Tagged: Islamic State

Egyptian Christians living in fear for the future

(BBC) — At the ancient Monastery of St Mina in the desert sands of Egypt, a low concrete tomb holds the remains of Christians slaughtered for their faith – not in Roman times, but earlier this month.

They were among almost 50 people killed in coordinated attacks at two churches. The bombings – on Palm Sunday – were claimed by the so-called Islamic State (IS).

Priests at the monastery say persecution is as old as the faith.

“The history of the Christians is like this,” said Father Elijah Ava Mina, his flowing white beard contrasting with his black robes. “Jesus told us ‘narrow is the gate, and difficult is the way’.”

The burial chamber now holds seven coffins but there is space for more. Future attacks look all but guaranteed. The Egyptian branch of IS has said Christians are its “favorite prey”.

The beleaguered minority accounts for an estimated 10% of the country’s population of 90m, which is predominantly Muslim.

Most Christians here belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church, which traces its roots to the Apostle Mark. IS struck at the historic heart of the faith. One of its targets was the oldest church in Egypt – St Mark’s Cathedral in the port of Alexandria.

When the bomber came to the wrought iron gates of the cathedral, Gergis Bakhoom had just left. Back at his tiny tailor’s shop the 82-year old got word of the explosion.

He rushed to hospital in time to witness his oldest son, Ibrahim, take his last breath.

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Egypt attack: Gunman targets Coptic Christians in church and shop

(BBC) — Nine people have been killed in two attacks on Coptic Christians in Helwan district, south of Cairo, Egypt’s interior ministry has said.

Six civilians and a policeman died when a gunman tried to storm a church but was intercepted and arrested, it said.

It said the man had previously attacked a Coptic-owned shop in the same area, killing two brothers.

The so-called Islamic State (IS) has claimed its “soldiers” carried out the church attack.

The interior ministry’s account differs from an earlier version of events given by Egypt’s health ministry.

The initial report said 12 were dead, and suggested there were two attackers. It said one had been killed, and the other fled but was later captured.

More than 100 Christians have been killed in Egypt in the past year, with most attacks claimed by the local branch of IS militants.

Security forces have reinforced checkpoints in place around the capital in response to the attacks.

They announced plans earlier this week to protect festivities around the New Year and, on 7 January, Coptic Christmas. They include the deployment of rapid-reaction forces, combat troops and jamming equipment.

According to the interior ministry statement, the first attack on Friday took place at a household appliances shop. Then the attacker headed to the Saint Mina Coptic church, where he attempted “to trespass the church’s perimeter security”.

“The security forces have dealt with the attacker and managed to arrest him after he was injured,” the ministry said.

But it said that seven people, including an auxiliary policeman, had been killed and four injured as the gunman opened fire at the church.

The attacker also had an explosive device, a machine gun and 150 rounds, it added.

The ministry suggested he was known to security services, saying he was “one of the most active terrorist elements and he carried out several terrorist attacks which resulted in the martyrdom of a number of policemen and civilians”.

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Shabaab targets Somali police academy in suicide attack, killing 18 and wounding another 15

(THE LONG WAR JOURNAL) — By Bill Roggio and Caleb Weiss

Earlier today, a suicide bomber disguised as a Somali police officer infiltrated a police academy in Mogadishu and detonated his explosives near a group of officers. Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in Somalia, claimed credit for the attack.

The suicide bomber entered the academy wearing a police uniform. According to Somali authorities, the bomber was not able to position himself within the middle of the group of officers who gathered to attend a parade, which aided in saving lives. However, the explosion killed at least 18 people and wounding at least another 15. Other reports have put the wounded number at 20.

Shortly after the attack, Shabaab claimed credit through its various media outlets. On its Shahada News website, it claimed its forces killed and wounded more than 60 police officers in the attack. On its Radio Al Andalus, it released an audio statement from its spokesman Abdul Aziz Abu Musab where he claimed Shabaab killed 29 police officers. Shabaab has often inflated casualty numbers in its claims of responsibilities.

Today’s suicide bombing is the first since Nov. 14 when a suicide car bomb rammed into an African Union convoy near Mogadishu. In October, Shabaab also conducted three coordinated bombings on a hotel in Mogadishu, killing dozens. Just two weeks prior to that assault, Shabaab perpetrated one of, if not the deadliest suicide car bombing in history when it killed over 500 people near a hotel also in Mogadishu.

The US military has stepped up the targeting of both Shabaab and the rival Islamic State in an effort to reduce attacks against the central government, security personnel, and civilians. So far this year, the US military has launched 28 airstrikes against Shabaab and four more against the Islamic State, US Africa Command told FDD’s Long War Journal earlier this week.

The last reported strike, which took place on Dec. 12, destroyed a Shabaab car bomb as it was being driven to Mogadishu. AFRICOM claimed that the car bomb posed “an imminent threat to the people of Mogadishu.”

The US military ramped up strikes against Shabaab and the Islamic State’s networks in Somalia at the end of March, after the Trump administration loosened the restrictions on the use of force against Shabaab. Both the Departments of Defense and State have noted that Shabaab has become more dangerous over the past year and has regained territory. Shabaab has killed hundreds of African Union and Somali forces while overrunning bases in southern Somalia and has maintained its safe havens while expanding areas under its control during 2016.

