All around the world, jihadists are more assertive and aggressive than they have been for centuries, and they continue to explain and justify what they’re doing, and to make new recruits, by pointing to the texts and teachings of Islam. And the mainstream response is still to say that they have nothing to do with Islam and that nothing they do is justified by any genuine reading of any Islamic texts. This willful ignorance continues to subject people to needless danger.
“Thousands flee as Lebanon battles Syrian militants,” by Bassem Mroue, Associated Press, August 4, 2014 (thanks to John):
LABWEH, Lebanon (AP) — Thousands of Lebanese civilians and Syrian refugees crammed into cars and pickup trucks fled Monday as Lebanese artillery pounded a border town that had been overrun by militants from neighboring Syria.
The civilian exodus came in the early morning hours during a relative lull in fighting and just a few hours later the bombardment around the town of Arsal had reached an intensity of three shells every minute.
The fighting is the most serious spillover of violence from Syria’s civil war into Lebanon, compounding fears that tiny Lebanon is fast becoming a new front in its neighbor’s conflict, now in its third year. The government has rushed reinforcements to scene, including dozens of armored personal carriers and tanks.
The three days of clashes in Arsal, a predominantly Sunni town surrounded by Shiite villages, could worsen already bubbling sectarian tensions in Lebanon. The Syrian government, which is battling a largely Sunni insurgency, has the support of Lebanon’s premier Shiite militia, Hezbollah.
The town of 40,000, whose population has almost tripled because of the presence of Syrian refugees and rebels, is wedged between Syrian government-controlled territory and Lebanese Shiite villages sympathetic to Hezbollah.
A senior Lebanese security official said 17 soldiers have been killed in three days of fighting, including two lieutenant colonels, and 13 others were missing. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Lebanon’s state-run news agency said the rebels were looting homes and shops in Arsal and a resident on the outskirts told The Associated Press that the militants were committing “atrocities” and shooting at people attempting to flee.
“The rebels feel protected by the civilians there,” he said, confirming there was widespread looting with rebels taking over civilian homes to use as military posts….