From shy student to IS polemicist

first_imgAs a shy, studious teenager in Alabama, Hoda Muthana rarely made waves. After her abrupt transformation into a fiery supporter of Islamic State extremists, she is under the scanner of the top levels of the US government.The 24-year-old, who has since been married to three different jihadist men and has a toddler son, says she regrets her turn to radicalism and wants to return home — but President Donald Trump has personally intervened to block her.Growing up in Hoover, Alabama, a prosperous suburb of Birmingham with a sizable Muslim community, Muthana was raised by strict Yemeni immigrant parents who forbade her from owning a smartphone — ubiquitous among US teenagers — until she finished high school.The phone opened her world. Muthana says she was pulled in by messages of the Islamic State group which brainwashed her into flying furtively in 2014 to the militants’ self-styled caliphate, which then reigned over vast stretches of Syria and Iraq and had drawn in hundreds of Westerners, mostly Europeans of immigrant upbringing.Once she arrived, social media gave the Alabama girl a global audience among jihadists. In one tweet, she appeared to torch her US passport. In another, she called Americans “cowards” for not coming in greater numbers to the caliphate’s de facto capital of Raqa, Syria where she lived among Australians.In a message preserved by George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, Muthana hailed the deadly 2015 attack on Charlie Hebdo, the French newspaper that satirized the Prophet Mohammed, writing “Hats off to the mujs in Paris” and urging similar attacks.Detained by US-allied Kurdish fighters in Syria as the Islamic State’s territory dwindles to its last sliver, Muthana said she no longer believes in the extremist ideology.”It’s not Islamic at all. Anyone that says so, I will fight against it,” she told ABC News, speaking in a soft, flat voice and sporting a blue veil.”I’m just a normal human being who has been manipulated once and hopefully never again,” she said.New world on smartphoneJordan LaPorta, who attended Hoover High School with Muthana from 2009 to 2013, said he saw her nearly every day as they took advanced classes together.”We were courteous, and she was a nice, quiet young woman,” he told AFP.”No one, myself included, had any idea that this radicalism was festering when the original story broke in 2015. People far closer to her than I were stunned by the news,” he said.LaPorta, now a student at the University of Alabama Law School, said that Muthana later threatened him for comments he made after her turn to radicalism, by tagging him on Instagram, calling him a “nerd” and saying he “deserved a neck” — a threat he reported to the FBI.Muthana’s father gave her a smartphone when she graduated from high school and enrolled at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.She “really found a place of belonging on her phone, online,” said Hassan Shibly, a lawyer for the family.Islamic State recruiters “preyed upon her” and “gave her so much attention and played with her mind and they cut her off from her friends, from her family, from her community, from her mosque,” Shibly said.Father feels AmericanIn a highly unusual move, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Muthana is not a US citizen, even though she traveled to Syria on a US passport.”This is a woman who inflicted enormous risk on American soldiers, on American citizens. She is a terrorist. She’s not coming back,” Pompeo told the Fox Business Network on Thursday.The US Constitution’s 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868 after the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, grants citizenship to everyone born in the country — with the exception of children of diplomats, as they are not under the jurisdiction of the United States.Muthana’s father, Ahmed Ali, served at the Yemeni mission at the United Nations. He filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking to affirm his daughter’s citizenship, saying he had left his diplomatic post several months before her birth.In a 2015 interview with BuzzFeed News when his daughter’s case came to light, he voiced sorrow.”America is my country now,” he said. “My kids’ country. And if for me as an American citizen, if asked to me to defend this country, I will defend it.”LaPorta, her classmate, said that Hoover residents in a private Facebook group overwhelmingly said they did not want her back. He said she should return but face charges.”As for me, I do have some degree of sympathy. Young people make mistakes, and she has a young child not implicated in any of this due to any fault of his own,” he said.”But fleeing the country to join a terrorist organization is not an act of mere youthful indiscretion. Actions have consequences.”last_img read more

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Acid thrown from taxi at passerby six injured

first_imgKolkata: Six persons, including five women in their early 20s, were injured when unidentified persons allegedly threw some chemical, supposedly acid, at them from a moving taxi last night at Panditia Road in the southern part of the city, police said today. The victims were passersby and the incident took place around 9.30 pm last night, the police said.Locals chased the yellow taxi but the riders including the driver escaped leaving the vehicle behind, a senior officer of Kolkata Police said. Also Read – Heavy rain hits traffic, flights”They (people in the car) attacked the people indiscriminately and randomly and no one was the target, in particular,” he added.Kolkata Police Deputy Commissioner (South) Meeraj Khalid said, “We have intercepted the taxi. A case has been lodged at Rabindra Sarovar police station. We are talking to the witnesses and the victims. We will soon arrest the culprits.” “We are yet to get hold of the driver Ricky Mondal, who was appointed by the owner. We found the room where he was staying in Kalighat area under lock and key. We have launched a search for him,” the investigating officer. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Merc, 2 B’deshi bystanders killed”Going by the eye witnesses version it seems there were around four to five men inside the taxi. We have asked for the CCTV footages of the area,” he added.A case was lodged at the Rabindra Sarovar police station and a search has been launched for the attackers using the vehicle’s registration number, he said.The injured were discharged after preliminary treatment at a state-run facility.Police were trying to find out the nature of the chemical which was allegedly hurled at the victims.”We have collected samples of the liquid from the spot and send it for testing at the laboratory. We are not sure whether the liquid was acid because there were no serious injuries on the victims. They only complained of a burning sensation,” the police officer added.last_img read more

