So, farewell then, 2016. And welcome 2017. What will the new year be like? Walt has a few predictions. Here's one. The Islamic terrorist attacks against Western civilization and any Muslims who don't agree with their extremist views will continue unabated. The Muslim civil war will continue. Two "incidents" this weekend prove me right, as usual.
Yesterday, New Year's Eve, a pair of suicide bombings minutes apart hit al-Sinak, a flea market in central Baghdad, Iraq. Minutes after the first suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden belt, a cry of "Allahu akbar!" rang out again, as a the second attacker struck amid the crowd that gathered. 28 people, mostly Shia Muslims, died. 54 were wounded.
In a statement posted by its Aaqmaq news agency, the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attacks, and confirmed that the blasts came from a pair of suicide bombers. Later on Saturday, three separate attacks in and around Baghdad killed another 8 people, including a policeman, and wounded 17. Provisional total for the day: 36 "infidels" dead, 71 wounded.
This morning at 0115 local time -- just over an hour into the New Year -- a gunman who entered the crowded Reina nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey, and opened fire, killing at least 39 people, including a policeman, and wounding 69 others. At the time of the shooting, about 600 people were inside the club, located near a bridge that crosses the Bosphorus River. The venue was popular with wealthy locals and tourists. An Israeli woman has been identified as one of the victims. Other foreign victims came from Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon and Libya.
As yet, no-one has claimed responsibility for the attack, which is reminiscent of last June's massacre of 49 people (and wounding of 53 others) at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando FL. The killer in that case was Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old "Muslim-American" security guard. In a 9-1-1 call shortly after he started shooting, Mr Mateen swore allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the ISIS/ISIL. He said the shooting was "triggered" [bad pun! Ed.] by the American killing of Abu Waheeb in Iraq the previous month. He later told a negotiator he was "out here right now" because of the American-led interventions in Iraq and in Syria, and that the negotiator should tell the United States to stop bombing ISIL.
Although no connection with ISIS has been established in the Reina killings, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has issued a statement in which he says "I vehemently condemn the terror attack in Istanbul's Ortakoy neighbourhood in the first hours of 2017." Offering his condolences for those who lost their lives, including "foreign guests", Mr Erdogan said, "Turkey continues its combat against terror and is absolutely determined to do whatever is necessary in the region to ensure its citizens safety and peace." Walt wishes the Turks good luck with that!
Walt is keeping his eye on the mojo wire for reports of rape and other Islamic New Year's celebrations from Koln, Berlin, Stockholm and/or other European cities. My prediction: Cries of "Allahu akbar!" will echo around the world for the remaining 365.5 days of 2017. Happy New Year!
UPDATE 1/1/17: AP reports that President B. Hussein Obama expressed condolences for the attack and directed his team to offer US help to Turkish authorities. Whether the Turks want American help is another matter. The White House condemned the incident calling it a "horrific terrorist attack". Notice the omission of the word "Islamic". Even now, the Soon-to-be-ex-Prez can't bring himself to call Islamic terrorism by its name.
UPDATE 2/1/17: To no-one's surprise, AP reports today that ISIS (The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) is claiming responsibility for the New Year's Eve Istanbul nightclub massacre. The ISIS-linked Aamaq News Agency said that the attack was carried out by a "heroic soldier of the caliphate who attacked the most famous nightclub where Christians were celebrating their pagan feast."
It said the man opened fire from an automatic rifle and also detonated hand grenades in "revenge for God's religion and in response to the orders" of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. They went on to describe Turkey as "the servant of the cross" and suggested the attack was in retaliation for Turkish military offensives against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.