Convert, pay or die: Iraqi Christians flee Mosul after Islamic State ultimatum

AFP Photo /Karim Sahib

The statement by the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, warned that the Christians had until Saturday to “leave the borders of the Islamic Caliphate.”

“After this date, there is nothing between us and them but the sword,” the statement said.

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, which is the previous former name for the Islamic State, captured Mosul as part of a large-scale offensive in July, which resulted in the declaration of a “caliphate” in parts of Iraq and Syria earlier this month.

Messages warning Christians about the ultimatum were announced through loudspeakers on the city’s mosques.

Church leaders advised the few families who wanted to negotiate with militants that they should also flee for their own safety. The exodus went on in Mosul throughout Friday, with all the Christians abandoning the town by the end of the day.

“Christian families are on their way to Dohuk and Arbil, [in the neighboring autonomous region of Kurdistan],”
Patriarch Louis Sako told AFP. “For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians.”

The head of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq said that, in recent days, the Islamic State militants had been tagging Christian houses with the letter N. which stands for “Nassarah” – the way Christian are referred to in the Koran.

“We were shocked by the distribution of a statement by the Islamic State calling on Christians to convert to Islam, or to pay unspecified tribute, or to leave their city and their homes taking only their clothes and no luggage, and that their homes would then belong to the Islamic State,”
Sako said.

We have lived in this city and we have had a civilisation for thousands of years – and suddenly some strangers came and expelled us from our homes,” a woman in her 60s told Reuters. On Friday, she had to flee for Hamdaniya, a mainly Christian town controlled by Kurdish security forces to the southeast of Mosul.

The events in Mosul, which is home to the tomb of the Biblical and Koranic prophet Jonah, echo the decree, which ISIS issued in the Syrian city of Raqqa in February, ordering the local Christians pay tax in gold and curb displays of their faith in return for protection.

Mosul lies across the Tigris river from the ancient city of Nineveh, at the heart of Mesopotamia. It used to have a Christian population of around 100,000 a decade ago, but the numbers decreased drastically due to waves of attacks on Christians following the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

Locals estimate the town’s Christian population at around 5,000 ahead of the Islamic State takeover. But they said that all, except around 200 people, have left Mosul during the last months as it was controlled by the Islamists.

Strategic Relocation Briefing: One of the Oldest of the Expatriate Destinations

Editor’s Note: Finding the perfect relocation or emergency bug-out property is unique for every individual and family. For some, the idea of leaving the United States is difficult to stomach, but thousands of people do it every year with success. The option is certainly one to consider, especially if you are looking for a more hands-off government, lower taxes, and a change of scenery. One of the oldest expatriate destinations for Americans is the Central American country of Cost Rica and it’s the topic of this week’s Strategic Relocation Briefing from well known survival retreat expert Joel Skousen. While the beaches are lovely and the prices make relocation financially feasible, there are also some important considerations that need to be made before you decide to leave your home country.

Whether you ultimately decide to expatriate or prefer to stay in the United States, the tools available at StrategicRelocation.com can help make your transition easier. With new For Sale By Owner home and property listings weekly, it’s a great starting point to help you find that perfect home or retreat.


Weekly Strategic Relocation Briefing

by Joel Skousen, author, Strategic Relocation and The Secure Home

costa-ricaThis week, we are going south of the border to examine one of the oldest of the expatriate destinations in Central America: Costa Rica –located between Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the southeast.

Expatriates have also been particularly attracted to Costa Rica because of its political stability, relatively low cost of living and low property prices, but now with over 50K Americans in the country, all that has changed.  Prices are much higher and real estate is no longer cheap. Still there are advantages and Americans keep coming. The national health care system is modern and low in cost with affordable health insures for around $200-$300/mo. Expatriates are exempt from tax on overseas income, and there are lower property taxes than in the U.S. and no capital gains taxes. Costa Rica also offers generally drinkable tap water, “high-speed” Internet (that actually isn’t very fast) and good phone service. Taxis and buses are abundant and not too expensive, but beware of being charged extra by Taxi drivers who see a gullible foreigner.

