Report: Foreign Fighters Abandon Islamic State, Flee to Turkey

Sipa via AP Images

Breitbart, by John Hayward, April 27, 2017:

Islamic State militants are reportedly abandoning ISIS as it loses territory and fleeing to Turkey, with foreign recruits leading the retreat.

According to the UK Guardianat least two British nationals and an American citizen have joined the “exodus” from the Islamic State. The American is 46-year-old Kary Paul Kleman of Florida, who surrendered to Turkish border police last week, bringing a Syrian wife and two widows of slain ISIS fighters with him.

The British defectors claimed they were not fighters but settled in Syria to become citizens of the “caliphate.” Kleman moved first to Egypt and Dubai after converting to Islam, then claims to have brought his family to Syria to assist with a “humanitarian effort” that turned out to be a “scam.” He was reportedly trying to reach the U.S. embassy in Turkey when he was arrested by border police.

CNN spoke with a smuggler who said Kleman contacted family members, the CIA, and possibly the FBI to arrange his exit from the Islamic State but apparently didn’t get the help he wanted, so he made a run for the Turkish border on his own.

Turkish prosecutors could seek up to 15-year sentences for these refugees from the Islamic State, while the U.K. could press terrorism charges that carry a maximum penalty of life in prison. It is also possible the authorities will decide the returnees are not a threat.

The Guardian sounds an alarming note about foreign recruits fleeing the collapsing Islamic State and seeking to carry out terrorist attacks in their home countries, to take revenge for the defeat of ISIS. There may already be up to 250 such trained terrorist operatives in Europe. Foreign recruits for other extremist organizations active in the Syrian civil war, such as al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, are also a concern.

Shiraz Maher of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College pointed out to the Guardian that ISIS “projected a narrative of momentum and success” to recruits, and it’s impossible to maintain that narrative when so much of the caliphate’s territory has been recaptured.

The Daily Star quotes Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. John Dorrian of the U.S. Air Force warning that the threat of foreign recruits making it back to their home countries, with the motivation and training to conduct terrorist attacks, cannot be dismissed.

“This is why there has been such a significant effort to isolate places like Raqqa to limit the ability of the enemy to depart Syria and move up into Europe,” Dorrian said.

A knockout punch has not yet been landed against the Islamic State’s Iraqi capital of Mosul. The Independent relates the horrifying story of ISIS militants who disguised themselves as Iraqi officials, drew a crowd of men, women, and children in central Mosul to greet them, and then shot them to “make it clear the area was still under enemy control,” as a Joint Operations Command official put it.

Various estimates suggest there are up to 5,000 foreign recruits still alive in the Islamic State, potentially preparing to return to Europe and the United States.

Also see:

New Islamic State Rumiyah Magazine Details Tactics for Jihadis in the US

isis-terror-tacticsTerror Trends Bulletin, by Christopher W. Holton, November 12, 2016:

The Islamic State has just published its latest issue of the slick, sophisticated, 4-color magazine, Rumiyah. The full issue is available here:

https://pietervanostaeyen.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/rumiyah3en.pdf

For readers who don’t know, “Rumiyah” means “Rome,” which is meant to signify the Islamic State’s intent to capture Rome, the symbolic capital of the Christian world.

Included in the magazine is an article that details suggested tactics for Jihadis in the US, who are referred to as “Stationed behind enemy lines.”

We believe it important that people in the US be aware of the specific nature of the threat that the Islamic State poses, so we are reproducing the article in its entirety here:

Just Terror Tactics

Stationed behind enemy lines, the just terror mujahid has at his disposal a multitude of weapons and techniques that he may employ at any given time to inflict misery and destruction upon the enemies of Allah, demonstrating by his actions an unforgettable lesson for every hardheaded, obstinate kafir nation that wishes to engage in war on the Islamic State. Allah  said,” Th rough them, disperse those behind them, that they might take heed” (Al-Anfal 57). Ibn Kathir  said, explaining this verse, “It means, punish them severely and massacre them violently so that other enemies from the Arabs and non-Arabs are terrified and those punished and massacred become a lesson for the other enemies ‘that they might take heed.’”

