British Queen celebrates



Jihadist groups tied to the men who attacked France's Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Paris kosher supermarket are waging an increasingly sophisticated propaganda campaign targeting Western recruits, experts say.

Organisations ranging from the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq and Syria to Al-Qaeda and even the Somali Al-Shebab group have sought to exploit the anonymity and reach of the Internet to attract Western members.

They urge recruits to come to the battlefield, but also encourage them to carry out violence at home.

Jihadist groups have targeted Western recruits for decades, but the Internet has revolutionised their approach, according to Clint Watts, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

"Thirty years ago it took a long time to get everyone to Afghanistan" where jihadists were fighting Soviet troops, he said.

"Now they propagate through social media, that's why it can happen so quickly, they can rapidly ramp up recruitment."

The three men involved in the France attack appear to be linked to different jihadist groups.

The two brothers who targeted Charlie Hebdo were linked to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is based in Yemen.


The third attacker appears to have pledged allegiance to IS.

Jihadists use a variety of media for their message.

Since 2010, AQAP has produced the English-language "Inspire" magazine, released periodically in PDF format with articles expounding on its ideology and instructing readers on how to carry out attacks.


In recent issues it singled out France as a target and put Charlie Hebdo's editor-in-chief Stephane Charbonnier, who was killed in last week's attack, on a "Most Wanted" list.

Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, publishes slickly produced video, as well as photos and statements, through official accounts on Twitter and the video-sharing website YouTube.

And Somalia's Al-Shebab has frequently used Twitter to reach out to potential followers.

But perhaps no group has harnessed the power of the Internet as effectively as IS, which eschewed the password-protected forums preferred by Al-Qaeda in favour of popular social media sites.

It quickly established a presence on Facebook and Twitter and even allows its fighters to converse publicly with potential recruits on question-and-answer sites like



"Islamic State has really honed its media strategy," said Charlie Winter, a researcher at the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremist think tank.

"It has a standardised format, which makes it easy to identify as official Islamic State propaganda. It is very productive, it has an output rate of four or five videos a week," he said.

The group also relies on "a wide, decentralised network of people who are almost obsessive in their need to share things" to distribute its material, Winter added.

IS and its backers also use high-profile methods, like this week's hacking of the Pentagon's Central Command Twitter feed, to gain notice.

Experts say foreign recruits play a key role in jihadist outreach.

Most prominent jihadist groups now advertise their operations in Western languages and often feature videos of Westerners describing life on the battlefield.

"They are a way to get through to a population that might otherwise be difficult to reach," Winter said.


European coast guards on Friday secured a cargo ship with 450 migrants on board, which was drifting off the coast of Italy in rough seas. The vessel was towed to Crotone port, FRANCE 24 has learned.

A dramatic, hours-long rescue mission in choppy waters ended Friday morning, when the Italian navy took control of the 73-metre-long (240-foot-long) Sierra Leone-registered Ezadeen, which had been abandoned by its crew off the southwestern coast of Italy.

Six coast guard officers were lowered from a helicopter onto the deck of the vessel, according to an Italian naval official.

FRANCE 24 has learned that the Ezadeen was towed to the Italian port of Crotone.

Earlier Friday, the AP reported that an Icelandic coast guard ship, part of a new European patrol force to aid migrants at sea, was responsible for towing the cargo vessel to Italy.

Crewless ship with children and pregnant women on board

Children and pregnant women were among the migrants, most of whom were believed to be Syrian, according to Italian Coast Guard Cmdr. Filippo Marini. The Sierra-Leone-flagged cargo ship apparently set sail from Turkey, he said.

A migrant on board the drifting vessel had called for help saying, “we're without crew, we're heading toward the Italian coast and we have no one to steer,'' Marini told reporters.

Prior to losing power, the almost 50-year-old ship had been moving at a brisk seven knots and had been spotted by a coast guard plane 80 miles offshore shortly after nightfall.

The Ezadeen is the second cargo ship full of migrants to be abandoned while still sailing this week. Days earlier, the Italian Coast Guard in a daring attempt, lowered officials onto another, Moldovan-flagged cargo vessel so they could take control of the ship, which was only a few miles from crashing into the Italian coast.

More than 170,000 migrants were intercepted or needed rescue by the Italian navy, coast guard and air force patrols last year. This apparently new technique by smugglers of abandoning a ship after setting it on a crash course complicates rescue efforts, Marini told Italian state radio, "but the important thing is there are lives to be saved.''

The migrant boat dramas have come as Italy grapples with the aftermath of the Norman Atlantic ferry disaster in which at least 13 people died following an onboard fire that erupted before dawn on Sunday in waters off Albania.

They also come after a record year for people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia attempting to reach Europe by sea.




The primary general immediate flight from the UK to China outside London takes off on Monday, as Cathay Pacific dispatches its Manchester-Hong Kong administration.

