500 Ft. Riley Soldiers Deployed To Iraq

big_red_one

It’s unclear as to whether they will be wearing boots or not.

Truth Revolt, By Larry O’Connor:

The “Big Red One” is stepping up yet again. 500 troops from the Army’s 1st Infantry are to deploy to Iraq from Fort Riley, Kansas next month.

Fox News has details from the Pentagon’s announcement Thursday:

More than 200 hundred of the soldiers will be based in Iraq at U.S. Joint Operations Centers (JOCs) in Baghdad and the Kurdish capital of Irbil, and the rest of the contingent will operate out of U.S. bases in the region under the U.S. Central Command, Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said at a Pentagon briefing.

The initial plan was to have 138 of the troops at the operations center in Baghdad, 68 at the operations center in Irbil and 10 at the Iraqi Defense Ministry, Kirby said. The 200-plus troops will be part of the 475-troop contingent President Barack Obama authorized last month to serve in Iraq as advisers to the Iraqi National Security forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

However, the 200 from the 1st ID will not “embed” with the other advisers at the brigade and headquarters levels with the Iraqi and Kurdish forces, Kirby said. Instead, the 1st ID troops will perform duties at the JOCs, he said.

This is the first deployment of US troops since America pulled out all remaining forces in 2011 when President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton were unable to reach a Status of Forces agreement with the Iraqi government.

The President has insisted that American troops will not be used in any combat role in the current offensive against ISIS. The local station in Ft. Riley’s Kansas, KMBC, says that local commanders insist the troops will be used only in an advisory capacity in Iraq.

Also see:

 

Obama Praises Muslim Cleric Who Backed Fatwa on Killing of U.S. Soldiers

President Barack Obama addresses the United Nations General Assembly / AP

President Barack Obama addresses the United Nations General Assembly / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo:

President Barack Obama favorably quoted and praised on Wednesday in his speech before the United Nations a controversial Muslim cleric whose organization has reportedly endorsed the terror group Hamas and supported a fatwa condoning the murder of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

Obama in his remarks offered praise to controversial cleric Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah and referred to him as a moderate Muslim leader who can help combat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL or ISIS) radical ideology.

However, Bin Bayyah himself has long been engulfed in controversy for many of his views, including the reported backing of a 2004 fatwa that advocated violent resistance against Americans fighting in Iraq.

This is not the first time that the Obama administration has extoled Bin Bayyah, who also has served as the vice president of a Muslim scholars group founded by a radical Muslim Brotherhood leader who has called “for the death of Jews and Americans,” according to Fox News and other reports.

The State Department’s Counterterrorism Bureau (CT) was forced to issue multiple apologies earlier this year after the Washington Free Beacon reported on its promotion of Bin Bayyah on Twitter.

“This should not have been tweeted and has since been deleted,” the CT Bureau tweeted at the time after many expressed anger over the original endorsement of Bin Bayyah.

However, it appears that Obama and the White House are still supportive of Bin Bayyah, who, despite his past statements, is still hailed by some as a moderate alternative to ISIL and al Qaeda.

“The ideology of ISIL or al Qaeda or Boko Haram will wilt and die if it is consistently exposed, confronted, and refuted in the light of day,” Obama said before the U.N., according to a White House transcript of his remarks.

“Look at the new Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies—Sheikh bin Bayyah described its purpose: ‘We must declare war on war, so the outcome will be peace upon peace,’” Obama said, quoting the controversial cleric.

Concern over the administration’s relationship with Bin Bayyah started as early as 2013, when outrage ensued after he was reported to have met with Obama’s National Security Council staff at the White House.

While Bin Bayyah has condemned the actions of groups such as Boko Haram and ISIL, he also has taken controversial positions against Israel.

He issued in 2009 a fatwa “barring ‘all forms of normalization’ with Israel,” according to a Fox report on the White House meeting.

Additionally, the notorious 2004 fatwa permitting armed resistance against U.S. military personnel in Iraq reportedly stated that “resisting occupation troops” is a “duty” for all Muslims, according to reports about the edict.

Patrick Poole, a reporter and terrorism analyst who has long tracked Bin Bayyah, expressed shock that the Obama administration would endorse the cleric on the world stage.

“It is simply amazing that just a few months ago the State Department had to publicly apologize for tweeting out it’s support for Bin Bayyah, only to have Barack Obama go before the leaders of the entire world and publicly endorse Bin Bayyah’s efforts,” Poole said.

“It seems that nothing can stop this administration’s determination to rehabilitate Bin Bayyah’s image, transforming him from the Islamic cleric who issued the fatwa to kill Americans in Iraq and calling for the death of Jews to the de facto White House Islamic mufti,” he said.

This type of mentality has contributed to the administration’s foreign policy failures in the region,” Poole said.

“This is a snapshot of why this administration’s foreign policy in the Middle East is a complete catastrophe,” he said. “The keystone of their policy has been that so-called ‘moderate Islamists’ were going to be the great counter to al Qaeda. But if you take less than 30 seconds to do a Google search on any of these ‘moderate Islamists,’ you immediately find they are just a degree or two from the most hardcore jihadis and have little to no difference when it comes to condoning violence.”

A White House official said that the president’s remarks speak for themselves and declined to add anything further.

Islamic State Steps Up Propaganda After Strikes, Urges Lone-Wolf Attacks

ISIL fighters in a parade in Mosul / AP

ISIL fighters in a parade in Mosul / AP

Terrorist spokesman urges attacks against American, European civilians

By Bill Gertz:

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) has stepped up propaganda operations following Monday’s U.S.-led airstrikes against the group in Syria.

An audiotape of an ISIL spokesman urges supporters to conduct unorganized “lone-wolf” attacks against Americans and others involved in the raids.

And ISIL released a new propaganda video showcasing ISIL warfighting that appears aimed at winning supporters.

The chief spokesman for the al Qaeda offshoot group, Shaykh Abu Muhammad al Adnani, issued a statement ridiculing Monday’s airstrikes against ISIL in Syria.

“Is this all you are capable of doing in this campaign of yours? Are America and all its allies unable to come down to the ground?” Adnani said in an audio message posted online.

Adnani also urged its backers to kill civilians, especially Americans, French nationals, and nationals of other countries that took part in the bombing raids in Syria.

