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Entries in Egypt (14)

Sunday
Jul142013

Funeral Held for American Student Killed in Egypt

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- An American college student who was teaching kids in Egypt when he was killed last month has left behind an inspiring letter he wrote to a 12-year-old boy, telling him the secret to a happy life was "good friends" and "good deeds."

Andrew Driscoll Pochter, 21, a junior at Kenyon College from Chevy Chase, Md., was watching a protest in Alexandria, Egypt, when he was fatally stabbed on June 28.

At his funeral on Friday at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Pochter's sister, Emily Pochter, read the letter that Pochter wrote June 10 to a boy named Justin, whom he was paired with at Camp Opportunity, a week-long sleep away summer camp for at risk children in Baltimore.

In the letter obtained by ABCNews.com, Pochter apologized to Justin for not being able to be at the ceremony since he was in Egypt teaching English to students who were around the boy's age. Pochter also gives Justin words to live by as he leaves Camp Opportunity and enters the next phase of his life.

"Egypt is hazardous right now because the country is feeling the consequences of an enormous political revolution. I lose electricity and water all the time, but that's okay because I have many Egyptian friends to help take care of me. When I am in trouble, they take care of me and when they are in trouble, I always take care of them," Pochter wrote.

"Good friends do not come easily, but as a rule, I always appreciate the good deeds people do for me even if I don't know them well. What is most important is that I am trying to do my best for others."
Pochter goes on to say that his personal philosophy was inspired by people like Justin. Without whom, he said, he "would probably be a mean and grumpy person."

"Your kind heart and genuine character serve as a model for me. I hope that you will never stop your curiosity for the beautiful things in life," he wrote. "Surround yourself with good friends who care about your future. Fall in love with someone. Get your heart broken. And then move on and fall in love again. Breathe life every day like it is your first. Find something that you love to do and never stop doing that unless you find something else you love more."

"Don't blame others for their mistakes. It makes you weak. You are a strong man who does not need to be weighed down by people who complain and say negative things," Pochter wrote. "Speak with conviction and believe in yourself because your personal confidence is just as important as your education."

Camp Opportunity counselor recruiter Allison Gardner told ABCNews.com that she gave a copy of the letter to Pochter's family upon news of his death.

"I felt it was really important to make sure Emily, his sister, and Emily's parents, got a chance to see the letter once Andrew had passed," Gardner said. "It was a beautiful representation of Andrew, so well-written and special."

Gardner said she and Pochter had discussed working on something for Justin's graduation, since he would not be able to be there in person.

"The letter was more special than we even knew once Andrew was killed because it was so recent that he wrote it," she said. "It's something we're all going to cherish now that he's gone."

Pochter had emailed Gardner the letter to give to Justin, whom she and other camp staff have spoken with since Pochter's passing.

"Andrew cared for Justin deeply," Gardner said. "Justin definitely learned a lot from Andrew and I think vice versa. I think they were a good pair."

Pochter had been a volunteer at Camp Opportunity since 2008, Gardner said.

Camp Opportunity issued a statement on its website upon news of Pochter's passing, calling Pochter "an incredibly kind and compassionate young man."

"Andrew, we thank you for your personal contribution to a world where children are victims of birth and circumstance," the statement said. "Your sense of responsibility and servanthood reached well beyond your years. Many live longer than you, but few achieve true significance and achieve such personal greatness as you have."

The Pochter family declined to comment to ABCNews.com.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep142012

Secretary Clinton Delivers Powerful Religion Speech After Middle East Embassy Attacks

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary Clinton delivered a powerful and personal speech about religion at an Eid ul-Fitr reception, marking the end of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. The speech, at times, was a direct response to the attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in the Middle East, and the deaths of four diplomats at the hands of militants in Libya.

In her remarks, Clinton repeated much of what she’s said in the last two days, namely that the Benghazi attack was carried out by a “small and savage group,” and that the United States completely rejects what she called the “inflammable and despicable” anti-Muslim film circulating the Internet. However, Clinton pointed out all religions have faced insults and denigration, but that’s no justification for violence.  The response to such insults is what separates people of true faith from those who would use religion as an excuse to commit violent acts, she said.

“When Christians are subject to insults to their faith, and that certainly happens, we expect them not to resort to violence. When Hindus or Buddhists are subjected to insults to their faiths, and that also certainly happens, we expect them not to resort to violence,” said Clinton. “The same goes for all faiths, including Islam.”

She spoke movingly about her own personal beliefs as a way of re-enforcing her point.

“I so strongly believe that the great religions of the world are stronger than any insults.  They have withstood offense for centuries,” said Clinton. "Refraining from violence, then, is not a sign of weakness in one’s faith; it is absolutely the opposite, a sign that one’s faith is unshakable.”

