Bias Crimes/Hudson County: Pastor’s Home in Bayonne Vandalized With Anti-Muslim Graffiti
A pastor’s home in Bayonne was vandalized with anti-Muslim graffiti over the weekend of January 7-8, according to news media reporting. Graffiti was spray-painted directly underneath signs in a window of the home of the pastor of Grace Bible Fellowship. The signs express opposition to a proposed mosque in Bayonne (see photo). According to a television newscast, a brick was also thrown through the window a few days later. The pastor said he believes the slogans were painted on his house, as well as on a road and in the snow nearby, because of the signs in the windows.
This is the second recent instance of anti-Muslim graffiti in Bayonne. In October, anti-Muslim graffiti and “Donald Trump” were spray-painted on a Catholic church where local Muslims were renting space. In that case, Jonathan Hussey, age 20, of Bayonne, pleaded guilty to criminal mischief. In a plea bargain, more serious charges were dropped and Hussey wrote letters of apology to the pastor of the church and to the administrator of the Muslim community center. Hussey was sentenced this month to 12 months probation.
Orlando Update: Shooter’s Wife Arrested in Connection With the Nightclub Attack
The FBI’s San Francisco office announced on January 16 that the wife of Omar Mateen, the shooter who attacked a nightclub in Orlando last June, has been arrested in Rodeo, California, near San Francisco, on federal charges filed in the Middle District of Florida. Noor Salman has been charged with obstruction of justice and aiding and abetting by providing material support to a terrorist organization, according to federal law enforcement officials and a statement by Orlando Police Chief John Mina. She will make her initial appearance at the federal court in Oakland, California, on January 17.
Iraqi Forces Advance Against ISIS in Mosul; Baghdadi Says Foreign Fighters Should Conduct Suicide Attacks
After an extremely slow start from October to late December, Iraq’s campaign to recapture Mosul—the last major city in Iraq under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)—has accelerated, and Iraqi forces have retaken most of the eastern half of the city and advanced to the eastern bank of the Tigris River. The faster pace of operations is largely due to advisers from the US-led coalition being more actively involved with the Iraqi units, and improved coordination between the elite Counterterrorism Service (CTS) forces, Iraqi army units, and the Federal Police.
Last weekend, CTS units (see photo) drove ISIS fighters out of the University of Mosul campus, which the group had been using as a supply base, and continued to fight their way toward the Tigris River. Most of the ISIS forces in those neighborhoods fled into western Mosul. ISIS attacked the advancing Iraqi forces with six suicide car bombs, but these cars were not armored, as the ISIS car bombs had been earlier in the Mosul campaign, and they were easily picked off by Iraqi tanks.
Iraqi forces now control the eastern approaches to three of the five bridges in Mosul, and Iraqi commanders expect to reach the other two in a few days. The bridges have been damaged by US-led coalition airstrikes.
Iraqi forces will likely face intense resistance when they advance into western Mosul. News media outlets, including IraqNews.com, report that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has told foreign fighters to choose between conducting suicide attacks against advancing Iraqi forces in Mosul, for which they will receive a heavenly reward, or else returning to their home countries. These reports also state that as ISIS fighters have lost ground in Mosul during the past two weeks, there have been recurring reports of division and infighting among the group’s senior leaders.