Gunmen fired on a bus carrying Coptic Christians in Minya, where many Christians live in Egypt. Here, a photo from 2015 shows Coptic Christians walking outside St. Markos Church in Minya.

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Gunmen fired on a bus carrying Coptic Christians in Minya, where many Christians live in Egypt. Here, a photo from 2015 shows Coptic Christians walking outside St. Markos Church in Minya.

Roger Anis/AP

Gunmen attacked buses that were taking Egyptian Christians to a monastery Friday, killing at least 28 people and wounding about the same number, according to local reports citing Egypt’s government.

The attack was carried out by men riding in three trucks, Egypt’s interior ministry says, according to the official Middle East News Agency.

The Christians had been traveling to the ancient St. Samuel monastery in Minya, a province some 160 miles south of Cairo along the Nile River. Government officials say they were traveling in two buses and a truck, NPR’s Jane Arraf reports.

“Church officials say children and elderly people are among” the victims, Jane adds.

“Minya province has the largest percentage of Christians in Egypt,” Jane says. “Religious tension in some communities in Minya has increased in recent years and in many villages, they are prevented from building churches.”

Coptic Christians were targeted by two deadly attacks in northern Egypt last month, in suicide bombings that killed at least 44 people. Those attacks were claimed by ISIS.

After Friday’s attack, President Fattah al-Sisi ordered a security meeting, according to the Middle East News Agency, which also says the attack was condemned by Ahmed el-Tayeb, grand imam of Egypt’s Al Azhar mosque.

Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam also denounced the attack, saying, “Those traitors breached all the religious principles and humanitarian values,” according to the state-owned Middle East News Agency.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/26/530169616/attack-on-coptic-christians-kills-at-least-23-in-egypt?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

The attack occurred in Minya, a province some 160 miles south of Cairo where many of Egypt’s Christians live.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2017/05/26/530178903/in-egypt-gunmen-open-fire-on-coptic-christians?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Young Indian children sit with bowls of porridge (nombu kanji) as they prepare to break the fast with the Iftar meal during the Islamic month of Ramadan at The Wallajah Big Mosque in Chennai last July.

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Young Indian children sit with bowls of porridge (nombu kanji) as they prepare to break the fast with the Iftar meal during the Islamic month of Ramadan at The Wallajah Big Mosque in Chennai last July.

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As I hurry home battling the rush hour traffic in the evening, I see a queue in front of the gates of the local mosque. Men in white skull caps, women clad in saris and burkas, young children with school bags on their backs — all are waiting with containers in their hands for a share of the nombu kanji. Mosques in the south Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala distribute the kanji, a lightly spiced rice and lentil porridge, before the sunset prayers during the fasting month of Ramadan, which starts Friday evening.

During her pre-Ramadan shopping, Shahida Khalique from Tiruppur, a town in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, buys extra rice, lentils, spices and other items for making nombu kanji. She distributes the additional provisions among four women who work for her.

“I give them enough ingredients to make the nombu kanji for 15 days,” she says. “On the days I add meat to my kanji, I give them a portion so that they, too, can cook their kanji with meat that day.” Her sister-in-law, who employs the same set of women, provides the supplies for the next 15 days.

The most obvious feature of Ramadan is abstention from food and drink from sunrise to sunset, the idea being to create an intimate experience of thirst and hunger for 30 days in a row. But this Muslim holy month is also a time to emphasize the spirit of giving and sharing, to practice as much charity as possible. The nombu kanji provides one way of offering help to the needy – ensuring nourishment for those who might not have enough to fill their stomach after a long day’s fast. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Iftar is the meal families eat together at sunset to break the fast.

M. Mohamed Ali, director of the Food Consulate, a school for culinary arts in the city of Chennai, says, “When Muslims break their day-long fast, the first thing they do is have water and dates.” The Prophet Mohammed is believed to have opened his fast with dates, and Muslims try to follow the same practice when possible.

