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  • Syrian War: will extremists recruit Latin American gangsters?

    first_imgBy Dialogo May 15, 2014 Possible ties to Salvadoran gang Foreigners fighting in Syria The Westside Armenian Power gang has formed alliances with the Mexican Mafia, a powerful prison gang which operates primarily in California. The Mexican Mafia is also allied with Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, a violent transnational gang that was formed by Central American nationals in the early 1980s in Los Angeles. In the 1980s, the gang spread back to its original members’ home countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Estimates of the number of Mara Salvatrucha members in Central America vary widely. There are about 25,000 Mara Salvatrucha members in Central America, according to the website gangs.umd.edu. Other estimates are much higher. Robert Walker, a former U.S. Border Patrol and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent, is certified to testify as an expert about gangs in U.S. court trials and trains police agencies about gangs. Walker estimates there are as many as 250,000 Mara Salvatrucha members in Central America. The alleged involvement of two members of Los Angeles street gangs in Syria’s civil war may encourage extremist Middle Eastern groups to recruit other gang members from Latin America, according to Rafael Martinez, a columnist who often writes about security issues for El Vocero Nacional. “It is very likely that extremist groups (will) recruit gang members, especially in Central America, to commit terrorism,” Martinez said. “They can do it through the temptation of money or the exchange of weapons. We must bear in mind that in these countries there are areas where street gangs can be corrupted by money.” The two Los Angeles men who appeared in an Internet video and claimed to be pro-government fighters in Syria’s civil war were identified by United States officials as Syrian nationals who were deported from the U.S. in recent years. U.S. officials identified one of the men, who called himself “Wino” on the video, as Nerses Kilajyan, 31. (There are several variations of the spelling of his name in official records.) Wino is a Syrian national who was living in the U.S. before immigration authorities deported him in 2012. Immigration authorities deported Wino after he had allegedly committed several offenses, including driving under the influence and receiving stolen property, authorities said. Wino is affiliated with the Westside Armenian Power gang, authorities said. The other man, who called himself “Creeper” in the video, is Sarou Madarian, who is also a Syrian national. U.S. immigration authorities deported Creeper in 2010. International attention center_img As many as 11,000 foreigners are believed to be actively fighting in the Syrian civil war, which has claimed 130,000 lives in the past three years. U.S. intelligence officials have said that at least 50 Americans have joined extremist rebel groups fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad. But the case of Wino and Creeper could be the first time that people with links to the U.S. say they are fighting on the government’s side. “This is very unique because these guys are over there, and they are with the pro-Syria forces and pro-Hezbollah forces,” Steven Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute, told CNN. “We have been monitoring foreign fighters over the years, and there has been a handful of Americans going to fight, but they have been going to fight against Assad.” In the video Wino and Creeper offer no political or religious reason for allegedly fighting for the Assad government. However, Wino is said to be a member of the Armenian Christian community, many of whom support the Assad government. On his Facebook page Wino allegedly wrote that “I do anythink (sic) to portect (sic) my ppl, (people),” according to press reports. “Only my ppl all Armenians and ready to die for my ppl.” Armenian Christians and other Christians accounted for about 10 percent of Syria’s population before the uprising began in 2011, although many have since fled the country as refugees. Some anti-government Islamist extremist groups have launched attacks against the Christian population. The attacks include desecration of churches and the seizure of nuns as hostages, according to press reports. Still gangbanging’ Wino and Creeper attracted international attention in March after they appeared in an Internet video that reportedly was shot in Syria. In the video the two men, dressed in camouflage fatigues and with shaven heads, displayed gang tattoos, shouted out greetings to their “homies” back in the U.S., and fired assault rifles at unseen enemies. In the video Wino identified himself as a member of the Westside Armenian Power gang, while Creeper claimed to be a member of the Sun Valley GW-13 gang, also known as the “Grumpy Wynos. The Armenian Power gang, also known as AP-13, is a Los Angeles-based criminal group that is involved in kidnapping, extortion, bank fraud and narcotics trafficking, according to U.S. authorities. It is primarily composed of Armenian-Americans and Armenian immigrants, but it is allied with the Mexican Mafia. T he Grumpy Wynos gang is a criminal small group based in the San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles. Although primarily Hispanic, it may have a few non-Hispanic members, according to authorities. The video featuring the two men was publicized March 1 by the Middle East Media Research Institute, a Washington-based organization that monitors Middle East-related news stories and social-media postings. The institute posted the video on YouTube. In the disjointed, obscenity-laced, two-minute and twenty-seconds long video, the two men speak in a patois of American-style English, Spanish and gang talk. ‘ “We got the enemigos (enemies) right there, homie,” Creeper says to the camera in the video while standing behind a battered block wall. “In Middle East, homie, in Syria, still gangbanging.” “In Syria, homie, we’re in Syria homie, frontline, homie,” Wino says after shooting a few wild shots over the wall. There was no return fire from the alleged “enemigos.” On his now-inactive Facebook page Wino was identified as “Wino Ayee Peeyakan.” On the page Wino said he was working with the Syrian Army alongside the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, although there is no way to independently verify his claim. The Facebook page showed photos of him posing with fighters in Hezbollah garb, according to press reports. The Lebanese Shiite group has helped Syrian President Bashar Assad fight against rebel groups. last_img read more

