Ex-Guantanamo detainee carried out suicide attack near Mosul, Iraq

17-02-21-ronald-fiddler-isis-suicide-bomber-near-mosulLong War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, Feb. 22, 2017:

The British press buzzed yesterday with news that a former Guantanamo detainee known as Jamal al Harith (formerly Ronald Fiddler) had blown himself up in a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) in Iraq. Al Harith reportedly took part in the Islamic State’s defensive suicide attacks around Mosul, which is one of the organization’s de facto capitals. The so-called caliphate claims to have launched scores of suicide VBIEDs in defense of the city.

On the same day al Harith executed his attack (Feb. 20), the Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency released a short video of three SUVs being deployed as bombs. All three vehicles had armor added to the front. One of the three was presumably driven by al Harith. The Islamic State released a photo al Harith (seen above), identifying him by the alias Abu Zakariya al Britani. The group also issued a claim of responsibility for his bombing.

Al Harith’s death brings to an end one of the strangest stories in the history of the detention facility at Guantanamo. Along with four others, Al Harith was transferred to American custody in early 2002 after being found in the Taliban-controlled Sarposa prison.

According to leaked Joint Task Force-Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) threat assessments, jihadis in Afghanistan accused all five men of being spies for foreign powers looking to infiltrate the Taliban’s and al Qaeda’s ranks. Sarposa (spelled “Sarpooza” and “Sarpuza” in JTF-GTMO’s files) was overrun by the Northern Alliance in late 2001 and the men (subsequently dubbed the Sarposa Five) were handed over to the Americans and then transferred to Guantanamo.

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White House Aide Criticizes Obama’s Counter-Terrorism Policy for Failing to Mention Islam

A propaganda photo depicting ISIS fighters near Nineveh, Iraq / AP

A propaganda photo depicting ISIS fighters near Nineveh, Iraq / AP

‘Our labels must reflect reality, otherwise we will misdiagnose’

Washington Free Beacon, by Natalie Johnson, February 14, 2017:

President Donald Trump’s deputy assistant condemned the Obama administration Monday for refusing to mention religion in its counterterrorism strategy, particularly when dealing with the Islamic State.

Sebastian Gorka, a counterterrorism specialist who now serves as a senior White House aide, said the Untied States has had “serious problems” over the past eight years identifying the nature of an enemy engaged in a religiously inspired war.

“The Obama administration in 2011 prohibited discussion of religion, expressly Islam, in all counter-terror training for federal agents and military,” Gorka said during an event at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.

“That’s like saying in 1944 you can’t say the word Nazi because you’ll offend a German. It’s absurd, it’s in fact asinine. You have to be able to talk about the enemy and the words that they use. When they say they’re a jihadist, you can’t say, ‘Well they’re just misguided nihilists.’ No, they think they are holy warriors,” he continued. “Our labels must reflect reality, otherwise we will misdiagnose.”

Gorka said it is imperative for U.S. officials to understand that 80 percent of the fight against ISIS and jihad-inspired terrorist groups will be fought in the domain of information and media operations rather than in military operations.

A report published last year by IntelCenter, a counter-terrorism research firm, found that between June and July 2016 there were significant terrorist attacks every 84 hours directed or inspired by ISIS outside the war zones in Iraq and Syria. Gorka said the findings underscore America’s overemphasis on a “whack-a-mole” strategy that targets individual terrorists while ignoring the root of the problem: ideology.

“For them, it’s not just a caliphate of the ground, it’s a caliphate of the mind,” Gorka said.

“We’re not going to capture all the jihadists, we’re not going to kill all of them … they’re going to move. They may go North, they may go West, they may come across the Atlantic,” he continued. “We must understand, ISIS’s battlefront begins when you leave your house in the morning. There is no battlefront like World War I or World War II, there are no trenches.”

Gorka said the United States during the Obama and Bush administrations focused too heavily on physical battlefield actions, like death tolls, as the metric of success in the war on terrorism. Meanwhile, the information war fell behind, he said.

Bill Gertz, senior editor at the Washington Free Beacon and author of the newly released book iWar, called for the Trump administration to reestablish a U.S. information agency that can both “promote American ideals” and counteract “lies and deception.”

Obama signed a defense bill in December requiring the State Department to engage in countermeasures, including counter-disinformation, to combat the spread of adversarial ideologies, but Gertz said the bill did not go far enough.

“We need to retool for the information age,” Gertz said at the Heritage Foundation. “We really are deficient in this area of promoting the American ideal and we’re facing competing narratives.”

Unlike al Qaeda, ISIS has been able to adapt and redefine its mission, even as it continues to lose ground in Iraq and Syria. The group has had particular success spreading disinformation and propaganda, Gorka said. He suggested the Trump administration combat the terrorist group’s efforts by establishing an information operation that is driven directly by the White House.

“We will have won when the black flag of jihad, when the black flag of ISIS, is as repugnant across the world as the white peaked hood of the Ku Klux Klan and the black, white, and red swastika of Hitler’s Third Reich,” Gorka said.

Defections Challenge Hamas’ Cooperation With the Islamic State

Members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas military wing, attend a memorial for Mohamed Zouari in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on January 31, 2017, (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)

Members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas military wing, attend a memorial for Mohamed Zouari in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on January 31, 2017, (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)

by IPT News  •  Feb 8, 2017

Hamas continues to play a double game when it comes to the Islamic State. The Palestinian terrorist organization is trying to supress ISIS-inspired jihadists in Gaza, while simultaneously cooperating with the terrorist group’s Sinai Peninsula affiliate – Wilayat Sinai.

Despite some tactical benefits, Hamas’ seemingly counterintuitive, yet calculated, engagement with Islamic State elements has resulted in tangible setbacks for the Palestinian group. Palestinian sources speaking with the Times of Israel revealed that dozens of Hamas operatives have defected to Wilayat Sinai, including highly trained terrorists from elite units.

Roughly two months ago, Hamas forces arrested Abed al-Wahad Abu Aadara, a Hamas naval commando who defected to ISIS after he re-entered Gaza. His brother also joined ISIS and died in clashes with the Egyptian military. Facing pressure from ISIS, Hamas recently released Abu Aadara from prison.

Other defectors include highly trained Hamas operatives who enhance the Islamic State’s ability to build bombs and use anti-tank missiles. Senior military wing members, including Abu Malek Abu Shwiesh, a key assistant to Hamas’ Rafah commander, reportedly joined Wilayat Sinai.

The ISIS affiliate has created significant Egyptian casualties in recent years, particularly after acquiring and deploying sophisticated weaponry in the Sinai.

Israeli officials have outlined detailed aspects of Hamas-Islamic State cooperation in the past. Both organizations engage in smuggling terrorists and arms, including advanced weapons systems. For example, Hamas provided Wilayat Sinai with Kornet anti-tank missiles that have destroyed Egyptian military vehicles. Hamas also provides military training and medical services for injured Wilayat Sinai fighters in Gaza, in addition to reportedly transferring money directly to the terrorist organization.

In return, Hamas cultivates a safe haven for its leaders and fighters in case of a future confrontation with Israel, understanding that Israel’s military engagement on Egyptian territory is limited.

Since the end of the 2014 summer war in Gaza, Hamas has invested significant resources into reconstructing its terrorist infrastructure. It also continues to rebuild its elite forces – including its naval commando unit – dedicated to infiltrating into Israel to carry out terrorist attacks. Reports of Hamas defections are a clear setback for the Palestinian organization, but are not likely lead to a wider rift with the Islamic State.

