Monday, November 07, 2016
Three members of a Somali sex gang who groomed, raped and subjected vulnerable British schoolgirls as young as 14 to 'violent and horrible' abuse are jailed for 32 years
Three members of a Somali sex gang who trafficked, raped and subjected vulnerable British schoolgirls to 'violent and horrible' abuse have been jailed for 32 years.
Girls as young as 14 were plied with drugs and alcohol before being 'pestered again and again' for sex by the men who operated in inner city Bristol.
Bristol Crown Court heard the rapes became 'routine' and the men regarded some of the victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons, as 'cheap and easy'.
Seven Somali men went on trial at the beginning of September accused of 46 charges in connection with the sex ring, who preyed on girls from a range of different backgrounds and ethnicities.
Three of the men - Sakariya Sheikh, 23, Mohammed Dahir, 24, and Abdirashid Abdulahi, 23 – have now been convicted of 14 charges, including trafficking, sexual assault and rape.
Sheikh was jailed for 16 years after being found guilty of three sexual assaults, two counts of trafficking for sexual exploitation, rape and supplying a class B drug.
Both Dahir and Abdulahi were convicted of two counts of rape each and jailed for eight years.
Sentencing them, Judge Peter Blair QC said: 'You have brought shame upon your families and upon yourselves.
'You are not worthy of very much further attention in this court room. My attention is focused upon the victims of your crimes.
'They were four children trying to find their way in life, some of them struggling with difficult issues at home.
'You used your older age, your personal freedom and your relative stronger power to manipulate and coerce them into becoming for you little more than objects to satisfy you sexually.'
The judge described the consequences of the abuse on the victims as 'disastrous'. 'You made them feel worthless, dirty, unloved,' he told the defendants.
'Their pain goes on and so it will for you now. They are at long last receiving some measure of justice from your convictions. Their very brave and difficult decision to give evidence against you has been vindicated and I pay tribute to them.'
The trial, codenamed Operation Button, was the third in a series of prosecutions of Somali men for child sexual exploitation and drugs offences.
In two earlier trials in 2014, codenamed Operation Brooke, 14 men were jailed for more than 100 years.
The three convicted defendants in Operation Button - Sheikh and Abdulahi and Dahir - were also found guilty in Operation Brooke.
The case follows similar exploitation of girls across English towns and cities such as Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford and Telford.
During the trial, the jury heard that in March 2013 a 15-year-old girl was simultaneously raped by Sheikh and another man at a flat in Bristol.
The majority of the offences happened between 2011 and 2012 against girls who had travelled to Bristol by train to meet the men.
Anna Vigars, prosecuting, said the victims 'suffered sexual abuse, some of it violent, degrading and horrible, some of it less so'.
Eleven of the convicted charges - including eight rapes - related to one victim.
'These men exploited her vulnerability and her longing to be wanted, they had sex with her as much as they wanted to,' Mrs Vigars said.
'They had no interest in whether she got anything out of it or what she wanted. They wanted sex and didn't consider whether she was consenting or not.
'It was about power and control and exploitation of her vulnerability.'
In total, seven men went on trial accused of 46 charges. The men were Sheikh, Dahir and Abdulahi, as well as Abdirahman Galal, 26, Mohammed Osman, 29, Nuridin Mohamoud, 22, and Nasir Mahamoud, 23.
Mohamoud was acquitted of the two charges he faced; Galal was acquitted of one charge and the jury could not reach verdicts on two further charges; Osman was acquitted of three charges and the jury was unable to reach verdicts on three charges and Nasir Mahamoud was acquitted of one charge and the jury could not reach verdicts on three charges.
Sheikh was convicted of 10 charges, acquitted of six and the jury did not reach verdicts on three charges. He previously admitted two charges of supplying cannabis.
Dahir was found guilty of two charges, acquitted of three and the jury could not reach verdicts on three charges.
Meanwhile, Abdulahi was convicted of two charges, acquitted of one and no verdict could be reached on a further charge.