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In Syrian Christian town, ISIS executed 116 people before Assad’s army closed in

(NEWSWEEK) — By Jack Moore

Evidence has emerged of another Islamic State militant group (ISIS) mass execution, this time in the Syrian Christian desert town of Al-Qaryatain.

The militant group killed at least 116 civilians in executions committed in the days before the Syrian regime recaptured the town, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a U.K.-based monitoring group with an extensive network of contacts in Syria.

“ISIS has over a period of 20 days executed at least 116 civilians in reprisal killings, accusing them of collaboration with regime forces,” SOHR chief Rami Abdelrahman told the Agence France-Presse news agency.

ISIS regained control of the town three weeks ago, and then the killings began. Syrian regime forces, backed by Russian air power, arrived and liberated the town on October 21 after dozens of ISIS fighters retreated, at which point the remains of the victims of the mass execution were found.

“After the regime retook it, the town’s residents found the bodies on the streets. They had been shot dead or executed with knives,” Abdelrahman said.

“Most of the ISIS fighters who attacked the town a month ago were sleeper cells…. They are from the town, know the town’s residents and who is for or against the regime,” he said.

A Syrian government official told the Associated Press that it was a “shocking massacre” and that government forces are continuing the search for victims in the town.

Another activist group, known as the Palmyra Coordination Committee, identified 67 civilians killed in Al-Qaryatain and said that figure could increase.

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ISIS persists in Vegas claim, dubs shooter ‘Abu Abdul Bar al-Amriki’

(PJ MEDIA) — By Bridget Johnson

After federal officials announced today that they saw no nexus to international terrorism in the Las Vegas Strip massacre, the Islamic State doubled down with their claim that Stephen Paddock was theirs — even granting the Mesquite, Nev., resident a nom de guerre.

ISIS claimed through their Amaq news agency this morning that the “Las Vegas attacker is a soldier of the Islamic State who carried out the attack in response to calls for targeting coalition countries.” They claimed he had converted to Islam recently.

They issued the claim in various languages, without evidence to back it up.

The special agent in charge of the FBI’s field office in Las Vegas, Aaron Rouse, told reporters, “We have determined, to this point, no connection to an international terrorist group.”

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said authorities still don’t know the motive of Paddock, 64, who killed himself before SWAT officers accessed his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay, a perch he used to unleash automatic weapons fire on an open-air music festival kitty-corner from the hotel.

“We don’t know what his belief system was at this time,” Lombardo said.

Yet ISIS persisted, issuing a longer official communique that called Paddock “Abu Abdul Bar al-Amriki” — the American.

The new statement claims Paddock, specifically answering the call of ISIS caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, conducted the attack after “accurate monitoring of crusaders” in the venue. It offered no further proof.

The “soldier of the caliphate,” the communique says, “equipped with machine guns and ammunition” fired on the concert with “600 between killed and wounded until the soldier’s ammunition was finished and he became a martyr.”

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Al Qaeda has drawn a bullseye on a new American target: Subway trains

(WASHINGTON TIMES) — By Rowan Scarborough

Al Qaeda is about to take on a new target — America’s trains — in an upcoming edition of its terror magazine, Inspire.

Issue No. 17 is headlined, “Train Derail Operations,” and will spell out ways to create rail disasters in a transportation system that lacks the stiff security procedures of airline travel.

It’s competing Sunni extremists group, the Islamic State, for more than a year has advocated using vehicles to mow down innocents. Its murderous followers have weaponized vehicles in Nice, Berlin and London, creating hundred of deaths and injuries.

Adding trains to the terrorist’s priority list would put at risk virtually every mode of transportation and placed added pressure on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) put out a report on Friday saying al Qaeda has teased the Inspire articles with a trailer appearing on Telegram app channels operated by its fans.

“The trailer highlights that derailments are simple to design using easily available materials, that such a planned attack can be hard to detect, and that the outcome can substantially damage a country’s transportation sector and the Western economy in general,” MEMRI said.

The U.S. maintains over 100,000 miles of rail. But the trailer features scenes of just one system, the subway. Its shows cars flashing through urban tunnels. It quotes from U.S. Government Accountability Office reports on the vulnerability of rail lines to sabotage. It then shows what appear to be rudimentary devices that can be clamped onto a line to cause a derailment.

“Simple to design,” the promo says in English script, mentioning “America” several times. “Made from readily available materials. Hard to be detached. Cause great destruction to the Western economy and transportation sector.”

Al Qaeda in recent months has depicted itself as making a comeback from its headquarters in Yemen. It has created new alliances in North Africa, is using social media to attract adherence and has not given up the idea of another mass-casualty attack such as its commandeered airliner strike on New York and the Pentagon in 2001.

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Yazidi genocide survivor: ‘Jews are an example for us’

(JERUSALEM POST) — By Noa Amouyal

In Israel for the first time, Yazidi genocide survivor Nadia Murad Basee explains why her experience and Jewish suffering during the Holocaust are intertwined.

