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67 items tagged "Islamic State"

Results 1 - 67 of 67

ISIS Truck Bomb Devastates Baghdad Market, Killing 38

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 13 August 2015 10:19
Aftermath of a Baghdad bombing - ReutersA truck bomb ripped through a market in a Shiite-majority area of north Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least 38 people, security and medical officials said, according to AFP. 
 
The early morning blast in a wholesale vegetable market in the Sadr City area, one of the deadliest single attacks to hit the Iraqi capital in months, also wounded at least 74 people, the officials said.
 
The bomb went off at around 6:00 a.m. (0300 GMT), peak time for shops buying vegetables for the day.
 
The bombing devastated the market, killing horses used to transport vegetables, burning vehicles and leaving produce strewn in the street. Medics were at the scene of the blast collecting human remains, an AFP photographer said. 
 
Several hours after the blast, the Islamic State jihadist group claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in an online statement that it had carries out "blessed operation" in Sadr City. 
 
ISIS frequently targets Shiites, whom it considers to be heretics. In a bid to cause maximum casualties, the jihadists often strike areas such as markets and cafes where crowds of people gather.
 
ISIS overran large parts of Iraq in June 2014, and Iraqi forces have been battling to drive the jihadists back with support from a US-led coalition and Iran.

Syrian Rebels Execute ISIS Fighters in 'Retribution'

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 02 July 2015 12:37
Syrian Rebels Execute ISIS FightersA Syrian rebel group operating around Damascus has executed 18 alleged members of the Islamic State group in a video
mimicking the extremist organization's own macabre productions.
 
The video, which emerged overnight, AFP reported, shows fighters from Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) wearing the orange prison clothes that ISIS victims often sport.
 
The ISIS prisoners however are wearing black clothes and chained together wearing ankle and hand shackles with metal balls attached.
 
The nearly 20-minute production mimics many aspects of ISIS's own execution videos, with similar sound effects and visuals.
 
Jaysh al-Islam fighters in the video say the ISIS forces are being executed in part as revenge for the deaths of at least three of the rebel group's members who were beheaded by ISIS.
 
The rebel group also refers to a major battle it fought with ISIS in February.
 
It accuses ISIS of being allied with President Bashar al-Assad's regime against its fighters and those of other Islamist rebel groups.
 
The video includes starkly sectarian language, accusing ISIS of betraying Sunni Muslims and allying with Shiite Muslims and "Nusayris," a derogatory terms for the Alawite sect to which Assad belongs.
 
It also contains lengthy "confessions" from ISIS fighters who claim that they did not fight against the Syrian army while with ISIS.
 
The interrogations appear intended to show that ISIS has focused its fight on other opposition forces, rather than the Syrian government.
 
The last part of the video shows the 18 ISIS fighters in black, kneeling before Jaysh al-Islam executioners who shoot them in the head. The shots are filmed from multiple angles and include gruesome close-ups. 
 
The Islamic State group emerged in Syria in 2013, when it sought to merge with Al-Qaeda's local affiliate Al-Nusra Front.
 
But Al-Nusra refused, and ISIS has since been at odds with the group as well as Islamist and moderate rebels. In the area around Damascus, its forces have battled Jaysh al-Islam and other rebel organizations.
 
Last week, a video emerged showing ISIS jihadists beheading 12 men from rival groups, among them at least three from Jaysh al-Islam and one from Al-Nusra.

Kurds Regain Full Control of Tal Abyad from ISIS

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 02 July 2015 11:23
Kurds Regain Full Control of Tal AbyadSyrian Kurdish forces regained full control of Tal Abyad on Wednesday, expelling Islamic State fighters who had seized a district of the strategic border town, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
 
"Kurdish fighters expelled ISIS from the Mashur al-Fawqani district that they had captured yesterday (Tuesday)," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Observatory. 
 
He said at least three fighters of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and four ISIS jihadists were killed in clashes on Wednesday.
 
YPG spokesman Redur Khalil confirmed that the town had been secured. "The Daesh group that entered the Mashur al-Fawqani district... was eliminated completely and expelled from the area," he told AFP, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.
 
He said three ISIS fighters had been killed in the fighting, and a fourth died detonating an explosive belt.
 
Tal Abyad, on the border with Turkey, was formerly an ISIS stronghold, which served as a key conduit for the group to bring in weapons and fighters, and export black market oil.
 
But just over two weeks ago, Kurdish forces, backed by Syrian rebel allies and US-led air strikes, seized the town from the extremist group.
 
ISIS forces launched a surprise attack against the town on Tuesday, overrunning the Mashur al-Fawqani district in heavy fighting.
 
But by late Wednesday morning, the town was back under full Kurdish control, the Observatory said.

ISIS Starts Second Year of its 'Caliphate'

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 30 June 2015 13:16
ISIS-gunmanThe Islamic State (ISIS) group's "caliphate" enters its second year Monday with the jihadists expanding their territory in Syria and Iraq and their global reach by claiming attacks in Tunisia and Kuwait.
 
The extremist group headed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced on June 29, 2014 that it was reviving a form of Islamic government known as the "caliphate," pledging it would "remain and expand."
 
In the year since, the group has gained more territory in Syria and Iraq despite an attempted fightback supported by a US-led coalition air campaign.
 
It has also attracted a string of affiliates - in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere - and sought to project fear on an international scale.
 
Last week, the group claimed responsibility for the attack in Tunisia in which 38 people, mostly foreign tourists, were killed at a seaside resort. And it said it was behind a suicide bomb attack against a Shi'ite mosque in Kuwait that killed 26 people.
 
ISIS also appeared to be the inspiration for an attack in France in which a man rammed his van into a gas factory and beheaded his boss.
 
"It's not clear that these actions are centrally planned or coordinated by ISIS," said Yezid Sayegh, a senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center think tank.
 
"That said, we may be seeing the start of a long campaign conducted by ISIS members or sympathizers who have been trained and then sent back home to their countries to take their own initiative in planning and conducting attacks, depending on their abilities, resources, and opportunities."
 
Thousands murdered by ISIS
 
Already, ISIS has inspired fear and horror with its rule over territory in Syria and Iraq, where mass killings and brutal executions have become its hallmarks.
 
The group controls about 50% of Syria's territory, though much of it is uninhabited, and perhaps a third of Iraq.
 
In Syria alone, it has executed more than 3,000 people in the year since announcing its "caliphate," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said on Sunday.
 
Nearly 1,800 of them were civilians, including 74 children, it said.
 
They include more than 200 people killed in the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane during an ISIS attack last week, and over 900 members of the Sunni Muslim Shaitat tribe who were killed in 2014 after opposing the jihadist group.
 
There are no reliable figures in Iraq, but the group is believed to have executed thousands there, including as many as 1,700 mostly Shi'ite recruits at the Speicher military base near Tikrit.
 
Thousands more have died battling ISIS in Syria and Iraq, including Syrian rebels and government forces, Kurdish fighters in both countries, and Iraqi government troops and Shi'ite militias.
 
But few of those forces have had much success against the group, with the Iraqi army in particular facing criticism for abandoning territory to ISIS during a push by the jihadist group in mid-2014.
 
Military, political failures
 
Iraqi government forces have "no clear command structure," said Zaid al-Ali, author of "The Struggle For Iraq's Future."
 
"Clearly Baghdad should have enough forces at its disposal to control territory, but not all the anti-ISIS forces take their instructions from Baghdad," he added. "Some operate as they please, some take instructions from elsewhere."
 
In Syria meanwhile, only Kurdish forces backed by the US-led coalition have been able to effectively tackle the group, with analysts saying opposition forces and the regime appear to lack the weapons or the resolve to fight the jihadists.
 
Even the anti-ISIS coalition, which is carrying out air strikes in Syria and Iraq and training Iraqi troops on the ground, has had limited success.
 
It has helped ground forces push ISIS from Kobane and Tal Abyad in Syria, and Tikrit and Diyala province in Iraq. But the group has continued to score shocking victories, including the recent capture of Syria's ancient town of Palmyra and the taking of the Iraqi city of Ramadi in mid-May.
 
"The international mobilisation against Daesh has been minimal," said Sayegh, using the Arabic acronym for the group.
 
"But it may be that they cannot do more, because the return of 150,000 US troops to the battlefield is out of the question."
 
Ultimately analysts say ISIS's success is as much the result of political problems as it is military shortcomings.
 
ISIS has emerged because of "the failure of Syria and Iraq and the sectarian divisions in them, as well as corruption and decades of authoritarian rule," Sayegh said.

Islamic State Making Gains Across Syria

Category: News
Created on Friday, 26 June 2015 19:18
Islamic State Across SyriaIslamic State terrorists reentered the Syrian Kurdish battleground town of Kobane on Thursday, detonating a suicide bomb and battling Kurdish forces, a monitoring group said, according to AFP. 
 
"ISIS detonated a suicide bomb in the area near the border crossing with Turkey, killing at least five people," said Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman.
 
"Fierce clashes erupted afterwards in the centre of the town and there are bodies lying in the streets," he added, without giving a specific toll.
 
He said fighting was still raging on Thursday morning.
 
ISIS battled for some four months to seize Kobane but Kurdish fighters backed by US-led air strikes secured control of the border town in January in a symbolic defeat for the jihadists.
 
The terror group which controls large swathes of territory in both Iraq and Syria also made other strides in Syria on Thursday, the Observatory said. 
 
Overnight Wednesday ISIS terrorists entered the northeastern Syrian city of Hasakeh, seizing two neighborhoods from government forces in heavy clashes. 
 
At least 30 regime loyalists and 20 IS jihadists were killed in the fighting, which continued into Thursday morning. 
 
"Heavy fighting is continuing, with shelling by both sides," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said. "Civilians in those areas and nearby are fleeing to the northern parts of the city. 
 
Control of Hasakeh, a provincial capital, is divided between Kurdish militia and government loyalists.
 
ISIS has sought repeatedly to enter Hasakeh, including earlier this month when it advanced to the southern outskirts of the city before regime forces pushed it back in heavy fighting.

Iraq Exhumes 500 Bodies from ISIS Massacre in Tikrit

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 28 May 2015 19:16
500 Bodies from ISIS Massacre in TikritIraq has exhumed the remains of 470 people believed to have been executed by Islamic State terrorists near Tikrit last year in what is known as the Speicher massacre, the health minister said Thursday, AFP reported.
 
"We have exhumed the bodies of 470 Speicher martyrs from burial sites in Tikrit," Adila Hammoud said at a press conference in Baghdad, referring to the nearby military base that the massacre was named after.
 
In June 2014, armed men belonging or allied to the Islamic State group abducted hundreds of young, mostly Shiite recruits from Speicher base, just outside the city of Tikrit.
 
They were then lined up in several locations and executed one by one, as shown in pictures and footage that has emerged since.
 
Some were pushed into the Tigris river, others hastily buried in locations that were discovered when government and allied forces retook Tikrit from the jihadists about two months ago.
 
The highest estimate for the number of people killed in one of the worst atrocities ever committed by ISIS stands at 1,700.
 
"These bodies come from four burial sites... One of them was bigger than the others and contained 400," said Ziad Ali Abbas, the chief doctor at Baghdad's main morgue.
 
He said forensic examination of the exhumed remains was conducted with foreign assistance, including from the International Committee of the Red Cross.
 
Hundreds of families whose sons, fathers and brothers went missing at the time of the ISIS-led offensive in Iraq have been waiting for confirmation that their loved ones were among the Speicher victims.
 
Officials at Thursday's press conference said the first list of names would be released next week.

UNESCO: Palmyra Destruction 'Enormous Loss to Humanity'

Category: Archeology and History
Created on Friday, 22 May 2015 16:00
PalmyraThe destruction of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Palmyra would be an "enormous loss to humanity", the head of the organization warned Thursday after Islamic State seized the ancient Syrian city.
 
"Palmyra is an extraordinary World Heritage site in the desert and any destruction to Palmyra (would be) not just a war crime but ... an enormous loss to humanity," Irina Bokova said in a video published by the Paris-based group, AFP reported.
 
She added that she was "extremely worried" about recent events there and reiterated an appeal for an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of military forces.
 
"At the end of the day, it's the birthplace of human civilization. It belongs to the whole of humanity and I think everyone today should be worried about what is happening," added the UNESCO chief.
 
Earlier Thursday, Islamic State terrorists seized full control of the city, putting the world heritage site and its priceless artifacts at risk of destruction.
 
ISIS, notorious for demolishing archaeological treasures since declaring a "caliphate" last year straddling Iraq and Syria, fought its way
into Palmyra on foot after breaking through in the city's north.
 
Bokova urged the international community, including the United Nations Security Council and religious leaders, to launch an appeal to stop the violence.
 
"It is important because we are speaking about the birth of human civilization, we are speaking about something that belongs to the whole of
humanity."

ISIS 'Conquers Rome' - On Twitter

Category: News
Created on Monday, 18 May 2015 13:36
ISIS Conquers RomeIslamic State (ISIS) has carried out its threats to invade Rome, according to photos making the rounds on social media.
 
In the photos, one or more people are seen taking a form of 'selfie' involving Italian landmarks and Islamic texts, along with the phrase "Islamic state in Rome." 
 
It is impossible to verify whether the photos are from an actual ISIS supporter or a highly sophisticated internet troll, but the messages have still registered on the radar of anti-terror group SITE. 
 
Most of the photos were posted in April, but they have been brought back to the public eye after a Libyan official told BBC Sunday that ISIS jihadists were actively infiltrating Europe by being smuggled across the Mediterranean Sea as "migrants" or "refugees" seeking asylum. Italy, in particular, insisted as far back as February that ISIS was slowly invading on small boats. 
 
That same month, an ISIS text gave detailed plans to wannabe jihadists how to utilize "sleeper cells" in Europe to form an army and take over the continent from within, using the pro-Palestinian movement as a front; the text explicitly vowed on the group's behalf to conquer Rome by 2020. 

ISIS Terrorists Sneaking into Europe as 'Migrants'

Category: Reports
Created on Sunday, 17 May 2015 17:45
Terrorists Sneaking into EuropeIslamic State (ISIS) terrorists are being smuggled into Europe, a Libyan advisor told BBC Sunday, with cooperation of gangs in the Mediterranean. 
 
Abdul Basit Haroun stated that smugglers have been ferrying jihadists to Europe among migrants on refugee boats, with ISIS authorities in North Africa allowing the smugglers to continue their work in exchange - as well as in exchange for half their income. 
 
Haroun insisted that the plan is being carried out due to European Union (EU) police not checking who is and who is not a migrant during naval inspections, and that ISIS terrorists often sit separately. 
 
The EU border control agency Frontex admitted earlier this year that it was possible jihadists were using migration routes to infiltrate European borders.
 
Both Egypt and Italy have warned Europe about terrorists sneaking into its borders on refugee boats, but several experts have waved the warnings off as being motivated by political agendas.
 
In Egypt's case, for example, one expert told BBC that the cries are being seen as an attempt to gain international intervention. 
 
According to BBC, 218,000 people crossed the Mediterranean by boat in 2014 and migrated to Europe from Africa. As many as 60,000 people have made the trip in 2015. 
 
The flow of migrants from Africa gained international attention last month, after two boats carrying hundreds of people capsized in the ocean waters. 

ISIS's Second-in-Command Eliminated

Category: Reports
Created on Friday, 15 May 2015 15:23
abd-al-rahman-mustafa-al-qaduliIslamic State (ISIS)'s second-in-command has been killed in a US-led airstrike in the Iraqi city of Tal Afar, the Iraqi Defense Ministry stated Wednesday. 
 
Abdul Rahman Mustafa Mohammed, also known as Abu Alaa al-Afri, was in a mosque struck by US and coalition forces, they said. According to Iraqi government spokesman Tahsin Ibrahim, he was meeting dozens of terrorists in the area, the BBC reported. 
 
Neither the US military or ISIS itself has confirmed the report. 
 
Mohammed has been named as ISIS's "acting leader" after its official chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was injured in an airstrike in March. Recent reports indicate that Baghdadi's spinal injures may have permanently incapacitated him, according to the Telegraph. 
 
Last week, Washington offered a $20 million reward for information on Mohammed and three other ISIS leaders, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili, and Tariq Bin-al-Tahar Bin al Falih al-'Awni al-Harzi.

48 Dead as ISIS Seizes Town in Homs Province

Category: News
Created on Friday, 15 May 2015 15:11
48 Dead in Homs ProvinceIslamic State has seized large parts of a strategically located town in Syria's central Homs province in clashes that killed 48 soldiers and terrorists, a monitor said Wednesday, according to AFP.
 
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the extremist group had captured areas of Al-Sukhnah and its surroundings in fighting that began overnight.
 
The town lies on the highway that leads from eastern Deir Ezzor province, an ISIS stronghold, to the ancient town of Palmyra.
 
Palmrya is controlled by the regime and home to spectacular Greco-Roman ruins that are listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
 
"The Islamic State managed to advance in Al-Sukhnah and take control of large parts of the town and the surrounding areas," the Britain-based Observatory said, adding that clashes were continuing Wednesday.
 
The group said at least 28 regime forces - soldiers and pro-government militants - and 20 ISIS fighters had been killed in the battles. More than 100 fighters from both sides were wounded, the monitor said.
 
