TIME Iran

Young Iranians Stay Home in Fear of Acid Attacks

Police promise to capture men who recently burnt eight women

Nazar Street is one of the most liberal streets in Isfahan, a historic city 340 kilometers south of Tehran. Young men and women mix more freely than elsewhere and women wear their hijabs more loosely, revealing more hair than the law allows.

But this week, the street was quiet and its restaurants empty as people avoided public places in the wake of a series of acid attacks on young women. Eight women have been badly injured after having acid thrown in their faces by unidentified men in recent weeks causing fear and anger in the city.

Thousands protested Wednesday in Isfahan to demand security for women, according to the semiofficial Fars News Agency. Demonstrators, including many mothers, worried for the safety of their daughters. “Security and freedom are our indisputable rights!” they shouted. “Down with Iran’s Daesh,” refererring to the Arabic acronym for the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.

Soheila Joerkesh, 26, was driving back from an afternoon out swimming with her friends on Oct. 13 when she pulled over to speak with her mother on the phone. Just as she had started to speak, a motorcycle stopped beside her car and a passenger got off with a glass canister in his hand. “Suddenly Soheila started screaming, I could hear her scream for more than 5 minutes before the call got cut,” her mother told local media. “By the time we found her at a hospital she was blind. Her cellphone had been melted by the acid that the motorcyclist had thrown onto her face.”

All of the victims have been young women who were attacked on busy main streets by male motorcyclists or passengers throwing acid on their faces. The women have suffered third-degree burns on their faces, necks, chests and hands, and will require cosmetic surgery.

Many women in Isfahan now fear going out. “One of my colleagues has her husband drive her to and back from work. Another says she nearly dies from fear whenever a motorcycle passes her car. I myself take the bus now as it seems safer,” Fatemeh, a female resident of Isfahan said on Wednesday, asking for her surname not to be published. “We are all worried, we only leave home when it is absolutely necessary.”

Women in Iran have been required by law, since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, to dress modestly and not wear cosmetics. The enforcement of morals is one of the duties of the Basij militia. Many women, however, have resisted and flaunt the rules by leaving parts of their hair exposed. Members of hardline religious groups have staged demonstrations protesting what they call the decadent clothing of women. This has led to rumors that some members of these groups are behind these attacks.

“People are saying it’s a group called Ansar trying to force women to have proper hijab. I don’t know if that’s true, but many are now using masks to cover their faces to escape possible attacks, which is ironic, as the attacker didn’t even feel the need to cover his face,” Fatemeh said, pointing to reports that the culprits had not gone to any trouble to hide their identities.

Most of Iranian society has reacted angrily to the attacks.

“Throwing acid is an ugly, heinous and disgusting act, maybe murder is more acceptable, this crime is despicable,” General Esmaeel Ahmadi-Moghadam, head of the Iranian police, told the Fars News Agency on Wednesday. And the deputy head of the Judiciary, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei, told state television two days earlier that those responsible would receive “such a punishment for the culprits when they are arrested that no one would ever dare commit such crimes again.”

Others said the attacks were carried out by people linked to Western intelligence agencies in a bid to damage Iran. “Today we are seeing the foreign media network trying to link this crime to promotion of virtue and prevention of vice,” said General Mohammad Reza Naghdi, head of the Basij paramilitary force, according to news website Mashreghnews.ir.

With none of the assailants arrested yet, many Iranians are posting comments on websites and social media that criticize the police force. Some compared the swift arrests of the makers of the Pharrell Williams’ Happy video in Tehran, “within hours” in May, to the fact that weeks have passed since the first acid attack.

Soheila’s mother struck a similar chord. “We asked them can we look at footage from surveillance cameras in Soheila’s route, but they refused,” she said. “Why are they not showing us the footage?”