It is an iconic issue. In gathered southeast England, moves to stretch limit are in halt. The UK's enormous commonplace airplane terminals, in the mean time, are caught up with boosting long-separation flights, opening up immediate courses to the billions-solid fare markets of Asia.

Stanley Chan, of Chi Yip, a gathering that runs and supplies Chinese shops and restaurants over the UK, said the Manchester flight — which takes 12 hours and will run four times each week — will help grow the business. "Some time recently, holders needed to stay overnight in Frankfurt, Paris or Amsterdam. Time is cash.

"In the event that we can discover items the Chinese need, we will fare and offer there. They have had a considerable measure of sustenance outrages and it is a boundless business sector."



The initiative group of sports journalists launched a campaign "Knock  terrorism  out - save Ukraine!" in support of the volunteer battalions and the Ukrainian army, who are bravely fighting to the East of this country with externally supported the illegal armed groups and the occupation by Russian warriors.

The promotion is available to all comers, which are able to hit a punching bag. One of the sports projectile not - come any substitute, from wood to a sparring partner. Fists, feet, head - improvisation is encouraged. And, of course, no sexual discrimination among participants, the organizers also expect girls!

The project was already joined by former world and European champion in Boxing Alina Shaternikova. The first athlete of the representatives of the Ukrainian Boxing supported the campaign by writing a short video, thereby completing the mandatory part of it. Alina, who is also Vice-President of the National League of professional Boxing Ukraine, worked the combination on the bag - it, by design, a symbol of terror and war, which are now taking place in the East. Your participation in the promotion Shaternikova without the slightest hesitation showed citizenship and expressed towards those who unleashed the armed conflict in Ukraine, and on the conscience of anyone responsible for hundreds of thousands of victims in this confrontation.

Supported the initiative and world champion 2011 in the amateurs, bronze medalist of the Olympic games in London, and now a promising boxer-professional Taras Shelestyuk. The athlete, as Shaternikova, sent financial help to the needs of the Ukrainian soldiers, and passed the baton to his colleagues from the already legendary national team of Ukraine in Boxing - Alexander Usik, Alexander Cloves, Eugene Hitrovo, Vasyl Lomachenko, Denis Berenice and Paul-Ogneslaw Ishchenko.



As the morning sun rises over the golden dunes of Erg Chebbi in the Sahara, men and women dig holes for tourists who want to bury themselves in the sand.

Decades ago, tribal nomads settled here, living a traditional desert existence that has now had to adapt to changing circumstance.

The dunes of Merzouga tower over the small community in southeastern Morocco, where the Berber Ait Atta tribe now makes a brisk living from tourism.

The formerly nomadic tribesmen have for years been running hotels and restaurants in Merzouga, a key stop on the Moroccan tourist trail on the edge of a sea of sand dunes.

Now they're even turning to the sands themselves to attract visitors.

For around 10 minutes visitors are buried neck-deep in the hot sand for therapy said to cure those who suffer from rheumatism, lumbago, polyarthritis and some skin disorders.



The therapy has the same effect as a sauna session, helping purge the body of poisonous toxins, according to those tribesmen such as Abdessalam Sadoq who now work in wellness tourism.

"We offer every type of tourism here, but especially for health," he said.

Making a living was not always easy for the descendants of the Ait Atta nomads, and over the decades the sons and daughters of those who roamed the desert on camels have had to attune themselves to more modern ways.

The Ait Atta once accumulated riches from trans-Saharan commerce, but now all that remains of this past is a road sign pointing towards Timbuktu, a mere 52 days away by camel.

Their way of life ended after Morocco became a French protectorate in 1912, with the development of mining in the region, the emergence of urban centres and demarcation of the nearby border with Algeria.

Once-nomadic tribes had to find a new livelihood, and turned to cultivating date palms and tourism in the second half of the past century.




Visitors in search of a cure do not come only from abroad: many Moroccans also firmly believe in the power of the desert.



They're not just for sharing any more: Facebook and Twitter are now looking to play a bigger role in shopping.

Both major social networks have unveiled plans to start using "buy" buttons on their sites, which could start having an impact on "social shopping" in the coming holiday season.

The idea of using social networks such as Facebook to promote e-commerce has been around for some time, but so far has failed to deliver much. Facebook had some short-lived programs for "digital gifts" and another program selling virtual goods via Facebook games.

"Social commerce," stemming from reviews or referrals from social networks, is expected to hit $15 billion by 2015, according to the research firm Invesp.

Some analysts see a natural connection between social networks and shopping, since users often discuss products and brands in the messages.

"Sharing is a fairly reliable indicator of what people are going to buy," says Andy Stevens, head of strategy and research for Share This, a company which produces a sharing button for websites and analyzes social media trends.





Flag raising ceremony - The focus for many protesters this morning is a flag raising ceremony in the Wanchai district where a number of senior city officials are expected to attend as part of the National Day celebrations.

Hundreds of demonstrators are already converging on the area, trying to make their way into Golden Bauhinia Square where the ceremony takes place.

The annual ceremony is often targeted by pro-democracy activists. But never has it taken place before against a backdrop of continued street protests and sit-ins by tens of thousands of demonstrators.




As Iraqi forces struggle to pin back the Islamic State group on the ground, Baghdad is taking its war against the jihadists to the airwaves with a television comedy series.

The usually elusive Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi features prominently in the show, whose promoters argue that ridiculing the jihadist supremo can help dent his aura of almost supernatural villainy.

The fear factor -- fed by online videos of mass executions, beheadings and abductions -- has been a key aspect of IS strategy, often handing it victory before the battle had even started.

The goal of the show is "to remove this phobia that has taken root in a lot of people's minds", chief supervisor Thaer Jiyad told AFP on the set between two scenes.

But if the show is Baghdad's new weapon in the war against IS, then its very first shots were a friendly fire blunder that sparked controversy even as the series premiered on Saturday.


The trailer that Iraqiya state TV had been showing several times a day for weeks plays on a belief widely held in Iraq that IS was created by the CIA, Israel and Gulf monarchies to sow chaos.

With the United States now leading an aerial bombing campaign which also involves several Gulf countries against IS in Iraq and Syria, the Iraqi Media Network production company had to order a last-minute reshoot.

The first version of the trailer, which is still widely available on the Internet, opens with a cartoon-like devil character brandishing a fork leading a column of jihadist fighters through the desert.

He is met with open arms by an ostensibly American character in full cowboy attire who leads him into a tent for an arranged marriage.

- 'State of Superstition' -

The bride is a Jewish princess -- a large star of David hangs around her neck to make that clear -- who is escorted to her nuptial nest by a woman whose sunglasses and bright green pantsuit are an unmistakeable reference to Qatar's first lady Sheikha Mozah.


She and the cowboy were dropped from the new version of the opening clip for the series, whose title loosely translates as "State of Superstition" and is a play on the Arabic word for caliphate.

The Joker of Batman fame, Dracula and a dwarf are among the random mix of characters in the background, all dancing to the series' catchy theme song, a parody of a known IS anthem.

The next scene shows the result of the union between the Jewish bride and the devil.

"The egg hatched, a little IS-ling emerged," the song goes.

The Baghdadi figure that grows out of the shell then leads a choir of officers from Saddam Hussein's ex-ruling Baath party into reciting his programme of blood-letting for Iraq with the refrain: "O beheader, where are you?"





An Ariane 5 ES heavy rocket lifted off from South America bearing Europe's fifth and final robot supply ship for the International Space Station (ISS), mission control said.

The rocket rose from the launch pad at the European Space Agency's base in Kourou, French Guiana at 8:47 pm (2347 GMT) with a payload of more than 20 tonnes, the biggest in ESA's history, it said.

After being placed in orbit, the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) is scheduled to navigate its way to the ISS by starlight and dock with it on August 12 at a height of about 400 kilometres (250 miles) above the Earth.

Named after Georges Lemaitre, the Belgian astrophysicist who proposed the "Big Bang" theory of how the Universe came into being, the ATV carries nearly 6.6 tonnes of fuel, water, oxygen, food, clothes and scientific experiments for the six ISS crew.


The 10-metre (33-feet) pressurised capsule will provide additional living space and use its onboard engines to boost the altitude of the ISS, which loses height each day through drag from lingering atmospheric molecules.

At the end of its six-month mission, filled with garbage and human waste, the spacecraft will undock and burn up in a controlled re-entry over the South Pacific.

It is the last in a series of ATVs that the 20-nation agency contracted to build and launch as its contribution to the US-led ISS project.

The six-year programme cost 4.2 billion euros ($5.6 billion), but ESA says the ships have been a testbench for technology that will live on in NASA's Orion, a planned capsule-based successor to the space shuttle which was phased out in 2011.





Timberwolf the koala was lucky to be alive Monday after surviving a terrifying 88-kilometre (54.5-mile) ride down a busy Australian freeway clinging to the bottom of a car.

The four-year-old male, who survived with nothing more than a torn nail, was struck by the vehicle near Maryborough in Queensland state on Friday.

The Australia Zoo wildlife hospital said it latched onto the bottom of the car as it sped away, with the family inside not knowing they had a marsupial on board.

It was only when they stopped in Gympie after a high-speed freeway drive that they noticed it, and called the hospital for help.

The maximum speed on the freeway is 110 kilometres per hour.

Australia Zoo vet Claude Lacasse said it was amazing the koala, named Timberwolf by the rescuers who brought him in, was in such great health.

"It is absolutely amazing that he has such minor injuries and he survived," Lacasse said.

"It is a truly remarkable story, he is a very lucky koala."