Ali Waked reports: According to group members, IS police officers beheaded the man in the town of Tasil in the Dara district in southern Syria.
In an accompanying statement, the terrorist organization said that the man was beheaded with a sword and had performed “magic and sorcery.”
In the photos, one member of IS can be seen reading the ruling of the Sharia court, noting the Islamic penalty for the alleged transgressions.
Those who carried out the punishment of beheading, according to IS, were members of the Khaled Bin Waleed militia – a jihadist militia affiliated with IS active in southern Syria in the triangular area between the borders of Syria, Jordan and Israel. Read the rest of this entry »
(CNN) The only reasonable explanation for the crash of a Russian passenger jet in Egypt is “an external influence,” an executive from the airline that operated the flight said Monday, stressing that planes don’t just break apart in midair.
“There was nothing abnormal before the plane crash. It suddenly disappeared from the radar.”
— Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamel
The executive was not specific about what he meant by an external influence. Experts say it is too early to know for certain what caused the plane to break up at the start of what could be a lengthy investigation.
The state-run Russian news agency Sputniknews.com reported that the head of Rosaviatsia, the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency, had told Rossiya-25 television that claims that external factors could have caused the crash were not based in fact.
“It is completely premature to speak about the reasons of this, as there are not grounds. And I’d like to call on the aviation community to refrain from any premature conclusions,” it quoted Alexander Neradko, the agency chief, as telling the station.
CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest suggested that the Kogalymavia official could have meant something abnormal and out of the ordinary had occurred.
“We exclude technical problems and reject human error,” the Kogalymavia airline official, Alexander Smirnov, said at a Moscow news conference as he discussed possible causes of the crash.
He added that the crew did not issue any warnings or communications during the final moments, indicating that the flight crew must have been disabled and not able to radio out.
However, Smirnov said that while the plane’s flight and voice data recorders had been recovered, they had not been read or decoded.
Officials have played down an apparent claim by Islamic militants in Sinai that they brought down the Airbus A321-200, saying technical failure is the most likely reason for the crash.
Here’s where things stand:
Flight 9268 was on its way from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg early Saturday when it dropped off radar about 23 minutes into the flight, Egyptian officials say.
Air traffic controllers apparently didn’t receive any distress calls from the pilots. “There was nothing abnormal before the plane crash,” Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamel said Saturday. “It suddenly disappeared from the radar.”
CNN’s Richard Quest said it was “unusual” for an aircraft to go down roughly 20 minutes into a flight.
Saturday’s decision is latest in a series of mass trials that have led to death penalty verdicts against the leadership and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood
The court’s preliminary verdict Saturday is subject to review by the Grand Mufti, Egypt’s highest religious authority, whose opinion isn’t legally binding but is traditionally adopted by the court.
“The death penalty has become the favorite tool for the Egyptian authorities to purge the political opposition.”
— Amnesty International
A final verdict based his opinion will be delivered June 2 but will be open to appeals, which can take years in Egypt’s clogged judicial system.
Mr. Morsi has already been sentenced to 20 years in prison last month in a separate case in which he was found guilty of fomenting violence during a series of protests in 2012 that dogged his year in office.
The former Egyptian president was among 106 members and leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood sentenced to death on Saturday, including the group’s spiritual guide Mohammed Badie and prominent Islamic scholar, Youssef al-Qaradawi, who is based in Qatar.
The decision—broadcast on state television as Mr. Morsi and some of co-defendants smiled defiantly from inside the caged dock used to hold the accused—was received quietly in Egypt. However, authorities said it may have inspired a violent response in the restive Sinai Peninsula where security forces have struggled to contain a low-level Islamist insurgency.
Hours after the verdict was delivered, unknown gunmen attacked a vehicle carrying several judges and aides in the northern Sinai town of al-Arish, killing three judges, a driver, and wounding three others, according to Egypt’s state news agency.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the state news agency quotes unnamed security officials saying the attack may have been retaliation for the verdict against Mr. Morsi. Read the rest of this entry »
A country torn by civil war provides fertile ground for the extremist group—right on Europe’s doorstep
Yaroslav Trofimov reports: Two rival governments in Libya have fought an increasingly bloody civil war since last summer, as the world paid little attention. While they battled for control of the country’s oil wealth, a third force—Islamic State—took advantage of the chaos to grow stronger.
The beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians by Islamic State followers has finally drawn the global spotlight to the group’s rising clout in Libya, which not long ago was touted as a successful example of Western intervention. The killings prompted Egyptian airstrikes on Islamic State strongholds in Libya and spurred calls for more active international involvement in what is fast becoming a failed state on Europe’s doorstep.
“The situation in Libya has been out of control for three years,” Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi cautioned in a television interview after the video’s release. “We shouldn’t go from total indifference to hysteria.”
— Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi
The Libyan affiliate of Islamic State in Syria and Iraq has, in fact, been spreading its sway for months. First it established an area of control last fall in and around the eastern city of Derna, a historical center of Libyan jihadists. Recently, it also took over parts of former dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte, on the central coast, setting up a radio station there and sending Islamic morality patrols onto the streets.
All the while, the two rival governments of Libya focused on combatting one another, each supported by regional powers. Both preferred to largely ignore the influx of foreign jihadists forming new alliances with local extremists—and their unification under Islamic State’s banner.
“As all the attention of the two sides was on fighting the other side, this kind of group prospered in the political and military void. There are no good guys or bad guys there—both sides have been acting in bad faith.”
— Karim Mezran, a Libya expert at the Atlantic Council in Washington
Libya isn’t the only place outside Syria and Iraq where the extremist group has established affiliates, largely by absorbing homegrown jihadist groups into its project of world domination and religious war until the total triumph of Islam. There are also Islamic State “provinces” in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, in Yemen, and in so-called Khorasan, a region straddling Afghanistan and Pakistan. Read the rest of this entry »