“If you can kill an American or European infidel specifically French, Australian, or Canadian or other infidels from the allied countries who are fighting the Islamic State, put your trust in God and kill him in any way or manner whatsoever,” he stated.

“Whether the infidel was civilian or military, it is the same, kill him.”

Adnani said ISIL forces were bolstered by the capture of American-made military gear taken from Iraqi forces that fled rather than fight the group during its takeover of large parts of central Iraq beginning in June.

“Send arms and equipment to your agents and dogs … send them very much, for it will end up as war booty in our hands,” he said. “Look at your armored vehicles, machinery, weapons, and equipment. It is in our hands. … We fight you with it.”

The ISIL spokesman urge the West to send ground forces and warned “you will pay the price when your sons are sent to wage war against us and they return to you as disabled amputees, or inside coffins, or mentally ill.”

Adnani’s message was quoted widely on social media, including Twitter, using hash-tags, including one in Arabic that read “Adnani mobilizes ISIL supporters.”

The 42-minute message also appeared designed to bolster morale of ISIL fighters who are now facing American and allied air power for the first time in opening raids the Pentagon called “very effective.”

In the propaganda video, dubbed “Flames of War: Fighting has just begun,” ISIL appears to be seeking young westerners to join the group and to show off its combat capabilities.

The capture of a French national in Algeria by an ISIL-affiliated group on Monday is said to be a response to Adnani’s call for attacks.

Read more at Washington Free Beacon

Also see:

America is handing the region to Iran instead of arming the Kurds to defeat IS

kurdsI24 News, By SHERKOH ABBAS Sep. 22, 2014:

“You can lead them to water, but you can’t make them drink.” After having its “head” dunked in the truth of Islamism, the Obama Administration seems to prefer to drown in its failed anti-Bush pacifism.

Everyone knows the most reliably pro-American military in the Syria-Iraq region is the Peshmerga, yet American arms have not been provided to these Kurds, nor has their justified nationalist aspiration been acknowledged, let alone endorsed.

Instead, America is handing the region to Iran (enhancing its nuclear ambitions), accommodating resurrected Turkish dreams of a worldwide caliphate (transcending its “sultanate”), and failing to enlist necessary support from Wahhabist Saudi Arabia (reinforcing its ideological outreach). Indeed, America can’t find anyone to provide the “boots on the ground” that can begin to match the burgeoning Islamic Army, threatening to conquer the American Homeland… and everything in between.

Lame excuses for inaction advanced by Obama’s spokespeople are easily exposed; for example, they failed to ensure that the Continuing (Funding) Resolution passed last week would allow direct support for Erbil without first transiting Baghdad. Again, ideology (“We must not undermine the new ‘unity’ government”) shrouds intent and pays lip-service to the legitimate, urgent needs of one of the diminishing number of unabashedly pro-American fighting forces.

The vacuum displacing a relatively tranquil Pax Americana is predictably and rapidly being filled by both Sunni and Shiite Islamists, and Kurdistan finds itself in the cross fire.

Tehran wants to immortalize a Shiite Crescent (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon), Ankara wants to sever it with Sunnis (multi-national Arabs and non-Arab Ottomans), and Riyadh wants to stir the pot just enough to foment insurrection, but not enough to allow the Kingdom to be threatened. Geopolitical lines are thereby crossed as these aspirations are being fulfilled, while Kurdistan (joining Israel, to a degree) serves as an irritant, a stubborn target for those harboring far greater aspirations.

Each of these countries has attempted to manipulate Kurdistan via political alliances that serve only to undermine the legitimate aspirations of the populace – self-determination, either as an independent state or as a quasi-independent federated-region. In the mean time, 30-40 million Kurds struggle for survival.

Instead of helping Kurds, who are ready to do America’s bidding, Obama aspires to let the Free Syrian Army decide which “moderates” should receive armaments and year-long training in Saudi Arabia (costing American taxpayers $1 billion). Is Obama enamored of Saudi oil?

Instead of helping Kurds, who desperately need American support, Obama is acceding to Turkey’s rapprochement with the Islamic State, most recently having absented itself from America’s nascent “alliance of the unwilling” in return for release of 49 Turkish hostages. Is Obama pro-Brotherhood?

Instead of helping Kurds, after more than 60 villages and towns in Syrian Kurdistan have fallen to the Islamic State, Obama is receding from opposing Assad (propped up by Rouhani and Putin), hoping that Syrian air defenses (yet to be degraded) won’t block Allied bombers. Is Obama a genocide-appeaser?

Kurds eagerly and valiantly defend Western civilization against Muslims who continue fighting the Crusades; they may be a millennium remote chronologically, but they remain zealots hungry to avenge the 1683 defeat of Islam outside the gates of Vienna.

Demography is rapidly changing, as Kurds are increasingly subject to ethnic cleansing; if defeated, Kurds would be forcibly resettled out of Syria and thereby lose their distinctive identity for, already, a million refugees have relocated, replaced by pro-Assad Shi’ite/Alawite Arabs. Sporadic air-support (recalling the Yazidi plight) is grossly insufficient against the Islamic State. Yet, inexplicably, Obama has even failed to ensure other Arab nations (plus his Turkish pal, Erdoğan) and opposition groups (plus other countries, worldwide) condemn the Islamists’ anti-Kurd acts.

Political groups petitioning for support must have “clean hands.” Thus, elements of the Free Syrian Army seeking allied arms must pass the litmus-test of supporting Kurds, for most are allied with the Muslim Brotherhood or al-Qaida. Unlike stateless-Kurdistan, pro- and anti-Assad entities are merely struggling for power. Therefore, America must provide military, political and humanitarian assistance to Kurdistan urgently, empowering it to lead a coalition of ignored minorities.

Dr. Sherkoh Abbas (President of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria) and Dr. Robert Sklaroff (a physician-activist) have co-written essays during the past half-decade advocating for an independent Kurdistan.

Also see:

Islamist foreign fighters returning home and the threat to Europe

Editor’s note: Below is Thomas Joscelyn’s testimony to the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats.

