Militants associated with the Islamic State terrorist group are claiming responsibility for the abduction of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya, according to a statement received by the SITE Intelligence Group.
"Urgent. Soldiers of the Islamic State captured 21 Christian crusaders," the statement reads, which included three pictures showing only 20 captured Coptic Christians.
The statement did not specify when the captives were abducted but a spokesman for the Egyptian foreign ministry, Badr Abdel Atti, confirmed to AFP that at least 20 Egyptians were abducted in two separate incidents in Libya and they "are still being detained" by their captors. more >>
With Islamic extremist attacks seemingly happening throughout the world on a regular basis, the president of Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, delivered a groundbreaking New Year's Day speech at the highly-prestigious, 1000-year-old Al-Azhar University and urged Muslim imams to change radical rhetoric and lead a "religious revolution" that embraces peace.
With extremists groups like the Islamic State, Boko Haram, and Al Qaeda killing thousands of innocent people in addition to the increase of radical attacks in other parts of the world, most in the international community no longer view Islam as "religion of peace," al-Sisi stated.
"Is it possible that 1.6 billion [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world's inhabitants – that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live? Impossible!" al-Sisi asserted. "I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move… because this umma [international Muslim community] is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost – and it is being lost by our own hands." more >>
What lesson will Europe draw from the Charlie Hebdo massacre? Will it get serious about ending Muslim extremism within its borders, or will it try even harder to curb offensive political cartoons and speech about Islam? Up to this point, Europe has responded to Islamist violence in retaliation against ridicule, and even against sober critique of Islam, by taking the latter course.
In 2008, the EU mandated religious hate-speech laws, with European officials indignantly declaring that there is "no right to religious insult." More revealingly, one official European commission delicately explained that this measure was taken to "preserve social peace and public order" in light of the "increasing sensitivities" of "certain individuals" who "have reacted violently to criticism of their religion."
Europe was frightened and wanted to cool down its angry Muslim populations and appease the censorship lobby that claims to represent them in the 56-member-state Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Since 2004, it had seen the assassination of Theo van Gogh in an Amsterdam street for his and Ayaan Hirsi Ali's film on abuses against Muslim women; worldwide Muslim riots and economic boycotts over an obscure Danish newspaper's caricatures of the Islamic prophet Mohammed; and yet more rioting and murders after Pope Benedict presented a paper to an academic audience at Regensburg University that questioned Islam's position on reason. The subjective hate-speech laws were intended to placate those — including Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini, who in 1989 issued a fatwa against novelist Salman Rushdie — who demand that Europe police its own citizens for conformity to Islamic blasphemy codes. European leaders insisted that this could be accomplished while somehow still upholding Western principles of free speech. more >>
WASHINGTON — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz laid out 10 issues with policies and structure of the federal government that the newly-elected Republican Congress should fight hard to change in a keynote speech at the Heritage Action for America Conservative Policy Summit on Monday,
Although many of the ideas that Cruz, a prospective 2016 Republican presidential candidate, laid out would likely be vetoed by Democratic President Barack Obama, Cruz was adamant that the 12 freshman Republicans in the Senate could have a "transformable effect" and make significant headway for when Obama leaves office. But as Cruz admits, that would require them actually acting on what they said they would do while campaining for election.
1. Create Jobs, Growth and Opportunity more >>
Pope Francis spoke to a large crowd last week to address the massacre in France and condemned "deviant forms of religion" for the shedding of blood.
"Losing their freedom, people become enslaved, whether to the latest fads, or to power, money, or even deviant forms of religion," Francis said in an address to the members of the Diplomatic Corps. There is a "culture of rejection" that leads to "the breakdown of society and spawning of violence and death."
Last week was one of the worst attacks in the city of Paris, with a total of 17 people left dead after persons loyal to the Islamic State murdered 12 persons, and another two people killed a police officer and several hostages in a standoff that ended on Friday. The three suspected killers were shot dead by police after the standoff. In the wake of the assault, Parisians and European leaders came together to send a powerful message that they would not cower to terrorists. more >>
The U.S. Central Command Twitter and Youtube accounts were hacked on Monday by pro-ISIS supporters who posted threats and messages praising Allah. The accounts have since been cleared and are back running on Tuesday, with CENTCOM saying it will be investigating the case of cybervandalism.
"These sites reside on commercial, non-Defense Department servers and both sites have been temporarily taken offline while we look into the incident further. CENTCOM's operational military networks were not compromised and there was no operational impact to U.S. Central Command," CENTCOM said in a statement.
"Our initial assessment is that no classified information was posted and that none of the information posted came from CENTCOM's server or social media sites. Additionally, we are notifying appropriate DoD and law enforcement authorities about the potential release of personally identifiable information and will take appropriate steps to ensure any individuals potentially affected are notified as quickly as possible." more >>