Despite broader ideological differences, both groups remain committed to challenging the Egyptian military in Sinai and destroying the Jewish state.

***

Islamic State Using Funds to Recruit Children Among Illegal Alien Population

migrantsgreece-690x377Shariah Finance Watch, by Christopher W. Holton, Feb. 5, 2017:

The Islamic State is paying the smugglers’ fees of child “refugees” to attract new recruits.

Europol has identified as many as 88,300 unaccompanied minors among the illegal alien population overrunning Europe.

Both the ISIS and the Islamic State affiliate in Nigeria–Boko Haram–have been recruiting in refugee camps using financial incentives, as well as working with the human smugglers.

The Islamic State has reportedly offered as much as $2,000 per head in refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon. Jordanian special forces discovered an Islamic State “sleeper cell” inside a refugee camp in northern Jordan. The Islamic State has issued warnings that they are infiltrating the refugee population. Jihadist groups have been extremely active in their efforts to influence and recruit in the refugee population.

The term “refugee” is not meant to be all-inclusive here of all the people moving from the Islamic world to Europe and elsewhere in the West. Large numbers are better described as illegal aliens.

Reports also indicate that the Islamic State is using food to recruit from the refugee/illegal alien population.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/05/isis-recruitment-drive-child-refugees

ISIS Alleges Someone Is Publishing Fake Islamic State Magazines

12Heavy, February 4, 2017:

Islamic State terrorist channels are warning ISIS sympathizers that someone is publishing a fake, 6th edition of their Rumiyah online magazine and warning them to be careful where they download the PDF from.

The above screenshot alleges the perpetrators of the fake publication to be “the kuffar,” a broad, pejorative Islamic term meaning “disbeliever.”

It is unclear who created and distributed the alleged fake publication. However, chatter on ISIS channels indicates suspicion towards intelligence agencies like the CIA or the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB).

The latest edition of the magazine was issue #5. It was released in early January and praises the terroristic possibilities of arson. It also specifically points out a target in the United States, First Baptist Dallas. First Baptist Dallas is a church in Texas that ISIS states is “a popular Crusader gathering place waiting to be burned down.”

In a November 2016 edition release of their magazine, ISIS stated that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade would be “an excellent target” for a lone wolf terrorist attack. It suggested that driving a car into a crowd would be the easiest way to carry out an attack. Soon after, 18-year-old Somali refugee Abdul Razak Ali Artan drove a car into a crowd of students at Ohio State University.

Somalia was recently listed as one of the countries involved in President Donald Trump’s executive order, titled “Protection Of The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States.” The order bans nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entry into the United States for the next 90 days and coincides with a pause in the the admission of all refugees to the U.S. for the next four months.

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So Much for the ‘Lone Wolf’ Theory of Islamic Terrorism

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PJ MEDIA, BY MICHAEL WALSH FEBRUARY 4, 2017:

Rukmini Callimachi, probably the best reporter on terrorism active today, lays it all out here:

Not ‘Lone Wolves’ After All: How ISIS Is Guiding Terror Plots From Afar

When the Islamic State identified a promising young recruit willing to carry out an attack in one of India’s major tech hubs, the group made sure to arrange everything down to the bullets he needed to kill victims. For 17 months, terrorist operatives guided the recruit, a young engineer named Mohammed Ibrahim Yazdani, through every step of what they planned to be the Islamic State’s first strike on Indian soil…

As officials around the world have faced a confusing barrage of attacks dedicated to the Islamic State, cases like Mr. Yazdani’s offer troubling examples of what counterterrorism experts are calling enabled or remote-controlled attacks: violence conceived and guided by operatives in areas controlled by the Islamic State whose only connection to the would-be attacker is the internet.

In the most basic enabled attacks, Islamic State handlers acted as confidants and coaches, coaxing recruits to embrace violence. In the Hyderabad plot, among the most involved found so far, the terrorist group reached deep into a country with strict gun laws in order to arrange for pistols and ammunition to be left in a bag swinging from the branches of a tree.

For the most part, the operatives who are conceiving and guiding such attacks are doing so from behind a wall of anonymity. When the Hyderabad plotters were arrested last summer, they could not so much as confirm the nationalities of their interlocutors in the Islamic State, let alone describe what they looked like. Because the recruits are instructed to use encrypted messaging applications, the guiding role played by the terrorist group often remains obscured.

As a result, remotely guided plots in Europe, Asia and the United States in recent years, including the attack on a community center in Garland, Tex., were initially labeled the work of “lone wolves,” with no operational ties to the Islamic State, and only later was direct communication with the group discovered.

Exactly right. The New York Times is to be congratulated on Ms. Callimachi’s work and other news media should take notice. From the start of the Muslim/Arab war on the West on 9/11, it’s been clear to anyone with an ounce of sense that most of the “lone wolves” are in fact anything but. Just as in prisons, where Muslim inmates whisper sweet nothings into fellow criminals’ ears about the wonders of jihad and “martyrdom,” so do they prey, like child molesters, on vulnerable young people on the Internet. Islam gives them a historically sanctioned excuse for their basest impulses, channeling what would be ordinary criminal behavior into something with a patina of “religion.”

While the trail of many of these plots led back to planners living in Syria, the very nature of the group’s method of remote plotting means there is little dependence on its maintaining a safe haven there or in Iraq. And visa restrictions and airport security mean little to attackers who strike where they live and no longer have to travel abroad for training.

“They are virtual coaches who are providing guidance and encouragement throughout the process — from radicalization to recruitment into a specific plot,” said Nathaniel Barr, a terrorism analyst at Valens Global, who along with Daveed Gartenstein-Ross of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington wrote one of the first articles discussing the virtual plotters.

“If you look at the communications between the attackers and the virtual plotters, you will see that there is a direct line of communication to the point where they are egging them on minutes, even seconds, before the individual carries out an attack.”

Well, that’s just great. As the abortive attack on the Louvre — one of the glories of French civilization — shows, once the barbarians are inside the gates, they’re just a cell phone away from self-detonating. If we’re ever to get serious about “homeland security,” we’re going to have to address very unpolitically-correct notions of citizenship, visas, and green cards, as well as how far civil-rights protections extend to enemies within and even “faith” itself. It’s going to make a lot of folks uncomfortable. But discomfort is better than death.

AP: Pentagon Program to Counter Islamic State Propaganda Rife with Incompetence, Corruption

jihadists-cheer-pentagon-counter-narrative-failure-1-sized-770x415xc

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, February 1, 2017:

In 2011, the Obama administration conducted a purge of counter-terrorism training across all relevant federal agencies and imposed a new “countering violent extremism” (CVE) regime in its place to remove any reference in training to role of certain trends in Islamic ideology in support of terrorism.

As I reported last year here at PJ Media, these CVE programs have collapsed into absurdity, with some Obama administration programs intended to directly confront online terror recruitment becoming more harmful than helpful in that effort.

But now an extensive investigation by the Associated Press finds that CVE has claimed yet another victim – the Pentagon’s $500 million WebOps program intended to provide a counter-narrative to Islamic State propaganda.

According to the AP, the WebOps program is rife with incompetence and corruption. Some whistleblowers telling the news agency that the effort has become a laughingstock in the online jihadist community.

