Todd Daniels, Regional Manager for the Middle East of International Christian Concern, has cautioned that Qatar's role in recent hostage rescue missions, as well as its relationships with ISIS and the Nusra Front, could be worrying.
The role in missions "should not overshadow the concerns about Qatar's foreign policy in the region and their role in providing support to groups that are engaged in terrorist activities. The ability to mediate in these situations demonstrates the links that Qatar has to these groups … it raises serious concerns about what kind of support Qatar has given to these groups that grants them leverage to arrange the release of hostages," Daniels told The Christian Post.
The state of Qatar is currently working to help free four American hostages being held in Syria. more >>
Terror group ISIS has demanded a $6.6 million ransom for the release of a 26-year-old American woman it captured over a year ago while she was doing humanitarian relief work in Syria.
The woman, whose identity was not released due to a request from her family, is the third of at least four Americans who are known to be held captive by ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, ABC News reported on Tuesday. The militants are also demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, an MIT-trained neuroscientist convicted by the U.S. in 2010 of trying to kill two American officials two years before.
ISIS, which has captured significant territory in Iraq and Syria, beheaded American journalist James Foley last week, and warned President Barack Obama to stop air strikes against ISIS targets. more >>
Israel and militant group Hamas have agreed to a long-term ceasefire in the Gaza Strip aimed at ending the conflict that has killed over 2,200 people. Israel has agreed to ease its economic blockade of Gaza, while Hamas has said it will stop firing rockets into Israeli territory.
The Associated Press reported that the truce was holding as of Wednesday. The open-ended deal was brokered by Egypt, with hopes it will stop the fighting, which besides the heavy death toll, has led to widespread destruction in Gaza.
"Israel has accepted an Egyptian proposal for a complete and unlimited-in-time ceasefire. Israel accepted already the Egyptian proposal on July 15. Israel has always supported an unconditional, open-ended ceasefire," an Israeli government official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity. more >>
A Catholic priest described his shock at the conditions Iraqi Christian refugees face, saying that they were left helpless and angry at government soldiers who abandoned them to ISIS extremists after the militants began their attacks.
"The people are angry because the government just gave up on them. They told us that, in Mosul, where there had normally been a presence of 60,000 soldiers, after the onslaught of ISIS, in only a matter of hours, these soldiers abandoned them, laying down their weapons," said Fr Rami Wakim, the secretary to Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham, according to The Catholic Herald on Monday.
Last week, the priest accompanied a delegation of Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish region of the country, where scores of persecuted minorities, including many Christians, are fleeing to. more >>
The United Nations warned Saturday that about 20,000 residents of a Shiite Iraqi town besieged by Sunni ISIS militants for the last two months risk "massacre" if the Iraqi government and the international community fail to take immediate action. Bombings in Baghdad and nearby cities killed at least 35 people.
"The situation of the people in Amerli is desperate and demands immediate action to prevent the possible massacre of its citizens," Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. secretary-general's special representative for Iraq, said in a statement Saturday, of the threat by the ISIS militant group which is also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or just the Islamic State.
The ethnic Turkmen Shiite town of Amerli has been under siege since June, and its people are running out of medicine, food and water, CNN reported, quoting Dr. Ali Albayati, head of the Turkmen Saving Foundation. more >>
Hundreds of rockets landed in Israel Friday, including one that was fired from near a school that is being maintained by Hamas in Gaza and that killed a four-year-old Israeli boy in southern Israel, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
The rocket that killed the boy, identified as Daniel Tregerman, hit a kibbutz (Hebrew word for "communal settlement") in Sdot Negev village in the Sha'ar Hanegev regional council early Friday evening, Jerusalem Post reported, adding that "hundreds of rockets" were fired into Israel Friday.
"#IDF concludes that the mortar launched today that killed 4 year old Daniel Tragerman was fired from near a school that is an @UNRWA shelter," Peter Lerner, EDF Spokesman for International Media & Commander of the IDF Social Media activities, tweeted. more >>