Located in central Syria, control of Homs province is divided.
 
The provincial capital is almost completely under regime control, but opposition forces and ISIS control large parts of the surrounding countryside and desert.
 
ISIS has a significant presence in the desert region in the east of the province bordering Deir Ezzor, which is a stronghold of the terror group and forms part of its self-proclaimed Islamic "caliphate" in Syria and Iraq.
 
Homs is Syria's largest province and is particularly important for the government as it also neighbors Damascus province, where the capital is located.
 
It is also home to the key Shaar gas field, which is now back in government hands after IS fighters overran it last year, reportedly slaughtering several hundred government troops there.

ISIS Mobilizing in Gaza

Category: Reports
Created on Thursday, 14 May 2015 13:49
ISIS MobilizingPalestinian Authority (PA) security officials have warned that Islamic State is acting to mobilize in Gaza to serve as an extension of its activities in the Sinai Peninsula. 
 
Journalist Gal Berger reports that the PA knows of eight extremist Salafi groups operating in Gaza in recent years with several hundred members total. 
 
Many of these are former Hamas members who left the organization after it decided to participate in PA "elections" and to integrate into the Palestinian government.
 
Salafi activity is being compartmentalized into different roles in Gaza and funding is allegedly coming from within. 
 
Hamas sources stated that there are several dozens of Salafi activists who have pledged sole allegiance to ISIS, but added that they "do not pose a serious threat" to stability in the region. 
 
Berger noted that a senior member of the Salafi movement in Gaza, named as Adnan Mitt, was arrested last month. Mitt is a former Hamas member. 
 
Last week, sources stated to Maariv that ISIS is threatening to declare war on Hamas and take over Gaza from within. 

ISIS Threatens to 'Cut the Throats' of Houthi Rebels in Yemen

Category: News
Created on Monday, 27 April 2015 20:16
HouthisYemen is in the midst of bloody civil war between Iran-affiliated Houthi rebels and forces associated with President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, but now a new threat has struck the war-torn country. 
 
In a video posted online Friday, the Iraq-based Islamic State states it is establishing a new arm of the organization in Yemen
 
Declaring its official presence in the country, the Sunni Islamic State threatens to "cut the throats" of the Shitte Houthi rebels.
 
The nine-minute video depicts around two dozen ISIS terrorists in full military gear training in a desert area, which they claim is near Yemen's capital Sanaa, news site RT reported. 
 
Terrorists carry AK-47s, heavy machine guns and RPGs, which they fire in the clip. 
 
Afterwards, a man, who appears to be the commander of the group, sticks the notorious black ISIS flag into the sand and announces that "soldiers of the Caliphate" have arrived to "cut the throats" of the Houthis.
 
"We have come to Yemen to slaughter you, with men hungry for your blood to avenge the Sunnis and take back the land they have occupied," the ISIS commander continued. 
 
He then called on all Sunni men in Yemen to join Islamic State's battle against the Houthis. 
 
According to an Al-Sharq Al-Awsat report on Monday, ISIS has indeed increased its presence in the east of the country and is aiming to mobilize supporters against the Shiite militia which controls most of the country's major provinces. 

Palestinians Repel ISIS in Syrian Refugee Camp

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 05 April 2015 21:05
Fighters in Yarmouk campReutersPalestinian fighters and Syrian rebels retook control Thursday of large parts of a refugee camp in Damascus that had been seized by Islamic State terrorists, a monitoring group said, according to AFP. 
 
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a number of armed groups in the Yarmouk camp in south Damascus "were able to regain control over all of the areas that ISIS had taken over."
 
The terrorists overran the camp on Wednesday, raising fears for thousands of civilians inside and giving ISIS a potential beachhead inside Syria's capital.
 
But armed Palestinian groups, backed by local rebels, launched a fightback later in the day.
 
"Syrian rebel groups entered the camp and helped the Palestinians push back ISIS in fierce clashes," said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Observatory.
 
Anwar Abdel Hadi, director of political affairs for the Palestine Liberation Organization in Damascus, said ISIS had been pushed "to the periphery" of the camp.
 
He said Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis, a group loyal to Palestinian terror group Hamas, had clashed with ISIS overnight.
 
Six people were killed and 17 injured, he said, but he could not provide details on the toll.
 
The Britain-based Observatory said IS still controlled "some areas" in the camp and put the death toll at three.
 
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said it was "extremely concerned" about the safety of civilians in Yarmouk.
 
"UNRWA estimates that there are some 3,500 children among the 18,000 civilians living in Yarmouk. The intense armed clashes put these children at risk of serious injury and death," UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said.
 
Yarmouk, located only about six kilometers (four miles) from downtown Damascus, was once a thriving home to 160,000 Palestinian refugees and Syrians.
 
But it has been devastated by fighting and a tight blockade imposed by the army nearly two years ago that created dire humanitarian conditions.

ISIS Chemical Weapon Attack - in Indonesia?

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 25 March 2015 08:30
ISIS Chemical Weapon AttackIndonesian terrorists believed to have returned from fighting with the Islamic State (ISIS) group in Syria are suspected of being behind an attempted chlorine bomb attack in a shopping mall last month, police said Wednesday.
 
The homemade device - made up of several bottles and a detonator - was discovered in the mall south of Jakarta after it failed to go off properly. 
 
Police said it was the first such attack ever attempted in Indonesia.
 
National Police Inspector General, Tito Karnavian, said the use of the chlorine resembled tactics employed by ISIS jihadists, who have taken over a vast swath of territory in Syria and Iraq.
 
"It really surprised us," said the former commander of the police's elite counter-terror unit.
 
"This is a signature of ISIS," he added, referring to the jihadists by an alternative name. "It is connected to a group likely already returned from Syria."
 
He said police were pursuing "very good leads" into the bomb attempt but would not reveal further details. Exposure to chlorine gas causes intense irritation to the eyes, skin and airways, and can be deadly.
 
ISIS has been accused of using chlorine, notably in a January 23 car bomb attack on Kurdish forces in Iraq. The Syrian regime has also been accused of carrying out chlorine gas attacks.
 
Indonesia, a hotbed of extremist violence in the past, has largely dismantled the Islamic terrorist networks responsible for a string of deadly
attacks throughout the country in the early 2000s.
 
But the rise of ISIS poses a new threat, with nearly 160 Indonesians confirmed by police as having left to join ISIS, and authorities worried about the potential for radicals to revive extremist groups on their return.
 
Indonesian anti-terror police this week arrested five men who allegedly arranged for a group of mostly women and children to try and enter Syria to join ISIS.

Iraqi Forces Won't Be Rushed Into Final Assault on Tikrit

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 14 March 2015 09:20
Iraqi soldiers and Shia militiamen - ReutersIraqi commanders said Thursday that time was on their side as government forces tighten their siege of Tikrit and warned they would not be rushed into a final assault.
 
Since the operation to retake Tikrit from Islamic State was launched at the start of the month, thousands of troops and militia have reconquered the land around the city.
 
On Wednesday, they moved deep into Tikrit's sprawling northern district of Qadisiyah and closed in on the few hundred terrorist fighters holed up in the city center.
 
But Police Staff Major General Bahaa al-Azzawi said that despite their superior numbers and firepower, government forces would refrain from advancing too fast to avoid unnecessary losses.
 
"We don't want to be rushed because we want to avoid casualties," he told AFP in Albu Ajil, a village from which Tikrit can be seen across the Tigris river. "Tikrit is sealed off from all sides."
 
Hadi al-Ameri, the commander of the volunteer Popular Mobilization units, told reporters on the front lines late Wednesday that there was no way out for the ISIS fighters trapped in Tikrit.
 
"They have two choices, surrender or death," said Ameri, whose Badr organization is one of the largest Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Iraq and controls the interior ministry.
 
"We do not need to attack. That could lead to victims in the ranks of the fighters," he said.
 
An AFP correspondent in Albu Ajil reported sporadic shelling of Tikrit by government forces on Thursday.
 
None of the Iraqi fighting forces involved in the battle have provided casualty figures since the start of the operation to wrest back Tikrit, the largest since ISIS captured the city nine months ago.
 
Dozens of bodies are being driven down to Baghdad and the Shiite holy city of Najaf almost every day, however, and, while government forces have had the upper hand, ISIS has done damage with suicide car bombs, booby traps and snipers.

Coalition Must Save Iraq Heritage Sites

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 08 March 2015 20:22
Iraq Heritage SitesThe US-led coalition carrying out air strikes against the Islamic State group must try to protect archaeological sites being destroyed by the jihadists, Iraq's tourism and antiquities minister said Sunday.
 
ISIS recently smashed priceless artifacts at the Mosul museum, then bulldozed the city of Nimrud, which was founded in the 13th century BC.
 
The jihadists may now have turned their attention to the extremely well preserved fortress city Hatra, which is over 2,000 years old and a UNESCO world heritage site, with the United Nations condemning its reported "destruction."
 
"The sky is not in the hands of the Iraqis, the sky is not in our hands. Therefore, the international community must move with the means it has," Adel Fahad al-Shershab told AFP in Baghdad.
 
"We request aerial support," Shershab said.
 
Asked specifically if he wanted coalition strikes to protect archaeological sites, he responded: "What I request from the international community and the international coalition is to carry out air strikes against terrorism wherever it is found."
 
The attacks on Iraq's archaeological heritage took place in ISIS-held areas in the northern province of Nineveh, where Iraq does not have security forces that are able to respond on the ground.
 
But targeting terrorists destroying archaeological sites would be a departure for the coalition, which is carrying out strikes aimed at weakening ISIS military capabilities in Iraq and neighboring Syria.
 
"The site of Hatra is a site in the desert where it is possible to see any infiltration" from the air, Shershab said of the ancient city, which features a unique blend of eastern and western architecture.
 
"It was expected that they (ISIS) would destroy it," he said.
 
But it remains unclear whether large-scale destruction was carried out at Hatra, whose thick walls and large buildings withstood two Roman invasions in the 2nd century AD.
 
Shershab said his ministry had not been able to officially confirm what had happened because the area is held by ISIS.
 
The jihadists spearheaded a sweeping offensive last June that overran large areas north and west of Baghdad, and Iraqi forces backed by the US-led coalition and Iran are battling to push them back.
 
ISIS tries to justify the destruction of antiquities by saying they are idolatrous, but experts say the group traffics in them to fund its self-proclaimed "caliphate" and destroys only those pieces that are too bulky to be smuggled.
 
Shershab echoed the point on Sunday: "They say 'it is haram' (forbidden by Islam). At the same time they are selling (artifacts) and benefiting financially."
 
The timing of the attacks suggests they are more for propaganda purposes than a matter of religious conviction, as the terrorists have controlled the areas where the sites are located for close to nine months.

Moroccan Mother Arrested for Recruiting Women to ISIS

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 08 March 2015 18:46
iraq-women-afpA Moroccan woman was arrested at a Spanish airport Saturday on suspicion of recruiting European and North African women to join the Islamic State group, authorities said, according to AFP.
 
The suspect, named as Samira Yerou, was sent to Spain by Turkish authorities after they caught her trying to illegally enter Syria, Spain's
interior ministry said. Spain had issued an international arrest warrant for the woman.
 
Spanish authorities, who believe Yerou was seeking to meet up with ISIS, took her into custody after she flew into Barcelona-El Prat Airport.
 
Yerou "could have played an important role in recruiting and sending of women sympathizers of the terrorist group in Europe and Morocco," the ministry said.
 
She was with her three-year-old son when trying to get into Syria. The boy's father filed a complaint when Yerou and the child disappeared from the Spanish city of Rubi, which is near Barcelona, in December.
 
"The child is in perfect health and has been reunited with his father," the ministry said.
 
Like many European countries, Spain is battling against the radicalization of young people seeking to join up with ISIS in Syria and Iraq and it has dismantled several recruitment networks in recent months.
 
Spanish authorities believe about 100 Spaniards have joined Islamists in Iraq and Syria, a relatively low figure when compared with the
number of French, British and German nationals who have sought to fight with the group.
 
Overall, about 550 young women have joined ISIS, according to an estimate from London-based think tank the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.

Kurds Blocking Return of Arabs to Disputed Iraq Areas

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 01 March 2015 10:26
Kurdish peshmerga fighters in Iraq - ReutersKurdish forces have prevented displaced Arabs from returning to disputed areas of Iraq that Kurdish leaders want to incorporate in their autonomous region over Baghdad's objections, a report said Thursday.
 
Human Rights Watch warned the Kurdistan regional government against meting out "collective punishment of entire Arab communities" for the Islamic State terrorist group's attacks, AFP reported. 
 
"Cordoning off Arab residents and refusing to let them return home appears to go well beyond a reasonable security response,"  said Letta Tayler, senior terrorism and counterterrorism researcher at the New York-based rights group.
 
The HRW report said Kurdish forces have for months barred Arabs displaced by last year's ISIS offensive from returning to their homes in disputed areas.
 
Kurds however had been able to return to the same areas and even in some cases allowed to move into the homes of displaced Arabs, the group said.
 
When ISIS terrorists launched a devastating military blitz across Iraq's Sunni Arab heartland in June last year, Kurdish forces moved into the vacuum left by fleeing federal security forces.
 
The move expanded their territory by around 40 percent and gave them control over areas that Kurdish leaders have long sought to add to their three-province autonomous region in the north.
 
Terrorists attacked several of those ethnically and religiously mixed areas in August but Kurdish forces, backed by a Western air campaign, are reclaiming lost ground.
 
Human Rights watch said it had documented "apparently discriminatory acts" in districts of Arbil province within the autonomous region as well as of Nineveh province outside it.
 
It said some Kurdish officials defended the measures by arguing that Sunni Arab residents in the area had supported the jihadist advance and were still collaborating with ISIS.
 
The watchdog said some restrictions against Sunni Arabs had been eased in January but stressed the Kurdish authorities needed to do more.

220 Assyrian Christians Abducted by Islamic State

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 01 March 2015 10:05
220 assyrians abductedIslamic State terrorists have abducted 220 Assyrian Christians from villages in northeastern Syria in recent days, a monitoring group said Thursday, more than twice as many as previously reported.
 
"No fewer than 220 Assyrian citizens (of Syria) were abducted by ISIS over the past three days from 11 villages" in Hasakeh province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
 
"Negotiations are under way through mediators from Arab tribes and a member of the Assyrian community to secure the release of the hostages," the Britain-based monitoring group said.
 
Reports surfaced Wednesday that nearly 100 Assyrian Christians had been kidnapped, prompting terrified families to flee their village homes and take refuge in nearby cities. 
 
Nearly 1,000 Assyrian Christian families have fled their villages in the northeastern province of Hasakeh since Monday's kidnappings, said Osama Edward, director of the Sweden-based Assyrian Human Rights Network.
 
About 800 families have taken refuge in the city of Hasakeh and 150 in Qamishli, a Kurdish city on the border with Turkey, Edward said, adding that the number of displaced individuals came to about 5,000.
 
Most of the hostages were women, children or elderly, he added.
 
Edward told AFP he believed the mass abduction was linked to the ISIS' recent loss of ground in the face of US-led coalition air raids against ISIS that began in Syria in September.
 
"ISIS has been losing territory because of the international coalition's strikes and they took the hostages to use them as human shields," the activist said.
 
The jihadists, who are battling Kurdish fighters on the ground, may try to exchange the Assyrian Christians for ISIS prisoners, according to Edward.
 
He said the aim of the jihadists is to take over the Assyrian Christian village of Tal Tamer, which is located near a bridge over the Khabur river that links Syria to Iraq.
 
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Kurdish fighters battling ISIS terrorists on Wednesday recaptured three Assyrian villages and a nearby Arab village.
 
"The (Kurdish) People's Protection Units (YPG) have reclaimed Tal Shamiran, Tal Masri, Tal Hermel and Ghbeish," said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman, adding that fighting continues in the area. 

Bahrain to Join Fight Against ISIS

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 10 February 2015 20:19
Bahrain to back JordanBahrain's royal ruler told his Jordanian counterpart that he is ready to assist the kingdom in its fight against terror organization Islamic State, the royal palace in Amman said Monday.
 
King Hamad of Bahrain, quoted in a palace statement, told King Abdullah II that he was "proud to provide all the help Jordan needs to combat terrorism and protect Islam from Daesh (ISIS)."
 
Talks between the two monarchs in Amman on Monday focused on reinforcing military cooperation between their countries, notably their air forces, the statement said.
 
Jordan has vowed to intensify its air strikes against ISIS as part of a US-led coalition after ISIS terrorists burned alive one of its pilots captured in December when his F-16 fighter jet went down over Syria.
 
The United Arab Emirates on Sunday deployed a squadron of F-16s in Jordan to support Amman's campaign against the jihadi extremists, who seized large parts of Iraq and Syria last year.

Kurds Seize Back Villages Around Kobane

Category: News
Created on Monday, 09 February 2015 19:28
KurdsSyrian Kurdish forces have recaptured more than a third of the villages around Kobane from the Islamic State terror group since routing the jihadists from the town a fortnight ago, a monitor said Sunday.
 
"The (Kurdish) People's Protection Units (YPG) have recaptured 128 villages out of some 350 in the past two weeks," said Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman.
 
The YPG recaptured Kobane on the border with Turkey from ISIS terrorists on January 26, after four months of fierce fighting backed by Syrian rebels and US-led coalition air strikes.
 