Tom_Large (1)By

Chairman Rohrabacher, Ranking Member Keating and members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me here today to discuss the threat posed by Islamist foreign fighters returning home to Europe. We have been asked to answer the question, “How are European countries addressing the threat, and how can the US assist in those efforts to thwart future terrorist attacks?” I offer my thoughts in more detail below.

But I begin by recalling the 9/11 Commission’s warning with respect to failed states. “In the twentieth century,” the Commission’s final report reads, “strategists focused on the world’s great industrial heartlands.” In the twenty-first century, however, “the focus is in the opposite direction, toward remote regions and failing states.” A few sentences later, the Commission continues:

If, for example, Iraq becomes a failed state, it will go to the top of the list of places that are breeding grounds for attacks against Americans at home. Similarly, if we are paying insufficient attention to Afghanistan, the rule of the Taliban or warlords or narcotraffickers may reemerge and its countryside could once again offer refuge to al Qaeda, or its successor.

Those words were written more than a decade ago. Unfortunately, they still ring true today, not just for the US, but also for Europe. Except, we no longer have to worry about just Iraq becoming a failed state. We now have to contend with a failed state in Syria as well. And Syria is not “remote.” It is much easier for foreign fighters to travel to Syria today than it was for new jihadists to get to Afghanistan in the 1980s. This is one reason that there are likely more foreign fighters in Syria than there were in Afghanistan at the height of the jihad against the Soviets. Estimates vary, but the total number of foreign recruits in Syria easily tops 10,000. A CIA source recently told CNN “that more than 15,000 foreign fighters, including 2,000 Westerners, have gone to Syria.” They “come from more than 80 countries.”

This, of course, is an unprecedented security challenge and one that counterterrorism and intelligence officials will be dealing with for some time to come. It requires exceptional international cooperation to track the threats to Europe and elsewhere emerging out of Iraq and Syria. My thoughts below are focused on what I consider to be some of the key aspects of dealing with this threat.

At the moment, most people are understandably focused on the Islamic State (often called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL, or ISIS). There is certainly a strong possibility that some foreign fighters will return from fighting in the Islamic State’s ranks to commit an act of terror at home, either on their own accord or under the direction of senior terrorists.

However, I also want to focus our attention today one of the other significant threat streams coming out of Syria. Al-Qaeda’s official branch in the country, Jabhat al-Nusrah, has experienced al-Qaeda veterans in its ranks. I think they pose more of a near-term threat when it comes to launching catastrophic attacks in the West than do their Islamic State counterparts. And even though al-Nusrah and the Islamic State have been at odds, we should not rule out the possibility that parts of each organization could come together against their common enemies in the West. Indeed, two of al-Qaeda’s leading branches are currently encouraging the jihadists in Syria to broker a truce, such that they focus their efforts against the US and its allies. There is also a large incentive for terrorists in both organizations to separately lash out at the West, portraying any such attacks as an act of retaliation for the American-led bombings.

Read more at Long War Journal

Where Did IS Come From?

by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
September 12, 2014

1062The simple answer – and the one you’ll hear most often – is that IS, or Islamic State (formerly ISIS) emerged out of al-Qaida, gathering strength through the ongoing civil war in Syria and unrest in Iraq.

But that’s only part of the story: the rest is based in Europe (and even in America), where governments have continually – if unwittingly – financed programs that breed radicalization in Muslim communities there. Now, more and more of those radical Muslims, most born and bred in the West, are joining IS and its jihad; and in their efforts to prevent it, Europe’s leaders in particular may in fact be strengthening the threat.

In fact, as IS strengthens its grip in Iraq, European Muslim youth are increasingly drawn to join. Following the gruesome horror of IS’s beheadings and executions these past few weeks, the number of Belgian youth heading off to join the terrorist group in Syria increased significantly, according to Belgian security agency OCAP. NotedBelgium’s Nieuwsblad: “The recent increase is striking, and is according to our information partly explainable by the enormous amount of propaganda that ISIS produces on social media. The spread of shocking images, such as the mass execution of 250 Syrian soldiers, and the execution of American journalist James Foley, seem only to send Muslim youth towards radicalization.”

It’s not just in Belgium.

Last week, Dutch officials arrested two families from the town of Huizen as they prepared to join the jihad in Syria, confiscating the passports of all parents and their six children, aged eight months to nine years old. Around the same time, the Dutch-American radical known as Jermaine W successfully departed for Syria with his wife and children. Jermaine, whose father was American, is well known in the Netherlands as a member of Holland’s extremist Hofstadgroep, and as a friend of Hofstadgroep leader Mohammed Bouyeri, the terrorist killer of filmmaker Theo van Gogh. Jermaine was arrested in 2004 for a letter in which he outlined plans to murder activist and then-Parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but was released in 2006 on the basis of “insufficient evidence.”

Many of these European jihadists, like Jermaine, travel with their children, whom they then place in jihadist training camps in the hopes of producing a new, stronger generation of Islamic warriors for the Islamic State. Recent reporting from VICE shows a Belgian father coaching his very young son to kill “unbelievers,” while other children play and train with rifles.

But the problem did not begin with emigration to Syria. It began with the radicalization of these Muslims while they lived on European soil, attended European mosques and joined European programs for Muslim youth – programs frequently created in an effort to prevent such radicalization. But according to a report in Dutch newsweekly Elsevier, many presumably moderate mosques have used government funds to subsidize visits from extremist imams such as Usman Ali, who has given speeches at the Greenwich Islamic Center. Ali’s fee, according to Elsevier, was paid through a €75,000 government subsidy ostensibly aimed at “preventing radicalization.” By 2010, when government subsidies to the center had expanded to €168,000, Ali was serving on its board.

Just who is Usman Ali? Among other things, he is known for showing videos of the 9/11 attacks to children, while preaching “Allah is the Almighty,” (“allahu akbaar”) reports Elsevier. The leader of what has been called a “powerful web of Islamic radicals and terror convicts,” he has also been accused of inspiring Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, in the horrific almost-beheading of British soldier Lee Rigby outside the military barracks in Woolwich, South East London. In an interview with Al Jazeera, Ali denied the allegations.

