Twitter to the rescue

A Japanese journalist held hostage in Afghanistan fooled his abductors with an unlikely source: Twitter.

Kosuke Tsuneoka's captors asked him last Friday to show them how to use their new Nokia mobile phones, and after activating the devices Tsuneoka demonstrated how to access the Internet. After showing them Al Jazeera's website, Tsuneoka made his move:

Then I told them there is a thing called 'Twitter'. They asked me to show them what it was, so I sent Twitter messages with the phone in front of them. Because nobody understood English, it was no problem.

Tsuneoka tweeted two messages: "i am still alive, but in jail." He then followed up with his location: "here is archi in kunduz. in the jail of commander lativ." He was released the following day, though he suspects it was as a result of his captors' failure to secure a ransom payment.

Tsuneoka further noted that he was well treated in captivity, even given three meals a day, but that his captors were "dreadfully uneducated" and "even their knowledge of Islamic teaching was very poor."

Tsuneoka claims he was held by fighters loyal to Hizb-i-Islami commander Guldbuddin Hekmatyar -- and not Taliban fighters, which the Afghan government and some media organizations reported.

Hekmatyar, a veteran mujahedeen commander, earned his name during the campaign against the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Hizb-i-Islami is believed to be the second largest insurgent group in Afghanistan.



Quran-burning pastor was expelled from German church

It turns out the Florida Pastor Terry Jones, who plans to host an "International Burn a Koran Day" event at his chuch on Sept. 11, has an interesting history in Europe as well. From Der Spiegel

In the United States, Jones has already attracted attention on several occasions as an Islamophobic provocateur. What is less well known is that the pastor led a charismatic evangelical church, the Christian Community of Cologne, in the western German city up until 2009. Last year, however, the members of the congregation kicked founder Jones out, because of his radicalism. One of the church's current leaders, Stephan Baar, also told the German news agency DPA that there had been suspicions of financial irregularities in the church surrounding Jones....

Former church members are still undergoing therapy as a result of "spiritual abuse," Schäfer said. According to Schäfer, Jones urged church members to beat their children with a rod and also taught "a distinctive demonology" and conducted brainwashing.

"Terry Jones appears to have a delusional personality," speculates Schäfer. When he came to Germany in the 1980s, Jones apparently considered Cologne "a city of Hell that was founded by Nero's mother," while he thought Germany was "a key country for the supposed Christian revival of Europe," Schäfer says....

Jones and his wife were expelled from the congregation in 2007 and returned to the United States.

Jones' latest stunt has now been condemned by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well Gen. David Petraeus and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.