Dallas ISIS Recruiter Gave Green Light to Manchester Suicide Bomber, ‘Kill Them and Show No Mercy’

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, Aug. 15, 2017:

A stunning new report reveals that a Dallas-based ISIS recruiter gave the greenlight to Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi, encouraging him to “kill them and show no mercy,” according to a report in the Italian news outlet L’Espresso last week.

Even more remarkable, U.S. authorities knew about the conversations months in advance of the terror attack and cited it in court document this past March when they charged the ISIS recruiter, 40-year old Said Azzam Mohamad Rahim of Richardson, Texas, for lying to FBI investigators.

The FBI knew about the conversation months in advance of the bombing that killed 22 and injured 250+ who were leaving the arena in Manchester following an Ariana Grande concert on May 22nd.

The Australian reported:

The Manchester Arena bombing was authorised in an online chat between a plotter, an Islamic State operative in Syria, a jihadist recruiter in Dallas and a Moroccan-born Islamist living in Turin, it was claimed yesterday.

The online conversation took place on August 28 last year using the Zello secure messaging app and was intercepted by the FBI, according to L’Espresso, an Italian weekly magazine.

One of the five people taking part in the chat asked: “Sheikh, I live in Manchester, in Great Britain. I live among non-Muslims. I have found work with them. Am I allowed to kill them? Is it permitted to kill them with a bomb?”

The sheikh, who is thought to have been living in Syria, replied with a phrase from the Koran: “Fight the pagans all together.”

The man from Dallas was identified by L’Espresso as Said Azzam Mohamad Rahim, who was born in America to Jordanian parents. He allegedly said: “To the boy from Manchester I say, OK, kill them! Show no mercy to civilians.”

Rahim was arrested this past March — more than two months before the bombing — and indicted for making false statements to the FBI.

Rahim was stopped by FBI agents at DFW Airport on March 5th, where he was questioned about his statements in support of ISIS. He was intending to board a flight to Jordan.

The Dallas CBS affiliate reported on Rahim’s arrest and indictment:

A Richardson man was indicted on charges of lying to the FBI about his support for ISIS.

Earlier this month, agents met up with Said Rahim inside terminal D at DFW International Airport. After he went through security and waited to board a flight to Jordan, agents say he agreed to answer questions. Investigators arrested him after he lied about his past statements about ISIS.

Rahim is accused of praising ISIS’ violent activities in chat rooms and encouraged people to engage in violent jihad […]

The FBI agent says Rahim glorified last year’s terror attacks at the Orlando night club and at the Bastile Day celebration in Nice, France. In the chat room, Rahim is accused of saying, “France will wake-up to a tragedy, a catastrophe (chuckle).. a great killing, implemented by… one of God’s lions.. against those infidel French.”

In a later post, Rahim is accused of telling someone it was ok to murder non-Muslims in England. “Kill them and do not show them mercy or compassion. If you have the ability to go and kill, poison them, throw a rock, push down a building… the important thing is that you kill.”

It’s now been reported by L’Espresso that “someone” was none other than Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi.

The criminal complaint filed in federal court the next day describes the August 28, 2016 online conversation that Rahim and four others, including Abedi, participated in.

During the conversation, Abedi asked:

I don’t want to interrupt…but with your permission, Sheikh; I reside in Manchester, Britain and work with persons who are all foreigners. Is killing them permissible? Is killing them permissible or not, or bombing them or anything else? I want to… to understand this matter from the Sheikhs of the [Islamic] State. Is killing any person permissible?

According to the federal complaint, Rahim replied:

OK, may God Bless you. I was going to grab the microphone so I would tell him, the one in Manchester. OK, kill and do not consult anyone or seek the opinion of others; kill. Kill them and do not show them mercy or compassion for neither the civilian clothes protect them nor the military uniform sanctions the shedding of their blood, they are all the same in their unbelief. Kill them I mean… don’t event consult with anyone. Go and kill, if you have the ability to go and kill, poison them, throw a rock, push down a building, do whatever you do; the important thing is that you kill. Kill with intention of waging jihad for the sake of Allah, and the intention that your banner is clear, the banner of ‘[t]here is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah’… kill them I mean with the intention of jihad, with the-the intention of you being a mujahid for the sake of God, maybe this act, I mean, forgives your past and future transgressions.

