The Dark State Rises: Can Barack & Bashar Tag-Team Caliphate? (Pt. 2)

Obama once said Assad had to go. Now can they work together to defeat a common enemy? Does Assad even want to stamp out the Islamic State? (Pt. 2 of 3)

Intel believes 300 Americans fighting with Islamic State, posing threat to U.S.

 

Photo by: Uncredited A convoy of vehicles and militant fighters move through Iraq's Anbar Province. The U.S. government is tracking and gathering intelligence on as many as 300 Americans who are fighting side-by-side with the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and are poised to become a major threat to the homeland, according to senior U.S. officials. (Associated Press)

Photo by: Uncredited
A convoy of vehicles and militant fighters move through Iraq’s Anbar Province. The U.S. government is tracking and gathering intelligence on as many as 300 Americans who are fighting side-by-side with the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and are poised to become a major threat to the homeland, according to senior U.S. officials. (Associated Press)


Officials say concern is widespread in Washington that radicalized foreign fighters could return to the homeland and commit terrorist attacks with skills acquired overseas, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the information. Those concerns were heightened by the disclosure Tuesday that a California man was killed fighting alongside militants with the group, also known as ISIS.

The U.S. government is doing its best to keep track of the foreign fighters, who have been shifting back and forth between Iraq and Syria, according to a senior U.S. official.

“We know that there are several hundred American passport holders running around with ISIS in Syria or Iraq,” the official said, offering a figure well above widespread reports of about 100 such fighters. “It’s hard to tell whether or not they’re in Syria or moved to Iraq.”

The State Department did not respond to a request for the number of Americans traveling in Iraq and Syria.

Read more at Washington Times

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Partnering with Syria’s Assad Against ISIL Will Preserve His Rule

Bashar AssadBy Daniel Wiser:

An alliance between U.S. forces and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to eliminate Islamic militants would play right into the hands of the brutal authoritarian leader, experts say.

Reports indicate that Assad helped facilitate the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), the jihadist group that now controls large swaths of Iraq and Syria and recently beheaded American journalist James Foley.

The International Business Times reported over the weekend that U.S. intelligence agencies have provided Assad’s forces with information—using the German intelligence service as an intermediary—that would help them target ISIL leaders in airstrikes. Agence France Presse (AFP) then reportedon Tuesday that the United States was offering intelligence to Syria through Iraqi and Russian agents.

Foreign drones conducted surveillance over eastern Syria on Monday, according to a Syrian human rights group, while Syrian warplanes targeted ISIL in the same region on Tuesday.

Both White House and State Department officials have vigorously denied the reports.

“As a matter of U.S. policy, we have not recognized” Assad as the leader of Syria, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One. “There are no plans to change that policy and there are no plans to coordinate with the Assad regime.”

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf also tweeted: “Claim in this story that US is sharing intel with the Assad regime is false.”

While U.S. officials publicly deny that they are partnering with Assad against ISIL, some foreign policy experts are pushing the Obama administration to do so. The terrorist group has attracted thousands of foreign fighters who could return to Europe or the United States and launch attacks, U.S. intelligence officials say.

Other experts warn that allying with Assad would preserve his grip on power despite the administration’s long-stated goal of urging him to step down.

Frederic Hof, a resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and former adviser on Syria for the Obama administration, wrote recently that Assad appears to have formed a tacit alliance with ISIL to defeat more moderate rebels also battling his government.

“By reportedly conducting airstrikes on ISIS positions in eastern Syria, the Assad regime is begging for readmission to polite society by attacking the very forces whose existence it has facilitated over the years,” Hof said. “Yet it is doing so in a selective way that preserves its de facto collaboration with ISIS in western Syria against the nationalist Syrian opposition.”

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels say their opposition movement is now on the verge of collapseas both Assad’s forces and ISIL militants converge on one of their last strongholds in the northwestern city of Aleppo.

That appears to have been Assad’s strategy all along, according to a recent report by the Wall Street Journal.

Syrian intelligence assisted militants in al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI)—the precursor to ISIL—with travel across the Syrian border into Iraq as long as they pledged to only attack U.S. troops during the Iraq War, according to the Journal. Assad’s regime also released several high-level terrorist detainees in May 2011 that would later lead to jihadist groups, including ISIL.

Additionally, ISIL sold crude to Assad’s government as militants seized oil-rich provinces in northern and eastern Syria, according to a January report in the New York Times. Both Syrian forces and ISIL have also cooperated in the fight against nationalist rebels in Aleppo.