The AP reports:

A critical national security program known as “WebOps” is part of a vast psychological operation that the Pentagon says is effectively countering an enemy that has used the internet as a devastating tool of propaganda. But an Associated Press investigation found the management behind WebOps is so beset with incompetence, cronyism and flawed data that multiple people with direct knowledge of the program say it’s having little impact.

Several current and former WebOps employees cited multiple examples of civilian Arabic specialists who have little experience in counter-propaganda, cannot speak Arabic fluently and have so little understanding of Islam they are no match for the Islamic State online recruiters.

It’s hard to establish rapport with a potential terror recruit when — as one former worker told the AP — translators repeatedly mix up the Arabic words for “salad” and “authority.” That’s led to open ridicule on social media about references to the “Palestinian salad.”

Four current or former workers told the AP that they had personally witnessed WebOps data being manipulated to create the appearance of success and that they had discussed the problem with many other employees who had seen the same. Yet the companies carrying out the program for the military’s Central Command in Tampa have dodged attempts to implement independent oversight and assessment of the data.

So according to whistleblowers, you have government contractors tasked with countering Islamic State propaganda – much of it religious arguments – who have no knowledge of Islam. This is a feature, not a bug, of Obama’s CVE policies.

But it gets worse:

Engaging in theological discussions on social media with people who are well versed in the Quran is not for beginners. Iraq and Syria are riven with sectarian violence between Shiite and Sunni Muslims, who follow different interpretations of Islam. Multiple workers said that WebOps “experts” often trip up on language that is specific to one sect or region.

“People can tell whether you are local, or whether you are Sunni or Shia,” said another former worker, so poorly crafted messages are not effective. He said he left WebOps because he was disgusted with the work.

A number of the workers complained to AP that a large group on staff from Morocco, in North Africa, were often ignorant of Middle Eastern history and culture — or even the difference between groups the U.S. considers terrorist organizations. The group was so dominant that colleagues jokingly referred to them as “the Moroccan mafia.”

A lot of them “don’t know the difference between Hezbollah and Hamas,” said the employee who left to find more meaningful work. Hezbollah is an Iran-backed Shiite group based in Lebanon. Hamas, based in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, is the Palestinian branch of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood.

All of this is due to Obama’s purge.

Many of the government subject matter experts (SMEs) in the fields of Middle East culture, Islamic ideology, and Islamist organizations were either removed from their positions following hysterical accusations of “Islamophobia” and biased training, or so limited in what they could teach by Obama’s CVE policies that it was inadequate for the U.S. government departments and agencies to adequately conduct their missions.

A Joint Chiefs of Staff Action Memorandum issued at the height of the counter-terror training “purge” on October 11, 2011, directed a new undefined and secretive CVE screening process for all trainers. It involved “Military Information Support Operations, Information Operations, and Military Intelligence curriculum,” or, the military’s “eyes out” operations.

The failed WebOps program would be part of the Pentagon’s Information Operations branch and subject to the Joint Chiefs CVE guidelines.

The devastating effects of the “purge” aren’t limited to civilian specialists operating behind computer screens. The warriors on the front lines fighting against the Islamic terrorists that have sworn to destroy our society and threaten attacks against our homeland were hurt as well.

In December 2014, the New York Times reported that Major Gen. Michael Nagata, then-head of Special Operations Command Central, had held a series of conference calls attempting to understand why the Islamic State had grown so dangerous:

Trying to decipher this complex enemy — a hybrid terrorist organization and a conventional army — is such a conundrum that General Nagata assembled an unofficial brain trust outside the traditional realms of expertise within the Pentagon, State Department and intelligence agencies, in search of fresh ideas and inspiration. Business professors, for example, are examining the Islamic State’s marketing and branding strategies.

In the midst of these discussions, Gen. Nagata issued this damning indictment of how the Obama administration’s CVE policies following the “purge” had blinded the very tip of the American war-fighting spear:

“We do not understand the movement, and until we do, we are not going to defeat it,” he said, according to the confidential minutes of a conference call he held with the experts. “We have not defeated the idea. We do not even understand the idea.”

After the intentional purge from the Defense Department’s training of any ability to define the enemy, America’s top warriors now admit they are blinded, with no path to success.

But it’s not just the Defense Department that has been hamstrung by the Obama CVE policies.

On September 8, 2011, Obama signed Executive Order 13584, which led to the establishment of the State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) to counter terrorist propaganda.

That State Department program suffered chronic leadership changes and a string of public embarrassments in the face of the growing international terrorist threat from the Islamic State and other terrorist groups.

As a consequence, the State Department closed the CSCC.

Now the U.S. government must delegate these vital tasks to foreign organizations, much as the WebOps program is doing with its Moroccan employees.

Among the many embarrassing CSCC episodes was a graphic video they produced called “Welcome to ISIS Land.” It featured severed heads, corpses, and crucifixions interspersed with messages directed at would-be ISIS recruits about the grisly skills they would need to acquire.

That CSCC director — a longtime U.S. diplomat — was promptly replaced.

Another CSCC effort was the “Think Again, Turn Away” program, which pushed out counter-messaging via social media targeting potential ISIS recruits. The program’s Twitter account would regularly “troll” ISIS adherents on Twitter.

But not long after the program was launched, terrorism experts were openly lambasting the program, including accusations that the CSCC’s efforts were legitimizing terrorists. Further, the actual penetration of their social media efforts barely touched the potential terror recruits they were trying to influence. For example, when one well-known pro-ISIS Twitter user, Shami Witness, was arrested, a comparison of the Twitter followers of Shami Witness and the “Think Again, Turn Away account” found that they only shared FIVE followers:

In the comments to that tweet, some users revealed that they were among the five followers that overlapped — and they weren’t even recruiting targets, but terrorism researchers or academics.

In February 2015, Obama’s envoy to the Muslim world, Rashad Hussain, was appointed to lead the CSCC. Yet by that year’s end, a State Department panel of experts concluded that the CSCC’s efforts were not effective, and questioned whether the U.S. government should be involved in counter-propaganda at all. Rashad Hussain was promptly moved to the Justice Department and the CSCC was shut down.

In January 2016 a new effort, the Center for Global Engagement, was launched, but with little prospect that rebranding their efforts will be more effective. Now, most of the State Department’s counter-propaganda efforts have been outsourced to the Sawab Center in Abu Dhabi, which pushes the now-failed CVE strategies. The continued in-country counter-propaganda efforts now have to be characterized as “ninja,” because they are essentially unseen (and unmeasurable).

 On the heels of all that failure, American taxpayers are now on the hook for the $500 million WebOps boondoggle at the Pentagon. Meanwhile, the Islamic State continues to spread its ideology virtually unopposed by the U.S. government.

To defeat the Islamic State will require not just military victories, but successfully rolling back and defeating its ideology. That requires, as Sun Tzu famously said, to “know your enemy.” As Gen. Negata admitted in his conference call, more than 15 years after the 9/11 attacks even our most hardened warriors don’t understand their movement or their ideology.

We undoubtedly require an abandonment of the failed Obama-era CVE policies, and a change in culture where discussions of the various strains of Islamic ideology that power groups like the Islamic State are encouraged — not punished. That’s the difficult task ahead for President Trump and his new administration.

