WHILE YOU SLEPT

Terror In Germany, Russia’s Rio Relief, Shawshank Tree

SPOTLIGHT: TERROR REACHES GERMANY

Though Germany has been at the center of Europe’s debate over refugees, it had largely been spared the kind of terrorist attacks that have struck neighboring France.

But now, in the span of just a few days, Germany suddenly finds itself struggling to make sense of a string of violent attacks â€" three of them involving asylum seekers â€" in various southern cities. (Here’s this morning’s front page of Berlin-based Die Tageszeitung)


The latest took place late last night in Ansbach, where a Syrian man blew himself up, wounding a dozen people outside a restaurant. The suicide bomber, 27, had reportedly tried to enter a nearby music festival, but was turned away for not having a ticket. "It's terrible ... that someone who came into our country to seek shelter has now committed such a heinous act," Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann told reporters.


Earlier in the day, another Syrian refugee, 21, used a machete to attack and kill a Polish woman near Stuttgart, similar to an axe attack last week on a train near Würzburg, by a 17-year-old Afghan man.


The highest toll came late Friday afternoon when a teenage gunman went on a shooting rampage in a Munich shopping center, killing nine before turning the gun on himself. That attack had no links to any terrorist group, and appeared more inspired by U.S.-style mass shootings.


Still, the spree of attacks appears to have gotten at least inspiration from the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) and other radical Islamist groups. After Sunday night’s attack, whose perpetrator was reportedly set to be deported, Herrmann said: “We must do everything possible to prevent the spread of such violence in our country by people who came here to ask for asylum.” A true test for a healthy democracy like Germany is to remember that immigration and terrorism are two fundamentally different issues, even if they are bound to sometimes cross paths in the public debate, and in our lives.



WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY



FLORIDA SHOOTING

At least two people were killed and 16 wounded on Sunday night in a nightclub shooting in Fort Myers, Florida, the News-Press reports. Police have detained three “people of interest.” The attack took place exactly six weeks after a gunman opened fire at a nightclub in Orlando, also in Florida, killing 50 people, including himself.


IRAQ CAR BOMB KILLS 21

A suicide car bomb this morning killed at least 21 people and wounded more than 32 at the entrance to a town northeast of Baghdad, security sources told Al Jazeera. The attack came just one day after a suicide bombing in the capital’s Kadhimiya neighborhood killed at least 15. Earlier in the month, nearly 300 people died when a car bomb exploded outside a Baghdad shopping mall. The July 3 attack was the deadliest in Iraq since 2003.


â€" ON THIS DAY

Bob Dylan went electric 51 years ago today! That, and more, in your 57-second shot of History.


RUSSIA TO GO TO RIO AFTER ALL

Russian athletes can let out a sigh of relief after the International Olympic Committee decided yesterday to ban only the country’s track and field team from the Rio Games over state-sponsored doping allegations.


CALIFORNIA FIRES RAGE ON

Two wildfires in California â€" one near Santa Clarita, north of Los Angeles; the other in the Angeles National Forest â€" have killed at least one man and forced thousands to flee their homes, USA Today reports.


â€" WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

How should we react in the face of the threat of Islamist terrorism? It's a fine line to walk between the double threat of jihadism and our own worst instincts, Dominique Moïsi writes for French daily Les Echos: “France cannot become the Wild West where the state was virtually absent. To fall into this trap would be giving the terror groups like the Islamic State (ISIS) the victory they are looking for. But contrary to pernicious, defeatist and, undoubtedly, wrong-headed recent speeches, ISIS has not won. Still, the road to our victory is long. From Baghdad to Orlando, from Istanbul to Nice and Dhaka, ISIS can keep winning bloody battles, proving it still seduces and attracts men ready to sacrifice their lives for its cause. But ISIS is bound to lose this war, as long as we remain united, mobilized and act together on the external as well as the internal fronts.”

Read the full article, Terrorists Take Our Lives, Populists Steal Our Souls.


TURKISH JOURNALISTS TARGETED

Turkish authorities have issued arrest warrants against for at least 42 journalists “associated with the July 15 coup attempt,” according to CNN Türk.


YAHOO! VERIZON DEAL

Telecom giant Verizon is set to buy the core assets of Internet pioneer Yahoo! for just over $4.8 billion, Bloomberg reports. The deal, which will be announced today before markets open, ends Yahoo’s quest to remain a stand-alone company and will likely see Marissa Mayer removed as the company’s chief executive officer.


â€" MY GRAND-PERE’S WORLD

Alas, Aleppo â€" Syria, 1996


POKEMON PLUNGE

Nintendo shares, which had skyrocketed 96% since releasing the augmented reality app Pokémon Go, plunged 18% at the close of Tokyo’s stock exchange Monday. This comes after the Japanese company warned Friday that the financial impact from the worldwide hit Pokemon Go would be “limited,” according to Bloomberg.


MORE STORIES, BROUGHT TO YOU BY WORLDCRUNCH

SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION TREE

The iconic white oak tree that stars at end of the 1994 classic Shawshank Redemption has been felled in Mansfield, Ohio, after being knocked down by strong winds Friday. No word yet on a potential posthumous Academy Award.

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Society

Dutch Cities Have Been Secretly Probing Mosques Since 2013

Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.

The Nasser mosque in Veenendaal, one of the mosques reportedly surveilled

Meike Eijsberg

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.


The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Photo of people standing on prayer mats inside a Dutch mosque

Praying inside a Dutch mosque.

Hollandse-Hoogte/ZUMA

Broken trust in Islamic community

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talk to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

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