"ISIS withdrew from villages east and south of Kobane mostly without resistance, but fought hard to try to keep control of villages to the west," said Abdel Rahman.
 
"That's because it wants to try to protect areas under its control in Aleppo province. But the Kurds are steadily advancing," he told AFP. 
 
The US-led coalition has been carrying out strikes against ISIS terrorists in Syria since September.
 
In recent days, it has continued to pound ISIS positions around Kobane, while YPG troops backed by Syrian rebels press the fight on the ground.

UN: Violence in Iraq Killed 1,375 in January

Category: News
Created on Monday, 02 February 2015 08:17
Shia Islamist fighter from the Iraqi Badr Brigade militia - ReutersViolence in Iraq killed 1,375 people in January, month eight of the battle against Islamic State terrorists who swept through large areas of the country last summer, the United Nations said Sunday.
 
"A total of 1,375 Iraqis were killed and another 2,240 were wounded in acts of terrorism and violence in January," the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq said.
 
UNAMI said at least 1,101 people were killed in December, capping the most violent year for Iraq since 2007, when sectarian bloodshed between the Shiite majority and Sunni Arab minority was at its peak.
 
The UN mission cautioned that the real toll could be higher as the conflict between Iraqi forces and the Islamic State  group had hampered efforts to verify casualty information.
 
"UNAMI has also received, without being able to verify, reports of large numbers of casualties along with unknown numbers of persons who have died from secondary effects of violence."
 
Figures compiled by the health, interior and defense ministries put the January toll at 1,408 dead and 2,008 wounded, including troops as well as civilians.
 
ISIS spearheaded a lightning offensive last June that overran much of the Sunni Arab heartland north and west of Baghdad.
 
Iraqi federal forces, Kurdish troops, Shiite militiamen and Sunni tribal fighters are all battling against the jihadists.
 
A US-led coalition is carrying out air strikes against ISIS and also advising and training Iraqi forces.

Women Joining ISIS 'Cheerleaders, Not Victims'

Category: Islam
Created on Thursday, 29 January 2015 08:03
the two Italian womenWestern women who join Islamic State terrorists are driven by the same ideological passion as many male recruits and should be seen as potentially dangerous cheerleaders, not victims, experts told AFP. 
 
A new study out on Wednesday said the estimated 550 women who have travelled to Iraq and Syria are expected to marry, keep house and bear children.
 
Despite being banned from fighting, the study found they were active propagandists for the cause.
 
"The violent language and dedication to the cause is as strong as we find in some of the men," said extremism expert Ross Frenett of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, who co-authored the new report.
 
"The worry is that as ISIS loses ground, as everyone hopes it does, that more and more of these women will transfer from the domestic
world they're in now to a more violent one," he told AFP.
 
Much has been written about young women going to become "jihadist brides," but the prevailing narrative of wide-eyed recruits drawn by a sense of excitement belies the importance of their own faith and passions.
 
Frenett and his fellow researchers have been monitoring hundreds of women on social media, but focused for the study on 12 women from Austria, Britain, Canada, France and the Netherlands who are living with ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
 
Some of the women endorsed the bloody beheadings carried out by the terrorists - "I wish I did" it, one said after US journalist Steven Sotloff was killed - as well as railing against Western governments and the suffering of Muslims.
 
"My best friend is my grenade... It's an American one too. May Allah allow me to kill their Kanzeer [pig] soldiers with their own weapons," one said.
 
Crucially, the women also provide advice and encouragement to other women thinking of joining.
 
"They're actively recruiting women and providing them with assistance advice and referrals to go to ISIS-held territory," said Frenett. "And they are acting as cheerleaders for terrorist attacks back home."
 
Driven by adventure, alienation
 
The report echoes work conducted by other researchers about the dangers of radicalised women, a threat given a face during the attacks on Paris earlier this month.
 
Hayat Boumeddiene, the 26-year-old companion of one of the gunmen, fled to Turkey before the attacks and is now in Syria.
 
Afterwards, an old picture emerged of her wearing the full black Islamic robe and headgear, and aiming a crossbow at the camera.
 
Melanie Smith, of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) at King's College London, maintains a database of about 70 female ISIS members.
 
She said British women are inciting attacks by suggesting to people who could not travel to Iraq and Syria, "Why not carry out something at home?"
 
"You can see women online being frustrated about the fact they can't fight and they suggest to each other that they could do something else," she told The Observer newspaper.
 
Jayne Huckerby, associate professor at Duke University School of Law, said in a commentary for The New York Times that women are being driven by the same factors that push men into the arms of the ISIS group.
 
"Despite stereotypes about their domesticity and passivity -- the idea that they must always be under men's influence or tricked into joining -- women are drawn to groups like the Islamic State by many of the same forces as men: adventure, inequality, alienation and the pull of the cause," she said.
 
Despite their passion, many of the women in Frenett's research found it difficult to leave their families behind, and he said this could be key to keeping them at home.
 
"The biggest barrier to them leaving, both emotional and practical, isn't the state -- it's their own families," he said, stressing authorities should better support relatives.
 
He said it was also important to give women who make it to Iraq and Syria a way out if they become disillusioned, which most often happens when their husbands are killed fighting.
 
"There needs to be a path available to them when they come home," he said.

ISIS Urges New Attacks Against Western World

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 27 January 2015 18:42
Terrorist gestures after Charlie Hebdo attack - ReutersThe Islamic State terrorist group urged Muslims on Monday to carry out new attacks after the targeting of France's Charlie Hebdo magazine, in a recording by its spokesman posted online, AFP reports. 
 
Abu Mohamed al-Adnani, referring to attacks in France, Australia, Canada and Belgium, encouraged "Muslims in Europe and the infidel West to attack the Crusaders where they are" with any means available to them. 
 
The ISIS leader recommended Muslims to carry out attacks through suicide bombs, or to commit shootings, stabbings, rock-throwing, and even plain kicking and punching.
 
"We promise that in the Christian bastions they will continue to live in a state of alert, of terror, of fear and insecurity... You have seen nothing yet," the recording said.
 
He added that the group would consider as "enemies" those Muslims who were able to carry out such attacks but failed to do so.
 
al-Adnani also promised that Muslims would soon meet again in Jerusalem and Rome, having successfully won back these holy cities. 
 
The threat is just the latest instance in which the terrorist group has urged Muslims to carry out attacks in the West.
 
It comes after 17 people were killed in deadly assaults on January 7-9 in Paris against the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher supermarket.
 
Of the three attackers, only one appeared to have pledged allegiance to Islamic State, but the group endorsed the killings in the message.
 
It also made reference to attacks last year in Australia, Canada and Belgium.
 
Western intelligence agencies have regularly raised the alarm about the possibility that Western sympathizers of ISIS and other jihadi terrorist groups could carry out attacks in the West.
 
Their concerns have been heightened by the thousands of Western recruits who have flocked to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside ISIS.

Jihad by Civilian

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Monday, 26 January 2015 20:51
PA Arab throws firebomb at Israeli security forces TuesdayJihad has rapidly taken a new and ominous shape.
 
In the past, bombs were exploded—either human homicide bombs or car/truck bombs. Rockets were launched. Unbelievably, planes were once flown into major Western targets.
 
Now, President Obama empowers the radical Islamic world further by refusing to join the words “terrorism” and “Islam” and by insisting that Islam is a religion of “peace.” Obama continues to empower Iran to become a nuclear power and, most fatefully, empowers the recruitment efforts of  The Islamic State.
 
He does so each time he refuses to say that the Free World or the Judeo-Christian West is at war with Islamic barbarianism or with radical political Islam.
 
I once feared and tried to monitor Palestinian and pro-Palestinian surging, potential lynch mobs in the Middle East, in Israel, and globally. The marches and demonstrations, both in the street and on campuses in the West have, over the years, become more aggressive, louder, more entitled.
 
Now, the threat is a more individual one. Radicalized Islamist sleeper-cell individuals, or “lone wolf” jihadists, dressed in civilian clothing, are taking civilians hostage. They do not “look” like traditional soldiers—they dress like the people they hold hostage and like the people they massacre. We have seen this happen recently in Australia and in France.
 
Israel has long been used to this kind of challenge—that of facing warriors dressed as civilians who, in addition, hide behind innocent human shields; when they die in the combat which they began, the West counts them as “civilian” dead. The soldier disguised as a civilian, who is fighting a non-traditional war, is a phenomenon that the world at large has refused to understand as long as the victims are mainly Israelis.
 
Now, more ominously, individuals dressed as civilians are running their cars into crowds yelling “Allahu-Akbar!”
 
They have butchered Jewish rabbis at prayer in West Jerusalem and as of today, one individual Jihadist has stabbed civilians on a bus and on the street. (Such wild stabbings have happened before in Israel).
 
It is important to note that the attack took place in Tel Aviv, not in Hebron. As I have always said: The “settlement” that most offends the Arab world is Tel Aviv; the “settlement” that offends is a Jewish infidel presence in the Islamic world.
 
“It-bak el Yahud”—butcher or slaughter the Jew, is a very up close and barbaric method of homicide. We see the soldiers of the Islamic State be-heading captives and broadcasting their gory deeds. This has attracted sociopaths, angry Muslims and people of color who have converted to Islam and who live in the West.
 
To the extent to which the Free World does not stop the slaughter of the Jews, it will inevitably get to experience this form of “individualized” Jihad in their own countries.
 
Phyllis Chesler01Prof. Phyllis Chesler
The writer, a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum and recipient of the 2013 National Jewish Book Award, is the author of fifteen books, including Women and Madness, Woman's Inhumanity to Woman, and The New Anti-Semitism. She has published three studies about honor killing and is at work on a fourth. Her latest book is An American Bride in Kabul, (Palgrave Macmillan). Professor Chesler may be reached at her website www.phyllis-

More Australian Women Join ISIS

Category: Islam
Created on Sunday, 25 January 2015 08:57
Muslim womanIncreasing numbers of young women are altering the profile of Australians joining the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq and Syria, Attorney-General George Brandis said Saturday, enticed by the "false glamor" of the organization.
 
"At an earlier time, perhaps even six months ago, we were concerned almost entirely about young men," Brandis said, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
 
"But a more recent estimate by the national security agencies suggests that a growing number of young women are traveling to participate in that fighting as well."
 
Brandis said about 90 Australians were now believed to be caught up in the conflict, compared to 70 last year, the ABC reported.
 
Ever more young people were being "enticed and ensnared here in Australia with the false glamour of participating in the civil war on behalf of ISIL, or Daesh," he added, using alternative acronyms for the group.
 
"The Australian people should be aware that this is a real and growing problem."
 
Canberra has passed a law criminalizing travel to terror hotspots without good reason, fearful that nationals will pose a risk when they return radicalized. Under new laws, anyone who heads to nominated areas will face up to 10 years in jail.
 
In December, Senator Brandis accused Islamic terrorists of using foreign fighters as "cannon fodder" and "propaganda tools" as he revealed 20 Australian nationals had been killed in Syria and Iraq, where ISIS controls huge swathes of territory.
 
Young women have been targeted over and over again by the terror group, which recruits women to support its male terrorists and serve as wives, baby-sitters, and mothers to future jihadists.  Two weeks ago, an ISIS cell recruiting women in Morocco on the internet was busted by local police. 

In Iraq, ISIS Leaves Behind Hidden Explosives

Category: News
Created on Friday, 23 January 2015 07:37
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in northern Iraq - ReutersIslamic State terrorists sow death long after they depart, and as Iraqi Kurdish forces regain ground, they - and the civilians returning to their homes - face the threat of unexploded bombs and booby traps.
 
"These people were very imaginative, like devils," said Marwan Sydo Hisn, a Kurdish bomb disposal expert currently based in Sinuni, a town in the northwestern Sinjar area that was recaptured from ISIS fighters in late December.
 
"Look at this one," he said, thumbing through pictures on his smart phone. "We found this massage belt that they had stuffed with a small quantity of explosives, perfectly put back together and set up to explode on the next person to turn it on."
 
One consisted of TNT concealed inside a TV set triggered by the use of a PlayStation controller. Another contraption was a gold ring conspicuously left lying on the floor and rigged to kill its finder.
 
Some houses were webbed with trip wires and lines connecting bombs to doorknobs.
 
"We have a list of 24 different types of devices they used in this area," said Darwish Mussa Ali, another explosives expert.
 
He and his colleague Sydo are both from the Kurdish "asayesh" security service and are the only two experts tasked with clearing explosives from the entire northern side of Mount Sinjar, a 60-kilometer-long (40-mile) ridge near the Syrian border.
 
They were dispatched from their base in Jalawla, at the southeastern end of the Kurds' 1,000-kilometre (620-mile) frontline with the terrorists.
 
"In 24 days, we found 410 devices amounting to more than five tons, mostly IEDs (improvised explosive devices)," Mussa said, referring to the homemade bombs laid on roadsides to target vehicles and hamper any military advance.
 
They received specialized training from American explosive ordnance disposal units before the 2011 US pullout from Iraq, but have very little equipment to perform their dangerous task.
 
"We have no special armor, no robots, no scramblers for mobile communications - just our eyes, our experience and a pair of pliers," Sydo said.
 
Most of his equipment fits in a blue cooler bag, where he also keeps a bundle of detonators, a box-cutter and tape.
 
Lack of experience
 
Their harvest is kept in a damp storage room adjacent to a grocer's and protected only by an old iron rolling door on which the word "danger" is spray-painted in large yellow letters.
 
"Just walk where I walk," said Hadi Khalaf Jirgo, a member of the Kurdish peshmerga security forces who has been assisting the pair.
 
A cigarette dangled from his lips as he reeled out the wire for a controlled detonation of some of the roadside bombs they continue to find,
sometimes at a rate of 30 a day.
 
The blast sent a cloud rising from a gully against the backdrop of Mont Sinjar's snow-covered slopes.
 
The area was wrested back from the jihadists about a month ago but military activity remains intense and civilians are returning faster than authorities can handle.
 
In the first days after the northern side of Mount Sinjar was retaken, eight people were killed in three explosions, Sydo said.
 
The Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency lost four of its staff in a blast during a clearing operation in the nearby Zumar area in October.
 
"Large areas that were recaptured are still not cleared. With regards to IEDs, we have not received special devices and equipment," said IKMAA director Ako Aziz.
 
"Our teams work on the basic experience that they have learned from military engineering regiment teams, which is really not adequate to deal with IEDs," he said.
 
IEDs are the leading cause of death among the more than 750 peshmerga killed since ISIS spearheaded a militant offensive that overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in June.
 
IKMAA has stepped up its awareness effort with billboards telling civilians what to do when they find a suspicious object.
 
But there are only a handful of specialist teams operating across a huge area and struggling to keep up with the fast-changing military map.
 
The unconventional nature of the devices planted by ISIS terrorists also slows down the clearing effort.
 
"They seem to have a high level of expertise in planting those devices, they have some experienced people. So to defuse those devices, you also need a high level of experience," Aziz said.

Five Canadians Killed in Syria Fighting with ISIS

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 18 January 2015 10:52
The face of ISISFive Canadians have died fighting alongside Islamic State terrorists in Syria, including a man who called for lone wolf attacks in Canada, local media reported Wednesday.
 
The National Post said Ottawa-born John Maguire, who joined ISIS terrorists in Syria in January 2013, died Wednesday in the flashpoint town Kobane.
 
In a video message last year, the former University of Ottawa student warned Canada it faces retaliation for participating in United States-led airstrikes against ISIS.
 
Calling himself Abu Anwar al-Canadi, Maguire urged Muslims to follow the example of a driver in a hit-and-run killing of a soldier near Montreal and of a gunman who killed an unarmed soldier in Ottawa.
 
Meanwhile, broadcaster CBC said that four other Canadians from a single family of Somali origin died in recent months while fighting with the Islamic State terrorist organization in Syria.
 
Three of the cousins are thought to have left Canada in October 2013, the CBC reported.
 
Ahmed Hirsi said his 20-year-old son Mahad was killed last fall along with cousins Hamsa and Hersi Kariye.
 
The CBC said another cousin from Minnesota, Hanad Abdullahi Mohallim, was also killed.
 
Hirsi said his son had called him from Egypt to say he was traveling to Syria.
 
Hamsa and Hersi's brother confirmed the two men had died, but did not say how or where. He denied they had traveled to Syria and said instead they went to Egypt to study Islam.
 
"That is the path my brothers wanted to take from day one," he told CBC. "These people left their country to go study their religion."
 
Canada has joined the US-led campaign against Islamic State, which has taken over large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.
 
Last week, three were arrested in Canada over "serious" potential threats, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said Tuesday.

Paris Attacks Underline Need for Global Response to ISIS: US

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 18 January 2015 07:08
Global ResponseDeadly attacks by terrorists in Paris and other Western cities underline the need for a "global response" to the Islamic State jihadist group, US envoy John Allen said on Wednesday.
 
"As we saw so tragically in Paris last week, Iraq is on the front lines of a global conflict," Allen said at a news conference in Baghdad, referring to attacks by gunmen on satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket that killed a total of 17 people.
 
The Islamic State (ISIS) group's "dark, violent ideology has a long reach," also inspiring militants to carry out attacks in Sydney, Ottawa and Brussels, said Allen, who is coordinating international efforts against the jihadists.
 
