TIME Tunisia

Terror-Struck Tunisia Fears Fighters Coming From Libya

Flowers are placed at the beach next to the Imperial Marhaba Hotel where 38 people were killed yesterday in a terrorist attack on June 27, 2015 in Souuse, Tunisia.
Jeff J Mitchell—Getty Images Flowers are placed on June 27, 2015, at the beach next to the Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Sousse, Tunisia, where 38 people were killed in a terrorist attack a day earlier

The country that started the Arab Spring casts a wary eye at its neighbor after two bloody attacks

The two massacres were 90 miles and more than three months apart. Yet there was much in common between last week’s devastating killing on a Mediterranean resort beach in Tunisia, which killed 38 mostly British people, and the mass shooting last March in the country’s premier cultural institution, the Bardo National Museum in the capital Tunis, which killed 22 people — almost all Europeans.

Both targeted Western travelers, and both seemed aimed at wreaking havoc on the country’s crucial tourist industry, which provides some 20% of its income. And there was one other commonality too: Tunisian officials say the two gunmen in March, and the lone gunman in Sousse, all received terrorist training not in their tiny home country — but in Tunisia’s huge oil-rich next-door neighbor, Libya.

Western governments have anguished in recent days over the fact that armed militants appear to have taken root in Tunisia, which they regard as the sole success story from the Arab Spring revolutions of 2011; a secular political party won Tunisia’s democratic election last December. Since the Bardo museum attack, Tunisian officials have ramped up efforts to arrest suspected jihadists and shut dozens of unauthorized mosques, where they believe imams are radicalizing local youth. Last Saturday in Sousse, the site of the beach-resort attack, Tunisian President Mohsen Marzouk told reporters that the government was “trying to organize people in the war against terror,” which he said was “not between terrorists and the state, but between terrorists and the people.” The militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the museum attack, and this week, friends of the Sousse gunman, Seifeddine Rezgui, told the Financial Times that Rezgui had posted his allegiance to ISIS on his Facebook page.

Yet for all the hand-wringing over what to do about Tunisia’s militants, many believe that the key to averting more attacks lies not at home, but in Libya. There, regional analysts say, ISIS-affiliated organizations continue to operate unimpeded, offering training to terrorist operatives in how to conduct attacks elsewhere in the region. “They [ISIS affiliates] have identified Libya as their foothold in North Africa,” Matthew Sinkez, regional risk manager for Whispering Bell, a security consultant for companies operating in North Africa, said from his base in Dubai this week. In Libya, he said, “they have the ability to train people and further destabilize neighboring countries.”

The reasons are clear: nearly four years after Libya’s militia drove out Muammar Gaddafi and collapsed his 40-year dictatorship, the country has been beset by warring factions fighting for power. One group of militias called Libya Dawn seized the capital Tripoli last August, in a battle that destroyed the city’s airport and drove the internationally recognized leaders out of the capital, into internal exile in the eastern city of Tobruk. Since then, Libya’s military chief General Khalifa Haftar — ousted from Tripoli — has led a military campaign against Tripoli’s forces, and against ISIS-affiliated groups.

For nine months, U.N.-brokered peace talks in Morocco have failed to cobble together a deal between the two groups, and to persuade them to form a unity government to share power in Tripoli. But last week’s Sousse attack has made it clear that a peace deal is urgent. The U.N. envoy to the talks, Spanish diplomat Bernardino León, told reporters on Monday that he hoped to have a deal by Thursday, since the two sides needed to settle “just two, three issues.”

But Leon’s view now appears far too optimistic. On Wednesday, Libya Dawn said in a statement that it would not accept the peace conditions, and that they believed the U.N. was attempting to foist on them a “fascist dictatorship.”

The other side of Libya’s conflict is no less uncompromising, saying it would not agree to share power with the Tripoli leaders. “A unity government with criminals and terrorists? No thank you,” Rami el-Obeidi, a former intelligence officer for the post-Gaddafi government in Tripoli, told TIME on Thursday. “Lay down your arms first and give them all to the army. Then we can talk.”

That lack of a peace deal in Libya leaves a dangerous vacuum in the country — and the continued possibility of further attacks elsewhere in the region. “The reality is that the longer the protracted dialogue goes on the longer ISIS militants can exploit the security situation,” Sinkez said. “That is at the heart of this: the failure to agree on a way forward.”

This year has made clear just how tragic the consequences are of Libya’s political impasse. Until recently, Tunisia was one of the biggest sources of foreign fighters to jihadist groups in Syria — by some estimates, about 2,500 Tunisians have fought with jihadist groups since the conflict erupted in 2011. But Sinkez said the Tunisian militants’ tactics appear to have shifted this year to staying closer to home. “Libya after the [2011] revolution was just a stopover point for people going to Syria,” he said. “But especially since 2015 rather than just going to fight against Bashar Assad, they are seeing a way to take a stronger role in North Africa.”

Libya still plays a key role, however. El-Obeidi, who travels in and out of eastern Libya, said he believes that as Haftar’s forces have increasingly waged attacks against ISIS positions, ISIS groups are moving around Libya, rather than basing themselves in fixed positions in the country’s vast southern desert. “They are mobile today,” he said. “To train people in shooting an Kalashnikov, and it give them some psychological training, that does not need a camp.”

TIME Crime

Terrorist Attacks Suggest a Change in ISIS Tactics

Killings in France, Tunisia and Kuwait could mean that ISIS is now attacking external targets as well as fighting for land in Iraq and Syria

In a day of terror and bloodshed on Friday, Islamist attackers possibly aligned with the Islamic State of Greater Iraq and Syria (ISIS), launched three separate assaults thousands of miles apart — in France, Tunisia and Kuwait — creating an impression that the group had adopted a new tactic of launching punitive external attacks rather than just focusing on state-building and territorial acquisition.

