By Jill Dougherty
In order for its offensive against Islamists in Mali to succeed, France needs the assistance of the United States and other countries, a French official told CNN.
"We really need the help of everybody and when countries such as Morocco and Algeria are opening their skies to our planes," the official said. "That's crucial because that's a mark of full solidarity for our mission - which is needed, it's really needed."
Mali was one of the most successful democracies in Africa until last year, when a coup toppled the president and Islamists capitalized on the chaos by establishing themselves in the north. There, they imposed a strict interpretation of Sharia law by banning music, smoking, drinking and watching sports on television. They also damaged Timbuktu's historic tombs and shrines.
The International Criminal Court has launched a war crimes investigation amid reports that residents have been mutilated and killed for disobeying the Islamists. The United Nations has noted accounts of amputations, floggings and public executions such as the July stoning of a couple who had reportedly had an affair.
By CNN Staff
U.S. troops lent "limited technical support" in France's bloody and unsuccessful bid in Somalia to rescue an intelligence agent who'd been held hostage for years, President Barack Obama said Sunday.
Obama detailed the U.S. military involvement in the Friday night mission in a letter sent to the leaders of the nation's two legislative chambers. The letter was released publicly as well.
While U.S. forces "provided limited technical support," they "took no direct part in the assault on the compound where it was believed the French citizen was being held hostage," the president explained.
By Raffaello Pantucci, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Raffaello Pantucci is an associate fellow at the International Center for the Study of Radicalisation at King's College and the author of the forthcoming "We Love Death As You Love Life: Britain's Suburban Mujahedeen" (Hurst).
A growing number of young Europeans drawn to protect their abandoned Muslim brethren have taken up arms in Syria. It's a dynamic that Europe has witnessed before.
In the 1990s, young Europeans were enticed by the idea of fighting jihad in Bosnia. Spurred on by radical preachers, young men and women were drawn to fight to protect their Muslim brethren merely a bus ride away.
Before the September 11 attack in 2001, the notion of fighting in a holy war was something far from most people's minds and reserved for history books about the Crusades. Occasional appearances by fearsome looking radical preachers at rallies where people would shout about holy war were shown every so often on television, but that was the extent of public knowledge of the issue.
But there was more going on, mostly unseen to the average citizen in Europe. In the mid-1990s as Yugoslavia started to fall apart, stories emerged of middle-class Europeans being killed fighting and of Western forces finding groups of fighters with British accents among the Bosnian ranks. FULL POST
By Elise Labott, reporting from Jerusalem
If you know anything about bargaining here in the Middle East, the final offer is not made until the last moment, and not a second before.
The same principle, say Israeli officials, could be applied to the negotiations over Iran's nuclear program.
"We will only know at the last minute of the last round if Iran has an offer to make and wants to strike a deal," one Israeli official said.
Tehran and the so-called P5 Plus One - the United States, China, Russia, Germany, France and Britain - agreed to hold five rounds of talks aimed at persuading Iran to curb its nuclear program, because of suspicions that the program aims to produce weapons. FULL POST
By Paul Cruickshank
It was shooting spree that terrorized France for 10 days, and for weeks dominated the country's presidential election campaign.
Starting on March 11, Mohammed Merah, a 23 year old French-Algerian motor-bike riding assassin, who kept the visor on his helmet shut as he killed, and filmed every detail in high definition from a camera on his torso, shot four French paratroopers in two attacks, killing three and paralyzing one, and then on March 19 shot at point blank range three children and their teacher at a Jewish school in Toulouse, in an attack that shocked the world.
In an unprecedented manhunt, police tracked the killer to his apartment in Toulouse, where he held out during a two-day siege.During a seven-hour rambling confession to negotiators, he claimed to be acting on behalf of al Qaeda. He was killed in a blaze of gunfire as security services stormed the building on March 22.
By Tim Lister
Did French intelligence services miss vital clues as Mohammed Merah showed signs of growing radicalization? In the words of the French newspaper, L'Express, on Thursday: "Did the security services fail in their surveillance?"
How do western intelligence agencies choose who to focus on as terror suspects, amid hundreds that express or harbor militant views? Do they have sufficient resources; and where lies the balance between surveillance and the protection of civil liberties?
These are just a few of the questions emerging after Merah's killings. FULL POST