Displaying items by tag: ISIS
At least 15 people were killed and 40 others were injured in a terrorist attack at the Shahcheragh Shrine in the city of Shiraz. Two children were among the victims. Iranian security forces have arrested two of the suspected attackers, and a manhunt is underway to capture a third. The terror group ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, releasing a statement through its affiliated Amaq news agency that said one of its members had ‘targeted groups of Sunni refusal infidels inside the shrine with his Kalashnikov machine gun, causing the death of tens of them.’ The attack happened on the same day that clashes broke out throughout Iran and thousands of people came to the burial site of Kurdish Mahsa Amini to mark 40 days since her death. Iranian news ISNA said it’s unclear if the attack was related to the protests.
Martyrdoms by Boko Haram splinter group occur as US finally adds West African nation to religious freedom watch list.
In another filmed massacre, 11 Nigerian Christians were executed by the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) over the Christmas holiday.
Wearing the orange jumpsuits made familiar by similar executions of Egyptian and Ethiopian Christians in Libya, the first Nigerian victim was shot in the head by the black-clad terrorists who then slit the throats of the remaining ten. It is understood to be the largest group killed by ISWAP, a Boko Haram splinter group, so far.
“This message is to the Christians in the world,” stated the 56-second propaganda video, released December 26, in both Arabic and Hausa, according to The New York Times. “Those who you see in front of us are Christians, and we will shed their blood as revenge for the two dignified sheikhs.”
The reference is to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the former ISIS caliph killed by US troops in an October raid in Syria, and Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir, his purported successor, who was killed the next day.
The video offered no information about the victims, other than that they were recently seized in Nigeria’s northwest Borno state. But an earlier video was released by ISWAP in which captured aid workers appealed to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, as well as to the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
The International Crisis Group estimates the jihadist group consists of between 3,500 and 5,000 fighters.
“These agents of darkness are enemies of our common humanity, and they don’t spare any victim, whether they are Muslims or Christians,” stated Buhari, according to al-Jazeera.
Nigeria’s population of 200 million is evenly divided between Muslims and Christians.
Muslim victims have been many, agreed CAN in an earlier statement. But it stated the widespread killing in Nigeria’s north has predominately targeted Christians, who make up 95 percent of those currently detained by jihadists.
“The government has been paying lip service towards securing their freedom,” stated CAN, mentioning in particular the case of Sharibu.
The Christian Association of Nigeria disagreed with the Nigerian government’s position, and commended the US State Department for “standing with the oppressed and the truth.”
The association also criticized Buhari for creating an imbalance in the religious composition of the security council, through recent appointments. “The bitter truth,” CAN stated, “is that Christians are yet to be given any sense of belonging since this government came on board.”
Report by JAYSON CASPER
Pray: for these brutal terrorists to be brought to justice and for ISWAP to be defeated by the Nigerian authorities.
Pray: for the families of the 11 victims, that they will know divine comfort and the assurance of the Gospel amidst their grief.
Pray: for the Christian Church in Northern Nigeria, who have suffered persecution and terrorist attacks for many years. May it remain strong and practice biblical forgiveness in the face of adversity.
Pray: that the rights and freedoms of Christians in Nigeria will not be marginalised by changes to the law and constitution.
Afghanistan continues to be plagued by suicide attacks, violence and war. Recently more than 100 army and police personnel were killed within a three-day rampage. Government and media offices as well as significant leaders were also targeted. The terrorist groups mainly responsible for this are the Taliban, ISIS and the Haqqani network based in Pakistan. Together these groups are responsible for thousands of deaths each year.
Yet when some of us who have remained within the country recently prayed very specifically about this situation, within days the security forces uncovered a truck loaded with explosives and a house full of weapons thus saving many lives.
We need to maintain this level of specific targeted prayer.
We also need to pray against the external sources which provide all this military hardware.
Finally we also need to pray for our colleagues and national personnel that the Lord will continue to protect and provide for them.
Your prayers powerfully and effectively sustain us all [ James 5:6].
The El Rock Team
Syrian rebels close to victory over ISIS in Raqqa. The Atlantic reports Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) could be days away from victory over ISIS in Raqqa. The SDF, a group of Kurdish and Arab fighters backed by the U.S., have captured a number of key areas near Raqqa. That announcement signals their progress of a larger offensive launched just this past week to overtake ISIS’ capital. In May, the Trump administration offered critical support by agreeing to arm and train members of the SDF’s primary Kurdish militia, the People’s Protection Units (YPG). Meanwhile, Al Jazeera reports ISIS is expected to retreat in the coming days.