On the downside, Costa Rica is very humid in the lower altitudes, which always produces a lot of insects and bugs—so, naturally, the better places to live are at the higher elevations. While there are no taxes on foreign retirement income, gasoline in this country is expensive at more than $5 per gallon. There are also a lot of home break-ins and property theft, though not a lot of violent crime (murder rate low). There is, as in all Latin America, a good deal of corruption in government, police and business. Unemployment and poverty are high among the less educated. But wages are low, so hired help is cheap.

In Pacific beach towns, you can expect to pay $4,000 a month or more to live on the beach. You have to get away from the favorite American hangouts in order to get reasonable housing. A persistent problem all over Costa Rica is “Gringo Pricing” —(especially high prices for Americans), and unless you are fluent in Spanish and know what the real prices should be like for the locals, you’ll be taken advantage of on a regular basis.

A lot of Americans complain about everyday “Ticos” (what Costa Ricans call themselves) being liars—that you can’t trust what they say. Part of the problem is endemic to much of Central America—the lack of precision in their expectations about everything, including verbal responses to questions. In other words, it’s almost impossible to pin anyone down about a certain price, procedure, or direction to get somewhere. It is very frustrating to get 5 different answers to a precise question and then see those answers change the next day. It’s not necessarily pernicious, as much as sloppy mental thinking habits and a lack of commitment to being precise and correct. The higher classes however, are a lot better at accurate communication and keeping commitments.

Most expats live on the coast or in more rural areas of the Central Valley.  Here are a couple of specific locations to recommend:

San Jose: (about a million people in the metro area) is the capitol of Cost Rica—rich in culture, commerce, and expensive housing for the wealthy. It has the best shopping and dining possibilities in this nation the size of West Virginia, and you have a full choice of imported (more expensive) items found no where else in Costa Rica. There are also a lot of amenities that Americans are used to like health clubs and movie theaters, jazz clubs, art festivals, and museums.

The City starts at 3,000 feet in altitude and has even higher hills surrounding the city.  So, despite its tropical latitude, it has a very temperate climate—rarely hot, and never cold.  Buying good housing in San Jose is expensive but renting is cheaper.  As one expat wrote in International Living, “A large two-bedroom house perched on a hill in San Antonio de Escazú is $450 a month unfurnished. One of the highest points around San José, it offers amazing views of the entire metro area. A high-end three-bedroom condo near the best shopping in Escazú is $875 a month unfurnished.”  Security is pretty good in peaceful times in the suburbs and middle class areas of San Jose—but there are a lot of poor areas, as in any Latin American city that you don’t venture into at night.  But don’t expect these conditions to remain in a major crisis or world war where masses of people will be out of work and tourism dries up.  Best to be very rural when that happens.

Atenas: This is a town of about 5K people in central Costa Rica with very moderate temperatures due to the higher elevation—about 60 and 80 degrees year round. Many expats live up in the rolling hills near town, with homes that overlook the region’s patches of emerald forest and sprawling sugar cane and coffee plantations, as well as cattle ranches and orchards. The city center is small and quaint—about six square blocks surrounding the typical central plaza and park, with a handful of cafes and restaurants. It’s very centrally located, some 45 minutes from the beaches on the Pacific and a half-hour from San Jose, the capitol.  San Jose is where all the action is, but most expats prefer the cheaper and slower lifestyle in the smaller towns.  When they want shopping malls, theater, museums, major hospitals, they come to San Jose.

Nosara:  This is a beach town on the Pacific of about 5,000 people, but away from the big tourist destinations.  It is an older, planned community that has never been targeted by the major developers.   A good portion of the area is protected forest, and the Ostional Wildlife Reserve marine park is fairly close. As with all beach towns, it’s more expensive than it’s rural neighboring towns, but much less expensive than many coastal towns in the US.  The average coastal property rents for about $2,000 a month.  The down side is the distance to San Jose and any major hospitals—a five-hour drive—but you have to get that far away to get decent housing prices near the beach.  The nearest international airport is a two-hour drive.

San Ramon:  This city of about 15k is a cultural center and university town, away from the hustle of San Jose—about an hour’s drive away. San Ramon is home to the University of Costa Rica—the top university in the country—and a couple of museums. It’s a regional center for the area so you have the full range of commercial facilities as well as cultural opportunities including a symphony, orchestra, and movie theaters. San Ramon is also about 45 minutes from the Pacific beaches.

