Islamic State Gains Military Expertise From Ex-Soldiers

Fighters from the Islamic State / AP

Fighters from the Islamic State / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Gill Gertz, June 16, 2015:

The recent defection to the Islamic State (IS) of a special operations colonel in Tajikistan and the group’s infiltration of the Malaysian military are raising new concerns that the Islamist terror group is gaining military expertise, according to U.S. officials and experts.

Col. Gulmurod Khalimov, a commander of the Interior Ministry security unit known as OMON, disappeared in April and late last month surfaced in an IS video calling for jihad against Russia and the United States. Tajikistan is a former Soviet republic that is currently aligned with Russia.

In Southeast Asia, authorities in Malaysia broke up an Islamic State terrorist plot in March that involved two Royal Malaysian Air Force soldiers. The arrests revealed the terrorist group has infiltrated the military and that around 70 Malaysian army personnel are believed to be supporters or sympathizers with the Islamic State, according to U.S. officials.

A recent State Department security report said the defection of Khalimov could be a “game changer” for Islamic State terrorists in the region. The group is also known Daesh, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

“While several hundred Tajik nationals are estimated to fight for ISIL, Khalimov’s defection has raised concerns about the threat of militants in Tajikistan and the security threat against U.S. citizens,” the June 10 report said.

The report said Khalimov’s defection is not expected to translate immediately into “increased capabilities” for IS, or a more open operating environment for the group in the region.

However, the State Department is warning Americans to be cautious in Tajikistan, specifically in three regions near the border with Afghanistan.

The defection is unusual because most of the population in Tajikistan are not receptive to the radical Islam espoused by IS or the Taliban in nearby Afghanistan.

That could change in the future if economic conditions deteriorate, something that would increase “the risk of Khalimov’s extremist message resonating with the poor and disenchanted.”

Average monthly wages in Tajikistan are the lowest in the region at $170 a month. By contrast, IS pays fighters $400 a month, “raising the risk that desperate Tajiks may be lured into joining ISIL [another name for the Islamic State] simply for financial purposes.”

The threat of terrorist attacks against Americans and U.S. interests is a concern and increased security at government facilities in the area may lead terrorist groups to seek out “soft, civilian targets like residential areas, clubs, restaurants, hotels, and outdoor recreation areas,” the report said.

The Department of State currently does not have a travel warning in place for Tajikistan, the report said, despite the fact that the British government has warned its citizens to avoid travel to Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, the region closest to Afghanistan.

A U.S. intelligence official said the Islamic State’s thousands of recruits include some with military and law enforcement training.

“ISIL’s access to thousands of foreign fighters, and the coalition’s engagement in Iraq since 2003, suggest the group has access to some individuals who have prior military or law enforcement training,” said the official.

The terrorist group is seeking to recruit and brand itself globally as a major Islamist fighting force, the official said. It uses social media and propaganda to reach a range of audiences in multiple languages.

An earlier State Department security report on ISIL in Southeast Asia quoted a Malaysian deputy defense minister as saying, “if army personnel are found to embrace elements of ISIS, the army and police will cooperate in our efforts to counsel them and restore their faith in accordance with proper teachings.”

The Malaysian government is said to be tracking IS infiltration efforts closely and seeking to temper or eradicate Islamist extremism within the military’s ranks.

“One of the principal targets espoused by ISIL leadership and its adherents abroad are ‘apostate regimes,’” the second report said. “Governments of countries in which extremist ideology may have infiltrated the military can ill afford to discount the possibility of insider threat.”

The U.S. intelligence official said: “It would not be surprising if those messages [put out by IS] resonate with some extremists in Southeast Asia.”

The defection of the Tajik colonel also highlights that Islamist fervor and not poverty and economic privation are a leading cause of terrorism.

Sebastian Gorka, a counterterrorism expert, said the infiltration of the Islamic State into foreign militaries is a key reason the group successfully eclipsed Osama bin Ladin’s al Qaeda in gaining control of the global jihad movement.

IS has exploited the Syrian civil war and developed a powerful propaganda machine across multiple social media platforms to recruit over 20,000 foreign fighters, said Gorka, the Horner distinguished chair of military theory at Marine Corps University.

“At the same time it has allowed professional military men to join its ranks—especially the Sunni officers of the Iraqi army disenfranchised by [former Prime Minister Nouri] Maliki’s Shia-dominated government,” he said.

“These officers, with others from other nations, have turned a ragtag former subunit of the terrorist group al Qaeda into the richest, most successful insurgency of the modern age,” Gorka said.

“In this way IS has empowered the ideology of holy war with a military expertise that makes the group a threat to all the countries of the Middle East as well as North Africa.”

Clare M. Lopez, a former CIA officer, said IS is not primarily targeting militaries as a recruiting ground. The problem is “so many, including our own [military], already have jihad-and-sharia-sympathetic members in their ranks,” she said.

“And so, instead of stewing silently, or venting their anger and frustration someplace, perhaps anonymously online, these essentially fifth columns are being lit up and sometimes recruited by IS’ own online ops,” said Lopez, now vice president for research and analyst with the Center for Security Policy.

Sympathizers of the terrorist group already exist in all societies but the Internet and social media have allowed for the widespread propagation of jihadist ideas and deeds, she added.

“On militaries, I think we can take it as a given that IS fields an impressive [counterintelligence] capability, too,” Lopez noted.

The spread of IS ideology among military personnel in Central and Southeast Asia comes as President Obama is under fire for stating publicly that the United States lacks a clear strategy for defeating the terror group. The president said he was waiting for the Pentagon to produce a strategy for additional training of Iraqi security forces.

Obama stated in Germany June 8 that “we don’t have a complete strategy,” and that details “are not yet worked out” for bolstering Iraqi forces.

Robert Gates, the former secretary of defense criticized the president on Friday for the lack of strategy.

“What it feels like to me is really what the president said last week, which was a lack of a strategy,” Gates told Yahoo News.

“Just adding a few hundred troops doing more of the same I think is not likely to make much of a difference,” Gates said. “I think that we have to figure out what our strategy is. We should have had a strategy a year ago that took into account differences within the Iraqi government and sectarian differences in the country and so on.”

Gates said militarily what is needed in Iraq are U.S. forward air controllers and spotters and U.S. trainers embedded with Iraqi forces at the battalion level.

“We have to be willing, if we think ISIS is truly a threat to the United States and to our interests … to be willing to put Americans at risk,” he said. “That’s just a fact of life. That doesn’t mean we reinvade Iraq.”

The authoritarian Tajik government in early June issued an international arrest warrant for Khalimov for crimes including treason and illegal participation in military action abroad.

The office of the country’s prosecutor-general stated in a June 3 notice of Khalimov: “Acting for mercenary means, he joined the international terrorist organization calling itself Islamic State,” according to a report by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

The Tajik colonel appeared in the online video wearing a black turban and holding a sniper rifle. He said he had been trained by the U.S. contractor Blackwater.

