The ISIS attack on Kobane began with militants detonating a car bomb, followed by an assault from dozens of fighters from a number of directions.
Islamic State fighters have attacked the Syrian city of Kobane, months after being driven out in a symbolic battle that made international headlines.
They detonated car bombs and launched an assault. Kurdish media say at least 50 civilians have been killed, including 20 in a nearby village.
ISIS has recently suffered a string of defeats to Kurdish forces.
But in another attack on Thursday, it seized parts of the key north-eastern city of Hassakeh.
The apparent two-pronged IS offensive came as Kurdish fighters from the Popular Protection Units (YPG) cut a major supply line for IS near Raqqa.
Raqqa is the de facto capital of the caliphate whose creation IS announced a year ago after it captured large swathes of northern and western Iraq.
Kobane still matters to ISIS. It was never important strategically, but this latest attack shows that its loss, after five months of heavy street-to-street fighting and coalition aerial bombardment, still hurts ISIS.
The injured have been brought to hospital in Kobane
As was the case last November when a huge vehicle bomb exploded at the same spot, questions are being asked if the attackers made it in from the Turkish side, and if so, why Turkey didn’t stop them.
Thursday’s assault is a reminder, too, that ISIS, despite recent losses in the area, is still very much active and capable of offensives. Overnight they also attacked Hassakeh to the east, a far bigger prize.
Iran’s enemies unsettled by its deal with the West, but Bashar al-Assad of Syria says it is ‘a great victory’
Richard Spencer writes: The nuclear deal with Iran caused fury in Israel and consternation around the region at the likely increase in influence and resources of a newly enriched Iran.
Most telling was the loudest expression of support. “I am happy that the Islamic Republic of Iran has achieved a great victory by reaching an agreement,” President Bashar al-Assad of Syria said in a message to his Iranian opposite number, Hassan Rouhani.
“In the name of the Syrian people, I congratulate you and the people of Iran on this historic achievement.”
Benjamin Netanyahu during an earlier, tense press conference (Reuters)
Israel and the Sunni Arab world have set aside old grievances to stand together against the West’s engagement with Iran.
“Israel is not bound by this deal with Iran,” he said in a televised address hours after the conclusion of the accord. “Iran continues to seek our destruction and we will defend ourselves.”
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
Mr Netanyahu, who had condemned the deal even before it had been announced, said its terms failed to achieve the goal of denying Iran the capacity to build a nuclear bomb while, by lifting sanctions, enabled its theocratic rulers to increase their support for groups Israel considers terrorists.
“The bottom line of this very bad deal is exactly as Iran’s President Rouhani said today – the international community is removing the sanctions and Iran is keeping its nuclear programme,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »
The IS calls them ‘Inghemasiyoun,’ Arabic for “those who immerse themselves.” The elite shock troops are possibly the deadliest weapon in the extremist group’s arsenal: Fanatical and disciplined, they infiltrate their targets, unleash mayhem and fight to the death, wearing explosives belts to blow themselves up among their opponents if they face defeat
BAGHDAD (AP) — Bearded and wearing bright blue bandanas, the Islamic State group’s “special forces” unit gathered around their commander just before they attacked the central Syrian town of al-Sukhna. “Victory or martyrdom,” they screamed, pledging their allegiance to God and vowing never to retreat.
“They tend to use their foreign fighters as suicide bombers. People go to the Islamic State looking to die, and the Islamic State is happy to help them.”
— Patrick Skinner, a former CIA officer who now directs special operations for The Soufan Group, a private geopolitical risk assessment company
The IS calls them “Inghemasiyoun,” Arabic for “those who immerse themselves.” The elite shock troops are possibly the deadliest weapon in the extremist group’s arsenal: Fanatical and disciplined, they infiltrate their targets, unleash mayhem and fight to the death, wearing explosives belts to blow themselves up among their opponents if they face defeat. They are credited with many of the group’s stunning battlefield successes — including the capture of al-Sukhna in May after the scene shown in an online video released by the group.
“They cause chaos and then their main ground offensive begins,” said Redur Khalil, spokesman of the U.S.-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units, which have taken the lead in a string of military successes against the IS in Syria.