There are two basic types of residency in Costa Rica:

Residency for Pensioners or Retirees (Pensionados or Rentistas). If you earn $600 per month from your pension, or $1000 a month from your investments you can qualify for these permits.

Residency for investors (Inversionistas). If you invest in a local business in Costa Rica, according to the Center for the Promotion of Exports and Investments (PROCOMER), the current priority investment areas of business are ornamental plants, leather articles, spices, fruits and vegetables, processed foods, wood products and tourism. You will be required to invest at least $50,000 US dollars in one of these areas. If you prefer an area of investment not listed by PROCOMER, you must invest $200,000 US dollars in that business.

Costa Rica is still one of the safest in Latin America, especially compared to Guatemala and Mexico where crime and kidnapping is a real problem for foreigners.  But don’t ever make your decisions about going south based on current expat experiences as extolled in all the many expat web sites.  This won’t last.  Every country in Latin America has a lot of Marxists and people who hate Americans—and many of them are in academia, the press and the bureaucracies.  Someday when tough times hit, and Ticos look for people to blame, and the government looks to “tax the rich” the foreign expats will be a prime target.

In summary, my basic recommendation is, enjoy it while you can but don’t buy land—rent—and don’t burn all your bridges back to the states.  It is also harder to get a foreign bank account in Latin America due to FATCA bank reporting requires which the IRS is imposing all international banks that want to do business with the States.  So, even if you can get an account, keep only 2 or 3 months reserves in it and use ATMs to transfer money directly from the states.  And, use ATMs only in established banks.  Many insecure or outdated ATMs are subject to theft and hacking of your account back home.  Your other foreign compatriots can advise which ones are safe.

Best, Joel Skousen.


Be sure to check out all the new survival/rural property listings on www.StrategicRelocation.com. Over a dozen in Costa Rica and more from Southern Idaho/Wyoming, a Missile Base in North Dakota and last but not least the first 10.0 rated property by Joel Skousen, the Ozark Mansion Fortress.

SRC: If you decide to relocate and purchase property in Costa Rica, it’s fairly easy to find property that has multiple sources of water and alternative energy production, in a wide variety of price ranges from $99,000 all the way to $1.5 million US. The property characteristics range from massive fresh water springs, streams and rivers some with gigantic waterfalls with enough hydropower capability to power multiple homes, to excellent sun exposure for an Iron-Edison Solar system.

There are really no real estate laws and regulations in Costa Rica, which is a nice change from the sometimes-draconian nanny state laws here in the US. However, this does lead to some issues, so many of the top franchises in the US have opened offices in Costa Rica bringing best practices to the local real estate business. But, many of the best properties are still sold from local to local or to ex-pats that have been in country for many years and understand the market. If you are serious about making your relocation please contact me directly and I will personally refer you to a trusted contact. Please be aware that ‘serious’ means providing proof of funds and booking your tickets. No palm tree kickers allowed.

With Gratitude, Todd Savage

ISIS surge: Over 270 killed in Syria, former US base stormed in Iraq’s Tikrit

Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) celebrate on vehicles taken from Iraqi security forces, at a street in city of Mosul.(Reuters / Stringer)

ISIS gunmen stormed a former US base in Tikrit, a city the group has held since June 11 and government forces have battled unsuccessfully to reclaim. The latest failed attempt marks what may be the army’s final push to reclaim the lost ground.

According to McClatchy DC, witnesses testified that by Friday the last of the government troops had surrendered to ISIS, and Camp Speicher had fallen. Officials in Baghdad declined to give comment, while the terrorist group boasted on Twitter about the losses the government had incurred. Statements from local residents corroborated the story.

The last pocket of government troops attempting to recapture Tikrit reportedly consisted of 700 troops, accompanied by more than a 100 Iranians, according to one local resident. He added that plenty of government equipment has been captured or destroyed in the process. The militants had previously captured millions of dollars in army equipment, which they paraded through every area they seized.

“They were being bombarded and mortared all night, and by Friday morning you could see burning helicopters everywhere and the fighting had stopped,” the resident told the news portal. Many executions were also allegedly carried out, while some prisoners were paraded through Tikrit – Saddam Hussein’s birthplace.