When seeking to initiate an attack, it is important to define the objective. One’s attack may be to harvest a large kill count. It may be aimed at disrupting the financial stability of a specific nation. It may simply be aimed at terrorizing the enemies of Allah and depriving them of a peaceful sleep. Accordingly, as the objective of the attack varies, the mujahid must choose a method that best suits the operation at hand.

Vehicle Attacks

Though being an essential part of modern life, very few actually comprehend the deadly and destructive capability of the motor vehicle and its capacity of reaping large numbers of casualties if used in a premeditated manner. This was superbly demonstrated in the attack launched by the brother Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel who, while traveling at the speed of approximately 90 kilometers per hour, plowed his 19-ton load-bearing truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France, harvesting through his attack the slaughter of 86 Crusader citizens and injuring 434 more.

The method of such an attack is that a vehicle is plunged at a high speed into a large congregation of kufar, smashing their bodies with the vehicle’s strong outer frame, while advancing forward – crushing their heads, torsos, and limbs under the vehicle’s wheels and chassis – and leaving behind a trail of carnage.

Vehicles are like knives, as they are extremely easy to acquire. But unlike knives, which if found in one’s possession can be a cause for suspicion, vehicles arouse absolutely no doubts due to their widespread use throughout the world. It is for this obvious reason that using a vehicle is one of the most comprehensive methods of attack, as it presents the opportunity for just terror for anyone possessing the ability to drive a vehicle. Likewise, it is one of the safest and easiest weapons one could employ against the kufar, while being from amongst the most lethal methods of attack and the most successful in harvesting large numbers of the kufar.

Acquiring a vehicle is a simple task regardless of one’s location. However, the type of vehicle and its structural and technical specifications are extremely important factors for ensuring the success of the operation. Observing previous vehicle attacks, it has been shown that smaller vehicles are incapable of granting the level of carnage that is sought. Similarly, off-roaders, SUVs, and four-wheel drive vehicles lack the necessary attributes required for causing a blood bath. One of the main reasons for this is that smaller vehicles lack the weight and wheel span required for crushing many victims. Thus, smaller vehicles are least suitable for this kind of attack. Rather, the type of vehicle most appropriate for such an operation is a large load-bearing truck.

The Ideal Vehicle

• Load-bearing truck
• Large in size, keeping in mind its controllability
• Reasonably fast in speed or rate of acceleration (Note: Many European countries pre-restrict larger vehicles to specified speeds)
• Heavy in weight, assuring the destruction of
whatever it hits
• Double-wheeled, giving victims less of a chance to escape being crushed by the vehicle’s tires
• Possessing a slightly raised chassis (the under frame of the vehicle) and bumper, which allow for the mounting of sidewalks and breeching of barriers if needed
• If accessible, with a metal outer frame which are usually found in older cars, as the stron- ger outer frame allows for more damage to be caused when the vehicle is slammed into crowds, contrary to newer cars that are usually made of plastics and other weaker materials

Vehicles to Avoid

• Small cars, including larger SUVs
• Slower vehicles that cannot exceed 90km per
hour
• Load-bearing trucks with load compartments that are not fixed to the cabin, which may cause loss of control and subsequent jackknifing, especially if driven erratically
• Load-bearing trucks with excessively elongated trailer compartments, which can cause the driver trouble as he seeks to maneuver

If one has the wealth, buying a vehicle would be the easiest option. Alternatively, one could rent a vehicle or simply ask to borrow one from an acquaintance or relative who owns or has access thereto. For the one not capable of attaining a vehicle by any of these means, there is the option of hotwiring or carjacking a vehicle. This is only recommended for one possessing the know-how or having previous experience in this domain.

Applicable Targets

• Large outdoor conventions and celebrations
• Pedestrian-congested streets (High/Main streets)
• Outdoor markets
• Festivals
• Parades
• Political rallies

In general, one should consider any outdoor attraction that draws large crowds.

When deciding on the target, attention should be given to that target’s accessibility by the vehicle. The target should be on a road that offers the ability to accelerate to a high speed, which allows for inflicting maximum damage on those in the vehicle’s path.

