SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – US authorities have arrested a suspect from Mississippi in connection with a letter that tested positive for the poison ricin that was sent to President Barack Obama, a law enforcement source has said.
Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said on Wednesday that the letter was intercepted at a facility away from the White House, adding that the letter was received on Tuesday.
"This facility routinely identifies letters or parcels that require secondary screening or scientific testing before delivery," Donovan said.
"The Secret Service is working closely with the US Capitol Police and the FBI in this investigation."
The FBI said late on Wednesday it had arrested Paul Kevin Curtis, of Corinth, Mississippi, in connection with the letters.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said preliminary tests on a letter sent to President Barack Obama indicated the presence of ricin.
But the FBI statement added: "There is no indication of a connection to the attack in Boston," where three people were killed in bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday.
The letter is undergoing further testing because preliminary field tests can be unreliable, creating false positives.
Al Jazeera's Patty Culhane, reporing from Washington DC, said: "It will take up to 48 hours for them to find out if it is ricin."
It came after legislators said a different letter was mailed to Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker that tested positive for ricin.
A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the letter to Obama was very similar to the one mailed to Wicker.
Michigan Senator Carl Levin has also said his regional office in his state received a suspicious letter and that authorities have been alerted.
Levin said in a statement that an aide received the letter on Wednesday, but did not open it. Authorities are now investigating.
The Democratic legislator said he and his staff do not know if the mail presented a threat.
The episode also recalled the mysterious series of letters laced with anthrax that were sent to lawmakers and some journalists following the September 11 attacks in 2001 which killed five people and sickened 17 others.
Tensions have been high in Washington and across the country since the deadly bombings on Monday at the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured more than 170. -www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Al Jazeera
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- The ‘Huruf Muqatta’ah’ are the separate letters located in the beginning of some surahs of the Quran that have no independent meaning. There are different viewpoints regarding these letters; the best one being that they are a secret between the prophet (pbuh) and Allah (swt) that only the prophet (pbuh) and the imams are aware of. The phrase “صراط علی حق نمسکه” has been mentioned by some scholars and doesn’t come from hadiths.
There are separate letters in the beginning of 29 surahs of the Quran; sometimes a surah will start with one separate letter and sometimes with several. These letters total to 79, which are actually 14 without counting repetitions (which is half the number of the hija’ alphabet). These letters are referred to as the Huruf Muqatta’ah (Separate letters) or the “luminous letters”.
There are different viewpoints regarding these letters; we will point to some here:
1- These letters are reminding us that this heavenly book which has left all Arabs and non-Arabs in awe and total astonishment, and scholars are helpless when it comes to challenging it, has been compiled using the simple letters of the Arabic alphabet that everyone has access to.
2- These letters are of the Mutashabihat verses of the Quran which are totally vague and ambiguous and impossible to comprehensively understand in any way.
3- These are just normal unjoined letters that bear no meaning, nor are a secret or point to anything, they are just there for vocal reasons. The reason these letters have come in the beginning of surahs is because pronouncing them in that time would gather the attention of those present so they would listen to the verses being recited, because the enemies of Islam were always trying to make noise so that passersby wouldn’t hear the recitation of the Quran.
4- These letters show that they have been used more in the surah, which is a miracle. Badruddin Zarkeshi says: “One of the delicate secrets of these letters is that the letters used most in every one of the surahs are the ones mentioned in the beginning of the surah. For instance, the letter “ق” has been repeated 57 times in the two surahs of Qaf and Ha Mim Ein Sin Qaf (surah Shura)…”. An Egyptian researcher has done complex calculations with computers on this same subject and has reached the conclusion that these letters signify that they have been used more in the surahs that begin with them, which is a miracle.
5- These letters have been used for swearing; Allah (swt) has sworn by these letters because letters are the basis of all languages.
6- There is a connection between these letters and the contents of the surahs that begin with them; the reason being that when one concentrates on the surahs that begin with similar “separate letters”, he will see that thy share the same contents.