"None of us can afford to say that degrading and defeating Daesh is solely an Iraqi responsibility. Daesh is a global threat. It demands a global response," he said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.
 
The jihadist group spearheaded a lightning offensive in June that overran much of Iraq's Sunni Arab heartland north and west of Baghdad.
 
It then turned its attention to forces from Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, driving them towards their capital and helping trigger a US-led air war against ISIS.
 
Allen said that eight countries were now carrying out strikes against ISIS in Iraq, while 12 have pledged to train the country's security forces.
 
The US and allied countries aim to eventually train 5,000 federal and Kurdish forces every six to eight weeks at five training sites in various parts of Iraq. But it remains to be seen whether the relatively brief program will be enough, and if the security forces continue training to maintain newly acquired skills.
 
Iraqi federal forces, Kurdish troops, Shiite militiamen and Sunni tribesmen are all fighting against IS in Iraq, and have regained some ground from the jihadists.
 
But three major cities and swathes of other territory remain outside government control.

ISIS Cell Recruiting Women Online Busted in Morocco

Category: News
Created on Friday, 16 January 2015 18:03
Recruiting Women OnlineMoroccan police have detained three suspected supporters of the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group near the autonomous Spanish enclave of Ceuta, the interior ministry said on Tuesday.
 
The arrests were made in the border town of Fnideq where two men were held last month on suspicion of running a cell recruiting young women via the Internet to join ISIS, the ministry said.
 
It did not say when the new suspects were detained.
 
A brother of one of the men was killed while fighting for the terrorist organization in Syria late last year, the ministry said.
 
Between 1,500 and 2,000 Moroccans have traveled to Syria or Iraq to fight for ISIS or other jihadist groups, according to government estimates.
 
In September, new counter-terrorism legislation was introduced to try to stem the flow of volunteers which has resulted in around 30 convictions.
 
Last month's arrests in Fnideq were made in conjunction with raids by Spanish police that netted another five suspects.
 
Authorities said that those detained were suspected of having recruited at least 12 women to travel to Iraq or Syria, most of them from the Spanish North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.
 
Most women recruits to the organization reportedly end up serving as terrorists' wives, housemaids or babysitters, while some join in the actual fighting.

Horrifying ISIS 'Guide for Jihadi Mothers' Surfaces Online

Category: News
Created on Friday, 02 January 2015 12:32
Horrifying ISIS Guide for Jihadi MothersA guide for jihadi mothers on how to raise children to become terrorists has surfaced online, the US-based Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported. 
 
The handbook titled "Sister's Role in Jihad" recommends showing children jihadi websites, reading jihad tales before bed, practicing sports that require good hand-eye coordination, like darts, and going on camping trips to teach the children how to survive outdoors. 
 
Women are expected to start training children "while they are babies" as waiting longer than that "may be too late." The guide adds: 'Don't underestimate the lasting effect of what those little ears and eyes take in during the first few years of life!'
 
The guide's original authors remain unknown, as the text is usually posted on file-sharing sites anonymously. However, the handbook is believed to be used regularly by Islamic State and other terrorist groups. 
 
Other advice includes encouraging children to play and practice target-shooting with toy guns and making the training "fun" for youths, though the text stresses, "fun does not mean music and dancing, as is portrayed by Western children's TV."
 
Parents are also expected to ensure their children know how to differentiate between "who their target should be, and who their target should not be." 
 
The guide is known to have at least one definite follower - British extremist Runa Khan, who was convicted and jailed for five years for dressing her six children in jihadi uniforms and posting the images online. 
 
MEMRI released the information of the guide ahead of an upcoming report condemning how children become indoctrinated into radical Islam. 
 
"It is important for the West to understand that all these groups want the world to know that this indoctrination is taking place," MEMRI said in a statement. 
 
"No matter what happens in Iraq and Syria in the near future, the next generation - the children of Baghdadi and grandchildren of bin Laden - have already been brainwashed to hate the West and to strive for jihad and martyrdom." 
 
"They have been trained on the battlefield and know how to create bombs and suicide belts and to behead and crucify the innocent. This is something we must be prepared for and understand."
 
MEMRI researchers believe this guide, and others like it, is being used by ISIS fighters bringing up their children in the Middle East. 
 
Indeed, Twitter accounts linked to ISIS regularly feature images of children holding weapons - like knives and machine guns. These pictures are often accompanied with the caption "Generation Caliphate" or "Ashbal," meaning lion cubs. 

ISIS Holds 'Surprise' Public Amputation for Convicted Thief

Category: Islam
Created on Wednesday, 24 December 2014 20:29
ISIS - Public Amputation for Convicted ThiefThe Islamic State (IS), which has firmly established itself as the ruling entity in a large portion of Syria and Iraq, has recently begun instituting Shari'a Islamic law as the law of the land – in its full and literal sense.
 
According to classic Islamic law, a thief must have his right hand cut off – and last Friday, that is exactly what IS representatives did in the town of Al-Bab in northern Syria, near Aleppo. In a “surprise” event, members of the congregation of the town's main mosque (attendance at services is mandatory) were directed to the town square, where a large platform had been erected.
 
On the platform was a table, containing a knife, bandages, and what appeared to be medicines. An individual convicted of theft was brought to the platform and was held forcibly still by police officers. A large individual – the “hatchet man” - quickly grabbed the knife and cleanly cut off the thief's hand. A doctor quickly bandaged the victim's bleeding stump.
 
Friday's incident was just one of dozens IS has announced in recent weeks, delineating the crime and offense against Islamic law, and the punishment. So far, adulterers and homosexuals have been stoned or thrown off the roof of buildings, thieves have had hands and/or legs cut off, Muslims not deemed to be “religious” enough – goofing off during prayers, for example – have been whipped in public, and so on.
 
With that, witnesses in the IS-held areas said that fighters for the group were recently given an official religious ruling that stated that they could take women and girls who were not Muslims as their “sex slaves.” The men and boys, of course, are killed.

Kurds Score Biggest Victory Yet Against ISIS in Iraq

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 24 December 2014 16:32
A member of Kurdish Peshmerga forces - ReutersKurdish Peshmerga fighters are claiming their most decisive victory yet against the brutal Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group in northern Iraq, by breaking the jihadists' siege of the strategic Mount Sinjar.
 
Mount Sinjar has been the scene of one of the most high-profile humanitarian emergencies in the fight against ISIS, with thousands of Yazidi Kurds being trapped there for months after fleeing the Islamists' conquest of the town of Sinjar. ISIS has killed countless Yazidis during its bloody push through Iraq and sold scores of Yazidi women into sex slavery, as part of a systematic campaign of ethnic-cleansing. Those trapped on the mountain had been faced with a grim choice: surrender and convert, or die.  
 
But Kurds say their latest operation to break the siege and free those trapped, which began on Wednesday, has been successful. The Peshmerga ground offensive involved 8,000 Kurdish fighters, who attacked ISIS positions in a two-pronged offensive and succeeded in breaking open a wide corridor to allow refugees to be evacuated to safety.
 
Kurdish officials say as many as 80 ISIS fighters were killed while the rest fled westward to Syria or eastward to Iraq's former second city of Mosul, which jihadists captured during the summer. Those figures could not yet be independently verified.
 
The ground offensive was backed by what is being described as the most intensive round of airstrikes yet by US-led coalition forces against the Islamists.
 
A blistering 45 airstrikes reportedly killed a significant number of ISIS fighters, including several senior leaders, according the head of America's Joint Chiefs of staff, General Martin Dempsey.
 
The deaths of three ISIS leaders in particular has been particularly "disruptive to their planning and command and control," Dempsey told the Wall Street Journal.
 
US airstrikes between December 3- 9 killed Abd al Basit, the head of ISIS's entire military operations in Iraq, and Haji Mutazz, a key deputy to the group's leader and self-declared "Caliph" Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
 
Airstrikes in November also killed a number of mid-level ISIS commanders, including Radwin Talib, who ISIS appointed as its "governor" in Mosul.
 
But while ISIS's leadership is believed to have been seriously weakened by the airstrikes, the jihadist group still maintains control over large swathes of territory in northern Iraq and Syria.

UN Attempt to Save Jewish Sites from ISIS - Too Little Too Late?

Category: Press Releases
Created on Monday, 08 December 2014 14:57
Wall fresco from ancient -Dura Europos- synagogue in Syria - ReutersLast week, a UNESCO conference was hastily convened at its Paris headquarters to discuss what can be done to preserve what's left of heritage sites in Iraq and Syria. The iconoclastic jihadists of Islamic State - or Da'esh (ISIS) - had captured a region in northern Iraq which contained 15 percent of Iraq's registered archaeological sites. Believing that shrines ought to be destroyed lest they encourage idol-worship, they have already blown up or burnt to the ground shrines such as the tombs of Jonah and Seth, Christian churches and Shi'a mosques. 
 
Like most UN agencies, UNESCO has blown hot and cold towards Israel and the Jewish people. On the one hand it has admitted Palestine as a member and backed Palestinian claims to Jewish holy sites like Rachel's tomb. On the other it has named Tel Aviv "creative city for media arts". On the one hand, it hosted an exhibition on "the Holy Land." On the other had it insisted that the word Israel not appear in the title and that "politically incorrect" aspects of the Jewish state, like wars and Jewish refugees from Arab lands, were left out.
 
But this time, UNESCO had made a point of including the Jews in its conference. The UNESCO director-general, Irina Bokova, has  condemned the destruction in May 2014 of the Jobar synagogue near Damascus, which, legend has it, goes back to the time of Elijah the Prophet.
 
When a JJAC delegation, accompanied by CRIF, the body representing French Jews, submitted a list of 100 endangered Jewish sites to Mrs Bokova in June, she lent a sympathetic ear. And when Professor Shmuel Moreh, who has worked long and hard for the preservation of ancient Jewish sites in Iraq made his case, Mrs Bokova  - or her aides - were listening. Professor Moreh was flown over from Israel to be a special guest at the conference, along with representatives of Kurds, Assyrians, Turkmen and Yazidis.
 
Mrs  Bokova herself has said: "Culture and heritage are not about stones and buildings - they are about identities and belongings."
 
A conflict against culture is by extension an effort to erase the identity of a people, especially vulnerable non-Muslim minorities.
 
No doubt, Irina Bokova's heart is in the right place, but when I arrived in the imposing glass and concrete building, the institutional bias was there in subtle ways. 
 
An exhibition of photographs in the foyer called "Palestine and Jerusalem" marked "International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian people". The photographs were taken by the French order of the Dominican friars at the turn of the 20th century. To judge by the images on display, Palestine was a pastoral land of monasteries and Arab shepherds, processions of Muslim and Christian pilgrims. Not a Jew in sight - yet we know that Jerusalem then had a Jewish majority. So much for not "erasing a people's identity".
 
Mrs Bokova opened the proceedings by thanking Kuwait and Saudi Arabia for funding the conference. (No one appreciated the irony that Saudi Arabia had not exactly preserved its own heritage itself - having destroyed Muhammed's house and other ancient sites).
 
In both Syria and Iraq, she observed, Islamic State have demolished, pillaged and dug up archaeological sites, sometimes with bulldozers, and sold relics on the international black market in order to finance their malevolent deeds. She called for "cultural zones" to be established, starting with the great Umayyad mosque in Aleppo.
 
Conference speaker after speaker called for good neighbourliness and respect. The UNESCO motto was a mantra: "It is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed." Education was the answer.
 
A cynic might ask: what planet do they live on? "Cultural zones" when people were starving? "Civic identity to be built from the bottom up" when people were being beheaded? "Good neighborliness and respect" when people were being sold into slavery?
 
One Syrian parliamentarian called for  refugees to return from exile to claim their heritage. But when the neighbors have been ethnically cleansed, as the Jews had been from Syria and Iraq, with no prospect of return, who will speak up for their heritage? Who would ensure that when the time came to rehabilitate and renovate, traditional Jewish shrines such as the most revered of all, Ezekiel's tomb, would not be turned into mosques?
 
It was already happening. The Hebrew inscriptions had been removed from the renovated tomb of Joshua the High Priest near Baghdad. Loudspeakers had already been affixed to Ezekiel's tomb, and Koranic inscriptions hung on the walls. Who would ensure that the original character of the shrine would be retained?
 
And if objects stolen from minority communities are recovered in the West, why should they be sent back to the Syrian or Iraqi governments? As the saga of the Iraqi-Jewish archive demonstrated - the personal possessions and mementos confiscated from their Jewish owners by Saddam Hussein and shipped for restoration to the US - they should be restituted not to governments, but  to the community which has been displaced.
 
Beyond the expression of high-minded sentiments, none of these questions were answered. 
 
In one important respect the conference might achieve results: museum chiefs declared they would treat with suspicion any artifacts offered to them from the Middle East, and would conduct "due diligence" checks as far as possible. But private collectors were less likely to be circumspect about the provenance of items. The international art market was a  vessel  too leaky to render watertight.
 
It is tempting to conclude that organisations like UNESCO, which were founded on the pillars of intergovernmental law, seem well past their sell-by date in a world where non-state actors ride roughshod over "kaffir" international treaties and conventions. Even before the era of Islamic state, neither Syria nor Iraq were signatories to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the event of armed conflict.
 
The great and the good gathered on that foggy day in Paris were right: education was the answer. But it would take many generations to instil respect for the Other. Too late for the Jews of Iraq and Syria, at any rate.
 
Lyn Julius is a journalist and blogger and helped found Harif, the UK Association of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa

Jihad's Not All It's Cracked Up to Be

Category: News
Created on Monday, 08 December 2014 12:48
ISIS terroristA series of letters from French nationals, who have left home to join the terrorist group Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, were published recently by the Le Figaro newspaper.
 
The letters offer a rare glimpse into the lives of these unhappy militants - some even begging to come home - whose complaints range from the practical to the absurd. 
 
"I'm fed up. My iPod doesn't work anymore here. I have to come back," wrote one Frenchman, complaining about his mission in Syria. 
 
"I've basically done nothing except hand out clothes and food," another militant wrote, exemplifying a common complaint - unhappiness with the duties these fighters been ordered to carry out. 
 
This militant in particular wants to return to France from Aleppo, Syria, citing his work and the coming winter. "I also help clean weapons and transport dead bodies from the front. Winter's arrived here. It's begun to get really hard."
 
Another militant wrote: "I'm fed up. They make me do the washing up."
 
And yet another letter revealed how one man objected to being sent to the frontline of fighting; his protests were ignored. "They want to send me to the front, but I don't know how to fight."
 
There are approximately 376 French nationals currently fighting in Syria, according to The Telegraph. Of about 100 jihadists who have actually returned to France, 76 are serving time in prison. 
 
Despite the high chance of being thrown into French jail, many nationals are beginning to leave ISIS behind. 
 
"Everyone knows that, the longer these people stay there, the worse it will be because having watched or committed atrocities, they become ticking time bombs," a lawyer was quoted as saying in Le Figaro.
 
"But, when it comes to having a discussion about whether France is ready to accept repentants, no politician is willing to take the risk. Imagine if one of these ex-jihadis(ts) is involved subsequently in an attack?" 
 
Hilal Khashan, a political science professor at the American University of Beirut, told Al Arabiya News  that the fundamental reason for the spike in foreign nationals traveling to Syria and Iraq was their “sense of anomie” (a sociological condition in which society provides little moral guidance to individuals). 
 
But, Khashan added, “after spending time fighting for ISIS in Iraq and Syria, they came to a conclusion that no matter how bad in their opinion their life was in the West, it still remains much better to what they are currently encountering."
 
“This is a wakeup call for them, probably, and it might as well open new horizons for them once they get back… Western countries need to treat this phenomenon as a psychological case rather than as a criminal issue,” he concluded.

26-Year-Old Woman is ISIS's Last American Captive

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 02 December 2014 03:09
Aafia Siddiqui a cognitivFollowing Islamic State's (ISIS) brutal murder of Peter Kassig, documented in a horrific video circulated Sunday, a 26-year-old female aid worker is the last of the terror organization's American prisoners. 
 
The information comes from current and former United States officials, as well as individuals involved in efforts to free American prisoners from ISIS's clutches, The Daily Beast reported. 
 
The woman, the same age as Kassig was, was likewise kidnapped trying to help refugees of the long Syrian civil war. She was particularly involved in helping children orphaned and/or separated from their families. 
 
She was taken hostage in August 2013 along with a group of other volunteer aid workers, who have reportedly have been released. 
 
No news organizations have published the woman's name, due to requests from both US officials and her family not to disclose her identity, who fear publicity and further attention will put the American hostage's life in greater risk. 
 
Despite this, the general circumstances of her capture and her captivity have been widely known and reported for more than a year. 
 
ISIS's intentions for its sole remaining American prisoner remain unclear. Current and formers US officials say it is noteworthy she did not appear in the video depicting Kassig's execution. ISIS has a pattern of filming the next hostage it intends to kill at the end of their grisly videos. 
 
Although Islamic State has murdered Muslim women and children, it has never murdered a female Western captive on camera. It would signify a radical departure for a terror group - even one as violent and macabre as ISIS, who are well-known for their bloody propaganda. 
 
