Two recent events—the spectacle of Garry Trudeau, the Doonesbury creator, attacking a group of murdered cartoonists for offending his sensibilities, and the protest organized by a group of bien-pensant writers against the PEN American Center for planning to honor those cartoonists tonight in New York—has brought the Charlie Hebdo controversy back to public consciousness. So has the failed attack Sunday in Texas on a group of anti-Islam militants staging a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest, though, unlike Charlie Hebdo, the organization that sponsored the Texas event is run by an actual anti-Muslim extremist who, I'm proud to say, is a personal nemesis of mine.
A suicide bomber in Afghanistan's eastern city of Jalalabad killed 33 people and injured more than 100 on Saturday, setting off a blast outside a bank where government workers collect salaries, the city's police chief said. President Ashraf Ghani blamed Islamic State militants, without giving further detail. If true, it would be the first such major attack carried out by the group in Afghanistan, marking a significant step in its expansion into South Asia.
In June 1967, Israel won a stunning military victory against its neighbors, elating Israelis and the global Jewish community with a sense that the grand experiment of a Jewish state might really work. Three weeks later, amid Israel's national euphoria, the country's founding prime minister emerged from retirement to warn Israelis that they had sown the seeds of national self-destruction. David Ben-Gurion, 81 years old, insisted that Israel, which had conquered the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank in the war, must immediately give them up. If they did not, he said, this act of forcible occupation would corrupt the Jewish state and possibly destroy it outright. His speech was barely covered in the Israeli press and widely ignored by Israelis.
Prince Saud al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, was incensed enough over what was happening in Syria that in a 2013 press conference alongside Secretary of State John Kerry he declared, "I consider Syria an occupied land." The occupier, he said, was Iran, which had sent military forces to fight alongside of those of besieged Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. "How can a neighboring country that’s supposed to uphold good relationships get involved in a civil war and help one side over the other?" he asked.
Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi left his refuge in Aden for Saudi Arabia on Thursday as Houthi rebels battled with his forces on the outskirts of the southern port city. Throughout the day, warplanes from Saudi Arabia and Arab allies struck at the Shi'ite Houthis and allied army units, who have taken over much of the country and seek to oust Hadi. Warplanes resumed bombing the Houthi-held capital Sanaa on Thursday evening, shaking whole neighborhoods and terrifying residents. Several civilians have been reported killed in Sanaa.
When terrorists allegedly associated with ISIS killed more than 100 people in suicide bombings at mosques in Yemen on Friday, they were doing more than terrorizing the country's Shia Muslims. They were exposing, and perhaps deepening, the ideological rift between ISIS and al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda's Yemen-based branch, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has condemned the attack as "unlawful." It might sound odd that al-Qaeda would so criticize a fellow Sunni jihadist group. But this attack shows the rift that has developed between al-Qaeda and ISIS and the difference in how they think about the mass murder that both groups embrace. This attack simply goes too far, even for al-Qaeda.
Suicide bombers in the Yemeni capital Sanaa blew themselves up during Friday prayers at two mosques used by supporters of Shi'ite rebels, killing 126 people and wounding 260, medical sources said, in the country's deadliest militant attack in years. Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot that has seized large areas of Iraq and Syria, claimed responsibility for the attacks, in which four bombers wearing explosive belts targeted worshippers in and outside the crowded mosques. The Sanaa bombings happened as unidentified warplanes attacked the preside
The French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, the son of Holocaust survivors, is an accomplished, even gifted, pessimist. To his disciples, he is a Jewish Zola, accusing France’s bien-pensant intellectual class of complicity in its own suicide. To his foes, he is a reactionary whose nostalgia for a fairy-tale French past is induced by an irrational fear of Muslims. Finkielkraut’s cast of mind is generally dark, but when we met in Paris in early January, two days after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, he was positively grim. “My French identity is reinforced by the very large number of people who openly declare, often now with violence, their hostility to French values and culture,” he said. “I live in a strange place. There is so much guilt and so much worry.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States would have to negotiate with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a political transition in Syria and was exploring ways with other countries to pressure him into agreeing to talks. But State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said later that Kerry, in an interview with CBS News that aired on Sunday, was not specifically referring to Assad. She reiterated that Washington would never negotiate with the Syrian leader. Harf added: "By necessity, there has always been a need for representatives of the Assad regime to be a part of this process. It has never been and would not be Assad who would negotiate - and the Secretary was not saying that today."
ISIS continues to bulldoze its way through the cultural heritage of Iraq and Syria, releasing a new propaganda video showing its fighters destroying Iraq's ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud in March. Nimrud lies close to ISIS' main stronghold in Iraq, the northern city of Mosul. The video, which ISIS posted Saturday, shows militants attacking the more than 3,000-year-old archaeological site with sledgehammers and power tools before finally using explosives to blow it up.
