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Iraqi Army confirms: ISIS leader was target of last night’s airstrike

(JERUSALEM ONLINE) — Yesterday evening (Feb. 12), various news agencies around the world reported that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was either seriously injured or eliminated in an Iraqi airstrike backed by the U.S. Army.

Conflicting reports led to serious confusion about the terrorist’s condition. However, the Iraqi Army announced today that while al-Baghdadi’s fate is still unknown, the airstrike was carried out by F-16 aircraft that were targeting him.

“The airstrike was carried out on a location where al-Baghdadi meets with other ISIS leaders, according to information we possess,” stated the Iraqi Army. The army also added that 13 senior-level ISIS terrorists were eliminated in western Iraq but al-Baghdadi was not one of them.

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ISIS terrorists tapping organized crime to infiltrate Europe

(THE INVESTIGATIVE PROJECT ON TERRORISM) — With the help of organized criminal elements, Islamic State terrorists reportedly are buying legitimate British passports that can evade security detection from security authorities, the Daily Beast reports.

An Italian intelligence investigation into the Camorra mafia discovered an advertisement on the deep web that linked to a Naples firm capable of producing sophisticated biometric passports.

“We are selling original UK Passports made with your info/picture. Also, your info will get entered into the official passport database,” the advertisement reads. “So its (sic) possible to travel with our passports. How do we do it? Trade secret! Information on how to send us your info and picture will be given after purchase! You can even enter the UK/EU with our passports, we can just add a stamp for the country you are in.”

Other investigations also shed light onto the broader ties between terrorists and European criminal organizations, including in the smuggling of weapons and forged documents.

Last year Italian authorities arrested an Iraqi man in Naples for facilitating weapons and document transfers to the Islamic State.

“Naples has been, for many years, a central logistics base for the Middle East,” prosecutor Franco Roberti told the Daily Beast last year, adding that “the Camorra (mafia) is also active in the world of jihadist terrorism that passes through Naples.”

Terrorists are diversifying their funding sources through various criminal means to underwrite their violent and nefarious activities. The criminal-terrorism nexus manifests itself in several ways: mainly in the form of cooperation between terrorist groups and organized criminal elements, and crimes by terrorists which are conducted to finance their own operations. Terrorists’ reliance in counterfeiting in particular has attracted more attention recently with the rise of Islamic State networks in Europe and other parts of the world.

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House report says 2017 terror forecast ‘alarming’

(TRUTH REVOLT) — By Mark Tapson

A monthly terror forecast from Homeland Security warns that 2017 “looks alarming” for the U.S. and Europe.

According to Fox News, the House Homeland Security Committee’s February “Terror Threat Snapshot” report predicts that efforts to crush foreign terror groups could cause more attacks on American soil. It cites an “unprecedented spike in the homegrown terror threat, primarily driven by the rise of ISIS,” and warns of “lone wolf” attacks as well as homegrown terrorists who return from fighting in such places as Iraq, Syria and Somalia.

“I am very encouraged that the Trump administration is preparing to put greater pressure on jihadists in their safe havens throughout the world,” said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul. “But as they do, we can expect to see militants returning to the West to build new networks and to plot more deadly operations.”

The report notes that since the beginning of 2016, there have been plots or attacks by 39 homegrown jihadists in 19 states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Two attacks occurred just last month, a deadly shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport by ISIS-radicalized Esteban Santiago, and the murder of a Denver Regional Transportation District security officer by a suspect carrying jihadist material in his backpack. And the U.S. and Europe could, as Fox News puts it, “continue to reap the bloody tide of what critics call lax counter-terrorism efforts in the past.”

“Unfortunately, over the past eight years of the Obama administration, the ideological counter-measures were removed and, therefore, the level of radicalization peaked to the levels acknowledged in this report,” says Walid Phares, who advised Trump on foreign policy throughout the campaign. “More jihadis mean more potential attacks — this is what we are facing now.”

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21 killed, nearly 50 wounded in suicide bombing outside Afghan top court in Kabul

(HINDUSTAN TIMES) — A suicide bomber on foot ripped through a crowd of Afghan Supreme Court employees in Kabul on Tuesday, killing at least 21 people including nine women and wounding 41 others in the second attack on government institutions in under a month.

The assailant detonated the device in the parking lot as employees were boarding a bus to go home, leaving bodies and dismembered limbs scattered around the area, with women and children among the casualties.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the blast in the snow-laden Afghan capital, but it occurred as the Taliban are ramping up their nationwide insurgency even in the peak winter months when fighting usually abates.

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EUROPEAN FORTRESS: Baltic state completes ‘anti-migrant fence’ on RUSSIAN border

(UK EXPRESS) — The Baltic state of Latvia is set to add another 37 miles this year, the country’s State Border Guard spokeswoman Jevgenija Poznaka confirmed.

He said: “The construction was started back in 2015, and we are planning to finish it by 2019. Forty miles of the border zone was built up, and the 14-mile fence was constructed.”
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The fence stands at 2.7 meters tall and will also include barbed wire on top as Latvia looks to protect itself and the EU from migrants coming into the superstate.

