THE WRONG COLOR RED: Radicalism Comes Home

We must never again sacrifice our principles in the name of tolerance and we should never resort to hate because of ignorance. Maintain who we are, strengthen who we will be, develop who we can be and exhibit to the world the foundation of our faith, unapologetically, with grace; the same amount of grace we are thankful God bestowed on us.

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ON THE HOMEFRONT

ImageGilles de Kerchove,the EU Counterterrorism Coordinator declared before a UK Parliamentary hearing that the return of high risk, highly volatile Islamic extremists from Syria to the United Kingdom is “unprecedented. … All the reports I have seen suggest that it is becoming increasingly acute.” According to the Langley Intelligent Network, the British Home Office warned, “Dealing with terrorism in Syria is a very significant challenge due to the numbers of people fighting with the many Syria based terrorist groups, their proximity to the UK, ease of travel across porous borders and the ready availability of weapons.”[i]

What does this mean for the United States and its foreign policy particularly when it comes to dealing with international issues of terrorism and political unrest?

The current situation in Ukraine unveils the Russian bear, Vladimir Putin again showcasing the vulnerability of the United States and the weakness of this administration. It is a case in point of the inability of national governments to function effectively when leadership fails to adhere to the standards by which a citizenry can live in peace. There is no excuse that the citizens of Ukraine living on the peninsula of Crimea are suffering without water or electricity because their homeland has been invaded by an opposing army and no one has checked the violence brought by criminal elements acting under the direction of Vladimir Putin. A nation’s leadership will set the bar for its vulnerability whether international terrorism, crime or attack by foreign forces.

The same is true now for Great Britain. Parliament failed to act decades ago to stem the tide of Islamic extremists pouring across the borders, overwhelming communities, and degrading the legal and political system to their own advantage. The political correctness police have brought the British society to the point of near annihilation. Several British nationals have shared that they cannot even recognize London as their own any longer.

Feckless has become a term equated with the inability of the current Obama administration to be able to do anything to stand up against those forces that spit in the face of America. Recently, Retired Lt. Colonel Oliver North was quoted as making this very clear statement, “We don’t need a head of state who draws a phony red line with a pink crayon.”

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What will it take for societies – that value freedom, democracy and, (whether they now admit it or not), have a foundation of Judeo-Christian values; to stand-up strong for those values that once made them great?

There has been a lot of blood spilled, not just over the centuries, but in these last two decades all in the name of Islam. If the hardline followers believe it to truly be a religion of peace, then how do they explain its resulting hardship, pain and grief particularly for their own people? Their own leadership has succeeded in embittering their people and reducing their lives to a struggle to survive. Never has there been a generation of harmony and peace between them and their neighbors for they define peace as only the total rule of Islam  with total subjugation to their own rule, where no persons may live under another faith.

The African sub-Saharan is a primary example of the extremist mindset. Thousands of non-Muslim people, men, women and children are murdered in the most brutal of ways, without any shred of human dignity or compassion.

This piece is not, however, primarily a piece on the logic or the fundamentals of Islam. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the God of all comfort, the Father of all mercies (as Paul described him); never forced Himself on anyone. But, you say, in the ancient times the God of the Bible ordered entire populations killed in order to preserve His people ‘of the Book’, the Hebrews. I can only reply that in those instances, God, as sovereign with total right to reign over His creation, I believe knew the heart of every individual soul that perished and none were punished eternally that God was not fully aware of what was taking place and it was necessary for righteousness of His creation. Does that mean that children died naturally and were eternally separated from God? I believe that as God is a God of compassion and grace, no one was separated from Him eternally that was not fully capable of choosing to deny His grace.

God, Jehovah, was very clear that His people were not to allow themselves to be drawn away by other religions or gods; nor were they to allow those who taught such religions to take root within their communities. God’s people were (and are) to live among them in peace and if by the lives of the believers that they might win some, (those are Paul’s words). That was a good thing but to allow those who degraded and derided their faith, God would not allow for that. His patience is longsuffering and His grace sufficient but it is not without end. There will be a day when the doors shall be shut and the chances have run out.

To what end does this bring us? Here is a list: National governments who prey on and destroy their own people like Bashar al Assad and his cronies, even to the point of chemical weapons and mass murder. Egomaniacal dictators like Vladimir Putin whose demented mind at the age of a young teen even longed to be a KGB agent to strike fear into the hearts of those who trusted him. Inept novice rulers, like those atop the Ukrainian political rubble. Parliamentarians who have leaned so far left in the desire to be politically correct they have allowed themselves to be blinded to the eroding away of the very fabric of their Kingdom.  Then there is the United States with a socialist president who believes that re-setting buttons with Putin, bowing before Middle Eastern royalty, backing down from countries like Iraq and Syria, turning his back on our only allied democratic nation in the Middle East who also happens to have the divine promise for those who aid Israel and the curse for those who fail to do so. And finally, the people of the United States who have stood back and allowed it to happen.

This is the list of the culpable. It is time to put a stop to the madness. Every citizen of each of the countries named here and, for that matter, every  citizen of each of the countries not named here, should realize the important role – the absolutely critical role – that they have to set and maintain the standard for democracy, independence, and true freedom of religion. That means that each citizen may not only worship, in a house of worship as they choose (these are the limitations the Obama administration seeks for religious “freedom”) but to live out their faith within community. This requires, of course, that the Muslim has as much right to choose to live out his or her faith in peaceful accord with the remainder of society as does the Southern Baptist. I mentioned earlier that God required His people not to syncretize their faith with that of the other religions. But, Christ also modeled the ability to love people where they were and by love, show them the true faith.Strong, yet compassionate. We must never again sacrifice our principles in the name of tolerance and we should never resort to hate because of ignorance. Maintain who we are, strengthen who we will be, develop who we can be and exhibit to the world the foundation of our faith, unapologetically, with grace; the same amount of grace we are thankful God bestowed on us.

 

[i]http://www.lignet.com/ArticleAnalysis/UK-Threat-Radicals-Returning-From-Syria.aspx?ns_mail_uid=4703528&ns_mail_job=175366_04282014#ixzz30WceLmyA

 

BOMBING at BUDAPEST BANK BEGS ANSWERS

Here at SCI we do not work by way of body counts but we focus on areas where our teammates and clients may be working or their families shopping and enjoying life – unaware of the Damoclean threat hanging over them.

MID-DAY Monday 13 January 2014 – Downtown Budapest, Hungary

An unlikely ‘random’ bomb was apparently thrown in front of a Magyar National Bank (CIB) by a rider on a motorcycle who fled the scene at a high speed. No initial reports of injuries. Questions remain.

This report will examine the implications of the following scenarios for the investigation: the intricate web of Hungarian national government control of banking; Hungary versus the EU in banking regulation conflicts; national banks competing with foreign banks for dominance in Magyar markets and the possibility of a random bomber attempting simply to create mayhem in the city center with the complicated bank issues and investigations as a carefully chosen ruse.

For nationals and those living or visiting Budapest in the short-term, this report offers a new reality based on the introduction of a threat requires personal vigilance and mental preparation.

Should bombings continue – Avoid high risk areas as future events identify those locations.

1.    Maintain a watchful eye whenever in a public place

2.    Particularly watch for the M.O. of a person on a motorcycle carrying a satchel ready to throw

3.    Watch your children and be ready to seek cover if needed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE INVESTIGATION

Why? And why CIB? Two primary questions that require context. It follows:

The recent violence in downtown Budapest is so much an anomaly that it would be easy to bypass the mention of it. International media outlets, if they carried the bombing at all, had just a very short blurb between the sports scores and the weather. The major intelligence sources noted it, but in a simple chronology of ‘what’s happening around the world.’ Unfortunately, the news of terrorist attacks in the world has become common place. The media assigns priority to stories based on body counts and when violence, as in Budapest, comes away with no one dead, it goes to the bottom of the news headlines list. Here at SCI we do not work by way of body counts but we focus on areas where our teammates and clients may be working or their families shopping and enjoying life – unaware of the Damoclean threat hanging over them. Such was the case Monday when a suspect, seen fleeing the scene on a motorcycle drove past the CIB bank building in downtown Budapest. SCI sources are working on providing more details on the location of the branch office. (See map)

Map of CIB sites in Budapest
Map of CIB sites in Budapest

 

 

As recently as February 2012, Hungarian Central Bank was involved in complex political maneuvering regarding the inter-connectedness between the national government and the operation of the bank. The prime minister held the power to dismiss the head of the Data Protection Agency, Judges and to vacate laws that made CIB an ex-officio part of the national government. Government officials wanted, at that time, to require that bank officers take oaths of office and acquiesce to salary caps determined by the government. The appearance of impropriety and the allegations of corruption for some time has led Hungarians to be concerned about the CIB interconnectedness with the national government.