Why the first US military raid under Trump was in Yemen

Getmilitaryphotos | Shutterstock

Getmilitaryphotos | Shutterstock

Conservative Review, by Jordan Schachtel, January 31, 2017:

Decorated U.S. Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens was tragically killed this weekend in Yemen. The first publicly acknowledged U.S. raid under President Donald Trump did not go as smoothly as planned, though the Pentagon labelled the mission — which reportedly killed 14 militants — a success. According to Reuters, the U.S. special ops mission targeted Abdulrauf al Dhabab, a senior al Qaeda leader.

The mission hit a snag when the SEAL team’s V-22 Osprey endured a “hard landing,” injuring at least three service members. Additionally, the SEAL Team 6 crew unexpectedly faced resistance from multiple female jihadis, which vastly complicated the mission and may have resulted in the deaths of civilians caught in the crossfire. However, according to U.S. Central Command, the SEALs secured “information that will likely provide insight into the planning of future terror plots.”

So, was it all worth it? And what brought the nation’s most decorated warriors into Yemen in the first place?

The continuing destabilization of the Middle East nation has created a void filled by the world’s most dangerous terrorists, who use the state to plan missions both domestically and abroad.

Civil War

There is an ongoing civil war in Yemen that has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of soldiers, militants, and civilians. Much of the country has become a battleground between a Saudi-led coalition (which includes the United States) and Iran-backed Houthi insurgents. Amidst the chaos, a vacuum has been created that has allowed the local Islamic State and al Qaeda branches to flourish, leaving only the U.S. and its allies to check their vast expansion.

AQAP

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is headquartered in Yemen, is without a doubt the most dangerous al Qaeda affiliate worldwide. The group has managed to control swaths of territory in Yemen and has a global reach that extends to the United States and Europe.

AQAP, which is tasked with coordinating overseas attacks against America and its allies, was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. in 2010. It has on several occasions managed to infiltrate and carry out terror plots in Western countries. The group urges recruits inside America to “strike at home,” as damaging the U.S. is their most important duty.

Many of AQAP’s devotees are inspired by the late al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, the deceased imam who left America after 9/11 to became the leader of the al Qaeda Yemen branch. Several U.S.-based terrorists, including the shooters at Ft. Hood and Chattanooga drew motivation from Awlaki.

The 2009 Christmas Day “Underwear Bomber” — a Nigerian native who planned on bringing down a commercial jet — carried out his orders directly from AQAP. Thankfully, he failed to detonate his explosives.

Additionally, the tragic 2015 mass killings at the “Charlie Hebdo” offices in Paris was the work of AQAP jihadis.

Islamic State-Yemen

ISIS, like AQAP, also controls territory in Yemen, under the name Wilayat Sanaaor, the Sanaa Province (of the Islamic State). The group, which seeks to impose a worldwide caliphate under its rule, has successfully conducted massive suicide missions, which have killed hundreds and wounded countless more. Islamic State operations in Yemeni provinces are a relatively new phenomenon, but the terror outfit has shown that it can operate and plan major attacks in the country.

U.S. counterterrorism efforts

America’s counterterrorism strategy in Yemen during the Obama administration relied on drone strikes and small, specialized military raids on jihadi compounds inside the country. In 2015, a U.S. drone strike killed AQAP’s No. 2 in charge. As previously mentioned, al-Awlaki was also taken out thanks to a U.S. drone strike.

Whether the strategy has been a success is a matter of debate. Experts have pointed out that targeted killings of AQAP leaders may temporarily weaken the group, but new leaders will emerge as long as the group has a safe haven in Yemen. Therefore, U.S. officials have expanded the mission to, at times, deploy special ops on the ground for aggressive missions on AQAP strongholds.

As details unfold pertaining to the past weekend’s raid in Yemen, what’s clear is that the country has become the perfect environment to plot jihadi terror against the United States. It appears that President Trump has recognized the threat and dedicated his first mission toward helping to eradicate the menace in the Gulf.

ISIS Burns Mother And Four Children

isisRadical Islamic terrorists justify killing infidel children while enlisting child soldiers for jihad

Front Page Magazine, by Joseph Klein, January 19, 2017:

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, keeps taking brutality in the name of Islam to new lows. For example, members of the Islamic State are reported to have tied up a mother and her four children, including a 9-month-old boy, poured oil over them and set them on fire. The victims’ capital crime was to leave the land occupied by the Islamic State caliphate.  Islamic State faithful used a different means to kill 250 children at a bakery in Syria. “They were put in the dough mixer, they were kneaded,” a Syrian Christian woman described, as quoted by the Express. “The oldest one of them was four-years-old.” The woman’s 18 year old son was beaten and then shot to death because he would not renounce his Christian faith. Other mothers have had to witness their children crucified.

In a horrifying example of a mass execution videotaped by ISIS, 200 children were shot to death by ISIS members in a depraved act of barbarism.

A United Nations  body dealing with the rights of children issued a report nearly two years ago denouncing the “systematic killing of children belonging to religious and ethnic minorities by the so-called Isis, including several cases of mass executions of boys, as well as reports of beheadings, crucifixions of children and burying children alive.”

All non-believers are “legitimate targets” as far as ISIS is concerned – including children. The Counter Jihad Report has pointed to an ISIS essay entitled “The Kafir’s blood is Halal for you. So shed it,” which seeks to justify the killing of non-believers with citations to the Koran and early Muslim scholars. The essay concluded by telling Muslims who live in the lands of non-believers that shedding the infidels’ blood and killing them “is a form of worship to Allah, the Lord, King, and God of mankind.”

When the ISIS savages are not busy killing children, they use children as executioners. One sickening video released by ISIS shows a little kid – whom they call a caliphate “cub” – shooting a Kurd “apostate” at close range, while what appears to be religious chants can be heard in the background.

ISIS boasted in the eighth edition of its propaganda publication ‘Dabiq‘ that it has established “institutes for “ashbāl (lion cubs) to train and hone their military skills and to teach them the book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam).”

A Dabiq article appealed to the early history of Islam to justify its use of children as soldiers:

“As expected, the kuffār were up in arms about the Khilāfah’s use of ‘child soldiers.’ Yet this was the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), who would allow those capable from amongst the young Sahābah [companions of Prophet Muhammad] to participate in his battles against the mushrikīn [polytheists]. It was two young boys from the Ansār who struck down Abū Jahl in the battle of Badr. And just as the children of the Sahābah stained their swords with the blood of yesterday’s tāghūt, the Fir’awn of the Ummah, so too will the children of the Khilāfah [caliphate] stain their bullets with the blood of today’s tawāghīt, bi idhnillāh.”

Indeed, ISIS adheres to a literal reading of Sharia law, and models its behavior on the examples set by the warrior Prophet Muhammad himself. Killing all disbelievers in the name of Allah and imposing Islam as the only true religion on earth are the common themes in the sections of the Koran written later in Muhammad’s life, which supersede anything written previously to the contrary, and in the writings of ISIS.  Here are a few examples.

Koran 9:5, commonly referred to as the “Verse of the Sword,” commands true believers to “kill the Mushrikun wherever you find them.”

Koran 9:29 states: “Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

Koran 9.33 states: “It is He {Allah} Who has sent His Messenger (Muhammad) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam), to make it superior over all religions even though the Mushrikun (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah) hate (it).”