“Listen, you dogs, the [Tajikistan] president and ministers, you don’t know how many of the guys here, our brothers, are waiting to return to Tajikistan to revive Sharia law,” Khalimov said. “We are coming to you with slaughter, inshallah.”

Regarding IS plans for the United States, Khalimov stated: “Listen, you American pigs, I’ve been three times to America, and I saw how you train fighters to kill Muslims. God willing, I will come with this weapon to your cities, your homes, and we will kill you.”

Gen. John Campbell, the senior military commander in Afghanistan, told the Army Times in January that IS was recruiting militants in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“The Taliban have their allegiance to Mullah Omar and a different philosophy and ideology than ISIS, but, potentially, there are people who are disgruntled with the Taliban, they haven’t seen [Taliban commander] Mullah Omar in years, or they want to go a different way,” Campbell said. “So there are people vulnerable to the Daesh message, and so we’re looking at it very hard.”

Also see:

Sources: Administration tried to recruit Taliban 5 members as informants, effort was ‘total failure’

5-taliban-traded-soldiers (1)Fox News, by Catherine Herridge, June 5, 2015:

The U.S. government tried to recruit members of the Taliban Five as assets, so they could gather intelligence and the U.S. could influence their future actions, Fox News has learned.

The effort to “flip” the five Taliban leaders into becoming informants, however, didn’t work. A source familiar with the strategy described it as a “total failure.”

Other sources, who discussed the option on the condition of anonymity, backed up the account.

The move was pursued to strengthen the Obama administration’s ability to prevent the ex-Guantanamo prisoners — traded more than a year ago for American Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — from returning to terrorism. The Taliban Five have been living in Qatar under a travel ban, which was set to expire earlier this week but was temporarily extended amid ongoing talks between the U.S. and Qatar.

Asked about the strategy of flipping Taliban Five members, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest offered little information at Friday’s press briefing.

“Even as a general matter, this is an intelligence matter that I won’t be able to discuss from here,” Earnest said.

The Taliban Five were held for 12 years at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, where military reviews concluded they were a likely security threat and had “high intelligence value.” For those reasons, among others, seasoned military officers believe the Taliban Five were obvious recruitment targets.

“We would definitely have tried to work that with these people because of who they are, and because of the relationships they have,” Fox News military analyst and retired Gen. Jack Keane said. “These are people that had significant senior positions inside this organization.”

A year ago, the men were greeted as heroes in the gulf nation of Qatar. They are now joined in the oil-rich nation by some 65 immediate family members and other relatives.

Asked by Fox News if their presence might “increase the men’s ability to re-engage with terrorist networks,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said, “I’m not sure why that would be the case. It seems like pure speculation to me.”

But a leading Republican on the House Intelligence Committee who receives regular briefings said otherwise.

“Without going into the details of the numbers, they have had access to outsiders who in turn have had access to the outside. And this can’t bode well for American national security,” Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo said. “I wish I could tell you that I thought the administration understood the threat [from] these five, frankly, as well as the threat from Al Qaeda and ISIS, but I think in the case of these five in particular the administration continues to underestimate what it means for them to come back.”

The wisdom of the administration’s decision to swap the five Taliban leaders for Bergdahl without the necessary congressional notification is the subject of an ongoing national security debate.

In a statement to Fox News, National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said: “Although we cannot detail the measures the United States and our partners take to mitigate the potential threat posed by these former detainees, it is fair to say that we remain both vigilant and in close contact on these matters. We have relied on extensive monitoring measures and travel restrictions to prevent them from threatening our interests.”

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

US Asylum Seekers from Cuba, Africa and South Asia Perilous Jungle Crossing in Panama

Perilous Passage WSJ 5-30-15NER, by Jerry Gordon, May 31, 2015:

Our June NER article, Trojan Horse Federal Refugee Program Brings Jihadi Threat to America: An Interview with Ann Corcoran  noted the increasing numbers of illegal migrants making global treks by air and water to Latin America and the trek north to the US border for asylum. They sought this difficult passage for a variety of reasons; but really one, “to seek a better life”.  Although there may be some among the 3,400 who have undertaken this dangerous long distance passage who may have other reasons in mind. Coincidentally, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Weekend Edition had a front page article, focusing on the passage through the Darien jungle of Panama, “Panama’s Perilous Jungle Is a New Route for Migrants”.  There are  also costly water passages by human traffickers that avoid the Darien jungle equivalent to those we have written about in the Mediterranean.  However, ike the experience of illegal migrants fleeing Syria, Sub Sahara Africa endeavoring to reach the EU via Libya and other crossing points they may be robbed and murdered by ‘coyotes,’ human traffickers.

Among those interviewed in the WSJ article were illegal migrants from Guinea, Somalia, Pakistan and Cuba.  Note that common thread is escape from Jihadis; Sharia arranged marriages or tyranny, as in the case of Cuban refugees in this group.  What is also not lost is that all  illegal migrants have prior knowledge, that if they survive the trek north and illegally cross the US southern border, they can present themselves as asylum seekers.  Because of US asylum privileges for Cuban border crossers, they will likely not be detained but released to possible relatives. In other cases, as we have seen, they will  be transported to a  DHS Immigration Customs Enforcement   Detention Center, to await  a hearing before a Justice Department, Executive Office for Immigration Review,  immigration judge.   Before him they will invoke the important words, ‘fear of physical or political threats’ before a quick decision is gaveled down admitting them as a refugee. They will then obtain benefits under the Refugee Act of 1980, including community placement, unless they can claim relatives here in the US.  The US Refugee Admissions Program then takes over providing a smorgasbord of welfare, Medicaid, housing assistance and a pathway to ultimate citizenship. All without any reasonable means of screening asylees as documentation may be absent or virtually unavailable from their country of origin.

Watch this WSJ video:

Note these WSJ article excerpts.

A Somali:

Ahmed Hassan staggered through dense Panamanian jungle, crazy with thirst, his rubber sandals sliding in the mud, fearing he would die thousands of miles from his homeland in Somalia.

“I told my family I would go to the U.S., that was the plan,” said the 26-year-old truck driver, who said he fled late last year when al-Shabaab militants took his village. He flew to Brazil and made a cross-continental bus trip to Colombia.

In March came his biggest test: crossing the Darien Gap that connects South America with Panama and Mr. Hassan’s ultimate goal, the U.S.

“There was no water. There were snakes,” he said in a small holding center in Metetí, north of the jungle, gashes and bites covering his legs under his traditional sarong. “I thought I might die in that jungle.”

A Guinean:

There is still the journey through Central America and Mexico, but migrants say the Darien is the hardest. “I want to get to the U.S.,” said Hawa Bah, 20, who fled Guinea in West Africa. She spoke as she lay weak on a cot in a Panamanian holding center after getting lost in the Darien for more than 10 days.

“I was being forced into marriage, and I was worried about Ebola,” she said. “I’d rather have died in the jungle than go back.”