The attacks, which killed at least 54 people, had little obvious connection to one another except the assailants’ suspected inspiration from ISIS. Yet their rapid succession, one after the other, seemed more than a coincidence to some experts, who warned that it could become increasingly difficult for officials to ward off such threats. “It is very unusual to have three separate attacks on the same day,” Sujjan Gohel, a terrorism expert at the London School of Economics, told CNN. ISIS, he said, is “spreading the message, getting their doctrine out, encouraging followers.”

The day’s lethal attacks began shortly after 10 a.m. in France, when at least one man rammed their car into the plant of a U.S. industrial-gas company near the French city of Lyon, and then decapitated one man and scrawled Arabic writing on his severed head, according to police.

Within hours of that attack, at least one gunman opened fire on a beach packed with European tourists in Sousse, Tunisia killing at least 28 people. That assault came little more than three months after two ISIS gunmen killed 21 tourists, most of them European, at the Bardo Museum in the capital Tunis.

Kuwait suicide bombing
Yasser Al-Zayyat—AFP/Getty ImagesKuwaiti security forces gather outside the Shii’te Al-Imam al-Sadeq mosque after it was targeted by a suicide bombing during Friday prayers in Kuwait City, on June 26, 2015,

Shortly after that an attacker whom witnesses described as a man in his 20s entered a Shi’ite mosque in Kuwait City and blew himself up while people prayed killing at least 25. ISIS quickly claimed responsibility for that attack. If that is correct, Friday’s assault is the first the group has carried out in the Sunni countries of the Persian Gulf.

The anniversary of its declaration of a caliphate, or holy Islamic state, by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is on June 29. Since last June, there have been numerous attacks carried out in the name of the organization — some with just one attacker — in places as far afield as Copenhagen and Sydney.

Friday’s events come days after ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani urged supporters all over the world to turn the holy month of Ramadan into “a time of “calamity for the infidels … Shias and apostate Muslims.”

Since ISIS established itself in Syria in 2013, its fighters have focused on gaining territory and imposing their control on it. Unlike al-Qaeda, they have avoided attacks outside their immediate theatre of operation. But this week a group of ISIS fighters infiltrated the Kurish town of Kobane, which they were forced out of earlier this year. Their attack did appear to be part of a concerted effort to re-take it. Rather, the attack seemed punitive and left more than 120 Kurdish fighters and civilians dead.

The attacks in Kobane, France, Tunisia and Kuwait do not appear to have any military purpose and may suggest that ISIS has decided to pursue its war for territory in tandem with its war against the world of unbelievers, which includes almost everyone.

Police and security will increase their vigilance. On Friday, all seemed caught off guard — a sign of how difficult it is to avert terror attacks by an organization whose followers are scattered across the world, and who appear to act without any direct central command.

Tunisia hotel attack
Amine Ben Aziza—ReutersPolice officers control the crowd, while surrounding a man suspected to be involved in opening fire on a beachside hotel in Sousse, Tunisia, as a woman reacts, on June 26, 2015.

In Tunisia, officials have waged a tough battle against ISIS since the Bardo attack. Around 3,000 Tunisians are estimated to fight with ISIS, making Tunisis the largest supplier of fighters. The Bardo attackers were believed to have returned to Tunisia from ISIS’s Libyan offshoot.

Tunisia, whose economy depends on European tourists, has scrambled to reassure Westerners that its country, a democracy and the birthplace of the 2011 Arab Spring revolutions, is safe. Tunisia’s tourism agency published posters reading, “Keep Calm and Visit Tunisia.” That assurance might be hard to believe for many European holidaymakers now, especially in France, which retains close ties to its former French-speaking colony. “Tunisia’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism, and that revenue is now about to all but disappear,” Geoff Porter, CEO of the North Africa Risk Consulting, told clients after Friday’s attack. The tourist killings, he said, is “leaving Tunisia in dire straits at a critical junction in its political transition.”

The attacks come nearly six months after three French gunmen waged the worst terrorist attacks in decades in Paris, killing a total of 17 people in an assault on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and on a kosher supermarket in a Parisian suburb. One claimed his allegiance to ISIS, while the other two said they were operating under instructions from the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; all three were killed as the police moved in.

French officials believe about 3,000 French citizens have fought with various jihadist groups in Syria since 2011, and that hundreds might be back home, perhaps battle-trained and battle-ready. Yet none of the three January attackers had been in Syria, underscoring how complicated it is for police to monitor every possible terror operative.

After January attacks, French officials increased security and surveillance. But Friday’s attacks made clear that such ramped-up security and surveillance go only so far. The attack outside Lyon was in an industrial zone, far from high-profile sites in Paris. And while the Charlie Hebdo terrorists armed themselves with Kalashnikov rifles and grenades, the attackers on Friday used just their car as their weapon, and perhaps a knife for the beheading. France’s internal intelligence agency, the DSGI, reported that they had knowledge of the man the police had arrested, and that he was a Lyon resident. Even so, Minister of Interior Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters later that the man had no criminal convictions, a fact that might have made him a lesser target of surveillance.


TIME France

The Former Head of the IMF May Have Been Acquitted But He Has Lost Everything

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was going to be President. Now he symbolises one of the worst aspects of French political culture

The former head of the International Monetary Fund Dominique Strauss-Kahn — who once seemed headed for the French presidency — was acquitted on Friday of so-called “aggravated pimping” charges for his regular sex orgies in the French city of Lille, ending a series of sex-related trials against him, and leaving the French to wonder where the fine line is drawn between France’s sexual tolerance and impunity under the law.

That debate, over whether powerful French men inevitably escape punishment for their sexual transgressions, is far from over. But for now, Strauss-Kahn’s four-year legal ordeals are indeed behind him. He may have been acquitted but no one thinks he is innocent.

