Herridge: U.S. Missed Major Opportunity to Strike ISIL a Month Ago

 

Washington Free Beacon:

Catherine Herridge, Chief intelligence correspondent for Fox News, revealed that a crucial opportunity to launch airstrikes against ISIL was missed a month ago, according to congressional sources.

Speaking to host Shepard Smith, Herridge said that the opportunity was missed “about a month ago when ISIS was still on the Syrian border and away from the city centers.” She cited warnings that Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Mich.) confirmed today.

Herridge also reported that  Al Qaeda in Yemen now have operatives in Syria and they are working with the official Al Qaeda affiliate there, Al-Nusra Front, to share bombmaking techniques for IEDS as well as sharing operatives. The Pentagon has said that ISIL poses “a legitimate threat to Baghdad.”

Is ISIS Iran’s Proxy to achieve Regional Hegemony?

isisBy Jerry Gordon at NER:

Pinhas Inbari is an astute analyst of rof Arab affairs and regional dynamics at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) in Israel. Periodically, we have published his analysis as it confounds conventional wisdom about the conflicts and actors in a multi-dimensional chess game of geo-politics in the region. Such is the case with his analysis of  the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) whose blitzkrieg has rent asunder the artificial map of both Iraq and the Middle East, “ISIS: Iran’s  Instrument for Regional Hegemony.” A Middle East map whose origins can be found in the secret Sykes Picot agreement of 1915 reflected in the Post World War I Mandates of the League of Nations dividing up the former Ottoman Empire awarded  the French and British at the San Remo Conference in 1920.  The Iraq that arose from the British Mandate was an amalgamation of former Ottoman Empire vilayets encompassing restive Kurds, Sunnis and Shia and minority Assyrian Chaldean Christians, Turkmen and Jews.  The latter were driven out after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

Inbari presents evidence to support a thesis that ISIS is really a creation of the Syrian Mukhabarat (Intelligence) and Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence with the dual purposes of  defeating the  rebel opposition in Syria and forcing the breakup of  Iraq. His key points are:

  • Immediately after ISIS emerged in Syria, sources in the Syrian opposition said, “We are familiar with the commanders of ISIS. Once they belonged to Assad’s intelligence, and now they are operating on his behalf under the name of ISIS.”
  • Why would Shiite Iran support a Sunni jihadist organization like ISIS? Iran wants to be certain that a strong Iraqi state does not emerge again along its western border.
  • The notion that Shiite Iran would help Sunni jihadists was not farfetched, even if it seemed to defy the conventional wisdom in Western capitals.
  •  It is unreasonable to expect Iran to fight ISIS. If Iran does so, it would be turning against a movement that has been a useful surrogate for Tehran’s interests.

Thus, to replace Iraq, Iran would use ISIS to forge a new alignment and map. There would be three sectarian entities, Kurdistan, a  southern Shia satrapy of Iran  encompassing  the holy sites of Karbala and Najif, Baghdad and Basra, as well as  a rump Sunni state comprised of the central and  western provinces.  Inbari’s analysis may explain why the Obama Administration has temporized about committing military assets in the Gulf region in support of the faltering Maliki regime in Baghdad. Moreover, the Administration does not wish to upset its outreach to Iran, especially with regard to the current round of nuclear discussions, while seemingly rejected the Islamic regime’s offer to assist in quelling the turmoil caused by the ISIS blitzkrieg in Iraq.

Inbari presents confirmation in the upending of the official Al Qaeda opposition in Syria, the Al Nusrah Front, and the ISIS siege in Deir al Zour that appears directed at destroying the Free Syrian Army and Islamic Front rebel opposition to the Assad regime.  Inbari presents similar views of prominent Gulf region media analysts corroborating his thesis. Further, he points out the existence of a cache of intelligence on the leaders of ISIS found in digital memory sticks obtained by Iraqi intelligence during the battle for Mosul in northern Iraq.

Inbari’s proposition would fit the Twelver Shia conception of creating turmoil to bring about the return of moribund twelfth Imam to lead the conquest of the Dar al Harb under the Islamic regime’s hegemony ruled under Sharia, Islamic law.  Hence the rise of a Caliphate under the ISIS banner bestride Syria and current day Iraq would fit the Shia theology.