In this photo released on June 23, 2015 by a website of Islamic State militants, an Islamic State militant fires artillery against Syrian government forces in Hama city, Syria. Special troops called “Inghemasiyoun,” Arabic for “those who immerse themselves,” are possibly the deadliest weapon in the extremist group’s arsenal: Fanatical and disciplined, they infiltrate their targets, unleash mayhem and fight to the death. (Militant website via AP)
“The fighters incorporate suicide bombings as a fearsome battlefield tactic to break through lines and demoralize enemies, and they are constantly honing them to make them more effective.”
Though best known for its horrific brutalities — from its grotesque killings of captives to enslavement of women — the Islamic State group has proved to be a highly organized and flexible fighting force, according to senior Iraqi military and intelligence officials and Syrian Kurdish commanders on the front lines.
Its tactics are often creative, whether it’s using a sandstorm as cover for an assault or a lone sniper tying himself to the top of a palm tree to pick off troops below. Its forces nimbly move between conventional and guerrilla warfare, using the latter to wear down their opponents before massed fighters backed by armored vehicles, Humvees and sometimes even artillery move to take over territory. The fighters incorporate suicide bombings as a fearsome battlefield tactic to break through lines and demoralize enemies, and they are constantly honing them to make them more effective. Recently, they beefed up the front armor of the vehicles used in those attacks to prevent gunfire from killing the driver or detonating explosives prematurely.
“The group is also flush with weaponry looted from Iraqi forces that fled its blitzkrieg a year ago, when IS overtook the northern city of Mosul and other areas.”
Those strategies are being carried over into new fronts, appearing in Egypt in last week’s dramatic attack by an IS-linked militant group against the military in the Sinai Peninsula.
Andreas Krieg, a professor at King’s College London who embedded with Iraqi Kurdish fighters last fall, said IS local commanders are given leeway to operate as they see fit. They “have overall orders on strategy and are expected to come up with the most efficient ways of adapting it,” he said. The group “is very much success oriented, results oriented.” That’s a strong contrast to the rigid, inefficient and corrupt hierarchies of the Iraqi and Syrian militaries, where officers often fear taking any action without direct approval from higher up.
IS fighters are highly disciplined — swift execution is the punishment for deserting battle or falling asleep on guard duty, Iraqi officers said. The group is also flush with weaponry looted from Iraqi forces that fled its blitzkrieg a year ago, when IS overtook the northern city of Mosul and other areas. Much of the heavy weapons it holds — including artillery and tanks — have hardly been used, apparently on reserve for a future battle. Read the rest of this entry »
Any way you look at it, the post-World War II era has never seen a refugee crisis on the scale of 2014
According to the U.N. Refugee Agency’s annual report, last year saw the total number of forcibly displaced persons rise to 59.5 million, an all-time high. That figure includes 38.2 million were displaced internally due to conflict, general violence, and human rights violations — also a record figure since such data began to be recorded in 1989. In 2014 alone, 13.9 million people were displaced due to conflict or persecution alone. More than half of refugees worldwide are children.
The primary driver of this nearly unprecedented level of human suffering was the civil war in Syria, now in its fifth year. For more than 30 years, Afghanistan had been the world’s largest source of refugees, but in 2014 Syria overtook it to claim the top spot. By year’s end, 7.6 million Syrians had been displaced within the country’s borders. In 2014 alone, 1.55 million Syrians fled the country, bringing the total number of Syrian refugees to 3.9 million. Today, one out of every four refugees is Syrian.
In this Jan. 31, 2014, file photo released by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), residents of the besieged Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus, Syria, queue to receive food supplies. Conditions in the camp have deteriorated since Islamic State militants muscled their way into it in early April 2015. The militants are trying to consolidate their hold on the camp. (AP Photo/UNRWA, File)
The Syrian crisis contributed to another milestone: Turkey is now home to the world’s single largest refugee population of 1.59 million. Pakistan had previously held that distinction but slipped to second place in 2014, with 1.51 refugees. The Syrian civil war has placed an enormous strain on surrounding countries, which have absorbed 95 percent of those who have fled. The war has also contributed to Europe’s foremost refugee crisis: Of the 219,000 who attempted to cross the Mediterranean, nearly half were Syrians.
Moreover, as fighting in Syria has continued and the Islamic State militant group has established a foothold there and expanded east, Iraq has seen its own refugee numbers worsen. In 2014, another 2.6 million Iraqis were displaced, bringing the total to 3.6 million.