Rely on God; kill if you have a chance, to hell with those Englishmen… The killer of an infidel will not go to hell. It is well known that shedding the blood of the infidel is lawful; shedding the blood of the infidel is lawful. But, if they say to you in this case that he was a safeguarded ally, then where is the Islamic State that this infidel lives in to be considered an ally and a free non-Muslim under Muslim rule? Does he pay Jizyah [tax]? Does he, does he, does he? No! So, kill, kill… if you ask the scholars of the tyrants they will tell you not to kill him. But, kill him, rely on Allah and kill them. Think of a way to kill the biggest number possible of those, may Allah’s curse fall on them.

According to the L’Espresso report, the unnamed “sheikh” who participated in the conversation is believed to be an ISIS operative living in Syria. The participant in Turin was named in the report as Mouner el-Aoual, who has been arrested.

Rahim, born in America to Jordanian parents, is currently being detained on the charges outlined in the complaint after a federal judge ruled him to be a flight risk.

So far Rahim has not been charged in connection to the Manchester bombing.

What warnings the FBI gave to U.K. authorities prior to the Manchester bombing — if any — is still unknown.

Second Unit of Yazidi Women Fighters Moves Into Raqqa to Crush ISIS

Yazidi fighters with the YJS join other Syrian Democratic Forces in a rooftop position during the Raqqa battle. (ANHA video)

PJ Media, by Bridget Johnson, Aug. 11, 2017:

A second unit of Yazidi women fighting under the Syrian Democratic Forces has been deployed into Raqqa, fighting not only to defeat the Islamic State in their declared capital but to avenge the genocide and abuse perpetrated on their people.

It’s been three years since ISIS launched their campaign of terror against Yazidis in northern Iraq, branding the followers of the ancient gnostic faith as devil worshippers. Yazidis have been murdered, from executions to being buried alive or starving to death, and abducted, with some 7,000 women and girls sold into sexual slavery.

SDF General Commander Rojda Felat, the Kurdish woman leading the Wrath of Euphrates operation that’s taken 55 percent of Raqqa thus far, has long vowed that rescuing Yazidis kidnapped by ISIS is a top priority. In a June interview with a Kurdish newspaper, she vowed that “wherever there is an attack against humanity we, as the Syrian Democratic Forces, will be there; wherever there is a suppressed woman, that is a battleground for us.”

“Not only for the women of Shengal [Yazidis], wherever a woman is being suppressed, wherever a man is threatening a woman, our forces will struggle against this. Our struggle for the liberation of our people will become a beacon for all resisting peoples,” she added.

The SDF, a multi-ethnic, multi-sectarian force some 50,000 strong, has already freed hundreds of Yazidis held as sex slaves by ISIS. As the operation began in November, Yazidi women of the Sinjar Women’s Units (YJS) joined the fight.

Last week, a second YJS unit was sent into Raqqa.

YJS fighter Bêrîtan Êzîdxan, a member of the recently arrived unit, told Kurdish news agency ANF that their “presence in Raqqa is the vital artery that leads to our goal” to free all the women held captive by ISIS. “To be here on the day of the genocide anniversary, to be standing in this emplacement, means to me the fulfillment of my dreams of taking revenge,” she said.

“At the time of the genocide I vowed to take revenge for all our people that were killed and for all our women, at all costs,” said YJS fighter Dersim Êzîdxan. “Having come now to Raqqa three years after the genocide, is for me the realization of the promise I gave.”

YJS fighter Tekoşin Apoci said that “everywhere I turn in Raqqa, my eyes look” for the 12 members of her family who were abducted by ISIS three years ago. “I feel like my family is here and they will turn up just around a corner.”

“When I heard that our command was to send forces to Raqqa, I was ecstatic to be coming here. I came, but with every building I see I ask myself how many Êzidî women were there, are they still alive or have they been killed by the gangs and it hurts my soul,” she said.

One YJS rescue this week was a 13-year-old boy who had been kidnapped by ISIS at age 10. The boy was forced to convert to Islam and undergo ISIS training.

Today, ANF reported that 210 more women graduated from military training to join the SDF. Last month, Jaysh al-Thuwar, an SDF-aligned force of Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen fighting both ISIS and Bashar al-Assad, announced that, having seen how well the SDF women fight, they would begin accepting women recruits.

The SDF reported Wednesday that 29 ISIS terrorists were killed and 264 civilians rescued from the Nazlat Shehadeh neighborhood in southern Raqqa.

ISIS Jihadist Credits Moderate Muslim Brotherhood as Inspiration

Front Page Magazine, by Daniel Greenfield, July 20, 2017:

While most of the attention was on Egypt and its Muslim Brotherhood takeover, a similar takeover was being championed by the defenders of democracy in Tunisia. There the Jihadists of Ennahda were suddenly transformed into moderates despite views that were anything but. The classic example of this came with the transforming of Sheikh Rachid al-Ghannouchi, its Jihadist leader into a moderate.

