TIME Terrorism

Why Westerners Are Fighting for ISIS

A growing number of Westerners are joining the Islamist militant group— but why?

The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is gaining notoriety for its barbaric methods, after videos showing beheadings and mass killings surfaced online.

Meanwhile, the group has been attracting an increasing number of foreign fighters from the West, analysts say. But why are so many foreigners joining ISIS’s fighting ranks? Among a range of explanations, one of them is that, compared with other jihadist groups like al-Qaeda, ISIS is extremely welcoming to foreigners, says Joshua Landis, a Syria specialist at the University of Oklahoma.

“The biggest reason for that is that ISIS philosophically has welcomed all Muslims as equals, as it’s building an Islamic state which does not have particular Syrian angle,” Landis says. “Also, ISIS’s leadership is made of people with very prominent roles that are foreigners so you’re not going to be discriminated against philosophically if you’re foreign.”

Social media also plays a significant role.

While in the past jihadist groups operated in secretive online forums, ISIS spreads its message — both in English and Arabic — on Twitter and Facebook, which are inherently open to the public. With its sleekly produced propaganda videos, ISIS reaches young, restless Muslims or other devotees around the world with a cause that they see is worth fight for, experts say.

“For many people who are lacking a strong sense of identity and purpose, their violent radical global narrative provides easy answers and solutions: it can be very powerful message for people who are looking for answers,” says Matthew Levitt, the director of counterterrorism and intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Their online material shows capturing territory, establishing states, beheading enemies: they show that they are the sexiest jihadi group on the block.”

The U.S. State Department estimates that about 12,000 foreigners have traveled to Syria from at least 50 different countries to fight with a number of different groups, including ISIS. Marie Harf, a deputy spokeswoman for the State Department, told CNN that officials estimate the number of Americans fighting with Syrian-based groups ranges from several dozen to 100.

For more on ISIS’ recruiting techniques, watch the video above with TIME editor Matt McAllester.

TIME Sexual Assault

Columbia Student Pledges to Carry a Mattress Every Day Till Alleged Rapist Leaves Campus

Emma Sulkowicz's performance-art project began this week and may last until the end of the school year

Columbia University senior Emma Sulkowicz, 21, says she was raped in her own bed at the beginning of her sophomore year. This week, two years after the alleged assault, Sulkowicz, a visual-arts major, has made a promise to carry her mattress around campus every day as part of her senior thesis. It is, she says, a symbol of the burden sexual-assault survivors carry with them every day.

“The act of carrying the mattress from inside my room out into the light has mirrored the way my life has changed, as I’ve brought my personal story out into the light,” Sulkowicz told TIME. “This project is a way to heal one of the most difficult things that happened to me. As I will build muscle and get stronger, hopefully I will also build emotional strength.”

Sulkowicz started the performance-art project on Tuesday, and she said she is determined to continue carrying the mattress wherever she goes — to class, the library, the gym — as long as her alleged rapist is still on campus. That means her project could last until graduation day in May 2015 — unless her alleged assailant is either expelled or chooses to leave the school. Last year, Sulkowicz and two other women reported the same person to the university. All three cases were dismissed.

Sulkowicz’s initiative also brings further attention to colleges’ lackluster performance in handling reports of sexual assault, as reported in a recent TIME cover story.

As part of the project, Sulkowicz is not allowed to ask for help, but can accept it, if offered — a further analogy to the burden that sexual-assault survivors carry with them.

Sulkowicz is one of 23 Columbia and Barnard students who filed a federal Title IX complaint in April alleging that the university mishandled sexual-assault cases.

“Rape can happen anywhere, but I was attacked in my own dorm bed,” she said. “For me that place that is normally very intimate and pure was desecrated and is very fraught. The piece is about carrying the memory of that everywhere I go.”

TIME Crime

Watch: Protesters Hit With Tear Gas and Rubber Bullets During Ferguson Unrest

The violent protests entered a fifth day in Ferguson with little sign of slowing down

As fresh violence broke out Wednesday in Ferguson, Mo., local resident Mustafa Hussein recorded night vision footage of police shooting tear gas at demonstrators.

The media have had difficulty obtaining footage of the continuing unrest in Ferguson: reporters and camera crews have been kept at bay, and the Federal Aviation Administration issued a no-fly zone over Ferguson, prohibiting private aircrafts, including news helicopters, from flying below 3,000 feet in a 3-mile radius around the town.