Elsewhere in the world, the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatists and government forces saw just short of 230,000 Ukrainians take refuge in Russia. Renewed fighting in South Sudan displaced 1.5 million within that country. Half a million South Sudanese fled the country in 2014. Fighting in Congo displaced another million people there. With the government of Pakistan carrying out an offensive in the tribal areas against Islamist militants, some 283,500 people fled into Afghanistan.
And even as the government in Colombia carried out peace talks with the FARC rebel group to end a half-century civil war, another 137,000 Colombians were displaced, bringing the country’s total of internally displaced persons to 6 million. Read the rest of this entry »
Atena Farghadani has been sentenced to an astonishing twelve years and nine months in prison on spurious charges of ‘spreading propaganda against the system,’ ‘insulting members of the parliament through paintings’ and ‘insulting the Supreme Leader’ because of her cartoon.
Elsie Auerbach reports: It seems that not one single thing escapes the attention of hardliners in Iran, bent on using the extraordinary powers they hold to suppress every effort by Iranians to exercise their right to freedom of expression. They have even decreed that men should refrain from sporting various hairdos and—yes I am not kidding—from plucking their eyebrows, because those are considered to be indications of “devil worshipping” and homosexuality.
“She was detained for three months in 2012 and eventually given a medical release because of serious health problems including seizures and temporary loss of vision, exacerbated because of the stressful and sub-standard conditions prevailing in Iran’s prisons.”
Although such preoccupations may seem risible to some, the people who are caught up in this dragnet are suffering very real and harsh consequences.
“She has spent eight of the last ten months in prison since her original arrest last August; her trial in one of Iran’s notoriously unfair Revolutionary Courts started on May 19. She went on a hunger strike in February 2015 to protest her detention in poor conditions and suffered a heart attack.”
We just learned that she has been sentenced to an astonishing twelve years and nine months in prison on spurious charges of “spreading propaganda against the system,” “insulting members of the parliament through paintings” and “insulting the Supreme Leader” because of her cartoon. She is also being charged with “gathering and colluding with deviant groups” because she has met with the families of those killed by government agents in the unrest following the 2009 presidential elections and because of an art exhibition she held which was attended by members of Iran’s persecuted Baha’i community.
“While she was in prison last fall she was so anxious to express herself, even behind bars and deprived of art supplies, that she attempted to use small paper cups to create art. For this she was subjected to abusive treatment by prison guards.”
“They have even decreed that men should refrain from sporting various hairdos and—yes I am not kidding—from plucking their eyebrows, because those are considered to be indications of “devil worshipping” and homosexuality.”
While she was in prison last fall she was so anxious to express herself, even behind bars and deprived of art supplies, that she attempted to use small paper cups to create art. For this she was subjected to abusive treatment by prison guards. Read the rest of this entry »
“Although the Obama administration’s public messaging is that it still wants to ‘degrade and ultimately defeat’ ISIS, in reality, many in the Pentagon view the real objective as just running out the clock.”
Islamic State now controls more than half of Syria after the extremist militia seized the historic city of Palmyra, a monitoring group said on Thursday.
Russia is ready to supply weapons to Iraq, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday, as the country struggles to halt advances by Islamic State militants.
Speaking ahead of talks in Moscow between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, Lavrov told reporters Moscow would make every effort to help the Baghdad government push back the militants.
Hundreds of artefacts from Palmyra have been taken to Damascus, Syrian authorities say
“The jihadists on Wednesday fully seized Palmyra, home to ancient ruins listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.”
Islamic State insurgents overran the Iraqi city of Ramadi last weekend in the most significant setback for the Baghdad government in a year, exposing the weakness of Iraq’s army and the limitations of U.S. air strikes. On Thursday the group seized full control of Palmyra in neighboring Syria.
Australia plans to strip citizenship from Australian-born children of immigrants who become Islamic State fighters in its crackdown on homegrown jihadis.
“The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Islamic State rules around 95,000 square kilometres, or more than 50 per cent of Syria’s total geographic area.”
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told Sydney Radio 2GB on Thursday that his government wants to change the Citizenship Act to make fighting for the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq a reason for losing citizenship,.He says the government also wants to adopt the British legal model by revoking the citizenship of extremists who are Australian-born children of immigrants or an immigrant, forcing them to take up citizenship in the birth country of their parents, or parent.