U.S. troops in Raqqa. The Military Times reports U.S. Special Operations troops are on the ground alongside partner militia forces in Raqqa, ISIS’ capital. They began their advance against an estimated 2,500 ISIS jihadi backed by coalition air power and American combat advisers. “Coalition SOF are in Raqqa, and they are close to the front lines,” said a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition battling ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
ISIS’ caliph on the run. Reuters reports ISIS’ leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is losing his main centers of power and is on the run. ISIS is close to defeat in Mosul and Raqqa, said officials and they said Baghdadi is hiding in thousands of square miles of desert between the two cities. “In the end, he will either be killed or captured, he will not be able to remain underground forever,” said the head of counter-terrorism at the Kurdistan Regional Government. Reuters reports that one of Baghdadi’s main concerns is to ensure those around him do not betray him for the $25 million reward offered by the U.S.
Iraqi forces make gains in western Mosul. The Washington Post reports U.S.-backed Iraqi forces pushed toward a medical complex in western Mosul, trying to dislodge ISIS jihadi’ hold. Iraq’s 36th brigade commander said his forces had established a foothold at the edge of the medical complex using artillery and coalition airstrikes.
Tortured corpses dumped in Iraq – Iraqi forces responsible? The LA Times reports 26 corpses tossed to the side of deserted roads near Mosul had their hands tied behind their backs; they had been blindfolded. Human Rights Watch concluded the bodies were victims of extrajudicial killings probably carried out by government forces since the start of operations to retake Mosul from ISIS. The Times reports that those residents fleeing the fight and who are flagged for ties with ISIS were held, often without charge, where they undergo investigation before being sent to trial. Note: Extrajudicial killings are unfortunately commonplace in Iraq. Years ago while visiting Iraq I was taken to the burial place for hundreds of people murdered by gunshot to their heads. We were shown evidence that the victims were blindfolded and hands tied behind their backs.
ISIS’ chemical weapons capability degraded. The Military Times reports Iraqi success in Mosul and the killing of ISIS’ chemical weapons experts has degraded the jihadi’ production capability, although it retains some capability to produce small amounts of sulfur mustard and chlorine agents. There have been a number of reports of ISIS’ use of chemical weapons in both Iraq and Syria. “The operation to isolate and recapture the Iraqi city of Mosul coincides with a massive reduction in Islamic State chemical weapons use in Syria,” said an analyst at HIS Markit. The analyst continued, “This suggests that the group has not established any further chemical weapons production sites outside Mosul, although it is likely that some specialists were evacuated to Syria and retain the expertise.”
Robert Lee Maginnis
Pray for the conquest of ISIS and the remnants of its forces in both Syria and Iraq. Pray that its leaders will be apprehended and brought to justice for their horrific crimes against humanity. Pray that both nations will return to peace and that the needs of those millions whose lives have been disrupted my find that good, especially coming to know Jesus Christ, will come out of the appalling evil and trouble they have experienced.
Afghanistan is perhaps the most challenging prayer and mission situation on earth? Recently, the Taliban or some other terrorist group attacked some of the Christian workers, killing a key German woman and kidnapping a young Finnish woman, both of whom were lovingly risking their lives to serve the Afghan people. In addition, one of the most evil men on earth has been able to penetrate into the government. Here is a word about him from one of my friends working there:
“The "Butcher of Kabul", Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, has been included now in the government. He is a killer and very cruel and a smart schemer. He has killed a number of Christians, including a Canadian OM brother and the Afghan brother and leader Zia Nodrad. Now he got inside the government in a deal with President Ghani. All the Non-Pashtuns are furious and the government is divided more than before. Please include him always in prayer till he gets dealt with, besides the other terror groups like Taliban, IS and the Haqqanis.”
- The Psalms are full of prayers that God would bring down the wicked (Ps. 1:4-6, 7:9, 9:5, 10:15, 11:5-6, 37:10-17). Of course, we hope and pray they might repent, but if Gulbadin Hekmatyar and other ruthlessly evil killers do not, let’s pray that they will be removed from the face of the earth, unable to terrify and destroy any more! A year and a half ago, we prayed about another supremely wicked man trying to use occult means to influence the United Nations and he died the same day the alert went out. Let’s pray now in the same way for the Lord to bring down the wicked and especially this horrifically evil terrorist, Gulbadin Hekmatyar.
- Pray also for the release or rescue of those who have been kidnapped and for the protection over other brothers and sisters in Christ, both expatriates and Afghan who are living and serving there.
