Report

Islamic State Militant in Beheading Videos Identified

The Islamic State militant referred to as “Jihadi John” has been identified as Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwaiti-born British citizen from London.

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The Islamic State militant referred to as “Jihadi John” has been identified as Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwaiti-born British citizen from London believed to be about 27 years old. He has appeared in several Islamic State videos of the beheadings of foreign hostages including American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. In January, he seemingly appeared in a video with the Japanese hostages Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto before they were killed. Emwazi has been a “person of interest” to British security services, though they did not release his name due to “operational reasons.”

Syria-Iraq

Concerns are rising for Assyrian Christians in northeastern Syria as numbers of people believed abducted by Islamic State militants in the area increase. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported at least 220 people had been kidnapped, and the Assyrian Federation of Sweden estimated 285 were missing. There are reportedly efforts taking place to negotiate their release. Meanwhile, a source from a hospital in the western Iraqi town of al-Qaim said on Thursday a U.S.-led coalition airstrike killed 17 Islamic State militants and nine civilians. Speaking to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday, the U.S. envoy for the international coalition, retired General John Allen, said 2,500 airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq had damaged their logistical capabilities and degraded their leadership.

Headlines

  • Bahrain convicted 11 Shiite men, sentencing three to death, on Thursday for a bombing in March 2014 that killed three police officers near the capital Manama.
  • Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh is believed to have amassed up to $62 billion in assets partly gained through his “corrupt practices” according to a U.N. report.
  • Six bombings in and near the Egyptian capital Cairo killed one person and injured at least nine others Thursday morning.
  • A United Arab Emirates court has issued life sentences to six Iranians, three convicted in absentia, for the abduction of British businessman Abbas Yazdi, who went missing in June 2013 in Dubai.

Arguments and Analysis

Yemen on brink as Gulf Co-operation Council initiative fails’ (Sheila Carapico, BBC)

“Mr Benomar, the GCC, the UN and G-10 hoped to placate Yemenis’ aspirations for social justice via managed negotiations among factions of the ancien regime and anti-democratic Gulf monarchies.

But anti-systemic movements – the ragtag Houthi militia astonished by the lack of resistance to their advance against the flailing ‘transitional’ regime; the separatist Southern Movement (Hiraak al-Janoubi), also marginalised from the National Dialogue but now taking up arms; fringe Yemeni and foreign Salafist fighters for al-Qaeda; and divisions of what used to be Mr Saleh’s security apparatus – are jockeying for power in the new order.”

Turkey’s coming police state’ (David Lepeska, Al Jazeera)

“Top police officers can now verbally approve strip searches and car searches, without a warrant. Protesters can be doused with coloured water that stains the skin for three days; detained for 48-hours without any chance to contact loved ones; and jailed for up to five years for full or partial covering of their face. That’s right – demonstrators in Turkey are legally barred from protecting their faces from tear gas, which authorities have used liberally since the Gezi protests of June 2013.

Perhaps most troubling, police can now shoot individuals they believe are attempting to attack any building or vehicle, or places where people are believed to have combustibles or devices that cause injury. It’s no longer far-fetched to envision a police officer in Turkey shooting and killing a demonstrator brandishing a poster on a wooden stick and being fully within the law.”

Libya Needs More Than Unity Government to Halt IS Rise’ (Mohamed Eljarh, World Politics Review)

“The Islamic State’s senior leadership in Libya is made up of foreign fighters from Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, who were dispatched to Libya by IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi last summer to coordinate with local jihadis. Like IS in Iraq and Syria, its ranks in Libya are diverse, with Sudanese, Tunisian, Saudi and Libyan nationals reportedly carrying out its suicide missions. The group has also tapped Libyan jihadis who have fought with other local extremist groups, such as Ansar al-Sharia, as well as Libyans who have returned from fighting for IS in Iraq and Syria.”

Mary Casey-Baker

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