On Friday the prosecutor in the Lille trial concluded that the actions of DSK, as Strauss-Kahn is known, fell on the side of sexual liberty. Strauss-Kahn was charged with aiding and abetting prostitution with seven women, by attending numerous orgies with prostitutes in Lille hotels — a practice he continued in Washington during his tenure as Director General of the IMF, which is based in the U.S. capital. The charges that Strauss-Kahn faced in Lille carried a punishment of 10 years in jail and a €1.5 million ($1.7 million) fine. But in the end, prosecutor Federic Fevre said the group did not appear to have acted criminally, and that they were simply trying to “satisfy egos, ambitions and quite simply physical desires.” In an interview with BBC Newsnight that aired on Thursday, Fevre said, “Everyone is allowed to lead the sexual life they wish so long as that remains within the boundaries of the law.”

The right to a private life, and to indulge his outsized sexual habits, has been DSK’s defense since back in May, 2011, when New York police hauled him off an Air France plane and into Rikers Island prison, and charged him with the sexual assault and attempted rape of Nafissatou Diallo, a maid at the Sofitel Hotel in Manhattan.

That arrest had momentous consequences in France, effectively rewriting the country’s political history. Strauss-Kahn, now 66, was the most popular candidate for president at the time, and his New York arrest led to now-President François Hollande winning the election in 2012. The DSK trial in New York also unleashed other charges in France itself. A young French journalist accused Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape her while she was interviewing him in a Paris apartment in 2002. Soon after, Lille prosecutors charged him and 13 others with organizing regular orgies that included — according to two prostitutes — Strauss-Kahn forcing them to have anal sex against their will. The only defendant convicted was Rene Kojfer, the former public-relations chief of the Carlton Hotel in Lille, where many of the orgies took place.

Strauss-Kahn has now been cleared of all charges, settling grievances out of court for undisclosed sums of money with both the New York hotel maid and the young French journalist. For the once-powerful politician, his defense was based on the claim that all the liaisons were between consenting adults.

During the past month, DSK has cast himself as a man whose sexual appetites and unusual practices are simply outside the normal spectrum but which appeal to some women. He insisted he did not know that his sexual partners in the champagne-soaked orgies were paid, assuming that they were simply there for “excitement and adventure” like himself. And while he admitted he could “be a bit brutal with women,” he told the court, “I must have a sexuality which compared to average men is more rough. Women have the right not to like that whether they are prostitutes or not.”

Yet the trial’s lurid details have jolted even the French, who are accustomed to their leaders’ sexual adventures. Extramarital affairs have been a feature of virtually every French president; the late president François Mitterrand even had a daughter out of wedlock during the 1980s. And very few French media reported on Strauss-Kahn’s sexual affairs until his New York arrest, despite the fact that Paris was abuzz with rumors of DSK’s swinger lifestyle while he was Finance Minister in the 1990s. Even then-President Nicolas Sarkozy warned DSK about staying out of legal trouble in Washington while he was running the IMF in the midst of the global financial crisis.

In some ways, the DSK drama has changed that French casual attitude to their leaders’ sex lives, or at least, the secrecy around them. Last year, the French press feasted for months on Hollande’s affair with French actress Julie Gayet and his break-up with his longtime partner Valerie Trierweiler. And even friends of Strauss-Kahn expressed being disturbed by the Lille orgies. “He can be considered a libertine and that is permitted in France,” Ivan Levaï, a friend of Strauss-Kahn, told the French channel BFM on Friday. “But not pimping.”

Even so, French women have wondered whether Strauss-Kahn might ever have faced trial in France, had it not been for the New York arrest that set off a series of charges against him back home. “Most people said it would have been stifled, he would not have been arrested, because people love the allowances we make for rich and powerful people,” French feminist writer Christine Delphy told BBC Newsnight on Thursday. “In fact there is impunity from the police, from the justice, from the media. Powerful men will not be convicted.”

On a daily level, in fact, sexual harassment continues among politicians, according to French political journalists. Last month 40 prominent French women journalists published an enraged letter in the paper Libération, saying that there was a widespread culture of harassment of them among the men they regularly interview. “We thought the DSK affair had put the macho habits on the path of extinction,” they wrote, saying that instead, politicians sent suggestive text messages, proposed dinner, and made condescending comments during press conferences, like describing an interjection as a “real girl’s question.” Much is couched as “schoolboy humor” or “the French art of seduction,” apparently believing that that excused their behavior, said the letter

Strauss-Kahn is now left to watch this debate from the outside. Exiled from politics, and a seen as toxic presence by the Socialist Party of which he is a member, he has started a business consultancy, with the Serbian government and others as clients. “We can talk about lost honor,” Levaï told BFM. “And to reclaim his honor and dignity, that could take years.” These are years he once hoped to spend inside the Elysée Palace, the residence of the French President.


Russia and Qatar’s World Cups Under Scrutiny after FIFA Chief Resigns

Proof of corrupt voting process could lead to a second competition to host the World Cups

On December 2, 2010, the Zurich Exhibition Center was so packed with people waiting to hear who would host the World Cups in 2018 and 2022 that Qatar’s World Cup committee chairman Hassan Abdullah al-Thawadi could hardly see over the crowd. FIFA President Sepp Blatter opened the envelope and announced that this tiny, blisteringly hot, non-soccer-playing nation would host the 2022 tournament. The Qataris in the room went wild but Thawadi said he was so stunned it took him a few moments to react. “I assumed we would lose to the U.S.,” he said in an interview in 2013, in Qatar’s capital Doha,. “I had thought, ‘okay, we would showcase to the world what we could do,'” he said. “We believed we had a very compelling story.”

Qatar indeed had a compelling story — and that story is now embroiled in the biggest sports scandal in many years. Switzerland last week opened an investigation into whether the awarding of World Cup hosting rights to Qatar for 2018 and to Russia for 2018 involved buying the votes of some FIFA delegates and the U.S. has indicted nine FIFA executives and five others on charges of money laundering and racketeering.