When Mohammad Emwazi was unmasked as “Jihadi John,” the London-accented Islamic State executioner, the news media wasted no time in dispatching journalists to his neighborhood. British newspapers depicted a comfortably middle class area of multimillion-pound homes and boutique shops. The New York Times saw things differently. Its reporter described a “fertile breeding ground” for extremists characterized by housing projects and gang violence. The fact that the same place can be described as affluent by British media and rough and gritty by a U.S. outlet illustrates well how coverage of extremism often tells you more about the publication or journalist covering it than it does about the issue itself.
Investigators believe that the "Jihadi John" masked fighter who fronted Islamic State beheading videos is a British man named Mohammed Emwazi, two U.S. government sources said on Thursday. He was born in Kuwait and comes from a prosperous family in London, where he grew up and graduated with a computer programming degree, according to the Washington Post. In videos released by Islamic State (IS), the black-clad militant brandishing a knife and speaking with an English accent appears to have decapitated hostages including Americans, Britons and Syrians.
Takeaway from White House summit: ISIS and Al Qaeda want us to call them Islamic. It helps them recruit. Is this so hard to understand? If you want to help ISIS and Al Qaeda, then call them Islamic. That’s one of my big takeaways from this week’s White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), which I attended on Wednesday. Speakers at the CVE summit, which featured counterterrorism experts, elected officials including the Mayor of Paris, law enforcement, and Muslim leaders, offered a few reasons for this proposition.First, it’s simply inaccurate. As President Obama said as the closing speaker of the day, ISIS and Al Qaeda “no more represent Islam than any madman who kills innocents in the name of God represents Christianity or Judaism or Buddhism or Hinduism.
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major What is the Islamic State? General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
Islamic State released a video on Sunday that appeared to show the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned that his country would respond to the deaths as it saw fit. Speaking on national television hours after the release of the video, Sisi said Cairo would choose the "necessary means and timing to avenge the criminal killings".
Kayla Jean Mueller, an American prisoner held by ISIS, was confirmed dead on Tuesday, the Washington Post's Adam Goldman reports. The Post and a number of other outlets have also published an absolutely heartbreaking letter Mueller sent to her family from captivity last year. "I have come to see there is good in every situation, sometimes we just have to look for it," she told her family. "Please be patient, give your pain to God. I know you would want me to remain strong. That is exactly what I am doing. Do not fear for me, continue to pray as will I + by God's will we will be together soon."
In President Obama's interview with Matt Yglesias on foreign policy, he did something interesting when pressed on how he squares support for human rights with a foreign policy that has included a number of alliances with dictators. Obama said that the US could only do so much, and that sometimes he has to "recognize the world as it is" and make practical tradeoffs. And, he said, "The trajectory of this planet overall is one toward less violence, more tolerance, less strife, less poverty." On the surface, it seemed like a dodge, an argument that the US doesn't have to worry too much about promoting democracy and human rights, which will arise naturally.
The latest ISIS atrocity – releasing a video of a captured Jordanian fighter pilot being burned alive – prompted substantial discussion yesterday about this particular form of savagery. It is thus worth noting that deliberately burning people to death is achievable – and deliberately achieved – in all sorts of other ways:
Earlier today, the Islamic State posted a twenty-two-minute video online that shows a young Jordanian pilot, Moaz al-Kasasbeh, being burned alive in a cage. Kasasbeh’s F-16 went down over northern Syria on December 24th, and he was the first member of the U.S.-led coalition to be captured by ISIS. Over the past week, Jordan attempted to obtain his release by offering to exchange a woman on death row whose suicide vest had failed to explode at a wedding in 2005. (Her husband’s bomb did detonate, and thirty-eight members of the bridal party were killed.) Negotiations stalled when ISIS failed to provide proof that the pilot was alive. Today, Jordanian television reported that Kasasbeh was probably killed a month ago. President Obama, who is reviewing U.S.
In 1971, Ron Dellums did not seem to be a guy preparing to change the tide of American foreign policy. As a brand new member of the House from Oakland, California, Dellums had come to Washington as a bit of a rabble-rouser—Vice President Spiro Agnew had described him as “a dangerous radical” during his race for Congress. But when, as a freshman member of Congress, Dellums sat down with two camera company employees from the other side of the country, he began a quest that eventually would shift American foreign policy and help to free Nelson Mandela. Caroline Hunter and Ken Williams had come to see Dellums with an amazing story. While working for Polaroid Corp. in Buffalo, New York, they noticed something odd one day as they headed out to lunch: a mockup of a South African ID badge.