• European capitals on alert after warnings of possible terror attacks before the New Year

    Police forces in several European capitals say that they have been advised by a “friendly” intelligence service of the possibility of fresh terror attacks launched before the New Year. The reports did not name specific capitals, but that security measures in Vienna, Austria, have been beefed up considerably. The Austrian police said they were responding to concrete information about the possibility of an attack between Christmas and the New Year which would take place in “crowded places.”

  • Brazil-Israel stand-off over embassy appointment; teaching German to children refugees

    Israel’s outgoing ambassador to Brazil, Reda Mansour, has completed his tour in Brasilia last week and returned to Israel. Brazil, however, is unwilling to accept his replacement — Dani Dayan, a former head of the Jewish settlement council in the Palestinian territories who lives in the occupied West Bank; Germany is in the process of recruiting 8,500 teachers to teach German to children of refugees. The German government estimates that about 196,000 refugee children will enter the German school system this year.

  • San Bernardino mosque may be reason for barring British Muslim family from entering U.S.

    Muhammad Mahmood, 47, who is a U.S. citizen and who a runs a car repair shop in San Bernardino, California, speculated that the reason his two brothers, their wives, and their children — all of them British citizens – have been barred from entering the United States to visit Disneyland was that he prays at the same mosque where one of the San Bernardino shooters, Syed Farook, used to pray.

  • Survey reveals religious tolerance and declining extremism in Tunisia

    A new survey reveals significant shifts in how Tunisians view the role of religion in politics, religious tolerance, political violence, Western political models, and their own national identity. The survey, conducted during the spring and summer of 2015, shows an increase in support for social individualism, a decline in support for political Islam, a significant increase in preference for Western-style democratic government, and an increase in religious tolerance.

  • France’s emergency anti-terrorism laws; Russian air strikes’ toll; DHS deportation campaign

    The French government plans to propose constitutional amendments aiming to shield state-of-emergency measures from legal challenges; Russian air strikes in Syria, which began 30 September. The Russian strikes have killed 2,132 people, a third of them civilians; DHS is set to launch a campaign to deport illegal immigrant families who arrived in the United States since the beginning of 2014.

  • Russia may be committing war crimes by using banned munitions, targeting civilians: Amnesty

    Russian air strikes in Syria have killed hundreds of civilians and caused massive destruction in residential areas, striking homes, a mosque, and a busy market, as well as medical facilities, in a pattern of attacks that show evidence of violations of international humanitarian law, Amnesty International in a new briefing published on Tuesday. Evidence, including photos and video footage, gathered by Amnesty suggests that the Russians have used unguided bombs in densely populated civilian areas, as well as internationally banned deadly cluster munitions. Weapons experts who analyzed images of Russian air attacks said the nature of the destruction caused by the attacks indicated possible use of fuel-air explosives (also known as “vacuum bombs”), a type of weapon particularly prone to indiscriminate effects when used in the vicinity of civilians.

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  • Arab public opinion overwhelmingly opposes ISIS

    The most comprehensive public opinion poll in the Arab world found that the Arab world as a whole is overwhelmingly opposed to ISIS, with 89 percent of respondents saying that they have negative views of the group, compared to only 7 percent of Arabs who view the extremist organization positively. The results of the survey also show no significant correlation between support for ISIS and religiosity: In other words, support for radical extremist organizations in the Arab world, where it exists, is rooted in political grievances within the Arab region and its conflicts, and not in a religious ideology. The 2015 Arab Opinion Index was released on Monday. The twelve countries in which the survey – which used randomized, self-weighted, multi-stage cluster method — was conducted comprise 90 percent of the population of the Arab League.

  • Smoking Argentinian gun; Turkey, Israel getting closer; Libya military action looms

    Former Argentine Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman knew that Iran was responsible for the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires while he was negotiating with Iran for lucrative business deals on behalf of the Argentinian government two years ago; Saleh al-Arouri, one of the planners of the murder of the three Jewish teenagers in Gush Etzion in June 2014, was expelled from Turkey at Israel’s request, thus removing one more obstacle from the path of normalization of relations between Turkey and Israel; U.K. planes may begin attacking ISIS targets in Libya as part of an international coalition force as the UN Security Council is set to approve a resolution supporting the new Libyan government.