A former US counterterrorism official said that before ISIS, who has already asked for an exorbitant ransom of $6 million for the woman, decides what to do, it will carefully consider any public reaction.
 
“Before they’re doing anything, they want to have a really good feel for how it will play,” the former official said.

Pope Supports 'Dialogue' With ISIS

Category: News
Created on Monday, 01 December 2014 03:54
Pope Francis  File -ReutersDespite warnings that the brutal terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS) is targeting Pope Francis for assassination, the pope on Tuesday came out in favor of "dialogue" with the group that has committed countless atrocities while conquering large parts of Syria and Iraq.
 
Such dialogue is "almost impossible," conceded the pope, although he said "I never say 'all is lost,' never. Maybe there can't be a dialogue but you can never shut a door," reports Reuters.
 
The Italian Gazzetta del Sud gave a different version of the pope's comments that suggest he himself was considering holding the dialogue, saying "I don't know if you can (have a) dialogue with the Islamic State, but I never close the door. My door is always open."
 
Iraq's ambassador to the Vatican Habeeb Al Sadr warned back in September that "what has been declared by the self-declared Islamic State is clear – they want to kill the Pope. The threats against the Pope are credible."
 
"I believe they could try to kill him during one of his overseas trips or even in Rome. There are members of ISIS who are not Arabs but Canadian, American, French, British, also Italians," said Al Sadr. "ISIS could engage any of these to commit a terrorist attack in Europe."
 
ISIS has made clear that it is waging a war on Christianity, noting that Rome is a key target for conquest as the home of the Vatican and a core symbol of Christianity.
 
Francis made the remarks while on his plane returning from Strasbourg, France, where he made a short visit to speak at the European Parliament and the Council of Europe.
 
In his address, the pope called for a more tolerant position on migration and better work opportunities.
 
He also noted on a lack of ideology in the West, saying "a Europe that is capable of appreciating its religious roots and of grasping their fruitfulness and potential will be all the more immune to the many forms of extremism spreading in the world today, not least as a result of the great vacuum of ideals that we are witnessing in the West."

French ISIS Terrorist Likely Involved in Kassig Beheading

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 30 November 2014 10:00
French ISIS TerroristThe French Interior Ministry on Monday admitted there is a "very strong probability" that one of the ISIS terrorists who committed the beheading of US aid worker Peter Kassig and at least 18 Syrian soldiers is a French citizen.
 
"There is a very strong probability that a French citizen was directly involved in these despicable crimes," French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.
 
He noted that after analyzing video of the beheadings that was released this weekend, French intelligence services identified the ISIS terrorist as 22-year-old Maxime Hauchard of Normandy in northwestern France, reports AFP.
 
Hauchard "left for Syria in August 2013 after a short stay in Mauritania in 2012," Cazeneuve added. Over 1,000 French citizens have reportedly left to join ISIS.
 
An intelligence source told the French news agency that agents are now working to verify whether a second French citizen also took part in the beheadings.
 
According to French daily Le Figaro, Hauchard goes under the Arabic name of Abu Abdallah Al Faransi, the latter of which means "the Frenchman." He took part in a BFM TV news report in July describing his conversion to Islam at the age of 17 after watching videos about the religion online.
 
In the news report he documented how he made his way to Syria through Turkey, winding up in the Syrian ISIS stronghold of Raqqa. Hauchard added he was on a special mission that he was willing to die for.
 
Peter Kassig's parents said on Sunday they were heartbroken over the loss of their son, who converted to Islam and changed his name to Abdul-Rahman only to be killed by the ISIS jihadists.
 
The 26-year-old was captured last year and was threatened in an October 3 video showing the beheading of British aid worker Alan Henning.
 
Experts speculated on Sunday that Kassig may have struggled to the end with his captors due to the fact that he was not shown making a statement on camera in contrast to previous videos; rather his decapitated head was shown in the video indicating he may have resisted.

CIA Blunder? Kurdish Leader Says ISIS Has '200,000 Fighters'

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 23 November 2014 04:31
ISIS terroristThe CIA and other intelligence services have estimated the fighting strength of Islamic State (ISIS) to be no more than 31,500 terrorists - but according to a senior Kurdish officer, that number is actually at least 200,000.
 
Fuad Hussein, the chief of staff of Iraqi Kurdish Region President Massoud Barzani, told the Britain's The Independent that ISIS's ability to attack simultaneously over a wide region spanning Syria and Iraq shows its true fighting force is much higher than previously thought.
 
"I am talking about hundreds of thousands of fighters because they are able to mobilize Arab young men in the territory they have taken," Hussein said, noting the recruitment tactics of the brutal jihadist group.
 
Hussein continued "we are talking about a state that has a military and ideological basis, so that means they want everyone to learn how to use a rifle, but they also want everybody to have training in their ideology, in other words brainwashing." Given the critical economic situation of the region, ISIS's monthly salary of $400 doesn't hurt their recruitment ability either.
 
Since capturing the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on June 10, ISIS has become the richest terrorist group in the world, followed by Hamas. Hussein estimates it now rules a third of Iraq and a third of Syria, governing a population of ten to 12 million in a 250,000 square meter area roughly the size of the UK.
 
ISIS's victories in Iraq and Syria have also caused the group to gain loyalty in other areas, such as in the Sinai Peninsula where the Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis terrorist group pledged allegiance to ISIS last week.
 
Providing evidence that ISIS's ranks are larger than anticipated, Hussein stated "in Kurdistan last month they were attacking in seven different places as well as in Ramadi (west of Baghdad) and Jalawla (town near Iranian border). It is impossible to talk of 20,000 men or so."
 
The CIA back in September estimated ISIS had 20,000 to 31,500 terrorists, with the low figure perhaps explaining how ISIS has been able to surprise world powers with its massive victories in recent months over the US-trained Iraqi army as well as the Syrian army. But the Kurdish official says at best those number could account for ISIS's "core" fighters alone.
 
According to Hussein, Kurdish forces need Apache helicopters, tanks and artillery to fight off ISIS, which has captured Humvees, artillery and tanks from the Iraqi army, as well as fighter jets.

ISIS Beheads Hostage Peter Kassig

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 22 November 2014 14:54
Peter KassigIslamic State (ISIS) has beheaded US citizen and aid worker Peter Kassig, according to video footage posted on social media - even though the hostage converted to Islam. 
 
Kassig, who had converted and changed his name to Abdul-Rahman Kassig, is the fifth Western hostage to be murdered in ISIS's brutal social media campaign against the West. 
 
Kassig, who served during the Iraq war before being medically discharged, became an emergency medical technician; he travelled to Lebanon in May 2012, volunteering in hospitals and treating Palestinian refugees and those fleeing Syria’s nearly four-year civil war.
 
His family released a plea to ISIS in October, begging the group to spare his life.
 
But he was beheaded regardless, the footage purportedly reveals - along with 'dozens' of other men apparently murdered in the video, which is over 15 minutes long. 
 
AFP reports Sunday that the video shows a long line of victims, including Kassig, being forced to take the knives that kill them from a wooden box as they proceed in a funeral march. According to the report, it is "a highly choreographed sequence."
 
ISIS has beheaded hostages following strategic developments in the international airstrike campaign against it in Iraq and Syria, including the first official announcement of the campaign and after different countries, e.g. the UK, joined the strikes. 
 
This time, Kassig's murder is revealed days after US General Martin Dempsey stated to international media that significant progress was being made in the fight against ISIS, and that while it could take years, ISIS has begun to suffer strategic losses. 
 
It also surfaces hours after news broke that the infamous 'Jihadi John,' the alleged executioner behind all the videos, including this one, may have been injured or killed in airstrikes last week. 

Jihad Group 'More Dangerous Than Al Qaeda' Joins ISIS

Category: News
Created on Monday, 06 October 2014 16:02
al Qaeda flagFive central leaders of Khorasan, a faction of the Al Qaeda-offshoot Nusra Front in Syria that has come in for particular targeting by US airstrikes, have sworn allegiance to Islamic State (ISIS) leader and "caliph" Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, according to jihadist websites.
 
The leaders have pledged to act as soldiers for the "caliphate," namely the Islamic state ISIS has established in the areas of Syria and Iraq it has brutally conquered.
 
Likewise, they have sworn to conduct armed jihad holy war against "tyrants, their collaborators, heads of apostasy, the United States and its satellite states."
 
America intelligence has listed Khorasan as a danger even greater than Al Qaeda, saying it has threatened terrorist attacks in America and Europe, and specifically threatened to target international commercial airlines.
 
In response, America has gone after the group in its airstrike campaign, announcing last Wednesday that it had taken out the head of the group, Musin al-Fadhli.
 
In fact, Khorasan is not an independent organization, but rather rather a branch of Nusra Front, which as noted is linked to Al Qaeda - as was ISIS before it branched off into its own group.
 
Khorasan is reported to be made up of veteran Al-Qaeda fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan who have traveled to Syria to join in the jihad against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
 
In targeting the group, the American administration has been confronted by reports its strikes are killing Syrian civilians as well as terrorists. It responded last week by saying its policy to only conduct strikes when there is "near certainty" of no civilian deaths does not apply to the current US airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.
 
The statement, justifying civilian casualties because they occur in an area of "active hostilities," may strike some as hypocritical given America's harsh criticism of Israel's defensive operation in Gaza targeting Hamas terrorists embedded in civilian populations.

ISIS Within a Mile From Baghdad

Category: News
Created on Friday, 03 October 2014 20:03
ISIS at the Gates of BaghdadIslamic State (ISIS) fighters are only a mile away from Baghdad, according to a spokesman for the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East.
 
Battles between ISIS and Iraqi forces have also been raging in the strategic city of Amiriyat al-Fallujah, 25 miles west of Baghdad.
 
Battles on both fronts have been calmed over the past several days, and Iraqi bombing and ground forces have been successful in keeping the ISIS forces from entering the capital. The threat on Baghdad is still very real, however.
 
"They said it could never happen and now it almost has," a spokesman for the organization, a Christian aid group,  said in an interview. "Obama says he overestimated what the Iraqi Army could do. Well, you only need to be here a very short while to know they can do very, very little." So reports The Clarion Project, an organization that aims to "challenge extremism and promote dialogue," according to its website.
 
The spokesman, Canon Andrew White, said that the U.S. airstrikes had proven to be ineffective against the Islamic State and that they had merely killed civilians. Ground troops are needed, he said, to defeat the Islamic State.
 
White clarified several important points. He said that Iraqi soldiers are simply not as motivated as are the ISIS terrorists, whom they greatly fear. In addition, he said, it is very difficult, if not impossible, for civilians to leave Baghdad at present, given ISIS control of key parts of Iraq.
 
ISIS terrorists have captured an Iraqi army base 50 miles northwest of Baghdad, while slightly to the east, a U.S.-backed Iraqi tribe in the Sunni Arab town of Dhuluiyah has held out under a two-week attack by Islamic State fighters.
 
It is believed that if Iraq falls to ISIS, it will be the first time in history that a terrorist movement will have control of a nation. 

ISIS Islamists at the Gates of Baghdad

Category: Reports
Created on Monday, 29 September 2014 12:17
ISIS at the Gates of BaghdadReports Monday said that Islamist fighters for ISIS, the Islamic State, which has already conquered large areas of Lebanon and Iraq, are at the gates of Baghdad. Despite the aerial attacks being carried out by the US and its allies, the group's fighters have been steadily progressing, and are said to be barely a mile from the city. The report in the Independent newspaper, published in London, quoted officials of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East.
 
According to the officials, Islamic State terrorists could basically enter the city at will, as there is little substantial defense to prevent them from doing so. "The Islamic State are now less than 2km away from entering Baghdad," the spokesperson said. “They said it could never happen and now it almost has. [US President Barack] Obama says he overestimated what the Iraqi Army could do," the report quoted the spokesperson as saying.
 
Obama indeed made that admission Sunday night, in an interview broadcast on CBS news program 60 Minutes. “Over the past couple of years, during the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you have huge swathes of the country that are completely ungoverned," the president said, Islamic State was "able to reconstitute themselves and take advantage of that chaos.
 
"This became ground zero for jihadists around the world," Obama said of Syria, where Islamic State now controls territory in the east around on the city of Raqqa. “Where you've got states that are failing or in the midst of civil war, these kinds of organizations thrive," he said.
 
In a separate development over the weekend, the head of the Syrian Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front said that it would work with Islamic State to defeat the “Western infidels,” reports said. "Muslims will not watch while their sons are bombed. Your leaders will not be the only ones who would pay the price of the war. You will pay the heaviest price," he said, warning that the battle would be brought "to the hearts of your homes,” said Al-Nusra head Abu Mohamad al-Golani. "You should protect yourselves from this war by standing against the decisions of your rulers and stop them from bringing you the woes (of war)," he added, according to Reuters.
 
"We are in a long war. This war will not end in months nor years. This war could last for decades," group spokesman Abu Firas al-Suri said.
 
"It's not a war against Nusra Front, it's a war against Islam,” he added.
 
IS and the Al-Nusra Front share the same ideology and rigid Islamic beliefs, but they fell out during a power struggle and have been battling each other this past year.
 
Nusra Front is now coming under pressure from its own members to reconcile with Islamic State and join forces to fight what they describe as a "crusader" campaign against Islam.
 
Al-Nusra Front, whose leader pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, has been heavily involved in the fighting in Syria as well as in neighboring Lebanon, where it has claimed responsibility for several bombings and has also threatened local Sunnis.
 
Most recently, members of the group kidnapped 45 Fijian UN peacekeepers and threatened to try them under Islamic law before ultimately releasing them.

Erdogan: Turkey Can't Stay Out of Fight Against IS

Category: News
Created on Monday, 29 September 2014 11:37
Recep Tayyip ErdoganTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that his country cannot stay out of the international coalition fighting the “Islamic State” (IS), AFP reported.
 
Turkey has for months frustrated the West with its cautious position against IS, but there appears to have been a sea change in its policy following Erdogan's trip last week to the United States, the report noted.
 
"We will hold discussions with our relevant institutions this week. We will definitely be where we need to be," Erdogan said in a keynote address to a World Economic Forum meeting in Istanbul.
 
"We cannot stay out of this," he added.
 
IS terrorists have now advanced in Syria to just a few kilometers from Turkey, sending tens of thousands of people fleeing across the border.
 
Turkey has so far taken in over 160,000 refugees who fled the IS assault around the town of Ain al-Arab, but Erdogan said it would be better if they could live safely in their own country.
 
He also reaffirmed his call for a buffer zone and no-fly zone within Syria to protect Turkey's borders and the refugees. He also indicated ground forces could be needed.
 
"It is not possible only from the air, there is also a ground dimension," he said, according to AFP.
 
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced on Sunday that the government would send motions requesting extended mandates for military action in Iraq and Syria on Monday.
 
In a hugely rare intervention, Turkey's top general, Necdet Ozel, will speak to the cabinet on Tuesday, Davutoglu added. Parliament will then debate the mandates on Thursday, paving the way for military action, although what that will involve is still not clear.
 
U.S. and allied forces from Arab states have been bombing IS positions in Syria since last week, after the U.S. expanded its air campaign against the terrorist group; until then the operation had been focused on blunting the Islamists' advances in only Iraq.
 
Erdogan, who has long pressed for the ouster of Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad, indicated that he did not think military action would be enough to thwart IS and long-term solutions were needed to solve political problems in Syria and Iraq.
 
"Dropping bombs from the air only brings a temporary solution," he said, adding that coordinated action needs to be taken against IS in both Syria and Iraq, attacking Britain for only planning strikes on targets inside Iraq.
 
"Instead of handling it this way, we should send our Syrian brothers to their own country through a safe zone," Erdogan said, according to AFP.
 
Ankara has justified its low-key role in the fight against IS by saying its hands were tied by concerns over the fate of dozens of Turkish hostages abducted by IS in Iraq.
 
These hostages were freed last weekend, prompting what Erdogan has acknowledged as a major change in Turkish policy.
 
While airstrikes in Iraq - coupled with a ground coalition made up of Kurdish Peshmerga forces, Iranian-backed Shia militias and the Iraqi army - have succeeded in slowing down and even halting IS's advances there, airstrikes in Syria appear to have been ineffective thus far.
 
Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Unit (YPG) are fighting tooth-and-nail to keep IS from seizing the Kurdish town of Kobane, which sits on the Syrian-Turkish border. Coalition airstrikes in Syria have targeted both IS's de facto capital of Raqqa, as well as the IS front lines with the YPG, but those latter strikes appear to have had no noticeable effect on the battle, with IS now moving to within just three miles of the town.
 
Kurdish leaders have warned of a renewed threat of genocide should IS gain control of Kobane.

Head of Al-Nusra Front Warns West: You Will Pay

Category: News
Created on Monday, 29 September 2014 10:38
Head of Al-Nusra FrontThe head of Syria's Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front on Sunday said U.S.-led air strikes will not defeat Islamists in Syria and warned against retaliatory attacks against Western countries, Reuters reports.
 
Abu Mohamad al-Golani, in an audio message posted on pro-Nusra jihadi forums, urged European and U.S. citizens to denounce the U.S. actions if they wanted to keep out of the war.
 
"Muslims will not watch while their sons are bombed. Your leaders will not be the only ones who would pay the price of the war. You will pay the heaviest price," he said, warning that the battle would be brought "to the hearts of your homes".
 
