Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the shadowy jihadist fighting in Iraq and Syria, and newly declared leader of a "caliphate" encompassing all Muslims, is increasingly seen as more powerful than Al-Qaeda's chief. The leader of the powerful Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant group was declared Sunday the "caliph" in an attempt to revive a system of rule that ended nearly 100 years ago with the fall of the Ottoman Empire. "The Shura (council) of the Islamic State met and discussed this issue (of the caliphate)... The Islamic State decided to establish an Islamic caliphate and to designate a caliph for the state of the Muslims," ISIL spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani said in an audio recording distributed online.
Mauritania's highest court on Sunday confirmed the victory of incumbent leader Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz in presidential polls, and rejected an appeal calling for the results to be annulled. "The candidate Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was elected President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania in the first round of the presidential election," the chairman of the constitutional council, Sgheyir Ould M'barek, said during an official ceremony. The chairman added that 57-year-old Abdel Aziz had won "an absolute majority of votes cast" in the June 21 election. Final results released by the council gave Abdel Aziz 81.94 percent of the vote, slightly higher than the provisional figure of 81.89 percent given by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) a week ago.
The Israeli cabinet on Sunday approved a $90 million dollar socio-economic development plan for annexed east Jerusalem which focuses on increased security and police presence in the area, the municipality said. The plan involves an increase in the number of policemen on the beat as well as a greater number of security cameras. "According to Israel police assessments, the plan will lead to a significant decline in the short- and medium-term of over 50 percent in displays of violence," it said. Police figures quoted by the municipality indicate that in March and April, there were 390 incidents of stone-throwing at the security forces and vehicles in east Jerusalem, as well as dozens of cars stolen and break-ins.
US President Barack Obama warned that "battle-hardened" Europeans who embrace jihad in Syria and Iraq threaten the United States because their passports mean they can enter the country without a visa. Nearly 800 French citizens have spent time fighting in Syria's civil war, according to latest estimates, and Belgium says 200 of its people have done the same. Those holding French, Belgian and British passports -- along with a host of other European countries -- do not need visas to visit the United States, meaning they can potentially avoid scrutiny. "We have seen Europeans sympathetic to their (militants') cause traveling into Syria and may now travel into Iraq, getting battle-hardened.
The White House is poised to seek about $2 billion in emergency funds to help stem the flow of tens of thousands of Central American children entering the United States illegally. The request will add to an already fiery debate in Washington over US immigration reform and growing concerns about the steady increase of minors illicitly smuggled from Central America and across Mexico into the US. The White House on Monday will send a letter informing Congress it will be requesting the additional resources to help boost border security, among other measures, as well as attempting to get to the root causes of migration. The measures will include stepping up the fight against criminal networks responsible for smuggling children, the official said, adding the administration of President Barack Obama will also ask lawmakers to modify existing statutes to simplify the process of returning deportees.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul said he would not seek a second term in office, further raising the likelihood that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan would run for the top job. Already in his third term as prime minister -- the maximum permitted under the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)'s rules -- Erdogan is widely expected to be unveiled on Tuesday as his party's candidate for August's presidential poll.
CLEVELAND (AP) — This Lake Erie city has suffered some bad public relations over the years and has made headlines for all the wrong reasons: poverty, pollution, foreclosure, bizarre crimes and a fleeing population. Yet, thanks to billions of dollars spent burnishing the city's image and its physical face, Cleveland is one of two finalists for the Republican national convention in 2016 and a longshot candidate to host the Democrats, as well.
The rise of jihadists in Iraq has set the West on edge, but Damascus sees it is an opportunity to legitimise its battle against rebels and promote it as a war on "terror". President Bashar al-Assad's regime has repeatedly denied the existence of a revolt seeking political change in Syria, instead branding its opponents -- both peaceful and armed -- as "terrorists". For Damascus, the lightning Sunni offensive in neighbouring Iraq led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) provides a chance to lend credence to its rhetoric. "The West must recognise it made a mistake by encouraging all these people to establish themselves in the region," said Waddah Abed Rabbo, editor-in-chief of pro-regime daily Al-Watan.
Suspected Boko Haram Islamists attacked a series of churches on Sunday near Chibok, the northeast Nigeria town where more than 200 teenage girls were kidnapped in April, with dozens feared dead, witnesses said. "The attackers went to churches with bombs and guns," Timothy James, a Chibok resident said by phone, explaining that the villages were within 10 kilometres (six miles) of Chibok.
By Jon Herskovitz DALLAS (Reuters) - For one day a year ago, Wendy Davis became the brightest star in the U.S. political universe when she donned pink tennis shoes and launched a one-woman, 10-hour filibuster against abortion restrictions that brought her international attention. Now she is battling to revive a seemingly stalled campaign to become the first Democratic Texas governor in more than 20 years by winning over frustrated Republicans and motivating enough voters who would otherwise spend election day at home to find a few minutes to vote. State Senator Davis, 51, came into the Texas Democratic convention in Dallas over the weekend with surveys showing her 10-13 percent points behind the Republican nominee, Attorney General Greg Abbott, 56, and failing to close ground. "I'm running because there's a moderate majority that's being ignored - commonsense, practical, hardworking Texans whose voices are being drowned out by insiders in Greg Abbott's party, and it needs to stop," she told the convention on Friday.
Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab militants have warned they will step up attacks in the Somali capital Mogadishu during the holy month of Ramadan, which started on Sunday. In an audio message released on the Shebab-controlled station Radio Andalus and also on an Islamist website, the group's commander in charge of Mogadishu operations, Sheik Ali Mohamed Hussein, said the time had come when violence will be at a peak. His statement came just a few hours after the Somalia government deployed dozens of heavily armed police on key streets and roads in Mogadishu to counter attacks. "The attacks will increase and explosions will continue, Mogadishu will remain a frontline and even worse than ever," said Sheik Ali Mohamed Hussein.
British voters are pessimistic about Prime Minister David Cameron's ability to achieve reforms to the European Union that he believes are crucial to persuading Britain to stay in the bloc, a new poll found on Sunday. Some 42 percent of respondents surveyed by YouGov do not believe the EU will be prepared to hand back any powers to member states, and another 29 percent think any concessions won by Britain will only be minor. Cameron has pledged to renegotiate Britain's terms of membership with the EU before holding a referendum on whether to leave or stay in the block in 2017. He hopes that reform will persuade eurosceptic voters to stay in the EU, but admitted that his failure last week to block the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker as head of the bloc's executive arm made his job harder.