Former Yazidi sex slave recalls horror of meeting her ISIS rapist in Germany  

A Yazidi teenager who fled from Islamic State slavery in Iraq, only to come face to face with her former captor in Germany, told RT why she returned to Iraq, and why she thinks Europe is no safe haven for girls like her.

After fleeing captivity in Iraq, Ashwaq Ta’lo thought she was safe in Schwabisch Gmund, a picturesque market town in the foothills of Germany’s Swabian mountains, near Stuttgart. That changed one night in February, when Ashwaq was returning home from school and a car pulled up beside her.

A short-bearded man stepped out and took off his glasses, leaning in closer to look at the teenager. “Can I ask you a question,” he said. “Are you Ashwaq?”

It was a face Ashwaq never thought she would see again. The man, known only as Abu Humam, was a Syrian Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) fighter who had bought Ashwaq for $ 100 at a slave market in Ba’aj, Iraq in 2015. He was now living in Germany as a refugee, enjoying the same freedom as his former victim.

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“I said ‘no, I’m not Ashwaq,’” she told RT. “Then he said ‘no, you are and I know it, don’t lie to me,’” Ashwaq panicked and fled to her brother’s house, as Abu Humam followed her. The encounter instantly brought her from peaceful Germany back to the dusty roads of war-torn Iraq, where her ordeal had begun a few years before.

In 2014, as ISIS hordes claimed land and took lives across Iraq and Syria at blitzkrieg pace, Ashwaq lived with 77 of her extended family in a small village in Iraqi Kurdistan. ISIS’ campaign of slaughter and pillage eventually caught up with them, and jihadists surrounded her family home, capturing and separating the family.

“The worst time in my life was the moment when ISIS separated us from our families,” Ashwaq recalls. “I knew that I would be raped and tortured.” She was 15 at the time.

From there, Ashwaq was shuttled in pickup trucks from around northern Iraq, until she landed in the tiny town of Ba’aj, where she was sold for $ 100 to Abu Humam. “I tried my best to convince him that he should release me,” she said. “But he said that he got orders that they should rape all Yazidi women and keep them as slaves. We even tried looking for gasoline or anything sharp, like knives or scissors, to kill ourselves with, but didn’t find anything.”

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Yazidis commemorate 3rd anniversary of ISIS genocidal campaign against them. August 3, 2017 © Suhaib Salem

Ashwaq was forced to convert to Islam, and became Abu Humam’s property. When the militants moved, Abu Humam kept the teenage girl by his side, a human shield against US-led Coalition airstrikes. Eventually, Ashwaq managed to flee, and a year later was resettled in Germany under a refugee program.

“We knew that if we stayed they would kill us, because they are ISIS and they are murderers,” she said.

After meeting Abu Humam in Germany, Ashwaq filed a police report and told her assigned social worker who she had seen. She says the police waited a month and a half to open the case, and when they did, they found no leads.

Her social worker told her that she was in Germany to recover from the trauma of her captivity in Iraq, but Ashwaq no longer felt safe.

“How can that be, if my rapist is living here and has the same rights as me?” she wondered.

Federal prosecutors say that they investigated the case as best they could. Based on her description, they could not identify Abu Humam, and could not trace his name. Prosecutors say they wanted to ask Ashwaq some more questions, but the teenager had already left Germany at that point.

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FILE PHOTO. © Thilo Schmuelgen

Faced with living in fear of her rapist or taking her chances elsewhere, Ashwaq headed back to Iraq to visit relatives. Her family who stayed behind in Germany begged her to return, and assured her that the German government would see to it that justice was done. Ashwaq refused.

“My dignity is more important than being in Germany,” she said. “I’ve put my life on the edge to escape from ISIS here to keep my dignity, then you want me to stay in Germany and know that the one who was responsible for my misery is free in that country?”

“All I wanted was to be somewhere safe but if I meet ISIS there and I’m afraid all the time that he would hurt me again, then I can’t stay there anymore.”