Palmyra rose to prominence under the Romans but its rulers later created a rival empire of their own
Islamic State now controls more than half of Syria after the extremist militia seized the historic city of Palmyra, a monitoring group said on Thursday.
The consulate and its intelligence operation nearby was keeping an eye on weapons transfers to anti-Assad forces in Syria, one of the proposed reasons why the US would have kept a consulate open in that city for so long.
Thanks to Judicial Watch obtaining new memos, Fox News is now reporting that the Obama administration knew that Benghazi was being used as a hub for the transfer of lethal weapons to Syria back in 2012. Former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell suggested to Bret Baier that the CIA wasn’t doing the transferring, but was watching someone else do it.
…The date of the DIA conclusion (produced by a FOIA lawsuit from Judicial Watch) is remarkable for at least one reason. First, September 16 is an infamous date in the Benghazi timeline, as the date on which Susan Rice did a full Ginsburg to insist that the attack resulted from a spontaneous demonstration tied to an obscure YouTube video.
“The consulate and its intelligence operation nearby was keeping an eye on weapons transfers to anti-Assad forces in Syria, one of the proposed reasons why the US would have kept a consulate open in that city for so long.”
Even though the DIA directly contradicted those talking points supplied by the White House to Rice, they continued to insist on using them for another two weeks, including Hillary Clinton. During that period, the Obama administration kept saying that they had no indication that this was a terrorist plot, even though the president of Libya insisted that it was a planned attack on one of the same shows on which Rice appeared.
“Why keep up the pretense? Obama was in the middle of an election, and didn’t want to acknowledge that he’d been caught with his pants down.”
As Catherine Herridge and Martha McCallum point out, the memo tells a lot more of the story than we knew before. The consulate and its intelligence operation nearby was keeping an eye on weapons transfers to anti-Assad forces in Syria, one of the proposed reasons why the US would have kept a consulate open in that city for so long. Read the rest of this entry »
WASHINGTON— Gordon Lubold and Adam Entous report: The U.S. special-operations force that carried out a first-of-its-kind mission in Syria to capture the Islamic State finance chief and his wife over the weekend came away with a treasure trove of materials that could help in the attempt to pressure the extremist group.
“There are a lot of things that have to align to be able to execute some of these things. For a variety of reasons, we were not able to execute the operation.”
U.S. officials said that the Army Delta Force team that swooped down onto the site in eastern Syria in helicopters killed the Islamic State operative after a brief firefight and left with laptops, phones, documents and, likely, hard drives, DVDs, CDs and SIM cards.
“What our team gathered was substantial, but we won’t know until it’s exploited just how valuable it is.It could be very substantial.”
— Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), the senior Democratic member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
The material could prove valuable in efforts to disrupt Islamic State’s ability to raise funds and may show why the Obama administration set aside its aversion to such operations to authorize the risky mission.
Syrians shelled Islamic State positions near Palmyra, where the militants were retreating from the historic city they seized Saturday. Photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
“What our team gathered was substantial, but we won’t know until it’s exploited just how valuable it is,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), the senior Democratic member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, who has been briefed on the operation. “It could be very substantial.”
The raid also sent a signal to extremists that they aren’t safe in Syria and to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that the U.S. can operate in his country, said John McLaughlin, a former acting Central Intelligence Agency director.
“We’re going to conduct these types of operations whenever we can. This isn’t opening the door any more; the door is open, it has been open, and it will remain open if we have the opportunity.”
The group of about two dozen of the Army’s Delta Force commandos flew in late Friday in UH-60 Black Hawks and V-22 Ospreys to a residential compound in Al-Amr in eastern Syria intending to capture the Islamic State operative, Abu Sayyaf, and his wife, Umm Sayyaf, who is also thought to be a member of Islamic State. The couple apparently was holding a young Yazidi woman as a slave. Read the rest of this entry »
A senior Islamic State (IS) member has been killed and his wife captured in a raid in eastern Syria by US special forces. Abu Sayyaf, who helped direct oil, gas and financial operations for IS, as well as holding a military role, was killed when he engaged US forces, according to a Pentagon statement.
The operation in al-Amr was authorised by President Barack Obama and was carried out by forces based in Iraq.
The BBC’s Rajini Vaidyanathan says Abu Sayyaf oversaw IS’s “illicit oil and gas operations” – a key source of the group’s funding.