ISIS Dabiq Issue 15 states: “We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers… So in the end, you cannot bring an indefinite halt to our war against you. At most, you could only delay it temporarily…we wage war against you to stop you from spreading your disbelief and debauchery – your secu­larism and nationalism, your perverted liberal values, your Christianity and atheism – and all the depravity and corruption they entail.”

ISIS Dabiq Issue 7 states: “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…Islam and its justice will prevail on the entire Earth.”

ISIS’s acts of brutality, including vicious killings of children, are operationalizing, with the help of 21st century technology, a literal reading of purist Islamic ideology, which began in the 7th century. We will finally have a president who is not afraid to speak the truth about the roots of the global jihadist threat we are facing.

Joseph Klein is a Harvard-trained lawyer and the author oGlobal Deception: The UN’s Stealth Assault on America’s Freedom and Lethal Engagement: Barack Hussein Obama, the United Nations & Radical Islam.

Also see:

Mattis: ISIS ‘couldn’t last 2 minutes in fight with our troops’

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SecDef nod calls for ‘battles of annihilation” with “no survivors” against terror group, while beating drums of all-out war with Iran.

CounterJihad, by Paul Sperry, January 12, 2017:

Defense secretary nominee Gen. Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis believes ISIS is “al-Qaida on steroids” and must be defeated in head-to-head “battles of annihilation” that leave “no survivors” on the enemy side, according to a recent discussion he participated in with a conservative think tank.

The career Marine, who faces Senate questioning at a confirmation today, also asserts that the US military “can handle Iran” in a shooting war, but cautioned that the Navy needs more warships to challenge “China’s bullying in the South China Sea.”

Mattis made the eye-opening remarks in a little-noticed interview with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution in Palo Alto, Calif., where he is a visiting fellow.

Before retiring in 2013 after a 43-year-career in the US Marine Corps, Mattis directed military operations of more than 200,000 troops and allied forces across the Middle East as commander of U.S. Central Command.

Mattis doesn’t believe in “managing” the Islamic State threat or just running ISIS out of Middle Eastern towns, but pulverizing the Islamist enemy.

He said the US currently has the forces available to wipe out ISIS, which operates primarily out of Syria and Iraq, but “they’re not in place” due to a lack of “political” will to deploy them, an attitude that is expected to change under a Trump administration.

“They’re a lot like al-Qaida philosophically, but operationally, they’re like al-Qaida on steroids. And when you put that together, they’re a uniquely capable organization,” he added during the revealing 2015 Hoover interview. “But the fact is, they couldn’t last two minutes in a fight with our troops.”

Mattis said America and the West can no longer tolerate “the assassinations, the mass killings, the mass rapes that are going on there,” to say nothing of the ISIS-directed and -inspired terrorist attacks plaguing both European and American cities.

“We should try to shut down its recruiting, shut down its finances, and then work to fight battles of annihilation — not attrition, but annihilation — against them; so that the first time they meet the forces that we put against them, there should basically be no survivors,” he asserted. “They should learn that we can be even tougher than them.”

Added the general: “If they want to fight, they should pay a heck of a price for what they’ve done to innocent people out there.”

Mattis didn’t pull any punches regarding Iran, either, which has aggressively pursued the development of nuclear weapons while threatening both the US and Israel.

Through its proxy Hezbollah, the Islamist regime has carried out terrorism around the globe, including attacks that have killed American citizens. In 1983, for example, an Iran-trained suicide truck bomber killed 220 of Mattis’s fellow Marines while they slept in barracks in Beirut. Iran is also responsible for IED-related deaths of US soldiers in Iraq.

Mattis, who joined the Marine Corps at 18, confidently predicted victory if the US had to go to war against Iran.

“It would take more forces if we had to go with the military option for Iran,” he said. “But we can handle Iran. I have no doubt.”

“It would be bloody awful,” he added. “But could we handle it from a military point of view? Absolutely.”

An invasion of Iran would be tougher than Iraq because Iran is surrounded by mountains, making it hard for tanks and artillery to pass. Behind the towering ranges, the terrain becomes unstable salt flats and dry lake beds oozing with thick black mud that would make it even more difficult to advance on Tehran.

It was the Great Salt Desert where the fateful 1980 military mission to rescue American hostages in Tehran ran into bad weather and had to be aborted.

Asked about Beijing seizing islands in the South China Sea and clandestinely building airstrips and other military installations there, Mattis says the US should no longer turn a blind eye to such territorial expansion in contested international waters. He says the US will need a larger naval presence there to check Beijing’s military aggression.

“In light of China’s bullying in the South China Sea, I don’t think we’re building enough ships,” Mattis noted, adding that China’s military maneuvers will require the Pentagon to adopt “a more naval strategy.”

Right now the Navy has 272 ships, more than 80 ships short of what the Navy Force Structure Assessment calls for to meet the new threat reality in the South China Sea and other global hotspots.

“We may have to give the Navy a bigger slice of the budget,” he added, to help reassure Taiwan and other allies in the region threatened by the communist army’s growing mischief.

“There are a lot of nations out in that region that would like to see more US Navy port calls in their harbors, from Vietnam to the Philippines, from Malaysia to Taiwan and Japan,” Mattis said.

He added that while the first option in the growing conflict ought to be diplomacy, “Sometimes the best ambassador you can have is a man-of-war.”

Mattis, who following 9/11 commanded the First Marine Expeditionary Brigade and Naval Task Force 58 in operations against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, also revealed in the interview that he does not agree with President Obama that the US combat role in Afghanistan is over.

“We have irreconcilable differences with the Taliban,” he said.

Added Mattis: “They will continue to support al-Qaida, they will continue to do this kind of terrorism that they conduct over there every day. And as they do that, for us to declare arbitrarily that the war is over may not match the reality on the ground.”

Since Obama withdrew troops in 2014, ISIS and other terror groups have joined the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan, all working to topple the US-backed government in Kabul. All told, there are now 20 terrorist groups operating inside Afghanistan and along the Afghan-Pakistani border region.

Also see:

Hamas, ISIS Affiliates, See Opportunity in Terror Truck Attack

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by Yaakov Lappin
Special to IPT News
January 11, 2017

Hamas launched a public relations campaign in recent days, aimed at capitalizing on a deadly truck attack in Jerusalem Sunday that killed four Israeli soldiers. The campaign sheds a light on Hamas’s plans to encourage and launch jihadist atrocities, but also on its vulnerability to the arrival of ISIS as an ideology and movement.

The truck attacker was Fadi Ahmad Hamdan Qanbar, a father of four from east Jerusalem. He acted alone when he plowed into a cluster of soldiers gathered, according to Israeli assessments, under the influence of jihadist propaganda disseminated by ISIS.

That fact has not stopped Hamas from making multiple efforts to claim the attack as its own, celebrating it, and pushing Palestinians to emulate it. The Gazan regime’s goal of setting the West Bank alight is well served by such incidents.

Yet Hamas’s efforts to cash in on the truck ramming also strengthen its domestic challengers in Gaza – ISIS-affiliated Salafi-jihadist groups which have been just as quick to claim Qanbar as one of their own, and probably with better cause.

These same groups wasted little time in using the opportunity to launch stinging attacks on the Hamas regime, whose security forces arrest their members and repress their activities.

