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

Leaked audio: Obama wanted ISIS to grow

Secretary of State John Kerry

Secretary of State John Kerry

Kerry also admitted U.S. helped arm jihadists

WND, January 2, 2017:

As President Obama reflects on his legacy, a recording of Secretary of State John Kerry conversing with leaders of Syrian opposition groups is casting more light on his approach to ISIS, indicating his administration believed that allowing the Islamic State to grow would serve the White House’s objective of ousting Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The recording was leaked to the New York Times and reported Sept. 30, but the Conservative Tree House blog this week featured portions of Kerry’s statements that were virtually ignored at the time.

Regime change was Obama’s only objective in Syria, Kerry indicates, and the administration not only hoped ISIS would carry out the task, it gave arms to the jihadist army and its allies, confirming WND’s reporting.

Kerry admits the U.S. didn’t calculate that Assad would turn to Russia for help.

“And we know that this was growing, we were watching, we saw that DAESH (ISIS) was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened,” Kerry told the Syrians.

“(We) thought, however,” he continued, “we could probably manage that Assad might then negotiate, but instead of negotiating he got Putin to support him.”

Kerry’s off-record, 40-minute discussion with two dozen Syrians who worked with nongovernmental organizations took place during the U.N. General Assembly.

It confirms WND’s reporting since 2011 of evidence that Clinton’s State Department engineered the clandestine transfer of weapons from Libya to Syria that ended up in the hands of terrorist groups aligned with ISIS and al-Qaida.

The Conservative Tree House noted that in August 2014, President Obama gave a press conference in which he stated he “did not have a strategy” against ISIS. Then two months, later, his chief spokesman, Josh Earnest, stated: “Our ISIS strategy is dependent on something that does not yet exist.”

Benghazi tie

In May 2015, WND reported evidence that U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens was involved in shipping weapons from Benghazi to support the al-Qaida-affiliated militias fighting the Assad regime, effectively arming the Sunni jihadists who morphed into ISIS.

Judicial Watch, which obtained much of the evidence, noted an August 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency report, written at time the U.S. was monitoring weapons flows from Libya to Syria, said “the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI (Al-Qaida in Iraq) are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.”

In an Aug. 17, 2014, email released by WikiLeaks, Clinton, after her service as secretary of state, suggested to adviser John Podesta: “At the same time, we should return to plans to provide the FSA [Free Syria Army], with some group of moderate forces, with equipment that will allow them to deal with a weakened ISIL, and stepped up operations against the Syrian regime.”

In September 2013, WND reported Kerry and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., had relied on the work of Elizabeth O’Bagy, a 26-year-old graduate student, to argue in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Obama administration should send weapons to arm the “moderate” Free Syria Army to oppose the Assad government in Syria.

WND detailed the extensive lobbying efforts conducted in Washington to advance the FSA as a “moderate group,” despite clear evidence the al-Nusra Front – operating under the FSA umbrella – had been declared a terrorist organization by the State Department; has pledged allegiance to al-Qaida’s top leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri; and was the group of choice for foreign jihadis pouring into Syria.

In September 2014, WND reported O’Bagy, who had been fired from her job with a Washington think-tank after her exposure by WND as a source for Kerry’s argument that the FSA is a “moderate” rebel force in Syria, had also arranged for McCain a trip to Syria in May 2013 during which senator met with Abdul Hakim Belhaj, who was then represented as a leader of the FSA.

In November 2013, WND reported trusted Libyan expatriates had claimed Belhaj was at large in Libya. The expatriates identified Belhaj as an al-Qaida operative, noting he was at the top of a list of Libyan terrorists banned by the European Union from obtaining entrance visas and was the principal organizer of the terrorist attack in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2011, in which Ambassador Stevens was murdered.

A weapons shipment from Benghazi to Syria that occurred just days before the Benghazi attack was coordinated by Belhaj.

The shipment been arranged by Marc Turi, a professional arms dealer who had been indicted by federal prosecutors for supplying arms to Libyan “rebels.” But the Obama administration dropped the criminal case one day before a court-ordered deadline to disclose information about its efforts to arm Muslim rebels.

The DOJ was forced to drop the Turi prosecution because federal prosecutors were convinced his defense would expose Clinton’s secret arms running to the radical al-Qaida-affiliated militia in Libya, contends Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano.

