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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Islam and Freemasonry

On January 27th, the FBI foiled a plot to attack a Scottish Rite building in Milwaukee. A 23-year-old man named Samy Mohamed Hamzeh had planned to enlist two accomplices and kill as many people as possible at the Humphrey Scottish Rite Center. In his statement to authorities, Hamzeh said, “We are Muslims, defending Muslim religion…And we will eliminate everyone.”

Since the story was first publicized, Freemasons have asked why a Muslim man would want to murder Masons, particularly since our fraternity openly welcomes members of all faiths who believe in a Supreme Being. Lodges all around the world often initiate Islamic members, who take their obligations on their holy book, the Qur’an.

Like Christianity, Judaism, and the overwhelming majority of the world’s religions, there is no conflict between Freemasonry and the teachings of Islam. Few groups owe more to the region of the Middle East for the origin of its symbolism than Freemasonry. Nevertheless, Masonry has been outlawed in most Muslim-majority countries, with notable exceptions like Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

After Pope Clement XII excommunicated Catholic Freemasons in 1738, Sultan Mahmut I, ruler of the Ottoman Empire, outlawed Freemasonry throughout the entire Middle East and North Africa, under pressure from his Christian subjects and allies, and with the approval of his ulema (Islamic theologians).

Masonry became popular for a while in Egypt and Algeria in the 1800s, mostly beginning with Europeans living there. After World War I and the breakup of the territory that made up the Ottoman Empire, Freemasonry briefly came back to the Middle East, often by way of English, Scottish, and French oil industry workers. A few lodges still exist in Muslim countries on U.S. and British military bases and in residential zones set aside for foreign workers, but most Arab Muslims are forbidden to join by their governments and religious leaders.

One of the most influential organizations for interpreting Islamic law is the Islamic Jurisdictional College of El-Azhar University in Cairo. In 1978, it issued an opinion concerning “The Freemasons’ Organization.” Among its findings were the following:

*            Freemasonry is a clandestine organization, which conceals or reveals its system, depending on the circumstances. Its actual principles are hidden from members, except for chosen members of its higher degrees.
*            The members of the organization, worldwide, are drawn from men without preference for their religion, faith, or sect.
*            The organization attracts members on the basis of providing personal benefits. It traps men into being politically active, and its aims are unjust.
*            New members participate in ceremonies of different names and symbols, and are too frightened to disobey its regulations and orders.
*            Members are free to practice their religion, but only members who are atheists are promoted to its higher degrees, based on how much they’re willing to serve its dangerous principles and plans.
*            It is a political organization. It has served all revolutions, as well as military and political transformations. In all dangerous changes, a relation to this organization appears either exposed or veiled.
*            It is a Jewish organization in its roots. Its secret higher international administrative board is made up of Jews, and it promotes Zionist (pro-Israel) activities.
*            Its primary objectives are the distraction of all religions, and it distracts Muslims from Islam.
*            It tries to recruit influential financial, political, social, or scientific people to utilize them. It does not consider applicants it cannot utilize. It recruits kings, prime ministers, high government officials, and similar individuals.
*            It has branches under different names as a camouflage, so people cannot trace its activities, especially if the name of Freemasonry has opposition. These hidden branches are known as Lions, Rotary, and others. They have wicked principles that completely contradict the rules of Islam.
*            There is a clear relationship between Freemasonry, Judaism, and international Zionism. It has controlled the activities of high Arab officials in the Palestinian conflict.
*            Any Muslim who affiliates with it, knowing the truth of its objectives, is an infidel to Islam.

Active, practicing Freemasons know these allegations have absolutely no merit. Unfortunately, many Islamic countries do not believe in the separation of church and state. Communities that are governed by strict Qur’an-based Sharia law, which is believed to have been derived directly from the Prophet Mohammad, strongly accept that they are following God’s law, which supersedes any law that is written by Man. Freemasonry, which developed during the Enlightenment in Europe, is seen as promoting Western values that encourage blasphemy towards the Islamic faith. The recently publicized brutal punishments of non-believers by Islamic extremist groups like ISIS (the Islamic State), Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Taliban, and strict governments like Saudi Arabia and Iran, are stark examples of Sharia law taken to its most severe level. As a result, being a Freemason can result in prison, torture, and even a death sentence in these places.

Because Freemasons are seen as agents of pro-Israeli Zionism, conspiracy theories about Masons are rampant throughout Islamic communities. One of the most common sources of such theories originates in a pamphlet that has been widely distributed for more than a century. In the late 1800s, the Okhrana, the Russian Czar’s secret police, created a notorious piece of propaganda called the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In it, a secret meeting was described of a group of Jews who discussed their world domination plans, with the Freemasons as their accomplices.

