Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Begins to Stall-What Now?

  • Putin Gives Assad mid-Nov. deadline for results with Aleppo offensive and that the Russian airstrikes weren’t “indefinite.”
  • Syrian Rebels gaining some ground and pro-Assad forces suffering supply shortages and taking casualties – most notably IRGC commander Hamedani causing low morale.
  • Lack of coordination and competition between IRGC-Qods Force, Hezbollah, SAA and Russian Army causing problems
  • In spite of ops in Ukraine and Syria causing logistical strain on Russia, no sign of opening another air base.
  • Russia’s plan to take Aleppo, forcing a negotiated settlement and then turning attention to hitting ISIS is not going well and the Sinai plane bombing has just made everything more complicated.
  • Russian propaganda aside, can you say “Quagmire”?

The ISIS Study Group, Nov. 7, 2015:

In late-OCT Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a surprise visit to Moscow. Although it was called a “working visit” and the Assad regime did confirm three meetings were held, most people in the international press were caught up with this being Assad’s first visit in a few years. However, something rather important occurred during this visit – Vlad put Assad on notice. Assad was informed by Vlad that he’s expecting results from the Aleppo offensive by mid-NOV since he has Russian military support. That’s mid-NOV as in starting next week. He also told Assad that the Russian airstrikes weren’t “indefinite.”

Syria’s Assad in surprise visit to Moscow

Source: ZB

Source: ZB

Indeed this is a bit of a departure from what Vlad told Prince Salman of Saudi Arabia (“No End in Sight in Fighting on the Arabian Peninsula Front”), but we see it as more of our favorite KGB officer beginning to feel a greater sense of urgency. Basil al-Asad Airbase is operating at full capacity and our sources in Syria have informed us that there are no plans to open up other airbases to expand Russia’s logistical footprint – which is going to come back to haunt them. The ongoing offensive in Aleppo that we discussed in “Pro-Assad Forces Experience Setbacks Despite Russian Military Intervention” has become the new priority for the pro-regime forces looking for a “big win.” The problem with this is it means resources and personnel involved in the operations occurring in Northwest Syria are being redirected. Despite the Russian military support and diverting of resources and personnel to the Aleppo front, the offensive has stalled.

No End in Sight in Fighting on the Arabian Peninsula Front

On Thursday the al-Qaida-flavored Jund al-Aqsa seized control of the Hama Province town of Morek. That town was the last SAA garrison along the main highway between Aleppo and Hama. This was a particularly important event since the anti-Assad factions now have control of a major line of communication from which reinforcements and supplies can be sent to support operations in Idlib and Aleppo. We’ve been covering this multi-pronged pro-regime offensive to retake Aleppo, Idlib, and Russia’s involvement in it from the start (“Russia Supports New Syrian Offensive and Begins Prepping For Russian Ground OPs” and “Pro-Assad Forces Experience Setbacks Despite Russian Military Intervention”). In those articles we discussed the first indicators of things not exactly going as well as Russian propagandists are spinning them out to be. Although its true that pro-regime forces retook multiple villages South of Aleppo, they sustained heavy losses in doing so.

Syria jihadists capture regime town along vital road

Russia Supports New Syrian Offensive and Begins Prepping For Russian Ground OPs

Pro-Assad Forces Experience Setbacks Despite Russian Military Intervention

BG Hamedani in his best pic yet Source: The ISIS Study Group

BG Hamedani in his best pic yet
Source: The ISIS Study Group

The IRGC continues to play a large role on the ground on the Aleppo front, although they haven’t been able to recover (yet) from the death of IRGC BG Hossein Hamedani (Reference – “Pro-Assad Forces Experience Setbacks Despite Russian Military Intervention”). The combined pro-regime forces were already having problems coordinating/prioritizing lines of effort, but BG Hamedani’s death made the situation worse. As of this writing the vast majority of the pro-regime forces are suffering from low-morale and supply shortages that are compounded by that failure to prioritize and coordinate operations – which is why the current Aleppo campaign is stalling. Such problems have watered down all the airstrikes and fire support, so it really shouldn’t surprise anybody that the ground forces are having a hard time seizing and holding territory.

A big indicator of these problems in coordination operations can be seen in the anti-Assad factions’ adapting to the Russian airstrikes that aren’t necessarily being reported up by the guys on the ground. The reason has more to do with personal pride and an overall pissing contest between the officers of the IRGC-Qods Force, Hezbollah, SAA and Russian Army. The establishment of joint-coordination centers have helped some, but thus far it appears to have been the most successful in better stream-lining logistical operations. The reason for the lackluster improvement has to do with the Russian military continuing to maintain their own C2 separate from the SAA, IRGC and Hezbollah. The Russians manage sorties and use embedded LNOs to process strike requests – which chews up a lot of time that the guys on the ground probably don’t have the luxury of wasting. As one would guess, this has only led to increased tensions between the Russians and the Qods Force – who don’t believe they need Vlad’s boys beat down the anti-Assad factions (Gee, that sure looks like a great opportunity for some IO messaging there, CENTCOM – HINT, HINT).

al-Nusra fighters in the Southern part of Aleppo Source: al-Nusra Media Office

al-Nusra fighters in the Southern part of Aleppo
Source: al-Nusra Media Office

The Islamic State (IS) had severed some of the primary supply lines (such as the Khanaser Road) linking support hubs to the Aleppo front. Although the Assad regime is trumpeting its “victory” in regaining control of the Khanaser Road, they had to reallocate units to reopen the line of communication (LOC) just to sustain the offensive. Unfortunately, that also meant losing considerable momentum in other, more critical areas on the front. Assad’s forces were stretched even further when they were forced to eject IS from an oilfield near Hama. Another issue the SAA is running into is the increasing reliance on militias such as the Liwa Abu Fadl al-Abbas (LAFA) as a result of manpower shortages. The problem with relying on the militias is that they’re very hit or miss. Not all of the militias are as capable as Hezbollah, Badr Organization, Kitaib Hezbollah (KH) or Asaib al-Haq (AAH). As a result, the Russian ground force mix of Spetsnaz and conventional troops are seeing more action. Most of their operations (the conventional guys anyways) are centered around convoy security in the Ghab Valley, although their Naval Infantry guys are conducting more small-unit operations at the company-level and lower. The Spetsnaz continue to due their counter-terror raids in conjunction with the Qods Force, although neither side appears to be particularly thrilled with having to “share” responsibilities. Those Russian ground troops have already sustained 10 KIA and another 24 WIA (again, a great opportunity for an IO campaign for the US to regain the initiative – assuming anybody in the Pentagon still has their balls).

