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French Magazine Charlie Hebdo Recovers Its Mojo With Controversial Theresa May Cover 

What is it with headless humor these days?

The June 7 issue of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo arrives on the heels of the Manchester and London Bridge terrorist attacks. Indeed, the bubble remark–‘Too much is too much’–comes from remarks made by U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May in the wake of the latter June 3 incidents.

The cover is tasteless. English-language media reaction is just starting to trickle in, but stay car-tooned. There will be lots of it. The cover line, translated, reads as ‘Multiculturalism is the British Way.’

From a U.S. perspective, it’s impossible not to think of the wrath that descended upon comedian Kathy Griffin last week … (read more)

Source: Adweek

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Paris Police: Soldier Opens Fire Outside the Louvre Museum

French soldiers enforcing the Vigipirate plan, France's national security alert system, patrol in front of the Louvre museum on November 16, 2015 in Paris, three days after a series of deadly oordinated attacks claimed by Islamic State jihadists, which killed at least 129 people and left more than 350 injured on November 13. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET / AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET

French media reported on Friday that a soldier has opened fire on a man armed with a knife at a shopping centre next to the famous Louvre museum in Paris.

Reports say the soldier opened fire on the knifeman after he attacked him at the Louvre Carrousel shopping centre on Friday morning.

According to reports the attacker was shot in the leg. A security cordon has been set up and the underground Louvre Carrousel shopping centre has been evacuated.

Reports on Twitter said tourists at the museum were being moved into rooms to keep them safe. The Louvre itself has declined to comment on the situation.

Images on Twitter also appeared to show worried visitors outside the world famous museum.

“Something is going down at The  30 National Police vehicles with guns drawn,” said one tweeter.

An alarm can be heard in the background. A worried passerby can be heard saying: “I wonder if it’s a training exercise”.

France’s interior ministry confirmed on Twitter that a serious security operation was underway in the area around the Louvre.

Paris and the rest of France is on high alert for terrorism after a series of attacks in recent years. Read the rest of this entry »


Ohio State Suspect Abdul Razak Ali Artan Left Cryptic Facebook Message Before Attack

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Abdul Razak Ali Artan was killed by a police officer after the car-and-knife ambush.

—  Abdul Razak Ali Artan, on Facebook

Abdul Razak Ali Artan, 18, wrote on what appears to be his Facebook page that he had reached a “boiling point,” made a reference to “lone wolf attacks” and cited radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

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“America! Stop interfering with other countries, especially Muslim Ummah [community]. We are not weak. We are not weak, remember that,” the post said.

Two hours before that, a cryptic post on the page said: “Forgive and forget. Love.”

Officials cautioned that they have not determined a motive for the ambush, which sent 11 people to the hospital Monday morning. A senior law enforcement official told NBC News that investigators are trying to determine whether Artan had personal problems or something else that might have pushed him over the edge.

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A photo of Abdul Razak Ali Artan that accompanied an interview in the OSU publication The Lantern. Kevin Stankiewicz / The Lantern

“He told a campus publication that on his first day at OSU, he was ‘kind of scared’ to pray in public.”

A police officer was on the scene within a minute and killed the assailant, likely saving lives, university officials said. “He engaged the suspect and eliminated the threat,” OSU Police Chief Craig Stone said.

Law enforcement officials told NBC News that Artan was a Somali refugee who left his homeland with his family in 2007, lived in Pakistan and then came to the United States in 2014 as a legal permanent resident.

[Read the full story here, at NBC News]

He lived briefly in a temporary shelter in Dallas before settling in Ohio, according to records maintained by Catholic Charities.

Artan attended Columbus State Community College for two years, graduating cum laude with an associate’s degree before moving on to Ohio State to continue his studies. He told a campus publication that on his first day at OSU, he was “kind of scared” to pray in public.

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“If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don’t know what they’re going to think, what’s going to happen.”

“If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don’t know what they’re going to think, what’s going to happen,” Artan was quoted as saying in the Lantern.

The violence unfolded just before 10 a.m. ET Monday near an academic hall on the Columbus, Ohio, campus, where 60,000 students are enrolled.

Officials said Artan drove onto campus by himself and rammed the car past the curb and into a crowd on the sidewalk. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Sen. Cruz Questions DHS Sec. Johnson on Admin’s Willful Blindness to Radical Islamic Terrorism 

Robert Eno reports:

…Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson faced roughly ten minutes of questioning from Senator Ted Cruz, R-TX. During the testimony, Johnson repeated the administration’s line that it doesn’t matter what the terrorists are called, especially if it’s the word “Islamic.” Cruz tried to get Johnson on record answering the question of whether or not DHS purposely scrubbed Islamic from documents. The most shocking part of Johnson’s testimony, however, was near the end. Johnson blatantly lied about what the administration knew regarding the Fort Hood Jihadist, and when it knew it.

Watch:

Cruz: One, is it true or false that the administration knew before the attack that Nidal Hasan was communicating with Anwar al Awlaki?

Johnson: How are you defining the “Obama administration” sir?

Cruz: The Federal Bureau of Investigation

Johnson: The entire Federal Bureau of Investigation? I can’t answer that question sitting here. [unintelligible]

Cruz: The answer is yes, and it is in public record.

Senator Cruz is absolutely correct. Not only did the Obama administration know about Hasan’s communications, they shut down an investigation field agents wanted to conduct into Hasan’s behavior.

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In The United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists, which I recently reviewed, Peter Bergen details in painstaking fashion what the Obama administration knew and when it learned that information. His information came from the public record.