The fact that Sunni supremacist ISIS is leading the charge for creation of a Caliphate under Sharia in the Middle East, as Inbari points, is entirely consistent with Iran’s behavior in the run up to 9/11.  Iranian Intelligence with the aid of the late Hezbollah terrorist mastermind Imad Mughniyeh facilitated the training and transportation of the 19 Egyptian, Saudi and Yemeni perpetrators of 9/11 Islamic terror attack in lower Manhattan, Southwestern Pennsylvania and  at the  Pentagon in northern Virginia,. The evidence of that was revealed in the New York Federal District Court “9/11 Iran Links Case”.

downloadThere is more to support Inbari’s thesis in a new book to be published next week by Ken Timmerman, Dark Forces: The Truth About What Happened in Benghazi:

  • The group that took credit for the Benghazi attack, Ansar al Sharia, was trained and equipped by the Quds Force.
  • Both the CIA and US Delta and Special Operations Forces in Tripoli were actively monitoring Iranian operations in Benghazi, and warned their chain of command- including the late US Ambassador Stevens- that the Iranian were preparing a terrorist attack on the U.S. Compound in Benghazi.

Timmerman further notes that the Obama Administration supplied weapons to fight Qaddafi in Libya and Assad in Syria knowing that many rebel leaders were Al Qaeda operatives.  Moreover that Qatar was deeply involved both funding and transporting these weapons and the diffusion of MANPADS throughout North Africa, the Middle East and even Afghanistan.

Timmerman, in an email to this writer, commented that he  found  “curious” the timing this week of  the seizure of Ahmed Abu Khattala on the streets in Benghazi, Libya  by US special forces with the aid of the FBI.   Khatltala was a leader of Ansar al Shariah attack on the Benghazi Legation on 9/11/12.  He hid in plain sight for past nearly two years, as Timmerman notes in his new book.  He even gave interviews to the media.  Reports in the media tells of his telling the history of the terrorist group while slow steaming on the USS New York towards the US for possible detention and prosecution following his interrogation.  The irony is that the US navy vessel was built from the debris of the twin towers of the World Trade Center destroyed on 9/11 that Iran facilitated.

We will review Timmerman’s new book in the July NER.  This weekend we will be interviewing both Timmerman, and Daniel Diker, a colleague of Inbari at the JCPA, on The Lisa Benson Show on Sunday on KKNT960 at 4PM EDT in the US.

Inbari’s analysis of ISIS as the instrument of Iran Hegemony in the Middle East is both fascinating and timely.

Also see:

ISIL Moving Seized U.S. Tanks, Humvees to Syria

A captured Iraqi T-55 tank in Syria via ISIL social media

A captured Iraqi T-55 tank in Syria via ISIL social media

By Bill Gertz:

Syrian and Iraqi terrorist forces obtained significant numbers of tanks, trucks, and U.S.-origin Humvees in recent military operations in Iraq and those arms are being shipped to al Qaeda rebels in Syria, according to U.S. officials.

U.S. intelligence agencies reported this week that photos of the equipment transfers were posted online by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as ISIS, the ultra-violent terror group that broke away from al Qaeda but shares its goals and philosophy.

Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Bill Speaks confirmed the weapons transfers and expressed concerns about the captured arms.

“We’re aware of reports of some equipment—namely Humvees—and the pictures that have been posted online,” Speaks said in an email. “We are certainly concerned about these reports and are consulting with the Iraqi government to obtain solid confirmation on what assets may have fallen into ISIL’s hands.”

Speaks added that the loss of the equipment to the terrorist group is “really a matter for the Iraqi government to speak to publicly” because “it is their equipment.”

Exact numbers of captured arms and equipment are not known. The insurgents raided all the arms depots and vehicles belonging to Iraq’s Second Division, based in Mosul, which included a motorized brigade and several infantry brigades.

A defense official warned that ISIL claims that they have captured advanced weaponry, such as Blackhawk helicopters, are suspect.

“We do know that they made false claims last week, particularly with Blackhawk helicopters, which have never been sold to Iraq,” the official said.

U.S.-made Humvees enroute from Iraq to Syria via ISIL social media

U.S.-made Humvees enroute from Iraq to Syria via ISIL social media

The seized weapons are said to include Russian-made T-55 tanks and one report said U.S. M-1 Abrams tanks were taken. Numerous Humvees were shown on flatbed trucks being transported from the Nineveh province, in northwestern Iraq, to ISIL-controlled areas of Syria, including the Al Shadadi area and the town of Tall Hamis.

The ISIL notified people in the region where the tanks were seen to be alert for possible U.S. airstrikes, presumably against the captured weaponry.

One online posting by ISIL fighters showed a captured Iraqi T-55 tank reportedly in Deir ez-Zor, Syria.

Other online photos of captured Iraqi military equipment showed towed artillery, trucks, and troop transports being transferred to Syria from Iraq.