  • Yaphank Hit-and-run Driver Sought

    first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Suffolk County police are asking for the public’s help in finding the hit-and-run driver that struck a man in Yaphank and left him for dead last week, authorities said.A pedestrian walking on the northbound shoulder of Yaphank Middle Island Road when he was hit by an SUV between Main Street and the Middle Island Country Club at 6 p.m. Jan. 18, police said.Seventh Precinct Crime Section officers suspect that the vehicle is possibly a 2002 or 2003 charcoal gray Toyota 4Runner, similar to the one in the photo. The passenger-side mirror broke off at the scene and the vehicle may have sustained damage to the rear passenger side quarter panel.The victim was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential. A cash reward of up to $5,000 is being offered for information that leads to an arrest.last_img read more

  • Mexican president passes coronavirus buck to allies, rivals, business

    first_img“If I was worried, if things were out of control, I would tell you, because I always tell the truth,” he said on Friday in a video posted from his seat on a plane as he prepared to take off for a weekend tour. “But that’s not how things are.”Others are taking precautions anyway.The lower house of Congress this week passed a bill to create a 181 billion peso emergency fund. The central bank made an unscheduled interest rate cut on Friday.Streets and offices in major cities are emptying as bosses and local leaders urge people to reduce social interaction. Some fear that failure to do enough may end up hurting the very people the president says he wants to protect.Javier Alfaro, an employee of an international drinks firm, went into self-isolation with his girlfriend several days ago, cutting off all physical contact with family and friends.”It bothers me a lot when I hear the president,” said Alfaro, 35, who fears for his elderly mother. “I can understand worries about the economy and [the poor], but if you’re putting many people at risk, it’s something that’s also bad for the people.”Late on Thursday, Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, a close ally of Lopez Obrador, delivered a video message in which she urged inhabitants of the capital to stay at home. On Friday, traffic flowed freely in a city notorious for its gridlock.The same day, governors of three opposition-run northern states unveiled a joint plan to tackle the virus, readying steps that would enable them to close public spaces, including bars.Outsourcing Lopez Obrador has lashed out against criticism of his response to the global pandemic by saying his adversaries are seeking to exploit fears to undermine him.On Monday, he justified ignoring his own health ministry’s public advice to reduce direct human contact by saying his job was to keep up the spirits of the population.At the same time, he has shifted responsibility for some actions to others, saying he would wind down the mass rallies when a deputy health minister standing next to him told him to.A government source said Sheinbaum’s “stay at home” broadcast had been coordinated in advance with the presidency, which a spokesman for the mayor confirmed. A spokesman for the presidency did not reply to a request for comment.Businesses, meanwhile, are taking cues from abroad.Ana Lopez Mestre, director general of the American Chamber of Commerce, said many international companies had begun to act because they saw what was happening in other countries.”This is something very positive that has come out of society,” said Lopez Mestre, who is now working from home.At Mr. Tofu, a vegan shop in the capital’s Condesa neighborhood, a young shop attendant wearing rubber gloves stopped customers from entering and took orders at the door.”I proposed this measure,” she said, declining to give her name. “My whole family is old, and they’re very vulnerable.”  As Mexico scrambles to contain the coronavirus outbreak, many initiatives aimed at tempering the threat have come not from the president, but lesser officials, businesses and ordinary people.Mexico’s peso has plunged to record lows against the dollar and analysts expect the economy to suffer a major hit.President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says there is no cause for alarm, and is continuing to hold regular public rallies around Mexico. He argues the country must keep going to limit damage to the economy lest it hurt the poor and the elderly.center_img Topics :last_img read more