The Protocols are the origin of a widely supposed “conspiracy” of a secret group of Jewish bankers who control the world’s governments, economies and religions. According to various versions of the Protocols, Jews are behind a plan for world conquest, and use Freemasons as their willing stooges. Jews and the Masons control the press and the courts, and Jewish revolutionaries use liberalism to weaken religion and governments. Jewish intellectuals confuse the common people, and they replace traditional educational curriculum to discourage independent thinking, and encourage immorality among children. They use their international banking monopolies and the use of credit to destroy the economy, favoring paper currency not tied to the gold standard. Jews and the Masons control governments from behind the scenes by blackmailing politicians. And during times of great emergencies, Jews will suspend civil liberties and then secretly make the measures permanent.

When Adolf Hitler came to power, he partially used the Protocols as justification for his plans to exterminate the Jews. Freemasons were also on his hit list, and they too were sent to concentration camps. One of the many popular slogans of the Nazis was “All Masons Jews — All Jews Masons!”

The Protocols have been rewritten and circulated for over a hundred years, and today they can be found all over the Internet, posted by a wide range of conspiracy-believing groups. The Protocols remain very popular in Islamic countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and especially the Palestinian territories, where they are distributed as official texts for school children to study. In 2002, a multi-part television docu-drama was produced for several Arab language networks based on the Protocols, entitled Knight Without A Horse. There are many other organizations, including the American Nation of Islam, some militia groups, the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, and the American Nazi Party who still peddle the Protocols as fact.

Another area of contention between Islam and Freemasonry concerns something most Masons believe to be harmless, but Muslims clearly do not. The Ancient Arabic Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, now more correctly known as simply the Shriners, was started in the 1870s as the playground of Freemasons. The language of its ceremonies, and its costumes and decorations, came straight out of the exotic Tales of the Arabian Nights. Shriners called their jurisdictions oases; built their buildings to look like mosques, some complete with minarets and domes; wore fezzes; and adopted the Arabic phrase al salam aleikum (“peace be with you”) as a greeting. Unfortunately, many devout Muslims do not think such things are a homage to their culture. Instead, they feel their faith and culture is being mocked.

Open attacks against Freemasons by Islamic extremists are very rare, but they do happen. One violent event occurred in 2004, when attackers with automatic weapons and explosives burst into a Masonic lodge in Istanbul, Turkey, sprayed it with bullets, and set off several bombs. One person was killed, along with one of the terrorists, and six people were injured. Ultimately, eighteen suspects were questioned, and ten were charged with the operation. In 2006, a Muslim man was arrested in Atlanta, and was accused of providing material support to terrorists. He had taken videotapes of the Scottish Rite House of the Temple in Washington DC, which were uploaded to an al-Qaeda computer expert in London. He told investigators that he “believed Freemasons were like the Devil.”

Stories of theft and vandalism of Masonic lodges have been happening with greater frequency around the world, and most recently a Masonic lodge in California was burned to the ground under suspicious circumstances that are being investigated. With religious-inspired violence increasing, Masons need to be aware of the dangers that conspiracy theorists pose to our fraternity, especially when they decide to do more than just vent their anger over the Internet. In the Milwaukee situation, the suspect took a public tour of the building and made note of upcoming events, exit doors, stairwells and other details that would not be of interest to most casual tour-goers. Every lodge should consider an alarm system and other security measures, such as installing security cameras, locking their outer doors during meetings, and perhaps even asking local police departments to drive through their parking lots during meetings and events.

It is unfortunate that an organization that prides itself so much on love for our fellow man should have to consider our own safety, but that is the nature of the times in which we live. In particular, ISIS and al-Qaeda both are actively recruiting would-be terrorists via social media like Facebook and Twitter, encouraging them to strike against their own neighbors by any means possible. 

Unfortunately, Freemasons make an easy target because we are so visible and our organization is deemed blasphemous to their beliefs.




Saturday, January 30, 2016

Wisconsin Masons Take Security Measures After Plot Fails

The Freemasons of Wisconsin are taking new security measures around the state after the FBI foiled a terrorist attack on Milwaukee's Scottish Rite Center. 
A place known for its open door policy is forced to make changes. 
"We want Masonry to be open to the public and to our members, but by the same token we have to exercise good sense too,"  explained Frank Struble, Masons Grand Master in Wisconsin. 
Milwaukee terror suspect Samy Hazeh was allegedly plotting to kill 30 people at the Humphrey Scottish Rite Masonic Center in downtown Milwaukee.  The door there is now locked 24 hours a day along with other Masonic facilities around the state. 
"Lodges meet there, Scottish Rite does their activities there....it's rented out for weddings and things like that," said Struble. 
The Criminal Complaint shows Hamzeh toured the Milwaukee facility.  The Grand Master doesn't know how the suspect got inside, but a tour for a potential wedding venue is common. 
When referring to his plan, Hamzeh targeted Masonic members saying "these are the one's that need to be killed." 
(SNIP)
Struble doesn't know why someone would want to harm a group known for doing good.
"It's a chilling scenario, but who knows what twisted minds come up with," said Struble.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Utah Grand Master Interviewed

Fox 13 TV in Salt Lake City, Utah interviewed the incoming Grand Master, RW Wesley Ing today at the Salt Lake Masonic Temple to talk about Freemasonry in Utah. The video also has several shots of rooms inside the Temple, and a few remarks from Brother Matt Nelson. 

