France: more women, children returned from IS camps in Syria
PARIS — (AP) — France on Tuesday repatriated another group of women and children from former Islamic State group-controlled areas of Syria, the latest return of French nationals who'd been stranded in camps there. The latest group was made up of 32 minors and 15 adult women, the national counterterrorism prosecutor’s office said. France has brought home women and children from camps in northeastern Syria in successive waves since the territorial defeat of IS in 2019. Many European countries were slow to allow the return of women and children from areas where IS operated for fear they would violently turn on their homelands. France saw more of its citizens join IS in Syria than any other European country and has been especially wary about having them back.wftv.com
Former Contractor Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Defraud the United States
A dual citizen of the United States and Syria who evaded arrest for over two decades pleaded guilty today in the District of Columbia for his role in a conspiracy to defraud the United States and to pay gratuities to a federal public official. Italian authorities extradited Kanaan back to the United States on Jan. 5. Kanaan pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and to pay gratuities. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and Italian Ministry of Justice, the Prosecutor’s Office of the Court of Appeal of Milan, and Italian law enforcement authorities provided invaluable assistance. Marshals Service transported Kanaan back to the United States, with valuable support from the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service.justice.gov
Spain: Jail for 2 women repatriated from Syria
MADRID — (AP) — A Spanish judge on Wednesday ordered jail without bail for two women repatriated from Syria for their suspected involvement with the Islamic State group. The women are under investigation for the crime of belonging to a terrorist organization. The court considers the women as part of the so-called Al-Andalus Brigade based in Madrid that indoctrinated individuals and helped them travel to Syria and Iraq where they fought for IS. The women and 13 children, which included their own children and others under the care of one of them, were flown to Spain from Syria on Tuesday. They had spent years in a refugee camp that holds many wives and children of IS fighters.wftv.com
US, Turkey sanction alleged Islamic State Group supporters
The announcement signaled counterterrorism cooperation between the two countries at a time of tensions over efforts to fight Islamic State. Kurdish groups have been allied with the U.S. in the fight against Islamic State group and have warned that a Turkish escalation would threaten anti-IS efforts. They are accused of facilitating financial transfers to and from Iraq and Syria for the benefit of the Islamic State. The Islamic State group is also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. In November, Defense Department officials warned that they were “deeply concerned” about escalating IS activities in Iraq, Syria and Turkey.wftv.com
Tunisian Islamist party protests arrest of senior leader
TUNIS, Tunisia — (AP) — Supporters of the Tunisian Islamist movement Ennahda demonstrated on Friday in front of the Justice Ministry in the capital to denounce the arrest of one of its senior leaders, suspected of being involved in sending Tunisians to fight with extremists in Syria. Protesters demanded the release of former Prime Minister Ali Larayedh, vice president of Ennahda, saying the arrest earlier this week was politically motivated. They called it part of efforts by President Kais Saied to marginalize the popular movement and distract the public from his political troubles. The day after the vote, an anti-terrorism judge ordered the imprisonment of former Prime Minister Ali Larayedh, vice president of Ennahdha. “The fact that 90% of voters abstain from going to the polls signifies a disavowal of the political process initiated by President Saied.wftv.com
Syria receives cholera vaccines ahead of inoculation drive
DAMASCUS, Syria — (AP) — Syria has received two million doses of cholera vaccines, the first to reach the country during a months-long outbreak, the country's health ministry said Wednesday. The war-torn country has been suffering from a cholera outbreak since September and has struggled to contain it due to its devastated water and health infrastructure. Syria's Health Ministry has documented 1,556 cases and 49 deaths since then. Syria's Health Ministry said the vaccines were from the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF and international organization Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. According to the World Health Organization, a cholera infection is caused by consuming food or water infected with the Vibrio cholerae bacteria.wftv.com
French firm admits Islamic State group payments in US court
NEW YORK — (AP) — French cement company Lafarge pleaded guilty Tuesday to paying millions of dollars to the Islamic State group so that a plant in Syria could remain open, a case that the Justice Department described as the first of its kind. The company agreed to pay criminal fines of roughly $91 million and forfeit an additional $687 million for a total penalty of roughly $778 million. “There is simply no justification for a multi-national corporation authorizing payments to designated terrorist organization,” he added. The charges were announced by federal prosecutors in New York City and by senior Justice Department leaders from Washington. The Islamic State group is abbreviated as IS and has been referred to as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.wftv.com