  • Gov. Wolf: $20 Million to Help Schools Provide Services to Students with Special Needs

    first_img August 20, 2020 Education,  Press Release Governor Tom Wolf is dedicating approximately $20 million to help 678 local education agencies, including school districts, to provide education services for students with disabilities who may have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 mitigation efforts and may face additional challenges through the new academic year. The funding includes $15 million from Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund and $5 million from the Department of Education’s (PDE) federal funding through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).“While COVID-19 impacted all students this year, it was particularly hard on our children with special needs, who often require additional support and services to assist their learning,” said Gov. Wolf. “This funding will help schools as they put structures in place to help these students while we work to mitigate the spread of this pandemic.”The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act authorizes governors to determine the educational use of Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Funds.The Special Education COVID-19 Impact Mitigation Grant (SECIM) will provide $15 million in financial support ($10M GEER; $5M IDEA) to local education agencies (LEA) to:Provide enhanced synchronous (real-time) instruction to bolster remote services and supports for students with complex needs; andProvide services and supports to students with disabilities who experienced a loss in skills and behavior and/or a lack of progress due to the mandatory school closuresAn additional $5 million in GEER grant funding will be available to Preschool Early Intervention programs to provide compensatory educational services.“While LEAs transition to implementing reopening plans for the 2020-21 school year, they continue to face challenges in delivering free appropriate public education (FAPE) and providing services to students with disabilities,” said Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera. “This critical funding will help schools as they work with their students with special needs to rebuild skills and behaviors that were diminished during the COVID-19 shutdown.”Grant amounts were calculated using an allocation formula based on the number of students with complex special education needs within each LEA. Distribution of funds to Preschool early intervention programs will be made based on identified needs.Grant recipients will receive direct communication from PDE with eGrant application instructions.To date, the Wolf Administration has awarded $70.5 million in GEER funding to help keep students and educators safe, and meet the unique challenges of COVID-19. In addition to the $15 million for special education, the Wolf Administration has directed $28 million to postsecondary institutions and adult basic education providers, $14 million to K-12 schools to support equity in continuity of education, $10.5 million to Career and Technical Education Centers and $3 million for Preschool Early Intervention Programs.For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs please visit the Department of Education’s website or follow PDE on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.Ver esta página en español. Gov. Wolf: $20 Million to Help Schools Provide Services to Students with Special Needscenter_img SHARE Email Facebook Twitterlast_img read more

  • Franklin County inmate captured after brief escape

    first_imgBrookville, In. — A report from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department says a 42-year-old Laurel woman escaped from custody Tuesday.Around 9 a.m. Jennifer Lynn Broering fled while being escorted back to the security center after her initial hearing for maintaining a common nuisance and possession of marijuana.She was found quickly hiding in a shed with the help of an Indiana State Police canine officer.Franklin County Sheriff Ken Murphy stated, “This was a great team effort by all three agencies in making the quick apprehension.  We would also like to wish a speedy recovery to our Matron.”last_img read more

  • Dodgers’ Rich Hill avoids serious injury in loss to Padres

    first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Stripling has allowed five runs in his last six games, a span of 11 ⅓ innings.The Padres would become only the third different team since the All-Star break — nearly a month ago — to beat the Dodgers. Attendance was announced at 52,898, the sixth sellout at Dodger Stadium this season. Other than a solo home run by Manuel Margot and an RBI single by Cory Spangenberg, both in the third inning, Hill did not allow a run over six innings. The left-hander pitched around five hits and three walks, striking out nine batters — five with his trademark sweeping, overhand curveball. Hill lowered his earned-run average to 3.44.Give Yasiel Puig partial credit. The Dodgers’ right fielder made a cartoonish throw to home plate — 96.2 mph on the fly from 270 feet away, according to MLB’s Statcast technology — in time to retire Hunter Renfroe for the final out of the third inning. Renfroe acrobatically avoided Austin Barnes’ initial tag attempt, but the Padres did not challenge the call by home plate umpire Carlos Torres.The Dodgers maintained a 3-2 lead when Hill was removed after six innings, having thrown 101 pitches.Justin Turner doubled and scored on a Cody Bellinger single in the first inning. Chris Taylor doubled and scored on a Cody Bellinger single in the third. Bellinger doubled and scored on an Austin Barnes single in the fifth.But San Diego took the lead with Ross Stripling on the mound. A solo home run by Margot, his second of the game, cleared the left-field fence in the seventh inning. Jose Pirela followed in the eighth inning with a solo home run of his own.center_img LOS ANGELES >> Standing in the batter’s box in the fourth inning, Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill had about four-tenths of a second to decide whether a baseball was headed straight for his head, or if he had a chance to lay down a bunt. He did not make the correct choice in time.One moment, Hill stood holding his bat parallel to the ground. The next moment he was crumbled in a heap, with coaches and trainers and even a security guard on the field rushing to monitor the scene. The 92-mph fastball from San Diego Padres pitcher Clayton Richard struck Hill in the neck. If Hill hadn’t flinched out of the way just before impact, a game of baseball would be a distant thought at Dodger Stadium Friday night.Surprisingly, the moment passed quickly. No one had time to warm up in the Dodgers’ bullpen before Hill was on his feet, jogging to first base. He threw two more innings against the Padres, looking no worse for the wear. San Diego won 4-3.The gruesome visual of Hill’s injury, combined with his long history of injuries, figured to knock him out of the game — maybe longer. If not his best game, it could be argued that Hill’s 17th start of the season was at least his most impressive.last_img read more