The fence will stand around 20cm taller than the planned “Great Estonian Wall” which is expected to be only 2.5 meters in height.

According to Delfi news agency, Riga has received almost £1.6million from Brussels to help construct the first part of the protective measure.

Latvia, who joined the EU in 2003, allocated almost £5.5million for the construction of the 37 miles of fence and 93 miles of border zone, a spokeswoman confirmed.

The completion comes as neighboring countries Estonia and Lithuania also vowed to significantly tighten up border controls amid fears migrants are attempting to avoid Greece by traveling through Russia instead.

Renatas Pozela, commander of the Lithuanian state border guard, said: “Until last year, neither Norway nor Finland had any migration problems on the Russian border.

“Then migrant flows on that border jumped up in a single week, as if by the wave of a magic wand.”

Speaking last year about contracting the wall, Ojars Eriks Kalnins, a member of the Latvian parliament European Affairs Committee, said: “It’s unfortunate that we would need a border fence, but given the circumstances in Europe right now, the whole refugee crisis, it may be necessary.”

Tensions have been high on the Russian border since the migrant crisis in Europe began.

Finland criticized Russia for allowing asylum seekers across their Arctic border, with numbers at one point reaching 20 per day.

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Islamic State recruiting child refugees as they head to Europe

(THE TELEGRAPH) — By Ben Farmer

Hundreds of asylum-seeking young people are going missing from care once they arrive in Britain, amid concerns they have been targeted for radicalization by extremist groups during their journey to the UK, a think tank report has warned.

Militant groups such as Islamic State are deliberately preying on vulnerable young people for recruitment, as they make the perilous journey across the Middle East and north Africa, to Europe.

Extremists try to “buy” the allegiance of migrants and make them feel indebted, by working with people traffickers and funding their travel, the research by the Quilliam Foundation found.

Hundreds of young people are then dropping out of the asylum system when they arrive in the UK because they fear they will be sent home. Once beyond sight of the authorities, they may then regain contact with the smuggling networks and extremists they met on their way.

Nikita Malik, lead author of the report and a senior researcher with the counter extremism think tank, said young people risked “falling back into the hands of traffickers and extremists who have helped them. It’s almost a sense of debt.”

More than 340 unaccompanied asylum seeking children went missing in the first nine months of 2015, double the number from a year earlier. By the end of 2015, 132 were still missing.

Young people are being targeted in refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, and also as they pass through Libya. The report found Islamic State was offering free passage for those crossing the Libyan deserts, if they pledged allegiance.

It found: “Though a particular individual may refuse to join the organization’s ranks at previous stages, exhaustion, insecurity and an increasing sense of physical and financial difficulty as a result of the journey may encourage refugees to join at a later date.”

Once at the Mediterranean coast, Islamic State offers up to £800 to join up.

The report found: “For many refugees, joining Islamic State is a more certain source of income compared to attempting to obtain a job after reaching the EU by way of crossing international borders.”

Islamic States is “clearly aware of the value of these refugee routes for the purposes of recruitment and for exporting their operatives into Europe”.

The research found children and young people, sometimes travelling alone and often uneducated, are particularly prone to propaganda.

Islamic State sees children it has recruited and indoctrinated “as an important resource”.

The researchers found “Children are easier to indoctrinate, intimidate, and mold, requiring less by way of resources and money.”

“Young people, whose daily lives are significantly disrupted by conflict, can also at times gravitate towards violent groups to attain greater status within their families, searching for a sense of usefulness within their family unit in the face of a potential feeling of being a burden.”

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Louvre attack: French soldier shoots machete-wielding man

(BBC) — A French soldier guarding the Louvre in Paris has shot a man who tried to attack a security patrol with a machete shouting “Allahu Akbar”, police say.

The man, who tried to gain entry to the Louvre’s shopping centre, was shot in the abdomen and seriously injured.

Reports say he is an Egyptian man, 29, who arrived in France last month. Police have not released his identity.

President Francois Hollande said the situation was under control but the “threat of terrorism is here to stay”.

The Louvre, which is home to numerous celebrated art works, including the Mona Lisa, is due to reopen on Saturday.

The incident began at 10:00 local time (09:00 GMT) in the Carrousel du Louvre shopping centre at stairs leading to an entrance to the museum itself.

A patrol of four soldiers are reported to have tried to subdue the assailant using non-lethal force after he rushed at them.

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Hundreds of Yemeni Muslims pray in New York streets after closing grocery stores in protest at Trump’s travel ban

(EXPRESS) — MORE than one thousand Yemeni American store owners have closed their businesses today and traveled to Brooklyn Borough Hall to pray, rally and support those affected by President Trump’s controversial travel ban.

In what is being described as the ‘Bodega Strike’, thousands of Yemeni immigrants are demonstrating against Trump’s far-reaching US entry ban.