“In Tamil Nadu and some parts of Kerala, they follow it up with a few bowls of kanji before praying,” Ali says. “This rice porridge keeps the stomach light” – he says it’s seen as easy to digest for bodies that have been fasting.

But since dates aren’t produced locally, not everyone can afford to buy them, notes Tamil cookbook author and food blogger Hazeena Seyad. “Rice is the staple food in Tamil Nadu and Kerala,” she explains, “and the nombu kanji, with its rice and lentil base, offers a nutritious and accessible meal after a long day’s fast.”

A bowl of nombu kanji prepared by Tamil cookbook author and food blogger Hazeena Seyad. “Rice is the staple food in Tamil Nadu and Kerala,” she explains, “and the nombu kanji, with its rice and lentil base, offers a nutritious and accessible meal after a long day’s fast.”

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A bowl of nombu kanji prepared by Tamil cookbook author and food blogger Hazeena Seyad. “Rice is the staple food in Tamil Nadu and Kerala,” she explains, “and the nombu kanji, with its rice and lentil base, offers a nutritious and accessible meal after a long day’s fast.”

Courtesy of Hazeena Seyad

Kanji is just one variation of congee, a rice porridge that first arose in Asia more than 1,000 years ago. Iterations are found from China to Korea and Japan to Bhutan and beyond.

Kombai S. Anwar, a local historian who made an award-winning documentary on the history of Tamil Muslims, says that the tradition of making kanji as a community meal is age old in the region. “A non-vegetarian porridge of sorts, called the koozh, was made with millets and broken rice in the region even before the advent of Islam,” he says.

Mohamed Ali of the Food Consulate notes that “koozh is still served in Amman temples – temples dedicated to female deities — as prasadam.Prasadam is the offering of food made to a god or goddess that is later shared among the worshipers. “Devotees gather and cook the meal outside the temple before offering it to the goddess and sharing it among themselves,” he explains. The practice of such community meals, prepared on a wood fire, spread into mosques and became a part of the Tamil Islamic tradition as well, he says.

M.I. Mohamed Ali, secretary of a mosque in the southern city of Coimbatore (no relation to Ali of the Food Consulate), says in his congregation, they distribute kanji from about 4 p.m. until 5.30 p.m. The mosque makes enough kanji to hand out both to the poor who come just to collect it, and to worshipers who arrive for sunset prayers.

“Normally, it is distributed to the poor people living in the neighborhood,” Ali says. “We send the kanji to the homes of patrons who have donated money and materials to the mosque. Once every week, we distribute it to people from other faiths who come to sample the fare.”

Four cooks prepare about 154 pounds of kanji each day at this Coimbatore mosque. The men in charge of cooking arrive in the morning to get to work. One of them tackles onions and tomatoes arranged in a pile, while another sits down to peel and crush garlic and ginger and chop coriander and mint leaves. A third one measures spices, powders, rice and lentils, and the oils, while the fourth lays the kindling and prepares the cooking vessels. They will feed about 1,000 people in a day. Once the kanji is cooked, lids are sealed for about two hours to allow the flavors to settle and the mixture to cool down.

Anwar says that each family and each mosque has its own unique recipe, though the basic ingredients remain the same. Mosques draw up the budget for kanji a couple of weeks before the start of Ramadan. “People may make small donations, while some families may give the money for a day’s meal,” he says. Right now, it costs roughly $125 to feed about 1,000 worshipers each day.

Last year during Ramadan, Anwar led a group of 25 people on a historic sightseeing tour of one of the largest and oldest mosques in Chennai. Some of the participants — though not Muslim — fasted, while others skipped lunch. “We all had nombu kanji together and it was a unique experience for all of us,” he says.

Fehmida Zakeer is a freelance writer based in Chennai, India.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/05/26/529713376/in-southern-india-the-spirit-of-ramadan-is-served-in-a-bowl-of-porridge?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Iraqis inspect the damage in Mosul’s al-Jadida area on March 26, one week after a U.S. air strike in the same area killed more than 100 civilians.

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Iraqis inspect the damage in Mosul’s al-Jadida area on March 26, one week after a U.S. air strike in the same area killed more than 100 civilians.

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Updated at 10:35 a.m. ET

The Pentagon is set to release a report on a U.S. airstrike targeting ISIS fighters in Mosul, Iraq, earlier this year that killed more than 100 civilians.

The report is expected to say the building that was hit either was used to store bombs or was rigged with explosives, NPR’s Tom Bowman reports. However, rights groups have accused the U.S.-led coalition of not taking adequate precautions to protect people in Mosul.

The strike took place on March 17; the Defense Department’s report is due to be released Thursday.

The assessment “will say Iraqi troops came under fire from ISIS snipers, and the U.S. responded with an airstrike, hitting this building with a small bomb — about 250 pounds,” Tom reports.

“The Pentagon will say that such a small bomb could not have reduced this building to basically a crater” without being enhanced by other explosives, he adds.

It wasn’t until after the attack that officials learned civilians were in the targeted building. They’re believed to have been either used as human shields by ISIS fighters or having sought refuge in the building’s basement.

After the strike, Iraqi rescue workers told NPR they found dozens of bodies in the rubble. Coming amid a new offensive to try to retake Mosul from ISIS, the attack set off a debate over how to prevent civilian casualties when people are used as human shields — and whether the U.S.-led coalition has been cautious enough in its attacks.

Survivors of the strike told NPR’s Jane Arraf about the devastating losses they suffered, and why they hadn’t been able to leave.

“Three times we tried to leave and ISIS sent us back,” Ala’a Hassan told Jane. “They fired in the air and in the end they said if you try to leave we will hang you.”

The deaths prompted Amnesty International to accuse the U.S.-led coalition of not taking adequate precautions to protect people in Mosul, not providing a safe escape route for civilians, and using munitions that are too powerful.

The group’s senior crisis response adviser, Donatella Rovera, also acknowledged the challenges in places such as Mosul. Rovera told NPR in March, “There was no easy option because obviously prior to the fighting, Islamic State did not allow people to leave. However, once the fighting got underway, possibilities are created for people to leave.”

Within weeks of the strike, as The Two-Way reported, Iraqi and U.S. officials said they would slow the offensive and reduce the number of airstrikes to minimize civilian deaths.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/25/528925544/report-on-u-s-airstrike-that-killed-civilians-in-mosul-to-be-released-thursday?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

President Trump is welcomed by the prefect of the papal household Georg Gaenswein as he arrives at the Vatican for a private audience with Pope Francis on Wednesday.

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President Trump is welcomed by the prefect of the papal household Georg Gaenswein as he arrives at the Vatican for a private audience with Pope Francis on Wednesday.

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By heading straight to the homelands of Islam, Judaism and Christianity on his first presidential trip, Donald Trump took a major risk. The possibility of offending his hosts somewhere along the way with an ill-considered tweet or offhand remark loomed large. Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican are places where appearances matter and words must be chosen carefully.

“This was a kabuki dance through a minefield,” said Chris Seiple, who has written extensively on religion and foreign policy. “Any president would have difficulty handling it, given all the different perspectives and all the ways it could go wrong.”

During his presidential campaign, Trump angered many Muslims by saying he thinks that “Islam hates us” and by calling for a ban on Muslim immigration. Some Jewish leaders saw signs of anti-Semitism in his campaign imagery and in the comments of some of his aides and followers. Pope Francis suggested that anyone who called for the construction of a border wall to deter immigration, as Trump did, “is not Christian.”

Trump managed for the most part to avoid controversy as he moved from one religion’s capital to another, though his performance in some cases did raise a few eyebrows.

President Trump delivers a speech to the Arab Islamic American Summit at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center on Sunday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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President Trump delivers a speech to the Arab Islamic American Summit at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center on Sunday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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In Saudi Arabia, Trump compensated for some of his previous slights to Muslims by calling Islam “one of the world’s great faiths” and telling the Muslim leaders who came to hear him that his message was one of “friendship and hope.”

The version of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia, however, is the strictest and most repressive in the Muslim world, with sharia law vigorously enforced. The practice of any religion besides Islam is prohibited, and apostasy, abandoning religious belief, is punishable by death. Though Trump has pledged to make the promotion of religious freedom one of his top priorities, he did not challenge his Saudi hosts on their discriminatory policies.

“We are not here to lecture,” he said. “We are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship.”

Many Christian and Jewish leaders were hoping Trump would use the occasion to speak up in defense of religious minorities.

“I think the president could have said a lot more,” said Nina Shea, an international human rights lawyer who directs the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute and has documented objectionable passages in Saudi textbooks. “He did not address some of the sharia laws that bring into question the equal citizenship of Christians, and he did not bring up the textbooks that demonize minority groups.”

Instead, Trump praised Saudi Arabia as a “magnificent” country and touted a recent $110 billion arms sale to the kingdom. His speech in Riyadh focused narrowly on the importance of countering terrorism, though he did couch his argument in a religious context.

“Every time a terrorist murders an innocent person and falsely invokes the name of God,” he said, “it should be an insult to every person of faith.”

President Trump visits the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray in Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday.

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President Trump visits the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray in Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday.

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In Jerusalem, Trump paid a respectful visit to the holiest place of Jewish prayer, the Western Wall at the site of the biblical temples, as well as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed by Christians to be the place where Christ was buried and then rose from the dead. Trump also visited the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem, although the note he left there was somewhat lacking in eloquence.

“It’s a great honor to be here with all of my friends,” he wrote. “So amazing will Never Forget!”

Trump’s most direct religious encounter was with Pope Francis at the Vatican, and it was probably the most anticipated meeting of his religious tour. The two men disagree deeply over the treatment of refugees, human responsibility for the environment, and the morality of arms sales. Trump’s tendency for self-aggrandizement could not contrast more sharply with the pope’s humility, and Francis does not hesitate to make his feelings known, as he did in a recent TED talk.

“Allow me to say it loud and clear,” he said. “The more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly. If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other.”

Neither the Vatican nor the White House released details of the pope’s conversation with Trump, though a subsequent Vatican statement called for “serene collaboration between the State and the Catholic Church in the United States, engaged in service to the people in the fields of healthcare, education, and assistance to immigrants.” The statement came one day after the White House released Trump’s proposed budget, which calls for deep cuts in food stamps and health care for the poor.

At the end of their Vatican meeting, Pope Francis gave Trump a copy of his papal encyclical on the environment, which calls for government action to address climate change, as well as other writings on world peace and the gospel.

Chris Seiple, who promotes a faith-based foreign policy as president emeritus of the Institute for Global Engagement, sees the pope’s message as standing in “juxtaposition” with Trump’s own record of questioning climate change, promoting arms deals, and fumbling Bible references. Seiple nevertheless argues that Trump and the pope share some traits that could make for a partnership. Both are world leaders, mindful of their positions.

“They’re both listening, they’re both shrewd, and they both know how to build brand,” Seiple said.

Seiple says he would have liked to see Trump do more on this trip to promote “a practical mechanism to have multi-faith discussions about terrorism, such as a religious freedom roundtable,” but in general he gives the president good marks. “He’s put the right foot forward in this very complicated region,” Seiple said.

Other assessments were more critical. Natalia Imperatori-Lee, a professor of Catholic theology at Manhattan College in New York, did not see much evidence of Trump following a faith-based script on the trip, as she hoped he might.

“Instead, what’s coming across to me is that he [approached the trip] as a business deal, or a series of business deals, which tends to be more his world view,” she dsif. “That’s what makes him so different from Francis.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2017/05/25/529973337/trump-avoids-major-slips-on-international-religious-tour?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Police seal off Lindy Road in Manchester, England, as the investigation into Monday night’s attack continues on Thursday. Greater Manchester Police are treating the explosion at an Ariana Grande concert as a terrorist attack and have confirmed at least 22 fatalities.

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Police seal off Lindy Road in Manchester, England, as the investigation into Monday night’s attack continues on Thursday. Greater Manchester Police are treating the explosion at an Ariana Grande concert as a terrorist attack and have confirmed at least 22 fatalities.

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Police in Manchester, England, have reportedly decided to stop sharing some intelligence with the U.S. after details from their ongoing terrorism investigation were apparently leaked to the American press.

Meanwhile, President Trump and the acting U.S. ambassador to the U.K have both pledged that the source of the leaks will be identified — and, “if appropriate … prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Trump says.

The investigation into the Monday night bombing at an Ariana Grande concert, which killed at least 22 people, has resulted in multiple arrests.

While a number of media outlets are reporting that Greater Manchester Police will no longer share information about the investigation with U.S. intelligence experts, other forms of cooperation between the two countries will continue, NPR’s Frank Langfitt reports from London.

But one thing is very clear: U.K. officials are upset about the leaks, which they blame on U.S. officials.

“They hate it,” Frank says. “They’re angry, they’re frustrated.”

On Tuesday, “U.S. officials” named the suspected attacker as Salman Abedi, hours before the British authorities released that identity. On Wednesday morning, an NBC reporter said he’d heard from a U.S. intelligence official that Abedi’s family had warned authorities about him in the past.

And late on Wednesday, The New York Times published photos of items “found on the scene in Manchester,” including possible switches and power sources for the bomb. The piece said the analysis was based on “evidence photographed and collected at the crime scene and distributed by British authorities.”

There’s a cultural contrast between how the police in the U.S. and U.K. approach these kinds of attacks, Frank reports from London. Where U.S. law enforcement might release a name sooner, the British investigators are more likely to keep it quiet.

As a result, they’re “really, really, really mad about this,” Frank says. “This is not their style.”

Frustration has been expressed at every level of British government. The mayor of Manchester called the leaks “arrogant, wrong and disrespectful.”

The British home secretary, Amber Rudd, called them “irritating.”

“The British police have been very clear they want to control the flow of information in order to protect operational integrity — the element of surprise,” she said, according to the BBC.

And the prime minister very tactfully signaled her displeasure.

“I will make clear to President Trump that intelligence that is shared between our law enforcement agencies must remain secure,” British Prime Minister Theresa May said Thursday. The two leaders are expected to talk Thursday on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Brussels.

It’s not just the British who are expressing outrage, either. The acting U.S. ambassador to Britain, Lewis Lukens, called the leaks “reprehensible” and “deeply distressing” in an interview on BBC radio.

“We have had communications at the highest level of our government” about the leaks, Lukens said, according to the BBC. “We are determined to identify these leaks and to stop them.”

And Trump called the allegations “deeply troubling,” saying he’s asked the Department of Justice to “launch a complete review of this matter.”

Allegations that the U.S. is mishandling intelligence from an ally has already been in the news this month — after Trump spoke with senior Russian officials in the Oval Office, and reportedly described highly classified intelligence that was not supposed to be shared.

And since Trump took office, he and other Republicans have repeatedly expressed frustration with leaks within the U.S. intelligence community, particularly of damaging information about Trump and his associates. (As NPR’s Greg Myre has noted, “Leaking classified information is a crime, but it’s also one of the most popular sports in the capital and is the bane of every administration.”)

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/25/530006788/british-police-decry-apparent-u-s-leaks-of-manchester-attack-evidence?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

A defaced Islamic State flag is emblazoned on a wall in Tikrit, Iraq, in 2015. ISIS will generally claim responsibility for an attack within one day, though it can sometimes take longer.

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A defaced Islamic State flag is emblazoned on a wall in Tikrit, Iraq, in 2015. ISIS will generally claim responsibility for an attack within one day, though it can sometimes take longer.

Mohammed Sawaf/AFP/Getty Images

It’s a simple, frequently recurring phrase: “The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack.” But it raises some questions: Is the claim credible or just an empty assertion, and if it’s true, what does “responsibility” actually entail?

Experts who closely follow the Islamic State say that in general when it comes to attacks in the West, an ISIS claim of responsibility usually means there was some sort of connection. But the attack might have been planned, funded and directed by ISIS — or it could just have been inspired by the group’s propaganda.

Here’s a look at where that simple sentence comes from, and what, exactly, it can mean.

How does the Islamic State make these claims? Where are they published, and how do we know it’s actually the Islamic State speaking?

ISIS, which sees itself as a state, has its own news outlet — Amaq News Agency. It “purports to be independent” but is actually an ISIS propaganda arm, said Thomas Joscelyn, senior editor of the counterterrorism publication The Long War Journal.

Amaq stories get posted on social media and the agency’s website. The site has to move URLs, because it’s frequently taken down.

So one way to claim responsibility is for Amaq to run a story tying an attack to ISIS, citing “sources” within the Islamic State. “It’s a little coy,” Joscelyn said, but it amounts to a claim of responsibility by ISIS leaders.

The other route is more direct though less common: The Islamic State issues a statement itself, with no intermediary. The Nashir Media Foundation is considered the official ISIS channel, and its statements are considered to come directly from the group, said Rita Katz, the director of the SITE Intelligence Group.

“When these claims show up, it’s an indication of the role that ISIS played,” she said.

Katz also said she saw a flood of communication among ISIS supporters shortly after Monday night’s attack in Manchester, England, reminiscent of other large ISIS attacks. That was a strong signal to her that ISIS was directly behind the bombing.

On Tuesday, as she expected, ISIS issued its own statement, strengthening her belief that it was directly involved. The Amaq News Agency followed shortly afterward with a bulletin of its own.

Either way, outlets like the Long War Journal and SITE Intelligence Group monitor what’s being posted. When a claim has been made, they’ll translate it and publish it online.

Reporters can be fairly confident the claims come from ISIS, because the extremist group has been very conscious of controlling and spreading its message. In addition, ISIS has a radio station and uses other social media, so it could respond in multiple ways if it sees something that is not its official position.

Has ISIS ever claimed responsibility for attacks that turned out to be totally unrelated to it?

“We have not been able to find a real lie from ISIS,” said Katz, who follows the group’s social media obsessively with a critical eye. “Despite the fact that they are a terrorist organization, they want to provide their followers and supporters with authentic information.”

Joscelyn said he can’t think of an example of an outright false claim by ISIS in the U.S. and western Europe. There are plenty of exaggerations — on death tolls, for instance — and the statements shouldn’t be assumed to be true. (For instance, the ISIS claim for the attack on a concert in Manchester didn’t describe a suicide bomber, and had slightly inflated numbers of the dead and wounded.)

But in the West, “when ISIS claims something … usually there’s something there,” Joscelyn said.

That’s not true in Turkey and other parts of the world, where claims can be murkier, he said.

What does it mean to be “responsible” for an attack? Does the Islamic State distinguish between attacks it inspired and attacks it planned?

Joscelyn said ISIS will credit “a soldier of the caliphate” for an attack, regardless of whether it was planned by ISIS or just carried out in the group’s name.

“The way they issue claims mixes and mingles different types of operations,” he said. Groups of ISIS-trained operatives have carried out ISIS-planned bombings. ISIS handlers in Raqqa, Syria, have guided untrained people in Europe through online communications. And at the far end of the spectrum, there are “lone wolf” attacks planned and carried out independently, based on ISIS propaganda.

“You can have somebody who had no direct ties to ISIS whatsoever, at least that we’re aware of — someone who was inspired by the Islamic State but not actually directed by them at all,” Joscelyn said.

The attackers responsible for mass shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., and Orlando, Fla., for instance, were claimed by ISIS though they appeared to have no direct ties to the group.

ISIS is equally willing to claim them all. The distinction seems to make no difference.

How long does it usually take for an ISIS claim to go up?

ISIS will generally claim an attack within one day, although it can sometimes take longer.

If ISIS puts up a statement immediately after an attack, if there is a prerecorded video made by the attacker, if the group provides the name and other details of the attacker … these all suggest a carefully planned ISIS attack.

Conversely, if it takes longer than usual to respond, and if there are no details about the attacker, and if the information is coming only from the Amaq News Agency and not directly from ISIS, then it suggests that ISIS was not aware of the attack in advance.

Does ISIS claim every attack?

No, Joscelyn said — for reasons that are often unclear, ISIS will sometimes never lay claim to an attack that turns out to be linked to them.

That means a lack of an ISIS claim doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t ISIS-inspired, or even ISIS-directed.

What does it mean for a claim to be “unconfirmed”?

Needless to say, investigators won’t just take the Islamic State at its word when it claims responsibility. They’ll look for statements by the attacker, communication with ISIS online, evidence that the attacker consumed Islamic State propaganda — “real connective tissue,” Joscelyn said.

It can take weeks to get sense of ISIS’ involvement, and months for the full picture of what happened to be uncovered by authorities. That work is necessary not just to confirm an ISIS link, but to determine what kind of link it is.

That’s why early reporting will say that ISIS “claimed responsibility,” but stories published later might note that the group either “carried out” or “inspired” an attack.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/24/529685951/what-does-it-mean-when-isis-claims-responsibility-for-an-attack?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Steve Inskeep talks to Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to the U.S., about the aftermath of the suicide bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, Monday night.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2017/05/24/529811053/concert-bombing-was-an-appalling-tragedy-british-ambassador-says?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump met with Pope Francis on Wednesday at the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City.

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President Trump and first lady Melania Trump met with Pope Francis on Wednesday at the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City.

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President Trump had an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace on Wednesday, receiving messages about peace, the environment and immigrants from the religious leader. The meeting came a year after the pope suggested Trump “is not Christian” because of his plan for a U.S-Mexico border wall.

Their encounter was smooth and brief, lasting about 30 minutes. The two leaders smiled as they posed for photos and Trump introduced first lady Melania Trump, along with his daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner.

“At the end of the audience, the pope gave Trump copies of his writings,” NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli reports from Rome, “including his encyclical on climate change — a topic on which Trump has a very different opinion.”

The pair exchanged several gifts: Trump gave Francis books by Martin Luther King Jr., and the pope also gave Trump an emblem of an olive tree, representing the need to pursue peace.

“We can use peace,” the president replied.

As they shook hands in farewell, Trump told the pontiff, “I won’t forget what you said,” adding that the pope should call on him for help.

After the meeting, Trump met with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. When asked about his discussion with Francis, Trump said it had gone very well.

“He is something,” Trump said. “We had a fantastic meeting.”

“We’re liking Italy very, very much and it was an honor to be with the pope,” he added.

Trump later tweeted that it had been an “honor of a lifetime” to meet the pope. He added, “I leave the Vatican more determined than ever to pursue PEACE in our world.”

Francis had criticized then-candidate Trump in February 2016, after Trump unveiled a key goal of his presidential campaign: walling off the U.S. border with Mexico.

“I’d just say that this man is not Christian if he said it in this way,” the pope told reporters after visiting Mexico. “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”

In response, Trump said, “For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful.”

Before the spat, Trump had mostly praised Francis, congratulating Catholics on the choice of the new pope in 2013 and saying via Twitter, “People that know him love him!”

Wednesday’s meeting also included an exchange between Francis and the first lady — during which they shook hands and the pontiff asked her what she feeds the president.

“Pizza,” the first lady answered, and they shared a laugh as Trump smiled.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/24/529812746/he-is-something-trump-visits-pope-francis-at-the-vatican?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Two German soldiers with far-right views, accused of plotting the assassination of public figures, sparked a probe of that country’s military to see whether it’s been infiltrated by the far right.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2017/05/23/529634908/germany-tries-to-root-out-neo-nazis-inside-the-ranks-of-its-military?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world