Egypt’s deadliest terrorist group, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State jihadists, branded the regime of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi “Zionist collaborators” and vowed to liberate Jerusalem once it had ousted his government.
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which has spearheaded an insurgency in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula and now calls itself the Sinai branch of Islamic State, on Friday claimed responsibility for a suicide attack last month that killed 30 soldiers.
In a video posted on social media, the group showed footage of the attack, including its gunmen shooting dead some of those injured in the bombing at close range, and its seizure of Egyptian army weaponry.
It branded el-Sissi “the servant of the Jews” and vowed to behead and dismember him and his regime.
The goal of “liberating Jerusalem,” it said, “will be possible only when Egypt is cleansed of Zionist collaborators.” El-Sissi’s army, it added, “is in collaboration with the Jews.”
The group has killed scores of policemen and soldiers since the army overthrew president Mohammed Morsi last year, but the October 24 attack in which a jihadist rammed a military checkpoint in northern Sinai with an explosives-packed car was the deadliest such incident in years.
It said it was acting in retaliation for a crackdown on Islamist supporters following Morsi’s removal from power.
At least 1,400 people have been killed in the crackdown, while more than 15,000 have been jailed and hundreds sentenced to death.
In the video, the group promises further attacks against the security forces and said it was speaking directly to el-Sissi, the former army chief who toppled Morsi and unleashed a crackdown on Islamists.
Earlier this week, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State organization in Iraq and Syria in a bid to boost recruitment and bolster its fight against the Egyptian army, according to analysts.
Ukraine’s ambassador to the EU has warned Brussels that Russia is preparing “a new full-scaled offensive operation” in Ukraine.
Konstiantyn Yelisieiev wrote in a letter - seen by EUobserver - to EU embassies in Brussels on Wednesday (12 November) that the Russian intention is clear from troop movements and from increasingly hostile anti-Ukraine propaganda.
He urged the EU to put “diplomatic pressure” on Moscow to return to US and EU-mediated peace talks in the so-called Geneva format.
He urged it to impose “a new wave” of preventative sanctions, such as blacklisting more Russian officials and raising the “economic … cost” of Russia's actions.
He also accused Moscow of trying to undermine the political process in Kiev in order to make Ukraine a “failed state”, while calling on Europe to maintain “technical and financial support” in areas such as judicial and constitutional reform.
Yelisieiev’s warning comes ahead of the first meeting of EU foreign ministers, on Monday, to be chaired by the bloc’s new foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini.
Fresh assessments by the US and by Nato corroborate Yelisieiev’s warning.
Speaking at the UN Security Council on Wednesday, US ambassador Samantha Power said “Russia is … surging more forces and more equipment across the border”.
She noted that since 9 November, the US has seen: 17 unmarked trucks moving toward the ceasefire line near Donetsk in east Ukraine; movements of 43 more military vehicles in the Donetsk area, some towing large-calibre howitzers and multi-launch rocket systems; and new “columns of … Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems, and Russian combat troops entering Ukraine”.
Looking at the recent movements of Russian forces in Ukraine, Breedlove added: “My strategic team believes … that these forces will go in to make this [the patchwork of Russia-controlled territories] a more contiguous, more whole and capable pocket of land in order to then hold onto it long-term”.
Meanwhile, Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg told Germany's Bild newspaper on Friday that "in the past days ... Russia has again brought arms, equipment, artillery, tanks, and rockets over the border into Ukraine".
“Putin has clearly broken the truce agreement and has violated Ukraine’s integrity".
Having been 'guest-of-honor' at the APEC Summit the previous week, it appears Russian President Vladimir Putin is getting the 'Obama-at-APEC' treatment at the G-20 meeting in Brisbane. Following his 'odd' shaped convoy of protection last week, The Independent reports Putin chose a different type of entourage this week as he headed to meet the world's leaders. Putin has stationed four warships close to Australian waters as he arrived in Australia. Having drawn ridicule from no lesser wit than Britain's David Cameron who sarcastically bleeted, "I didn't feel it necessary to bring a warship myself to keep myself safe at this G20, and I’m sure that Putin won’t be in any danger," when it came time for the team photo, it was clear what 'message' was being sent...
Australia says it is monitoring four Russian naval vessels that are approaching its waters to the north of the country.
...it said the Russian vessels were heading towards Australia but remained in international waters.
Analysts say it is a show of force by Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of the G20 summit in Brisbane.
"The movement of these vessels is entirely consistent with provisions under international law for military vessels to exercise freedom of navigation in international waters," the ADF statement read.
The U.S. Navy has deployed on a command ship in the Persian Gulf its first laser weapon capable of destroying a target.
The amphibious transport ship USS Ponce has been patrolling with a prototype 30-kilowatt-classLaser Weapon System since late August, according to officials. The laser is mounted facing the bow, and can be fired in several modes -- from a dazzling warning flash to a destructive beam -- and can set a drone or small boat on fire.The Ponce “provides a unique platform” to deploy the new capability “in an operationally relevant region,” Vice Admiral John Miller, the 5th Fleet commander, said in an e-mailed statement. The ship is the 5th Fleet’s primary command and control afloat staging base for operations
Since 2011, the Navy has boosted its presence in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world’s traded oil flows. Equipped with naval mines and small vessels that practice swarming tactics to attack larger warships, Iranian officials have periodically threatened to close the waterway.
The Navy laser wasn’t specifically designed or deployed to counterIran’s arsenal of small armed vessels, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert said in an interview earlier this year.
“I wouldn’t target a country for a weapon, nor would I preclude putting together a weapons system for a country by itself,” he said.
The laser deployment is “a worthwhile experiment” because “it’ll help us feel out the operational limitations” such as power constraints, Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer said at a Bloomberg Government breakfast in April.
Naval Sea Systems Command technicians developed the prototype over seven years at a cost of about $40 million. The Ponce crew was authorized to deploy the weapon after it passed a series of at-sea tests, including lasing static surface targets, the 5th Fleet spokesman Commander Kevin Stephens said in an e-mail statement.
The prototype focuses the light from six solid-state commercial welding lasers on a single spot, according to a July 31 Congressional Research Service report. It “can effectively counter surface and airborne threats, to include small boats” and drones, Miller said, and firing it costs about a dollar a shot
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