The weaponry is expected to provide ISIL with a major advantage over other rebel groups in Syria in their civil war with the forces of the Bashar al Assad regime in Damascus, as well as against other rival rebel groups, including the official al Qaeda affiliate, Al Nusra Front.

In a statement posted through its Twitter account, ISIL on June 12 provided a “field report” with photos of its capture of Iraqi weapons and conquests of Iraqi military outposts.

The weapons were taken from military bases on the border with Syria and moved to areas in Syria controlled by ISIL that the group is calling its “caliphate.”

One photo carried a caption in Arabic that read “Transferring the spoils to the Islamic State’s headquarters in Wilayah [territory under the Islamic caliphate] Al-Barakah” in the Al Hasakah province in northeastern Syria.

A U.S. official familiar with intelligence assessment of the ongoing conflict in Iraq said the ISIL has seized key cities, including Mosul and Tikrit, but is not expected to attempt a further drive to the capital of Baghdad, which is more heavily defended.

Read more at Free Beacon

***************

Published June 17, 2014 by Right Sightings:

On the road to Baghdad, ISIS had commandeered a vast array of weapons that now must be added to the list of deep concerns for those attempting to defend the city. Jessie Jane Duff, Gunnery Sergeant USMC (Ret.) joins FNC’s Harris Faulkner to define what the defenders must contend against in the days ahead.

Blowback! U.S. trained ISIS at secret Jordan base

Army trainers

Army trainers

WND, By Aaron Klein:

JERUSALEM – Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS, were trained in 2012 by U.S. instructors working at a secret base in Jordan, according to informed Jordanian officials.

The officials said dozens of ISIS members were trained at the time as part of covert aid to the insurgents targeting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. The officials said the training was not meant to be used for any future campaign in Iraq.

The Jordanian officials said all ISIS members who received U.S. training to fight in Syria were first vetted for any links to extremist groups like al-Qaida.

In February 2012, WND was first to report the U.S., Turkey and Jordan were running a training base for the Syrian rebels in the Jordanian town of Safawi in the country’s northern desert region.

That report has since been corroborated by numerous other media accounts.

Last March, the German weekly Der Spiegel reported Americans were training Syrian rebels in Jordan.

Quoting what it said were training participants and organizers, Der Spiegel reported it was not clear whether the Americans worked for private firms or were with the U.S. Army, but the magazine said some organizers wore uniforms. The training in Jordan reportedly focused on use of anti-tank weaponry.

The German magazine reported some 200 men received the training over the previous three months amid U.S. plans to train a total of 1,200 members of the Free Syrian Army in two camps in the south and the east of Jordan.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper also reported last March that U.S. trainers were aiding Syrian rebels in Jordan along with British and French instructors.

Reuters reported a spokesman for the U.S. Defense Department declined immediate comment on the German magazine’s report. The French foreign ministry and Britain’s foreign and defense ministries also would not comment to Reuters.

The Jordanian officials spoke to WND amid concern the sectarian violence in Iraq will spill over into their own country as well as into Syria.

ISIS previously posted a video on YouTube threatening to move on Jordan and “slaughter” King Abdullah, whom they view as an enemy of Islam.

WND reported last week that, according to Jordanian and Syrian regime sources, Saudi Arabia has been arming the ISIS and that the Saudis are a driving force in supporting the al-Qaida-linked group.

WND further reported that, according to a Shiite source in contact with a high official in the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Obama administration has been aware for two months that the al-Qaida-inspired group that has taken over two Iraqi cities and now is threatening Baghdad also was training fighters in Turkey.

The source told WND that at least one of the training camps of the group Iraq of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Syria, the ISIS, is in the vicinity of Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey, where American personnel and equipment are located.

He called Obama “an accomplice” in the attacks that are threatening the Maliki government the U.S. helped establish through the Iraq war.

The source said that after training in Turkey, thousands of ISIS fighters went to Iraq by way of Syria to join the effort to establish an Islamic caliphate subject to strict Islamic law, or Shariah.

 

 

Second Front Opens in the Sunni-Shia War

A Syrian soldier manning a checkpoint near Damascus

A Syrian soldier manning a checkpoint near Damascus

BY JONATHAN SPYER:

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) organization swept into the city of Mosul in western Iraq last week.  No one has any right to be surprised. ‬

ISIL has held a large swath of western Iraq since January – including the city of Fallujah.  The organization was clearly planning a larger scale offensive action into Iraq. ‬

In January it had carried out a strategic withdrawal from large swaths of Idleb and Aleppo provinces in Syria. This was intended to consolidate its lines in northern Syria, so as to move fighters out toward Iraq.  ISIL controls a contiguous bloc of territory stretching from western Iraq up through eastern and northern Syria to the Turkish border. ‬

Its “Islamic State” is already an existing, if precarious fact, no longer a mere aspiration.  So, like a state at war, it moves its forces to the front where they are most needed‬.

