Philippines arrests militant widow for trying to recruit Daesh fighters

Karen Aizha Hamidon is presented during a press conference at the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila on October 18. Authorities have arrested Hamidon who allegedly used the Internet and social media to recruit Daesh followers around the world. (AFP)
Updated 18 October 2017
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Philippines arrests militant widow for trying to recruit Daesh fighters

MANILA: Philippine law enforcement agents have arrested a woman who tried to spread radical ideas and recruit hundreds of foreigners to reinforce pro-Daesh rebels occupying a southern city, the justice minister said on Wednesday.
Karen Aizha Hamidon, the widow of a former leader of a small extremist group in Mindanao, was arrested by special agents at her home in a Manila suburb a week ago and has been charged with inciting to rebellion, Vitaliano Aguirre told a news conference.
Hamidon is accused of using social media and messaging apps to call on foreigners to join the siege by an alliance of Daesh loyalists in Marawi City, a battle that has lasted nearly five months.
The military says the conflict, the biggest security crisis in years in the Philippines, is now in its final stages and has killed more than 1,000 people, mostly rebels.
“This is a welcome development in the fight against terrorism,” Aguirre said.
Agents found she had made 296 posts in chatrooms on Telegram and WhatsApp “calling on Muslims in the Philippines, India and Singapore to come to Marawi to establish a province of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” he said.
There were also about 250 names, mostly foreigners, in her phonebook who were suspected of being Daesh sympathizers.
Dressed in a black burqa, Hamidon was paraded before the media but was not allowed to speak. Her laptop, mobile phones and electronic gadgets were being looked at by experts for forensic investigation.
Hamidon, a Muslim convert, was married to Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, alias Tokboy, the former leader of radical group Ansar Al-Khilafa. He was killed in a gunfight with police in January.
Aguirre said she was also linked to Singaporean and Australian extremists, both of whom are in detention in their countries.
But counter-terrorism expert Sidney Jones cast doubts about whether Hamidon had been effective. Jones said her presence in chatrooms of Daesh supporters was not welcomed, her credibility had been questioned and some participants blamed her for the arrests of radicals.
“Everyone hates her and thinks she’s a spy,” Jones said.


Scientific study finds asylum seekers boosting European economies

Updated 21 June 2018
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Scientific study finds asylum seekers boosting European economies

  • Asylum seekers contributed most to a country’s gross domestic product after three to seven years, the research found
  • The findings come amid a rise of anti-immigrant sentiment across Europe, where immigration peaked in 2015 with the arrival of more than a million refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa

NEW YORK: Asylum seekers moving to Europe have raised their adopted nations’ economic output, lowered unemployment and not placed a burden on public finances, scientists said on Wednesday.
An analysis of economic and migration data for the last three decades found asylum seekers added to gross domestic products and boosted net tax revenues by as much as 1 percent, said a study published in Science Advances by French economists.
The findings come amid a rise of anti-immigrant sentiment across Europe, where immigration peaked in 2015 with the arrival of more than a million refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa.
An annual report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees released on Tuesday showed the global number of refugees grew by a record 2.9 million in 2017 to 25.4 million.
The research from 1985 to 2015 looked at asylum seekers — migrants who demonstrate a fear of persecution in their homeland in order to be resettled in a new country.
“The cliché that international migration is associated with economic ‘burden’ can be dispelled,” wrote the scientists from the French National Center for Scientific Research, the University of Clermont-Auvergne and Paris-Nanterre University.
The research analyzed data from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Asylum seekers contributed most to a country’s gross domestic product after three to seven years, the research found. They marginally lowered unemployment rates and had a near-zero impact of public finances, it said.
Greece, where the bulk of migrants fleeing civil war in Syria have entered Europe, was not included because fiscal data before 1990 was unavailable, it said.
Chad Sparber, an associate professor of economics at the US-based Colgate University, said the study was a reminder there is no convincing economic case against humanitarian migration.
But he warned against dismissing the views of residents who might personally feel a negative consequence of immigration.
“There are people who do lose or suffer,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“Immigration on balance is good,” he said. “But I still recognize that it’s not true for every person.”