To view the video clip, CLICK HERE.

Masonic Documentary: Terra Masonica


Brother Tristan Bourlard is a Belgian photographer, author, and director of scientific and historical documentaries, including the 2007 film, The Scottish Key. His latest documentary video project is an extremely ambitious one that tells the story of Freemasonry today on virtually every continent by visiting eighty Masonic lodges. It is entitled Terra Masonica.
Terra Masonica will focus on the following: What is Freemasonry today? Who are the Freemasons and what do they do?
These simple questions have never really been treated from a global perspective. Some documents exist, but merely tend to repeat the old fantasies and conspiracy theories.
After its official creation in London in 1717, Freemasonry quickly spread to all continents. For 300 years, specific entities have been created, differentiated by country and local realities.
This world tour in 80 lodges will outline the similarities and contrasts between lodges on the five continents. For the first time you will explore the real Freemasonry, from Patagonia to Lapland, from Taiwan to Harlem, in 80 lodges. We will discover the oldest lodges on each continent as well as the most peculiar lodges.
Terra Masonica will talk to ordinary Freemasons and will explore their current reality. We will meet these Freemasons in their daily lives, within their families, in their own environment. We will listen to their views of the world, their questions and doubts in an ever-changing world.
We will try to understand the influence of the local context that defines the characteristics of each masonry, whether it is white, black, Asian; whether it’s influenced by Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, voodoo or atheism; in peace or wartime, under prohibition or persecution and democratic freedoms; in crisis situation or in full expansion.
To see regular updates of the lodges Brother Bourlard visits, plus world maps of his incredible journey, visit his website HERE. He also has a Facebook page HERE.
The video is due to be released in late 2016, or early 2017.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

International Holocaust Remembrance Day


Today, January 27th, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the day the United Nations has chosen to commemorate victims of the Holocaust during World War II. Six million Jews were murdered by Germany's Nazi regime, along with millions of other non-Jews, including gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, Soviet POWs, ethnic Poles, disabled citizens, and many others. In total, somewhere between 11 and 17 million people were systematically killed by the Nazis.

Freemasonry was outlawed by the Nazis, and it is unknown how many Masons were murdered by Hitler. The most commonly mentioned number is 80,000, but the figure is probably low, and has been estimated in some sources as high as 200,000. No one really knows how many were killed simply for the "crime" of being Freemasons.

The anniversary has been marked since 2005 and it is the date of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland by the Russian army in 1945. At least one million people died there.


The United States Holocaust  Memorial Museum in Washington DC has an article as part of its Holocaust Encyclopedia about the treatment of Freemasons under the Nazis. In part, it says:

Nazi propaganda continued to link Jews and Freemasons; Julius Streicher's virulent publication Der Stuermer (The Assault Trooper) repeatedly printed cartoons and articles that attempted to portray a “Jewish-Masonic” conspiracy. Freemasonry also became a particular obsession of the chief of Security Police and SD, Reinhard Heydrich, who counted the Masons, along with the Jews and the political clergy, as the “most implacable enemies of the German race.” In 1935 Heydrich argued for the need to eliminate not only the visible manifestations of these “enemies,” but to root out from every German the “indirect influence of the Jewish spirit”—“a Jewish, liberal, and Masonic infectious residue that remains in the unconscious of many, above all in the academic and intellectual world.” 
Heydrich created a special section of the SS Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst;SD), Section II/111, to deal specifically with Freemasonry. The SD was particularly interested, as its personnel believed that Freemasonry exercised actual political power, shaped public opinion through control of the press, and was thus in a position to provoke war, subversion, and revolution. Later, Section VII B 1 of the Reich Security Main Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt;RSHA), an amalgamation of the SD and the Security Police formed in 1939, took over the section devoted to investigating Freemasonry.
(snip)
As they conquered Europe, the Germans forcibly dissolved Masonic organizations and confiscated their assets and documents wherever they established an occupation regime. After a lodge was closed, it was ransacked for membership lists, important library and archival items, furnishings, and other cultural artifacts. Items seized would be sent on to the appropriate German agency, primarily the SD and later, the RSHA. 
As part of their propaganda campaign against Freemasonry, the Nazis and other local right-wing organizations mounted anti-Masonic exhibitions throughout occupied Europe. German-occupied Paris hosted an anti-Masonic exhibition in October 1940, as did German-occupied Brussels in February 1941. Displaying Masonic ritual and cultural artifacts stolen from lodges, such exhibitions aimed to ridicule and direct hatred towards Freemasons and to heighten fears of a Jewish-Masonic conspiracy. German wartime propaganda, particularly in the army, charged that the Jews and Masons had provoked World War II and were responsible for the policies of US President Franklin Roosevelt, who was identified as a Freemason.
(snip)
After the end of World War II, vast collections of Masonic archives and library collections that had been seized by German authorities were captured, in turn, by Allied and Soviet forces. For example, a significant Masonic archive was found in Silesia, in eastern Germany, by Soviet troops in the last days of World War II. The Soviet authorities shipped the records to Moscow, where they were held in secret archives. Other Masonic-related materials were recovered in Poland; some of this material has been microfilmed and stored in the archive of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Since the end of the Cold War, many Masonic-related collections have been returned to their countries of origin, while others continue to be held in foreign repositories.