Ashwaq arrived in Germany as one of over a million migrants admitted in 2015. German Chancellor Angela Merkel stood by her country’s ‘open-door’ migration policy until it was abandoned this year. Critics have blasted the chancellor for carelessly admitting millions of migrants, often with inadequate vetting. Even when defending her decision, Merkel admitted last year that “for some time we didn’t have enough control” at Germany’s borders.

Ashwaq’s tormentor was just one of an unknown number of violent jihadists who may have slipped through the cracks. In 2015, German federal police received over 300 tip-offs about potential jihadists or known terrorists entering the country as refugees. “We have repeatedly seen that terrorists… have slipped in camouflaged or disguised as refugees,” the head of Germany’s interior intelligence agency warned the following year.

Even before Merkel rolled out the welcome mat to migrants, some violent extremists managed to lay low in Germany. This April, a 42-year-old Tunisian man, living in Germany since 1997 and claiming government benefits, was found to have been a member of Al-Qaeda, and to have allegedly once worked as a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden. After his deportation, a court ordered the man returned to Germany for prosecution.

When Ashwaq arrived in Germany, she was required to remain in the state of Baden-Württemberg. This meant that she couldn’t move across the country to avoid Abu Humam.

“Germany was taking care of us,” she said. “But it was a mistake to bring us all to Baden-Württemberg so it was easier for them to track us and we were not allowed to move to another state.”

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Rupee depreciation to raise India’s oil bill by $26 billion

A cheaper rupee could increase India’s crude oil bill by as much as $ 26 billion in FY 2018/19, according to Indian government officials.

The currency hit a low of 70.32 to the US dollar on Friday, which will also push up fuel prices at the pump and prices of cooking gas.

At the same time, Indian crude oil imports are set to rise: last financial year, the country imported 220.43 million tons of crude, with the bill coming in at $ 87.7 billion This financial year, imports are estimated to reach 227 million tons while international oil benchmarks and the US dollar rise higher and the rupee falls.

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© Frank Bienewald

The FY 2018/19 oil import bill was at the start of the year estimated at $ 108 billion on the basis of an average benchmark oil price of $ 65 and an exchange rate of 65 rupees per dollar. However, oil has been trending higher than this for much of the year so far and supply concerns resulting from the US sanctions against Iran and worry about spare production capacity among OPEC members are likely to keep it higher than $ 65 until the end of the year at least.

On top of higher benchmark prices, if the rupee remains around $ 70 per U.S. dollar, the oil import bill could swell to $ 114 billion. This would in turn pressure India’s economy further: the currency depreciation followed the latest trade deficit reading, which revealed India’s imports exceeded its exports by $ 18 billion. This is the highest trade deficit since 2013.

Earlier this year, India called on OPEC to take action and bring oil prices down, or risk a demand crunch. OPEC obliged, agreeing with Russia in June to boost combined production by a million barrels daily. However, the agreement and the subsequent increase in Russia’s and some OPEC members’ production failed to have a substantial effect on prices, as Saudi Arabia surprisingly produced 200,000 bpd less in July and a round of US sanctions against Iran came into effect.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

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Magnitude 6.3 earthquake hits Indonesia's Lombok island

A strong magnitude 6.3 earthquake has struck Indonesia’s Lombok island. The quake’s epicenter is located at a shallow depth of 7.9km. The island has been hit by a series of quakes recently, killing hundreds of people.

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Rescue team members prepare to find people trapped inside a mosque after an earthquake hit on Sunday in Pemenang, Lombok. © Beawiharta Beawiharta

The quake struck 64 km (40 miles) from the city of Mataram with a population of 400,000 people, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports. The tremor hit Lombok’s northern shore, some 6km (four miles) from the Mount Rinjani volcano. There have been no reports of injuries or damage so far.

In early August, Lombok suffered a magnitude 6.9 quake, followed by over 300 aftershocks. A total of at least 436 people have been killed as the tremors leveled buildings. That quake damaged tens of thousands of homes and left several hundred thousand people displaced. It also initially triggered a tsunami warning that was later called off.

Indonesia is located in a seismically active are and is frequently shaken by earthquakes. In 2004 it was hit by one of the deadliest quakes in recent history, a magnitude 9.1-9.3 event that triggered tsunami waves up to 30 meters tall. Over 220,000 people were killed or left missing then.