- Pray for the unity of the Afghan government and for the government of the USA as it plans to commit another 4000 American troops to the battle against the Taliban and other such terrorist groups. May they have victory and may the terrorist groups be thrown into utter confusion and division, fighting against each other until they give up their struggle to take over the nation and institute the awful tyranny sharia law again.
“Christians are leaving the Middle East in record numbers, driven out by terrorism by the Islamic State and laws in countries the U.S. considers allies. By 2025, Christians are expected to comprise a mere 3 percent of the population in the Middle East, whereas they represented 13.6 percent a century ago.
A series of suicide bomb attacks on Palm Sunday during church services last month in Egypt, which killed at least 45 people, was just the latest in a pattern of violence against Christians in the area, according to The Wall Street Journal in an article published Friday. The exodus is raising alarm the region will become a haven for radical groups.
Islam remains the primary religion in the Middle East, with rival sects often clashing, giving way to fears the violent trend will continue. And, laws in some countries discriminate against Christians, denying them the right to government jobs or even to rebuild churches.
"The disappearance of such minorities sets the stage for more radical groups to dominate in society," said Todd Johnson, director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton, Mass. "Religious minorities, at the very least, have a moderating effect."
Christians Leaving Mideast in Record Numbers
Pray for Christians in the Middle East region for His courage and grace to continue to be a witness to Christ in the midst of such challenging and sometimes dangerous experiences. May the Gospel spread like a mighty wave through their bold, anointed stance for Jesus among tens of millions of lost people around them! Thank God that He is bringing many in this region out of the bondage of Islamic delusion to joyous, triumphant faith in Him!
Officials say that six Afghan Red Cross workers have been killed by suspected IS group gunmen in the province of Jowzjan. Two others are unaccounted for, feared abducted by the gunmen. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) confirmed the deaths, but said it did not know who was to blame. The ICRC said it is putting its work in Afghanistan on temporary hold. ‘We need to understand more clearly what happened; this is one of the most critical humanitarian contexts, and we will definitely do everything to continue our operations there,’ said ICRC director of operations Dominik Stillhart. IS has been operating in Afghanistan since 2015, claiming responsibility for attacks in Kabul and the east. But there has been no immediate claim for the attack in Jowzjan.
2017 is set to be fraught with challenges for the people of the Middle East, Christian and Muslim alike. A brief summary: 1) Iraq will remain precarious, even though the battle to retake Mosul is making progress: Shiite-dominated rulers in Baghdad face conflict with an unwilling Sunni minority. 2) Turkey’s stability is threatened by challenges from IS and from Kurdish militants, who have killed some 1,000 Turkish soldiers in the last two years. 3) There are hopeful signs in Iran, though changes could be slowed by the death of former President Rafsanjani and the expectation of more hostile US policies under Donald Trump. The poor health of supreme leader Ali Khamenei might mean a potential leadership change soon, which could have serious implications for the entire region. 4) The mood in Syria seems to be turning towards a ceasefire and acceptance of Assad staying on as president, at least in the short term. 5) Egypt is expected to see new protests and tensions with continued terrorism, and the economy will remain the number one challenge. The whole region remains in much need of continuing prayer: yet every challenging phase is also a chance for Christians to rise up as salt and light, and to offer reconciliation and restoration where they are desperately needed.
Four men have been arrested in connection with the suicide attack at the St Peter and St Paul church in Cairo last month, which killed 28 people and injured over 40. Eleven people are still in the hospital. Egypt's Interior Ministry says one of the four men arrested has links to the Muslim Brotherhood, though the group has denied any involvement. Hours after the attack, the terror group IS said one of its soldiers, named Abu Abdallah-al-Masri, was responsible for carrying out the attack, the worst on Egypt's Coptic Christian community since 2011. Despite this claim by IS, Egypt appears eager to pin the blame on the outlawed Brotherhood. Damage to the church was repaired just before 7 January, the day Coptic Christians celebrate Christmas. The renovations were undertaken by Egypt's army under orders of president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, who has promised to rebuild all churches that have been destroyed or damaged since 2013.
A car bomb attack has killed at least 11 civilians in Jableh, a government-held coastal town. Thirty-five others were also injured by the blast in a commercial area crowded with people near the municipal stadium, a news agency said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing. Last May, 45 people died in the town in attacks claimed by IS that targeted President Bashar al-Assad's minority Alawite sect. Footage from the scene of Thursday's attack broadcast by state television showed charred, mangled cars, damage to shops, and pools of blood on the road. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, put the death toll at 15. See also: