Why Was ISIS Terror Operative Nihad Rosic Arrested in Plainfield, Indiana?

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, March 2, 2015:

Six individuals of Bosnian origin from St. Louis, Rockford, Illinois and Utica, New York, were indicted last month on charges of supplying money and equipment to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

And yet late last week it was revealed that one of those terror suspects, Nihad Rosic, who is also one of two suspects additionally charged with conspiring to kill and maim others in a foreign country and had attempted to board a plane back in July 2014 to fly to Syria to join ISIS, had actually been apprehended in the small town of Plainfield, Indiana, right outside Indianapolis.

As the Indianapolis Star reported on Friday:

A Bosnian national indicted on charges of funneling resources to terrorists overseas was arrested earlier this month in Plainfield, officials confirmed Friday, but it was unclear why the man was in Indiana.

U.S. marshals booked Nihad Rosic, 26, in the Marion County Jail on Feb. 6, jail records show, though his connections to the state appear to be minimal.

A federal indictment alleges that Rosic and five others communicated on social media with coded language to organize financial support and send equipment to terrorist organizations in Syria and Iraq.

Jan Diltz, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri, where the indictment was handed up, said she doesn’t know why Rosic was in Indiana.

While at first glance it may seem odd that Plainfield, Indiana might be a haunt for an international terror operative for perhaps the most dangerous Islamic terrorist group in the world today, it perhaps might be more clear when considering that Plainfield is the headquarters the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), one of the most terror-tied Islamic organizations in American history.

As one former federal law enforcement official told me this weekend, if Rosic was not in Plainfield related to ISNA it would be an “extreme coincidence bordering on the unbelievable.”

ISNA’s ties to terrorism go back even before it’s founding in the early 1980s when the organization was operating in the Indianapolis area as an amalgam of Muslim Brotherhood front organizations, including the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), the Islamic Teaching Center (ITC) and the Muslim Student Association (MSA). I’ve previously reported on the MSA’s extensive terrorist lineup here at PJ Media.

Two of the visitors to the area in those early days included Al-Qaeda founder Abdullah Azzam and his protege, Osama bin Laden.

According to a book published by Bin Laden’s first wife, Najwa, the Al-Qaeda leaders and the Bin Laden family visited the U.S. for two weeks in 1979 with stops in Los Angeles, and yes, Indianapolis. A clue why Bin Laden and Azzam might have been in the area might be an ITC newsletter dated February 1978 I uncovered that documents a previous visit to their Indianapolis offices in January of that year by Azzam and several other well known extremist Islamic clerics. ITC now operates as a subsidiary of ISNA.

From its earliest days ISNA was a hub for international Islamic terrorists. Terrorist figures associated with ISNA include:

  • Al-Qaeda financier Abdurahman Alamoudi, who started ISNA’s political action committee in November 1988, who was convicted in 2004 for his role in an international assassination plot targeting then-Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. In 2005, the US Treasury Department admitted that Alamoudi had operated as one of the top Al-Qaeda fundraisers in North America.
  • Senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami Al-Arian, one of ISNA’s self-admitted founders, was convicted in 2006 for his role in supporting the terrorist organization and was deported from the U.S. last month. Prior to his indictment, Al-Arian was deeply involved in numerous ISNA activities and organizations, and was a regular speaker at the ISNA annual conferences.
  • Pakistani intelligence agent Ghulam Nabi Fai, who not only worked for ISNA but also served for years on ISNA’s shura council, was convicted in 2012 for failing to disclose nearly $4 million he had received from the Pakistani ISI intelligence service to influence members of Congress on behalf of the Muslim separatist cause in Kashmir (I reported on Fai’s operation in a two-part series here at PJ Media, noting that Fai spoke at ISNA’s annual convention two weeks before his arrest). Fai’s co-conspirator, Zaheer Ahmad, reportedly met with both Bin Laden and Zawahiri just weeks before 9/11 to discuss their weapons of mass destruction program. As reported in an in-depth ProPublica expose of Fai’s activites, not only was Fai working for Pakistani intelligence at the same time he was working for ISNA, but key ISNA figures and affiliates helped start his Kashmir American Center.
  • As I reported exclusively here at PJ Media in September 2012, one speaker featured at ISNA’s 2001 annual conference held just days prior to the 9/11 attacks was Al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a CIA drone strike in Yemen in September 2011. For years Awlaki’s ISNA speech had been cited, but we were the first to actual provide the video to the Al-Qaeda operative’s ISNA conference talk.
  • One other senior terror leader with deep ties to ISNA is current Hamas deputy head Mousa Abu Marzook. I’ll elaborate on the ISNA/Hamas ties below, but will note here that when Marzook was arrested in the U.S. in 1995 and designated a global terrorist by the Clinton administration, and was later deported in 1997, Marzook took out an advertisement in the Washington Report for Middle East Affairs thanking his supporters, including ISNA:

isna-marzook-web

In October 2014, Mohammed Hamzah Khan was arrested trying to board a flight to travel to Turkey to join ISIS. According to postings on Khan’s Instagram account, he had attended ISNA’s annual convention held in Detroit less than a month before.

But ISNA’s role in the international Islamic terror network isn’t just associational. Rather, they have taken a much direct role in supporting international terrorism.

According to forms filed with the IRS, ISNA provided $170,000 in start-up funds for the Islamic African Relief Association (IARA), which was designated a global terrorist organization by the U.S. Treasury in October 2004 for supporting Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hamas, and other Islamic terrorist organizations. Exhibits entered into trial evidence in court by federal prosecutors showed extensive payments from ISNA to IARA over the years in increments of tens of thousands of dollars. According to the Justice Department, IARA sent at least $130,000 to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Another ISNA-supported Islamic terror charity was the Third World Relief Agency (TWRA). As reported by Thomas Jocelyn at the Weekly Standard, German investigators found transactions between ISNA and TWRA in 1992 at the same time that TWRA was financing the US-based terror cell that conducted the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the planned “Day of Terror” attacks targeting New York City landmarks.

Despite evidence of ISNA’s support of a long list of Islamic charities tagged by the US government and the United Nations as terrorist organizations, ISNA’s most notorious role in supporting international terrorism came up in the largest terrorism financing trial in American history in the successful prosecution of the executives of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) for supporting Hamas.

Not only did HLF receive ISNA’s longtime support, but it began as the Occupied Land Fund as an arm of ISNA operated out of the group’s Plainfield headquarters.

ISNA was named unindicted co-conspirator in the case, and extensive documentation entered into trial evidence by federal prosecutors (available on the Texas federal court’s website) shows that even after HLF was spun off of ISNA, the money transferred by the HLF to Hamas actually was moved by ISNA and the ISNA-affiliated North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) and payments made directly by ISNA to Hamas officials, including Mousa Abu Marzook.

So intertwined was ISNA in conspiracy by the international Muslim Brotherhood to finance Hamas, in one court filing federal prosecutors lay out ISNA’s role in providing “media, money and men” to Hamas (page 13 in the file):

DOJ-ISNA-NAITsm

The federal judge in the case, Jorge Solis, agreed with the prosecutors about ISNA’s role, stating in a ruling that was later unsealed that there was “ample evidence” that ISNA and other US Muslim Brotherhood groups had supported Hamas.

ISNA’s terror support was even profiled by Indianapolis NBC affiliate WTHR in a 2003 two-part series entitled “Images in Conflict“:

 

 

But if it is the case that ISIS operative Nihad Rosic was in Plainfield meeting with ISNA officials it is highly unlikely that the Justice Department would ever admit to it since ISNA has been the closest Islamic group to the Obama White House.

That’s right, despite what federal prosecutors have said in federal court about ISNA’s role in supporting international terrorism, its ties to convicted terror leaders and supporting designated global terrorist organizations, and even Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez under the Bush administration cancelling meetings because of the presence of ISNA officials, as I noted here at PJ Media in the early days of this administration, ISNA has been openly embraced by the Obama White House.

In 2013, Obama even provided a video greeting to open ISNA’s annual convention:

 

So what is the connection between Nihad Rosic and ISNA, and why exactly was he arrested in Plainfield, Indiana? Most likely federal authorities will never say, but an educated guess about the possible involvement of ISNA given their lengthy track record on these types of activities is hardly out-of-order.

New Docs Reveal Osama bin Laden’s Secret Ties With Iran

osama_bin_ladenWeekly Standard, by Thomas Joscelyn, Feb. 29, 2015:

This week, prosecutors in New York introduced eight documents recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan as evidence in the trial of a terrorism suspect. The U.S. government accuses Abid Naseer of taking part in an al Qaeda’s scheme to attack targets in Europe and New York City. And prosecutors say the documents are essential for understanding the scope of al Qaeda’s plotting.

More than 1 million documents and files were captured by the Navy Seals who raided bin Laden’s safe house in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May 2011. One year later, in May 2012, the Obama administration released just 17 of them.

While there is some overlap between the files introduced as evidence in Brooklyn and those that were previously made public in 2012, much of what is in the trial exhibits had never been made public before.

The files do not support the view, promoted by some in the Obama administration, that bin Laden was in “comfortable retirement,” “sidelined,” or “a lion in winter” in the months leading up to his death. On the contrary, bin Laden is asked to give his order on a host of issues, ranging from the handling of money to the movement of terrorist operatives.

Some of the key revelations in the newly-released bin Laden files relate to al Qaeda’s dealings with Iran and presence in Afghanistan.

A top al Qaeda operative asked bin Laden for permission to relocate to Iran in June 2010 as he plotted attacks around the world. That operative, Yunis al Mauritani, was a senior member of al Qaeda’s so-called “external operations” team, and plotted to launch Mumbai-style attacks in Europe.

As THE WEEKLY STANDARD first reported, the al Qaeda cell selected to take part in al Mauritani’s plot transited through Iran and some of its members received safe haven there after the planned attacks were thwarted.

In the memo to bin Laden, a top al Qaeda manager wrote, “Sheikh Yunis is ready to move and travel.” The file continues: “The destination, in principle, is Iran, and he has with him 6 to 8 brothers that he chose. I told him we are waiting for final complete confirmation from you to move, and agree on this destination (Iran). His plan is: stay around three months in Iran to train the brothers there then start moving them and distributing them in the world for their missions and specialties. He explained those to you in his report and plan.”

Bin Laden’s reply is apparently not included in the documents.

Other intelligence recovered in the raid on the al Qaeda master’s home show that al Qaeda and Iran were at odds in some ways. Iran detained a number of senior al Qaeda leaders and members of Osama bin Laden’s family. Al Qaeda forced Iran to release some of them by kidnapping an Iranian diplomat in Pakistan. Some of the newly-released files provide hints of these disagreements as well, including a suggestion that one of bin Laden’s sons may complain about the jihadists’ treatment in Iran once he was freed.

The same June 2010 memo to bin Laden that includes Yunis al Mauritani’s request also includes a section on the al Qaeda leaders who had returned to Pakistan from Iran. One of them is Abu Anas al Libi, a bin Laden lieutenant who was captured in Tripoli in 2013. Upon being freed, al Libi was reassigned to al Qaeda’s security committee and asked to move to Libya to take part in the anti-Qaddafi revolution. Al Qaeda granted al Libi’s request.

Although Iran and al Qaeda have had significant differences, there is much intelligence showing that the two continue to collude.

During President Obama’s administration, the Treasury and State Departments have repeatedly exposed the formerly “secret deal” between the Iranian regime and al Qaeda that allows the terrorist organization to shuttle operatives around the globe. Some of those operatives included Yunis al Mauritani’s men.

The June 2010 memo to bin Laden indicates that al Qaeda had a significant presence in Afghanistan at the time.

“Our groups inside Afghanistan are the same as for every season for many years now,” bin Laden’s subordinate wrote. “We have groups in Bactria, Bactica, Khost, Zabul, Ghazni and Warduk in addition to the battalion in Nuristan and Kunz.” (Bactria and Bactica may be transliterated incorrectly and actually reference other provinces.)

“We have very strong military activity in Afghanistan, many special operations, and the Americans and NATO are being hit hard,” the memo continues.

The author, who is likely Atiyyah Abd al Rahman (later killed in a U.S. drone strike), says that al Qaeda had recently cooperated with the Haqqani Network in a major operation in Bagram. “We cooperated with Siraj Haqqani and other commander down there (Kabul/Bagram),” Rahman writes to bin Laden. Siraj’s father, Jalaluddin Haqqani, was one of bin Laden’s closest allies. The Haqqani network and al Qaeda have fought side-by-side for years and the Haqqanis continue to provide shelter for al Qaeda’s men in northern Pakistan.

Al Qaeda’s description of its own presence in Afghanistan is directly at odds with the assessments made by U.S. military and intelligence officials, who have portrayed the group as having only a small number of fighters and being geographically isolated.

Other revelations include the following:

Senior al Qaeda leaders discussed potential negotiations with Al Jazeera over the copyrights for the jihadists’ propaganda films and footage. Al Qaeda also wanted to play a significant role in an upcoming documentary produced by the channel.

Al Qaeda believed the British were ready to cut a deal to get out of Afghanistan. If al Qaeda left the Brits alone, one file contends, the UK was willing to pull out from the country.

Al Qaeda was in direct contact with Al Tayyib Agha, a Taliban leader who has served as Mullah Omar’s emissary. The U.S. government has held direct talks with Agha in an attempt to broker a peace deal in Afghanistan. The Taliban has rejected the goals of those talks, however.

Al Qaeda was monitoring the situation in Libya, and noted that the “brothers” in the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) were operating in Benghazi, Derna and elsewhere in eastern Libya. Members of the LIFG went on to help form Ansar al Sharia in Derna and other al Qaeda-linked groups, some of which took part in the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attack.

Bin Laden advised his subordinates that they should contact Abu Mohammad al Maqdisi, a well-known jihadist ideologue, to see if Maqdisi would agree to have one of his books shortened before being more widely disseminated. Bin Laden’s words show how much respect he had for Maqdisi. The Jordanians have routinely imprisoned Maqdisi, but recently let him out of detention so that he could denounce the Islamic State, which has emerged as al Qaeda’s rival. This shows how al Qaeda is using the Islamic State to portray itself as being more moderate.

Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Also see:

DNI: 2014 Was Deadliest Year for Terror Attacks in 45 Years

AP

AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Bill Gertz, Feb. 27, 2015:

Terrorist attacks and resulting deaths increased sharply last year, according to statistics made public Thursday by the director of national intelligence.

“When the final counting is done, 2014 will have been the most lethal year for global terrorism in the 45 years such data has been compiled,” DNI Director James Clapper told Congress, adding that about half of all attacks took place in three states: Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Last year from January to September, around 13,000 terror attacks were carried out, killing 31,000 people. By contrast, in 2013, 22,000 people were killed in terrorist violence in over 11,500 attacks, Clapper disclosed during a wide-ranging world threat briefing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

More than 3,400 foreign jihadists have joined the al Qaeda offshoot known as the Islamic State (IS) that is showing signs of establishing its own nation state, Clapper said.

The DNI also testified that IS (also known as ISIL or ISIS) is expanding outside Iraq and Syria into the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, and South Asia. The group also is planning terror attacks on Western interests and against Shiite Muslims, he said.

Establishing chapters in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and South Asia are designed to project an image of a “global scale caliphate,” Clapper said, adding that the new affiliates do not appear under a central command of senior IS leaders.

“ISIL’s rise represents the greatest shift in the Sunni violent extremist landscape since al Qaida affiliates first began forming, and it is the first to assume at least some characteristics of a nation state,” he said.

Of particular concern are IS supporters who can conduct terror attacks on their own. IS is “able to appeal to people who then can act on their own at a time, and place, and circumstance of their choosing,” Clapper said. “And that is a very worrisome challenge, particularly in this country.”

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) said IS is expanding and its successes are increasing the risk jihadists will attack the West. “We are engaged in the generational fight for civilization against brutal enemies, and defeating these enemies requires significant intelligence resources and focus, given the diffuse and constantly evolving nature of the threat,” McCain said.

U.S. intelligence estimates of the number of fighters that have joined IS range between 20,000 to 32,000, the DNI said, including an estimated 3,400 from 90 foreign nations. At least 13,400 of the fighters have known ties to other terrorist groups.

The statistics were made public as British authorities revealed the identity of the video-taped IS executioner shown in the beheading murders of several foreign hostages as Kuwait-born Londoner Mohammed Emwazi.

Several of the estimated 180 American jihadists who traveled to Syria have returned and are under surveillance, he said, adding that that so far none of the American jihadists have not indicated planning for terrorist attacks.

FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday that Islamic radicals linked to IS are being investigated in all 50 states.

“ISIL in particular is putting out a siren song with their slick propaganda through social media,” Comey said.

“Troubled soul, come to the caliphate, you will live a life of glory, these are the apocalyptic end times, you will find a life of meaning here, fighting for our so-called caliphate. And if you can’t come, kill somebody where you are,” the FBI director said of the group’s recruiting pitch.

Recent shooting attacks by Muslim jihadists in France and Denmark highlight the threat posed by the resurgent al Qaeda offshoot.

Clapper said IS has launched a sophisticated propaganda and media operation that highlights the group’s success and that has been instrumental in attracting new recruits.

“So their success on the battlefield, or perceived success, or the way they’re presented, certainly helps them in gaining recruits for the fight,” he said.

On funding, Clapper said IS was able to gain a large amount of money by overrunning Iraqi banks last year. Those funds, he said are “going to dry up.”

Air strikes against IS oil facilities also have forced the group to gain funds from smaller oil instillations, he said.

“And as a consequence of the brutality, the donations that they’ve received are tapering off,” Clapper said.

Asked about the rapid increase in IS fighters from around an initial estimate of 5,000 to now as many as 32,000, Clapper said the “mushrooming” was due to an early favorable reception by Sunnis opposed to the Shiite-leaning government in Baghdad.

As funds become short for the group, IS is turning to conscription to fill its ranks, especially after taking heavy losses—3,000 IS fighters killed—in the northern Syrian town of Kobani, he said.

The Obama administration’s strategy of air strikes combined with ground support for foreign militaries has degraded IS efforts to conduct large-scale offensive ground operations. But the terror group remains “a formidable and brutal threat,” Clapper said.

In Libya, terror groups linked to both al Qaeda and IS are using the country to conduct training and plotting for attacks, he said.

Clapper also said the conflict in Syria is increasing the danger of instability in the region, including in Lebanon, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. And in Iraq, Sunni-Shiite conflict in growing and, if not curtailed, “will undermine progress against ISIL,” he said.

Clapper, appearing with Defense Intelligence Agency Director Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, came under critical questioning from McCain over the Obama administration’s refusal to supply arms to Ukraine in its battle against Russian separatists and Russian forces.

Clapper said providing arms to the Ukrainians would “provoke” Russian President Vladimir Putin to further aggression, and he also warned that a separatist attack aimed at taking over the key port of Mariupol, Ukraine, is “imminent.”

“This idea that somehow we will provoke Vladimir Putin—he’s done everything he wanted to do, general,” McCain said to Clapper, a retired Air Force lieutenant general.

“Well, I don’t think he will view it happily if the United States provides lethal support,” Clapper said during the exchange.

Clapper said a lasting solution that allows Ukraine to pursue western integration “will be difficult to say the least.”

On other issues, Clapper outlined a series of international security threats, including:

  • Cyber attacks from both states and groups that are increasing in frequency, scale, sophistication, and severity of damage.
  • Russia is among the most sophisticated cyber warfare states and is preparing to attack critical infrastructure such as power grids, air traffic control, and oil and gas distribution. The cyber threat posed by Moscow is “more severe than we have previously assessed.”
  • Chinese advanced cyber espionage is “a major threat” and is continuing despite U.S. pressure on Beijing
  • Sunni terrorists pose the most likely threat of conducting deadly attacks in the United States.
  • North Korea is bolstering its nuclear weapons and missile forces that pose a “serious threat” to the United States.
  • Russia’s new Iskander cruise missile violates the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
  • China and Russia are increasingly threating U.S. strategic space systems with anti-satellite weapons.

On cyber threats to the financial industry, Clapper said the most pervasive threat comes from cyber criminals. “Criminals were responsible for cyber intrusions in 2014 in the JPMorgan, Home Depot, Target, Neiman Marcus, Anthem, and other U.S. companies,” he said.

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Also see:

Jihadi John Identified as Mohammed Emwazi

February 26, 2015 / /

Mohammed Emwazi was born in Kuwait in 1988 and moved to the UK in 1994. He was raised in a middle class family in Queens Park, London, UK. He is also graduated from the University of Westminster with a degree in computer programming in 2009. Emwazi’s family was at least considered lower middle class and some reporting states upper middle class. This puts him a far cry from the underprivileged stereotype that US State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf calls underprivileged without opportunity individual.

Jihadi John aloneMohammed Emwazi AKA: Jihad John

Source: ISIS Study Group

Emwazi already had terrorist associations dating back to at least 2005 as a small group of people he was associated with had links to individuals that were linked to personalities involved in the attempted 21 July 2005 subway bombings in London. He became noticed after his association with Bilal el-Berjawi became known. Bilal el-Berjawi was already a known terrorism personality associated with Al Shabaab in UK circles before his death in a US drone strike in Somalia. Emwazi himself attempted to travel to Tanzania and is believed to have been attempting to join or train with Somalia based Al Shabaab.

Mohammed Emwazi also has an alias Muhammad ibn Muazzam which he was identified under in 2010 by the Independent (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/british-muslims-on-safari-stopped-by-mi5-1959610.html). This is also something that is associated with terrorist activity and he had done this while traveling to Tanzania in August 2009. The infamous Jihad John has numerous connections to terrorist personalities in Al Shabaab or sympathizers in the UK.

An associate of Emwazi trained with Al Shabaab in 2007 and was under the program TPIMS (Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures). Ibrahim Magag was a known financier and forged passports. TPIMS is a program that involves restrictions including overnight residence at a specified address, GPS tracking, reporting requirements, restrictions on travel, movement and association, communication, finance, work and study. Magag was able to escape by taking a taxi. His whereabouts are unknown and is possible and likely he left the country. His ability to forge passports definitely could have assisted in the ability exit the country.

Police Launch Manhunt for ‘Terror Suspect’ Who Went Missing on Boxing Day…While Under Close Surveillance

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2255394/Ibrahim-Magag-Police-launch-manhunt-terror-suspect-went-missing-Boxing-Day–close-surveillance.html

Ibrahim Magag, 28, absconded from a terrorism prevention and investigation measure noticeIbrahim Magag

Source: The Guardian

Two more associates were of high enough value to have been targets in US drone strikes in Somalia. Bilal el-Berjawi and Mohamed Sakr were also associated with Mohammed Emwazi while he lived in the UK. Bilal el-Berjawi was a senior Al Qaeda operative in the Somalia region and fought with AL Shabaab. He had traveled between terrorist organizations in Africa and the UK at least five times before having his citizenship revoked in 2010. He and Sakr had traveled to Kenya in 2009, but were sent back to the UK under investigation and then Sakr fled the UK in October 2009.

