fighting terrorism
July 31, 2017

Airports in Australia are taking extra precaution checking baggage, following law enforcement's discovery of a terrorist plot to bring down an airplane.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Sunday said the plan had been disrupted, but would not comment on newspaper reports that Islamic extremists had been wanting to make a homemade bomb disguised as a kitchen tool, which would emit poison gas to either kill or impair the plane's passengers and crew. Four men have been arrested in raids, two Lebanese-Australian fathers and their sons, but they have yet to be charged, The Associated Press reports.

Travelers flying out of Australia are being told to bring a minimum amount of luggage, and to arrive several hours ahead of their flights in order to go through extra screenings. Catherine Garcia

July 30, 2017

Law enforcement in Australia thwarted an "Islamic-inspired" plot to crash an airplane with an improvised bomb, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said Sunday after arresting four men in counter-terror raids in Sydney.

"At this time we don't have a great deal of information on the specific attack, the location, date, or time," said AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin. "However, we are investigating information indicating that the aviation industry was potentially a target." Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said airport security measures will be increased as the investigation, which he described as a "major joint counter-terrorism operation," continues. Bonnie Kristian

June 10, 2017

The United States military is now involved in the three-week siege against militants claiming ties to the Islamic State in the Philippines' Marawi City, Philippine officials said Saturday. U.S. troops "are not fighting. They are just providing technical support," said Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera, a representative of the Philippine army.

The U.S. embassy in Manila confirmed the military intervention but did not elaborate. "The United States is a proud ally of the Philippines, and we will continue to work with the Philippines to address shared threats to the peace and security of our countries," said an embassy statement.

This news comes one day after 13 Philippine marines were killed in the Marawi battle and follows "very friendly" conversations between President Trump and controversial Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has encouraged extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers. Bonnie Kristian

February 7, 2017

U.S. officials say that the Yemeni government, upset over the deaths of several civilians in a raid authorized last month by President Trump, has suspended anti-terrorism commando operations by the United States inside the country, The New York Times reports.

This does not affect military drone attacks or the advisers there working with Yemeni forces, the officials said; the White House and the Yemeni government have not publicly announced the suspension. The raid left one Navy SEAL, more than a dozen al Qaeda fighters, and several civilians dead, including children. The White House has called it a "success" multiple times, and the Pentagon says it has recovered laptops and other items that will shed light on how al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula operates; others have called it a disaster, marred by the death of the SEAL and the hard landing of a helicopter that had to be destroyed. Military officials told NBC News the raid actually targeted the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Qassim al-Rimi, but he was either not at the house or escaped, and has gone on to record a message taunting Trump. Catherine Garcia

May 23, 2016

British and American intelligence officials have identified the last member of the so-called Islamic State "Beatles" that beheaded 27 hostages, BuzzFeed News and The Washington Post jointly reported Monday.

El Shafee Elsheikh, 27, a former London Fairground mechanic, is said to be living in Syria. His mother, Maha Elgizouli, told BuzzFeed he ran away to Syria after being radicalized in 2012, and his younger brother followed.

"My kids were perfect," she said. "And one day it suddenly happened."

The other members of the execution squad have been identified as Londoners Mohammed Emwazi, better known as "Jihadi John;" Alexanda Kotey; and Aine Davis. Julie Kliegman

May 22, 2016

A U.S. airstrike killed Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour on Saturday, Reuters reports Afghan officials said Sunday.

"Peace is what we want," said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. "Mansour was a threat to that effort. He also was directly opposed to peace negotiations and to the reconciliation process. It is time for Afghans to stop fighting and to start building a real future together."

The attack, on the Pakistan side of the nation's border with Afghanistan, is likely to derail peace talks, The Guardian reports.

Mansour's death could also deepen the rifts within the Taliban first exposed in 2015, when it was revealed the group's former leader had been dead for almost two years. Julie Kliegman

April 18, 2016

The U.S. is sending 200 more troops to Iraq to fight the Islamic State, defense officials said Monday. For the first time, it's also sending Apache helicopters.

Most of the additional troops, which bring the total number in Iraq to 4,087, are going to be Army special forces, The Associated Press reports. Some troops will embed with Iraqi brigades and battalions, which stands to put them closer to mortars and rocket fire than they have been.

The move comes as Iraqi forces prepare for the fight to reclaim Mosul from ISIS. Julie Kliegman

March 28, 2016

Syrian forces recaptured Palmyra from Islamic State militants Sunday, but getting the ancient city back in shape after nearly a year won't be an easy process, The Wall Street Journal reports. The terrorist group razed residential neighborhoods, damaged a 2,000-year-old temple and parts of another temple, and three ancient tombs.

Altogether, the damage should take about five years to repair, government antiquities director Maamoun Abdulkarim said Monday. But all things considered, he said he expected Palmyra to be even worse off.

"The panoramic view of Palmyra — the colonnades, the baths, the arches, and most of the temples — are surprisingly still intact," Abdulkarim said. "I expected the damage to be 20 times worse than this. After months of worrying, crying, I felt the best moments of happiness when I saw it was better than I expected." Julie Kliegman

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