It is not yet clear what prompted Blatter to quit, just days after vowing he would not. He said on Tuesday he would bow out “to focus on driving far-reaching, fundamental reforms.” FIFA, he added, “needs a profound overhaul.”

With FIFA in turmoil and Blatter saying he will resign, the fierce battle over FIFA’s future direction now comes to rest on the fate of Qatar and Russia’s World Cups. For many of Blatter’s fiercest critics, whether or not those 2018 and 2022 World tournaments go ahead will indicate how serious FIFA is about ending corruption. “If I was the Qatari organizers I would not sleep very well tonight,” England’s soccer chief Greg Dyke said on Tuesday. “I think if the evidence comes out which shows the bidding processes were above board that’s fine. If it shows they were corrupt obviously the bids should be re-done. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

It may not be that simple, however to scrap Russia and Qatar’s World Cups and there will be major political battles over any decisions to move them. After last week’s arrests, Russian President Vladimir Putin, a close ally of Blatter, accused the U.S. of using “methods to achieve their selfish aims and illegally persecute people.” And in a similar fashion Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani told Fox News this week that his country was being unfairly criticized. “Is it because it is an Arab, Islamic, small country? That is the feeling of the people in the region.”

Then there is the financial hit that switching venues would entail. For Russia and Qatar losing the World Cup would be disastrous. Each country has staked a good part of its national prestige on the event and there are billions of dollars in investments in play. Deep in recession and struggling with Western sanctions and low oil prices, Russia expects to spend about $20 billion building infrastructure and stadiums. “The 2018 World Cup is one of the main public investment projects for the next three years,” the Bank of America in Moscow wrote in a note to analysts last Wednesday. Qatar too has banked hugely on its World Cup, and expected to spend about $200 billion over a 12-year period, including its new $17.5-billion international airport, a multibillion-dollar rapid-transit system, and giant FIFA-approved stadiums, all air-conditioned.

Cancelling Russia’s World Cup would entail fairly rushed decisions, since the tournament’s lineup of teams begins this summer. “It is too late to change it,” said Simon Johnson, a London lawyer who led England’s losing bid to host the 2018 World Cup. “But 2022 is another matter.”

Corporate sponsorship is another issue. Advertisers have already expressed concern about splashing their logos across players’ uniforms and FIFA stadiums, in the midst of corruption allegations. After last Wednesday’s arrests, Coca-Cola, a major FIFA sponsor, said the scandal “has tarnished the mission and ideals of the FIFA World Cup,” while Visa, another big FIFA partner, said that unless FIFA underwent “swift and immediate” reforms, the company “will reassess our sponsorship.”

Campaign groups have continued pushing companies to pull their sponsorship from the Qatar tournament, convinced it is the only form of pressure strong enough to force changes in Qatar’s treatment of construction workers. About 1,400 mostly South Asian migrant workers have already died while building World Cup infrastructure. “Our main concern is not removing Qatar,” says Stephen Russell, coordinator of the London group Playfair Qatar. “We want leadership with the guts to threaten Qatar to remove the World Cup.”

Russell said he believed Blatter had opted to stay on at least until December, in order to ensure that Qatar does not lose its World Cup. “By the time you get to next March, more of the stadiums will have been built,” he said.

Nonetheless, the potential for sponsors to bail out of FIFA is still there, as stories of grim working conditions continue to emerge from Qatar. Russell said Playfair and other groups were beginning to talk to companies about their involvement. “Now there are very serious allegations of corruption along with very serious allegations of worker abuse,” he says. “It only takes one of them to say, ‘this is no good we’re getting out of there,'” he said. “From that point, you can target some of the others which are likely to go.”


Iraqi PM Warns That New ISIS Fighters Are Overwhelming the Iraqi Army

Fighters from Badr Brigades Shiite militia clash with Islamic State group militants at the front line on the outskirts of Fallujah, Anbar province, Iraq on June 1, 2015.
Hadi Mizban—AP Fighters from Badr Brigades Shiite militia clash with Islamic State group militants at the front line on the outskirts of Fallujah, Anbar province, Iraq on June 1, 2015.

Haidar al-Abadi warns that Iraq needs more help to fight ISIS but rules out a return of U.S. troops

As U.S., European and Middle Eastern officials gathered in Paris on Tuesday to discuss how to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), Iraq’s Prime Minister told reporters that hundreds of crack foreign fighters had flooded into Iraq in recent weeks to join ISIS.

“They have brought hundreds of new fighters, well trained, well armed, very good networking,” says Haidar al-Abadi before Tuesday’s talks began. “We are trying very hard on our part, but this is a transnational organization. It needs all the intelligence of the world, and we are not getting much.”

The sense of urgency among Western leaders has risen sharply since mid-May, when ISIS seized Iraq’s western town of Ramadi. The battle seemed one-sided, with a determined ISIS driving out ineffectual Iraqi troops. U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter blamed Iraqi soldiers for the defeat, saying they had “no will to fight” even though the U.S. has 2,200 military personnel supporting the Iraqi army and it has provided it with some $500 million in weapons and ammunition.

ISIS is now 70 miles outside Baghdad and international officials are scrambling to craft a strategy to reverse the group’s gains both in Iraq and Syria, where ISIS seized the city of Palmyra last month.

Abadi, a Shiite politician who replaced his unpopular predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki, last August, says the Iraqi military faced two huge challenges in Ramadi last month. First, he says, ISIS loaded huge armored trucks with explosives, parked them on the frontline, and then detonated them, “like a mini nuclear bomb,” killing frontline soldiers, and causing troops further back to flee. Second, he says, ISIS fighters infiltrated the Sunni-dominated city before seizing it, taking over the mosques and then blasting messages from the loudspeakers encouraging Iraqi soldiers to retreat, rather than fight.

Despite recent failures, Abadi said U.S. troops would not join the fight after pulling out of combat in December 2011. “No. We don’t want it because it is complicating. And in all honesty we will never get it, with public opinion in the West and in the U.S., ” he says.