"You should protect yourselves from this war by standing against the decisions of your rulers and stop them from bringing you the woes (of war)," he added, according to Reuters.
 
The United States has been carrying out strikes against “Islamic State” (IS) fighters in Iraq since August 8. It opened a new front on September 23, launching airstrikes in neighboring Syria.
 
Al-Golani’s threats came a day after a spokesman for Al-Nusra denounced U.S.-led airstrikes on Syria and threatened to retaliate against Western and Arab countries that took part.
 
"We are in a long war. This war will not end in months nor years. This war could last for decades," group spokesman Abu Firas al-Suri said.
 
"It's not a war against Nusra Front, it's a war against Islam,” he added.
 
IS and the Al-Nusra Front share the same ideology and rigid Islamic beliefs, but they fell out during a power struggle and have been battling each other this past year.
 
Nusra Front is now coming under pressure from its own members to reconcile with Islamic State and join forces to fight what they describe as a "crusader" campaign against Islam.
 
Al-Nusra Front, whose leader pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, has been heavily involved in the fighting in Syria as well as in neighboring Lebanon, where it has claimed responsibility for several bombings and has also threatened local Sunnis.
 
Most recently, members of the group kidnapped 45 Fijian UN peacekeepers and threatened to try them under Islamic law before ultimately releasing them.
 
At least 50 fighters from the group were killed in the first wave of U.S.-led attacks in Syria last Tuesday, a British-based monitoring group said, according to Reuters.
 
The air assault is also believed to have killed Mohsin al-Fadhli, the leader of another al-Qaeda linked organization, the Khorasan group, which worked in league with the Al-usra Front.
 
Golani did not directly mention Fadhli, but said the air attacks had killed fighters whose "loss would be felt on the whole war, not just on the Front", making clear that they had suffered a significant setback.

Cameron on IS: Destroy this Evil Organization

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 27 September 2014 09:47
CameronBritish Prime Minister David Cameron told NBC News on Tuesday that he is certain that the “Islamic State” (IS or ISIS) is plotting attacks in Europe.
 
"These people want to kill us," Cameron said. "They've got us in their sights and we have to put together this coalition ... to make sure that we ultimately destroy this evil organization," he said.
 
"It has oil, it has money, it has territory, it has weapons. And there's no doubt in my mind it has already undertaken and is planning further plots in Europe and elsewhere, specifically in Belgium, in Brussels," Cameron continued.
 
"There are other plots they have been attempting including in my own country in order to kill and maim innocent people. And the same applies to the United States of America,” he said.
 
Cameron’s warning came as the U.S. and five Arab countries launched airstrikes on IS targets in Syria. Cameron told NBC he hasn't "ruled out" British airstrikes, two weeks after Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said that Britain will not participate in any airstrikes on Syria but otherwise is ruling nothing out in helping the campaign against IS.
 
"We very much support the actions the Americans and others have taken. But we need to recognize this is going to take time, it's gonna take real resolution and resolve," Cameron said.
 
"And we need to make sure we are working very closely with those on the ground, the Iraqi forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, and actually the Syrian national opposition — who in the end are the ones who will help to destroy and get rid of this appalling organization," he told NBC.
 
Cameron also spoke about his planned meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations General Assembly, the first by a British prime minister since 1979.
 
"I will do it not having softened in any way my views about the things that Iran has done and continues to do. I will be very clear. We think they are wrong to have this nuclear weapon program. We think they are wrong to support terrorist organizations," he said.

ISIS Captures Millions of Dollars, Gold Ingots

Category: News
Created on Friday, 26 September 2014 10:42
ISIS Captures Millionsworld's richest terrorist organization just got richer.
 
A video uploaded onto the internet and translated by MEMRI shows Islamic State (IS) fighters parading a haul of millions of dollars and several gold ingots seized from the home of a prominent Iraqi official in Nineveh Province.
 
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The treasure trove was found in the home of Osama al-Nujayfi, the former speaker of Iraq's parliament; in the video an IS fighter estimated its value in "the billions".
 
Whatever the precise amount, it's certainly a coup for the jihadi group which has swept through Iraq and northern Syria and is believed to be largely self-sufficient financially.
 
Much of its wealth is accumulated through organized crime rings or the sale of oil on the black market - but a lot is also brought in a booty from the battlefield.

One of Oldest Known Synagogues Seized by ISIS in Syria

Category: Islam
Created on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 19:26
Wall fresco Dura Europos synagogue in SyriaIslamic State (ISIS) jihadists not only threaten the current Middle East - according to antiquities officials in Iraq and Syria, the terror group threatens to erase 5,000 years of history and relics in upper Mesopotamia, including one of the earliest Jewish synagogues.
 
Much of northern Iraq and eastern Syria, which is rich in the archaeological remains of numerous ancient civilizations, is now under the iron fist of ISIS which has been destroying pagan idols as well as selling relics on the international black market to raise funds, reports Associated Press (AP).
 
Syrian Director-General of Antiquities and Museums Maamoun Abdulkarim says looting from archaeological sites in the country has gone up tenfold since early 2013, with ISIS seizing numerous important ancient sites.
 
Aside from destroying pagan statues from the Assyrian period in Tell Ajaja, Abdulkarim noted the 2,300-year-old city of Dura Europos has come in for particularly intense looting.
 
The ancient city lies near the Iraqi border on a cliff overlooking the Euphrates River, and has fallen into ISIS hands; satellite imagery from April shows numerous holes from looter digs littering the site.
 
Images show hundreds of people, including gunmen, taking part in the excavations from dawn until night in many cases. Abdulkarim notes dealers are present, and "when they discover an artifact, the sale takes place immediately. They are destroying entire pages of Syrian history."
 
One of the earliest known Jewish synagogues is located at Dura Europos along with numerous pagan temples and churches, making the digging particularly troubling.
 
The fate of the synagogue, which was discovered in 1932 and dated by an Aramaic inscription to 244 CE, remains unknown.
 
Meanwhile in Iraq Qais Hussein Rashid, head of the country's Museums Department, reveals that ISIS captured 1,800 of Iraq's 12,000 registered archaeological sites when they seized the northern city of Mosul and Ninevah province in June. They have since captured even more as they pushed south to Baghdad.
 
ISIS has control of four ancient cities, Ninevah, Kalhu, Dur Sharrukin and Ashura, which were capitals of the Assyrian Empire that arose around 2,500 BCE. In Kalhu, reliefs in the grand palace of Assyrian King Ashurnasirpal II from the 9th century BCE have been heavily looted to be sold on the black market.
 
Other casualties of the brutal Islamic group in the Mosul area were the tombs of the Jewish Biblical prophets Jonah and Daniel in July; Jonah's tomb reportedly dated from the 8th century BCE.
 
After destroying Jonah's tomb, thieves are thought to have dug into an unexcavated palace in Ninevah that was located underneath the tomb, according to Rashid who cited local antiquities officials still in Mosul.
 
The UN's cultural agency UNESCO has been taking steps to try and guard Iraq's relics, with Nada al-Hassan of UNESCO's World Heritage Center telling AP "we are very, very, very concerned that the situation could be aggravated in a way that causes more and more damage."

Islamic State Conquering Syria's Turkish Border

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 19:09
Islamic State terroristThe brutal Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group has been conquering massive swathes of Syria and Iraq, and recently extended a foothold in Lebanon - now the push of the group's over 30,000 jihadsts has brought them to the very gates of Turkey in Syria's north.
 
Fierce fighting between ISIS and Kurdish forces Thursday night ended with the jihadists conquering 21 northern Syrian villages in 24 hours.
 
The ISIS fighters also beseiged the Kurdish city Ayn al-Arab (Kobani in Kurdish) located a mere 12 miles from the Turkish border, reports Al Jazeera as cited by Walla!.
 
The reported added that ISIS conquered large parts of the nearby city Jarabulus, also located right by the Turkish border on the Euphrates River.
 
In conquering the villages IS reportedly attacked with heavy weaponry including tanks, according the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
 
In response to the encroaching ISIS jihadists around 3,000 Syrian Kurds, mostly women and children, fled to the Turkish border on Thursday night, where they were left waiting Friday on the Syrian side opposite the Turkish village of Dikmetas near Ayn al-Arab, reports Reuters.
 
Their fears of the approaching ISIS terrorists are well founded, given the brutal torture the terrorists have been subjecting women and children to in the region.
 
"We're ready to help our brothers who are building up at the borders regardless of their ethnicity, religion and sect. But our priority is to deliver aid within Syria's borders," said Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Thursday night, noting his aversion to letting in the Kurdish refugees.
 
Hours later on Friday Turkey finally relented, letting hundreds of Syrian Kurdish refugees into the country. Their entry was reportedly broadcast on Turkish TV.
 
The decision to temporarily keep out the Kurds may raise eyebrows given the fact that Turkey reportedly let 21 Gaza residents wounded in Operation Protective Edge into the country Thursday night for medical treatment, according to the Turkish Anatol as cited by Walla!.
 
Several senior Turkish officials reportedly were presented at the airport in Turkey to greet the wounded.
 
Some of Turkey's opposition to letting in the Syrian Kurds may be due to the fact that Kurds in Turkey have been at odds with the government, pushing for their own state through the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which Turkey has labelled a terrorist organization.
 
On Thursday night the PKK called for Turkish Kurds to help defending the Kurdish towns in northern Syria, but apparently they were denied access on the border as well.
 
It is worth noting that Turkey has recently been mulling a buffer zone with Syria so as to prevent ISIS incursions.

UN: Assad Responsible for More Atrocities in Syria Than ISIS

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 21 September 2014 15:56
United NationsDespite the high-profile and shocking nature of the so-called "Islamic State" and its push through Iraq and Syria, the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad is still responsible for the majority of war crimes being committed in that country, according to the author of a special UN report into the Syrian civil war.
 
With no end in sight to the three and a half year conflict, a special United Nations panel presented its findings Tuesday in a depressing 17-page report.
 
Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, who led the four-person panel, said he had "run out of words to depict the gravity of the crimes committed inside Syria."
 
He noted that the Islamic State, which recently beheaded three western hostages James Foley, Steven Sotloff and David Haines, has similarly subjected countless other Syrian civilians to similar public executions and brutal punishments.
 
The report is based on eyewitness testimonies from Syrians interviewed by the team, hailing from across the country.
 
Pinheiro also highlighted the mass-killings of prisoners of war - as occurred after IS's recent capture of Tabqa airbase in northern Syria - as well as of dissenters and political opponents.
 
Women are particularly vulnerable to abuse at the hands of the Islamist terror group, with several already being stoned to death based on accusations of adultery, or publicly flogged for minor offenses such as walking in the street without a male chaperone.
 
Nevertheless, Pinheiro pointed out that the regime of Bashar al-Assad "remains responsible for the majority of the civilian casualties, killing and maiming scores of civilians daily."
 
Civilians are being slaughtered at the hands of the regime in a variety of ways - from indiscriminate shelling, air raids and "barrel bombings", to shootings and summary executions at the hands of soldiers and pro-government militiamen.
 
Those captured or arrested by the regime were subjected to horrific torture and denied food or water for prolonged periods of time. Female prisoners were regularly raped or otherwise sexually abused.
 
Pinheiro said that the inaction on the part of major world powers to intervene - via the UN Security Council or otherwise - has helped fuel the conflict. It's most recently "beneficiary", he said, was the Islamic State - but the Syrian government has been able to escape justice for its massacres for longer still.

Khamenei: U.S. Has 'Dirty Hands'

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 21 September 2014 14:41
Irans Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei R meets Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Tehran Dec. 15 2009.Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Monday said his country had rejected a U.S. request for cooperation against the “Islamic State” (IS) because Washington has “dirty hands”.
 
“Right from the start, the United States asked through its ambassador in Iraq whether we could cooperate against [IS],” Khamenei said in a statement on his official website which was quoted by Al Arabiya.
 
“I said no, because they have dirty hands,” said Khamenei, who has the final say on all matters of state in Iran.
 
“Secretary of State (John Kerry) personally asked (Iranian counterpart) Mohammad Javad Zarif and he rejected the request,” said Khamenei, who was leaving hospital after what doctors said was successful prostate surgery.
 
Khamenei accused Washington of seeking a “pretext to do in Iraq and Syria what it already does in Pakistan -- bomb anywhere without authorization,” according to Al Arabiya.
 
Earlier on Monday,  Kerry waffled on his position from last Friday, when he ruled out Iran's participation in a global coalition against IS, saying in an interview that he would be open to military cooperation with Iran.
 
Asked in a Yahoo interview whether the U.S. would cooperate militarily with Iran, Kerry did not rule out the option, saying, "Let’s see what Iran might or might not be willing to do before we start making any pronouncements."
 
Kerry elaborated, saying, "I think we are open to any constructive process here that could minimize the violence, hold Iraq together - the integrity of the country - and eliminate the presence of outside terrorist forces that are ripping it apart. I wouldn’t rule out anything that would be constructive to providing real stability.
 
Two weeks ago it was reported that Khamenei had authorized his army to coordinate joint military operations with the US against ISIS in Iraq. The State Department later clarified it has "no plans" for any military coordination with Iran in the fight against Islamic State.

Sisi: International Coalition Should Not Only Fight IS

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 20 September 2014 17:09
Al SisiEgyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday that any global coalition against terrorism should battle not just “Islamic State” (IS, formerly ISIS) but other groups as well, Reuters reports.
 
Egyptian security officials have said Islamic State has established contacts with Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, the Sinai-based terrorist group which has killed hundreds of security forces since the army toppled Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last year.
 
The group has also claimed responsibility for several rocket attacks that targeted the Israeli resort city of Eilat.
 
Sisi reportedly told Kerry said any international coalition to combat terrorism "should be comprehensive and not exclusively target a specific organization or eradicate a certain terrorist hotspot", the presidency said in a statement.
 
"Rather, the coalition should extend to encompass combating terrorism wherever it exists in the Middle East and African regions," the statement said, according to Reuters.
 
Sisi also expressed concerns about foreign fighters in IS and the danger they posed to their home countries because of Western passports that can get them through airports undetected.
 
The statement added that Sisi "warned of the repercussions from the involvement of foreign militants in ongoing regional conflicts."
 
Egypt's foreign minister, backing Washington's call for global action to counter the threat, said earlier in a news conference with Kerry that IS terrorists in Iraq and Syria were forging ties with other extremist groups in the region.
 
Groups that share Islamic State's ideology and "take Islam as a cover" must be dealt with, said Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri, according to Reuters.
 
Kerry said earlier on Saturday that Egypt “is on the frontline of the fight against terrorism, particularly when it comes to fighting extremist groups in Sinai.”
 
Kerry visited Egypt to gain support for a broad coalition of countries to fight IS. He had already secured the backing of 10 Arab governments, including Egypt, alongside Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and six Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
 
The U.S. top diplomat, however, has rejected the possibility that Iran would be part of the initiative as well, saying on Friday it would be inappropriate for Iran to attend an upcoming meeting in Paris on how to defeat IS.
 
Last week, it was reported that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei had authorized his army to coordinate joint military operations with the United States against IS in Iraq.
 
The State Department later clarified it has "no plans" for any military coordination with Iran in the fight against IS.

CIA Says IS Has Up to 31,500 Fighters

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 20 September 2014 16:23
Isis membersA CIA spokesman said on Thursday that a new intelligence assessment estimates that the Islamic State (IS) group can muster between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
 
That figure is up from a previous estimation of 10,000, noted the report.
 
The new assessment is based on a review of intelligence reports from May to August. It is larger than the 20,000 figure being used by many outside experts.
 
CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani said the new total reflects stronger recruitment by the extremist group since June following battlefield successes and the group's declaration of a caliphate.
 
He added that the revised number also reflects "greater battlefield activity, and additional intelligence."
 
The latest assessment comes a day after U.S. President Barack Obama announced the formation of a broad coalition to fight IS.
 
Obama has already authorized the use of airstrikes to prevent the group’s advance in Iraq and to protect American personnel and interests inside the country. He indicated in his speech that those airstrikes would continue and that there will be not be American troops on the ground.
 
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Wednesday, before Obama’s speech, that France was prepared to take part in air strikes on Islamic extremists in Iraq "if necessary".

Fatah Official: What's the Difference Between Hamas and ISIS?

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 20 September 2014 10:05
Member of IsisA leading Fatah party member has compared Hamas's methods of executing and brutalizing its political opponents in Gaza to the gruesome executions carried out by the "Islamic State" terrorist group, or ISIS.
 
In an interview with the Palestinian Authority's official TV station, Fatah Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi expressed his anger over a string of executions and shootings of Fatah members in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge, and said the "unity deal" between Hamas and the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority was "a mistake."
 
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Prior to his interview, which was translated by MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute), Al-Awda TV aired footage from an interview with a Fatah member from Gaza who said he was maimed by Hamas gunmen for leaving his home after being put under house arrest.
 
"I was told that I was under house arrest - I was forbidden to leave home - for reasons unknown to me," the man, who was lying on a hospital bed with his wounded legs under a sheet. His identity was hidden for obvious security reasons.
 
He said that despite that fact he went outside "but stayed close to home. I didn't go far away."
 
"All of a sudden, a car with three men stopped. They got out and told us to stay where we were," he recalled. "They asked me my name, and I told them, and then all three of them opened fire at me."
 