A Cuban Couple:

Yamil Gonzales, a Cuban, staggered up an incline above the beach, wheezing. “Agua,” murmured Mr. Gonzales, 45, collapsing against a tree as companions frantically dug through black garbage bags for water.

Soon, he was plowing through underbrush littered with bottles and broken sandals left by prior processions.

“It’s been hard, really hard,” said his wife, Yalile Alfonso, 47. “But in Cuba, there’s nothing. We had to come this way.” The couple was well-prepared, with passports, detailed plans to take buses to the U.S. border and knowledge of U.S. asylum laws.

A Pakistani:

But unlike the jungle route, this approach is close to Colombia, so border authorities can easily deport migrants without passports. That was Mohammed Khan’s fate. A father of four from Swat, a Pakistani area plagued by Taliban violence, he had landed with Mr. Gonzales. Months before, people of his village had pitched in $7,000 for his trip, he said.

A small pack on his back, Mr. Khan, 38, looked elated as he scrambled down the slope toward the tiny town of La Miel. People had told him Panama police would be hospitable.

But he had dumped his passport much earlier. The border authorities shook their heads as he pleaded: “Please, please, help me.” They marched him back up the mountain to Colombia.

Early this month, Mr. Khan texted that he re-entered Panama via the jungle, where he had seen “a lot dead.” He was in Guatemala, waiting to head north.

“Go USA,” he texted. “Plz pray.”

Note the open pathway to the US once access to Panama is obtained:

Critics like Otto Reich, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, have said Ecuador’s open-door stance may result in a threat to the U.S. And Panamanian officials “know they are coming to the U.S. and then once here they will no longer be Panama’s problem,” said Mr. Reich, who heads a government-relations and trade-consulting firm.

Javier Carillo, director of Panama’s National Migration Service, says it is unfair to blame Panama for the problem, since migrants arrive illegally and pass through some nine other countries on their way to the U.S. A spokesman for Colombia’s immigration authority said it combats human smuggling and offers migrants the opportunity to apply for asylum or safe-conduct papers.

Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it “is not aware of this human trafficking route.” Officials at Ecuador’s immigration authority didn’t respond to requests for comment. Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry has said the country doesn’t support criminal activity.

Cubans, who say crossing the Florida Straits has become too tough, are the biggest group flowing across and around the isthmus. Others from far-off countries are also arriving in growing numbers: Panama processed 210 Somalis crossing the Darien this year through March, up from 60 in the year-earlier period.

Where have we heard about the Darien Gap in what is now Panama?  Think of the brief Scottish colony of “Caledonia” established in the 1690 in the Gulf of Darien, that was supposed to conduct trade in both the Atlantic and Pacific. The so-called “Darien Scheme” failed for a host of reasons including poor planning, provisions and being ravaged by epidemics until the colony was overrun by Spanish military in 1700. Because it was backed by upwards of 50 percent of currency in circulation in Scotland, its failure ultimately forced the merger that created the United Kingdom in 1707.

BOMBSHELL: Afghan Colonel Was Paid $250,000 to Kill US Air Force Personnel, Pentagon Cover-Up Ensued

Thomas Creal, lead accountant for Task Force 2010, in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2012. Creal, in the blue shirt, was part of a team tracking what he calls “black money” used by terrorists to conduct operations against the West. (Photo courtesy Thomas Creal)

Thomas Creal, lead accountant for Task Force 2010, in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2012. Creal, in the blue shirt, was part of a team tracking what he calls “black money” used by terrorists to conduct operations against the West. (Photo courtesy Thomas Creal)

PJ Media, By Patrick Poole On April 15, 2015:

A bombshell revelation has emerged in the incident responsible for the greatest US Air Force loss of life during the War on Terror and deadliest “green-on-blue” attack during the US involvement in Afghanistan. On April 27, 2011, Afghan Air Force Colonel Ahmad Gul gunned down eight US Air Force personnel and a civilian contractor inside the Afghan Air Force headquarters, including investigators who had just arrived in country to examine rampant corruption in the Afghan military.

Multiple Air Force and CENTCOM investigations claimed to find no motive for the attack, leaving the families of those killed with no answers. Now a senior US official has gone on the record claiming that a United Nations team tracked substantial payments to the killer and his family made days just prior to the incident.

These revelations appear in the season finale of For The Record that airs tonight at 8pm ET on The Blaze TV.

For the past year I have worked as a consultant with the For The Record documentary investigative team looking into the Kabul airport massacre and the Pentagon’s handling of the matter. Last November, I appeared in an episode of the program noting that the Pentagon’s multiple explanations for the attack didn’t match their own forensics. Here’s a trailer for that For the Record episode, “Insider Attack”:

A follow-up report on the Pentagon’s handling of the spike in “green-on-blue” incidents appeared in January after the killing of US Army Major General Harold Greene in August last year, the highest-ranking US official killed during the War on Terror, noting that US personnel who warned of a potential escalation of insider attacks were punished by their superiors:

Tonight’s For the Record episode includes an interview with one of the top US officials charged with combating illicit financing in Afghanistan who reveals the pay-offs made to Col. Ahmad Gul:

Sara Carter, senior investigative reporter for The Blaze, reported today on the stunning revelation that this official’s team tracked $250,000 in payments to the killer:

A final investigation by U.S. Central Command did find circumstantial evidence that Gul may have been involved in a criminal network, but that evidence was not pursued and a large portion of the investigation still remains classified, according to CENTCOM.

But a six-month investigation by For the Record suggests that Gul murdered the airmen at the behest of someone or a criminal network, according to numerous sources and military documents.

For the Record learned that a joint investigation conducted by then-U.S. Task Force 2010, charged at the time with tracing terror financing in Afghanistan and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, found that Gul had received a large deposit in a family bank account and that all of his debts were wiped clean just one week before the killings.

Thomas Creal, who served as the lead expert for Task Force 2010, investigated the killer’s finances and found evidence he says overwhelmingly points to Gul’s connection to criminal networks.

This report has never been made public.

“There was extensive corruption inside the Afghan military and investigations were cut short, hampered by ranking personnel at the State Department and military,” Creal said. “The insider killings don’t need to continue. We can take steps to mitigate these suicidal hits but we can’t do it if evidence is ignored.”

The Pentagon cover-up began almost immediately after the massacre, most likely to avoid embarrassing revelations of rampant corruption by our Afghan “allies”. The initial report had to be followed up by a second and third report after the lies in the first began to be challenged, including the first report’s claim that Gul had committed suicide after the attack, but was later have found to die from gunshot wounds to the chest from two different weapons.

And despite overwhelming evidence to the effect found in their own reports, the Pentagon claimed to find no conclusive evidence of Taliban involvement even though the terror group immediately claimed credit for the attack.

This resulted in bizarre reporting on the Pentagon’s findings, such as an Air Force Times article entitled, “Motive in Kabul shooting deaths remains elusive,” that reports:

Witnesses told investigators that Gul became increasingly radical in his religious views in the years leading up to the shooting and was deeply angry at the U.S. invasion of his home country — even saying on more than one occasion that he “wanted to kill Americans”

The Afghan shooter who smeared “God is one” in blood on the walls of the Afghan Air Force headquarters during the rampage a was a distinctly different man from several decades earlier.

According to testimony from those who knew Gul, in the late ‘80s, the Afghan native drank, liked to party and wasn’t terribly religious. But just a few years later, in about 1995, that changed when Gul started to follow the teachings of the Taliban.

He attended mosque for every prayer time and grew a beard. He also “developed an authoritarian approach when seeing other individuals that did not practice Islam to his liking,” according to one person who knew Gul at the time…

In 2006, Gul decided to move to Pakistan and started attending a local mosque, where he met an “unknown prominent figure” who is believed to have radicalized him. There were also rumors that Gul wanted to be a suicide bomber.

When Gul decided to move back to Afghanistan in 2008, people asked him why he would go back.

“[Gul] responded he ‘wanted to kill Americans,’” investigators said.

But the Pentagon concluded that his possible motive remained elusive.

More explosive details from this investigation will be revealed during tonight’s For the Record’s season finale episode, “Insider Attack: The Kabul Massacre,” at 8 p.m. ET onTheBlazeTV.

Also see:

Former Gitmo Prisoner Arrested for Assassination of Ugandan Prosecutor

hqdefault (2)CSP, by Nicholas Hanlon, April 8, 2015:
Former Guantanamo detainee Jamal Kiyemba was arrested yesterday along with several other suspects in an operation by Kenyan police.  Eight men in total have been arrested in two operations.  Joan Kagezi, the Senior Principal State Attorney who was prosecuting the 2010 al Shabaab bombing in Kampala, was shot in her car in traffic by motorcycle mounted gunmen while her two daughters were with her.
According to NTV, Kiyemba is a Kampala native who immigrated to England in the 90’s where, in 1999, he converted to Islam.  From there he was able to join the Taliban in Pakistan just after the September 11 attacks in the U.S.   Kiyemba was quickly detained by Pakistan and sent to Guantanamo Bay.  The U.S. Department of Defense tried to release him to the U.K. in 2006 but instead released him in Uganda when the U.K. refused him.
The U.S. administration has thus far deflected and ignored all fallout from a pattern of bad decisions regarding the role of Gitmo in U.S. national security.  The promise to close the base was the sole pillar of the President’s counter terrorism strategy in his 2008 presidential campaign.  Kiyemba’s execution of the assassination plot against Mrs. Kagezi, a true freedom fighter on the front line of the war against totalitarian Islamism, suggests that he was able to recruit effectively as a free man outside of Gitmo.
Jamal Kiyemba’s role in the assassination of Mrs. Kagezi does serve to highlight the glaring faults in the U.S. approach to closing Gitmo but more importantly, it shows that this administration’s approach hurts our allies.  Will women like Joan Kagezi still want to fight for democracy and rule of law on the front lines in Uganda knowing that the U.S. President’s goal is to keep setting the next Jamal Kiyemba free in order to fulfill an ill conceived campaign promise?

***

NCIS investigation reportedly shows Bergdahl had ‘deliberate plan’ to ‘offer himself up’ to the Taliban

bergdahl-talibanFox News, April 7, 2015:

A 2009 NCIS investigation into Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s activities while in Afghanistan reveal that there is clear evidence Bergdahl was “going over to the other side with a deliberate plan,” Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer said on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” Monday night.

Shaffer, a former military intelligence officer and Fox News contributor, said two senior sources told him that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation included a forensic review of his computer, which show Bergdahl’s apparent intent to travel to Uzbekistan.

“He was going to go off to Uzbekistan,” Shaffer told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. “He had made contact with local Afghans and wanted to be moved to Uzbekistan and then made contact with the Russians because he wanted to talk to Russian organized crime …

“Clearly he was not all there relating to what he was doing,” Shaffer told O’Reilly. “I think we’re going to see more and more, as this report is made public that there were a number of disconcerting things within Bergdahl.”

A military source also told Fox News there was strong intelligence after Bergdahl’s 2009 disappearance indicating he was handed over to the Taliban about 10 days after he left his base, and that the group wanted him. The source, who is familiar with the investigation and efforts to recover Bergdahl, said there was an effort to pick up Bergdahl — and potentially block his crossing into Pakistan — but the intelligence was either bad or old and the effort was not successful.

According to sources, data collection at the time indicated Bergdahl made contact with an Afghan — who spoke limited English and was part of a local construction project — in what appeared to be an effort to lay the groundwork for Bergdahl’s departure.

“He had Afghan contacts and he was actually trying to offer himself up with the Taliban. Both are very severe,” Shaffer added.

A leaked military assessment of the immediate search also reported communications traffic, or LLVI (low-level voice intercepts such as cellphone or walkie talkie), that “an American soldier with a camera is looking for someone who speaks English.” It is not publicly known if that was connected to the Bergdahl situation.

Shaffer said that the NCIS investigation, which included interviews with squad mates as well as Afghans working outside the wire, resulted in Bergdahl being charged with misbehavior toward the enemy.

Officials say Bergdahl, who was charged with desertion in March, walked away from his post in Afghanistan and was captured by the Taliban. He was then released from Taliban control in a prisoner exchange last May for five Taliban commanders.

Fox News reached out to Bergdahl’s lawyer Eugene Fidell but he declined to comment.

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge and the Associated Press contributed to this report

Also see:

 

 

Mullar Omar Bio Draws Subtle Distinctions with “Caliph” AbuBakr

2422558701CSP, by Kyle Shideler, April, 6, 2015:

The Taliban has published a new biography of Mullah Omar (link is to Taliban-controlled shahamat-english.com) which paints a hagiographic picture of the Taliban leader’s history and upbringing (H/T LongWarJournal).

The biography covers Mullah Mohammad Umar ‘Mujahid’ childhood, his Islamic studies up to the age of eighteen, before pointing out that his studies were “interrupted” by the invasion of Afghanistan, and going into detail on his history of jihad against the Russians.

While not expressly doing so, the biography establishes a number of key distinctions between Omar and his rival Amir al mu’minin (Leader of the Faithful) “Caliph” AbuBakr Al-Baghdadi, with whom it is currently in a struggle with over legitimacy regarding leadership of the Global Jihad Movement. While Mullah Omar has never formally been put forward as a candidate, both Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders have used the Leader of the Faithful title to refer to Mullah Omar, a title typically applied to a sitting caliph. Omar has been given the title since 1996, during a Taliban demonstration where he was filmed holding aloft the supposed relic of the Prophet Mohammed’s cloak.

These distinctions between Mullah Omar and Baghdadi are notable, and likely intentional, as Al Qaeda and the Taliban compete with Islamic State for jihadist legitimacy and preeminence.

Beginning from childhood the comparisons are immediately clear. While Islamic State’s Baghdadi claims a, certainly apocryphal, lineage going back to the Quraysh tribe of the Prophet, Omar’s biography highlights a tribal connection to  Mīrwais Khān Hotak (who led Afghanistan’s rebellion against the Safavid Persian dynasty), an elite but by no means as storied a parentage.

While Al-Baghdadi has a doctorate in Islamic Studies from a prominent Baghdad University, Mullah Omar’s formal Islamic studies were halted by the Soviet invasion. The biography goes into great detail regarding alleged “heroics” of Mullah Omar in fighting the Soviets from as early 1978. While it goes unstated, the Taliban is indicating that its leader was fighting jihad while the Islamic State’s “Caliph” was still a toddler. While much about Baghdadi’s history is not clear, It does not appear that he was a jihadist commander of any significant stature prior to his detention in Camp Bucca, Iraq.

The biography also defends Mullah Omar’s Islamic orthodox as a member of the Hanafi school of jurisprudence:

Ideologically, Mullah Mohammad Umar ‘Mujahid’ belongs to the main ‘Ahl-i-Sunna wal Jamma’a’ (the believers in Quran, traditions of the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, and the consensus of Muslim Umma). He is the imitator of Hanafi school of thought. He is severely opposed to all heresy or heterodox opinions. He never likes sectional, ideological and factional differences among the Muslims.

Reference to factionalism may be an intended backhand to Islamic State, which is known for attacking other jihadist groups with whom they have disagreements.  As a whole, that the Taliban feels the need to defend Omar’s Islamic orthodox is a reflection on the success of Islamic State propagandists who have described Mullah Omar as Deobandi ( a sect popularized in India and Pakistan, which includes both Wahhabist and, reportedly Sufi elements) which the Islamic State considers heterodox.

Much of the rest of the biography focuses on personal traits ascribed to Mullah Omar, with the intent of depicting him as a particularly pious and overly humble individual, describing him as being reduced to tears at being named Leader of the Faithful, and naturally contrasts with the cult of personality Islamic State propaganda generates around the person of Al-Baghdadi as sitting Caliph. The biography also details the system of governance, and the commissions and deputies through which Mullah Omar purports to govern, intended to dismiss criticism by Islamic State supporters that Mullah Omar has not be seen in public.

The biography highlights both the age and experience gap between Al Qaeda and Islamic State supporters. Generally, Islamic State supporters are younger, and more familiar with the history of jihad against the United States beginning with Osama Bin Laden, through Zarqawi and now Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. Islamic State attempts to highlight their control of territory as unprecedented and their establishment of Shariah over parts of Iraq and Syria as equally unprecedented. The Taliban on the other hand, represent the “wise old men” of jihad with a substantive history of establishing and running an Islamic emirate in spite of fierce opposition from the West.

That said, while it’s possible that this report may shore up support among Taliban and Al Qaeda loyalists, it’s unlikely to put a dent in the enthusiasm generated by the Islamic State’s Caliphate declaration.

Also see:

Congress to Obama Admin: U.S. Billions Are ‘Enabling’ Terror Regimes in Qatar

Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani / AP

Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Feb. 23, 2015:

Congress is warning that billions of dollars in U.S. arms sales to Qatar could be enabling the Arab country’s support for leading terrorist organizations and allies, according to a letter to the administration being circulated on Capitol Hill.

Qatar, long one of America’s top Arab military allies in the Middle East, has been funding and providing refuge to an increasing number of terrorist groups and allies in recent years, including most recently the Islamic State (IS).

The United States sends billions of dollars and arms to Qatar to keep it as a strategic regional ally.

Congress’ concern about Qatar’s support for the terror group comes ahead of a high-profile meeting between the country’s ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, and President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday.

The letter, which is being circulated Rep. Doug Lamborn (R., Colo.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, calls out Qatar for being “the world’s safe haven for terrorist groups and militia leaders.” It urges U.S. officials to “reassess and reevaluate” America’s multi-billion dollar military alliance with the country.

The sharp focus on Qatar, a key military ally that receives billions in arms from the United States, come as the country faces increased scrutiny over an uptick in support for radical jihadist groups plotting against the West.

The lawmakers say the billions in U.S. assistance to Qatar could be enabling terror regimes there to thrive.

“America’s military footprint in Qatar may be enabling the Al Thani regime to offer up its territory as a fundraising center for terrorists around the region,” states the letter addressed to newly installed Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, according to an advance copy obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. “The past few years have seen Qatar grow into a major hub for terrorist operatives and terrorism finance.”

Qatar claims to support America’s campaign against Islamic State (IS) terrorists, yet does little to help the cause, the lawmakers say.

“The Qatari government turns a blind eye to terrorist fundraising for al Qaeda and the Islamic State by U.S.-designated persons within its borders,” the letter states.

“The Qatari government has also actively financed, advocated for, and—at least until recently—hosted the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, a relationship that Doha is only being compelled to reconsider after increased pressure from other Gulf States, not the United States.”

“Further evidence suggests that Qatar has directly armed or financed multiple Islamist groups in the region, undermining U.S. objectives in pivotal countries such as Libya, Egypt, and Syria by pushing those places toward violent extremism,” the letter states.

Key leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and Taliban also have “found a safe haven in Qatar,” where they have free rein to “safely coordinate radical activities and in some cases even terrorism in the region without interruption,” according to the letter.

As Qatar accommodates and funds terror groups such as Hamas, IS, and al Qaeda, it simultaneously cashes in on massive U.S. arms deals. The lawmakers maintain that this U.S. money only emboldens the Qatari government.

“U.S. reliance on Qatar’s support such as the Al Udeid base in Qatar has emboldened the Qataris to believe they can undermine and damage American interests and efforts in the region without consequence,” they write. “America’s strategic interests should not be undercut or held captive.”

“Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, and the [United Arab Emirates] all have advanced bases which can support the same U.S. aircraft and facilities, possibly making the need for such an extensive installation in Qatar redundant,” they propose.

The lawmakers urge Carter and the Defense Department to begin developing “a strategy to hold Qatar accountable for their support of terrorism, including a serious exploration of positioning some of our military assets with other allies in the region.”

On Tuesday, Obama will host Qatari Emir al Thani at the White House.

“The president looks forward to discussing with Sheikh Tamim political, economic, and security issues of mutual concern to our two countries,” it said in a statement. “The United States and Qatar have a long-standing partnership and this meeting is an opportunity to further that relationship along with our shared interest in supporting stability and prosperity in the Middle East.”

ISIS Eyes Iran in AF/PAK Expansion Effort, Targets Mullah Omar in IO Campaign

February 22, 2015 / /

Reporting over the last couple of weeks suggests that the Islamic State’s (IS) Khorasan Regional Command or “Khorasan Shura” has stepped up their efforts to further inflame internal divisions within the Taliban (TB) in the hopes it would lead to more defections. The IO campaign they’ve been waging in the AF/PAK region has called into question Mullah Omar’s fitness to be a leader in the global jihadist movement and whether he’s even alive. In early-JAN 15 TB Shura Chief Akhtar Muhammad Mansur and other Shura members are reported to have met with two IS representatives who threatened to increase their operations in two months if the TB couldn’t prove that Mullah Omar was still alive. Our sources have also informed us that Pakistani Taliban (TTP) Emir Maulawi Fazlullah remains loyal to Omar, but may defect to IS if his death is confirmed. Apparently the question of whether or not Omar is alive has been a big subject of debate, with other TTP commanders wondering if Fazlullah has even been in contact with him. As it stands right now, Omar’s current status remains a mystery. Having said that, IS directly challenging Omar’s legitimacy and suggesting that he’s dead appears to be having an effect in at least planting the seeds of further internal unrest among the ranks.

ISIS Reportedly Begins Targeting Taliban Commanders Loyal to al-Qaida
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4593

ISIS Formally Establishes an Affiliate for the AF/PAK Region
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4578

The terrifying rise of ISIS: Map that shows how terror group’s tentacles now reach from Algeria to Afghanistan
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2960463/The-terrifying-rise-ISIS-Map-shows-terror-group-s-tentacles-reach-Algeria-Afghanistan.html

How ISIS Has Expanded Beyond Its Syrian Stronghold
http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2015/02/18/387149112/how-isis-has-expanded-beyond-its-syrian-stronghold

ISIS vs. the Taliban: The Battle for Hearts and Minds
http://www.vocativ.com/world/afghanistan-world/isis-vs-taliban/

The Coming Fight for Khorasan: IS Gearing up Against the Taliban
https://news.siteintelgroup.com/blog/index.php/entry/362-the-coming-fight-for-khorasan-is-gearing-up-against-the-taliban

US Afghan commander: Reports of ISIS recruiting
http://thehill.com/policy/defense/229783-us-afghan-commander-reports-of-isis-recruiting

ISIS trying to expand its influence in Pakistan, distributes pamphlets
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/ISIS-trying-to-expand-its-influence-in-Pakistan-distributes-pamphlets/articleshow/41618755.cms

Taliban Supreme leader Mullah Omar has possibly died
http://www.khaama.com/taliban-supreme-leader-mullah-omar-has-possibly-died-8778

Mullah Omar’s whereabouts – and very existence – shrouded in mystery
http://centralasiaonline.com/en_GB/pakistan-articles/caii/features/pakistan/main/2014/09/30/feature-01

mullah Fazlullah

Mullah Fazlullah
Source: SITE Intelligence Group

mullah omar

Mullah Omar: Dead or Alive?
Source: tribune.com.pk

One of the figures who played a key role in establishing the IS foothold in the region is a former TB commander Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim, who served as the Shadow Governor of Uruzgan Province from 2007 – 2009 and did a stint in Guantanamo Bay (GITMO). After his release from GITMO, he had a falling out with TB leadership that led to his marginalization within the terror organization and subsequent defection to IS. He was a key player in the IS expansion efforts currently underway in Helmand Province and led the charge in the red-on-red fight against the TB’s Helmand Shadow Governor Mullah Ahmed Shah. The US government claims to have killed Khadim in a drone strike earlier this month, but we have not yet seen confirmation either way. However, whether he’s dead or not is irrelevant as he wasn’t a member of the Khorasan Shura – which remains largely intact.

ISIS recruiter, once freed from Gitmo by U.S., killed in drone strike in Afghanistan
http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/09/world/afghanistan-violence/

Capture the Flag in Afghanistan
http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/01/22/capture-the-flag-in-afghanistan/

Islamic State Appoints Leaders of “Khorasan Province,” Issues Veiled Threat to Afghan Taliban
http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/01/islamic_state_appoin.php

khorasan shura

Breakdown of the Khorasan Shura
Source: The Long War Journal

In our Inside Iran’s Middle East Series piece titled, “Inside Iran’s Middle East: The Southeast Insurgency,” we stated that either al-Qaida (AQ) or IS may attempt to use the Afghanistan and Pakistan as support nodes for a new front opened up in Southeast Iran to force the regime into diverting resources from the Syrian war effort back to home. IS’ expansion efforts in Afghanistan’s Southern provinces adds weight to this assessment as those locations all fall within known routes used to smuggle opium and weapons between Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Keep in mind that AQ’s Khorasan Group (KG) has a great deal of experience in fighting the IRGC inside Iran that resulted in forging relationships with Baloch groups such as Jundallah. More importantly, some of KG’s personnel that deployed to Syria are reported to have defected to IS.

We assess some of those personnel are part of the training support package that was sent to Afghanistan in the DEC 14/JAN 15 time frame or possibly earlier. The training cadre sent to the country are likely still in the assess-mode taking note of each loyal faction’s strength’s and weaknesses to draw up the training plan that will probably take effect by the end of this month. During this year’s fighting season Afghanistan’s Hazara Shia population may begin to experience the same level of targeting that they received prior to 9-11 as a means of getting Iran’s attention and building notoriety. Red on red violence will also pick up. By AUG the IS affiliates will be fully trained with recruits gaining much-needed experience. We could very well well see former KG members who defected to IS leading the engagement efforts reaching out to Jundallah (and other Baloch groups in Iran) by the end of the year. Jundallah – like everybody else in that part of the world – will likely flip to IS’ side after being offered money, weapons and manpower to accelerate their regenerative process. The leadership of the various Baloch groups may not approve of IS’ ideology or even the legitimacy of Baghdadi’s “Caliphate” – to them it would be a marriage of convenience. However, this will be a project that will take at least another year to fully manifest itself. If you think this will be easier for US troops stationed in Afghanistan, think again, because both IS and TB factions loyal to AQ will be competing for the title of who can launch the more high-profile attacks. Needless to say, this year’s fighting season looks to be one of the worst. Keep an eye on this one…

Inside Iran’s Middle East: The Southeast Insurgency
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2689

ISIS (Daesh) start operations in Helmand, residents claim
http://www.khaama.com/isis-daesh-start-operations-in-helmand-residents-claim

ISIS expansion map

The graphic above depicts IS’ expansion from the Maghreb to Afghanistan and Pakistan
Source: UK Daily Mail

Links to Other Related Articles:

Afghanistan Update – Yes, Things Are Getting Worse Contrary To US Government Claims

Afghanistan: A Case Against a Residual US Military Presence

The History and Capabilities of the Khorasan Group

The Khorasan Group: Threat to US Homeland?

US Government: Syria-Based al-Qaida Cell Bigger Threat Than ISIS

US reportedly increases secret raids against Afghanistan insurgents

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

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

Fox News, Feb. 13, 2015:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Click for more from The New York Times. 

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

REUTERS/Paul Hackett

REUTERS/Paul Hackett

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

Breitbart, by JOHN HAYWARD, 12 Feb 2015:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

By Bridget Johnson On February 12, 2015:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

DabiqBy The Tatler On February 12, 2015:

Reprinted with permission from MEMRI.

