FP’s Situation Report: The Islamic State rises in North Africa; Terror hits Denmark; Cease-fire holds in Ukraine; and much more from around the world.
By David Francis with Sabine Muscat The Islamic State demonstrates its reach in North Africa. Militants released a video showing the mass execution of 21 kidnapped Egyptian Coptic Christians, lined up on a beach and summarily beheaded. The group’s growing presence in North Africa shows why President Barack Obama asked Congress to broaden the U.S. ...
By David Francis with Sabine Muscat
The Islamic State demonstrates its reach in North Africa. Militants released a video showing the mass execution of 21 kidnapped Egyptian Coptic Christians, lined up on a beach and summarily beheaded. The group’s growing presence in North Africa shows why President Barack Obama asked Congress to broaden the U.S. fight against the Islamic State beyond Iraq and Syria. The killings could also spur Egypt to ramp up its involvement in the U.S.-led campaign to destroy the quickly expanding group. FP’s David Francis: “Speaking on Egyptian television Sunday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi vowed to take “necessary means and timing to avenge the criminal killings.”
Gunman brings Charlie Hebdo-style terror to Denmark. A gunman identified as 22-year-old Danish national Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein attacked a journalist who caricatured the Prophet Mohamed. He then fired on a synagogue, following the same pattern — attack journalists, then target a Jewish site — as the incidents in Paris in January. FP’s Francis reports it’s too soon to tell whether the attacker is connected to the Islamic State.
More on the Islamic State and Denmark below.
Ukrainian cease-fire largely holds despite pockets of violence. Last week’s cease-fire agreement signed by Ukrainian President Petro O. Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin is “generally holding” according to EU leaders. But there were pockets of violence Sunday in eastern Ukraine. The New York Times’ Andrew E. Kramer: “The separatists had violated the cease-fire 10 times at various locations, a Ukrainian military spokesman, Anatoliy Stelmakh, said in a statement on Sunday.… The separatists said the Ukrainian Army had opened fire and their forces had little choice but to respond.”
More on Ukraine below.
PRESS PACK: Terror in Denmark
The New York Times’ Melissa Eddy: “Two men suspected of helping the 22-year-old gunman responsible for killing a documentary filmmaker and a guard in Copenhagen in a rare outbreak of terrorism have been arrested, the Danish police said on Monday.”
The Guardian’s Angelique Chrisafis and Nadia Khomami: “Local media named the Danish-born suspect as Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, reporting that he was released from prison a few weeks ago after serving a sentence for knife crime. Police did not confirm the name.
The Wall Street Journal’s Dominic Chopping and Christina Zander: “Some said authorities need to do more to protect Jewish communities. European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor called on European authorities to form a pan-European task force with legal authority and financial resources dedicated to taking the battle to the radical Islamist enclaves, hunting terrorists down before they act.”
RFI: “France’s Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve on Sunday promised to help the Danish people fight terrorism.”
Welcome to Monday’s edition of the Situation Report, where we’re celebrating President’s Day by catching up on Saturday Night Live’s 40th anniversary special.
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WHO’S WHERE WHEN TODAY
President Barack Obama is traveling back to Washington from Palm Springs today.
WHAT’S MOVING MARKETS
FP’s Keith Johnson: “Austria is going ballistic at Britain’s plans to help underwrite the construction of a big new nuclear power plant to help the U.K. fend off the specter of a looming energy crunch.”
Reuters’s Philip Blenkinsop and Alexandra Hudson: “Euro zone economic growth accelerated unexpectedly in the final quarter of 2014 as the bloc’s largest member, Germany, expanded at more than twice the expected rate.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Gabriele Steinhauser and Bertrand Benoit: “Any changes to the content or expiration date of Greece’s existing €240 billion ($273 billion) bailout have to be decided by Friday, to give national parliaments in Germany, Finland and the Netherlands enough time to approve them before the end of the month.”
The Los Angeles Times’ Tiffany Hsu, Andrew Khouri, and Tim Logan: “Obama dispatched Tom Perez on Saturday to jump-start stalled labor talks between shipping companies and the dockworkers’ union. The move ramps up pressure to resolve a dispute that stranded tens of thousands of containers on cargo ships over the holiday weekend.”
ISLAMIC STATE: The Libyan group responsible for the beheadings has associated itself with the Islamic State for a year; Egypt responds with airstrikes. Meanwhile, militants backed by Iran threaten U.S. strategy in Iraq.