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State Technical Education dept launches new website

first_imgKolkata: State Technical Education, Training and Skill Development minister Purnendu Basu on Thursday inaugurated the new website of the department – www.wbtetsd.gov.in, designed and developed by NIC.The minister also unveiled the departmental news bulletin ‘Karigari Barta’, which is targeted to reach the potential beneficiaries and users of skilled manpower to join hands for development of the state.”The policy and implementation of different activities and achievements of the department including all Directorates and skill Also Read – Heavy rain hits traffic, flightsdevelopment will be disseminated through this website and act as a monthly news bulletin. We will ensure that this website is updated on a regular basis, ” Basu said.Apart from updating the various activities of the department and the directorate, the website and the news bulletin will also have alist of the polytechnic colleges and the ITI’s in the state categorising both government and private.Since 2011, this department has reshaped and strengthened the Technical Education , Vocational Education & Training and attempted to expand the programme to 145 Polytechnics in 59 subdivisions, 250 ITIs in 150 blocks and 2,714 Vocational Training Centers in most of the gram panchyats of the state.last_img read more

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Underconstruction flyover collapses in Darjeelings Phansidewa

first_imgDarjeeling: A portion of an under-construction flyover came crashing down at Phansidewa in Darjeeling district on Saturday without injuring anybody, police said.The incident happened near Kanthibhita in Phansidewa town along the National Highway 31D.Four laning of the highway is presently going on in the stretch which is a part of the East-West corridor envisaged under National Highways Development Project — Phase II, and is a vital link for connectivity to the North-East. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeSDO, Siraj Daneswar, BDO and DM Jayashi Dasgupta were present along with the police team at the spot since early morning.”This is an accident caused by some technical fault. The technical staff and the engineers on the project can give a proper explanantion for the same. The investigation has begun and the construction procedure has been stopped unless the matter is investigated by the National Highway Authority of India(NHAI),” said Dasgupta, the District Magistrate.Though 25 meters of the under-constructed flyover has collapsed, there are no reports of any injury. The area had been cordoned off by the police later in the morning.last_img read more

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Why ice creams give you brain freeze decoded

first_imgScientists have identified what causes ‘brain freeze’ – a quick and intense headache felt when we consume ice creams or other such chilly treats too quickly. “A brain freeze is what happens when cold food touches a bundle of nerves in the back of the palate,” said Stephanie Vertrees, assistant professor at the Texas A&M University in the US. “The sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) is a group of nerves that are sensitive to cold food, and when they’re stimulated, they relay information that stimulates a part of the brain to have a headache,” said Vertrees. The SPG is a very important bundle of nerves, and although it is the source of brain freeze, this group of nerves is also the cause of other types of headaches, researchers said.”This is the same ganglion that is responsible for migraine headaches and cluster headaches,” Vertrees said. “There has been a lot of research done on this bundle of nerves, but mostly for trying to prevent these more serious and longer-lasting headaches,” she said.”We now have two different kinds of devices for the SPG. One device blocks the nerve with a numbing agent, and the other that stimulates it electronically with the goal of eliminating or preventing migraine or cluster headaches from occurring,” she added. Obviously, that approach is a bit extreme for treating a brain freeze, but these links between the different types of headaches can help people who suffer from migraines.”Many people will try to give themselves a brain freeze to try to break a migraine headache,” Vertrees said. “It may not work for everyone or work every time, but giving yourself a brain freeze can possibly alleviate a migraine,” she said. There are several (obvious) ways to avoid a brain freeze, but fewer ways to treat one.”To avoid brain freeze, eat the cold food much more slowly so that your mouth can warm up the food – don’t inhale it,” Vertrees said. “Keep it in the front of your mouth: the further-back stimulation is what triggers the brain freeze,” she said. However, if you find yourself a victim to an ice cream headache, there is a trick you can do to try and warm your way out of one, researchers said.If you begin feeling a brain freeze coming on, press your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The heat from your tongue will warm up the sinuses behind your nose and then warm the ganglion that caused the brain freeze, they said.”Brain freezes are not dangerous and very self-limiting,” Vertrees said. “It’s about slowing down and being patient and aware of the likelihood of getting a brain freeze if you eat or drink too fast,” she said.last_img read more

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