WND also published visual evidence Clinton’s State Department secretly provided weapons to Islamic jihadists in Libya.

From Churchgoers to Military: ISIS ‘Kill Lists’ Explained

In this video released by ISIS' Amaq news agency in October 2016, jihadists patrol the streets of Mosul.

In this video released by ISIS’ Amaq news agency in October 2016, jihadists patrol the streets of Mosul.

PJ Media, by Bridget Johnson, December 29, 2016:

A Christmastime “hit list” of churches that appeared on a messenger app is far from the first such terrorist suggestion list, representing an escalating trend of terror supporters revealing reams of information on various targets compiled from public sources.

It’s a tactic to sow panic that ISIS and its supporters have used before: putting out a list of purported targets, random information that’s more of a data dump than a carefully curated list, often containing open-source information that a would-be jihadist could just get off of Google on his own.

It also represents the ideological crowdfunding of modern jihad: the terror outlet encourages followers to come up with ideas on training, weapons, targets and more — many of the manuals and guidebooks are not issued by the same official ISIS media outlets that produce videos and magazines, but by supporters who have never left their home countries or jihadists who have taken a trip to the Islamic State — and disseminate those tips across the web and encrypted messaging platforms.

A hacker working on the online campaign to take ISIS websites and social media accounts offline posted a screenshot of the threat discussion on Telegram that did not include a list of churches, but a link to USAChurches.org, a directory of some churches organized by state or denomination. The post also included links to Canadian, French and Dutch church directories, along with the call to target “churches, famous hotels, crowded cafes, crowded streets, markets and complexes.”

It was not issued by an official ISIS media outlet.

Before Christmas, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin to law enforcement agencies to be on the alert and watch houses of worship over the holidays, adding that there wasn’t specific credible threat information. Similar alerts have previously been issued by the FBI around holidays and special events.

A spokeswoman for the FBI’s Boston office told the Boston Herald that the FBI was “aware of the recent link published online that urges attacks against U.S. churches.”

“The FBI asks members of the public to maintain awareness of their surroundings and to report any suspicious activity to law enforcement.”

It wasn’t the first time ISIS supporters had distributed a hit list of religious targets. A July list that included church and synagogue members prompted Homeland Security officials to hold a conference call with Jewish leaders to discuss the finding. The list was compiled from directories posted on the religious institutions’ websites.

That month, ISIS’ Dabiq magazine issue was titled “Break the Cross,” and argued “the true religion of Jesus Christ is a pure monotheistic submission – called Islam.” A lengthy theological argument in the issue concluded with the warning that “if you continue to disbelieve, then know that you shall be defeated and then dragged altogether into Hell as your eternal, wicked abode.” The magazine also profiled Abu Sa’d at-Trinidadi, a former Baptist from Trinidad and Tobago who converted to Islam and joined ISIS.

A hit list released by ISIS supporters the previous month featured thousands of American names including tech-industry execs and celebrities.

In June, PJM was able to download a 458-page kill list distributed by ISIS supporters on a file-sharing site. Most of the addresses on the list were in Ontario or Quebec. Many of the names were duplicates. Names appeared to follow no pattern other than being ordinary citizens, with their address, email and phone number posted. Some of the lines were gibberish, as if corrupt data had been downloaded in the process and was unedited by whoever prepared the list for release. There were two Canadians named Mohammad on the hit list.

Another #OpISIS hacker told PJM at the time that it appeared ISIS supporters were simply pulling names off of publicly accessible social media lists.

Occasionally, terrorists get hit-list names from hackers who have done their dirty work.

This year, a 20-year-old Kosovar named Ardit Ferizi was extradited from Malaysia after handing personal information of 1,351 U.S. government employees and military members over to late ISIS hacker Junaid Hussain and others in the organization “for the purpose of encouraging terrorist attacks against the identified individuals,” according to the FBI affidavit. The stolen information, which was pilfered from the website of an unidentified retail company, included emails and passwords, addresses and phone numbers.

After the hacking, in August 2015, Hussain posted a message from the Islamic State Hacking Division claiming that they’d hacked the U.S. military and government instead of snagging the information from a hacker of online shopping.

