U.S. Shuts Down 21 Embassies Amid Al Qaeda Threat

U.S. Shuts Down 21 Embassies Amid Al Qaeda ThreatA global travel alert issued Friday by the State Department warned al Qaeda may launch attacks in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond in coming weeks, a threat that prompted Sunday’s closure of 21 embassies and consulates.

‘Muslim holy month’

One of the sources said that such preparations appeared to have increased in recent days with the approaching end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. In particular, Sunday is Laylet al-Qadr, or the Night of Power, which is one of the holiest moments on the Muslim calendar.

Based on intelligence, U.S. officials said, there was particular concern about the U.S. Embassy in Yemen between Saturday and Tuesday.  Still, it’s unclear whether the apparent plot targets that Arabian nation or one elsewhere — which is why the travel alert applies so broadly, and why embassies from Bangladesh to Libya are being closed. The expected time of an attack also isn’t known, with the U.S. travel alert noting the threat extends through the end of August.


‘Shut down’

The 17 affected U.S. embassies are in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Yemen. The U.S. embassy in Israel will be closed as normal Sunday. Consulates in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are also being shut down for the day. Embassies and consulates in the region typically close their doors or operate with minimal staff on Fridays and Saturdays.

Where do you think is the main target of this Al Qaeda threat? And for how long will this alert last?

Source: Chris Lawrence. Barbara Starr and Tom Cohen | CNN

Image: Al Arabiya

TV Show Gives Away Babies To Audience

TV Show Gives Away Babies To AudiencePlumbing new depths in the battle for television ratings, abandoned babies are being given away on a controversial prime-time game show in Pakistan.

‘Giveaway bonanza’

TV host Aamir Liaquat Hussain presented baby girls to two unsuspecting couples during his show, which is broadcast live for seven hours a day during the month of Ramadan. Another baby, a boy, is due to be given to another couple at some point in the coming days.

The show’s host has been described as a religious scholar, TV megastar and even a sex symbol. His heady mix of religion and entertainment is often followed by controversy. His show — Aman Ramazan — has been dubbed Pakistan’s version of The Price Is Right, with members of the 500-strong audience receiving prizes in exchange for answering questions on the Quran. The giveaway bonanza includes motorbikes, microwave ovens, washing machines and fridges.


‘Unifying a fractured nation’

The baby girls given away on the show were found by an NGO, the Chhipa Welfare Association, which says it receives up to 15 abandoned babies a month. Adoption is not officially recognized in Pakistan and there is no adoption law. The couple will have to apply for guardianship at a family court. Some viewers praised the show’s baby giveaway but others declared it a publicity stunt.

Hussain says it isn’t a gimmick to win ratings during the Islamic holy month. He believes his show is unifying a fractured nation, plagued by sectarian violence, religious intolerance and terrorism.

“These are the disenfranchised babies that grow up to be street kids and used for suicide bombing attacks. We have tried to show an alternative,” he said. “Telling people to take these kids off the rubbish on the streets, raise them and make them a responsible citizen, not to destroy society through terrorism,” he said.

What do you think of Aamir Liaquat Hussain’s show? Do you approve of it or not?

Source: Saima Mohsin and Katie Hunt | CNN

Image: The Sun