Similar situations abound in the Netherlands, most notably at Amsterdam’s Blue Mosque, which is governed via an intricate web of organizations and finances by the Muslim Brotherhood, owned by the government of Kuwait, and led by Kuwait’s Minister of Religious Affairs. Among the speakers invited there: Khalid Yasin, known largely for being the inspiration for “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Closer to home, the Muslim Association of Canada, which has received funding from the government of Alberta, has in turn financed Hamas and the Islamic Relief and Human Concern International (IRHCI). According to documents uploaded to Point de Bascule, a conservative web site based in Canada, “On its website, Islamic Relief Canada lists eight categories of zakat beneficiaries. These eight categories match exactly the categories listed in the Muslim Brotherhood-endorsed manual of sharia Umdat al-Salik.” The organization also specifically encourages charity for “Muslims waging jihad: those struggling in the path of Allah.”

Western governments likely are not knowingly funding such projects: but as Elsevierpoints out, “German security agencies have warned for years – such as in their annual report for 2007 – that moderate Islamic organizations can breed radical groups. While they do not recruit youths for the jihad, by encouraging a strong ‘Islamic identity,’ they make the risk of radicalization that much greater.”

Now Europe is proposing new solutions to tidy up this mess. Top among them: revoking the passports of those who go to Syria, or who are stopped at the border or en route, as in the case of the two families from Huizen.

But is this really the best answer? The Muslims who make the journey for jihad are already radicalized. They have already turned against the West, and committed themselves to battling against it – violently, and without mercy. Their minds and hearts are with the Islamic State, even as they live in Paris or New York, in Amsterdam or Detroit. Withholding their passports only keeps them where they are – among us, their enemies, the ones they plan to destroy.

The uncomfortable, tragic truth is we helped create their murderous mindsets, their hatred of the West. That was our mistake. We should not make another by keeping them here, inside our own homes. Let them go. And lock the doors behind them.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands.

Is Obama’s ISIS Strategy to Make It Someone Else’s Problem?

140907obamaconfusedCenter for Security Policy, by Kyle Shideler:

The New York Times is previewing what they say will be President Obama’s strategy for deal with the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS), and its newly established “caliphate” during his speech to the nation Wednesday. According to the report, which cites unnamed senior administration officials, the strategy involves a series of air strikes aimed at degrading ISIS’ capabilities, followed by arming and training the Iraqi military, Kurdish fighters, and possibly Sunni tribal forces, before utilizing those forces to conduct an armed incursion into ISIS’ Syrian stronghold, in a campaign which the New York Times notes will have “no obvious precedent”, and which the administration forecasts to take approximately three years:

The final, toughest and most politically controversial phase of the operation — destroying the terrorist army in its sanctuary inside Syria — might not be completed until the next administration. Indeed, some Pentagon planners envision a military campaign lasting at least 36 months. Mr. Obama will use a speech to the nation on Wednesday to make his case for launching a United States-led offensive against Sunni militants gaining ground in the Middle East, seeking to rally support for a broad military mission while reassuring the public that he is not plunging American forces into another Iraq war.

If the New York Times piece does indeed reflect the Obama Administration view (and there is no reason to suggest that it does not), it suffers from a number of potential problems.

Those waiting for a unified Iraqi central government which is more inclusive and alleviates the concerns of Iraq’s Sunni minority may be waiting forever. The degree of influence exerted over the Iraqi government by Iran, and Iran’s need to rely  on Shia militia fighters to bolster defenses of both Baghdad, and importantly, Damascus will make inclusion difficult. The same Iranian IRGC commander Qassem Sulemani, responsible for propping up Assad, was reported to have also personally overseen the retaking the town of Amerli, Iraq from ISIS. Allowing the U.S. to arm Kurdish and Sunni forces, who, having beaten ISIS may go on to finally finish off Assad is not in Tehran’s best interest. And making an inclusive government a requirement means that Iran is given the ability to play spoiler on the plan. I’ve expressed support in the past for arming and training Kurdish troops, but we shouldn’t wait for the Iraqi central government to meet some “inclusiveness” standard before we do so. That can be done now. The Kurds reportedly offered to serve as ground forces against ISIS even before Mosul fell to the jihadists.

Secondly, the assumption by the administration, that Sunni tribes will prefer an Iraqi government under Iranian tutelage to what the New York Times called the “the harsh Shariah law[ISIS] has imposed” may underestimate both the popularity of shariah law, as well as the antipathy towards the Shia militants used by Baghdad to repress the Sunnis. While ISIS’s declaration of a caliphate has been widely rejected in the Islamic world, the Sunni uprising ISIS has led against Baghdad has not. Consider this statement against ISIS’s caliphate, from Muslim Brotherhood shariah jurist Yusuf Al Qaradawi’s International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS):

The IUMS has followed the statements issued by the organization called the “Islamic State” which sprang forth from Iraq, with other Iraqi forces, defending Iraqi Sunnis, and others who were oppressed in that country. We rejoiced over them and we welcomed their mobilization to reject oppression and tyranny in the Earth.”

It may be the case that Sunni forces choose ISIS over an Iranian puppet regardless.

Finally, given the projected timeline of “years” to defeat ISIS, with a 36-month campaign  in Syria commencing only after the arming and training has taken place, and one wonders if the Obama Administration isn’t aware of these flaws in their logic.

Perhaps the real plan is to delay until ISIS is someone else’s problem?

Also see:

Global drive to stop jihadis going to Syria, Iraq

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By Lori Hinnant:

PARIS: New laws make it easier to seize passports. Suspected fighters are plucked from planes. Authorities block finances and shut down radical mosques. And behind the scenes, Silicon Valley firms are under increasing pressure to wipe extremist content from websites as Western intelligence agencies explore new technologies to identify returning fighters at the border.

Governments from France to Indonesia have launched urgent drives to cut off one of the ISIS’ biggest sources of strength: foreign fighters. At the heart of the drive is mounting concern that the organization is training the next generation of international terrorists.

Those fears have gained urgency from the group’s horrific methods: A British militant is suspected of beheading two American journalists, and a Frenchman who fought with the ISIS is accused in a deadly attack on a Jewish museum in Belgium.

With each video that ricochets around social networks, the militants gain new recruits.

Britain has taken a particularly active role in censoring content deemed to break the country’s strict rules against extremist propaganda. U.K. officials recently revealed they have been granted “super flagger” status on sites such as YouTube, meaning their requests to remove videos with grisly content or that encourage terrorism are fast-tracked.