For Bones Don’t Lie, Katy Meyers Emery writes: Beheading was a popular mode of execution throughout human history – it is dramatic, final and is often part of a public display of power by the victors over the soon to be deceased. Whenever I think about this type of execution, I think back to the famous paintings of Judith slaying Holofernes. When I was a high school student, I took a summer art course where we had to do a large oil painting as our final project. I did a version of Judith slaying Holofernes, complete with a triumphant female in purple robes holding a bloodied sword and a decapitated head.
“Decapitation comes from the Latin capitis- meaning head, and is the separation of the head from the body which results in death. Severing the head causes all other organs within the body to fail and deprives the brain of oxygen.”
Perhaps it isn’t surprising then that I’m a mortuary archaeologist… Moving on, decapitation and beheading actually have quite a long history, although it can be difficult to interpret this from the archaeological record. In addition to the execution style of head removal, we’ve seen certain cases where heads were removed after death as a form of ancestor veneration (see this article on Neolithic burials from the Near East and this one on gladiators), so the removal of the head cannot be assumed to mean something negative or violent- we need to look closely at the context and bioarchaeology.
The double burial of two adult males CCLXXX and CCLXXXI dating from AD 656 to 765 from Mount Gamble, Dublin both displaying evidence of decapitation with both skulls in situ (O’Donovan and Geber 2009, 73).
“Beheading in particular refers to an intentional decapitation, including murder or execution. These terms don’t refer to the method of decapitation, so it can be done with axe, sword, knife, wire, or guillotine. In beheadings, the act is carried out by a professional executioner known as a ‘headsman’.”
First, let’s quickly review some terms. Decapitation comes from the Latin capitis- meaning head, and is the separation of the head from the body which results in death. Severing the head causes all other organs within the body to fail and deprives the brain of oxygen. Beheading in particular refers to an intentional decapitation- including murder or execution. These terms don’t refer to the method of decapitation, so it can be done with axe, sword, knife, wire, or guillotine. In beheadings, the act is carried out by a professional executioner known as a ‘headsman’.
A new article by Carty (2015) examines osteological evidence for decapitation from different skeletal assemblages from the Irish medieval period (6th to 16th century). Text from this period argues that decapitation was used primarily in warfare and as a form of punishment. Read the rest of this entry »
ISIS has revived the barbaric practice. The time to stop both of them is now
Derby Murdock writes: From Easter services to cablecasts of Bill O’Reilly’s bestseller Killing Jesus, Christians are focused on the crucifixion of their Savior. American believers and non-believers consider this a historical event. But in the Middle East, crucifixion is a current affair.
“It has become a standard feature of fringe Islamist groups to revive these outdated practices in an effort to bring back what they believe is authentic.”
ISIS has resurrected crucifixion. In doing so, these Islamofascist scum have built a bridge to the fourth decade a.d. The only way to top this would be to feed Christians to lions this evening at Rome’s Colosseum.
“People are tired and they hate everything. If you don’t close your shop during prayer time you get lashes, if you smoke you get lashed, if you say one wrong thing you can be executed. It is like a waterfall of blood. There are more and more executions and now the children watch like they are used to it.”
— Resident of ISIS-controlled territory
By prying this ancient practice from the history books and returning it to modern
life, ISIS has reconfirmed its epic evil. Obama immediately needs to implement a coherent strategy to relegate ISIS itself to the history books.
Much of the news about latter-day crucifixions and other atrocities escapes the confines of ISIS-controlled territory thanks to a brave group called Raqaa Is Being Slaughtered Silently. Details are grim.
“People are encouraged to watch and expected to watch, and if you miss too many executions, you might get a knock on your door: a stern lecture from a fighter, perhaps a few days in prison, perhaps a few lashes. You never know.”
— Benjamin Hall, combat journalist who has reported from Iraq and Syria
These crucifixions began in March 2014, reports CNN’s Salma Abdelaziz. ISIS charged a shepherd with murder and theft. He was shot in the head, and his corpse was tied to a wooden cross in the main square in Raqaa, Syria, ISIS’s capital.
Last May, two more victims were crucified there and left to rot in the sun for three days. “This man fought Muslims and detonated an IED here,” read the placard around one victim’s neck.
ISIS crucified nine men last June, according to London’s Telegraph. Eight, from Deir Hafer, Syria, were killed and displayed in the village square for three days. A man from Al-Bab survived, despite being nailed to a cross for eight hours.