TIME Spain

Surreal Scene of Migrants Atop Spanish Border Fence

A golfer hits a tee shot as African migrants sit atop a border fence during an attempt to cross into Spanish territories between Morocco and Spain's north African enclave of Melilla
A golfer swings as African migrants sit atop a fence during an attempt to cross from Morocco into the Spanish enclave of Melilla on Oct. 22, 2014. José Palazón—Reuters

The fence is often the scene of would-be border-jumpers aiming to reach Europe

Among the top issues this year for European countries along the Mediterranean has been how to handle the flow of migrants from Africa and the Middle East who seek a better life within their borders. Tens of thousands of refugees and migrants journeyed across perilous routes throughout the year, and in thousands of cases met death before land. Others have attempted to cross into one of the two Spanish enclaves, Melilla and Ceuta, that border Morocco.

The latter scene played out again on Oct. 22, and was captured in a picture at the border fence surrounding Melilla that later went viral online. Eleven men are seen sitting atop the fence as a police officer approaches — and as two women play golf below. One is in mid-swing while the other is turned toward the group.

José Palazón, an activist with a migrant-rights group, spotted the men above the golf course and thought it was “a good moment to take a photo that was a bit more symbolic,” he told El Pais. “The photo reflects the situation really well — the differences that exist here and all the ugliness that is happening here.”

Spain’s interior ministry said about 200 people tried to scale the fence that day, according to the Associated Press. About 20 successfully crossed, while another 70 stayed on top of the fence for hours.

TIME Pakistan

Attacks in Southwestern Pakistan Kill 12 People

(QUETTA, Pakistan) — Attacks in Pakistan’s troubled southwestern province of Baluchistan, including an assault on the country’s beleaguered minority Shiites Muslims and a suicide bombing targeting a pro-Taliban cleric, killed 12 people on Thursday, police said.

All the attacks took place in the provincial capital of Quetta.

In one attack, near a vegetable market on the city’s outskirts, four gunmen on motorcycles sprayed a minivan carrying Hazara Shiites with gunfire, said police chief Aitzaz Goraya.

Six men died on board the bus while the gunmen chased down another two as they tried to flee and shot them dead, Goraya said. Two other people on the bus were wounded.

Pakistani television broadcast footage from the scene, showing police removing bodies of the dead and helping the wounded as family members of the deceased cried and wailed.

Hundreds of Hazara later blocked a main road in Quetta to protest the killings.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, and Goraya said it was not clear who was behind it. But suspicion is likely to fall on Sunni extremists, who have often targeted Shiites in the past.

In the past, attacks on Shiites were often claimed by the Sunni militant groups Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Pakistani Taliban.

In June, the Pakistani military launched an offensive in the country’s main Taliban stronghold in North Waziristan, a tribal region near Afghan border. The Taliban have been waging a war against the state there in a bid to topple the government and impose their harsh brand of Islamic law, and have killed thousands of Pakistanis over the last decade.

Baluchistan is home to Baluch separatist and nationalist groups that have been fighting for autonomy and a greater share of revenues from the region’s natural resources. A suicide bombing earlier in October in Quetta killed five Hazara.

Goraya and another official, Shahzada Farhat, said the Hazara are often given police escorts for security but that those targeted on Thursday were unaccompanied because they had not informed the police in advance of their trip.

Later on Thursday in Quetta, a bomb rigged to a motorcycle exploded near an army patrol, killing two civilians and wounding 10 people, including two paramilitary soldiers. The bombing happened about two kilometers (1.4 miles) away from the site of the attack on the Hazara, said Farhat.

By dusk, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden vest next to a bullet proof car carrying Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the chief of the Taliban-linked Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam religious party, said Baluchistan police chief Amlesh Khan.

Rehman, who had just finished addressing a rally of thousands of supporters in Quetta, survived the attack, which killed two people and wounded several others, Khan said.

The religious party is based in Pakistan but has links with the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan. Rehman’s religious schools had been one of the main breeding grounds for the Afghan Taliban.