  • Boko Haram attacks force more than 1 million children from school in northeastern Nigeria

    Violence and attacks against civilian populations in northeastern Nigeria and its neighboring countries have forced more than one million children out of school, UNICEF said on Tuesday. The number of children missing out on their education due to the conflict adds to the estimated eleven million children of primary school age who were already out of school in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger before the onset of the crisis. Across Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger, over 2,000 schools remain closed due to attacks by Islamist group Boko Haram and the military campaign conducted against it — some of these schools for more than a year — and hundreds have been attacked, looted, or set on fire.

  • UN refugee chief: Anti-Muslim refugee rhetoric helps ISISI propaganda, recruitment

    The UN refugee chief, criticizing U.S. and European politician who want to block Syrian refugees from resettling in their countries, told the Security Council Monday that “Those that reject Syrian refugees, and especially if they are Muslim, are the best allies of the propaganda and the recruitment of extremist groups.”

  • Could an end to Syria’s civil war be in sight?

    None of the previous attempts to resolve the conflict among the warring parties in Syria through negotiations, such as the Geneva II talks in the beginning of 2014, has had a happy ending. And, in retrospect most observers would go so far as to say that they were doomed to failure. But if, until now, there was zero chance for all principals, both external and internal, to work out a settlement, there currently exists a slender — a very slender — chance for success. A word of caution: Just because most of the parameters are in place does not mean an agreement will be reached. The “Clinton Parameters” — so-called because they were put forward in a last-ditch attempt at a solution by Bill Clinton in 2000, the last year of his presidency — are widely acknowledged to be the basis for any Israeli-Palestinian peace. They have been on the table for a decade and a half, and a resolution to that conflict is nowhere in sight.

  • Since 2001, U.S. has revoked 9,500 visas over terrorism threat

    Since 2001, the U.S. government has revoked more than 122,000 visas – of which some 9,500 were revoked because of the threat of terrorism. The information was revealed by Michele Thoren Bond, assistant secretary for the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the Department of State. When Bond was asked about the whereabouts of the thousands of foreigners whose visa had been revoked, she admitted she did not know. Members of a House panel before which Bond was testifying pressed her on why public social media postings should not be routinely examined as part of the vetting process for those attempting to enter the United States.

  • Notorious Hezbollah militant killed in Israeli attack in Damascus

    Israeli planes fired four missiles Saturday on a six-story building in the suburb of Jaramana on the outskirts of Damascus, killing Samir Qantar, a Lebanese Druze who, as a 16-year old in 1979, took part in one of the most notorious raids by Palestinian terrorists. He spent nearly thirty years in an Israeli jail, and was released in 2008 as part of an exchange agreement with Hezbollah. In the 1979 attack, Qantar took a four-year old child and her father hostage. Israeli military units exchanged fire with the terrorists, who eventually ran out of ammunition. Qantar used the last bullet in his magazine to kill the man, and then, realizing he had no more bullets, smashed the head of the four year old with the butt of his rifle, before surrendering.

  • Jerusalem Palestinians residency rights; German refugee vetting; Turkish assault

    The Israeli government, worried about the demographic trends entailed by Israel’s continuing occupation of Palestinian lands, and aware of growing public anger and the government’s inability to end the daily knife attacks by young Palestinians against Israeli citizens, is planning to strip Jerusalem residency rights from Palestinians in East Jerusalem, which has been annexed to Israel within months after the June 1967 Six Day War; Germany is going back to a case-by-case vetting of Syrian refugees; Turkey has launched a massive military operation against Kurdish separatists.

  • One third of U.K.'s specialized terrorist response vehicles to be scrapped

    In 2004, to meet the threat of terrorists using chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons in an attack in the United Kingdom, the government introduced the Incident Response Units (IRUs), with their distinctive red coloring with yellow stripes, at a cost of £54 million. To save money, one third of all the fire brigade vehicles which were part of the IRUs, and which would have been called out in the event of terrorists setting off a “dirty bomb,” are being scrapped.