His story matches dozens of other accounts by Fatah members who say Hamas used the fog of war to settle political scores with its rivals.
 
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has spoken out against the attacks on several occasions, most recently in an interview last week. But Tirawi was distinctly less diplomatic.
 
"I do not believe that we can keep quiet about what was done to our people in Gaza," he said, blasting Hamas for what he later described as the "nightmarish" way it was treating members of its supposed "unity government" partner, Fatah.
 
"National unity is not just an agreement that you sign," he fired.
 
"That agreement was a mistake, a mistake, a mistake. It was dictated from above. A bulls*** agreement with no details and no mechanism for implementation," such as who would actually run Gaza and its numerous "security agencies".
 
Tirawi also accused Hamas of undermining efforts to fight against Israel.
 
"If we want to wage war we must be united and prepared. How can we possibly be prepared, when Fatah members in (Gaza) are forbidden to bear arms and fight?"
 
He claimed that several of the more than two dozen men summarily executed by Hamas during Operation Protective Edge were "officers in the security agencies."
 
"Hamas says they are spies. Did they place them on trial? Did they interrogate them? Where are the confessions?" he demanded.
 
"According to what laws did they execute these people? What is the difference between (Hamas) and Al-Zarqawi, not to mention ISIS?" he continued. Abu Mousab Al-Zarqawi was the infamous and brutal founder and head of ISIS's predecessor, the Islamic State of Iraq.
 
"I don't want to mention ISIS, which beheads people," he went on, but then asked: "What is the difference between beheading people and executing them by gunfire? Aren't they both killers, regardless of the execution method, which we all denounce?"
 
Hamas proudly and openly broadcast news of the executions, including photos of menacing-looking masked gunmen lining up the victims for execution, in an attempt to project strength in the aftermath of a series of Israeli airstrikes targeting key Hamas leaders.
 
But the images - as well as the very use of summary, public executions without trial - caused many people to compare Hamas to the Islamic State, which broadcast footage of the brutal beheading of US journalist James Foley at around the same time.
 
The comments surface after tensions between Hamas and the PA have begun to boil over, with Hamas ordering its members in Judea and Samaria to resist summonses for investigation by PA forces earlier this month; recently Hamas staged a failed coup attempt on Abbas in Judea and Samaria.

Fatah Official: What's the Difference Between Hamas and ISIS?

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 20 September 2014 10:05
Member of IsisA leading Fatah party member has compared Hamas's methods of executing and brutalizing its political opponents in Gaza to the gruesome executions carried out by the "Islamic State" terrorist group, or ISIS.
 
In an interview with the Palestinian Authority's official TV station, Fatah Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi expressed his anger over a string of executions and shootings of Fatah members in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge, and said the "unity deal" between Hamas and the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority was "a mistake."
 
{youtube}ATu_xquX0HM{/youtube}
 
Prior to his interview, which was translated by MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute), Al-Awda TV aired footage from an interview with a Fatah member from Gaza who said he was maimed by Hamas gunmen for leaving his home after being put under house arrest.
 
"I was told that I was under house arrest - I was forbidden to leave home - for reasons unknown to me," the man, who was lying on a hospital bed with his wounded legs under a sheet. His identity was hidden for obvious security reasons.
 
He said that despite that fact he went outside "but stayed close to home. I didn't go far away."
 
"All of a sudden, a car with three men stopped. They got out and told us to stay where we were," he recalled. "They asked me my name, and I told them, and then all three of them opened fire at me."
 
His story matches dozens of other accounts by Fatah members who say Hamas used the fog of war to settle political scores with its rivals.
 
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has spoken out against the attacks on several occasions, most recently in an interview last week. But Tirawi was distinctly less diplomatic.
 
"I do not believe that we can keep quiet about what was done to our people in Gaza," he said, blasting Hamas for what he later described as the "nightmarish" way it was treating members of its supposed "unity government" partner, Fatah.
 
"National unity is not just an agreement that you sign," he fired.
 
"That agreement was a mistake, a mistake, a mistake. It was dictated from above. A bulls*** agreement with no details and no mechanism for implementation," such as who would actually run Gaza and its numerous "security agencies".
 
Tirawi also accused Hamas of undermining efforts to fight against Israel.
 
"If we want to wage war we must be united and prepared. How can we possibly be prepared, when Fatah members in (Gaza) are forbidden to bear arms and fight?"
 
He claimed that several of the more than two dozen men summarily executed by Hamas during Operation Protective Edge were "officers in the security agencies."
 
"Hamas says they are spies. Did they place them on trial? Did they interrogate them? Where are the confessions?" he demanded.
 
"According to what laws did they execute these people? What is the difference between (Hamas) and Al-Zarqawi, not to mention ISIS?" he continued. Abu Mousab Al-Zarqawi was the infamous and brutal founder and head of ISIS's predecessor, the Islamic State of Iraq.
 
"I don't want to mention ISIS, which beheads people," he went on, but then asked: "What is the difference between beheading people and executing them by gunfire? Aren't they both killers, regardless of the execution method, which we all denounce?"
 
Hamas proudly and openly broadcast news of the executions, including photos of menacing-looking masked gunmen lining up the victims for execution, in an attempt to project strength in the aftermath of a series of Israeli airstrikes targeting key Hamas leaders.
 
But the images - as well as the very use of summary, public executions without trial - caused many people to compare Hamas to the Islamic State, which broadcast footage of the brutal beheading of US journalist James Foley at around the same time.
 
The comments surface after tensions between Hamas and the PA have begun to boil over, with Hamas ordering its members in Judea and Samaria to resist summonses for investigation by PA forces earlier this month; recently Hamas staged a failed coup attempt on Abbas in Judea and Samaria.

Get Ready for the Real War

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 07:27
ISIS fighters parade in Raqqa Syria - fileWinning the war against Islamic State would only be the beginning.
 
In recent weeks, the media are filled with reports on the international preparations for a war against the "Islamic State" and an International Conference was even convened in Paris in an attempt to enlist the cooperation of as many nations as possible in waging it.
 
At the same time, US air force planes have intensified their attacks against "Islamic State" forces, especially in the vicinity of the dams in northern Iraq, this to prevent their being blown up and causing the deaths of many thousands of Iraqis.
 
This week we heard a short and decisive speech by US President Barack Obama, into which he inserted rhetoric elements that he has hardly used before, certainly in comparison to the speeches of his predecessor George W. Bush.
 
I have not heard all of Obama's speeches, but those I did rarely included the expression "our friends and allies". Bush used those words day and night when talking about the war against terror. Does this change in rhetoric express a change in Obama's approach? I am not sure if it does.
 
In his speech, Obama repeated several times that Iraq is an ally of the United States. And right at the start of his words, he said that the USA cannot do for the Iraqis what they must do for themselves. That sentence is a perfect example of Obama's erroneous strategic thinking – he continues to see the Iraqis as a single group. He has still not internalized the fact that the Iraqis have never succeeded in developing the sense of unity and solidarity that defines a nation. In Iraq the tribal divisions are alive and kicking and there are over 70 of them, as well as four ethnic groups and about ten religions, all divided among a not inconsiderable number of communal sectors. The possibility that the Iraqi government can function any better than those that preceded it is not great, and therefore the assumption that the Iraqi army can be more stalwart in its battle against the knife-wielding Islamic State fighters is yet to be proven correct.
 
It's tough trying to build an international coalition, because there are factors unconnected to the Islamic State that come into play. There is a war in eastern Ukraine playing out in the background and Russia is the main actor in that war. Russia does not support a war against the Islamic State, so not many European countries are lining up to join Obama's coalition against Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi and his jihadists.
 
Regional questions also play a part, including the role that will be allotted to countries in the area such as Iran and the Assad regime, both of whom have a clear interest in joining the coalition. Iran will expect to be rewarded with an easing of demands for nuclear controls and Assad will expect an insurance policy to prevent his being deposed, even though he has been defined as a "war criminal".  The West is not interested in giving Assad this insurance policy, since he has already announced that any military activity by another country on Syrian soil or over Syrian airspace will be considered an act of hostility against Syria to which that country will respond. The bigger problem is not Syria, but Russia, as any incursion on Syrian soil would be interpreted as a green light for Russia in Ukraine.
 
Another country in the area that poses a problem is Turkey, which has been aiding the Syrian rebel forces from the very first anti- Assad demonstrations in 2011, those very forces that spawned the "Islamic State" over a three year period. Thousands of jihadists from many different countries arrived at the bloody battlegrounds of Iraq and Syria by way of Turkey. Turkey purchases oil from the "Islamic State" at a remarkably reduced rate, and resells it in the international market, so that Turkey is basically funding the "Islamic State" while raking in huge sums for its own treasury. It has recently been claimed that Turkey gives weaponry to the "Islamic State".
 
Qatar is not enthusiastic about a war against the "Islamic State" either, having given it generous amounts of financial aid over a long period, knowing that its jihadists were anti-Assad. The Emir of Qatar is not eager to eliminate the "Islamic State" because he is afraid that his own state will then become the next goal of the Islamic State jihadists. In fact, he pays them off so that they expend their aggressive energies on other countries. Saudi Arabia is also not happy about destroying the Sunni Islamic State as it might further empower the Shiite axis headed by Iran. Those who identify with the Muslim Brotherhood certainly feel comfortable with the "Islamic State", even if they do not support all the brutal methods it employs.
 
Another point to be taken into consideration is the possible extreme reactions of Muslims around the world against the war and those taking part in it. The black flag of ISIS has been waved in country after country and the jihadist successes against the heretics of Iraq and Syria have made many Muslims around the world ecstatic, also causing many of them to identify with the "Islamic State", its goals, and first and foremost, the idea of imposing the rule of Islam on the entire world. Radical Muslims who identify with jihad, and who can be found just about everywhere, may carry out attacks, kidnappings, murder and even behead infidels in order to take revenge on the coalition which acts against the "Islamic State".
 
The war against the Islamic State looks like a rerun of the war fought against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan starting in 2001. Many of the elements that characterized that war are still around today, leading to the general feeling that the war against "Islamic State" will fail just as the war against al Qaeda did. The reasons are obvious: this is not a war against a state or an organization that will be defeated once its military might is destroyed. Here, we are first and foremost battling an ideology, fighting a faith vested in the hearts of millions of people who live all over the world.
 
The belief that Islam is the true religion and that Judaism and Christianity are false religions is a basic tenet of Islamic faith worldwide. The belief that Islam can and must rule the world is shared by many millions of Muslims. The belief that militant jihad is a legitimate tool for achieving Islamic supremacy over the world is anchored in Islamic history and the biography of Mohammed.  The belief that a Muslim must  mete out the revenge of Allah against every infidel that dares to lift his hand against a Muslim is a natural part of Islam. The belief that "Islamic State", the goal of the entire mission, reflects the real, pure and original Islam is shared by millions of Muslim worldwide.
 
It is  clear that once al Qaeda was destroyed, the "Islamic State" came to be – so that if the Islamic state is destroyed, another Islamic entity will take its place.and attract thousands of Muslims from just as many countries. Add to that those converting to Islam from Europe, America, and the four corners of the globe, those blond and blue-eyed men and women who will rush to join the group in order to observe all the beliefs associated with Islam.
 
This can also happen in Africa, under the Boko Haram, in the Saharan plains under the Libyan Jihadists, sponsored by the butchers of Ansar Bait al-Maqdis.
 
The battle against the problematic tenets of the Islamic faith is not bound in place or time and like the genie that comes out of a bottle, cannot be put back in it. Muslim emigration to Western countries unsettles those governments internally due to the Islamic takeover of public space, politics, economics and its image in the politically correct media. In many parts of the world one can say that "Islamic State is here", in neighborhoods that the local police do not enter, in the cities where a Muslim majority forces Sharia on supermarkets, pharmacies, bars and churches – and in the parliaments where the presence of the Islamic State is becoming more and more influential and solidly based.
 
The really significant battle is not in Iraq or Syria, where what is happening is just the introduction that follows the preface acted out in Afghanistan 13 years ago. The real war, far-ranging and dangerous, will develop once "Islamic State" is eliminated and the vengeance resulting from that success begins to be exacted in America, Europe, Australia and every place where man-made laws are in force. Its goal will be to impose the law of Allah as it is spelled out in Islamic sources.
 
Anyone who thinks that destroying "Islamic State" in Iraq and Syria will solve the problem had better think again, because the problem is not this or that organization or country. The problem is the ideology that today motivates one and half billion people who believe that the "religion of Allah is Islam" (Qu'ran chap.53, v.19). This ideology will not be eliminated even if we get rid of the jihadists in Iraq and Syria down to the last man. Their followers are to be found in most parts of the world and that world must be prepared to change the rules of the game, otherwise it will find itself putting out fires instead of apprehending the pyromaniacs.
 
Written for Arutz Sheva, translated from the Hebrew by Rochel Sylvetsky
 
 
Dr. Mordechai KedarDr. Mordechai Kedar
Dr. Mordechai Kedar is a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University. He served in IDF Military Intelligence for 25 years, specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. Thoroughly familiar with Arab media in real time, he is frequently interviewed on the various news programs in Israel.

Islamic State Executes Female Doctors and Politicians

Category: News
Created on Friday, 12 September 2014 15:20
Isis membersThe brutal Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist organization has continued its bloody string of executions, this time finding fit to shoot two female doctors to death after they refused to treat members of the terror group.
 
According to reports six people, including three women, were executed in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul by IS terrorists on Saturday publicly and without trial.
 
Witnesses told AFP that the terrorists broke into the homes of the two female doctors who refused to treat members of their group, as well as the home of a female candidate that ran unsuccessfully in parliamentary elections for the US-backed Iraqi government, shooting all three and taking their bodies with them.
 
The recent act follows the execution of a female doctor two weeks ago who refused IS's orders to dress "modestly" and cover her face with a traditional Islamic veil.
 
IS terrorists are also continuing to target political activists who cooperated with the Iraqi government in Baghdad.
 
The method the terrorists use in such cases remains uniform: armed forces arrive at the homes of the politicians and local public figures, shoot them to death right outside their homes, and leave with the body. Occasionally the additional touch of burning the home is mixed into the standard formula to make sure the public "gets the message."
 
A similar act used to enforce IS rule was recently seen when members of the jihadist group abducted 50 youths from a village where IS flags were burned.
 
The Islamic State organization is enforcing stringent sharia (Islamic law), killing those drinking alcohol or not attending public prayer, chopping off the arms and legs of thieves, and crucifying, beheading or shooting to death those charged with cursing Islam or its founder Mohammed, as well as those supporting democracy.
 
The brutal punishments are carried out in public, before the eyes of hundreds of residents including children.
 
Responding to the threat posed by IS and similar jihadist groups that seek to conquer the world, Middle East studies expert Dr. David Bukay of the University of Haifa told Arutz Sheva that the world should recognize the dangers of such groups and fight Islam like Nazism.

Middle East Expert: 'Fight Islam Like Nazism'

Category: News
Created on Friday, 12 September 2014 08:30
Palestinian Arabs hold Nazi flag at Netzarim Junction - ReutersMiddle East studies expert Dr. David Bukay of the University of Haifa ridicules intelligence experts trying to downplay the danger posed by the extremist group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), which has captured large swathes of Iraq and Syria in recent months.
 
Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Bukay explained "today they have nearly 20,000 fighters; it's a contagious phenomenon, they cast fear and dread and many join them."
 
"There's no clear strategy against them," added Bukay, noting on US President Barack Obama's statements last Thursday that he has "no strategy" to combat IS in Syria.
 
"Today they're already waving their flags in Arab villages in Israel, in Umm al-Fahm and Saknin. The new amendment against waving Hamas and IS flags is ludicrous, I'd like to see the attorney general fight them," commented the Middle East expert.
 
Bukay argued that the world must understand the war today must not be against this or that terror group, but against extremist Islam as an ideology.
 
"Islam is an existential threat, and if in the past they declared war on the Nazis and afterwards on Communism, today they must declare war on Islam and not necessarily on terror. You're fighting an ideology here that speaks about conquering the world and killing infidels, that's a religious war by all means," argued the expert.
 
"IS published a map of all the next countries in line, including India, China, Africa and the Middle East," continued Bukay. "Today they are functioning in areas where there is a governmental vacuum, like Iraq and Syria, but them are also functioning in Lebanon and approaching Jordan."
 
It is worth noting that at least one Jordanian Muslim scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Adwan, has sharply criticized Islamic fundamentalism, saying in March "there are classes in Islam which claim that the Koran seeks to abolish the Torah and Bible. There is no truth to that. ...Allah chose to call this land 'Israel' and not 'Palestine.' The term 'Palestine' does not appear in the Koran either."
 
Adwan said "Palestinians" were "the killers of children, the elderly and women. ...This is their habit and custom, their viciousness, their having hearts of stones towards their children, and their lying to public opinion, in order to get its support."
 
Regarding the IS threat in Israel, General Security Services reported on Friday that at least ten Arab citizens of Israel have joined IS and are taking part in the fighting in Syria and Iraq, reports Yisrael Hayom.
 
Likewise Arab reports indicated that a Syrian-born IS terrorist was killed in Gaza during the fighting against Israel in Operation Protective Edge, showing how the threat of IS is encroaching on Israel.