Syrian Government Forces Regain Key Aleppo Supply Route

Syrian Regime Makes Gains For Aleppo Supply Lines, Uniting ISIS, Jabhat Al-Nusra, Syrian Rebels

Syrian army, allied Hezbollah militia expel ISIS from key oilfield near Hama

Hollow Victory: The pro-regime forces threw a great deal of time and personnel – their most precious resource – at retaking this piece of real estate Source: George Ourfalian (Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

Hollow Victory: The pro-regime forces threw a great deal of time and personnel – their most precious resource – at retaking this piece of real estate
Source: George Ourfalian (Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

The big problem Vlad is going to face if this war extends beyond 6 months (which we don’t see any end in the foreseeable future) is the strain on the Russian military’s logisitical capabilities. Sure, the talking heads in the media point to Russia’s vast numbers, but what they fail to realize is that Russia’s military is a conscript force – and one that doesn’t have the highest morale. They also overlook the fact that despite the Russian military’s size, they have a hard time providing logistical support to it on campaigns. Russia was beginning to struggle with providing support to the limited presence it has in Ukraine, so what do you think is going to happen in Syria, or Iraq for that matter (should they expand there)? The biggest sign of strain to Russia’s airlift capabilities will be felt in the ordnance-area, in a few months we’ll know why the airstrikes will begin to decline. This is why we find Russia’s decision not to open up another airbase to alleviate the strain placed on Basil al-Assad Airbase (which is currently operating at full capacity) so interesting. The implied task, therefore, would be to use more sealift transport. The problem with that is the Russian Naval base in Tartus may not have the infrastructure to expand that capability. Ultimately, this will lead to a lag in support operations.

So what’s next? With all the resources being thrown into this multi-pronged Syrian offensive with so little in results, Vlad is going to be forced to either invest even more in the regional war by expanding Russia’s military intervention, or lower the bar of what constitutes “success.” Vlad’s original plan was to push for a “big win” in Aleppo to use as a means of forcing the so-called “moderates” into a negotiated settlement on terms favorable to Assad. Once that happens, the combined pro-regime forces would turn their complete attention to IS. However, the bombing of a Russian airliner in Sinai changed all that (Check out “Sinai Plane Crash Update” and “Amplifying Details on the Sinai Plane Bombing and the Egypt-Libya Nexus” for more details). If anything, Vlad almost has to expand his military’s involvement in Syria if nothing else but to continue to push the narrative that he’s the “ironman” of the international community – and the “anti-Obama.” Thing is, by getting more involved in this regional war, Vlad will run the risk of falling into the same trap that his predecessors did in Afghanistan. Vlad may fill the leadership void left by the US government, but all its going to do is increase recruitment to Baghdadi’s cause. Jihadists may hate America, but they have a very special hatred for Russians. As much as the Rand Paul fanboys are excited about the possibility of somebody else carrying the load, region will become much more unstable because of it. This is going to affect both the West and the Russians. Keep in mind that although Russia prefers a more draconian strategy of laying waste to entire populations, that philosophy didn’t particularly work out in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Ingushtia or Dagestan. So welcome to the meat-grinder Vlad – sucks, don’t it?

Sinai Plane Crash Update

Amplifying Details on the Sinai Plane Bombing and the Egypt-Libya Nexus

Source: The ISIS Study Group

Source: The ISIS Study Group

Other Related Articles:

Vlad Uses Saudi Prince’s Thirst for Power to His Advantage Against US Influence

Islamic State Claims to Have Shot-Down Russian Plane in Sinai – But Did They?

Russia Providing Lethal Aid to Syria, Iran and Establishment of Intel Centers in Iraq

Russia Poised to Increase Military Presence in Middle East in Response to Islamic State’s Strength

The Persian Hustle: Iran Dupes Clueless US State Dept in Nuke Talks and Moves to Dominate the Middle East



April 1, 2015 /

On Sunday the Iranian regime backed away from a critical part of the nuclear agreement the Obama administration is desperately trying to get them to agree to. The part they walked away from was the proposal for them to send a large portion of their uranium stockpile to Russia, where it wouldn’t be accessible for use in a weapons program. The Iranian Foreign Minister’s abrupt announcement on Sunday shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, yet the US State Department (DoS) is still at the negotiating table talking about giving them even more concessions – such as taking inconvenient things off the table like “intrusive inspections” for instance.

Intrusive inspections are a key part of ensuring that the Iranian regime isn’t continuing to move forward with obtaining a nuclear strike capability. The inspections themselves are designed to keep the regime honest and deter any covert activity. Unfortunately, our sources are suggesting that the Obama administration was already moving towards taking intrusive inspections off the table in order to keep the regime engaged. The regime – which smells the Obama desperation to get a deal done as well as some semblance of a “victory” in Iraq – had ordered IRGC-Qods Force commander GEN Suleimani to pull his Ramazan Corps personnel and Shia proxies off the front-lines in the Tikrit offensive in order to apply even greater pressure on the Obama administration, forcing them into making more concessions during the negotiations. As of this writing, those forces remain nearby and are currently holding territory seized from the Islamic State (IS) in the outskirts of the city. They can quickly move back into the fight, but like we said in “Tikrit OP Shows Signs of Falling Apart Despite US Airstrikes,” whether Suleimani orders his forces back into the fight while the US military continues to provide air support will depend entirely on what happens during these nuclear talks. Further south the Iranian regime has dramatically increased their direct support to their Houthi proxies in Yemen in order to gain control of that country’s key port cities – which would enable the Iranian military to potentially disrupt oil shipments in addition to forcing Saudi Arabia to redirect resources originally meant for the anti-Assad war effort in Syria back closer to home.

Tikrit OP Shows Signs of Falling Apart Despite US Airstrikes

The Yemen Octagon: GCC vs Iran vs Houthis vs AQAP vs Islamic State

Iran Backs Away From Key Detail in Nuclear Deal

Iran talks stretch into the night hours before deadline;_ylt=AwrBJR7z2RlVmTMARYTQtDMD

The hidden truth about Iran’s nuclear program


Sensing they could get even more concessions from the Obama administration, the Iranian regime walked away with a promise of a “final agreement” being reached by the end of JUN 2015. What the west got out of all the time they wasted was a “framework understanding.” Along with intrusive inspections being taken off the table, there was no serious talk about the ICBM program that is a key part of this nuclear weapons program. If the Iranian regime has a “peaceful program” as claimed, then why are they rushing to advance their ballistic missile technology? In fact, why are they working so closely with the North Koreans in joint-nuclear and ballistic missile projects? We wrote back in NOV 14 in “How the North Korean Regime Affects the Middle East” the aspects of these joint endeavors and how they were designed to circumvent the sanctions placed against the two rogue nations. These joint programs have been going on for years where Iran shares their know-how in ballistic missile technology in exchange for DPRK expertise in the nuclear-arena. In fact, the DPRK’s front companies have been instrumental in bringing in equipment to Iran that have been targeted by sanctions. With the DPRK sending officials to Iran for ballistic missile development and Iranian researchers sent to Pyongyang for work on the nuke program, we see how this problem is worsening – and it won’t get better if we give them everything they want like the Obama administration is proposing.