The Wall Street Journal’s Tamer EL-Ghobashy: “The video, released by the media arm of Islamic State, shows militants who identify themselves as affiliated with the Tripoli Province of Islamic State, a Libyan group that pledged allegiance to IS last year.”
The Washington Post’s Erin Cunningham, Heba Habib, and Daniela Deane: “Six F-16 Egyptian fighter jets targeted Islamic State training camps and weapons stocks in neighboring Libya in a wave of dawn airstrikes.“
The Washington Post’s Liz Sly: “Shiite militias backed by Iran are increasingly taking the lead in Iraq’s fight against the Islamic State.”
UKRAINE: Locals says fighting has de-escalated as German Chancellor Angela Merkel takes a victory lap.
The Wall Street Journal’s James Marson on the shaky cease-fire: “Still, local residents and soldiers say shelling is much less intense. A 76-year-old pensioner who lives in nearby village of Myronivskiy said she had got used to windows and the ground shaking. Many of the villages have been living for some time through freezing temperatures without electricity, water or gas.”
Handelsblatt’s Michael Brackmann and Frank Wiebe on comparisons between Merkel and first chancellor of the German reich Otto von Bismarck: “Both Bismarck and Ms. Merkel understood how big powers feel. Russia is a weakened giant, paranoid that the West, under the guise of NATO, is encroaching on its territories.”
Der Spiegel contemplates whether Merkel’s diplomacy can save Europe: “Never before has the chancellor seemed as emotionally engaged as she has in recent days. Her political arguments have rarely been so personal. The Ukraine crisis has changed Merkel’s view of reality.”
KAYLA MUELLER: Frustrations emerge over failed hostage rescue missions.
The Washington Post’s Karen De Young: “In interviews with The Washington Post and in other published accounts, a number of operational-level U.S. intelligence and military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to voice criticism of higher-ups, have said their disappointment at the failure of the mission was mixed with frustration over the decision process.”
ISRAEL: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invites European Jews to move to Israel.
Deutsche Welle: “Netanyahu, who is currently campaigning for the Israeli general election on March 17, said his government planned to adopt 39.5 million euro ($45 million) plan ‘to encourage the absorption of immigrants from France, Belgium and Ukraine.’”
CHINA: China gets called out for not playing a bigger role in the global terror fight.
The South China Morning Post’s Kristine Kwok on Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, the French ambassador to Beijing, asking China to be more involved in combatting the threat of militants overseas: “His remarks came after the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called for closer co-operation with China in dealing with terrorism and the flow of extremists when he visited Beijing two weeks ago. China has declined to participate in the U.S.-led crackdown on the Islamic State in the Middle East, but is offering assistance through the United Nations.”
NIGERIA: President Goodluck Jonathan wants American combat troops on the ground as a teenage girl becomes a suicide bomber.
The Wall Street Journal’s Neanda Salvaterra and Drew Henshaw: “With his oil-powered economy faltering and just five weeks to go before he faces a close election, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is appealing to the U.S. to send combat troops against his country’s most intractable problem: the Islamist insurgency Boko Haram.”
TIME’s Charlotte Alter: “A teenage girl detonated a suicide bomb in a bus station in northeast Nigeria Sunday, killing 16 people, most of them children.”
JAPAN: Tensions continue between Japan and the United States over a U.S. base in Okinawa.
The Associated Press’s Sudhin Thanawala: “A federal judge in San Francisco dismissed a lawsuit that sought to stop construction of a U.S. military base in Japan that it said would harm the Okinawa dugong, an endangered marine mammal related to the manatee. U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen said he didn’t have the authority to stop construction of the base off Okinawa.”
CYBER: The Christian Science Monitor launches Passcode, a new section on cybersecurity and privacy.
EBOLA: Money committed to fighting Ebola disappears.
AFP on millions missing in Sierra Leone: “There is no paperwork to support payments of 14 billion leones, or $3.3 million, from government Ebola accounts, while $2.5 million in disbursements had incomplete documentation, the country’s auditor general, Lara Taylor-Pearce, said in the report.”
DRONES: Commercial drones are coming to skies near you.
USA Today’s Bart Jansen: “The Federal Aviation Administration released Sunday its long-awaited proposal for governing small commercial drones, setting a plan for remote-controlled aircraft to share the skies with passenger planes.”
REVOLVING DOOR: We hear Iran is poised to present U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon with credentials for Tehran’s first new U.N. envoy on Tuesday.
AND FINALLY, if you’re having a lazy President’s Day, grab one of these books from NPR’s Black History Month reading list and dig in.