Terrorist Who Radicalized ISIS Executioner Jihadi John Passed Freely Between UK and African Terror Hot Spots for Three Years

http://www.capitalbay.com/news/733232-terrorist-who-radicalised-isis-executioner-jihadi-john-passed-freely-between-uk-and-african-terror-hot-spots-for-three-years.html

261E8D3C00000578-2970392-Bilal_al_Berjawi_Capitalbay

Bilal el-Berjawi

Source: Capital Bay

Bilal was associated with a key figure in the 1998 East Africa Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Bilal was a recruiter and trainer for Al Shabaab and likely a commander at the time of his death in January 2012 in the vicinity of Mogadishu. Mohamed Sakr was killed by another drone strike in Somalia in February 2012.

British Al Qaeda Member Killed in US Drone Attack in Somalia

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/jan/22/british-al-qaida-suspect-drone-somalia

Mohamed Sakr-thebureauinvestigatesMohamed Sakr

Source: The Bureau Investigates

Emwazi’s computer programming skills are also something that sets him apart from the unskilled, uneducated individual Ms Harf talked about. His technical skills are likely involved in the production of the horrid execution videos that he stars in. He is more than the “star” of these gruesome productions, he likely is acting in a directorial capacity as well as editing the final production. There is a strong possibility that he is directly associated with Ahmed Abousamra that is a key figure in the Al Hayat Media Center. Jihad John is more like a public spokesperson than he is anything else. That is why he appears in the videos so frequently or does voice overs for them.

There is a high probability that if Jihad John is located that key figures within Al Hayat Media Center may be in close proximity such as Ahmed Abousamra making Jihad John an even higher value target. Abousamra is a central figure in the social media and propaganda machine of the Islamic State and they likely collaborate in some fashion on the productions.

The Man Behind the ISIS Media Curtain Ahmad Abousamra

The Coalition Forces should stop being concerned with bringing him to justice through a court system and should be more concerned with his direct elimination. He has been located on more than one instance by an armed unmanned aerial vehicle which could have launched a hellfire missile to kill the terrorist spokesperson. Mohammed Emwazi is not a criminal he is a terrorist combatant regardless if he takes part in actual fighting. It is highly doubtful he takes place in any actual combat as their other spokesman Abu Mousa who was killed in combat at Taqba Air Base in Syria.

Taqba Air Base and The Death of Abu Mousa

The Islamic State isn’t likely to take the chance of losing their posterchild for recruiting and propaganda in combat action as they lost Abu Mousa shortly after his remarks about flying the flag of the Islamic State over the White House. He died like a week later. Jihad John may play tough guy on the screen but he is likely not such a tough guy off the screen.

He was earlier identified as former British Rapper Abdel-Majed Bary shortly after the first execution video came out of American journalist James Foley. Several images reportedly showed Bary holding images of him holding a severed head in Raqqa, Syria where the Islamic State had massacred Syrian military personnel and placed 50 of their heads on a fence in town center. There was some speculation that this was not the same person as in the execution videos as Jihad John has a lazy left eye. Sometimes so lazy it looks as if he can’t keep it open.

Connections to Emwazi before his move to Syria in 2012 were to Al Shabaab figures and likely the organization itself prior to the harassment he was supposed to have endured on his trip to Tanzania. The connections to Abousamra and Islamic State came in 2012 after he joined the terror organization in 2012. As we have pointed out in previous articles the Islamic State makes assessments of recruits based on not only their potential fighting skills, but also their technical skills. Emwazi’s computer technical skills likely scored him a non fighting position within the organization and has made him a death cult start within its ranks and to potential new recruits. A spokesman for CAGE had tried stating that Emwazi was driven to radicalization due to harassment by MI5, but as we have shown his ties to known terrorist personalities date back to as early as 2005, but he came up on the radar in 2009.

Jihad John Connections

Mohammed Emwazi connections

Source: The ISIS Study Group

Foley Executioner Identified as abdel-Majed Abdel Bary

Links to Related Articles:

British Muslims on Safari Stopped by MI5

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/british-muslims-on-safari-stopped-by-mi5-1959610.html

ISIS Militant ‘Jihadi John’ Identified, US Officials Say

http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/26/middleeast/isis-jihadi-john-identity/index.html

“First Steps in Defeating Islamic Terror: Understanding the Arab and Muslim World”

Published on Feb 19, 2015 by emetonline

EMET was proud to host Dr. Mordechai Kedar on why Islamic terrorists are targeting the free world, and what we need to know about the Muslim and Arab world to win the war on terror.

From ISIS’s beheadings, to the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris, including the Charlie Hebdo shootings leaving 13 innocent dead, and the slaughter of four Jews at a Kosher supermarket for the mere fact that they were Jewish, the Western world has been left shocked by an enemy it does not know how to defeat. The Islamic State’s campaign of genocide and crimes against humanity has taken on a new level of horror with the recent murder of Jordanian pilot, Moaz al-Kassasbeh, who was burned alive by the radical Islamic terror group. The U.S.’s greatest ally in the Middle East, the State of Israel, was subject to Hamas’ launch of 4,000 rockets into many of its major cities, and the State has to fight terrorists, including those from Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, and Hezbollah, on a daily basis to protect its citizens.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar is an academic expert on the Israeli Arab population. He served for twenty-five years in IDF Military Intelligence, where he specialized in Islamic groups, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic press and mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena. The Los Angeles TimesEdmund Sanders described him as “one of the few Arabic-speaking Israeli pundits seen on Arabic satellite channels defending Israel”

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“WE ARE DEALING WITH AN IDEOLOGY” By Andrew Harrod, (philosproject.org)

Israeli scholar Mordechai Kedar’s Feb. 12 presentation for the Endowment for Middle East Truth gave indispensable insight into the Islamic sources of jihadist movements now threatening the world. During his briefing entitled “First Steps in Defeating Islamic Terror,” Kedar warned that one must recognize the nature of a threat if one ever hopes to defeat it.

“There is no radical Islam,” Kedar said definitively. “There is no moderate Islam. There is Islam.” Each of Islam’s three canonical sources includes “whatever you want to justify, [from] zero violence to 100 percent violence.”

Like Jews and Christians, every Muslim “has his own reality of religious doctrine” and “can argue that opposing viewpoints have hijacked Islam.” Many Muslims uphold Islam’s positive ideas and are “as peaceful as can be.” Other Muslims go the opposite way. Kedar pointed out that environment plays a significant role, since a Muslim who grows up in a free society like the United States will most likely “tailor his Islamic garment” with benign texts, while a Muslim who grows up in war-torn Libya will probably seek out Islam’s more martial aspects.

The problem is that it only takes a few bad seeds. If just one out of every 10,000 Muslims in the worldwide community of 1.5 billion joined ISIS or a similar group, these 150,000 Muslims could “devastate the whole world.” After all, 9/11 and this January’s Paris massacres took place at the hands of just a few jihadists.

The audience watched segments of an ISIS propaganda video showing mass beheadings of captives in places like Europe, Malaysia and the Middle East. This type of video strikes terror in the hearts of Iraqi soldiers and other Middle Easterners longing for peace and order. An English-speaking jihadist pictured in the video warned that Americans deployed to the region could be the next beheading victims; he also called out “to Obama, the dog of Rome.” Kedar explained that a medieval Muslim leader, following the 1453 Ottoman subjugation of the “cats” of Constantinople, had declared that the “dogs of Rome” were Islam’s next target.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which was founded in 1928, can be thought of as the grandmother of organizations like ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Nigeria’s Boko Haram. The Muslim Brotherhood’s logo, whose depiction of crossed swords and Quran leaves no doubt about its Islamic agenda, features the Arabic word “prepare,” which occurs only once in the Quran, in verse 8:60’s command to “prepare … whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war, by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah.” The Muslim Brotherhood and similar organizations represent Sunni terror, while Hezbollah is the Shiite terror counterpart with a state sponsor in Iran’s Islamic Republic, possibly nuclear-armed in the future.

One audience member referenced Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s internationally noted New Year’s Day address that called for Islamic reform, but Kedar was unimpressed. “I highly respect this man,” he said, but added that Sisi is no different from past dictators like Anwar Sadat (subsequently assassinated), Hosni Mubarak, or Hafez Assad. “Every ruler who sees himself as a target of those radical Muslims has made similar appeals for religious reform,” Kedar said, “yet the last people on earth to change anything are political Muslims who would not consider Sisi legitimate” after that president overthrew Muslim Brotherhood rule.

Willful blindness was a running theme in Kedar’s briefing. He warned that “political correctness will kill America after it already killed Europe,” where the human landscape is morphing after decades of Muslim immigration and non-assimilation.

Kedar ominously concluded his presentation by saying that “the Atlantic is not wide enough to protect this country from a global jihadist ideology.” He pointed to the book 40 Hadith on Jihad, which has a chapter titled “War is a Deception.” While current policies often prevent American authorities from asking about religion during criminal investigations, combatting Islamic threats demands, first and foremost, “intelligence, intelligence and intelligence.” Sun Tzu’s dictum of knowing the enemy remains valid in today’s conflicts, religious or not.

President Obama: “We are not at war with Islam” – but is Radical Islam at War with Us?

ISIS Foreign Fighters Source: ADL

ISIS Foreign Fighters Source: ADL

NER, by Jerry Gordon, Feb. 19, 2015:

On Wednesday, February 18, 2014 at a White House Summit, President Obama presented his views on countering “violent extremism”.  He suggested that Islamic terrorists misappropriate Islamic doctrine, exploit disaffected youths in communities across the US and globally throughout the Ummah- the community of Muslim believers. He suggested that youths prone to radicalization outside the US may be victimized by poverty, without job opportunities and oppressed by corrupt regimes. Countering violent extremism he suggests is a multi-pronged approach involving economic programs, political reform and community involvement to halt radicalization. His focus in the US was on creating community partnerships and pilot projects in several American cities, endeavoring to integrate Muslims in America, preserving and protecting their civil rights under our constitution against untoward surveillance. The President gathered Muslim and other religious clerics from the US and abroad, community leaders, law enforcement, homeland security officials, and high tech entrepreneurs seeking means of stopping radicalization of youths. Youths  attracted by the ‘successes’ of  the Islamic State blasted around the world via the internet,  tens of thousands of tweets, high production videos and on-line webzines in a number of languages including English.

Watch this C-Span video excerpt of the President’s remarks at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism:

Nowhere in his remarks , did  the President explain what the Islamic doctrine is that has attracted tens of thousands of foreign fighters, Americans  among them,  to be recruited to the cause of this self-styled Caliphate, the Islamic State (IS).  What he has called ISIL, the Islam State in the Levant (ISIL) is a reference to the broad geographic area that stretches from the Mediterranean coast of Israel to the shore of the Persian Gulf encompassing the Arabian Peninsula.   Those ‘successes’ include videos of the savagery perpetrated against the hated Kuffars, Infidels, including Christians, Jews, ancient religious minorities and apostate Muslims.  Those videos show barbaric beheadings, burnings, crucifixions, mass shootings and enslavement.   The President mentioned recent incidents in Paris, Copenhagen, Ottawa and Sydney of attacks on victims without naming the victims; leftists, free thinkers, Christians and Jews. Neither did he identify the perpetrators.  He used the unfortunate murder of three Muslims in North Carolina by an alleged atheist insinuating that it may have been a hate crime equivalent to Antisemitism.  Interestingly, 60 percent of FBI hate crimes reported involve Antisemitic acts, such as vandalism spray painted on garage doors in Madison, Wisconsin last weekend.  Less than 12 percent of such FBI reports involve hate crimes against Muslims.   Coincidentally, the ADL, which the White House invited to the Summit, released a report,   Homegrown Islamic Extremism in 2014, identifying American Muslims involved in perpetrating violent hate crimes and others arrested in the process of leaving to join IS.