The rapid collapse of Nouri al-Maliki’s garrison in Mosul in the face of the ISIL assault should also come as no surprise.  These forces are hollow. ‬

Saddam Hussein maintained a huge army by coercion. Shirkers and deserters could expect to be executed. But Maliki’s army consists of poorly paid conscripts and often corrupt officers.  The Shia among them in Mosul saw no reason to fight and die for what seemed to them to be Sunni, alien territory.  Sunni officers among the garrison, meanwhile, may well have been working with ISIL itself or with one of the other Sunni Islamist or nationalist formations fighting alongside them. ‬

So what will happen now?  The pattern of developing events is already clear, and much may be learned from the experience of Syria. ‬

Bashar Assad, when rebellion broke out against him in March 2011, sought to use his huge conscript army to crush it.  But the Syrian dictator rapidly found out that his supposedly 295,000-strong army was largely a fiction.  Sunni conscripts refused to engage against the rebels, and Bashar was able to make use only of certain units composed largely of members of his own Alawi sect — units such as the Republican Guard and the 4th Armored Division. ‬

How did Assad address this problem? The answer is that he didn’t — Iran did. ‬

Realizing that their Syrian ally was facing defeat because of an absence of reliable manpower, the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps stepped in to effectively create a new, sectarian military for the Assads.  In addition, Iran introduced its various regional paramilitary proxies into the Syrian battlefield. ‬

By mid-2013, the new, sectarian infantry force trained by the Quds Force and Hizballah – named the National Defense Force – was beginning to be deployed against the Syrian rebellion.  In addition, Hizballah, and Iraqi Shia volunteers of Sadrist and other loyalties began to fill the gaps in manpower for Assad. ‬

These units turned the tide of the Syrian war.  But they have brought Assad survival, not victory.  The dictator rules over only about 40% of the territory of what was once Syria.  The rest is under the control of ISIL, the Kurds, and the Sunni Arab rebels.

Read more at Gloria Center

Top ISIS leaders revealed

Exclusive information obtained by Al Arabiya News Channel has revealed the identities of the top field commanders running the Islamist militant group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The six individuals who have been at the helm of the terror group are from Iraq, Deputy Minister of Iraq’s Interior Ministry Adnan al-Asadi told Al Arabiya in an exclusive interview to be aired on Friday.

At least three of them served in Saddam Hussein’s army while others were previously detained in Iraq and upon their release they joined the war in Syria.

1- Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

His real name is Ibrahim al-Badri, also formerly known as Abu Douaa, was a lecturer of Islamic studies and an Imam at mosques in Bagdad and Falluja before he was detained by American forces on June 4, 2004. After his release three years later, he established the “Sunni Army” militia and joined al-Qaeda. He became the group’s third in command following the death of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi.

2- Abu Ayman al-Iraqi

Al-Iraqi is one of the main leaders of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and a member of the organization’s military council. He previously worked as a colonel in Iraq’s air defense intelligence under Saddam Hussein, during which time he was nicknamed Abu Muhannad al-Suweidawi. He was detained for three years in 2007. Following his release, he moved to Syria and is currently commanding ISIS fighters in the cities of Edlib, Aleppo and the mountains of Lattakia.

3- Abu Ahmad al-Alwani

A former member of Saddam’s army, al-Alwani is currently a member of the ISIS military council. His real name is Waleed Jassem al-Alwani.

4- Abu Abdulrahman al-Bilawi

Al-Bilawi was one of the four members of the ISIS military council and former head of the group’s Shura council. Hailing from al-Khalidiya in Iraq’s Anbar province, he was detained on Jan. 27, 2005 in the American military detention center, Camp Bucca. He was later killed in al-Khalidiya, Anbar. His real name was Adnan Ismael Najm.
5- Haji Bakr

Bakr was a former officer in Saddam’s army, charged with handling the development of weapons. He was later imprisoned at Camp Bucca and joined al-Qaeda after his release. Bakr was reportedly the strongest ISIS commander in Syria up until his recent death. His real name was Samir Abd Mouhammad al-Khleifawi.