7- Some of these letters are short signs that point to a name of Allah (swt), and some are symbols that point to the prophet (pbuh); each of Allah's (swt) names is a combination of several letters, one letter is chosen out of the letters of each name and has been mentioned separately in the beginning of selected surahs. Sufyan Al-Thawri has been narrated saying: “It was said to Imam Ja’far ibn Muhammad ibn Ali ibnil-Husein (as): “O son of Rasulullah (pbuh), what is the meaning of the letters such as “الم”…?” The imam (as) answered: “الم”, which has come in the beginning of surah Baqarah means “انا الله الملک” (I am Allah, the Sovereign). As for the “الم” in the beginning of surah Ale-Imran, it means “انا الله المجید” (I am Allah, the Glorious)…”.
8- These letters are the ones that make up the “Great Name” of Allah (swt).
9- These letters are pointing to the number of surahs in the Quran.
10- Every surah that begins with these letters is named after them, as is the case with surahs Yasin (یس), Taha (طه) and Sad (ص).
11- These letters are telling us of how long the nation of Islam will last.
12- These letters are to indicate that the previous surah has ended and that a new one has begun.
13- These letters are like the summary and overall message of the surah.
14- These letters are referring to the names of those who had a copy of the Quran. For instance, “س” stands for Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas.
15- These letters were secrets between the prophet (pbuh) and Allah (swt), and no one is aware of their true meaning. This is the chosen viewpoint amongst most scholars.
Imam Sadiq (as) has been narrated saying: “الم is a secret between Allah (swt) and His prophet (pbuh) and since He hasn’t wished for anyone else to become aware of this secret, he has made it in the form of letters so that “outsiders” don’t learn of it and it only remains disclosed to “friends”.”
Thinkers have put these letters next to each other to make different phrases that are in accordance with their beliefs and tastes. For instance, Badruddin Zarkeshi has made the phrase “نص حکیم قاطع له سر”, or Faydh Kashani (rah) has put together the phrase “صراط علی حق نمسکه” (The path of Ali (as) is the truth that we grasp); nevertheless, none of these phrases have been pointed to in our hadiths.
 Al-Mizan, under verse six of surah Shura.
 For further information, see the article on Huruf Muqatta’ah in the Farhang va Ma’arafe Qurani(فرهنگ و معارف قرآنی) website.
 Hadi Ma’refat, Ulume Qurani, pg. 138.
 Ibn Tawus, Sa’dul-Sa’ud, pg. 217.
 Tafsirul-Safi, vol. 1, pg. 91.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — “Israeli” MPs have refused to sign a letter supporting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s stance on launching a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
MP Tzipi Hotovely, who was the driving force behind the letter, had claimed that nine lawmakers from the Likud party had signed the letter.
"We have complete faith in the way any decision on Iran will be made, and we are sure it will be made responsibly and with a clear view of “Israel's” vital interests," read the letter.
However, the “Israeli” newspaper Maariv published a report on Monday saying that no lawmaker had signed the letter, but that nine MPs have only orally expressed support for the letter.
Hotovely admitted that no lawmaker had signed the letter after MP Karmel Shama, one of the MPs whom she said had signed the letter, wrote on his Facebook page that he had not signed such a letter.
The US and “Israel” have repeatedly threatened to take military action against Iran in order to force the Islamic Republic to halt its uranium enrichment program, which Washington and Tel Aviv claim includes a military component.
Iran rejects the allegations, arguing that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
In addition, the International Atomic Energy Agency has conducted numerous inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities but has never found any evidence showing that Iran's civilian nuclear program has been diverted to nuclear weapons production.—www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Throughout our nation’s worst racial tensions, Birmingham Civil Rights attorney Arthur Davis Shores was a pioneer who dared to step into the white man’s courtroom, bravely representing civil rights cases for some 25 years before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. arrived in Birmingham in 1963 with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. A quiet gentleman with a deep Christian faith, Shores worked tirelessly for equal rights. Shores was notably one of the attorneys who smuggled scraps of paper from Dr. King’s jail cell -- the now infamous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” In this excerpt from 'The Gentle Giant Of Dynamite Hill: The Untold Story of Arthur Shores and his Family’s Fight for Civil Rights,' his daughters Helen Shores Lee and Barbara S. Shores write of their father’s involvement in this historic moment in civil rights’ history.
On April 3, 1963, during the Selective Buying Campaign, the SCLC staged sit-ins inside several downtown whites-only lunch counters. Three days later, police arrested 45 protesters as they marched from the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church to Birmingham’s city jail. The next day, police arrested even more protesters, whom Daddy represented in court. The city charged $100 for each person’s bail, and Daddy, Mr. Gaston, and others raised much of the bail money so these protesters could leave jail and go home.