Over the past four years, an Internet-focused counterterror unit of London’s Metropolitan Police instigated the removal of 45,000 pieces of content, the force said last week. ISIS, however, have just as quickly found other, more decentralized platforms.

In the United States, officials are trying to identify potential jihadists by comparing travel patterns with those of people who have already joined the fight, a counterterrorism official said, speaking only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss intelligence matters.

A French law to seize passports is being fast-tracked through parliament, and the government is ramping up arrests of increasingly young teenagers making plans for jihad.

That can mean last-minute arrests at the airport, as happened to a 16-year-old girl and her alleged recruiter trying to pass through security in Nice Saturday, and to a man at Australia’s Melbourne Airport who was pulled off a flight last week carrying tens of thousands of dollars in cash and ISIS’ black-and-white flag in his luggage.

Britain proposed laws Monday to let police seize the passports of those suspected of having traveled abroad to fight, while the Netherlands is making it easier to strip people of their nationality and go after Internet providers that spread propaganda.

In Bosnia, authorities carried out a major anti-terror sweep Wednesday. They detained 16 people suspected of fighting in Syria and Iraq and recruiting Balkan men to join militants there.

Anti-jihadist efforts are being ramped up in traditionally Muslim countries as well: Indonesia is breaking up meetings of ISIS supporters and seizing T-shirts and other items promoting the group, and Tunisia is shutting down mosques and suspected financiers.

For the radicals who have already reached Syria, the focus of European spy agencies is on trying to identify them when they return. That can mean scouring social media sites for photos of foreign fighters or electronic intercepts for hints of terrorist activity abroad.

Officials are considering the deployment of more advanced techniques like voice recognition to identify suspected jihadis at border control by matching their conversations to those heard on militants’ videos, former U.K. counterterrorism chief Bob Quick told the Associated Press earlier this year.

There is huge interest, he said, in “being able to identify these people at the border.”

The concern is that returning fighters will launch attacks at home. Australia draws on lessons from Afghanistan a decade ago, saying of the 25 citizens who returned to Australia after fighting against Western interests there, two-thirds became involved in terrorist activities back home. Some remain in prison.

“The Australians and their supporters who have joined terrorist groups in the Middle East are a serious and growing threat to our security,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament Monday. “People who kill without compunction in other countries are hardly likely to be law-abiding citizens should they return to Australia.”

A compilation of government estimates shows more than 2,000 people with European passports have fought or are fighting in Syria and Iraq – with most looking to join ISIS.

Read more at Daily Star

 

US-Iranian military, intelligence cooperation in war on ISIS reaps first successes in Syria and Iraq

IraqSyriaBombing

DEBKAfile, Sep. 5, 2014:

At least 18 foreign ISIS fighters including Americans and Europeans were killed Thursday, Sept. 4, in a Syrian air raid of the Al Qaeda-ISIS’ northern Syrian headquarters in the Gharbiya district of Raqqa. The raid caught a number of high Al Qaeda commanders and a large group of foreign adherents assembled at the facilty.

A second group of high ISIS officers were killed or injured in another Syrian air raid over their base in Abu Kamal near the Iraqi border.
DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that top men of the Islamist terrorist group were holding meetings at both places Thursday to coordinate IS strike plans in Syria and Iraq.  For Syria, these plans center on the Deir a-Zor and Al Qaim areas, while in Iraq, they focus on targets in the east and center of the country.

The twin Syrian air offensive coincided with the opening of the two-day NATO Summit outside the Welsh town of Newport .

The information about the two Al Qaeda meetings at Raqqa and Abu Kamal could have come from only two sources: US surveillance satellites and aircraft or Iranian agents embedded at strategic points across Syria.

Syria does not have the necessary intelligence capabilities for digging out this kind of information. Nor does its air force normally exhibit the surgical precision displayed in the two strikes on Al Qaeda bases.

It is therefore more than likely that they owed their success to the widening military and intelligence cooperation between the United State and Iran in Iraq and Syria.

President Barack Obama will have taken his seat at the NATO summit to discuss ways of fighting ISIS after word of the successful Syrian strikes was already in his pocket. While they must be credited to top-quality US aerial surveillance over Syria and Iraq, they were undoubtedly made possible by the Obama administration’s deepening military and intelligence ties with Iran.

Many of the allies present at Newport will not welcome these tidings – Britain, Germany and Australia, in particular. They deeply resent being displaced as America’s senior strategic partners by the Revolutionary Republic of Iran, after their long partnership with the US in fighting terror in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But they will find it hard to argue with success.

On Aug. 31, our military sources reveal, US and Iranian special forces fighting together, broke the 100-day IS siege of the eastern Iraqi town of Amerli, 100 km from the Iranian border, to score a major victory in their first joint military ground action.

Then, Wednesday, Sept. 3, US jets struck an IS base in the northern Iraqi town of Tal Afar, killing its commander, Abu Hajar Al-Sufi, and two lieutenants of the IS chief Abu Baker Al-Baghdadi.
While President Obama has denied having a strategy for fighting ISIS, a working mechanism appears to have been put in place to support a trilateral military offensive against al Qaeda’s Islamist State. The successful attacks in the last 24 hours were apparently made possible by this mechanism: Iranian intelligence collected US surveillance data from the Americans and passed it on to Syria for action.

Also see:

Kurdistan deputy PM: ‘Great imbalance’ between weapons used by Kurdish forces, ISIS

(Go to 8:14 in the video to see interview with Kurdish Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani)

Fox News:

Kurdistan Regional Government Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani told Fox News’ Bret Baier Wednesday that there is a “great imbalance” between the weaponry used by the Islamic State militants and that of the Kurdish peshmerga security forces, imploring the U.S. to provide the Kurds with advanced weapons.

Talabani said on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that the caliber of the weapons used by the Islamic State fighters, also known as ISIS or ISIL, is far greater than that of the Kurdish forces.

“There is a great imbalance in the weaponry because ISIS have state of-the-art, U.S.-supplied weaponry that they were able to take with ease from the Iraq armed forces,” he said.