During the seven-week trial at Bristol Crown Court, one victim described how she was raped by different men.
The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the court she felt 'pressurised' into having sex with the men and believed it was 'expected' of her.
She said the incidents happened when she was aged 14 or 15 and took place during visits to Bristol in 2012 and 2013.
Jurors found Sakariya Sheikh, 23, known as 'Zak'; Mohammed Dahir, 24, known as 'Kamal'; and Abdirashid Abdulahi, 23, known as 'Abs' or 'Older Abs' all guilty of raping her.
Other men were acquitted or the jury failed to reach verdicts.
Her allegations formed 32 of the 46 charges the defendants faced on the indictment and included rape, sexual assault, false imprisonment and trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation.
The teenager told the jury that she would be given alcohol or drugs during visits to various homes in the Bristol area and then would be raped by the men.
Asked why she had sex with Dahir, the girl replied: 'Because I was at his house. It was expected of me.
'They would keep on asking me and they would give me stuff like weed and shisha and alcohol and I felt I had to do it or they would eject me from the house.'
Referring to another rape by Dahir, the girl told the jury: 'I told him I didn't want to do it but he didn't seem to want to listen to me.'
The girl also described being raped by Sheikh and another man, and told the court: 'I just lied down and let it carry on and let them finish.'
She told the jury she did not consider herself to be in a relationship with any of the men she accused of raping her.
'A lot of the time they kept on asking me, they would keep on asking me, so in the end I gave in,' she said.
'A lot of the time it was expected of me by the person whose flat I was in or by my friend as, if I didn't, she would no longer get stuff off them like alcohol and weed.'
The judge ruled that charges should be stayed where the jury could not reach verdicts for defendants without convictions. Such charges for defendants convicted of offences were ordered to lie on file.
The defendants denied all the charges. Some claimed they did not know the girls or said they had been wrongly identified.
Speaking after the case, Detective Sergeant Lisa Jones, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: 'These defendants befriended these vulnerable young people who were still at school, grooming and sexually exploiting them.
'Their systematic abuse over a number of years slowly eroded their confidence and made them think these crimes were normal behaviour.The men gave no thought to the long-term pain and torment they were inflicting on them.
'It is impossible to comprehend the torment and anguish these girls have suffered at the hands of these offenders. They are on a journey of coming to terms with this abuse and I have no doubt this will be a life-long journey.
'The offenders have also refused to take any responsibility for these truly despicable crimes, forcing all of their victims to relive their ordeal by giving evidence at the trial. Their bravery and determination has ensured our communities will now be protected from these dangerous offenders.'
A series case review published in March found that the gang was able to continue the systematic abuse due to failings by social services, police and doctors.
Cuts left the police so stretched it took six months to launch an investigation, during which time the girls were passed around for 'horrific' sexual exploitation.
Some officers were so busy they had 100 crimes waiting to be reviewed in their inbox, the review of the investigation - Operation Brooke - revealed.
The delays meant the men were free to abuse their nine victims undetected, subjecting them to ordeals 'beyond most people's comprehension'.
Victims were blamed by police for their 'lifestyle choices' and one was told she had 'brought it all on herself' after she reported two rapes.
Meanwhile, contraception was dished out to girls as young as 12, who went to their GPs complaining of heavy bleeding, abdominal pains and needing tests for STDs.
Schools also 'struggled to distinguish between disruptive behaviour and early signs of vulnerability', meaning abused pupils were excluded rather than being cared for.
This was often because confusing national guidance meant professionals got 'hung up' on patient confidentiality and failed to share vital details and concerns.
Huw Rogers, Head of the Complex Casework Unit for CPS South West, described the crimes against the girls - many of whom were in care - as 'chilling'.
He said: 'The victims were deliberately targeted as they were perceived to be vulnerable and impressionable.
'The defendants' relationships with the victims focused on complete control, ensuring they were always in charge.
'They wanted sex from the girls and demanded this from them.