“When the Syrian army is not fighting the Islamic State, this makes the group stronger,” Izzat Shahbandar, a former Iraqi lawmaker and ally of Assad who met with him in Damascus, told the Journal. “And sometimes, the army gives them a safe path to allow the Islamic State to attack the FSA and seize their weapons.”

“It’s a strategy to eliminate the FSA and have the two main players face each other in Syria: Assad and the Islamic State,” Shahbandar added. “And now [Damascus] is asking the world to help, and the world can’t say no.”

read more at Washington Free Beacon

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The ISIS Online Campaign Luring Western Girls to Jihad

1407429552090.cachedBy Jamie Dettmer:

Some of the European women already in the ranks of the Islamic State are trying to lure their ‘sisters’ to the marriage beds of the caliphate’s holy warriors.
BEIRUT, Lebanon — The self-proclaimed Islamic State, formerly known by the acronym ISIS, is actively recruiting Western women and girls. And in the process this “caliphate” that now occupies large swathes of Syria and Iraq is showing, once again, that it’s almost as shrewd with social media as it is ruthless on the battlefield.

The tweets and blogs apparently are written by Western women married to jihadi warriors. They aim to persuade would-be “sisters” in Europe and the United States to travel to the Middle East to help this al-Qaeda spinoff build its extremist vision of an Islamic society.

Potential caliph-ettes (as one is tempted to call them) are told their main contribution to the Islamic revolution will be through matrimony, not martyrdom; child-bearing, not gun-toting. One blogger called “Bird of Jannah” purrs: “Women are not equal to men. It can never be. Men are the leaders & women are [so] special that Allah has given them entire chapter in the Qur’an.”

The propaganda usually eschews the gore and barbaric images often included in the general fare of jihadist online posts, such as the beheadings last month of dozens of Syrian army soldiers after a base was overrun in the northern Syrian province of Raqqa.

Instead, the marketing focuses on what one analyst calls the “private sphere,” concentrating on the joys of jihadist family life and the “honor” of raising new fighters for Islam. The online recruiters stress the pleasure of providing the domesticity that a warrior waging jihad needs and by doing so serving Islam.

“I will never be able to do justice with words as to how this place makes me feel,” tweets Umm Layth, purportedly a British woman in Syria married to a fighter. She cherishes, she says, the friendships she enjoys with “her fellow sisters and brothers in the Islamic State.”

But throughout Umm Layth’s posts and those written by other jihadist women there is a morbid obsession with martyrdom. “Allahu Akbar, there’s no way to describe the feeling of sitting with the Akhawat [sisters] waiting on news of whose Husband has attained Shahadah [martyrdom],” writes Umm Layth.

According to analysts at SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S.-based organization that tracks online activity by terrorists, the recruiting efforts may have had some success. “By creating content specifically targeting female jihadi supporters, the Islamic State is able to establish a pipeline to assist Western women in traveling to Syria to marry jihadi fighters and contribute to the formation of their new society,” the analysts argue.

They add: “Significantly, these online networks have expanded in prominence and sophistication during the summer of 2014, suggesting that the Islamic State has already been successful in recruiting foreign women to leave their lives in the West, and is looking to build upon this strength.”

Read more at Daily Beast

Islamic State fighters assault last Syrian stronghold in Raqqah

map of IS

Iraqi and Syrian towns and cities seized by the Islamic State and its allies. Map created by Patrick Megahan and Bill Roggio for The Long War Journal. Click to view larger map.

Long War Journal, by BILL ROGGIO, August 24, 2014:

The Islamic State is close to cementing its control in the eastern Syrian province of Raqqah today after it overran the Tabqa military airport. The airbase is the last Syrian military stronghold in Raqqah.

Islamic State fighters “took control over wide areas of the airbase” after launching a massed assault earlier today, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. A number of Syrian soldiers and allied “militiamen” withdrew “towards Athraya Area” after heavy fighting. Syrian warplanes attacked Islamic State fighters inside and outside of the airbase, indicating the military has lost control of the facility.

This Islamic State removed a nearby checkpoint to allow Syrian forces “an attempt to give the regime forces a path in order to retreat from the airbase and to avoid the violent clashes with them inside the airbase,” the Observatory later reported. “The warplanes that were in the airbase of [Tabqa] have been towed to another airbase in the Syrian Badeya and to the Military Airport of Deir Ezzor.”

