Extra! Chile Slammed By 8.4-Magnitude Earthquake

Chile has been walloped yet again, this time by an "8.4-magnitude earthquake in the central-north zone" of the country, Santiago daily La Tercera reported Thursday.

The offshore event struck Wednesday night at 7:54 p.m. local time near the city of Illapel. The government's National Emergency Office (ONEMI) has so far confirmed five deaths, three from heart attacks and two from fallen debris. Another person is reported missing. ONEMI estimates that one million people have been evacuated in coastal areas in response to a tsunami alert that authorities issued for the entire length of Chile's extensive Pacific shoreline.

Tsunami waves did come ashore in Concón, a popular tourist destination approximately 140 kilometers northwest of Santiago, which was also shaken hard by the quake.

Deputy Interior Secretary Mahmud Aleuy described the earthquake as the "sixth strongest in the history of Chile and strongest in the world so far this year." It was Chile's third 8.0-magnitude or larger event in just the past five years. An 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck the south-central part of the country on Feb. 27, 2010. Four years later, on April 1, 2014, an 8.2-magnitude quake hit the northern city of Iquique.

Numerous videos of the powerful earthquake have surfaced in recent hours, including one taken in a Santiago supermarket, where employees appear to have locked customers in during the event. In the recording, frightened shoppers can be heard yelling things like "open the damn door."

The quake struck just ahead of Chile's "fiestas patrias" (national celebrations), which coincide with the country's Independence Day (Sept. 18) and tend to last several days.

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Dutch Cities Have Been Secretly Probing Mosques Since 2013

Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.

The Nasser mosque in Veenendaal, one of the mosques reportedly surveilled

Meike Eijsberg

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.

The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Photo of people standing on prayer mats inside a Dutch mosque

Praying inside a Dutch mosque.


Broken trust in Islamic community

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talk to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

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