Last October, London’s Daily Mail reports, ISIS crucified a 17-year-old boy in Raqaa. His crimes? Selling his photos of ISIS military bases and “apostasy” — converting from Islam.
Seventeen men were killed in mid-January in what the International Business Times called a “crucifixion frenzy.” The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that one victim was executed for “taking a picture of an ISIS fighter and publishing it on Facebook.” Another was nabbed for smoking, charged with being an Assad-regime informant, and crucified. Fifteen others were denounced as rebels and mounted on crosses.
ISIS does not limit this carnage to adults. Citing a February report from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, Reuters indicated that “Islamic State militants are selling abducted Iraqi children at markets as sex slaves, and killing other youth, including by crucifixion or burying them alive.”
In Raqaa, “executions are simply routine — a part of daily life,” writes my fearless friend Benjamin Hall, a combat journalist who has reported from Iraq and Syria, with ISIS’s black flag flapping menacingly mere yards away. Read the rest of this entry »
The offensive to retake the city has been stalled for more than a week and American officials on Wednesday said they began the strikes after the Iraqi government formally requested help. The U.S. in recent days began providing video feeds and other intelligence to Iraqi forces, drawing the Americans into closer coordination with Iranian-allied Shiite militias spearheading the campaign.
The U.S. intervention is a blow to Iran, which has played a major role in commanding the Shiite militias and has also supplied weapons. Those militias account for about 20,000 of the 30,000-strong force involved in the operation.
U.S. officials said the difficulty in Tikrit exposed the weakness of Iranian support for Iraq’s government, adding that they hope to use those difficulties to drive a wedge between Iraq and Iran.
“Tikrit shows the complete failure by Iran to produce results on the ground,” said a senior U.S. official.
An Iraqi Shiite militiaman with the so-called Imam Ali Brigades in Tikrit on Wednesday, as the U.S. said it had begun airstrikes against Islamic State militants there because of the failure of Iran-backed Shiite fighters to retake the city. Photo: Khalid Mohammed/Associated Press
Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has been assisting the Iraqi force, including planning help, artillery fire and other combat support. But Pentagon officials said the IRGC effort has produced little in the way of results for Iraqi forces.
The U.S. and allied warplanes struck between six and 10 targets in Tikrit, according to Pentagon officials, including the palace that Islamic State militants have been using as their headquarters. The buildings struck were all preselected targets that U.S. surveillance planes have been tracking for several days, officials said.
American officials held open the option that moving targets could be targeted in future strikes. Defense officials said they were working only with the Iraqi government and Iraqi security forces, not Shiite militias or Iranian forces. Read the rest of this entry »
He will appear Wednesday in federal court in New York City and is now in custody….(read more)
For NBC News, Michael Kosnar and Daniel Arkin report: A former U.S. Air Force mechanic has been charged with attempting to go to Syria to join ISIS, authorities said Tuesday. Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh was indicted Monday by a grand jury in Brooklyn on two charges, including attempting to provide material support to a terror organization.
The indictment said that Pugh was fired from a job in Kuwait as an airplane mechanic in December 2014. It said that he flew from Egypt to Turkey on January 10, in an effort to cross the border into Syria to join ISIS and wage violent jihad.
Turkish authorities denied him entry into the country, however, and sent him on a return flight to Egypt. He was deported from Egypt to the U.S. in January 15, after he was found carrying suspicious items, including a photograph of a machine gun.
Pugh was arrested Jan. 16, but the case has been sealed since that date.
Searches of his laptop revealed online queries about borders and crossing points controlled by the Islamic State, and videos showing ISIS executions. Posting on social media show Pugh repeatedly professed a desire never to return to the U.S., even though he has family — including children — in the country….(read more)
This is a breaking news story. Please refresh for updates.
John Nolte writes: Why did God invent New Media? Because when the First Lady of the United States appeases a lunatic Islamic regime like Iran, the mainstream media is going to cover that fact up. The fact here is that Wednesday at the White House the First Lady celebrated Nowruz, which White House Dossier describes as the “Iranian festival of spring that marks the beginning of the Persian new year.”
There is absolutely nothing wrong with honoring the many events celebrated within this magnificent e pluribus unum melting pot of ours. The problem is that this is not about honoring a group of people who make up less than 1% of our population. When the Obama White House celebrates the Amish holiday of “Old Christmas” be sure to fire me up a flare.