Despite a few minor hiccups.

Sheikh Rachid al-Ghannouchi, the head of Tunisia’s controversial Islamist Ennahda Movement, is scheduled to head a lecture Tuesday afternoon Yale’s Law School, according to the school’s website.

Al-Ghannouchi’s upcoming appearance at the Ivy League school could become controversial given the sheik’s longtime support for radical terror groups and his past calls for Muslims to wage “unceasing war against the Americans.”

The sheik’s violent rhetoric, radical leanings, and endorsement of Hamas led him to be banned from entering the United States for a time.

Sheikh Rashid Ghannouchi, of Tunisia’s equally moderate Islamist Ennahda Movement, said, “There are no civilians in Israel. The population—males, females and children—are the army reserve soldiers, and thus can be killed.”

This is what the left supported when it backed the Muslim Brotherhood. The results nearly led to a Benghazi massacre in Tunisia even before that attack took place.

And, predictably enough, as Patrick Poole reports, there were more practical consequences.

A 34-year-old Tunisian ISIS fighter captured by Kurdish forces in Raqaa recently spoke to reporter Jenan Moussa of Al-Aan TV. When asked why he had joined the terrorist organization, the fighter confessed that Ennahda — the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate in Tunisia — had encouraged young fighters to join the jihad in Syria.

It’s not a coincidence, then, that Tunisia had the largest number of foreign fighters in Syria.

This deflates much of the U.S. think-tank and media establishment narrative that the Muslim Brotherhood serves as a “firewall” against jihadist groups

The Muslim Brotherhood serves as a feeder. It’s why so many MSA presidents ended up as terrorists or why Al Qaeda is currently being run by a Brotherhood splinter group. Jihad is a continuum. Like all forms of extremism, they’re gateway drugs to greater violence and ruthlessness.

Glazov Gang: ISIS’s Horrifying How-To Terror Manual

Subscribe to the Glazov Gang‘s YouTube Channel.

This new edition of The Glazov Gang features Brad Johnson, a retired CIA Station Chief.

Brad sheds disturbing light on ISIS’s Horrifying How-To Terror Manual, where he reveals the plot of arson — and the other Jihadist delicacies that ISIS has in store for unbelievers.

Christian Fighters in Raqqa Report ISIS Using Drones to Drop Bombs

A fighter of the Syriac Military Council burns an ISIS flag on the front line on the western side of Raqqa, Syria, on July 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

PJ Media, by Bridget Johnson, July 18, 2017:

Christian forces fighting to oust ISIS from its declared capital of Raqqa said today that while “hundreds, maybe thousands” of terrorists fled before the Syrian Democratic Forces laid siege to the city, the remaining terrorists have resorted to “dirty tactics” including dropping bombs on their forces from drones.

The Syriac Military Council (MFS), which consists of Assyrian men and women fighting alongside Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen and other ethnic groups under the umbrella of the SDF, also warned that the Turkish government and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are trying to stop the SDF’s offensive by attacking the anti-ISIS coalition.

In a video message today, MFS spokesman Kino Gabriel said that the operation to “liberate the so-called caliphate of the Islamic State,” in particular the current Wrath of Euphrates operation to liberate Raqqa and surrounding territory that began in November, is going according to plan.

“The importance of this operation for us is very huge … liberating [Raqqa] would mean another step in the battle to defeat ISIS and to defeat terrorists that have been persecuting the Syrian people and its components for so long,” Gabriel said, noting that ISIS has been attacking different groups including “the Syrian Christians who have been living in different areas like Jazira, like Raqqa, Homs.”

MFS participation is important, he said, “in order to revenge the persecution that Syriac Christians have taken, to revenge the persecution that we see and that people have been living under since 2013 and 2014.”

He also emphasized the role of the Bethnahrin Women’s Protection Forces, “the Syrian women who have taken part in the operation since its first stages” who comprise the women of the MFS.

(Syriac Military Council)

“There have been several Christian families, living and still living in the city of Raqqa, some of them managed to get out and got the support of the Syriac Military Council and other groups,” Gabriel said, adding that there are “so many civilians” still trapped in Raqqa “that are still living there alongside the few Christian families,” whose status is “currently unknown.” He said the MFS is “taking different measures in order to locate those families and be able to rescue them as the operation and the offensive is continuing.”