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Syria’s Aleppo rebuilding & getting its industry back on track (VIDEO)

City of Aleppo, once trading and industrial heart of Syria, is slowly coming back to life after years of fighting and occupation by militants who destroyed its industries.

Ancient Aleppo has seen years of fighting between the Syrian government forces and various militant groups. In December 2016, all parts of the city were liberated by the Syrian army and locals started to rebuild peaceful life.

While residential areas of Aleppo suffered greatly during the conflict, its industry has seemingly seen it worse. Before the war, Aleppo housed roughly one third of country’s industry, and all of its factories were damaged to a certain degree in the years-long fighting.

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RT crew visited a crucial textile factory in the city, which was rendered inoperable by the militants. Now the plant is back on track and is able yet again to provide its important production.

“The militants have stolen computer units with chips for the machines. They destroyed the factory on purpose. They wanted to damage Syrian industry as a whole and specifically industry in Aleppo,” the factory’s manager told RT.

Life is returning back to once busy streets of the ancient city, with merchants reopening their shops and customers flocking to the market.

“Two years ago, during the war we couldn’t even open our shops. Shelling, snipers were everywhere, you couldn’t live under such circumstances,” a local trader said.

“Thank God now we can work peacefully day and night. We just hang around, smoking, just like the good old days.”

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Outrage after London police call removal of homeless tents 'clean-up of environmental issue'

Police in the London borough of Camden have come under fire online after the department tweeted that it had cleaned up the belongings of homeless people, calling the presence of their possessions an “environmental issue.”

Camden Police took to the social network on Tuesday to inform residents that it had taken control of what it deemed to be “environmental issues at Tottenham Mews.” It included before and after photos of the clean-up.

But the Twittersphere had a thing or two to say about the matter, considering the “environmental issue” that was cleaned up was actually the possessions of people sleeping rough on the streets of London, including tents and clothing.

“I see environmental issues in the corner with the graffiti,” one person wrote in response to the photos. “But the main pic? I see someone’s clothes, someone’s bike, and someone’s tent, probably everything to some poor sod’s name.” He went on to question where the stuff went after it was cleaned up. “Hope you didn’t steal it.”

One person brought up yet another question. “What happened to the humans who were living there?”

Another person sarcastically gave the police a “well done” for “further dehumanizing people who are already hanging by a thread.”

One Twitter user had a simple message for the police. “Have some respect for these people. They have nothing,” she wrote.

Many said the police should be ashamed of themselves, while one person said there is no reason to respect officers if they don’t choose to put human lives first.

And another suggested that police focus on fighting crime, rather than “bullying homeless people.”

The UK has been faced with a rising homeless population for seven years. In 2017, the number of rough sleepers in England alone jumped 15 percent from the previous year, according to government figures. London represented 24 percent of England’s total rough sleepers in autumn 2017, according to the data.

In April, a Conservative MP claimed that Eastern Europeans were driving the rise in homelessness because they don’t want to pay for accommodation. However, figures from the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government found that only 16 percent of rough sleepers in the whole of England are EU nationals from outside the UK, while just four percent are from outside the EU. 

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'Peace is never a perfect achievement': Kofi Annan's most impactful quotes

Kofi Annan, who has passed away at the age of 80, held the post of UN chief during the time of several major international conflicts. His quotes reflect the challenges he saw in the world.

“To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.”

“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.”

“Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.”

“More than ever before in human history, we share a common destiny. We can master it only if we face it together. And that, my friends, is why we have the United Nations.”

“Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development.”

“Peace is never a perfect achievement.”

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Big boat in big trouble? UK beats ‘Russia threat’ drums as its new aircraft carrier heads for trials

The Royal Navy is sending its brand new £3 billion HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier to the US for trials. The ship will be well guarded, yet Navy bigwigs are still complaining about “frightening” Russians who might target it.

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British Eurofighter Typhoon jets. © Darren Staples

Top officers of the Navy have shared their concerns ahead of the first big journey of the behemoth 71,650-ton aircraft carrier across the Atlantic to the US. The ship will undergo trials there and make a port call in New York.