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

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

‘Dabiq’: Japan Responsible For Death Of Japanese Hostages

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

 

Burning Of Jordanian Pilot – Retribution

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

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

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

ifriqiPraise For Paris Attacks

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

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

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

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

ISIS Claims To Capture “Mossad Spy”

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

Operations In Libya

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

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

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

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

Lying Liars Lying Yet Again About the Taliban

xin_5020206100803500325412Terror Trends Bulletin, by Christopher Holton, Feb. 1, 2015:

Obama and his Obamanistas have told so many outright lies about the Taliban over the years that we can now devote a lengthy article to it.

It started way back in 2008 when Obama was campaigning for the presidency. Back in those days he was saying that Iraq was a sideshow and that President Bush had “taken his eye off the ball.” According to Obama, the good war was in Afghanistan and he was going to concentrate on Afghanistan, where the Taliban were fighting US forces, when he got to be president.

That turned out to be campaign rhetoric. Sure, he pulled out of Iraq first, but, let’s face it: Obama never really went hard in Afghanistan and now he’s abandoning that fight, just as he abandoned the fight in Iraq.

Pretty soon into his administration, the Obamanistas started the meme that the Taliban weren’t actually our enemy. This predates the latest supposition that the Taliban aren’t terrorists by several years.

Two lies there. The Taliban are America’s enemy and they are also terrorists.

A few months ago, the Taliban published the autumn edition of their magazine,Azan.

This is the fourth issue of the magazine and is significant in that it calls for Muslims in the West to launch attacks at home or fight in foreign battlefields, urging recruits to even leave behind their children or elderly parents:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/al-qaeda/10503925/Taliban-magazine-urges-jihad-and-profiles-the-Honda-125.html

If calling on Jihadis to launch attacks in the West doesn’t amount to terrorism, nothing does.

Such calls to Jihad and propaganda are nothing new, so why was this particular publication worth mentioning here?

Because it has been released just a few days after the Obama administration was quoted saying that “the Taliban are not our enemies and we don’t want to fight them.”

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2013/11/27/karzai-will-sign-agreement-with-u-s-says-obama-administration-claimed-taliban-not-our-enemy/

Such statements about the Taliban were nothing new from the Obama administration. Vice President Joe Biden told Newsweek magazine the same thing almost exactly two years before:

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/12/vp-biden-says-that-the-taliban-per-se-is-not-our-enemy/

Not only are these statements from the Obama administration disheartening because our troops have been fighting Taliban Jihadis for a decade, they also demonstrate a profound ignorance about Jihadist doctrine.

Jihadist doctrine does not regard nationalities or international borders as significant. Under their doctrine, Jihad is to be waged to make Allah’s law and religion supreme around the entire world. With their fall Azan magazine, the Taliban clearly demonstrate adherence to that doctrine with their call for Muslims in the West to launch attacks at home.

What’s more this is not something new from the Taliban. When they seized power in Afghanistan in 1996, they announced that Afghanistan was to be a launching pad for global Jihad and invited Jihadi fighters to come to their country. Jihadis from all over the Islamic world and even parts of the West and the Pacific Rim heeded that call and gravitated to the new Shariah-ruled outpost established by the Taliban regime.

Among those who relocated to Afghanistan was Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. We know the rest: Al Qaeda launched its attack on America from Afghanistan and the Taliban harbored Al Qaeda from the US when America sought to bring justice down on them.

How anyone can look at these facts and conclude that the Taliban are not our enemy is mind-boggling. The idea that the Taliban want to strictly limit their evil designs to Afghanistan is absurd. Yet that has been the policy of the Obama administration for years. It is a policy of lies.

And, yes, despite what the Obamanistas might claim, the Taliban are in fact terrorists.

Actually, we don’t believe that it makes sense to get too wrapped up in labeling them “terrorists.” Terrorism is a tactic, a method of warfare. The warfare that the Taliban–and the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, Lashkar e Taiba, HAMAS, Al Shabaab, Boko Haram and a host of other groups–are waging is called Jihad. In Islamic law, Jihad is defined as warfare to establish the religion:

http://terrortrendsbulletin.com/2013/01/13/cairs-new-disinformation-campaign-on-jihad/

All of the groups mentioned above, including the Taliban, are Jihadis.

But it is still NOT true that the Taliban haven’t engaged in terrorism and they are not just “armed insurgents” like the bodyguards of lies in the Obama administration maintain.

Just 6 weeks ago, on December 16, the Taliban slaughtered 153 people–mostly young school children–in a terrorist attack on a school in Pakistan.

Taliban have also been involved in terrorist plots and activity on US soil:

• In May of 2011, six people, including two Imams at a Florida mosque, were indicted for providing material support to none other than the Taliban:

Irfan Khan of Florida, indicted for providing material support to the Taliban

Irfan Khan of Florida, indicted for providing material support to the Taliban

http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/six-individuals-charged-providing-material-support-pakistani-taliban

• Faisal Shahzad, the Jihadist who attempted to detonate a Vehicle-Born Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) in New York’s Time Square in May 2010, was trained at a Taliban camp and, according to Attorney General Eric Holder himself, “the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attack…We know they helped facilitate it. We know they probably helped finance it and that he was working at their direction.”

Faisal Shahzad. This Connecticut resident/Pakistani immigrant attempted to bomb Times Square in New York City

Faisal Shahzad. This Connecticut resident/Pakistani immigrant attempted to bomb Times Square in New York City

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LE12Df01.html

• Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan-American who pled guilty in a plot to bomb the New York City subway in 2009, traveled to Afghanistan to join the Taliban when he was recruited by Al Qaeda to go back to America to attack targets in the US homeland. This shows the continued, close cooperation and collaboration between the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Najibullah Zazi. This Denver resident travelled to Afghanistan where he received terrorist training. Upon his return, he plotted to bomb New York subways.

Najibullah Zazi. This Denver resident travelled to Afghanistan where he received terrorist training. Upon his return, he plotted to bomb New York subways.

http://www.investigativeproject.org/case/345

Most recently, there are new reports from Leftist NBC News that hundreds of Taliban fighters have joined the Islamic State, which is becoming a greater factor in the southwest Asia region.

The Obamanistas try to make a distinction between the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Taliban in Pakistan. But not even NBC is subscribing to that nonsense. No one in the world outside the Obama administration believes that the Taliban in Pakistan and the Taliban in Afghanistan have nothing to do with each other.

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/isis-pakistan-afghanistan-taliban-fighters-sign-commanders-say-n296707

The Taliban are committed Jihadists. As such, they are undoubtedly an enemy of America. They have killed and wounded thousands of US GIs in combat over the past decade and they have, from the time they originally seized power in Afghanistan to today, involved themselves with other Jihadist organizations from around the world, all of which are classified as “terrorist” organizations. Jihadis do not limit their scope based on political borders; their stated goals are global. To say that the Taliban are not the enemy of the United States or are not terrorists is to demonstrate a profound ignorance of the doctrinal basis for the threat from Jihad. When that ignorance comes from the executive branch of the US government, it can only be described as frightening.