The goal is to “completely liberate the city” and allow the civilian administration to take over and “get the people back again to their normal lives and to be able provide the necessary services the people need.”

“Our goal is to completely liberate Raqqa and continue fighting Daesh in the territories under its control,” he said, using the pejorative Arabic name for ISIS.

Gabriel said the MFS and allies “are trying to do our task and kick the terrorism out,” but “so far we have been attempted to stop by different forces like the Turkish state and the Turkish army alongside some Free Syrian Army groups who are affiliated with Turkey and attacking different areas that are controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces.”

“They attempt to stop or slow our operation to reach Raqqa,” he said. “The same thing goes for the Syrian regime supported by its allies, which attempted to slow down and attacked our forces in different locations … military and defensive measures have been taken and several airplanes belonging to the Syrian army have been dropped.”

A month ago, a U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Su-22 that was dropping bombs on SDF positions southwest of Raqqa. The U.S. military said the Syrian regime attack wounded “a number” of SDF fighters.

“Our goal, as we said, is to liberate Syria from the terrorism of Daesh and the different terrorist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra and the others,” Gabriel said, and let the Syrian people thrive in “a democratic system that is pluralistic” and gives a voice to all of Syria’s ethnic and religious groups.

“ISIS has been defeated so far inside the city, hundreds maybe thousands of fighters maybe escaped during the first stages of the operation and just before the siege of the city from all sides,” the spokesman continued. “Those who are left, maybe they will be in the thousands, and they are fighting very hard against our forces, mostly using, let’s say, dirty tactics including dropping bombs from drones, snipers, VBIEDS [car bombs], and are using tunnels that have been built under the city to infiltrate our forces. So far, our forces have been able to do the task and stop any attacks from Daesh.”

ISIS released a lengthy video in January unveiling their weaponized drone program. After the Mosul operation began in October, a U.S. general described ISIS’ drones as “commercial, off-the-shelf” unmanned aircraft.

Gabriel noted that they have been able to “liberate several neighborhoods and are continuing our operations to liberate the others.”

“We are sure that our battle is for the good and the righteousness of our cause and we are going to succeed, and we are going to be victorious in this battle and in this operation,” he said.

Also see:

ISIS to Jihadists: ‘Kidnap the Children’ of Western Non-Muslims

(ISIS video)

PJ Media, by Bridget Johnson, July 13, 2017:

The Islamic State told followers to kidnap children of non-believers in a lengthy instructional article on seizing Westerners’ wealth and possessions, illustrating the kidnapping directive with a picture of church choir boys.

Jihadists residing in non-Muslim lands, according to the article, should “not hesitate to take the wealth of the harbi kuffar [non-Muslim disbelievers], either by force or through theft and fraud, and ponder the statement of [medieval Sunni theologian] Imam Ibn Taymiyyah concerning the Muslims who enters dar al-harb [land of disbelievers]: ‘Likewise, if he kidnaps them or their children, or subdues them in any way, then the lives and wealth of the harbi kuffar are permissible for the Muslims. So if they seize them in a shar’i manner they own them.’”

“Do not forget that their war on the Islamic State is dependant [sic] on wealth, so purify your intentions, place your trust in Allah, and do not seek anyone’s advice with regards to taking their wealth,” continues the directive in the latest issue of ISIS’ Rumiyah magazine. “Proceed forward with Allah’s blessing, for indeed stealing the kuffar’s wealth weakens them, threatens the security of their economies, strengthens and emboldens the believers, and prepares them for something greater than theft, and this is among the aspects of jihad that have been abandoned in this era except by a group of those who are truthful, and how few they are.”

Accompanying the article is an image of a few singers from the King’s College Choir in Cambridge, UK, which consists of 16 boys between the ages of 9 and 13 and 14 college undergraduates, with the all-caps caption: “IT IS PERMISSIBLE TO KIDNAP THE CHILDREN OF THE HARBI KUFFAR.”

ISIS has used the magazine before to call on jihadists to plunder the wealth of disbelievers and take slaves. An April article in Rumiyah said 20 percent of stolen wealth “should be set aside and given to the Khalifah or to an official representative of the Khalifah for those who are able.”

But “whoever kills a kafir – for which he has proof of his killing him” gets to keep all the loot. Or, specifically, “whatever the kafir possesses at the time and place he is killed.”

“This includes his clothing, jewelry, all kinds of weapons, gold, silver, currencies, as well as the vehicle he was using, and so forth,” ISIS added.