In light of the protests, Judge W. A. Jenkins Jr. ordered that the civil rights leaders, including Dr. King, Ralph Abernathy and Fred Shuttlesworth, organize no future protests in Birmingham.
On Good Friday, April 12, 1963, police arrested Dr. King and placed him in a Birmingham city jail cell in solitary confinement. The small cell held a metal-slatted cot with no mattress, a toilet and sink, and a mirror on the back wall. The cell had no overhead light or other light source. He spent most of his imprisonment in the dark. King later called those long hours and days in solitary confinement “the most frustrating and bewildering” he had ever lived.
On the second day of King’s confinement, Bull Connor in City Hall granted three attorneys permission to visit Dr. King. They were Norman Amaker from the NAACP, Orzell Billingsley, and our father. Perhaps one of them took Dr. King the ad that ran in the Birmingham News where eight local white ministers referred to King as a troublemaker. In any event, King read the ad and felt that he had to somehow respond to it.
Letter from Birmingham Jail
Dr. King had no paper, so he wrote his response around the edges of the newspaper ad and on pieces of toilet paper in his cell. Later, Daddy or one of the other attorneys brought him a notepad. King could only work in the daytime when he had enough scant light to see. When he finished the response, our father and his other attorneys secretly slipped the assorted bits and pieces of the letter from King’s cell and into the hands of NAACP’s Wyatt Walker. Walker and his secretary, Willie Pearl Mackey, pieced together the scraps of paper, and Mackey typed out the rough draft of the letter.
Andrew Young recalled that Willie Pearl Mackey “had a terrible time reading Martin’s handwriting. Most of the letter was brought in installments delivered from the jail by our attorneys, Clarence Jones, Ozell Billingsley, and Arthur Shores, during their trips to jail to visit Martin.” When Mackey had finished typing the draft, one of King’s lawyers smuggled it back to Dr. King to edit and make corrections. Then one of the lawyers carried it back to Walker.
In his response, on April 16, 1963, Dr. King addressed directly the eight white pastors (“My dear fellow clergymen”) who had written the newspaper ad. Using passages and characters from the Bible, he eloquently explained his reasons for coming to Birmingham (because he found injustice in the city), and he outlined both the process and the goal of his visit and activities, carefully describing the four basic steps of his nonviolent campaign: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action. He also called Birmingham the most segregated city in the United States and mentioned its ugly record of brutality, including the Negroes’ unjust treatment by courts and the unsolved bombings. He told the clergymen: “The purpose of our direct-action program is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation.”
His response ran to more than 7,000 words in length. By May 13, 1963, the American Friends Service Committee (Quaker) had received permission from the SCLC to print the letter for wide dissemination and published 50,000 copies of the document in pamphlet form for national distribution. Other publications printed King’s Letter, including the Christian Century, the Saturday Evening Post, the Birmingham News and Atlantic Monthly, among others.
Half a Century Later
Almost a half-century later, theologians are still calling King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail “towering” and “magnificent.” In his letter,
King clearly cataloged the injustices faced by African Americans. He called “white moderates” to task and forcefully reminded them that justice delayed was justice denied. And most famously, citing Augustine, he claimed that “an unjust law is no law at all...” King had reason, justice, facts, and conviction on his side -- as well as the gospel. He did not need vitriol, and he did not employ it. —www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia international Association) — On Sunday, 543 Saudi women urged the clerics in the Muslim world to make efforts for the release of all political prisoners who are held in jails of the Al Saud regime without trial or a clear charge.
The women also pointed out in the letter that there are around 30,000 prisoners held in the Saudi jails.
The letter comes a few days after two people were killed in clashes between inmates supporting and opposing the Saudi regime at the al-Hayer prison on the outskirts of the capital, Riyadh, on July 14.
Since February 2011, protesters have held demonstrations on an almost regular basis in Saudi Arabia, mainly in the Qatif region and the town of Awamiyah in Eastern Province, primarily calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination.
However, the demonstrations have turned into protests against the Al Saud regime, especially since November 2011, when Saudi security forces killed five protesters and injured many others in Eastern Province.—www.shafaqna.com/english