Western officials fear that Sunni Iraqis do not want to fight ISIS, which some believe is a lesser evil than the Shiite militias fighting on the government side. ISIS also has hundreds of foreign fighters from Sunni states like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. ISIS in Iraq now comprises about 58% foreign fighters, compared with just 40% a few months ago. Many of the fighters come from the Persian Gulf, Turkey and Egypt, according to Abadi.

Abadi said his government was determined to place more Iraqi Sunnis in command positions. “We learned a lot from Ramadi. We have learned how to fight Daesh,” he says, using the Arabic term for ISIS. He said the Iraqi army had begun recruiting Sunni commanders and that his government was in close contact with exiled Sunni leaders in Jordan. He said he had also moved brigades to the northern city of Mosul, which ISIS seized last June, in readiness for a major assault.

On the ground, however, there are reports that Iraqi soldiers are severely overstretched. One U.S. Special Forces officer told Politico last weekend that ISIS “are just better fighters. They have fire discipline. They cover each other’s advances. They keep moving. The Iraqis do none of these things.”

The new Iraqi army will not be enough on its own to defeat ISIS in Iraq. Abadi said his most important need was an increase in aerial surveillance from U.S. planes, to spot ISIS on the move. “Surveillance is very small,” he said. “Daesh is mobile, they move in very small groups. They can gather somewhere else, and attack,” he said. “They are not seen by coalition partners.”

As the U.S.-led coalition plows more money into bolstering Iraq’s military, Abadi knows that his pleas for more arms and ammunition will be met with close scrutiny as Western officials weigh how to best battle to beat ISIS. But the Iraqi Prime Minister argues that the West cannot afford to ignore his calls for more help despite the problems his government has in managing its military. “The danger…is huge,” he says. ISIS “is creating a new generation of fighters, ,” he said. “They prepared to die, but they want to win.”

TIME Sports

Meet the Prince Who Wants to Save Soccer

Prince Ali Bin Hussein of Jordan is giving embattled FIFA President Sepp Blatter a run for his money ahead of Friday's vote

With FIFA’s 209 members set to vote Friday in Zurich on who should run the scandal-ridden global soccer authority, the prospect of ending the 17-year rule of FIFA President Sepp Blatter rests on just one unlikely person: A soft-spoken royal half his age, who has never played professional soccer or managed a FIFA club, and who was still a student at Princeton University when Blatter began his first term in office.

Jordan’s Prince Ali Bin Hussein, 39, looked a long shot to deprive Blatter of a fifth term atop FIFA when he launched his campaign in January, saying he wanted to end decades of endemic corruption within FIFA and turn it into “a first-class organization that is worthy of a sport that unites billions of people around the globe.”

Prince Ali still faces an uphill battle in Friday’s vote, despite the arrests of seven top FIFA executives on Wednesday on charges of money laundering and racketeering. In a day that left FIFA and the soccer world in turmoil, police stormed the officials’ five-star hotel rooms in Zurich before dawn, just as the U.S. unsealed indictments against them and seven others—and as Swiss police raided FIFA headquarters in the city. The U.S. charges detail decades of kickbacks and bribes worth some $150 million, while the Swiss investigation concerns suspected bribes around the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting rights, awarded to Russia and Qatar, respectively.

Despite the volcanic events at FIFA this week, Blatter made it clear on Thursday that he had no intention of resigning, and in fact looks set to win another four-year term. That is in large part because of a voting system that heavily favors Blatter—in fact, this is the first time since 2002 that anyone has challenged him for the seat. Each member-country has an equal vote in the FIFA presidential election, whether they are sporting giants like the U.S. or Brazil, or one of the dozens of poor, soccer-addicted nations to which FIFA dispenses millions for sporting facilities; Africa, for example, has 54 votes, and most of its members are expected to back Blatter. “People are always trying to knock Blatter,” Guinea Bissau’s soccer chief Nascimento Lopes told Inside World Football on Thursday. Labeling the opposition against Blatter “blasphemy,” he asserted, “Africa will vote for Mr. Blatter and I will follow that.”

Yet despite Blatter’s probable victory, Prince Ali has in some ways already won big. Through four months’ campaigning, the former parachutist in the Jordanian military has shifted perceptions about what kind of leader FIFA might have—if not, perhaps, as a result of Friday’s vote. (On Thursday, the president of U.S. Soccer acknowledged America’s delegate would cast a ballot for the royal, not Blatter.)

Prince Ali’s election manifesto—an unknown concept for FIFA—promises to transform FIFA into “a service organization and a clear leader in good governance” and to plow its mammoth profits into improving soccer organizations in the neediest countries. That includes quadrupling the annual funds that FIFA dispenses to each of its member associations, from $250,000 to $1 million, an easily affordable sum for the organization, whose financial statement released earlier this month showed its revenues between 2011 and 2014 totaled about $5.7 billion.

His proposals for FIFA entail a drastic shake-up in its management practices, including regular and open accounting of its finances, and he argues that he has the credentials to oversee it.

Born in 1975, Prince Ali is the son of Jordan’s late King Hussein and the younger brother of its current King Abdullah. Like many royals from the Middle East, he attended Britain’s Sandhurst Military Academy before Princeton. In 2004, he married a former CNN correspondent, Rym Brahimi, and the couple has two children. He has served as president of Jordan’s Football Association for 16 years, and for the past four years has been one of FIFA’s seven Vice Presidents; two other FIFA veeps were among those arrested Wednesday. He has also been a member of FIFA’s executive committee for the past four years, although he says he will abandon that position if Blatter is elected a fifth term. “I honestly believe I could not be a member of the executive committee under the circumstances for the next four years,” he told CNN in March. “I will not run.”