6- Abu Fatima al-Jaheishi

Al-Jaheishi was initially in charge of the ISIS operations in southern Iraq before he moved to the northern city of Kirkuk. His real name is Ni’ma Abd Nayef al-Jabouri.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) had claimed responsibility for a brazen attack on Abu Ghraib and Taji prisons on July 22, 2013 that led to the escape of hundreds of militants, many of whom were members of al-Qaeda.

A government statement pointed to collusion between jail staff and the militants who attacked the jails.

Several months after the incident, questions linger about how a handful of armed men could break into Iraq’s most guarded prisons without the help of the security services working for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a staunch ally of Iran and the Assad’s regime in Syria.

Recent reports have also established links between ISIS and the Syrian regime. According to documents revealed by the Syrian National Coalition, several field commanders of the al-Qaeda affiliate were former military or intelligence officers of the Syrian army.

These commanders have been coordinating military operations with the Assad’s forces, providing them with information about rebel fighters and facilitating the recapture of areas previously controlled by the rebel Free Syrian Army.

Rebel raids on ISIS camps turned out further corroborations on the alleged ties. Similar weapons and ammunition used by the Syrian regime forces were also found at the al-Qaeda camp in Raqqa province, according to opposition sources.

Syrian security identification cards and passports with entry and exit stamps to Iran were also seized during the raids on ISIS camps.

The latest reports came days after U.S. Treasury Department suggested last week that Assad’s ally Iran has allowed al-Qaeda militants to enter Syria.

Also see:

An ‘Islamic State’ Is Born

via Middle East Forum:

by Jonathan Spyer
The Jerusalem Post
June 12, 2014

494In a stunning and deeply significant development, the fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) organization this week captured the city of Mosul. They then moved on to take Tikrit unopposed and according to reports yesterday were headed toward the capital, Baghdad.

Five-hundred thousand people have fled Mosul in the wake of its conquest by the jihadis. The city, which has an Arab majority population along with large Kurdish and Turkmen minorities, is Iraq’s second largest. Its capture was the latest and most significant success in an offensive launched by the ISIS jihadis a week ago.

It also represents a calamitous defeat for the US-trained security forces of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

ISIS is the most brutal and best-organized of the jihadi elements that have emerged in Iraq and Syria over the last decade. It now controls a contiguous area of territory stretching from deep into western Iraq and including the cities of Mosul and Falluja, across the border into Syria, taking in the province of Raqqa, including its capital Raqqa City, and continuing until the border with Turkey. The movement has a presence as far as the southern suburbs of Baghdad.

The ISIS offensive into Iraq was well-planned, and its execution shows the extent to which ISIS sees its activities in Iraq and Syria as part of a single conflict.

The movement withdrew forces from outlying parts of Syria’s Idlib and Aleppo provinces in January.

At the time, this was presented by Syrian rebels as a defeat they had inflicted on ISIS, but eyewitnesses confirmed that hardly any fighting took place.

The offensive operations against the Kurdish YPG militia in the Kobani (Ayn al-Arab) area also tailed off.

The reason is now clear: ISIS was withdrawing forces and consolidating the western border of its “Islamic state,” in order to focus on expanding the eastern border deep inside Iraq.

The “Syrian” civil war long ago burst its borders, to become a sectarian conflict taking in the territory of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. ISIS’s tactical offensive has cast this fact into bold relief.

It is also, by necessity, bringing about cross-border cooperation between those elements targeted by ISIS.

The area to the north of ISIS’s “Islamic state” is controlled by the Kurds. But relations between the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) of Massoud Barzani in northern Iraq and the (PKK)-associated PYD’s three areas of control in northern Syria have worsened in recent months. Intra-Kurdish violence has not occurred, but the KRG has kept the border between the two areas tightly sealed – leading to PYD accusations that the KRG’s close strategic relations with Turkey were causing it to support the Turkish position against Syria’s Kurds.

The ISIS offensive appears to have repaired relations between the two Kurdish areas.

The latest gains by the movement in Mosul bring it within a few kilometers of the first checkpoints of Barzani’s Peshmerga forces. Thus, there is a common ISIS-Kurdish border stretching across PYD and KRG-controlled areas.

The result: YPG and Peshmerga commanders have conducted meetings at the border crossings over the last few days, to coordinate their defensive actions against ISIS. The Samalka border crossing, closed for three months, was opened this week to allow refugees to travel back to Syrian Kurdistan, according to Wladimir van Wilgenburg, a Dutch journalist and researcher at the Jamestown Foundation, currently reporting in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan.

