor under 16. Ebel was put on three years’ probation for that incident.

Karavanich was surprised to find Ebel in the company of three boys from Albania, including an 8-year-old suffering from what was later diagnosed as a genetic blindness disorder that could only be corrected in the United States.

Ebel was allowed to leave after airport authorities seized a laptop computer, a digital camera and several computer disks in Ebel’s belongings.

Chandice Covington, a professor of nursing at UCLA and a medical researcher who had befriended Ebel after learning about his alleged research into the development of Albanian males and the nutritional impact of iodine deficiency, said, “I was highly suspicious at that point, and the bells started going off in my head.”

It took three weeks for authorities to discover digital and hard-copy images of naked boys masturbating each other and other pictures that had nothing to do with the research. Meanwhile, Covington, who had offered her Westwood home to Ebel, contacted Los Angeles police after she found the kids one morning tearing up sexually explicit pictures of themselves and flushing them down her bathroom toilet.

Ebel was arrested, and the boys, one of whom was suffering from sexually transmitted warts on his face, were reunited with their families in Albania. Ebel pleaded guilty to one count of manufacture of child pornography and is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 19 in Los Angeles. The blind boy is allowed to return periodically to undergo a series of surgeries to restore his eyesight, Covington said.

Officials in Minnesota are not sure whether Ebel will be extradited to face the outstanding charges.

“To be frank, the charges here are peanuts compared to what he is facing in California,” said James Konen, an assistant Ramsey County attorney who initially handled the drug-related case. “To my knowledge, we never received any information about (suspected child molestation).”

Like many others, Covington expressed surprise at the Minnesota connection, but not at the nature of the arrest.

”Who knows how many victims there are out there?” she says. “He certainly duped a lot of people along the way. But he is living proof that pedophiles don’t come in black and white. He’s a brilliant man who did try to help out some kids, like the blind boy. But he is also a sick and evil man.”

TIMELINE: PETER MARTIN EBEL

1968: Peter Martin Ebel is convicted in London for indecently assaulting a minor younger than 16.

1976: St. Croix Catholic School in Stillwater hires Edward Alan Scott — one of several aliases linked to Ebel — as a math teacher. The school also shares physical education and other courses with a nearby public school, Stillwater Junior High School.

Summer 1977: School officials find his credentials fraudulent and terminate him.

1978: Ebel reportedly returns to the United States after a trip to England, this time posing as a doctor working for the “Nuclear Regulatory Agency.”

1979: School officials suspect Scott is posing as “Dr. Ebel.”

June 10, 1979: Ebel is charged with two felony counts of filling out drug prescriptions.

Jan. 16, 1980: He fails to appear for a pretrial hearing.

1980-99: Authorities have no idea of his whereabouts.

1999-2001: Ebel, claiming that he heads an Albanian-based nonprofit organization and conducting a growth development research project on Albanian males, makes contact with a private boys academy in Georgia. He persuades school officials to build an exchange program in Albania.

Sept. 7, 2001: Ebel is detained in Los Angeles in the company of three Albanian boys and is released after his laptop computer and several CD-ROM disks are confiscated pending a forensic examination.

Sept. 10, 2001: U.S. Customs Service agent Leo Lamas uncovers several images of the genitals of several naked prepubescent boys, including one of the boys who accompanied Ebel on the trip. Ebel asserts the pictures are part of his research.

Sept. 20, 2001: Dr. Laura Ticson of the Vulnerable Child and Sexual Assault Center in Los Angeles says the images are undoubtedly child pornography.

Sept. 28, 2001: Ebel is arrested and charged with possession and manufacture of child porn.

June 10, 2002: Ebel pleads guilty to one count of manufacture of child pornography.

Aug. 19, 2002: Ebel is to be sentenced.

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