Talabani was referring to the fact that the militant group seized a large arsenal of U.S.-supplied weapons from the Iraqi army when the group captured the city of Mosul. In contrast, Talabani said the Kurdish forces are working with decades-old Soviet weaponry previously used in many other battles.

“Our weaponry cannot be compared to the weaponry that ISIS has, but we have the heart, the spirit, the bravery, and we have the dedication required to win this fight,” he said, “if that is coupled with upgraded weaponry, with updated cooperation with our friends and allies in the United States, we will have no doubt eliminate ISIS from Iraq.”

Talabani emphatically insisted that if the U.S. would supply the Kurdish peshmerga security forces with advanced weaponry, the Kurdish troops can be an effective, boots-on-the-ground force to drive out the militants.

“Collectively Iraq, Kurdistan and the United States can do this, can accomplish this mission and drive ISIS from Iraq,” he said. “But this requires decisive action and decisive action now.”

The U.S. has provided small arms and mortars to the Kurds, but has not armed them directly. A defense official told Fox News Wednesday that the U.S. is not planning on changing its policy.

“The Department of Defense has not provided direct arms to the Kurds and has no plans to do so in the future,” the official said.

Kurdish Civilians: ‘ISIL is Afraid of Us’

 

Washington Free Beacon, By Stephen Gutowski:

As President Obama struggles to create strategy to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), Vice News went into the trenches with what may be the only effective boots currently on the ground: the Kurds.

Fresh off its series inside the bloodthirsty, barbaric terrorist group, Vice interviewed Kurds pushing back against the terrorists’ advance on the other side of the battle lines. The Kurdish fighters they interviewed on the outskirts of Kirkuk in northern Iraq are defiant and confident.

“Our comrades are well trained; they’re professional,” a PKK district commander identified as Agid said. “That’s why ISIL is afraid of us.”

Civilians living in the frontline city remain concerned about ISIL, however.

“We are under threat from terrorist groups,” a local Kurdish villager said. “They consider us infidels.”

Like ISIL, the United States has declared the Kurdish PKK a terrorist group. Many of the fighters insisted they are nothing like ISIL.

“Unlike ISIL, our ideology views are not based on terror,” a masked PKK fighter said. “We haven’t slaughtered anyone, nor have we oppressed any other group.”

“We consider Turkmen, Sunni Arabs, and Shiites as our people,” Agid said.

Since President Obama has refused to commit any significant American ground force to fighting ISIL, the PKK and other Kurdish fighters may shoulder the burden of the fight against the most active terrorist group.

Original ISIS Video: Exclusive Analysis CIA Gary Berntsen

 

Breitbart:

The first minute of the infamous ISIS has never been shown on any major news outlet … until now. Also, exclusive extended interview with former CIA Station Chief Gary Berntsen.

On three separate occasions, Berntsen led several of CIA’s most important counter-terrorism deployments including the United States’ response to the East Africa Embassy bombings and the 9/11 attacks and the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.

Berntsen is one of the CIA’s most decorated agents receiving awarded the Distinguished Intelligence Medal in 2000 and in 2004 the prestigious Intelligence Star (only a few dozen CIA officers have received this award-most posthumously).

Follow The United West on Twitter @TheUnitedWest

HANNA: The Ethics Of Fighting With Terrorists

militantTruth Revolt, by Rachael Hanna, Aug. 9, 2014:

The United States is supporting, funding, and arming “terrorists.” Not through back channels, middlemen, Swiss bank accounts or CIA covert operations, but openly and publicly. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was designated as a foreign terrorist organization on October 8, 1997 by the U.S. Department of State after thirteen years of insurgency, including bombing attacks and kidnappings, against Turkish military personnel and citizens. Aside from its use of terrorist tactics, the PKK found itself on the wrong side of the strategically crucial alliance between the United States and Turkey. Now, however, the United States is actively supporting the PKK rebels in their fight against the Islamic State (IS). Additionally, the United States is arming the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) to combat IS; these two political parties were classified as “Tier III” terrorist organizations for their role in the armed uprising against Saddam Hussein in the 1990s, although Senator John McCain introduced a Senate amendment last November to have these groups removed from the terror list.

For months now, news headlines have updated the world on the Islamic State’s terrifyingly swift march through Iraq, as militants captured the major cities of Tikrit and Mosul and approached Baghdad and Erbil, where the United States retains military bases. Thousands, most notably the Christians of Mosul and the Yazidis trapped on the Sinjar Mountains, have been slaughtered or forced to flee their homes by IS militants. The Iraqi army failed to stop the onslaught of the Islamic State, even after the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters joined forces with them. But now, IS’s conquests have temporarily stalled in Iraq, due largely to the guerrilla fighters of the PKK, who have allied with the Peshmerga, their long-time rivals, to take back the Mosul dam with the aid of U.S. air strikes. This is good news for the embattled Iraqis and for the United States, which has suffered a loss of international respect for failing to intervene in the civil war and protect persecuted religious minorities sooner. However, these new Kurdish allies may create a legal problem for the United States concerning its terrorism laws.

A Troubled History

The U.S. government has a history of arming controversial rebel groups, beginning with its global mission to prevent the spread of communist ideology in the aftermath of World War II and continuing in the late 20th and early 21st centuries with groups fighting against Islamic extremists and dictators. Major operations include those in Honduras, Chile, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and now Iraq.

Some of the most infamous rebel groups to receive U.S. support were the Contras, groups of guerrilla fighters working to overthrow the communist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. In 1981, the Reagan Administration began financing and arming the rebels. This policy became controversial, not only because of the entanglement in the Iran-Contra Affair, but also because the Contras allegedly engaged in serious and frequent human rights abuses, including attacking and murdering non-combatant civilians, according to Human Rights Watch. Unsurprisingly, the Contras were never listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, but under current U.S. law, the group likely warranted the designation; 18 U.S. Code § 2331 defines “international terrorism” as:

violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State; appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping, and occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

Around the same time, on the other side of the world, the United States was arming another group of rebel fighters—the mujahideen of Afghanistan. Beginning in 1979 and continuing through the 1980s until the collapse of the Soviet Union, mujahideen fighters received weapons and training from the CIA to push back Soviet forces and topple the communist government in Kabul. Unlike the U.S.-backed Contras, the mujahideen successfully drove out the Soviets, and liberated Afghanistan from communism. The ideology that succeeded this regime was even worse.