So the cross-border Islamist entity is facing a renewed Kurdish alliance to its north. But what of the Baghdad government? Maliki’s armed forces may have performed atrociously in recent days, but he remains part of the Middle East’s single most powerful functioning alliance – the Iran-led regional bloc.

The emerging reality in western Iraq creates difficulties for the Iranians. Their client in Damascus, the Assad regime, has largely recovered its fortunes in recent months. Aided by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps and Hezbollah, Syrian regime forces are close to encircling rebel-controlled eastern Aleppo.

This little-reported process is causing deep alarm among supporters of the rebellion. Should Syrian President Bashar Assad succeed in besieging and starving out Aleppo, this will definitively end the long stalemate between the regime and the Sunni rebels, possibly paving the way for a regime attempt to roll up the remainder of rebel-controlled Syria.

But even as one Iranian client triumphs, another – Maliki – has lost large portions of his territory to a jihadi force, in the opening moves of what could be a renewed sectarian war on the soil of Iraq. And while the Syrian rebels may be disunited and poorly organized, this is not true of ISIS – a disciplined, determined and savage force.

This means that the Iranians may in the weeks and months ahead be forced to increase support and attention to their beleaguered client in Baghdad, even as he struggles to form a new government following the parliamentary elections in April.

Maliki’s declaration of a general mobilization is more likely to produce a Shi’ite sectarian military response, and hence continued sectarian fighting against a background of political paralysis.

Therefore, the key point is that the “Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham” is no longer the name of a movement, or the expression of an aspiration. As of now, it is a descriptive term applying to a de facto sovereign space, taking in a large swath of western Iraq and eastern and northern Syria.

The powerful Iran-led Shi’ite alliance will in the period ahead undoubtedly seek to destroy this state.

The Kurdish entities to the north will seek to defend themselves against both sides.

The result of all this cannot be known. The reality is one of sectarian war over the ruins of Iraq and Syria.

Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Islamist Threat on the Rise

AQIM CLAIMS KIDNAPPING OF ITALIANS IN COMMUNIQU…by PETER BROOKES:

Since the national conversation of late has been riveted on terrorism spurred on by the controversy swirling around the Taliban prisoner swap, it’s a good time to take stock of the state of Islamist militancy.

Bottom line? The threat is getting worse.

For instance, for the year 2013, the State Department estimated that terrorist attacks jumped more than 40 percent globally while RAND’s Seth Jones asserted in The Wall Street Journal that the number of jihadists worldwide hovered around 100,000.

Those figures from last year are jaw-dropping – but from the looks of it, the situation isn’t getting any better this year.

Let’s start with Syria. What began as part of the peaceful “Arab Spring” movement against the dictator in Damascus, Bashar Assad, a few years ago has morphed into a violent “Islamist Spring” campaign that has set the country aflame.

The three-plus year civil war has emerged as an magnet for Islamist extremists from across the globe bent on joining the latest militant jihad.

Indeed, there may be some 12,000 foreign fighters from 80 countries in Syria, some of whom have joined up with al Qaeda-associated groups like the al Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, according to Bloomberg.

In addition to the bloodshed that has taken the lives of more than 150,000 people so far and displaced millions more, these foreign fighters are being schooled in the terrorist “dark arts” on the Syrian battlefield.

But it’d be a mistake to think the threat is simply “over there.”

The director of National Intelligence has told Congress that al Qaeda terror groups in Syria have built camps to train “recruits” to return to their native lands and conduct attacks.

Read more: Family Security Matters

Jihadists ‘are thinking in terms of generations’

Long War Journal:

 

The Long War Journal‘s Thomas Joscelyn appears on FOX News to discuss the Bowe Bergdahl – Taliban prisoner exchange and the five dangerous Taliban leaders who were released, the first American suicide bomber in Syria, and the overall war

Returning Syrian War French Jihadi Suspect Arrested in Brussels Jewish Museum Attack

Brussels jihad attackNER, By Jerry Gordon:

Reuters reported French authorities have arrested a Muslim émigré Jihadi in Marseilles with a Kalashnikov assault rifle and another weapon in his possession.  The suspect 29 year old Mehdi Nemouche was arrested yesterday and identified as a returning Jihadi from Syria.  Nemouche lived in the northern French city of Roubaix,

Reuters noted the following:

French media reported that he was suspected of having stayed in Syria with jihadist groups in 2013.

An Israeli couple and a French woman were killed on May 24 when a man entered the Jewish Museum in busy central Brussels and opened fire with a Kalashnikov rifle. A Belgian man remains in critical condition in hospital.

French President Francois Hollande confirmed a suspect had been arrested and said France was determined to do all it could to stop radicalized youths from carrying out attacks.

“We will monitor those jihadists and make sure that when they come back from a fight that is not theirs, and that is definitely not ours … to make sure that when they come back they cannot do any harm,” Hollande told reporters.

The message “to these jihadists is that we will fight them, we will fight them and we will fight them”, he said.

Hollande has said previously the attack was motivated by anti-Semitism.

A spokeswoman for the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office confirmed a suspect had been arrested in Marseille but declined to give further details. Prosecutors scheduled a news conference in Brussels for 3 p.m. (1300 GMT).

“This is a relief,” Joel Rubinfeld, head of the Belgian League against Anti-Semitism, told BFM TV.

“But this is also worrying us … it is  crucial that countries who have citizens who have gone to Syria take all necessary measures to make sure this does not happen again.”

Police released a 30-second video clip from the museum’s security cameras showing a man wearing a dark cap, sunglasses and a blue jacket enter the building, take a rifle out of a bag and shoot into a room before calmly walking out.

Belgian officials have said the shooting was probably a terrorist attack. Some security experts suggested it may have been the work of a hitman rather than an anti-Semitic “lone wolf”.

One of the Israeli victims, Emmanuel Riva, had previously worked for Nativ, a government agency that played a covert role in Jewish migration from the former Soviet Union, an Israeli official said.

Miriam Riva, his wife, had also worked in the past for the prime minister’s office, the official said.

Dr. Jill Bellamy van Aalst had posted  recently on concerns in Holland regarding returning Syrian Jihadis and bio warfare threats to public health in the EU.   Just yesterday , we learned the identify of an American  Jihadi suicide  truck bomber killed in Syria,  was a resident in Florida,  Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha.who went by the name of Abu Hurayra Al-Amriki, “the American”.   Abu Huraya was a companion of the prophet Mohammed.  The American was killed in a massive Al Nusra suicide truck bombing operation in Idlib, Syria.  Al Nusra is the ‘official’ Al Qaeda resistance group active in the Syria Civil war opposition.

Syrian war American  AQ Suicide Bomber, Floridian Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha

Syrian war American AQ Suicide Bomber, Floridian Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha

FBI Director Comey said in a CNN report, “There’s going to be a diaspora out of Syria”. “And we are determined not to let lines be drawn from Syria today to a future 9/11.”  With the arrest of the French suspect in the Belgian Jewish Museum attack and disclosure of the American AQ martyr, the Syrian civil war has generated international concerns about the threat of returning jihadi veterans posing domestic threats as trained home grown terrorists. As witnessed by the events in both Syria and Belgium, those threats pose a clear and present danger in both the EU and here in the US.  In retrospect, President Obama’s declaration during the 2012 campaign that “bin Laden is dead and Al Qaeda is on the run” appears premature, at best, if not dangerously myopic.

Butchers: Syria’s ISIS Crucifying Opponents, Justifying Horror with Quran Passages

One of three executed by ISIS in Maskanah, Aleppo province, as part of punishment for apostasy.

One of three executed by ISIS in Maskanah, Aleppo province, as part of punishment for apostasy.

By Jonathan Spyer and Aymenn Jawad al Tamimi:

Evidence is mounting that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is systematically committing atrocities in eastern and northern Syria, its areas of control.

While individual incidents of brutality have been well-documented, the near-impossibility of on-the-spot reporting in the area controlled by the organization has made it difficult to build a general description of the situation there. However, as more and more witnesses come forward, the picture is gradually becoming clearer.

Public executions are a regular weekly occurrence in Raqqa city, the provincial capital controlled by ISIS. In a number of verified cases, the bodies of executed people have been “crucified” — placed on crosses in public areas after execution by other means, supposedly to act as a deterrent to others. (Note: at least one crucifixion of a living victim by an Islamist group has occurred recently, in Yemen. Video here [1].)

ISIS invoked Qur’an 5:33 [2] in a case of two people being crucified in Raqqa for supposedly carrying out an IED attack against ISIS. The Quran passage stipulates that, among a number of punishments, those who “wage war on God and His Messenger” may be crucified.

An earlier case [3] in Raqqa in late March was also justified as the appropriate penalty for alleged stealing and murder, though it was not officially advertised by ISIS. The case seems to fall under the same framework of Quran 5:33, which also mentions “striving to cause corruption on Earth” as an offense that can warrant crucifixion.

Crucifixions are by no means the exclusive realm of ISIS: they can also be carried out in Saudi Arabia [4] for crimes such as terrorism and highway robbery. The issue is that ISIS is defining itself as the one and only true Islamic state; in their view, waging war on ISIS thus constitutes waging war on “God and His Messenger.”

For ISIS, Raqqa — often described in ISIS circles as the “capital” of ISIS — is very much the prototype model Islamic city, where aspects of Islamic law are first introduced and are then spread to other areas of ISIS-held territory. (Their territory currently encompasses all major urban areas in Raqqa province, eastern Aleppo province, and most of southern and central Hasakah province). The crucifixions are a case-in-point: once implemented officially in Raqqa, the practice then spread to other ISIS strongholds, most notably the Aleppo provincial towns of Maskanah and Manbij [5].

As in Raqqa, those subjected to crucifixion are suspected of having had ties to rival underground rebel groups trying to undermine ISIS with clandestine attacks. In Maskanah, the crucifixion was presented as the “punishment for apostasy [6]” for one of three alleged “shabiha” members.

By invoking apostasy, ISIS likely is referencing this hadith [7], where it is stipulated that one of the cases in which a Muslim’s blood may be lawfully shed is for fighting against God and His Messenger (similar to Qur’an 5:33). In this case, the punishment is crucifixion or exile. The crime in question has been interpreted to be apostasy.

Also in Raqqa, Christians have had the first dhimmi pact [8] from ISIS imposed upon them.

Read more at PJ Media

Syrian rebels describe US-backed training in Qatar in new documentary

 

In this photo released on Sunday, April 13, 2014 by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a Syrian government soldier takes his position during clashes with Syrian rebels, near the town of Rankous, Syria. The seizure of the villages comes a day after Syrian troops backed by fighters from Lebanon's Shiite militant Hezbollah group captured the nearby town of Rankous. AP PHOTO/SANA

In this photo released on Sunday, April 13, 2014 by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a Syrian government soldier takes his position during clashes with Syrian rebels, near the town of Rankous, Syria. The seizure of the villages comes a day after Syrian troops backed by fighters from Lebanon’s Shiite militant Hezbollah group captured the nearby town of Rankous.
AP PHOTO/SANA

By Nancy A. Youssef:

WASHINGTON — With reports indicating that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad are gaining ground in that country’s brutal civil war, moderate Syrian rebels have told a visiting journalist that the United States is arranging their training in Qatar.

In a documentary to be aired Tuesday night, the rebels describe their clandestine journey from the Syrian battlefield to meet with their American handlers in Turkey and then travel on to Qatar, where they say they received training in the use of sophisticated weapons and fighting techniques, including, one rebel said, “how to finish off soldiers still alive after an ambush.”

The interviews are the latest evidence that after more than three years of warfare, the United States has stepped up the provision of lethal aid to the rebels. In recent months, at least five rebel units have posted videos showing their members firing U.S.-made TOW anti-tank missiles at Syrian positions. The weapons are believed to have come from Saudi Arabia, but experts on international arms transfers have told McClatchy that they could not have been given to the rebels without the approval of the Obama administration.

The documentary, produced by “Frontline” for airing on PBS stations, features journalist Muhammad Ali, who has been following the Syrian civil war for the program. It shows Ali meeting up with a seemingly moderate faction of the rebels, though the faction itself is not identified — apparently for fear of angering its American contacts.

Ali is shown riding with a rebel supply officer as he traveled to the Turkish border reportedly to pick up American-supplied Russian weapons and ammunition, but he is not allowed to accompany the fighters to the actual meeting. When the rebels return to pick him up, they display bullets and a mortar, which are shown in the film, and tell him they have received TOW missiles; the missiles are not shown, however.

Read more at Stars and Stripes

Also see:

CNN: U.S. Facing a ‘Triple Threat from Al Qaeda’

BY: Washington Free Beacon Staff
May 20, 2014 5:47 pm

CNN’s Pentagon corespondent Barbara Starr reported Tuesday on a “triple threat from al Qaeda” the United States faces in Pakistan, Syria and Yemen.

Syria has become a “hot bed” for training camps and planning of external attacks, and a “growing threat” from al Qaeda exists in Yemen. Starr said there is a concern al Qaeda there are capable of attacking the U.S. embassy in Yemen, as well as inside the U.S. itself.

Also, an American-born terrorist known as Abdullah al-Shami is essentially the head of al Qaeda’s external planning operations in Pakistan and is being closely monitored by American intelligence.

“This is not al Qaeda on the run,” Starr said. “This is someone they’re watching very closely.”

Daily Beast: Americans Already Returning From Syrian Jihad