The United States has sharply escalated its drone war in Yemen, with military officials in the Arab country reporting 34 suspected al-Qaeda militants killed in less than two weeks, including three strikes on Thursday alone in which a dozen died.
Journalist Josh Begley has launched Dronestream, a website tracking every U.S. drone strike, and a chart showing the escalation of U.S. drone wars under President Barack Obama. For real time effect, Begley tweets the attacks @dronestream.
A bomb threat forced French officials to evacuate the Eiffel Tower in Paris this afternoon, but they allowed hundreds of tourists to return two hours later.
A number of reports this week put new pressure on the Obama administration to reconstitute its war on terror, a term the president and his foreign policy team have avoided. A conference call with al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri and affiliates all over the world, say some, led to the global terror alert and closure of U.S. embassies. Experts have portrayed Zawahiri has a reclusive leader without a direct line of authority to scattered terror cells in Iraq, Nigeria, and North Africa.
U.S.-based groups are petitioning the Obama administration to designate Boko Haram a Foreign Terrorist Organization, which would put added muscle behind efforts to curb the militants, who have been terrorizing and killing Christians and others in Nigeria. This should be a no-brainer—especially since Boko Haram was one of the affiliates allegedly on the call with Zawahiri—but instead has been an uphill climb. Many thousands of signatures are needed by Aug. 23.
Jubilee Campaign has put together a comprehensive fact sheet on Boko Haram activities.
Iran’s new president, Hasan Rouhani, has been a resolute supporter of the country’s nuclear program.
An Iranian judge has sentenced Christian convert Mostafa Bordbar to 10 years in prison—for attending a church Christmas party.
International flights are slowly resuming at Nairobi’s airport after a massive fire on Wednesday shut down the facility, a hub for air traffic in East Africa. The fire stranded a number of U.S. aid workers—and raised questions of possible terrorism, as it coincided with the 15th anniversary of twin attacks by Islamist militants on the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
I’m reading about the Jews in Iraq, including rereading Marina Benjamin’s Last Days in Babylon. The latest reports indicate as few as six Jews may be left in Baghdad. The last rabbi left for Israel in 2006. Also continuing with William Manchester and Paul Reid’s The Last Lion, a great, long, worthwhile read.