Machete-wielding militias battle gangs in Port-au-Prince, Haiti


Important Takeaways:

  • Since the start of the month, criminal groups have been attacking with unprecedented coordination the last remnants of the Haitian state – the airport, police stations, government buildings, the National Penitentiary.
  • Leaving the city isn’t an option this time; the airport, under siege by gangs, has been forced to close
  • Port-au-Prince’s gangs are still choking off the supply of food, fuel and water across the city
  • Fear, mistrust, and anger reign. Death is on everyone’s mind.
  • The indelible mark of extrajudicial executions – a stretch of black soot thick and irregular across the pavement – is all that remains of hundreds of suspected criminals killed by residents, their bodies disposed of by flame according to a local security source.
  • Today, talk of a political solution sounds more than ever like wishful thinking as long as gunshots ring out in the evenings, puncturing the city’s hush.
  • Increasingly, the only thing that everyone shares is trauma.

Read the original article by clicking here.

U.S. domestic terrorism investigations have more than doubled -FBI director

By Jan Wolfe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of U.S. domestic terrorism cases under investigation by the FBI has more than doubled since spring 2020, its director told a Senate hearing on Tuesday, after the Justice Department warned that white supremacists and militias pose a growing threat.

“The domestic terrorism caseload has exploded,” FBI Director Chris Wray said during testimony before the U.S. Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The bureau now has about 2,700 domestic terror investigations open, up sharply form about 1,000 in the spring of 2020, Wray said.

“To meet that evolving threat, the FBI has surged resources to our domestic terrorism investigations in the last year, increasing personnel by 260%,” Wray said.

Domestic terrorism took on new urgency after the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump who were trying to overturn President Joe Biden’s election victory.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Jan. 6 attack by Trump supporters had shown white supremacists and militia groups to be the country’s greatest domestic security threat.

In June, Biden’s administration released a 30-page plan to counter domestic terrorism. It calls for increased information sharing between federal and local officials and social media companies, additional resources to identify and prosecute threats and new deterrents to prevent Americans from joining dangerous groups.

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Scott Malone and Lisa Shumaker)

World’s largest cemetery grows bigger as Shi’ite militias bury their dead

he Wadi al-Salam cemetery, Arabic for "Peace Valley", is seen in Najaf, south of Baghdad, Iraq

By Alaa al-Marjani and Saif Hameed

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The world’s largest cemetery, in Iraq’s Shi’ite holy city of Najaf, is expanding at double its usual rate as the nation’s death rate increased with the war on Islamic State.

The Wadi al-Salam cemetery, Arabic for “Peace Valley,” has a special place in the hearts of Shi’ite Muslims as it surrounds the Mausoleum of their first imam, Ali Bin Abi Talib, a cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Mohammad.

The pace of daily burials rose to 150-200 after Islamic State, the ultra-hardline Sunni group overran a third of the country in 2014, said Jihad Abu Saybi, a historian of the cemetery. The rate was 80-120 a day previously, he said.

Shi’ite paramilitary often visit Ali’s golden-domed shrine before heading to the frontlines to battle Islamic State, and request to be laid to rest in Wadi al-Salam should they be killed, as a reward for their sacrifice.

As land becomes scarce, the cost of a standard 25 square meter family burial lot has risen to about 5 million Iraqi dinars ($4100) almost double the amount paid for the same lots before violence escalated as IS exerted control over large swathes of north and western Iraq in 2014.

Millions of graves of different shapes lie in the roughly 10 square km (4 square miles) cemetery that attracts burials from Shiites all over the world. By nationality, Iraq’s Iranian neighbors are thought to come second in number people interred near Ali’s golden-domed shrine.

Often built with baked bricks and plaster, decorated with Koranic calligraphy, some graves are above ground tombs, reflecting the wealth of those within.

(Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.)