Grand Lodge of Andorra

Freemasonry flourishes in the unlikeliest of places.  

The principality of Andorra is one of six tiny sovereign states in Europe referred to as microstates, which also include Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City. It is nestled along the border between Spain and France in the eastern Pyrenees mountains. The current principality was created in 1278 AD, and is a monarchy, jointly governed by two Co-princes - the President of France and the Spanish Roman Catholic Bishop of Urgell. Living in such a cut off region protected the tiny country from most of the wars and conflicts that befell Europe over the centuries, but it also kept the people isolated from much of the outside world. 

In 1993, the Andorrans voted to enact a national Constitution which gave the population the right of free association. As a result, the first official Masonic lodge in the country was chartered in 1994 by the Grande Loge Nationale Francaise, followed by a Spanish lodge six months later by the Grand Lodge of Spain.

The Grand Lodge of Andorra was officially consecrated with the agreement of the two foreign grand lodges on September 9th, 2000 at the Sala de Congresos of Andorra. It is made up of just eight Lodges: La Triada Nº1, Sant Joan de les Valls Nº2, Carlemany No 3, Vescomte Arnau de Castellbó Nº4, Montsalvat Nº5, Masonry Universal Nº6, Minerva Nº7 and Els Cavallers d'Envalira Nº8. The first Grand Master Antoni d'Ortadó, a member of the Lodge Sant Joan de les Valls was elected.

The country today is home to approximately 20,000 Andorrans, 45,000 residents from other countries, and is annually visited by 10,000,000 tourists. It is not a member of the European Union.

For more information, see the Grand Lodge of Andorra website.

Statement From The Grand Lodge of Wisconsin Concerning Terrorist Plot

In reference to the story from yesterday about the planned attack on Milwaukee's Scottish Rite Center by an Islamic extremist, this message was posted by the Grand Master at about 2:00PM today on the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin's Facebook page:


For Release
Dousman, Wisconsin
27 January 2016

We are thankful to law enforcement for thwarting a potential tragedy at the Humphrey Scottish Rite Masonic Center in Milwaukee which houses several Masonic organizations as well as the Dyslexia Center for Children. Freemasonry promotes love among all people regardless of religious belief. One of the five tenets of Scottish Rite Freemasonry is tolerance. Indeed, Freemasonry is one of the few organizations in the world that include and welcome those of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths.
Many of the founders of this country were Freemasons and thus our freedoms of speech, assembly, press—and especially of religion—can be traced directly to the tenets of Freemasonry. As a result, Freemasonry over the course of time has been the target of attack by the intolerant zealot. We will continue to promote, protect and defend love for all people regardless of religious belief as we have for over three hundred years. Again, we are so thankful for law enforcement for being vigilant in protection of those we serve. 
Franklin J. Struble
Grand Master of Masons in Wisconsin
Michael A. DeWolf, 33°
Scottish Rite Deputy for Wisconsin

MWPHGL of Michigan Needs Volunteers in Flint 1/30

The Freemasons of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Michigan are organizing on January 30th to distribute water to the citizens of Flint, Michigan.

From their website:

To the Men, Masons, Sisters and Eastern Stars of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Michigan, on Saturday January 30, 2016 we'll have 3 semi-truck loads of bottled water delivered to the City of Flint. We're going to need help unloading one of the trucks. This is a "Call to Action" for the Prince Hall Community at large. We'll need all hands on deck 11am @ Berston Fieldhouse, 3300 N Saginaw Street, Flint, MI 48505.

PHAMILY, our Brothers and Sisters there have been working none stop to take care of the City of Flint, MI during this crisis and could use your Man and Woman Power to make it through the 1st quarter.
Fraternally,
Most Worshipful Grand Master
For more information, please contact:


Support our “Flint Water Donation Program” today with zeal and tenacity. Rarely do we find men and women who willingly engage in solid thoughtfulness of others. There is an utmost quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions, but my Brothers and Sisters this one is much more serious and requires pain staking effort, support and assistants. The call has been made and we must answer to the relief of the City of Flint, Michigan.

On behalf of the residents of Flint, Michigan and members of the Michigan Prince Hall Family, I THANK YOU for helping to make a difference!!!

Tyrone Hampton
Worshipful Senior Grand Deacon Bernt C. Walker @ (313) 350-5317 / on_the_square2005@yahoo.com
or
RWDDGL Kenyon McElway @ (248) 497-1698 / kmcelway@comcast.net
----------------------------------------------------------
Also, the Grand Lodge of Michigan F&AM sent out a notice on January 20th asking for volunteers needed for distributing water, installing filter kits in homes, packaging test kits, data entry and staffing at the volunteer reception center. Please check with them directly to see what the current and ongoing needs are, as this message is now a week old.

For details, CLICK HERE.

