Monday, June 16, 2014
BASHIQA, Iraq, June 11, 2014 (AFP) - As many as half a million Iraqis fled their homes as jihadists tightened their grip beyond second city Mosul on Wednesday, and vowed an even broader offensive.
In a spectacular blow to the Shiite-led government, the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and their allies on Tuesday seized Mosul and surrounding Nineveh province as well as a string of other northern towns.
And on Wednesday ISIL declared on Twitter that it was in "complete control" of all routes in and out of Nineveh, and promised it would "not stop this series of blessed invasions".
Members of the jihadist group also seized the Turkish consulate in Mosul and kidnapped the head of the diplomatic mission along with 24 staff, police said.
Elsewhere, they executed 15 security personnel in Kirkuk province and tried to take the oil pipeline hub of Baiji, before withdrawing when troop reinforcements arrived, officials said.
The jihadist's surprise advance poses significant challenges to Baghdad, with a risk consultancy saying they would be bolstered by cash from Mosul's banks, hardware from military bases and hundreds of men they freed from prison.
It also sparked a massive exodus of civilians, with families piling into cars that flooded security checkpoints outside the northern city normally home to two million people.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has responded by asking parliament to declare emergency rule and announcing citizens would be armed to fight them, while the United States warned ISIL threatened the entire region.
On Wednesday, gunmen in military uniforms and all-black clothing guarded government buildings and banks in Mosul, said witnesses reached by telephone from Bashiqa, a town to the east.
They called over loudspeakers for government employees to go back to work.
"I did not open the door of the shop since last Thursday because of the security conditions," said Abu Ahmed, a 30-year-old shopkeeper.
- 'Mosques converted to clinics' -
The International Organisation for Migration said its sources in Mosul estimated the violence leading up to the jihadists' takeover "displaced over 500,000 people in and around the city".
The violence "has resulted in a high number of casualties among civilians," the IOM said, adding fighting restricted access to four hospitals.
"Some mosques have been converted to clinics to treat casualties," it said.
Witnesses reported that dozens of families were still fleeing, but Abu Ahmed said: "I will remain in Mosul. This is my city in any case, and the city is calm now."
Bassam Mohammed, a 25-year-old student, said he too would stay.
"But I am afraid about freedoms, and I am especially afraid that they will impose new laws on us," he said.
Known for its ruthless tactics and suicide bombers, ISIL is arguably the most capable force fighting President Bashar al-Assad inside Syria as well as the most powerful militant group in Iraq.
- 'Entire region threatened' -
The takeover of Mosul prompted the United States to voice deep concern about the "extremely serious" situation and warn that ISIL poses "a threat to the entire region".
ISIL is led by the shadowy Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and backed by thousands of Islamist fighters in Syria and Iraq, many of them Westerners, and it appears to be surpassing Al-Qaeda as the world's most dangerous jihadist group.
On Wednesday, the Syrian government said it was ready to help Baghdad in its fight against "terrorism", while the rebel Free Syrian Army called for support from Arab states for its own battle against ISIL in Syria.
The New York-based Eurasia Group consultancy said the jihadist offensive would have limited impact on Iraq's oil exports, the majority of which are from the mainly Shiite south.
"ISIS will use cash reserves from Mosul's banks, military equipment from seized military and police bases, and the release of 2,500 fighters from local jails to bolster its military and financial capacity," said Ayham Kamel, its Middle East and north Africa director.
"We do not anticipate a sharp deterioration in the security environment in these more stable (southern) provinces that would materially impact Iraq's oil export volumes," he said.
Iraq, which boasts among the highest reserves of oil and gas in the world, produces about 3.5 million barrels of oil per day, with exports in February reaching 2.8 million bpd, the highest level in a quarter of a century.
A senior government official said "the oil sector is not affected and will not be affected by what is happening, because most of the facilities are in central and south Iraq."
But he warned that would change if the militants were to make a new, successful assault on Baiji, a key hub on the export pipeline from the northern oil fields around Kirkuk to Turkey.
- See more at: http://www.ntd.tv/en/news/world/middle-east-/-africa/20140611/157163-half-a-million-iraqis-flee-as-jihadists-tighten-grip.html#sthash.JEfiidbm.dpuf
Only from government motors.....