French firm charged in US with Islamic State group payments
NEW YORK — (AP) — French cement company Lafarge pleaded guilty Tuesday to paying $17 million to the Islamic State group so that a plant in Syria could remain open, a case that the Justice Department described as the first of its kind. The charges were announced in federal court in New York City. The allegations involve conduct that was earlier investigated by authorities in France. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.wftv.com
German charged with crimes against humanity, IS membership
German federal prosecutors say they have charged a woman with crimes against humanity and aiding and abetting genocide for allegedly having joined the extremist Islamic State group in Syria where she had a Yazidi slave and committed other crimeswashingtonpost.com
North Macedonia detains 142 migrants near border
SKOPJE, North Macedonia — (AP) — A group of 142 migrants was detained near North Macedonia's southern border with Greece early Thursday, authorities said. A police statement said the detainees were mostly from Syria and Pakistan, and had entered from Greece. Police say the number of people illegally entering North Macedonia has doubled so far this year, compared to the same period in 2021. More than 11,000 people — mostly from Pakistan, Syria and India — have been stopped this year. They usually pay criminal gangs to be smuggled through the Balkans to Europe's prosperous heartland.wftv.com
Hezbollah at 40 stronger than ever but has more enemies
There is no specific date on when Hezbollah was founded, starting as a small, shadowy group of fighters helped by Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard. Hezbollah’s biggest achievement over the past 40 years was its guerrilla war against Israeli forces occupying parts of southern Lebanon. In early July, the Israeli military shot down three unmanned aircraft launched by Hezbollah heading toward an area where an Israeli gas platform was recently installed in the Mediterranean Sea. “Not as strong as the Israeli military, not as strong as the Israeli air force. Within Lebanon, Hezbollah has used its powerful support among the Shiite community and tough tactics to gain political dominance.wftv.com
Key Islamic State figure killed in Syria drone strike, U.S. says
Maher al-Agal, who worked “aggressively” on building ISIS networks outside of Iraq and Syria, according to the U.S. military, was one of two targets of the strike outside Jindaryis, about 35 miles west of Aleppo. Al-Agal was considered to be one of the top five ISIS leaders in Iraq and Syria, U.S. officials said. A second official closely associated with him, whom the military did not identify, was “seriously injured” during the strike, according to CENTCOM.washingtonpost.com
Pentagon: US killed ISIS leader in Syria in drone strike
WASHINGTON — (AP) — The Pentagon said Tuesday that it killed a leader of the Islamic State in Syria in a drone strike. U.S. Central Command said in a news release that Maher al-Agal was killed Tuesday and an unidentified senior official in the Islamic State was seriously injured. The U.S. carried out the strike outside Jindaris, a town in northwest Syria close to the Turkish border. The Islamic State at the height of its power controlled more than 40,000 square miles stretching from Syria to Iraq and ruled over 8 million people. The strike on al-Agal comes months after the head of the group, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, killed himself during a raid of his hideout by American special forces.wftv.com
France brings 51 citizens home from IS camps in Syria
PARIS — (AP) — French authorities on Tuesday repatriated 51 women and children from the former Islamic State-controlled areas in Syria, according to a statement from the national antiterrorist prosecutor’s office. It’s the single largest return of women and children to France from camps in northeastern Syria since the territorial defeat of the Islamic State group in March 2019. France saw more of its citizens leave to join IS than any other country in Europe. Twelve women returned with their children and four of the women had previously agreed to the return of their children, according to the prosecutor’s statement. France, which saw more of its citizens join IS in Syria than any other European country and suffered multiple deadly attacks beginning in 2015, has been especially reluctant.wftv.com
Iran claims missile barrage near US consulate in Iraq
Iran has claimed responsibility for a missile barrage that struck near a sprawling U.S. consulate complex in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil, saying it was retaliation for an Israeli strike in Syria that killed two members of its Revolutionary Guard.
Israel suspects Iran connection to Mediterranean oil spill
A dog smells pieces of tar from an oil spill in the Mediterranean Sea, on a beach in the Gdor Nature Reserve near Michmoret, Israel, Monday, March 1, 2021. The cleanup from the disastrous oil spill that has blackened most of the country's shoreline is expected to take months. Over 90% of Israel’s 195 kilometer (120-mile) Mediterranean coastline was covered in more than 1,000 tons of black tar, the result of the mysterious oil spill in international waters. Iranian oil tankers increasingly have been accused of smuggling oil out of the country and selling the lucrative crude abroad after then-President Donald Trump withdrew from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers nearly three years ago. Israel's Environmental Protection Ministry had kept the particulars of its investigation into the incident under close guard and obtained a court issued gag-order on all details about the case.