It is essential for the one seeking this method of operation to understand that it is not conditional to target gatherings restricted to government or military personnel only. All so-called “civilian” (and low-security) parades and gatherings are fair game and more devastating to Crusader nations.

Preparation and Planning

• Assessing vehicle for roadworthiness
• Filling vehicle with a sufficient amount of fuel
• Mapping out the route of the attack
• Surveying the route for obstacles, such as posts, signs, barriers, humps, bus stops, dumpsters, etc. which is important for sidewalk-mounted attacks, keeping in mind that more obstacles might be set up on the day of a targeted event, and doing the surveillance in an inconspicuous manner, especially if one suspects being monitored by an intelligence apparatus
• If accessible, a secondary weapon should be attained

Also, an appropriate way should be determined for announcing one’s allegiance to the Khalifah of the Muslims and the goal of making Allah’s word supreme, so that the motive of the attack is acknowledged. An example of such would be simply writing on dozens of sheets of paper “ The Islamic State will remain!” or “I am a soldier of the Islamic State!” prior, and launching them from the vehicle’s window during the execution of the attack.

In a bid to ensure utmost carnage upon the enemies of Allah, it is imperative that one does not exit his vehicle during the attack. Rather, he should remain inside, driving over the already harvested kufar, and continue crushing their remains until it becomes physically impossible to continue by vehicle. At this stage, one may exit the vehicle and finish his operation on foot, if he was able to obtain a secondary weapon. He could also remain in the vehicle, targeting pedestrians, the emergency services, or security forces who arrive at the scenes of just terror, until he is martyred.

Having a secondary weapon, such as a gun or a knife, is also a great way to combine a vehicle attack with other forms of attacks. Depending on what is obtained, the kill count can be maximized and the level of terror resulting from the attack can be raised. This could also increase the possibility of attaining shahadah, which is the best of departures from this Dunya into the larger expanse of the Akhirah. “And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and to a garden – the expanse of which is that of the heavens and the earth – prepared for the muttaqin” (Al ‘Imran 133).

One of the prerequisites of a successful operation is the remembrance of Allah and the sincerity of intending the attack solely to please Him. To achieve this, one should keep the dhikr of Allah on one’s tongue and repeat du’a for His assistance and acceptance. For this particular attack, one should not forget the supplication of mounting a vehicle, which is to say, “Sub·ḥā·nal·la·dhī sakh·kha·ra la·nā hā·dhā wa mā kun·nā la·hū muq·ri·nīn, wa in·nā i·lā rab·bi·nā la·mun·qa·li·būn,” and which means, “Exalted is Allah, who subdued this for us, and we otherwise could not have subdued it; and we indeed shall return to our Lord” (Az-Zukhruf 13-14).

15 Years Since 9/11, Is Al-Qaeda’s 20 Yr Plan Coming To Fruition?

9/11 from Brooklyn Bridge. (Photo: © Reuters)

9/11 from Brooklyn Bridge. (Photo: © Reuters)

How does the “War on Terror” look 15 years after the worst terrorist attack in American history? Al-Qaeda’s 20 year plan is scarily close to reality.

Clarion Project, by Elliot Friedland, Sept. 11, 2016:

Today marks 15 years since Al-Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, murdering 2, 977 people. Since that day, in 2001, at least another 1,000 people have died from illnesses caused by exposure to debris from the failing towers.

Warning: This short clip shows the World Trade Center after it was hit:

A US-led NATO taskforce invaded Afghanistan shortly afterwards to remove the Taliban, and to find and capture Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden is now dead, but Afghanistan is still at war. Al-Qaeda’s successor organization, the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL), has established a state of sorts across swathes of Syria and Iraq. Al-Qaeda itself is an active participant in Syria’s increasingly-complicated civil war.

Since the attack, efforts to defeat terrorism have been successful. Here are three things to bear in mind:

1-3With the collapse of the USSR, Islamism is the only ideological alternative to Western hegemony

Islamism is a comprehensive political system that offers a total ideological alternative to the mainstream Western consensus of democracies enforcing liberal values, backed by American hard power. Since international communism collapsed, those opposed to this system have been left without an ideological home.