Hussain tweeted out the list with the warning: “We are in your emails and computer systems, watching and recording your every move, we have your names and addresses, we are in your emails and social media accounts, we are extracting confidential data and passing on your personal information to the soldiers of the khilafah, who soon with the permission of Allah will strike at your necks in your own lands!”

Hussain was killed that month. Other operations from his ISIS hacking division included the March 2015 release of a hit list containing the names of 100 U.S. military officers. This time they also claimed they hacked the Defense Department, but the Pentagon said the information posted by ISIS was accessible via social media and people-search sites. ISIS is believed to have compiled that list starting with news articles about anti-ISIS operations featuring the names of the targeted officers.

An Army guide on operational security (OPSEC) for service members and their families warns that an al-Qaeda handbook suggested terrorists search online for data about “government personnel and all matters related to them (residence, work place, times of leaving and returning, children and places visited).”

ISIS also maintains internal hit lists. Two ISIS terrorists murdered a priest during Mass in Normandy this July; the parish was one of several on a list found when an ISIS suspect was arrested in Paris in April 2015. Authorities believe the Algerian student had been in contact with ISIS figures in Syria about proposed church attacks.

ISIS and sympathizers have been moving many of their communications and dissemination of propaganda to the encrypted Telegram app, where the pre-Christmas posting about churches was located, for greater ease of communication as Twitter has cracked down on their accounts in fits and starts.

Also see:

 

Wanted Istanbul Terrorist ‘Fought for Islamic State in Syria’

Turkish Police

Turkish Police

Breitbart Jerusalem, January 3, 2017:

Istanbul (AFP) – Turkish authorities on Tuesday intensified efforts to identify and detain a suspected jihadist who killed 39 people at an Istanbul nightclub, and who reportedly fought in Syria alongside Islamic State jihadists.

Police released pictures of the suspect who went on the rampage at the plush Reina nightclub on New Year’s night, spraying some 120 bullets at terrified guests before slipping away into the night.

So far, 16 people are being held over the attack, including two foreigners detained by Turkish police at Istanbul’s main airport. But the killer remains on the run.

Of the 39 dead, 27 were foreigners, mainly from Arab countries, with coffins repatriated overnight to countries including Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

The Islamic State (IS) group on Monday claimed the massacre, the first time it has clearly stated being behind a major attack in Turkey.

The suspect — who has not been named but was reportedly from Central Asia — was staying in a rented flat in Konya before moving to Istanbul to carry out the attack, press reports said.

The Dogan news agency said those detained included a woman suspected of being his wife with whom he had stayed in Konya along with two children.

Reports said police have made progress in the investigation after speaking to the taxi driver who drove the attacker to the club and tracing calls he had made on the driver’s mobile phone.

– ‘Specially selected’ –

The Hurriyet daily said the attacker showed signs of being well trained in the use of arms and had fought in Syria for IS jihadists.

Hurriyet’s well-connected columnist Abdulkadir Selvi he had been trained in street fighting in residential areas in Syria and used these techniques in the attack, shooting from the hip rather than as a sniper.

The attacker had been “specially selected” to carry out the shooting, he said. According to Hurriyet, just 28 bullets failed to hit a target.

“This specially-trained terrorist has still not been detained and is still wandering dangerously amongst us,” he wrote.

He said an IS strike was also planned in Ankara on New Year’s eve but that it had been prevented after eight IS suspects were arrested in the capital. There were no further details.

Near the entrance to the nightclub which lies on the shores of the Bosphorus, an impromptu shrine was set up with pictures of the dead where well-wishers have been piling up flowers.

“The attacker arrived at the door and opened fire towards me,” club manager Ali Unal told AFP.

“My foot slipped and I fell down, the gunshots didn’t stop.”

– ‘Taksim selfie video’ –

Police meanwhile released the first clear images of the attacker, including one taken by security cameras on the night of the attack.

And a chilling video of the suspect taken near Taksim Square in central Istanbul was also released, showing him recording himself with a selfie stick and smiling faintly into the camera.

It was not immediately clear how the footage had been obtained.

Reports said that the attacker could be from Kyrgyzstan or Uzbekistan. In Bishkek, the national security council said it was checking any possible involvement of a Kyrgyz citizen.

In a statement circulated on social media, IS said one of its “soldiers” had carried out the carnage, accusing Turkey — a majority-Muslim country — of being a servant of Christians and saying the shooting was a response to Ankara’s military action against jihadists in Syria.