The jihadists “took control” of the base “almost completely,” the Observatory said in a later update.

The Islamic State took heavy casualties during the fighting. According to the Observatory, over 100 Islamic State fighters were killed and 300 more were wounded. Twenty-five Syrian soldiers were killed and dozens more were wounded.

The city of Tabqa, which is just north of the city, and the nearby Thawra Dam have been under the control of Islamist forces since February 2013. The Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, seized the city and dam, and control was transferred to the Islamic State sometime after the two Islamist groups split over the dispute over who controlled the jihad in Syria.

The Islamic State currently controls the city of Raqqah, the provincial capital and its de facto capital in Syria, and other towns and cities along the Euphrates River.

Earlier this month, the Islamic State defeated the 93rd Brigade of the Syrian Army. The unit was deployed from Idlib province to Raqqah in 2012 to reinforce the military’s weakening position in the province. On Aug. 23, the Islamic State published a video of “its brutal execution of Syrian soldiers” captured during the fighting, according to the SITE Intelligence Group. One soldier was beheaded.

The Islamic State “had also reported the killing of an IS [Islamic State] media member, Abu Usama al Ansari, during the operation,” SITE reported. “Footage shows one of the suicide bombers, Abu Hajer al Jazrawi, reading his will, and shows fighters storming the area and killing the soldiers it encounters.” Based on his name, the suicide bomber appears to be a Saudi.

The Islamic State controls most of eastern Syria and has recently advanced further into Aleppo province, where it is threatening the Al Nusrah Front as well as the allied Islamic Front. In Iraq, the jihadist group controls much of Anbar, Ninewa, Salahaddin, and Diyala provinces, as well as areas in northern Babil.

The US began launching airstrikes against the Islamic State in the northern areas of Ninewa after ignoring pleas by the Iraqi government to help halt the advance of the jihadist group for the past year. The Islamic State first took over areas in Anbar
in January, then launched its blitzkrieg in the north in June. The US intervened only after the Islamic State seized the Mosul Dam and advanced into areas controlled by the Kurds. The airstrikes have helped the Kurds and the Iraqi military retake the dam and surrounding areas.

Kurdish Female Warriors On The Front Lines Fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria

kurdish-womenjpgBreitbart, by DEBRA HEINE, Aug. 24,2014:

A  notoriously fierce segment of the Kurdish security forces are striking terror into the hearts of ISIS terrorists – female fighters. The Jihadists have no problem slaughtering defenseless women but they don’t like facing armed female warriors in battle — because they don’t believe they’ll go to heaven if they’re killed by one of them.

The first official female unit was formed in 1996 when women began combat training in opposition to Saddam Hussein’s regime. They’ve earned a  reputation for bravery and skill in the battlefield – so much so Peshmerga women are sometimes compared to Amazons.  You could call them the Kurdish Peshmerga’s First Cavalry Amazon Battalion.

Via PBS News, the all female unit’s commander, Col. Nahida Ahmed Rashid, said “more women are enlisting today to defend Iraq’s Kurdish region from Islamic State extremists.”

And these soldiers don’t only swell the fighting ranks; they’ve recently become a part of front-line strategy.

“The jihadists don’t like fighting women, because if they’re killed by a female, they think they won’t go to heaven,” one female soldier said.

Women are also involved in Kurdish resistance to the Islamic State’s advances in Syria. Some 30 percent of the armed wing of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) there, which also fights against Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, are female.

Such soldiers join up not simply to defend their cities from invading armies, said the commander of the first all-woman PYD brigade, but from the extremist ideas they would carry with them.

“I believe in a greater cause, which is protecting our families and our cities from the extremists’ brutality and dark ideas,” she said. “They don’t accept having women in leadership positions. They want us to cover ourselves and become housewives to attend to their needs only. They think we have no right to talk and control our lives.”