“Russian submarines are more active in the North Atlantic than they have been since the Cold War and we take that very seriously,” said Commodore Andrew Betton, commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group. “The ship will be well protected as she makes her transit across the Atlantic.”

The captain of the HMS Queen Elizabeth, Jerry Kyd, took that sentiment even further, stating that the “frightening” Russian activities he supposedly saw over the past couple of years were “quite eye-watering.” Betton stressed that the Navy is “not seeking confrontation” and that the ship is heading to the US solely for “trials,” speaking as though the carrier group had actually received threats.

While a confrontation between the two marine powers is unlikely, the British and Russian military traded barbs last year over their flagships. Russian Defense Ministry called the HMS Queen Elizabeth a “big convenient marine target,” comparing it to a queen bee that is not capable of defending itself without a “hive” of other warships.

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 Sir Stuart Peach... probably thinking about how much he hates Russia. © Matti Matikainen

That comment was made in response to former British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon calling Russia’s battle-hardened aircraft-carrying cruiser the Admiral Kuznetsov “old and dilapidated,” adding that Moscow should “envy” the British ship.

The remarks by the top Royal Navy officers were promptly picked up by British media, which mainly put emphasis on the ‘big scary Russians’ part. 

The articles “fit into the general tendency of replicating all sorts of false information in the context of the anti-Russian campaign,” the Russian embassy in the UK said in a statement. “The British simply have no real grounds for intimidating the public.”

The Royal Navy, along with British media, have indeed showed quite an obsession with “finding” and “intercepting” Russian warships and submarines sailing near Britain’s waters over the past few years. Even though the submarines were often not even in hiding, instead traveling openly in an underwater position, that did not stop the British media from hailing the Navy. In some extreme cases, Russian ships that were not even armed still required an escort from the Royal Navy.

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‘You hate Jesus’: Self-proclaimed US missionary charged with racist assault in Uganda (VIDEO)

A US citizen claiming to be a missionary has been charged with assault in Uganda after police reviewed footage of the man racially and physically abusing hotel staff.

Uganda Police received footage of the incident at the Grand Imperial Hotel, Kampala and arrested the suspect, identified as US citizen Jimmy Taylor, Friday. Taylor was detained at the Central Police Station, Kampala on charges of assault.

According to the Kampala Post Taylor told police that he was suffering from an illness that drove him to the attack. He also claimed to be a religious missionary and an ex-US Marine.

The four-minute video begins with the suspect standing behind the hotel reception desk knocking items to the ground. He then follows a staff member, aggressively confronting him by saying “you hate Jesus, you hate yourself,” before punching the worker.

He goes on to make several attempts to hit the man while repeatedly accusing the employee of having “disgraced Jesus.”

READ MORE: ‘Racial profiling’: Man fired after calling police on black neighbor at pool (VIDEO)

Taylor continues his rant, specifically targeting one employee who he appears to blame for being unable to access his room.

During the tirade, he uses several swear words, as well as the n-word. He also berates the country, claiming he came “to help Uganda but Uganda hates Jesus.”

The staff remain calm during the whole altercation despite the violence. At one point, another member of staff tries to abate the situation but is chastised by Taylor.“No! No! You obey what I say. I don’t obey you.”

After he receives his key card, Taylor walks straight up to the camera repeating his vulgar slurs against Uganda.

Video of the incident was shared online and quickly went viral, following in the footsteps of several similar clips where people have been caught on camera using racial slurs.

READ MORE: ‘Go back to your country’: Woman’s racist bus rant filmed in NY (VIDEOS)

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Champions Juventus leave it late but win as Ronaldo fails to find net on debut

A late goal from Federico Bernadeschi was enough for Juventus to overcome a plucky Chievo side who looked set to spoil Cristiano Ronaldo’s first game for the Italian champions.

There was high drama in the final minutes of the game as it had looked as though Mario Mandzukic had scored a late header for the Juventus but the goal was overturned after a VAR decision which appeared to rule the goal out for a Ronaldo handball in the build-up.