Turkish troops are pressing a four-month incursion to oust IS jihadists the border area while Ankara is also pushing a ceasefire plan with Russia as a basis for peace talks to end the civil war.

After a cabinet meeting in Ankara chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the government vowed that the operation in Syria would continue with “determination”.

The shooting took place just 75 minutes into 2017 after a bloody year in Turkey in which hundreds of people were killed in violence blamed on both IS jihadists and Kurdish militants.

The foreigners who died — most of them from Arab countries and including Muslims — had come to the club to celebrate a special night in style.

They included three Lebanese nationals, two Jordanians and three Iraqis, as well as several Saudis.

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Tom Joscelyn with some very interesting information on the Turkey nightclub attack. Unfortunately the video cut off an important part of the interview where he gives new info on Al Qaeda in Turkey. I will post it if I find it.

Also see:

ISIS Threat in Washington, DC

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Unconstrained Analytics, December 29, 2016:

UA’s Stephen Coughlin and Patrick Poole joined Congressman Louie Gohmert, filling in for Sean Hannity on the Hannity radio show, to discuss the growing evidence that there is an ISIS threat living right outside of our nation’s capitol as well as what needs to be done to effectively combat this threat.

Related:

Islamic State arrests reveal jihadi threat near seat of U.S. government (Washington Times)

Law enforcement agencies have arrested nine Northern Virginia residents on charges of aiding the Islamic State since the terrorist group rose to power in Syria and Iraq in 2014 and launched social media propaganda to attract followers, a government message to police states. . .

. . . Of the nine Northern Virginians who were arrested, all but one were in their teens and early 20s. They included a police officer, a Starbucks barista, Army soldiers, bankers and a cabdriver. Four of the nine graduated from Northern Virginia high schools, one with honors. Two attended Northern Virginia Community College.

In other words, all of them appeared to have opportunities via public education to become successful Americans but instead were charged with what amounted to a devotion to violent jihad.

They are suspected of conducting terrorism planning through Twitter, Facebook, Skype, WhatsApp and other platforms and apps, as well as on prepaid phones. . . . (read all)

Islamic State claims responsibility for New Year’s Day attack at Istanbul nightclub

Medics and security officials work at the scene after an attack at a popular nightclub in Istanbul, early Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. Turkey's state-run news agency says an armed assailant has opened fire at a nightclub in Istanbul during New Year's celebrations, wounding several people.(IHA via AP)

Medics and security officials work at the scene after an attack at a popular nightclub in Istanbul, early Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. Turkey’s state-run news agency says an armed assailant has opened fire at a nightclub in Istanbul during New Year’s celebrations, wounding several people.(IHA via AP)

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, January 2, 2017:

The Islamic State released a statement earlier today claiming responsibility for the attack on the Reina nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey during the early hours of New Year’s Day. At least 39 people were killed and dozens more wounded in the massacre. Many of the victims were foreign tourists, according to local media reports.

The so-called caliphate says that its “hero soldier” assaulted one of Turkey’s “most famous nightclubs,” because it is a location where “Christians celebrate their pagan holiday.” The jihadist group also attempts to justify the attack by portraying Turkey as a “protector of the cross” and accusing Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government of spilling the “blood of Muslims” with its planes and guns. This is likely a reference to Turkey’s military operations in northern Syria, where its forces and allied rebel groups fight Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s men on a daily basis. Of course, most of the Islamic State’s victims are Muslims, meaning its accusation against Turkey is hollow. Many of the victims at Reina were likely Muslims as well.

The Islamic State had been reticent to claim responsibility for attacks inside Turkey. Although a number of operations are thought to be the work of its men, including the June 2016 attack on the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, the group didn’t own any of them via its prolific propaganda machine. That began to change in early Nov. 2016, when Abu Bakr al Baghdadi called on his followers to strike inside Turkey. The Islamic State’s thinking likely changed after Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield was launched. Turkish forces and their allies have successfully claimed territory from the caliphate in northern Syria.