The campaign has been viewed as one of the most potent successes of the terrorist faction on the Iraqi battlefield.

Meanwhile, ISIS also appears to be on the ascendency in Syria. According to reports, at least 270 Syrian troops and civilians died Thursday at the hands of ISIS in Homs province, when a seized gas field was set ablaze, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. Like with Iraq, the watchdog is calling this the “biggest” success of the jihadist group in the country.

“A large majority of the men killed were executed at gunpoint after being taken prisoner following the takeover of the camp,” the group’s director Rami Abdel said. “Eleven of the dead were civilian employees, while the rest were security guards and National Defence Forces members,” he continued.

“Thirty martyrs were brought to Homs hospital from the Shaar gas field… Homs is still bleeding,” a pro-government Twitter user was quoted by The Telegraph as saying. He called the events a “massacre,” although no official comment from the Syrian government was given.

The anti-Assad Observatory also reported on the deaths of 40 ISIS fighters in the offensive. About 30 people managed to escape the violence into the neighboring Hajjar field, according to the group.

There is talk of bloody footage filmed by ISIS, in which fighters pose with corpses. One fighter celebrating the killings speaks a mixture of German and Arabic.

The news was followed by condemnation from The Observatory.

“Summary execution is a war crime – whether of civilians or combatants. They are prisoners of war and must not be executed,” Abdel Rahman said.

The latest violence comes on the heels of a UN report detailing the militant group’s activities. The document tells of 5,000 Iraqi deaths at its hands, many of whom were women and children.

The Islamic State has declared a “caliphate” in areas it captured in both Iraq and Syria, while the harshest and most unforgiving form of Islamic Sharia law has been imposed.

In Eastern Syria, in Raqqa, two women were stoned to death on Friday and Saturday for adultery, the report by the Observatory claims.

The death toll in the Syrian conflict, meanwhile, has climbed to 170,000 following three-plus years of fighting.

​‘Doomsday sputnik’: Russia said to launch new missile-attack warning satellite

7.19.14 –   ​‘Doomsday sputnik’: Russia said to launch new missile-attack warning satellite After years of delay, Russia plans to deploy this year the first satellite of its new constellation replacing the space component of the early warning system, Russian media … Continue reading

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Makes Huge Stand Against “Clearly Incompetent” Obama [WATCH]

President Barack Obama has not enjoyed many successes in his five-plus years in office, though the number of mistakes, scandals, and total failures continue to mount: Syria’s civil war continues unabated. A terrorist released from Guantanamo Bay is currently leading the radical Islamist ISIS group invading Iraq. Lois Lerner’s IRS scandal grows more damning with

Obama Has Been Given Killswitch to the Entire Communication System

Obama has been given the “kill-switch”, which means that he not only has the kill switch to the economy, the power grid, but now also the communication system. This is a very strange move because if you where going to cut off the power why would you need it? Why would you grab this if the lights where going to go out, there would be no way to power anything that runs the radio stations. This brings up the point, they are trying to avoid a power grid down situation for a while. They still need it to power all of their toys. For example, the cell phone towers are used to magnify radio frequency attacks. Why would they shut them off if they aren’t finished using them? They wouldn’t, plain and simple. However there is for sure one thing they will do, and that is bombard the communication system and take it over. This video explains exactly the years prior to this. It is very important to know all of it because everything is coming to a head, and is happening before our eyes as of right now! Wake Up before they take us all off the air.

Not to mention the facts that show this is a dictatorial move, Obama has become so much more than a narcissist, he has become just down right evil! Yesterday he banned some guns, and looking at some gun pages on facebook people already know and are selling all of their ak-47′s and saiga shotguns quickly. They are doing this because the rifles are so cheap yet durable. It is the same with the Mossin Nagant Rifle, watch out for the banning of that one as well. Why? because it is so cheap to shoot and so reliable. So when they hit that “kill-switch” and take over the entire broadcasting system, we have to move quickly.