Just as we were about to proudly announce that today was one of those rare days when the bailed out consortium of union votes for purchase also known as Government General Motors did not announce the now generic daily recall of its atrociously built flaming paperweights, here comes the late afternoon stunner and proves us wrong yet again:
- GM TO RECALL 3.16M 2000-'14 MODEL YR CARS ON IGNITION ISSUE
- GM SAYS HAS LAUNCHED 44 RECALLS THIS YEAR
- GM SAYS TOTAL NORTH AMERICA RECALLED CARS NOW 20.0 MLN
More details from Bloomberg:
GM told NHTSA it would recall 3.16m older model vehicles because combination of too much weight on key chain and “jarring event” may cause ignition toinadvertently rotate to accessory position. Also announced 5 other recalls decided last Wednesday. Sees charge up to $700m in 2Q incl. $400m for May 15, May 20 recalls.
And the bottom line, and why this entire bailout farce is now beyond simply criminal and purely ridiculous: as of this moment, GM has recalled more than double the number of cars it sold in all of 2013, or, another way of putting it, more than the total number of cars it sold in 2013 AND 2012 combined.
The good news, all those dealer and non-dealer parking lots still have space to accommodate more GM "sales" that just sit there and wait.
The bad news: all the dealer and non-dealer parking lots are getting full.
Credit to Zero Hedge
If you like your boots on the ground, you can keep them - as long as they are Special Forces boots. Following promises that there would be no American "combat" 'boots on the ground', AP reports thatPresident Obama is considering sending a small number of special forces to help the government in Baghdad. According to the official rules of "boots-on-the-ground"-edness, CIA and Special Forces do not count so 'officially' no promises have been broken. It'snot clear how quickly the special forces could arrive in Iraq; or whether they would remain in Baghdad or be sent to the nation's north. With rumors of explosions rocking Baghdad airport, we suspect the former.
The White House is considering sending a small number of American special forces soldiers to Iraq in an urgent attempt to help the government in Baghdad slow the nation's rampant Sunni insurgency, U.S. officials said Monday.While President Barack Obama has explicitly ruled out putting U.S. troops into direct combat in Iraq, the plan under consideration suggests he would be willing to send Americans into a collapsing security situation for training and other purposes....It's not clear how quickly the special forces could arrive in Iraq. It's also unknown whether they would remain in Baghdad or be sent to the nation's north.
But The White House is being very careful to exaplin that this is not "real" boots on the ground...
White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said no combat troops would be sent to Iraq, but that the U.S. is looking at other options."The president was very clear that we will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq," Hayden said in a statement. "That remains the case and he has asked his national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraqi security forces."
Just special ones...
The mission almost certainly would be small: one U.S. official said it could be up to 100 special forces soldiers. It also could be authorized only as an advising and training mission — meaning the soldiers would work closely with Iraqi forces that are fighting the insurgency but not officially be considered as combat troops.The troops would fall under the authority of the U.S. ambassador and would not be authorized to engage in combat, another U.S. official said. Their mission is "non-operational training" of both regular and counter terrorism units, which the military has interpreted to mean training on military bases, not in the field, the official said....Already, about 100 Marines and Army soldiers have been sent to Baghdad to help with embassy security, according to a U.S. official.
Obama made the end of the war in Iraq one of his signature campaign issues, and has touted the U.S. military withdrawal in December 2011 as one of his top foreign policy successes.
Credit to Zero Hedge
Obama Is Trying to Recreate An Iranian Hostage Crisis
The Iranian Hostage Crisis Revisited
No Excuse for War Is Complete Without Martyrs
The bodies keep piling up: From Kenya to Iraq shocking new images show how a wave of Islamist carnage has signalled a new era of barbaric terror across the world
Somali militants who shot dead 48 people in a Kenyan village as they watched the World Cup, went door to door asking residents if they were Muslim or spoke Somali before shooting them dead if the either answer was 'no', witnesses have revealed.
The attack in rural Mpeketoni, about 30-miles southwest of the tourist centre of Lamu, came at the end of a weekend of heavy bloodshed that has exposed the world to the shocking depravity of terrorists who appear emboldened by each other's acts.
The string of bloodthirsty atrocities, spanning two continents from Kenya to Iraq, has raised the spectre of a new era of barbaric terror that is sweeping the globe.
Scroll down for video
Kenya: Residents look at slain bodies of people killed when unidentified gunmen attacked the coastal Kenyan town of Mpeketoni - the latest in a string of Islamic militant attacks across two continents that have shocked the world
Bodies piled high: Last night's atrocity saw at least 48 people killed when gunmen in two minibuses sped into a town on Kenya's coast, shooting soccer fans gathered to watch a World Cup match in a television hall and targeting hotels and a bank
Carnage: Police said Somalia's Al Shabaab Islamist group was most likely to blame for Sunday night's assault on the town of Mpeketoni
Horror: Sunday's assault is the worst since last September when Al Shabaab gunmen attacked Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, leaving 67 people dead
About 30 gunmen raced into Mpeketoni in two minibuses, the kind used as public taxis in Kenya, and hit two hotels, a bank and a police station with guns and at least one explosive device
Brutal: Kenyan residents at the scene of one of the bodies of those killed in Mpeketoni. Police said the attackers targeted only men in the village, leaving women and children alone
In the space of just three days:
- Images of Iraqi men being rounded up at gunpoint, beaten, herded like cattle into lorries and shot dead in a ditch by a row of masked ISIS fanatics sent shockwaves across the world.
- Taliban insurgents sliced off the fingers of 11 people as punishment for voting in Afghanistan’s democratic presidential election while 60 people were killed in a series of rocket barrages and scattered attacks
- The desperate search continued for three Israeli teenagers allegedly kidnapped by Hamas militants as more than 150 suspects were arrested in relation to the abduction.
- Nigeria's former president admitted that the 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram militants two months ago may never be found.
- Pakistani jets killed 37 militants in retaliatory airstrikes today, a week after Taliban insurgents stormed Karachi airport and opened fire in a commando-style attack that left 38 people dead.
Over the past month, the world's media has been awash with gruesome images depicting insurgent barbarism whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kenya, Palestine or Syria.
Iraq: Images of Iraqi men being rounded up at gunpoint, beaten, herded into lorries and shot dead in a ditch in the desert by a row of masked ISIS fanatics sent shockwaves across the world
Afghanistan: Taliban insurgents sliced off the fingers of 11 people as punishment for voting in Afghanistan¿s democratic presidential election while 60 people were killed in a series of rocket barrages and scattered attacks
Palestine: Israeli soldiers arrest Abdel Aziz Dweik (left) - speaker of the Palestinian parliament and a senior Hamas figure - at his home during a huge military operation to search for three missing Israeli teenagers
Grim prediction: The former president of Nigeria has said he does not believe all of the schoolgirls taken by Boko Haram, seen here in a video released by their kidnappers, will return home
The terror groups behind these acts appear to relish their growing publicity, increasingly courting online platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to promote their hate-filled agendas of murder and oppression.
Professor Lee Marsden, international terrorism expert and head of East Anglia University's School of Political, Social and International Studies, said: 'Images of brutality perpetrated by these terrorist groups are being circulated around the world on an unprecedented scale.
Terror: Pictures posted online by ISIS show men purportedly moments before their executions, as they are herded into large trucks and driven to their deaths. They huddled and cowered in the overfilled vehicles, some covering their faces as they awaited their fate
Carnage: Footwear is pictured amid broken glass at the scene of a bomb blast in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, today. It was one of a series of attacks designed to disrupt voting in the country's election that killed 60
Missing: American-born Naftali Frenkel (left) was abducted with Israelis Eyal Yifrah (centre), 19, and Gilad Shaar (right), 16, as they headed home from a West Bank religious school in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc
Armed: Israeli soldiers patrol the streets of the West Bank town of Hebron early this morning. They arrested 40 Palestinians overnight, bringing the total detained since Thursday's abduction to 150
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau appears in a video where he showed some of the hundreds of schoolgirls his terror group abducted nearly two months ago
'While the levels of brutality seen here by ISIS and al-Shabaab are no different from what we have seen them do before, the way they are publicising their acts of terror is wholly new.
'Through the use of social media, like Twitter and Facebook, such groups are seeking to maximise coverage of their atrocities with great effect.
'Certainly in Iraq, where Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is widely regarded as being a tool of the Americans - anything that shows they can defeat the Iraqi army is not just a defeat of Shiite forces but also a victory over the West. And it makes for a very powerful recruiting tool.''One element of publicising such acts on the internet is to show other terror groups, and potential recruits, particularly those committed to establishing a caliphate, what they are capable of and the lengths to which they will go to promote their causes.
Political risk consultancy The Soufan Group added: 'The two Pakistan Taliban attacks on Karachi airport over the last few days, together with Boko Haram’s brazen kidnapping of another 20 women and several bloody attacks on rural communities in Northeastern Nigeria, are a reminder—if any is needed—of the threat posed by today’s terrorist groups.
'But neither the Pakistan Taliban nor Boko Haram can compete with the challenges posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).
'ISIS has become indisputably the most effective and ruthless terrorist organization in the world. It now challenges the authority of two of the largest states in the Middle East, and has attracted significant numbers of fighters, not just from Iraq and Syria, but also from Saudi Arabia and other Arab states including Jordan.'
In Iraq, another town fell to ISIS militants this morning, solidifying their hold in the north of the country, as evidence of the jihadists' brutal reign intensified with shocking images of fighters massacring helpless prisoners.
Tal Afar, close to the Syrian border, was taken before dawn today a week after Mosul, Iraq's second city, fell to the jihadist fighters.
It came as pictures posted on a militant website appeared to show masked fighters forcing captives to lie down in a shallow ditch. Further images seem to show the bodies of the men soaked in blood after being shot.
Most of the soldiers who appear in the pictures are in civilian clothes. Some are shown wearing military uniforms underneath, indicating they may have hastily disguised themselves as civilians to try to escape.
Other scenes show men purportedly moments before their executions, as they are herded like cattle into large trucks and driven to their deaths. They huddled and cowered in the overfilled vehicles, some covering their faces as they awaited their fate.
'This is the fate of the Shi'ites which Nuri (al-Maliki, Iraq's president) brought to fight the Sunnis,' a caption to one of the pictures reads.
Meanwhile, in nearby Afghanistan, Taliban insurgents hellbent on destroying the first peaceful transfer of authority, ordered voters not to participate in the weekend's general election.
Anyone who did in Taliban-held areas, faced having their voting fingers hacked off as a punishment. The referendum was further marred by a series of rocket barrages and other scattered attacks that killed 60.
Later on Saturday, a minibus hit an improvised explosive device in the northern Samangan province, killing six women, one child and four men.
And in Israel today, the mother of one of three Israeli teenagers abducted in the West Bank issued a emotional message to her son, telling him the authorities are 'doing everything' to bring the boys home.
'Mommy and Daddy and your brothers love you until the end of the world and you should know that the people of Israel are doing all they can to bring you back home,' Racheli Frenkel told her U.S.-born son Naftali.
Her comments came as Israel arrested 40 more people, including a senior figure in the Palestinian government, as part of a massive manhunt for the teenagers it says were kidnapped by Hamas.
American-born Frenkel was abducted with Israelis Eyal Yifrah, 19, and Gilad Shaar, 16, as they headed home from a West Bank religious school in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc.
The crisis has escalated already heightened tensions between Israel and the new Palestinian government, which is headed by Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas but backed by Hamas, as Israeli special forces arrested more than 150 people as their hunt for the boys continued.
And in further blow to the global fight against terrorism, Nigeria's former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, said the 200 schoolgirls taken snatched from the classrooms in the village of Chibok in northeast Nigeria in April may never return home.
Death toll rising: Authorities have blamed al-Shabab, Somalia's al-Qaida-linked terror group, for last night's atrocity in Kenya
A burnt out van in the town of Mpeketoni following an attack by Somali militants
Obasanjo, who stepped down in 2007 and nurtured Jonathan's own rise to power, said President Goodluck Jonathan's administration had taken too long to respond to the mass abduction.
‘I believe that some of them will never return. We will still be hearing about them many years from now,’ Obasanjo told the BBC's Hausa-language radio service. ‘If you get all of them back, I will consider it a near-miracle...'
Boko Haram, which wants to set up an Islamist caliphate in Africa's largest economy, has fought back against an army offensive and killed thousands in bomb and gun attacks, striking as far afield as the central city of Jos and the capital Abuja.
In Kenya, dozens of extremists attacked a Kenyan coastal town for hours, killing those who weren't Muslim and those who didn't know the Somali language, officials and witnesses said today. At least 48 people were killed and two hotels were set on fire.
The attack happened in Mpeketoni, which is about 30-miles southwest of the tourist centre of Lamu
Authorities have blamed al-Shabab, Somalia's al-Qaida-linked terror group, for the attack last night
The assault in Mpeketoni began on Sunday night as residents watched World Cup matches on TV and lasted until early on Monday morning, with little resistance put up by Kenya's security forces. Cars and buildings still smoldered at daybreak.
Authorities blamed al-Shabab, Somalia's al-Qaida-linked terror group, who have vowed to carry out terror attacks to avenge the Kenyan military presence in Somali. Along with its Somali fighters, the group also has many Kenyan adherents. By midday Monday the group had not claimed responsibility.
Like the gunmen who attacked Nairobi's Westgate Mall last year, the Mpeketoni attackers gave life-or-death religious assessment, a witness said, killing those who were not Muslim.
'They came to our house at around 8 p.m. and asked us in Swahili whether we were Muslims. My husband told them we were Christians and they shot him in the head and chest,' said Anne Gathigi.
Another resident, John Waweru, said his two brothers were killed because the attackers did not like that the brothers did not speak Somali.
'My brothers who stay next door to me were killed as I watched. I was peeping from my window and I clearly heard them speak to my brothers in Somali and it seems since my brothers did not meet their expectations, they sprayed them with bullets and moved on,' said Waweru.
Local people from Mpeketoni in Kenya photographed after the attack by Somali militants last night
Dangerous: Mpeketoni is about 60 miles from the Somali border and few foreigners visit the region
At the Breeze View Hotel, the gunmen pulled the men aside and ordered the women to watch as they killed them, saying it was what Kenyan troops are doing to Somali men inside Somalia, a police commander said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to share such details of the attack.
Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said the attackers fled into the nearby wilds, known as the Boni Forest after a 'fierce exchange of fire' with security forces.
He said 20 vehicles had been set on fire.
At a news conference, Ole Lenku was forced to defend the government's security record after a string of attacks. He also warned opposition politicians against inciting violence, saying it was possible the attack was linked to politics. The claim was immediately dismissed by security experts who are now a staple of Kenyan news shows.
Kenya's top police commander, David Kimaiyo, said the death toll was 48. A police spokeswoman said authorities believe that several dozen attackers took part.
Attack occurred in the town of Mpeketoni, which is about 30 miles from the tourist centre Lamu (pictured)
Mpeketoni is about 20 miles (30 kilometers) southwest of the tourist center of Lamu. Any tourism in Mpeketoni is mostly local, with few foreigners visiting the area. The town is 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the Somali border and 360 miles (600 kilometers) from the capital, Nairobi.
Kenya has experienced a wave of gunfire and explosive attacks in recent months. The U.S., U.K., France, Australia, and Canada have all recently upgraded their terror threat warnings for the country. U.S. Marines behind sandbag bunkers are now stationed on the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.
The Interior Ministry said that at about 8 p.m. on Sunday, two minivans entered the town. Militants disembarked and began shooting. Kenya's National Disaster Operations Center said military surveillance planes were launched shortly afterward.
Lamu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the country's oldest continually inhabited town. The region saw a spate of kidnappings of foreign tourists in 2011 that Kenya said was part of its motivation for attacking al-Shabab in Somalia. Since those attacks and subsequent terror warnings, tourism has dropped off sharply around Lamu.
At least 67 people were killed in September when four al-Shabab gunmen attacked an upscale mall in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Kenya sent its troops to Somalia in October 2011.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2658751/Red-Cross-34-die-militant-attack-Kenya-town.html#ixzz34oUb63PV