For example, an ISIS-affiliated group in Gaza proudly noted that Israel attributed the attack to one who “belongs to the Islamic Caliphate State,” and stated: “Praise Allah, who provided the oppressed people of Bayt Al-Maqdis [Jerusalem] with trucks they can use to run over the settler herds – [and this] instead of the haram [forbidden] organizations [the main Palestinian organizations].”

A grim jihadist competition is underway, over who can use the Jerusalem attack to boost its political power. Immediately after Qanbar’s attack, Hamas claimed he was an operative of its military wing, the Izz Al-Din Qassam Brigades.

Fathi Hamad, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, told a rally in Gaza to celebrate the murders that same night: “the [Israeli] soldiers fled from the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades operative who carried out the attack for the sake of the Palestinians, the Arab nation and the Muslims.”

Other Hamas officials issued similar statements, praising Qanbar, and calling for his actions to reinvigorate the ‘intifada for Jerusalem.’

As the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) noted, Hamas’s official Twitter account chimed in: “We welcome the bold and heroic truck operation in Jerusalem which was a natural reaction to the crimes of the Israeli occupation.”

To be sure, Hamas is engaged in unceasing efforts to set up and launch terror cells in the West Bank and east Jerusalem from where they try to evade Israeli intelligence, infiltrate and commit mass casualty attacks in Israeli cities. Hamas also is a main source of inciting lone Palestinian attackers.

Yet it is also in a state of conflict with Gaza-based ISIS entities, which sporadically fire rockets into Israel hoping to provoke retaliatory Israeli airstrikes on Hamas targets. In essence, ISIS-affiliated groups try to use the Israel Air Force to punish Hamas.

ISIS views Hamas as an infidel movement due to its willingness to blend jihadist doctrines with Palestinian nationalism. Nationalism has no place in ISIS’s vision of a pan-Islamic caliphate, free of so-called artificial national divides among Muslims.

Meanwhile, tensions increased as relations between Hamas and the ISIS affiliate Wilyat Al-Sinai (Sinai Province), which once saw a good degree of cooperation, soured. This relationship enabled Hamas to continue smuggling arms into Gaza via tunnels, and to make Gazan hospitals available to wounded ISIS fighters and commanders. Egypt has long suspected Gaza’s Islamist rulers of being a steady source of weapons and volunteers for ISIS.

Now, the ISIS-affiliated movement in and around Gaza is openly challenging Hamas’s legitimacy. Ironically, Hamas does the same thing to the ruling Fatah movement in the West Bank, which it seeks to topple by provoking a large-scale Israeli military counter-terrorism operation, according to assessments by Israeli security sources.

This deadly jihadist “game of thrones” looks set to continue and could act as a destabilizing factor and a catalyst for further attacks.

The Israeli defense establishment sees the truck ramming as the work of a lone attacker – the hardest type to detect and thwart preemptively.

While the Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency is making progress using big data analytics to scan social media accounts and pick out potential lone terrorists, much work remains to be done in this challenging field.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to this during remarks he made on the scene of the Jerusalem ramming, “I think the most important thing to understand is that we are under a new type of attack, by a lone terrorist, who becomes inspired and decides to spontaneously act.”

To counter ramming attacks, Israel has installed concrete barricades around bus stops in Jerusalem and the West Bank, he added. Additionally, Israeli security forces spent the past year intensively developing a “preventative intelligence infrastructure,” Netanyahu said, in reference to data analytics.

As the race continues to improve these techniques, Israel will need to continue to rely on the rapid responses of armed security forces and civilians who typically arrive at the scene of such incidents within seconds and open fire on terrorists.

Whether it is organized large-scale cells or lone murderers, the threat of indiscriminate jihadist violence looks set to remain with Israelis for years to come – though as the past two years have shown, Western cities are also increasingly prone to such threats.

Yaakov Lappin is a military and strategic affairs correspondent. He also conducts research and analysis for defense think tanks, and is
the Israel correspondent for IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly. His book, The Virtual Caliphate, explores the online jihadist presence.

ISIS Shows Preschooler Killing Victim Tied to Carnival Ball Pit

screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-2-22-36-pm-sized-770x415xcPJ Media, by Bridget Johnson, January 8, 2017:

After an end-of-the-year video showing pre-teens hunt down and kill bound prisoners in an abandoned building, the Islamic State today released an even more gory follow-up with children as young as preschool age murdering prisoners tied to broken carnival rides.

The 18-minute highly produced video out of ISIS’ Khayr province in Syria was distributed through publicly accessible Islamic State media channels, social media and file-sharing sites, including Google Drive and, briefly, YouTube.

It begins by showing adults training in a bombed-out building, but transitions into adults leading small children in exercises. A boy about 9 or 10 years old is shown gleefully participating in a public stoning.

Like previous ISIS videos featuring children, the video argues that coalition bombing is a reason for kids to join jihad and kill Americans.

And as in previous execution videos, a trio of prisoners accused of being spies make videotaped “confessions”. The film then cuts to an abandoned funfair filled with ruined carnival rides such as a Ferris wheel and kiddie train.

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The first victim is zip-tied to the interior of a tilting, spinning disk ride. A boy about 7 years old ascends the stairs and is handed a knife by a black-clad ISIS member. He covers the victim’s eyes with one hand before being given a signal by the adult jihadist. The boy then saws at the victim’s throat. When done, he wipes off both sides of the knife on the victim’s white T-shirt.

The ride is then slowly spun with the victim’s head sitting on the floor of the interior.

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The second victim is tied to the fence inside a ball pit filled with broken balls. A preschool-aged boy clad in black is handed a small gun by the adult ISIS member. The child shoots the victim five times before holding the gun aloft and yelling “Allahu akbar” twice.

An older boy who appears about 12 years old is the final executioner, pushing a bound victim into the dirt next to kiddie train tracks.

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Before he kills the prisoner, the preschool-aged boy makes a motion of drawing his hand across his throat.

After sawing the victim’s throat, the boy plunges the knife into his back before walking away.

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At the end of December, the Islamic State released a grisly video showing child jihadists hunting down bound “apostates” in a live-fire training exercise.

The half-hour-long production, from ISIS headquarters in Raqqa, shows child jihadists — boys about 9 to 12 years old — sent on an exercise through an abandoned building with some dummy targets in the rooms and a handful of live targets: prisoners with their hands zip-tied behind their backs, trying to elude the child jihadists in the multi-story, debris-strewn building.

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Also see:

Terror flash: ISIS scraps large-scale plots for social media-inspired lone killers

Photo by: Sasha Goldsmith Authorities investigate a truck after it plowed through Bastille Day revelers in the French resort city of Nice, France, on July 14, 2016. France was ravaged by its third attack in two years when a large white truck mowed through revelers gathered for Bastille Day fireworks in Nice, killing dozens of people as it bore down on the crowd for more than a mile along the Riviera city's famed seaside promenade. (Sasha Goldsmith via AP, File)

Photo by: Sasha Goldsmith
Authorities investigate a truck after it plowed through Bastille Day revelers in the French resort city of Nice, France, on July 14, 2016. France was ravaged by its third attack in two years when a large white truck mowed through revelers gathered for Bastille Day fireworks in Nice, killing dozens of people as it bore down on the crowd for more than a mile along the Riviera city’s famed seaside promenade. (Sasha Goldsmith via AP, File)

The Washington Times, January 4, 2017:

A confidential government report says terrorist groups such as the Islamic State have all but abandoned trying to put together huge plots such as the Sept. 11 attacks and warns counterterrorism agencies of a “new landscape” where lone killers strike and massacre quickly thanks to the digital age.