Kurdish female partners

Here is a documentary of the women fighters of Kurdistan:

Taking the US fight against IS into Syria would consolidate Assad and his Iranian-Hizballah allies

Raqqa_IS-20.8.14Debka:

British and German intelligence sources reported Saturday, Aug. 23, that US intelligence aid to the Assad regime, channeled through German BND intelligence, had enabled the Syrian air force to more precisely target al Qaeda units. These reports tie in with proliferating accounts from Washington that President Barack Obama is on the point of a decision to extend military strikes into Syria for targeting the Islamic State’s terrorist base. He has been warned by some top US generals that IS poses a threat to the United States and cannot be seriously engaged without dealing with the group’s Syrian stronghold. “We’re not going to be restricted by borders,” said Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, in a comment Thursday.
DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that there is no confirmation from the ground in Syria that Washington is indeed passing intelligence to Syria through Berlin to help the Syrian air force reach IS targets. The fact is that Syria is falling well short of arresting the IS advance on two critical fronts:

1. Aleppo. The Islamist threat looms grimly over an approaching Syrian-Hizballah military victory, under Iranian commanders, in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. They have come close to dislodging rebel forces from their last footholds, only to be faced with a new enemy. In the last fortnight, al Qaeda forces armed with American weapons taken booty in Iraq have surged out of their northern Syrian stronghold of Raqqa to capture dozens of villages around the city. Syrian and Hizballah forces, after completing their takeover of Aleppo, will find themselves encircled by Islamist units.
2. Tabqa Air Base.  IS forces have pinned down some 1,000 Syrian air force and military personnel in the Tabqa air base southwest of Raqqa. They are locked in fierce combat. Every attempt by the Syrian army in the last two weeks to break the siege has been repelled by the Islamists. The latest attempt by the new Syrian Republican Guard’s 124th Brigade to reverse the battle has not so far broken the extremists’ stranglehold.

The fall of Tabqa air base would represent the Islamic State’s next major victory after the capture of Iraq’s second city of Mosul in July. It would open the road to Hama, 480 km to the west, and the main highways to Syria’s most important ports and naval bases in Latakia and Tartus in the Assad clan’s heartland.

In a word, by taking Tabqa, IS would virtually roll back a year of advances made by the Hizballah-backed Syrian military against the insurgency, and replace the former threat to the Assad regime with a new one from the Islamic State.
So in any decision to extend US military action from Iraq to Syria, President Obama must take into consideration its likely collateral effect – if successful, which would be to rescue Assad’s rule in Damascus from the Islamist peril and relieve his Hizballah and Iranian allies of this pressure.

After declaring for nearly four years that Bashar Assad must go, the US president may end up sending a US aircraft carrier to save him.
This decision by the US president would bear heavily on the security of two of Syria’s neighbors, Israel and Jordan. DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources add that, in view of Egyptian president Abdel Fatteh El-Sisi’s recent clandestine contacts with President Assad, an American decision to strike al Qaeda in Syria may also influence El-Sisi’s calculations about hosting diplomacy for an accommodation of the Gaza conflict.

White House Changing Its Tune On ISIS – The Kelly File

Published on Aug 23, 2014 by UNIVERSAL

 

ISIS Communicating With Mexican Cartel – Islamic Extremism On The Rise:

 

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U.S. Must Hit Islamic State Hard After U.S. Journalist Beheaded

From the Islamic State's video of American journalist James Foley's beheading

From the Islamic State’s video of American journalist James Foley’s beheading

By Ryan Mauro:

The Islamic State has beheaded American journalist James Foley and is promising to do the same to missing American reporter Steven Sotloff if the U.S. does end its air strikes against the jihadist group in Iraq. Islamic State supporters are ecstatic on Twitter.

The U.S. must respond immediately to deliver the Islamic State a blow that is impossible to dismiss.

It was a bad week for the Islamic State. U.S.-backed Kurdish forces, including female fighters, are battling the Islamic State and recently succeeded in taking back the strategic Mosul dam. American airstrikes are giving Iraqis hope that the success of the Islamic State has peaked.

Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki has resigned, resulting in Sunni tribal leaders declaring their support for Iraq’s new Shiite President and willingness to work with a new Iraqi government in fighting the Islamic State in return for autonomy.

These events took the momentum away from the Islamic State, and the terrorist group had to change the headlines. And it did.

The Islamic State murdered Foley, who was probably transferred to the Islamic State  from the Syrian regime that it is fighting to overthrow. That sounds counterintuitive, but Bashar Assad has a complicated strategy aimed at ensuring that the Islamic State and Al Qaeda dominate his opposition.

Even though the Islamic State is calling on its supporters to kill any American anywhere, social media accounts of Islamic State supporters reviewed by the Clarion Project specifically tried to pre-empt criticism over the murder of an unarmed journalist. Photos posted of him in military fatigues are common, as are claims that he was secretly working for the U.S. government. One account described him as a “member of the Crusader army.”