This fact puts into perspective the close relationship between sections of the hard left, such as the UK’s Jeremy Corbyn or Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin, with totalitarian Islamists such as Hamas or insurgents fighting American forces in Iraq. Both Corbyn and Benjamin transitioned seamlessly from traditional left-wing and socialist/communist alignment to apologism for terrorist groups who were deemed to be oppressed, as part of a broader strategy of defiance against American and Western power.

In 2009, Corbyn called Hamas a force for “social good” and his “friends”, while Benjamin collected $600,000 in medical supplies and cash in 2004, to deliver to the families of terrorist insurgents fighting the US in Iraq.

Opposed to what they term “neo-liberalism” in principle, activists like these will seek out any allies opposed to it which, in the current era, means Islamist extremists, who have pretty much the only viable (if horrific) alternative ideology to Western neo-liberalism.

2-2Al-Qaeda Wanted to Provoke an Overreaction

As early as 2005, a book entitled This is How We See and Want Jihad was circulating showing Al-Qaeda’s twenty-year long game plan to defeat the West and establish an Islamic Caliphate. This was further illuminated by the groundbreaking work of Jordanian journalist Fouad Hussain. The plan has seven phases. The first phase, between 2000 and 2003, aimed to draw America into an intractable war against Muslims and thus “crown al-Qaeda as the leader of the nation.”

Later phases aimed to make the war intractable and thus gain support for Al-Qaeda while demoralizing the West, and toppling Arab regimes allied to America and Israel. The plan includes creating a jihadi army in Syria and Iraq, and drawing in funding and recruits from outside.

Once US power began to wane, after a decade of an expensive war of attrition, a Caliphate was to be declared at some point from 2013 to 2016. After 2016, the phase of “total war” would begin, waging attacks against Western targets around the world; the “beginning of the confrontation between faith and disbelief, which would begin in earnest after the establishment of the Islamic caliphate.”

Al-Qaeda and its successor the Islamic State seem remarkably on track with this plan, especially considering the turmoil engulfing the region. It is also very important to note that they see terrorism as a means of destabilizing the West to further the establishment of a Caliphate, rather than as an end in itself.

3-1Ideology is the Key to Victory

Bearing in mind the first two points, we see that Al-Qaeda and other jihadi groups see terrorism as a means to an end. To prevent another 9/11 from taking place, therefore, we have to tackle their end goal and show the world precisely how and why an Islamist caliphate is a bad idea.

When we can do that, young jihadis will not be motivated to sacrifice their lives in an attempt to establish this Caliphate, and idealistic activists will not make excuses for people fighting for these goals.

Such clarity is needed now more than ever because, 15 years after the tragic September 11th attacks, there is still no end in sight for the “War on Terror.”

Also see:

What’s Next For Al-Qaida After The Defeat Of ISIS?

Supporters of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden shout anti-American slogans, after the news of his death, during a rally in Quetta May 2, 2011. Bin Laden was killed in a U.S. helicopter raid on a mansion near the Pakistani capital Islamabad early on Monday, officials said, ending a nearly 10-year worldwide hunt for the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.REUTERS/Naseer Ahmed ∨

Supporters of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden shout anti-American slogans, after the news of his death, during a rally in Quetta May 2, 2011. Bin Laden was killed in a U.S. helicopter raid on a mansion near the Pakistani capital Islamabad early on Monday, officials said, ending a nearly 10-year worldwide hunt for the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.REUTERS/Naseer Ahmed ∨

Daily Caller, by Saagar Enjeti, Sept. 4, 2016:

Al-Qaida’s long-term strategy to outlast the Islamic State poses a major threat to the U.S. in the years to come, experts told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Al Qaeda is intentionally operating below a threshold that would force Washington into a decision-making position,” Katherine Zimmerman, a Research Fellow and Al-Qaida expert at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) wrote in an email to TheDCNF. “Al Qaeda leadership most probably directed groups not to conduct directed, mass-casualty attacks against Western targets in order to prevent Washington from having to decide whether to act against al Qaeda.”

