BREAKING: Blast Outside Mall Kills At Least 10 And Injures 25; 50+ Hostages Reported In Baghdad Attack

In what is being described as a terrorist attack, a deadly car bomb was set off at a mall entrance in eastern Baghdad.

The attack took place place in a mall in mainly Shiite eastern Baghdad on Monday evening. An estimated 50- 75 people were inside the mall when the incident began.

The explosion killed at least 10 people and left 25 wounded, Iraqi authorities reported. Three police were reported among the dead.

Iraqi Samarra TV has released a video it said shows the attack by the terrorists on the shopping mall and shows four attackers wearing what are being described as suicide vests.

 

عاجل | لحظة انفجارالمفخختين في منطقة #بغداد_الجديدة

Posted by ‎قناة سامراء الفضائية Samarra Tv‎ on Monday, January 11, 2016

A police source told Agence France Presse three hostages inside the mall were executed by the attackers.

“When the security forces got too close, [the attackers] killed three hostages… We are taking a cautious approach now. We want this attack to end with the lowest possible number of casualties,” the source said.

Gunmen could be seen on the roof of the mall, which was surrounded by police and soldiers, according to local authorities. Security officials had established a cordon around the mall.

At least three police were reported to be among the dead.

Iraqi television channel Al Sumaria cited a statement by the county’s interior ministry, which said the hostage crisis has been resolved.

“All the terrorists have been eliminated. The situation in the Baghdad Jadida district is under control,” the statement said. The information could not be immediately verified.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

ISIS often targets the Shiite majority of Iraq. Iraq has been torn by sectarian conflict between Shias and Sunnis, a situation that has worsened with the rise of extremist groups such as ISIS.

Also Monday, three people were killed and eight wounded when ISIS exploded a car bomb near a restaurant in Baquba, 40 miles north-east of Baghdad.

h/t: Fox News

Female Journalist Executed By ISIS- Her Last Sentence Couldn’t Be More Chilling

Ruqia Hassan knew death was coming. She had all but courted it in her work as a free journalist inside the ISIS-occupied Syrian city of Raqqa, where she used the Internet to post bits of truth to the world.

Thus it was no surprise when, in July, her Facebook postings stopped. ISIS arrested her in August and accused her of working with the Free Syrian Army. This past week, ISIS reportedly informed her family she had been executed in September.

Abu Mohammed, who founded an activist group called Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, tweeted Hassan’s last communications.

“I’m in Raqqa and I received death threats, and when ISIS (arrests) me and kills me it’s ok because they will cut my head and I have dignity it’s better than I live in humiliation with ISIS,” she had written.

Hassan, 30, who wrote under the pseudonym Nissan Ibrahim, wrote about life and war in Raqqa.

“Okay if we don’t want Daesh, and we don’t want the coalition bombing Daesh, and we don’t want the Free Syria[n] Army to fight Daesh…Then what do we want exactly?” she wrote in one post.

As aircraft circled the city on July 15, she offered a prayer: “God protect the civilians and take the rest.”

Hassan captured life in Raqqa amid war. “People at the souq (market) are like waves crashing into each other… not because of the numbers… but because people’s eyes are glued to the sky… their eyes move above in fear while their bodies move unconsciously below,” she wrote.

Hassan mocked ISIS in its attempts to ban Wi-Fi hotspots.

“Go ahead and cut off the internet, our messenger pigeons won’t complain,” she wrote.

On July 21, among her last posts, she reflected on life.

“Sometimes we think of something and it happens… or thinking of someone and the next day we run into them by chance or get a call from them,” Hassan posted. “These days I’m thinking about rest… about peace… about safety… about feeling reassured…”

“Our biggest mistake was to swim in a sea of dreams… and we dreamt of the next phase and ignored the current phase… we look at the future and forgot the past… #a mistake we regret,” she wrote.

Hassan studied philosophy at Aleppo University and joined the 2011 uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. She also opposed ISIS after the terrorist group took Raqqa in 2013.

Hassan is the fifth journalist to be killed by ISIS since October of 2014.

h/t: Newsweek

US Special Forces Carry Out Stunning Anti-ISIS Raids In Iraq

A week after U.S. Special Forces teamed with Kurdish Peshmerga fighters to carry out a daring raid in an ISIS-occupied town in Iraq, Kurdistan Arab media report a stunning new American operation near Mosul (Nineveh in Biblical times).