Dealing with the Consequences

From the U.S.-trained and -armed mujahideen sprung Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, responsible for the 9/11 attacks and deaths of more than 2,200 American soldiers and an estimated 20,000 Afghan civilians in the ground war in Afghanistan. A similarly dangerous and potentially more deadly situation is now unfolding with the Islamic State. Stalling in Iraq, IS has turned its attention to a renewed offensive in northern Syria, using U.S. Humvees captured from the faltering Iraqi army to transport militants and weapons across the border. Armed with American weapons, IS has increased its fighting capabilities and emboldened its fighters, which has added the brutal and tragic beheading of American journalist James Foley to its death toll.

While airstrikes in Iraq have been instrumental in the pushback against IS, President Obama has yet to authorize additional strikes in Syria; for now, America’s solution to the carnage wrought by IS is largely to fight terrorists with other terrorists. It goes without saying that IS must be stopped as quickly and effectively as possible. With an estimated 20,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria, the PKK are by far the most experienced and well-trained group to lead a counter-ground attack against IS in northern Iraq and Syria, especially with American air support. After three decades of insurgency with Turkey, PKK rebels are battle-tested and well organized, whereas the Peshmerga and other Kurdish fighters have far less experience and have proven unable to take IS head on. The PKK’s support of besieged minorities and civilians against IS has spurred a lobbying effort in the United States to have the group taken off the State Department’s terrorist organization list. Since a cease-fire agreement with Turkey in March of 2013, the PKK has largely aborted the use of terrorist tactics; however, the group has launched several attacks against Turkish security forces in recent weeks, which could undermine peace negotiations and the recent attempt to declassify it as a terrorist organization.

Fighting in the Grey

It is difficult to determine whether the Contras should have been designated as a terrorist group or whether the United States should have been more cautious about arming the Afghan mujahideen; even hindsight isn’t 20/20. Supporting the PKK may well turn out to be a brilliant strategic move if it leads to the destruction of IS. Nonetheless, in this moment, the PKK is a terrorist organization, and that may put the United States government in a legally grey area. 18 U.S. Code § 2339B states, “Whoever knowingly provides material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 15 years, or both, and, if the death of any person results, shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life.”

This section of the law would seemingly prohibit the United States from supporting the PKK, but a later section of the same law states, “No person may be prosecuted under this section in connection with the term ‘personnel’, ‘training’, or ‘expert advice or assistance’ if the provision of that material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization was approved by the Secretary of State with the concurrence of the Attorney General. The Secretary of State may not approve the provision of any material support that may be used to carry out terrorist activity.” This is the exception. As long as the “material support” provided by the United States is not used in a terrorist act, the U.S. government, with approval from both the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, can support foreign terrorist groups. Currently, the PKK is working to defeat IS; killing armed combatants is a legitimate act of war, not terrorism, so it seems that the United States is not acting illegally. However, there is a possibility that arms provided indirectly to the PKK through the Iraqi army and other Kurdish groups could eventually be turned against Turkish security forces and civilians, the latter of which would be an act of terror against a U.S. ally.

A Country Without a Moral Conscious?

What do these situations and potential scenarios mean for U.S. terrorism laws? The point is not whether the United States might entangle itself in grey areas of the laws concerning terrorism; it likely already has. The real question is, do these laws hold any weight? Do they have anything meaningful to contribute to the country’s foreign policy principles and decisions? The United States has chosen not to label groups as terrorist organizations if it is politically inconvenient or would get in the way of a greater policy objective; it provides funding and arms to rebel groups it cannot control, and who have often turned against the United States at a later date; most recently, it is using terrorists to fight other terrorists. If not illegal, this part of American history at least presents a moral predicament, one that we are actively dealing with in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, and Iraq. Laws are fundamentally impositions of morality on society, but if the laws we write do not create a guiding moral framework, and instead allow us to do what is most convenient, expedient, or politically popular in the moment without serious regard to a higher set of common ethical principles, then where does a secular society based on the rule of law derive its morality from?

Last year, President Obama, now infamously, said that the use of chemical weapons in Syria constituted a moral red line that, once crossed, would result in severe consequences for the Assad regime. This ended up being an empty threat when proposed airstrikes against Syrian military targets failed to gain support on either side of the aisle in Congress. The decisions that need to be made regarding policy in Middle East are complicated, and they are rarely black or white. But that is the entire point of having a strong set of moral principles—you stick to them even when the choices are difficult or unpopular, or when cutting corners might be easier. The question is, what set of moral principles does the United States have, and do its leaders have the backbone to uphold them?

Rachael Hanna ’16 is an Associate World Editor for the Harvard Political Review. Follow her @rhanna213.

Also see:

 

Iraq’s Jihad: Past as Prologue

plus ça change…

American Thinker, By Andrew G. Bostom, June 8, 2005: 

We are now in the middle of a full—blown Jihad, that is to say we have against us the fiercest prejudices of a people in a primeval state of civilization.

Gertrude Bell, Baghdad, Iraq, September 5, 1920

Gertrude Bell (Wikipedia)

Gertrude Bell (Wikipedia)

 

The carnage in Iraq continues——much as Bell described 85 years ago——despite Saddam Hussein’s removal, and capture, along with many of his former high ranking administrators.  And this bloody contemporary “insurgency” is also a jihad—waged by jihadists of two ilks: Al Qaeda types (like Zarqawi) united with so—called “secular” Baathist jihadists. This is hardly surprising as Baathist Arabism is deeply rooted in Islam, and bears no resemblance to Western conceptions of secularism. (Other than perhaps Saddam Hussein’s expensive ‘secular’ wardrobe—as Fouad Ajami once uttered on live television, doing his best Saddam impersonation, to a stunned Dan Rather: ‘You wear pants…I wear pants!’).

Indeed, the very founder of the Baath Party, Michel Aflaq, was a Greek Orthodox Christian who converted to Islam, and declared emphatically, ‘Islam is to Arabism what bones are to the flesh.’ (For an enlightening discussion of the Baathism is secularism canard, see this blog by Professor Frank Salameh  , Monday May, 9, 2005, ‘The Myth of Arab Nationalism’). The Baathists just added another incendiary element to Iraq’s long brewing cauldron of sectarian strife, which was so apparent during the British attempt at statecraft during the 1920s, through early 1930s.

