LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis has told law enforcement authorities in charge of security around the Vatican that he while he saw "shadows and dangers" - he encouraged not for them to give into fear. "On the horizon we see shadows and dangers which worry humanity," Pope Francis said. There has been an increase in security around the Vatican amid fears that Islamic State agents may be plotting to attack the head of the Roman Catholic Church. "As Christians we are called not to lose heart or be discouraged," Francis said in a New Year's message to the police.
Security has been on heightened alert in Saint Peter's Square since September after intelligence services intercepted a possible plan to attack the Vatican. Francis has frequently spoken out against the Islamic State group. The Holy See has also voiced its support for U.S. air strikes in Iraq. This has led several to think that this increases the Pope's likelihood as a terrorist target.
The disciplinary committee in the Internal Security Forces issued its final decisions related to the ongoing investigations of some officers linked to the smuggling of drugs and other banned material into prisons, reported al-Joumhouria newspaper on Saturday.
Informed security sources revealed to the daily that the decisions include the sacking of two prison officers for facilitating the smuggling of illegal goods into jails.
Glamorous young couples twiddle their cocktail stirrers on the terraces of Beirut’s Zaitunay Bay, looking out across a balmy evening scene that could be lifted straight from Monaco or Cannes. The lights of glitzy towers twinkle on the water, as a group of teenage girls stroll along the teak boardwalk, posing for selfies in front of freshly polished super-yachts. At the end of the curving esplanade, the jagged form of a new yacht club, designed by shape-making American architect Steven Holl, juts out into the bay, topped with apartments that boast some of the most expensive views in the Middle East. It is “the premier seaside destination for luxury living and recreation,” according to the marketing blurb, “catering exclusively to the region’s cultural and social elite.”
But, as Islamic State fighters gather at the border with Syria to the east, there is an uneasy tension in the air. It is a looming threat that not even a bottle of champagne on the region’s most exclusive terrace can mask. And there are signs that, beneath the veneer of waterfront sparkle, this optimistic image of Beirut’s glory days – revived like a phoenix, 20 years after the civil war blew the city to rubble – might not all be quite what it seems. The city centre now boasts immaculately rebuilt streets, lined with the stores of Gucci and Prada, Hermès and Louis Vuitton, but the whole place is strangely deserted. There are thickets of new apartment buildings, but few lights are switched on behind the curtains. [Link]
Saudi Arabia's 90-year-old King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has died, according to Saudi media outlets.
Saudi New King Salman Abdul-Aziz Al Saud
Saudi King Abdallah with Crown prince Salman who is now the new King
Saudi King Abdallah with President Michel Sleiman
New King Salman with President Suleiman
PM Hariri with Saudi King Abdallah
FILE - In this Tuesday, June 3, 2003 file photo, from left, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah, U.S. President George W. Bush, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain, and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, stand together for a group photo after their meeting in Sharm El-Sheik,
Crown Prince Salman has been named the new king. The king assumed the throne in 2005 as the country's sixth king. Salman, 79, is Abdullah's half-brother and has been making appearances and speeches on behalf of the late king for the last couple of months.
Salman is also reportedly in poor health, so from here the family's succession could get interesting. According to Reuters, "King Salman has called on the family's Allegiance Council to pay allegiance to Muqrin as his crown prince and heir."
Muqrin bin Abdulaziz is Abdullah's half-brother and is 69 years old. He was controversially named deputy heir to Abdullah last March, effectively bypassing two of the late king's other half brothers. The move went against the unspoken rule that succession passes down according to age.
Libya's ongoing civil war has split the country between an Islamist-supported central government based in Tripoli and a rival nationalist administration held together by the renegade general Khalifa Hifter and based in the eastern city of Tobruk.
This was down from the $321 billion in reserves from before the country's 2011 uprising but was still enough to ensure that salaries would be paid and that the country's oil infrastructure would continue to function.
(Reuters) - With a confident smile, the leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement warned in a recent interview that allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would strike back if Israeli attacks inside Syria continued."This attack shows that Israel has crossed the red line in the security war with Hezbollah, which means the rules have changed," said a senior security source close to the group.
Few expected Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's comments to be put to the test so quickly. Three days later, an Israeli raid inside Syria killed several prominent Hezbollah figures, including a son of the group's late military chief, Imad Moughniyah.
The attack could have repercussions. It has put Hezbollah under pressure to respond, sources close to the group said, and also put a ceasefire between Israel and Syria at risk. The group's leadership has yet to comment.
Last week’s Israeli airstrike that killed six Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian Revolutionary Guard general in Syria’s Golan Heights has revived fears of a new Lebanese-Israeli war that would torpedo the current security status quo which is backed by international powers.
The Israeli raid has also refocused attention on the flaws that have been plaguing the Lebanese state for years since some internal parties opted to depart from legitimate authority by unilaterally taking crucial decisions and linking Lebanese developments to the explosive regional conflicts.