SINJAR MOUNTAIN, Iraq—Nine years ago, Zind Ruken packed a bag and left her majority-ethnic-Kurdish city in Iran, escaping a brutal police crackdown and pressure to marry a man she’d never met.
“America’s association with a terror-listed Maoist-inspired militia, even if indirect, shows how dramatically Syria’s conflict has reconfigured regional alliances and eroded once-rigid borders.”
Now the 24-year-old is a battle-hardened guerrilla, using machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades to fight Islamic State extremists in Syria and Iraq.
She has deployed to reverse their advances on self-governing Kurdish communities. Last summer, she says, she helped rescue Kurdish-speaking Yazidis besieged on Sinjar Mountain. Her unit has fought Islamist insurgents and conventional armies in Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq—countries where an estimated 30 million Kurds live.
“Constantly shifting alliances in the region mean the PKK’s rise isn’t certain to continue. But the guerrilla group’s growing stature has alarmed Turkey, a crucial North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally of the U.S., with whom the PKK has fought a three-decade war costing some 40,000 lives.”
Ms. Ruken’s journey provides a glimpse behind the remarkable rise of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, the cultlike Marxist-inspired group she fights for and whose triumphs against Islamic State have helped it evolve from ragtag militia to regional power player.
The PKK and its Syrian affiliate have emerged as Washington’s most effective battlefield partners against Islamic State, also known as ISIS, even though the U.S. and its allies have for decades listed the PKK as a terrorist group. The movement in the past has been accused of kidnappings, murder and narcotics trafficking, but fighters like Ms. Ruken have presented the world an appealing face of the guerrillas—an image of women battling as equals with male comrades against an appallingly misogynist enemy.
“Obama administration officials acknowledged the PKK and YPG have links and coordinate with each other in the fight against Islamic State, but they said the U.S. continues to formally shun the PKK while dealing directly with YPG.”
U.S. war planners have been coordinating with the Syrian affiliate—the People’s Defense Units, or YPG—on air and ground operations through a joint command center in northern Iraq. And in two new centers in Syria’s Kobani and Jazeera regions, YPG commanders are in direct contact with U.S. commanders, senior Syrian Kurdish officials said.
“There’s no reason to pretend anymore,” said a senior Kurdish official from Kobani. “We’re working together, and it’s working.”
By contrast, Ankara agreed only on Thursday to allow coalition airstrikes from an eastern-Turkey air base, after months of negotiations in which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ’s government resisted international calls to enter the war with Islamic State. U.S. officials said the base deal shouldn’t affect U.S. air support to Kurdish fighters in Syria and may help increase collaboration with the YPG because jets and drones will be closer to the battlefield. Read the rest of this entry »
When Chérif and Saïd Kouachi attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7, killing 12 people, they were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and could easily outgun the police officers who tried to apprehend them with pistols. Their associate, Amedy Coulibaly, had an even greater collection of military-grade weapons.
The size of the trio’s armory has prompted an urgent inquiry into the scale of gun smuggling in Europe, where weapons are smuggled into the European Union from the countries of former Yugoslavia, Albania and elsewhere and then moved without any further border checks to where they will get the best price. Most of the smuggling is carried out by criminal gangs but many jihadis such as Coulibaly are well connected with criminal networks.
Despite the Paris attacks, it seems the weapons are still flowing freely through Europe. Brian Donald, chief of staff for Europol, which coordinates cross-border actions…
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Denmark Earmarked $9.2 Million Over the Next Three Years for Programs to De-Radicalize Islamic Extremists
The European Union’s anti-terror chief called Tuesday for countries to rehabilitate rather than punish returning jihadis with no blood on their hands, saying that some prisons have become “incubators of radicalization.”
“If we can avoid prison, let’s avoid prison.”
EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove said in an interview with The Associated Press that “if we can avoid prison, let’s avoid prison.”
And even if true criminals among the returnees need to be punished with jail time, “I don’t advise to bring them all to court because it would be a mistake,” De Kerchove said.
Since the Jan. 7-9 Paris attacks that killed 20 people, including the three gunmen, dozens of people have been charged in France with defending terrorism. Several were almost immediately convicted under special measures for immediate sentencing. Inciting terrorism can bring a five-year prison term — or up to seven years for inciting terrorism online.
“We know how much jails are major incubators of radicalization. Much better, provided they accept to do that, they undertake major rehabilitation.”
France recently expanded prison terms for terrorism-related offenses, but the country was still caught off-guard when a member of a jihadi network worked in tandem with his brother and a former jailhouse acquaintance during three days of attacks in the Paris region.