February 18th coincided with Ash Wednesday in the Christian calendar signifying the onset of the 40 days of Lent.  The ashes of burned palm fronds dobbed on the foreheads of professing Christians as an emblem of penitence reflects the biblical injunction about the fragility of life   as stated in   Genesis: 3:19: “For dust you are and to dust you shall return.”   Notice of recent atrocities committed against Christians by IS was reflected in remarks of Pope Francis in Rome and Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington.  Pope Francis remarked   about the by masked IS followers on the shores  of Libya beheading of 21 Coptic Christians communicating a message to all Nations of the Cross that conquest of Rome could follow, “ they are Christians, the  blood of our brothers and sisters cries out.” Following the slaughter of Christians in Libya IS perpetrated in Iraq, a barbaric burning alive of 45 Kurdish captives held in cages.

Just prior to the mid-February White House Summit, The Atlantic Magazine published an article by Graeme Wood, What ISIS Really Wants.  The subtext capsules the arguments propounded   by Wood:

The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.

Bill Warner of the Center for the Study of Political Islam in an email exchange with this writer after reading the Wood Atlantic article commented, “This is a jump in level. First, [Bill] Mahr and now this. The lib/progressive clue phone is ringing.”  Russian historian at Connecticut Central State University, Professor Jay Bergman, wrote, “I read it.  Superb.  The [President] should read it.  But of course…he won’t.”

According to Wood, IS bases all of its power and authority on a strict adherence to a Salafi literal interpretation of Islam and Sharia law, with almost a total focus on the doctrine of Tawhid.  Tawhid calls for strict adherence to the laws of Allah as revealed by the Prophet Mohammed. Further that  all man-made laws and systems must be rejected.  IS considers, any Muslim who  doesn’t adhere  to the doctrine of  Tawhid , an infidel, including “core Al Qaeda” and other Salafists who object to IS public displays  of savagery.

Wood reveals the Tawhid doctrine of IS citing spokesman Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani and   Western experts like Professor Bernard Heykal at Princeton.  Wood interviewed proponents of these same Salafist Jihadist views exemplified by “prophetic methodology” of the exemplar Mohammed, Allah’s messenger.  Among  leading Salafists in the west  interviewed  by  Wood  is Sheik Anjem Choudary in the UK, a subject of monitoring by Mi-5 for his radical views.  Wood’s interview with Australian radical Muslim preacher and IS recruiter Musa Cerantonio, reveals the apocalyptic end time vision espoused by Salafists.   Wood explains how doctrine IS is faithful  to foundational  Islam anchored in Sharia and Islamic legal rulings, frequently citing them in conduct of its feats of savage barbarity. He also notes how  the leaders of the Islamic State, considers the leaders of  the Muslim Brotherhood , Al Qaeda and even other Salafists  as takfir, apostates, subject to death  fatwas.

Read more

The Muslim Brotherhood-ISIS Connection

isis-hamas-450x248Frontpage, February 18, 2015 by Arnold Ahlert:

President Obama’s ongoing antipathy towards Egypt is no accident. Our feckless president has long had a soft spot in his heart for the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), and Egypt’s removal of the terror group from the corridors of power has rankled the administration. So what is it the Egyptians understand and our president denies? The Egyptian Minister of Religious Endowments insists that ISIS was birthed by the MB.

Dr. Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa and other Egyptian scholars have explained that while ISIS is publicly hostile to the MB, they share identical goals. Last August, the Ministry illuminated those goals. “They are both waging a war against their homelands with vandalism, destruction and murder—murder on behalf of the enemies of the state who fund them,” read a published statement. Other similarities include the exploitation of women to further their agenda, and the reality that both groups use “lying and deception in the name of religion,” and both have “ignorant and lying” leaders who “use religion to play with the minds of the public,” the statement explained. “The main commonality between the two groups is their terrorist acts,” it added.

A month later, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, who pledged to support the Obama administration’s war against ISIS, urged the president to recognize the bigger picture of Islamic extremism that extends beyond the borders of Iraq and Syria. He cited terrorist threats in Libya, Sudan, Yemen and the Sinai Peninsula as examples of identical danger posed by ISIS. “We can’t reduce the danger lurking in the region to ISIL (ISIS). We have to bear in mind all the pieces of the puzzle,” he insisted. “We can’t just limit the confrontation to checking and destroying the Islamic State.”

Unfortunately for his nation, Al Sisi’s prescience proved correct: 21 Egyptian Christians were beheaded by ISIS in Libya, where they have established another presence. Such an opportunity was made possible by the Obama administration’s determination to topple Muammar Gaddafi—followed by its refusal to help the new U.S.-backed Libyan government train their police and military. As a result Libya is in complete chaos. Moreover the administration’s political pettiness has allegedly reached a new low: according to Oliver North, Obama denied both Egypt and Jordan targeting information on ISIS in Libya and Syria, despite the decapitation of the Egyptian Christians and the incineration of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh.

The administration’s behavior in this context runs completely counter to the reality illuminated by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukr. “Ultimately this extremist ideology is shared by all terrorist groups. We detect ties of cooperation between them and see a danger as it crosses borders,” he explained.

Part of that mix includes includes Hamas, also spawned by the MB. Writing for the Times of Israel, Ryan Mauro, National Security Analyst for the Clarion Project, wonders why the world agrees that ISIS is morally repugnant even as Hamas gets a pass. “Both implement sharia governance, deliberately target civilians, have genocidal beliefs and seek the establishment of a caliphate,” he writes. He further explains that ISIS’s determination to exterminate Iraq’s Yazidi population is “no more egregious” than Hamas’s determination to eliminate millions of Jews. And the only difference between the MB, Hamas and ISIS is in regard to their method of achieving the same goal. The MB and Hamas wish to establish a Muslim caliphate incrementally, while ISIS is willing to do anything and everything to bring one about as quickly as possible.

Moreover, the MB’s and Hamas’s desire to eliminate the Jews is nothing new. The MB was established in 1928 by Hasan al-Banna, who admired Hitler and wrote to him expressing his desire to collaborate with the Nazi Party. During World War II, the MB made good on that desire. Its members spied for Hitler in the Middle East and formed two Muslim Waffen-SS Handschar Divisions to fight for the Nazis. Following the war, the MB was supported by the West, who saw them as a counterweight to the Soviet Union’s Middle East aspirations. And while some MB members eschewed violence and built schools and medical clinics, others continued to promote violence that included two failed assassination attempts against Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Hamas was spawned in 1987 by the MB in Israel.

Two years later, the MB’s Mujahedeen army repelled the Soviets from Afghanistan and then split into two groups—one of which was Al Qaeda. And as Americans are now fully aware, MB-educated Osama bin Laden became their leader. Both groups, along with other Sunni Islamists, were inspired by al-Banna’s successor Sayyid Qutb. In his 1964 manifesto, Milestones, he insisted that governments not based on Sharia Law are apostate, making them legitimate targets of jihad.

ISIS has ideological roots that trace all the way back to the Wahhabist strain of Islam founded by Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab during the 16th century in Saudi Arabia. Like ISIS, al-Wahhab believed in a strict and conformist form of Islam. Those who dissented were to be killed, their property confiscated, and their wives and daughters violated. The essential rift between the two groups arises from Wahhabism’s “One Ruler, One Authority, One Mosque” doctrine that refers to the Saudi king, the absolute authority of Wahhabism, and its control of the mosques and their teachings. ISIS rejects this doctrine, which explains why Saudi Arabia feels as threatened as anyone else by their rise, even as much of the kingdom still embraces Wahhabism. With the rise of Saudi oil wealth, the West preferred to look at the kingdom’s modernization, even as they ignored the Wahhabist part of the equation.

ISIS’s modern roots can be traced to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian street thug who arrived in Afghanistan too late to fight the Soviets. After a return to Jordan, he went back to Afghanistan a decade later, meeting bin Laden in 1999, but refusing to join al Qaeda. When the Taliban fell in 2001 he fled to Iraq, and in 2003 he set up ISIS’s precursor, Jama’at al-Tawhid w’al-Jihad (the Party of Monotheism and Jihad). It was comprised mostly of non-Iraqis, and al-Zarqawi’s primary targets were Iraq’s Shi’ite Muslim majority. By 2004 his campaign of suicide bombings in that nation made him a jihadist superstar, earning Bin Laden’s endorsement in the process. Al-Zarqawi returned the favor by rebranding his group al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).

Yet by 2005, al Qaeda began to have misgivings about AQI’s brutality towards civilians. The American troop surge, coupled with Sunni Iraq’s own disenchantment with Zarqawi’s strict sharia rules gave birth to the “Awakening” that allowed the U.S. to prevail in Iraq—until the deadly combination of a Shi’ite-dominated Maliki government looking for payback after years of Sunni Ba’athist domination, coupled with the Obama administration’s precipitous troop withdrawal in 2011, laid the groundwork for ISIS’s current rise.

In 2011, AQI was being run by current ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and had become a largely Iraqi organization. Another rebranding took place as these “Sons of Iraq” became ISI, until their ranks were swelled by former commanders and soldiers in Saddam’s military. With the addition of new troops, Baghdadi opened a second front in Syria, once again targeting Shi’ite Muslims and their Shia sub-sect Alawite rulers led by Bashar Assad. When Syrian became part of the equation, ISI became ISIS.

And while all of this was occurring, Obama not only ignored the metastasizing threat, but used his 2012 presidential campaign to assure the American public that al Qaeda had been “decimated” and terror was “on the run.” More accurately, ISIS has been on a roll, seizing large swaths of both Iraq and Syria, along with billions of dollars, courtesy of bank seizures and oil revenue that make them the richest terrorist organization in the history of the world.

Moreover despite the “conventional wisdom” that al Qaeda and ISIS are enemies, the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo indicates there was at least some indication that al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and ISIS worked together to perpetrate that atrocity.

On 25 December, Egypt declared the MB a terrorist organization, with the Egyptian courts dissolving nearly all of its institutions, organizations and charities. By contrast on Feb. 4, Obama hosted a meeting at the White House with 14 Muslim leaders, including Azhar Azeez, President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and Hoda Elshishtawy of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).

Both groups were founded by members of the MB.

Former congressman Pete Hoekstra was incensed. The Michigan Republican  insisted it was “absolutely outrageous” for Obama to invite “the Muslim Brotherhood into our government to meet with the White House.” “These are people who are committed to destroying our way of life,” the Michigan Republican warned. “The policy failures go on and on and on, and that’s how we need to be addressing this president and challenging him that his policies are just not working.”

Such challenges will have to overcome that complicity, as well as the grim determination by this administration not to link terror with Islam. Both challenges are epitomized by the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism beginning today. As the AP explains, the Summit will “highlight domestic and international efforts to prevent extremists and their supporters from radicalizing, recruiting and inspiring others, particularly disaffected young people.”

The words “Islamist” or “terror?” Nowhere to be found. As for complicity, one of the Summit’s attendees is the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) an organization with extensive ties to terror, including former Cambridge mosque worshipper Ahmad Abousamra who is currently ISIS’s top propagandist, as well as the Tsarnaev brothers who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing.  The Cambridge mosque, ISB’s first house of worship was founded in 1982 by Abdulrahman Alamoudi, currently serving a 23-year prison term for his conviction as an al Qaeda fundraiser. Yusuf Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of theMuslim Brotherhood, was a founding trustee at the ISB’s second mosque in Roxbury.