Throughout his campaign, Prince Ali has appeared unafraid to make enemies—and enemies he has made. He clashed earlier this month in Bahrain, with that country’s Shaikh Salman, who is a close Blatter ally and who heads the Asian Football Confederation. A day before Wednesday’s arrests, he revealed that back in April an unnamed person offered to deliver 47 votes for him in Friday’s ballot—for a price—and to disclose details of Blatter’s personal finances, which had apparently been illegally obtained. Rather than seize on a possible advantage in the vote, Prince Ali reported the incident to law enforcement officials.

All of that has gained Prince Ali powerful fans. Last week, the Dutch football federation president Michael Van Praag and the Portuguese football star Luís Figo both dropped their bids to be voted FIFA president, saying they were throwing their efforts behind Prince Ali instead, in what seemed designed as a strategic move to unseat Blatter. On Thursday, the football federations of Australia, Wales and Britain all said they would vote for Prince Ali.

Michel Platini, president of Europe’s powerful football federation UEFA—which does not have a vote but whose high-performing members have considerable prestige with FIFA—also backed Prince Ali. “He knows perfectly the workings of the institutions but has not yet had time to be crushed or deformed by them,” Platini told the French sports paper L’Equipe. “He has great freedom of mind and independence that make its strength.” That spirit might well have infected some of FIFA now, even if Prince Ali loses on Friday, which looks likely. Once this week’s tumultuous events have passed, UEFA and others will consider their options—including perhaps boycotting FIFA events, a decision that could leave this multibillion-dollar empire atop a Zurich hillside severely battered.

TIME Soccer

What to Know About the U.S. Investigation Into Soccer’s Governing Body

Swiss prosecutors also announced a further investigation into wrongdoing in the awarding of World Cup hosting rights to Russia and Qatar

Police in Zurich arrested seven top officials of FIFA, the federation that runs world soccer after the U.S. Justice Department in New York unsealed indictments of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering against them and seven others. Then Swiss police raided FIFA’s headquarters in that city, carting away hordes of documents and hard drives, with Switzerland’s attorney general charging that Russia and Qatar had effectively bought their hosting rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments, respectively. The soccer world is reeling and here’s why:

What is FIFA?
FIFA is the French acronym for the International Federation of Association Football, or soccer as it is known in the U.S. Headquartered in Zurich, it has grown from just eight European countries in 1904 to a global behemoth now, comprising 209 national soccer organizations, which pay dues, and compete in the World Cup every four years.

How corrupt is the soccer world?
The U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch says the corruption within FIFA has gone on for decades, involves millions of dollars in bribes, and is ““rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted” both inside the U.S. and abroad. Top officials allegedly took millions in bribes from countries vying to win hosting rights to the World Cup, which takes place every four years and is the biggest sporting event on the planet. Just two weeks ago Argentina’s iconic player Diego Maradona called FIFA “a mafia.”

What are the charges against soccer officials?
The U.S. alleges top FIFA officials took, or agreed to take, “well over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks” to lock in big money-making marketing rights.” FBI director James Comey said there was “a culture of corruption and greed” for many years. Also on Wednesday, Switzerland’s Attorney General’s Office raided FIFA headquarters and seized documents and hard drives, saying they’re investigating separate money-laundering and criminal-mismanagement charges, in connection with FIFA members’ vote to hand Russia hosting rights for the World Cup 2018, and tiny oil-rich Qatar for the 2022 World Cup.

How rich is FIFA?
FIFA makes billions from the World Cup tournaments. Much of that money comes from TV broadcast rights and marketing deals. Last week FIFA released its 2014 financial statement, showing that it made $4.5 billion from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, with $2.6 billion in clear profit after expenses.

Who’s been arrested?
The most famous people in custody are Jeffrey Webb, FIFA’s vice president and head of the Miami-based COCACAF, which runs soccer in the U.S., Canada, Central America and the Caribbean; and Jack Warner, the previous COCACAF president. Also facing trial are the soccer presidents for Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Webb is a close ally to FIFA president Sepp Blatter, and until Wednesday many regarded him as Blatter’s likely successor.

What happens next?
The seven FIFA officials arrested in Zurich could be extradited to New York City to stand trial with seven others arrested in the U.S. and elsewhere. (Here is the full list of defendants.) As FBI investigators pore over the FIFA documents the Swiss seized on Wednesday, it is possible that others could face charges of wrongdoing. In New York City, acting U.S. Attorney Kelly Currie said the indictments showed that officials were determined to stamp up soccer corruption completely. “Let me be clear: this indictment is not the final chapter in our investigation,” he said.

FIFA will also face intense pressure to publish an anticorruption report, which a former New York prosecutor, Michael Garcia, prepared for the organization last November, and which has never been made public.

What’s FIFA’s response?
FIFA says it will go ahead with its congress in Zurich, including voting Friday for the organization’s president. FIFA’s current president Blatter, who has run the organization for 17 years, is standing for a fifth four-year term. Blatter is not under indictment, but the arrests and charges could cause irreparable damage to his leadership. Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Hussein is standing against him in Friday’s vote, in a campaign to end decades of corruption.

Will FIFA cancel the Russian and Qatar World Cups?
So far FIFA insists the 2018 and 2022 Word Cups will go ahead as planned. But that could change: FIFA spokesman Walter de Gregorio told reporters in Zurich, “Russia and Qatar will be played. This is what is fact today. I don’t go into speculation about what will happen tomorrow.”

TIME Soccer

U.S. Accuses Soccer Officials of Decades of ‘Rampant, Systemic and Deep-Rooted’ Corruption

"Let me be clear: this indictment is not the final chapter in our investigation”

In a cascading explosion of events that sent the soccer world into shock on Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said that officials of the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) — the world’s most powerful and lucrative sporting body — had engaged in decades of criminal actions in which they pocketed millions of dollars in bribes over more than two decades. Unveiling charges of money laundering, racketeering and wire fraud against 14 people, including nine FIFA officials, Lynch said the charges showed “corruption that is rampant, systemic and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States,” and that “at least two generations of soccer officials … have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of bribes and kickbacks.”