She asked the crowd to work towards building a world where if one person commits a violent religious act, millions of people will stand up and condemn it.

“We can pledge that whenever one person speaks out in ignorance and bigotry, ten voices will answer,” Clinton said forcefully. “They will answer resoundingly against the offense and the insult; answering ignorance with enlightenment; answering hatred with understanding; answering darkness with light.”

The secretary urged the audience not to be discouraged by the hatred and violence that exists, but instead resolve to do something tangible to promote religious tolerance in their own communities.

“In times like these, it can be easy to despair that some differences are irreconcilable, some mountains too steep to climb; we will therefore never reach the level of understanding and peacefulness that we seek, and which I believe the great religions of the world call us to pursue,” she reflected. “But that’s not what I believe, and I don’t think it’s what you believe… Part of what makes our country so special is we keep trying. We keep working. We keep investing in our future,” she said.

This year’s annual Eid event honored three young Muslim-Americans who are part of the State Department’s Generation Change program. The initiative, launched by Clinton two years ago, supports young Muslims to develop positive organizations and movements around the world.

Clinton acknowledged that given the deaths of the diplomats killed in Libya this week, the event had a more somber tone than in years past. But she also highlighted the outpouring of support the United States has received from the Muslim world.  She thanked the Libyan ambassador, Ali Suleiman Aujali, who gave a heartfelt tribute to U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, whom he called his dear friend, killed in Benghazi on Tuesday.

“I must tell you, Madam Secretary, and tell the American people, that Chris is a hero,” said Aujali. “He loves Benghazi, he loves the people, he talks to them, he eats with them, and he [was] committed -- and unfortunately lost his life because of this commitment.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep132012

Police Sent to California Home of "Innocence of Muslims" Producer

Thinkstock/Getty Images(CERRITOS, Calif.) -- As outrage over the anti-Muslim film Innocence of Muslims spreads across the Middle East, police were sent to the California home of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the film's producer, who according to authorities is frightened for his life.

Sheriff's Deputies were sent to the Cerritos, Calif., home of Nakoula, 55, on Thursday to protect him and his family, a senior law enforcement official told ABC News.  According to a sheriff, the police were at Nakoula's home overnight Thursday but have now left, as media reports identifying him as the man behind Innocence of Muslims, and listing his address, have circulated.

According to California law enforcement officials, Nakoula, who is also known to authorities as Bacily Nakoula, was frightened for his life and "scared of retaliation" against his family.

Sheriffs from the Cerritos police station were sent to his home to keep Nakoula safe and to provide a uniformed presence to assist the members from the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, official reports said.

A senior official said that they also had sent local law enforcement officers to the production company Media for Christ on Hamilton Avenue in Duartes, Calif., to keep watch on the facility, which authorities said was affiliated with making the film that has been a trigger for anti-U.S. violence and protest in several countries.

On Thursday, protesters rushed the U.S. Embassy in Sana'a, Yemen, while further demonstrations broke out outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

Two days earlier, protesters in Cairo scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy and tore down the American flag in an angry demonstration against the film that depicts the founder of Islam as a fraud and a womanizer.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep132012

Who Is Sam Bacile? Anti-Islam Filmmaker's Bio Doesn't Add Up

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The filmmaker who produced an incendiary, anti-Muslim movie that stirred extremists on Tuesday to storm the U.S. embassy in Egypt -- and may be linked to the fatal attack on the U.S. ambassador in Libya -- may have gone into hiding, as doubts rose as to his true identity.

Following Tuesday's riots, a California man calling himself Sam Bacile took credit for making the film Innocence of the Muslims and identified himself as an Israeli Jew in two news interviews.

But a search of public records and inconsistencies in Bacile's own accounts, as well as information from a radical Christian who helped produced the movie all suggest that "Sam Bacile" is a pseudonym and is not Israeli but an Arab Christian.

"I've met him twice.  He is not a citizen of Israel.  He is in hiding," Steve Klein, a member of a far-right anti-Islamic Christian group who says he helped with the film's production, told ABC News.

Klein said Bacile was not Israeli or Jewish, and suggested he was an Arab Christian who was a U.S. citizen.

Three U.S. Christian groups, including two identified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Council, and a third that advocates for Egyptian Christians, or Copts, have been linked to the production or eventual distribution of the movie.

The controversial Florida Pastor Terry Jones, who in 2010 sparked riots in Afghanistan after burning copies of the Koran, told ABC News that he had been contacted to help distribute the film.