"The Red Sea Incident" - Masonry in Saudi Arabia

After the story came through yesterday about a Muslim plotting a terrorist attack on a Scottish Rite center in Milwaukee, I was doing some internet browsing and came across a description of an incident I had long heard of, but never knew the details. Referred to as "The Red Sea Incident," it tells the story of a Masonic lodge in Saudi Arabia in 1977 that was organized for foreign contractors in that strict Islamic country, and the night it was broken up by the Saudi police. Several officers were arrested, and the lodge was ransacked, along with the homes of several brethren.

Red Sea Lodge No. 919 was chartered by the American Canadian Grand Lodge AF&AM, in the jurisdiction of the United Grand Lodges of Germany (VHLvD). Apart from the foreign contractor zones, Freemasonry is completely forbidden in the Kingdom, and as the story goes on to show, it is only occasionally tolerated, and Masons practice their Craft in Saudi Arabia, and other Middle Eastern countries, at their peril. It is a stark example of why we should not take our freedom to associate in the West for granted.

Interestingly, I was visiting California last year and met a Brother who had actually been at the lodge the night of the incident. But I had never come across the details until I found this story.

The story was written by Brother James Krohn, and it was printed on the 10th anniversary of the incident in 1987 by the Grand Lodge. It can be found on the Skirrit website, here.

FBI Stops Plan For Mass Shooting At Milwaukee Masonic Temple

A man has been arrested for planning a mass attack on the Milwaukee Scottish Rite Center on Tuesday. From the International Business Times:
The FBI has foiled a mass shooting targeting a Masonic temple in Milwaukee, the government said Tuesday. Milwaukee resident Samy Mohamed Hamzeh, 23, has been arrested and charged with possessing machine guns and a silencer, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin announced. 
Hamzeh had engaged in extensive conversations with two confidential sources, speaking in Arabic, explaining how he had planned to execute the attack on the temple, the bureau says.
“Samy Mohamed Hamzeh devised a detailed plan to commit a mass shooting intended to kill dozens of people. He also said that he wanted this mass shooting to be ‘known the world over’ and to ‘ignite’ broader clashes,” said acting U.S. Attorney Gregory Haanstad in a news release. “It is difficult to calculate the injury and loss of life that was prevented by concerned citizens coming forward and by the tireless efforts of the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force.” 
Hamzeh had reportedly been under investigation since September 2015, and in October 2015 the investigation revealed he planned to travel to Jordan, enter the Israeli-occupied West Bank and attack Israeli soldiers and citizens living there. Later, Hamzeh abandoned those plans, focusing instead on the U.S. due to financial and logistical issues, the report went on to say.
“Thirty is excellent. If I got out, after killing 30 people, I will be happy 100 percent. . . 100 percent happy, because these 30 will terrify the world,” Hamzeh was recorded as saying, according to the report.
Hamzeh had purchased the machine guns and silencers from two individuals who were actually undercover FBI agents, resulting in his arrest Tuesday.
“I am telling you, if this hit is executed, it will be known all over the world,” Hamzeh was recorded as saying, according to the report. “The people will be scared and the operations will increase, and there will be problems all over, because more than one problem took place, and this will be the third problem, this will lead to people clashing with each other. This way we will be igniting it. I mean we are marching at the front of the war.”

-------------------------------------------
Hamzeh was planning to attack the Humphrey Scottish Rite Masonic Center, a historic building on N. Van Buren St. in downtown Milwaukee that hosts weddings, conferences, meetings and other special events. The Wisconsin Scottish Rite, which purchased the building in 1912, has been in the community since 1863.
Hamzeh had scouted the Masonic center by taking a tour and spoke in detail about how the attack would occur, the complaint says. A woman in the lobby of the center Tuesday afternoon told a reporter that the staff had no comment.
Hamzeh had been under investigation by the FBI since September, which used confidential informants who secretly recorded him. Undercover FBI agents arrested him this week after he tried to buy automatic weapons from them, the complaint says.
Hamzeh originally had planned to travel to Jordan to attack Israeli soldiers and civilians in the West Bank, but ditched those plans because of logistical issues and focused on attacking a target in the U.S., according to the criminal complaint. 
He hatched a plan to attack a Masonic center in Milwaukee with two others, who were actually the informants cooperating with the FBI.
Last week, Hamzeh and the informants went to a local shooting range and practiced firing a handgun. Afterward, they went to the Masonic center and got a tour of the facility. Later, Hamzeh spoke with the informants in detail about the planned attack, according to the complaint.
During this meeting, which was recorded and translated from Arabic to English, Hamzeh, according to the complaint, said they needed three automatic weapons, each with a silencer, to launch the attack. 
According to the complaint:
They would enter with clothes over their heads, he said. It was important to quietly kill the receptionist, the first person they were likely to see, Hamzeh said.
"... If she was alone, it is OK, if there were two of them, shoot both of them, do not let the blood show, shoot her from the bottom, two or three shots in her stomach and let her sit on the chair and push her to the front, as if she is sleeping, did you understand?"
After killing those at the door, one attacker would remain there, Hamzeh said. "...One of us will stay at the door at the entrance and lock the door down, he will be at the main door down, two will get to the lift (elevator) up, they will enter the room, and spray everyone in the room. The one who is standing downstairs will spray anyone he finds. We will shoot them, kill them and get out."
Hamzeh said each of them would have to kill everyone around him, "to annihilate everyone, there is no one left, I mean when we go into a room, we will be killing everyone, that's it, this is our duty."
The exit plan was to leave by the stairs and out the door, quietly and calmly. "We leave, as if there is nothing, no running, no panic, just regular walking."
He predicted the attack could bring global attention, the complaint states. 
"I am telling you, if this hit is executed, it will be known all over the world. Sure, all over the world, all the Mujahedeen will be talking and they will be proud of us."
Of the target, he said, according to the complaint: "They are all Masonic; they are playing with the world like a game, man, and we are like asses, we don't know what is going on, these are the ones who are fighting, these are the ones that needs to be killed, not the Shi'iat, because these are the ones who are against us, these are the ones who are making living for us like hell," he said. 
"Thirty is excellent. If I got out, after killing thirty people, I will be happy 100% ... 100% happy, because these 30 will terrify the world."
Hamzeh met with undercover FBI agents on Monday. The undercover agents showed two weapons and a silencer to Hamzeh, and told him the weapons were capable of fully automatic fire, the complaint says. 
Hamzeh agreed to a price and paid it to the undercover agents, who then handed Hamzeh a bag containing two automatic weapons and a silencer. Hamzeh carried the bag to his car and put the bag in the trunk of the vehicle, the complaint states. He then was arrested.
Robert J. Shields, special agent in charge of the Milwaukee FBI, said the arrest was the result of well-coordinated law enforcement work, "thwarting an attack that could have resulted in significant injury and/or loss of life."