The Spanish word ‘Bodega’ is literally translated as ‘wine shop’ and is New York slang for convenience stores, and organizers of the strike claim there around around 6,000 Yemeni-owned Bodegas across the city.

The closures started at midday (5.00pm GMT) and will continue for eight hours.

A Facebook page set up for the strike states: “This shutdown of grocery stores and bodegas will be a public show of the vital role these grocers and their families play in New York’s economic and social fabric.

“During this period, grocery store owners will spend time with their families and loved ones to support each other; many of these families have been directly affected by the ban.”

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Govt. audit: “Elevated” terrorism threat to U.S. from Mexico

(JUDICIAL WATCH) — A new government audit confirms what Judicial Watch has been reporting for years, that Islamic terrorists are operating in Mexican border towns and infiltrating the United States to carry out attacks. In a report issued this month by the Texas Department of Public Safety, the agency notes that the state faces a full spectrum of threats and “due to the recent actions of lone offenders or small groups affiliated with or inspired by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other foreign terrorist organizations, we assess that the current terrorism threat to Texas is elevated.”

Safety officials in the Lone Star State also write in the 86-page document that they are “especially concerned about the potential for terrorist infiltration across the U.S.-Mexico border, particularly as foreign terrorist fighters depart Syria and Iraq and enter global migration flows.” They also express worries about Syrian refugees that have been sent to Texas under President Obama’s settlement program because the government doesn’t have a system to properly vet them. Judicial Watch has also reported extensively on that national security crisis. Read the latest stories here and here. “We see a potential that these challenges may leave the state exposed to extremist actors who pose as authentic refugees, and who are determined to later commit violent acts,” the Texas report states.

In the same manner that ISIS deployed operatives to their targets in European capitals, the terrorist group could implement the same tactics to infiltrate operatives across the Texas-Mexico border, the new report points out. “Human smugglers, working along established Latin American routes, have long transported Syrians, Iraqis and other immigration from countries where terrorist groups operate to our land border with Mexico,” Texas safety officials write in the report. The U.S. government calls them Special Interest Aliens (SIA) and in past few years they have come from Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Egypt and many other “countries of interest” in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia where terrorist groups are active.

The southern border has become a hotbed of Islamic terrorism in recent years and Judicial Watch has exposed the national security disaster as part of an ongoing investigation into the dangerously porous region. In 2015 Judicial Watch reported that Mexican drug cartels are smuggling SIAs from countries with terrorist links into a small Texas rural town near El Paso. Sources on both sides of the border confirmed to Judicial Watch that the smugglers use remote farm roads—rather than interstates—to elude the Border Patrol and other law enforcement barriers. Once they clear the border, the SIAs are transported to stash areas in Acala, a rural crossroads located around 54 miles from El Paso on a state road – Highway 20. Then the SIAs wait for pick-up in the area’s sand hills just across Highway 20.

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90 Muslims surround, attack Uganda church during services and beat dozens of Christians, rape 15 women and kidnap the pastor and nobody knows where he is now

(SHOEBAT) — Christianity has been spreading rapidly among the Muslim communities in Uganda. Some of the Muslims have been very upset about this and have been engaging in aggressive attacks against Christians. In a recent incident, Muslims surrounded a church during services. After blocking the people from leaving, they raided the church, beat up the worshippers, raped 15 women, kidnapped the pastor and now nobody knows where he is:

A pastor in eastern Uganda and eight other Christians are missing two weeks after a Muslim mob attacked a church prayer meeting, locked the congregation in, beat several members and raped 15 women, sources said.

The approximately 90 Muslims broke into the evening prayer meeting of Katira Church of Uganda, in Katira village, Budaka District at about 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 15 and beat them with clubs and sticks, area sources said. Previously Muslims had only thrown stones at the roof of the church building to disrupt church services of the 500-member congregation, villagers said.

At the evening service, about 80 members were present, and among those who escaped before the doors were locked was a Christian who heard one of the assailants shout, “Away with the pastor who is converting our Muslims to Christianity,” a church leader said.

Pastor Moses Mutasa had been outside questioning some visitors unknown to the church when several others arrived shouting, “Away with the pastor,” and he fled, said the Rev. Musa Mukenye, who oversees several churches in the district’s Iki-iki County.

“We do not know what has happened to our pastor, Moses Mutasa,” Pastor Mukenye told a meeting of local officials, police and other security officers. “He might have been killed or has been kept hostage.”

The assailants locked about half of those in attendance inside the building, beat the men and tied them up while they raped women, said a church elder stationed outside the building who escaped. About 50 men and 30 women had attended the prayer meeting, and most of those locked inside were women, sources said.

Muslim assailants positioned outside the church building also beat men and raped women as they tried to escape, a church elder said.

“Women’s clothing was found inside and outside the church building,” he said.

The abused women received treatment at a clinic in Katira.

Police arrived about two hours after the assault began, sources said. Several church members were also injured as they were trampled in the rush to get out of the building. Much church property was damaged, especially chairs.

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