[Read the full story here, at ConservativeReview.com]

They Obama administration did in fact know beforehand about the communications, as The New York Times reported shortly after the attacks.

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“Not only did the Obama administration know about Hasan’s communications, they shut down an investigation field agents wanted to conduct into Hasan’s behavior.”

Intelligence agencies intercepted communications last year and this year between the military psychiatrist accused of shooting to death 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex., and a radical cleric in Yemen known for his incendiary anti-American teachings.

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But the federal authorities dropped an inquiry into the matter after deciding that the messages from the psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, did not suggest any threat of violence and concluding that no further action was warranted, government officials said Monday.

Major Hasan’s 10 to 20 messages to Anwar al-Awlaki, once a spiritual leader at a mosque in suburban Virginia where Major Hasan worshiped, indicate that the troubled military psychiatrist came to the attention of the authorities long before last Thursday’s shooting rampage at Fort Hood, but that the authorities left him in his post.

The Times report goes on to say that “authorities” thought the questions were consistent with a report Hasan was preparing on PTSD. Bergen reports that much of Hasan’s work did not deal with PTSD but with whether or not the United States armed forces should be allowed to fight in Muslim lands. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama Releases Dangerous Jihadists – Then Misleads Country About It

Guantanamo rarely appears in jihadist propaganda, whether ISIS or al Qaeda, and reviews of recent propaganda materials from ISIS and al Qaeda – online videos and audio recordings, glossy magazines, etc. – found very few mentions of the facility.

Stephen F. Hayes and Thomas Jocelyn write: President Barack Obama says his administration will continue releasing terrorists from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, so long as those released are less dangerous than the jihadists currently fighting against the U.S. and its interests.

“I am absolutely persuaded, as are my top intelligence and military advisers, that Guantanamo is used as a recruitment tool for organizations like ISIS. And if we want to fight ’em, then we can’t give ’em these kinds of excuses.”

The bizarre argument comes in a new interview with Olivier Knox of Yahoo! News and is one of several comments in their discussion that reinforces the president’s stubborn nonchalance on issues related to jihad. Obama also shrugs off concerns about recidivism of former Guantanamo detainees, suggesting that only a “handful” of former detainees have returned to the fight and claiming that only “low-level” terrorists have been released from the detention facility. Both claims are demonstrably false.

“Virtually everything Obama said in his Yahoo interview about Guantanamo is false. Guantanamo is not a leading recruitment tool for jihadists. From the earliest days of the facility, many of those detained there were deemed more than the “low-level” fighters the president would have us believe. And far more than a “handful” of released detainees – nearly 200 suspected or confirmed – have returned to the fight.”

In the interview, Knox asked Obama about Ibrahim al Qosi, a Guantanamo detainee transferred by the Obama administration to Sudan in July 2012, who recently resurfaced as a leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, often described as the most dangerous al Qaeda branch.

[Read the full story here, at The Weekly Standard]

Al Qosi appeared in a propaganda video disseminated by the group last week. Knox asked Obama whether having someone return to the fight “in a big way,” like Qosi, has caused the administration to revisit its vetting procedures.

“There is no reason that Obama would need to be ‘persuaded’ of something that can be easily demonstrated. Either Guantanamo is a major recruitment tool or it’s not. Administration officials have been making this claim for years and it’s not true.”

“I am absolutely persuaded, as are my top intelligence and military advisers, that Guantanamo is used as a recruitment tool for organizations like ISIS,” Obama began. “And if we want to fight ’em, then we can’t give ’em these kinds of excuses.” Read the rest of this entry »


OH YES THEY DID: Iran ‘Convicts’ Hostage American Reporter In Secret Trial

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John Hayward reports: “News of a verdict in Tehran’s Revolutionary Court initially came early Sunday, but court spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei did not specify the judgment,” reports Rezaian’s paper, the Washington Post“In a state TV report late Sunday, Ejei said definitively that Rezaian was found guilty.”

“The judge who heard the case is known for handing down harsh sentences, and Rezaian potentially faces a sentence of 10 to 20 years. It is not even known if Rezaian himself has been informed of the conviction.”

The Iranians have not specified what Rezaian is guilty of or what his sentence will be. The “trial” wrapped up two months ago. Rezaian has already been imprisoned in Iran for 14 months. He has now been held hostage longer than the Americans seized in Tehran under President Jimmy Carter, a milestone Rezaian passed over the weekend.

“The judge who heard the case is known for handing down harsh sentences, and Rezaian potentially faces a sentence of 10 to 20 years,” the Post ominously notes. “It is not even known if Rezaian himself has been informed of the conviction.” His Iranian lawyer also appeared to be unaware of the conviction.

[Read the full text here, at Breitbart.com]

“Iran has behaved unconscionably throughout this case, but never more so than with this indefensible decision by a Revolutionary Court to convict an innocent journalist of serious crimes after a proceeding that unfolded in secret, with no evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing,” said Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron in a statement. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] What is Being Done to Counter Extremist Forces in the Middle East? A View from the Frontlines of Islamist Insurgency

What do ISIS’s rise in Iraq and Syria and Iran’s new-found power and growing sphere of influence in the region portend for the broader Middle East? What is being done to counter Islamist extremist forces in the region and what is the current state of play? How do the current regional dynamics impact the threat from al-Qaeda, especially in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Read the rest of this entry »


Pentagon Rushing to Open Space-War Center To Counter China, Russia

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The Pentagon and intelligence community are developing war plans and an operations center to fend off Chinese and Russian attacks on U.S.military and government satellites

The ops center, to be opened within six months, will receive data from satellites belonging to all government agencies, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said Tuesday at the GEOINT symposium, an annual intelligence conference sponsored by the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation.

