The group which killed American journalist James Foley have many more hostages
For the Telegraph, Gordon Rayner and David Chazan reporting: As well as the journalist Steven Sotloff, who was threatened with beheading by the same man who murdered Foley, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil) is holding a number of aid workers, thought to include Vanessa Marzullo, 21, and Greta Ramelli, 20, both Italian.
“Can you go back on all the teaching and the values you have tried to instill for a lifetime?”
Three aid workers employed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are also being held hostage after they were abducted last October.
“Can you change your daughter, who has these values and has strong ideals about solidarity and human empathy?”
— Ramelli’s mother, Antonella
As fears grew that Isil could make good on its threat to murder more hostages, families of those being held defended their loved ones’ decisions to travel to Syria.
For the Washington Times, Rowan Scarborough writes: The al Qaeda-linked army now conquering territory in Syria and Iraqultimately wants its emerging Islamic state to be a launching pad for attacking the U.S. homeland, says a new congressional report.
“Several leading representatives of the U.S. intelligence community have stated that [ISIL] maintains training camps in Iraq and Syria, has the intent to attack the United States and is reportedly recruiting and training individuals to do so.”
Four analysts at the Congressional Research Service made that assessment, citing intelligence reports and the words of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“It already has many hundreds of jihadists with Western nation passports. Those battle-proven jihadists will eventually return to their Western homelands to carry on the jihad using the violent ways learned in Syria and Iraq.”
The CRS report, delivered to members of Congress, makes the point that ISIL is a well-organized, well-funded terrorist group with definite goals to take territory and kill people it considers nonbelievers.
“Several leading representatives of the U.S. intelligence community have stated that [ISIL] maintains training camps in Iraq and Syria, has the intent to attack the United States and is reportedly recruiting and training individuals to do so,” says the June 20 report. Read the rest of this entry »
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fighters smash 3,000-year-old Assyrian statue in latest act of cultural genocide
For The Times of Israel, Ilan Ben Zion reports: Fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a radical militia that controls a large swath of eastern Syria, confiscated and destroyed illegally excavated antiquities from an ancient Mesopotamian site.
In an act of cultural genocide strikingly similar to the Taliban’s demolition of the Buddhas of Bamiyan in 2001, the ISIL fighters appear – in pictures recently uploaded by a group working to protect Syria’s rich historical heritage — to smash a 3,000-year-old Neo-Assyrian statue illegally removed from a nearby archaeological site. Another image shows a man placing his foot — an act of disrespect in Arab culture — on the face of the Assyrian statue before its destruction.
Last month, the Syrian antiquities authority said in a statement that it had received notice that artifacts that “appear to be the result of an unauthorized digging” had been plundered from Tell Ajaja, the ruins of the Assyrian provincial capital Shadikanni on the Khabur River, a tributary of the Euphrates.
At least one of the items photographed and published by the Association for the Preservation of Syrian Archaeology appeared among those recently confiscated by ISIL.
The pictures, taken in Syria’s far eastern Hasakeh Province, were also said to be of artifacts removed from Tell Ajaja. The site lies approximately 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of the modern provincial capital of Hasakeh and 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Iraqi border.