The 2012 political drama was followed by intercession from European officials who saw the Hungarian government’s controlling power over the CIB as a major hurdle for the nation to receive full membership in the EU. In April of 2012, European officials were notified that the Hungarian Economy Ministry had drafted legislation that amended previous laws which the EU believed limited the independence of the CIB to operate within the EU trade markets. Two immediate changes were to eliminate the requirement for a member of the national government to be present for meetings of the bank’s business. The law also eliminated the requirement that minutes of all meetings be copied to a member of the national government. Perhaps the most extensive and politically challenging issue was that the agency was pressed to drop its move for a constitutional amendment that would have permanently  merge the bank with the country’s financial regulator, making the bank an official arm of the national government. These changes were submitted to the European Commission and are under review to determine to what degree these changes will enhance the country’s bid for full membership in the EU.

That returns the discussion back to the two questions: Why? Why CIB? The second question is perhaps the easier of the two to answer. The CIB may have been singled out for the terrorist bombing simply because of its relationship to Hungary’s national government. No other bank in Hungary is entangled with the government as deeply as CIB. International banks and financial institutions of all kinds flocked to Hungary after the Cold War but now operate throughout the city center and beyond with ever-increasing difficulty and financial losses. Many of the international banks and financial institutions are looking for ways out of the financial messes they have encountered while in Hungary. (More on that to follow.)

MNB What does the Hungarian government say about their relationship with the Magyar Nemzeti Bank?  ‘The primary objective of the MNB shall be to achieve and maintain price stability. Without prejudice to its primary objective, the MNB shall support the economic policy of the Government using the monetary policy instruments at its disposal.’ (Stratfor)

“The Magyar Nemzeti Bank” is the Hungary National Bank which is also known as the CIB.

 CIB logo

According to the Act CXXXIX of 2013 on behalf of the Magyar Nemzeti Bank (MNB) which went into effect 1 October 2013: The Hungarian Financial Supervisory Authority and the MNB are integrated into one institution. Understanding that, the MNB reports that the European Supervisory and Market Authority has begun work on a reports on market abuse which may take into consideration the intra-relationship between the HFSA and the MNB (CIB).

Some background on the ESMA reveals that: ESMA is an independent EU Authority that was established on 1 January 2011 and works closely with the other European Supervisory Authorities responsible for banking (EBA), and insurance and occupational pensions (EIOPA), and the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB). Its mission is to enhance the protection of investors and promote stable and well-functioning financial markets in the European Union (EU). As an independent institution, ESMA achieves this aim by building a single rule book for EU financial markets and ensuring its consistent application across the EU. In this current investigation for it s report on abuses, among other issues the ESMA is focused on:

• Indicators and signals of market manipulation;

    • Criteria to establish Accepted Market Practices;

    • Arrangement, systems and procedures to put in place for the purpose of suspicious  transactions and order reporting as well as its content and format;

     • Issues relating to public disclosure of inside information and the conditions for delay;

In a SITREP just issued today, intelligence sources in the United States report that Hungary is trying to gain more control over its banking sector. On Jan. 5, Hungarian media reported that Szechenyi Bank, which is partly controlled by the Hungarian government, has made a bid for the Hungarian branch of Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank. Unconfirmed rumors also suggest that another Austrian bank, Erste Bank AG, could receive a bid from the state. The rumors come as Gyorgy Matolcsy, the head of the Hungarian central bank announced that four major foreign banks could leave Hungary in the next year and a half.