Rehman has previously survived at least two attempts on his life.

“I never know who wants to kill me,” he told Pakistani Geo News TV. “Maybe because I talk against America, or because I work for the enforcement of the Islamic system.”

___

Shahzad reported from Islamabad

TIME Canada

The Rise of the Lone Wolf Terrorist

An Ottawa police officer runs with his weapon drawn outside Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Oct. 22, 2014.
An Ottawa police officer runs with his weapon drawn outside Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Oct. 22, 2014. Sean Kilpatrick—AP

Ottawa shooting appears to be the latest in a series of attacks carried out by individuals with no clear link to terrorist groups

The shooting death of a Canadian soldier outside Parliament in Ottawa, by a suspect named Michael Zehaf-Bibeau who was then killed inside the building, appears to be the latest in a series of “lone wolf” attacks inspired by radical Islam.

Wednesday’s attack happened two days after authorities said Martin Rouleau-Couture drove his car into two military members, killing one before he was fatally shot by police, and a month after Alton Nolen beheaded a co-worker in Nebraska. All three appeared to be recent converts to Islam.

There is no official confirmation that any of these attacks are considered to be direct retaliation for the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) but Canada’s Public Safety Minister, Steven Blaney, described the violent actions of Rouleau as “clearly linked to terrorist ideology”.

The country raised its terror alert from low to medium last Friday not because of a specific threat but in response to an increase in online “general chatter” from extremist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda. A few weeks ago, ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, released a video calling for more individual acts of violence against soldiers and civilians in “countries that entered into a coalition” against the group, encouraging ISIS supporters to “kill them wherever you find them.”

However, the roots of the lone wolf phenomenon go back further than this appeal. “It’s obvious that lone wolf terrorism has increased in the past few years, but that was already the case before ISIS came into existence.” says Peter Neumann, Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence in London. “It was adopted as a deliberate strategy by al-Qaeda in the late 2000s” and was repeatedly encouraged by Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical preacher based in Yemen, who wrote in the online al-Qaeda magazine Inspire: “It is better to support the prophet by attacking those who slander him than it is to travel to land of Jihad like Iraq or Afghanistan.” Awlaki was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011.

Timeline of Lone Wolf Terrorist Attacks

June 2009: Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad shoots and kills a soldier outside Arkansas recruiting station, claiming retribution for the killing of Muslims by American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

November 2009: U.S. Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hasan kills 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, saying he was driven by a hatred of American military action in the Muslim world.

February 2010: U.S. Pilot Andrew Joseph Stack III deliberately crashes his aircraft into a building in Austin, Texas, killing himself and one other. He posted a suicide note expressing displeasure with the “greed” of the U.S. government.

March 2011: Frankfurt airport shooting of two U.S. Airmen by Arid Uka, a devout Muslim who says he was radicalized by jihadist propaganda videos.

July 2011: Norwegian extremist Anders Breivik kills 77 people in a bomb attack in Oslo and a shooting spree on the island of Utøya to highlight his far-right beliefs.

March 2012: Mohammed Merah kills seven people (including three soldiers) in Toulouse, France. Merah said he was inspired by al-Qaeda.

April 2013: Dzhokar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev kill 3 people, injure more than 260 at the Boston Marathon. Dzhokar said the brothers were motivated by extremist Islamist beliefs.

May 2013: Two British-born converts to Islam, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale attack and kill a British soldier in London.

May 2014: Mehdi Nemmouche opens fire at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in the center of Brussels, killing 4 people. He is believed to have spent over a year in Syria with radical Islamists.

September 2014: An Oklahoma man with a criminal history, Alton Nolen, beheads a female co-worker after being fired. Authorities said Nolen had recently converted to Islam.

October 2014 : Canadian soldier dies in a hit-and-run in Quebec by Martin Rouleau-Couture. Two days later, another Canadian soldier is shot dead in Ottawa, allegedly by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a man with a criminal record. Reports say both terrorists had recently converted to Islam.