“We want to be able to establish patterns of life from space. We want to know what the unusual looks like. If, all of a sudden, a lot of cars show up in a parking lot of an adversary’s missile plant, we want to know about it and we want to know about it quickly. If, suddenly, small boats are swarming in the Gulf or pirates are starting to congregate off Aden, we want to know.”

“[W]e are going to develop the tactics, techniques, procedures, rules of the road that would allow us … to fight the architecture and protect it while it’s under attack,” Work said. “The ugly reality that we must now all face is that if an adversary were able to take space away from us, our ability to project decisive power across transoceanic distances and overmatch adversaries in theaters once we get there … would be critically weakened.”

“If Russian soldiers are snapping pictures of themselves in war zones and posting them in social media sites, we want to know exactly where those pictures were taken.”

Work also said that Air Force Secretary Deborah James would soon be named the “principal space advisor” to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, where she will to provide “independent advice separate from the consensus process of the department.”

Senior officials at the Pentagon and Office of the Director of National Intelligence are still finalizing details of the new center, which will back up the military’s Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

The center will help the military and government coordinate their preparations for and responses to any attack, said Lt. Cmdr. Courtney Hillson, a spokeswoman for Work. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Senior AQAP leader Nasr Ibn Ali al-Ansi Killed in Drone Strike

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(CNN) Dana Ford, reports: A senior commander in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has been killed in a U.S. drone strike, according to an online video statement from an AQAP spokesman.

“If he is capable to wage individual jihad in the Western countries that fight Islam — such as America, Britain, France, Canada, and others of the countries that represent the head of disbelief in waging war against Islam … If he is capable of that, then that is better and more harmful.”

It was not immediately clear when Nasr Ibn Ali al-Ansi was killed.

A U.S. official confirmed that al-Ansi was dead, but would not say whether his death was the result of a drone strike.

“By the grace of Allah the great (and) the almighty, we have made efforts in external work, and the enemy knows the danger of that. We are preparing and lurking for the enemies of Allah. We incite the believers to do that.”

— the late al-Ansi

The senior commander was well known for giving a lengthy statement after the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris, claiming AQAP was responsible for the attack.

 “But if that is impossible, and he is able to serve his brothers on the front lines, then let him immigrate, for it is better.”

— From al-Ansi’s lengthy statement after the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris

Twelve cartoonists, editors and other magazine staffers were killed by two gunmen on January 7. The attack was revenge for the magazine’s depictions of the Prophet Mohammed, al-Ansi said then.

He blamed not only Charlie Hebdo, but also France and the United States in his statement.

Al-Ansi urged all would-be jihadists to wage war at home, when possible, as opposed to traveling abroad. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Al-Qaeda Celebrates Obama Administration’s Foreign Policy Success by Capturing Major Airport in Southern Yemen

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Al Qaeda overran the city itself earlier this month and freed inmates, including a militant commander, from its prison.

AHMED AL-HAJ reports: Military officials and residents say al-Qaida has taken control of a major airport in southern Yemen after briefly clashing with troops.

“Nasser Baqazouz, an activist in the city, said the troops guarding the airport put up little resistance.”

The officials say al-Qaida fighters clashed Thursday with members of the infantry brigade in charge of protecting the Riyan airport in the city of Mukalla, a major port city and the provincial capital of Yemen‘s largest province, Hadramawt.

Al-Qaida overran the city itself earlier this month and freed inmates, including a militant commander, from its prison. Read the rest of this entry »


Kansas Man Arrested for Pledging Loyalty to ISIS; Allegedly Plotted to Detonate a Car Bomb

Iraq: Rescuing the Makhmour Frontline after ISIS attack

A Kansas man was arrested Friday for allegedly planning to detonate a bomb at a U.S. army base and pledging loyalty to the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

John T. Booker, a 20-year old U.S. Citizen from Topeka, was allegedly planning a suicide attack on the Fort Riley army base in Kansas in an attempt to provide material support to ISIS, the local CBS affiliate originally reported. The criminal complaint alleges that Booker, who also goes by the name “Mohammed Abdullah Hassan,” posted to Facebook “I will soon be leaving you forever so goodbye! I’m going to wage jihad and hopes that i die” before planning to detonate a car bomb at Fort Riley. Read the rest of this entry »


Noonan: Misplaying America’s Hand With Iran

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The president’s desperation for a foreign-policy legacy is leading toward a bad nuclear deal—and a dangerous one

Peggy Noonan writes: Barack Obama, six years into his presidency, does not have a foreign-policy legacy—or, rather, he does and it’s bad. He has a visceral and understandable reluctance to extend and overextend U.S. power, but where that power has been absent, violence and instability have filled the void. When he overcomes his reluctance to get involved, he picks the wrong place, such as Libya, where the tyrant we toppled was better than many of those attempting to take his place.

“The Arab world has entered a war phase that may go for decades. Its special threat is that the struggle is not only an essential one—Sunni vs. Shia, in a fight to the end—but that it engenders and is marked by what British Prime Minister David Cameron has called ‘the death cult.’ Many in the fight have no particular fear of summoning the end of the world.”

Syria, red lines, an exploding Mideast, a Russian president who took the American’s measure and made a move, upsetting a hard-built order that had maintained for a quarter-century since the fall of the Soviet Union—what a mess.

In late February, at a Washington meeting of foreign-policy intellectuals, Henry Kissinger summed up part of the past six years: “Ukraine has lost Crimea; Russia has lost Ukraine; the U.S. has lost Russia; the world has lost stability.”