Senior Leaders of Islamic State Eliminated in Airstrikes

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 07 September 2014 20:23
Senior Leaders of Islamic State EliminatedThe leadership of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist group in Syria and Iraq took a sharp blow on Thursday, as roughly 20 senior figures, including a top aide to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, were killed in airstrikes according to the Iraqi defense ministry.
 
In airstrikes on the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, where IS began its blitz conquest of Iraq in June, Baghdadi's top aide was killed along with a senior IS military commander, Abu Alaa al-Iraqi, according to Iraqi sources cited by BBC.
 
It remains unclear if the airstrike was conducted by local US-trained Iraqi forces, or by the US, which has been engaged in a series of targeted airstrikes on IS terrorists in Iraq since last month.
 
IS took a blow in eastern Syria as well, where 18 foreign jihadist senior leaders of the group, including an American jihadist, were killed by an airstrike in the IS-held city of Raqqa according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
 
The top IS leaders were in the municipal building of Gharbiya, which has been used as a headquarters for the extremist group, when the strike occurred.
 
In yet another airstrike in the eastern Syrian city of Abu Kamal near the Iraqi border on Thursday, an as yet unknown number of IS terrorists were killed according to the human rights group. 
 
During the two airstrikes and the ensuing disorder, a total of 13 IS-held captives were able to escape according to the group.
 
However, IS was not deterred in its campaign of terror, abducting 40 men from the northern Iraqi Sunni town of Hawija in Kirkuk province on Thursday. Residents of the town said they were uncertain why the men were captured, since IS had captured the town without resistance last month.
 
The recent airstrikes in Iraq, if conducted by the US, illustrate the increasing seriousness with which America is considering IS after two US journalists, Steven Sotloff and James Foley, were brutally beheaded in executions filmed and broadcast to the world.
 
After the second journalist was murdered, US Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday warned IS, saying "they should know we will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice. Because hell is where they will reside. Hell is where they will reside."

Islamic State Threatens to 'Drown Americans in Blood'

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 27 August 2014 07:38
Islamic State Threatens AmericansThe Islamic State (IS) terrorist group that has seized large parts of Iraq threatened the United States on Monday it will attack Americans "in any place" if U.S. airstrikes in Iraq hit its people.
 
According to Reuters, the threat was made in a video published by the group.
 
The video, which shows a photograph of an American who was beheaded during the U.S. occupation of Iraq and victims of snipers, featured a statement which said in English "we will drown all of you in blood".
 
U.S. President Barack Obama recently authorized "limited airstrikes" following threats of an impending genocide committed by IS against the local Yazidi people.
 
On Saturday, the U.S. military confirmed it conducted nine airstrikes near Arbil and Iraq's largest dam in an effort to help Kurdish forces retake it from the IS.
 
Obama said at a news conference on Monday that the Islamic State posed a threat to Iraq and the entire region.
 
Meanwhile, humanitarian aid continues to be delivered to thousands of Yazidis trapped in the Sinjar Mountains while fleeing IS's ultimatum to convert or die.
 
The ancient Yazidi community has been particularly targeted by the Islamic State, with reports of large-scale massacres and systematic rape drawing concerns of an impending genocide if rapid action is not taken.

Iraq: Kurdish Forces Retake Mosul Dam from 'Islamic State'

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 23 August 2014 11:45
A member of Kurdish Peshmerga forces - ReutersKurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq have retaken the country's largest dam from Islamic State forces, in an important strategic advance.
 
Backed by US air support Kurdish fighters ended IS's 11-day control of the dam, which gave them effective control of northern Iraq's water and electricity supply. There were also fears the Islamists could use the dam to flood neighboring towns and villages to drive out opposition to its rapid advance.
 
The retaking of Mosul dam is the biggest reversal for the Islamic State - formerly known as ISIS - since it swept through Iraq, taking the second city of Mosul and embarking on a campaign to "cleanse" the area of all non-Sunni-Muslim communities.
 
Kurdish forces encountered fierce resistance, but were eventually able to drive out the jihadis.
 
US President Barack Obama defended his decision to authorize air strikes against IS to enable the Kurds to capture the dam, saying that in doing so he was defending key American interests.
 
"The failure of the Mosul Dam could threaten the lives of large numbers of civilians, threaten U.S. personnel and facilities - including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad - and prevent the Iraqi government from providing critical services to the Iraqi populace," the White House said in a statement. 
 
"These operations are limited in their nature, duration, and scope and are being undertaken in coordination with and at the request of the government of Iraq." 
 
A small contingent of American special forces are also operating on the ground to help direct the air strikes, Kurdish officials say.
 
Meanwhile, humanitarian aid continues to be delivered to thousands of Yazidis trapped in the Sinjar Mountains while fleeing IS's ultimatum to convert or die. The ancient Yazidi community has been particularly targeted by the Islamic State, with reports of large-scale massacres and systematic rape drawing concerns of an impending genocide if rapid action is not taken.

Yazidis Commit Mass-Suicide After Rape by Islamic State Fighters

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 23 August 2014 07:08
Yazidi refugees in IraqIn yet another harrowing chapter in the tragic plight of Iraq's Kurdish Yazidi population, eyewitnesses have described how girls raped by Muslim fighters from the "Islamic State" (formerly ISIS) committed suicide en-masse after returning to their families, as evidence of systematic rape by Islamists against non-Muslims continue to surface.
 
Among the tens of thousands of Yazidi refugees trapped in the Shingal mountains while fleeing IS's deadly advance through Iraq, several survivors told Kurdish Rudaw TV how a group of three girls were returned after being abducted and raped - only to hurl themselves off a cliff after being traumatized by their ordeal.
 
A Kurdish reporter said the mother of one of the girls had given an interview in front of the camera, but claimed Kurdish fighters from the YPG militia had seized the camera and erased the interview - possibly in an attempt to avoid sowing panic.
 
The mother reportedly told of how in their desperation the girls begged other refugees to kill them, but when no one would comply they killed themselves.
 
The YPG is the dominant Kurdish force in Syria and has taken control of some areas across the border in Iraq since IS swept away Iraqi forces earlier in the summer. It has been credited with putting up a stiff resistance against Islamist forces and helping to save many Yazidi and Christian refugees, but has also criticized as authoritarian by its opponents.
 
Another woman said she also witnessed what happened to the girls.
 
"They [IS] took the girls by force and raped them, and after they returned they killed themselves," she said.
 
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Some Kurds say the systematic rape of Yazidi women is yet more evidence of no less than a genocide against their people by IS.
 
As the Islamic State rampages through northern Iraq, witnesses say they have made a point of slaughtering any men who refuse to convert to Islam, and taking women and children as slaves. In one incident on Friday, 80 Yazidi men were executed and around 100 women and children kidnapped in the tiny Yazidi village of Kojo in northern Iraq.
 
The Yazidi religion is indigenous to Kurdistan, and Yazidis themselves are  ethnically-Kurdish. But unlike many other Kurds, they largely avoided intermarriage with surrounding Arab tribes and thus a many of them maintained a strikingly fair "Aryan" complexion, with blond hair and blue eyes. By raping their women, IS fighters "complement" the slaughter and forced-conversions of the Yazidis by impregnating them and breaking their bloodline, according to one leading Kurdish activist.
 
"The Kurds and Yazidis are originally Aryans. But because the Yazidis are such a closed community they have retained a fairer complexion, blonder hair and bluer eyes. They don't marry non-Yazidis," Adnan Kochar, chairman of the Kurdish Cultural Centre in London, explained to the Daily Mail.
 
"ISIS have taken around 300 women from Sinjar to give to jihadists to marry and make pregnant to have a Muslim child. If they can't kill all Yazidis, they will try to smash the blond bloodline," he said.
 
Last week, the Special Representative of the UN's Secretary-General on Sexual Violence (SRSG) in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov condemned "sexual violence" being employed by Islamic State terrorists against non-Muslim women and children.
 
"We are gravely concerned by continued reports of acts of violence, including sexual violence against women and teenage girls and boys belonging to Iraqi minorities," read a joint-statement.
 
“Atrocious accounts of abduction and detention of Yazidi, Christian, as well as Turkomen and Shabak women, girls and boys, and reports of savage rapes, are reaching us in an alarming manner," Ms. Bangura and Mr. Mladenov added, saying that some 1,500 Yazidi and Christian persons may have been forced into sexual slavery. That number is now likely to be much higher as Islamists have since made further gains.
 
But on Sunday Kurdish Peshmerga forces, aided by US airstrikes, have reportedly made gains and are advancing on the strategically-important Mosul Dam, which was seized by IS on August 7.
 
Many Yazidi men have enlisted to Peshmerga forces to help push back the Islamists and reclaim their homeland from IS's self-styled "Caliphate".

Huffington Post pimps for Islamic State and Hamas, defames their victims

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 08:00
photo-9This sums up what we’re up against. It best illustrates the war in the information battlespace. Who is the Huffington Post working for — the Islamic State? Clearly, they’d like to see my severed head on a pole.
 
Look at this report. Where is the coverage of the Yazidi speaker? The Kurd leader? The Hindu activist? Thousands are being slaughtered, and this troll is making fun of the international human rights hero, Simon Deng, a former Sudanese slave? Imagine recording three hours just to try and capture a wrong word or a flubbed line or a forgotten name. What’s funny is that Simon had rattled off a cascade of complicated names of numerous Islamic terrorist organizations, but that didn’t matter. When he momentarily forgot the Islamic State, Paul Vale pounced, like the vulture he is. And I love how he put “minorities persecuted under Islamic rule” in quotation marks, as if I made up the fact that there are religious minorities in Muslim countries, and that they’re being violently persecuted. Shame on them.
 
The whole point of the Huffington Post covering this rally was to mock, smear, and destroy anyone associated with this issue. This is not coverage, this is Islamic propaganda.
 
Their article is particularly targeting young people. What young person would want to be associated with this kind of coverage? It included nothing about the testimony from these unsung heroes. And the number of attendees is, typically, drastically low. They did the same thing with our Ground Zero Mosque rally as well — we had 30,000, and Keith Olbermann said we had 500. So if Paul Vale says we had 150 yesterday, which is refuted by the pictures I posted here, then you can be sure we had 5,000.
 
Notice also how he makes no mention of the sponsoring organization, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) — instead, it’s “banned Geller,” “anti-Muslim Geller.” So opposing the oppression and genocide against the Yazidis and others is “anti-Muslim”? And apparently Paul Vale and the Huffington Post are on the side of the slaughterers.
 
As for the headline, pointing out that I am banned in the UK, that is a moment of shame not for me, but for Britain. Any liberal, thinking, freedom-loving human being knows how wrong it is to ban a human rights activist who stands for freedom and individual rights against oppression and subjugation. Instead of blaring it in a headline, they should be hanging their heads in shame. That’s a black mark against them, not me.
 
Videos of this historic event are being uploaded to YouTube today. Watch it and decide for yourself.
 
Getting your news from vicious trolls like Paul Vale is hazardous to your freedom.
 
Imagine: this is a big story on Huffington Post UK. They came across the world to mock and ridicule those who stood for freedom. And the American press wouldn’t even cover it. Which is worse? Who is more culpable?

IS Jihadists Kill 80 Yazidis in Northern Iraq

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 06:22
yazidisIslamists from the Islamic State (IS) killed 80 members of Iraq's Yazidi minority in a northern village on Friday, sources told Fox News.
 
The Kurdish-speaking ethnic and religious group, which numbers in the hundreds of thousands in Iraq, has been persecuted in the north by IS, with at least 500 killed prior to Friday's news, according to Iraq's human rights minister.
 
The latest killings came just a day after President Obama said U.S. air strikes and humanitarian aid drops on Sinjar mountain, where thousands of Yazidi have been stranded in an Islamic State siege had been ended.
 
"They arrived in vehicles and they started their killing this afternoon,'' senior Kurdish official Hoshiyar Zebari was quoted as having told Reuters. "We believe it's because of their creed: convert or be killed."
 
A Yazidi lawmaker and another senior Kurdish official also said the killings had taken place and that the women of the village were kidnapped.
 
Iraqi and Yazidi leaders say the brutal Islamic State fighters have buried Yazidi men alive, killed children and kidnapped women to be slaves.
 
"We have striking evidence obtained from Yazidis fleeing Sinjar and some who escaped death, and also crime scene images that show indisputably that the gangs of the Islamic States have executed at least 500 Yazidis after seizing Sinjar," Sudani told Reuters earlier this week.
 
The Islamic State, which has declared a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria it captured, forced tens of thousands of Yazidis and Christians to flee their homes or face certain death.
 
Members of the group have also taken hundreds of Yazidi women captive and have been holding them in schools in Mosul.
 
The Yazidis, followers of an ancient religion derived from Zoroastrianism, are spread over northern Iraq and are part of the country's Kurdish minority.

Nasrallah Worried About the Islamic State 'Monster'

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 17 August 2014 04:42
Hassan Nasrallah01After reports last week that the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) has gained a foothold in Lebanon's Arsal, Hezbollah terrorist leader Hassan Nasrallah expressed a definite note of fear as he warned of the IS "monster."
 
Nasrallah's Hezbollah is an Iran-proxy Shi'ite terror group in Lebanon, and as of yet has avoided conflict with the Sunni group IS in Lebanon, leaving the fighting to the Lebanese army. IS has already overrun vast portions of Iraq and Syria in a blitz campaign over the last two months, in the process committing atrocities and acts of ethnic cleansing.
 
IS is planning "on expanding toward Jordan and Saudi Arabia by undermining the security and stability of these countries," Nasrallah said in a meeting with the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, according to the Lebanese The Daily Star on Thursday, which cited a Hezbollah official.
 
The terror leader went on to say of IS that the "takfiri (apostate) monster is on the loose," adding that "everyone is aware of the seriousness."
 
Confronting IS is "a battle of life and death no less important than fighting the Israeli enemy, as (IS) actions and objectives only serve Israel,” continued Nasrallah, calling for Lebanese unity in facing IS.
 
The bizarre connecting of IS and Israel comes despite the fact that IS terrorists have been documented attacking Israel from Gaza. It also comes after Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's official daily claimed in five articles in the last six weeks that the US established IS to sow division in the Muslim world. 
 
Hezbollah is so far avoiding confrontation with IS, saying that it might intervene if they advance from Arsal to Labweh, a Hezbollah bastion 11 kilometers away.
 
However, Nasrallah bragged to Jumblatt that "we are the largest force capable and willing to make material, military and human sacrifices. We are willing to fight for the next 10 years."
 
Speaking in an interview Friday in the Lebanese Al-Akhbar, Nasrallah elaborated on the IS threat, saying "Turkey and Qatar are supporting ISIS, and I am convinced that Saudi Arabia fears it."
 
"There is a support for ISIS wherever there is a following of Takfiri (apostate) thinking, and this applies to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states," added the terrorist leader.
 
Even as he spoke about how the IS "monster" threatens countries in the area, Nasrallah called Israel "an illegal entity and...a longstanding threat to the region. We cannot live with this threat. This is why the ultimate goal for this (region) is to eliminate (Israel)."

Abbas's Daily Accuses US of Founding IS

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 17 August 2014 04:30
Mahmoud Abbas01The Palestinian Authority official daily has published five articles in the last six weeks accusing the United States of establishing the radical Islamic movement Islamic State (ISIS or IS), which has conquered vast territory in Syria and Iraq in recent months, reports Palestinian Media Watch.
 
IS has declared itself a Caliphate, thereby claiming religious authority over all Muslims; its goal is to bring much of the Middle East, including Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Cyprus under its control. To this end, IS has used extreme terror tactics, including decapitations, crucifixions and mass murders that were filmed and posted on YouTube.
 
The articles claim that the US has a long term goal of controlling the Arab-Muslim states by dividing them through conflict and wars. IS's war and other conflicts are all said to be the work of the US:
 
Some quotes from the articles, as cited by PMW:
 
"The wars in Libya, Iraq, Syria and Palestine were planned by the US in order to protect its interests... The ISIS, Islamic Front, and Al-Nusra Front (i.e., all radical Islamists) are Muslims from various countries the US is using to fight in Iraq and Syria, in order to fragment the unity of these two Arab countries... We are now more aware that the Americans - who want to fight for their own interests using Islamic, Jewish and Christian believers - are truly the head of the snake."
 
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 16, 2014]
 
"ISIS, the perpetrators of atrocities and the groups that hoist the banner of religion seem to be raising their weapons in sync with Washington, and fight the US verbally, but in practice are killing their enemies. Is this a coincidence, or was it planned ahead of time?"
 
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 14, 2014]
 
"The radical terrorists of ISIS and those like them, who were created by Israel and the US, are paving the way for Israel to act like them."
 
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 3, 2014]
 
As Palestinian Media Watch reported in June, the current editor in chief of the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida was appointed by the presidential decree of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas.
 
Fatah Central Committee Member Abbas Zaki made a similar accusation to the Palestine News Network, calling IS a "new creation" of the United States:
 
"[The US,] whose most advanced pawns include Israel and its new creation, ISIS, whose goal is to destroy the Arab world and eliminate the Palestinian cause."
 
[Palestine News Network, Aug. 7, 2014]
 
PMW has documented that the Palestinian Authority frequently publishes libels and vitriol directed against the United States.

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