How the North Korean Regime Affects the Middle East

Exclusive: Iran pursues ballistic missile work, complicating nuclear talks


Iranian President Hasan Rouhani and DPRK ceremonial head of state Kim Jong Nam
Source: Forbes Magazine

The Obama administration will charge that the Iranian nuclear weapons program isn’t “that advanced” right now. Although true at the moment, what they neglect to mention is how the Israeli MOSSAD has been the only reason that they don’t have a nuclear strike capability already. As previously stated in “Inside Iran’s Middle East: the Nuclear Weapons Program,” Iran’s current efforts are simply the resurrection of the Shah’s old program – which was designed as a counter-measure to the Soviet’s nuclear strike capability. All the Ayatollah’s regime did was reconstitute that program once the Shah’s regime collapsed. If it was a weapons program then – what suddenly makes it “peaceful” now? The Israelis – led by their dynamic leader Bibi Netanyahu – fully understand the threat for what it is and have been actively waging a cold war of sabotage and assassinations to roll back the program enough to buy them some time. We assess that even if a deal is reached by JUN 15, it won’t keep the Israelis from escalating their operations against the Iranian regime, and we don’t blame them.

Inside Iran’s Middle East: the Nuclear Weapons Program

Mr. Netanyahu Goes to Washington

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 5.54.13 AM

Bibi has sacrificed much while serving in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and fully knows what it will take to defend his people. Wouldn’t it be nice if President Obama had the same understanding regarding the American people?

There’s a very strong pro-Iran lobby in the Beltway led by Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) asset Trita Parsi and the MOIS front that he runs known as the National Iranian American Council (NIAC). This organization was set up by the MOIS to conduct an IO campaign in America in order to influence American politicians enough to get them to push for the lifting of sanctions against the regime. Parsi serves as the primary lobbyist for the regime’s agenda on Capital Hill and has seen the most success from 2009-the present with several Democrat lawmakers having been wined and dined by the man and his cronies, which is probably why we haven’t seen a whole lot of pushback coming from that side of the aisle. But its not just the members of Congress, its also CIA officials, former-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and former-Secretary of State -now likely 2016 Democrat Presidential nominee – Hillary Clinton. The reason the American people – and their allies – should care is that this implies that Parsi’s organization possibly had a hand in the US government’s current Iran policy (Parsi defended Hagel’s stance on Iran in multiple Op-Eds). Parsi has been invited to the White House on numerous occasions by Valerie Jarrett, for instance. More disturbing is the fact that the Democrat Party’s first choice for President in the 2016 election has been cultivating a relationship with Parsi directly since SEP 09 – which set the stage for the current situation regarding the nuclear talks. Although we haven’t seen a “smoking gun,” we have strong suspicions that these ties to a known MOIS front is the primary reason for her secrecy surrounding the foreign contributions being made to the Clinton Foundation and why she chose to only do email correspondence on a privately-held server. That, our dear readers, would be far more explosive than anything pertaining to Benghazi – and more dangerous. The fact that none of the legitimate Iranian expat groups in the US or Europe wants anything to do with the NIAC should be a huge red-flag on their true intentions. Unfortunately, we doubt that the mainstream media will ever seriously cover this serious charge. To our Republican readers, this is also a good gauge to see if Congressman Trey Gowdy is truly a man of integrity and substance or just another grandstander a la Rand Paul who talks a great game but really stands for nothing other than his own personality cult.


The card the NIAC sent to Valerie Jarrett after their first visit to the White House
Source: NIAC homepage

You can find more on the MOIS’ IO campaign right here:

Inside Iran’s Middle East: the Charm Offensive


Trita Parsi
Source: NIAC homepage

The Obama administration claims that any push for more sanctions against the Iranian regime would “undermine” their efforts at achieving “peace” with Iran. They couldn’t be more wrong. How so? The Iranian regime’s actions are quite easy to read – they’re maneuvering to dominate the Middle East and view a nuclear strike capability as being the “golden ticket” that will keep the west from intervening as they tighten the noose. They’re fully aware of the fact that nothing happened to India, Pakistan or the DPRK after they announced that they have “the bomb,” so when they make that announcement themselves they fully intend to exploit their newfound immunity. Who’s going to stop them? It won’t be the US since our leadership is too weak and flaccid to do anything to Iran even it wanted to. We may be able to do business with the Iranian people – but the Iranian people aren’t the runs running the current regime. As long as Khameini’s people remain in power there will be no peace. The regime’s interpretation of “peace” is a Middle East that’s purged of all Sunni and non-Muslim influences. In other words, when they say they want to “wipe Israel off the map” – they mean it. All one has to do in order to get a taste of what’s coming is to see how the IRGC-Qods Force is fighting in the Syria, Iraq and Yemen fronts. In each case we’re seeing the Qods Force and their Shia proxy groups waging a very sectarian campaign where the civilian population is targeted just as much as IS and AQ fighters. Its also worth noting that this campaign and the increased targeting of Americans and Israelis living abroad is occurring while a so-called “reformist” occupies the Iranian President position, which adds further weight to what we’ve been saying about Rouhani being nothing more than a “smiling face” that the regime presents to the public while they further their agenda.

The Iranian regime already controls the Arab capitals of Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Sanaa, and yet we’re being told by the US government that Iran is a “willing partner of peace.” The truth is that Iran has outmaneuvered the Obama administration from the start and are now on the verge of reaching the culmination point of being targeting Saudi Arabia and Israel. Turkey is also learning that they’re no longer immune from the hand of GEN Suleimani (which we’ll discuss in another article to be published in the near future). The new “Arab Army” that the Saudis have been pushing for has the rising Iranian threat in mind. But it won’t stop there. You see, Saudi Arabia will also be pursuing a nuclear strike capability of their own, and don’t be surprised if a back-room deal is made with the Israelis to “deal” with the Iranian nuclear weapon problem with the Saudis granting the Israeli Air Force use of their airspace to launch airstrikes. Yemen is the point from which all the different factions – al-Qaida, IS, Iran and the Arab nations converge in a massive regional war. This is no longer just about Syria or Iraq, no matter how much the US DoS will attempt to dismiss how serious the crisis has become. Don’t get it twisted, the Obama administration isn’t intentionally trying to bathe the Middle East in flames – they’re just really that naive and ignorant on how the world works. Remember, most of the people occupying the most senior positions of the Obama administration are academics who never really held a real job or actually applied any of the things they talk about in lectures in real-world settings until 2009 – and we’ve seen the painful results. Here, the saying of “those who can’t do – teach.” With the possibility of a Saudi-led ground operation being launched against the Iranian proxies in Yemen getting closer to reality with each passing day, we need to reverse course by maintaining sanctions against the Iranian regime, repair the damage done to US-Israeli relations and shutdown the NIAC. Unfortunately, these are academics we’re talking about here, so forget about them ever admitting to being “wrong” an correcting their deficiencies…

Other Related Articles:

Inside Iran’s Middle East: the “Reformers”

Inside Iran’s Middle East: the Southeast Insurgency

Inside Iran’s Middle East: the Kurdish Insurgency

2015: The Year of ISIS Expansion From Gaza to North Africa

March 2, 2015 / /

As the Obama administration continues to live in their fantasy world of the Islamic State (IS) being “defeated” by the “Coalition of the Reluctantly Willing” and a ill-conceived Twitter campaign, IS has been busy replenishing its ranks. They’ve been doing this and weakening their enemies by recruiting defectors from the other Syrian opposition factions (such as al-Nusra/Khorasan Group). A big driver for this is the directive Baghdadi put out for the terror organization to build local ties and form alliance in advance of future operations. One such example of al-Nusra/KG losing people to the other side is increased IS presence along the Lebanese-Syrian border. Other reports coming in describe entire opposition units in Halab, Hama, Homs, Idlib and dawr al-Zawr. The reasons for this are obvious:

– IS offers bigger cash incentives for joining its ranks. Money talks.

