Long War Journal reports that ISIS was halted at Samarra but "was able to take control of the towns of Dhuluiyah, Saadiyah, and Jalula to the southwest". Debka mentions Saadiyah and Jalula but not Dhuluiyah. LWJ map here.
Uganda: Persecution of gays intensifies. 'The law prescribes life imprisonment for some homosexual acts and also criminalises the "promotion of homosexuality", among other measures.' Activist Sandra Ntebi tells more, at the link.
Indonesia: Drunk passenger triggers hijack alert. 'A Virgin Australia Airlines official said there had not been an attempt to hijack the aircraft but a "flight emergency" when a 28-year-old male passenger banged on the door of the cockpit trying to get in an hour before it was due to land.' Australian Matt Christopher Lockley is in custody.
Mali: French hostage Leal reported killed by al-Qaeda affiliate MUJAO. 'A Portuguese-born French national, Leal was kidnapped in November 2012 from a Malian town near the Mauritanian border. At the time, it was not clear which group had physically taken him, although the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) claimed responsibility.' Full details at the link.
Israel: No recognition, no entry.Arutz Sheva: 'Israel is getting tough with Arab [sic] countries that do not recognize Israel and bars them from crossing Jordan to Ramallah. The Foreign Minister explained that diplomats from Cuba, Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh are not being allowed to attend a mini-Non-Aligned Movement conference in the Palestinian Authority headquarters because their governments do not have diplomatic ties with Israel.' (The A7 article is incorrectly worded, as the countries named are not Arab nations.) Full article at the link.
Nigeria: Bombing in northeast kills soldiers.BBC: 'A suicide bombing in the north-eastern Nigerian city of Damaturu has killed several soldiers, reports say. According to an eyewitness, the suicide bomber rammed a car into a military vehicle that was part of a convoy. ...' Reuters: 'A suicide car bomber on Sunday attacked a military checkpoint in Nigeria's northeastern city of Damaturu, killing six soldiers and two civilians, police said. Suspicion will fall on Islamist sect Boko Haram, which is waging an insurgency against President Goodluck Jonathan's government across the north with the aim of carving out an Islamic state in a country split evenly between Christians and Muslims. ...'
India: Muslim journalist charged in attack on Israeli. 'Nearly five months after an Israeli diplomat's car was bombed in New Delhi, the Delhi Police on Tuesday indicted Indian journalist Syed Mohammad Kazmi of conspiring with foreign elements and others for the terror strike.' Tal Yehoshua-Koren and her Indian driver were wounded in the February 13 attack.
Somalia: Suicide bombers strike as constitution finalized. 'Two suicide bombers attacked a conference in Somalia on Wednesday but failed to stop delegates agreeing a new draft constitution that is meant to help the violence-torn East African country return to stability. One bomber killed six security officers, while the other was shot and killed before he could detonate his bomb, police said. Al Shabaab, Somalia's al Qaeda-linked group, said it was behind the attack and that it had succeeded in killing Somali and African Union troops. ...'
Syria: Agreement on post-regime future to be signed.Stratfor: 'Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the Syrian Kurdish National Council and the Syrian National Council will sign an agreement on the future of Syria after President Bashar al Assad's regime.'
Turkey: Army holds exercise near Syrian border.NOW Lebanon: 'Turkey's military on Wednesday tested its tanks' speed and maneuverability during an exercise in Turkey's southeastern border near Syria, reported the Anatolia news agency. The exercise comes after Turkey sent a convoy of tanks, weapons and ground-to-air missile batteries to the border with Syria, strengthening its defenses there as intensified on the other side of the border. ...'
Syria: Damascus showdown looms.Al-Arabiya: '“Machinegun fire was heard in the Sabah Bahrat square, and members of the security forces, armed with Kalashnikovs, ran across the square,” site of the country’s Central Bank, witnesses told AFP. ... Syria’s military deployed armored vehicles near central Damascus on Monday as troops battled rebels around the capital in what activists said could be a turning point in the 16-month uprising. Rebels late Monday announced the launch of a full-scale attack operation.' NOW Lebanon:
The rebel Free Syrian Army said on Tuesday that the "battle for the liberation of Damascus has begun," as fighting raged in the capital.
"Victory is nigh," said the central Homs-based spokesperson for the FSA's Joint Command, Colonel Kassem Saadeddine, adding that the fighting will not stop until the whole of the capital has been conquered.
"We have transferred the battle from Damascus province to the capital," said Saadeddine. "We have a clear plan to control the whole of Damascus. We only have light weapons, but it's enough." ...