Monday, January 25, 2016

Is This The Smallest Lodge In The World?


One of the smallest Freemason lodges in the U.S. is in the California "ghost town" of Hornitos, in Mariposa County located midway between San Francisco and the eastern state line, and just west of Yosemite National Park. Hornitos Lodge No. 98 was built in 1855, and the lodge was chartered a year later. It is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is still active.

From the NoeHill Travels in California website:




The plaque on the front of the building reads:

Point of Historical Interest 
Hornitos Masonic Hall
Registration MRP - 001
Hornitos Masonic Hall No. 98
NRHP Number 05000775 
Listed August 3, 2005


This building was constructed c. 1855 of native schist rock. It was purchased in August 1873 by the Freemasons of Hornitos Lodge No. 98, and since early 1875, continue to meet here. The Lodge was originally chartered as Quartzburg Lodge No. 98 on May 8, 1856, and met in Quartzburg. This building is the smallest Masonic Hall in California. Its lodgeroom is only 17'-6" by 29'-6" and has seen visitors from around the world.
California O.H.P. 
Plaque set by the Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons of California May 13, 1995

A second plaque reads:
National Register of Historic Places 
This restored Masonic Hall is recognized for the significant community involvement of its members from 1873 to 1930. The Freemasons owned stores and hotels, served as town and county officials, worked as miners and engineers and supported Hornitos from their farms and ranches. Their Masonic philosophy of personal improvement and community betterment created a positive influence in Hornitos.
This plaque set by the Grand Master of Masons in California and the Worshipful Master of Hornitos Lodge on May 20, 2006


In 2011, Brethren from Modesto Lodge No. 206 visited the lodge, and their website contains some photos of the tiny interior. From the Modesto Lodge website:




“The Hornitos Masonic Lodge is located in the historic town of Hornitos, which was once a gun-toting Wild West gold mining camp with a population topping 10,000.  This town, with its population sign now reading 75, is an outstanding vision of history, where the Wells Fargo Stage opened their office and ran some shipments worth $40,000 in gold, and where Domenico Ghirardelli built his first store before moving to San Francisco and to ‘Chocolate Fame.’ ” – excerpted from the Hornitos Lodge 98 brochure.

------------------------------------------

Also of interest is that for many years, the smallest lodge in size in Ireland, and perhaps the world, was  Premiere Lodge  of Connought No. 14 in  County Galway, Ireland.  It has recently moved to a slightly larger  facility, but here is a photo of its tiny former location from their website:



If you know of a similarly small lodge room in the world, please pass it along to me and I'll be happy to add it to the list.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

California Lodge Destroyed By Fire


The historic Keystone Lodge No. 161 in Milton, California has been destroyed by a fire that started at 9:00AM Saturday, according to a police report. The cause of the fire is under investigation.