– The other factions view IS as being the strongest faction in the regional war that will ultimately “crush” all opposition and the best chance to seriously challenge the Asad regime. In other words, everybody wants to be part of a “winner.”

Indeed, IS – or anybody for that matter – will enjoy a huge surge in recruitment when they’re doing well on the battlefield, which gets amplified by an effective IO campaign. This is also a great gauge to see how well the Obama administration’s IS strategy has been working out thus far. So how are they doing? Well for starters we’re hearing that the Gaza-based Mujahidin Shura Council (MSC) has pretty much been “disbanded” and absorbed into IS’ North African affiliates such as the Egypt-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM). The MSC had been working to become a legitimate al-Qaida affiliate and had formed in 2012 (some reports will say as early as 2011) when three Gaza-based Salafi groups merged in response to guidance received from the al-Qaida (AQ) senior leadership. The MSC was very similar to the MSC that was set up in Iraq prior to the formation of the “Islamic State of Iraq” now known simply as the “Islamic State” (Long War Journal did a great piece on this in 2012 that remains applicable to the current situation).

Although primarily based in Gaza, the organization also had a presence in Egypt’s Sinai region and Libya. However, the effort fell through due to unknown reasons, but it may have to do with internal problems the entity had. In fact, by NOV 14 we had began to see elements of the MSC’s branch in Sinai had already defected to ABM. The terror group also made in-roads elsewhere by forming an alliance with its splinter group Ajnad Masr for increased joint-operations in the Cairo-area as discussed in our piece titled “Haftar-Sisi Alliance: The Roadblock to ISIS Bridge Into the Maghreb.” We assess that the addition of MSC personnel into ABM’s ranks will bolster the Sinai group’s capabilities with knowledge of alternative smuggling routes at the local-level coming into play to avoid the Sisi regime’s crackdown on IS affiliates.

Islamic State’s Presence in Gaza

ISIS in Gaza Update

Haftar-Sisi Alliance: The Roadblock to ISIS Bridge Into the Maghreb

Salafi-Jihadists in Gaza Continue to Efforts to Establish Islamic Emirate

Terrorism: What Is The Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem?

Haifa man named as victim of terrorist attack on Egypt border

abu wahib_gaza

The infamous Abu Wahib (variant-Waheeb) shown in IS propaganda circulating throughout Gaza
Source: al-Battar Media Foundation

The act of absorbing one’s enemies is not a new phenomenon and is actually part of the long history of the Islamic religion itself. As we’ve seen throughout the Middle East’s extremely violent history of conquest after conquest, the 21st regrettably isn’t any different. ABM itself formed in 2011 as a by-product of the so-called “Arab Spring” that the Obama administration supported that led to installing the Muslim Brotherhood as the new regime in Egypt. The terror group mainly targeted the Jewish population in the Sinai and throughout Israel itself, although this all changed when GEN Sisi came to power and began systematically targeting all jihadist elements in the country that was allowed to flourish under the Morsi regime. Since aligning itself with IS, the group has adopted some – but not all – of Baghdadi’s ideology. The act of beheading enemies (especially those deemed to be “traitors”) is now a recurring theme for the organization after pledging allegiance to Baghdadi’s “Caliphate.”

Egypt attack: Profile of Sinai Province militant group

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis/Wilayat Sinai

Gaza jihadist group praises Ansar Jerusalem fighters, calls for more attacks

The Resurgence of Militant Islamists in Egypt

Palestinian militants from Al-Ansar brigade take part in a training session in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip

ABM: The ISIS Cancer spreading throughout the body of North Africa and Gaza
Source: al-Arabiya

As of this writing ABM has been focused on expanding IS’ influence in Gaza, the Sinai and Libya in order to secure smuggling routes that are supporting the overall effort in Syria against the Assad regime. Central to this is ABM’s Sinai campaign to secure the gateway to Gaza and by extension Syria – the increased presence along the Lebanese-Syrian border is part of this greater strategic vision the senior IS leadership has for the region. A great deal of weapons and foreign fighters coming from Tunisia and Libya are going through Egypt, Gaza and Northern Lebanon to get to Syria (both straight into Syria or through Turkey). Of the Libyan weapons being sent to facilitate the anti-Assad war effort, the majority of them are coming from weapons depots in Misrata and Benghazi. On 29 AUG 14 we stated in “The Strategic Importance of Egypt to ISIS” that the terror group had not yet firmly entrenched itself inside Egypt, but was getting close as the result of ABM aligning itself with Baghdadi. Today, we can say that ABM has made great strides since then despite being targeted by the Sisi regime – and they’re going to become a much greater threat with absorbing the MSC into its ranks.

The Strategic Importance of Egypt to ISIS

Egypt and UAE Launch Airstrikes in Libya: US Kept in the Dark

Is Egypt Planning Military Intervention in Libya?

The borders of terror

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Sisi regime declared “open season” for hunting down IS and its affiliates
Source: ISIS Study Group

Economic warfare against members of the “Coalition of the Reluctantly Willing” has also steadily increased in both Egypt and Libya, with oil pipelines being regular targets in IED attacks aiming to disrupt the economies of not just Egypt and Libya, but also that of Jordan and European nations such as Italy. Another reason is that they they can gain access to fuel sources to sell on the black market and supply their forces. This is indicative of the cross-border coordination one can expect from multiple groups that have united under a common umbrella – in this case the Black Flag of IS. Below are a few examples of alleged IEDs emplaced targeting Libyan oil pipeline between Sarir Field and Hergia Port that we received from our in-country sources:

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Source: The ISIS Study Group


Source: The ISIS Study Group

The alliance between the Sisi regime and Libyan GEN Khalifah Haftar may have struck IS strongholds inside Libya, but the jihadist organization has answered back with a series of bombings targeting the joint-Egyptian/Haftar faction command center in Quba. They didn’t stop there – they also launched an attack against the Iranian embassy in Tripoli last week. The attack served two purposes:

– To target a major hub for coordinating IRGC-Qods Force and Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) intelligence operations in the country. The Iranian regime will typically coordinate intelligence operations inside of a target country from their embassies and consulates. In fact, cultural centers set up by Iranian diplomatic missions are staffed with MOIS and Qods Force personnel to provide cover.