One of the Obama administration’s ostensible ideas for preventing recruitment and radicalization? State Department spokesperson Marie Harf, epitomizedtheir enduring recklessness, insisting we cannot “kill” our way to victory against ISIS. “We need, in the longer term, medium and longer term, to go after the root causes that lead people to join these groups, whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs,” she declared.

Jobs? Twenty-one Egyptian Christians went to Libya in search of jobs. ISIS decapitated every one of them.

The Obama administration is morally bankrupt. And as the history of the MB-ISIS connections presented here suggests, it is only a matter of time before Americans pay an unconscionable price for that bankruptcy.

US reportedly increases secret raids against Afghanistan insurgents

Feb. 12, 2015: Afghanistan National Army officers march during a graduation ceremony at a training center in Herat, west of Kabul. Around 1, 200 national army officers graduated after receiving a 3 month training program in Herat. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)

Feb. 12, 2015: Afghanistan National Army officers march during a graduation ceremony at a training center in Herat, west of Kabul. Around 1, 200 national army officers graduated after receiving a 3 month training program in Herat. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)

Fox News, Feb. 13, 2015:

U.S. Special Forces soldiers and their Afghan allies have undertaken an increasing number of night raids targeting Taliban and Al Qaeda militants, despite Washington formally declaring an end to combat operations late last year, according to a published report.

The New York Times reports that the increased raids are partially the result of intelligence seized in October of last year, when U.S. and Afghan commandos came upon a laptop computer with files detailing terror operations in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan. Military officials tell the paper that the information in the files could be as significant as what was found on a computer in Usama bin Laden’s Pakistan compound after the terror leader was killed by Navy SEALs in 2011.

The officials also said that another factor playing the role in the increased raids were loosened restrictions on nighttime operations put in place by the new Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani. Ghani has previously called for a slower withdrawal of U.S. troops from his country. Current plans call for the U.S. to go from about 10,800 troops there now to 5,500 by the end of this year.

The U.S. and its NATO allies formally announced the end of their combat mission in Afghanistan in December and trumpeted the withdrawal of most combat troops. However, under the terms of a security agreement with the Afghan government, just over 13,000 troops, most of them American, were to stay on in an advisory role.

However, American and Afghan officials tell The Times that U.S. troops are taking a lead role in the latest counterterror raids, and not merely going along as advisers. The raids are also unusual in that they are coming during the winter, which is traditionally the season where the fighting is lightest.

“It’s all in the shadows now,” said a former Afghan security official told the paper. “The official war for the Americans — the part of the war that you could go see — that’s over. It’s only the secret war that’s still going. But it’s going hard.”

News of the increased raids comes one day after the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he wants greater flexibility in in how quickly he pulls troops out of Afghanistan and where he can position them around the country in the coming months.

Gen. John Campbell said that by keeping more than 5,500 troops in Afghanistan through the end of the year, Campbell would be able to maintain forces in other locations around the country, both training the Afghan forces and providing support for more counterterrorism missions.

“I’m particularly concerned about the summer of 2015,” Campbell said. “The Afghans — this is the very first fighting season completely on their own.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Click for more from The New York Times. 

‘Religion of the Sword': ISIS Magazine Heavy on Crusades Propaganda

REUTERS/Paul Hackett

REUTERS/Paul Hackett

—–> Islamic State’s “Dabiq” magazine Issue 7

Breitbart, by JOHN HAYWARD, 12 Feb 2015:

The new issue of Dabiq, the Islamic State English-language magazine, is officially out. Its headlining story boasts the capture of a Mossad informant, but the magazine serves less to bring news than to reframe the war between the Islamic State and civilization as a revisiting of the Crusades.

This is a hot topic in the West as well, thanks to comments by President Obama comparing the atrocities of the Middle Ages with the Islamic State.

The issue contains a great deal of ranting about the Crusades and modern-day “crusaders,” which sounds quite a bit like the sort of thing American Christians are now treated to at National Prayer Breakfast speeches by their president. It is a spirited attempt to argue that Islam is “The Religion of the Sword,” and anyone who claims otherwise is a “deviant”—a mash note to the former Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt. Triumphant reports of the latest beheadings prominently include immolated Jordanian pilot Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh and beheaded Japanese captives Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto, and a women’s page features an interview with Umm Basir al-Muhajirah, wife of the deceased terrorist who “randomly” shot some “folks” in a kosher supermarket in Paris, as President Obama put it.

It is topped off with a back-page editorial, ostensibly from captive British journalist John Cantlie, who has appeared in a number of ISIS propaganda videos, and who some suspect is a willing supporter of the Islamic State, rather than a hostage.

The “crusader” language is ubiquitous throughout the issue—pictures of Western political leaders and military forces are given captions like “The Crusader David Cameron,” “The Japanese Crusader Kenji Goto Jogo,” and so forth. The foreword begins with a quote from Osama bin Laden in 2001, in which he warned nations such as Japan, Australia, and Germany from joining “yet another Crusade, just like the former Crusades led by Richard the Lionheart, Barbarossa of Germany, and Louis of France. Likewise today, when Bush raised the cross, the crusader countries immediately scrambled.”

Alas, bin Laden’s warnings fell upon deaf ears in Japan in Dabiq’s view, because Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s offer of $200 million in humanitarian relief for war refugees bought him a seat on the “Crusader coalition against the Muslims,” assembled by “‘Nobel Peace Prize’ winner Obama.” This might have been written before Obama took the latest opportunity to make it clear that he hates the Crusades and holds modern-day Christians morally responsible for them (thus depriving them of a seat on the “high horse” from which they like to criticize Islamist violence), so maybe Dabiq will feel bad about going so hard on him.

This is what I meant when I said Obama’s rhetoric is “very close to reciting enemy propaganda.” The similarities go deeper than the superficial use of words. Obama treated the Crusades as an event very relevant to modern Christendom, emphatically rejecting the notion that it is ancient history unworthy of dredging up in a conversation about Islamist atrocities in 2015. ISIS feels the same way, and when they get a taste of Obama nattering about the Crusades, they will present it to their followers as confirmation that even the new crusaders agree with them.

One area where ISIS profoundly disagrees with Obama is his characterization of them as 100 percent non-Islamic, would-be extremist hijackers of a pastoral faith. “Islam is the Religion of the Sword, Not Pacifism,” one Dabiq article declares, helpfully including a picture of a sword, just in case anyone does not get the point. The article is dedicated to denouncing Western politicians and peaceful Muslims (who ISIS regards as apostates and traitors) for pushing the “Religion of Peace” slogan. They are also pretty hot under the collar about those who portray “jihad” as anything other than the violent conquest and murder of infidels and apostates. One picture of such Muslims is captioned, “Deviants Claiming That Islam Equals Peace.” They are quite picky about the proper definition of “Islam” as meaning “submission,” not “peace.” A great deal of Islamic writings are quoted to support these arguments, and runs on for four pages, including dense clusters of small-font footnotes.

There are numerous close-up photos of the hideously burned corpse of Jordanian captive al-Kaseasbeh, in case anyone needs a reminder of how insanely evil ISIS is. The article on his death justifies murdering the “apostate” pilot by immolation, normally proscribed in Islam, by saying air strikes tend to kill ISIS targets by fire. They cite religious rulings that justify burning under “eye for an eye” principles of Islamic justice: “So whoever has assaulted you, then assault him in the same way that he has assaulted you.”

This issue of Dabiq also discusses what has become a matter of much concern for the Pentagon: the expansion of ISIS operations into Afghanistan, which they refer to as “Khurasan.” The article discusses the decision of some Taliban to “declare their bay’ah” to the “Khalifah” (i.e. swear allegiance to the Islamic State), sealing the deal by executing a captured Pakistani soldier. A Taliban spokesman is quoted declaring, “In spite of the ongoing crusade, the gathering of those near and far against the Islamic State, and the war waged against it by those both close and distant, we bring the mujahadeen the good news of the Islamic State’s expansion to Khurasan.”

The bulk of the article is essentially devoted to jeering at the Taliban who consider making peace with the U.S.-backed government of Afghanistan as a bunch of “deviant and feeble” lightweights who don’t understand the true meaning of jihad.

***

ISIS Upset with Obama, Kerry, ‘Heretics’ for ‘Slogan’ That Islam Is Religion of Peace

By Bridget Johnson On February 12, 2015:

The new issue of ISIS’ magazine released today takes issue with Western leaders who assert that Islam is a religion of peace.

In the Dabiq magazine article, the writer said the wrongful “slogan” is also being used by “apologetic ‘du’āt’ [beggars] when flirting with the West.”

“They have repeated this slogan so much to the extent that some of them alleged that Islam calls to permanent peace with kufr and the kāfirīn. How far is their claim from the truth, for Allah has revealed Islam to be the religion of the sword, and the evidence for this is so profuse that only a zindīq (heretic) would argue otherwise,” the magazine states.

The article features a photo of two men at a protest holding a sign that says “Islam = Paz,” with the caption, “Deviants claiming that Islam equals peace.”

After a page worth of quotes from the Quran that “revealed the sword against the apostates,” the article asks, “So how can the zanādiqah (heretics) or even those who blindly follow them – Bush, Obama, and Kerry – obstinately claim that ‘Islam is a religion of peace,’ meaning pacifism?”

“One of the biggest shubuhāt propagated by the heretics is the linguistic root for the word Islam. They claim it comes from the word salām (peace), when in actuality it comes from words meaning submission and sincerity sharing the same consonant root.”

It quotes more of the Quran, concluding “it is clear then that salām (peace) is not the basis of the word Islam, although it shares the same consonant root (s-l-m) and is one of the outcomes of the religion’s sword, as the sword will continue to be drawn, raised, and swung until ‘Īsā (Jesus – ‘alayhis-salām) kills the Dajjāl (the Antichrist) and abolishes the jizyah. Thereafter, kufr and its tyranny will be destroyed; Islam and its justice will prevail on the entire Earth.”

“…There will always be a party of Muslims fighting parties of kāfirīn until there is no more fitnah and the religion is completely for Allah alone.”

***

ISIS’s English-Language Magazine ‘Dabiq’ Celebrates Attacks in France, Features Interview with Leader of Belgian ISIS Cell

DabiqBy The Tatler On February 12, 2015:

Reprinted with permission from MEMRI.

On February 12, 2015, the Islamic State (ISIS) released the seventh issue of its English-language magazine Dabiq. The 83-page issue celebrates the recent attacks in Paris, justifies the burning of the Jordanian pilot, and calls for Muslims in the West to join ISIS, among other topics discussed. It also includes interviews with Hayat Boumeddiene, the wife of Paris kosher supermarket attacker Amedy Coulibaly, and with Belgian ISIS fighter Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the leader of the Verviers cell that planned major attacks in Belgium.

The following is a review of the main items in the issue:

‘Dabiq’: Japan Responsible For Death Of Japanese Hostages

The issue opens with a foreword that addresses the recent killing of the two Japanese hostages. It asserts that the Japanese government and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are responsible for their deaths because they took sides in the war against ISIS instead of staying out of it, and therefore ISIS punished Japan for its intervention.