Klein, a member of the Church of Kaweah, listed as an anti-Muslim hate group, said Bacile and the film's other backers were "refugees from the Middle East."

"The folks that I'm working with have come from a culture where they've been tracked down, driven from their homes.  Close family members have been kidnapped, raped and murdered," said Klein of the filmmaker.

Christians in much of the Middle East are persecuted and their plight has been made a cause for many American fundamentalist Christians.

Clips of the low-budget movie, which portrays the prophet Mohammed as a fraud, pedophile and homosexual, appeared on the YouTube page of a person identified as "Sam Bacile," who also left a later YouTube comment in colloquial Egyptian Arabic.

Searches of federal and state public records including civil and criminal court documents and real estate filings revealed no mention of anyone with Bacile's name. 

There is no record of a Sam Bacile, or a similarly named person, having received a real estate license in California.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun132011

American Law Student Arrested as 'Spy' in Egypt

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- An American law student has been detained by Egyptian authorities on charges he is a "highly trained" spy working for Israel, Egyptian media reported Monday.

The U.S. State Department confirmed Sunday's arrest of 27-year-old dual U.S.-Israeli citizen Ilan Chaim Grapel in a statement, but declined to comment concerning allegations voiced in Egyptian state media that he was working for the Israeli intelligence force, Mossad, "with the aim of harming [Egypt's] economic and political interests."

Grapel's mother, Irene Grapel, told ABC News the charges against him were "complete fabrications."

"I was dumbfounded," said Irene Grapel of when she learned her son had been detained. "I don't know where to put the next step."

Irene Grapel said her son had traveled to Egypt to work with a non-profit organization that helped other African refugees in Egypt. "He volunteered his time to go there," she said.

Both Irene Grapel and the State Department said Ilan Grapel had been visited by U.S. officials and appeared to be in good health in captivity. Irene Grapel said that speaking with her son Monday was "just great."

"My imagination was running wild last night, thinking of what they could be doing to him," she said. Before the popular revolt against former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, those detained by Egyptian police were sometimes subjected to harsh interrogation and torture.

Grapel, from New York, served in the Israeli military as a paratrooper and was injured in combat in 2006 in the Lebanon War. His mother said he is currently enrolled in Emory Law School and had received a small stipend from the school for his work in Egypt. School officials were not available to confirm Grapel was part of a program, but the year previous a man by the same name won a grant to work with the Supreme Court of Israel, according to the school's website.

Ilan Grapel's mother said it was likely many pictures Grapel took and posted on Facebook of the widespread protests in Egypt, coupled with his history in the Israeli military, that prompted his detention. A picture of Grapel smiling in his Israel Defense Forces uniform was featured in several Egyptian news reports.

Egypt's state news reported Grapel was to be detained fifteen days, but that time could be lengthened if Egyptian authorities wished to question him further. An official with the Israeli Foreign Ministry told The Jerusalem Post early Monday they had yet to receive details of an arrested Israeli citizen.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun012011

Egyptian Banker Charged with Sexually Abusing Maid Arraigned

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar, the Egyptian former bank chairman who was arrested at a New York hotel earlier this week for allegedly sexually abusing a maid, was arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court Tuesday night.

The judge presiding over the arraignment set Omar's bail at $50,000 bond or $25,000 cash.  The 74-year-old was also ordered to surrender all of his travel documents.

The case was adjourned until June 3, allowing Omar time to hire a private lawyer.  He was represented by an attorney from Legal Aid Services at his arraignment.

Omar was arrested Monday morning at Pierre Hotel on charges of sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment, forcible touching and harassment.

According to sources, the executive was clad in pajamas when he answered the door to let the 44-year-old maid into his room.  Sources told ABC News that when the maid arrived, Omar asked her to leave the tissues he had requested on a table inside his room.  Once she was in the room, he allegedly closed the door and locked it.

Omar then allegedly grabbed the maid, kissed her and fondled her breasts and buttocks.  She fought him off and, according to sources, told him she wasn't there for that.  He then grabbed her again.  This time, sources say, he rubbed up against her and she again resisted him.  He then asked for her phone number.  She gave him a false number, and he let her out of the room.

Omar now heads El-Mex Salines Co., a solar salt producer in Egypt.  He had been chairman of the Bank of Alexandria, sources said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May312011

Egyptian Banker Arrested on Sex Crime Allegation by Maid at NY Hotel

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A prominent, 74-year-old Egyptian former bank chairman, Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar, was arrested at New York's Pierre Hotel Monday morning in connection with an alleged sex assault Sunday on a 44-year-old room maid.

The attack allegedly took place when the woman delivered tissues Omar requested to his room.