The U.S. has conducted only a few strikes against Al Qaida in recent months, and President Barack Obama has galvanized the entire U.S. government’s resources toward fighting ISIS. U.S. officials responsible for the fight in Syria hardly mention Al Qaida. The coalition the U.S. has assembled is even called the “Anti-ISIS” coalition.

“Al-Qaida has been pursuing a subversive strategy of trying to integrate itself with local groups,” Bill Roggio, a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told TheDCNF. Al-Qaida’s operations in Syria exemplify the strategy Roggio discusses. The group has focused on integrating itself with existing Syrian opposition groups and building popular support among local communities.

When Al-Qaida’s Syrian affiliate began to draw the attention of the U.S. and Russia, it ostensibly severed its connections with the global terrorist group and rebranded itself. “The unprecedented move was formally sanctioned by al Qaeda’s senior leadership,” Charles Lister, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, noted in an op-ed for Foreign Policy after the separation was announced.

The move was likely an attempt to “create the image of being more moderate in an attempt to unify and galvanize and appeal to other oppositionist groups in Syria,” Director of National Intelligence Eric Clapper told an audience at the Aspen Forum in the days after the break was announced. Al-Qaida’s leadership sanctioned the break, because opposition groups inside Syria can now partner with Al-Qaida, without also taking on all the baggage an alliance with a terrorist group brings.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) noted that Al-Qaida’s ties to its group in Syria were the “primary source of the opposition’s resistance” to a grand merger. This grand merger has led a coalition of jihadi groups leading a massive battlefield offensive against the Assad regime in the city of Aleppo. The jihadi-led coalition achieved a major victory when it broke the siege of Aleppo city on August 7.

The U.S. has played no role in the current battle for Aleppo, and its strategy is geared to taking territory away from ISIS.

“Al Qaeda has filled the breach left by the absence of the United States,” a group of analysts from ISW, AEI, and the Center for New American Security wrote in an op-ed Thursday for Foreign Policy. The analysts warn that “the United States risks losing the war against extremism in Syria if it continues to allow Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham to be seen by the Syrian people as the victors in Aleppo.” Ahrar Al-Sham and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham maintain deep ties to Al-Qaida.

Syria is the most fertile battleground for al-Qaida’s vision of a truly Islamic state. Roggio explained that Al-Qaida believes ISIS declared the caliphate too early. He continued that al-Qaida’s subversive strategy is geared towards creating the preconditions necessary for the caliphates declaration.

While Syria is the most active battlefront for Al-Qaida, Zimmerman highlighted that the group is pursuing the same strategy on other battlegrounds. Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commanding general of the U.S. effort against ISIS, has been trumpeting the impending defeat of ISIS in Iraq. Votel told reporters Tuesday, “We’ve got good momentum going,” elaborating “We are really into the heart of the caliphate.”

The U.S. has however made no indication of its plans to deal with al-Qaida on the Iraqi battlefield. Zimmerman cautioned “Al Qaeda is prepared for the day after ISIS in Iraq,” elaborating “Al Qaeda just called for Iraqi fighters to answer its call and for Syrians to support Iraqis to reorganize their fight.” She also pointed to continued low profile Al-Qaida insurgencies in Africa, Yemen, and Somalia.

“Al Qaeda is a greater long-term threat than ISIS because of its resiliency,” Zimmerman closed.

Follow Saagar Enjeti on Twitter

Attacks in France and Germany claimed by Islamic State propaganda arm

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, July 26, 2016:

The Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency has claimed responsibility for two attacks in Europe. The first was a suicide bombing in Ansbach, Germany on July 24. More than one dozen people were injured, some of them seriously, when a bomber self-detonated outside of a music festival.

The second assault was carried out earlier today during the morning mass at a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, which is in northern France. Initial reports say that an elderly priest was killed by a pair of terrorists, who took several people hostage before being shot to death by police.

In both instances, Amaq News cited an “insider source” as saying that “soldiers” of the Islamic State were responsible. The language in both claims of responsibility is similar to past statements.

The “individual who carried out the martyrdom operation in Ansbach, Germany was a soldier of the Islamic State who executed the operation in response to calls to target nations in the coalition fighting the Islamic State,” a July 25 statement from Amaq read.