READ MORE: Pele wishes Cristiano Ronaldo luck ahead of Juventus debut

However, Bernadeschi’s late impact was enough to secure the three points in the season opener as Juventus chase their eighth successive Scudetto.

Ronaldo came close on several occasions, notably a close shot in the first half and a bullet header early in the second but try as he might the Portuguese superstar was unable to break his personal deadlock for his new club.

An early goal from Sami Khedira, just three minutes into the new season, suggested that Max Allegri’s side might run away with it but the excellent Emanuele Giaccherini set up a goal for Mariusz Stepinski to level the game before half-time.

Former Juventus man Giaccherini looked like he might break the hearts of his old club as found the net from the penalty spot ten minutes into the second half but Juventus, the most dominant Italian side of the last decade, pushed forward and had several chances to draw level.

An own goal from Mattia Bani, who deflected in a Leonardo Bonucci header from a set piece, eventually leveled matters but when Mandukic’s late effort was ruled out following a VAR decision, it seemed that the game would end in a deadlock.

Champions, they say, persevere and substitute Bernadeschi’s late goal three minutes into injury time ensured that Ronaldo ended his first game for his new team with a smile on his face and their first three points registered on the league table.

READ MORE: Can Cristiano Ronaldo maintain goal-scoring heroics against Serie A defenses?

It was no more than Juventus deserved, as they carved out 26 chances to Chievo’s 6 throughout the match but, as Ronaldo found out in his first game in Italy, the incredible goalscoring record he maintained in Spain may prove difficult to replicate on this new stomping grounds.

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North Korea slams Trump’s opponents for hampering peace efforts, denuclearization

North Korea lashed out at Donald Trump’s rivals for “a deadlock” in bilateral relations, calling upon the US leader to act in a “bold” manner, in a statement that differs dramatically from the North’s stance on the US last year.

In a lengthy editorial, Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North’s ruling party, praised US President Donald Trump for seeking to improve relations between Washington and Pyongyang. “However, he faces too many opponents,” it said.

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FILE PHOTO: South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

According to the paper, Democrats and even some Republicans are hampering Trump’s peace efforts and the media is undermining his policies. Bureaucrats and presidential aides are “speaking and moving in contradiction to the president’s will” and are “distorting facts and covering up his eyes and ears in order to mislead him to a wrong decision.”

The editorial says that the political opponents of the US president are “raising their voice, dismissing the Singapore joint statement and boycotting a declaration of an end to the war.” But what it thinks will end the “current deadlock in the DPRK-US relations” is “President Trump’s bold decision.”

Rodong Sinmun’s position shows a U-turn in North Korea’s attitude towards Donald Trump – from “hammers of war” in summer 2017 to “Trump’s improving ties with Pyongyang” a year later.

In June, Democratic congressional leaders slammed Trump for making concessions at the Singapore summit with Kim.  US Senator Chuck Schumer said that “by granting a meeting with Chairman Kim, President Trump has granted a brutal and repressive dictatorship the international legitimacy it has long craved.”

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Official North Korean Central News Agency image shows the demolition of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site © KCNA

Also in June, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) hinted at the need for war against North Korea, saying that “if diplomacy fails, as a last resort, Democrats and Republicans need to put the military option on the table or we’ll never get a good deal.” 

Only last summer, Trump himself threatened North Korea “with fire and fury,” calling the nation an “extraordinary threat” to the US. The North was also releasing menacing statements.

This spring, however, Trump took a different approach, which ultimately led to the “epochal” summit in Singapore in which North Korean denuclearization was agreed upon. After the summit, the US leader even claimed that there is no longer a nuclear threat from Pyongyang.

The anticipated Trump-Kim meeting came after the North demolished tunnels leading to an underground nuclear testing site. At one point, however, the summit was nearly canceled by Trump due to a change of heart.

The North’s process of denuclearization received different reactions from the US leader. In June, he insisted that Pyongyang should start the process “very quickly” and that “a lot of people” would be sent to North Korea to verify it. Later, he said there is “no rush” on denuclearization.

Trump remains adamant about sanctions on the country, stating on numerous occasions that North Korea should not expect an easing of restrictions any time soon.

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