In response to the growing threat posed by the Islamic State terrorist group, the royal family of Saudi Arabia is having a 600-mile barrier constructed to completely block the Iraqi portion of the Saudi northern border, hoping to prevent ISIS militants from infiltrating the kingdom.
The planned fence structure will span the entire distance of the Iraq-Saudi border, from Jordan to Kuwait. The border barrier system will feature five layers of barbed wire fencing, a ditch, a patrol road, 240 rapid response vehicles, underground motion sensors, 40 watchtowers, radar, day/night cameras, seven command centers, 28 communication towers, 32 military response stations (equipped with helipads), and three rapid intervention teams. The entire system will also be connected through a fibre-optic communications network.
The idea for the "great wall" was first proposed during the height of the United States' invasion of Iraq in 2006. But, construction on the barrier did not begin until last September, after the Islamic State conquered large swaths of the neighboring Anbar province in Iraq. more >>
Officials in Afghanistan have confirmed that the Islamic State terrorist group is present and active in the country's southern region, flying its black flags, recruiting fighters and even fighting against forces from another radical Islamic extremist group, the Taliban.
The Times of London reports that sources within the Afghanistan government have confirmed the group's existence in the southern Helmand province. General Mahmood Khan, deputy commander of the Afghan army's 215 corps, said that numerous residents have attested that they've seen ISIS representatives actively recruiting fighters.
Khan also said that he was told by many of the residents that the ISIS recruitment operation in Afghanistan is run by former Guantanamo Bay detainee Mullah Abdul Rauf, who is actively offering prospective fighters decent wages if they fight for the caliph. more >>
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has accepted an invitation by Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend a ceremony in Moscow in May to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany. This is set to be Kim's first official overseas trip as leader of his country, and follows indications from Putin that he wants closer ties between the two world leaders.
"North Korea is seeking to deepen both diplomatic and economic ties with Russia at a time when its political relationship with China remains chilly," South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.
The celebrations are intended to mark the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. The visit will be Kim's first to a foreign country since he became North Korean leader in 2011 following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il. more >>
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 >>
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 >>