 

Burning Of Jordanian Pilot – Retribution

Another article justifies and glorifies the burning of the Jordanian pilot. It states that “the Islamic State resolved to burn him alive as retribution for his crimes against Islam and the Muslims, including his active involvement  in  crusader  airstrikes against Muslim lands.” It adds that, “in burning the crusader pilot alive and burying him  under  a  pile  of  debris,  the  Islamic  State carried  out  a  just  form  of  retaliation  for  his involvement in the crusader bombing campaign.” Referring to Jordan’s execution of two jihadis, Sajida Al-Rishawi and Ziad Al-Karbuli, in retaliation for this act, the article explains that ISIS attempted to secure their release but “Allah had decreed that they would return to him as shuhada [martyrs].”

baljikiInterview With Leader Of Verviers Cell That Planned Major Attacks In Belgium

The issue also features an interview with Abdelhamid Abaaoud, aka Abu Umar Al-Baljiki, the leader of the ISIS cell which had planned attacks in Belgium and was the target of the Belgian authority’s January 15, 2015 raid in Verviers. In the interview Abaaoud tells how he traveled from Syria to Belgium with the intent of carrying out terrorism there, and how he avoided being caught in the raid and managed to return to Syria despite being wanted by security and intelligence apparatuses, and despite the fact that his name and photo had appeared in the media. He also discusses his co-conspirators, Belgian ISIS members Khalid Ben Larbi (aka Abu Zubair Al-Baljiki) and Sufian Amghar (aka Abu Khalid Al-Baljiki), who traveled with him to Belgium and were killed in the shootout with the security forces.[i]

ifriqiPraise For Paris Attacks

The issue deals at length with the January 2015 attacks in Paris. As part of this, it features an interview with Hayat Boumeddiene, the wife of kosher supermarket attacker Amedy Coulibaly (aka Abu Basir Al-Ifriqi), who fled to Syria prior to the attack. Boumeddiene, referred to as Umm Basir Al-Muhajirah, discusses her successful escape to the Islamic State and her late husband’s devotion to ISIS’s ideology. Another piece, titled “The Good Example of Abu Basir Al-Ifriqi,” stresses Coulibaly’s piety and devotion to Islam. The piece includes an interview with one of Coulibaly’s associates, who praises his generosity and the good deeds he did during his life, such as preaching Islam and financially assisting the Kouachi brothers, perpetrators of the Charie Hebdo attack.

The issue’s feature article, titled “The Extinction of the Grayzone,” states that the world is now clearly divided into two camps – the camp of Islam, represented by ISIS, and the camp of unbelief – and Muslims in the West must therefore choose whether to join ISIS or side with its enemies. The article, which is accompanied by photos of Muslim leaders in the West, exhorts the West’s Muslims to renounce “apostate” and “traitor” Muslim leaders and institutions, such as clerics who spoke out against the Paris attacks. It also urges them to attack those who mock Islam’s prophet, and even insinuates that moderate Muslims should be killed. While glorifying various attacks carried out in Europe, such as the Madrid and London bombings, it also stresses that, after the establishment of the Islamic State’s caliphate, Muslims in the West no longer have an excuse to stay in the West. Rather, they must leave their countries and come to the territories controlled by ISIS.

The article also denounces rival groups for not recognizing ISIS’s caliphate and joining it. It especially bashes Al-Qaeda and Syrian rebel groups that refuse to recognize ISIS as the only legitimate authority. The article accuses them of being partisans for their group and of being lax in their faith and ideology, and claims that, by maintaining a neutral position between ISIS and the West, they are actually accomplices of the latter.

An article written by British captive John Cantlie rails against the Western media, and in particular the British and French media, for their campaign against ISIS, and also lashes out at British Prime Minister David Cameron and Western governments for their military attack on the organization, while claiming that the airstrikes actually increases ISIS’s appeal to new recruits.

ISIS Claims To Capture “Mossad Spy”

In an item titled “An Interview with a Mossad Spy” presents the alleged confession of a 19-year-old from Jerusalem who, the magazine claims, was recruited by Israeli intelligence to infiltrate the organization. He speaks of his recruitment and training and tells how he was caught.

Operations In Libya

In this issue ISIS also discusses two recent operations in Libya. First, it claims responsibility for the kidnapping of 21 Egyptian Copts in that country in early January 2015, and explains this was revenge for the kidnapping by Copts of Egyptian women Camilia Shehate and Wafa Constantine in 2010. Second, it celebrates its January 27 attack on the Corinthia hotel in Tripoli, in which nine were killed, including five foreigners, one of them an American.[ii]

Another topic discussed is ISIS’s expansion in the Caucasus, where several jihadi groups have pledged their loyalty to the organization, and in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, which ISIS now refers to as ‘the Khurasan province,’ after some groups there also declared their loyalty to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.[iii]

[i] For more on this item, see MEMRI JTTM report, “Dabiq VII Features Interview With Runaway Belgian ISIS Fighter Abdelhamid Abaaoud,” February 12, 2015.

[iii] For more on this see MEMRI JTTM report Commanders Of Ten Pakistani And Afghan Jihadist Organizations Swear Fealty To ISIS Leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, Hafiz Saeed Khan Chosen As First ISIS Emir For Khorasan Region, January 16, 2015.

What Is the Islamic State Trying to Accomplish?

(Image: ISIS video)

(Image: ISIS video)

National Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy, Feb. 7, 2015:

The Islamic State’s barbaric murder of Lieutenant Mouath al-Kasaebeh, the Jordanian air-force pilot the jihadists captured late last year, has naturally given rise to questions about the group’s objectives. Charles Krauthammer argues (here and here) that the Islamic State is trying to draw Jordan into a land war in Syria. It is no doubt correct that the terrorist group would like to destabilize Jordan — indeed, it is destabilizing Jordan. Its immediate aim, however, is more modest and attainable. The Islamic State wants to break up President Obama’s much trumpeted Islamic-American coalition.

As the administration proudly announced back in September, Jordan joined the U.S. coalition, along with the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar. The only potential value of the coalition is symbolic: It has enabled the president to claim that Muslim countries were lining up with us against the Islamic State. Militarily, the coalition is of little use. These countries cannot defeat the Islamic State.

Moreover, even the symbolism is insignificant. Symbolism, after all, cuts both ways. As I pointed out when the administration breathlessly announced the coalition, our five Islamic partners have only been willing to conduct (extremely limited) aerial operations against the Islamic State. They would not attack al-Qaeda targets — i.e., the strongholds of al-Nusra (the local al-Qaeda franchise) and “Khorasan” (an al-Qaeda advisory council that operates within al-Nusra in Syria).

Obviously, if the relevance of the five Islamic countries’ willingness to fight the Islamic State is the implication that the Islamic State is not really Islamic, then their unwillingness to fight al-Qaeda equally implies their assessment that al-Qaeda is representative of Islam. The latter implication no doubt explains why the Saudis, Qatar, and the UAE have given so much funding over the years to al-Qaeda . . . the terror network from which the Islamic State originates and with which the Islamic State shares its sharia-supremacist ideology.

I’ll give the Saudis this: They don’t burn their prisoners alive in a cage. As previously recounted here, though, they routinely behead their prisoners. In fact, here’s another report from the British press just three weeks ago:

Authorities in Saudi Arabia have publicly beheaded a woman in Islam’s holy city of Mecca. . . . Laila Bint Abdul Muttalib Basim, a Burmese woman who resided in Saudi Arabia, was executed by sword on Monday after being dragged through the street and held down by four police officers.

She was convicted of the sexual abuse and murder of her seven-year-old step-daughter.

A video showed how it took three blows to complete the execution, while the woman screamed “I did not kill. I did not kill.” It has now been removed by YouTube as part of its policy on “shocking and disgusting content”.

There are two ways to behead people according to Mohammed al-Saeedi, a human rights activist: “One way is to inject the prisoner with painkillers to numb the pain and the other is without the painkiller. . . . This woman was beheaded without painkillers — they wanted to make the pain more powerful for her.”

The Saudi Ministry of the Interior said in a statement that it believed the sentence was warranted due to the severity of the crime.

The beheading is part of an alarming trend, which has seen the kingdom execute seven people in the first two weeks of this year. In 2014 the number of executions rose to 87, from 78 in 2013.

Would that the president of the United States were more worried about the security of the United States than about how people in such repulsive countries perceive the United States.

In any event, the Islamic State is simply trying to blow up the coalition, which would be a useful propaganda victory. And the strategy is working. It appears at this point that only Jordan is participating in the airstrikes. While all eyes were on Jordan this week for a reaction to Lieutenant al-Kasaebeh’s immolation, the administration has quietly conceded that the UAE suspended its participation in bombing missions when the pilot was captured in December.

The explanation for this is obvious: The Islamic countries in the coalition know they can’t stop the Islamic State unless the United States joins the fight in earnest, and they know this president is not serious. The White House says the coalition has carried out a total of about 1,000 airstrikes in the last five months. In Desert Storm, we did 1,100 a day.

Seven strikes a day is not going to accomplish anything, especially with no troops on the ground, and thus no search-and-rescue capability in the event planes go down, as Lieutenant al-Kasaebeh’s did. With no prospect of winning, and with a high potential of losing pilots and agitating the rambunctious Islamists in their own populations, why would these countries continue to participate?

The Islamic State knows there is intense opposition to King Abdullah’s decision to join in the coalition. While the Islamic State’s sadistic method of killing the pilot has the king and his supporters talking tough about retaliation, millions of Jordanians are Islamist in orientation and thousands have crossed into Syria and Iraq to fight for the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. There will continue to be pressure on Jordan to withdraw. Without a real American commitment to the fight, this pressure will get harder for Abdullah to resist.

Jordan has no intention of getting into a land war the king knows he cannot win without U.S. forces leading the way. But the Islamic State does not need to lure Jordan into a land war in order to destabilize the country — it is already doing plenty of that by intensifying the Syrian refugee crisis, sending Jordanians back home from Syria as trained jihadists, and trying to assassinate Abdullah.

I will close by repeating the larger point I’ve argued several times before. We know from experience that when jihadists have safe havens, they attack the United States. They now have more safe havens than they’ve ever had before — not just because of what the Islamic State has accomplished in what used to be Syria and Iraq (the map of the Middle East needs updating) but because of what al-Qaeda has done there and in North Africa, what the Taliban and al-Qaeda are doing in Afghanistan, and so on.

If we understand, as we by now should, what these safe havens portend, then we must grasp that the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and the global jihad constitute a threat to American national security. That they also (and more immediately) threaten Arab Islamic countries is true, but it is not close to being our top concern. Ensuring our security is a concern that could not be responsibly delegated to other countries even if they had formidable armed forces — which the “coalition” countries do not.

The Islamic State and al-Qaeda are our problem.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.

Muslim Brothers Can’t Bring Themselves to Criticize Islamic State

CSP, by Kyle Shideler, Feb. 5, 2015:

Its a convenient notion that the barbaric decision to burn Jordanian pilot LT. Moaz al-Kasasbeh alive is a step too far even for the Sharia enforcers of the Islamic State, and that as a result we can expect a wave of rejection across the Arab world which might arise to shake off the Islamic State like a dog shaking off fleas.

Islamic LawUnfortunately, contrary to the belief of President Obama, the ideology of Islamic State isn’t bankrupt, but is based on the Islamic law. The execution itself was based on two concepts. The first, that because al-Kasabeh had conducted bombing missions against the Islamic State, by burning him and burying him in rubble they were essentially meting out a punishment equivalent to being bombed. This concept that retaliation should be equivalent to the offense is called qisas. It is the same reason a Saudi court ruled a man’s back should be broken after the man paralyzed someone. It’s based off the quranic citation Sura 16:126, “And if you punish [an enemy, O believers], punish with an equivalent of that with which you were harmed. But if you are patient – it is better for those who are patient.”

Secondly, Islamic State cited medieval Islamic scholar ibn Taymiyyah, whose works on takfir (declaring as an apostate one who violates Islamic law, rather than only those who affirm their own apostasy) are heavily cited by many modern jihadists. Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb utilized Ibn Taymiyyah in establishing the Brotherhood’s practice of applying the concept of Jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic ignorance) to modern Arab regimes thus justifying them as targets of a legitimate jihad.