US bombs facilities in Syria used by Iran-backed militia
The U.S. military conducted airstrikes against facilities in eastern Syria, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, that the Pentagon said were used by Iran-backed militia groups, in response to recent attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)WASHINGTON – The United States launched airstrikes in Syria on Thursday, targeting facilities near the Iraqi border used by Iranian-backed militia groups. The Pentagon said the strikes were retaliation for a rocket attack in Iraq earlier this month that killed one civilian contractor and wounded a U.S. service member and other coalition troops. Officials have noted that in the past, Iranian-backed Shiite militia groups have been responsible for numerous rocket attacks that targeted U.S. personnel or facilities in Iraq. A week later, a rocket attack in Baghdad's Green Zone appeared to target the U.S. Embassy compound, but no one was hurt.
Charity rescue ship with 265 migrants anchors off Italy
Migrants from Eritrea, Egypt, Syria and Sudan, rest on board the Spanish NGO Open Arms vessel after having been rescued in the Mediterranean sea, about 110 miles north of Libya, on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Joan Mateu)ROME – Italy allowed a Spanish-flagged charity ship with 265 rescued migrants aboard to anchor off Sicily on Monday. The Open Arms vessel had brought the migrants safely aboard in separate rescues last week in the central Mediterranean. Open Arms said 96 of those rescued had been adrift two days in a wooden boat without life vests in international waters. In an earlier, separate operation, Open Arms had taken aboard 169 migrants, who had departed Libyan shores, where many human traffickers are based.
Spanish-flagged boat rescues 265 migrants in Mediterranean
Migrants from Eritrea, Egypt, Syria and Sudan, are assisted by aid workers of the Spanish NGO Open Arms, after fleeing Libya on board a precarious wooden boat in the Mediterranean sea, about 110 miles north of Libya, on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Joan Mateu)ROME – A Spanish-flagged humanitarian ship on Sunday was seeking a port of safety for 265 migrants its crew rescued from the Mediterranean Sea in the last few days. The Open Arms charity tweeted that its vessel on Saturday had safely brought aboard 96 migrants who had been adrift in a wooden boat with without life vests in international waters. In a separate operation two days before that rescue, Open Arms took aboard 169 migrants, who had departed Libyan shores, where many human traffickers are based. The traffickers launch vessels, many of them flimsy rubber dinghies or rickety fishing boats, crowded with migrants who hope to reach European shores to seek asylum.
20 migrants dead off Tunisia after boat sinks, more missing
Tunisian authorities say 20 African migrants have been found dead after their boat, which was trying to reach Europe, sank in the Mediterranean Sea. Five survivors were rescued Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020 and authorities are searching for up to 20 others believed missing. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios, File)TUNIS – About 20 African migrants were found dead Thursday after their smuggling boat sank in the Mediterranean Sea while trying to reach Europe, Tunisian authorities said. Five survivors were rescued and the Tunisian navy is searching for up to 20 others still believed missing. According to survivors, the migrant smuggling boat was carrying about 40 or 50 people heading toward Italy, Ben Zekri said.
French court convicts IS operative over foiled train attack
(AP Photo, File)PARIS – A French court on Thursday convicted an Islamic State operative over a train attack five years ago that was foiled with the dramatic intervention of three American passengers. The special terrorism court sentenced Morocco-born Ayoub El Khazzani to life in prison, with 22 years guaranteed behind bars. The train attack was allegedly organized by Abdelhamid Abaaoud, portrayed as the coordinator of the November 2015 attacks in Paris. He told the court that Abaaoud concocted the plan for the train attack and he followed it to the letter — until he changed his mind. The court convicted Bilal Chatra and Mohamed Bakkali of complicity and sentenced them to prison terms of 27 years and 25 years, respectively.
IS widow convicted in Charlie Hebdo, kosher market attacks
FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2015, file photo, an injured person is transported to an ambulance after a shooting at the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo's office in Paris, France. The verdict ends the three-month trial linked to the three days of killings across Paris claimed jointly by the Islamic State group and al-Qaida. Patrick Klugman, a lawyer for the survivors of the market attack, said the verdict sent a message to sympathizers. The Jan. 7-9, 2015, attacks in Paris left 17 dead along with the three gunmen. Boumeddiene, the only woman on trial, fled to Syria days before the attack and appeared in Islamic State propaganda.
US general says IS in Iraq and Syria still long-term threat
He said a solution must come from a joint effort by diplomatic, security and humanitarian organizations. The U.S. also has about 3,000 troops still in Iraq; on Tuesday the Pentagon announced that Trump had ordered a drawdown to 2,500 in Iraq with no change for Syria. Trump has pushed for the repatriation of foreign fighters in Syria, but their home countries have largely refused to take them back. In the short run, McKenzie said, IS is in no position to pose a major security threat to the United States. The al-Qaida extremist group and like-minded militants also are severely hobbled but not eliminated, he said.