During his speech in November, Baghdadi claimed that Turkey had revealed its true agenda by entering the war. He argued that the Turks have taken advantage of the fact that the Islamic State has been distracted by the “war against the infidel nations” and has been forced to defend its territory. For these reasons, Baghdadi told his followers to “attack” Turkey and bring the country into their “conflict.” Baghdadi also likened “infidel” Turkish soldiers to dogs and called on the caliphate’s “soldiers” to spill their blood. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s ‘grand jihad’ against the world.]

Within hours of Baghdadi’s speech, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a car bombing in southeastern Turkey. This was the group’s first high-profile claim of responsibility for a terrorist operation inside the country. Turkish authorities quickly blamed the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a US-designated terrorist organization, for the explosion. It is possible that Kurdish terrorists did carry out the bombing. Still, the Islamic State’s claim was important because it signaled a new willingness to publicly lash out at Turkey.

The Islamic State’s new spokesman, Abu al Hassan al Muhajir, continued with Baghdadi’s anti-Turkey theme in his first message, which was released in early December. Muhajir accused Turkey of serving “Crusader Europe” and said that Erdoğan had miscalculated by directly entering the war in Syria. Muhajir called on the Islamic State’s jihadists to strike Turkish interests around the world.

“Accordingly, we make a call to every truthful muwahhid to target the supports of the apostate, secularist, Turkish state everywhere, including the security, military, economic, and media apparatuses…even every embassy and consulate representing them in all lands of the earth,” Muhajir said. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report: New Islamic State spokesman seeks to rally Sunnis against Iran, West.]

Baghdadi’s propagandists also released a gruesome video purportedly showing two Turkish soldiers being burned alive in December.

Nightclubs and similar venues are an easy target for the Islamic State’s terrorists. In Nov. 2015, the jihadists slaughtered 89 people at the Bataclan theatre in Paris. The attack on Bataclan was part of a coordinated assault throughout France’s capital. In June 2016, a jihadist who repeatedly swore his allegiance to Baghdadi shot and killed 49 people at a LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

Initial reports indicate that at least one gunman assaulted Reina. Some local accounts claim that he was dressed like Santa Claus, or in similar holiday garb. However, that detail and many others remain to be confirmed. Turkish authorities have arrested several people suspected of being tied to the Islamic State’s network inside Turkey, but the terrorist responsible for the killings has not yet been identified or detained.

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

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Also see:

Berlin truck terrorist pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in video

screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-11-09-59-am

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, December 23, 2016:

The Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency has released a video of Anis Amri, the Tunisian man suspected of driving a large lorry into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin on Dec. 19. Twelve people were killed and dozens more injured in the attack. Amri was reportedly killed in a shootout with police in Milan, Italy earlier today.

Prior to his demise, Amri recorded a video in which he swore bayah (oath of allegiance) to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, describing Baghdadi as the “Emir ul-Mu’minin” (“Emir of the Faithful”), a title usually reserved for an Islamic Caliph.

Amri went on to denounce the “crusader” bombings in the territories controlled by the Islamic State. And he called on Muslims to exact retribution by attacking inside the West.

Amri’s video was sent to Amaq, which posted the clip on its official website and social media after he was shot dead. Amaq also released a statement noting Amri’s death.

Amaq’s release of the video is consistent with the pattern followed after other Islamic State-claimed operations in 2016.

The terrorists responsible for small-scale attacks in Würzburg, Germany (July 18), Ansbach, Germany (July 24), Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France (July 26), and Balashikha (east of Moscow), Russia (Aug. 17) all recorded videos of themselves pledging allegiance to Baghdadi before their hour of terror.

Their videos were sent to Amaq, which made minor additions (such as a title screen) and then released them online shortly thereafter. Screen shots from each of these videos can be seen below.

In other cases, terrorists have professed their fealty to Baghdadi and his so-called caliphate online or in phone calls, but their stated allegiance was not first released by Amaq.

For example, Omar Mateen, who massacred 49 people at an Orlando nightclub in June, repeatedly swore his allegiance to Baghdadi during conversations with authorities on the night of his attack. The couple responsible for the Dec. 2015 San Bernardino killings also referenced their bayah to Baghdadi on social media.

The Islamic State has claimed that its “soldier(s)” have been responsible for other attacks inside the US as well. Unlike in Europe, however, Amaq has not released videos from any of the attackers inside America.

