"Saudi national allegedly used lewd photos to blackmail Danvers teen" by Travis Andersen Globe Staff September 25, 2015
A Saudi national who attended college in Indiana is facing charges that he posed as a female online to obtain nude photos of a Danvers teenager and later threatened to distribute the pictures unless the girl agreed to have sex with him, officials said.
Abdulrahim Altalhi, 20, was indicted Wednesday on charges including attempted extortion, enticement, electronic enticement for prostitution, and posing a child in a state of nudity, according to Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett’s office.
His Superior Court arraignment has not been scheduled, and he remains held on $750,000 bail. He pleaded not guilty earlier this month in Salem District Court.
According to authorities, Altalhi contacted the alleged victim online in January and persuaded the 15-year-old girl to send him nude photos. He allegedly used the pictures in an effort to blackmail “the victim to agree to have sex with a man, later identified as the defendant,” said a spokeswoman for Blodgett.
The girl’s family contacted police, and Altalhi was arrested before any sexual acts occurred, authorities said.
His lawyer, John Salsberg, said Altalhi was traveling back to school when he was taken into custody at a Chicago airport. The date of his arrest was unclear Friday.
Salsberg declined to discuss the allegations, except to say that Altalhi will plead not guilty in Superior Court.
Officials identified Altalhi as a student at the University of Evansville in Indiana, but a school spokesman said he did not enroll this semester.
Salsberg said Altalhi attended the university on a scholarship and comes from a “modest background” in Saudi Arabia.
“His parents were just here this last week,” Salsberg said. “He has their full support and love.”
Danvers police referred questions to Blodgett’s office.
Looks like God was watching:
"Saudi handling of hajj pilgrims draws scrutiny" by Loveday Morris and Mustafa Salim Washington Post September 26, 2015
BAGHDAD — Critics claim Saudi authorities once again failed to manage the hajj crowds, leading to the deadliest incident to take place during the pilgrimage in 25 years.
‘‘It is not God’s will. It is man’s incompetence,’’ said Mohammad Jafari, an adviser to a British tour operator that organizes hajj trips, the BBC reported.
Saudi officials also denied reports that the arrival of a senior official’s convoy contributed to congestion in the area before the stampede. ‘‘The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s senior dignitaries’ vehicles do not travel through this area,’’ said the Saudi ambassador to the United Kingdom, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf al-Saud.
Some of the harshest criticism of the country’s handling of the crowds has come from Iran, Saudi Arabia’s main regional rival.
I think the 131 Iranian deaths and ‘‘mismanagement’’ of the catastrophe has something to do with it.
In Tehran, thousands of protesters carried black banners and chanted against the Saudi royal family.
Hours later in New York, Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, suggested that inexperienced Saudi security units may have been deployed for the hajj because other personnel were involved with Saudi-led attacks in Yemen against rebel forces, which the West and its allies believe are backed by Tehran.
‘‘It shows an ineptitude — may show an ineptitude — by the government of Saudi Arabia,’’ Rouhani told journalists.
Saudi King Salman has ordered a full inqiuiry. But the sheer scope of the hajj crowds — which have more than doubled during the past two decades — represents a major challenge for security and logistics, with no easy answers.
Saudi Arabia has struggled to deal with a rising number of visitors for hajj, as Mecca has become more accessible and air travel more affordable for a global middle class.
The mingling of 2 million people from around the world also has raised fears that the pilgrimage could spark global epidemics.
So what biological disease of virus did they dump on them all?
Nations mourning the dead go from Senegal to Indonesia.
Hajj rites and processions went ahead Friday as the pilgrimage wound down. Every Muslim is expected to perform hajj at least once, as long as the person is physically and financially able to do so.
Stampedes have become less frequent in recent years, as Saudi authorities have undertaken major construction work to ease the flow of pilgrims. But Thursday’s incident is likely to push authorities to implement more security and to intensify calls for restrictions on the numbers allowed to visit.
Saudi Arabia has cut the number of pilgrims attending the hajj since 2012, when more than 3 million made the journey. Pilgrims from foreign countries are restricted by a quota system.
The tragedy is the second to strike this year’s hajj. Two weeks ago, a crane collapsed at the main mosque in Mecca as preparations were being made for the pilgrimage, leaving more than 100 people dead and injuring hundreds more.
That's when I stopped reading.
Before the stampede, crowds were making their way from a vast settlement of more than 160,000 tents on the floor of the desert valley in Mina to perform a hajj ritual to commemorate the stoning of the devil by the prophet Abraham, known in Arabic as Ibrahim.
In the ceremony, pilgrims fling pebbles at one of three pillars representing the devil. The rite is considered to be one of the most dangerous parts of the pilgrimage because of the large crowds it draws through the Mina area’s narrow roads.
What I have noticed over the years reading the Globe is that all religions -- Muslim, Christian, Pagan, Hindu, Buddhist, what have you -- are a little weird in the head with their odd rituals and beliefs. The only sane, rational, decent religion is Judaism.
Health authorities said the heat — which topped 110 degrees Thursday — contributed to the toll....
Well, it is in the middle of the desert.
I'm told "pilgrims share some blame [because they] had ignored the allocated time slot for their group and, the stampede may have been touched off ‘‘because some pilgrims moved without following instructions by the relevant authorities.’’
So, once again in this world, it's the victim's fault.
"Iranian state prosecutor Ebrahim Raisi told state TV, Saudi authorities blocked a road normally used by hajj pilgrims to allow a royal convoy to pass through, causing the deadly convergence in the town of Mina on the outskirts of Mecca. The a stampede killed at least 769 people, and that has led to an escalation of tensions between the regional archrivals. Iran and Saudi Arabia are bitterly divided on a host of regional issues, and support opposite sides in the wars raging in Syria and Yemen."