“They did this over and over, year after year, tournament after tournament,” Lynch said at a press conference on Wednesday.

In a morning that left FIFA officials reeling, Swiss police stormed the Zurich hotel rooms of seven executive committee members before dawn on Wednesday, hauling them into custody in preparation for extradition to New York City, whose Eastern District Court unveiled indictments against 14 people, including two FIFA vice presidents, involving bribe taking and fraud worth millions and dating back to 1991.

That was not the end of the morning’s stunning events. Within hours, Switzerland’s Attorney General’s Office announced it had raided FIFA headquarters in Zurich on Wednesday and seized hordes of documents and computer hard drives, in connection with “criminal mismanagement and money laundering.” The Swiss charges relate to FIFA’s decision in December 2010 to award the World Cup to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022. The prospect of Qatar hosting the Cup was greeted with incredulity as it has never qualified for the tournament, it has a population of just over 2 million and its summers are too hot for outdoor sports although it one of the richest countries in the world. Qatar beat the U.S. by a single vote.

FIFA’s management tried to downplay the severity of the charges on Wednesday and attempted to portray the organization as having been the victim of errant figures within its executive ranks — casting the indictments as the result of a few rotten eggs within an otherwise clean organization. “We are very happy about what is happening right now,” FIFA spokesman Walter de Gregorio told a packed press conference at the organization’s headquarters in Zurich, where football officials from across the world are gathered this week for FIFA’s congress, and to vote on Friday for a new (or re-elected) president. “It is once again FIFA suffering under these circumstances. It is certainly a difficult moment for us.”

De Gregorio did not appear to have read the Department of Justice press release published Wednesday in which acting U.S. Attorney Kelly Currie of the Eastern District of New York said that Wednesday’s announcement was a message that enough was enough. “After decades of what the indictment alleges to be brazen corruption, organized international soccer needs a new start — a new chance for its governing institutions to provide honest oversight and support of a sport that is beloved across the world, increasingly so here in the United States. Let me be clear: this indictment is not the final chapter in our investigation.”

FIFA’s hastily arranged press conference appeared designed to quarantine the organization and its president Sepp Blatter from the turmoil raging around them, and to allow this week’s meeting to go ahead as planned — as well as to try to prevent FIFA members from reopening the votes on the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. “Russia and Qatar will be played. This is what is fact today. I don’t go into speculation about what will happen tomorrow,” de Gregorio told reporters.

How FIFA can control the damage from Wednesday’s charges and arrests, and keep the organization on track, is still unclear. But de Gregorio reminded journalists several times that it was FIFA itself that had opened the corruption investigation in Switzerland last November, which led to Wednesday’s raid. He said not even Blatter had known about the impending arrests, despite the fact that he has run the organization with despotic control for 17 years, and is up for re-election for a fifth term in office.

Among those arrested in Zurich was one of Blatter’s closest allies, FIFA vice president Jeffrey Webb, who heads the regional football association for North and Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF), and who many have regarded as Blatter’s likely successor. Despite that, de Gregorio insisted Blatter was untouched by Wednesday’s events. “The president is not involved,” he told reporters, and they bombarded him with questions about the FIFA president’s viability. “Of course he is the head of FIFA. But he is not involved, so how can you say he has to step down? He is the president, he is the president, and in two days he will stand for re-election.”

The raids in Switzerland were preceded by the unsealing of a 47-count indictment early Wednesday morning in federal court in Brooklyn, New York City. It also emerged that four individual defendants and two corporate defendants had already pleaded guilty.

Two of the most senior officials were Webb and Jack Warner, the former president of CONCACAF, whose headquarters in Miami were also raided Wednesday.

The Department of Justice also revealed that two sons of Warner, Daryl and Daryan Warner, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and other charges in July 2013. The other men who pleaded guilty were Charles Blazer, the former CONCACAF general secretary and a former FIFA executive-committee member, and José Hawilla, the owner and founder of Traffic Group, the Brazilian sports-marketing conglomerate. Hawilla also agreed to forfeit over $151 million, $25 million of which has been paid.

Two companies, Traffic Sports USA and Traffic Sports International, also pleaded guilty to wire-fraud conspiracy.

TIME facebook

Why a French Court Could Disrupt Facebook’s Global Ambitions

Facebook is trying to defend its right to ban a man for posting an image of an erotic work of art but the implications could be much greater

In a case that could have far-reaching implications for U.S. tech companies, French lawyers were back in court on Thursday, arguing over whether Facebook could refuse a French teacher the right to post a famous French Romantic nude painting — raising again the crucial legal battle over how Internet users assert their rights against global companies whose headquarters are thousands of miles away.

The case has wound its way through the French courts for years. It began in 2011, when a French teacher (unnamed in the lawsuit) posted a photo on his Facebook page of the painting “l’Origine du Monde,” by the 19th-century artist Gustave Courbet, depicting a close-up view of a woman’s genitals. Facebook deactivated the teacher’s account, on the grounds that it violated the company’s policy forbidding users from posting naked or explicit material. The teacher sued the company for €20,000 (about $22,300) in damages, saying Facebook had failed to distinguish pornography from art; indeed, Courbet’s erotic painting is one of the most famous works in the Orsay Museum in Paris.

Last January, Facebook’s lawyer argued that its “Terms of Service” contract — that long block of text on which users click ‘agree’ when they set up accounts — clearly states that the company’s jurisdiction lies in California, and that France has no right to rule on its business decisions. But earlier this year the high court in Paris rejected the company’s argument, saying that the rule was “abusive,” since it violated French consumer-protection laws, by making it effectively impossible for French users to sue the company. Facebook has appealed that ruling. Thursday’s court was a largely procedural hearing, intended to set the timetable and parameters of the case.