It is edifying to review that experience through the writings, and unfulfilled hopes of the British diplomat, Gertrude Bell. One wishes that a careful reading and thoughtful discussion of Bell’s detailed analyses were a required exercise for all our policymaking elites and chattering classes. Regardless, Bell’s narrative sounds eerily familiar as the cast of characters—from the 1920s, versus the present—seems quite literally frozen in time: Shi’ites led by the very same Sadr family; irredentist Sunnis educated in the Wahhabi tradition; Kurdish ‘separatists'; and the indigenous, pre—Islamic community of Assyrian Christians, soon to be preyed upon, primarily by their traditional Kurdish Muslim enemies, joined by the other Muslim communities.

Fond Foolishness Redux — Iraq Through Gertrude Bell’s Prism

Gertrude Bell (1868—1926) was a brilliant archaeologist and explorer, who traveled extensively in the Middle East, later becoming a British intelligence officer and diplomat in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Due to her unparalleled knowledge of the Middle East, Bell was made part of the delegation to the Paris Conference of 1919, and worked subsequently with British officials attempting to create the modern state of Iraq from three disparate ethnic and religious vilayets (i.e., Mosul, Baghdad, and Basra) of the collapsed Ottoman Empire.

Bell, perhaps the most important female Civil Servant in the entire British Empire during this period, also persuaded Winston Churchill to appoint Faisal, the recently deposed King of Syria, as the first King of Iraq. Her letters written from Baghdad, excerpted below, were originally published in a compilation, ‘The Letters of Gertrude Bell’, [Volume II, New York, 1927]. Bell’s brief, worried comments about the Assyrians foreshadowed their terrible plight, within seven years of her death.

In the last years of her life, Gertrude Bell created, and was the first Director of the Baghdad Archaeological Museum; she died in 1926, and may have committed suicide. Bell’s utopian dreams for Iraq, what the historian Elie Kedourie termed her ‘…fond foolishness…thinking to stand godmother to a new Abbasid Empire…’,  went unfulfilled. Indeed, one of her worst fears was realized: Muslim violence directed against the Assyrian Christian minority.

Read more at American Thinker

Iraqi Sunnis who fought al-Qaeda not keen to quell ISIS

Tribal fighters carrying their weapons pose for photographs during an intensive security deployment to fight against ISIS in the town of Haditha, northwest of Baghdad. (File photo: Reuters)

Tribal fighters carrying their weapons pose for photographs during an intensive security deployment to fight against ISIS in the town of Haditha, northwest of Baghdad. (File photo: Reuters)

By Dina al-Shibeeb, Al Arabiya News, Aug. 29, 2014:

While Iraqi Sunni tribes were crucial in defeating al-Qaeda in 2005, they have not shown the same determination in battling the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) despite reports of them fighting the militant group.

Political observers say this is due to the disfranchisement of the Sunni population by outgoing Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

“Malki’s government and its Iranian allies suppressed the Iraqi Sunnis so much that ISIS was able to sweep through Sunni areas without much resistance at first because of resentment toward the premier,” Walid Phares, an advisor to the U.S. Congress on the Middle East, told Al Arabiya News.

“ISIS is taking advantage and seizing more land, power, and eliminating Arab Sunni moderates in Iraq,” Phares said.

Michael Pregent, an adjunct lecturer at the National Defense University in Washington, said the central government broke its promise to integrate 90,000 Sunnis who fought al-Qaeda into the security apparatus, and provide them with jobs.

“They helped get rid of al-Qaeda, but the government fired all of them and put a lot of their leaders in jail,” Pregent, a former U.S. Army officer who was embedded with Iraqi Kurdish forces, told Al Arabiya News.

“The problem is that the government viewed them as a threat” because of the number of Sunni fighters, he added.

Phares said: “ISIS knows that the only possible threat against them, short of an all-out international ground campaign, is an uprising by [Sunni] tribes.”

Sheikh Ali al-Hatem, head of the Dulaim tribe, on Saturday urged Sunni leaders to withdraw from talks to form a new government, despite designated Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi being considered more moderate than Maliki.

Hatem also called on Sunni authorities to fight Shiite militias.

Similarly, on Aug. 17 the Revolutionary Tribal Council called for the formation of regional guards to protect Anbar province.

It called on the international community to label “crimes by Shiite militias as terrorism,” and to “confront” them “the same way they are confronting ISIS in Kurdistan and Mosul.”

However, Sunni leader Ahmed Abu Risha has vowed to take revenge on ISIS for killing his nephew Mohammed Khamis.

Abu Risha said fighting ISIS was a “duty,” taking a similar stance to that of the central government in Baghdad.

Abu Risha met with the head of the Shiite National Iraqi Alliance, Ibrahim al-Jafaari, on Thursday, and both confirmed the importance of forming a government.

Analysts predict that Sunnis will turn on ISIS.

“Soon, ISIS will start oppressing [Sunnis] as well,” Phares said. “Sunni moderates will rise, but chances are that ISIS will meet them with extreme violence.”

The unlikely alliance between ISIS and remnants of late President Saddam Hussein’s regime seems to be unravelling.

On July 14, Reuters reported clashes between ISIS and the Naqshbandi Army, led by Saddam loyalists, which killed at least 12.

“ISIS is now targeting the Naqashbandis, and is trying to disarm them. ISIS is acting strategically. They’re pre-empting,” said Phares.

Pregent said ISIS “relies on intimidation, fear, services, rewards and punishments, and tacit support from the disenfranchised Sunni population to thrive. I believe ISIS sheds as many supporters as it gains when it moves into new areas.”

Phares said: “Despite its power, ISIS is still small in size compared to the large mass of Arab Sunni tribes.

“What is needed at this point is for a Sunni area to be liberated from ISIS but not taken by Baghdad’s forces. This could become the basis of a possible liberation later.”

The militant group is already showing some “cracks,” said Pregent.

“ISIS is no longer travelling from town to town with their convoys. They’re losing their propaganda war… there is no footage since the start of U.S. airstrikes of ISIS rolling into Sunni towns in victory parades – those days are gone.”