A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

News from the Front

Things tend to get noticed only when Americans or perhaps other Westerners get affected. ISIS had killed over 2000 Syrians in the six months prior to executing a Western Journalist and no one in the West seemed to notice. Recently the Kingdom sentenced a man to 1000 lashes for running a liberal website. The site did not even defame Islam. He is unlikely to survive that many lashes. Yet there was the Saudi representative marching in Paris shoulder-to-shoulder with Putin's guy and others in support of freedom of speech. You can cut the hypocrisy with a knife.
In recent news from the various fronts:
  • A court overturned the embezzlement convictions of former President Hosni Mubarak and his two sons. 
  • Egypt's Grand Mufti, who had previously condemned the terrorist attacks in Paris, warned the magazine Charlie Hebdo about publishing its latest caricature of Mohammad, calling it an "unwarranted provocation" of Muslims. 
  • A police captain was found dead in North Sinai, two days after his disappearance; Ansar Beit al-Maqdis is suspected in the killing.
  • Jihadists allied with the Islamic State claimed they are holding 21 Egyptian Christians captured near Tripoli. 
  • Islamist factions have postponed an announcement of whether they will attend UN-sponsored peace talks until Jan. 18. 
  • A suicide bombing at a checkpoint near Benghazi killed three Libyan soldiers and wounded two others. 
  • Internationally-recognized Prime Minister Abdullah al Thani called for international support of his government and warned of Libya becoming a sanctuary for terrorist groups.
  • Police reportedly arrested two "terror suspects" in the city of Gafsa and broke up a "terror cell in Medjez El Bab (Beja province) that was planning attacks on public facilities, police and army forces." 
  • The Tunisian National Army launched counterterrorism operations in Forsane and the Mount Ouergha areas.
  • The Nigerian government refuted reports of 2,000 dead after Boko Haram attacked the town of Baga, stating that the terrorist group killed up to 150 people. 
  • A bomb detonated near a checkpoint in Gombe killed one person and wounded about 18; the bomber was caught and killed by an angry mob, according to a local source. 
  • The Archbishop of Jos accused the West of ignoring the threat from Boko Haram. The jihadist group is reportedly forcing young girls to become suicide bombers. 
  • Approximately 20,000 Nigerians have fled to Chad, Niger and Cameroon in the face of terrorist attacks over the past two weeks.
  • Bulgarian police acting on European arrest warrants detained French citizen Fritz-Joly Joachin, who is of Haitian origin, as he was trying to cross over into Turkey from Bulgaria. Joachin reportedly had contacts with Cherif Kouachi, one of the twin brothers suspected in last week's terrorist attack in Paris, shortly before leaving France for Turkey. A Muslim convert, Joachin was allegedly trying to take his three-year-old son to join a jihadist community in Syria. France has requested Joachin's extradition.
  • Prime Minister Valls told Parliament that the country is at war with "terrorism, jihadism and radicalism" but emphasized that "France is not at war against Islam and Muslims." 
  • The forthcoming issue of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, targeted by Islamic extremists in a deadly attack last week, will feature a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed on its front page. 
  • Turkey accused France of "insufficient" cooperation in antiterrorism efforts, complaining that French intelligence has provided Turkey with the names of only 500 of the 1,200 suspects on France's Islamic State blacklist.


  • A Pakistani Taliban splinter group released a nearly 17 minute video again pledging its allegiance to the Islamic State. The group primarily consists of low to mid-level former Pakistani Taliban officials from Khyber, Arakzai, Bajaur, Hangu, and Dir in Pakistan, and from Kunar, Logar, and Nangarhar in Afghanistan.
  • US adds Mullah Fazlullah to list of global terrorists. Fazlullah has presided over the fracturing of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, which remains a dangerous terrorist group.


  • An IED blast in the northern Malian town of Kidal has left seven Senegalese peacekeepers from the UN mission wounded. The attack follows a string of operations in central Mali by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

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