– Sending a message to Iran and the West that IS has firmly entrenched itself inside Libya. The Iranian Ambassador was not present at the compound when it was attacked, suggesting the target was symbolic in nature.

ISIL-linked group claims Iran embassy attack in Libya

iranian tripoli embassy

The aftermath of the Iranian embassy attack
Source: Reuters

In addition to being an avenue from which to target Western economies, Libya is also a potential launching pad for jihadists looking to travel to Europe under the guise of “refugees” to facilitate the execution of attacks on the continent. This will also affect the US due to the naive policy of the Obama administration to admit thousands of refugees from places like Libya, Yemen, Syria and Iraq. Refugees who obtain citizenship to a European nation will also be able to circumvent the largely nonexistent enforcement of US border security laws to enter the country under the guise of “tourists” or “students” – with DHS completely oblivious of their usage of this status to further a much more insidious agenda.

Cultural Suicide: Why Allowing Syrian War Refugees to Enter Western Countries is a Pandora’s Box to More Attacks

The Jews: Europe’s Canary in the Mine on the Growing Jihadist Threat

Attack in Paris, France Kills 12

Islamic State: The French Connection

ISIS Attack Plot Thwarted in Belgium – A Sign of Things to Come?

Jihadist Infestation: Terrorism Results in Copenhagen Chaos

As 2014 was the year that put IS on “the map,” 2015 will be the year that we see greater expansion into North Africa going into Gaza and the border-area with Lebanon. This will also be the year that we will see IS begin reaching out “to touch” Europe and the US with attacks conducted by well-organized cells with extensive experience in Syria and Iraq as opposed to the home-grown jihadist cells we’ve seen in Denmark, French and Belgium attacks. It will also become painfully obvious to those still in denial that the Obama administration has a strong strategy against IS – which it doesn’t. In a time where the world needs a Churchill, Patton and Montgomery we’re getting it – its just coming from GEN Sisi, GEN Haftar, King Abdullah and Bibi Netanyahu instead of the US government. However, these great men have limits in what they can do. They will need much greater US military assistance – far greater than what’s currently being given. The Libyan people have been taking to the streets demanding that GEN Haftar take command of the Army as they view him as the best shot they have at eradicating the IS threat. We should be supporting GEN Haftar and GEN Sisi in their efforts. Considering the fact that the Obama administration still thinks IS fighters are just bored young men looking for jobs while downplaying the significance of Islamic fundamentalism.

Libyan parliament proposes Haftar, a divisive figure, as head of army

Libyan General Khalifa Haftar

The ISIS Expansion into North Africa

Obama’s ISIS Strategy: Failed Before it Started

Another Reason Obama’s ISIS Strategy Has Already Failed


The Sad state of the US government’s IS strategy has become butt of frequent jokes on Twitter and Facebook
Source: The ISIS Study Group

Links to Other Related Articles:

Egyptian Army Hits Back at ISIS in Sinai

ISIS Efforts to Open up an Egyptian Front

Egyptian Army and IDF Take on ISIS Supporters in Sinai

US Embassy in Tripoli “Secured” by Islamist Militias of the Dawn of Libya

Denmark Update

Egypt Strikes ISIS Positions in Libya: Moderate Muslims Rise Up Against Terror

February 16, 2015 / /

True to his word, Egypt’s GEN Sisi launched a series of airstrikes targeting Islamic State (IS) training camps, weapons storage sites and C2 nodes located in Libya – and Dernah (variant Derna) in particular. This is in retaliation for the IS video that came out on Sunday showing the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians. This comes on the heels of a separate operation that Egypt launched in the Sinai targeting the IS affiliate Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) in conjunction with Jordan’s King Abdullah’s ongoing operations targeting IS positions inside Iraq (which we covered in our piece titled Jordan Steps Up Airstrikes Against ISIS, Egypt Launches New Sinai Offensive).

Egypt bombs Islamic State targets in Libya after 21 Egyptians beheaded

Sisi warns of response after Islamic State kills 21 Egyptians in Libya

Jordan Steps Up Airstrikes Against ISIS, Egypt Launches New Sinai Offensive


GEN Sisi plays for keeps
Source: BBC

This will also be the second time that the Sisi regime has conducted military operations in Libya, the first being the operation that we discussed in late-AUG 14 that used a combination of Egyptian and UAE airpower in addition to the deployment of Egyptian SOF teams. The operation in AUG was done to bolster the forces of Libyan GEN Khalifa Haftar (who we’ve written about extensively on our site), who is the only real moderate in Libya who has the strength to challenge the al-Qaida (AQ/AQIM) and IS presence in the country. More importantly, the operation was launched without the US government’s knowledge. We strongly suspect it remains the case in this latest series of bombings. Furthermore, we assess that Sisi will deploy additional SOF teams in Libya like he did before, although the ground portion will likely be limited to target identification and to coordinate operations with Haftar’s forces (he has his own air assets).

Egypt and UAE Launch Airstrikes in Libya: US Kept in the Dark

Is Egypt Planning Military Intervention in Libya?


Egyptian Air Force F-16s

In regards to the video itself, the selection of a beachfront location suggests that IS aimed to demonstrate that the terror organization’s reach extends beyond that of Syria and Iraq. More troubling is the direct threat made to “Rome” and use of an English-speaking spokesman who spoke with a North American accent – a departure from the regular appearances made by the infamous “Jihadi John.” The Italian government responded by saying that “military options are on the table” and called for NATO intervention, but to be brutally honest the Italians are every bit as soft as the Danish government. Is Italy in greater risk of a terror attack? Yes. Will the Italian government have the intestinal fortitude to confront the threat? No, not beyond airstrikes nor will they be anywhere near as proactive as they should be on the home front – which will also endanger the lives of US military personnel who are stationed in places like Vicenza. Of course, most Italians won’t care if US military personnel are targeted – but they will should Italians become part of the collateral damage. However, we suspect the “Rome” reference was made about Europe as a whole and not just Italy. Why? Its due to the fact that Europe is one great, big soft target.

Italy Ready to Lead Coalition in Libya to Prevent ‘Caliphate Across the Sea’


Source: Newsweek

The reason IS has been allowed to expand throughout North Africa and the Middle East is directly tied to the foreign policy failures of the Obama administration when it decided to support known jihadist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and other like-minded entities during the Arab Spring. The EU is just as guilty, perhaps more so with their flaccid policies in targeting jihadists operating within their own borders. One word sums up the Obama foreign policy: Schizophrenic. The administration contradicts itself two or three times in a single day everyday. A case in point is all the talk about the need to support the moderate Muslims in the Middle East. Well, GEN Haftar, GEN Sisi and King Abdullah are all moderate Muslims who are taking the fight to IS – but the US government isn’t doing enough or in some cases not much of anything. If anything, the Obama administration has been quite antagonistic towards both Haftar and Sisi, which is why we’re seeing Egypt moving closer to Russia and launching their own unilateral operations. Jordan is the only one of the three to receive support, but its the bare-minimum. This has prompted King Abdullah to strengthen relationships with GEN Sisi and Israel’s Bibi Netanhayhu. Perhaps the most important thing about all this is the fact that we have a moderate Muslim in GEN Sisi who launched this latest military operation to avenge the deaths of 21 Egyptians who were Coptic Christians and not Muslims. Sisi had previously told imams in Egypt they needed to change their rhetoric that Islam destroyed by the Islamic State.

