JORDAN OPENS FIRST JOB CENTER IN SYRIAN REFUGEE CAMP

 

LONDON – Jordan has opened its first job center inside a refugee camp, unlocking work opportunities across the country for thousands living in the world’s largest Syrian refugee camp, the United Nations labor agency said on Tuesday.

So far, more than 800 refugees in Zaatari camp in Jordan, which borders Syria and is home to nearly 80,000 people, have registered for work permits at the job center, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said.

“Refugee workers now have a clear address to resort to when searching for jobs and applying for work permits, where they can receive all necessary information and benefit from expert support,” said Maha Kattaa, ILO response coordinator in Jordan, said in a statement.

The Jordanian government says the country is home to 1.4 million Syrians, of whom more than 660,000 are registered with the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

Allowing refugees to work in host countries relieves pressure on social services, boosts the local economy, and gives refugees the financial security to reestablish their lives, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said, which manages work permits and the flows in and out of Zaatari camp.

“I am confident that having an increased number of Syrians entering the labor market will positively impact the local economy and bring stability to refugee families,” said Stefano Severe, a UNHCR spokesman in Jordan.

Earlier this month Jordan became the first Arab country to issue Syrian refugees with a new type of work permit that opens up the growing construction sector.

The center, launched by the Jordanian government, will run job fairs and employment matching services with businesses across the country.
There are also plans to open a second center in a nearby camp in Azraq, ILO said.

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KURDS VOW TO MOVE ON INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM DESPITE PRESSURES TO DELAY

 

In mid-August, rumors and reports circulated that the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq may postpone its referendum on independence which is set for September 25. However after a week of talks and debate, including calls and pressure from abroad for the Kurds to consider the postponement, KRG President Masoud Barzani has held firm. “Postponing is not a possibility at all,” he was quoted telling a Saudi newspaper.

Kurdistan set its referendum date two months ago and there is now only a month to go until ballots are supposed to be cast. But an array of opposition to the vote has led to discussion in Erbil about what concessions or agreements might be necessary to put off the referendum.

On August 12, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Barzani and asked the Kurds to reconsider. Barzani’s office stated that “the people of Kurdistan Region would expect guarantees and alternatives for their future,” if they postponed the vote. On August 17, a Kurdish delegation in Baghdad met members of the Shia National Alliance.

Rudaw reported that the KRG could delay the referendum “if Baghdad, under the auspices of the international community promises to set another date for the referendum.”

In each case the Kurds demand that if they agree to postpone their right to a vote, the region receive something major in return. Kurdistan24 reported on Sunday that Mala Bakhtiar, executive secretary of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, a leading political party in the KRG, said the Iraqi central government should “assist the Kurds in overcoming a financial crises,” among other issues. According to other reports, the discussions in Baghdad centered around other guarantees relating to the Kurdish region’s oil and who will rule over disputed areas in Kirkuk, Sinjar and Khanaqin.

Ceng Sagnic, coordinator of the Kurdish Studies Forum at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University says the last weeks reveal tremendous pressure on Erbil. “These are all adding up to an image that the KRG is under heavy pressure to delay the referendum because there are rumors the US government is concerned that the referendum [taking place] before the Iraqi general elections will empower Iran’s role in Iraq.”

The Americans don’t want Haider Abadi weakened, especially as he has been a key ally with the US-led coalition against Islamic State. He replaced Nouri al-Maliki, who many blamed for allowing ISIS to conquer Mosul and part of the country in 2014. “As of now there is no decision to delay, the KEG High Election Committee is registering voters names and the budget has been allocated,” says Sagnic. He also says that Kurdish leaders in Erbil are “fed up” with promises from Baghdad and don’t have faith in carrying through its agreements.

The Kurds would want an ironclad guarantee from the US that if they postpone the election, they receive US support at a later date. They also want similar guarantees from Baghdad.

According to sources in Erbil, there’s a feeling that if now is not a good time for a referendum, when is? “If it’s not a good time to be independent, is it a good time to [continue being] a servant,” one Kurdish insider said.

However the KRG faces challenges not only from Baghdad and its friends in Washington, but also from its two neighbors, Turkey and Iran. Both countries have major investments in the Kurdish region. Although both have opposed the referendum and Ankara and Tehran recently held talks on cooperation, there is a feeling that economic interests may be more important than verbal opposition.

To allay regional fears, Barzani and the leaders of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, have stressed that the referendum is for a democratic and pluralistic Kurdistan. The region will be governed by federalism. All this is meant to assuage fears by minorities and smaller parties because the KRG has large numbers of Turkmen, Arabs and various religious minorities from Christian and Yazidi groups. For now September 25 is still the referendum date. Baghdad, riding a wave of power from its victory in Mosul over ISIS and its new battle in Tal Afar, doesn’t seem likely to bend on concessions that would lead to a change.

‘AUSCHWITZ ON THE BEACH’ EQUATES PLIGHT OF REFUGEES WITH DEATH CAMP

 

After a wave of criticism, including from the head of the Munich Jewish community, the “documenta 14” cultural center in the German city of Kassel canceled on Tuesday a performance exhibition likening the plight of refugees making their way to Europe by sea to Auschwitz.

In a statement on the exhibit titled “Auschwitz on the Beach,” the documenta 14 center wrote that in “reaction to the number of complaints and accusations which we received over the last weeks, we have decided to cancel the planned performance from Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi. We respect those who feel attacked by Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi’s poem. We do not want to add pain to their sorrow.”

Dr. Efraim Zuroff, head of the Jerusalem office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, “It is a very problematic tendency to compare all sorts of tragedies and plights of different people to Auschwitz. And very rarely are these comparisons worthy and accurate. Despite whatever sympathy we feel for the plight of refugees, their plight is not reminiscent of the plight of the Jews ordered to death camps and should not be compared.”

Charlotte Knobloch, head of Munich’s Jewish community, said on Friday about the exhibit: “What is planned here is a grotesque production.” While it is important to highlight the fate of refugees and the partial failure of the EU and international community to address the current crisis, it is “unacceptable and intolerable” to use the interests of refugees to “relativize the Holocaust,” she said.

The installation was slated to run in Kassel – with a population of nearly 198,000 in the state of Hesse – beginning on Thursday for three days.

The documenta 14 center claims it is the world’s largest exhibitor of modern art, with 160 artists from across the globe currently represented there.

According to the “Auschwitz on the Beach” production text, the author wrote, “The Europeans build on their territory concentration camps and pay their gauleiter [head of a district annexed by Nazi Germany] in Turkey, Libya and Egypt to carry out the dirty work along the coast of the Mediterranean where salt water has replaced Zyklon B.”

Knobloch, who survived the Holocaust in hiding in Bavaria, termed the text “obscene” and “absolutely blind to history.”

Berardi, who was born in Bologna in 1949, is an Italian Marxist. His poem, a soundtrack and pictures make up the “Auschwitz on the Beach” installation.

Kassel Mayor Christian Geselle told the HNA news outlet on Monday the exhibit is “an outrageous provocation.”

The city’s cultural official Boris Rhein told hessenschau.de news outlet the same day: “Freedom of art is highly valued,” but slammed comparisons between the Shoah and the refugee crisis, saying “the crimes of the Nazis were unique.”

Martin Sehmisch, the head of an organization fighting Antisemitism (Informationsstelle Antisemitismus Kassel) in the city, called the announcement of the installation a “statement of political and moral bankruptcy from those in charge” at documenta 14.

Posers or terrorists? Deaths put spotlight on Florida neo-Nazi group

TAMPA, Flrida (AP) — The friendship of the four young roommates — though cemented in the dark trappings of an obscure neo-Nazi group called Atomwaffen Division — never seemed destined for bloodshed.

One was described as a former science nerd, serving in the Florida National Guard. Two others worked temp jobs at a recycling plant and talked about joining the military. The fourth caught flak from his roommates for wasting his days with video games.

Now two of the young men are dead, the other two are in jail and authorities are left to answer this question: Was Atomwaffen Division plotting violent acts or were the four young men merely posers?

Four days after police say one of the roommates shot and killed two others, Atomwaffen posted an ominous video on YouTube depicting members standing with arms extended in “Heil Hitler” salutes and posing with guns in front of a swastika flag, their faces obscured by images of skulls. It ended with a stark slogan: “Join your local Nazis.”

Kianna Kaizer, of Walpole, Mass., girlfriend of 22-year-old murder victim Jeremy Himmelman (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Inside the apartment the men shared, authorities said they found guns, ammunition and bomb-making material, along with a framed picture of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh on a bedroom dresser.

After his arrest in May on murder charges, Devon Arthurs, the group’s 18-year-old co-founder, told police detectives that he killed his roommates to thwart a terrorist attack by Atomwaffen, which is German for “atomic weapon.”

‘I’m a neo-Nazi. I’m not a monster’

“I prevented the deaths of a lot of people,” Arthurs said in a rambling statement. Asked why his roommates would plan such an attack, he responded, “Because they want to build a Fourth Reich.”

The victims’ families insist, however, that the two slain young men were transitioning to new phases in their lives. And another Atomwaffen member characterizes the group as simply a band of trolls who delight in provoking outrage with stunts like picketing at a vigil for victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting.

This photo made available May 20, 2017, by the Tampa Police Department, Florida, shows Devon Arthurs, 18. (Tampa Police Department via AP)

“I’m a neo-Nazi. I’m not a monster,” William Tschantre told The Associated Press.

Atomwaffen doesn’t have near the numbers or the notoriety of some of the white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups that gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, for this month’s deadly rally. Tschantre and others estimate that it has only a few dozen members nationwide.

But federal investigators say they believe the May 19 shooting exposed evidence of a credible threat to the public. In the condo’s garage, they say they found volatile explosive material stored in a cooler, near homemade detonator components and several pounds of ammonium nitrate. Two sources of radiation also were detected on the premises, they say.

FBI agents have filed explosives charges against Atomwaffen’s leader, 21-year-old Brandon Russell, who was dressed in a military uniform and crying outside the apartment when Arthurs led officers to the grisly scene. Arthurs said Russell, who had just returned home from his Florida National Guard duties, knew nothing about the killings. But he accused Russell of stockpiling explosives to bomb power lines, nuclear reactors and synagogues.

Russell told investigators that he had used the material to boost homemade rockets, but a federal judge agreed he posed a risk to the public and ordered him detained. The judge added, however, that he was troubled investigators hadn’t presented more evidence to corroborate Arthurs’ claims about Atomwaffen.

Arthurs’ accusations against his slain roommates — 18-year-old Andrew Oneschuk and 22-year-old Jeremy Himmelman, leader of Atomwaffen’s Massachusetts branch — have angered their grieving relatives. Their families dismiss his claims as the self-serving rantings of a sociopath who initially told investigators that he killed his friends for teasing him about his recent conversion to Islam.

The slain men’s relatives and friends reject any neo-Nazi labels, but do not dispute that they shared an interest in right-wing ideologies.

Kianna Kaizer, Himmelman’s girlfriend, called his “political side” only a small part of his life but acknowledged he held decidedly far-right beliefs.

“Jeremy went through a lot of struggle in his life, and national socialism offered him the rigidity he desired, and offered him solutions for the things out of his control,” she wrote in an email.

A white supremacist carrying a Nazi flag into Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, August 12, 2017. (AP/Steve Helber)

Walter Oneschuk said that when Andrew was 15, he had blocked his son’s computer from accessing sites rife with racist and anti-Semitic content. But he said Andrew changed after briefly joining the French Foreign Legion last November, just six months shy of turning 18.

Andrew’s fervor for far-right extremism waned after his return from France, Oneschuk said. “He realized this stuff was not his future,” the father said.

It was the lure of free rent and bountiful fishing opportunities that convinced Himmelman and Oneschuk to leave Massachusetts and spend part of the summer in Florida.

Himmelman had toyed with joining the military, but instead planned to use the time to plot his next move, friends and family said. And Andrew Oneschuk’s father said his son had met with a Navy recruiter in April and looked forward to a military career.

Tensions between the four roommates quickly mounted. Kaizer said Himmelman and Oneschuk often teased Arthurs for having no job and spending most of his time playing video games.

Oneschuk told his father that he was tired of Arthurs’ attempts to convert him to Islam.

In this Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017 photo family members of 18-year-old murder victim Andrew Oneschuk, from the left, mother Chris, father Walter, and sister Emily, stand for a portrait at their home in Wakefield, Mass. Devon Arthurs, 18, co-founder of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen, which is German for "atomic weapon," was arrested on murder charges in the shooting death of two roommates, including Oneschuk, in Florida, in May of 2017. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Arthurs’ religious rhetoric also annoyed other Atomwaffen members, according to Tschantre. The night before the shooting, Arthurs argued with them about his conversion during an online chat, Tschantre said.

Himmelman and Oneschuk didn’t join in the chat, but Tschantre said he suspects the heated exchange could explain how Arthurs’ anger turned into violence the next evening.

In anonymous internet posts, Atomwaffen members hailed Oneschuk and Himmelman as fallen heroes and assailed Arthurs as a race traitor. A tribute on IronMarch, a website for the “global fascist fraternity,” included swastika-stamped photos of the slain men.

In a 2015 post on IronMarch, Russell had described Atomwaffen as a “fanatical, ideological band of comrades who do both activism and militant training.”

“Keyboard warriorism is nothing to do with what we are,” he wrote.

Austrian soccer fan gets 18 months for Nazi salute

An Austrian soccer fan has been given an 18-month prison sentence for a Hitler salute during a match, falling foul of the country’s tough laws against Nazi glorification.

The unemployed 39-year-old from top-flight Rapid Vienna’s “ultra” wing of hardline fans was spotted performing the banned gesture during a match in August 2016 and sentenced in Vienna on Monday.

“I didn’t really give it much thought. But it clearly wasn’t a good idea,” the skinhead told the court, saying he had had “a few beers and spritzers” before the game.

Similar convictions are relatively common but usually the sentences are suspended. In this case, however, than man had a previous conviction for wishing Hitler happy birthday on Facebook in 2013.

Rapid Vienna is Austria’s most successful club with 32 league titles but its hardcore “ultra” supporters have a reputation for hooliganism and anti-Semitism.

Earlier this year, the the team launched an internal probe into its fans who had chanted anti-Semitic slogans at a friendly game in May.

A small group among the several hundred spectators were filmed shouting “Jewish pigs” after Rapid II lost 2-1 against arch rival Austria Vienna in Tuesday evening’s clash.

Rapid at the time described the behavior as “unforgivable,” saying it “trampled on the club’s values and principles.”

“Anyone who is found to have joined in these insults will be immediately banned from SK Rapid events,” the club said in a statement sent to AFP.

Wiesenthal Center program against racism part of Youth Olympic games

BUENOS AIRES — The Simon Wiesenthal Center program against Racism in Sport will be implemented in the 2018 Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games with the support of the Organization of American States.

The “Eleven Points Against Racism in Football” program works with sport authorities, athletes and referees to stop and prevent racial hatred in sport matches and events and to use sports as a bond between peoples.

On Tuesday, the Latin American representative of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Dr. Ariel Gelblung, confirmed to JTA the agreement with OAS and its support to implement the program during next year’s global event organized by the Olympic Committee in Buenos Aires for young sportsman.

On Friday OAS confirmed its decision to grant its support to the program as a way to fight for fundamental rights.

“If we succeed in eradicating racism, xenophobia and discrimination in sport we can generate a greater awareness in society. As Nelson Mandela has shown, sport is a powerful tool for changing unacceptable behaviors and promoting inclusive societies,” Organization of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro said in a letter to the Wiesenthal Center.

“Over the next year, we look forward to working hard to adopt the program in the lead up to the 2018 Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games,” said Gelblung, who is planning an educational site inside the Olympic village in Buenos Aires.

The initiative was inspired by a similar program, Football Against Racism in Europe, or FARE, to prevent violence in major sporting events.

In March 2012, the Wiesenthal Center called on the Argentine Football Association to penalize the Chacarita Juniors club over anti-Semitic chants from its fans against Atlanta, a team associated with the Jewish community. One year later, the center asked for sanctions against Atlanta for making racist chants against rival Chacarita.

Israel will participate in the 2018 youth Olympic games, which has soccer star Lionel Messi as one of its main supporters, in which athletes from 206 countries ages 15 to 18 years old will compete in Buenos Aires, October 6 -18, the third edition of the global sport main event for youth organized by the Olympic committee.

Judge releases one Spanish terror suspect, remands two

MADRID, Spain — A Spanish judge Tuesday released one suspect in the terror attacks that claimed 15 lives and wounded more than 100 people last week, saying evidence against him was weak, but remanded two others.

National Court Judge Fernando Abreu ordered that Mohamed Houli Chemlal, a 21-year-old Spaniard, and Driss Oukabir, a 27-year-old Moroccan, be held while the investigation continued after questioning them for several hours.

Chemlal is suspected of preparing explosive devices at a house south of Barcelona while Oukabir is suspected of renting a white van that ploughed into crowds in Barcelona on Thursday, killing 13 people.

But the judge ordered the conditional release of Mohamed Aalla, the owner of the Audi that was used in a second vehicle attack in the seaside town of Cambrils in the early hours of Friday that killed one person.

Mohamed Aallaa, suspected of involvement in the terror cell that carried out twin attacks in Spain, is escorded by Spanish Civil Guards from a detention center in Tres Cantos, near Madrid, on August 22, 2017 before being tranferred to the National Court.(AFP PHOTO / STRINGER)

The judge wrote in his ruling that there was not at this point “evidence to establish his participation in the events, aside from being the formal owner” of the vehicle which was in fact being used by his younger brother.

Aalla will have to report regularly to police and is prohibited from leaving Spain.

He is still under formal investigation but has not been formally indicted unlike Chemlal and Oukabir who have been charged with terror related offences.

The judge will investigate further the fourth suspect arrested over the attacks, Salh El Karib, before deciding if he will be released or remanded in custody, the source added. The judge will decide the fate of this suspect within three days.

The four were the only surviving suspects from the terror cell that carried out the attacks.

Former Libya prime minsiter kidnapped in Tripoli

Libya’s former prime minister Ali Zeidan has been kidnapped by an armed group in war-torn Tripoli and not been heard from in nine days, family members and friends said Tuesday.

Zeidan, who became premier in November 2012, was dismissed by Libya’s parliament in March 2014 amid accusations that public funds had been embezzled. He left the country soon afterwards, in defiance of a travel ban issued by the attorney general.

Zeidan had returned to Libya in early August for the first time since his dismissal and was planning a Tripoli press conference to respond to his critics, according to Karam Khaled, a friend who accompanied him. He said the former premier’s visit had been coordinated with Fayez al-Sarraj, premier in the country’s United Nations-backed Government of National Accord.

“It was the GNA that prepared the visit, including protocol at the airport and the hotel reservation,” Khaled said, adding that an armed group’s first attempt to seize Zeidan on August 12 was foiled by hotel guards.

Khaled said the gunmen were from the GNA-linked Tripoli Revolutionary Brigade, a militia of former rebels from the NATO-backed 2011 uprising that led to the overthrow and killing of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

“Gunmen from the same group returned the next day and we were obliged to hand them Zeidan,” Khaled said.

“Since then, we have had no information on where he is being held or his condition,” he said, criticizing the “silence” of the unity government.

The ex-prime minister’s son Zeidan Zeidan said the family had no news of his father’s whereabouts. “We have nothing so far,” he said by phone from the United Arab Emirates, where he lives.

He said his father’s lawyer had told him no court cases had been brought against the former premier. “This was indeed a kidnapping and not an arrest,” he said, adding that the family is worried for the health of his father, who is 67.

In October 2013, gunmen seized the then premier from Tripoli’s luxury Corinthia Hotel, but he was released after several hours.

Since Muammar Gaddafi’s fall, Libya has been plagued by security problems and political actors have been obliged to depend on rival militias that are battling for control of the North African country.

Moroccans shaken by links to extremist attacks in Europe

RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Morocco has long considered itself a haven of stability in a volatile region and a key ally in the fight against Islamic extremism, but in recent months, it has found itself shaken by carnage in Europe blamed on Moroccans who moved abroad.

Young men from the North African nation have been involved in deadly terror attacks in Paris and Brussels, and — just last week — emerged as suspects in terrorism in Spain and Finland. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility.

In the days after attacks on Barcelona’s famed Las Ramblas and a seaside resort killed 15 people, shocked and horrified relatives and friends of the suspects gathered with the Muslim community in their Spanish town of Ripoll to denounce terrorism.

Their families in Morocco issued similar statements and also said that anything the young men learned about extremism had taken place away from home.

Members of the local Muslim community gather along with relatives of young men believed responsible for the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils to denounce terrorism and show their grief in Ripoll, north of Barcelona, Spain, Sunday Aug. 20, 2017. Sheets read in Catalan: 'We all are Barcelona', 'This affects all of us', 'Not in the name of Islam' and 'Everybody against terrorism' (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

The 12-member cell accused of carrying out the attacks in Spain was made up of brothers and childhood friends from Ripoll — young men described as integrated, well-liked and responsible members of their tight-knit community.

“Pilot, teacher, doctor …. How could this have disappeared? What happened to you?” their school counselor, Raquel Rull, wrote in a despairing column published Tuesday in La Vanguardia newspaper. “What are we doing to make these things happen! You were so young, so full of life you had a lifetime ahead … and a thousand dreams to fulfill.”

Spanish police Monday shot and killed Younes Abouyaaqoub, a 22-year-old Moroccan who was thought to be the driver in the van attack on Las Ramblas that was responsible for 13 of the deaths. He also was identified as a suspect in the slaying of the owner of a hijacked car.

His grandfather, Aqbouch Abouyaaqoub, told the Spanish newspaper El Pais that Younes left Morocco as a young boy.

“But one thing is certain: My grandson did not finish his studies here. He studied in Spain,” he said.

Prominent Moroccan Islam expert Bilal Talidi cited multiple causes for radicalization among Moroccans after moving to Europe: “the tug-of-war between two identities and two educational cultures, social marginalization, a precarious economic situation and a criminal record.”

Since the rise of the Islamic State group, experts say its recruitment has been less focused on religious motivation. Instead, the group has successfully sought out relatively secular young men with a foot in both cultures. An estimated 1,600 Moroccans have joined in recent years.

Politicians and experts decry the government’s failure to grasp the scope of young Moroccans’ problems at home and in immigrant communities abroad, and are searching for ways to infuse their countrymen everywhere with this message of religious moderation.

Moroccans have not been the only ones staging attacks in Europe; violence has been carried out by emigres from Tunisia, Algeria, Pakistan and Libya, as well as those from European backgrounds. Moroccans also have been victims: Dozens have died in attacks in Casablanca and Marrakech.

In this combination photo, four un-named alleged members of a terror cell accused of killing 15 people in attacks in Barcelona leaves a Civil Guard base on the outskirts of Madrid before appearing in court in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday Aug. 22, 2017. (AP Photo)

Spain has been the main destination for Moroccans for decades. The two countries nearly touch across the Strait of Gibraltar, and Spain has two enclaves in North Africa separated from Morocco by a multiple barbed wire fences intended to prevent illegal crossings.

Moroccan security officials have made fighting extremism a priority, and the government says that since 2002, they have dismantled 167 terrorist cells and thwarted 341 attacks.

King Mohammed VI routinely criticizes jihadism and the discourse of radical Islam.

“In the face of the proliferation of closed-minded ideas in the name of religion, everyone — Muslims, Christians, Jews — should form a common front to counter fanaticism, hate and isolationism in all its forms,” he said in a speech last year. He urged Moroccans abroad to “remain attached to the values of their religion and their secular traditions in the face of this phenomenon that is foreign to them.”

Since the 1970s, Morocco has worked to supervise religious teaching of its communities abroad through multiple government agencies, according to Abdelkrim Benatiq, the minister for Moroccans abroad.

Asked by The Associated Press about those efforts, Benatiq referred questions to the Islamic Affairs Ministry, which did not respond to requests for comment.

The government has earmarked $24.5 million for these efforts this year alone, in addition to imam training programs by the Mohammed VI Institute.

But Talidi cautioned that “religious frameworks cannot provide much help for youth with criminal records, who don’t go to places of worship or religious teaching.”

He added that “Morocco places people who are not supported by the community abroad to religious posts, which creates a climate of tension and divisions, instead of working in a spirit of partnership with people who are more representative” of the local population. At the center of the cell was an itinerant imam who, his family told El Mundo newspaper, had not lived in Morocco in 15 years.

Youssef Gharbi, president of the commission for foreign affairs, Islamic affairs and Moroccans abroad in the lower house of parliament, said one of the main challenges is how to pass along Morocco’s cultural heritage and identity based on tolerance to a younger generation of emigres.

Muslim residents of Barcelona demonstrate at Plaza de Catalunya in Barcelona, to protest against terrorism following Barcelona and Cambrils attacks on August 19, 2017, three days after a van plowed into the crowd, killing 13 persons and injuring over 100. Message reads "I believe in Islam and no in terror." (AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANO)

“Their views of their identity and of Islam are deformed, and based on a radical interpretation of religion,” Gharbi said.

He wants parliament to make this issue a priority.

“A large number of youth of the third and fourth generation of Moroccans abroad don’t know our country,” Gharbi added. “Their desire to reconnect with religion is sometimes made in a violent way.”

He proposes cultural programs for Moroccans born abroad that encompass more than just religion, with coordinated efforts among government agencies, nongovernment actors and community groups.

Rull, the school counselor who knew all of the attackers, implied in her column that the answer must go deeper and reach across the Mediterranean. The day after Abouyaaqoub was shot to death, she had more questions than answers.

“How could this be, Younes? My fingers tremble. I have never seen anyone as responsible as you,” she wrote.

US to withhold up to $290 million in aid from Egypt — report

The United States will be withholding roughly $290 million in aid to Egypt due to Cairo’s failure to rein in human rights abuses, Reuters reported Tuesday.

According to the report $95.7 million will be denied and an additional $195 million will be delayed after the government led by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi was unable to show progress in promoting democratic norms, in the eyes of the US, Reuters reported citing two sources close to the issue.

The decision was partly in response to Sissi’s May approval of a contentious new law that calls for heavy regulation of Egyptian NGOs, one source told Reuters. Amnesty International called the legislation a “catastrophic blow” that could be a “death sentence” for human rights groups in Egypt.

Spokespeople for the White House and the State Department were not immediately available for comment.

That $195 million be held until Egypt’s record on democracy and civil liberties improves.

“We remain concerned about Egypt’s lack of progress in key areas, including human rights and the new NGO law,” the source told Reuters.

Authorities have led a brutal crackdown on all forms of opposition, at times targeting human rights organizations directly, since then-army chief Sissi overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

President Donald Trump welcomes Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi to the West Wing of the White House, April 3, 2017. (Mark Wilson Wilson/Getty Images via JTA)

The human-rights issue dampened relations between the White House and Cairo under former president Barack Obama, but Donald Trump’s administration appeared to take a different approach to dealing with Sissi almost immediately.

When the Egyptian leader visited Washington in February, Trump told reporters the Egyptian president would be someone “very close to me.” A post-meeting statement cited their mutual commitment to fighting terrorism and strengthening Egypt’s economy, making no mention of Sissi’s crackdown on domestic opponents that has been widely condemned by international rights monitors.

But the civil liberties issue hasn’t been completely ignored by Trump. The US president was said to have used his early sit-down with Sissi to broker the release of a US-Egyptian charity worker who had been in detention in Cairo for over three years on charges human rights groups denounced as “arbitrary.”

The US provides Egypt with some the $1.3 billion each year as part of the 1979 peace treaty with Israel. Israel receives more than $3 billion. This is not the first time that the US has used its aid to Cairo as a lever.

In 2013 following the overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically elected leader, Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, the US suspended half the aid and withheld military assistance, including 12 F-16 fighter jets, 20 missiles and up to 125 tank kits. It was only restored nearly two years later.

Israel has reportedly interceded on behalf of Cairo, asking the US not to cut aid, fearing it could destabilize Egypt and undermine the close security cooperation between the two countries.