There are multiple ways a jihadist can be affiliated with the Islamic State, or another terrorist organization. In some cases, such as the attack on Paris in Nov. 2015, the terrorists are dispatched by a group. In other instances, they receive some direction, either online or in person. European officials have described a series of plots in their countries as being “remote-controlled” by Islamic State handlers online. The aforementioned attacks in Ansbach and Würzburg, as well as others, fall into this category.

In still other scenarios, it appears the attacker was merely inspired by the jihadists’ propaganda. It often takes time for authorities to determine where a terrorist falls in this spectrum of connections, ranging from dispatched, to “remote-controlled,” to inspired.

Amaq’s release of the terrorists’ videos demonstrates that they are anything but “lone” actors. The videos suggest that the jihadists responsible for each of these attacks had at least one tie to the Islamic State, even if it was only a digital one. Other biographical details for at least some of the jihadists who have struck inside Europe demonstrate additional connections as well. For instance, the man who detonated his backpack bomb in Ansbach, Germany earlier this year had fought for the Islamic State in Syria.

Amri had his own ties to the Islamic State’s network and was on the US government’s no-fly list.

Citing “American officials,” The New York Times first reported that Amri had already “appeared on the radar of United States agencies.” Amri “had done online research on how to make explosive devices and had communicated with the Islamic State at least once, via Telegram Messenger,” the Times reported.

CNN reported that Amri “was known to German security services as someone in contact with radical Islamist groups, and had been assessed as posing a risk.”

Authorities tied Amri to Abu Walaa, an extremist preacher who was arrested in November. Abu Walaa, a native Iraqi, is a well-known, yet somewhat mysterious, preacher who indoctrinated Muslims in the ways of jihad. Some of his recruits are thought to have traveled abroad to wage jihad, including on behalf of the Islamic State. CNN’s Paul Cruickshank found that “as many as 20 Germans who have joined” the Islamic State had ties to Abu Walaa’s network.

However, Amri did not migrate to the lands of the so-called caliphate. Instead, he decided to lash out inside the West. The Islamic State has repeatedly told its followers that such plots are better than fighting in Iraq, Syria or elsewhere, as they do more damage to the jihadists’ enemies.

Screen shots from Amaq’s videos of the Würzburg, Ansbach, Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray and Balashikha terrorists swearing allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi:

16-07-19-muhammad-riyad-1

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

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Secret ISIS list IDs U.S. churches for attack during holidays

St. Peter & Paul Chapel in Cairo Bombed by Muslims in November 2016 killing 25 Christians

St. Peter & Paul Chapel in Cairo Bombed by Muslims in November 2016 killing 25 Christians

WND, by Leo Hohmann, December 23, 2016:

The Islamic State has allegedly published a secret list in Arabic of thousands of churches in all 50 states and called on its followers to attack them during the holidays.

ISIS, according to a report by Vocativ.com, posted the list late Wednesday night in the group’s “Secrets of Jihadis” social media group using the encrypted app Telegram.

WND asked several Arab speakers to search for the list and after an exhaustive search online they came up empty, leading some question whether such a list even exists. If it does, it is well hidden within the encrypted app. [emphasis added]

A user going by the name of “Abu Marya al-Iraqi” posted an Arabic-language message calling “for bloody celebrations in the Christian New Year” and announced the group’s plans to utilize its network of lone wolf attackers to “turn the Christian New Year into a bloody horror movie,” Vocative reported.

The names and addresses, distributed in a number of posts, were all previously available online and include a public directory of churches across all 50 states.

‘Sons of Islam’ exhorted to attack large gatherings

In another group post, a member summoned “the sons of Islam” to target “churches, well-known hotels, crowded coffee shops, streets, markets and public places,” and shared a list of addresses in the United States, as well as in Canada, France and the Netherlands.

Of course, none of this should come as a surprise. Last month, the St. Peter and St. Paul chapel of the Coptic Christian Church in Cairo, Egypt, was bombed by Muslims, killing 25 Copts and injuring several more.

In July, an elderly Catholic priest had his throat slit on the altar while he was saying mass in Normandy, France. ISIS claimed responsibility for that attack by two of its “soldiers.”

Then on Monday, a Christmas market was targeted by a Muslim jihadist from Tunisia who stole a truck and rammed it into the crowded market. Christmas, as a Christian holiday, is a symbol of Europe’s and America’s Christian identity, regardless of whether many Christians in these countries still take their faith seriously, terrorism experts say.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the Christmas market attack in Berlin that killed 12 and injured 48, while the suspected jihadist, a Muslim migrant who entered Europe from Tunisia, is still on the loose.

