During the remarkable period that occurred right before 2016's Winter Solstice, terrorist attacks tied to intriguing location spotlighted synchromystic geography.
Here are the moments, with an attempt to note the specific, intriguing "places" that were interwoven with these events.
1. Yemen: Home of Nasser al-Anbouri
On Sunday morning, December 18, 2016, a suicide bomber disguised as a disabled man killed 52 people and injured over 80 others, in Aden, Yemen. The attack near a military base targeted a gathering of Yemeni security officers, and the majority of those killed were Yemeni soldiers who were waiting to receive their salaries. The bombing happened outside the home of Nasser al-Anbouri, the commander of the Special Security Forces, near a military base in Aden. The Islamic State claimed responsibility.
2. Jordan: Karak Crusader Castle
Seven Jordanian security officers, a Canadian tourist and two Jordanian civilians were killed by gunmen in the southern city of Karak on Sunday, December 18, 2016. After a couple of shooting incidents, at a home and an attack on a police station, police were told the gunmen were hiding inside the Karak Crusader castle, a prominent tourist attraction on a hilltop. Several Canadian news outlets identified the tourist as Linda Vatcher, a retired teacher from Newfoundland. At the time of the attack, she was visiting her son David or Chris (as he has been variously identified), who works in the region. He is among the injured. Four of the attackers were also killed.
On 19 December 2016, at 20:15, Russia's Turkey ambassador Andrei Karlov was shot and fatally wounded by Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, a 22-year-old off-duty Turkish police officer, at an art exhibition in Ankara, Turkey. The attacker, who was dressed in a suit and tie, opened fire at Karlov at point-blank range while the ambassador was delivering his speech in front of journalists, fatally wounding the ambassador and injuring several others. The attacker gained access to the gallery after he showed his police ID to security guards.
A video of the attack showed the assassin crying out: "Don't forget Aleppo, don't forget Syria!" and "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greatest) while holding a gun in one hand and waving the other in the air in the tawhid salute. The assailant shouted in Arabic and Turkish. Altıntaş was subsequently shot by Turkish security forces. Both were rushed to hospital, but they died from their injuries.
The city of Ankara announced that the exhibition hall where Karlov was assassinated would be named after Andrei Karlov.
At approximately 5:30 PM on 19 December 2016, a man entered an Islamic center near the main train station in Zürich and began shooting, apparently at random. The center, which is primarily used by refugees from Somalia and Eritrea, was hosting prayer services at the time. Approximately 10 people were present at the shooting. Three people were wounded in the attack, two seriously, though all are expected to survive. The victims are two Somali nationals, age 30 and 35, and a Swiss citizen age 56. One witness reported hearing the shooter yell "Raus aus unserem Land [Get out of our country]" during the attack, though police could not confirm this.
After the shooting, the suspect (a 24-year-old Swiss citizen of Ghanian descent living in Uster) fled the area on foot and a police manhunt was started to locate and capture him. Police brought in dog tracking teams to attempt to locate the suspect, and alerted the public to be wary. It was subsequently discovered that the suspect apparently took his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot. His body was found a few hours after the shooting under the Gessner Bridge on the river Sihl approximately 300 metres (980 ft) from the Islamic center shooting site. (The first written reference to the name Sihl dates to 1018, in the form Sylaha. The name may be of Old European or Celtic origin: *Sîla ("quiet watercourse," from a root *sîl = "to trickle, wet") > Romance Sila with the addition of the Old High German element aha "flowing water".)
At approximately 9 AM on 18 December 2016, a dead stabbing victim was discovered on a playground in the Schwamendingen district of Zürich. The victim was a 25-year-old Swiss citizen of Chilean origin whose name has been withheld. The police identified a suspect in the murder based on DNA evidence at the scene and began searching for the assailant. The suspect's DNA was in a police database due to an arrest seven years prior for stealing a bicycle, and he was known to be a former friend of the murder victim.
A terrorist attack on 19 December 2016, at 20:02 local time, during which a truck was driven into the Christmas market next to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church at Breitscheidplatz in Berlin, left 12 people dead and 56 others injured. One of the victims was the truck's original driver, Łukasz Urban, who was found shot dead in the passenger seat. A suspect was arrested and later released due to lack of evidence. Another person, suspected to be the actual perpetrator, was killed four days later during a shootout with police near Milan in Italy.
On December 20, 2016, a well-attended Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in the Syrian city of Aleppo was rocked by an explosion meters away from the gathered crowd. No casualties have been reported.
Modern-day English-speakers commonly refer to the city as Aleppo. It was known in antiquity as Khalpe, Khalibon, and to the Greeks and Romans as Beroea (Βέροια). During the Crusades, and again during the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon of 1923-1946, the name Alep was used. Aleppo represents the Italianised version of this.
The original ancient name, Halab, has survived as the current Arabic name of the city. However, the name is of pre-Arab origin. Some have proposed that halab means "iron" or "copper" in Amorite, one of the north west Semitic Canaanite languages, since the area served as a major source of these metals in antiquity, and the Amorites dominated the region during the Bronze Age. However, according to the 20th-century historian sheikh Kamel al-Ghazzi and to the contemporary linguist priest Barsoum Ayyoub, the name Halab(and consequently Aleppo) derives from the Aramaic word Halaba which means "white", referring to the color of soil and marble abundant in the area. The modern-day Arabic nickname of the city, ash-Shahbaa (Arabic: الشهباء), which means "the white-colored," also allegedly derives from the famous white marble of Aleppo.
From the 11th century it was common rabbinic usage to apply the term "Aram-Zobah" to the area of Aleppo, and many Syrian Jews continue to do so.
*The Storm God: Teshub is depicted holding a triple thunderbolt and a weapon, usually an axe (often double-headed) or mace. The sacred bull common throughout Anatolia was his signature animal, represented by his horned crown or by his steeds Seri and Hurri, who drew his chariot or carried him on their backs.