Since October 10, ISIS and its sympathizers around the world have killed at least 525 people in six attacks in six countries outside its so-called caliphate.
Here is the chronology and body count of the attacks, with U.S. intelligence analysis of who was behind each:
—Oct. 10: The bombing of peace demonstrations outside the main train station in Ankara, Turkey left 102 dead. Directed by ISIS.
—Nov. 10: Two suicide bombers detonating themselves in a marketplace in southern Beirut, Lebanon, killing 43 people. Directed by ISIS.
—Nov. 13: Attacks on multiple sites in Paris, including the Bataclan theater, left 130 dead — excluding attackers. Directed by ISIS.
—Nov. 24: The bombing of a bus carrying members of the presidential guard in the Tunisian capital city of Tunis left at least 12 dead. An “announcement” attack by the ISIS affiliate in Tunisia. Read the rest of this entry »
‘We can unequivocally say it was a terrorist act’
MOSCOW – The Kremlin said for the first time on Tuesday that a bomb had ripped apart a Russian passenger jet over Egypt last month and promised to hunt down those responsible and intensify its air strikes on Islamist militants in Syria in response.
“According to an analysis by our specialists, a homemade bomb containing up to 1 kilogram of TNT detonated during the flight, causing the plane to break up in mid air, which explains why parts of the fuselage were spread over such a large distance.”
Until Tuesday, Russia had played down assertions from Western countries that the crash, in which 224 people were killed on Oct. 31, was a terrorist incident, saying it was important to let the official investigation run its course.
But in a late night Kremlin meeting on Monday three days after Islamist gunmen and bombers killed 129 people in Paris, Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s FSB security service, told a meeting chaired by President Vladimir Putin that traces of foreign-made explosive had been found on fragments of the downed plane and on passengers’ personal belongings.
“We will search for them everywhere wherever they are hiding. We will find them anywhere on the planet and punish them.”
— Vladimir Putin
“According to an analysis by our specialists, a homemade bomb containing up to 1 kilogram of TNT detonated during the flight, causing the plane to break up in mid air, which explains why parts of the fuselage were spread over such a large distance,” said Bortnikov. 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 »
Actor calls on ‘peers who signed that poison letter’ to avoid inciting anti-Semitism
The war raging in the Middle East has divided observers all over the world regarding the actions of Israelis and Palestinians. The entertainment industry is no exception, as a wide range of celebrities have publicized their own opinions. They include Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, who earlier this week signed a letter published in a Spanish newspaper condemning Israel, only to issue statements days later clarifying their own distaste for anti-Semitism. But those actions weren’t enough for veteran actor Jon Voight, a staunch longtime supporter of Israel who penned his thoughts below on this controversial subject.
My name is Jon Voight and I am more than angry. I am heartsick that people like Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem could incite anti-Semitism all over the world and are oblivious to the damage they have caused.
“I am asking all my peers who signed that poison letter against Israel to examine their motives. Can you take back the fire of anti-Semitism that is raging all over the world now?”
They are obviously ignorant of the whole story of Israel’s birth, when in 1948 the Jewish people were offered by the UN a portion of the land originally set aside for them in 1921, and the Arab Palestinians were offered the other half. The Arabs rejected the offer, and the Jews accepted, only to be attacked by five surrounding Arab countries committed to driving them into the sea. But the Israelis won. The Arabs tried it again in 1967, and again in 1973, launching a sneak attack on the holiest Jewish holiday. Each time the Jews prevailed but not without great loss of life. And when Israel was not fighting a major war, it was defending itself against terrorist campaigns. Read the rest of this entry »
At least one student was killed in the fighting, a doctor told the AFP news agency. Reuters also quoted an activist as saying a protester had been killed, although this was denied by a security source.
State TV broadcast footage of black smoke billowing from the university’s faculty of commerce building and said “terrorist students” had set the agriculture faculty building on fire as well.
State-run newspaper Al-Ahram said the fighting began when security forces fired teargas to disperse pro-Brotherhood students who were preventing their classmates from entering university buildings to take exams. Protesters threw rocks at police and set tyres on fire to counter the teargas.
The Brotherhood was officially designated as a terrorist organisation by the state earlier this week after 16 people were killed in a suicide attack on a police station, although the group condemned the attack and it was claimed by a radical faction based in the Sinai Peninsula.
Ashraf Khalil reports: Egypt’s latest spasm of violence over the weekend—which led to at least 57 deaths and 400 injured—confirmed the troubled nation’s new reality: The emergence of two distinct, opposed Egypts that hate each other.
One Egypt is in the ascendant—that of a nationalist, pro-military populace that has nothing but contempt for the country’s Islamists, represented chiefly by the Muslim Brotherhood. The Egypt of the Brotherhood is reeling and embittered: it has seen its democratically-elected President ousted by the military this July and its supporters gunned down in the streets. But it’s showing no sign of backing down. Read the rest of this entry »
Several Christian families have fled their homes in Egypts Sinai peninsula after receiving death threats from suspected Islamist militants, officials and residents told AFP on Friday.
Last week, flyers began circulating in the town of Rafah on the Gaza Strip border demanding that its tiny Coptic population move out, residents said.Officials at the local church informed the authorities of the threats, but no actin was taken, they added.
Days later, a shop belonging to one of the families was fired on with automatic rifles, witnesses said.The events prompted the families to leave Rafah but there were conflicting accounts over whether they had done so voluntarily or been evicted…
More via >> FRANCE 24
- Christian Families Flee Egyptian Town Following Death Threats (thegatewaypundit.com)
- Egypt: Christian Families Forced To Flee Sinai Town After Threats From Islamic Militants (midnightwatcher.wordpress.com)
- Priest: Christians Flee Egypt Town After Threats (abcnews.go.com)