You don’t need to know Kurdish to understand the sadness that has seeped into Nadia Murad’s soul. In August 2014 Murad was captured by ISIS in her village of Kocho, Iraq and sold into sex slavery where she witnessed unspeakable atrocities. Today she is a Yazidi refugee.

She is one of 5,200 Yazidi people abducted by Islamic State in Iraq whose lives were torn apart because religious extremists saw them as “kafir” or “nonbelievers.” Her dreams of being a teacher were destroyed in an instant three years ago, when ISIS tore through her town, murdered six of her brothers and held her captive for months.

Her captor’s failing to lock a door was her gateway to freedom, as she escaped, found her way to a refugee camp and now is one of more than a thousand Yazidis who were accepted into a refugee asylum program in Germany.

Murad’s, bravery in telling her experiences to international audiences all over the world is extraordinary.

She was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations last year as an advocate for her people and is explaining to the world that the crimes waged against them must not go unpunished.

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Down but not out: West faces Long war against Islamic State

(VOA) — By Jamie Dettmer

“If they are in Raqqa, they’re gonna die in Raqqa.”

America’s top envoy to the coalition battling the Islamic State, Brett McGurk, declared last month open season on the terror group’s foreign recruits in the besieged northern Syrian city.

More than 2000 IS militants are believed still to be fighting in Raqqa, many of them thought to be foreigners from North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. But even after the Islamic militants are defeated in the coming weeks in their self-styled Syrian capital, the terror group still will have an estimated 13,000 or so fighters in Syria and Iraq, posing a remaining threat in the Levant, warn U.S. officials and independent analysts.

They expect the terror group to revert back, in the words of analyst Bruce Hoffman, to its “fundamental DNA” as “a terrorist-cum-insurgent group, not a proto-state exercising sovereignty.” Most of the leadership hasn’t stood to fight in Raqqa, as it didn’t in Mosul, fleeing both cities to set up in remoter territory and smaller towns along the Syrian-Iraq border in the Euphrates River Valley and Iraq’s western Anbar province.

Defeated, not eradicated

IS hopes to emulate its precursor jihadist organizations, which were able to weather military defeats inflicted on them by U.S. forces during the 2007-08 surge in Iraq.

IS’s official spokesman, Abu Mohammad al Adnani, before his death in a targeted drone strike last year, referenced the strategy in an audio-message to followers, referencing the 2007 U.S. Surge, saying: “Were we defeated when we lost the cities in Iraq and were in the desert without any city or land? …It is the same, whether Allah blesses us with consolidation or we move into the bare, open desert, displaced and pursued.”

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Islamic State jihadist insurgency exploding in the Philippines

(TERROR TRENDS BULLETIN) — The Islamic insurgency in the southern Philippines is taking a turn for the worse as the Islamic State has its sights set on waging violent Jihad there…

The reported presence of foreign jihadists in Mindanao, particularly in Lanao and nearby provinces, is being validated by concerned government agencies, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said.

Esperon issued the statement in response to the series of intelligence information reaching The STAR, claiming that Indonesian and Malaysian jihadists, along with their Middle East counterparts, have entered Mindanao through the country’s southern backdoor.

These foreign jihadists allied with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are reportedly occupying the former base of the Jemaah Islamiyah at Mt. Cararao in Butig, Lanao Del Sur.

Other reports claimed the foreign jihadists have linked-up with IS-inspired Maute terror group who for more than two weeks has been the subject of massive military and police operations.

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Ramadan rage 2017: deaths reach 1,627, marking one of the bloodiest Islamic holy months in recent memory

(BREITBART) — by Edwin Mora

Islamic extremists killed more than 1,620 people during this year’s holiest month for Muslims, marking one of the deadliest Ramadans in modern history, reveals a Breitbart News tally.

The large majority of Ramadan violence victims are Muslims.

At the end of Ramadan on Saturday, the total number of casualties across the world for the entire holy month had reached 3,451 (1,627 murders and 1,824 injuries), more than tripling the 1,150 (421 deaths and 729 injuries) that took place in 2016, considered the deadliest holy month in recent memory.

The 1,627 fatalities this year nearly quadrupled the estimated 421 deaths last year. There were an estimated 160 terror incidents in nearly thirty predominantly Muslim countries during Ramadan 2017.

On the annual Muslim festival of Eid ul Fitr that marked the end of Ramadan Saturday, jihadists attempted to attack Islam’s most sacred Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, which surrounds the holiest place for Muslims — the Kabaa.

Saudi security troops thwarted the attack, but one of the suspects in the planned assault blew himself up, injuring six foreigners and five of the Sunni kingdom’s forces.

Between Friday and Saturday, Islamic extremists killed 141 people and injured 387 others. The majority the casualties (84 deaths and 282 injuries) took place in Pakistan, which the Pentagon has labeled a jihadi sanctuary.

The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) issued multiple messages urging its sympathizers and followers to carry out deadly attacks during Ramadan, namely in the United States, Europe, Russia, Australia, Iraq, Syria, Iran, and the Philippines.

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