ISIS has had a different approach as it wanted to recruit people to fight in Syria and Iraq. “It wasn’t about attacking the West, it was about building the Islamic State,” says Neumann. Now, U.S.-led air strikes mean that “it is yet again this old narrative of the West versus Islam,” he adds. While the group seeks direct confrontation with the West, it’s difficult to attack them in Iraq and Syria, since ground troops are not present. ISIS now thinks “the way to terrorize the West is asymmetrically: to strike out through individuals inside of Western countries and show the public the terrible price that they have to pay for the West’s involvement” in the conflict, Neumann continues.

Jamie Bartlett, head of the Violence and Extremism Program at London-based think tank Demos, believes that “the internet in the last few years has both increased the possibilities and the likelihood of lone-wolf terrorism.” He says it has made it a great deal simpler for one individual to learn about radical ideologies as well as acquire skills like bomb-making, lowering the barrier to participation in a broader, global network of extremism: “Terrorists usually operate within a group, even if only a very small group, but it’s far easier now to be able to go it entirely alone.”

Neumann says that lone wolves are more likely to suffer from social isolation and mental health problems than “normal” terrorists. This can make them harder to detect than groups. “This will undoubtedly be one of the lures of the tactic,” says Matthew Francis, a researcher on radicalization and extremism at Lancaster University in the U.K.

Speaking about the Canadian car killing case earlier this week, Superintendent Martine Fontaine of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said “it’s very difficult to know exactly what an individual is planning to do before a crime is committed. We cannot arrest someone for thinking radical thoughts; it’s not a crime in Canada.” As well as trying to prevent their citizens from joining extremist groups like ISIS abroad, Western governments now also face another dilemma when dealing with the threat of home-grown terrorism. Canadian authorities suspected Rouleau of becoming radicalized and the police seized his passport when he tried to leave for Syria. Zehaf-Bibeau, the suspected killer in Wednesday’s Ottawa attack, intended to travel abroad but was stopped and had his passport confiscated. “Often people’s decisions to fight at home comes from being stopped going to fight elsewhere,” says Francis. Neumann adds that lone-wolf attacks appeal not only to returnees — those who have come back from fighting alongside ISIS — but also “fanboys,” or those who would like to join the ISIS community but who have, for one reason or another, not made it to the battlefield.

Nevertheless, experts agree that most lone wolves are unlikely to kill large numbers of people. “The only lone wolf who killed a lot of people was not a jihadist,” says Neumann. “It was Anders Breivik in 2011 in Norway, who was very sophisticated, a good planner. He acted all on his own and pulled off a massive operation killing 77 people,” he adds. “Typically, lone wolves do one attack, killing one or two people, because they do not have the expertise or sophistication.” Moreover, Bartlett suggests a rise in lone wolf acts can be seen to represent an increased success in counterterrorism operations. As a result of increased intelligence work in stopping larger, plots like 9/11 and the 7/7 bombings, he says, terrorist groups are “limited to conducting attacks that require very little training, very little preparation, very little communication.”

Yet while lone wolves may not pose the same kind of threat as those who organized attacks like 9/11, Neumann says their acts “have a profound effect in terms of the psychological impact on a society, creating tension, polarization and terror in societies.” Since even a very limited act of violence has the capacity to create terror, lone wolf terrorists represent a different challenge altogether for Western authorities from the terrorist cell plotting spectacular attacks.

Read next: The Ottawa Attack ‘Changes Everything’ and Hopefully Nothing at All

TIME North Korea

North Korea Reportedly Barring Foreign Tourists Over Ebola Fears

NKOREA-SKOREA-WAR-ARMISTICE-ANNIVERSARY
In a photo taken on July 24, 2013 a North Korean airport staff member carries umbrellas before an Air Koryo aircraft in Pyongyang. Ed Jones—AFP/Getty Images

It’s not clear if the ban applies to foreign diplomats or business travelers.