Surveillance of churches reported

Former FBI counter-terrorism agent John Guandolo’s Understanding the Threat blog has received reports in the last several weeks from law enforcement, pastors and citizens that Muslims are conducting pre-operation surveillance inside U.S. churches during services.

The information received by UTT from multiple states indicates the manner of the surveillance is similar in each case.

Guandolo says two Muslim males will enter during the service and sit together in the back of the church. They will often take pictures and record video. When approached by concerned ushers, they will either tell their questioners they are “interested” in becoming Christians or they will run.

“This information has been passed to the appropriate law enforcement officials, and UTT is aware of a joint investigation between local police and the FBI in at least one of the cases,” according to Guandolo.

One planned attack already foiled

In February, the FBI interrupted a plot to pull off a mass shooting at one of Detroit’s largest Catholic churches in a case reported by WND involving a Muslim convert, Sebastian Gregerson, who had amassed an arsenal of military-grade weapons including AK-47s, a howitzer and tactical knives similar to those used by ISIS. Gregerson, who changed his name to Abu-Rayyan, reportedly received money to acquire the weapons from an imam in Maryland. Court documents showed the FBI was concerned that imams could be financing similar plots around the country.

Dr. Mark Christian, a former Muslim imam from Egypt and expert on the Muslim Brotherhood, said churches need to take precautions.

Big churches will be seen as the most prime targets, he said, as ISIS will be looking for the highest number of casualties they can inflict.

“To be honest, in every place where there are public gatherings, there are metal detectors at the front, and I hate to say it but I feel it is time for movie theaters and churches too, they need to have that, to detect guns and knives and explosives … I think it’s time to do it,” said Dr. Christian, who changed his name from Muhammad Abdullah and converted to Christianity in 2005.

“It’s going to be very expensive for a smaller church, so you have to have volunteers in those churches,” he said, adding that these volunteers should be proficient in defensive actions up to and including handgun usage.

“Metal detectors are not expensive for larger congregations, and they are a must at this time, along with trained volunteers” he said. “You are talking about a couple of grand for a metal detector, but they will save lives.

“We live in a time where, even if you are going Christmas shopping, you need to pack heat when you go. This is not the way you should have to live,” he added. “But we have awakened the giant. We give them the space to run and to expand, so I hate to say it but this is the beginning of this kind of threat.”

The invasion of Iraq and Obama promoting radical Sunni religious regimes in Syria, Egypt and Libya have helped to awaken the sleeping giant, but Christian says that’s not the only problem. After all, America was attacked on 9/11 even before the invasion of Iraq.

The biggest problem is the Islamic texts and Muslims who are taught to emulate their seventh-century prophet, Muhammad, a warlord who is seen as the “perfect man.” He advocated taking slaves, raping women, torturing and slaughtering men and taught that Islam was to reign supreme over all other religions whenever the numbers in a society were in favor of Islam. Christians and Jews, if they were allowed to live at all, were to be subjugated as second-class “dhimmis.”

Until imams stop teaching doctrines modeled after the seventh-century warlord’s example, violent jihad will always be a problem, he said.

“So there has to be a multi-level approach to fix this problem. You can use extreme vetting and require a strict assimilation, cleansing the educational and religious institutions of Islam of radical elements,” he said. “You can’t do one and not the other, or it will just get worse.”

Too many foreign imams entering U.S.?

“If you do extreme vetting and let the imams preach hatred in the mosques, they are going to create more feelings of victimhood, and you will have more attacks,” Christian said. “You have to block those not worthy of coming here, and then you have to set some rules and regulations on the institution of Islam itself. I would recommend educational programs for imams to understand our Constitution and what America stands for. Then you have to monitor the religious leaders who come here from other countries to preach.”

Christian said nearly 70 percent of the clergy in American mosques are supplied from countries in the Middle East. Most come from Egypt’s Al Azhar University, but some also come from Saudi Arabia, Syria and other nations.