ISIS defined “property” that can be included in these booty-collecting operations to include people: “May Allah, the Most Generous, make the kuffar’s wealth, weapons, women, and children ghanimah [booty] for those who strive for His cause.”

This month’s 60-page Rumiyah, issued online in various languages including English and French, was published about a week late amid ISIS losing the nine-month battle to hold on to their Iraqi stronghold, Mosul.

Those who are legitimate targets for theft of property or persons, ISIS says in the new issue, are “not only those kuffar who are at war with the Muslims.”

“Rather, the harbi kuffar include all those to whom the Muslims have not granted security, either with a dhimmah contract, a covenant of security, or a ceasefire treaty, regardless of whether they are soldiers enlisted in the military, or non-combatants and others from among the common masses of the kuffar,” the article states.

In a directive long on quoting of the Quran and Islamic scholars to back up their booty-plunder quests, ISIS reiterates that the jihadist gets to keep 80 percent.

“And it is permissible for the Muslims to commit deception when stealing wealth from harbi kuffar wherever they are and however they are found, and it has not been established through any shar’i evidence nor through any cultural norms that entry visas are contracts or that they entail the granting of security,” ISIS continues. “Rather, an entry visa is permission to enter the land, and permission to enter does not entail the granting of security. And a man does not have security in his land while some people of those lands don’t have security from one another, and one party granting security does not entail the other party also granting security.”

“…And whoever enters dar al-harb using documents that are forged, or those that are authentic and which establish his religion and personal information, it is permissible for him to kill them and take their wealth if that is easy for him, because this does not represent the granting of security.”

A section of the article discusses inciting Muslims “to take the wealth of the kuffar and wage jihad with it.”

“Some Muslims today may not like taking the wealth of the kuffar by force and may feel that the wealth they obtain doing other work is better, and this is incorrect,” ISIS argues. “…It is a must on every muwahhid to expand the scope of his jihad to include waging war on the kuffar’s wealth – for the war on wealth and economies represents the largest of the arenas of jihad.”

It’s especially incumbent upon Muslims who can’t travel to the shrinking Islamic State to join the jihad, the magazine insists.

“There is no doubt that exhausting the wealth of the kuffar today has a major impact on our war with them,” the terror group says, adding a jihadist “uses the wealth of the kuffar to purchase any required weapons and equipment to carry out operations in the enemy’s homeland.”

The terrorist diaspora: After the fall of the caliphate

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, July 13, 2017:

[Editor’s Note: Below is Thomas Joscelyn’s testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee’s Task Force on Denying Terrorists Entry into the United States. The hearing is titled, “The Terrorist Diaspora: After the Fall of the Caliphate.” A version with footnotes will also be posted.]

Chairman Gallagher, Ranking Member Watson Coleman, and other distinguished Committee Members, thank you for inviting me to testify today concerning foreign fighters and the threat some of them pose to the U.S. and Europe.

The fall of Mosul and the likely fall of Raqqa won’t be the end of the Islamic State. The group has already reverted to its insurgent roots in some of the areas that have been lost. It also still controls some territory. The Islamic State will continue to function as a guerrilla army, despite suffering significant losses. In May, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) assessed that even though it was losing significant ground, the Islamic State “will likely have enough resources and fighters to sustain insurgency operations and plan terrorists [sic] attacks in the region and internationally” going forward. Unfortunately, I think ODNI’s assessment is accurate for a number of reasons, some of which I outline below. I also discuss some hypothetical scenarios, especially with respect to returning foreign fighters or other supporters already living in Europe or the U.S.

Recent history. The Islamic State’s predecessor quickly recovered from its losses during the American-led “surge,” capitalizing on the war in Syria and a politically poisonous environment in Iraq to rebound. Indeed, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s organization grew into an international phenomenon by the end of 2014, just three years after the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq was completed. Baghdadi’s men did this while defying al Qaeda’s leaders and competing with rival jihadist groups. This recent history should give us pause any time we hear rhetoric that sounds too optimistic about the end of the Islamic State’s caliphate. The enterprise has had enough resources at its disposal to challenge multiple actors for more than three years. There is no question that the Islamic State’s finances, senior personnel, and other assets have been hit hard. But it is premature to say its losses amount to a deathblow.