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“Nuclear proliferation has been a problem for so long that we no longer talk or think about it. But in the current moment in the Mideast, we’re not talking ‘nuclear proliferation’ in the abstract. It’s more like talking about the spread of nuclear weapons among the inmates of an institution for the criminally insane.”

What Barack Obama needs is a foreign-policy win, and not only for reasons of legacy. He considers himself a serious man, he wants to deal constructively with a pressing, high-stakes international question, and none fits that description better than Iran and nuclear weapons. And so the talks in Lausanne, Switzerland.

[Read the full text here, at the Wall Street Journal]

Here is the fact. The intention behind a deal—to stop Iran from developing, and in the end using, nuclear weapons—could not be more serious and crucial. The Arab world has entered a war phase that may go for decades. Its special threat is that the struggle is not only an essential one—Sunni vs. Shia, in a fight to the end—but that it engenders and is marked by what British Prime Minister David Cameron has called “the death cult.” Many in the fight have no particular fear of summoning the end of the world.

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“There are many reasons nuclear weapons have not been used since 1945. One is that the U.S. was not evil and the Soviet Union was not crazy. It was also a triumph of diplomacy, of imperfect but ultimately sound strategic thinking, that kept the unthinkable from happening.” 

Once Iran has what used to be called the bomb, there will be a race among nearby nations—Persian Gulf states, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey—to get their own. As each state builds its arsenal, there will be an increased chance that freelancers, non-states and sub-states will get their hands on parts of it.

The two most boring words in history are “nuclear proliferation.” Jimmy Carter made them so on Oct. 28, 1980, when, in a presidential debate, he announced that his 12-year-old daughter, Amy, had told him that the great issue of the day was the control of nuclear arms. America laughed: So that’s where the hapless one gets his geopolitical insights. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] As Yemen Burns, White House Still Touting Country as Counter-Terror Model

At The Corner, Brendan Bordelon writes:

In a statement ABC’s Jon Karl found “astounding,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest continued to call the United States’s activities in Yemen as a “model” for counter-terrorism — even as the Arabic nation’s government collapses and international terrorist groups move in.

“The White House does continue to believe that a successful counter-terrorism strategy is one that will build up the capacity of the central government to have local fighters on the ground to take the fight to extremists in their own country. That is a template that has succeeded in mitigating the threat that we face from extremists in place like Yemen and Somalia.”

As al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula gained power in Yemen’s north over the past few years, the Obama administration responded with a relatively hands-off approach. The U.S. government helped build up, support and train government forces fighting the terrorists while providing air reconnaissance and, occasionally, drone strikes against high-value targets in the country.

It was a plan that the Obama administration frequently held up as a successful example of U.S. counter-terrorism strategy. But as Shi’ite Houthi rebels continue to drive the Yemeni government from power, and fighters from the al-Qaida and the Islamic State conduct terrorist attacks and consolidate their forces, many have called the American strategy to help stabilize the nation fundamentally flawed. Read the rest of this entry »


Michael J. Totten: Yemen Falls Apart

Sanaa Yemen Wikimedia Commons_0

Michael J. Tottentotten reports: Suicide-bombers killed at least 137 people and wounded more than 350 in Yemen at two Shia mosques in the capital city of Sanaa on Friday. The very next day, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula seized control of the city of al-Houta, and the day after that, the Iranian-backed Houthi rebel movement conquered parts of Taiz, the nation’s third-largest city. Rival militias are battling for control of the international airport in the coastal city of Aden, and the US government just announced that American troops are evacuating Al Anad airbase.

ISIS is taking credit for the Sanaa attacks. “Infidel Houthis should know that the soldiers of the Islamic State will not rest,” it said, “until they eradicate them and cut off the arm of the Safavid (Iranian) plan in Yemen.” Al Qaeda has a much larger footprint in Yemen, so the ISIS claim is a little bit dubious, but ISIS is on the rise there and its attitude toward Shia Muslims is more bloodthirsty—more explicitly genocidal as the quote above shows—than Al Qaeda’s.

Regardless of who committed the latest round of atrocities, everything in Yemen is about to become much, much worse. The region-wide storm of sectarian hatred has been gathering strength by the year for more than a decade, and it blew the roof off Yemen earlier this year when the Tower of the Sun Cover for blog-2Houthis, who are Shias, seized control of the capital and sent Sunni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi into semi-exile in Aden.

[Order Michael J. Totten‘s book “Tower of the Sun: Stories from the Middle East and North Africa” from Amazon.com] 

The Houthis see their takeover of the city and government institutions as a natural progression of the revolution in 2011 that toppled former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, but it isn’t, not really. While they enjoy some backing beyond their Shia support base, the sectarian dimension is inescapable. Shias make up almost half the population, and the Sunni majority is keenly aware that minorities in the Middle East are capable of seizing power and lording it over everyone else—especially if they’re sponsored by a regional mini superpower like Iran. Syria has been ruled by the Iranian-backed Alawite minority for decades, and Saddam Hussein used brute force to bring the Sunni minority to power in Iraq.

Still, the Houthis have virtually no chance of ruling the entire country. Their “territory,” so to speak, is restricted to the northwestern region surrounding the capital. Previous governments had a rough go of it too. South Yemen was a communist state—the so-called People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen—until the Soviet Union finally ruptured, and four years after unification with North Yemen, the armed forces of each former half declared war on each other. Read the rest of this entry »


Sources: U.S. Pulling Last of its Special Operations Forces Out of Yemen Due to Deteriorating Security

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U.S. evacuating Special Operations forces from Yemen

Sanaa, Yemen (CNN)The U.S. military is in the process of evacuating about 100 Special Operations forces members from the Al Anad airbase in Yemen due to that country’s deteriorating security situation, sources in the region familiar with the situation told CNN.