(President al-Sisi’s speech:

Think about that for a minute. This is a man that the Obama administration should be maintaining a strong relationship. Instead, the relationship with Egypt has soured considerably over the decision to support the wrong people. This fight needs more people like GEN Sisi, GEN Haftar, King Abdullah. The leaders in the US and Europe need to strongly back these leaders and quickly with the logistics and other requirements they need. These men are not asking for US combat troops, they are asking for logistics, weapons, intelligence support and similar assistance. The longer delays in supporting these leaders the more difficult it will be to combat this problem. Delaying action will ultimately allow an even more dangerous enemy to grow dragging the entire world into the conflict on an epic scale. The Islamic State has already grown exponentially from delays in action from the lack of American leadership.

General Khalifa Haftar

GEN Khalifah Haftar
Source: Press TV

We’ve heard today on Fox News about how IS has expanded into North Africa as if this was a “new” phenomenon. We can assure you it isn’t. The links to our previous articles posted above has additional details, and the links below lay out the events from last summer that led to the current situation:

Egyptian Army Hits Back at ISIS in Sinai

ISIS Efforts to Open up an Egyptian Front

Egyptian Army and IDF Take on ISIS Supporters in Sinai

The Strategic Importance of Egypt to ISIS

ISIS in Gaza Update

Islamic State’s Presence in Gaza

For additional information on Libyan GEN Khalifa Haftar, the support he receives from Egypt and his fight against IS in Libya, check out the following articles:

The ISIS Expansion into North Africa

US Embassy in Tripoli “Secured” by Islamist Militias of the Dawn of Libya

Libyan General Khalifa Haftar

President Obama’s Yemen “Success” Story

February 13, 2015 / /

True to form, we have yet another Obama “foreign policy success story” end in total failure. Yes, Yemen has been a failure for some time, but the recent closure of the US, UK and French embassies is the exclamation point. There are also some reports of the US Embassy security detail turning over their heavy weapons (they were able to keep personal weapons) to the Houthis, although we’ve also heard that they actually destroyed the crew-served weaponry instead of actually turning them over to the Iranian proxies. AQAP has dramatically increased their activity in Sanaa. In the southern part of the country, the Islamic state (IS) effort to establish a permanent foothold in the southern part of the country is fully underway. Several southern factions have begun aligning themselves with AQAP or IS.

U.S., UK and France pull embassy staffers out of Yemen

Marines provide new details about Yemen evacuation

Yemen in Chaos: Portrait of an Obama “Success Story”

The Islamic State’s Arabian Peninsula Campaign

AQAP Steps Up Attacks in Yemen

AQAP vs. Shia Proxy Fighting Intensifies

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 7.46.33 PM

One of those Houthi checkpoints we’ve talked about in previous articles.
Source: CNN

Sunnis in Southern Yemen are more likely to secede now than at any other time since the civil war of the 1990s. As a whole, the Yemeni Army also has factions supporting the Houthis and former President Salih. When the real battle is initiated (and it will happen), we expect the fight will result in a stalemate. Defense Minister Mahmoud al-Subayhi remains trapped in the capital, but maintains the loyalty of most Southern military units. We assess that at least two brigades and several independent battalions are in the Aden-area. However, these southern forces will likely run into severe logistical problems (which were never good to begin with across the board) due to the Defense Ministry’s centralized control of ammo, fuel and money in Houthi-occupied Sanaa. The Saudis will likely to provide financial, political and possibly military assistance to these factions. AQAP has taken advantage of today’s chaos to seize control of the Yemen Army’s 19th BDE in the Southeastern Province of Shabwa.

Al-Qaida fighters capture headquarters of Yemeni Army brigade

AQAP Claims Responsibility For Attack on Iran’s Ambassador to Yemen


Source: Albawaba News

Our sources informed us that the IRGC-Qods Force has also stepped up their presence in the country with additional Proxies being brought in. These personnel are reported to be Hezbollah personnel, but they may be Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS) and/or Kitab Hezbollah (KH). We are also aware of efforts underway to bring in additional weapons shipments from Iraq via sea and air routes. The Saudis will be watching Sanaa International Airport for sophisticated weaponry being unloaded. Additional reporting from the country indicates that wounded Houthi fighters are being flown to Iran for more advanced medical care, although this remains unconfirmed. One thing is for sure, the Iranians clearly feel that Yemen is a much more permissive operating environment and that they hope to expand their presence by cementing their relationship with the Houthis.

Poised to Fill Yemen’s Power Vacuum: Iran Tightens Grip on The Peninsula

IRGC-Qods Force: The Arabian Peninsula Campaign and Failure of Obama’s Foreign Policy

It seems as if it was just yesterday that the Obama administration was bragging about how al-Qaida was “on the run,” IS was nothing more than a “JV team,” Iraq was “stable” and the Arab Spring was a “good thing.” The reality is al-Qaida remains a viable threat and IS owns a huge chunk of land spanning across Syria and Iraq while establishing a presence in the AF/PAK region, Yemen and Southeast Asia. The White House claims that it has made a “significant” impact on the War on Terror. Well, they have – we lost an embassy in Libya and one in Yemen. Just keep all this firmly lodged in the back of your mind as the Obama administration pushes on with other schizophrenic policies on the world stage, such as its insistence that Iran is a “friend.”

US Embassy in Tripoli”Secured” by Islamist Militias of the “Dawn of Libya”

Other Related Articles:

Yemen’s Houthi Rebels: The Hand of Iran?

American and South African Hostage Killed in Yemen During Rescue Attempt

Shia Proxy Threat to US ISIS Strategy in Saudi Arabia

Inside Iran’s Middle East: The Southeast Insurgency

ITSP logo by :

In this second installment of our Inside Iran’s Middle East series we will be covering the bloody campaign the Iranian regime’s IRGC-Ground Forces Command has been waging in the Northwestern and Southeastern parts of the country.  In the first installment, we covered the regime’s use of “reformers” to keep the west off-balance so that they can further their nuclear weapons program and eliminate the opposition.  We won’t be talking about the toothless “Green Revolution” or the Monarchists or MeK living in exile abroad.  No, we will be discussing the only viable opposition in the country in these next two installments:  the Balochs and the Kurds.