In the rare footage above, police can be seen blasting deafening sirens at the protesters gathered in the streets. Shortly after, Ferguson police are shown shooting teargas canisters and rubber bullets at them. The footage shown was shot around 8:45-9:00pm Wednesday evening.

TIME Crime

Watch the Night Social Media Lit Up as Violence Flared in Ferguson

On Wednesday night, anger flared again in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, between protesters and the police over the police killing of an unarmed young black man, marking the fourth consecutive night of fighting in the suburban neighborhood.

Some 350 demonstrators were met by police in armored vehicles and officers wearing body armor, carrying assault rifles. When the crowd ignored orders to disperse, officers fired tear gas, smoke bombs and rubber bullets, the AP reported.

As smoke engulfed the area, the clashes were heavily reported on social media by local residents, reporters and even a local politician, Antonio French. Both French and two journalists were reportedly arrested by police during the unrest.

What do we want? Justice,” the protesters chanted.

Police fired smoked bombs to disperse the crowd.

In this video, Ferguson police is seen using armored vehicles to control the crowds.

Protesters are seen here standing in a straight line, engulfed in white smoke.

 

 

TIME Gaza

Remembering Videographer Simone Camilli: Watch One of His Final Projects

Simone Camilli
Associated Press video journalist Simone Camilli on a balcony overlooking smoke from Israeli Strikes in Gaza City. Camilli, 35, was killed in an ordnance explosion in the Gaza Strip, on Aug. 13, 2014 together with Palestinian translator Ali Shehda Abu Afash and three members of the Gaza police. Lefteris Pitarakis—AP

The video journalist was killed, along with a Palestinian translator, on Wednesday as they were reporting on the conflict in Gaza

Simone Camilli, a 35-year-old Italian journalist, was killed Wednesday in an ordnance explosion while reporting from the Gaza strip.

Camilli started his career in 2005 in Rome, as an intern with the Associated Press.

“He was a sponge,” said Derl McCrudden, head of international video news for the Associated Press. “He was one of those guys who learned everything he could about the job.”

One of his first assignments was to portray the world’s sorrow at the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005.

Maria Grazia Murru, currently a senior producer with the AP in Rome, remembers Camilli at the start of his career. “He was passionate about wanting to tell people’s stories and wanted to be where the story was all the time,” she said. “He wanted to learn everything and be the first, he was never happy waiting for images to happen.”

In 2006, Camilli moved to Jerusalem. From that moment on, he grew accustomed to rockets flying overhead, as he embarked on assignments in Israel, Gaza, Iraq, Lebanon and other areas of conflict. Camilli immersed himself in wartime reporting, vividly capturing with his camera both moments of sorrow and joy, colleagues said.

“His video had a signature, an incredible eye for detail and was able to personalize stories and portray human drama,” said Tomislav Skaro, a regional editor of international video for the AP. “He was incredibly calm, mature beyond his age, gentle and the friend that everybody wants to have.”

Camilli’s father, Pierluigi Camilli, said his son loved his work. The senior Camilli is a former journalist himself who currently serves as the mayor of Pitigliano, a small town in Italy, whose nickname is “little Jerusalem.”

“I talked with Simone the other day,” Pierluigi Camilli told Italian media. “I told him to be careful but he said not to worry (…) I’m proud of Simone. He had his work in his blood.” Camilli always wanted to be on the front lines, his father added.

In one of his last multimedia projects, Camilli worked with AP photographer Dan Balilty on a compelling piece depicting the 2009 Israeli bombardment in Gaza. Watch the piece below:

TIME Middle East

Doctors Save Unborn Child of Pregnant Woman Killed in Gaza

The newborn girl, who is still in intensive care, was named after her late mother

Shayma was born during an attack on the Gaza strip. But when doctors pulled her tiny body from the womb, her mother Shayma al-Sheikh Qanan had already died, the AFP reported.

“We tried to revive her but she had died on the way to hospital,” Fadi al-Kharti, a doctor at Deir al-Balah hospital in Gaza, told AFP. “Then we noticed movement in her stomach, and estimated she was about 36 weeks pregnant,” he said.