Those being evacuated are the last American troops stationed in the Arab nation, which is home to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist group also known as AQAP. The United States closed its embassy in Sanaa last month, after Houthi rebels took over the Yemeni capital.

For years, the U.S. military has worked closely with Yemen’s government to go after AQAP, together carrying out numerous attacks like the 2011 drone strike that killed prominent al Qaeda figure Anwar al-Awlaki. And U.S. President Barack Obama has hailed this cooperation as a pillar in his anti-terrorism campaign.

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“Yemen has never been a perfect democracy or a island of stability,” Obama said in January, promoting the policy of “partnering and intelligence-sharing with that local government” as the best approach in a bad situation.

“The alternative would be for us to play whack-a-mole every time there is a terrorist actor inside of any given country,” the President said.

But while there have been drone strikes as recently as last month, these cooperative efforts have been hampered by Yemen’s growing difficulty in maintaining unity and peace. These include the rise of the Houthis, their battles with forces loyal to ousted President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi and the presence of not only al Qaeda fighters but other militants. Read the rest of this entry »


Tens of Thousands Protest in Yemen: ‘Hadi, Hadi, Return, Your People Are Awake’

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Largest Protest Since Houthis Rebels Swept into the Capital 

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Tens of thousands of Yemenis marched in protest on Saturday against Shiite rebels who hold the capital, amid a power vacuum in a country that is home to what Washington describes as al-Qaida‘s most dangerous offshoot.

Some 20,000 hit the streets of the capital, Sanaa, where demonstrators converged on the house of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who resigned Thursday along with his Cabinet. It was the largest protest since the rebels, known as Houthis, swept into the capital in September.

Protesters carried banners and chanted slogans denouncing the rebels and demanding the restoration of the president. Scuffles involving knives and batons broke out in one instance in Sanaa when the rebels tried to block one procession, leaving two demonstrators and one Houthi injured. Read the rest of this entry »


The Inevitable Chilling Effect: Despite Its Stand Against the ‘Terrorist’s Veto’, France Treats Offensive Words and Images as Crimes

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 writes: On Sunday, as more than a million people marched through the streets of Paris in support of the right to draw cartoons without being murdered, the French Ministry of Culture and Communication declared that “artistic freedom and freedom of expression stand firm and unflinching at the heart of our common European values.” It added that “France and her allies in the EU safeguard these values and promote them in the world.”

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“In a free society, that is simply not the government’s job. When courts are asked to draw this line, artists and commentators must try to anticipate whether their work will pass muster, which promotes self-censorship.”

In the wake of last week’s massacre at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, perpetrated by men who saw death as a fitting punishment for the crime of insulting Islam, these were stirring words. If only they were true. Sadly, France and other European countries continue to legitimize the grievances underlying the barbaric attack on Charlie Hebdo by endorsing the illiberal idea that people have a right not to be offended.

“Sacrilege may upset people, but it does not violate their rights. By abandoning that distinction, avowed defenders of Enlightenment values capitulate to the forces of darkness.”

It is true that France does not prescribe the death penalty for publishing cartoons that offend Muslims. But under French law, insulting people based on their religion is a crime punishable by a fine of €22,500 and six months in jail.

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[Also see – REPEAL THEM NOW: Hate-Speech Codes Won’t Protect Europe From Violence]

In addition to religion, that law covers insults based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, or disability. Defamation (as opposed to mere insult) based on any of those factors is punishable by up to a year in prison, and so is incitement to discrimination, hatred, or violence. Read the rest of this entry »


The Hammer: Obama: Charlie Who?

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imrs.php Charles Krauthammer writes: On Sunday, at the great Paris rally, the whole world was Charlie. By Tuesday, the veneer of solidarity was exposed as tissue thin. It began dissolving as soon as the real, remaining Charlie Hebdo put out its post-massacre issue featuring a Muhammad cover that, as the New York Times put it, “reignited the debate pitting free speech against religious sensitivities.”

“As for President Obama, he never was Charlie, not even for those 48 hours. From the day of the massacre, he has been practically invisible.”

Again? Already? Had not 4 million marchers and 44 foreign leaders just turned out on the streets of France to declare “No” to intimidation, and pledging solidarity, indeed identification (“Je suis Charlie”) with a satirical weekly specializing in the most outrageous and often tasteless portrayals of Muhammad? And yet, within 48 hours, the new Charlie Hebdo issue featuring the image of Muhammad — albeit a sorrowful, indeed sympathetic Muhammad — sparked new protests, denunciations and threats of violence, which in turn evinced another round of doubt and self-flagellation in the West about the propriety and limits of free expression. Hopeless.

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As for President Obama, he never was Charlie, not even for those 48 hours. From the day of the massacre, he has been practically invisible. At the interstices of various political rallies, he issued bits of muted, mealy-mouthed boilerplate. Followed by the now-famous absence of any high-ranking U.S. official at the Paris rally, an abdication of moral and political leadership for which the White House has already admitted error.

“On the contrary, the no-show, following the near silence, precisely reflected the president’s profound ambivalence about the very idea of the war on terror. Obama began his administration by purging the phrase from the lexicon of official Washington.”