“Many countries rely on repression but punitive methods are a recipe to create resentment toward the society.”
— Gilles de Kerchove
“These people got radicalized in prison,” De Kerchove said.
And for those who are convicted, he suggests jails be designed “in a way that they are not in contact with petty criminals” and instead can meet with moderate imams. Belgium is already working on such plans.
A major challenge facing the authorities is to collect evidence against foreign fighters traveling to conflict-torn Syria that would stand up in European courts. Read the rest of this entry »
— National Review (@NRO) December 24, 2014
Frances Martel reports: The women of the Kurdish People‘s Protection Units (YPJ) fighting the Islamic State on the front lines in Iraq and Syria have a message for the rest of the world: ISIS is not just a threat to them, but “a threat to humanity.” 60 Minutes Australia embedded with YPJ forces in Iraq and Syria and found a tough-as-nails force willing to die to save the world from radical Islam.
“All of us wanted to live a safe life, to go complete our studies and have boyfriends … but we live in an emergency situation.”
“My first responsibility as a female commander is to prove women anywhere can have a will and a reason to exist,” says one YPG commander to 60 Minutes reporter Tara Brown, explaining that their fight is not one just to save the Middle East and comparing the Islamic State to a “cancer.” She says the soldiers have no “personal fear” on the battlefield, though they do have “a fear for our society and culture.”
The YPJ have one significant advantage against their male counterparts, which has aided their success against jihadists: ISIS terrorists believe that they earn an eternity in Heaven and their own bevy of virgins upon dying in the name of Allah, but such privileges are revoked and they are condemned to shame, rather than awarded martyrdom, if they fall at the hands of a woman. Read the rest of this entry »
In swaths of Syria now controlled by ISIS/ISIL , children can no longer study math or social studies. Sports are out of the question. And students will be banned from learning about elections and democracy.
Instead, they’ll be subjected to the teachings of the radical Islamist group. And any teacher who dares to break the rules “will be punished.”
ISIS/ISIL revealed its new educational demands in fliers posted on billboards and on street poles. The Sunni militant group has captured a slew of Syrian and Iraqi cities in recent months as it tries to establish a caliphate, or Islamic state, spanning Sunni parts of both countries.
In the letter, ISIS/ISIL said alternative courses will be added.
It also said teachers must erase the phrase Syrian Arab Republic — the official name of Syria — and replace it with Islamic State, which is what ISIS calls itself.
Educators cannot teach nationalistic…
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Shorter Obama administration: We’re not at war with ISIS, we’re at war with the English language
— David A. Graham (@GrahamDavidA) September 11, 2014
David A. Graham’s timely tweet (
is that an original epigram, David? Update: he confirms it is) reminded me of this item from a few years ago, a reference to an ancient figure, before Reagan, before Clinton and Bush, even way back before Lyndon Johnson.
[Also see – John Kerry: America Isn’t at War with ISIS]
From a column by Roger Kimball…
March 27th, 2011, Roger Kimball writes:
…what Obama’s minions are calling our “kinetic military activity” in Libya, I noted that the folks presiding over Orwell’s Newspeak would have liked the phrase “kinetic military activity.” As a mendacious and evasive euphemism for “war” it is hard to beat. But Orwell is not the only important thinker the Obama administration’s assault on the English language brings to mind. There is also Confucius.
…Asked by a disciple how to rule a state properly, Confucius replies that it begins with rectifying the names:
“If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be conducted successfully. When affairs cannot be conducted successfully, propriety will not flourish. When propriety does not flourish, punishments will not be properly meted out. When punishments are not properly meted out, the people will not know how to conduct themselves.”
That was written about 475 B.C. When will we catch up with its wisdom?
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) September 11, 2014
The politically correct version of the September 11 attacks holds that the Muslim world rejected such violence as un-Islamic and condemned the attacks. This is not true. The Muslim world celebrated the attacks.
I took a trip to Egypt a few years ago to do the usual tourist lap around the pyramids and up the Nile. Our guide was a Coptic Christian. During a quiet moment in Cairo, I asked him what the Egyptian reaction was to Sep 11. He said they celebrated. They marvelled at the cleverness of the attackers and considered it quite a victory. After a month, the government decided that such public celebrations of American deaths were not in its best interests and prohibited them. That stopped them cold, though they continued behind closed doors.
Here are some anecdotes of those celebrations, anecdotes that never seemed to have been picked up by the liberal media.