'The victims did not have the freedom to consent to any of these acts, and on some occasions were threatened so that they could not leave.'
The report, commissioned by the Bristol Safeguarding Children Board, said that while some of the victims are now recovering, others continue to lead 'abusive and traumatic lives'.
After the review was published, Assistant Chief Constable Kay Wozniak said: 'We recognise that there were shortcomings.
'Unfortunately, financial pressures continue not just in Avon and Somerset but across the country.'
Federal Judge Asks Why Obama Administration Isn’t Admitting Christian Syrian Refugees
In an otherwise unremarkable opinion over the federal Freedom of Information Act, a federal appellate court judge has issued a sharp rejoinder to the Obama administration over an issue that has been discussed in the news—the almost complete lack of Syrian Christian refugees being brought over to the U.S.
The Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center, a progressive liberal advocacy organization “dedicated to ensuring human rights protections” for immigrants and asylum seekers—including apparently terrorists—filed a FOIA lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security.
The lawsuit claimed that DHS was refusing to release the identity of Tier III terrorist organizations, unlike the identities of what are defined as Tier I and Tier II terrorist groups that are publicly identified.
Tier III terrorist organizations “tend to be groups about which the U.S. government does not have good intelligence, making it essential that [DHS] be able to obtain information about them during screening interviews that are as focused and complete as possible.”
The government argued that Tier III terrorist organizations are exempt from disclosure under FOIA because it would disclose “techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations.”
Individuals in Tier III groups are more likely than other asylum seekers “to commit violent or otherwise unlawful acts.” The court accepted the government’s assertion that if immigrants become aware of the identity of these Tier III organizations, which the Heartland Alliance made clear it intended to publicize, then members of the groups would “have a very strong incentive to falsify or misrepresent ” their “encounters, activities, or associations” with the terrorist groups.
If the immigrants don’t know a terrorist organization they have been associated with has been identified by the government, they are “likely to be less guarded in answering questions about [their] activities or associations with the organization.”
All three members of the panel agreed that the FOIA exemption applied, particularly because the Heartland Alliance could not “explain what the government would gain by pretending that harmless organizations are actually terrorist groups.”
The Heartland Alliance also made it clear that “its goal in the litigation” was to “discredit” the government’s classification of terrorist organizations, according to the court. Both “the tone and content” of its briefs “signals its disbelief that the government has secrets worth keeping from asylum seekers and their helpers.”
However, in a spirited concurrence written by Judge Daniel Manion, the judge expressed his “concern about the apparent lack of Syrian Christians as a part of immigrants from that country.”
According to Manion, it is “well-documented” that the refugees are not representative of that “war-torn area of the world.” Ten percent of the Syrian population is Christian and “yet less than one-half of 1 percent of Syrian refugees admitted to the United States this year are Christian.”
President Barack Obama set a goal of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S., and by August that goal had already been exceeded. But of the “nearly 11,000 refugees admitted by mid-September, only 56 were Christian.”
Yet Christian Syrians have been one of the primary targets of the Islamic jihadists infesting Syria and butchering, murdering, and killing civilians. The Islamic State has made it clear that it is going after Christians because it intends to “conquer Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women.”
Thus, one would expect that Christian Syrians would represent a significant portion of the Syrians being accepted into the U.S. as refugees. But that hasn’t been the case, and, according to Manion, the Obama administration has no “good explanation for this perplexing discrepancy.” Thus, we “remain in the dark as a humanitarian catastrophe continues.”
This is also relevant to the complaints of various states about the Obama administration settling Syrian refugees in them without providing any information about the people arriving. As Manion points out, “the good people of this country routinely welcome immigrants from all over the world. But in a democracy, good data is critical to public debate about national immigration policy.”
The courts and the Obama administration “demand high evidentiary burdens for states seeking to keep their citizens safe, and then prevent the states from obtaining that evidence” on these refugees. That creates a catch-22 for state governments.
So while the administration brings Syrian refugees into the country by the thousands, it is concealing basic information about those refugees behind a wall of government secrecy. This, despite the fact that the Syrian refugee crisis has been the catalyst for the infiltration of terrorists into Western Europe.
Yet the administration refuses to tell the American public or the states how it is making its decisions on who it is accepting for resettlement in the U.S., or even what steps it is taking to ensure we don’t have the same infiltration here.
Or why, in a religious civil war where Christians are one of the main targets of the Islamic terrorists engaging in indiscriminate slaughter, it is bringing in almost none of those victims of one of the worst human rights atrocities of the new century.
Australian psychologists oppose democracy
Whatever is good for homosexuals trumps all else
The Australian Psychological Society (APS) fully supports marriage equality, but believes the process for achieving equality should not be by means of a popular vote.
APS President, Mr Anthony Cichello, says there is evidence that a plebiscite is likely to present significant risks to the psychological health and wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people as they contend with the stress of a public campaign.
Evidence from a suite of studies shows that in the process of putting marriage equality to a public vote, gender and sexual minorities suffer significantly higher levels of negative emotions than positive emotions, experience significant distress over the negative rhetoric, display increases in psychiatric illness and feel negative, depressed, lonely, disenfranchised and powerless.
Children and other family members of LGBTI couples are also affected by public displays of discrimination against same-sex marriage and homophobia more generally.
The APS also says marriage equality is a human rights and equal opportunity issue and therefore should be a matter for Australian law and our parliamentary system - not a popular vote.
It says denying people the right to marry based on their gender or sexuality is discriminatory, and places them unfairly as second class citizens.
Mr Cichello says psychologists are committed via their code of ethics to the principle that all Australians should be supported to achieve positive mental health and full social inclusion.
“The APS supports full marriage equality for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, on human rights, health and wellbeing grounds – but not by means of a popular vote,” says Mr Cichello.
Australia: Presbyterian Church sign on same-sex marriage divides regional community of Taree
Signs displayed outside a church in the New South Wales mid-north coast town of Taree are causing a stir, with some arguing they are offensive while others welcome them.
The controversy comes as politicians debate whether to hold a plebiscite on same-sex marriage or vote on the issue in the federal parliament.
Resident Lisa Blogg said the sign "Marriage is one man + one woman" outside the Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia in Taree was offensive.
"My daughter is gay and her response to the sign is, 'This is one of the reasons I want to leave this town, because it is oppressive to be a person in a same-sex relationship in a town like this'," Ms Blogg said.
"The sign is on the main thoroughfare where people drive past."
Her partner Chris Thiering said other signs outside the church had also raised eyebrows.
He cited 'Do not be surprised if the world hates you' as another example of an offensive sign.
"If I was having a bad day and trying to deal with my troubles and I walked around the corner, that would have a very negative influence on me," Mr Thiering said.
Messages on signs direct quotes from Bible, pastor says
Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia pastor Greg Ball acknowledged the signs could be taken out of context, but said the signs were direct quotes from the Bible.
"I do take to the point they are not referenced, but we are limited to what we can put on the sign as we have a limited number words we can put in," he said.
Mr Ball said 'Do not be surprised if the world hates you' is a direct quote from the Bible (1 John 3:13), and was directed at Christians, telling them not to be scared to be hated because of their religious beliefs.
He said he welcomed the feedback, but there had been very few complaints to the church, and many "statements of appreciation".
Mr Ball also said the statement about marriage would not have been controversial until recently.
Signs are legal, law expert says
University of New South Wales Professor of Law Luke McNamara, who has researched the operation of hate speech laws for more than 20 years, believes that, while views would differ on the merits and appropriateness of the signs, they were unlikely to breach laws against homosexual vilification in NSW.
Under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 it is "unlawful for a person, by a public act, to incite hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, a person or group of persons on ground of homosexuality of the person or members of the group".
"Even if these signs were regarded as falling within the definition of homosexual vilification, which is unlikely, the law does not create a criminal offence," Dr McNamara said.
"It simply allows a person from the relevant group to lodge a complaint with the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board."
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.