KENYA: Al-Shabaab militants from Somalia claimed responsibility in a shooting rampage that killed at least 50 soccer fans watching a World Cup match in a television hall in Mpeketoni, not far from Mombasa. The gunmen reportedly killed anyone who wasn’t Muslim or didn’t know the Somali language. The same terror group attacked the Westgate Mall in Nairobi last year.
IRAQ: U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel over the weekend ordered U.S. naval ships into the Arabian Gulf as President Barack Obama said he would “protect American citizens and interests in Iraq.” The president also plans to open talks with Iran on what to do about Iraq as the two sides near a deadline for coming to terms on Iran’s nuclear capability. Disturbing images emerged on the internet of militants in Iraq capturing and allegedly executing dozens of men, perhaps plain clothes members of the Iraqi army in Salahuddin province north of Baghdad. The terrorist fighters in one Twitter post boasted of executing 1,700 soldiers. By most accounts, Mosul may now be mostly or entirely emptied of Christians. The fighters also have taken over the Christian and Turkoman city of Tel Afar, about 30 miles away.
ISIS: What’s in a name? ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or al-Sham) and ISIL (the Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant) are the same group. The terrorist organization began as ISI, or the Islamic State of Iraq, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Zarqawi was well known to Americans for orchestrating, among many others, attacks on U.S. forces in Anbar Province, the kidnapping of American journalist Jill Carroll, and actually wielding a sword in a video showing the beheading of American businessman Nicholas Berg. The Jordanian-born terrorist was killed in a U.S. airstrike in 2006, but the organization and goals he set for ISI survived. Quelled in Iraq by U.S. forces, it relaunched in Syria over the last three years, gaining strength to again take on forces in Iraq. The expanded name reflects a goal of setting up a caliphate, an Islamic state where everyone answers to Sharia law across the Middle East.
THE HAGUE: The trial of Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic continues this week with defense witnesses alleging that war crimes during the Bosnian War attributed to Mladic were ordered by Muslim militants.
EGYPT: Unlike the mass kidnapping of schoolgirls in Northern Nigeria, Coptic girls in Egypt are vanishing without publicity, one at a time.
EUROPE: Taxi and rail strikes are making life difficult for travelers and commuters in England, France, Spain, Italy, and Germany. (Doesn’t this happen every year?). Aer Lingus cabin crews are walking off the job.
BOOK OF THE YEAR: WORLD’s 2014 Book of the Year selections include Mission at Nuremberg: An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis by Tim Townsend—the story of a Lutheran pastor convinced that Nazi war criminals could be like the thief on the cross if they too believed the message of Jesus. Read an excerpt WORLD posted Saturday.
BOOK OF THE MOMENT: I’m reading The Sisters of Sinai by Janet Soskice, the story of the dramatic discovery of the Gospels in ancient Syriac by two middle-aged sisters from Scotland.