Obama Has Been Given Killswitch to the Entire Communication System

Obama has been given the “kill-switch”, which means that he not only has the kill switch to the economy, the power grid, but now also the communication system. This is a very strange move because if you where going to cut off the power why would you need it? Why would you grab this if the lights where going to go out, there would be no way to power anything that runs the radio stations. This brings up the point, they are trying to avoid a power grid down situation for a while. They still need it to power all of their toys. For example, the cell phone towers are used to magnify radio frequency attacks. Why would they shut them off if they aren’t finished using them? They wouldn’t, plain and simple. However there is for sure one thing they will do, and that is bombard the communication system and take it over. This video explains exactly the years prior to this. It is very important to know all of it because everything is coming to a head, and is happening before our eyes as of right now! Wake Up before they take us all off the air.

Not to mention the facts that show this is a dictatorial move, Obama has become so much more than a narcissist, he has become just down right evil! Yesterday he banned some guns, and looking at some gun pages on facebook people already know and are selling all of their ak-47′s and saiga shotguns quickly. They are doing this because the rifles are so cheap yet durable. It is the same with the Mossin Nagant Rifle, watch out for the banning of that one as well. Why? because it is so cheap to shoot and so reliable. So when they hit that “kill-switch” and take over the entire broadcasting system, we have to move quickly.

​It was Putin’s missile?

Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev

Why? Because the CIA said so. Because Hillary ‘We came, we saw, he died’ Clinton said so. Because crazy Samantha ‘R2P’ Power said so – thundering at the UN, everything duly printed by the neo-con infested Washington Post.

Because Anglo-American corporate media – from CNN to Fox (who tried to buy Time Warner, which owns CNN) – said so. Because the President of the United States (POTUS) said so. And mostly because Kiev had vociferously said so in the first place.

Right off the bat they were all lined up – the invariably hysterical reams of ‘experts’ of the ‘US intelligence community’ literally foaming at their palatial mouths at ‘evil’ Russia and ‘evil’ Putin; intel ‘experts’ who could not identify a convoy of gleaming white Toyotas crossing the Iraqi desert to take Mosul. And yet they have already sentenced; they don’t need to look any further, instantly solving the MH17 riddle.

It doesn’t matter that President Putin has stressed the MH17 tragedy must be investigated objectively. And ‘objectively’ certainly does not mean that fictional ‘international community’ notion construed by Washington – the usual congregation of pliable vassals/patsies.

And what about Carlos?

A simple search reveals that MH17 was in fact diverted 200km north from the usual flight path taken by Malaysian Airlines in the previous days – and plunged right in the middle of a war zone. Why? What sort of communication had MH17 received from the Kiev air control tower?

Kiev has been mute about it. Yet the answer would be simple, had Kiev released the Air Traffic Control recording of the tower talking to flight MH17; Malaysia did it after flight MH370 disappeared forever.

It won’t happen; SBU security confiscated it. So much for getting an undoctored explanation as to why MH17 was off its path, and what the pilots saw and said before the explosion.

The Russian Defense Ministry, for its part, has confirmed that a Kiev-controlled Buk anti-aircraft missile battery was operational near the MH17’s crash. Kiev has deployed several batteries of Buk surface-to-air missile systems with at least 27 launchers; these are all perfectly capable of bringing down jets flying at 33,000 ft.

Radiation from a battery’s Kupol radar, deployed as part of a Buk-M1 battery near Styla [a village some 30km south of Donetsk] was detected by the Russian military. According to the ministry, the radar could be providing tracking information to another battery which was at a firing distance from MH17’s flight path.

The tracking radar range on the Buk system is a maximum of 50 miles (80km). MH17 was flying at 500mph. So assuming the ‘rebels’ had an operational Buk and did it, they would have had not more than five minutes to scan all the skies above, all possible altitudes, and then lock on. By then they would have known that a cargo plane could not possibly be flying that high.

For evidence supporting the possibility of a false flag, check here.

And then there’s the curiouser and curiouser story of Carlos, the Spanish air traffic controller working at Kiev’s tower, who was following MH17 in real time. For some Carlos is legit – not a cipher; for others, he’s never even worked in Ukraine. Anyway he tweeted like mad. His account – not accidentally – has been shut down and he has disappeared. His friends are now desperately looking for him. I managed to read all his tweets in Spanish when the account was still online. And now copies and an English translation are available.