Inside Iran’s Middle East:  The “Reformers”

qods force__1

IRGC-Qods Force personnel in the Sacred Defense Week pass and review for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini (2013)

Source:  Fars News Agency

We will start with the insurgency taking place in the Southeastern part of Iran.  In this part of Iran, the dominate rebel group is Jundalla or “Soldiers of God.”  This is the group of ethnic Baloch fighters.  Their goal is the establishment of a “greater Balochistan” that consists of Southeastern Iran, all of Southern Afghanistan and Southwestern Pakistan.  The organization was founded by Abdul Malik Rigi and his brother Abdul Hamid Rigi, and have between 700-2,000 active fighters with many more reported to be in Afghanistan and Pakistan operating in a “reserve” or support capacity. Financing of operations is done through the narcotics trade, opium specifically.  As a result, Iran has been fighting its very own “War on Drugs” along the border with Afghanistan’s Nimroz Province.

Profile: Iran’s Jundullah militants

Iraq’s shadow on Balochistan

Waking up to the war in Balochistan

Karzai Admits Balochistan Unrest Emanating From Afghanistan, Claims Malik


Jundallah Fighters

Source:  al-Arabiya

Jundallah was formed in 2003, but the group really put itself on the map in 2005 when it ambushed then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s motorcade in Baluchistan Province that resulted in the death of one bodyguard and several more injured.  The following year would see an incident involving Jundallah fighters blocking the main road near the town of Tasooki leaving 21 civilians killed. The year 2007 would see Jundallah increase the frequency and sophistication of their attacks throughout Zahedan, starting with a VBIED attack in 14 FEB 07 targeting an IRGC convoy that resulted in 18 IRGC killed.  Jundallah would follow up two days later by bombing a girls school in Zahedan City.  What came next was mass abductions of Iranian truck drivers, who were brought to one of their bases inside Pakistan.  The Pakistani Army would later free them.  However, this would not stop the Iranian regime from accusing the Pakistani government of providing material support to Jundallah fighters.

Sunni group vows to behead Iranians

Leader of the Jundallah Movemement, Abd Al-Malek Al-Rigi: We Train Fighters in the Mountains and Send Them into Iran

Foreign devils in the Iranian mountains

Guns smuggling on the rise in Balochistan

rigi 33

the late-Jundallah Leader Abdul Malik Rigi

Source:  al-Jazeera

The truth is Jundallah did receive support from the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) by having fighters train at terrorist camps run by the intelligence organization (it is important to note that the ISI has been operating on its own agenda separate from that of the actual government – more on that in a future article).  The Rigi brothers spent the 2005-2009 time period cultivating ties with the Afghan Taliban, Pakistani Taliban (TTP) and al-Qaida senior leadership.  A quid pro quo deal was made where Jundallah fighters would continue to receive training, material support and AQ embeds in exchange for assistance in facilitating the travel of senior leaders across the AF-PAK border. Jundallah also assisted AQ in financing their operations through the drug trade by helping them secure the logistical supply routes.  The AQ operatives who spent time embedded with Jundallah in Southeastern Iran would later become the core of what we know today as the “Khorasan Group,” the special cell AQ senior leadership established to handle “sensitive operations.”

As a whole the American mainstream media got it completely wrong about KG, because they were not in Iran to “work with the Iranians” – they were there to kill Iranians.  In fact, KG leader Muhsin al-Fadhli (who is very much alive contrary to Western media reports) was the point-man for this endeavor.  Fadhli was able to go wherever he pleased with the assistance of Jundallah fighters who had a well-established safe-house network in that part of the country. More importantly, he’s  one of the AQ operatives that has a great deal of experience fighting the Iranian military (thanks to his time spent fighting alongside Jundallah).  The AQ senior leadership decision to deploy Fadhli and an element of KG to Syria was a bid to revitalize al-Nusra Front efforts to regain the initiative against the Assad regime, the IRGC-Qods Force and Basij Resistance Force units supporting regime forces.

The History and Capabilities Of The Khorasan Group

The Khorasan Group:  Threat To The Homeland?

Khorasan Group is a Bigger Threat Than ISIS?

Report: Former head of al Qaeda’s network in Iran now operates in Syria

Who supports Jundallah?

Read more at ITSProject

Senators: Kerry Suggested Arming Syrian Rebels

Zawahiri’s Servant in Gaza Orchestrated Plots for Mega Terror Attacks

The New York Times Destroys Obama

nytoSo pathetically, in a bid to defend Obama and Clinton and the rest of the Democrats, the Times published a report that showed that Obama’s laser like focus on the Zawahiri-controlled faction of al Qaida has endangered the US.

By failing to view as enemies any other terror groups — even if they have participated in attacks against the US – and indeed, in perceiving them as potential allies, Obama has failed to defend against them. Indeed, by wooing them as future allies, Obama has empowered forces as committed as al Qaida to defeating the US.

Again, it is not at all apparent that the Times realized what it was doing. But from Israel to Egypt, to Iran to Libya to Lebanon, it is absolutely clear that Obama and his colleagues continue to implement the same dangerous, destructive agenda that defeated the US in Benghazi and will continue to cause US defeat after US defeat.

By Caroline Glick:

The New York Times just delivered a mortal blow to the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.

Call it fratricide. It was clearly unintentional. Indeed, is far from clear that the paper even realizes what it has done.

Last Saturday the Times published an 8,000 word account by David Kirkpatrick detailing the terrorist strike against the US consulate and the CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012. In it, Kirkpatrick tore to shreds the foundations of President Barack Obama’s counter-terrorism strategy and his overall policy in the Middle East.

Obama first enunciated those foundations in his June 4, 2009 speech to the Muslim world at Cairo University. Ever since, they have been the rationale behind US counter-terror strategy and US Middle East policy.

Obama’s first assertion is that radical Islam is not inherently hostile to the US. As a consequence, America can appease radical Islamists. Moreover, once radical Muslims are appeased, they will become US allies, (replacing the allies the US abandons to appease the radical Muslims).

Obama’s second strategic guidepost is his claim that the only Islamic group that is a bona fide terrorist organization is the faction of al Qaida directly subordinate to Osama bin Laden’s successor Ayman al-Zawahiri. Only this group cannot be appeased and must be destroyed through force.

The administration has dubbed the Zawahiri faction of al Qaida “core al Qaida.” And anyone who operates in the name of al Qaida, or any other group, that does not have courtroom certified operational links to Zawahiri, is not really al Qaida, and therefore, not really a terrorist group or a US enemy.

These foundations have led the US to negotiate with the Taliban in Afghanistan. They are the rationale for the US’s embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood worldwide. They are the basis for Obama’s allegiance to Turkey’s Islamist government, and his early support for the Muslim Brotherhood dominated Syrian opposition.

They are the basis for the administration’s kneejerk support for the PLO against Israel.

Obama’s insistent bid to appease Iran, and so enable the mullocracy to complete its nuclear weapons program is similarly a product of his strategic assumptions. So too, the US’s current diplomatic engagement of Hezbollah in Lebanon owes to the administration’s conviction that any terror group not directly connected to Zawahiri is a potential US ally.