The report by the National Counterterrorism Center marks a historical shift that requires the FBI, CIA and other agencies to try to locate the mobile and digital-savvy loner, and not necessarily detect a complex plot.

“The steady rise in the number of lone actor operations is a trend which coincides with the deepening and broadening of the digital revolution as well as the encouragement of such operations by terrorist groups because intensified [counterterrorism] operations have disrupted their ability to launch larger plots,” the NCTC says in a report obtained by The Washington Times. “Lone actors now have greater capability to create and broadcast material than a decade ago, while violent extremists can contact and interact with potential recruits with greater ease.”

The report was circulated Dec. 28 to counterterrorism agencies across the country.

The analysis says the new faces of extremist violence are “small autonomous cells” and “individual terrorism.”

“Recent rapid technological change, which allows terrorists to reach a large audience quickly and directly, has enabled them to achieve their messaging goals without launching large-scale attacks which demand significant physical infrastructure,” says the NCTC, which operates under Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper.

“Increasingly, thanks in part to the digital revolution, they can rely on what Syrian terrorist Abu Musab al-Suri called ‘individual terrorism.’ With ISIL losing territory and the al-Qa’ida network increasingly decentralized, individuals and small autonomous cells may increasingly take the initiative in both the murderous and messaging dimensions of violent extremism,” the report states.

The Islamic State, which holds territory in Iraq and Syria, has created armies in over a dozen countries and is known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh.

In a speech last month to troops at U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command, President Obama touted his counterterrorism efforts by saying no group has launched a complex plot from abroad against the United States during his presidency.

 

Critics say that may be true but that Islamic terrorist attacks are increasing globally.

The massacres in San Bernardino, California, in 2015, and last summer in Orlando, Florida, are just two examples of this type of terrorism.

Other examples: An Islamic State agent gunned down 39 New Year’s revelers at a packed nightclub in Istanbul. Also this holiday season, Anis Amri, a lone terrorist devoted to the Islamic State, drove a truck through a Berlin outdoor Christmas market, killing 12.

The NCTC calls this “The new landscape … with few formal boundaries or solid structures, where groups can form wherever resources permit and circumstances are favorable. It is also one in which technology may permit active militants in the future to become individual terror broadcasting units, cataloging their path to terror and teaching others their tradecraft.”

The center identifies the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq as the “turning point,” when terrorists realized that the internet and social media could provide platforms to reach and organize radicals by the thousands.

It points to Abu Musab Zarqawi, the al Qaeda in Iraq leader in May 2004, who videotaped his beheading of American Nick Berg and disseminated the gruesome image on the internet.

“The exact number of downloads is unknown, but its wide dissemination on extremist websites, and the ‘buzz’ it created on extremist online forums, suggested this footage reached a much greater audience than any comparable material,” the report says.

What followed was Syrian terrorist Abu Khalid al-Suri’s analysis of technology and publication of a training guide titled “A Call to Global Islamic Resistance.”

“He provided one of the most articulate and elaborate definitions of this strategy and the first one which explicitly stressed the internet as a means of relaying advice and orientation. This new doctrine allowed violent extremist groups to become more resilient in the face of intense international [counterterrorism] efforts,” the NCTC report states.

One terrorist who bought into al-Suri’s analysis was American al Qaeda member Anwar al-Awlaki. He posted 1,910 videos on YouTube, one of which has been viewed 164,420 times. Al-Awlaki, who urged attacks on the U.S. as a member of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011.

The report highlights the Islamic State, which rose from a defeated al Qaeda spinoff in Iraq to amass a huge army of terrorists based in Syria, and invaded Iraq in 2014.

“ISIL has consciously choreographed violence in the areas it controls to meet the demands of its key audiences, and it has carefully exploited the capabilities of contemporary media technology to deliver that content, often via social media but also via other means,” it says.

Robert Maginnis, a retired Army officer who is out with a new book, “Future War,” said the NCTC report captures the “modern terrorist.”

“The modern terrorist acts more often than not without detailed operational guidance from a central authority like al Qaeda in Pakistan or ISIS central in Raqqa, Syria,” Mr. Maginnis said. “They take general encouragement from public pronouncements of their ideological leaders such as ISIS’ glossy magazine Dabiq and then operationalize their radical intentions either individually or by small autonomous cells of close and trusted associates.”

The migrant Tunisian Amri is a prime example.

“The modern terrorist is hard to detect, much like the truck terrorist at the Berlin Christmas market weeks ago,” Mr. Maginnis said. “He hid within his closed community, used personal resources, struck in an unexpected way and then disappeared into the fabric of the society of his new country.”

Inside the Minds of Orthodox Muslims

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Citizen Warrior, January 3, 2017:

The following are excerpts from an article in The Week entitled, Inside the Minds of Jihadis. It is a book review:

As with any enemy, the best way to defeat the Islamic State is to understand it. And to do that, the best place to start is a new book by Graeme Wood, The Way of the Strangers. This book gives us the best insight yet into what makes the Islamic State tick.

Wood, a national correspondent at The Atlantic and lecturer in political science at Yale, spent years from the streets of Cairo to London to the Philippines to Australia, interviewing supporters of the Islamic State and getting inside their heads. What results is a series of gripping, fascinating portraits. Wood’s subjects have little cageyness towards him. Since everything is foreordained by Allah anyway, revealing your plans to a Western journalist won’t change the outcome. Plus, Wood has the talented journalist’s skill for interview and observation. He’s an astute psychologist and a good writer to boot…

The book’s implicit thesis, one which is both inarguably true and persistently denied by so many decision makers in the West, is that ideas have consequences. While the motives of any individual and group of people are always multifaceted and almost always include a good helping of interest-seeking and self-delusion, it is also impossible to deny that large sections of Islamic State members and supporters, from its leadership down to foot soldiers, make decisions on the basis of what they believe.

As the Islamic State keeps repeating over and over through its high-polish propaganda apparatus, it has a theology, and this theology has content, and an internal logic, that can be understood on its merits. Once this theology is understood, and once the proponents of this theology are actually listened to, and their actions watched, it becomes impossible to deny that this theology is a key cause (maybe not the cause, but a key cause) of the actions of the Islamic State, most of its leaders, and most of its supporters.

What’s more — and this is the source of the willful blindness of elite policymakers and commentators towards the Islamic State — this theology does have Islamic roots…

All Muslims agree on at least one thing, which is that Muslims should follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad. And the Prophet Muhammad did do many of the things that the Islamic State is most reviled for, such as waging absolute religious warfare, engaging in slavery, stoning adulterers, and so forth…

It’s a great read. But more importantly, Wood’s book reveals truths about ISIS that are hiding in plain sight — but that our leaders make themselves willfully ignorant of. They ought to read his book, too.

Read the whole article here: Inside the Minds of Jihadis

Analysis: Islamic State claims historically high number of suicide attacks in 2016

17-01-01-is-claims-107-martyrdom-operations-in-iraq-and-syria-in-dec-2016-768x545Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, January 3, 2017:

The Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency claims that the so-called caliphate carried out at least 1,141 “martyrdom operations” (suicide attacks) in Iraq, Syria and Libya in 2016. The overwhelming majority of these, 1,112 in all, were launched in Iraq and Syria.

On Jan. 1, Amaq posted an infographic (seen on the right) summarizing 107 “martyrdom operations” in Iraq and Syria for the month of Dec. 2016. As The Long War Journal repeatedly documented last year, Amaq produces a similar image each month. The total for all twelve months of 2016 is 1,141 suicide bombings, including 29 in Libya.

If Amaq’s figures are accurate, then the Islamic State set a new record high for suicide attacks in 2016. Indeed, the scale of such operations is incredible, even by the standards of modern jihadist organizations. For example, the Taliban claims that its members were responsible for just 32 “martyrdom” attacks during the same time frame.

17-01-03-1112-martyrdom-operations-carried-out-by-fighters-of-the-islamic-state-of-iraq-and-syria-in-2016-768x432Earlier today, Amaq also published an infographic (seen on the right) summarizing the group’s 1,112 “martyrdom operations” in Iraq and Syria. The majority of these, 761 (or 68 percent), were aimed at Iraqi government forces or Kurdish Peshmerga fighters. The infographics do not separately list those bombings that targeted Iranian-backed Shiite militias that fight alongside the Iraqi government.

Kurdish fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), were the second most frequent target of the Islamic State’s “martyrs.” According to Amaq, 135 such operations targeted the PKK/YPG. Most of these took place in northern Syria, where the two sides have been engaged in heavy fighting. The PKK is a US-designated terrorist organization. The YPG has helped deliver some of the Islamic State’s biggest losses since 2014, including in Kobane.

Another 133 suicide bombers struck fighters loyal to Bashar al Assad’s regime in Syria. The two sides frequently clash in the Homs and Deir Ezzor provinces. The Islamic State also carried out high-profile “martyrdom” operations against the Syrian regime elsewhere in 2016 as well.

The remaining 83 “martyrs” were deployed against Turkey’s armed forces and allied rebel organizations in northern Syria. Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield in August and quickly claimed territory from the so-called caliphate along the border. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s loyalists have been trying to stymie the Turkish-led offensive on Al Bab, a town in the northern part of Syria’s Aleppo province, and some of the bombings took place in the neighboring villages.

The Islamic State has become particularly adept at using vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs). According to Amaq, 797 of the 1,112 suicide attacks in Iraq and Syria in 2016 relied on VBIEDs. Another 18 were dual operations involving vehicles. Therefore, fully 73 percent of the bombings used VBIEDs. The remaining suicide operations used explosive belts (214), bomb vests (82), or a motor bike (1).

The Long War Journal has noticed a small discrepancy in Amaq’s reporting. The Islamic State’s propaganda arm listed suicide attacks in Libya on several of its monthly infographics in 2016, but stopped doing so in the latter third of the year. For instance, Amaq separately reported that tanks and various other vehicles belonging to General Khalifa Haftar’s men were destroyed in “a martyrdom operation in the customs zone west of Benghazi” on Dec. 18. However, this bombing is not listed on Amaq’s infographic for December (seen above). This means that some suicide attacks reported by Amaq in Libya, as well as elsewhere, are not included in the organization’s tallies. The infographic tallying 1,112 suicide attacks in 2016 excludes Libya entirely.

The battle for Mosul

In October, the US military, Iraqi government, Kurdish forces, Iranian-backed militias and others began an offensive to retake Mosul, which is located in Nineveh province. Mosul is one of the Islamic State’s two de facto capitals, so it is unsurprising that the group has dispatched an incredible number of suicide bombers in its defense of the city.

In fact, according to Amaq, 220 “martyrdom operations” were carried out during the first ten weeks of the battle for Mosul. The bombings during this ten week period, which began in mid-October and ended on Dec. 26, account for nearly 20 percent of the claimed suicide attacks in 2016 across Iraq and Syria combined.

The figure for the battle of Mosul is based on separate infographics produced by Amaq specifically for the fight in and around the city. The infographics for the first seven weeks of the battle for Mosul were previously reproduced by FDD’s Long War Journal. [See: “Islamic State defends Mosul with dozens of suicide bombers” and “Islamic State has claimed more than 1,000 suicide attacks thus far in 2016.”] The infographics for weeks eight through ten of the battle can be seen below.

Claiming suicide bombings at a historically high rate

As The Long War Journal has previously reported, the Islamic State claims to have carried out suicide bombings at a historically high rate in 2016.

Amaq’s infographics indicate that the group launched an average of 93 “martyrdom operations” in Iraq and Syria per month throughout the year. This figure does not include the suicide bombings in Libya and elsewhere, which would only make the average even higher.

According to open source data compiled by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), all terrorist organizations around the globe carried out 906 (76 per month) suicide attacks in 2015 and 739 (62 per month) in 2014. The year 2015 was the previous high water mark for suicide bombings. Many of those attacks in 2014 and 2015 were orchestrated by the Islamic State, but other organizations’ “martyrs” are included in the totals as well.

Therefore, the Islamic State’s figures suggest that the organization set a new record for suicide bombings in 2016 all by itself.

However, there are important caveats to keep in mind when assessing Amaq’s claims.

First, it is not possible to validate the total figures provided by Amaq. The Islamic State propaganda arm does post individual claims for many of the “martyrdom operations” tallied on its infographics. These statements indicate a location and target for each “martyr,” but this is not independent verification as it comes from the same source (Amaq). Furthermore, while open source reporting corroborates many such operations, it is unlikely that all of the suicide attacks are tracked in publicly-available sources. The fog of war often makes it difficult to document the precise details of bombings in chaotic war zones.

The identities of many of these attackers are not known. The Islamic State has used children or adolescents in at least some of its “martyrdom operations.” Such young people cannot be truly considered willing “martyrs.”

Some suicide bombers fail to reach their intended targets, but are probably included in Amaq’s totals anyway. Press reports have detailed how many Islamic State operatives fail to hit their mark prior to blowing themselves up. The US and its allies often destroy VBIEDs before they can do any damage.

It is also possible that Amaq exaggerates the efficacy of the group’s “martyrdom operations” by overstating the casualties caused and the total number of targets destroyed (including enemy vehicles) in the resulting explosions.

Most of the Islamic State’s suicide bombings are now defensive in nature, meaning that a large number of “martyrs” are being deployed as the caliphate’s grip on territory loosens. This can be seen in and around Mosul, north of Raqqa, Syria as well as in Sirte, Libya. All three cities are considered key to the Islamic State’s caliphate claim. As the group’s hold on Sirte began to slip during the summer of 2016, for example, the jihadists used a number of suicide bombers to slow their enemies’ approach. Eventually, Sirte fell to local Libyan forces backed by the US and its Western allies anyway. The same methods are being employed around Mosul and north of Raqqa.

It is also important to remember that suicide attacks are just one of the many tactics employed by the Islamic State.

Still, there is no question that Baghdadi’s men are relying on suicide bombers at a remarkable pace.

If Amaq’s data are accurate, the two months that witnessed the most suicide bombings by Baghdadi’s operation were October (120) and November (132). September saw the fewest suicide attacks with 53, according to Amaq.

Amaq News Agency’s infographics for weeks eight through ten of the battle for Mosul:

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16-12-21-9b-ninth-week-of-the-battle-of-mosul-1024x576

16-12-28-10b-the-tenth-week-of-the-battle-of-mosul-arabic-1024x576

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD’s Long War Journal.