“U.S. force begins air landing operation near Mosul” Iraqi News reported today. In reality, the U.S. Special Forces carried out a similar raid as the one in Riyadh Kurdistan last week.

A local source told Iraqi News that American commandos landed in the ISIS-held village of Azheleya near the city of Mosul in the middle of the night. The U.S. Special forces killed 15 Islamic State terrorists and captured 11 others, the source told Iraqi News.

The source said local ISIS’ leaders were among those captured, but others told the Iraqi news outlet that the ISIS leaders escaped to Syria after the American raid. The U.S. force managed to withdraw from the area without suffering any losses the local source said.

The raid on Riyadh Kurdistan last week had a different goal then first was reported by Rudaw in Iraqi Kurdistan. Breitbart later reported that Russian media, including the state-controlled Tass News Agency, claimed U.S. forces captured a high-ranking Islamic State commander during that operation.

The Kurdish American forces arrested Tarkhan Batirashvili, also known as Abu Omar al-Shishani, during the joint raid in Riyadh, Tass reported. The Pentagon denied that al-Shishani, who started his career in the Georgian army, was captured during the raid, but a spokesman for the Iraqi Interior Ministry confirmed the Tass report.

The spokesman, Brigadier General Saad Maan, told the Russian news site Sputnik, that “U.S. commandos have captured two field commanders and Abu Omar Al-Shishani.” Maan added that the ISIS commanders had been taken to the city of Sulaymaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Shishani was one of the most important Islamic State leaders and was a member of the ISIS Shura Council in Syria. He pledged allegiance to Islamic State leader al-Baghdadi in 2013 and helped to establish the new Caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

“Our aim is clear, and everyone knows why we are fighting. Out path is toward the caliphate. We will bring back the caliphate, and if God does not make it out fate to restore the caliphate, then we ask him to grant us martyrdom,” he said during an appearance in a 2014 ISIS video. Shishani was the mastermind behind hundreds of suicide attacks carried out by ISIS.

The reports about the U.S. raids in Iraq suggest the U.S. Special Forces are successfully implementing the goals of their presence in Iraq.

In an early December announcement regarding a decision to send U.S. forces back to Iraq for combat missions, Defense Secretary Ashton Cater said, “These special operators will over time be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture ISIL leaders.”

The successful U.S. raids in Iraq do not mean ISIS is anywhere near defeat.

The euphoria about the successful operations last week in the strategically important city of Ramadi near Bagdad against the Islamic State was tempered by news that the Islamic State had launched a devastating counter-attack against the Iraqi forces in the city.

ISIS used between six and ten car bombs to drive the Iraqi forces out of a base in North Ramadi. The ISIS terrorists managed to recapture the compound after the government forces suffered heavy losses. The city was “liberated” the mainstream media reported last week, but today BBC and other major news outlets had to backtrack on their initial reports.

The BBC released a video with a field report by Thomas Fessy, a BBC reporter who was in the center of Ramadi after the alleged liberation by Iraqi forces. He reported large parts of the city remained under Islamic State control.

Group Brings Christmas To Region Left In ‘Chaos’ By Obama’s Policies

The Religious Freedom Coalition (RFC) brought the joy of Christmas to thousands of children and their families in the war-torn Middle East. Based on his experience in the region, the group’s leader offered a sober assessment of the consequences of President Obama’s policies.

According to The Gospel World Herald, “In Syria alone, the Christian population has plunged by nearly two-thirds since the country’s civil war started in 2011. In Iraq, the Christian population is teetering on extinction, dwindling from around 1.5 million in 2003 to well below 200,000 now.” While thousands have been killed (in some of the most barbaric ways imaginable), many more have fled to surrounding nations, including Jordan and Lebanon.

Christmas for Refugeesa project of the RFC, brought hope and life to over 4000 refugee children and their families this Christmas in Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon this year. The group fed children, ages 6 to 12, a traditional Arabic Christmas dinner and led them in games and singing. Puppet shows and other activities were part of the festivities too. All were given children’s Bibles or Bible-themed coloring books, depending on their ages, as well as a “joy bag” with food staples to take “home” to their families in refugee camps.