The twenty-three-year-old was in her home in the central Gaza Strip town of Deir al-Balah when an explosion struck nearby. Doctors performed an emergency Caesarian section and saved the baby, who was named after her late mother.

The newborn, now four days old, is currently in an incubator in an intensive care unit, but doctors worry about long term damage to her brain as her mother was dead for more than an hour before she was born. She will have to spend at least three more weeks in the hospital, AFP reported.

Her father, a 27-year-old journalist, was also severely injured in the explosion.

In the past four weeks, more than 1,050 Palestinians have died, according to Palestinian health organizations. UN figures show that most of the casualties are civilians: more than 230 children and around 120 women have died so far in Gaza.

TIME Ukraine

This Man Thinks He’s In Charge of Pro-Russian Rebels in Ukraine

Meet Alexander Borodai, the self-proclaimed Prime Minister of the Donetsk People's Republic

Eastern Ukraine rebel leader Alexander Borodai, a former PR consultant in Russia, is now at the helm of a group of pro-Russian rebels controlling the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash site and other territories around the Ukrainian city of Donetsk.

But what kind of authority does Borodai have? A kind he decided for himself. In April, a gang led by Borodai and another rebel, Igor Girkin, declared the eastern province of Donetsk a republic.

But while Borodai has become the face of the rebels on the international stage, it is unclear how much influence he wields among the ranks of rebels fighting on the ground in Ukraine.

In the video above, TIME’s Simon Shuster talks about Borodai’s power—or lack thereof—and what that means for the future of the region.

 

TIME Ukraine

MH17: Eyewitness Accounts of Horror and Confusion at Crash Site

The author of this week's TIME cover story and an acclaimed Getty photographer paint a raw image – through words and photographs – of their reactions to the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines crash in Ukraine

Last Thursday, a flowered wheat field in eastern Ukraine became the scene of an unconceivable tragedy when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was brought down by a surface-to-air missile.

A week after the disaster, TIME reporter Simon Shuster and Getty photographer Brendan Hoffman – both on site within hours of the disaster – give an inside perspective of the aftermath of MH17’s crash.

From the challenges of photographing unimaginable scenes of sorrow on the ground, to the questions surrounding the men who took control of the site, Shuster and Hoffman paint a unique picture of the legacy of Flight MH17.

 

TIME Palestine

Watch: Paramedics in Gaza Face Incoming Fire to Save Lives

Paramedics work 24-hour shifts under heavy shelling

Paramedics are often among those first to a horrific scene. But in the latest flare-up between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, the AFP reports, they are also coming under fire or witnessing the deaths of children and colleagues.

“The ambulance worker is the one who arrives first so he sees with his own eyes what has happened, what the injuries look like, what the situation is, what the truth is,” Adel al-Azbut, 30, a paramedic, told AFP.

The International Committee of the Red Cross on Monday condemned the shelling of the Al Aqsa hospital in Deir El Balah that left at least five people dead and added to a growing fear that few safe havens are left in the enclave.

Paramedics had to bury a colleague who was killed this week when his ambulance was hit by an Israeli rocket. “The situation is very hard. We’re in a war that is affecting everyone—the citizens, the paramedics themselves,” said Jihad Selim, a paramedic shift supervisor. “They don’t go home. They’re only able to check on their families by phone—it’s tense.”

At least 632 Palestinians had been killed as of Wednesday, a figure that UNICEF reported includes at least 121 children under the age of 18. Almost 30 Israelis have died in the offensive, nearly all of them soldiers.

TIME Israel

Watch: This Is How Israel Blows Up Tunnels in Gaza

Footage released by the Israeli forces shows how underground passageways are destroyed

In the video above, posted on the official YouTube page of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), soldiers are shown inserting a charge into a tunnel said to be in Gaza, then detonating it.

According to the IDF, soldiers from the Paratroopers Brigade found the tunnel in a residential area of Gaza.

Since the beginning of the conflict, the Israeli armed forces uncovered 34 shafts leading into about a dozen underground tunnels, some as deep as 30 meters, that the military said could be used to carry out attacks, according to the AP.

Last week, Israel began a ground invasion of the Palestinian territory with the goal of destroying tunnels linking Egypt and Gaza and thus striking a “significant blow to Hamas’ terror infrastructure,” according to a statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Over 500 Palestinians and 20 Israelis have died in the recent fighting.

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