The world at a glance ...
Mosque slaughter: A university student whom classmates described as a far-right extremist opened fire at a Quebec City mosque during evening prayers this week, killing at least six people and injuring 19 more in what the government is calling a terrorist attack. Witnesses said the suspected gunman, Alexandre Bissonnette, a 27-year-old French Canadian student, shouted “Allahu akbar!”—or “God is great!”—during his rampage at the Islamic Cultural Center. Bissonnette fled in his car but was caught about 12 miles away after calling 911 and telling police that he “felt bad” and wanted to kill himself, according to the Quebec City daily Le Soleil. Classmates at Laval University said Bissonnette was a loner with nationalist, misogynist, and anti-immigrant views; on his Facebook page, he declared support for U.S. President Trump and Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far right. Bissonnette faces six charges of murder and five of attempted murder.
Thousands of Canadians attended vigils held at mosques and churches across the nation for the victims—who included a grocer, a computer scientist, and a college professor. “We will grieve with you. We will defend you,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Canadian Muslims. “We will love you and we will stand with you.” About 1 million of Canada’s 36 million people are Muslim.
Euthanasia controversy: A Dutch doctor has been formally reprimanded but will not be charged with a crime for a euthanasia procedure that went horribly wrong. The unnamed doctor’s patient, a woman in her 70s, had made a living will at the onset of her dementia, saying she would like to be allowed to die “when the time was right.” When the patient’s condition substantially deteriorated, the doctor—after consulting the dementia sufferer’s family—slipped a sleeping drug into her coffee without her knowledge and then began a lethal IV. When the patient woke up and began to struggle, saying “I don’t want to die” several times, the doctor asked the family to hold her down so the procedure could be completed. Dutch authorities said the doctor “acted on good faith” but should have stopped the procedure once the patient resisted.
La Montañita, Colombia
Cacao, not coca: Farmers in land formerly controlled by the leftist rebel group FARC will get monthly stipends of $350 to stop growing coca, marijuana, and opium poppy and start growing food crops instead, the Colombian government said this week. “The peace advances will transform the fields,” said President Juan Manuel Santos. “Communities will thrive with alternative products.” FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, funded its decades-long insurgency through control of the cocaine trade. The first wave of the new program will seek to eliminate 200 square miles of coca fields.
Burqa ban: Austria’s coalition government has included a burqa ban in a raft of new measures aimed at undermining the rise of the far-right, anti-Islam Freedom Party. The policies proposed by the ruling center-left Social Democratic Party and center-right Austrian People’s Party would ban full-face veils such as the burqa and the niqab—worn by about 150 women in Austria— from public spaces such as courts and schools. Asylum seekers would also be made to sign an “integration agreement,” and workers from eastern Europe would be restricted from full access to the labor market. The Freedom Party has been surging in support in recent months, and only narrowly lost the presidential election in December.
Rio de Janeiro
Billionaire jailed: Fugitive tycoon Eike Batista, once Brazil’s richest man, returned to Brazil this week to be arrested over allegations that he paid $16.5 million in bribes to the former governor of Rio de Janeiro state. Police raided his Rio mansion last week as part of an investigation into a massive kickback scheme involving much of Brazil’s political and business elite. They found a Lamborghini sports car parked in Batista’s living room, but not their suspect, who had fled to New York City hours earlier. Batista later came back and turned himself in, saying he wanted to clear his name. Because he has no college degree, he was sent to a filthy, overcrowded prison instead of a better-maintained facility for white-collar criminals. Batista was worth $35 billion in 2012, but his fortune had dropped to less than $1 billion by last year, after his oil fields failed to produce.
U.S. ‘spies’ arrested: Two of Moscow’s top cybersecurity officials have been charged with treason for passing state secrets to the CIA, Russian media reported this week. Sergei Mikhailov, head of cybersecurity at the FSB, the KGB successor agency, disappeared last year and was rumored to have been taken from a meeting with a bag over his head. His deputy, Dmitry Dokuchaev, a former hacker who joined the secret service to avoid prison, and Ruslan Stoyanov, an executive with cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab, are also reportedly under arrest for treason. The Kremlin has denied any link between the arrests and the Russian hacking of the U.S. Democratic Party. It was revealed last week that former FSB chief Oleg Erovinkin, who is believed to have helped a former British spy compile a lurid dossier on President Trump’s alleged links with Russia, was found dead in the back of his car in December. Trump has called the unsubstantiated claims in the dossier “fake news.”
EU sees Trump as danger: European Union President Donald Tusk says President Trump is a threat to European security, just like Russia and Islamist terrorism. “The change in Washington puts the European Union in a difficult situation, with the new administration seeming to put into question the last 70 years of American foreign policy,” Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, wrote in a letter to EU member states. European leaders have expressed dismay at Trump’s support for the U.K.’s decision to leave the bloc, and they fear his support for NATO, the main guarantor of European security, is tepid. Trump has criticized rules set by the EU—which he calls “the consortium”—for hampering construction work at his Irish golf course.
Russia presses war: A day after President Trump spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Moscow-backed separatists began pounding eastern Ukraine with heavy shelling. Government-controlled cities, including Avdiyivka, near the rebel stronghold of Donetsk, came under intense fire, knocking out power and water to thousands of civilians as nighttime temperatures dropped to minus 18. At least 10 people were killed and dozens wounded. Associated Press reporters saw rebels using Grad missile launchers, which were banned by the 2015 Minsk cease-fire agreement. The outbreak of violence is “another reason for the soonest possible resumption of dialogue and cooperation between Russia and America,” said a Kremlin spokesman.
Missile test: U.S. officials condemned Iran as “provocative” and “irresponsible” this week after the Islamic Republic tested a ballistic missile—its first such test since President Trump took office. The nuclear deal agreed to last year between Iran, the U.S., and other nations does not include a ban on missile tests, but a U.N. Security Council resolution adopted in 2015 “calls on” Iran to not launch any missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons, including ballistic missiles. Iran’s defense minister, Hossein Dehghan, rejected criticism of this week’s test, saying, “We will not let any foreigner meddle with our defense issues.” Last year, Iran test-fired two ballistic missiles, one of them inscribed with the phrase “Israel must be wiped out” in Hebrew.
Jihadist leader arrested: Bowing to U.S. pressure, Pakistani authorities have put the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks back under house arrest. Hafiz Saeed was first detained following the bloodshed in Mumbai, when 10 members of his banned Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group killed 166 people in a four-day rampage in the city. Six months later, Pakistan set Saeed free, saying there was not enough evidence to charge him. The U.S. put a $10 million bounty on Saeed in 2012, but Pakistani authorities let him live openly in Lahore, running a charity believed to be a front for militants. Saeed blamed his arrest this week on foreign powers, saying, “The orders have come via India and the U.S.”
Trump’s first combat death: A U.S. raid to capture intelligence from an al Qaida compound in Yemen degenerated into a chaotic firefight this week, claiming the lives of two Americans: Navy SEAL William Owens and the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al- Awlaki, a U.S.-born jihadist killed in a 2011 drone strike. It was the first counterterrorism mission authorized by President Trump; President Obama had rejected it as too risky. Pentagon officials said U.S. forces came under intense fire as they descended on the village of Yakla, and helicopter gunships and Harrier jets were called in to pound the militants. A $70 million Osprey crashed during the mission and had to be bombed to stop it from falling into enemy hands. Yemeni officials said the operation killed 16 civilians, including al-Awlaki’s daughter, Nawar. The U.S. said most or all of those killed were militants.