In the coming months, Budapest will continue its efforts to put more foreign-operated banks in Hungarian hands. Rather than expropriating banks directly, the government is more likely to execute its strategy incrementally, pressuring banks to deleverage their assets so that Budapest and local companies can buy them out relatively cheaply. Mostly it will do so with the help of domestic businessmen closely tied to the government. This strategy is just one aspect of a broader evolution in Hungary’s foreign and domestic policies, which increasingly deviate from those of the European Union

Foreign banks account for roughly two-thirds of the Hungarian market, and with the exception of the country’s largest lender in terms of assets – OTP, most of the major banks are foreign-owned.


The European crisis changed this dynamic. From a purely financial perspective, the devaluation of the Hungarian forint created serious problems for foreign banks operating in Hungary. Most of these institutions used to offer loans — most notably, mortgages — denominated in euros or Swiss francs. As people became increasingly incapable of repaying their loans, the Hungarian government passed two series of measures (in 2011 and 2013) that converted some of those loans to forints at a lower exchange rate. Brussels criticized Hungary, but it did not actually punish the government for converting the loans.

Could there be a link between the European based ownership of the majority of Hungarian banks, the expected hostile appropriation of these banks by both the Hungarian government and business resources inside Hungary loyal to the government and the terrorist attack on 13 January 2014?

Is it possible that a non-aligned actor, driven by the mortgage crisis be responsible?

Could it be not financially motivated at all but rather simply a random act of violence which either used the bank/government political crisis as a ruse or it was simply a coincidence that it was in front of CIB?

 

As of this report, no group has claimed responsibility for the bombing.

 

Additional Information

percent of total assets

 

Hungarian Bank

(Note: Intelligence and analysis supplied in part by STRATFOR)

Serbia ~ Kosovo: Oh What a Tangled Web

Dr. Ross L. Riggs                Riggs Ministry Minute     http://www.docriggs.com

The following article/posting is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of First Baptist Church of Louisville, the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism or the American Association of Christian Counselors.

Serbian President Boris Tadic

Intelligence sources indicate that current posturing by Serbia’s president, Boris Tadic concerning Serbia’s application for EU status may be more than a political folk dance. With much of the EU in a serious economic recession, including some in or teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, the wisdom of bringing in another financially fluctuating and politically challenging country is questioned. Perhaps the biggest question on each side of the equation is ‘Why?’

Why would the EU powers want to bring in a country that is divided racially (religiously) into two countries. The one being Kosovo, a country that Belgrade refuses to acknowledge its existence and is already a trouble spot for NATO Peacekeepers along the Kosovo northern border. Northern Kosovo is 90+ percent Muslim. Ethnic Serbs living in this area have clashed with NATO peacekeepers in and around the small city of Mitrovica. It was never expected that the Kosovo battle for independence would be easy. Although the handwriting is on the wall (or perhaps the bridge) in northern Kosovo, Serbs with an emboldened perseverance refuse to relinquish control even in the face of international directives to the opposite. It is, however, Tadic’s desire to join the EU that may be the carrot needed to pull those Serbs north across the river and help them put down roots there.

Experts believe that the EU is more concerned with two objectives regarding Serbia; more so than whether or not they actually get membership status. The first is to eliminate the threat of Serbia coming under Russian control. It is my consideration that they must tighten the EU’s southeastern control, particularly with Greece in default. Turkey is becoming more and more anti-western and the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits are extremely critical. Even landlocked Serbia will play a crucial role if she becomes aligned with Russia rather than the EU. Bulgaria may be considered pro-democracy now, but if Serbia and Turkey put the squeeze on, the pressure may be too much. Access from the Black Sea, the Marmara Sea and the Aegean will become an extremely valuable chess piece and with Iran’s pressure at the Strait of Hormuz between the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea the access to Russia’s underbelly will become a queen capturing move for whoever has it.

The second objective is to show strength. With the faltering economies of certain EU countries, the Union needs to send a message to the membership and the world that it has not died but continues to live on. Tadic has tried to stay with a plan of modernization through the parliamentary democracy system but he has received an outcry of complaints from his own party for seemingly too light a hand on Kosovo and letting it slip away.  However, a growing economy, a blossoming middle class standard of living, and a much improved GDP have helped Tadic maintain control even when there are Kosovo concerns.

