Islamic militants killed at least 21 people in Baghdad and another Iraqi city on Tuesday in their offensive to capture the capital. Jihadists have also invaded Baiji, the country's largest oil refinery.
AFP News Agency reported that the violence came during a major offensive spearheaded by the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group, which has already captured the city of Mosul and much of the Nineveh province.
A car bomb killed at least 11 people and wounded more than 20 in the predominantly-Shiite Muslim area of north Baghdad, while five more bombings killed a further six people and wounded 14, officials said. more >>
More than 550 Coptic Christian schoolgirls in Egypt have been kidnapped by Muslim men and forced to convert and marry their abductors during the last three years, according to the Association of Victims of Abduction and Forced Disappearance (AVAFD).
"The world reacted in horror and revulsion at the kidnapping of 276 Nigerian schoolgirls in April," writes Mark Ellis of Godreports. "But twice as many Coptic Christian schoolgirls in Egypt have vanished slowly, one-by-one, in kidnappings that remain unsolved."
The kidnappings and captivity, occuring since January 2011 through March 2014, often include violence against the girls. For example, the traditional cross the Coptic minority tattoos on their wrists is erased with acid before these forced marriages, according to Terrasanta, a Catholic news service. more >>
U.S. forces captured the suspected ringleader from the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack in Libya this past weekend, an official with the Obama administration told reporters Tuesday.
Ahmed Abu Khattala, the alleged ringleader in the 2012 consulate attack that killed four Americans, was captured on Sunday near Benghazi by U.S. Special Operations forces that included the FBI and American troops. Although officials with the administration remain secretive regarding Khattala's current whereabouts, they have confirmed to multiple media outlets that the suspect is currently en route to the United States to face trial.
The U.S. previously charged Khattala with "killing a person in the course of an attack on a federal facility involving use of a firearm," conspiring and providing material aid to terrorists, and possessing a firearm during a violent crime. Khattala is the commander of the country's Islamist militant group Ansar al-Sharia that rose to prominence after the fall of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi in 2011. more >>
The U.S. is sending nearly 300 troops into Iraq to protect the American embassy in Baghdad amid escalating threats that Islamic jihadists who have captured several cities in the region could move in on the capital.
"The personnel will provide assistance to the Department of State in connection with the temporary relocation of some staff from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to the U.S. Consulates General in Basra and Erbil and to the Iraq Support Unit in Amman," the White House said in a statement on Monday. "These U.S. military personnel are entering Iraq with the consent of the Government of Iraq. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad remains open, and a substantial majority of the U.S. Embassy presence in Iraq will remain in place and the embassy will be fully equipped to carry out its national security mission. "
The approximately 275 U.S. military personnel were authorized by President Barack Obama who transmitted a report notifying Congress of the decision, which the White House says is consistent with the War Powers Resolution. more >>
Dr. David Curry is the CEO of Open Doors USA, an organization which advocates for persecuted Christians around the world. He recently returned from Egypt encouraged about the state of Coptic Christians, the focus of which will be featured in the second part of this Q&A. In Part 1, Curry discusses ISIS' surge in Iraq and its implications for Iraq's remaining 500,000 Christians and its effects on neighboring Syria.
CP: What type of impact is ISIS having on Christians?
Curry: The group ISIS is an Islamic terrorist group that had in the past been closely associated with al-Qaida, although it's not an official part of al-Qaida now, it is part of that ilk. It has been fighting against the Syrian government in Syria and so it's part of this string of countries that is fighting Islamic terrorists. The goal of this group, as with other groups, is to set up Sharia law. Now Sharia law has already been proclaimed by the group in the northern parts of Iraq in Mosul that they've taken over and their agenda is clear. They want to set up a regime that forces Islamic faith and its most extreme tenants on people and this is going to directly affect Christians who choose to practice and wish to practice their faith in Iraq. It already has affected it in the sense that there's been an exodus over the last several years, even in the course of the last several days, of Christians who remained in northern Iraq away from there because they know what it means when a group like ISIS tries to implement Sharia law. more >>
Islamic militants, who have captured several cities in Iraq and are setting sights on Baghdad, have posted online photos of graphic mass killings of Iraqi soldiers. The U.S. State Department has called the claim that 1,700 Iraqi forces have been massacred "horrifying" and said that it exposes the terrorists' "blood lust."
"The claim by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant that it has massacred 1,700 Iraqi Shia air force recruits in Tikrit is horrifying and a true depiction of the blood lust that these terrorists represent," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.
"While we cannot confirm these reports, one of the primary goals of ISIL is to set fear into the hearts of all Iraqis and drive sectarian division among its people." more >>