But this was no mere error of judgment or optics or, most absurdly, of communications in which we are supposed to believe that the president was not informed by staff about the magnitude, both actual and symbolic, of the demonstration he ignored. (He needed to be told?)

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On the contrary, the no-show, following the near silence, precisely reflected the president’s profound ambivalence about the very idea of the war on terror. Obama began his administration by purging the phrase from the lexicon of official Washington. He has ever since shuttled between saying that (a) the war must end because of the damage “keeping America on a perpetual wartime footing” was doing to us, and (b) the war has already ended, as he suggested repeatedly during the 2012 campaign, with bin Laden dead and al-Qaeda “on the run.”

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During the White House briefing on Monday, press secretary Josh Earnest discussed the administration’s decision not to send a high-level official to a march honoring the victims of last week’s attack on a satirical newspaper and said the French ambassador would go to the White House later that day.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Salman Rushdie: ‘The Moment You Limit Free Speech It’s Not Free Speech’

The University of Vermont in Burlington invited Salman Rushdie to speak on campus Wednesday night, giving The Satanic Verses author a chance to deliver his most comprehensive response yet to the terrorist attack that targeting French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Rushdie used the opportunity to defend free speech as an absolute right that cannot be diminished just because you happen to disagree with what someone is trying to say.

“The moment somebody says, ‘Yes I believe in free speech, but’ — I stop listening.”

Rushdie said Charlie Hebdo and its cartoonists were “beloved” in France for the willingness to make fun of anyone and everyone. “The thing that I really resent is the way in which these, our dead comrades… who died using the same implement that I use, which is a pen or pencil, have been almost immediately vilified and called racists and I don’t know what else,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Ohio Man Arrested for Alleged ISIS-Inspired Plot to Bomb U.S. Capitol

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According to government documents, he allegedly planned to detonate pipe bombs at the national landmark and open fire on any employees and officials fleeing after the explosions.

CNN: The FBI today arrested an Ohio man for allegedly plotting an ISIS-inspired attack on the U.S. Capitol, where he hoped to set off a series of bombs aimed at lawmakers, whom he allegedly considered enemies.

Ohio authorities release booking photo of suspect arrested for plot to attack U.S. Capitol. pic.twitter.com/JJCqsckvkl

Ohio authorities release booking photo of suspect arrested for plot to attack U.S. Capitol.

Christopher Lee Cornell, 20, of Green Township, was arrested on charges of attempting to kill a U.S. government official, authorities said.

“I believe that we should just wage jihad under our own orders and plan attacks and everything. I believe we should meet up and make our own group in alliance with the Islamic State here and plan operations ourselves.”

— Cornell, in an online message allegedly written to the informant

The FBI first noticed Cornell several months ago after an informant notified the agency that Cornell was allegedly voicing support for violent “jihad” on Twitter accounts under the alias “Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah,” according to charging documents. In addition, Cornell allegedly posted statements, videos and other content expressing support for ISIS — the brutal terrorist group also known as ISIL — that is wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria.

JM Lopez/AFP/Getty Images. A flag of the Islamic State is seen on the other side of a bridge at the front line of fighting between Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Islamist militants in Rashad, on the road between Kirkuk and Tikrit, Sept. 11, 2014.

JM Lopez/AFP/Getty Images. A flag of the Islamic State is seen on the other side of a bridge at the front line of fighting between Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Islamist militants in Rashad, on the road between Kirkuk and Tikrit.

“I believe that we should just wage jihad under our own orders and plan attacks and everything,” Cornell allegedly wrote in an online message to the informant in August, according to the FBI. “I believe we should meet up and make our own group in alliance with the Islamic State here and plan operations ourselves.”

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Anwar Al-Awlaki at Dar al Hijrah Mosque on Oct. 4, 2001 in Falls Church, VA. Tracy Woodward/The Washington Post/Getty Images

In the message, Cornell said that such attacks “already got a thumbs up” from radical cleric Anwar Awlaki “before his martyrdom.”

Awlaki was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011, but his online messages calling for attacks on the West live on.

U.S. officials considered Awlaki an operational leader within al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemen-based terror group tied to the deadly assault on a satirical magazine in Paris last week. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Nasr al-Ansi, Top Commander for Al Qaeda in Yemen Claims Credit for the Charlie Hebdo Attack, Warns West of More ‘Tragedies and Terror’

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Top leader of al-Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula says it ordered last week’s deadly attack on French satirical magazine

(Reuters) – Al Qaeda in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack on French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, saying it was ordered by the Islamist militant group’s leadership for insulting the Prophet Mohammad, according to a video posted on YouTube.

Yemen protests

“As for the blessed Battle of Paris, we, the Organisation of al Qaeda al Jihad in the Arabian Peninsula, claim responsibility for this operation as vengeance for the Messenger of God.”

“As for the blessed Battle of Paris, we, the Organisation of al Qaeda al Jihad in the Arabian Peninsula, claim responsibility for this operation as vengeance for the Messenger of God,” said Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi, a leader of the Yemeni branch of al Qaeda (AQAP) in the recording.

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Gunmen killed a total of 17 people in three days of violence that began when they opened fire at Charlie Hebdo in revenge for its past publication of satirical images of the Prophet.

A still from the video

A still from the video

“We did it in compliance with the command of Allah and supporting His Messenger, peace be upon Him.”

Ansi, the main ideologue for AQAP, said the “one who chose the target, laid the plan and financed the operation is the leadership of the organization”, without naming an individual.

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He added without elaborating that the strike was carried out in “implementation” of the order of overall al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, who has called for strikes by Muslims in the West using any means they can find. Read the rest of this entry »


Official News Agency Xinhua Says: ‘Charlie Hebdo Attack Shows Need for Press Limits’

Pictures that an Internet poster on China's Weibo microblogging site went viral when it was suggested they were of officials in Lujiang County.

The question of religious and cultural tolerance hits close to home for China, which is battling a surge of ethnic violence in Xinjiang, home to the mostly Muslim Uighurs

Josh Chin reports: The deadly terrorist attack on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo shows the need to impose limits on freedom of the press, China’s official news agency argued on Sunday, as more than three million people marched in anti-terror rallies across France.

Xinhua

“Charlie Hebdo had on multiple occasions been the target of protests and even revenge attacks on account of its controversial cartoons,” the Xinhua news agency commentary said, adding that the magazine had been criticized in the past for being “both crude and heartless” in its attacks on religion.

The commentary, written by Xinhua Paris bureau chief Ying Qiang, appeared timed to coincide with Sunday’s rallies. The largest of those took place in Paris and attracted several world leaders, including Germany’s Angela Merkel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

What they seem not to realize is that world is diverse, and there should be limits on press freedom.”

The commentary, written by Xinhua Paris bureau chief Ying Qiang, appeared timed to coincide with Sunday’s rallies. The largest of those took place in Paris and attracted several world leaders, including Germany’s Angela Merkel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

“Many religions and ethnic groups in this world have their own totems and spiritual taboos. Mutual respect is crucial for peaceful coexistence.”

The spree of violence ended on Friday after French police killed the three men suspected of murdering 17 people, including 11 inside the offices of Charlie Hebdo. The magazine was known for publishing vivid cartoons lampooning religion, including Islam, and had been targeted in the past by Muslims angry at its caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

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“Unfettered and unprincipled satire, humiliation and free speech are not acceptable.”

China’s ambassador to France, Kong Quan, attended the rally, China’s Foreign Ministry said at a regular press briefing on Monday. “The content of the Xinhua commentary reflects Xinhua’s own point of view,” ministry spokesman Hong Lei said, adding that China opposed terrorism in all forms. Read the rest of this entry »


Thousands March as French Police Hunt for Jihadist Femme Fatale Hayat Boumeddiene

Several thousand people gather to pay tribute to victims of a shooting by gunmen at the office of the satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo during a demonstration in Marseille

PARIS — France’s government urged the nation to remain vigilant Saturday, as thousands of security forces try to thwart new attacks and hunt down a suspected accomplice in a rampage by terrorists linked to al Qaeda in Yemen that scarred the nation and left 20 dead.

Hundreds of thousands of people marched Saturday in cities from Toulouse in the south to Rennes in the west to honor the 17 victims of three attackers, killed by police after three days of bloodshed at the offices of a satirical newspaper, a kosher supermarket and other sites around Paris.

The sense of relief was tinged with sorry and worry. In Paris, security forces guarded places of worship and tourist sites, and prepared for what’s likely to be a huge silent march Sunday to show unity against extremists. Two dozen world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron, are among the many expected to join.

Authorities are on the hunt for Hayat Boumeddiene. Photo: ZumaPress.com

Authorities are on the hunt for Hayat Boumeddiene.
Photo: ZumaPress.com

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said authorities will do everything to ensure security at the event. Speaking after an emergency meeting called by French President Francois Hollande on Saturday morning, Cazeneuve called for “extreme vigilance,” saying that “given the context, we are exposed to risks.”

Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen said it directed Wednesday’s attack against the publication Charlie Hebdo to avenge the honor of the Prophet Muhammad, a frequent target of the weekly’s satire.

In a sign of the tense atmosphere, a security perimeter was briefly imposed at Disneyland Paris on Saturday before being lifted, a spokeswoman said, without elaborating. Movement around the park was back to normal by early afternoon.

Several thousand people walk behind a banner which reads,” Live Together Free, Equal, and United” during a march in Nantes, France.Photo: Reuters

Cazeneuve said the government is maintaining its terror alert system at the highest level in the Paris region, and said investigators are focusing on determining whether the attackers were part of a larger extremist network.

People hold up signs to pay tribute to the massacre victims in Paris before the French Top 14 rugby match January 7th.Photo: Getty Images

People hold up signs to pay tribute to the massacre victims in Paris before the French Top 14 rugby match January 7th.Photo: Getty Images

Five other people are in custody as part of the investigation, and family members of the attackers are among several given preliminary charges so far.

“You must consider her as the companion of a dangerous terrorist who needs to be questioned. Since 2010, she has had a relationship with an individual whose ideology translates into violence and the execution of poor people who were just doing their shopping in a supermarket.”

—  Christophe Crepin, spokesman for UNSA police union

French radio RTL released audio Saturday of the attacker, Amedy Coulibaly, who seized hostages in the kosher supermarket, in which he lashes out over Western military campaigns against extremists in Syria and Mali. He describes Osama bin Laden as an inspiration. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] The Hammer: Paris Attack May Be Start of ‘Third Stage of Jihadist War’ on West

“What is so important about this is the origin of the four killers, the brothers and the couple. They were born in France. I think we’re now in sort of the third stage of the jihadist war against us.”

He laid out the sequence: “The first [stage], of course, is 9/11 — all of the attackers were from the middle east. And then, for the last year or two, we have seen the ‘lone wolf’ attacks — usually homegrown, but fairly unstable and one-on-one, and it looks as if fairly disorganized or acting out of inspiration, but not on instruction or with training. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Charlie Hebdo Massacre Update: Hostage Held as Suspects Surrounded

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Chris Morris reports on from Dammartin-en-Goele where police have surrounded the warehouse

French police have surrounded a building in a northern town where two Islamists suspected of the Charlie Hebdo massacre have taken a hostage.

Holed up in a small printing business in Dammartin-en-Goele, 35km (22 miles) from Paris, the gunmen reportedly said they were prepared to die.

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Shots were fired during a high-speed car chase earlier on Friday, the third day of the manhunt for the attackers.

Twelve people were shot dead and 11 injured in Wednesday’s attack.

The suspects, two brothers linked by intelligence officials to militant groups, shouted Islamist slogans during the shooting and then fled Paris in a hijacked car, heading north.

It appears that on Friday they hijacked another car in the town of Montagny-Sainte-Felicite before travelling on to Dammartin.

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The car’s owner recognised them as brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, the key suspects.

In a televised statement Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve confirmed the men being sought on Friday were those wanted for the Charlie Hebdo attack and said they would be “neutralised”.

In another development, a police source said there was a connection between the Charlie Hebdo attack and the shooting of a policewoman in Paris on Thursday.

The suspects have been surrounded in a small printing business named CTD, a source close to the investigation told AFP news agency.

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This Google Streetview image shows the printing business where the hostage has been taken

Officials from the town council say pupils from three schools are being evacuated to a nearby gymnasium, where they will be reunited with their parents.

An interior ministry official said there had been no deaths or injuries on Friday, as reported by some media.

Christelle Alleume, who works near CTD in Dammartin, said a round of gunfire had interrupted her morning coffee break.

“We heard shots and we returned very fast because everyone was afraid,” she told French broadcaster iTele. “We had orders to turn off the lights and not approach the windows.”

People in the area say police helicopters began arriving around 08:45 (07:45 GMT) followed by convoys of armed officers. Sharpshooters could be seen taking up position on rooftops.

Read the rest of this entry »


Tragedy in Yemen: American Hostage Luke Somers Killed in Rescue Attempt

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South African Pierre Korkie Also Killed in Raid

Julian E. Barnes and Maria Abi-Habib reporting: An American and a South African held hostage for more than a year by al Qaeda’s Yemen branch were killed during a U.S. special operations forces raid Friday night, in the second rescue attempt in as many weeks.

“There were compelling reasons to believe Mr. Somers’ life was in imminent danger… Both Mr. Somers and a second non-U.S. citizen hostage were murdered by the AQAP terrorists during the course of the operation.”

— U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel

Luke Somers, 33 years old, was killed by militants, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Saturday. Several members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, were also killed in the raid.Pierre-Korkie

South African teacher Pierre Korkie was also killed in the raid, according to a charity that had been trying to help negotiate his release.

“The United States will spare no effort to use all of its military, intelligence, and diplomatic capabilities to bring Americans home safely, wherever they are located. And terrorists who seek to harm our citizens will feel the long arm of American justice.”

— President Barack Obama

Mr. Hagel said the raid was ordered by President Barack Obama because “there were compelling reasons to believe Mr. Somers’ life was in imminent danger.”

“Both Mr. Somers and a second non-U.S. citizen hostage were murdered by the AQAP terrorists during the course of the operation,” Mr. Hagel said in a statement.

A U.S. official said Mr. Somers was shot by militants as the raid unfolded and wasn’t killed in crossfire.

“We received with sadness the news that Pierre was killed in an attempt by American Special Forces, in the early hours of this morning, to free hostages in Yemen.”

— Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooliman

It wasn’t immediately clear where Mr. Somers’s remains were.

The raid took place after AQAP had warned that they would kill Mr. Somers if U.S. forces attempted another “foolish” rescue attempt, in a video statement released Thursday. In the video, an AQAP commander threatened to kill Mr. Somers by the end of the week if their unspecified demands weren’t met. Read the rest of this entry »


Qaeda Plot Leak Damaged U.S. Intelligence more than Snowden Leaks

A Yemeni soldier at a checkpoint leading to the United States Embassy last month during tightened security in Sana, the capital.

A Yemeni soldier at a checkpoint leading to the United States Embassy last month during tightened security in Sana, the capital.

WASHINGTON — t and t report: As the nation’s spy agencies assess the fallout from disclosures about their surveillance programs, some government analysts and senior officials have made a startling finding: the impact of a leaked terrorist plot by Al Qaeda in August has caused more immediate damage to American counterterrorism efforts than the thousands of classified documents disclosed by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor.

Since news reports in early August revealed that the United States intercepted messages between Ayman al-Zawahri, who succeeded Osama bin Laden as the head of Al Qaeda, and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the head of the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, discussing an imminent terrorist attack, analysts have detected a sharp drop in the terrorists’ use of a major communications channel that the authorities were monitoring. Since August, senior American officials have been scrambling to find new ways to surveil the electronic messages and conversations of Al Qaeda’s leaders and operatives. Read the rest of this entry »


US special forces on alert overseas to strike any potential Al Qaeda targets

By Barbara Starr

American special forces units overseas have been on alert for the past several days for a mission to attack potential al Qaeda targets if those behind the most recent terror threats against U.S. interests can be identified, a senior Obama administration official told CNN.The official declined to identify the units or their locations because of the sensitive nature of the information. The units, along with several others, were put on heightened alert by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week. The United States closed embassies and consulates across an area of Africa and the Middle East and imposed a global travel alert for Americans following threats against U.S. interests described as serious and credible. An intercepted message among senior al Qaeda operatives in the last several days raised concerns that led to the closures, CNN has learned.

Three sources said the United States has information that members of the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are in the final stages of planning an unspecified attack.