Uncertainty regarding size of total membership. While it is no longer at the peak of its power, the Islamic State likely still has thousands of dedicated members. We don’t even really know how many members it has Iraq and Syria, let alone around the globe. Previous U.S. estimates almost certainly undercounted the group’s ranks. In September 2014, at the beginning of the US-led air campaign, the CIA reportedly estimated that the Islamic State could “muster” between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters. This figure was “more than three times the previous estimates,” CNN noted. By December 2016, the U.S. military was estimating that 50,000 Islamic State fighters had been killed. By February 2017, U.S. Special Operations command concluded that more than 60,000 jihadists had perished. Two months later, in April 2017, the Pentagon reportedly estimated that 70,000 Islamic State fighters had been killed.

Taken at face value, these figures (beginning with the September 2014 approximation) would suggest that Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s enterprise was able to replace its entire force structure more than two times over, while fighting multiple enemies on numerous fronts. This is, of course, highly unlikely. Even with its prolific recruiting campaign, it would be impossible for any cohesive fighting organization, let alone one under the sustained pressure faced by the Islamic State, to train, equip and deploy fighters this quickly. It is far more likely that the U.S. never had a good handle on how many jihadists are in its ranks and the casualty figures are guesstimates. The purpose of citing these figures is not to re-litigate the past, but instead to sound a cautionary alarm regarding the near-future: We likely do not even know how many members the Islamic State has in Iraq and Syria today.

The Islamic State is an international organization. Since November 2014, when Abu Bakr al Baghdadi first announced the establishment of “provinces” around the globe, the Islamic State’s membership grew outside of Iraq and Syria. This further complicates any effort to estimate its overall size. Some of these “provinces” were nothing more than small terror networks, while others evolved into capable insurgency organizations in their own right. The Libyan branch of the caliphate temporarily controlled the city of Sirte. Although the jihadists were ejected from their Mediterranean abode by the end of 2016, they still have some forces inside the country. Similarly, Wilayah Khorasan (or Khorasan province), which represents the “caliphate” in Afghanistan and Pakistan, seized upwards of ten districts in Afghanistan as of early 2016, but has since lost ground. More recently, jihadists in the Philippines seized much of Marawi, hoisting the Islamic State’s black banner over the city. Wilayah Sinai controls at least some turf, and is able launch spectacular attacks on security forces. It was responsible for downing a Russian airliner in October 2015. Other “provinces” exist in East Africa, West Africa, Yemen and elsewhere.

In May, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) reported that the so-called caliphate “is seeking to foster interconnectedness among its global branches and networks, align their efforts to ISIS’s strategy, and withstand counter-ISIS efforts.” Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, has said that Wilayah Khorasan went through an “application process” and the Islamic State mothership provided it with “advice,” “publicity,” and “some financial support.” Although it is impossible to judge the extent of the Islamic State’s cohesion, as much of the data is not available, there is at least some connectivity between the group’s leadership and its “provinces” elsewhere. This is best seen on the media side, as the organization is particularly adept at disseminating messages from around the globe in multiple languages, despite some recent hiccups in this regard.

While their fortunes may rise or fall at any given time, this global network of Islamic State “provinces” will remain a formidable problem for the foreseeable future. Not only are they capable of killing large numbers of people in the countries they operate in, this structure also makes tracking international terrorist travel more difficult. For instance, counterterrorism officials have tied plots in Europe to operatives in Libya. This indicates that some of the Islamic State’s “external plotters,” who are responsible for targeting the West, are not stationed in Iraq and Syria. The U.S.-led air campaign has disrupted the Islamic State’s “external operations” capacity by killing a number of jihadists in this wing of the organization. But others live.

The cult of martyrdom has grown. A disturbingly large number of people are willing to kill themselves for the Islamic State’s cause. The number of suicide bombings claimed by the so-called caliphate dwarfs all other jihadist groups, including al Qaeda. In 2016, for instance, the Islamic State claimed 1,112 “martyrdom operations” in Iraq and Syria alone. Through the first six months of 2017, the organization claimed another 527 such bombings (nearly three-fourths of them using vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, or VBIEDs) in those two countries. These figures do not include suicide attacks in other nations where Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s loyalists are known to operate.

To put the Islamic State’s current “martyrdom operations” in perspective, consider data published by the Washington Post in 2008. According to the Post, there were just 54 suicide attacks in all of 2001, when al Qaeda’s “martyrs” launched the most devastating terrorist airline hijackings in history. The Islamic State currently eclipses that figure every month in Iraq and Syria, averaging 93 suicide bombings per month in 2016 and 88 per month so far in 2017. Many of these operations are carried out by foreign fighters.