“This is the way imams want to make some money and come to America. The Coptic Church does the same thing, but we don’t have a problem with the Coptic Church,” he said. “For an imam to be an imam, he has to study Islamic law from a university. … Harvard and a few other places have these Islamic studies programs, but the majority come from Egypt and some from Saudi Arabia.”

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Merry Christmas, Infidels: Holiday Events An Increasing Target for Terror

merry-christmas-infidel-sized-770x415xc

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, December 22, 2016:

The terror attack in Berlin this week target an historic Christmas market killing 12 and injuring dozens more, and the bombing of a Coptic church in Cairo killing 27, highlights the vulnerability of holiday events in the midst of increasing calls by the Islamic State to target such events.

Arrests this month in Austria, Belgium, Germany and Indonesia all involved terror plots targeting Christmas-related festivities.

And now ISIS supporters have published a list of churches in the U.S. to attack.

Vocativ reports:

The Islamic State published the names and addresses of thousands of churches in the United States and called on its adherents to attack them during the holiday season, according to a message posted late-night Wednesday in the group’s “Secrets of Jihadis” social media group.

A user going by the name of “Abu Marya al-Iraqi” posted an Arabic-language message calling “for bloody celebrations in the Christian New Year” and announced the group’s plans to utilize its network of lone wolf attackers to “turn the Christian New Year into a bloody horror movie.” […]

In another group post, a member summoned “the sons of Islam” to target “churches, well-known hotels, crowded coffee shops, streets, markets and public places,” and shared a list of addresses in the United States, as well as in Canada, France and the Netherlands.

On Tuesday, ISIS claimed credit for the Berlin Christmas market attack that killed 12 marketgoers.

As I noted yesterday here at PJ Media, the suspect wanted in the attack, Tunisian migrant Anis Amri, was already known to German authorities, and Angela Merkel had been warned of such an attack:

And even Mark Steyn had days before warned of the potential for such an attack:

And just two weeks ago an Egyptian Coptic Christian church inside the cathedral compound was the target of a suicide bomber, initially killed 25 and with the death toll now having risen to 27 – mostly women and children:

In November, the ISIS publication Rumiyah specifically called for truck attacks targeting markets and parades, including the Thanksgiving Day Macy’s Parade in New York City:

Subsequently, an ISIS spokesman reiterated that call:

As we saw tragically this week those calls for terror attacks are netting results.

On Nov. 26th, a 12-year old German-Iraqi boy attempted to detonate a suicide bomb at a Christmas market in Ludwigshafen, Germany. Fortunately, the device didn’t explode.

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Europe Braces Itself For More ISIS Attacks By Muslim Children

A rebel fighter takes away a flag that belonged to Islamic State militants in Akhtarin village, after rebel fighters advanced in the area, in northern Aleppo Governorate. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

A rebel fighter takes away a flag that belonged to Islamic State militants in Akhtarin village, after rebel fighters advanced in the area, in northern Aleppo Governorate. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

Daily Caller, by Saagar Enjeti, December 21, 2016:

European officials are reportedly worried by a rising trend of Islamic State-inspired attacks by young children.

A 12-year-old Iraqi refugee child was arrested Dec. 15 for trying to use a nail bomb to blow up a German Christmas market. The arrest was preceded by a brutal ax attack by a 17-year-old Afghan refugee, who hacked four tourists before being neutralized by German authorities. In both cases the assailants were inspired by ISIS propaganda.

The week before the 12-year-old’s arrest German police arrested two boys, ages 15 and 17, for plotting a terror attack on a public building in Bavaria. The two young boys had ISIS flags among their possessions, mirroring the flag found among the Afghan refugee’s possessions.

European Union records indicate 83,000 refugee children arrived in 2015 without being accompanied by a parent. Ninety-one percent of these unaccompanied minors were male, and nearly 51 percent originated in Afghanistan. ISIS-inspired attacks do not only derive perpetrators from refugee populations; some suspects are born and raised in Europe.

ISIS propaganda long features child soldiers carrying out executions, and taking classes on warfare in Iraq and Syria. The terrorist group calls the children, “Lion cubs of the caliphate.” Despite this, Europe’s counter-radicalization programs do not focus attention on children.

Most programs focus on males in their young twenties, the demographic most associated with terrorist attacks. The main suspect in Monday’s Berlin truck attack is a 23-year-old Tunisian refugee, who applied for asylum in Germany nine months ago.