It’s thus no surprise that while many were up in arms about ISIS’ decision, Muslim Brotherhood cleric Abdul Majeed Al-Zindani, tweeted a defense of ISIS, and their citation of Ibn Taymiyyah, saying that those who reject Ibn Taymiyyah, reject the Quran (H/T to@iaskmaie on Twitter for finding and translating the tweet which few if any have picked up on.) Al-Zindani is an influential leader of the Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood’s Al-Islah Party. Al Zindani is also a specially designated global terrorist by the U.S. Treasury  Department due to his role in the Union of the Good, which supports Hamas, and his influence on Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.

Nor is Al-Zindani alone. The watchdog group MEMRI recently published a Jordanian media video where Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood leader, Sheikh Hamza Mansour  patently refused to identify the Islamic State as a terrorist group, despite pressure from the interviewer:

Interviewer: Is ISIS a terrorist organization?

Hamza Mansour: There are terrorists of every sort – Sunnis, Shiites, Muslims, Christians, Jews…

Interviewer: The Islamic State organization, sir – do you consider it to be terrorist?

Hamza Mansour: There is no definition of terrorism today. Anybody who says a couple of words is automatically considered a terrorist. We condemn terrorism in all its shapes and sizes.

Interviewer: And ISIS?

Hamza Mansour: Let me tell you….

Interviewer: I’m asking a clear question. I insist on getting an answer. This is a yes/no question.

Hamza Mansour: I condemn terrorism in all forms. Are you giving me the third degree?

While it’s certainly true that there is outrage around the globe, the underpinnings of Islamic State, through Al Qaeda, to the Muslim Brotherhood, to Shariah law itself, remain in place, and they will continue to be influential to those attracted to the cause of establishing the Caliphate and instituting Islamic law. Underestimating that appeal or focusing solely on the brutal reality of the Islamic State instead of the intellectual and ideological framework built by groups like the Muslim Brotherhood (which has itself issued a call to jihad against Egypt), is a recipe for continued failure in defeating not just ISIS but the Global Jihad Movement more generally.

Analysis: DIA head warns al Qaeda in Syria may gain ground in 2015

 

LWJ, By THOMAS JOSCELYN, February 4, 2015:

The director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Lieutenant General Vincent R. Stewart, warned during congressional testimony yesterday that the “security challenges” the US faces are “more diverse and complex than those we have experienced in our lifetimes.” Stewart delivered his remarks to the House Armed Services Committee during a hearing devoted to assessing worldwide threats.

While Stewart addressed diverse national security issues, much of his written testimony was focused on what was once called the global war on terror.

Al Qaeda in Syria may “expand its territory,” while threatening the West

The Islamic State’s advances in Iraq and Syria have understandably garnered most of the headlines since the middle of last year. But the Islamic State’s rivals in the Al Nusrah Front, an official branch of al Qaeda, have been gaining ground over the past several months. And the DIA is concerned that Al Nusrah will continue to advance inside Syria and elsewhere, while also enabling senior al Qaeda operatives to plan attacks against the West.

The DIA expects Al Nusrah “will try to expand its territory in 2015 beyond its Syrian operating areas and enhance its operational capabilities in Lebanon, where it already conducts operations.”

“As part of the larger al Qaeda network,” Stewart writes, “we are concerned about the support Al Nusrah Front provides to transnational terrorist attack plotting against US and Western interests.” In particular, he highlighted the threat posed by the so-called Khorasan Group, “a cadre of experienced al Qaeda operatives that works closely with and relies upon al Nusrah Front to provide personnel and space for training facilities in northwestern Syria.” The Khorasan Group “is primarily focused on transnational terrorist attack plotting.”

In the past, US officials have tried to draw a line between the Khorasan Group and Al Nusrah, as if the two were almost distinct entities. [See LWJ report, Analysis: CENTCOM draws misleading line between Al Nusrah Front and Khorasan Group.] In reality, both are simply al Qaeda. And Stewart’s testimony makes it clear that the Khorasan Group’s operatives are deeply embedded within Al Nusrah.

The US-led coalition struck Al Nusrah and the Khorasan Group in September of last year, but has not made targeting al Qaeda in Syria a priority since then.

The DIA thinks that the airstrikes “probably killed a number of senior al Nusrah Front and Khorasan Group operatives, but the group almost certainly has maintained some capability to continue plotting against Western interests.”

Air campaign damaging, not defeating Islamic State

The implication of Stewart’s testimony is that the air campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is only somewhat effective in containing the organization. Stewart refers to the group by an acronym of its previous name, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (or ISIL).

Since Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s fighters stormed their way through much of Iraq last spring and summer, he writes, “coalition airstrikes have resulted in the removal of a number of ISIL senior leaders and degraded the group’s ability to operate openly in Iraq and Syria.” And ISIL has hit a natural barrier to its expansion as “[s]eizing and holding Shia and Kurdish-populated areas of Iraq…will continue to be difficult.”

However, the DIA expects “ISIL to continue entrenching itself and consolidating gains in Sunni areas of Iraq and Syria while also fighting for territory outside those areas.” He predicts that ISIL will “continue limited offensive operations, such as the group’s recent operations in Syria and in Anbar province of Iraq.”

Meanwhile, the Iraqi government continues to need substantial external support. The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) remain “unable to defend against external threats or sustain conventional military operations against internal challenges without foreign assistance,” Stewart writes.

A “stalemate” in Afghanistan

US-led forces have been battling jihadists for control of Afghanistan since late 2001. But the jihadists are far from defeated, and the situation is likely to get worse in the wake of America’s drawdown in forces. While the DIA expects the Afghan government to be able to protect major urban areas, the jihadists will continue to use their safe havens in rural areas to challenge the state’s authority.

The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) “remain stalemated with the Taliban-led insurgency,” Stewart explains. The DIA expects the ANSF “to maintain stability and security in Kabul and key urban areas while retaining freedom of movement on major highways.”

“However, the Taliban, al Qaeda, and their extremist allies will likely seek to exploit the reduced Coalition presence by pressuring ANSF units in rural areas, conducting high profile attacks in major population centers, and expanding their safe havens,” the DIA chief warns.

The Afghan National Army (ANA) “will continue to struggle with permanently denying the insurgents freedom of movement in rural areas,” Stewart writes.

Each of the main Afghan organizations charged with battling the insurgents is plagued by serious problems. The ANA is “constrained by its stretched airlift and logistical capacity,” and suffers from “[h]igh attrition” rates. The Afghan National Police (ANP) suffers from “manpower shortages, inadequate training, attrition, logistics shortfalls, and the corrosive influence of corruption.” And the Afghan Air Force (AAF) “is not a reliable source of close air support and still struggles with recruiting qualified pilots and technicians.”

As a result of these problems and the jihadists’ resilience, the “Taliban will probably sustain the capability to propagate a rural-based insurgency that can project intermittent attacks in urban areas through at least 2018.”

Al Qaeda is eyeing a continuing decline in Western counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan as an opportunity, according to Stewart. Al Qaeda “will continue to use its remaining paramilitary units, trained recruits, and extremist affiliates and allies to target Western interests in South Asia and worldwide.”

And Ayman al Zawahiri’s organization “also will likely try to expand its limited presence in eastern Afghanistan … in the face of continued [counterterrorism] pressure from Pakistan” and less resistance from Western forces.

Competition between the Islamic State, al Qaeda

Several parts of Stewart’s testimony deal with the competition between the Islamic State (or ISIL) and al Qaeda. The DIA chief says that al Qaeda’s “core” is “now focused on physical survival following battlefield losses” and “is trying to retain its status as the vanguard of the global extremist movement, being eclipsed now by ISIL’s rising global prominence and powerful competition for adherents.”

The notion of a “core” al Qaeda is a fuzzy one in the US government’s lexicon, as it is rarely, if ever, precisely defined. And the DIA’s assessment is at odds with other conclusions in his testimony.

As Stewart himself testified, al Qaeda will likely try to expand its presence in Afghanistan in the coming months. So its “battlefield losses” have not been that devastating. Moreover, “core” al Qaeda operatives staff the Khorasan group and Al Nusrah, which the DIA believes could continue to grow throughout 2015, while also threatening the West.

“Core” al Qaeda operatives are stationed throughout the world, including inside al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The general manager of al Qaeda’s global network, Nasir al Wuhayshi, also serves as the emir of AQAP, a regional branch of al Qaeda. The rise of the Houthis, Shia rebels in Yemen who receive some support from Iran, over a Sunni government allied with US interests, has greatly complicated America’s counterterrorism mission. “Current conditions are providing AQAP operational space,” Stewart notes.

And the DIA director explains that despite the challenge from ISIL, al Qaeda “core” in Pakistan “continues to retain the loyalty of its global affiliates in Yemen, Somalia, North Africa, Syria, and South Asia.”

The Long War Journal assesses that these “affiliates,” which al Qaeda refers to as “branches,” are currently stronger than ISIL’s international network. ISIL has cut into al Qaeda’s market share as the “vanguard” of the global jihadist movement, but it has not “eclipsed” al Qaeda.

Still, Stewart and the DIA are rightly concerned about the “spread of ISIL beyond Syria and Iraq.” Stewart mentions ISIL “affiliates in Algeria, Egypt, Libya,” which give Baghdadi’s group “a growing international footprint that includes ungoverned and under governed areas.”

In Egypt and Libya, ISIL’s followers are a rising threat. The Sinai faction of Ansar Bayt al Maqdis (ABM), which officially joined ISIL in November, has increased its capacity for significant attacks on the Egyptian police and military. Other jihadist groups that are not aligned with ISIL, including Ajnad Misr, remain a problem.

In Libya, ISIL has gained a foothold because of the return of hundreds of foreign fighters from Iraqi and Syrian battlefields. The attack on the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli last month underscores ISIL’s growing capabilities inside the country. “ISIL has increased its presence and influence in Libya, particularly in [Derna], where it has begun establishing Islamic institutions,” Stewart writes. ISIL does have a significant presence in Derna, but so do other jihadist groups that are not part of Baghdadi’s international coalition. The Mujahideen Shura Council in Derna and its constituent groups remain a prominent force, but they are not loyal to ISIL. Similarly, the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council and Ansar al Sharia carry out the bulk of the fighting in Benghazi. They are not part of ISIL’s coalition either.

And in Algeria, the jihadists loyal to ISIL have executed some attacks, but they do not yet appear to be a major force.

Pakistan “remains concerned about ISIL outreach and propaganda in South Asia,” Stewart explains. ISIL has launched a nascent effort to build up its presence in the region, garnering the support of former Pakistani Taliban commanders and Afghan Taliban castoffs. But here, too, ISIL’s reach is not nearly as pronounced as the Taliban or al Qaeda and its allies, few of whom have endorsed Baghdadi’s “caliphate” project.

However, Stewart says, the “robust foreign terrorist fighter flow” will continue to benefit ISIL and help the organization expand its international presence.

Orwell and the Administration: The White House as the Ministry of Truth

1984-640x480Breitbart, by DR. SEBASTIAN GORKA, Feb. 3, 2015:

In George Orwell’s landmark novel 1984, Big Brother’s dictatorial state uses “newspeak” and its Ministry of Truth to turn falsehood into manufactured “truth” and reality into lies. The administration’s explanation of what drives the terrorists responsible for 9/11, the Fort Hood shooting, and the Boston bombing sounds everyday more and more like a product of The Ministry of Truth.

This weekend, the President gave an interview on CNN in which he made several categorical assertions about the terrorists that have endangered America and her allies and, most recently, beheaded a Japanese hostage in the Middle East. As Breitbart has reported, the Commander-in-Chief explicitly “rejected the notion” that the war on terrorism is any kind of “religious war” against radical Islam. President Obama went on to explain how groups such as Al Qaeda and The Islamic State are not in fact Islamic but simply nihilists.