“The 2 executors of the attack on a church in Normandy, France were soldiers of the Islamic State,” Amaq said in a “Breaking News” update earlier today. “They executed the operation in response to calls to target countries belonging to the crusader coalition.”

Counterterrorism and intelligence officials in Europe are investigating any possible ties between the self-proclaimed jihadists and the Islamic State’s international network. It is too early to tell if they acted on their own accord, or had help from the so-called caliphate’s external operations arm, which has been plotting terrorist operations inside Europe.

German authorities have reportedly identified the Ansbach terrorist as a 27 year-old Syrian who had been denied asylum, according to BBC News and other media outlets.

Video purportedly shows Ansbach bomber

Amaq has released a video purportedly showing the Ansbach bomber, suggesting that he had at least one tie to the Islamic State, even if it was only a digital one. Either he, or someone he knew, sent the video to the jihadist media outfit. Amaq says his name was “Mohammad Daleel.”

A screen shot of “Mohammad Daleel” from the footage can be seen below. Separately, Amaq also released a photo of the man identified as Daleel. The Long War Journal cannot independently verify his identity, or his role as the Ansbach bomber.

Screen-Shot-2016-07-26-at-12.57.52-PM-1023x573

“I renew my pledge of allegiance to Emir ul-Mu’minin [“Emir of the Faithful”] Abu Bakr al Baghdadi…may Allah protect him,” the man identified as Daleel said in the clip.

Daleel, whose face is covered, claimed that his attack is revenge for Germany’s role in the international anti-Islamic State coalition. He claimed that Germany’s bombs do not discriminate between men, women and children. And he called on his “brothers,” who are also “soldiers of the Islamic State,” to strike in Europe.

The video of Daleel is similar to two other productions disseminated by Amaq after recent attacks.

Last week, Amaq identified the teenager who slashed and hacked multiple people on a train in Würzburg, Germany as “Muhammad Riyad.” The young man recorded a video of himself that either he, or someone he knew, delivered into Amaq’s hands. As with Daleel, this suggests there was at least a digital tie between Riyad and the Islamic State’s network. [See LWJ report, Teenager who terrorized German train appears in Islamic State video.]

Prior to his assault on the train, Riyad delivered a speech while brandishing a knife. He called on all Muslims to pledge allegiance to Baghdadi, saying that the Caliphate has been resurrected in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. Riyad added that Muslims should join one of the Islamic State’s so-called provinces around the world, including in Libya, if they cannot reach the “caliphate” in Iraq or Syria.

In mid-June, Amaq released a similar video from another Islamic State loyalist, Larossi Abballa. The video was recorded at the scene of a brutal double murder in Magnanville, France, which is less than 40 miles north of Paris. Abballa stabbed a police officer and his partner to death, recounting the horror show for the Islamic State’s audience and the rest of the world. The couple’s son was rescued when French forces stormed the home.

Amaq has repeatedly described terrorists as “soldiers” of the Islamic State

The wording of Amaq’s claims of responsibility for the Ansbach and Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray attacks mirrors past statements by the Islamic State’s propaganda arms. Amaq and other outlets frequently describe the terrorists who carry out such deeds in the Islamic State’s name as the caliphate’s “soldiers.”

For example, the Islamic State described the May 2015 shooters in Garland, Tex. and the couple who assaulted a holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif. in Dec. 2015 as the group’s “soldiers.” The San Bernardino terrorists were also labeled “supporters.”

The team of jihadists responsible for the Nov. 2015 assault in Paris was hailed as “a group of believers from the soldiers of the Caliphate.”

Omar Mateen, who repeatedly pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi the night of his shooting at a LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida in June, was described as a “fighter” for the organization.

Amaq said Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who drove a truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France earlier this month, was “a soldier of the Islamic State.” The same wording was used for the Würzburg slasher.

After the Nice, Würzburg, Ansbach and Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray attacks, Amaq also emphasized that the men responsible had acted “in response to calls to target countries belonging to the crusader coalition.”

The Islamic State has repeatedly called on its members and supporters to strike the coalition of nations targeting its territory in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.

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

Observations on the New Islamic State Video ‘Structure of the Caliphate’

structure of the CaliphateMEF, by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  •  Jul 6, 2016
Cross-posted from Aymennjawad.org

Readers of this blog will have known that a long-standing interest of mine has been the structure of Islamic State (IS) administration, focusing primarily on internal documents. To mark the start of Eid, IS has released via its central media outlet al-Furqan Media a video on the very subject, entitled ‘Structure of the Caliphate’. Below are some observations of mine:

1. The list of “wilayas” (provinces) of the Islamic State in the screenshot at right is particularly interesting. In total, IS counts 35 wilayas: 19 inside Iraq and Syria and 16 outside of Iraq and Syria. Most notably, despite widespread speculation of IS gearing up towards announcing a new wilaya in the Philippines and claims that IS is now operating as a wilaya in the Philippines, there is no mention of the Philippines as a wilaya. Nor is there any mention of Tunisia, Indonesia, Somalia and Bangladesh: countries where IS has also claimed operations. The last real expansion on the geographic stage on the international level was the Caucasus wilaya a year ago.

In my view, the lack of new wilaya announcements reflects an IS strategy of avoiding wilaya announcements because they lack credibility without realisation of governance and administration on the ground akin to the system in place in IS-controlled territories in Iraq and Syria. With the exception of Libya (though this too is now in doubt with the attacks on the IS stronghold of Sirte), the wilaya projects abroad have been disastrous in so far as achieving administration on the ground (Arabic: tamkeen). Internal dissent in IS (which I will discuss in a later post using some unseen internal documents) long recognized this problem, and advised against wilaya announcements and that allegiance pledges should be taken secretly. While the latter point has not been heeded, IS now seems more cautious in translating allegiance pledges into the creation of new provinces.

The term Wilayat al-Sahel (Coast Province) featured in a claim of attacks in Tartous and Jableh, but is not mentioned in this video.

In terms of other wilayas, it should be noted that Wilayat al-Bahrain (for eastern Saudi Arabia) and Wilayat al-Sahel (for the coastal areas of Tartous and Latakia in Syria) are absent, despite references to such entities in IS propaganda elsewhere.

2. The diwans, committees and offices listed in the video generally correspond to the documentary evidence I have uncovered but naming is not always consistent. For example, the office for public relations and tribes sometimes comes under the diwans designation in the documents. Likewise, the investigations and studies office has also appeared as a diwan (Diwan al-‘Eftaa wa al-Buhuth). In addition, no mention is made of the Diwan al-Wilaya or the Idarat Aama (‘General Administration’) on the more local level. Certain functions do not always come under the same diwans, and sometimes names for separate diwans come up, raising issues of how centralized administration truly is and how much autonomy wilayas have. For example, I have previously seen documents that talk of the Diwan al-‘Aqarat (“Real Estate Diwan”). There is also no mention of the General Supervisory Committee (Al-Lujna al-Aama al-Mushrifa) that has issued wider notifications to the wilayas, diwans and committees, though it appears to be the same as the Delegated Committee (Al-Lujna Al-Mufawwadha) mentioned in the video, to which more serious matters can be referred by the wali in addition to responsibilities for supervising other committees.

3. Functions of Diwans can overlap in ways not mentioned in the video. For example, the Diwan al-Hisba is well known for enforcing Islamic morality, but it can also deal with issuing temporary exit permits for residents of IS territories and Internet security regulations. Some functions are not mentioned, like the Diwan al-Rikaz’s management of activities, or that the Hijra Committee manages border crossings for temporary visitors to IS territory in places like Dabiq.

4. The media section makes no reference to Amaq News, which arguably fits in with the modus operandi of an IS “auxiliary outlet” whereby links to IS are not officially admitted, even as most observers now recognize the outlet’s real function.

5. Note the mention of the Distant Provinces Administration, whose name first emerged in leaked documents during the controversy of dissent in the Yemeni affiliates.

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a research fellow at Middle East Forum’s Jihad Intelproject.

***

Here is the video (source: http://jihadology.net/2016/07/06/new-video-message-from-the-islamic-state-the-structure-of-the-caliphate/)

Also see:

Islamic State expands in Europe, Mideast, North Africa, Asia

It took just a few hours for the Islamic State group’s opportunistic propaganda machine to take responsibility for recent bloodshed in Florida and France. The Arabic text reads: “The large bill. America is paying the price.” (Associated Press)

It took just a few hours for the Islamic State group’s opportunistic propaganda machine to take responsibility for recent bloodshed in Florida and France. The Arabic text reads: “The large bill. America is paying the price.” (Associated Press)

Washington Times, by Bill Gertz, July 6, 2016:

Two years since it shifted from terrorist group to governing organization holding territory, the Islamic State is expanding to seven emerging areas of Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, according to a State Department security report.

“In addition to establishing its base in Syria and Iraq, and naming official provinces in numerous countries, [the Islamic State group] has demonstrated a heightened capability to carry out and operate in the [seven] countries,” the report by the Overseas Security Advisory Council states. The council is a State Department organization that provides security support to American businesses operating overseas.

The seven new theaters of operation are Turkey, Tunisia, Lebanon, France, Belgium, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

The Islamic State group, also known as ISIS and ISIL, is active in other locations as well, but the seven locations “represent areas where there is expected to be a continued interest in operating, support networks to do so, and a likelihood for more than a one-off attack,” the report states.

Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate in June 2014. Since then, the group has sought to establish political and military authority over the Muslim world. The Islamic State group has named “wilayats,” or provinces, of the caliphate that attracted the loyalty of a number of former al Qaeda affiliates. The terrorist group uses a centralized decision-making but a decentralized attack system under which local terrorists choose tactics and targets.

The Islamic State group “promotes an idea that the apocalypse will be brought about following a major victory in the Syrian city of Dabiq,” the report says.

“Two years after declaring their caliphate, the group has declared numerous wilayats globally, inspired several lone-wolf style attacks abroad, orchestrated complex, coordinated attacks in Europe, and maintains control of a large swath of territory in Iraq and Syria,” the report said.

The most recent attacks included the nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida, the shootings and suicide bombings at Istanbul Ataturk Airport and a massive suicide bombing in Baghdad.

The Syrian conflict, according to the report, has produced an unprecedented number of jihadis, far more than earlier Islamic conflicts in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Somalia and Chechnya. From 2011 to 2016, between 27,000 and 31,000 foreign jihadis from 86 nations joined the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

The foreign fighter flows came from six major states: Tunisia (6,000), Saudi Arabia (2,500), Russia (2,400), Turkey (2,100), Jordan (2,000) and France (1,700). An estimated 280 foreign fighters joined the Islamic State from North America.

The Islamic State is the most successful and active terrorist group in the use of the internet for recruitment and propaganda. But it has not shown the ability to conduct major cyberattacks despite aspirations to do so.

“Analysts agree that ISIL displays the intent to conduct cyberattacks against the energy grid, nuclear facilities, or other critical infrastructure systems, but there is currently little evidence to show that ISIL possesses this capability,” the report says.

Another unique feature of the migration is that foreign noncombatants have traveled to live under or support the Islamic State.

Despite its successes, the Islamic State, which controlled about one-third of Iraq and Syria and 9 million people at the end of 2014, lost about 22 percent of that territory by early this year, the report noted. The Islamic State is estimated to deploy 19,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria, and the flow of foreign fighters appears to be on the decline, but that number could fluctuate significantly, the report said.

Key operating areas outside of Syria and Iraq include Libya, where up to 3,000 Islamic State fighters have controlled a 120-mile stretch of territory around the coastal city of Sirte. “Libya has become a regional hub for recruitment of foreign fighters, with ISIL’s Libya elements training regional operatives,” the report said.

In Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, the Islamic State-affiliated group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has some 1,000 fighters. Another 300 Islamic State fighters are operating in Yemen, and Islamic State terrorists mainly have targeted Shiites in the eastern part of Saudi Arabia. In Africa, Boko Haram has pledged loyalty to the Islamic State. In Russia’s Caucasus region, the Islamic State has the Kavkaz province, which has absorbed a number of Islamist groups. The Afghanistan affiliate is the Khorasan Province, and the Algerian affiliate is a breakaway element of al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb.

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