These suicide bombers have been mainly used to defend Islamic State positions, including the city of Mosul, which was one of the self-declared caliphate’s two capitals. For instance, half of the “martyrdom operations” carried out in Iraq and Syria this year (265 of the 527 claimed) took place in the Nineveh province, which is home to Mosul. The “martyrs” were dispatched with increasing frequency after the campaign to retake the city began in October 2016, with 501 claimed suicide bombings in and around Mosul between then and the end of June 2017.

Some caveats are in order. It is impossible to verify the Islamic State’s figures with any precision. The fog of war makes all reporting spotty and not every suicide bombing attempt is recorded in published accounts. Some of the claimed “martyrdom operations” likely failed to hit their targets, but were counted by the Islamic State as attacks anyway. The U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi forces have routinely taken out VBIEDs before drivers could reach their mark. Not all “martyrs” are truly willing recruits. For instance, the Islamic State’s figures include numerous children who were pressed into service by Baghdadi’s goons.

Still, even taking into account these caveats, it is reasonable to conclude that the number of people willing to die for the sake of the so-called caliphate is disturbingly high – much higher than the number of willing martyrs in 2001 or even much more recently. Even though most of these people have been deployed in war zones, it is possible that more will be used outside of Iraq and Syria if they survive the fight and are able to travel to other countries. The Islamic State has already had some success in instigating would-be recruits to die for its cause in the West after they failed to emigrate to the lands of the caliphate. It is certainly possible that more will be sent into Europe or the U.S. in the future.

Children used in suicide attacks, executions and other operations. The Islamic State has a robust program, named “Cubs of the Caliphate,” for indoctrinating children. It is one of the most disturbing aspects of the organization’s operations. Not only does the Islamic State’s propaganda frequently feature children attending classes, its videos have proudly displayed the jihadists’ use of children as executioners.

Earlier this month, for instance, the group’s Wilayah Jazirah disseminated a video entitled, “They Left Their Beds Empty.” Four children are shown beheading Islamic State captives. The same production is laced with footage of the terrorists responsible for the November 2015 Paris attacks, as well as other plots in Europe. Indeed, the children are made to reenact some of the same execution scenes that the Paris attackers carried out before being deployed. The Islamic State’s message is clear: A new generation of jihadists is being raised to replace those who have fallen, including those who have already struck inside Europe.

The “Cubs of the Caliphate” program is not confined to Iraq and Syria, but also operates in Afghanistan and elsewhere. This means that numerous children who have been indoctrinated in the Islamic State’s ways will pose a disturbing challenge for authorities going forward. As I noted above, some have already been used in “martyrdom operations” in Iraq and Syria. It is possible that others could be used in a similar fashion outside of the group’s battlefields, in Europe or the U.S. One purpose behind making children or adults commit heinous acts is to shock their conscience into thinking there is no way back, that they have crossed a threshold and there is no return. There are no easy answers for how to best deal with this problem.

Diversity of terrorist plots. There are legitimate concerns about the possibility of well-trained fighters leaving Iraq and Syria for the West now that the Islamic State is losing its grip on some of its most important locales. We saw the damage that a team of Islamic State operatives can do in November 2015, when multiple locations in Paris were assaulted. Trained operatives have had a hand in other plots as well. This concern was succinctly expressed by EUROPOL in a recent report. “The number of returnees is expected to rise, if IS [Islamic State], as seems likely, is defeated militarily or collapses. An increasing number of returnees will likely strengthen domestic jihadist movements and consequently magnify the threat they pose to the EU.” While a true military defeat will be elusive, the central point stated here has merit, even though the number of arrests of returnees across Europe has recently declined. According to EUROPOL, “[a]rrests for travelling to conflict zones for terrorist purposes…decreased: from 141 in 2015 to 77 in 2016.” And there was a similar “decrease in numbers of arrests of people returning from the conflict zones in Syria and Iraq: from 41 in 2015 to 22 in 2016.”

However, the overall number of arrests “related to jihadist terrorism” rose from 687 in 2015 to 718 in 2015, meaning that most of these terror-related arrests do not involve returnees.

Still, returnees and the logistical support networks that facilitate travel to Iraq and Syria were prominently represented in court cases tried by EUROPOL member states. “As evidenced in the past couple of years, the majority of the verdicts for jihadist terrorism concerned offences related to the conflict in Syria and Iraq,” EUROPOL reported in its statistical review for 2016. “They involved persons who had prepared to leave for or have returned from the conflict zone, as well as persons who have recruited, indoctrinated, financed or facilitated others to travel to Syria and/or Iraq to join the terrorist groups fighting there.” In addition, “[i]ndividuals and cells preparing attacks in Europe and beyond were also brought before courts.”