The incident recalled allegations against another international finance official at a New York City hotel earlier this month.  On May 14, a maid at the Sofitel Hotel claimed former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted her in his Manhattan hotel suite.  Strauss-Kahn is under house arrest in New York as his case proceeds.

Omar was arrested on charges of sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment, forcible touching and harassment.

According to sources, the executive was clad in pajamas when he answered the door to let the maid in.  He then allegedly groped her breasts and tried to kiss her before she fled.

Sources told ABC News that when the maid arrived, he asked her to leave the tissues on a table inside his room.  Once she was in the room, he allegedly closed the door and locked it.

Omar then allegedly grabbed the maid, kissed her and fondled her breasts and buttocks.  She fought him off and, according to sources, told him she wasn't there for that.  He then grabbed her again.  This time, sources say, he rubbed up against her and she again resisted him.  He then asked for her phone number.  She gave him a false number, and he let her out of the room.

"Experienced NYPD detectives found the complainant to be credible," said New York Deputy Police Commissioner for Public Information Paul Browne, who promised "further details" upon Omar's arraignment.

Omar now heads El-Mex Salines Co., a solar salt producer in Egypt.  He had been chairman of the Bank of Alexandria, sources said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr282011

CBS' Lara Logan Thought She Would Die During Sexual Assault in Egypt

Chris Hondros/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- CBS correspondent Lara Logan thought she was about to die as she endured a sexual assault in Egypt's Tahrir Square while covering the political uprising in the country.

"There was no doubt in my mind that I was in the process of dying," Logan told CBS News' Scott Pelley in an interview that will air Sunday on CBS' 60 Minutes. "I thought, 'Not only am I going to die, but it's going to be just a torturous death that's going to go on forever.'"

Logan, 40, spent four days in the hospital following the Feb. 11 attack, in which an estimated 200 to 300 men separated her from her news crew and bodyguard, surrounded her, ripped off her clothing and beat her.

"For an extended period of time, they raped me with their hands," Logan told The New York Times.

She was rescued by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers.

The violence against her unfolded amid jubilation at the news that longtime Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had decided to step down. The uprising in Egypt appeared to have a domino effect by helping to spark political uprisings in other Middle Eastern nations.

Logan, who is the chief foreign correspondent for CBS, returned to work on Wednesday.

"I am so much stronger [now]," she told Pelley, adding she hoped her story would empower other victims of sexual assault, particularly female reporters.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb162011

Lara Logan at Home after Assault in Egypt, Gets Call from President Obama

Photo Courtesy - The Gracies dot org(WASHINGTON) -- CBS News correspondent Lara Logan is resting at her Washington, D.C.-area home with her husband and two children after being sexually assaulted and beaten in Tahrir Square on the day Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned, a close friend of Logan's said.

According to a White House aide, President Obama called Logan Wednesday afternoon. The White House did not provide details of the phone call, but Press Secretary Jay Carney reiterated that "violence against journalists was unacceptable, and that the perpetrators of violence needed to be held accountable."

Logan, 39, was released from the hospital Tuesday at about 5 p.m., the friend told ABC News.

Logan, CBS News' chief foreign affairs correspondent, was surrounded by "a mob of more than 200 people whipped into a frenzy" on Feb. 11, according to a CBS News statement.

In an interview with PBS's Charlie Rose before the attack, Logan said the Egyptian Army had labeled her and her crew spies.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb152011

CBS News' Lara Logan Out of Hospital after Assault in Egypt

Photo Courtesy - The Gracies dot org(NEW YORK) -- CBS News correspondent Lara Logan was assaulted and sexually abused by an Egyptian crowd last week during the celebration of President Hosni Mubarak's decision to step aside.

Logan, a veteran foreign correspondent, was covering the jubilation in Tahrir Square for 60 Minutes on Feb. 11 when "she and her team and their security were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration," CBS News said in a statement published on their website Tuesday.

"In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers," read the statement.

Thousands of Egyptians swarmed Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the protests that night, and the crowds were generally peaceful.

Soon after the assault Logan reconnected with her crew, "returned to her hotel and returned to the United States on the first flight the next morning," CBS said.

On Tuesday, four days after the assault, she was still "in the hospital recovering." She later left the hospital.

Logan had been detained by Egyptian police just days earlier on Feb. 4 and forced to leave the country. After landing in the U.S. Logan promptly got on a plane and returned to Cairo on Feb. 11, the day she was assaulted.

Logan, 39 and a native of South Africa, has covered war zones for 18 years and joined CBS as chief foreign correspondent in 2006.

She has reported on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and has received an Emmy Award, an Overseas Press Club Award and an Edward R. Murrow Award for her reporting.

She is the mother of two young children.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 







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