Completion of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1871 marked the birth of the town of Milton. Named after Milton Latham, one of the railroad's construction financiers, this town was the first in Calaveras County to have a railroad. Freight and passengers continued their journeys to other parts of Calaveras County by wagon and stagecoach.
The town was created after the construction of the rail line known as the Stockton-Copperopolis Railroad and was the terminus for this line. In the late 1880s, Milton was one of Calaveras County's liveliest towns. The rail line from Stockton was originally planned to be extended to Copperopolis, but the market for copper declined after the Civil War and hampered long-term growth in Milton. Rail service declined until it was discontinued in the 1940s.
Today remnants are left of the town, including a Masonic Hall and the Milton Masonic Cemetery. The Milton Masonic Keystone Lodge No. 161 is still in use, and remains in good condition. It was constructed in 1871 as a saloon and later became a town hall before being purchased by the Masonic Lodge in 1881, and was moved from Copperopolis to Milton. In 1962, the Grand Lodge F. &A. M. of California erected a marker. The maker is located in Milton, at the intersection of Flint Street and Milton Road, on the right when traveling north of Flint Street. A map to the marker can be found here. The inscription on the marker reads:
"Keystone Lodge No. 161, F. & A.M., instituted in Copperopolis Dec. 19. 1982, at the height of the copper mining boom. Moved to 1881, to Milton, the terminal of the Stockton & Copperopolis Railroad, which, because of the collapse of copper mining, never reached its intended goal. Dedicated to those who sought to perpetuate the moral teachings of Freemasonry. To them we gratefully acknowledge our debt."
Milton Latham, the town's namesake, served as California's sixth governor in 1860 for a brief time- just five days- before filling in the Senate position as David Broderick's replacement after Broderick was shot in a duel. Latham's governorship has the distinction of being the shortest in California's history.

The lodge celebrated its 150th anniversary in October of 2012.

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UPDATE: From a story and photo by Travis Taborek on the Calaveras Enterprise website on 1/25:



Dennis Huberty, a member of the Keystone Lodge since 1997, said that the building was insured and that lodge members are waiting to hear back from their insurance company before deciding whether to rebuild. Huberty said that in the meantime, other lodges in Calaveras County have reached out to them offering the use of their building.
“It’s a tragedy,” Huberty said, adding that “154 years of history is gone.”
The Keystone Lodge was instituted in Copperopolis on Dec. 19, 1862. In 1881 it was moved to its present location in Milton at the terminal of the Stockton and Copperopolis Railroad.
The Keystone Lodge was home to many irreplaceable artifacts, and was often the target of vandalism and theft, lodge members said. The most frequently stolen item was the Freemason sword used by the Masonic tyler when reciting the tyler’s oath. The most recent sword, made by B. Pasqual of San Francisco, was engraved with Christian symbolism and depictions of the Knights Templar.
Huberty said that if the lodge members decide to rebuild the building, they will do so in the Milton area.
“If we’re going to rebuild, it will be made in Milton,” Huberty said.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

"Man Who Would Be Master" Apron

My friend, Brother Patrick Craddock in Tennessee, through his company The Craftsman's Apron, does some of the finest custom apron work I have ever encountered. While he is perhaps best known for his beautiful, hand-painted, bespoke designs, he also provides fabulous embroidered aprons (along with rings, collars, apparel, and even a few books) as well.

His latest effort is a Past Master Mason's apron embroidered with a square, compasses and all-seeing eye inspired by the 1975 film The Man Who Would be King. The movie stars Sean Connery and Michael Caine, directed by John Huston, and is based on the story by Brother Rudyard Kipling.  It tells the tale of two wayward Brethren in the British army who resign and set off to become kings in the wild, mountainous country of Kafiristan.

(That's my own autographed photo of Connery from the film - yes, he signed it upside down.)

Brother Craddock's aprons are made of real white lambskin, and this one is available in either gold or silver bullion.

To order it, or to see some of Pat's other incredible designs, CLICK HERE.

Michigan Masons Needed In Flint

The Grand Lodge of Michigan F&AM has sent out a request today for its members to assist the city of Flint during its water problems that have been in the news. Volunteers are needed for distributing water, installing filter kits in homes, packaging test kits, data entry and staffing at the volunteer reception center.

For details, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Youngstown, Ohio Temple Closing

Another tragic loss of our heritage. The downtown Youngstown, Ohio Temple is closing its doors.

Once a thriving city of steel production with a population of 170,000, Youngstown was devastated by plant closings in the 1970s. Freemasonry grew with the prosperity, and sank with the economy. Today, the town has about 80,000 people.

The Youngstown Masonic Temple was built in 1909-10, and was once home to several lodges and appendant bodies. But today, there is only one lodge left - Wick No. 481, and it is the result of the mergers of three original lodges. It is also home to the Scottish Rite Valley of Youngstown. (One listing I found said there were York Rite bodies still there, along with an OES Chapter, but I can't find anything up to date.)