These data show that while the threat posed by returnees is real, it is just one part of the overall threat picture. The Islamic State has encouraged supporters in the West to lash out in their home countries instead of traveling abroad, directed plots via “remote-control” guides, and otherwise inspired individuals to act on their own. These tactics often don’t require professional terrorists to be dispatched from abroad. The Islamic State has also lowered the bar for what is considered a successful attack, amplifying concepts first espoused by others, especially al Qaeda. A crude knife or machete attack that kills few people is trumpeted as the work of an Islamic State “soldier” or “fighter.” On Bastille Day in Nice, France last year, an Islamic State supporter killed more than 80 people simply by running them over with a lorry. Other Islamic State supporters have utilized this simple technique, repeatedly advocated by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s propagandists, as well.

However, I would urge caution. While the amateurs or individual actors have become more lethal over time, the risk of professionally-trained jihadists carrying out a mass casualty attack remains distinct. On average, the professionals can still do more damage than their amateur counterparts – if they are not stopped beforehand. The threat to aviation demonstrates the point. In October 2015, the Islamic State’s Wilayah Sinai downed a Russian airliner, killing all 224 people on board. Although the jihadists claim to have used a crude improvised explosive device, the plot required that well-placed personnel implant it at an optimal location within the aircraft. U.S. officials are attempting to stop even more sophisticated devices, built by either the Islamic State or al Qaeda, from being placed on board flights bound for Europe or America. Other professionally-planned attacks could involve bombing commuter trains, Mumbai-style sieges, or multi-pronged assaults. Therefore, if the professionals are able to evade security measures, they could easily kill more people than the average amateur.

Counterterrorism services in Europe and the U.S. have stopped a number of professional plots through the years. Some of those foiled in the past year may have been more serious than realized at the time. However, there is a risk that as counterterrorism authorities deal with a large number of individual or amateur plots, the professional terrorists will be able to find another window of opportunity. The various threats posed by the Islamic State have placed great strains on our defenses.

The Islamic State could seek to exploit refugee flows once again. “The influx of refugees and migrants to Europe from existing and new conflict zones is expected to continue,” EUROPOL reported in its review of 2016. The Islamic State “has already exploited the flow of refugees and migrants to send individuals to Europe to commit acts of terrorism, which became evident in the 2015 Paris attacks.” The so-called caliphate and “possibly other jihadist terrorist organizations may continue to do so.” While the overwhelming majority of migrants are seeking to better their lives, some will continue to pose a terrorist threat. European nations are dealing with this, in part, by deploying more “investigators” to “migration hotspots in Greece and soon also to Italy.” These “guest officers” will rotate “at key points on the external borders of the EU to strengthen security checks on the inward flows of migrants, in order to identify suspected terrorists and criminals, establishing a second line of defense.”

This makes it imperative that U.S. authorities share intelligence with their European counterparts and receive information in return to better track potential threats. The U.S. has led efforts to disrupt the Islamic State’s “external attack” arm and probably has the best intelligence available on its activities. But European nations have vital intelligence as well, and only by combining data can officials get a better sense of the overall picture. Recent setbacks with respect to this intelligence sharing, after details of British investigations were leaked in the American press, are troubling. But we can hope that these relationships have been repaired, or will be soon.

It should be noted that would-be jihadists who are already citizens of European countries could have an easier route into the U.S. than migrants fleeing the battlefields. It is much easier for a British citizen to get on a plane headed for the U.S. than for an Islamic State operative posing as a Syrian refugee to enter the U.S. clandestinely through Europe. Given recent events in the UK, and the overall scale of the jihadist threat inside Britain, this makes intelligence sharing on potential terrorists all the more crucial. British officials have said that they are investigating 500 possible plots involving 3,000 people on the “top list” of suspects at any given time. In addition, 20,000 people have been on the counterterrorism radar for one reason or another and are still considered potentially problematic.

Exporting terror know-how. It is possible that more of the Islamic State’s terrorist inventions will be exported from abroad into Europe or the U.S. As the self-declared caliphate sought to defend its lands, it devised all sorts of new means for waging war. It modified drones with small explosives and built its own small arms, rockets, bombs and the like. Al Qaeda first started to publish ideas for backpack bombs and other IEDs in its online manuals. The Islamic State has done this as well, but we shouldn’t be surprised if some of its other inventions migrate out of the war zones. The group could do this by publishing technical details in its propaganda, or in-person, with experienced operatives carrying this knowledge with them.

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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(Thomas Joscelyn’s testimony begins at 1:35:22 in the video)