North Korea tour operators say the country plans to close its borders to all foreign tourists over fears of Ebola.

North Korean state media indicated that the country was boosting quarantine measures for foreign visitors, according to Reuters, but tour operators like China-based Koryo Tours and Young Pioneer Tours say North Korea is establishing a temporary ban on foreign tourists effective Friday.

It’s not clear if the ban applies to foreign diplomats or business travelers, but the New York Times reports that the Beijing office of North Korea’s state airline said flights to the capital were not canceled.

At least 4,877 people, mostly in Western Africa, have died amid the worst Ebola outbreak on record. While some countries have forbidden travelers from the most affected areas, no country has banned all foreign tourists.

Some 6,000 Western tourists visit North Korea annually, according to NK News, a U.S.-based site that tracks North Korea.

TIME hockey

Watch Hockey Fans Sing ‘O Canada’ After the Shooting in Ottawa

Hours after a soldier was killed outside Parliament

Hockey games typically only start with Canada’s national anthem when there’s a Canadian team on the ice — Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary or Winnipeg. But that wasn’t the case on Oct. 22, when the Pittsburgh Penguins hosted their rival Philadelphia Flyers just hours after a Canadian soldier was shot and killed in an attack outside Parliament in Ottawa.

With the National Hockey League having postponed a planned Wednesday game that would’ve seen the Ottawa Senators host the Toronto Maple Leafs, it fell upon the Penguins to honor the slain soldier and those grieving by leading fans in a heartfelt rendition of O Canada, with the Pittsburgh rink digitally draped in a Canadian flag.

You can watch the touching footage above.

TIME Canada

Canadian Police Say Gunman Was Hoping To Go to Syria

A soldier locks the gates as flowers are placed at a memorial outside the gates of the John Weir Foote Armory, the home of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada in Hamilton, Ontario on Oct. 22, 2014, in memory of Canadian soldier Nathan Cirillo.
A soldier locks the gates as flowers are placed at a memorial outside the gates of the John Weir Foote Armory, the home of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada in Hamilton, Ontario, on Oct. 22, 2014, in memory of Canadian soldier Nathan Cirillo Aaron Lynett—AP

"I think the passport figured prominently in his motives."

The suspected gunman who killed a Canadian soldier in Ottawa and then stormed Parliament before being killed himself Wednesday was waiting for a passport and hoping to travel to Syria, a top police official said Thursday.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Bob Paulson said the lone suspect, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a Canadian citizen who is reported to be a convert to Islam, was not previously under surveillance by Canadian authorities, but passport authorities had not yet determined whether to issue him a passport.

“I think the passport figured prominently in his motives,” Paulson said. There was no connection between the attack Thursday and an assault on Monday in Quebec, when a man ran over two soldiers, killing one before the assailant was gunned down by police, according to Paulson.

The slain soldier, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, was shot early Wednesday while on guard at Ottawa’s War Memorial, which stands just steps from Parliament Hill. The gunman then stormed Parliament itself, with shotgun blasts fired just outside the chamber where Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was speaking to legislators before being hustled out of the building. A Globe and Mail reporter captured the following violent, but not graphic, footage from inside Parliament:

“We will not be intimidated. Canada will never be intimidated,” Harper said in a televised address later Wednesday, adding that the incident will lead to a redoubling of Canada’s efforts to fight terrorism. Canada this month said it would send six jets to join the coalition airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, or ISIS.

President Barack Obama decried the attack on Wednesday as “outrageous,” telling reporters, “Obviously we’re all shaken by it.” Security was tightened at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington in light of the Ottawa shooting, the Associated Press reports.

Members of parliament gathered at the National War Memorial Thursday morning and then convened as scheduled on Thursday.

Read next: The Ottawa Attack ‘Changes Everything’ and Hopefully Nothing at All

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