These are some of his crucial tweets:

“The B777 was escorted by 2 Ukrainian fighter jets minutes before disappearing from radar (5.48pm)”

“If the Kiev authorities want to admit the truth 2 fighter jets were flying very close a few minutes before the incident but did not shoot down the airliner (5.54)”

“As soon as the Malaysia Airlines B777 disappeared the Kiev military authority informed us of the shooting down. How did they know? (6.00)”

“Everything has been recorded on radar. For those that don’t believe it, it was taken down by Kiev; we know that here (in traffic control) and the military air traffic control know it too (7.14)”

“The Ministry of the Interior did know that there were fighter aircraft in the area, but the Ministry of Defense didn’t. (7.15)”

“The military confirm that it was Ukraine, but it is not known where the order came from. (7.31)”

Carlos’s assessment (a partial compilation of his tweets is collected here: the missile was fired by the Ukraine military under orders of the Ministry of Interior – NOT the Ministry of Defense. Security matters at the Ministry of the Interior happen to be under Andrey Paruby, who was closely working alongside US neo-cons and Banderastan neo-Nazis on Maidan.

Assuming Carlos is legit, the assessment makes sense. The Ukrainian military are divided between Chocolate king [President Petro] Poroshenko – who would like a détente with Russia essentially to advance his shady business interests – and St. Yulia Tymoshenko, who’s on the record advocating genocide of ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine. US neo-cons and US “military advisers” on the ground are proverbially hedging their bets, supporting both the Poroshenko and Tymoshenko factions.

So who profits?

The key question remains, of course, cui bono? Only the terminally brain dead believe shooting a passenger jet benefits the federalists in eastern Ukraine, not to mention the Kremlin.

As for Kiev, they’d have the means, the motive and the window of opportunity to pull it off – especially after Kiev’s militias have been effectively routed, and were in retreat, in the Donbass. And this after Kiev remained dead set on attacking and bombing the population of eastern Ukraine even from above. No wonder the federalists had to defend themselves.

And then there’s the suspicious timing. The MH17 tragedy happened two days after the BRICS announced an antidote to the IMF and the World Bank, bypassing the US dollar. And just as Israel ‘cautiously’ advances its new invasion/slow-motion-ethnic-cleansing of Gaza. Malaysia, by the way, is the seat of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission, which has found Israel guilty of crimes against humanity.

Washington, of course, does profit. What the Empire of Chaos gets in this case is a ceasefire (so the disorganized, battered Kiev militias may be resupplied); the branding of eastern Ukrainians as de facto ‘terrorists’ (as Kiev, Dick Cheney-style, always wanted); and unlimited mud thrown over Russia and Putin in particular until Kingdom Come. Not bad for a few minutes’ work. As for NATO, that’s Christmas in July.

From now on, it all depends on Russian intelligence. They have been surveilling/tracking everything that happens in Ukraine 24/7. In the next 72 hours, after poring over a lot of tracking data, using telemetry, radar and satellite tracking, they will know which type of missile was launched, from where, and even produce communications from the battery that launched it. And they will have access to forensic evidence.

Unlike Washington – who already knows everything, with no evidence whatsoever (remember 9/11?) – Moscow will take its time to know the basic journalistic facts of what, where, and who, and engage on proving the truth and/or disproving Washington’s spin.

The historical record shows Washington simply won’t release data if it points to a missile coming from its Kiev vassals. The data may even point to a bomb planted on MH17, or mechanical failure – although that’s unlikely. If this was a terrible mistake by the Novorossiya rebels, Moscow will have to reluctantly admit it. If Kiev did it, the revelation will be instantaneous. Anyway we already know the hysterical Western response, no matter what; Russia is to blame.

Putin is more than correct when he stressed this tragedy would not have happened if Poroshenko had agreed to extend a ceasefire, as Merkel, Hollande and Putin tried to convince him to do in late June. At a minimum, Kiev is already guilty because they are responsible for safe passage of flights in the airspace they – theoretically – control.

But all that is already forgotten in the fog of war, tragedy and hype. As for Washington’s hysterical claims of credibility, I leave you with just one number: Iran Air 655.

US Sentencing Commission Votes Unanimously to Make Drug Sentencing Reductions Retroactive

Sentencing judges can extend reduction to people currently serving drug sentences.