Displaying items by tag: jihadists
Islamist violence against Christians has surged, causing thousands to flee their villages. Recently armed jihadists launched three attacks within 48 hours that left 58+ dead. Fifteen died when a convoy of Christian traders, including children, was attacked on 29 May. On 30 May, Islamists opened fire at random in a cattle market, killing 30+ people and injuring many more. On the same day a humanitarian convoy was attacked, claiming the lives of six civilians and seven soldiers. Another twenty were injured, and a number were reported missing. A survivor said it was clear that militants were targeting Christians and humanitarians taking food to a camp of mainly Christian villagers who fled jihadi violence. The vicious attacks targeting Christians began in April 2019 when a pastor, his son, and four members of his congregation were shot in cold blood for refusing to convert to Islam.
In Sahel and sub-Saharan Africa, the rise of Islamist militancy is a challenge to Christians and also to the existence of states and governments in the region, and thus to the rest of the world. The overthrow of Libya’s President Gaddafi and the power vacuum in Libya brought a wave of Islamist influence backed by money, weapons, drugs and organised crime that is spreading across Sub-Saharan Africa. In weak or ‘fragile’ states, where rule of law and governance are ineffective, Christian populations are left unprotected. The president of Mali said the very existence of Mali is at risk from jihadists. They exploit ethnic, tribal and socio-economic groups, creating conditions that draw recruits and increase their influence, thus widening the risk to global security. Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad and Mauritania, backed by France, have a task-force to combat jihadist insurgents. Pray for God to increase their intelligence sources so that they prevent attacks and catch militants. See also Europe article 1.
For the second time since Easter, a church in Burkina Faso has suffered a terrorist attack during a Sunday services. This target was a Catholic church in Dablo, where the priest and five worshippers were killed. This prompted a series of déjà-vu headlines among global media outlets as the death toll matches last month’s attack on an Assemblies of God church. The assailants again arrived on motorcycles and interrupted morning Mass, shooting the congregation as they tried to flee. They ordered the women and children to clear the scene before executing six men, including the priest, and setting fire to the church The martyred priest, 34-year-old Simeon Yampa, was described as ‘a humble person, obedient and full of love’. The nation has suffered hundreds of attacks by jihadists in recent years, but these two were the first on houses of Christian worship.
The grandmother of two orphans of French jihadists held in a Syrian camp is suing the French state for failing to bring them back to France. The children, aged five and two, are in the care of Kurdish militia and ‘in real danger without more international military protection’, said their solicitor, Ms Maktouf. ‘These children, born under terror, should not undergo further suffering. France has a duty to protect them.’ The boy’s mother was aged 14 when she ran away from her French home to go to the stronghold of Raqqa in 2014. Ms Maktouf said she will argue in court that France has a duty of care towards the two orphans because it is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. No date has been set for a court hearing.
The US decision to remove 2,000 troops from Syria worries France, which has 200 special forces in areas wrested from IS by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). US forces ferried supplies to French commandos, and helped evacuate French wounded. But the great dilemma is what to do with the 130 French jihadists held by the SDF (along with 770 from other countries). The SDF complains of the burden of guarding so many foreign jihadists, and wants France to repatriate its 130 nationals. The numbers could swell. Another 250 French jihadists are held in Iraq. Many of the detainees are women and children deeply implicated in terrorism. The French prison systems cannot cope with a massive influx of returning jihadists. And if they are tried, it could be difficult to find evidence against them. There are already 150 returnees in the prisons, with thirty due to be freed this year. French intelligence has repeatedly been unable to prevent terrorists on watchlists from staging attacks.
In just one area of East Damascus over 500 Syrians are in urgent need of medical evacuation from an area which has been under siege since 2013. There are severe food shortages, with 11.9% of children suffering from acute malnutrition. On 20 December, in the western countryside of Damascus province, advances against the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda terrorists were being made and a number of key hilltops were captured. Pray for civilians still trapped in jihadist strongholds. Pray for those living in fear and desperation, where Syrian troops are unleashing machine gun fire from the hills above their towns, particularly Mazaraat Beit Jinn and Mughir al-Mir. Pray for jihadist fighters to be prevented from mobilising any coordinated counter-attack against army advances in key areas such as East and West Damascus.
Home secretary Amber Rudd has said that a key power intended to control British jihadists has only been used once, despite the return of about 350 fighters from IS. Under Temporary Exclusion Orders (TEOs), British citizens suspected of fighting abroad can be banned from returning to the UK for up to two years. Their travel documents can be cancelled, and they can be refused re-entry unless they agree to restrictions such as enrolling on a deradicalisation programme or reporting to police on a regular basis. The sole subject of a TEO is believed to be a male who fought for IS. More TEOs are under consideration, but ‘no more than four or five’, according to sources. To date dozens of suspects have had passports confiscated for national security reasons, and seven suspects living in the UK are subjected to TPIMs (Terrorism and Prevention and Investigation Measures), which restrict their movements and activities.