Africa / Israel: Study says millions of Africans identify as Jews.Dr. Shalva Weil of Hebrew University says there has been a sharp rise in the number of Africans identifying as Jews in the past 15 years. 'Weil, from the Research Institute for Innovation in Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is an anthropologist and expert on Ethiopian Jewry who has spent years studying the Ethiopian community and its acclimation into Israeli society. Weil recently gave a series of talks throughout South Africa and took part in a conference on African Jews hosted by the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, where she spoke about racism toward Ethiopian Jews in Israel. ...' She cites communities among the Lemba of southern Africa and the Igbo of Nigeria. 'Weil says that from an academic perspective, Black Judaism is a varied and exciting field. But she feels that the Israeli establishment is not aware of the phenomenon or its ramifications.'
BBC: 'Three leaders of Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamist group have been designated as terrorists by the US state department. Abubakar Shekau leads the militant group, while Abubakar Adam Kambar and Khalid el Barnawi are thought to have ties with a branch of al-Qaeda. ...'
Nigeria: Multiple blasts hit Damaturu.Stratfor: 'At least two explosions and multiple gunshots hit parts of the Sabon Pegi area of the northeastern Nigerian city of Damaturu in Yobe state June 18, in renewed attacks carried out by Boko Haram ...'
Lebanese authorities begin releasing islamist detainees.NOW Lebanon: 'Lebanese authorities released on Tuesday seven of the over 100 Islamist detainees held in Roumieh Prison, the National News Agency reported. ...'
Happy Juneteenth. 'Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is a holiday in the United States honoring African American heritage by commemorating the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. State of Texas in 1865. Celebrated on June 19, the term is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth, and is recognized as a state holiday or state holiday observance in 41 states of the United States.'
Obama backs Iraq ambassador nominee Brett McGurk.Reuters: 'President Barack Obama has no plans to withdraw Brett McGurk's nomination to be U.S. ambassador to Iraq, despite Republican demands after revelations that the nominee had engaged in an extra-marital affair with a journalist whom he later married, the White House said on Sunday. ...' I wouldn't care about the affair if it weren't an ambassador post; he's got to represent the United States and he's got to look good.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Nayef to be laid to rest.BBC: 'Saudi Arabia is preparing to bury Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, who died in Geneva on Saturday. Prince Nayef, who was also deputy prime minister and interior minister, will be buried after sunset prayers in the holy city of Mecca. ...' He'll likely be succeeded by his brother, Prince Salman, who's 76.
Grenade thrown at Greek TV station. Via YNet: 'A hand grenade was thrown outside Greek TV station Skai but did not explode, police said on Sunday, as people voted in the parliamentary election. ...'
Nigeria: Another explosion in Kaduna.Stratfor: 'A third explosion occurred at a church in northern Nigeria's Kaduna state, AFP reported June 17. The number of casualties is unknown.' BBC:
At least three blasts have hit churches in the northern Nigerian state of Kaduna.
A local Red Cross worker told Associated Press that at least two people had been killed and 48 injured in two of the attacks.
Two blasts hit Sunday church services close to the city of Zaria.
No one has yet claimed responsibility, but Kaduna state has previously seen attacks by the radical Islamist group Boko Haram. ...
(AFP) - The United States plans to work with the Nigerian army to help it combat the threat of the Islamist group Boko Haram which is spreading violence in the west African nation, officials said Tuesday.
But Washington has still not decided whether to put the group on a blacklist of terrorist organizations -- even as gunfire and explosions erupted in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Tuesday.
"This is an issue of ongoing internal deliberations within the United States government," Assistant Secretary of African Affairs Johnnie Carson said after two days of high-level talks with Nigerian officials in the US capital. ...
Ostensibly a radical Islamic movement, what are its goals? Who are its leaders? Is it a part of the international jihad dominated by Al Qaeda?
Some within the U.S. federal government see Boko Haram as a direct threat to the United States and are urging that it be designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO.) Others see its focus as primarily within Nigeria with little international dimension. ...
US intelligence officials said they believe that Abu Yahya al Libi, al Qaeda's second in command and a top religious figure and ideologue, was killed in yesterday's drone strike in Pakistan.
Two US intelligence officials involved in the targeting of al Qaeda operatives and other terrorists in Pakistan told The Long War Journal that al Libi is thought to be among 15 people killed in yesterday's strike in Mir Ali in North Waziristan. The officials would not say how they confirmed that al Libi had been killed.
A Pakistani intelligence official told Reuters that his unit "intercepted some conversations between militants" and that "[t]hey were talking about the death of a 'sheikh,'" who is assumed to be al Libi. ...
This Ain't Hell: 'Personally, I wish we’d have executed a “snatch and grab” and asked him a few questions before giving him the opportunity to explain his sins to Allah instead of sending him by Hellfire express. But I guess we can’t have everything.'
Jay Nordlinger: '... But even though al-Qaeda No. 2s have become increasingly easy targets after the death of Osama bin Laden, Libi’s death is a useful victory, as the Times notes, and thus, an important one for the program.'