There are plans for Serbian parliamentary elections to be held in districts within Kosovo which will absolutely create more havoc between the two countries. It will also lessen Serbia’s chance of being able to enter the EU by 2020. The EU has made it clear that relations with the new country must be settled before the EU application process can go forward. As early as just a couple of months ago, Serbian delegates were boycotting meetings that included their Kosovar peers. There are some who believe that this will be the impasse that will forever keep Serbia from the EU. The scars are fresh and the underlying wounds remain tender.

In May of 2006, Tadic signed a law on religion that relegated evangelical churches to a position in which they were no longer understood to be Christian churches but rather “factions” which was a p.c. way to say cult. Forced to pay property taxes and no longer able to receive any recognition from the state; evangelical churches were beginning to be pushed toward illegal status. All of the movement toward a Serbian Orthodox state church will continue unless there is a definitive push toward a more broadly accepted definition of Christianity. In the last six years, the fundamental church has grown as individual believers share their faith. Recent large scale evangelical events have gone on unhindered by the state but not promoted or encouraged by the state, such as in a reduction in property taxes etc.

Tadic has been very reluctant to aggressively go after war criminals from the genocidal assaults on Muslims in the mid-1990’s in Bosnia-Herzegovina and under the rule of the dictatorship of Slobodan Milosevic. Some speculate that there are those high in the political body that prefer those in power spend less time seeking out the war criminals and more time increasing space between ethnic groups. The EU however will require that there be more than lip service given to locating and prosecuting those responsible for war time atrocities.

The western church must seek out and come alongside those evangelicals involved in church planting to help in whatever ways are currently possible. The only way in which such a partnership can expect to last long, beyond whatever the length of the current political regime, is to have an indigenous church planting movement not dependent on foreign funding or personnel. Regardless of the outreach that might be accomplished by some foreign ministry group with lots of personnel supported by plenty of funding; the post-event follow-up, the day to day church planting and personal evangelism and discipleship must be able to continue long after the foreigners have gone on to another land that needs to be conquered for Christ. Sadly, local ministries held together through prayer and the grit of an indigenous pastor who began the work with probably just his own family often sees these groups as a panacea to the hard fought daily battles for survival of the gospel story.

Then comes the western money, perhaps some notoriety, a feeling of doing something important and there he is… more funds than ever, churches in the west and elsewhere wait for word from him to how they can help next. Both, most likely, began with good intentions and a real desire to see someone saved, a church planted. But growing an indigenous church, particularly in places like the Balkans, requires individual relationships that are very slow to build. Sometimes relationship building can go on for years and even then no fruit. Sometimes there is a blossom and circumstances, perhaps the convert’s family puts on the pressure; the next thing you know, your new believer is gone. Even worse, he stays and hurls accusations against you and you are heartbroken. It is so much easier to put in a lot of money, do an “event” then spread the word to the west at how magnificent it was and go on to the next event. Maybe even circle back again in a few months or so and do another event.

Slow and steady, one heart at a time, one relationship at a time building trust and depending on the Holy Spirit to give the increase. Creating a ministry that, should the missionary or indigenous pastor die, be jailed, or be deported the work continues. You didn’t prop the whole work up with money from the west that if it goes, so does the ministry. Sure, you’re probably just meeting in a believer’s home, maybe even rotating so you don’t get caught and someone else jailed. No fancy robes are used and it is probably by bus or walking that you get from here to there. You cannot travel as fast or as far but somehow, in that circle that you can reach; the Holy Spirit begins to move among the people and they reach out, the circle gets bigger and bigger.

What a tangled mess, huh? The politicians and the trouble makers, the Christians in the East and in the West it all gets so tangled. What we really need is one person who really loves Christ who finds someone near them that needs to know Jesus. The Christian builds a friendship and the Holy Spirit intervenes, soon a new believer is born. Then, the cycle repeats itself. No use of NATO forces or huge outreach events. There are no pleas for more and more money but those in the difficult circumstances who have a little extra, start giving to those who need it. The little group of Christians finds that they are really blessed when they help each other out. No major funding drives or political intrigue. Simple, indigenous and Holy Spirit led. Just like the commercial for the little girl’s hair spray… ‘No More Tangles. ’ Does that mean we don’t plan and missionaries don’t go out, across cultures to help and learn, love and share? No, of course not, but it does mean we depend on the Spirit not the bank account. We tangle less and touch more. We share more and we sponsor less. We continue to love, pray, and trust.