From the WKBN Channel 27 website:

Youngstown has been home to the Masonic Temple on Wick Avenue for 106 years, since 1910. It’s been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1997, but will be closing permanently on June 30th.
The temple’s final chili cook-off was open to the public Monday night.  It acts as a fundraiser for the masons, but is not enough to maintain the building.
Those who call Wick Lodge home will be forced to relocate because not enough money is coming in. Members say the six-floor temple is too expensive to operate.
“This is a big building and it’s terribly expensive to heat,” said William Weems, who has been a mason for 53 years.
He says the declining number of members is the main reason the masons are moving.
“I’m sad about it, but there’s no use keeping this building open for 30 people. You just cannot afford it,” he said.
Augie Angel, a member for 47 years, has similar thoughts about the temple’s closing.
“I’m open-minded about it,” she said. “A lot of fellows are disheartened, but I’m being on the realistic side.”
The masons do not know what will happen to the temple. They say the building will have to be sold, but no one knows who the buyer will be.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Book: The Craft Driven Lodge

A book published last year (okay, so I'm a little late) is getting very positive reviews, and I recommend it to your consideration. The Craft Driven Lodge by WBro. Dan Hrinko and published by Macoy Publishing, is a chronicle of the formation and philosophy of Arts and Sciences Lodge No. 792 , chartered by the Grand Lodge of Ohio. Arts and Sciences is a new kind of lodge, bringing together Traditional Observance, European Concept, and its own twist on lodge philosophy. It was founded in 2010, and Dan was the Charter Master.

From the book's website:

The concept of a Craft Driven Lodge emerged from the experience of forming Arts & Sciences Lodge No. 792 under the Grand Lodge of Ohio. When a group of masons from central Ohio began to gather to discuss what a Masonic Lodge experience could be, numerous ideas were brought forth from this free and open discussion. Everyone involved seem to share several opinions not the least of which was a sense of disappointment in the superficial treatment of the esoteric aspects of Freemasonry, the deeper meanings of symbolism, and the limited opportunity to discuss and explore these topics within a tiled Lodge.
As we began to gather and discuss these matters, it became clear that we were following a process whereby every member involved was viewed as an equal partner in this project and that the directions, goals, and implementation would be driven by every person involved and, therefore, would be the responsibility of everyone involved.
The purpose of this volume is to set forth fundamental principles that are essential to the long-term health and well-being of any organization including Masonic lodges. In addition, I will present a review the process followed by this group of brothers that eventually resulted in the formation of Arts & Sciences Lodge No. 792 under the Grand Lodge of Ohio. The general concepts that drove this process, the actions taken by numerous members of this group, the decisions that were made, and the challenges of implementation will be presented to the reader.
It is hoped that you will understand the process and see the application of these principles to your own situation be it an individual who is interested in bringing a different quality to the experience in his Lodge, a group of officers wishing to help their Lodge move in a different, more energizing and relevant direction, or for a group of brothers interested in starting with a clean slate and forming a new Lodge. In all cases, the fundamental principles of the Craft Driven Lodge concepts are equally applicable.
The most attractive qualities of the Craft Driven Lodge approach is that it allows brothers to identify their particular interests, their particular resources, and empowers them to create a Lodge experience that is to their liking without being tied to any particular set of actions, ceremonies, or even fundamental beliefs beyond those universal to Speculative Freemasonry across the globe. Brothers following this process are free to choose from the numerous practices that have been developed as part of Speculative Freemasonry across the ages and choose those elements that are most consistent with their vision of what a Lodge experience should be.
For more information, you may also refer to our facebook page, which will also post upcoming events, speaking engagements, and a question and answer forum.
Available from Amazon.com: The Craft Driven Lodge

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Unknown Medal

A Brother on Facebook passed this photo along. He says a fellow Mason found this among his great-grandfather's possessions, and that no one can seem to identify it.

If you blow the photo up, you can make out a square and compasses with a "G", so it is Masonic. It seems to be a watch fob, and I'm sure there were dozens if not hundreds of similar ones made by jewelers around the country. Does anybody have any idea what particular organization or lodge this medal may come from?  (Click the photo to enlarge it.)


Friday, January 15, 2016

On A Lodge Audit Committee?

So it's January, and at some point in your Masonic life you may have been appointed as part of the Audit Committee for your lodge. And often, it's without even knowing what in the hell you're supposed to be doing on that committee. You've been entrusted to verify the financial records of your Secretary and Treasurer in the Annual Report to Grand Lodge, and it's an important role. But how do you go about this task?

Well, the Masonic Service Association has a short but very informative article on what you should be doing in the latest Short Talk Bulletin. Called Audits and Numbers: A Quick Guide For Lodge Auditing, it is written by MW William J. Thomas, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New York. Your lodge Secretary or Worshipful Master should be getting one of these bulletins every month, but you can also read the article online on the MSA's website for Emessay Notes January 2016 here.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Colorado Lodge Vandalized, Items Stolen

Brethren, I received this message today from Nevada Lodge No. 4 in Nevadaville, Colorado, that was vandalized and had several items stolen:

Brethren, as you may or may not be aware, our beloved Nevada Masonic Temple was burglarized at some point in the last week or so. They broke out a window on the dining room and stole several valuable artifacts. They stole both Tyler's swords, several antique hats, the antique flag that hung in the prep room, the triangle, a trowel, and the marshal's rod. They also kicked in the inner door to the lodge room.
We are fortunate that no further damage occurred, and that nothing else was taken. The police came, and a report has been filed. We will keep you updated as we learn more.
Fraternally,
Scott Sworts, Master
​If you see these items on eBay, Craigslist, etc, let us know.​