That spectacle wasn’t about anything other than kissing up to the women-oppressing, homosexual-murdering Islamic theocrats in Iran who have only three goals: 1) Get a nuclear weapon. 2) Use that weapon to wipe out Israel. 3) Jump into a pile of 72 virgins. Read the rest of this entry »
Stephen Hayes and Tomas Joscelyn write: In the early-morning hours of May 2, 2011, a small team of American military and intelligence professionals landed inside the high white walls of a mysterious compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The team’s mission, code-named Operation Neptune Spear, had two primary objectives: capture or kill Osama bin Laden and gather as much intelligence as possible about the al Qaeda leader and his network. A bullet to bin Laden’s head accomplished the first; the quick work of the Sensitive Site Exploitation team accomplished the second.
“The leadership down at Central Command wanted to know what were we learning from these documents. We were still facing a growing al Qaeda threat. And it was not just Pakistan and Afghanistan and Iraq. But we saw it growing in Yemen. We clearly saw it growing still in East Africa…The threat wasn’t going away, and we wanted to know: What can we learn from these documents?”
It was quite a haul: 10 hard drives, nearly 100 thumb drives and a dozen cellphones. There were DVDs, audio and video tapes, data cards, reams of handwritten materials, newspapers and magazines. At a Pentagon briefing days after the raid, a senior military intelligence official described it as “the single largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever.”
The United States had gotten its hands on al Qaeda’s playbook—its recent history, its current operations, its future plans. An interagency team led by the Central Intelligence Agency got the first look at the cache. They performed a hasty scrub—a “triage”—on a small sliver of the document collection, looking for actionable intelligence. According to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, the team produced more than 400 separate reports based on information in the documents.
But it is what happened next that is truly stunning: nothing. The analysis of the materials—the “document exploitation,” in the parlance of intelligence professionals—came to an abrupt stop. According to five senior U.S. intelligence officials, the documents sat largely untouched for months—perhaps as long as a year.
In spring 2012, a year after the raid that killed bin Laden and six months before the 2012 presidential election, the Obama administration launched a concerted campaign to persuade the American people that the long war with al Qaeda was ending.
“At precisely the time Mr. Obama was campaigning on the imminent death of al Qaeda, those with access to the bin Laden documents were seeing, in bin Laden’s own words, that the opposite was true. Says Lt. Gen. Flynn: ‘By that time, they probably had grown by about—I’d say close to doubling by that time. And we knew that.’”
In a speech commemorating the anniversary of the raid, John Brennan , Mr. Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser and later his CIA director, predicted the imminent demise of al Qaeda. The next day, on May 1, 2012, Mr. Obama made a bold claim: “The goal that I set—to defeat al Qaeda and deny it a chance to rebuild—is now within our reach.”
The White House provided 17 handpicked documents to the Combatting Terror Center at the West Point military academy, where a team of analysts reached the conclusion the Obama administration wanted. Bin Laden, they found, had been isolated and relatively powerless, a sad and lonely man sitting atop a crumbling terror network.
“This wasn’t what the Obama White House wanted to hear. So the administration cut off DIA access to the documents and instructed DIA officials to stop producing analyses based on them.”
It was a reassuring portrayal. It was also wrong. And those responsible for winning the war—as opposed to an election—couldn’t afford to engage in such dangerous self-delusion. Read the rest of this entry »
NEW YORK — The FBI has arrested three men who allegedly attempted to fly from New York to Turkey in hopes of eventually joining ISIS in Syria, according to a complaint unsealed in Brooklyn federal court Wednesday.
The suspects — identified as Abdurasul Jaraboev, 24; Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19; and Abror Habibov, 30 — face charges that include providing material support for terrorists, authorities said.
After training, moderate rebels to get pickups with gear to call for American B-1B bombers
Julian E. Barnes and Adam Entous report: The U.S. has decided to provide pickup trucks equipped with machine guns and radios for calling in U.S. airstrikes to some moderate Syrian rebels, defense officials said. But the scope of any bombing hasn’t been worked out—a reflection of the complexities of the battlefield in Syria.
Military officials point to U.S. airstrikes, called in by Kurdish fighters, that helped drive Islamic State fighters from the city of Kobani as the model for the new campaign.