The video of the beheading that the Islamic State released on YouTube showed footage of Saudi King Abdullah, indicating he is the next target. Clarion Project previously reported on an Islamic State graphic indicating that offensives into Jordan and Saudi Arabia were planned, even before conquering Baghdad and southern Iraq.

A senior U.S. official made an alarming admission. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran Brett McGurk said the Islamic State is now a bigger threat than Al Qaeda. “[The Islamic State] is better equipped, they’re better manned, they’re better resourced, they’re better fighters, they’re better trained than the Al-Qaeda in Iraq that our forces faced,” he said.

Read more at Clarion Project

Islam’s dilemma over the Islamic State

Cooperation over confronting the threat is missing
 August 18, 2014:

The jihadist forces of the Islamic State are strewing a path of atrocities, destruction and conquest across the heartland of the Middle East. They thrust down into Iraq from Syrian battlefields in June 2014, sweeping all before them, including thousands of Iraqi army troops who abandoned uniforms and top-of-the-line U.S. weaponry as they fled south to Baghdad.

Who stands between the Islamic State and its dream of a global caliphate? The Kurds are doing their best with a Peshmerga spirit but outdated weaponry. The United States and some European allies have begun to intervene militarily. Saudi King Abdullah gave a couple of speeches imploring his fellow Muslims to do something. Iran reportedly sent Gen. Qassem Suleimani and some Qods Force advisers to buck up its tottering puppet regime in Baghdad. The question is, where are the rest of the region’s Muslims, those supposedly so threatened by what the Islamic State represents? The silence from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has been positively deafening. Above all, Gen. Suleimani and the Qods Force notwithstanding, what is Iran really doing to take the fight to the Islamic State and roll back its advances?

A directionless U.S. national security leadership helps explain why the United States can’t seem to figure out who’s the enemy (this week) or what to do about it all. As long as the Islamic State was still the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), fighting (at least occasionally) against the Iranian-backed regime of Bashar Assad in Syria, the U.S. along with assorted companions of dubious pedigree — Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood — channeled aid, intelligence, training and weapons to Syrian rebels, some of whom were of likewise dubious pedigree. But now that ISIS has morphed into the far more ambitious and dangerous Islamic State (or simply, the Caliphate), it seems to be another story. In between rounds of golf, even President Obama has expressed something akin to alarm.

The problem, as Cliff May of the Foundation for Defense of Democracy pointed out recently, is that the United States has no “overarching strategy.” What Mr. May and others term (the politically correct) “jihadism,” in fact is nothing other than the purest expression of Islamic doctrine, law and scripture that has been waging wars of conquest against the non-Muslim world for more than 1,300 years. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, after all, earned a doctorate in Islamic studies from a Baghdad university. Like Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahri and others before him, he cites with specificity Islamic law and scripture to underscore the justification of his jihad. However, thanks to massive penetration of the top levels of U.S. national security leadership, which collaborated with affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood to effect a governmentwide purge of training materials about such topics, the American ability to name the enemy and take the offense to confront and defeat his threat doctrine has been neutralized. So we see the Obama administration jerking from response to response, sending Libyan weapons and training future ISIS recruits in Jordan one day, bombing the Islamic State positions inside Iraq the next, too tongue-tied to identify the Islamic ideology at the root of the whole mess.

Andrew Bostom nailed it in an Aug. 17 tweet in which he asked, “Whither the Muslim-led coalition to crush ‘un-Islamic [Islamic State] drawn from vast, modern-equipped militaries of Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, et al?” Yousef al-Qaradawi, senior jurist of the Muslim Brotherhood, bleated something about how al-Baghdadi’s declaration of a caliphate was “void,” according to Islamic law. No call to arms here, though, and certainly nothing at the level of his thundering fatwas endorsing suicide bombings against American troops in Iraq or Israelis. Even when the Islamic State calls the Shia “rafidah,” meaning deviants (from the “true Islam”), and jihadis flock from all over the world to volunteer for suicide missions to blow up Shia shrines, the most Iran seems to be doing is helping defend the ones that are left and making sure the Islamic State doesn’t capture Baghdad.

That leads to the nagging concern at the back of all this: What if the reason neither the ostensibly petrified Arab Muslim regimes nor the supposedly directly targeted Shia have called an emergency session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to denounce the “un-Islamic” Islamic State is because it really isn’t all that “un-Islamic” to want to re-establish the caliphate or enforce Islamic law (Shariah)? None of them wants to lose his throne — or his head — to the bloodthirsty thugs, but how to condemn something that Muhammad and the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs who followed him did on a much grander scale?

Read more at The Washington Times

Clare M. Lopez is the vice president for research and analysis at the Center for Security Policy.

 

EMET Briefing with Thomas Joscelyn on the New Caliphate: ISIS

Published on Aug 18, 2014 by emetonline

EMET is proud to host Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and the senior editor of The Long War Journal. Mr. Joscelyn gives a briefing about recent events in Iraq and Syria and the (so-called) new Islamic State.

http://emetonline.org/event/emet-briefing-thomas-joscelynon-new-caliphate-isis/

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Islamic State Executed 700 People from Syrian Tribe

A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holds an ISIL flag and a weapon on a street in the city of Mosul / AP

A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holds an ISIL flag and a weapon on a street in the city of Mosul / AP

By Oliver Holmes and Suleiman Al-Khalidi

BEIRUT/AMMAN (Reuters) – The Islamic State militant group has executed 700 members of a tribe it has been battling in eastern Syria during the past two weeks, the majority of them civilians, a human rights monitoring group and activists said on Saturday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has tracked violence on all sides of the three-year-old conflict, said reliable sources reported beheadings were used to execute many of the al-Sheitaat tribe, which is from Deir al-Zor province.

The conflict between Islamic State and the al-Sheitaat tribe, who number about 70,000, flared after the militants took over two oil fields in July.

“Those who were executed are all al-Sheitaat,” Observatory director Rami Abdelrahman said by telephone from Britain. “Some were arrested, judged and killed.”

Reuters cannot independently verify reports from Syria due to security conditions and reporting restrictions.

Proclaiming a ‘caliphate’ straddling parts of Iraq and Syria, Islamic State has swept across northern Iraq in recent weeks, pushing back Kurdish regional forces and driving tens of thousands of Muslims, Christians and members of the Yazidi religious minority from their homes, prompting the first U.S. air strikes in Iraq since the withdrawal of American troops in 2011.

The insurgents are also tightening their grip in Syria, of which they now control roughly a third, mostly rural areas in the north and east.

Read more at Washington Free Beacon

The next Al Qaeda? Officials worry ‘flush with money’ ISIS poses growing threat

Fox News:

Security officials, lawmakers and analysts are raising alarm that the Islamic State terrorist organization poses a growing threat to the West that must be confronted more directly, despite the U.S. military’s success this week in breaking the group’s siege of civilians on a mountain in northern Iraq.

According to U.S. intelligence officials, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has “pitched itself as the successor to Usama bin Laden.”

This has led to a struggle for dominance between the militant group and core Al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan. Officials confirm to Fox News that nine members of the Al Qaeda core leadership, though not senior members, have pledged support for IS – in a sign of growing competition between the two groups.

U.S. intelligence officials say some IS operatives have returned home and started cells, though they have not seen evidence yet the group has the ability to pull off a major, successful strike outside of their territory in Iraq and Syria.

But one intelligence official described the organization as “flush with money;” officials also said “almost all” the network’s leaders were in U.S. custody at one point.

The details lend credence to claims that the Islamic State is, or could soon be, an international threat.

“These people intend to attack us here at home and [President Obama] has no strategy to deal with that. That’s what the intelligence community is telling me and every other member of Congress,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told Fox News, adding: “There is no force within the Middle East that has the capability to defeat or contain ISIS without American air power.”

He called for striking their bases in Syria and arming the Kurds in Iraq to hit them on both fronts.

“They are the hottest act in the jihadist world. They are getting stronger by the day,” Graham said.

Obama acknowledged the ongoing concerns about the Islamic State threat when he announced Thursday that U.S.-led airstrikes have helped most of the thousands of religious minorities who were trapped on a mountain by IS escape to safety. Obama said U.S. involvement will continue, as “the situation remains dire.”

The president said that would include airstrikes to protect American personnel, as well as humanitarian aid drops.

At the same time, Obama insists combat troops will not be put on the ground in Iraq as part of any American mission. The president, who distinguished himself on the campaign trail in part by highlighting his early opposition to the Iraq war, is loath to re-engage American forces in Iraq after withdrawing in 2011. Some lawmakers are reluctant, too, and are seeking a vote in Congress on the matter.

The mission remains “limited,” officials say. Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said the objectives are: protecting Americans, advising and assisting Iraqi forces, and addressing the humanitarian crisis.

“There is still no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq,” Kirby said. “The only lasting solution is for the Iraqis to come together and form an inclusive government that represents the legitimate interests of all Iraqi citizens.”

That theory will be tested as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has agreed to step down, clearing the way for new leadership. But some lawmakers still are urging a broader U.S. military campaign, out of concern that a new government in Baghdad is not the sole solution.

Graham claimed that Obama is holding back “because it would admit that his policies have failed.”

Retired Gen. Jack Keane, Fox News military analyst and former Army vice chief of staff, said he believes the organization is “a threat to the American security … and quite frankly, I really believe the president’s got to come clean with all of this and talk straight to the American people about why this is important and why we’re going to have to make a significant commitment.”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has gone so far as to say the group poses a “threat to the civilized world.”

An unnerving photograph emerged this week on Twitter, of someone apparently holding up a picture of the IS flag, on a cell phone, in front of the White House. Secret Service confirmed they are aware of the image.

Concern about the Islamic State’s growth and global aspirations are striking a chord internationally as well.

The U.N. Security Council endorsed a resolution Friday expressing the “gravest concern” about the group’s control of territory in the Middle East.

The European Union and member nations also vowed more aid Friday for civilians and those fighting the Sunni insurgents in Iraq.

Europe’s Jihadist Girls: Teen Rebellion That Kills

1044by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
August 14, 2014

Like many girls her age, 15-year-old Moezdalifa El Adoui left her family’s home on a summer afternoon without stopping to say goodbye. But unlike other teens, she wasn’t going shopping or meeting friends downtown. The Dutch-Moroccan girl with the sweet warm smile was running away for Syria, to join in the jihad.

The moment they noticed she was gone, her parents phoned the police and her brother spread the word on Facebook. The next day, June 22, Moezdalifa was stopped at the airport in Dusseldorf, from where she planned to fly to Turkey and – like thousands of other European Muslims before her – to cross the border into Syria.

It is hard to imagine a 15-year-old girl, raised in the luxury and opportunity of Europe, running away to join an insurgency abroad, choosing to exchange friends and family for a life on the battlefield of a violent civil war. But over the past year, more and more underage European girls have headed off to Syria to take part in the Islamist uprising. Some go with boyfriends; others, like Moezdalifa, are lured by promises of a better life and lifelong romance once they arrive.

Indeed, according to Janny Groen, a reporter for Holland’s Volkskrant, Moezdalifa was one of a group of several girls from the Netherlands all planning to make the trip.

They were by no means the only ones: around the same time, for instance, 16-year-old twins Salma and Zahra Hulani slipped out of their parents’ Manchester, England home in the middle of the night, also for Syria. And in April, Samra Kesinovic, 16, left home in Vienna with her friend Sabine Selimovic, aged 15. Austrian officials, reports the UK’s Mail Online, now “believe that the pair are in a training camp and are not only already married, but also already living in the homes of their new husbands.” Both girls, daughters of (Muslim) Bosnian refugees, were born and raised in Vienna.

All of these seem to be part of a new campaign by ISIS to recruit Western Muslims. “The self-proclaimed Islamic State, formerly known by the acronym ISIS, is actively recruiting Western women and girls,” according to the Daily Beast. “And in the process this ‘caliphate’ that now occupies large swathes of Syria and Iraq is showing, once again, that it’s almost as shrewd with social media as it is ruthless on the battlefield.”

It is perhaps tempting to wave off such disappearances with a “you know how kids are,” or observe that other kids in the 1960s, say, also ran off to join a “revolution” – usually to London or to Berkeley, Calif. But those girls were running away from a culture of war; these are running to its front lines. The first wanted peace, equality, universal love. These girls seek conquest. The children of the ’60s imagined “no religion.” The children of the jihad imagine only one.

Even so, much of what motivated ’60s teens to join the hippie movement is still part of what stirs even underage Muslims in the West to join the extremists in Aleppo. Dutch adolescent psychiatrist Carla Rus, who specializes in treating Muslim girls, notes that their age makes them especially vulnerable to manipulation by recruiters. “They are already turning, because of puberty, against their parents and their society,” she observed in a recent e-mail. “Some of them may also be smitten with a jihadist boy, and easily sucked in by his ideology and ideas. Or they may have problems at home, where they get little attention.”

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