In Germany, Muslims celebrated with rockets…
Whooping It Up: In Beirut, even Christians celebrated the atrocity
Wall Street Journal; Saturday, September 22, 2001 12:01 a.m. EDTBEIRUT–Where were you on Sept. 11, when terrorists changed the world? I was at the National Museum here, enjoying the wonders of the ancient Phoenicians with my husband. This tour of past splendor only magnified the shock I received later when I heard the news and saw the reactions all around me. Read the rest of this entry »
A U.S. security team in Benghazi was held back from immediately responding to the attack on the American diplomatic mission on orders of the top CIA officer there, three of those involved told Fox News’ Bret Baier.
Their account gives a dramatic new turn to what the Obama administration and its allies would like to dismiss as an “old story” – the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
“I strongly believe if we’d left immediately, they’d still be alive today.”
Speaking out publicly for the first time, the three were security operators at the secret CIA annex in Benghazi – in effect, the first-responders to any attack on the diplomatic compound. Their first-hand account will be told in a Fox News special, airing Friday night at 10 p.m. (EDT).
“We were told to wait, stand– and stand down. We were delayed three times.”
Based on the new book “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi” by Mitchell Zuckoff with the Annex Security Team, the special sets aside the political spin that has freighted the Benghazi issue for the last two years, presenting a vivid, compelling narrative of events from the perspective of the men who wore the “boots on the ground.”
The security contractors — Kris (“Tanto”) Paronto, Mark (“Oz”) Geist, and John (“Tig”) Tiegen — spoke exclusively, and at length, to Fox News about what they saw and did that night. Baier, Fox News’ Chief Political Anchor, asked them about one of the most controversial questions arising from the events in Benghazi: Was help delayed?
[“13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi” is available at Amazon.com]
Word of the attack on the diplomatic compound reached the CIA annex just after 9:30 p.m. Within five minutes, the security team at the annex was geared up for battle, and ready to move to the compound, a mile away.
“Five minutes, we’re ready,” said Paronto, a former Army Ranger. “It was thumbs up, thumbs up, we’re ready to go.” Read the rest of this entry »
“I would say this: Something needs to be done to respond to this brutal murder. I think we have to take a stronger stand with the Islamic State.”
Via The Corner:
GlobalPost CEO Philip Balboni told MSNBC he is confident that the U.S. government “tried very hard,” and he has communicated with officials since Foley was kidnapped in November 2012. In light of Foley’s death, though, the government must do more, he said.
“I would say this: Something needs to be done to respond to this brutal murder.”
“I’m not an expert — I don’t know what exactly should be done — but this brutal murder of an American citizen cannot go unanswered,” he said…(read more)
foxnews.com reports: The Obama administration said Tuesday that it was working to confirm the authenticity of a newly-released video that purportedly shows the killing of American freelance journalist James Foley by Islamic State militants.
“We know that many of you are looking for confirmation or answers. Please be patient until we all have more information, and keep the Foleys in your thoughts and prayers.”
White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the administration has seen the video. She said that if it’s deemed genuine by the intelligence community, the U.S. would be “appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American journalist.”
Fox News has learned that the video, which is being taken seriously by U.S. officials, is being analyzed by a special group within the US intelligence community that specializes in media exploitation. The group, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, is believed to have other Americans in their custody.
The release of the video allegedly showing his death comes amid a U.S. airstrike campaign against Islamic State targets in Iraq. ISIS has declared an Islamic state in the territory it controls in Iraq and neighboring Syria, imposing its harsh interpretation of Islamic law. Read the rest of this entry »
Philip Kendall writes: Last Saturday on the resort island of Bali, 23-year-old Megan Young claimed victory for the Philippines and was crowned Miss World 2013. Promising to be the “best Miss World ever,” the model and actress shed tears of joy as the audience cheered, applauded and waved paper flags — a stark contrast to the angry and threatening atmosphere felt in Jakarta during the weeks prior to the contest.
The 63rd annual Miss World event was originally due to be held in the outskirts of the Indonesian capital, but was relocated to Bali as a result of weeks of protests from groups such as the Islamic Defenders Front and fears of terrorist attacks. Protestors carrying signs and placards reading such things as “Miss World Go To Hell” and “Miss World is a whore contest” had become a common sight, and many were concerned that the crowds would become violent.
In an effort to placate demonstrators, the Miss World committee removed the bikini round from the contest and replaced it with a much tamer “beach wear” event, in which the contestants instead wore sarongs that partly covered their legs. The move was met with indifference by Muslim groups, however, who believe that women should not put any part of their body other than their hands and face on display. Read the rest of this entry »