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Eight held in Madrid for jihad recruitment

El País, Spain reports: Eight people were arrested in Madrid on Monday in a raid against an international network that recruited jihadists for the terrorist organization Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has links to Al Qaeda. The leader of the ring is the Moroccan national Lahcen Ikassrien, 47, who was arrested in Afghanistan in 2001 and released after three-and-a-half years in Guantánamo. In July 2005 the US handed him over to Spain, where he faced charges of cooperating with Al Qaeda. However, the High Court acquitted him on the grounds that no firm evidence existed of his ties to the terrorist group. Ikassrien, who lives in Madrid, was part of a cell led by Abu Dah Dah, who was convicted for being one of the founders of Al Qaeda in Spain.

Dozens killed in al Shabaab attack on coastal Kenyan city

France 24 reports:  At least 49 people were killed when gunmen stormed a town on Kenya’s coast, shooting football fans watching a World Cup match in a television hall and targeting two hotels, a police post and a bank, officials and witnesses said on Monday. Somalia’s Islamist militant group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place on Sunday night in Mpeketoni, a town that lies on the Indian Ocean coastline that runs north from Kenya’s main port of Mombasa to the Somali border. The assault, which officials said was carried out by about 50 heavily-armed men, is the latest in a spate of gun and bomb attacks in recent months that have hurt the struggling tourist industry.

Turkey drafts contingency plans for Basra, Baghdad missions, no evacuation decision yet

Hürriyet Daily News, Turkey reports: In the aftermath of the abduction of dozens of Turkish citizens by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul, the Turkish government has drawn contingency plans for the Consulate General in Basra in addition to its embassy in the capital city of Baghdad, a senior Turkish diplomat said on June 16. “However, no decision for evacuating the two diplomatic missions has been made so far,” the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters, adding that Ankara had also asked the federal Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to tighten security measures around the Turkish missions in both Baghdad and Basra. “Our officials also reminded the Iraqi government officials of their responsibility with regard to the withdrawal of the Iraqi security forces around the consulate general in Mosul without an earlier notice to the Turkish side,” he also stated, noting that the Turkish side had emphasized that such flaws were in violation of the 1961 Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations. Meanwhile, officials said the families of Turkish staff in Baghdad have gradually begun returning to Turkey of their own will.

Pakistan Christian Lawmaker Shot Dead

Arab Times, Kuwait reports: A Christian lawmaker from Pakistan’s troubled southwestern Baluchistan province was gunned down by his own bodyguard Saturday as he tried to prevent him from shooting his nephew, police said. Handery Masih, a provincial member of parliament for the governing National Party was leaving his home in a suburb of Quetta when a policeman who had been his bodyguard for 13 years shot him, Akbar Hussain Durrani, a senior government official told AFP.

ISIS’ Iraq offensive could trigger Hezbollah to fill gap left in Syria

The Daily Star, Lebanon reports: The impact of the stunning seizure of large tracts of northern Iraq by the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) last week could have significant consequences for the Syrian regime’s ability to hold onto power. Already the reverberations of ISIS’ dramatic advance toward Baghdad is being felt in Syria, with Syrian rebels in the Qalamoun area taking advantage of the return home of Iraqi Shiite paramilitary forces to stage a counterattack in Rankous. “The rebels launched a surprise attack on the edge of Rankous. The fighting is ongoing,” a veteran Hezbollah combatant said Saturday, adding that the party had lost 11 fighters in the clashes. Despite a series of battlefield successes in western Syria over the past year, the Assad regime barely has sufficient forces to hold its newly seized territory let alone retake the entire country…  Now, there is a sense of unhappiness building among the families of Hezbollah fighters who are beginning to question in larger numbers how much longer their fathers, husbands, brothers and sons will be sent to the Syrian front.

Iran MPs demand stronger veil law enforcement

Gulf News, UAE reports: Two thirds of Iran’s MPs have written to the president urging him to take measures to ensure women correctly observe Islamic dress, denouncing Western cultural influence against the veil. The 195 members of the 290-strong parliament who signed the letter in part blamed satellite television for feeding the trend, ISNA news agency reported on Sunday. A defining feature of Iran’s interpretation of Islamic law since the 1979 revolution, hijab obliges women to cover their hair and much of their body in loose clothing when outside, regardless of their religion. A dedicated “morality police” has long handed out fines, verbal notices or even arrested women it considers are not properly observing the rules, but lawmakers have in recent months criticised lax enforcement.

Russian Media: ISIL Trying to Spread Terrorism to Turkey, Cyprus, Azerbaijan

Fars News Agency, Iran reports:  The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an Al-Qaeda offshoot, intends to spread its presence to countries other than Syria and Iraq, Russian media warned on Monday. “The social networks have uploaded pictures showing the ISIL trying to widen its presence in Cyprus, the Republic of Azerbaijan and Turkey in the near future,” the Russian-language Pravda newspaper reported. The newspaper wrote that the ISIL intends to set up its own state in the territories that it occupies. On Monday, a senior Syrian politician said that the ISIL has been led into Iraq by the US after its failure in Syria. “What is happening in Iraq should be assumed as the continuation and spread of the current events in Syria and actually we should say that the events in Iraq are just a US-Arab reaction to their failure in Syria,” Council Secretary of Syria’s Popular Will Party, Ala al-Din Arafat, told FNA. Yet, he said that the recent ISIL attacks in Iraq shouldn’t be seen as an effort by the US and its Arab proxies to show the ISIL as a powerful and influential group in the region to pave the ground for the creation of an Islamic caliphate by the ISIL in Northern Iraq and Syria.

Egypt.  Anti-Coup Alliance calls for “intifada” on anniversary of Mursi ouster

Asharq Al-Awsat, UK reports: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-led Anti-Coup Alliance has called for an “intifada” against newly elected President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on the first anniversary of the ouster of former president and Brotherhood member Mohamed Mursi. The Anti-Coup Alliance, initially formed by members of the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organization, issued a statement this week calling for anti-government rallies to be held across the country. A number of protests were held in Egypt on Thursday, including in Cairo and Alexandria, on the 11-month anniversary of the 2013 Republican Guard massacre. At least 50 pro-Mursi protesters were killed in Cairo last July attempting to storm a Republican Guards barracks in Cairo’s Heliopolis district where Mursi was being held. Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, sources within the Anti-Coup Alliance said that Brotherhood members had called for the umbrella group to escalate and intensify its protests across the country in the run-up to the first anniversary Mursi’s ouster on July 3. An Anti-Coup Alliance statement called for an “unprecedented million-man” protest against the government on June 20.

Israel Reportedly Asked Egypt to Help Return Abductees. Ma’an news says Egyptian president is trying to facilitate negotiations between Israel and kidnappers.

Arutz Sheva 7, Israel reports: Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has given a green light to Egyptian negotiations teams to try and facilitate negotiations between Israel and the abductors of three yeshiva boys, according to a report in Bethlehem-based Ma’an news, cited by Maariv/NRG. Ma’an quotes Egyptian sources who said that Israel is the one that asked Egypt to intervene and that following this request, Egyptian security elements have been in touch with unnamed Palestinian Arabs. Maariv/NRG adds, however, that the government’s Coordinator of Activities in the Territories, Major General Poli Mordechai, denied yesterday an earlier report that Egypt is trying to help Israel secure the abductees’ release. On Sunday, Ma’an reported that Egypt is indeed trying to assist Israel in freeing the three abductees. A senior Egyptian source told the news agency that Egypt is indirectly talking to elements in Hamas and Islamic Jihad, via other Palestinian Arabs. 

(Photo credit – IDF)

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