Image Credit: Christmas for Refugees - Iraq

Image Credit: Christmas for Refugees – Iraq

As reported by Western Journalism, the group hosted its first Christmas meal for approximately 1000 children in Amman, Jordan, in 2013. The effort expanded in 2014 to include Lebanon, with over 2000 children participating.

This year the effort doubled again to 4000 and for the first time included programs in Iraq. Over 600 children participated in the two events held in that country. “With this many children, each program required about forty volunteers including musicians, actors, puppeteers, security and yes, child control. Just imagine trying to keep 300 kids mostly in their seats during a high energy program that delivered the Gospel message,” William Murray chairman of the RFC’s Christmas for Refugees reported. Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse provided gifts for all the children. 

“What all programs in all three nations had in common was the presentation of the story of the coming of Jesus as the true meaning of Christmas Day,” Murray recounted. “The central purpose of the Christmas for Refugees program is not to feed children for a day but rather to reinforce the message of the Gospel and to spiritually encourage the children and their families at a bleak period in history for them and for the church.”

Murray noted in an interview with USA Radio Networks that the situation in Iraq is “particularly brutal” because of the number of children displaced by war in the last 12 months. Often middle class families, who only a year ago had their own homes and cars, are forced to live on charity in camps or in one bedroom of an apartment shared by multiple families.

From spending time on the ground in the region, Murray believes the U.S. strategy is flawed and exasperating the situation. “The continuation of the policies of minor intervention in the Middle East–only enough to cause chaos, but not to bring forth a solution to the problems–is going to give President Obama a legacy of more death, more destruction, more enslavement, and encouragement to the jihadists,” he said. 

The Christian leader added:

We have mistaken democracy for freedom. We think bringing democracy to a place, brings freedom to a place. Democracy is only a process, it is not a state of freedom. As a result of that, in many cases, we have made the situation worse, particularly for the Christian population. They had freedom. They had freedom of religion. They had freedom of worship, and we brought in a form of democracy, a process, that stole that freedom of worship away from them.

Listen below:


The Christmas for Refugees program is already looking towards next year with plans to bring the joy of Christmas and the hope of the Gospel to as many children as the need requires and the donations of supporters will allow.

Image Credit: Christmas for Refugees - Family gift bags with food staples and a blanket - Nancy and William Murray and Bob Armstrong

Image Credit: Christmas for Refugees – Family gift bags with food staples and a blanket – Nancy and William Murray and Bob Armstrong.

Image Credit: Christmas for Refugees - Lebanon

Image Credit: Christmas for Refugees – Lebanon

US Special Forces Carry Out New Daring Raid Against ISIS In Northern Iraq

American Special Forces together with Kurdish Peshmerga fighters carried out a daring raid against the Islamic State in the town of Riyadh in northern Iraq on Christmas Eve. The combined forces stormed an ISIS base reportedly to free Kurdish fighters who were held in a prison of an Islamic State court in the town.

Brigadier Sarhad Qadir of the Kirkuk police told the Kurdish news outlet Rudaw that at 11:00 pm Friday night “Kurdish commandos backed by American special forces stormed an ISIS court in the town of Riyadh east of Hawija where they killed a number of militants in the ensuing firefight.”

The police officer added that the local commander of Islamic State Hussein Umair Assafi had been killed by the Kurdish American forces and that other ISIS terrorists were captured during the raid.

Rudaw reported that the commando’s arrived at the ISIS base by helicopters and that more information on the operation would be released soon. One U.S. soldier was reportedly killed during the operation. Western Journalism was not able to verify the death of the soldier independently.

This was the second time this year U.S. Special Forces and the Peshmerga militia stormed an ISIS-held prison to free inmates. Last October we reported that U.S. Special Forces had stormed a jail in Hawija a town that is located in the same area as Riyadh. Seventy prisoners who were waiting to be executed by the Islamic State were freed during that operation.

The Kurds in northern Iraq and Syria have been very successful in the battle against the Islamic State this year. The think tank IHS reported last week that the Kurdish YPG in Syria expanded its control over Syrian territory to around 186% over the last year. The Islamic State lost around 14% of the territories under its control in Syria and Iraq, according to the think tank.