Desk Roundup

Lisa’s desk

Iran court reverses death sentence of popular mystic

An Iranian court has overturned the death sentence of popular mystic Mohammad Ali Taheri for a second time, according to his attorneys. Taheri, 61, a popular and highly-revered teacher, was sentenced to death in August on charges of ‘blasphemy’ and creating a cult. Taheri’s lawyer, Mohammad Alizadeh Tabatabai, announced Monday that the latest death sentence has been annulled and the case had been referred to a branch of the country’s supreme court. Rights groups, the U.N.’s high commissioner and the U.S. State Department have expressed concern over Taheri’s death sentence. Taheri, founder of a popular spiritual group called "Erfan-e Halgheh," or "mysticism circle," has been kept in solitary confinement in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison since May, 2011. Taheri, who taught popular spirituality and meditation classes, was originally given a 5-year sentence for “insulting Islamic


Majority of Paris attackers entered Europe posing as refugees

Seven of the nine ISIS jihadis who launched a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris last November entered Europe by posing as refugees. The attackers were part of a group of 14 who plotted their way into Western Europe by riding the wave of the migrant crisis last year, according to Hungarian security officials. By using fake Syrian passports, many of the attackers, already on European terror watch-lists, were able to slip back into Europe undetected, along with thousands of other refugees. One hundred and thirty people were killed in November when a group of gunmen and suicide bombers launched a wave of attacks across Paris, targeting the Bataclan concert hall, the Stade De France and several restaurants and bars. Three hundred sixty-eight people were also injured in the attacks, almost 100 of them seriously. Some of the remaining terrorists in the group

Human Rights

ISIS using kidnapped Yazidi children in suicide missions

The Islamic State is using kidnapped Yazidi children to carry out suicide missions as the U.S.-led coalition forces continue their assault on the terror group’s remaining strongholds in Syria and Iraq. In a video posted Tuesday, two young Yazidi boys seemingly brainwashed by the Islamic terror group talk about their departure from their Yazidi identity and their desire to carry out a suicide attack for the Islamic State. The boys’ families, who confirmed their identities to The Foreign Desk, said they have had no information regarding their whereabouts, and this video is the first they have seen or heard from the boys since their abduction in 2014. One of the boys, identifying himself in the video as Amjad, as-well-as by his Kunya, the noms de guerres frequently used by ISIS, “Abu Yusuf Sinjari,” describes how he left the ‘ignorance’ of his primitive Yazidi faith behind to join