“We were getting information from the Kurds from our command and control element. We were getting information quickly enough for the purposes of what we were trying to achieve: target ISIL fighters and their positions.”
— Lt. Col. Sumangil
Still, there are significant differences with what the U.S.-trained rebels will face. In Kobani, a larger and more-cohesive Kurdish force was fighting from a fixed position against a single enemy—Islamic State—without having to worry about the Syrian regime or other rebel groups.
U.S. officials also are confronted with the fragile nature of the international coalition assembled to fight Islamic State, the uneasy peace with Iran inside of Iraq, and questions about whether U.S. warplanes can or should target the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The plan comes as the U.S. prepares to start training moderate rebels, who are waging a two-front fight against the extremists and the Syrian regime. Defense officials said the training will begin in mid-to-late March in Jordan, with a second site due to open soon after in Turkey.
At the same time, the threat is spreading. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi called on Tuesday for the United Nations to endorse an international military campaign against Islamic State in Libya, a day after he ordered cross-border airstrikes in retaliation for the execution of 21 Egyptian Christians by the extremist group. The U.N. Security Council was to meet in emergency session on Wednesday, but the U.S. and several other council members called in advance for a political solution.
The Obama administration has been facing growing pressure to step up support for the moderate Syrian rebels from Republican hawks in Congress and from some allies, as well as conservative critics.
The first training sessions are to last between six and eight weeks. The training will focus on helping the rebel forces hold territory and counter Islamic State fighters—not to take on the Syrian army.
After that the U.S. will consider introducing what it is calling “the new Syrian force” onto the battlefield, officials said.
A team of four to six rebels will each be given a Toyota Hi-Lux pickup, outfitted with a machine gun, communications gear and Global Positioning System trackers enabling them to call in airstrikes. Read the rest of this entry »
Airstrikes follow release of video purportedly showing the beheadings of Egyptian Coptic Christians
Matt Bradley and Tamer El-Ghobashy report: Egypt’s air force struck multiple Islamic State targets near the eastern coastal city of Derna in Libya on Monday morning following the release of a video that purportedly showed the decapitation of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians—a development that threatens to push Libya’s worsening internal conflict beyond the country’s borders.
A spokesman for Egypt’s military said Egyptian aircraft had targeted Islamic State training camps and weapons and ammunitions stores in a bombing raid around dawn. The planes returned to their bases in Egypt safely, the spokesman said in a post on his Facebook page.
“We assure that we will take revenge for Egyptian blood and that taking punishment against criminal killers is our right and duty.”
The announcement was accompanied by video footage that the spokesman said showed Egyptian fighter jets taking off at night in preparation for airstrikes on “ISIS in Libya,” according to text accompanying the video.
“We assure that we will take revenge for Egyptian blood and that taking punishment against criminal killers is our right and duty,” an announcer said in an official Egyptian military video posted on the same Facebook page.
“There will be more coordinated airstrikes in the future with Libya and Egypt operating side by side.”
Omar al Sinki, the minister of the interior in Libya’s Tobruk-based government, said Egypt’s air force had struck 7 targets in Derna early Monday. He added that the strikes had been coordinated with the anti-Islamist forces based in eastern Libya and that General Khalifa Haftar, the nominal leader of those forces, was in Cairo on Monday “coordinating” with Egypt’s armed forces and that the campaign would be sustained.
“There will be more coordinated airstrikes in the future with Libya and Egypt operating side by side,” he said
A spokesman for Egypt’s defense ministry declined to comment on Monday beyond what the military posted on Facebook, although a news conference was planned for later Monday.
Saqer al Joroushi, the commander of Libya’s air force, was quoted by Egyptian state media saying “at least 50” militants had been killed in the airstrikes, in addition to several being arrested. He said Egypt had conducted the strikes “with full respect to the sovereignty of Libya.” He also said Libya wouldn’t allow any ground operations by the Egyptian armed forces.
He separately told the Saudi Arabia-owned Al Arabiya television station that Libya’s own air forces had launched attacks on Islamic State targets in the coastal city of Sirte, a stronghold of those loyal to ousted longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, and nearby towns. However, a resident of Sirte said he had seen no evidence of an aerial attack on the city.
In a statement on its Facebook page, Libya Dawn, a more moderate Islamist group that controls the Libyan capital Tripoli, “deplored the violation of sovereignty” and said children had been killed in bombing of Derna. Read the rest of this entry »
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