This message is not new or unique to the chief executive, since in fact, back in 2011, the administration banned any mention of Islam or even “Jihad” in counterterrorism training for the Department of Justice – to include the FBI – and the Department of Defense, to include all our armed forces. Since that time, the official line has been that religion, and specifically Islam, has nothing to do with events such as the Boston Bombing or the rise of ISIS.

But what are the facts?

Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Al Nusra Front, and ISIS all share the same goal and ideology. They all want to reestablish the theocratic empire of Islam – The Caliphate – that was dissolved in 1924, and they all see Holy War, or Jihad, as the only way to do so. Where does this ideology come from? Just like America and the Western military world, the Global Jihadist Movement (GJM) has its grand strategic thinkers, their own Clausewitzs and Mackinders. The three most important are the Egyptian, Sayyid Qutb; the Palestinian Jordanian, Abdulah Azzam; and the Pakistani Brigadier S.K. Malik. What did these three founders of the GJM have to say about Islam’s relationship to terrorism?

  • Qutb is perhaps the most important person to the Muslim Brotherhood after its founder, Hassan al Banna. After spending two years in the US and deciding that we are a heretical nation that must be destroyed, Qutb wrote his guide to Jihad, the manual on how to destroy us. Entitled Milestones, this text has been found on high-value terrorist targets killed or captured in every theater that jihad is currently being fought in. In it, Qutb is explicit: Muslims have lost their way, Islam must be purged of ignorance of Allah (jahiliyyah), and the only way to do so is through a jihad in which the infidel (kuffar) is subdued or killed. Qutb added that all democracies must be destroyed because in any system in which men make the laws, the sovereignty of Allah has been undermined. The Koran is the only constitution a Muslim needs or is allowed to follow.
  • Next there is Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin Laden’s boss and spiritual guide. After the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviets in 1979, Azzam issued a fatwa, or religious decree with the title: Defense of Muslim Lands. In it, he stated that, since the Caliphate had been dissolved in 1924 and that there was no longer an Islamic Emperor who could declare war against such invaders, Jihad was now fard ‘ayn, or an individual and universal obligation upon all followers of the Muslim faith. Importantly, because Azzam held a PhD in Islamic jurisprudence from the Al Azhar in Cairo, the most important Sunni theological institution in the world, he was fully qualified to issue such a decree, and it was duly endorsed by the greatest names in the Sunni religious establishment. Azzam is not only important because of his making Holy War a duty for all Muslims, but because he created an organization called the Services Bureau (MAK in Arabic) which recruited Muslims from around the world to come fight the infidels in Afghanistan. Not long after its founding, Azzam hired bin Laden as his deputy and it was bin Laden who would inherit the MAK upon Azzam’s death and rename it Al Qaeda.
  • The last and most important Jihadi strategist is the late Brigadier Malik. Also interestingly in 1979, Malik wrote a book which has become the most influential treatise on why Jihad is necessary and how it must be fought. The Quranic Concept of War is a long text on what the faithful Muslim can learn from the way Mohammad fought the infidels and non-believers when he established the empire of Islam. In it, Malik states three things: i) All war must only serve the realization of Allah’s sovereignty on this Earth through the reestablishment of the Caliphate. ii) The only target that matters in warfare is the soul of the infidel: the kuffar must be converted to Islam or be killed. iii) Because the soul is the only target that matters, terror is the best mode of warfare. In other words, it is events like 9/11, the Charlie Hebdo shootings, or the Fort Hood massacre that are the best way to defeat the infidel. (Note this wasn’t a fringe text when it was published – nor is it now – given that the introduction was written by the equivalent of the Attorney General of Pakistan and the preface which endorsed all that was in the book, was signed by none other than General Zia ul Haq, the Commander of all Pakistan’s Armed Forces and at the same time the President of Pakistan.

In other words, the greatest minds behind the threat groups we face today, the authors that shaped the ideology behind the atrocities we witness day in and day out, are all in agreement: Islam has lost its way and Jihad must be used to cleanse the world of disbelief until the theocratic empire reigns supreme.

Whatever the President and his newspeak cadre believe, it is clear what Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the head of ISIS/The Islamic State believes. Last September 11th, I was invited to brief an element of the US Intelligence Community that stills holds to the professional standard that one has to be honest about what the enemy says and what they are doing. In the brief, I took the speech Abu Bakr made earlier in the Summer of 2014 from the pulpit of the Grand Mosque in Mosul, in which he declared the reestablishment of the Caliphate and represented as a “word cloud,” the visual representation of a text in which words are given a larger size and put closer to the center of the diagram the more often they are used.

word cloud 2

 It is clear that our greatest current enemy has no question about why and what he is fighting for.

Sebastian Gorka PhD is the Matthew C. Horner Distinguished Chair of Military Theory at the Marine Corps University and also adjunct professor at the Institute of World Politics. You can follow on Twitter at: @SebGorka.

Middle East Terror: Iran’s influence grows after Yemen’s political collapse

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CSP, by Fred Fleitz, Jan. 30, 2015:

The international community is starting to realize the seriousness of the political chaos in Yemen, which has expanded Iranian influence in the region, bolstered Al Qaeda and could lead to the secession of the southern part of the country. This situation may also result in a political realignment that puts the family of the former autocratic president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, back in power in an alliance with the Iranian-backed Houthis, a Shiite insurgent group in northern Yemen that forced President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and his cabinet to resign last week.

The political deterioration in Yemen might have been prevented if the United States had fully backed Hadi and not gone along with a transition plan that removed Saleh from power in 2012 but did not force him from Yemen’s political scene.

Saleh used his influence to undermine the Hadi government through army units and tribes loyal to him. While Hadi closely cooperated with U.S. counterterror operations against Al Qaeda, the Obama administration did nothing to prop him up. Unaware of the how fragile the Hadi government was, the Obama administration as recently as last September claimed Yemen was a success story for U.S. Middle East policy.

On Sept. 10, President Obama said in a speech, “This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.” Two weeks later, the United States recommended U.S. citizens leave Yemen after Houthi rebels occupied Sanaa, the capital, and Al Qaeda fired a rocket at the U.S. embassy.

Massive Arab Spring protests in 2011 led to Saleh’s resignation in February 2012 after more than 33 years in power. Having been granted immunity from prosecution in a deal that handed power to Hadi, Saleh’s main objective since he left office reportedly has been to propel his son, Ahmed Ali Saleh, to the Yemeni presidency.

Even though his government persecuted the Houthis and they were part of the Arab Spring demonstrations that drove him from office, Saleh struck an alliance with Houthi leaders that allowed them to occupy Sanaa last September. Because of recent demonstrations in Sanaa by its Sunni majority against the resignation of the Hadi government and the occupation of the city by the Shiite Houthis, Houthi leaders may be considering restoring the corrupt Saleh family to power or installing a Saleh family ally. According to Yemeni law, Parliament Speaker Yahia al-Rai, a close ally of Saleh, is next in line to assume the presidency.

The return of the Saleh family to power would be a step backward for Yemen and could pose significant security implications for the region and the United States. If the Saleh family or a Saleh ally assumes the presidency, the new government probably would abandon Hadi’s power-sharing and political reform efforts, most of which were opposed by the Houthis. Such a transition would bring back the corruption and probably the oppression of the Saleh regime.

A new Yemeni government, whether it is headed by the Saleh family or not, will be controlled by the Iran-backed Houthis. This deeply worries the Saudis, who regard the Houthis as an Iranian proxy and last year declared them a terrorist organization. Although the U.S. might be able to buy off a new Yemeni government to get it to continue to participate in counterterrorism efforts, the Iran angle, the Houthis’ hatred of the United States and Saleh’s possible anger over being removed from power could make this difficult to achieve.

Meanwhile, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the world’s most dangerous Al Qaeda franchise, and the separatist Southern Movement, which wants southern Yemen to secede, are poised to exploit Yemen’s political chaos and may be collaborating. AQAP has tried to take advantage of the chaos of the last few months by staging suicide attacks in Sanaa.

Further complicating this situation, ISIS reportedly has entered the scene in Yemen and is competing with AQAP for recruits. Saudi leaders also are worried about Islah, a growing Muslim Brotherhood party in Yemen.

Although the Houthis are enemies of the Southern Movement and AQAP, they are looking for autonomy for their area in the north and probably have no plans to invade the south to battle these groups. This could lead to the secession of parts of southern Yemen (which had been a separate state until 1990) and a stronger, more consolidated AQAP.

The Obama administration needs to work with regional states, Europe and the United Nations to come up with a comprehensive strategy to promote stability, power sharing among regional groups and a new constitution in Yemen. Though there are currently many unknowns as to how the political crisis there will play out, given the country’s reliance on Saudi financial aid to run the government — aid that Riyadh cut off in December — and the Houthis’ hostility toward AQAP, an agreement between the international community and the Houthis to implement such a strategy may eventually be possible.

But even if such an agreement is reached, Iran’s increased influence in Yemen through the Houthis is unlikely to be reversed and will pose new security concerns for Saudi Arabia, the United States and the region.

Al Qaeda Members List Recalls Inter-connectedness of Jihad

CSP, by Kyle Shideler, Jan. 29, 2015:

JustSecurity reports that Federal prosecutors have unveiled an Al Qaeda “members list” in the trial of Khaled al-Fawwaz, an Al Qaeda facilitator who dealt with the media, helping to facilitate fatwas, and arrange interviews, including the famous Bin Laden interview with Peter Arnett. The list has been in the hands of Law enforcement since 2001, but only recently made public.

Khalid al-Fawaaz

Khalid al-Fawaaz

Al-Fawwaz, who appears on the list under the alias Hamad al-Kuwaiti, played a role in acquiring the satellite phone used by Bin Laden during the African Embassy Bombings. That phone was in turn acquired for Al-Fawwaz by Tarik Hamdi. Hamdi was employed by World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE), a front for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad run by convicted PIJ leader Sami Al-Arian, and seconded to the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), a Muslim Brotherhood front.

Al-Fawwaz and Hamdi’s history reminds us that the tendency of counterterrorism analysts has been to focus on the differences between terrorist organizations, which can often be limiting, and separating violent jihadists from political islamists is a recipe for confusion. The reality is that individuals flow back and forth through groups associated with Islamic political activity and jihad terrorism, and frequently support or associate with multiple organizations even while their primary orientation of supporting what they describe as “The Islamic Movement” goes unchanged.

Wadih el-Hage

Wadih el-Hage

Another name on the Al Qaeda list which reminds of this reality is Wadih El-Hage. El-Hage served as an Al Qaeda facilitator and Bin Laden’s personal secretary. El-Hage was also implicated in the assassination of Imam Rashid Khalifa, in Tuscon, Arizona. Prosecutors connected El-Hage to the killing but he was never charged. The hit was carried out by home-grown jihad organization Jamaat Al-Fuqra. Al-Fuqra began as a Sufi Islamic offshoot of the African American Muslim group Darul-Islam, before breaking off and swearing allegiance to Sheik Mubarak Jilani. Jilani’s group was present in Sudan during the Pan-Arab and Islamic Congress meetings of the 1990s where Al Qaeda mingled with Hezbollah, the Iranian IRGC, the Muslim Brotherhood and others. Two Jamaat Al-Fuqra members would convicted for their involvement in the 1993 WTC bombing.

Ultimately, until we view the global jihad holistically, rather than as separate segments we are denying ourselves the whole picture of the threat. Al-Fawwaz and El-Hage are reminders that the focus of the administration that “We are at war with Al Qaeda…” and only Al Qaeda, is strategic blindness.