UPDATE: 2:25 p.m. ET Jan. 15, 2015
Belgian authorities confirmed Thursday that a terror cell comprised of people who had returned from fighting in Syria was operating in Verviers, Belgium, and members were about to carry out major terrorist attacks inside the country. Security forces carried out 10 searches and took on heavy gufire from suspects who authorities said were using "war weapons" and "hand weapons" to combat police. Belgian prosecutors' spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt also confirmed that no police officers were injured during the raids, and explained that the nation's terror threat level has been raised. The next news conference will be held at 11 a.m. local time on Friday.
Two terror suspects have reportedly been killed and one seriously injured during a counter-terror raid in Eastern Belgium on Thursday. Initial reports indicate that the suspects have connections to the Islamic State terror group and might have been planning an attack in Belgium. more >>
Pope Francis and Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II have separately said that while the terror attacks on France last week were wrong, it is not right for people to insult the faith of others. The sentiment has been echoed by Turkey Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who warned that his country will not tolerate drawings of Muhammad, such as the ones made by satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
"You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others," Francis told journalists when asked about the Charlie Hebdo situation on Thursday, The Associated Press reported.
A terror attack last week on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris left 12 people dead, and 17 in total were killed in other attacks carried out by Islamic extremists. The French magazine was attacked because of its drawings of Muhammad, considered a prophet in Islam, Al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen revealed when taking responsibility for organizing the attack. more >>
The anti-Islamisation movement Pegida gathered record numbers of people in rallies this week in Germany, following the terror attacks in France that left 17 people dead. Larger counter-demonstrations for unity have accused the movement of harboring anti-immigrant xenophobia, however, and some asylum-seekers have spoken out about fears for their safety.
The Independent reported on Wednesday that a record 25,000 Pegida supporters gathered in Dresden, while more anti-Islamisation rallies are scheduled for Cologne. The campaign has spoken out against mass immigration into Germany, particularly by people coming from Muslim countries, who Pegida says are changing the country's culture and having a negative effect on society.
The terror attacks carried out in Paris last week by Islamic extremists who targeted satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo for publishing cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad have escalated tensions to a notable high. more >>
Al-Qaida's branch in Yemen said on Wednesday that it's responsible for the terror attack in Paris last week that left 12 people dead following a shooting at satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. In a video the group's top commander, Nasr al-Ansi, said that the killings "sooth the pain" that Charlie Hebdo caused for its cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
"As for the blessed battle of Paris, we, the organisation of al-Qaeda al Jihad in the Arabian Peninsula, claim responsibility for this operation as vengeance for the messenger of God," al-Ansi says in the 11-minute video, according to Reutuers.
"Congratulations to you, the nation of Islam, for this revenge that has soothed our pain. Congratulations to you for these brave men who blew off the dust of disgrace and lit the torch of glory in the darkness of defeat and agony." more >>
Before radical Islamic terrorists attacked the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris last Wednesday, which left 12 people dead, including the publication's editor and four cartoonists, the controversial magazine had already sustained a firebomb attack by Muslims in 2011, and was sued 13 times by Catholic organizations for its offensive depictions of popes, Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity.
The Catholic groups reportedly filed the lawsuits in reaction to several offensive covers that depict Christian figures, such as the Holy Trinity and Pope Benedict XVI, in compromising positions. One of the covers features an older man as God, a drawing of Jesus, and something that resembles the eye of horus meant to be the Holy Spirit, all engaged in sodomy. The drawing was intended to mock the Catholic Church's opposition to gay marriage.
Another cover features what appears to be Benedict XVI uttering the words "God doesn't exist! That turd! I had my doubts!" more >>
The brother of murdered police officer Ahmed Merabet, who was shot dead by terrorists who attacked the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris has spoken out and denounced the killers as "pretend" Muslims.
"My brother was Muslim and he was killed by people who pretend to be Muslims," Malek Merabet told the Huffington Post. "They are terrorists, that's it. Islam is a religion of peace and love. As far as my brother's death is concerned it was a waste. He was very proud of the name Ahmed Merabet, proud to represent the police and of defending the values of the Republic—liberty, equality, fraternity."
Ahmed's lifeless body was shown on TV screens across the world as the Kouachi brothers continued their deadly assault. He was reportedly injured and then murdered by Cherif and Said as they moved towards the Charlie Hebdo offices in order to "avenge the Prophet." The two were reportedly upset at the way images of the Prophet had been portrayed in the satirical paper. They were able to elude police and hide in the woods before emerging, taking a woman hostage, and eventually holing up in a print manufacturing building. The standoff came to an end when they came out of the building and fired at police; police fired back, killing the brothers. more >>