Why Obama Needs to Pretend the Taliban Aren’t Terrorists

pic_giant_013115_SM_TalibanNational Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy, Jan. 31, 2015:

No doubt because of my background investigating, prosecuting, and studying terrorism, the cynical claim by White House spokesmen that the Taliban is not a terrorist organization has annoyed me even more than the Obama administration’s nonstop lying usually does. No surprise then that I could be found railing about it on The Kelly File Thursday night.

In that spirit, ten thoughts for the weekend:

1. Under federal law, there are only three requirements for a group to qualify as a “foreign terrorist organization”: It has to be (a) foreign, (b) engaged in “terrorist activity” (bombings, assassinations, etc., carried out to intimidate people and change policy), and (c) a national-security threat to the United States. The law that covers this is Sec. 1189(a) of Title 8, U.S. Code, from the federal Immigration and Nationality Act. It’s here, and it’s just the first few lines — even a president who routinely ignores the laws he is sworn to execute faithfully should be able to make some time for it, maybe on the plane ride between the golf course and the Saudi palace.

2. Obviously, even if it were true, as posited by Messrs. Schultz and Earnest (speaking for President Obama), that the Taliban is concerned only with Afghanistan, not with the global jihad, that would be irrelevant. They easily fit the definition of a foreign terrorist organization.

3. Of course, it is not true that the Taliban is concerned only with Afghanistan. The administration’s risible claim to the contrary is part of its campaign to bleach the Islam out of radical Islam. Islamic supremacism, the ideology that fuels jihadist terror, is a global conquest ideology. Obama wants you to believe that there is just a dizzying array of small, disconnected, strange-sounding, indigenous “insurgent” groups that are not joined by any unifying ideology — the Afghan Taliban (not to be confused with the Pakistani Taliban), Hamas, Hezbollah, the Haqqani Network, Boko Haram, al-Nusra, Ansar al-Sharia, the sundry jihadist franchises that invoke al-Qaeda’s name (in the Arabian Peninsula, in the Islamic Maghreb, in the Indian subcontinent . . . ), and so on. You are not to see them as a united front against the West, but instead as animated by strictly parochial political and territorial disputes. The strategy, a disingenuous elevation of semantics over substance, is designed to minimize the global jihadist threat to the West that has intensified on Obama’s watch and has undeniable roots in a supremacist interpretation of Islam.

4. You need not take my word for it when it comes to the Taliban’s ideological connection to the global jihad. Instead, just look at what they do. What did the Taliban do when they ruled Afghanistan? They willfully allowed their territory to be used as a launch pad for attacks against the United States (the 1998 embassy bombings in eastern Africa, the 2000 bombing of the Cole, and the 9/11 atrocities). And after 9/11, when, by simply handing bin Laden & Co. over to the United States, they could have stayed in power and avoided an invasion of the Afghanistan they are said to be preoccupied with, what did they do? At enormous cost to themselves, they tried to shelter al-Qaeda. In the 14 years since, they have continued to abet the global jihadist campaign, and have reveled in making war against the United States — a war they now understandably think they will win.

5. The Taliban’s continued alliance with al-Qaeda’s global jihad is of a piece with Hamas’s self-proclaimed incorporation in the Muslim Brotherhood’s global ambitions, and with the forward-militia role Hezbollah plays for Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s revolutionary state that exports its Shiite version of jihad. All of these actors perceive themselves as enmeshed in a civilizational struggle against the West. We can’t erase that by pretending there is no animating ideology, pretending that they can be pacified if we satisfy their local grievances.

6. This business of distinguishing “insurgents” from “terrorists” is nonsense. An insurgency is just a domestic uprising (in the sense that the insurgent is from the country in which he is rebelling). When insurgents use terrorist tactics they are domestic terrorists. It may make Obama feel better to say that his pal Bill Ayers was an “insurgent,” but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a terrorist.

7. The most disturbing facet of the “insurgent” canard is that Obama is buying the logic of such Islamic supremacists as the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They claim that Hamas and Hezbollah are not terrorist organizations (as American law designates them to be) but domestic political organizations that engage not in terrorism but in “resistance” — a righteous fight against “injustice” and “occupation” in their homelands.

8. Obama, of course, is not approving of the Taliban’s tactics and goals. But he wants you to see them as domestic insurgents because progressives believe insurgents should be negotiated with and brought into a political settlement — and to the extent insurgents go overboard in their aggression, progressives believe they should be prosecuted in the civilian justice system, not fought militarily like wartime enemies.

9. In the United States, Obama is operating in a political environment where the public — based on longstanding prudential American policy — believes we should not negotiate with terrorists because that encourages and legitimizes their savage methods. Similarly, the public strongly believes international terrorists are enemies who must be defeated, not defendants who must be indicted. Obama knows he is negotiating with, intends to settle with, and eventually will leave Afghanistan to the tender mercies of, the Taliban. Therefore, the administration is desperate that you not look at the Taliban as terrorists.

10. But they are terrorists.

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

Judge Jeanine Pirro: “They Kill Americans? They’re Terrorists!”

Published on Jan 31, 2015 by Steven Laboe

Judge Jeanine Pirro’s Blistering Opening Statement on Barack Obama’s continued denial to refer to the Taliban as Terrorists

***

State Dept Won’t Label Taliban Attack that Killed Three American Civilians as Terrorism

 

BY:
January 30, 2015 

The White House has already doubled down this week saying that the Taliban is an armed insurgency and not a terrorist group. The State Department is now joining the White House in not saying whether the Taliban is a terrorist group.

The Taliban has taken credit for killing three American soldiers at the Kabul airport Thursday. At the State Department press briefing Friday, State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki danced around a the question if the attack on the American soldiers was an act of terrorism.

Psaki repeated the story back to the reporter who asked the question and mentioned that the Justice Department has already spoken on the subject and that there is an investigation into the situation.

“I’m not going to put new labels on the situation today,” Psaki said.

US Intel: Taliban Man Released From Gitmo in Bergdahl Deal is Back to Militant Activity

 

BY: Washington Free Beacon Staff
January 29, 2015 

American fears may be realized. One of the five Taliban members released from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is believed to have returned to militant activity in Qatar.

CNN’s Barbara Starr reported Thursday that one of the Taliban Five may have reverted back to terrorism. Over the last few months, one of the men released has reached out to militants. The administration now suspects that he may again be a threat.

The White House was already facing renewed criticism for the deal made this summer. Many experts criticized the plan, saying it set a precedent to negotiate and exchange prisoners with terrorist groups.

The government of Jordan has indicated that it is willing to trade attempted suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi for Jordanian fighter pilot Lt. Muath al-Kasaesbeh.

This week, NBC reported that the Pentagon will charge Bergdahl with desertion although no charges have been made yet.

Obama brought Bergdahl and his mother on June 1, 2014, to the Rose Garden to promote the deal that brought the soldier home. The slew of news surrounding the transfer vindicates those skeptical of the deal that the White House made without notifying Congress, as required by law.

At every turn, this decision has proven to be a bad deal for America’s security.

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