The case might seem trivial of itself: It concerns only one person’s Facebook page, and a 150-year-old painting. But it could have impact beyond France, with the potential to challenge the business models of multibillion-dollar tech companies, which depend in good part on the ability to exercise wide control over users’ data and online activity.

With U.S. tech giants increasingly dominant in Europe, the legal wrangle, in the eyes of many, is a battle of wills over who ultimately will control the digital lives of the E.U.’s 500 million people — the world’s richest consumer market. The plaintiff’s lawyer Stéphane Cottineau called the ruling by Paris’s high court “a victory by David against Goliath.” He told TIME by phone this week that the notion that French Facebook users could not sue the company in their own country was “ridiculous.”

The French Facebook case comes as U.S. tech giants are already embroiled in long, expensive legal battles with different governments in Europe, and with the E.U. in Brussels. The list of cases is long, and growing: In 2013 the E.U. imposed a “right to be forgotten” law, allowing Europeans to demand that Google and other search engines delete information about themselves — a battle against which Google waged a fierce fight. Last year the French government forced Twitter to delete the anti-Semitic tweets of French users, which it said violated the country’s hate-speech laws. E.U. regulators charged Google last month with elbowing out its competitors on its shopping site, in a case that could result in hefty fines for the company. The regulators in Brussels are also considering laying charges against Android for noncompetitive practices for pushing Google apps on its smartphones, and they say they are investigating whether Apple, Amazon and Starbucks have engaged in tax avoidance, by stashing billions in profits in low-tax E.U. countries like the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

But in France, the current battle boils down to one essential question: Can a private company force its customers to abide by its rules, no matter what? That, say lawyers, is not clear, since Facebook’s terms of service might violate French laws, which state that customers are allowed to sue a company. “One of the rules says you cannot include a clause that prevents a person going to court easily,” says Laetitia Guillet, a French attorney with the U.S. law firm Keller and Heckman in Paris. Facebook argues that users freely create accounts, and click on ‘agree’ to its terms, including that its jurisdiction is in California. But, says Guillet, “Nobody reads the terms of service. Even though I am a lawyer, I have never read it.”
In fact, the issue of which governments global Internet companies obey is still deeply unclear. Companies fear that if its users, like the French teacher, win cases against them, it could require them to tailor-make their sites for each specific country’s laws — an expensive task even in the E.U., which has 28 member states. That makes the issue of jurisdiction key to many cases. “This question that is on everyone’s minds right now, not only for Facebook but also Google and Twitter, because all these entities have international scope and reach,” says Adam Holland, project coordinator for the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. “We don’t want to let local laws dictate global policy, because where will that end?”

TIME Syria

ISIS Must Be Stopped From Destroying Ancient City, U.N. Says

Part of the ancient oasis city of Palmyra, Syria in 2014.
Joseph Eid—AFP/Getty Images Part of the ancient oasis city of Palmyra, Syria, in 2014

ISIS's takeover of Palmyra means they control more than half of Syria

After months of fierce fighting, ISIS captured the town of Palmyra northeast of Syria’s capital Damascus on Thursday, leaving the group in control of more than half of the country’s territory — and raising fears among experts that its fighters will begin smashing spectacular ancient sites.

Set on the strategic road linking Damascus to Deir al-Zour in eastern Syria, Palmyra contains ruins dating back 2,000 years from what was once one of the most prosperous and culturally rich cities of the Roman Empire. Until war erupted in 2011, thousands of tourists visited the site, which adjoins the modern-day town of Palmyra. In the middle of the ancient city is a colonnaded street, and nearby is a huge ancient amphitheater, and towering ancient temples with monumental arches and columns.

Those are all irreplaceable historic treasures, say cultural experts. “Any destruction of Palmyra is not just a war crime, it will mean an enormous loss for humanity,” Irina Bokova, director general of UNESCO, the U.N.’s cultural organization, said in a video appeal early Thursday, just hours before the militant group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, seized control of the city. “We just have to make everything possible to prevent its destruction. We need total mobilization of the international community.”

ISIS’s capture of Palmyra comes after months in which its fighters have systematically destroyed ancient ruins and artifacts, including smashing statues in the museum of Mosul, which the group captured last June. ISIS claims the antiquities, which far predate the arrival of Islam, represent idol worship, which violates the group’s ideals. Both Iraq and Syria were key trading centers for the ancient empires and contain numerous important sites.

Quantities of ancient artifacts have also been lost to looting and smuggling, with Syrians selling them to criminal networks across the border for trade on international markets. UNESCO staff have helped Syrians to ferry artifacts out of the war zone, and have trained Interpol, border officials and even art auctioneers in how to detect looted items. “We’re doing a lot of effort on all movable objects to get them to safer places,” says Karim Hendili of UNESCO’s World Heritage Center in Paris. UNESCO declared the ancient city a world heritage site in 1980.

As ISIS fighters steadily closed in on the city in recent weeks, Syrians began a furious effort to smuggle out to safety whatever antiquities they could, in order to prevent them being destroyed, should Palmyra fall. The effort began two months ago and accelerated this month as ISIS’s victory looked increasingly likely, according to Cheikmous Ali, of the Association for the Protection of Syrian Archaeology, a volunteer group that has coordinated clandestine rescues for ancient items in areas now controlled by ISIS. Ali told the BBC on Thursday that the group had managed to remove many antiquities from Palmyra. “Some objects are still there,” he said. “It is not 100% empty.”

But experts cannot say for sure how much of Palmyra’s ancient treasures might have been lost or destroyed in years of war. Indeed, they might well have to wait until ISIS posts video from the ground, before knowing the true extent of what has been lost, or is at risk. “As long as we cannot go on the ground to assess accurately it is difficult to say,” Hendili tells TIME. “What we know is that recently the fighting between the Syrian government and the extremists got closer and closer to the site. But the site is very big, with an oasis and a citadel. We will have to cross-check before we know the situation.”

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