Turkish parliament approves peacekeepers for Azerbaijan
ANKARA – Turkey’s parliament on Tuesday granted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government permission to deploy peacekeepers to Azerbaijan to monitor a cease-fire deal between Azerbaijan and Armenia that aims to end the conflict in the region. Last week, the defense ministers of Russia and Turkey signed a memorandum to create a joint monitoring center in Azerbaijan, although technical details of the mission are still being worked out. Russian officials have said that Ankara’s involvement will be limited to the work of the monitoring center on Azerbaijani soil, and Turkish peacekeepers wouldn't go to Nagorno-Karabakh. The motion for the deployment in Azerbaijan was backed by four out of five parties in Turkey's parliament. Erdogan's government said the Turkish peacekeepers were crucial for the region's peace and welfare and for Turkey's national interests.
Trump aide promises 'very professional transition' to Biden
DUBAI – President Donald Trump's national security adviser promised a “very professional transition” to the administration of President-elect Joe Biden in an interview broadcast Monday, even as Trump continues to falsely claim he won the November election. “If the Biden-Harris ticket is determined to be the winner — obviously things look that way now — we'll have a very professional transition from the National Security Council. The federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency also says: “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history.”O'Brien, Trump's fourth national security adviser, previously served as his special envoy on hostage affairs. A top Lebanese security official said Saturday that he visited Syria for two days to speak with officials there about Tice. However, there's been no public sign of tensions easing between Doha and Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Trial in France for extremist foiled by 3 Americans on train
The heavily-armed and bare-chested El Khazzani wounded a French-American who managed to briefly yank a Kalashnikov from his hands before the three vacationing Americans took him down. Their probe showed that Abaaoud and El Khazzani traveled together from Syria to Belgium and holed up with Chatra in a Brussels apartment. The alleged train attack plot went awry when passengers moved in on El Khazzani. Once aboard the train, El Khazzani lingered in a restroom between cars and emerged bare-chested with the Kalashnikov. He jumped in after a French banker, who has asked to remain anonymous, wrestled unsuccessfully with El Khazzani.
Man sentenced to life after failed French church bombing
LYON – A Paris criminal court sentenced a 29-year-old Algerian man Thursday to life in prison for killing a woman and trying to bomb a church near the French capital in a failed 2015 attack that investigators said was plotted by Islamic State group extremists in Syria. He expressed regret over choosing that path, but denied killing the woman outside the church in the Paris suburb of Villejuif. Seven other defendants found to have helped him in the attack were sentenced to between three and 30 years in prison. The Paris court also convicted in absentia two operatives who were accused of orchestrating the attack, Abdelnasser Benyoucef and Samir Nouad, and sentenced them to life in prison. Another French terrorist trial is opening later this month, involving an attempted IS attack on a high-speed Amsterdam-to-Paris train.
Woman accused of joining IS arrested on return to Germany
BERLIN Prosecutors said Monday a German woman who allegedly joined the Islamic State group in Syria was arrested upon her return to the country. She is accused of membership in a foreign terrorist group, war crimes against property and other crimes. Federal prosecutors said in a written statement that the woman, identified only as Nurten J. in line with local privacy laws, was arrested Friday at Frankfurt Airport. After IS lost its territories in Syria, J. and her family were captured by Kurds and were eventually taken into deportation custody in Turkey. It was not clear if she was returned to Germany in custody and and the fate of her children was not known.
Italy seizes 14 tons of amphetamines, said to be IS-made
This image taken from a video shows amphetamines pills that were seized at the Salerno harbor, southern Italy, Wednesday, July 1, 2020.Italian police have seized 14 tons of amphetamines, allegedly produced in Syria by Islamic State group to fund terrorist activities and destined for the European illegal drug market. Customs Police Col. Domenico Napolitano on Wednesday called the discovery of three shipping containers crammed with some 85 million pills, in the southern port of Salerno, the biggest amphetamine seizure ever made worldwide. (Guardia di Finanza via AP)ROME Italian police have seized 14 tons of amphetamines, allegedly produced in Syria by the Islamic State group to fund extremist activities and destined for the European illegal drug market. The amphetamines were labeled captagon, the street name for a drug whose chemical base is fenethylline. The 14 tons of amphetamines would have raked in about 1 billion euros ($1.15 billion) in street sales had they ultimately made it to consumers, customs police said.
Syria donors gather as virus, economic chaos deepen crisis
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell waits for the start of a meeting, Supporting the future of Syria and the Region, in videoconference format at the European Council building in Brussels, Tuesday, June 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, Pool)