From the outset of the 2011 revolt against the regime of Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, it was clear that a significant part of the opposition was comprised of jihadists aligned if not affiliated with al Qaida. Benghazi was specifically identified by documents seized by US forces in Iraq as a hotbed of al Qaida recruitment.

Obama and his advisors dismissed and ignored the evidence. The core of al Qaida, they claimed was not involved in the anti-Qaddafi revolt. And to the extent jihadists were fighting Qaddafi, they were doing so as allies of the US.

In other words, the two core foundations of Obama’s understanding of terrorism and of the Muslim world were central to US support for the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi.

With Kirkpatrick’s report, the Times exposed the utter falsity of both.

Read more at Front Page

Related articles

Benghazi – The Signs of Al Qaeda

Jihadist-Hand-Sign-366x350By Dawn Perlmutter:

The latest version of the Benghazi cover up is being argued with semantics of whether the jihadist group that attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 was part of the “core” al Qaeda network. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said,

“…at this point, we have no indications that core al-Qaida, which I think is what most people are referring to when they talk about, quote, al-Qaida, directed or planned what happened in Benghazi. …..So it is not the U.S. Government’s assessment or position that Ansar al-Sharia is an affiliate of core al-Qaida. We don’t recognize them as an affiliate of core al-Qaida… These folks don’t carry ID cards. They don’t come out and wear a t-shirt that says, ‘I belong to al-Qaida,’ right?”

I beg to differ. In addition to the tremendous amount of evidence and statements by members of the House Intelligence Committee claiming that intelligence indicates al Qaeda was involved and that Ansar al Shariah is widely believed to be affiliated with al Qaeda, there are simpler, more obvious indicators. Ms. Harf is correct, they don’t carry ID cards or wear T-shirts that say “I belong to al Qaeda,” but they do throw hand signs and leave graffiti behind in the same manner as gangbangers that just marked their territory after murdering their rival.

The quintessential image that is used in almost every news report about the Benghazi attacks depicts one of the assailants in a white T-shirt with an assault rifle posing with his index finger pointing up in front of the burning consulate. The man is seen in several photos making this gesture using both his left and right hands. This does not signify that he is number one. This gesture is one of the most prevalent Salafi jihadist hand signs. There are images of every al Qaeda leader, including Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al Zarqawi and others, with their index fingers pointing skywards. Ayman al Zawahiri, the current leader of al Qaeda, is often seen in images making the hand sign. His former top lieutenant Mohammed al Jamal, of the Jamal Network, is believed to have had fighters in the assault on the U.S. diplomatic compound and they would be familiar with this gesture. In October, the State Department designated the Jamal Network as a terrorist group tied to al Qaeda.

The hand gesture also appears on jihadist forums, protest posters, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and in almost every form of al Qaeda propaganda. It is also a favorite gesture among Chechen jihadists, members of the Caucasus Emirate, those most likely responsible for the recent suicide bombings that killed at least 31 people in the city of Volgograd, Russia. Their leader, Doku Umarov, has also been photographed making the jihadi hand sign. For Salafi jihadists groups, the hand gesture of the index finger pointing up represents one God and their willingness to die for Islam, thus attaining martyrdom and entrance into paradise. This Islamist hand sign is also commonly used by radical Imams around the globe while they are recruiting young men to join the global jihad and murder soldiers in their own countries. Although this hand gesture is one of the most recognizable signs of al Qaeda-affiliated jihadist groups, the Obama administration either overlooked, or worse, were unaware of the identifier when they portrayed the attack as a spontaneous protest against an anti-Islam film.

Read more at Front Page

Dawn Perlmutter Director and founder of Symbol & Ritual Intelligence and Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum is considered one of the leading subject matter experts (SME) in the areas of symbols, unfamiliar customs, ritualistic crimes and religious violence.

Mehanna Ruling Draws Line Between Speech and Material Support

Canada’s Growing Islamic Radicalization a Warning Sign

by Abigail R. Esman:

U.S. Middle East Policy: The Wrong Response to 9/11

Cairo embassy attackBY BARRY RUBIN:

“I had always thought wishful thinking a motive frequently underrated in political analysis and prediction.”  –WALTER LAQUEUR

If you have never understood U.S. Middle East policy  here it is: The  (wrong) response to September 11.

What do I mean? Simple.

There are two ways to respond to September 11:

A. There is a struggle on with revolutionary Islamists which is a huge battle that is parallel to the Cold War or the Allied-Axis conflict. America must organize a united front to fight this battle against the Islamists:

Sunnis or Shia; Turkish, Iranian, or Arab; the Muslim BrotherhoodSalafist, and al-Qaida. Hamas, Hizballah. And the Taliban.

B. Or, what appears easier, having a lot more allies and fewer enemies (I said seems) only to focus on al-Qaida. That’s the problem! After all, who else attacked the United States, Great Britain, Spain, and Kenya? Etc.? And anyway, the conflict is probably America’s fault or a lack of communication.

That’s it. Honest. And guess what? The Washington insiders, “experts” (anything but), officials, lots of intelligence (people and also John Brennan, the head of the CIA), a lot of military officers, and lots of sectors of the Republican party (especially Senator John McCain) believe this.

It is not healthy in Washington for one’s career not to believe it.

But after all, it is understandable (albeit also inaccurate and stupid).

Look at this point:

Who do you believe is an enemy who wants to fight and hurt America and the West?

A. The Syrian and Egyptian Muslim Brotherhoods, the Salafists, al-Qaida. Hamas, Hizballah, the Taliban, Iran, and Turkey.

B. Just al-Qaida?

See what I mean?

Think some more:

Suppose we could get all these non-al-Qaida Islamists as allies?

Suppose we could get all these non-al-Qaida Islamists to repress al-Qaida and so stop terrorist attacks?

Wouldn’t that be an easier task? One that would theoretically involve costing fewer American lives, less money, and be more popular with voters?

Of course.

And finally, of course, that’s what the president and mass media believe.

The problem is, though, that gets the Islamist ideology wrong. Al-Qaida and the other revolutionary Islamist have different tactics but not different goals. Learning that lesson will take years and be very painful. The wrong ideas are deeply embedded in large parts of the arrogant, ignorant, and financially interested establishment.

You should understand that: It is not acceptable in official Washington or its peripheral sectors to say that the Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt, Syria, Hamas) is a terrorist group.

It is not acceptable in official Washington or its peripheral sectors to say that the Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt, Syria, Hamas) is an anti-American group.

But it is perfectly acceptable to claim that the Republicans are terrorists, hostage-takers and anti-Americans.

Strange, huh?

Read more at Clarion Project

Al-Qaida-linked Rebels Desecrate Churches in Syrian Town


Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham presides at Palm Sunday service in Damascus in this April 1, 2012, file photo. (Catholic News Service photo/Reuters)

Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham presides at Palm Sunday service in Damascus in this April 1, 2012, file photo. (Catholic News Service photo/Reuters)

IPT, by John Rossomando:

Kuwait Funding Muslim Brotherhood Growth in Western Mosques

by Abigail R. Esman: