Abducted Mali nun appeals to Pope Francis for release

Gloria’s missionary work in Mali, was caring for children orphaned at birth, and teaching literacy to about 700 Muslim women.

A Nun who was abducted by Al-Qaeda nearly a year ago has appeared in a propaganda video begging Pope Francis to negotiate her release.
Gloria Cecilia Narvaez Argoti, a Franciscan Sister and missionary, was kidnapped on 7 February 2017, in Karangasso, near Koutiala, in southern Mali by the Al-Qaeda-linked group, “Groupe de soutien à l’ Islam et aux musulmans” (Group for Support of Islam and Muslims).

Gloria speaking in French said, “I ask of you to help in my freedom and to do the impossible and release me.”

She went on to congratulate Pope Francis on his “tour of Latin America” expressing a regret that she was in captivity while Christians are celebrating Christmas.

The video said, “Others are parading around the world, calling for support of the weak, calling for peace, and helping the needy…or so they claim.” The narrator added added that Gloria was neglected because she was not “the First World”. The reference to Christmas showed the video was made in late December.

Al Qaeda in the Mahgreb

As if to demonstrate its willingness to negotiate the video showed former hostages it had released in the past.

Gloria who had worked as a missionary for six years before her abduction previously appeared in a propaganda video in July 2017. At that time they accused her of “supporting the crusaders in Mali by preaching Christianity” and presented this as the reason for her abduction, together with six other Western hostages. Three of their number kidnapped in Mali or Burkina Faso have since been released.

Gloria, in the video, also pleaded with her family in Colombia to work towards her release.

Gloria and women she works with

Responding to the request on the propaganda videoGeneral Fernando Murillo, head of the Colombian National Police’s anti-kidnapping division, said, “We’ll have to wait for a statement from that group to know what they will demand.”
He added: “The Pope is aware of what Colombia is doing and to what point we’ve come to obtain her release,”

Gloria’s missionary work in Mali, was caring for children orphaned at birth, and teaching literacy to about 700 Muslim women.

ISIS Threatens Attacks on Churches in Washington DC, New York on Christmas

“We meet at Christmas in New York soon,” reads the caption of the poster…

Islamic State supporters have threatened to launch a terror attack in Washington, D.C. and New York on Christmas, according to the SITE intelligence group. A propaganda poster carries a picture that shows Washington’s National Cathedral erupting in flames while indicating that New York could be their target.

ISIS

“We meet at Christmas in New York soon,” reads the caption of the poster, which otherwise carries an image of Washington’s National Cathedral, reveals SITE, which monitors extremist communications online.

The poster was found circulating through a pro-Islamic State encrypted channel, Telegram.

“ISIS is incentivized to make threats like this, which come at no cost to them. ISIS is not dispatching fighters around the world for complex coordinated terrorist attacks, but has largely relied upon individuals and citizens already living in Europe and the United States to commit unsophisticated attacks,” Newsweek quotes Harrison Akins, a researcher at the Howard Baker Center, as saying. “These individuals’ affiliations with ISIS are often tenuous and are perhaps better described as ‘inspired by’ rather than operationally directed. So perhaps somebody within the U.S. will take it upon themselves to commit an attack on Christmas, which falsely bolsters the perceived capabilities and reach of the group.” 

In October, a 27-year-old man from Virginia, Mohamad Khweis, became the first U.S. citizen to be convicted of successfully joining the Islamic State terror group, also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Over 100 people in the U.S. have been charged with trying to support or join IS, but Khweis succeeded.

IS managed to encourage over 40,000 fighters from more than 110 countries to travel to join their fight before and after the declaration of the “caliphate” in June 2014, according to a report, “Beyond the Caliphate: Foreign Fighters and the Threat of Returnees.”

The report, recently released by the Washington-based security intelligence consultancy Soufan Center, states that there are now at least 5,600 citizens or residents from 33 countries who have returned home — accounting for about 15 percent of the fighters.

The report claims that for the U.S., 129 fighters succeeded in leaving the country and only seven have returned.

While IS has lost its territory in Syria and Iraq, the threat is far from over in the  Middle East or elsewhere.

Iraq declared earlier this month that its territory is now “fully liberated” from IS, overlooking warnings by allies that the terror group still poses a threat to the country in the form of guerrilla warfare.

“As ISIS continues to lose land, influence, funding streams and conventional capabilities, we expect them to return to their terrorist roots by conducting high-profile attacks on helpless civilians such as those we’ve already seen in Nasiriyah, Ramadi, and elsewhere over the past weeks,” a spokesperson of the U.S.-led international coalition said at the time.

Iranian influence is now present in Nineveh towns once mostly populated by Christians before IS took over, and has prevented some from returning to their homes.